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No Stinking Badges

Posted on Tue Mar 26th, 2019 @ 10:18am by Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Lieutenant Commander Kiril Nevin & Lieutenant Commander Garai Fenia PhD & Lieutenant JG Grace Sternwood Ph.D. & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Ferrofax

Mission: S1E3: Barbarians at the Gates
Location: Song of Stars, Lagashi astral arcology, T'ien system
Timeline: MD 2

Despite the ignominious start this leg of the mission found on board the Phantom, spirits lifted once the team was actually under way. Fortunately they did not need to go far, at least not at first. Their first task would be to canvas the docking area, including the numerous individual bays, for anyone who may have data relevant to their investigation.

With Commander Kiril being the ranking officer with most field experience, everybody knew to defer to him. Now that they were on site, Fenia, Jaya, Grace, and Rodi stood in a group to coordinate their actions.

Jaya spoke first. "Commander, if I may, I would like to consult with the dockmaster to see if any refugees are nearby." She frowned a bit at the thought of it. "The... turmoil I feel suggests there may be some who haven't taken up lodging yet."

Fenia nodded, "I'll go have a chat with the traffic controllers, see if their sensors picked up anything unusual." This was more her field, trying to figure things out rather than navigate the seas of ego and self importance which seemed to dominate Theta whenever there wasn't something to focus their attention on. Though she did hold a certain dose of fondness for the no nonsense Sergeant Kos. She'd come to appreciate Rodi's somewhat simplistic and crude approach to things.

"I'll be joining Lieutenant Garlake to the docks." Rodi informed the group.

The PADD in Grace's hand set off in a beeping staccato. Pulling it free, she opened the priority notice that made us a protocol from... ancient Earth. Morse Code? She only bothered to translate the first four letters. F-E-R-R... She sighed. "What do you want, Ferrofax?"

>>Sentinel Programs Abound
>>Minimal Network Intrusion Possible

"That was rude."

The voice arose from Grace's combadge, and the badge of the rest of the Theta away team. It had the tone of a teacher tired but resolved to impart a lesson to a particularly dense student.

"My name is Patience. It is a name you may use, but it is not all that I am. Your companion, Ferrofax, has been redirected to a more useful environment. I have assigned as your liaison to the Lagashi data network. After all, your indentured AI does not know how to behave properly among civilised programs."

Jaya and Grace exchanged glances.

"All right... Patience," Jaya said. "I was unaware that Ferrofax could even try to leave the ship. He seemed rather... cozy, as it were." AIs made about as much sense to Jaya as mythological stories of magic, yet here she was surrounded by them. "Since you're offering to help, though, we could use some directions. Are there any eyewitness survivors of the attacks nearby? Temporary lodging, medical care, anywhere"

Footprints illuminated on the floor in front of them, color-coded and labeled by name. "The Fāngwèi concourse has been repurposed for transient services," Patience said. "All starships and survivors have been marshaled to that location for interviews, bioscans, and vetting."

"Vetting?" Grace asked.

"From what we've seen already, the Lagashi take their security very seriously even under peace time." Jaya cast an uneasy eye at the sea of cyborgs around her. "Beneath the veneer of calm is a very turgid sense of alarm and wrath. I suggest treading softly when at all possible."

Grace swallowed and looked at her counterpart, "I hate this job," she whispered.

Navigating the crowded spacewalks was easier said than done. The Fāngwèi concourse was an older design, reminiscent of the raw industrial design of early generations with few modern aesthetics. The natural chokepoints in the congested passageways in and out of the numerous docking bays made for tight security.

"Halt." The man held up a gloved hand. It was tactically enhanced to the point of nearly being an armored gauntlet. "There is restricted access to this concourse."

Before the team could respond, the now familiar voice of Patience chimed in. Rather than speaking on all frequencies, she spoke loud enough into the security officer's combat helmet that the others could clearly hear. "授权 Federation. 请让通过."

Reluctantly, the security officer stepped aside, though not before giving one last warning. "Do not obstruct any of our personnel, or you will be removed. Do not tamper with any devices, consoles, or fixtures, or you will be removed."

Fenia looked over at Kiril, wondering how the bajoran would react. It was always an annoyance when her team would be asked for help, then hindered at every turn yet the help would still be demanded of them. She however nodded to the guard, forcing a smile on her face, "thank you."

"I will be watching as well. The removal of data, or any form of data mining or the use of malicious coding will be treated as an agreessive act." Patience said from somewhere near the light fixtures.

Soulless machinations and their threats. Jaya suppressed a shudder. Looking to Grace, she said, "With that threat in mind, it sounds like you may not be doing much computer work. If you aren't keen on the forensic digging with Commanders Kiril and Garai, you're welcome to tag along with me and the Sergeant while we interview survivors."

"Forensics can certainly," Nevin said, obviously joking.

"I guess I'll go with you," Grace replied to Jaya, reluctantly.

The "transient facilities" proved to be little more than mothballed shuttlecraft crammed full of people who were waiting for their docked vessels to clear inspection and any other investigation.

Leading Grace and Rodi, Jaya scanned the docking bay for signs of somebody in charge. Aside from the armored security personnel, there were a few women with medical equipment in hand. One stood back, empty-handed and stoic. Her dark buttoned jacket fastened across her chest at an angle and it reflected insignia of some sort, though likely not a rank of some kind.

Jaya headed toward her in hopes that a civilian authority figure would be more helpful than military or law enforcement had been.

"Hello," Jaya said meekly. The cultural nuances still evaded her, but her empathic sense of the population told her that deference was the better psrt of boldness. " upon you."

It was an ancient human salutation that popped into her mind from some dark recess of foreign history.

The other woman appeared offended at first, her eyes flashing in what may have a remote cortical scan. She assessed Jaya, then Grace, and then the armed Rodi on their heels. The offense turned to indifference with a sniff of contempt. "Xié xie," she said insincerely. "What does Starfleet want?"

"I am Lieutenant Jaya Maera-Garlake, this is Lieutenant Grace Sternwood, and this is Sergeant Roderik Kos." Jaya did her best to push solidarity and friendship onto the other woman, but it wasn't much different than trying to influence the Borg drone butlers back on Overwatch Station.

"I am Deputy Administrator LiChan Guo," the fastidious woman said at length. "You may do whatever it is you came to do, but we are quite busy as you can see. I am running multiple processes through 20 teams of analysts while you're deciding how best to press me for information."

Jaya nodded. "Yes, of course. We won't take up any more of your time. We just need to ask some questions about the attack, so access to those analytics you mentioned would--"

Without a word, Guo snatched Grace's PADD away from her and began typing away. "I'm reading you in to the reports from the Medical, Logistics, and Ex-Im Divisions."

"Ex-Im?" Jaya scrunched her forehead.

"Export-Import," Guo said impatiently. "Everything should be there. Now go away."

"Thank you, Administrator," Jaya said, struggling to maintain her own professionalism.

"Deputy Administrator," Guo scoffed, as if the distinction marked an egregious error.

"Let's go," Jaya said to Grace and Rodi. Shuffling off to a less populated corner near a large load-bearing beam, Jaya tried to regroup. "All friendliness aside, now we're getting somewhere. Grace, can you parse all those interview and report records to look for anything out of the ordinary?"

"Yeah, that's easy," Grace said, tapping commands into her PADD.

Using her own PADD which was peered to Grace's, Jaya noted something. "It appears the Lagashi have segregated the locals and foreigners into separate groups. Not many of them, from the looks of it. What are the chances they might be more open with Starfleet officers than with the Lagashi?"

Rodi glanced over Jaya's shoulder at the PADD. "I'd say foreigners. Might find some retired Starfleet officers among them."

"Agreed," Jaya said.

"I would think if they are segregated they should be happy to see us. That can't be pleasant."

"Hello," said an old grandfatherly man. "I am Dr. FeiRong Shen. I understand you wanted to take a look at the situation." His bushy white eyebrows shuffled as he spoke. "Regretfully we've already cremated many of the dead. There are a few scrapped vessels in dock, but they've been cleared. You are welcome to review the pathology reports, of course."

He folded his hands and rested them on his waist.

Nevin raised an eyebrow, "You certainly wasted no time in cremating the victims," he said. "Why the urgency? Especially knowing we were coming."

"Is this Lagashi tradition, Doctor FeiRong? Or was there another reason?" Fenia asked in a placating tone, looking from Kiril to the Lagashi doctor.

"There was nothing unusual about the manner of their deaths," Dr Shen explained with a shrug. "Plasma burns. Explosive decompression. If you've seen one casualty of a hull breach, then you've seen them all. We've disposed of a hundred thousand corpses already with an estimated tripled number remaining. If you wish to examine a few, I can arrange a visit to a morgue ship." Realizing how that might sound, he explained, "Many of the least salvageable vessels are being packed to the hilt with bodies and incinerated by phaser fire. I can delay the next demolition if you would like."

"Yes, we would like to examine a few, please." Fenia nodded, "thank you for letting us do this. But still, why the cremation?"

Shen cocked a bushy eyebrow. "We're a little short on soil around here, if you haven't noticed." He chuckled amicably at his own quip before shuffling them toward an exterior airlock. "The tugs just parked this one right before you arrived. There won't be one fresher."

Rather than put in his access code, Shen palmed the door panel. The light turned from red to green.

"Would you like to lead the way?" Shen asked, his cybernetic and liver-spotted hand gestured toward the door. "I'm a doctor, not a graverobber."

Fenia motioned with her hand for Kiril to lead the way, as he was the the team leader.

"Oh, I suppose that's me," Nevin said as he walked through the doorway with the other two following behind.

As the trio entered the airlock into the ship, the stench of death hit them like a wave. Normally the smell would be revolting, but Nevin seemed almost unphased. He'd been around death enough that the smell lost its pungency.

"There seems to be four here," he said as he rounded a corner to the ship's bridge area where four Lagashi bodies lay dead on the floor.

"They'll bring in more," Dr. Shen said. "Especially from the derelicts missing entire sections of hull." He shook his head in awe at the raw destructive power and senseless, tragic waste of life. "Are the rumors true?" he asked at length. "Was this powerful adversary allied with the Cardassians?"

Fenia shrugged a little. She'd heard enough questions like those in her career, and found it normal. "That's what we're here to determine, Doctor Shen." She fished out a tricorder, "mind if we take a few scans?"

"Be my guest." Dr. Shen pressed his palms and gave two terse bows. "I am needed elsewhere, but I have authorized you both to scan this derelict and any others which come in. Mind the breached sections, as they tend to be rather...squishy."


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