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Three Card Monte

Posted on Mon Sep 18th, 2023 @ 6:53pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Calderon Jarsdel & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Ferrofax & Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf MD & Lieutenant Teejay

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Strategic Operations Conference Room | USS Phantom
Timeline: ID 6

Akiva had arrived first and took the command chair around the table. A grim expression rested on his face, but he kept his eyes low while lost in thought.

Seated perpendicular to Akiva was Nandi. She was unsure of where Mrazak might come sit, so she took a position where she would be able to view both of them at the same time. The chance that he would sit next to her was slim, as he had never done so before, a fact that had given her anxiety on first arrival but quickly bloomed into quiet gratitude. So far, Mrazak was not present. He had been behaving rather strangely, but for now it was Captain ben-Avram leading the meeting, so Nandi's professional bearing kept her attention toward him.

Arianna arrived next with Cal in tow. Even for a non-empath, she could tell things were off. Not so much with Nandi as much as with Akiva. Frost knew better than to ask then and there though. There would be time later. Despite what had happened and what had been said down on that beach that night, he was her friend and her Captain, it was natural to want to check in when she noticed something was off. Or so she told herself.

"We have news. Not as much as we could have liked, but we're a few steps ahead to where we were." She said as she took a seat next to Nandi, so as not to further add to the Captain's obvious stress.

Cal walked in, felt the rush of emotional energy and maintained a position close to the door while he allowed everything to settle. From here he could excuse himself as needed, but for the moment maintain a vigil of sorts.

Leah and Teejay arrived next, having taken a few moments after the cure started working to have a shower and change. Leah was intensely glad for the opportunity to clean up, but to feel better, and to later continue to explore the enticing agreement she and Teejay had made in the hours they spent in isolation back on the planet.

For his part, Teejay was distracted. He was starting to feel more like his old self, which meant that being dragged into a board room for a meeting was the last thing he wanted to be doing. Hopefully this would over quick. Deliver good news, exit stage left.

Bao slipped into the room, having taken a few extra moments to help set the computer on the path to recovery. He slid into a chair, hiding a grimace. The chairs were rather uncomfortable out of uniform.

Rodi had found his preferred chair moments after the command was made. He was more or less passing by the conference room as it was called.

Looking up from his frustrated reverie, Akiva said, "There's a lot that needs doing, so I'm going to make this quick. It's my understanding that Commander Wolf and Lieutenant Teejay have managed to make an updated version of the antigen than what is currently being administered by the Federation's medical response team, so we ought to make arrangements to deliver it to them. More immediately, however, is that we have multiple members of our staff who are formally missing--three who are believed to be abduction victims and a fourth who is about to become an official deserter to Starfleet." Akiva pressed his thumb print against the PADD held in his other hand. "And now it is done. Khaiel D'hikatsi is formally wanted for questioning in connection to sabotage and theft of Federation infrastructure." Looking at Ari, he continued his overly formal tone and said, "As for the others, I believe Commander Frost has more information."

Just as Akiva passed the proverbial baton to Frost, the doors parted. Fin raised her hands in apology before quickly scooting into an empty chair, ready to listen attentively.

Arianna nodded, "yes, sir. We have the who, and we have the why. What we don't have is the where." She tapped on her PADD and transferred the readout to the holo display in the middle of the table. "Colonel and Doctor Garlake took the Sailboat Harlekin out of Suraya Bay yesterday." She began, an orange line forming through a blue backdrop.

"The filed route plan had them returning the same day, however the sail never made it back." Another tap on the PADD.

Faces and names began appearing next.

"Captain: Kihrab Th'ethirer (Andorian)
Lieutenant Roy Zahra (Human)
Deckhand Jaeger Waring (Human)
Deckhand Ka'Da (Klingon)
Navigator Suva (Vulcan)," Arianna read out the names as they appeared.

"This is the crew who took our colleagues and friends. Now the crux of this intel - they are on Stelio Kontos' payroll. Most, if not all of you have had dealings with him recently, some during the trial on DS9, some before that. He has major beef with the Garlakes for the incident on Earth, Seyann, and DS9 recently. So there's our motive and means, we just need a location. We know they haven't sank, and they hadn't returned to port."

"Fine, so track down the damn sailboat," Ryland said, rubbing his eyes clear from his recent nap. "But what about Sophie? We know some Pakleds have her and are inbound to the Epsilon-Ceti Outpost around the corner to sell her to the Black Nagus. We need to get our asses over there pronto before she disappears into parts unknown!"

Arianna brought up another image on the display, showing the abandoned sailboat in the bay, its location and state giving nothing away as to the fate of its occupants. "We know where the ship is, but as you can see it's been abandoned, so we still have no clue where they are. Bridge is conducting scans as we speak."

Then she shared a quick look with Akiva and Cal, "As for the Nagus, you're right, Ryland, we need to send a team after them right away."

Feeling a heavy head-rush of inbound trouble, Cal silently excused himself from the room and ducked outside. Teejay watched him leave, and looked from Ari to Leah to Bao as the Lagashi spoke.

Bao considered a moment. "Fortunately, knowing who has her, and where they are going renders that fairly straightforward. The same cannot be said of tracking down the Garlakes. I suppose we could hope that Lieutenant Garlake's hormones are frightening enough to convince them to release her," he said, recalling her explosive outburst of temper en route to Risa. "If we presume competence, then we should presume our scans will turn up nothing. However, we may still be able to take advantage of the fact that their plan, by necessity, must have been put together quickly." He reviewed the crew list again. "We may surmise that Kontos had someone inside who tipped him off. The question is the crew in on it, or were they also abducted?"

"Shut up!" Mrazak's voice bellowed throughout the room as he stormed inside. He was not alone. There was another Vulcan with him, a short and provocative female who shared the same devilish smirk that he held. "Everyone shut the spa'ash up and listen because I have an announcement to make." Holding his hand up, fingers interlaced with his lady companion's, he made his announcement. "I am leaving Starfleet behind, and along with it, all of you pathetic excuses for higher lifeforms, in pursuit of a grander calling. This is T'Sen, and when you invariably suffer and die without my brilliant mind to save you, I want your last remembrances to be of this!"

And then he grabbed T'Sen with both hands and shoved his tongue down her throat. The smacking and moaning noises only escalated from there.

"Shoot me..." Arianna sighed, rubbing her forehead with her palm. "Shoot me now."

Leah blinked at the extreme and brazen display of affection. "Sir, you're leaving us in the middle of a crisis?" "Of course he is, typical narcissist." "We have three people kidnapped and one AWOL and you're leaving?" Whilst she shouldn't have been susprised, the jarring image and sound surround threw her off track.

Amused by the unabashed display of mushy affection, Teejay leant back in his chair and watched the drama play out. It would, he considered, likely be a lot easier to get shit done without Mrazak's theatre kicking off in amongst it all, and hey, if the guy was happy and loved up, good fucking luck to him.

As the two Vulcans finally sloppily separated, T'Sen glanced over at the team then back at Mrazak. "You were selfish and helpless they are, my love." She saw the image of the abandoned sailboat Harlekin, and a list of names and turned her head over to them again, "you lost them on water?"

She was an uncleared civilian taking part in a classified in the hell were they going to explain that doozy in the report? "Yes. We've scanned the vicinity and projected movement based on all known variables but we've come out empty," Frost ventured.

T'Sen scoffed, "clearly not all." She looked over at Mrazak and got up on her tippy toes and bit the lobule of his ear, "shall I give your former subordinates a clue?"

"A clue?" Akiva overcame his revulsion and pounced on the first opportunity to move past the vulgar display. "Have you been holding out on us, Mrazak? Is that why you've been acting so strange?"

"My conduct is none of your--"

Akiva cut the Vulcan off. "You've brought a civilian aboard this ship, Mrazak. Your tirades against civilians are legendary. I have half a mind to place you under immediate psychiatric evaluation."

"This is love!" Mrazak's eyes bulged like overripe fruit. "I wouldn't expect the likes of you to understand it!"

To describe Akiva's face as apoplectic would be an understatement. His jaw quivered in shock and outrage as he fumbled for words. Eyes were uneven, hands trembling in rage, Akiva fought against the encroaching nervous breakdown that threatened to overtake him.

"Before this shitshow gets any crazier, can we get back to finding our people?" Ryland asked, totally exasperated.

Nandi raised her hand, "If I may be so bold, I took the liberty of looking up T'Sen and, I must say, her list of accomplishments is... well, quite impressive." Flipping through research results as she read from the PADD, Nandi went on. "Daughter of Starfleet Captain T'Rama and esteemed Professor Zhi'rev of the Vulcan Science Institute, credentialed archaeologist, recipient of numerous academic honors and credited for dozens of paleontological findings with a noted specialization for excavations in hazardous conditions." Looking at T'Sen in a new light, Nandi's judgmentalism over her gaudy appearance fell away with a newfound appreciation for her accolades. "If you know anything that could help us, do share. Please!"

While the others sniped, Bao was having a silent conversation with the ship's AI. Ferrofax... I believe you heard "Captain Mrazak", yes? If he wishes to abandon Starfleet, who are we to stop him? However, I do believe I heard Captain ben-Avram specifically say senior staff. If the good Captain really wishes to leave, why, that would forfeit his place in that group would it not? I do believe that means Lady T'Sen's presence also cannot be authorized by him. If I recall, there are procedures for you to follow are there not? And you can avenge yourself for the attempt at replacing you with the real doll.

A fair point well made. Given Memory Theta's some what unique place within Starfleet, we are subject to certain irregular rules of operation. Such as vetting and cross-examination of any and all candidates placed within our ranks, and an option of veto against any appointments made under strenuous circumstances. You can agree I feel that these...goings on...count towards such a thing. But...should he leave, in this diminished state of his, he does pose a security risk. That provides me very few non-lethal options, and a grand plentitude of other options of the far more final variety. Vacuum desiccation, molecular dissection, a randomised EM spike to the temporal lobe. That last one would leave him technically alive, though you could argue the 'quality of life' argument all day long. I mean...there are so many delightful possibilities now that you bring them to mind.

Out loud the Lagashi gave Nandi a critical stare as gave T'Sen a once over. Another of the logic rejecting cultists? Not that it really mattered anyway. He could afford her the courtesy of the opportunity to be of assistance before dismissing her, even if her present choice of company engendered serious doubts of her supposed intelligence.

T'Sen looked over at Nandi, each word of praise causing the self important aura and expression on her face growing. "All true, good work, young human." T'Sen said in a saccharine tone, "I am also the wife of the Father of Science," she added, interlacing her fingers with Mrazak's and raising them, "Mrazak Tow'lasha."

Then she looked over at the image again, "now, since you recognize my worth, I will help you. I assume you looked around and up, have you looked down?"

Arianna raised an eyebrow. "Down? As in sank? We found no indications of sinking or drowning."

T'Sen shook her head, "no, no. Clearly you're not the brightest one in the group." The vulcan woman sighed dramatically.

Both of Frost's eyebrows went up now. "Where the fuck do you get off, you kitschy caricature?" Arianna was trying really hard not to voice her frustration out loud.

Leah however was growing more amused, "my god, you're just as self-deluded as he is, aren't you? Maybe even more."

T'Sen didn't wait for the short-haired one's reply, "I mean down. There are underwater observatories dotted around Risa. They were used for archaeological and paleontological excavations of the ocean floors."

Arianna nodded to T'Sen and stood up, "thank you." With that said, she left the room and headed for the Bridge.

"They would hinder sensors enough to provide ample cover for one or two humanoids. If we could narrow down the search area, my sensor suites could highlight which observatories are in use. Perhaps even if they are newly in use," Ferrofax said from his littlele corner of the ceiling.

Bao watched the back and forth futher instead of immediately answering Ferrofax. Something was off. Very, very off. He didn't know enough about T'sen to gage her behaviour, although her resumé and pedigree would suggest it to be abnormal. However, he did know Mrazak, and that did not add up. "I'm sure Commander Frost is already booting you up for," he said to the ceiling as he refocused his attention on the Vulcan duo. "Also, please forgive Commander Frost. She was an investigator and then an internal affairs officer before she was the deputy administrator here. Not positions known for prioritizing higher brain functions. Really only a few steps up from Pakleds most of them," he said, trusting that the woman's sense of superiority, and Mrazak's own, for that matter, would be fed by the, not entirely baseless, besmirching of Frost's career path. He looked back at Akiva, "Whatever else one might say, it does look like the civilian has given us a lead," he said, trying his best to will Akiva into playing along and remaining belligerent. "Still, as much as it pains me to say this, Lieutenant Dedeker is correct," he trailed off into implication.

At the same time, the Lagashi responded non-verbally to the AI. Nothing so drastic, Ferrofax. Pretense is what we need, pretense to take them away from here and the operation, and ideally pretense to force them to separate places, at least temporarily. Does it not strike you as odd that Captain Mrazak, who has built his entire life and self-image around the, admittedly mistaken, idea that he is Memory Theta, and who has never expressed in anything beyond his own greatness and self-importance suddenly shows up, supposedly married, to this painted Jezebel, and claims to be throwing away the one singular focus of his narcissistic drive in the name of love, an emotion, you and I both know he is incapable of grasping the meaning of, let alone actually feeling? I am asking you to give us a reason to separate them so as to figure out what game is being played here. I will simply choose to ignore any petty revenge that might be wrought by yourself upon the Captain in doing so, and, I suppose, take any heat that comes from it afterwards.

Having composed himself, Akiva reasserted control of the briefing he had convened. "Ferrofax, please erect a..." What had Mrazak called it all those months ago when he shamed former officers for being late to his briefing? "... a cone of silence around Mrazak and his... consort. Two of them, one each. I'll deal with them when we're done here."

"I know you didn't mention the need for atmosphere, as a vacuum does wonders for sound cancellation, but...I must say this is as close to entertainment as I've found of late," Ferrofax stated. In a moment two sonic projectors hidden somewhere in the bulkheads began to emanate a counter sonic wave to the pair targets voice.

After Mrazak and T'Sen were detained within their separate force fields, Akiva continued apace. "As I see it, we have two objectives of equal importance, so we need two search-and-rescue teams to tackle them simultaneously. Since Ryland seems to have at least some bearing on Sophie's location, he will need accompaniment to go retrieve her from the trafficking deal. Outpost Security will be involved only on an as-needed basis so as not to tip off the criminal element, but I will reach out nonetheless to ensure they're on standby. That leaves the rescue team for Storr and Jaya. If Stelio Kontos is involved, then we must assume hostile intent with both scenarios. That means each team will require elements of combat readiness, technical aptitude, and medical support." His eyes scanned the table, doing a quick read of the available people. "Team One will go to the outpost and find Sophie. Ryland may take point under Finley's command. Commander Wolf and Lieutenant Calderon will provide support according to their... specializations." Everyone knew precisely what Leah and Cal were capable of with their 'specializations' being nearly diametrically opposed to one another. "For Team 2, Sergeant Kos will take point with a small squad of whichever Marines remain on board. Commander Frost will lead the team with Commander Qiao and Lieutenant Teejay in support." Pausing to release his stored tension, Akiva asked, "Does everyone understand their assignments?"

Leah nodded, giving Teejay's hand a little squeeze, both elated that she could touch him without repercussions and a touch concerned about the tasks they had just been given. She would have preferred if the roles were reversed, as Doctor Garlake, being heavily pregnant would likely need a Doctor more that Sophie. Orders were, however orders and the norwegian would deliver.

For his part, Teejay was a little confused, but nevertheless up for whatever he was asked to do. Delivering three babies certainly didn't fall within his usual day-to-day activities as a rule, and he certainly very much hoped that his actual skillset wasn't required for the retrieval. He squeezed Leah's hand back, letting his fingers wrap about hers entirely for a brief moment of eye contact combined with a bright smile. It would be okay, the gestures said. They got this. He gave Akiva a thumb up, not letting the grip of his occupied right hand relax. He understood the task at hand, and any questions were irrelevant right now. They'd make it up on the fly, once they found the kidnapped couple. And next time a vacation was on the cards, he'd go incognito with Leah somewhere definitely far from the rest of this bunch.

Raising a hesitant hand, Nandi asked, "Captain, what about me?"

"You, Ensign?" He shot a sideways glance at Mrazak and T'Sen. "As Captain Mrazak is indisposed and you are technically his adjutant, you may notify the Division 14 staff of our more augmented cure."

With a nod and intentional avoidance of eye contact with the muffled Mrazak, she said, "I understand, sir. I'll do that as soon as we're done here."

"Don't know 'bout you but I'm sure as shit done here." Ryland got up and left to prepare for the operation.

Cal had stepped back in once the silence ebbed from the troublesome duo, but he kept close to the door. He'd catch up with Wolf after this meeting was adjourned and she and the other LT had parted ways. A rescue mission with Ryland... Cal considered, gifting the man a neutral look as the helmsman stood up. He didn't know Sophie or Ryland well, externally, but their inner voices were somewhat jangly in Cal's head. "Gonna need you to tell me all you know about Sophie," Cal stated, tone and expression serious. "Might help save her life."

Bao eyed the cones of silence with amusement. "Yes, Captain," he said. His eyes flashed a few times as he worked through getting access codes for the abandoned facilities and arranging for new uniforms to appear in his and Rodi's quarters.

Moments later Arianna walked in just as they were about to disperse. "We have a location, thanks to Ferrofax tapping into the orbital sattelites, we were able to find spikes of activity from one of the observatories. Have we got a team set?" She contained her worry and excitement like the seasoned individual that she was. Short, concise and to the point she kept it.

"Yes," Akiva said. "You will lead a team to the location you've pinpointed. Confer with Sergeant Kos who will be taking point and advise him of anything you've uncovered. I'll stay here in command of the ship and help with any further surprises Ferrofax may uncover." Looking at the rest, he said, "Dismissed!"



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