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I'm Your Huckleberry Pt. 2

Posted on Fri Nov 19th, 2021 @ 11:25pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost & Calderon Jarsdel

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: Deep Space 9
Timeline: MD 2

"Is there a problem, ma'am?" asked the Senior Chief when Ari exited the Infirmary. "If not then I gotta insist you go back the way you came."

"Chief," Arianna quickly ducked behind a cover, "Commander Frost, Fleet Intel, I'm hoping you can give me a sit rep? Your boys in there couldn't help me out."

"Not surprised," the chief said as he stepped closer to the Infirmary door and drew Ari closer to him. For the moment they had cleared their little slice of the Promenade, but there was no telling how long that would hold out before more Trills came along. "We've not had contact with the rest of the station since this all went down. Jammers are everywhere, though they gotta' be local because some of the people inside reported pockets where their signals got through. Krass is dead. We're disorganized and fighting for our lives now and don't know bloody why." He looked at Ari's Intel uniform. "We were actually hoping you or the others could shed some light on the situation, Commander."

A stab of remorse washed over Arianna. Krass was dead. She'd hoped to find him in this mess, maybe have a drink with the dour man to celebrate getting out of it when it was over. He'd been the only one so far to actually hear what she'd been saying and didn't sideline the thought of TLA presence aboard DS9.

"Fuck!" Frost cursed, "TLA is clamoring for a release of General Arjuna held in Federation Custody for terrorist activity against the Trill. They came very well prepared to barter for his release. They took Admirals Tau and Nyel hostage and killed Mister Smith. They almost killed my group too but we managed to fight our way out."

Of course, there was more to it than that, but the Chief didn't need to know at that moment in time.

"You got any boots you can spare? Soon as my guys are fixed we're going after them. Hopefully ending this mess in one go."

The senior chief scanned the Promenade corner again before replying. "Looks like trouble might've died down for now. Anybody else inside able to protect the civies? If we can secure the Infirmary and the people in it, then I'd be down for taking a walk."

Frost nodded. "I'll see what I can do. Some of my group will be staying behind to help out."

Returning her nod, he replied with a terse, "Ma'am," before returning to his vigil.

Jaya looked between Storr, Cal, and Nandi, and noted the severity of their conditions were in that order. Storr was surrounded by a surgical support staff, which left little room for Jaya. After all of thirty seconds spent on her, Nandi had been left alone by the med techs to her devices. It seemed she had discreetly watched as Cal's injuries were assessed, particularly when his uniform was removed to expose his bare torso. Eye contact between Jaya and Nandi ended with grinning on Jaya's part and blushing on Nandi's.

"Doctor Hunley says you will live," said the Vulcan nurse Shesok as she applied the last of the protoplasmic spray to Cal's back. "The anabolic reaction of the protoplasmic compound will prevent further localized edema, but there is a statistical likelihood that you will nonetheless suffer tenderness to physical touch in the region. Avoid slips, trips, or falls for the next 24 hours just as a safeguard."

"Thank you," Cal noted with gratitude overtly infusing those simple words. He tested the movement in his left side, winced and nodded. It hurt, of course, but he could use it if he needed to. "I'll do my best, ma'am," said Cal, flashing a warm smile as he considered the unlikelihood of keeping that 'don't slip, trip or fall' promise. His gaze wandered then in the direction of the others, particularly Nandi. Judging by the lack of medical staff around the young woman, she seemed fine, so Cal stood up, thanked Shesok for a second time and walked over to give Nandi some attention.

"You okay?" He asked, skimming her mind for accurate emotional information as he did so.

Recovering as she was from Jaya's knowing stare, Nandi practically melted under Cal's direct attention. "I'm fine," she said meekly. "I just needed to catch my breath. How are you?" Her eyes darted ever so slightly to his torso which had been bare moments ago, but she resumed eye contact by force of will.

"Thank goodness for that," Cal noted, with obvious and genuine concern. "You had me worried there." He shrugged (carefully), and smiled as he answered Nandi's own question. "I'm good," Cal said. "Just a little bit sore, but I'll live." He hadn't failed to notice her wandering gaze, and drew her attention back towards his face with a light touch of his hand at the young Ensign's cheek. "We did great, Nandi. We made it this far, we're gonna be fine." Hopefully.

"I hope so," she said. "When we came here, the captain said it could mean the end of our Starfleet careers. But, just a moment ago, we were running for our lives." Looking up at Cal with her brown eyes big and pleading, she asked, "Why would they do this?"

A wry half-smile echoed those words - 'end of our Starfleet Careers' - as Cal wasn't sure where he currently sat in that realm. Running for his life was a definite improvement over his recent past. But all those thoughts fled to the darker corners of his mind as Nandi gave him puppy dog eyes and a simple warmth infused his soul. "Everyone wants something," he said. "The TLA clearly wants to trade. But first they had to let us know they're serious." He let his hand cup Nandi's jawline, his thumb grazing her cheek in a comforting gesture. "But we'll win," he promised. "We're still alive and kicking, which means we can turn this around."

Nandi bit her lip and looked away at a distant viewscreen that demanded her interest. She couldn't make out what it said, but she doubted that even if she could that it would have mattered. It was all she could do to not melt away completely beneath the winsome wiles of this strange man who seemed so dangerous to her for all the right and wrong reasons. "Yes...yes, I suppose you may be right," she managed to eke out around the sudden blockage in her throat. "We're Starfleet, after all." Whatever that was supposed to mean. At the moment, Nandi didn't rightly know. It was just a statement pounded into her at the Academy that came back to her now by rote.

Turning her gaze away from her friends and back to Storr, it delighted Jaya to see that the surgeon had stepped away at last. All that appeared to be left was proper wrapping up for her husband's leg.

"How is he?" Jaya asked, but the surgeon brushed past her to the next patient without reply. Suppressing her harrumph, she stepped closer to Storr. "Looks like they managed to save your leg," she quipped with a coy smirk hidden beneath her pursed lips. Flippant though she was, there could be no denying between them that Storr had faced a brush with death.

Storr rolled his eyes and smiled, the backside of the anesthetic still keeping the pain to a dull roar. "I think I'll be okay...the surgeon ask me if I worked underground a lot, though." seeing Jaya's brow raise in perplexion, the Afrikaner continued with a playful shrug. "because it was a miner injury."

He knew the shoulder punch was coming and he guffawed when it did, though winced as his still-fresh injury reminded him of its presence. It was worth it...Jaya was beautiful when she was angry, even if she was (mostly) faking it.

Meanwhile, Akiva had his nose buried in the corner terminal. He'd used his general clearance to access the Memory Alpha database that all Captains could search when the need called for it. The entirety of the Federation's data was at his fingertips, though he had to suffice for thumbing through it one directory at a time. It had taken a startling five minutes simply to locate Deep Space 9 within the distant planetary archives. It took another minute simply for his authentication to process. Evidently, DS9 did not like random officers attempting to access station schematics.

"By now you should realize how helpless you are," said a female voice that was amplified by transmitting through every monitor that had remote access capability. "The Trill Liberation Army has successfully taken hold of the station. Pockets of resistance are inconsequential, for we hold all the cards." Vaera Sodari looked the worse for wear. She had clearly gone through a couple of firefights between her bold stride into the wardroom and her current address. The dark lighting of her location did her no favors either. "We have jammed your transporters, your sensors, your communications. Try as you might to regain control in Main Ops or huddle in your cargo holds and Infirmary, make no mistake: this station is ours." She leered into the video, her crazy eyes growing wide in rage. "And any attempts to wrest it away from us will only harm them."

In place of Vaera were the faces of Admirals Nyel and Tau, both of whom were bound in manacles to one of the reactor cores at the bottom of the station.

"If you want your Admirals back, then give us our General. It's more than fair. More than you deserve, Starfleet. We have proven the strength of the TLA." Vaera glared into the feed once more before it cut out, but not before her final word. "Do not test us further, for we have proven we are all willing to die for our cause. Are you?"

Not just another kidnap and exchange, not when the whole station was under the control of the TLA. Well, almost all of it. Still, Cal had been in this position before, sort of. Minus the hostages and Good-Guy Conscience, but facing a whole station solo nonetheless. Here and now they had a team. This should be a piece of cake, right?

"What's the plan?" Cal asked, quietly aiming his question to Storr and Akiva. "I figure Jaya and I can handle comms..." He offered, shooting a quick glance to the Lieutenant as his mind gently grazed against hers for confirmation.

Jaya shook her head. "My studies in Communications were only as a subset of Psychology, not Computer Systems."

I meant this kind of communication Cal spoke direct to Jaya's mind, words wrapped with a smile. They can't jam us, far as I know.

"Fortunately, I was troubleshooting comm networks before my bar mitzvah," Akiva said with his head craned over his shoulder. He ushered the others to come join him. "So I've already narrowed down which reactor core the broadcast came from. Here." Station schematics came up on the console display with one of the reactors on the bottom of the space station glowing in emphasis. "There are a dozen life signs there, presumably including the Admirals, which means they lost a couple of soldiers since the abduction in the wardroom."

Nandi raised her hand. "How did you detect life signs when that Vaera woman claimed to have jammed all sensors along with transporters and communications?"

"I spiked their jamming signal," Akiva said with the makings of a proud smirk. "Counter-interference, if you will. It created a gap for me to get a brief sweep of the reactor section."

"Could we use a 'spike' to reestablish communications?" Jaya asked. "Or maybe beam some people off station?"

Akiva shook his head. "This was reconstructed through intermittent data packets over the course of several minutes. A recorded message might get through or it might be scrambled. I wouldn't trust a pattern buffer to maintain transporter integrity during the beam-out." He paused for a moment in thought. "But...if we could access the station's communications array, we could trigger a burst through the subspace transmitter to overload the entire system. It would destroy the station's internal communications network, but it would likely take all the hidden jammers out along with it."

"Isn't that a bad thing?" Nandi asked with a furrowed brow.

"Normally, yes, but there is a small armada of Starfleet vessels outside the station," Akiva said. "If we blow the station's network to overload the jammers, then it would be a matter of seconds before reinforcements could beam in and retake the station."

Jaya frowned. "But Vaera said she would kill the Admirals if that happened. They would need to be rescued from the TLA before that, right?"

"That's right," Arianna added as she ducked back into Sickbay, sliding the rifle behind her back again. "The jammers are local, by the Chief's reports. Ragtag groups have reported signal pockets. Chief's also willing to lend us some boots if we can help secure the Infirmary. Assistant Chief of Security is dead," Frost's face fell for a brief moment before she recomposed herself. "Unknown on other Station Senior Staff. The Admirals?"

"The Admirals appeared alive on Vaera's broadcast," Jaya said, "but their condition was difficult to read."

Arianna nodded, "do we know where they broadcast from?"

"Reactor 6," Akiva said by way of summary, "down in the station's fusion core." Pulling up the technical readout on the screen, the visual display of the reactors disappeared in favor of numbers and figures. "That's an auxiliary reactor unconnected with any primary system, which means any significant damage to station infrastructure will bring it online. Right now it's in reserve mode, likely powering their broadcast equipment and little else." Looking at everyone, he said, "The timing of our mutual objectives must be precise: if Cal and I sabotage the station's communications array, it will trigger reactor 6 to come fully online." His face turned even more solemn if it were possible. "It will irradiate the admirals who are restrained nearby, and that is if the TLA does not simply execute them for good measure. Should we commit to this plan, there can be no going back."

Cal screwed his face up for a second, then gave Nandi's hand a reassuring squeeze. It wasn't impossible, this task and he chose to believe that meant they had a good chance. Well, a chance.

Arianna took a deep breath then nodded. "If we can rustle up some anti-rad treatments to take to them once we've dealt with Soderi and her ilk, hopefully, we'll be able to minimize any permanent damage to the Admirals, and whoever goes in there after them."

Then she paused again. Realistically, she'd have to be one of them. She had the training, the experience, and most importantly, she was expendable, so long as she got intel to the right people.

"I'm one, the Chief said he can spare some people if we secure Sickbay, so that's a couple more at least..." Frost added, looking at everyone else, but not meeting their eyes, not quite.

"Anti-rad treatment?" Cal noted. "Real optimistic view there." A short sigh. "We gotta time this right. I can count you down on," he tapped his own temple with an index finger. "my 'comm'."

"If Storr is back on his feet, then he can round out the rescue team," Akiva said. "Nandi, do you think you can stay here and monitor the situation from this console? I can keep the readout live so you will have real-time input. It won't be much help necessarily, but if there is a critical failure somewhere then perhaps you can find a way to alert the necessary people."

Nandi pressed her lips thin but nodded. Just another simulation, she told herself.

It was somewhat of a relief to Cal when Akiva requested Nandi stayed in the Infirmary. One less person to worry about, and a secondary point by which to bounce information as they moved through this crazy plan. "How long would it take us to get from the comms array to provide back-up to the exfil team?" he asked.

"In all likelihood, long enough that whatever will happen will have happened already," Akiva said. "But we'll of course do everything we can." Looking around at his administrative entourage who had become a stopgap disaster relief team ready to conduct a dangerous SAR operation, Akiva couldn't hold back a boyish smile that briefly covered up the terror he felt at their undertaking. "I take it by lack of protests from anyone present that we're all on board with the plan. Are we ready to begin?"

Arianna nodded, "I'll go get the treatments from the Doc and corral our spare boots and meet you at the door?" She asked of Storr.

Lieutenant Colonel Garlake had already sat up during the makeshift briefing and now swung his legs over the biobed before gently lowering himself to put weight on his leg. He squinted his eyes but the firey shots from his thigh weren't anything he hadn't gone through before. Given the physical pounding he had taken in the past, however, it wasn't a comforting thought.

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," he said as he nodded to Frost. Stopping for a moment, he drew Jaya in close, bringing his forehead down to the top of her head. "Be safe, my Boervrou. Care for our little lambs." Kissing her crown, he squeezed her before turning towards the makeshift rescue team and limping towards the door.

While he wasn't technically a ranking member of the team, and what with impending potential death a definite potential outsome here, Cal opted for a unconventional good luck charm. He leant in close to Nandi, and without words, kissed her softly right on the mouth. "See you on the other side," Cal said, as he stepped back and let his fingers trail across her cheek in his leaving.

Nandi stood there stunned and watched in unblinking disbelief as Cal walked away with the others. The near catatonia was broken by Jaya's hand coming to a gentle rest on her shoulder. It made Nandi squeal.

"I'm sorry!" she squeaked at Jaya, her cheeks red.

"No need for that." Jaya couldn't help but smirk at the young ensign. "You do have the right not to have people touch you."

"Yes, yes, of course," Nandi agreed, nodding all the while. "It's just..."

Jaya canted her head, her smirk turning sly. "Just what?"

"Just..." Nandi buried her chin into her chest and wished for a black hole to open up and swallow her up. "I don't think I mind..." Gasping at what she'd just said, Nandi swiveled her head back toward Jaya. "Wait. That's... that's not what I meant!"

"Nandi..." Jaya's voice was gentle. "It takes maturity to process our feelings, much less to act on them. Do not look at yourself as weak. You are simply expanding." She raised her hand to preempt the word vomit that threatened to come out of Nandi's mouth. "Now, we have etiquette and norms and protocols to uphold, but those are guidelines, not prisons. Let yourself go. You will find yourself capable of functioning on your own two feet without being corralled." The Deltan's canny eyes stared deeply into Nandi's as she spoke, her words laced with empathic gravitas. "Do you understand what I am telling you?"

All Nandi could do was nod.

"Good," Jaya said. "Then watch the console and monitor for whatever it was Akiva told you to monitor."

Turning away while Nandi took to the console display, Jaya surveyed the Infirmary once again with her arms folded beneath her breasts. It was her job to help less evolved beings maintain equilibrium, but days like today often made her feel as though she were surrounded by children. With any luck, these 'children' would prevent evil from winning the day.


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