Episode 4: Fires of Arcadia
Location: Diplomatic Hall, Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: MD 3, Afternoon
The hall was abuzz with activity once again, there’d been numerous speakers giving arguments for and against the new twist that the Admiral has revealed. It fell along classic political lines. The doves opposed such a violent approach, blasting the use of a warframe with such history. The hawks claimed it was too useful to ignore, and cited its ability to level the playing field. Neither side was making progress.
Charlotte slowly made her way over to the other three, looking as inconspicuous as possible. When the crowd noise surged slightly, she turned to Summer. “How is our girl doing?”
Maralen frowned. "I have not heard anything as of yet. Perhaps she has communicated with you, Miss Gallagher?" he said softly enough to keep his words for only this small group to hear.
Summer sipped her drink "no nothing yet." She said as the glass hid her lips movement.
—Deep Within R&D Division—
General Javier led Kenna Wolff down a series of corridors. They’d been walking for some time, down corridor after corridor. Along each side were many of the systems that had been rebuilt to incorporate into the Indomitable. “As you can see, Commander, we’ve been hard at work here. The ship has taken numerous months to construct and Arcadia has devoted her full resources to it.”
She gestured to an empty work space. “Ah here we are. If it’s alright with you, Miss Wolff, I require your assistance with coordinating the docking of the ships in our system. We want to clear the airspace for Indomitable’s launch. Since you have experience coordinating such things, I thought you might be a good choice to catalog and track the other vessels’ progress. I’ll be back in a bit to get an update.”
Kenna inclined her head. "Of Course General, I would love to assist you." Once Jarvier was gone, Kenna however began to hack the system while making sure the docking was working well.
The firewall hadn’t been terribly complicated, but once through, the R&D database looked almost completely foreign. Starfleet’s usual sorting methodologies had been cast aside in favor of a system that seemed scattered...at first.
After a few moments, it became clear that there were simply different priorities at work. A few categories were visible: Acquired, Prioritized, Threats, and Klingon Solution.
"Start at the top," she muttered and hit 'Acquired'
A seemingly disorganized list filled the screen. Station personnel, mostly R&D and security. With a notable exception: Admiral Haster and her command staff. Each file seemed to come with a video file attachment.
Kenna calmly slid a chip into the system and began a download, while keeping an eye out and on to what she was supposed to be doing.
The Federation president, T’Rau made her way to the stage. An aged Vulcan woman with a wizened look about her. She must have been impossibly old. She took the stage and the room fell silent.
“Honored guests, we have come here on this day to discuss the future of our conflict with the Klingon Empire. This conflict has lead to the loss of many brave souls. It is only logical to seek an expedient solution.”
There was murmuring in the crowd. She continued. “However, as easy as solutions such as this may be, we must resist the call to our baser instincts. This vessel was used by war criminals at the cost of thousands of lives. To reutilize the design not only ignores those crimes, it is ignorant to the lessons our peoples have learned.”
Charlotte saw movement in one of the upper tiers. Odd. There were no press present, so it’d have to be someone lurking. She gestured to Maralen, making him move close enough that she could whisper. “I think we have a lurker in the upper balcony. Might be a good idea to know who.”
Maralen's eyes tracked to where Charlotte was looking and narrowed. His feline senses were stronger than Human ones, but he was even too far away to make out who the lurker was. "I will try to get closer." he whispered back. "Keep your eyes on them too, though." He then began a slow movement through the crowd, being careful to make his movement seem natural, as though he were simply trying to get a better view of the speaker perhaps. To accomplish the subtlety of the movement, his progress was excruciatingly slow. Fortunately for him, patience was the First Lesson, and he had learned it well. Like a hunter on the prowl, he slid through the crowd, barely noticed. He paused at the foot of the staircase, giving every impression of simply wanting to get a better vantage from which to observe the President.
The next file, Prioritized, was full of various Starfleet personnel. Defiant crew, Artemis crew, various high ranking dignitaries. It wouldn’t take an expert to realize this was a key list to infect with the parasites.
Threats meanwhile was a brief list. Some of these overlapped. Captain Reynolds, Captain James, Lieutenant Commander Gallagher, Lieutenant Seitha, Admiral Denovitz, several Presidential Security Officers. And curiously, a now removed file for Ensign Kaln Thiriv. It’s removal dated four months ago.
That left one file: the Klingon Solution.
Kenna hummed to herself as she hit the open button.
Immediately, the image of a helix showed up on the screen, followed by various images of viral structures and proteins. Images of dispersal technologies popped on screen. Waterborne, injections, airborne. And projectile. Alongside a trade receipt showing the purchase of the viral protein, there was an image of the bodies of the pirates discarded and seemingly altered. One’s skin was white, his limbs slightly outstretched. This was undeniably the same pathogen that had been unleashed by the Volan Expanse entity. The same pathogen Defiant has nearly apprehended before venturing into Tholian space. And it’s planned means of delivery was clear. A high altitude torpedo which could disperse the pathogen over a decent portion of a continent. If such a device were detonated over Kronos, a sixth of the Klingon population could be reduced to mindless hordes in mere hours. If the Klingons made the mistake of trying to deal with them up close...
Kenna muttered a curse looked around casually, and hit the comm button. She transmitted the data to Lt. Commander Gallagher and Captain James without hesitation. She made sure the link was swift and then closed down after the transmission was sent. She was not going to risk anymore.
Quickly she finished the download, and stashed the chip in her boot heel before checking the 'job' she was meant to be doing. It was also complete. She sat back in the chair and waited.
The top of the staircase spilled into a series of small viewing rooms, designed for delegations to watch but be kept separate. Due to the nature of this event, these rooms were empty and dark. But there were obvious signs of movement up here. Discarded equipment of some sort was left near a few doors. And one was still open, swinging slowly as if opened but let go.
As he reached the top of the stairs and peeked around the edge into the hallway, Maralen frowned. For the most part, he saw nothing unusual about the area; it seemed to be unused currently. Then movement caught his eye, and he focused in on it. At the end of the hall, a door stood slightly ajar, and it was what had caught his eye. It was still slightly in motion as though whomever had used it had carelessly dragged it partway toward its jamb and then released his hold on it.
Slowly, and as silently as he could, Maralen made his way toward the partly-open door. He was careful, stealthy even. And yet, when he peeked into the room to see who was in it, he realized that he had not been stealthy enough... or they had been expecting trouble. Inside the room were two to three dozen men and women in uniforms belonging to the station. Most of them looked his way when he looked in.
"Sshrral!" he hissed under his breath as he backed out quickly and moved down the hall back toward the staircase. However, he did not go down. Instead, he ducked into one of tyhe other rooms in the hallway, intending to get the drop on any pursuers who might have tried to follow him.
From the other room, the approach of several sets of footsteps could be heard. But oddly, no other action was taken.
Captain James shifted uncomfortably in his dress uniform. He didn't like feeling confined like this. Maralen had wandered off to check on the lurker upstairs and Charlotte had headed towards the stage for a better view herself. That left Summer and himself, listening at the back. The President's speech was good, but he knew it was falling on deaf ears. The Admiral had already completed the vessel and seemed to have every intention of launching it, regardless of the council's decision. He leaned over toward Summer. "Anything yet?"
Summer raised wide eyes to his. Then her lips curved. "Oh yes" She purred. "A lot."
Chris cringed. "I do not like the sound of that." He leaned in closer so her voice wouldn't have to carry far. "How bad is it?"
"Bad. really Bad. Kenna sent me everything." She whispered as she acted like they were sharing nothing but plans for later. Her arms curled around his neck and she kissed his cheek. "I need to get it sorted out."
The door behind Kenna Wolff opened. General Javier entered with two thermoses, sipping one. She offered the other to Kenna. "Making progress, Miss Wolff?"
Kenna stood, her gaze intent. "Oh a lot." She calmly stood her arms at her side. "A lot of information, which I found very interesting."
"As I can imagine. We have a lot of activity aboard Arcadia at the moment. Care to share a coffee? I'll pick your brain. See if we can contain the chaos," the General said with a smile.
Raising an eyebrow the blonde looked at Javier. "No thank you." She said succinctly. "I have nothing to talk about with you nor do my brains need picking," Her feet shifted, not into a federation trained stance, but into a stance that spoke of street brawling and swift movement. Her gaze watched the woman with general ranks. She was not going to go quietly.
"Oh, I see what happened here," Javier chuckled running a hand through her hair. "A little too smart for your own good, huh? We'll have to fix that."
With remarkable speed, the General's hand dropped the coffee and came forward palm open, striking Kenna mid chest as if she'd been hit by a cannon.
Kenna used the force of the hit to allow her body to fall back over the console, as she did, she kicked Javier in the jaw. She hit the ground and rolled to a stop, crouched. "Summer said you hit like a girl." She taunted.
The kick staggered Javier but only for a moment. Several sets of rushed footsteps were approaching in the corridor. "Summer hasn't seen me fight lately," Rebecca sneered. She crushed the steel thermos beneath her foot, the coffee pouring onto the floor. She kicked, practically breaking the console in the process.
"Maybe not, but she did say you were gullible and easy to deceive. Something we used to our advantage." Kenna smirked and watched as Javier moved towards her. She could tell that the General's skills were enhanced. Definitely infected. And she knew her abilities would probably not be sufficient. But she was going to try. "You saw what you wanted to see, blind like your leaders. Tell me, was Rebecca Javier easy to take over?"
“So you think you figured it out,” Javier paused. “You know what’s funny, Kenna Wolff? You’ve seen a fraction of what’s going on and think you understand. You think you infiltrated my facility? I invited you here because I needed you for the next part. And the information you smuggled out isn’t going to change a thing. You’re already too late.”
The two traded numerous blows. Kenna was holding her own well, but against such an enhanced opponent, she couldn’t hold out forever. Javier kicked, knocking Kenna against the wall even through her block. She cracked her knuckles. “This next part is going to hurt.”
"Promise?" Kenna taunted even as she gasped for breath "I like it when it hurts."
Chris looked around the room, thinking of a subtle way to exit. And then he noticed something. Or the lack of something, rather. In this entire room, there wasn't one Marine or one Arcadia command officer. Not a single one. A mere half hour ago there had been at least a half dozen. "Summer...is it just me or is there a noticeable absence of Admiral Haster's crew?"
"We need to get out of here. Now." She muttered. "Things are going down."
From across the room, the panicked voice of Charlotte Reynolds cut through the murmur like butter. “Hit the deck!”
An instant later, the room was filled with a torrent of bright red light, lancing in a dozen directions. The windows shattered immediately from the impact and bodies scattered, either struck by the energy blasts or trying to avoid them.
Charlotte Reynolds’s body collided with the Federation President, bringing both she and the elderly woman down behind a stone podium/table as the weapons fire assailed the barrier. The entire room was phaser fire and screams.
Captain James had moved in that instant as well, kicking the table he’d been next to over and diving behind it, bringing Summer down with him. Around them people screamed in fear or in pain, trying to get to nonexistent safety.
Upstairs, Maralen had barely reached the other door when phaser fire hummed past his ear, barely missing him. Well, so much for that plan. He was not going to surprise them, but he could still use the out-swinging door to his advantage as a bit of cover. Pulling it open, he ducked behind it and removed the phaser he had hidden, the one they had each been given. His mind went, for a moment, to Charlotte, hoping she was all right. But in the next second, his training took over, and his whole mind descended into the Cold Precision.
They had singed some of his fur, but they had not wounded him really. He did not intend to give them another chance. He could not know whether they were infected, however, or merely following the orders of someone they did not know was not themselves. His trained mind said that efficiency demanded that he not waste the chance to remove a threat by using the stun setting which would not stop an Infected. And yet, if he killed an innocent because he made such a decision...
There was no time for mental debate as more phaser fire flew through the hallway, some of it hitting the door. This door was not going to provide much cover for very long. When the fire stopped for a second, presumably to get a bead on where he was, he poked his head out and delivered several shots of his own, not on stun. He ducked back immediately as they returned the fire, so he did not see if any of his shots landed.
Two of the men went down, but others took their place, firing a barrage of phaser bolts, eliminating the chance of escape down the hall. Phaser fire from the floor level took out a few, but there was a sizable group of them, and each simply replaced their fallen companion.
Summer looked at Chris. "You always take me to the most exciting places you know." She said as she pulled her phaser from its hidden place in her jacket. "Such a romantic you are," she ducked as a bolt went over her head.
"Gotta keep you on your toes," Chris said, drawing his own phaser.