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Hunting the Night

Posted on Thu Apr 8th, 2021 @ 5:40pm by Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Ferrofax & Chief Petty Officer Reggie Hawthorn

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: Conference Room 1 | Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 1

Mrazak waited patiently -- well, for him -- as he watched the seconds tick by on the digital timer which he kept at the head of the conference table where he sat. He'd summoned the relevant members of the field team less than a moment ago and they almost always took their sweet time responding to Theta alerts. Today he was going to document their response time.

If Sophie had known what Mrazak was thinking, she would have read him the riot act. She had never once been late for a meeting and had mostly arrived quite early. On the one exception, she had arrived with only seconds to spare. But she had never once been late in her entire life.

So of course she walked into the conference room shortly after he began timing everyone, although she didn’t know about that part. “Sir,” she said by way of greeting, but offered nothing else as she took a seat.

With a nod of approval, Mrazak noted Sophie's time of arrival but said nothing.

Rodi walked in a minute later. He greeted Mrazak, "Captain." and then Sophie, "Lieutenant." before settling down in his preferred chair, stirring a cup of green tea.

The doors opened as Khaiel rushed inside, trying to get there as quickly as he could. This was his first official meeting as an officer on Memory Theta. Truth-be-told, this was his first meeting as an officer period. This was his first real assignment and he was going to do his best and be the best.

Khaiel nodded quietly to the others in the room before he took a seat near the far end and sat there in silence.

"Hmph." Not early but not late. Mrazak made note accordingly.

Walking in casually and carefree, Ryland was expressionless until he recognized the signs of Mrazak's nascent anger. He winked at the Vulcan before taking the seat farthest away from him as possible.

Mrazak chewed his cheek as he noted Ryland's time of arrival.

As one of the last, Fin walked in. Her smile was bright and cheery as she stood in the doorway. "Good morning everyone. Apologies I'm late, I almost shot a Borg on my way down if Ferrofax hadn't intervened."

"In other news I shaved another .2 seconds off of the shuttering speed of the blast doors. You'll be pleased to know that they are fast enough now that pain signals from any severed limbs will arrival some time after you become aware of losing the limb in a closing door," Ferrofax reported happily. "And in other news, Picard will not be preforming any of the custodial duties for the time being. With his right arm missing, I'm growing him a new one. Also if anyone finds the missing limb just scream out, it ran off into the service ducting before I could grab it in a forcefield."

Usual fastidiousness aside, Bao walked in almost a full 5 minutes after Fin, rubbing disinfectant on his hands with a mask affixed over his mouth. He slid into a seat as he looked at Mrazak, "How, in the name of the Jade Emperor, do you always manage to call meetings while I am in the air gap isolation lab?"

"We have an iso lab?" Reggie asked from under the brim of his hat, which he had pulled down over his eyes whilst he nursed a cup of coffee. Looking out from under it he eyed the mask. "I hope you took a spell to wash your hands before you came here all lickety-split?"

"We have several, in fact, Mr...?" Bao said blandly as he removed the mask. "Of varying kinds depending on what sort of matter is being studied. I did, in fact, thoroughly decontaminate myself upon exit so as not to risk spreading the Watts-McCleod virus through the station. It is supposedly inactivated in the artefact I was examining, but better safe than sorry."

Mrazak ignored their banter. As the last of them came in and seated themselves, he stopped the timer, made notes accordingly, and then flipped a trigger switch that had sat conspicuously next to him on the tabletop.

"Timeliness is part of the job description," Mrazak said. "An important part that seems to be lacking among members of our field team. As such I've decided to implement disciplinary action. I would have opted for pain association as it is the most basic behavioral modification technique that even dumb animals can understand, but I need all of you coherent." He glared at the late parties. "Instead I will not tell you what I have done and will instead leave you to discover it for yourselves." His smirk held no mirth whatsoever. "Theta alerts are not red alerts. They are not emergencies. They are harbingers of world-ending catastrophes where even minutes may make all the difference. Do not tarry in responding to another."

"Now," Mrazak said, moving to the crux of the briefing. "Does anybody have any familiarity with the Theta-Corvus system or the citizens of Corvus Prime?"

"You mean planet Dracula?" Reggie said, pronouncing the word Dra-cool-la.

"Dracula. Dhampir. Vyrkolaka. I'm sure you humans have other assorted names for the mess you made of one of your early colonies." Mrazak ran his fingers over his PADD, which then beeped and caused the PADDs of everyone assembled to beep as well. "I'm transmitting you the dossier collated from Starfleet Intelligence and Starfleet Medical records. Suffice it to say, Corvus Prime is inhabited by humans altered by their environment into something unnatural which caused the planet to be quarantined for nearly a century until a cure was found. They are only sustained by a proprietary compound called NOS-4-A2, administered through regular dialysis, without which they would revert to a violent state. Their associate and pending member status within the Federation is predicated on this compound keeping them civilized. Any questions so far?"

Bao glanced down at the padd and called up relevant details. "Pathos BioMed owns the patent for the synthetic blood compound. ExoGeni corp has been seeking a waiver on the Federation's ban on genetic engineering to attempt to study the gene mutations and develop a more permanent therapy, but are hampered by the patent even moreso than the ridiculous refusal to approve genetic modification therapies," he added by way of background as he scanned more of the page. "Failure of regular treatment causes a 'reversion' to a feral cannibalistic state due to the genetic abnormalities present in the populace. While fascinating, how, might I ask, has this risen to a Theta level alert?"

"I am so glad you asked," Mrazak said. "An officer from Starfleet Medical's local outpost in the Theta-Corvus system used her credentials with Starfleet Intelligence to send a Theta alert directly to us, bypassing the Office of Special Investigations entirely. Many of you are new, so allow me to explain how few times that has happened in the past decade: very few."

Looking up to the ceiling, Mrazak said, "Ferrofax, please relay the transmission now."

"Oh for that you are getting the standard package, no fancy holographic to go with it. A please, next time, if you would be so kind?" Ferrofax sniffed.

In a mechanical voice that indicated text-to-speech iteration, the following header was spoken over a holographic image of Starfleet Intelligence's logo.

"To: Section Chief, Special Operations Division
From: Operative Codename: Cassandra, Belmont Station, Theta-Corvus System

Once completed, the message turned to full visual, showing the face of a Nordic woman.

"Corvus Prime primary satellite Alucard suffered a several megaton detonation approximately ten hours ago. Initial blast knocked out communications and sensors. Upon retrieval of capability Belmont Station sensors detected traces of thalaron radiation. Alucard suffered severe destabilization as a result. Requesting assistance from SCE to employ measures to prevent Alucard from breaking apart and impacting Corvus Prime itself causing massive devastation. Requesting a response team from Memory Theta as well."

"End replay." Mrazak folded his hands together in smug satisfaction. This was just the break he'd needed to get out of the administrative line of fire. "As you all should know, thalaron research is banned within the Federation due to its biogenic lethality. Somebody made a big mistake on this Alucard, and it's now our job to ascertain precisely what that mistake was and collect any illicit remainder left behind."

Behind a well-trained facade, Fin's mental mouth opened in surprise. 'Leah Wolf, I wonder what she has gotten herself into.' Fin mused to herself as she noted it down.

"I'd be down right fascinated to look at the crater that thing left. Several megatons shouldn't have been enough to move a mountain let alone a moon, and yet they be calling in all the kings horses for this one. I've worked with the SCE before, probably bump heads with some of their big wigs," Reggie had perked up the moment the prospect of a bigger than average boom was involved. "And does this 'Agent Cassandra' have a holo on file? For liaison purposes?"

"It wouldn't have taken much thalaron radiation for that blast to occur," Mrazak said with the fatigue of explaining something obvious to someone in a lower paygrade. "An almost inconsequential amount as compared to anything else. If there is someone conducting thalaron research and development, then we are obligated to investigate and intervene." A dark smirk fell over his face as a faraway look came over him. "I do not envy the outcome for whoever we find meddling in such things." He chuckled softly as a bodily shudder pulled him back to reality and to the briefing. "At any rate, the goldshirt raises a good question. What can our 'friends' at Central Intelligence tell us of this Cassandra?" Mrazak asked Fin. "How is it a Starfleet Medical officer has Intelligence credentials and a callsign of all things?"

Fin tapped on her PADD for a few seconds before she decided how to answer Mrazak's question. "Operative Cassandra, also known as Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf. A civilian doctor with the FHO turned Starfleet Intelligence operative. She's an expert on post-Dominion War Cardassia, but is also a genius medical doctor and researcher. As to her callsign," Fin smiled, "When you're inserted into an operation as cover agent you get one. Mine was 'Falace' when I was last a cover agent. If Commander Wolf is code-named she is there as a doctor, not SFI Officer. Any questions?"

"So we have an undercover spook with a scalpel operating on planet Dracula where some idiot dropped his vial of bio-degenerating thalaron in such a way that it's knocked a moon of course..." Reggie said, stroking his beard. "Anyone else getting the feeling we're gonna end up treading on some other agencies coattails? I mean it seems a little on the nose that this Cassandra person would be there and there be a WMD lab in the vicinity?"

"Well, Mister..." She looked at the man who just spoke and realised she didn't know his name. "I'm sorry, we haven't exchanged names yet. I'm Finley Chu." She gave him a pleasant smile before continuing. "But to answer your question: Commander Wolf's mission was not about thalaron weaponry, but instead investigating if Pathos BioMed's medication has lost its effectiveness on the people of Corvus. And if so, find out why and to rule out or confirm malicious activity."

Mrazak shrugged. "Good enough." He had already disregarded the new Intel Liaison and the obnoxious man in the oversized hat. "Now, as per the alert, we will be posing as an investigative unit with the Corps of Engineers. If someone is conducting illegal research, they will be nervous enough with engineers poking around without knowing the truth that we are Starfleet's best and brightest." Pausing a moment, he gave them all a once over. "Some of us. Are there any other questions?" Looking around, Mrazak gave a nod to the silence. "So it begins. We'll be en route as soon as possible, so grab your gear. We've got some illegal research in potentially two categories to uncover and subsequently cover up. This mission should be rather straightforward, as the guilty parties are likely still in the vicinity--or, at least, their research is. Time to bag and tag, people. Dismissed."


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