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Into the Woods

Posted on Fri Feb 23rd, 2018 @ 9:43pm by Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Lieutenant Commander Kiril Nevin & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao
Edited on on Mon Apr 23rd, 2018 @ 1:41pm

Mission: S1E1: Bynars Be Bygones
Location: Bynaus; Federation Embassy
Timeline: MD 5; 1700

It had taken longer than Mrazak had hoped for his team of specialists to report to the shuttlepod entrance beneath the vault deck, though not longer than he had anticipated. With four seats available including the pilot, that meant the last two had the pleasure of standing room only the shuttlepod's close confines.

Mrazak seated himself in the co-pilot's seat even though his navigation skills were only slightly better than auto-pilot. He had it swiveled around and sat smugly with arms folded while he kept time.

Bao shambled and ducked into the shuttle. The designers clearly did not intend for big people to ever use the accursed things. Even the larger runabout sized craft were often cramped for him, but the shuttlepod level was just plain torture. He folded himself into a seat, less than gracefully. "I hope the good lieutenant avoids being bumpy," he stated in a tone of voice that did not express optimism on the matter.

Rodi stepped in behind Bao, taking a standing position. On his belt he kept his Type 2 phaser on one side, his tricorder on the other. In the small of his back was his combat knife, covered by his uniform jacket, which also covered his energy-resistant body armor. In his pocket was a small PADD. In his sleeve he kept a collapsible duranium-titanium alloy baton. He had even worn his combat boots, shone to a dress-uniform shine. They came with the advantage of a reinforced nose for proper kicking. He looped a hand through the ceiling-mounted handhold and made himself comfortable.

Nevin followed the Marine on board, his nose buried in a PADD of data. Moving past the man, who had chosen to remain standing, the Doctor slid into the last open chair without a second thought.

Storr was last on board and after taking a quick look over his shoulder closed the door and grasped the final handhold in the cramped shuttlepod. As the temperature ticked up quickly due to multiple men in such a small space, he began questioning his original request to travel.

The shuttlepod shot through the atmosphere and over the equator to Canton 0101-1. Dark, arid wastes filled with abandoned buildings gave way to inhabited infrastructure that was cast in a dull rust from the distant dwarf star. Few structures pierced the sky; with no mountains or geological formations to speak of, the Bynars seemed to simply sprawl out rather than up in their urban planning. Most of the taller structures that the shuttlepod flew near enough to see close-up were burned out husks, no doubt from the mass coronal ejection from the supernova. That the Bynars had only performed minimal repairs of their world in the years since the cataclysm was rather telling.

It was the helmsman who said it first.

"What a dump."

Mrazak turned his eyes away from the devastated sprawl and regarded his condescending pilot with a matching look of his own. "Few Bynars have business or purpose this far out from the axis mundi of what passes for daylight, so it is unlikely to ever see the reconstruction of the central cantons. Still," Mrazak paused for an effect, a smirk playing at his mouth, "looks can be deceiving, Lieutenant Wilco. It is best you remember that."

If "Wilco" had been paying attention, he gave no indication.

Bao looked through the windows, agreeing with Lieutenant Straten in a large part. Most large, vibrant civilizations tended towards increasing densities in their urban areas. The Bynars appeared to have done rather the opposite. The lack of repair and utilization of available space was also telling. As a space-fairing civilization and a Federation member, the lack of daylight should have presented virtually no barrier to exploitation. Furthermore, the reports indicated that the Enterprise had saved substantially the entire population. What he was seeing did not point to a large population base. "Deceiving or not," he said. "This planet is dying, whether now, or in a couple of centuries."

Mrazak shifted his attention to Bao. "Did not one of the greatest Terran sages say, 'That is not dead which can eternal lie'?" His eyes glimmered like he held a secret. "I trust that Bynaus will surprise us all before the end, though some more than others."

"Not all surprises are tame...or survivable," the Station Commandant muttered under his breath as he watched the dilapidated skyline pass by in a depressing blur of rust and grays.

Deep inside, Rodi was saddened by the loss of the nature, the waste of the modern living. But at the same time he'd enjoy hiking and exploring the urban decay of the area. Though he'd definitely want his rifle with him there.

After what seemed an eternity, the shuttlepod flew between ever-rising structures toward the landmark blinking on the nav screen. The canton hosting the Federation embassy was cleaner than the ones they had passed over, but that wasn't saying much. The daylight was not much better near the north pole, though it had a brighter tint as if they had went straight from dusk to dawn. The few scant skyscraper class buildings cast long shadows against the shopworn sprawl. Flora began to appear, though it did little to rejuvenate the bleak panorama spread out around them.

The shuttlepod hovered near the embassy. Landing pads jutted out from the sides of the rhomboid structure, with as many as half empty and available.

"Land on the uppermost tier, south side," Mrazak ordered. He swiveled around to face the four men behind him. "Remember, the Bynars are strange ones, and we need their cooperation. Everyone's decision-making privileges are hereby revoked until further notice."

As the shuttle deployed its struts, Rodi had positioned himself at the hatch, making sure he would be the first off the shuttle.

Storr noticed Nevin simply roll his eyes at the Comander's statement and thought it an apt response, though he would simply settle for a raised brow. He was starting to miss normal Vulcans already.

As they disembarked, a middle-aged Vulcan with dark hair and fair features met them at the exterior door. Mrazak gave the pilot a terse reminder to stay put before rushing to meet the other Vulcan.

"Ambassador Hannok!" Mrazak gasped in genuine surprise. "I did not expect you to greet us personally"

"Yes, well, the matter has become more complicated since we last spoke."

That surprised Mrazak even more. "In the past 2 hours?"

Hannok nodded gravely. "I will explain inside."

A bright passageway welcomed the team indoors. The pristine shine of recently fabricated duranium reflected lights off the walls, floor, and ceiling. As the passageway opened up into a large space, a panorama vidscreen dominated the far wall. Its grid square rotated between various panning still-shots of nature -- animals, landscapes, close-ups, portraits, and all else. A faint trickle of running water lilted through the air, though no fountain was in sight. All in all, the office was a clear refuge against an inhospitable world and its exclusive culture.

Near the large ebony desk stood two Bynars who were nearly camouflaged in the pristine furnishings. Clad in flowing garments that were somewhere between robes and rompers on the fashion scale, their patchwork of earth tones and neon colors nonetheless failed to catch the eye as immediately as one might think.

"Esteemed representatives, allow me to present the specialist team I had promised. This is Commander Mrazak."

At Hannok's introduction, Mrazak nodded toward the Bynars.

"Mrazak, I am honored to introduce you to 101 and 110, my colleagues and counterparts in matters of interstate affairs."

The Bynar to the left, presumably 101, greeted them with an amicable nod, while the other, 110, withheld his approval.

"And the others?" he asked.

"I have brought a team of specialists to investigate a matter of grave importance," Mrazak said quickly, "and they stand before you now."

110 stood unconvinced. "If I am not--"

"Mistaken," 101 interjected.

"I see Marines standing before me." 110 spared a glance at 101, then looked back to Mrazak.

If the Lieutenant Colonel could have sniggered, he would have. It was good to know that the Devil Dog's reputation preceded them!

Mrazak inwardly cringed. "We must be prepared to study every aspect of the situation," he replied, "and since we were not fully aware of what that might be, we had to plan for every contingency."

Both Bynars became unreadable. For a moment they seemed to simply freeze in place. "Very well. We grant you these access cards which will provide a limited connection to the Praxis. With these in hand, you will find public locations and resources will respond to your access requests. Do not tamper with them."

"Of course," Mrazak said with both hands pressed together in an imploring gesture.

The Bynar representatives glared at Hannok in warning, then took their leave.

For his part, Hannok collapsed into his high wing-back chair and sighed. "That went well. I could use a drink, though." He retrieved a bottle of Saurian brandy from below. "Any other takers?"

The Lagashi had remained silent through the exchange, trying not to draw the attention of the Bynars as he studied them, doing so far as to completely disable his implants while they were in the room. Dash (110) and Line (101) seemed, well strange obviously, but not particularly so for what he had read on Bynars. Their discomfort at Marine presence seemed to indicate that they were less than aware of what was going on. Either Mrazak had been lying, which seemed less likely given they were in the ambassador's office, or the government was keeping things quiet to avoid a panic. Regardless, as soon they left his gaze turned to the access cards. He idly wondered if he could access the Praxis directly, but decided against it. Instead, he turned to studying the ambassador. Vulcan, clearly. And he knew Mrazak. And he was drinking, on the clock. His perception of Vulcans was becoming much abused by the utter un-Vulcaness of the behavior of these two.

Having taken the two access cards that the Bynars gifted the away team, Nevin turned them over in his hands before sliding them into a pocket. "They seemed troubled," Nevin said, holding up a hand to refuse the drink. "I know the situation is dire, but it leads me to wonder if we know the whole story here."

The Bynars were an odd sort and while Storr knew little of them or their culture, he had no reason to doubt the doctor. "I doubt we'll get it from them straight."

"You are correct to wonder," Hannok said in response to Nevin's statement. "The Bynars are facing a catalyst that their leadership claims will catastrophically undermine their people. I am not a computer specialist, so I fail to understand how a mere android could destroy the master computer network along with everything it supports, but the insistence has been made loud and clear."

Hannok took another swig directly from the large bottle and then left it out for any who wished.

Storr eyed the bottle and shrugging grasped it. The cut crystal was cold in his hand, the sharp edges bursting in color as the light played along the splashing liquid inside. Wiping the rim with his thumb, he licked his lips and took a pull from the bottle. His throat instantly constricted and a feeling of sharp, wood-smoked passion traveled up and down his spine before the alcohol masked it into a pleasurable hum. A short cough rattled his breathing pathway back open and a half-smile played across his was the real deal, no doubt. The Vulcan ambassador, if odder than a greek, at least had good taste. Catching Mrazak's gaze, he waggled his eyebrows and lifted the spirit towards the man.

Mrazak declined with a polite shake of his head before pressing with his burning question.

"On the landing pad you mentioned a new development. Would you kindly share that now?"

Hannok briskly shook the burn of the Saurian brandy from his palate. "The android has been quarantined along with the crew of the transport vessel. There have been more fatalities reported among them, but they refuse to be separated from the android."

Mrazak nodded. "That does not seem so bad. We will of course investigate."

"See that you do." Hannok pointed an agitated finger at Mrazak. "The android has begun emitting a long-range pulse. I moved heaven and earth convincing 110 and 101 that it was just a beacon for your team to follow." He held up his hands to ward away any correction to the contrary. "I don't care what it is. Just satisfy the Bynars' fear and suspicion enough to get that android off this planet--preferably before anyone else gets involved."

Mrazak intended to do as he pleased. "Mind your own fear, Ambassador. We will begin our investigation immediately. To that end, we will need access to the android, the quarantined Bynars, and their transport vessel."

"Is that all?" Hannok scoffed.

"To start," Mrazak said. "We may require access to the master computer."

Hannok lost his composure. "No. Even if I could arrange that, absolutely not."

Mrazak grinned. "Of course. We'll make do with what we have."

"I'm serious, Brother Mrazak! Stay away from the master computer!" Hannok began sweating at the mere thought.

"You know our rule," Mrazak said. "'We were never here'."

Hannok shook his head and muttered under his breath as he took to his desk. "I am arranging for access to the restricted starport in the adjacent canton. Hangar 11-010110 is under quarantine along with the vessel..." The ambassador paused to reference his notes. "...1101001011001011-1001-0110." A laugh of contempt escaped his lips. "A third integer. That's all I want. I'd serve at this post until retirement if only there were more than two integers to identify anything."

"What would a non-binary Bynaus look like?" Mrazak cocked his head and squinted in thought. "It boggles the mind to consider. Imagine, a world--"

"Time is of the essence, Brother Mrazak." Hannok put his Saurian brandy away and stood to his feet. "I will see you back to your shuttle."

The other Vulcan's irritation made Mrazak smirk. "Very well."

Mrazak followed the ambassador back to the shuttle without looking back to see if his team did as well.


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