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Your Schwartz Is as Big as Mine

Posted on Tue Oct 3rd, 2023 @ 1:14pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant Commander T'Bela & Chief Warrant Officer Arex

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Yuna Tarka Medical Center | Tembiti Lagoon, Risa
Timeline: ID 6

With the Phantom and all the various shuttles in use, Nandi was beamed directly to the surface of Risa. In hand was a metallic cold-storage case that contained several dosages of the updated booster shot for Psolium Septicus. There were various Starfleet officers mulling about, some in standing in queue for treatment with an increasing number of others running ODN lines, setting up makeshift quarantine tents, and other assorted emergency relief duties. Nandi bypassed the expanding tent city toward the medical center itself where she was told the commanding officer would be. The cure would likely be synthesized from there, and the sooner they had the latest and greatest available to them, the sooner they could administer it to the remaining affected population. Naturally, Starfleet was first, but to Nandi's keen eye, several civilians stood out in the quarantine areas. By all accounts, the situation appeared to be contained.

As she walked up the steps, Nandi was stopped by a squad of Marines who were blocking the staff entrance. "Authorized personnel only. Sorry, ma'am."

It was a sergeant, though not the same rank as Sergeant Kos. Nandi smiled. "I'm here on special business. Authorization..." She hesitated before speaking it. This was the first time she had verbally used Mrazak's command code. "Sigma-9-Theta."

The Marine sergeant nodded at the corporal who ran it through the PADD.

"Whoa..." the corporal said. "Sir, she has full clearance. Unrestricted."

"Yeah?" The sergeant was less impressed. "Then why don't you step aside?"

"Yes, Sergeant!"

Nandi smiled at the militant formalities and felt a rush of awe. It was normal for NCOs to defer to her as an ensign, but to get full unrestricted access to a secure area just on the use of a single code... well, it felt above her. Even so, she had a job to do. "Thank you," she said and immediately kicked herself when she said it.

The Marines just stared at her blankly. They had done nothing deserving of thanks. Nandi did her best to keep her professional bearing front and center as she proceeded into the facility. Long corridors were filled with civilian nursing and support staff, but it wasn't hard to find where she needed to go. All that was required was to follow the shouting.

A suite of offices connected to the biolab seemed to be the epicenter of the argumentation. A few months ago, Nandi would have given pause, but her brief time with Mrazak had galvanized her somewhat to being around provocative individuals in command. When approached the adjoining offices and labs, she chose an office door and input Mrazak's authorization.

Which of course, caught T’Bela’s attention. She didn’t recognize that woman. Who was she? How had she gotten past security? She didn’t know, but she intended to find out.

“Excuse me,” she said as she approached. “This is a restricted area. What’s your clearance?”

"Sigma-9-Theta," replied Nandi with calm demure, neither forceful nor bashful. "I am ordered to deliver this to the division chief medical specialist." She presented the hard-case but did not relinquish it.

Sigma-9-Theta, thought T’Bela, eyebrows raising. The people who do not exist. “You can give it to me,” she offered. “I’ll make sure he gets it.”

"So sorry," Nandi said as she apologetically tucked the hard case back under her arm, "but... orders are orders."

"And I am the one who gives those orders," Arex said, stepping out from a suitable shadow that seemed to follow him around. Perhaps a representation of his exceedingly bad karma? Who knew. The tripedal alien stood up a little taller, hands held behind his back as he looked at Nandi. "Given your lack of decorum, poor sense of timing, and somewhat lackadaisical association with Starfleet procedure...you're one of his lackeys. I don't know if you've noticed the somewhat full-court press event that is a potential threat to Federation security. So whatever black cat shenanigans you have for...well, have your master come to me instead of sending an expendable member of his cadre."

Nandi had been prepared to stand her ground with the Cardassian doctor, but the three-legged Edosian who lurched from out of sight with a... a cape or shawl of some kind... well, that took Nandi by surprise. His bombastic mannerisms were akin to Mrazak. It was just... these sorts of specialists were not what the Academy recruiter had led her to expect in her illustrious Starfleet career. When he'd finished his tirade, Nandi recovered from her recoiling posture and let out a tired sigh. "Yes, sir." She tapped her combadge. "Ensign Chakma to Captain ben-Avram. We have an issue."

It took a moment before Akiva responded. "Go ahead, Ensign, but make it brief."

"Yes, sir..." Nandi hoped her cheeks didn't flush under the comment. So what if she talked too much when nervous? It didn't need to be suggested here and now. "I've met the Chief Medical Specialist of Division 14, but he is refusing to receive the package without Mrazak here to personally oversee the transfer."

"Seriously? We're in the middle of--" Akiva bit off his words and let out a sigh over the comm channel. "Fine. We'll put the ship's transporter to the test and be done with him. Stand by for transport. Ben-Avram out."

After her combadge chirped due to the channel dropping, two beams of light filled up the space to deposit Mrazak and T'Sen side by side.

"What is the meaning of this?!" Mrazak shouted, finally free of the confinement beam where he'd been trapped since the briefing. Looking around, his eyes fell on Arex. "You..." His eyes bulged out farther than his Vulcan brow, to say nothing of the vein bulging in his forehead. "When I am done with you, the insufferable worms you evolved from will lust for the rancid pile of excrement that remains of your career!"

Nandi backed away slowly with a look of horror on her face. This was not going to end well.

"Is this the khu'lakh who kept you from getting the cure for me?" T'Sen growled at Arex, "what kind of a healer are you?!" She let of a series of vulcan expletives that the translator could not decipher.

The Edosian facial structure was not known for its great range of emotional expressions. And yet Arex's usually taciturn glower could have been a spinning colour wheel of the emotions best described under the umbrella term of 'gastro intolerance.

"I am a healer with full authority over this medical crisis as granted by the Federation Council, which is more than I can say for your-" Arex began to say something and...instead something else came out. A dull, toneless sound that effectively blanked out the mention of recalling a Greek letter. This gave Arex a frown, and again his lips moved and the tone of utter bland sonic agitation fell ou to his lips.

"...So this would be the work of your pet sociopath, redacting the very words that exit the lips of noble Starfleet Officers?" Arex snarled. waving his central limb towards T'sen. "I have come here to aid this world, not play a role in whatever black hand game you're playing. And...and who even is this? Your other lackey was at least passing as a Starfleet officer. Though in your company that's debatable."

T’Bela had been enjoying the scene this far, but now saw an opportunity she just could not pass up. How would T’Sen react to her presence here? How would Mrazak react? She needed to find out. “This is T’Sen,” she offered to Arex. “She is my mentor- or at least was.”

At first Mrazak had paid T'Bela no mind, having nothing but fury for Arex who was another one of his mortal enemies. But when T'Bela presented herself, the horrid experiences from the V'tosh Ka'tur conference and his detainment in the resort holding cell came flashing back to him. "What are you doing here? Don't tell me T'Sen invited you because she has been with me the entire time!"

"I still am!" T'Sen nodded to T'Bela, "and no I did not! I haven't seen T'Bella since the night we got married...well before that. And you!" She pointed a clawed finger at Arex, "you walking hexapod! I am an Archaeologist of the Vulcan Science Institute of quite some renown, not some lackey! You will show me proper respect! How dare you accuse me of nefarious undertakings! If anyone here is nefarious, it is you and your witholding of cures!" She took a step towards Arex, looking menacing in her head, but in reality looking like a child wanting to look scary.

"Huum...three things, if I may point out? Huum?" Arex asked dryly, before shouldering his way past any objection. "Firstly, there is a planetary medical emergency unfolding, so your expertise in radiocarbon dating is of little use as I already have a molecular archaeologist on my staff. Secondly, I am withholding no cure. Had I some means of panacea to dispense I would do so, that is why I am here. And thirdly, and I would think somewhat more obvious and well within the scope of such a learned personage as yourself...I AM TRIPEDAL! Three! Three locomotive limbs! By such an accounting most humanoids are quadrupeds, which would explain some of the assigning musings I've heard uttered from between those dull cow eyes."

His right arm shot out and pointed a digit at Mrazak.

"We will continue this sparring match after I have dealt with the current crisis, and my executive officer has convinced me not to practise my therapeutic taxidermy! GUARDS!" Arex bellowed.

"Belay his order!" Mrazak shouted. "My staff has prepared a gain-of-function augment for your insufficient cure which acts slower than the inchworm that sired you." Looking at Nandi, he said, "Give him the vial, but only after he says please."

Nandi's eyes darted between the two megalomaniacs, unsure of the practicality in Mrazak's orders or the likelihood that Arex would comply with every detail.

Several possible retorts came to T’Bela’s mind, but she opted for the one that she felt would really get his goat. (Where had that expression come from? Was there some long-lost figure of speech that involved and inner goat that got irritated at the right words?) “It occurs to me, sir,” she said to Arex, “that since this is an emergency situation, this is Division 14 jurisdiction. And if that is the case, doesn’t everything in it already belong to us?”

"Oh, you want to play jurisdiction games?" Mrazak was furious when he grinned at T'Bela, and that was just horrifying in itself. "Try this. By authorization of Starfleet Special Order 224-dash-Oh-One, I hereby conscript you into Memory Theta and order you to disregard any and all orders from Specialist Arex. Now you answer to me and only me."

T'Sen frowned, "but Mraz...you won't need her for our plans!" The small vulcan female tensed up visibly.

At the interjection from T'Sen, genuine conflict appeared on Mrazak's face. "Not now, my tushkin. We'll execute our plans after I settle this." His eyes bore a hole straight through Arex.

"Promise?" Her voice came out almost childlike, her eyes wide and saucer-like.

Mrazak sighed with exasperation. Turning around, he grabbed both her hands and said, "I must crush this long-hated rival before I leave. It will be my crowning achievement. You will allow me this one victory."

T'Sen said nothing, merely stood aside, a submissive bid to continue what he was doing.

T’Bela mused over this interesting turn of events. Conscripted into the people who do not exist? That would mean she would not exist. It was tempting. “Are you serious?” she asked, her voice calculating and pensive at the same time. “About drafting me into your organization?”

"Do I look capable of humor?!" Mrazak bellowed at her. "You are mine. If I were to order you to confine your previous superior officer on grounds of existential defense of the Federation, you would immediately do so."

“Why, Mrazak, I didn’t know you cared,” replied T’Bela, voice both amused and incredibly calm. “But, I do hope you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

"That is Captain Mrazak to you, Lieutenant Commander." The Vulcan Without Logic glowered at her. "Now stand down before I mark you for insubordination."

"Come on, Mraz! Do it so we can go!" T'Sen nudged Mrazak a little.

Oh this was too fun. T’Bela gave him her best smoldering stare. “As you wish, Captain,” she said in a voice that bordered on sultry, but was just demure enough to pass for subordinate.

T'Sen gave T'Bela a dirty look at that.

"As for you," Mrazak said, pointing at Arex. "Ask me for the augmented cure that Memory Theta developed for your little outbreak. Say please when you do so."

T'Sen crossed her arms and stuck a hip out as she levelled Arex with a glare too.

"I wouldn't say 'please' to you if you were offering me first refusal on withdrawing your much-needed life support!" the Edosian snarled, the tripedal figure looming up large and imposing. Edosian might look cumbersome, but there was a reason they were banned from a number of competitive sports franchises. "Whatever cure your rabble of court martial fodder JAG folders has come up with probably has the medicinal qualities of straight mercury. I remember your Starfleet Bio/Chem paper from the academy, what did Professor Snok'whrl call it? 'Complicated cult koolaid'? You should have stayed in your officer behind a spreadsheet. I'll have you know when I'm running your shop things will be a damn sight different! There will be procedure, there will be order, there will be discipline!"

The more that Arex spoke, the greater the sinking feeling in Mrazak's gut grew until it began to have a proverbial gravitational effect. "No..." he whispered aloud before his voice rose in volume. "No, that can't be! You will never run Memory Theta. I forbid it!"

T'Sen suddenly got a sinking feeling, and it showed clearly across her features. "Mraz, why do you care? We're leaving anyway!"

"Oh?...Oh. You didn't know?" Arex said, looking like the Grinch who had just found the cure for cardiovascular giantification. "I was contacted by Admiral Baldwin a week ago, informing me of the transfer. Apparently disrupting an entire solar systems communications system, not to mention crashing a Stardock onto Earth's surface, did not go down well with the surviving members of the Federation Security Council. They want safety, and security, and more importantly...they want me to run Memory Theta. And, really, who could blame them with your record of stewardship? A drunken Pakled could have done a better job, and been more eloquent whilst doing so."

Mrazak tried to hide his concern behind false bravado. "Whatever Admiral Baldwin told you was before my agency saved two other admirals and an entire space station from a terrorist attack, to say nothing of another completely unrelated existential galactic crisis all at the same time. We were given premier accommodations reserved for heads of state. What brought you here? Sex fungus, was it?" The sneer on Mrazak's face was all too familiar. "In fact, let us take this matter up on my ship. We will see who is in command."

Tapping his chest only to realize he had no combadge, Mrazak snatched Nandi's and gave it a firm press. "Mrazak to Phantom. Five to beam up."

"Mrazak, your timing is--" Akiva began to say.

"FIVE TO BEAM UP, I SAY!" Mrazak shouted.

Akiva sighed from the other end before closing the channel.

"Can... may I have my combadge back?" Nandi asked with some hesitation. Technically she had fulfilled her orders and had no reason to remain there. If there was just going to be more shouting, she'd as soon leave.

T'Sen looked around with a sigh of disappointment and revulsion. "Not this again."

After the delay which made it seem like the Phantom was ignoring the transport request, pillars of blue energy surrounded everyone in the room and whisked them away. The secure hard case containing the cure remained on the examination table where it had been left.

 

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