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一日三秋One Day, Three Autumns

Posted on Tue Feb 26th, 2019 @ 12:03pm by XiaoLi Zhan

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: See Below
Timeline: See Below

--Jenolan Dyson Sphere Initiative, Bynars be Bygones MD 3--

A chime sounded plaintively, for the third time, through the recently vacated set of quarters. Outside, section science chief Hermine LeFevre grunted as she looked at the security chief for the section, Evgeny Mikhailov. She pressed the chime for a fourth time before she addressed the man. “I’m actually starting to get worried. Copperhead gets lost in his work pretty often, but he is always meticulous about answering people and showing up,” she groused.

For his part, the Russian man gave her a disapproving look at the use of the racial slur as he reached past her for the console and typed in his access code to override the lock, causing the doors to whoosh open and reveal the seemingly empty rooms behind it, causing both officers to give each other confused looks. Whatever they were expecting, that was certainly not it. “OK, my dislike notwithstanding, there is no way he just disappeared like this,” said LeFevre as she stayed just inside the door while the Russian security officer checked and secured the suite.

A few moments later she was rejoined by the man, holding a single box with a blinking interface. “The place is completely empty, save for this,” he said. “I found it in the bathroom. It has a manual interface, but I can’t read it,” he added holding out the box, a seemingly simple metallic cube with a small screen and keyboard attached to the front.

LeFevre looked at it for a moment and swore, “That bosh’tet! It’s in his language – some variant of some archaic Earth language called pooo tawng hwa or some such.” She kept grousing for a few minutes until their badges chirped, with orders to abandon the investigation immediately.

--Kiss of the Sea Arcology, Lagash Prime, Lagashi Pentad, Two Weeks Later--

Jin JunHua adjusted her qipao as she settled on the coach between her wife and husband to await their guest. She stole another glance at the thrice cursed box her disobedient son had seemingly left behind when he went tianxiaode nali. She could only hope her daughters and youngest, and only other son, honored their traditions and ancestors more fully. As a citizen of Lagashi, she supported the freedom her son had exercised, be she could not help but hope he had turned out better than joining the thrice damned Federation and putting himself at risk in military service, even if only as a scientist.

Fortunately, she did not have long to ruminate on her displeasure, as her guest, Zhang XiaoLi, swept into the room, the pattern and colours of her own qipao lending grace to her confident and swift step. JunHua smiled at the woman, “老媳妇欢迎。请喝一杯茶,” she said, formally welcoming the woman while gesturing to the very, very antique yixing clay teapot and fine blue-white porcelain tea set.

XiaoLi gave a bow to the three adults, before seating herself and preparing tea and passing it to the elders before fixing her own, enjoying the smell of a red tea. She did not doubt it was probably a strain that had originated on Earth and was carefully cultivated inside certain arcologies. The family had never been know to skimp, after all, on hospitality when they though it counted. Looking around, she finally addressed her hosts, “谢谢,岳母。但我喜欢问您们,我未婚夫哪里?他没有困扰吗?” she intoned, matching the formality.

With a pained expression, BaoJun’s father, QiaoLi, fidgeted on the chair, and answered her. “Actually, we believe he may be in trouble,” he said dropping the formal tone. “You know he had told us he was assigned to the Dyson Sphere the Federation had discovered. We had thought him safe there, but we have been unable to contact him for two weeks, and our requests to the Federation have come back as him having been reassigned, but with no abnormalities, even though they will not provide us any details about his posting.” He paused and motioned to the box. “Then, yesterday, this showed up. It’s his keepsake box. You can open it yourself later, but the only thing in it is a note with two words written on it. M-R-A-Z-A-K and T-H-E-T-A though we have no idea what those are supposed to mean.”

Thinking for a moment, the former intelligence operated wracked her memory for a few moments, being rather more skilled at Federation standard than the family of her supposed betrothed. “Mrazak and Theta,” she said, the words sounding foreign coming from her mouth. “Theta is a symbol, and I do not know what it means,” she said. “However, Mrazak sounds more like a name or a place,” she offered. “You want me to look into it, I assume?”

Wang Ling, the final member of Lieutenant Qiao’s family nodded. “Yes,” she said simply. “I know you and my son are not particularly close, but the two of you did finalize a marriage contract before he left, and I want my son home safely. If you can make that happen, we will consider the dowry called for in the contract to have been fulfilled.”

--Prosperity’s Grace, T’ien System, Lagashi Republic, Half-Past Dead MD 1--

Despite her best efforts, Zhun XiaoLi had not actually made much progress in determining what had happened to her titular fiancé. In fact, she had pretty much run into nothing but walls. Any attempts she had made about inquiring into the word ‘Theta’ in regards to the Federation Starfleet had been met with either absolute silence, or an admonishment to keep her nose where it belonged, which apparently was felt to be NOT in whatever Starfleet was up to. She had had a little more luck with ‘Mrazak’ which she had ultimately managed to attach to a Vulcan, but virtually nothing else. Attempts at gaining information on that person had received much the same response, a polite but insistent ‘none of your business’ from all official channels. She’d been feeling out information in less legal channels, but that took longer and required more legwork, and she had not made it far, though she was trying to set up a contact with a Ferengi who claimed to have some dirt that would interest her. In likelihood, he had nothing and was seeking latinum, but she had few other leads, so he was supposed to be meeting her here, in an office she had rented for a few hours.

Fortunately, the little man was almost precisely on time. She motioned him into a chair without ceremony. “Let’s skip the pleasantries, Ferengi,” she said bluntly. “This office is rented by the hour, so time is money for both of us. How much for what you claim to know?”

For his part, and to his credit, the Ferengi did not seem in the slightest put off by her brusqueness, but instead smiled. “Very well, Miss Zhun,” he said, obsequious as expected. “My employer heard rumour of your inquiries,” he added without elaboration. “The information I have is that one Qiao BaoJun was seen roughly a month ago on Bynaus with one Vulcan Commander Mrazak.”

The stern Lagashi woman gave an uncharacteristic reaction, by blinking several times at the Ferengi. That corresponded, in timing, to a major incident – major enough it had even filtered into the Lagashi news cycle. Slightly incredulous she replied, “I assume you have some proof of that, but what do you want, Plotch? You cannot possibly plan to give me information for free. I do not even begin to know how many of your rules of acquisition that violates.”

The Ferengi gave another toothy smile. “That Vulcan has cost my employer a great deal of aggravation and gold-pressed latinum,” he said. “To borrow a phrase from the Hewmans, he wants his head, on a spike, in front of his door as a warning to the next 10 generations of what happens to those who cross him. You find your missing person, and you find this Mrazak Vulcan. That is the information we want, and you will tell us when you find it. We will know.”

“Fine by me,” came the kurt reply. She had a sneaking suspicion about who Plotch’s ‘employer’ might be, but they were usually smart enough to not do anything too illegal inside the Pentad, and she didn’t owe Starfleet or this Vulcan anything. “I guess I’m going to Bynaus,” she added. “Oh, and consider this a gesture of my appreciation,” she continued. “There will be a naval patrol coming through in 10 hours. I suggest you plan accordingly.”


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