Definitely Not A Senior Officer's Meeting
Posted on Mon Dec 17th, 2018 @ 9:52am by Captain Charlotte Reynolds & Lieutenant Commander Kenna Wolff & Lieutenant Michaela Holland & Lieutenant Commander Maralen Seitha & Lieutenant Elias Lindholm & Ensign K'Muss & Lieutenant Ian Acainus
Episode 3: Foxes and Henhouses
Location: A Private Dining Room, Promenade Pier, Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: MD 1
Charlotte arrived at the restaurant early, selecting a seat at the head of the long table she'd reserved for her officers. To any outside observer, it was just a Captain having dinner with her crew. If only it was just that.
She'd donned casual clothes. Her Starfleet Academy hoodie ( a personal favorite), jeans, and a tame pair of brown boots. After the news, she'd received yesterday, and the addendum from an hour before, she decided she needed to call an impromptu meeting. However, Defiant had been ruled out as a meeting place, forcing her to improvise.
She settled down in her chair pretending to review the menu. The second to arrive, per her plan, was Chief Tactical Officer Lindholm. Without looking away from her menu, she spoke just barely audible. "Mr. Lindholm, can you provide us some privacy?"
Elias took his seat a few seats down from the Captain. He pulled out a round device which resembled a hockey puck with a keypad on hit. The device was of his own design that he had created with the help of one of his friends in Starfleet Intelligence. While it had no official name, Elias referred to it as the C.O.S or the Cone of Silence. He input the dimensions of the table into the keypad and activated the device. The COS was part holoprojector and transceiver scrambler. It projected a cone around a set radius that scrambled any listening devices in or around the cone, and also produced a semi holographic image that concealed the lip movements of those within the cone. To the naked eye the occupants of the cone appeared to be talking, but any lip reading devices would not be able to interpret the words being said.
Once the device was active, he nodded to the captain, "We are good to go ma'am."
Kenna came in, dressed in jeans and a turtleneck in dark green. She looked around and headed to take a seat.
Ian knew something was going on that was out of the ordinary, he just didn't know what it was. That intrigued him and he was looking forward to finding out what it was. He'd been told he wasn't required to wear a uniform, so he had dressed in a pair of gray chinos and a black Mandarin collar shirt. He stepped into the room and found an empty chair in the middle of the table.
Michaela didn't really know what the rules were for a casual dinner among the senior staff, but she did know that she'd been given very little notice to prepare. She kept things simple, a comfortable long-sleeve shirt in a muted shade of indigo, paired with skinny jeans and sneakers. The shirt was slightly loose and the jeans... not so much. The old-fashioned canvas sneakers looked like they should've been retired long before Michaela was born, but she kept telling herself they had another year or two left in them. She waved to the others and took a seat, glad to see that she wasn't dressed too casual for the occasion. There was an empty seat next to her for the moment. She wondered if Caroline would take it, or opt to keep some distance while among the other senior officers.
Maralen entered quietly, dressed in a loose-fitting t-shirt and pants made of a soft material. Both were black, blending into his fur. He wore no shoes as this was casual, and he saw no need for them. He had thought he looked odd in these Earth-styled clothes, but what was a cat to do. Most of the other species preferred even cats wore clothing. He would have preferred less -- he had fur, after all -- but he adhered to the social conventions of the people he worked among.
He smiled and nodded to the already-gathered officers and took a seat near Charlotte's. He was keeping the appearance she had set in this, casual dining with his fellow officers. "Good evening," he said as he took his seat. "See anything good?" he asked, motioning to the menu Charlotte held. He could tell she wasn't really reading it, but this bit of conversation would be considered normal in the situation they were portraying.
“Kinda lost my appetite, honestly,” Charlotte replied in a dour tone.
Maralen nodded, his expression becoming thoughtful. He was not sure what he should say to that, so he said nothing, merely gave the nod and then glanced at the menu himself as if he gave an airborne rodent's sleepwear-enshrouded hindquarters what was on it.
The ship's resident Caitian entered, dressed rather informally. A San Francisco Fire T-shirt and shorts. He sighed in relief to see everyone else was casually dressed. "Glad, I didn't miss the memo," he chuckled.
As the Caitain Officer entered, the Captain gestured toward him. "Check him."
Kenna stepped up behind him and ran a scan. "Clean," she said abruptly.
“Good. Thank you, Kenna.” Charlotte turned to K’Muss. “I apologize for that. I’ll explain in a moment.”
"Alright," the caitian replied, a little confused. "If you say so."
Ian sat up a little straighter in his chair, looking pleased to his an old acquaintance but a little confused as to the Captain's action. He didn't say anything for the moment just watched through hooded eyes.
Charlotte waited for everyone to settle down in their seats. Once she received a confirming nod from Elias, she knew their conversation was being jammed. "Thank you all for coming. As I'm sure you've surmised, this isn't just a casual dinner. Sorry about that. But it's the best way I could think of to gather everyone."
She gestured to their Caitian officer. "For any of you who haven't met him, K'Muss is our former helm officer turned Deputy Chief Engineer."
"As most of you know, we encountered parasites attempting to infiltrate the leadership of the Tholian and Klingon fleets. Through an attempt on my life, we learned they had a foothold in the Federation. Well, unfortunately, Kenna, Maralen, and I can now confirm that they have infiltrated Arcadia. Admiral Haster is infected."
"How are we planning on dealing with that situation ma'am?" Ian asked.
“I’m not entirely sure yet,” the captain admitted. “We’ll have to deal with her eventually. But I’m focused on shutting down any potential spread.”
Elias listened intently. The news that Admiral Haster was infected was alarming, but he wondered where the infection stopped at. "Do we have a confirmation on any other Arcadia personnel that are infected as well?"
“Dozens?” The captain replied. “We know of at least 34 discrete infected individuals. I’d imagine far more than that. They do all seem to be focused on security and R&D. So large portions of the station might be clear.”
Maralen sat silently, thinking through what had been said so far. It made sense that they focused in those two areas as they were strategically important. And Haster, being in command here, made sense as well. He had suspected it but had not said so because it was only a thought based on the strategy of the thing, not facts. But the facts were now present, and he found himself very concerned. Not over Haster herself per se, but the situation as a whole.
Michaela sighed. Obviously this was not the news she wanted to hear, but she kind of expected it. It did provide an explanation for how one of their own had been infected.
"Things are worse than that. There is a Federation War Council being held here on Arcadia, involving numerous Admirals, Ambassadors, and possibly the Federation President. Some are arriving tomorrow, most the day after. Obviously, this is a problem. This would be the perfect time to infect the highest levels of the Federation."
Maralen's ears flattened but only for a second. There was nothing for him to say at this juncture as Charlotte had said it perfectly, so he watched the senior staff for their reactions.
Michaela simply shook her head. Of course things could only get worse.
Charlotte sighed before delivering the last piece of news. "I also think the Admiral has reason to suspect us. I'd originally planned for Defiant to serve as a safe haven and base of operations for us. That is no longer going to be possible. Haster has scheduled Defiant for a baryon sweep, claiming she's looking to purge any potential stowaways. That means Defiant will be completely off limits to any organic matter during this conference. We'll be stuck on Arcadia."
All K'muss could do was shake his head. He was filled with bittersweet feelings. Yeah, he was close to family. But, what if they were taken over..He'd have to speak to RJ.
Kenna looked up. "Have we thought about using the Artemis? As a safe haven? She cannot do two sweeps at the same time."
"Kenna, you're a genius!" Charlotte nearly leapt out of her chair as she rapidly sat forward. "Ok, we won't be able to just send people there without attracting attention, but that's brilliant. Get in touch with Captain James as soon as we're done here."
"I will. Between myself and his XO we should be able to get people there." Kenna replied
Relaxing back into her chair, Charlotte addressed the room. "Any other ideas like that?"
Elias thought for a second and remembered a trick he had learned as an aide with Admiral Archer. He was sure it would work, but it would mean having a station comm officer that wasn't infected reporting to Admiral Haster. "Captain, I still have Admiral Archer's communication authenticators from when I was his aide at Starfleet HQ. Its possible to fabricate an order from Admiral Archer that gives us access to the Artemis. However, we would need to be sure the station Comm officers are not infected in order to pass it to Admiral Haster."
Elias also thought a moment longer, "Another concern is neutralizing these parasites. I think we need to try and find a way we can safely return those infected back, remove the parasites without killing the hosts."
“I don’t know that we have the time or cover to ensure a comm officer isn’t reporting to the admiral. And even if they weren’t, an infected Intel officer could pick it up. We’d better save those Authenticator a for later,” Charlotte said. It was a good idea, but they just weren’t in a strong enough position to implement it. “I do agree with you though. We need to try and save the hosts if we can. Unfortunately, that might prove difficult. They are incredibly physically strong, and the stun setting didn’t do me much good last time. If we can set up a high very power stun, it could work. But I’m not sure what setting would stun the parasite without killing the host. I’m open to suggestions.”
Maralen spoke, finally. "Why not use the transporters. Pull the infected into the buffer, separate the signatures of the parasites and then rematerialize the hosts." To avoid being caught, they would need to catch them all at once, but this was a starbase, not a ship. And if they coordinated the transporters of the two ships they had as well, it could be done... once they had a list of the infected. That was the big flaw in this strategy. That and the fact that if they missed even one, it would all be pointless, and that one might go into the woodwork as it were, starting this all over again. "I am aware of the difficulties presented by this plan, but otherwise, we would be hunting them down one at a time and risking a good number of them either escaping or infecting others while we hunted them." he pointed out reasonably. During all of it, he had not moved, not so much as a tail flick or ear twitch.
Michaela had been waiting to speak up, but she hadn't wanted to interrupt anyone, especially since she didn't really have any ideas to deal with the immediate problem. But she did have a few points to bring up. "Captain, I don't know if this helps or not, but Defiant is overdue for a Baryon sweep. In fact, I've requested one our last two visits here, but we always seem to get retasked before that can happen. We've had... problems, with pests, in the past..." She trailed off for a moment, but continued speaking before anyone could reply.
"Also, if we can confirm that Ensign Thiriv was infected here, then its possible that some of our protection measures taken in the Tholian web, such as the thermal shielding, may actually work if we need to establish a quarantine zone." Michaela shrugged.
"Alright, before we leave, I want to make sure each of you have one of the good doctor's scanners and one of Eli's concealed phaser cases. Keep them on your person at all times. If something should happen," Charlotte trailed off. "...well, just stay safe."
Kit just nodded as he was issued the gear.
Elias handed out the extra cases he had and powered down the COS device and returned it to his own case. He then stood from the table and took a moment to glance at Ian. The look he gave him conveyed his desire to speak privately with the diplomat.
Ian caught Elias' glance and quickly picked up on its meaning and nodded briefly.
Maralen very subtlely made certain that the case Elias had given him at the beginning was still securely in place, hidden among his fur, but otherwise said nothing, merely allowed the others to leave first.