"You deploy the probe as you would a standard limpet," the Aegis tech explained on the gantry overlooking the Resolution's hangar, "it then attaches itself to the target, scrapes of the sample and makes its way back to your ship."
"Can I assume the Thargoid won't be cooperating with this procedure?" Jellicoe replied coldly, the man was an unremarkable looking, middle ranking technician, just one of thousands recruited or drafted in to staff the new organisation as it its brief expanded from researching the alien threat to defending humanity from it.
"No," the tech replied, intimidated by the tall, angry spacer but with the zeal of a man who truly believe in what he was doing, "as soon as the probe is launched it will regard you as hostile and try to destroy or evade the limpet so get as close as you can before you deploy it."
"I can't imagine it will take too kindly to me either?"
"It will attack immediately, both the ship and its drone swarm, but you need to stay as close as possible to the target, if it moves out of range, the probe's lost." The man replied trying to ignore Jellicoe's pursed lipped look of anger. "This is why we're only recruiting the best." He added with a nervous smile.
"Recruiting is one way of putting it." Jellicoe said in a tone as cold as as the void itself. "So what does this probe do."
"Scrapes off a tissue sample," the man answered nervously, "our weapons won't scratch these things so we need to know what they're made of to find some way to hurt them."
"Tissue? Just what the hell are these things made of?"
"We not certain, we know it's some kind of organic compound but beyond that we don't know, we also don't know how to damage it."
Jellicoe raised a sarcastic eyebrow at this. "It's over a year since the first wreck or one of these things was found, and don't try to tell me you people didn't know about them long before the rest of us but you expect me to believe that."
"The samples from the crashed ships react differently for some reason, the wrecks have been invaluable but for weapons research we need living tissue."
"Those things are alive?" Jellicoe asked, his anger momentarily replaced by curiosity.
"We don't know, we're dealing with structures more complex than anything we've ever encountered before, whether it's hyper advanced organic tech or some kind of living organism is way over my head we just need to know how to hurt them."
"So do your people have any suggestions for what I'm supposed to do while those things are using me as the last coconut in the shy?"
"'Fraid not," the man replied with an apologetic shrug, "that's why we only want the best pilots in the best ships." He added ingratiatingly.
"You must know we're not volunteers, "Jellicoe said fixing him with a cold stare, "does that bother you or is anyone expendable to these people?"
"Of course it bothers me," the man replied unable to meet the intensity of the pilots gaze, "I'm not a monster, but the future of humanity is at stake here, billions of lives and we're not ready. If we're to survive we can't afford a lot of our scruples."
"I've heard that before," Jellicoe said raising a contemptuous eyebrow, "and it's always bollocks."
The situation on the Oracle was much calmer than at Obsidian, food was shortages were a problem but not a critical one, people still sort passage back to the core but and preachers still prophesayed doom but things were different here, much more orderly and with the constant hint of menace kept at bay by a large and visible police presence and the reassuring effect of people in uniform apparently in control of the situation, tension though was still palpable, fear still thick hung thick in the very air itself. At a small, downmarket café in the hab ring three men sat nursing cups of fairly disgusting sludge posing as coffee.
"Have you got anywhere with finding Kira?" Jellicoe asked
"No," Claude replied, "though that doesn't surprise me, I did manage to get a tracker onto her when she was taken but they've either found it or jammed it as you'd expect their security is very good."
"So she could be anywhere? Probably the hab ring though, that's a start at least."
"Give it up Skipper," the hacker replied, "even if we do find her what then? Are we really going to spring her from these people on their own station? That would be a very good way of getting us all killed."
"I need something to occupy my mind," Jellicoe replied exhaling resignedly, "getting her out is the one thing that keeps me sane."
"Like it or not we have a job to do, and if we're going to live to see anything after that we need you to be focussed on it."