"Strangers in a Strange Land"
Captain Charles Gibson wandered around the somewhat less busy, Galleria. It had certainly quieted down since the the bombing, even most of the shops had closed up and others had already moved on to other ports of harbour. There was still crowd of people, mainly Starfleet crew members, but very few were civilians. Either way he greeted a few of them as he went along, making sure everything was alright as best he could for the time being. Until this matter was settled he didn't have much else to do... other then greet the ones he selected to come aboard his vessel, the USS Pioneer.
First in its class, a bit larger then the Galaxy and as long or maybe even a bit longer, then the Sovereign. It was certainly quite the ship with the Anti-Borg armour molded into the hull plating itself, rather then making it retractable. It gave the vessel a golden, majestic appearance when the light of the stars reflected off of it. Charles was even surprised to find out about this new Quantum Slipstream drive, the mark five apparently, allowing them to exceed regular warp for a limited amount of time in case of emergencies. Oh he had heard of the system itself and the prototype that was used on the USS Voyager and Aventine. From what he read this mark five drive was a lot more power efficient, as well as a little faster.
The only thing he wasn't too keen on were the offensive systems that were installed upon it. Granted he could see the reasons for it, but twelve phaser arrays, twelve multi-function phaser turrets, about eight repeating torp turret launchers, and two heavy ones was a bit much. On top of that it had the Multi-Vector Assault mode to boot, not just saucer separation. But if that wasn't bad enough, fighters and pilots would be brought on board as well. Honestly he wondered about the whole exploration part of the mission... though the chances of him meeting Jem'Hadar vessels out that far were slim... it was still a possibility. Maybe this was Amanda's way of watching out for them both, arming a ship of exploration for bear. A little overprotective, thought Charles....
Deep down Captain Gibson hoped they would avoid them as long as he was out there. Though he'd of been lying if he did have some second thoughts about this, but the Delta Quadrant project was already underway with other ships. He knew one classmate of his was patrolling the border as cutter. Some part of Charles was glad they never stuck him onto that kind of assignment. At least spending time out exploring the unknown was something he always wanted to do, but thanks to the events of the the Dominion War and the Destruction of Romulus those plans were put on hold... almost indefinitely. AT least until this opportunity came along, though he wondered how much of a opportunity it really was with some terrorist running a muck.
It was all he could do just to not let it remind him of how it was back in the war.
Charles stopped at a grey, metal, cushioned bench and took a seat. Rubbing his face and eyes his mind began to drift and sift through bad memories. Though they were more like nightmares to him, terrible, relentless, vivid images of what war had done to him. All he could tell himself was that what he had done was to to keep him and his people alive. To make it one more day, to survive to the end of the war in order to see his family again... The irony being in the end he lost them due to how he was changed. How distant and reclusive he had become while he fought off the resurgence of those bad memories. Honestly he felt there was really no excuse, but no know could know how he felt, or how he struggled unless they been through it themselves.
Charles only hoped that this mission would somehow allow him to patch things up, at least with his son. Amanda was another story, though why she still had her ring on was something to enquire about eventually. With all this going on no wonder he never thought about it or brought it up earlier, everything occurred so fast. But was it even the same ring he gave her all those years ago, or did she remarry...?
Either way, there was some hope after all, she did agree for him to take their son as his First Officer. Being out in the unknown with a son he barely knows, it was going to make this mission very interesting to say the least. Anyhow, Charles did find himself looking forward to the adventure with unique individuals that may become quite the family.
A smile formed upon his face....
GS1: Command and Control (C.N.C.)
Lieutenant T'Lea stood at the primary science station taping away at the control panel, the usual beeping coming from every button press. Readout after readout appeared on her sensor screen while she quickly read through every result, every sweep, still nothing out of the ordinary. The twenty-eight year old looking Vulcan, believed that whoever this person was could of been cloaked somehow. Or possibly knew a way of masking his life signs somehow. If she had some of his DNA it would certainly have made her search perimeters more refined. Even for a Vulcan, this search was trying her patience.
Ba'lon soon entered the bustling C.N.C and scanned the whole room and stopped once he spotted his Vulcan friend. Walking across the large, round, gun-metal grey Command Center over towards the science stations console pod, he ended up beside T'Lea and looked down over her shoulder. “Anything yet?”
“I'm afraid not, Lieutenant,” she replied, nearly letting her frustration slip through while continuing yet another thorough sensor sweep.
“Me neither,” the tall, orange, rock-skinned Dalfian sighed, “He used something to bypass the security without being detected, but I honestly haven't come across what kind of technology exactly.”
“Unknown technology?” she questioned, turning to her taller, musclebound crew member. “That could very well be the clue we are looking for.” With that she went back to work on her console and typed in a search for unknown tech on board station, anything and everything alien. Then she stopped and turned back to her friend and said, “Thank you, Lieutenant.”
Ba'lon nodded with a grunt of acknowledgement, “Well let's hope it's enough.”
“If it leads to another clue, it will be most helpful,” T'Lea stated without looking up from her screen.
Admiral Gary Radcliffe soon walked up a small three or four steps up to the main level where most of the inner circle consoles along the main railing were stationed and manned. He then walked over to the left of the round room, towards the area where the two Lieutenants were and hoped they had come up with something. As he stopped on the left of T'Lea he gave Ba'lon glance and nod then looked down at the science stations readout screens. “Anything, Lieutenants?”
“We're looking into a lead we may have, Admiral,” answered T'Lea, as she worked away on her station.
“And that would be...?”
“Possible foreign tech, sir,” added Ba'lon as he leaned back against a bare section of the science stations pod, folding his arms. “Either that or he's got a miniture cloaking device.”
“Wouldn't that be lovely?” said Admiral Radcliffe to no in particular. “A miniature cloaking device, able to hide a person... and or both--their technology from Federation sensors. Assassins, right this way...”
“It would be unfortunate if such technology existed,” said the Vulcan Science officer. “Logic is proving to state it as so. I am not picking up anything through the scans that could be classified as... “foreign technologies.”
She then turned to Admiral Radcliffe and continued, “We still have very few non-Starfleet races aboard, but there is no guarantee that any of them are our saboteur. He could still be very well hiding his life signs from our sensor probes.”
Gary sat on the edge of a nearby console and folded his arms as he began to think. Rounding up all those people into the brig could cause quite a stir alright, but it would also possibly help speed up the investigation. Or at least in some way help them decipher who it was not. There was also the possibility that whoever it was would have ample time to commit their next crime, without so many people around too. Either way Admiral Radcliffe did not like the options or the possible turnouts of the decision that he was about to make.
Shaking his head he stood up and turned towards the two Lieutenants as they waited for his next orders. “I'll speak with security about rounding them up. You just keep an eye on those sensors. Anything out of hte ordinary...”
“Yes, Admiral,” answered T'Lea.
“Admiral,” added Ba'lon as he went to work on one of the other science stations to help out his Vulcan friend.
GS1: Jefferies Tube Junction 34, near Storage Compartments.
Gripping onto each, dark, grooved bar of the ladder leading up into the next junction, Lieutenant Tara Renn found to be a struggle. The pain in her side was coming back violently every time she pulled and pushed farther along. Breathing became harder as her own body felt even heavier with every step, the weight of her duffel bag was not helping alleviate the pressure either. After passing through the open gateway, Renn stepped over to the side and stood up on the floor panel, and there she slumped down to rest and catch her breath.
Reaching into her duffel bag the twenty-eight year old, Bajoran Tactical Officer retrieved a hypo-spray from her bag's mini-med kit. Checking the medicine container there was only enough for two more doses. “Damn...,” she cursed, finding the rationed amount of the stimulant that the kit carried overly frustrating.
Typing on the tiny panel, she lowered the dosage amount that would come out before pressing the nozzle to her neck. Pressing the panel like a syringe button full on with her thumb, there was a hiss and the stimulant was injected into her body through her pores. Lieutenant Tara sighed with relief as the pain and throbbing went mild, almost completely numb. It was enough to let her know it was still there but not enough to cause he too much discomfort now. Putting the hypo away she looked up took a look around the junction she was in. From the looks of it she figured she was nearby the storage compartments and could at least find some more supplies in there if need be. At least it could help her make it the rest of the way to the station's Sickbay.
Renn gripped a hold of the door's pull lever and jimmied the hatch beside her to open. Three pulls was all it took and finally both doors were slid apart and slid into the wall pockets. Staring down the long, dark Jefferies Tube gave her a foreboding notion, or perhaps dread. All the twenty-eight year old Bajorn woman knew was that something was off. “Well... don't I have a bad feeling about this?” she stated to herself.
GS1: Storage Containers, Corridor.
The dark haired, pale skinned man exited out the hatch of one of the storage compartments and scanned his surroundings. Gently closing the hatch, the pale man took one more glance around to make sure the coast was clear enough for him to move around. After fixing his sleeve he reached into his case and pulled out a small, hand-held device. It was dark, almost a violet color, with a curved neck near the top. At the top there was a three flat-pronged section, each nub had a rounded ball tip. Pressing the button on the side he felt the device begin to buzz, quietly. As he placed it against the underside of his chin he felt his skin begin to change and mold. The device did it painlessly but still he could feel his skin tugging and puling into a different shape and even his color began to change.
Once the change was complete he placed the device away then made his way down the dark walled, dimly illuminated corridor. He only had a few hours like this until the procedure reversed itself, and quickened his pace as he walked briskly along.
Shortly afterwards the nearby Jeffereies Tube hatch squeakily opened up and out crawled the dirty, injured and exhausted Lieutenant Tara Renn. She slumped down to the ground, leaned back, shutting the hatch behind her. There the Bajoran Lieutenant stayed, breathing heavily yet again as the pain in her ribs began to return once more. “Well that didn't last long enough...,” she murmured reaching into her duffel bag and taking out the mini-med kit.
Hiding around the turn at the end of the corridor, stood the newly altered Science Officer. Watching her from a far was easy for him, due to the enhancements within his eyes, they allowed to zoom in on subjects. With his irises he scanned her body all over and noticed the injuries, and from what he could see on the outside she was indeed, fatigued. To him this Bajoran in this condition would be easy to dispose of, but unfortunately he couldn't use the phaser yet. So there would still be a body to take care of, but perhaps she could be of some use later.
As he decided on a plan he took out the tricorder from his container and stepped out into the open. “Are you alright?” he asked.
Renn turned and saw a tall, dark haired man with rindges around his face and forehead. Dark piercing eyes stared right into hers, almost through her. Some part of her could tell there was something wrong but in this condition it could of been the pain, mixed with being lightheaded, maybe even the residual stimulant. “Are you trapped like I am?” replied Renn, nearly dozing off but forcing herself to remain awake, although it was becoming increasingly difficult.
“No,” the Altered Man stated and then slowly made his way over to her. He noticed the rank pips upon her neck and added, “Do you require assistance, Lieutenant?”
“I'll be fine, -just...,” she cringed as she tried to get to her feet then wrapped an arm around her injured ribs. “Oooh.... yeah, I'll be fine. Just need to take it slow.”
The Altered Man held up the tricorder within the palm of his hand. Beeping and blinkking as it did it's function he made it look lik ehe scanned her whole body. “Ribs broken, several cuts and bruises, blood loss....”
“So you're a doctor?'
“No. Science is my.... speciality.” he smirked while kneeling down beside her. “Now, let me help get you on your feet.”
Putting an arm under hers, the Altered Man lifted Renn to her feet in one quick motion. “Sorry, I'll take it easy.”
“You should of just went and got help, I'm sure you could of reached a working com-panel somewhere around here,” winced Renn they limped along down the corridor a bit.
“I'm sure...,” he told her and then reached around to the other side of her neck and pressed his fingers and thumb on her nerves, performing the Vulcan nerve pinch. He felt her body begin to fall from his grasp, so he quickly braced and caught her body, then raised her back up. With one arm the Altered Man tossed the unconscious Lieutenant until he could get a good hold on her. “You still may be of use to me... alive more so then dead.... But that could change.”
Amanda briskly walked around the less busy Galleria, noticing for herself how many places were sealed up or closed off. Even some of the debris from earlier remained sprinkled upon the maroon carpeting. Suddenly a few of the lights above her started to flicker, she figured it was a power surge from the auxiliary conduit relays. Rolling her eyes, Amanda then tapped her communicator and followed the usual chirp, “C.N.C. This is Headly, please have someone look into the conduit relays near section thirty-four A through E.”
“Aye, aye, Admiral. We're on it,” replied a voice from one of the Operations officers in the Command and Control center.
“Thank you,” said Amanda, then she added, “Let me know when it's taken care of as well.”
“Will do, mam.”
With that Amanda Headly moved on a a little farther down the rounded Galleria corridor towards one of the fancier places that hadn't shut it's doors yet. On the fancy, blue and white tarp hanging over the door, was written in gold letters: “Utopia”Honestly she wondered if she actually ever noticed this place before, cause for the life of her she could not really recall it. At least it was no time like the present, and maybe she could at least get a decent cup of coffee. At least something better then whatever a replicator could ever materialize into existence.
Entering the lowly lit, quaint restaurant, Amanda skimmed over the whole place seeing which of the smaller tables were available. Then she suddenly made eye contact with Charles who appeared to be sitting by himself, sipping away at blue, and white rimmed mug of tea. She assumed it was tea at least, cause he had never been a coffee drinker like herself. In fact he never drank alcohol or even synthahol either, there was never a taste for it in his opinion. Somewhere down inside she was kind of proud of him for that, even when he wasn't well, reclusive and shut her out. She knew Charles never touched the bottle, not even once back then, but now... now was another story. Unfortunately it was part of never keeping in contact with him, though she knew she could of asked Gary to check into it. But it was not her place to pry into his personal life, not anymore anyways.
“Care to join me?” Charles asked with a small grin at his ex-wife, after she causally made her way over towards his table.
“Are you sure you want my comany?” she asked, genuinely curious, though keeping a stern tone and gaze.
Charles gave her another genuine grin and gestured to the chair with his mug, then leaned back and partially folded his arm, mainly to brace his other one as he took another sip of his warm tea. “Please.”
“You know this tea ain't half bad,” he continued while Amanda sat down on the opposite side of the table for two.
She looked over the white table cloth and noticed the usual utensils, fork, butter knife, spoon and a blue napkin rolled up with a gold ring in the middle, keeping it together. There was a glass of water too and figured that he was expecting someone, or then again maybe they always had water on hand. As she picked up the menu that was placed in front of her by one of the human waiters, she looked up and said, “I'll have a coffee.” Turning back to her ex husband, Amanda figured she should at least say something about the tea. “What kind of tea is it?”
“Katorvn,” Charles replied, after swallowing another sip. “It has a bit of a sweet-bitter taste... but it's not overpowering. It's just... something different.”
Headly felt a little uneasy and unsure of what to talk about exactly, it had been quite a few years since they actually sat down and just talked. Maybe more then few since they've ever done that. Some part of her wanted to lash out though, while another part told her to stay calm, and yet another side of her wanted to just... she pushed that thought out of her mind. Although she did ponder if he felt the same way, and how could he be so calm around her? Had he finally just let her go, did he feel nothing for her anymore? Now Amanda felt herself becoming angry and quickly shoved those feelings into a deep, dark corner of her mind. This was not the time or the place for it at all, but when was it? When would it ever be? “So...”
“So....,” he said looking up from his mug, and into the aged, but still beautiful face of his ex-wife.