Unexpected goings on
Posted on Sun May 20th, 2012 @ 5:04pm by Commander Christopher Holden & Lieutenant Commander Kristina Mason & Lieutenant Arthur Stevenson & Lieutenant Kathryn Fletcher & Lieutenant JG Samantha Leyton & Lieutenant JG Erienne Tosca & 1st Lieutenant Craig Tybalt (Cuz) & Corporal Brittney Wayne (Trix) & Crewman Ti Anjar
Location: Meeting Room Beta
With his new orders in tow and the words of his own line commanding officer ringing in his ears Holden made his way to the briefing lounge, this time it was to be a close affair with only those who would be directly involved in the operation to be included, even his adjutant Ensign Kennedy who was ever present at his side had been told to sit this one out, to say it was classified was a laughable understatement. With his report into their incident with the Orions having been sent off a matter of minutes before he left and word that over two thirds of Romulus' population had been evacuated Chris was starting to think Starfleet had things under control, he just hoped they could defuse the current situation before another incident pulled at the ever finite resources in the area.
1st Lieutenant Craig Tybalt was on his way to the meeting room, Corporal Kirby was accompanying him part of the way while getting a short lecture from the 'Reaper's' CO. The fact that Tybalt had just sprung him from the brig didn't help matters.
"Kirby, I don't care what Colonel Gentry did while in command of Striker" The Lieutenant stressed. "You're not in Striker anymore, and I'm not going to tolerate the same things that he did."
"Yes sir." The anti-tox, had by now, taken full effect. At first when Kirby had found out that the 13th's CO was a mustanger, he was happy to be transferred over from the, now pretty much defunct, 23rd Rangers. But, with this ongoing conversation, he wasn't too sure now.
"You've lost your stripes before," Craig continued, "and it won't bother me take them away again."
Damn, Kirby thought, I could sure use a drink.
"...so get your crap together!"
"Aye, Sir." Kirby answered back, as per custom. He and another Ranger from Striker had been moved to the 13th Rangers...If the Reapers were half as good as Striker, all would be well. Presently he wasn't sure about this 'by-the-book' officer. Hmmm, he thought, a whiskey sounded good about now, maybe Cable would join him for a few drinks...Not that fake stuff they served here...No, he would have to krank up the still he found in the 'toy store', yeah that's it.
The Lieutenant stopped in the passageway. "So, I'll see you after the meeting." And, with that, Tybalt walked away.
"Well..." Kirby happily said to himself. "Time for a drink."
As Kirby turned down the hall to leave Brittney rounded the same corner headed to the Conference room. "Fancy meeting you here Lieutenant, care for company on our way to the briefing??"
"No problem Corporal." Craig replied, she was one of the new members of the 13th...Really they were all 'new members', two weeks ago, the Reapers didn't exist. He dialed up her SRB up on his padd. "Hmmm...I see you were in the 303rd Logistics..." Which explained how she had made corporal so fast. The 303rd Logistics was a 'Marine Unit' that had no marines and didn't handle any logistics.
He stopped again in the hallway, facing the young woman. "Reaper is not Logistics...There will be no 'Lone Rangers' in this unit...By the way, my call sign is Cousin..." The Rangers always gave 'family' type call signs to unit leaders, Colonel Gentry, formerly of the 23rd Rangers was 'Mom'. "...What is your call sign?"
Brittney followed along as her new Lieutenant, looked over her service record and then grinned at his poke at the 303. "My sign is Trix earned that one on my first assignment on Titan Base had to infiltrate a Gentleman's Club. And I very much am a team player Sir!"
"Good." Tybalt said. "For this briefing you will be my assistant." After closing her SRB, he handed her the padd.
Brittney took the padd and as they walked pulled up the Lt.'s history "So how did you like being with the Deuces? The stories you hear in Ranger school are legendary."
"Ah...The 'Stalker' stories (chuckle)...Well, they're pretty much true, though Colonel Donovan did not take that armed freighter by herself...There were two of us with her." Colonel Florence Donovan (Stalker) was considered by many to be the greatest Starfleet Ranger ever. She had been hand picked by Admiral Steve Johnson himself...from the civilian sector. Much of what they taught now, at Cheyenne Mountain, was discovered by her. Tybalt had heard that she was enjoying retirement on some planet in the Reayan Sector, growing honey spice. "Yeah, the Deuces are a hard act to follow."
Minutes later First Lieutenant Tybalt and Corporal Wayne entered the meeting room.
Doctor Fletcher had been back on the station the same amount of time as Commander Holden, having acted as his first officer after her assignment as part of her Bridge Officers examination. She had still to find out the truth behind the test and weather she had passed or failed, but at the moment something else was worrying her. One of the officers under her Command, one of the most promising as well had been involved in something that she had spent most of the nigh trying to figure out. Sleep had not been her companion over the night, instead it had been endless series of scans and tests to try and figure out what Ensign Addison had done to herself.
The Doctor had taken a moment to grab something to eat and drink before heading down to the meeting, her drink still in hand, and when the doors parted she found someone new, someone unknown to her and despite her tired state she mustered a small smile in welcome but nothing more. Silently she slipped down into her chair sipping at the warm coffee. Now was not the time to speak with Holden, she would wait until the end of the meeting.
"Looks like you could do with something a little stronger than coffee Doctor," floated another voice from the corner of the near empty room. Already ready seating Lieutenant Commander Kristina Mason lowered the data padd she was reading to study the second woman closer.
She had been so busy eyeing the unknown man she hadn't spotted the blond women sitting next to her and the sound of the unknown voice made her jump. "I'm sorry...", she turned to look at her. "Lieutenant Fletcher... And you are?"
"Commander Mason," came the reply and extended hand. "First Officer," the words sounded strange come from her own mouth as if she still didn't believe it.
"And, I'm 1st Lt Craig Tybalt..." The man in the all black uniform said. "...CO of the 13th Rangers."
"A pleasure Lieutenant", she addressed the Ranger sitting across from her choosing to ignore the new first officer that had replaced Veh, the man she had started to fall in love with.
Mason retracted her hand, slightly bewildered by the cold shoulder she'd recived from the Doctor. No doubt the reason would come to light at some point, so instead of worrying she greeted Craig Tybalt recalling some minor details of the Rangers on the padd she'd been reading moments before.
The Brattain smoothly pulled into the docking bay. On the Bridge Arthur walked up behind the helm officer and gave him a pat on the back. "Good job Ensign." He said kindly before he moves back to the center chair and tapped the shipwide broadcast button. "All hands, docking proceedures completed, stand down from Condition Blue, shut off all drive systems, all personnel may disembark when ready."
There was almost a collective cheer from the ship as everyone got all their things together to go back into the station.
Arthur didn't bother to grab anything as he left the Brattain, what he needed the most was some shut eye, but he could not get that just yet, things to be done.
Why have a briefing now? He thought to himself as he walked, soon enough he found himself outside of the conference room, the doors swished open as he approached, and instead of going straight for a chair, he went over to the replicator. "Coffee, strong, white with 3." He ordered the computer. "Also, a small plate of diced cheese."
Less than a whole second later his drink and food appeared, hands scooped up the items and he made his way over to a seat. A nod of greeting given to everyone already present.
Of course Erienne knew that walking fast while trying to read a padd was a bad idea at any given time. More so on a busy moment on the esplanade. In the past it had led her to bump into people carrying hot drinks, fall into a potted plant and walking into a glass panel. But she was fascinated by this latest article on Bajoran myths and legends. So entertaining! She looked up just in time to avoid running into Ti. What a shame, she thought. "Crewman," she nodded, as she swerved around him and continued to the meeting room. Ti walked with her, keeping pace easily, his longer legs taking bigger strides to hers. She frowned at him sideways. "Can I help you?"
"No." Ti said as he continued to follow her. Erienne slowed down, but Ti kept going, following the same route she had chosen.
"Wait a minute! She hurried to catch up. "You're not going to Meeting room Beta, are you?" Ti nodded. "Why?" She blurted out.
Ti looked at her. "I guess they'll tell me when I get there." They turned one more corner and walked into the meeting room together. Erienne blushed as she suddenly realised how that must look, which took her mind off of wondering why Ti seemed to be where ever she seemed to be.
It looked like the Bajoran security officer was pulling out a seat for Erienne, but then he sat down on it himself and leant back with his hands behind his head. Ti was getting used to these meetings, even thought he wasn't sure why he kept being invited. Across from him sat a man Ti didn't recognise, and naturally began observing him with acute paranoia. The presence of a starfleet intelligence specialist did not make him comfortable at all.
As the security officer stared at Craig, the Ranger couldn't help himself. "Ti? I believe, I'm Craig Tybalt...With the new guys." Intelligence had taken an interest in the Bajoran, at first because of his past record. Presently Craig knew that, now, Intelligence was keeping an eye on him for different reasons. One of Tybalt's assignments was to watch Ti, and evaluate him. If what he saw turned out good, it wouldn't be long before the paranoid man on the other side of the table got the visit that starts all Ranger carreers...Recruiters.
That was the thing about the Rangers, there were no rookies or amateurs in their ranks. Most were former Marines, some were ex-Mercs...there was even a reformed pirate in one of the units. All they needed now, Craig thought, was a tax collector.
Ti grunted and avoided Tybalt's gaze, lest a staring contest should begin between the two men. As observant as Ti was, he hadn't picked up on the officer's motivations. He'd have to watch Tybalt, and evalulate him. If what he saw turned out bad... well then it would be time to get the hell off the station.
Leyton entered the meeting room and took a seat next to Ti. She again wondered why the Crewman had been invited to sit in on this meeting. She had to admit that his skills were rather useful so far and had done an excellent job in his duties.
As the last to arrive Holden quickly glanced at the assembled officers before speaking, "thank you all for making it on such short notice, I know some of you have only got back within the last few hours" he paused as he placed the padd at the head of the table as he stood next to his chair looking at the group before him, "firstly I should introduce a couple of new faces, we have a new Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Mason and a guest to the station Lieutenant Tybalt, welcome to you both, I'm sure you'll all have time to get to know one another soon enough."
For her part in the introduction Mason flashed the room a brief smirk and stiff nod of her head as she could sense Holden's pressing need to continue.
Finishing the brief introductions he finally took his seat and activated the padd, "the information in this briefing has been classified level 10, beyond these walls only senior starship Captain's and Flag Officer will be told of the mission specifics on a strictly need to know basis, I'm sure you all know that means no talking about this unless at a designated meeting." Chris' usual easy going attitude replaced with a hard exterior as he emphasised the point, "Starfleet Intelligence approached the Presidents office eleven days ago, they advised that a pair of class five recon drones went missing along the Tholian border, four days ago the starship Leipzig found one of them drifting 1.2 light years inside Tholian space and sent a destruct code which reduced it to dust, the second probe however, well that's why we've been brought in."
Activating the holo-display the image of a large gas giant appeared in the darkened room, before the image added several moons, "this is system b-571, 2.7 light years inside Tholian space, this gas giant is the fifth planet and our second probe has been located on one of its moons, the self destruct code failed to work and an encrypted data burst has been picked up indicating the probe is definitely operational."
Intrigued Mason sat an inch straighter in her seat as the image cycled with Holden's explanation.
"As we speak Starfleet Intelligence is trying to identify which moon the probe is on, however our orders in the meantime are to cross the border and recover the probe or to ensure its destruction, either way the Tholians mustn't know we were there, if found it could easily be seen as an act of aggression and we all know what that means to the Tholians." Letting the sentiment hang in the air he turned his focus to Tybalt, "To assist in this operation Intelligence has sent some of their field operatives, officially they're the 13th Ranger unit, unofficially they're here to make sure the job gets done one way or another."
The tail end of the statement working with members of Starfleet Intelligence as well as a permanent Ranger presence wasn't what the new First Officer wished to hear. In the past she'd never played well with both the rather shady figures of Starfleet Intelligence since they tended to the take things into their own hands, and sometimes to their own playground. And then add in the technical and highly volatile diplomatic challenges already tied heavily into this mission there was a real risk of things turning sour.
'Great...Tholians. Look more like giant fire ants,' Leyton thought with a lop-sided grin. "I'd suggest a small and fast shuttle, sir. Least chance of detection."
"Oh, but they're more like mineral beings, aren't they?" Erienne said absentmindedly. Then she realised something, and she sat up straight. "But... ehm, wouldn't a diplomatic course be more advisable? I mean, diplomacy has gone well, lately." Everyone just seemed to stare at Erienne. "... Hasn't it?" Erienne fumbled with the padd she was still holding. "It just seems like a pretty dangerous thing to go and visit Tholian space, even if they had invited us for tea. To which we should not be late. If they even drink. I'll shut up now."
Craig found that he agreed with the Astrometrics Officer, military action was the last resort in diplomacy...Even the covert kind. There was something Starfleet was not telling them and...Due to 'good ole' need to know, he wasn't privy to such information.
No, there was more about these probes. The Ranger found it hard to believe that the drifting probes was an accident...But first, who caused these probes to malfunction? And more importantly...Why?
Yes, Intelligence knew more...The fact that the Reapers had arrived at the Cerberus Station dressed as Marines, simply served to stress to Craig, how classified this mission was.
"At the moment Starfleet feels a diplomatic mission could cause an incident opposed to preventing one, so we get first shot this time round" Holden smiled as he finished, at least he knew Tosca wasn't going to advocate an 'all guns blazing' strategy which he was more than happy to see, if anything she'd hopefully keep everyone grounded as she clearly wasn't afraid to speak up.
Arthur also did some pondering while he chewed on a piece of his cheese, he swallowed it down before he spoke. "A shuttle, while hard to detect would not be to good, we have to many people to transport." He mused out loud. "And who is to say whatever caused the probes to malfunction is not still out there and affects the shuttles, it is putting a few people at risk, we might be better off sending in the Fearless or the Brattain since we can transport everyone we need."
Leyton sat quietly, pondering the scenario. She was used to risky missions--these people however, weren't. Advanced technology kept them safe...technology that wasn't available in the 22nd Century.
Fletcher had been listening to everything but one thing concerned her. "Don't the Tholians have some kind of web that they can deploy to ensnare Starships. Would it not be wiser to use a smaller craft?"
"Indeed they do Doctor, as few as three Tholian Raiders can deploy the web, again thanks to our friends in high places" Holden glanced briefly to Tybalt, "we have been provided a way of crossing the border safely, a class four cloaking device will be delivered tomorrow morning by the IKS Hor'Cha, Lieutenant Leyton you will be responsible for securing and guarding the delivery, it's only on loan and the Klingons want it back in one piece." The mere mention of a cloaking device was enough to make more than a few of the assembled officers move in their seats, the idea of Starfleet using a cloaking device wasn't unheard of but using one on a covert mission into Tholian space, the stakes were clearly being raised, sadly like the rest of his crew Holden didn't know who was raising the ante.
"Which is why I have brought a guest to this meeting." As Craig said this, the Klingon stepped forward.
"My name is Commander Koroth, of the house of Tre'gok, it will be my technicians that will be installing the cloaking device on your ship." Koroth had almost gone unnoticed by some of the crew members due to the fact, that unlike most Klingons, the cure for the genetic deformity that afflicted many of his species, over a century ago, didn't work for his clan. For this reason he pretty much looked like a smooth head...Human. "We will also be providing security for the class four device, as per agreement with your government.
The eyes of the new XO narrowed at the arrival or Koroth, she had a long relationship of distrust with the Klingon's thanks to Ambassador Matlh on DS12. She regarded Koroth with the same level of guardedness despite his seeming human appearance, no doubt there was an excuse for that.
The Klingon appeared to be measuring everyone in the room. "I would advice using your..." He almost said it with distaste. "...Sabre Class ship. The adapters for the device were last used on a Federation ship of that size."
Craig stepped in at that point. "So, as Commander Holden said, we should be able to retrieve the probe without being detected."
Leyton turned her attention to the Klingon in the room and leaned forward, clasping her hands on the table. "And what is the Klingon Empire's role in this? What do you gain by helping us in this mission?"
The Klingon looked the Security Chief over...Just the right amount of paranoia...Perfect...She would have made an excellent Officer in the Defense Force. "Yellow Collar...Security, I believe. Right?" He continued when everyone nodded the affirmative. "The Empire gains continued peace, the Tholians are our neighbors too." He smiled. "Besides, the Empire and the Federation are allies."
Tybalt almost chuckled at the exchange. He wondered if Koroth knew anything about the Lieutenant JG's past....Probably, he thought.
The response set off several mental alarms and her eyes narrowed in response. "I take that it is more likely you want information on Tholian Defense Systems and intelligence data."
Now Fletcher was sitting forward in her chair, along with a number of other attendee's, although she knew it was for a different reason. The chance to look at the one plague in this galaxy that had been genetically engineered by the Klingon's unwittingly had afflicted an entire generation of the species and now she had a once in a lifetime chance to study it, assuming the KDF officer would allow her that is. Her eyes roamed his form, the usual skin tone and deep violent eyes all hidden under the smooth forehead of so many Humanoid beings. This wasn't the time or place to ask about his condition, but her curiosity was all the same engaged.
Instantly Mason liked Leyton her mind clearly working with the same logic that the remainder of the room lacked. Her point was highly valued and as former security personal herself she'd enjoy witnessing Koroth wrangle his way out of this one.
Arthur just quirked both brows up at the sight of the Klingon, but he made no gesture towards him, nor did he say anything. The news of the cloaking device was what surprised him the most, he did not like the sound of it, nor what would happen if they where caught with it on the Brattain, things just smelled a bit fishy.
Koroth didn't show any anger or alarm at Leyton's charge. "Madam, though you are probably right about the Empire, I would suggest that your Starfleet Intelligence strives for such information too." He still kept his smile. "As for me? I am only a starship commander doing my duty for the Empire." Sadly enough, it was true, due to his clan's deformity and the dishonor that came with it, he was relegated to being captain of the Hor'Cha, a ship crewed by the worst leavings that the KDF had to offer. Through blood sweat and tears, he built them in to a crack team. Of course, his superiors didn't stop there, as of late, the Hor'cha was being given the missions no one wanted, it was now nothing more than a glorified cargo ship. Yet, he had made it, against all odds...he commanded an Imperial Klingon Ship...It was something to take pride in.
With his anger rising at the sight of the unannounced visitor to his staff meeting Holden quickly began a move to end the meeting all the while trying not to show his emotions, "the motivations of the Klingon Empire and Starfleet Intelligence are things you can all discuss on your own time, for now we begin preparations for the away mission, myself and Commander Mason will start disseminate tasks and briefings over the next 24 hours, if you have any questions come and see us, there is to be no discussion of any detail on a comm channel." His almost rant like finale to the meeting left the room in silence as he finished, "with that you're all dismissed", waiting until the a number of people began to move before he spoke again, "Lieutenant Tybalt, a word."
As the room finally cleared Holden allowed the doors to close, as he stood at the head of the table he looked at the Ranger at the opposite end, "Lieutenant I don't know how things are done with the Rangers but on this station you tell me when you're inviting a 'guest' to a classified staff meeting, pull another stunt like that and you and your Rangers will be off this station before you know it, do I make myself clear!" The calm and measured tone of his voice beginning to waver as he finished as his anger showed through, at least enough to let Tybalt know he meant business.
There was only one thing Craig could say..."Yes Sir."
With a quick nod and nothing else to say lest he unload on the Ranger, Holden simply turned away and exited through the nearest exit, there was much to be done and little time, his focus had to be the mission and not a breach of protocol by a junior officer who probably didn't know any better, or if he did Holden certainly didn't have the time for his games.
Craig stood there for a few seconds, looked around the room once, then, exited the room.