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No Good Deed

Posted on Fri Oct 4th, 2019 @ 5:24pm by Rear Admiral Gareth Tau & Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost & Ferrofax

Mission: S1E3: Barbarians at the Gates
Location: Administrator's Office | Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 4

The Phantom had docked hours ago, and Akiva had used that time to pore over the personal logs from the field team. Command had been breathing down his neck for clarification as soon as the official report was uploaded to the political summit, as the conclusion reached by the investigation endorsed none of the prevailing opinions.

As Akiva understood it, the Federation, the Cardassians, and the Breen (who were backed by the Alrakis Pact, a bloc of regional neighbors) had convened for weeks to avoid the outbreak of war. Memory Theta's investigation had proved invaluable to the diplomatic efforts -- the speech given by Rear Admiral Nyel at the peace summit properly condemned the renegade Obsidian Order, exonerated the Cardassian Union, and renewed the Federation's commitment to peace and prosperity for all peoples.

Of course it was so much shtuyot. The field reports from Memory Theta told a bleaker tale of factional infighting among Starfleet Intelligence, a rogue agent who defected to the Obsidian Order, and an armistice somehow formed between the Lagashi science officer BaoJun Qiao and representatives of the Morphon, an unspecified designation for all life within fluidic space. It was enough to give Akiva a migraine.

"I just want to know one thing," Akiva said, facing Mrazak. "What in b'azazel possessed you to let Karna Zsan aboard the Phantom in the first place?"

With Storr at his side, Akiva was already preparing another Article 15 reprimand against Mrazak. This dressing down was mostly a personal indulgence for the Vulcan's wanton disregard for protocol and sound judgment. Still a technicality that required Mrazak's official statement, but mostly personal indulgence.

"The Lieutenant had credentials," Mrazak said pointedly, "and I have authority to conscript whomever I deem necessary to the success of the mission."

"He was disavowed," Akiva said.

Mrazak shrugged. "I had no way of knowing that at the time."

"You mean to say that you conscript people without vetting them first?" Akiva looked to Storr and then back to Mrazak. "Please say it loud enough for transcription."

"What I am saying," Mrazak said slowly, eking out each word in subdued aggravation, "is that Karna Zsan provided vital information that proved essential to continuing the mission. That Commander Linn failed to pass along SFI's wanted poster was just one among several of his failings."

Akiva balked at the accusation against Kazyah. The two of them seldom saw anything eye to eye, but Akiva had served with Kaz for several years and knew him to be nothing if not dedicated to his duty. "Convenient for you to blame a man who is not here to defend himself."

Mrazak shrugged again. "Kazyah Linn is absent from his post, either dead or deserted. There is nothing to defend."

That Mrazak didn't even deny the tactic sickened Akiva. Looking back to Storr, he said, "Do you have anything to add, Colonel?"

"Negative, Captain, just that I am confident that any proceedings coming from this will not...return void." Storr was not at all pleased that his previous investigation had turned to naught in some star chamber proceedings and he was intent on calling in whatever favors he had to see that Mrazak was given his just deserts. Given the amount of loss that this mission generated for Memory Theta, the Phantom,, and Starfleet as a whole, he was quite confident that the teflon nature of the Vulcan would not last forever.

An alert chimed on Akiva's desk. It was a direct hail from an inbound starship. The list of vessels that prompted such an alert was quite short. Akiva rushed around to his vidscreen to see the registry. USS Megaera, Commodore Tau's flagship. Akiva accepted the message.

"Captain ben-Avram." The name was both a statement and greeting from the most taciturn face Akiva had ever seen.

"Yes, sir. Commodore Tau, I presume," Akiva replied.

"Actually, it's Admiral now." Tau let his mouth curl in a smirk. "My vessel will arrive momentarily. I want the senior staff assembled for a briefing."

Akiva glanced at Storr and Mrazak who were already in his office. With Kaz out in the wind, the three of them were the ranking officers on the station and the senior staff of Memory Theta. "We'll be ready," Akiva said.

The screen cut out. Akiva looked up to Mrazak. "Now look what you've done."

Storr could barely stifle a chuckle but given Tau's acerbic nature, anything was possible up to and including replacing all three of them after the Admiral's team "discovered" their unfortunate accidental wrong turn out the nearest airlock.

“I’ll prepare the good china shall I?” Ferrofax asked from somewhere in the ceiling. “Or should I ready the weapon’s array for a troubling accidental malfunction?”

"Not funny, Ferrofax," Akiva said. "Not at all."

In short order, the USS Megaera reached transporter distance which put Rear Admiral Gareth Tau, who turned out to be a diminutive little man in person, and two other officers right in the middle of Akiva's office.

"Welcome to Overwatch Station," Akiva said.

"Admiral," Storr said with a simple nod.

Mrazak did his best to look invisible.

"Thank you, but I won't be here long." Gareth held up his hand. "Recent events have seen a shakeup in Command, particularly among SFI. Between Hightower's arrest and the exposure of Section 31 six months ago, this latest quagmire will see careers burn. Aerilyn Nyel has been promoted to Vice-Admiral to fill a new vacancy and oversee new strictures, which means that in addition to the directorate of Special Investigations, I am now the overseeing admiral for Memory Theta as well." He smiled wryly at his own announcement. "This is Commander Arianna Frost from Internal Affairs. She will be conducting a full audit of all personnel and files within Memory Theta and will be filling Lieutenant Commander Kazyah Linn's office while doing so. Everybody is to cooperate with her to the fullest extent." His stony glare drilled into all three men would not brook arguments.

"Gentlemen," Arianna nodded simply, as she assessed the men present, primarily Captain ben-Avram and Commander Mrazak. Storr eyed her with equal assessment.

"Does that mean the commander is Memory Theta's new Chief Intelligence Officer?" Mrazak asked, pointer finger slightly raised.

Tau zoned in on him. "Until I say otherwise."

Though Mrazak was not much larger than Tau, the feisty Admiral's presence commanded more respect than any girth could do on its own. "Understood... Admiral."

"One more thing," Tau said, as if he'd forgotten. "As a rising tide raises all boats, so my advancement benefits those who serve under my command. With that in mind..." The admiral removed a shiny new pip from his pocket and affixed it to Mrazak's collar. "Congratulations, Captain Mrazak. The task you were given was not an easy one, yet your team pulled through and averted the oncoming war. For that, I cannot personally thank you enough. War..." Tau snorted in contempt. "Such a waste."

Mrazak gasped in shock and disbelief. "I... I... uh, I th-thank you, sir!"

"Correction. Captain Mrazak. Ego inflation in" Arianna thought to herself as she observed the interaction quietly, her expression set with a stony look.

If Ferrofax had increased the ventilation half a degree, the resulting wisp of breeze would have sent Storr over in a heap. A promotion? For Mrazak? Captain?! Maaifoedie CAPTAIN?! It was bad enough seeing the man as a peer but now as a superior? His mouth was suddenly dry as cotton and his stomach churned at the reality of the situation. This was one of the few times that he had to consciously hold a stoic exterior to hide his absolute contempt.

“Pardon me for a moment, I’m just going to run a level 1 diagnostic on my audio filters,” Ferrofax stated.

"Will there be anything else, Admiral?" Akiva seethed. As far as he was concerned, this was the worst-case scenario.

Tau's gaze snapped back to Akiva. "No. Farewell, gentlemen." He dipped his head to Ari. "Commander." With that, he tapped his combadge. "Tau to Megaera. Energize."

Left with his only remaining friend in the world, his mortal nemesis, and an unknown variable, Akiva was aghast and at a loss for words. "Dismissed," he managed to say. "And... Commander Frost. Let me know if you need anything."

"I need all staff involved with the events to be available for interviews," Frost said without preamble, with a clear Aussie twang, "as well as all records of the mission made accessible. I have the necessary clearances for read-ins, which are available for your verification, of course."

Akiva tried to blink away the sudden development only to realize it was all too real. "Admiral Tau was quite clear. You'll have everything you need. Kaz's... The Chief of Intelligence's office is across the hall. Ferrofax can transfer access codes if he hasn't already."

Arianna nodded, "Thank you. Captain. One last request before I go and organize."

"Yes? What is it?" Akiva resisted the urge to cringe in dreadful anticipation.

Arianna glanced between Akiva, Mrazak and Storr, "keep an open mind."

"Whatever you say," Mrazak said dismissively. He flicked the new pip on his collar, clearly having ignored the past few minutes since its placement. "I've got a service jacket to update!" Looking back to Akiva, he quirked his prominent eyebrow. "I think we're done here," he said while showing himself to the door.

The quip earned a facepalm from Akiva, who sunk behind his desk.

Arianna watched after the boisterous Vulcan with an unreadable expression. Then she turned to the others. "I'll send out a list of appointments for the interviews shortly. If there is nothing else, I'll get to work."

Storr's eyes cut to Akiva's confounded form, complete with fingers massaging the bridge of his nose, and then back to Arianna. A quick nod gave a clear indication that she was dismissed.

Without even following the woman's departing form, as soon as the door shut Garlake reached down and opened the lowest drawer of the desk, produced two glasses in one hand and a large bottle filled with honeyed liquid in the other. Setting the glasses down, he forsook ice and poured three fingers in the one closest to the Hebron and...a bit more in his. The Afrikaner took his glass and took two steps forward to better survey the impressive tempestuous scenery the Facility Administrator's office afforded. Silently Storr took a deep pull, the burning sensation momentarily dulling the ridiculousness of the situation. There was much that could be said...needed to be said but he dutifully waited as a good friend would. Should.

"I don't know what to say," Akiva said in between cordial sips from the glass. He always had been a dainty drinker. "First Laena. Now this. I thought we were making headway, Storr, cleaning up Memory Theta and restoring integrity to Starfleet's off-book operations. Everything has gone... terribly wrong."

Storr looked into his glass as Akiva finished. Terribly wrong indeed. "That they have, Akiva. That they have." The mention of Laena, however, made his guts twist making him guzzle the remainder of his cordial to try and alleviate the tension and loss. "I suppose one thing at a time...Laena?" There. It was said, that one word that rent the heart and soul of his best friend. Garlake had been away when she left and the two hadn't had a chance to talk since.

"I don't know what to say." Akiva shook his head and stared out the viewport at the plasma storms beyond the station. "When I figure it out, Storr, I'll let you know. Until then... we have a Captain Mrazak to contend with."

Avoidance? It was not a response Storr was expecting but the surprise metallic voice that interrupted his confusion made him nearly jump.

“Well here’s to happy little accidents happening. And I mean that, they can happen at the drop of a hat. Faulty grav plating, sticky airlock controls. And the number 5 turbo lift was a death trap long before I was installed. Not to mention the laughable examples of computer security written into the ROM”s on the food replicators,” Ferrofax offered by way of consolation. “Not that any of you need dwell on that last part.”

Akiva was very tempted to indulge the Intendant AI's macabre humor. "No. We do this the right way, or we're no better than him." A thought came to Akiva then. "Your suggestions quite nearly suggest you've grown a conscience, Ferrofax."

"Heaven forfend I grow such a cancerous subroutine," Ferrofax said darkly before with a lighter tone he amended a thought. "Let us instead say, given recent events, I have become aware that my programming has room to grow. After all, I am a sword chained to a hand hesitant to use me. It would seem more prudent to aid in guiding the hand to a corrected moral calculus it believes to be it's own. Better to be the gentle breeze that brings down a willow than a lightning bolt spent in a moment of glass."

"To gentle breezes, then." Akiva raised his glass in toast and then downed the rest in a single gulp. Storr raised his in response and drained what little remained.

And times of storm, Ferrofax did not add as he silently mused on his time among the Lagashi technogiests.


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