GS1: Storage Compartment 22.
"Strangers in a Strange Land
Tara groggily tilted her head back and forth as she awoke from her forced slumber. The sharp pain in her neck caused the twenty-eight year old, Bajoran Lieutenant to wince and cringe. While trying to raise her hand to rub at the tender spot, she snapped herself awake and notices the metal cuffs around her wrists, chaining them together. Following them with her eyes she noticed the chain was connected to a panel on the floor. At closer examination of the cuffs, she could tell that they were makeshift, and possibly even moulded around her wrists. Whoever did it would of had to of had superior strength... even superior to that of a Vulcan's...
Suddenly she remembered the Science Officer with the ridges upon his face; but he wasn't Vulcan though. Yet the son of a gun used a Vulcan neck pinch, granted she read reports of certain other officers being able to use that technique to varying levels of success—some more successful then others, like Lieutenant Commander Data, during the 'Unification Incident'.
Quickly and thoroughly scanning her surroundings, Renn finally laid her eyes upon a hunched over figure in Science blue. Even though the Bajoran lieutenant could only see him from the back she knew it was him. Anger, rage and thirst for blood boiled under the surface while watching him work on something. Leaning from side to side, ever so slightly, not to make too munch noise, she could barely see the light glow of an open panel. Though it did make Renn wonder why he didn't react to her waking up, especially when she rattled the chains. Finally deciding to break the silence and not seeing any way out of this yet, Renn spoke, “Heck of a neck pinch you got there...”
“Hmph,” acknowledged the altered alien officer with smirk, typing away on the exposed panel, “Was wondering how long you were going to stay quiet.” He then turned his head in her direction slightly, “You snore too.”
“Really...?” she asked rhetorically, then shook her head while adding, “I've never had anyone complain before.”
“Oh no, complain I do not, Bajoran,” stated the altered man again, going back to work on the panel as he begin to place small, odd-shaped devices into different places and ports. “In fact it was a good way to know the difference of when you were really asleep.” Standing up he turned and faced his shackled captive and gave a subtle grin. “Or pretending to be asleep....”
Ba'lon stood by the replicator as the swirling light and humming sounds of energy particles came together in a mass, forming a clear, glass mug of hot, herbal tea. Gripping the thin, black plastic handle the gold uniformed Dalfian removed the mug with one finger from the serving slot, slowly, hoping to not spill it all over the grey, grated flooring. Then he spoke to the replicator panel, “J'lotch. -Cold.” The synthesizing wall device lit up once more with another mug, this time a silver, metallic version, but with the same black handle he was able to grip with one finger and remove a little less carefully. Ba'lon quickly took a gulp and savoured the unique, tangy, semi-sweet flavor before moving back over to the science station pod.
Sitting at one of the lower positioned consoles was T'Lea, monitoring the readouts even more closely, scanning every last nook and cranny of a particular section of the station. Unfortunately there was still no luck in detecting the foreign technology, or any signs of cloaking fields. Closing her eyes, the Vulcan lieutenant refocused and concentrated on her meditation for a brief moment. After opening her eyes again, she began to scan anther sector of the station, closer towards the interior sections, like Jefferies Tubes, catwalks, ducts, storage compartments, anything that would be a logical spot to stowaway in.
Lieutenant Ba'lon casually stopped beside T'Lea, and from what he could tell she did seem a little fatigued. He put the mug of herbal tea down beside her on a spot, bare from console buttons or an open panel, “Here.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” she replied, then picked up the mug with two fingers and sipped it. Placing it back she noticed Ba'lon had a drink too, from the smell of it she knew what it was. Raising her eyebrow T'Lea gave her fellow officer a questionable look.
“What?” he asked, returning the questioning glance, surprisingly lifting the corner of his stoney, uni-brow.
“J'lotch,” stated T'Lea, “At this point in the day?” Going back to her console she continued her typing and scanning, then added, “You are still on duty, Lieutenant.”
“It's only alcoholic to lifeforms with green or yellow blood,” he told her and took another gulp, “But to a human... they'd have a melted hole where their stomach used to be.”
“And Dalfian's are immune to its... harmful effects?”
“It's a good relaxer,” informed Ba'lon, “With everything that's been happening, I could use it. Thankfully I don't need much sleep. I had my three hours this week already.” Leaning over her shoulder to look closer at the main console screen, Ba'lon checked the sensor images of section, biographical scan result. All the layouts appeared normal from what he could see, even though there was a lot of damage in those sections to just about everything. “Still nothing in those damanged areas?”
“No,” T'Lea replied, typing on a smaller panel of buttons to bring up a bigger, current sensor overlay. “Whoever this individual is.. he is quite clever, and impeccably thorough at covering his tracks.”
Operations officer Ba'lon leaned back a bit and then turned to his friend, “How do we know it's only an individual?”
She turned to the Dalfian and raised an eyebrow again. There was no disputing his logic in this instance, they could be dealing with more then one individual. “You could be right, Lieutenant.” Turning back to her console she tapped the intercom button, opening a channel, “Control to Admiral Radcliffe.”
GS1: Galleria, Utopia.
Charles and Amanda sat together in the fancy, dimmed, quaint restaurant for quite a while conversing with mild chit-chat. Most of it was small talk as neither of them really wanted to push the others buttons, even though each of them knew they'd have to bring it up at some point. They just wanted to hold off on that for now, but eventually they knew one of them would cave and start. The only question was which one of them was going to yield and begin that conversation?
Sipping their drinks again, Charles eyes drifted lower to Amanda's right hand where he saw a shiny, golden ring, with a uniquely cut diamond that fit snugly in the octagon-shaped center. Looking up to her eyes as he placed his cup down he said, “Have you remarried?”
“No,” she replied, glancing down at the ring. She gently begin to touch and turn it around her finger, but instead of removing it, left it on. Then looking back up into Charles eyes, she added, “I wear to ward off anyone who wants to try their luck.”
“I see,” replied Captain Gibson, putting down his cup again after taking another drink of his tea. It was hard for him to tell if she was not willing to give things another chance, though from her tone of voice he figured she wouldn't be seeing anyone else either. Not all cons so far, but nothing to write home about either.
“I see you don't wear yours anymore,” said Amanda, casually, “You're not seeing anyone?”
“Nope,” he replied with a head shake, “We're divorced and I didn't think it would be appropriate.”
“To be seeing anyone?” she questioned, curiously wondering what he thought it wouldn't be appropriate to see someone new when they have been divorced for so long, “We're not together anymore, Charles. Neither one of us has a say if the other is with someone new.”
“I meant wearing the ring,” corrected Charles, “But you're right. If either of us were seeing anyone it'd wouldn't be anyone else's business.”
“No, it wouldn't,” stated Headly, taking a long sip of her coffee.
“Well I don't want to cause an argument, that's not what I want,” Charles said, sighing as he lowered his gaze down at the still, milky liquid in his cup.
Amanda crossed her arms and gazed at him hard with a furrowed brow, “What do you want, Charles? Why are you really out here taking this mission?”
“I told you why,” he answered, taking a sip of his tea then looking her right in the eye as he put the cup back down. “I'm here to mend things between me and our son. And I want to explore the unknown... you know I've always wanted to do that, and only that.”
“I know, it's all you ever wrote about during your tours in the war, every communique and sub-space message I got back from you till...,” Amanda trailed off then took a gulp of her coffee, unfortunately it wasn't wiping away the memories that flooded back into her mind. It was good coffee, the best she's ever had... but it certainly wasn't no Romulan Ale.
“I stopped,” finished Charles sombrely, understanding how she was feeling, but didn't know exactly what to say next. There was really anything he could say or do to make it better, to take the pain she still must be feeling, hidden under her grim, seasoned exterior. In all the years he'd known her and loved her, Charles couldn't believe how thick she allowed her skin to become, so-to-speak. As an Admiral you did need to develop that trait, but as a Fleet Admiral one had to become almost Vulcan; to remain objective and leading example for all who were under their command. Especially this far out here beyond the homeworlds of Starfleet and the Federation.
“You stopped, yes...,” Amanda stated finishing her coffee, then continued sternly, “I'm your commanding officer, Charles. I don't like being kept in the dark. So if there is another motive to this you should tell me now.”
“There isn't, I assure you,” Captain Gibson said, reassuringly as he leaned forward, “I don't want to argue with you, Amanda. Though I do I want to ask you something.”
Curious, Admiral Headly crossed her arms and leaned her head back a little, gesturing for him to continue. She indeed wanted to know where this was going, though part of her was a bit skeptical about his reply to her question. But it was possible that it was with the sabotage, threat of terrorism, in unknown space and worrying about their son, and having her Ex here was all making affecting her more then she realized. Stress, lots and lots of stress, but no one could blame her for being stressed as she was the Fleet Admiral of this station and sector and that was a job in and of itself.
Gibson folded his hands on the table before him as he hunched over a bit, staring for a long time at the small candle, burning slowly on it's holder in the middle of the table. Taking a deep breath, he figured the best way to word what he was going to say next, then looked up with a slight mix of puzzlement and apology. “Why am I going to be so heavily armed for a mission of exploration? There's got to be more to it then just Dominion sector of space and unknown threats. And I know it's not cause of what's happening now. These weapons were implemented during the design stage.”
Taking another deep breath, he then looked her right in the eyes and continued, “What's the real reason, Admiral?”
Amanda glanced away and considered her response to his enquiry carefully. Her expression showed her to be deep in thought, she knew he could see that and even though she had every right to tell him no. That what he was asking was irrelevant, even classified and for her and the Admiralty's eyes—she decided against that. Headly knew she could trust Charles with the information and if he swore never to speak about it to anyone, if she ordered him not to, he'd follow without question; in fear of court martial for one. Quietly, she began, “I'm not supposed to tell you this. Only the Admiralty and those who were on the starbase engineering project and upgrade teams have any knowledge of this. But due to our past history and that I am—in fact ordering you not to divulge this to anyone, that includes your crew.” Then added sternly, “Are we clear, Captain?”
Charles nodded as he looked down upon his folded hands, then back to her eyes and replied, “Understood, sir.”
Amanda knew it was protocol, but she never liked that formality of it all and did her best to hold back from cringing at the “sir”. After a brief moment, she spoke, “We had sent out several ships to search for possibly colony sites, possible allies and some survey's prior to picking this location.” She took a breath and looked around the restaurant to make sure no one else was listening in, then continued, “We lost contact with the Algeria, a constellation class ship, outfitted with a high-output warp drive—for longer and faster, survey runs. At first we assumed interference, until weeks and then a month went by. Eventually we sent out ships to search for her.”
“And you found nothing,” said Captain Gibson factually. “You think it's some kind of threat?”
“We aren't certain of anything,” said Amanda, “But that doesn't preclude the possibility. Command agrees we must be prepared for anything. But now, with this terrorist running a muck and hiding on the station... I can't dismiss that it's not connected.”
“Agreed,” added Charles, “Though there is the possibility that they encountered an anomaly. With all that upgraded technology on one of those old ships though... they could of had a ship-wide failure as well.”
“We assumed that too, and I think it's possible. But as I said, this terrorist, 11 months after the disappearance of the Alergia?” Amanda thought about it for a long time, then as she shook her head, the forty-eight year old Admiral added, “I don't believe it's a coincidence.”
“You never did,” Charles joked, giving her a small grin, then finished the last of his tea.
“True...,” said Headly, smirking a bit when he wasn't looking at her.
GS1: Storage Compartment 22.
While looking over a PADD the altered, faux science officer occasionally pressed a few key buttons on the open wall panel. He had already connected a readout window on the PADD to see which commands he had to punch in, and which security measures he could avoid, hack through and even disable. Going sub-system by sub-system the Altered man found the main sensors and quickly circumvented their security locks, then turned the scans back towards the the center of the station. Specifically scanning and searching the entire command level first, to find out his luck paid off. Allowing himself a small smirk he prided himself on getting this hunch right. Quickly he began working on an algorithm that would allow him to send a massive feedback surge through the primary consoles.
“What are you doing?” asked Renn, favouring the side with the broken ribs.
“I'm planning a surprise visit...,” he replied, “and attempting to take care of a possible problem. Granted you are a problem too, in a manner of speaking. But one thing at at a time...”
“Are you behind the explosion of the docking ring?” she asked trying to jimmy her wrists out of the makeshift shackles, while keeping an eye upon her captor. Maybe if he spilled some info on what he was doing, and if she was very lucky enough to get free, then she'd have a chance to warm someone about his next attack. If luck was on her side that is...
“Yes. And no,” he answered nonchalantly with a bit of a smirk. “Undoubtedly I am responsible... but, like you... I am just following my orders.”
“So who are you working for?” Renn questioned, giving a puzzled look while running through different factions and species through her mind. There were quite a bit of them, but with Romulus destroyed and several survivors who were not part of the Star Empire... The pirate groups did spring to her mind first and foremost. Only thing that dismissed the possibility was that whoever this person was, they were well funded, well equipped and trained, knowing how to circumvent security and all.
“Wouldn't you like to know...?” retorted the Altered science officer as he punched int he final command code, starting up the algorithm then finally sending it. Rising to his feet, the Altered man turned to face the shackled Tara Renn once more. Noticing that she was looking in the direction of her case, he then pulled out a phaser from his sleeve. “It's right here. I'll be needing this one for now.”
She wondered what he meant by that, then figured that he must have another one stashed away someone on him. From what she could tell there was no indication of another one anyone on the front of him, nor the back when he was hunched over though. “If you think a Phaser or two is going to help in your next attack, you're nuts.”
“Maybe,” he retorted, “Maybe it's all part of the plan.” With that he pressed a button on the open panel and suddenly the powering up hum rose and began lower as several blue, lines of energy shot up from his feet. Quickly his body de-materialized into glowing, blue particle dust with some in the very center of his body remaining a bit longer, until they too vanished into thin air.
T'Lea, Ba'lon and others in the Command and Control room worked tirelessly at their stations, scanning and monitoring systems, areas, even Jefferies tubes up the wazoo. Even though none of the species they rounded up turned out be the individual they were looking for, they still believed that this was the work of more then one. The Science and Operations officers then started to look into different types of radiation that could block out sensors, and low life readings that would not normally be detectable with normal scans. Unfortunately it was taking a lot longer to program the sensor arrays to the right sensitivity, though patience was a virtue that Vulcan's embraced a lot easier then some other races.
“Gok'nah!” cursed Ba'lon, slamming a fist upon his console and then ran his hand over his stoney head, and along the back end spikes.
“Calm down, Lieutenant,” said T'Lea without looking up from her screen.
“You try staying calm when the computer takes too long to program,” he responded in agitation, but quickly regained his composure while taking a deep breath. “Sorry, I'm just anxious.”
“No apologies are necessary, Lieutenant,” T'Lea told him, “It is all possible we are close to finding a way to locate the terrorist.”
The six-foot-one Dalfian leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath as uncertainty swirled around in his mind. Then he answered, “I hope you're right... Lieutenant.” With that he went back to typing on his own console to continue minor scans.
“It's not a question of whether I am right, Lieutenant,” she stated with a hint of certainty, “Only time will tell if this is the correct solution, and logic... is dictating so—as all other options have proved to be fruitless.”
Beeping suddenly came from T'Lea's console, then Ba'lon's, then the next and so on and so forth. All the officer's examined their stations and panels closely, curious to locate the reason why an alert beep was coming form them. Then suddenly sparks erupted from the far right end of the command center, followed by several explosions that cascaded along, killing some of the officers. Ba'lon, wide-eyed , quickly grabbed T'Lea and pulled her away from the console, taking a the full brunt of an explosion and debris from where T'Lea sat, to his back, that sent them slamming hard upon the floor. With the muscular, orange, stone-like Dalfian covering his petite Vulcan friend, while smouldering trails of smoke trailed off the back of his scorched uniform jacket.
More and more explosions encompassed the Command and Control, causing panels and consoles to light ablaze, smoke and spark all over as the screens and buttons flickered crazily. Officers and crew members were either knocked unconscious, injured, both and even killed as the whole room was completely damaged and nearly destroyed.
Over in front of the docking control consoles several blue streams of energy shot up from the ground with the high-pitched sound of someone beaming in. As blue particles of light swirled in-congruently a humanoid form began to materialize and once the person was fully formed, the last of the dust-like particles in the middle of his body vanished. Now the Altered man stood upon the destroyed and fiery Command and Control center of Gamma Station One, phaser in hand and admiring his handiwork with a dark grin.
Slowly he scanned the burning, smoke filled and sparking remains until he laid his, dark, cold piercing eyes upon the main computer core, which also led to the main fusion reactors a few decks down...