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He Did What?!

Posted on Mon Apr 22nd, 2019 @ 8:55pm by Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Karna Zsan & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Lieutenant Commander Kiril Nevin & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Commander Garai Fenia PhD & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Lieutenant JG Grace Sternwood Ph.D. & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Lieutenant Isaiah Zelaney

Mission: S1E3: Barbarians at the Gates
Location: Strategic Operations Conference Room, USS Phantom
Timeline: MD 2

The room was empty, save for Mrazak and Isaiah, and its fixtures inactive, save for the screensaver on the tabletop holoprojector. Geometric shapes were formed, merged, and divided again like jello blobs. This was evidently the base program for the computer system. In truth, Mrazak had never seen it active without either Ferrofax or one of his slave programs. There was a backup of Janus, but Mrazak was debating whether or not to activate it. There were few individuals that he would call friend, which meant Ferrofax was the closest thing. Activating his substitute felt too much like conceding he was lost, but what choice did they have?

"Wait, wait, wait, Lieutenant Zelaney." Mrazak's hand was upraised to cut the man off. "How is it that Ferrofax isn't here? The AI suite is idle but still active. That means he should still be here."

"That's what I've been trying to tell you!" Isaiah said, his voice raised in frustration. Ever since the Commander had returned, he was frantically trying to tell him what was happening but the truth was, he didn't have a lot of information. "I'm not exactly sure what happened. Most of our systems are locked down by the Lagashi and I'm not familiar enough with their technology to crack into it."

Mrazak pressed his head against the table and wrapped it in his arms before letting out a deep groan. "Right, so what about the backups? Janus was insufferable on Bynaus, but she still proved at least somewhat useful. Could we upload her and... you know... push-start the computer systems that way?"

"Honestly, no, it's not that easy," Isaiah said. "The Computer still thinks Ferrofax is running the show. I honestly don't know what will happen if we just shove another AI in his place."

Mrazak threw his hands up. "I don't know. Try... reconfiguring the primary power coupling or something."

Isaiah looked at the man in confusion. "Sir, I can't just turn it off and turn it back on. That's not how computers work."

"Fine. Try the other thing with the backup program and see if that works." Mrazak clapped his hands. "On top of everything else, we have an AI to liberate."

Rolling his eyes, Isaiah sat back in his chair, preferring silence to this man's unintelligent suggestions.

It took some time before the separate members of the field team found their way back to the Phantom and its conference room. In that time, Mrazak had ample opportunity to consider the situation, yet he wanted to hear from everybody before he made any final decisions. What was supposed to be preliminary introductions and authorization access had nearly turned into a diplomatic incident. He could only pray to his lucky stars that the others had better success.

"I hate to say that I'm glad to see you," Kaz said as he slid into a chair, "But I suppose it's...agreeable that classified information wasn't taken from you. I suppose this is the culprit?" he asked, nodding to the Betazoid who sat a bit away from the table.

"Kazyah Linn, the great and powerful!" Karna cheered. "I never thought we would meet in the flesh. You must know I am the biggest fan of the work you once performed for Spec Ops." He shook his head and tisked in disappointment. "And that is why it hurt me to embarrass you so. Surely I wouldn't have gotten the better of you in your prime." Karna bowed before him like a sordid combination of entertainer and fealty. "I remain Karna Zsan, thy humble servant."

Kaz ignored the man.

Happy to finally be out of that blasted room- no matter that it was very comfortable- Sophie had decided to dive headfirst into this assignment. That meant no wasting time unpacking, but getting into her uniform and getting to this meeting that had been called immediately. She scowled when she realized she wasn't the first to arrive. Oh, sure, she was still on time, but that didn't matter; she liked to be first. She also prided herself on familiarizing herself with the staff of an assignment before she met them- at least as far as attaching names to faces. She hadn't had a lot of time to do so before this meeting, but luckily, she recognized both of these men. "Commander Mrazak," she said with a nod to the Vulcan. "Lieutenant Commander Linn." Another nod. "I am Lieutenant Sophie Xiong. It's a pleasure to meet you." And without another word, she took a seat.

"And just who are--" Mrazak paused for a moment as his recollection caught up with him. Yes, an early transfer, even serendipitous if one believed in good fortune. "Ah, yes. Xiong. Lieutenant, I hope you brought your thinking cap. I am told humans utilize them from time to time."

Fenia sighed as she entered the conference room. Well at least it hadn't been as bad as the post action reviews of the incident down in Deep Storage. Autopsies and forensic examinations, she knew how to do those and she did them well. With an expert like Kiril around, their side of the investigation was fairly easy. Except, what they had found didn't match. That was the odd part. Quantum singularity resonance. That did not fit the bill, at all. She nodded to the two men in charge, before nodding at the exotic Lieutenant and then took her customary seat.

On Fenia's heels Rodi stepped into the room. At the door he took a moment to survey everything. Then he quietly took his customary seat at the chair facing the door, folded his hands on the desk, and waited.

Next came Nevin quietly, with Jaya and Grace walking together. The two had seemed to hit it off, both being out of their element.

Bao came in next, clearly distracted as he slipped into the seat to Rodi's right.

Storr entered the room quietly, though his presence was felt by all, and took a seat.

"We're all here," Mrazak said in a huff. "I won't mince words, team: today could have gone better. We are at odds with the Lagashi Admiralty, our AI is on lockdown, and one of us ran up a hefty tab at a bathhouse along with an official complaint from its proprietor." His eyes quickly darted toward Kazyah.

Ryland cut in. "Wait, what? Let's back up there and unpack that just a lil' bit."

Sophie frowned in disapproval, both at the activities and at Dedecker’s request. Really! Nobody needed those details!

Bao looked at Ryland, and decided on a peace offering of sorts. He drew a currency symbol on his padd along with the word "moron" and slipped it across the table to him with a little caricature of Linn and a large man with a sword.

"No." Mrazak said. "All right, it was Kaz. But let's focus on the future. Our colleague here, Lieutenant Zsan of Starfleet Intelligence, had quite a tale to tell. Before we all go over our findings, I would like to invite him to share with you all what he told me while Lieutenant Linn was occupied in the bathhouse."

Kaz rolled his eyes but kept quiet.

Standing to his feet, and sparing only a brief cackle at Kaz's expense, Karna began his presentation. "Thank you, Commander Mrazak. And thank you, Memory Theta, for allowing me sanctuary aboard your classified vessel. It is very much appreciated, and I do indeed have much to share in the spirit of reciprocity." He waved his hands in the air like a carnival barker, and his enthusiasm only slightly fell short of the same. "You see, I have been hunting down a Cardassian cell. I've managed to eliminate all but one of them. And in the course of my extra-judicial investigations, I have come to believe they are involved in the attack. What I lack is the evidence, at least at this moment. The Lagashi are holding my final... witness... as well my personal effects. Use your clout to help me access both, and I will help you clear this investigation in no time."

"Thank you, Lieutenant." Mrazak gestured for the Betazoid to take a seat. "Now that we have better situational awareness, I'd like everyone to report their findings, if any." The left corner of his mouth curled. "Hopefully there weren't any more dead ends."

"Well..." Fenia began, "Doctor Kiril and I are still a bit confused by our findings from the autopsies. We detected traces of a quantum singularity resonance. We're still analyzing the residual radiation traces. Our immediate scans haven't found a match, so we put them to work scouring the databases."

Nevin looked up when he heard his name, but immediately looked back down at the PADD he was reading. He was quite disinterested in this conversation.

"Based on what limited data we have from the Voyager's... voyage... in the Delta Quadrant, that seems to hold up," Mrazak said. "Whether or not the Cardassians are involved, we can conclude this was not an elaborate ruse: Species 8472 visited the T'ien system. The question is why."

Bao spoke next. "While Commander Linn was busy committing assault, menacing, and disturbance of the social order, I attempted to salvage some of our relationship with Admiral Huang. Thanks to Commander Mrazak, it is politically untenable for her to cooperate with us openly. However, our access to the data networks has not yet been terminated. I have copied all files pertaining to our investigation that were available locally. We may or may not be able to interview Lieutenant...Karna's witness, though I doubt they will release his personal effects to us in any instance, at least through official means."

"Admiral Huang stole Ferrofax," Mrazak said to Bao. "And heavens help her, or whatever you Lagashi pray to, if I don't get him back."

Grace had been following the conversation intently looking from speaker to speaker though remaining silent. She started to speak up but uttered only the word, "um", before raising her hand. In OCS during class they did that so why not now?

"Yes?" Mrazak's voice was more pointed than intended, but not so much so that he apologized for it. "Now's not the time to be timid."

"Uh, right," she said, taking a breath before continuing. "My search of the computer databases have resulted in a few odd things. First, it would seem that they kept discovering Cardassian bodies in their waste reclamation system. I found multiple reports in the days leading up to the attack. I am not sure of the correlation to this... but obviously it's not normal," she said, as if these people might not know this wasn't normal.

A Cheshire grin spread across Karna's face. "That was me," he said. "Never let it be said I don't clean up after myself. The Lagashi are more vigilant than I credited them for, though, so moving about their territory has become increasingly difficult."

"For someone who supposedly works for Starfleet Intelligence, you sure don't know how to keep a low profile," Kaz said, leaning back in his chair.

"Raise your hand if you've single-handedly brought down a Cardassian terrorist cell this week," Karna said, hand in the air. "Go on, Commander, don't be shy."

Mrazak grunted at both of them. "Enough. If you want to compare genitals, you may return to the bathhouse after this meeting."

Ryland snickered at that.

"Do you have anything else to report, Lieutenant?" Mrazak asked Grace.

"Well, it seems that the Lagashi had been reporting theta flux distortions but all of the channel log data has been deleted. It would seem that only a single packet of data is left but it appears to have Starfleet encryption. I haven't attempted to decrypt it yet but I'm wondering if it was Lieutenant," she stared at Karna for a moment and motioned a bit, not able to recall her name.

"A theta flux distortion?!" Mrazak blurted.

Karna grinned once more, this time at Grace, and it was far from amused. "You caught me, you little witch. I had a transceiver embedded in the primary communications array to parse and record all network comms traffic. Came in very useful in tracking down our late Cardassian friends. Now..." He cocked his head and rolled it around to look at Mrazak. "... the decryption key is among the collection of personal effects that I need your help retrieving."

"You might have mentioned a theta flux distortion," Mrazak said. "Those are quite dangerous! And perhaps very relevant to the attack!"

"Sounded like it," Karna said, "but it was outside my mission."

"Now it's not," Mrazak said, his words clipped. "We need to know anything else you know about the Cardassians, right now!"

Karna gave an innocent shrug. "There's one left, if that helps, but he's under armed guard. I was hoping I could get your help in accessing him..."

The entire update briefing had made Jaya feel unsettled, no less so that the empathic maelstrom caused by so many narcissists in one room. That Karna was clearly a clinical sociopath did not help matters either. The man's mind felt like a vast black hole, sucking them all into its dark grasp. Normally she would have volunteered information, like interviewing a sole Cardassian male in Lagashi Security's custody. But... something made her hesitate, perhaps only until everyone else's cards were on the table.

As she thought, Karna trailed off and set his big, dark eyes upon her, lips twitching in a knowing smirk.

"Before we move on to planning anything, I want to make sure nobody else has any other mission-altering secrets they need to share with the team." Mrazak perked his brow and scanned the table. "Anybody at all?"

"I also keep finding mention of a classified object that the Lagashi recovered but I can't find what they're talking about," Grace said, finding some confidence in the job she'd done for the team.

Mrazak's eyes slowly slid over to Karna. "Have anything to elaborate on that?"

"No," Karna said truthfully. "Must be something recovered from the wreckage. Yet I suspect everything would be held in the same restricted area."

"Do we know where?" Fenia asked.

"Somewhere in the lower decks," Karna said, "though I have not been able to determine exactly where. Maybe your Lagashi friend can be of more use there. I do know the most direct route is through the admiral's lift in the administrative area near where I ran into the commanders and the colonel. There are probably other more indirect entrances for maintenance personnel and junior staff, but I prefer a straight line."

"If we were able to access this... restricted area... would we be able to scan this mysterious debris and free Ferrofax from his digital prison?" Mrazak asked.

"In one fell swoop," Karna said, "as well as retrieve my effects, which means I can share the encrypted data."

Jaya held her palm out to get everyone's attention. "Is no one else going to comment on the Lieutenant's claim to have killed all but one Cardassian?" She looked around the table, looking for anyone other than Storr to support her objection. "I understand detaining a person of interest, even... harshly should they resist detainment. But Lieutenant Zsan has killed his targets and thrown them into the garbage disposal like he common litter. I don't think I can get behind such sentiments, much less such behavior."

Though he he kept silent, Karna narrowed his mouth at Jaya as if holding back laughter at an impertinent joke.

"How about we not pass judgements?" Kaz said, glancing at the woman. "You have no idea what it takes to keep our civilization safe and the threats that have to be eliminated."

Jaya bristled under Kaz's remark, but she refused to be drawn into a debate with him. "I do, Commander, because I've had to help pick up the pieces of men and women traumatized through this." She looked back to Karna for a moment--he reminded her so much of Saalkan that it made her skin crawl--but her attention was solely on Mrazak. "I know where the other Cardassian is, but I do hesitate to present this fact out of concern for what Lieutenant Zsan will do with the information."

"Finally," Karna said. "I was afraid I would have to pull it out of you the old fashioned way."

Fenia looked between the two, "no one hates the Cardassians more than my people, but this one may help shed light on our end of the investigation?"

"No one dies before we interrogate them," Kaz said, leaning back. "Or at least extracting the desired information in some way."

"Agreed," Mrazak said. "Everybody's blades stay sheathed for the time being. I will go collect the Cardassian myself while our more combative assets go retrieve the data, the recovered object, and our beloved Ferrofax."

"Is there really no way to decode this data without your personal items?" Grace asked, with surprising confidence.

Karna shook his head, his grin widening. "No. I was no fool coming into Lagashi territory. Any hack attempt will delete everything." He turned to Mrazak, his eyes like black hole singularities of narcissism. "I knew we would make a great team."

Grace frowned and nodded, she wouldn't risk the attempt, but if they really didn't need that object they could have destroyed that and Ferrofax and called it a day. She could provide the station with a much better AI. Subservient as a computer should be.

"So we're settled, then," Mrazak said. "Commander Qiao, I want you to assist Commander Linn and Lieutenant Zsan in devising the best way to acquire the items we require. Take the Sergeant for backup. Make use of our latent security access where applicable, otherwise go dark. Either way, we're getting what we came for."

Rodi nodded silently. A pang of annoyance shot through him though, now he had to not only pay attention to outside danger, but keep an eye on a psychopathic officer too.

Bao nodded slightly. "I will do what I can without further compromising the situation," he said. If they could get what they needed quietly without causing problems, great. If not, well, he was a citizen, and he knew where he would come done.

"I'd rather do this alone," Kaz stated, but sighed, knowing he'd lose that argument. "Whatever, sure. Let's just get this over with. I'm already bored with this mission."

Looking to Nevin and Storr, Mrazak continued. "I want you two to accompany me to officially take the Cardassian into custody, and we'll bring him in our way. No cut throats."

Nevin looked up again, "I'm on it," he said cheerfully with a smile.

Jaya squeezed Storr's hand. Her husband was playing his cards close to the chest, and that always bothered her.

"Finally, I want all the rest of these reports and readings gone through and then gone through again," Mrazak said to the rest. "When I get back, I want working theories on why what a theta flux distortion would mean in regards to the quantum singularity known to be associated with fluid space apertures. Commander Garai, I want you to make use of anyone you on board you need, even the new addition. Between the two of you, I expect something to plug our acquisitions into so we can get to the bottom of this and provide answers for Command."

"Hell yeah, baby, use me and abuse me," Ryland chortled.

"You're dismissed early, Lieutenant," Mrazak said. "Get back to the conn."

As Ryland snorted his disgust and left the conference room, Mrazak scanned the rest of the table. "Any questions?"

"What should I do?" Grace asked.

Mrazak shrugged. "Ask them." He pointed to Fenia and Sophie. "I have a witness to question."

"We'll fit you in somewhere, Ms Sternwood, don't worry." Fenia said, mind starting to organize their task.

“I need to familiarize myself with this computer system before I do anything else,” Sophie said officiously. “It shouldn’t take more than half an hour. It could be significantly quicker if I had some assistance from someone who knows it well. The sooner I know what I’m doing, the sooner we can figure out if the distortion is related to that ship and also where it all came from. ”

"I would be happy to help you get familiar," Grace said, standing up from the table. "And anything else you need help with," she said, to Fenia. With that the team made their way out of the room to complete their objectives.

"May I come along?" Jaya asked. "I was the one to find him."

"Oh, very well," Mrazak said, rolling his eyes. Maybe Storr would be less likely to manhandle him again if she were present. "You all have your orders. Dismissed!"


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