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Crawling in the Dark

Posted on Thu Jun 27th, 2019 @ 2:43am by Commodore Gareth Tau & Commander Mrazak
Edited on on Thu Jul 18th, 2019 @ 5:10am

Mission: S1E3: Barbarians at the Gates
Location: Strategic Operations Conference Room | Deck 1 - USS Phantom
Timeline: MD 2 [after Once Forward, No Retreat]

The investigation had taken a turn for the worse. Not only had Memory Theta dug up leads in the suspected Cardassian connection with the Species 8472 attack in the T'ien system, but they had also uncovered some sort of Starfleet Intelligence operation, perhaps more than one, which seemed directly tied to their mission. It was time to call up the chain of command and do some bureaucratic bitching. As much as Mrazak hated Intelligence, he knew that a mission depended on accurate and complete intelligence. He was accustomed to being the one hiding facts, and he did not much like being on this side end of classified data. In fact, he loathed it.

With his compiled report in hand, he sent out a priority one transmission to the Office of Special Investigations on Starbase 72. Memory Theta's Sigma-9-Theta clearance guaranteed a direct line to the directorate. In a moment of multiple redirected links, Mrazak saw the idling Starfleet chevron get replaced by the stony face of a grizzled black man with graying facial hair to match his close-cropped hair.

"Director Tau, so good to speak to you on short notice." No notice, in fact, but Mrazak thought to obscure that detail.

"What it is, Commander..." Tau checked his directory for the name. "... Mrazak? Have you concluded your investigation?"

Mrazak shook his head. "Not as yet, sir, but my preliminary report is accumulating with evidence."

"Glad to hear it. Diplomatic relations are straining under the allegations, to say nothing of demands for... countermeasures. Command is anxious for your findings." The man's face somehow became even more frosted and adamant. "My office has given you time and kept off your back. Do not disappoint."

"Understood, Director." Mrazak tried not to cower beneath the commodore's apprising stare. "That's actually why I'm contacting you directly. We've recovered debris from the attack, a piece of biotech that has distinctive Cardassian modification potentially used to create a portal to fluidic space. What is more troubling is that we had to backtrace classified SFI files in order to determine the likely origin of this reverse-engineered biotech. Something SFI called Project Red Route."

Tau narrowed his eyes. "Indeed? And did you find what you needed?"

"Yes, sir," Mrazak said, "at least, enough to continue our investigation. We expect to find proof positive within the next 24 hours."

"Excellent," Tau said, relieved somewhat. Though confirming Cardassian collusion could mean another war, at least it would end the tortuous limbo in which the entire quadrant was suspended.

"However..." Mrazak drew out a pregnant pause, hoping to entice the director to give him what he wanted. "If we had access to the full project files for Red Route, we might able to shorten that considerably. And avoid an unnecessary trip to Soukara through Cardassian space."

The prospect seemed to put Tau at odds with himself. "That may not be possible," Tau said. "This directorate exists as an intersection between Science and Intelligence, but they do not share data equally with one another."

"With all due respect, Director, but can't you push it through?"

Tau bristled. "Naturally. But that would take time. You may have a better chance having your on-staff Intelligence Chief petition the information if you want the data in a timely manner, which may make it untimely and irrelevant."

That only left the hard way. "In that case, sir, we have no choice but to enter Cardassian territory and confirm what SFI may already know."

It was a conundrum that could only be solved by an executive decision. "Do it. We need answers yesterday. If Admiral Nyel or the spooks at Central have a problem with that, then let it be an incentive to push for full disclosure in future crises." Tau sighed, burdened with the certain knowledge that there would always be a future crisis.

"As you say, sir." Mrazak suppressed a smirk of victory. His lip did make a sinister curl. "We're about to pass through the Valoris Nebula, so communications will go dark until we return to Federation space."

Tau nodded with approval. "Contact me at your first opportunity. OSI out."

The screen went dark for a moment until the Starfleet logo returned. Mrazak folded his hands together, fingers interlaced, as he considered his options. Three Intelligence officers on board, one who held his cards close to his chest, two others at odds with each other, and all predisposed to manipulation. There was also the likelihood of an infiltration action depending on what they found at Soukara. This day was only going to get more exciting. Perhaps the best thing to do was pool everybody together and make a plan of action. Mrazak checked his chronometer to see the late hour. Perhaps he should sleep on it and let others do the same. Soukara wasn't going anywhere.

 

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