Officer's Meeting With Some Extra Jungle Thrown In
Posted on Sat Sep 7th, 2019 @ 11:01pm by Captain Charlotte Reynolds & Ensign Claire Lafayette & Master Chief Petty Officer Amelia Redgrave & Lieutenant Commander Kenna Wolff & Lieutenant Commander Maralen Seitha & Lieutenant Commander Nathan Bishop & Lieutenant Dante Rawlins & Lieutenant Ian Acainus & Lieutenant Caroline Isley & Lieutenant Niamh O'Donoghue & Lieutenant JG Connor Burton & Lieutenant JG Morgan Lindsay & Ensign Thyra Sh'shraaqir & Ensign Colby Pierce & Ensign Orin Saar & Lieutenant JG Alexander McConnell PhD & Lieutenant JG Samuel Kincaid & Ensign Samaire MacBride
Episode 1: A Lesson in Humility
Location: Jungle, Typhon's Creation
Timeline: Morning 2
Captain's Log, Stardate...I believe it's Stardate 2264.024:
After a long and particularly dangerous night, we've managed to stumble upon most of my missing officers. Along the bank of a stream here in the jungle, we came across Doctor Lindsay and an injured Ensign Sh'shraaqir. Redgrave and Acainus weren't far off having scouted out the pirate camp. Apparently, the device they spotted is some sort of power relay.
Didn't take us too long to track down Burton, Isley, and MacBride. Even found Rawlins, who seemed to have gotten trapped in a small ravine until we located him. Apparently, there's an old destroyed rail system in the desert region. It didn't seem relevant at the time.
That was until yet another group of our officers showed up. Bishop, Wolff, Pierce, Lafayette, Kincaid, Saar...Did I miss anyone? They discovered another rail system, this time a functional one, just lacking power. I'm beginning to think I can see the solution to our little puzzle here.
I'm beginning to question whether this is a consequence of our Starfleet Ideologies or Typhon's manipulations? I may owe Maralen a beer if it ends up being the latter, but I'm hoping its just our herd mentality.
There are still a few faces missing, but most of the other junior officers were in Typhon's tower. I've given everyone a brief break to rest while we took turns on watch. There's been no sign of the pirates since the attack last night, but I don't think we've seen the last of them. It's daybreak again and I can't help but feel that our little army is going to crack Typhon's riddle by noon...as long as time flows correctly.
Charlotte flipped the communicator shut and took a look around. With the calm morning sunlight peeking through the dense foliage, one would almost be forgiven for forgetting that this place was a dangerous trap trying to kill them. A still tender cut on her arm and a bruised bridge of her nose made sure she didn't forget though.
Rising to her feet, she looked around at the dozen and a half officers in various states of waking. She wished they'd had a pot of coffee. She could certainly use some, but apparently, their captor hadn't provided one.
Their small campfire would have to serve as a replacement for the conference room. She walked toward the center of the group, waiting until she'd gained their attention. "Good morning, everyone. I'm not sure about you all, but I'm getting damn tired of this planet and I'd very much like to get back to my quarters. So, let's get this puzzle done and go confront our host. We've got three regions we're dealing with. Mountain, Jungle, Desert. And we've got three pieces to a puzzle here. An intact train with no power and a broken control panel, a broken train with an intact control car, and a power relay system. Anyone else seeing what I'm seeing?"
Dante held up his hand to get her attention, "I mean, honestly it's pretty simple. Get the pieces we need from the fully intact train, bring them back to the damaged one to repair it, and then turn the power on.", he said. "But it's going to take some work, and I don't think it's going to be exactly a lot of fun.", he added.
"I think Dante is right?" Ian said as he paced around the fire,"I don't know how much use I'll be on this one, I'm a diplomat, not an engineer?"
"You can help me keep people motivated and offer first aid where needed," Niamh said as she made her way to the front of the crowd, her hair still dripping from the snow, "Plus, I'm sure Lieutenant Rawlins could find something for us to do. There's going to be a lot of gear to shift," she suggested, smiling at the pair. Whilst she had been talking she made a quick scan for some familiar faces and was pleased to see Amelia within the crowd, somehow she felt safer.
Amelia spotted her friend and walked over to stand near her. She crossed her arms but gave her a friendly nudge with one of her elbows.
Ian gave the other officer a brief nod. "I think I remember enough first aid from my Academy days to assist. At least as long as it's utterly routine or an emergency. But I'll do my best. I think I'll do better at keeping people motivated. And, I may not be as strong as some people here, but I'll do my best."
The captain listened and nodded. "Sounds like a plan then. We have numerous parts to move over a large distance, but luckily we have quite a few people to accomplish that. Which I think means we should try and divide up our labor. Ensign Lafayette knows the parts we need to remove from the wrecked train. Rawlins, Acainus, O'Donoghue. I'd like you to help her out there too. The train's hanging off the edge of a cliff. A calming voice would probably be very welcome."
"Understood ma'am," Ian replied.
"Of course, Captain" Niamh accepted.
"Sounds like a plan, ma'am.", Dante responded.
The captain nodded. "While you're removing the pieces, we'll have a second-team get to work on prepping the intact train for their arrival. I'll take lead on that side. Lt. Burton, I'd like you with me. If we're going to use this train, I'll want it done right and having the Chief Engineer working on that end would help greatly. Isley, I'd like you to come too. You'll be able to spot issues long in advance."
Caroline looked down at her tricorder and nodded. She was beginning to realize just how critical this piece of equipment was. "Of course, captain," she said, taking a deep breath. Would any mission ever be routine? she asked herself.
"Aww shucks, you'll make me blush Cap." Connor quipped with a grin.
Once to camp, Morgan got Thyra settled near the stream in some shade. Removing his jacket, he retrieved the back bladder from it and ensured that the water was fit to drink with the tricorder, checked the filter and filled it. Next, he made rounds, checking on the crew, encouraging them to stay hydrated and use their survival rations. He then busied himself in collecting dried matter from the nearby surroundings and slowly worked the fire that had been built into a smokeless affair, feeding it small bits of very dry fuel at a time. Finally, he checked on Thyra again and sat next to her, sipping at his own water. He was getting tired but there wasn't time for that.
The captain addressed the doctor and his patient. “I think you two should come with us as well. The frigid climate would probably do Thyra some good.”
Thyra allowed Morgan to help her up. She tried to say something to the captain. For once in her life she totally useless. But her fever reminded her she really needed to get out of this climate. She wasn't used to this climate. She looked up to Morgan again and smiled weakly. Finally, she found the strength to speak up. She turned to the captain and said, "Thank you, captain." She spoke softly and weakly.
"Of course," Charlotte replied gently. "Let's just focus on getting you home to Defiant, so we can get you some real medical care."
Bishop had been quiet, thinking on their situation. Something just didn't add up. he walked over to Charlotte, the phaser rifle slung over his back. "A word if you please Ch... Captain." As he walked a short distance away from the group, waiting for Charlotte to follow.
The woman turned to face Bishop. "Go ahead, Commander."
"I've been thinking, this whole situation is wrong. If our captor is all-powerful as he wants us to believe then why is he doing this? Why not just take what he wants?" Bishop continued.
Charlotte let out a sigh. The thought had been dogging her too. But she'd be doing everything she could to suppress the entire subject of the Command Override code. She didn't feel Typhon in her mind anymore, but that didn't mean he was gone. But the question was a good one. Why was he doing this? "I'm honestly not sure. Maybe he's not as powerful as he wants us to believe. Or maybe he needs something his power can't give him." Like a warp-capable vessel? she thought. "Regardless we know he's put a test in front of us. Maybe he's testing us to see what we're capable of. I don't know for sure what he has planned, but passing his test seems to be our best chance at getting to the bottom of this. If nothing else, it'll at least let us confront him about it."
"Which leads to the next question, "Why does a being claiming to be a god need a warp-capable starship? This doesn't add up. I believe what we're witnessing are parlor tricks. They look impressive but their tricks nonetheless."
"I know, but I'm not so convinced it's just parlor tricks. These things we've faced? They're tangible. My two almost-black eyes are proof that this stuff hurts when it hits you." Charlotte gingerly rubbed the angry red bruise on the bridge of her nose, where one of the pirate's rifle butt had connected with her the night before. "There's got to be a reason why he wants Defiant. Maybe he can do all this but can't travel fast enough to get where he wants to go. I think we need more information before we'll really have a grasp on what's going on here."
Nathan nodded, "Perhaps you are right. More information is needed."
Maralen had been quietly listening, both to the group conversation and then to Charlotte and Nathan. They had not, after all, moved out of range of feline hearing. He was reminded, by the words, of something he had once said to the Executive when the man had first taken him to Facility 66F and had him interrogate the prisoner there. When all typical methods had failed, he had asked the Executive, "Why do the Partners not simply take the information from her?"
His response was short. "Take it?"
He had known perfectly well what Maralen had been suggesting. Being the type of individual he was, there was no way he could have misunderstood. And given what they had been willing to do to teach Maralen the Lessons, he had suspected that They knew too but wanted him to say it. He'd obliged. "She has a strong will, but her Telepathic Potential is not nearly as strong as that of the Partners. So, why do They not simply rip the information from her mind? It would waste less time and energy."
Whatever Typhon wanted, Nathan was right. Why didn't he simply take what he wanted if he was so sshrralling powerful? The Partnership's (Realm's) reason had been that they had wanted him to do it. Typhon's answer? Who the hell knew. He sighed. This had gotten him nowhere very fast.
"Where would you like me, Captain?" he asked when the two had rejoined the group.
The Captain considered this. “I want you to take a team to the power supply and see if you can activate it. Even if we repair the train, it does us no good if it can’t go anywhere. MacBride and Saar can accompany you. A small team can move quickly and quietly.” She thought he might appreciate the repetition of his own advice, to show she’d been listening even while they had their disagreement.
Maralen nodded. Much of his expression didn't show it, but his eyes told her that he was grateful to her for remembering what he'd said to her and using it. "Very true," he agreed about both the power supply and the team size. He looked to the two officers selected. "When the captain is finished, we will move out."
Orin nodded himself, keeping quiet most of this interaction. Being new to the crew, he tended to keep his mouth shut unless he really thought his opinion was needed. "I can usually cover some good ground. If we run into a pickle, I am pretty good about getting out of them." Orin grabbed his TR-30 prototype pistol and pulled the slide back, checking to make sure the projectile weapon was loaded. "Just know, if we end up in a firefight, this thing is going to be loud as hell."
"Joy" muttered Samaire as she wished again that this was a wacky dream from eating too much sugar.
Maralen frowned as he studied the projectile weapon. He did not have a problem with them in general, only the horrendous noise they made. However, this situation was not only not normal; it was downright sshrralled. So whatever weapons they had he was just going to be grateful for.
"Noted, Mr. Saar," he acknowledged. "We'll leave once everyone is squared away."
The Captain turned toward Nathan again. "That leaves one last group. We know the pirates are likely going to be out there somewhere. And we know those arachnids still are too. Commander Bishop, I want you to take your tactical team and try to lure our pirate friends into some sort of ambush. If we can eliminate them, we can move with an awful lot more impunity. We'll give you whatever additional gear you need."
"Consider it done. I don't we'll need too much in additional gear. We can set traps, burn out some holes, cover them in leaves, catch the pirates in a crossfire." Nathan replied coolly.
"Excellent. Kenna, go with them. They'll benefit from your expertise. And with that, I think we..." Charlotte trailed off as a high pitch whining filled the space near her.
Sam pulled his tricorder up and flipped it open. On the screen, every readout was completely filled with indecipherable gibberish, and graphs that were just all over the place. "This isn't going to be any help, Captain. Something is interfering with every sensor, on all frequencies and wavelengths.", he said, raising his voice to be heard over the whine, and then looking up apologetically.
The sound hit an even higher pitch, then dropped off, as there was suddenly the sound of rustling from the brush surrounding them. A moment later, the figures of two individuals clad in Starfleet gear appeared. Charlotte let out a sigh of relief...only to feel it catch in her throat.
One figure, with science blue striping, was Alexander McConnell, tricorder in hand. The one next to him, with red security striping, was...a face that shouldn’t be there. A half-second pause passed as Charlotte’s eyes darted from the new visitor to the identical woman standing next to Niamh. A second Amelia Redgrave.
"Captain, apologies for our tardiness, seems the forest was reluctant to let us catch up with you all," Alexander said before he and his Amelia made their way towards Charlotte, oblivious of her double.
Niamh and the Amelia in the camp had been sharing what they had experienced since arriving on the planet. As was typical, whilst they chatted, Niamh had been keeping an eye on the crew as they went about their business. Not long before the new arrivals, Niamh's gaze had switched to watch Charlotte. As a result, the counselor saw the same thing and reacted before thinking.
"Mary, mother of god!" Niamh mumbled as she put a few steps between herself and the Amelia she'd been chatting with.
Charlotte's hand darted to her phaser, but...which was she going to aim at? The one who'd just appeared along with another of their missing officers very conveniently? Or the one who had just gotten done listening to their entire plan. The two Amelias meanwhile had nearly simultaneously drawn their weapons on each other. So Charlotte now needed to make sure that shots didn't start flying in the middle of all of her officers. "Everybody, stand back."
She stepped forward, to a position which gave her a clear shot at either Amelia. She didn't want to shoot her officer, but if something was going to go down, she wanted to be ready. She started wracking her brain for a test. Something Amelia would know and an imposter wouldn't. However, beyond that, she needed to know how good an imitation this was.
"O'Donoghue, Pierce," Charlotte said, calling out the only two officers present who might actually know Amelia well enough to test this. "Come to me."
Colby walked towards the captain, not sure why she wanted him. "You wanted me...…." He stopped talking when he saw two Amelias.
Ian didn't know the woman well enough to know which one was real and which one was the counterfeit, but he was confident he could help determine who was who. When the Captain asked the other two officers to come forward he did, as well. Tapping the side of his head he said, "I think I might be able to help ma'am."
Charlotte turned to Acainus. The offer of his telepathy was an interesting angle, though admittedly he was not the only telepath present. She figured it couldn’t hurt. “By all means, Mr. Acainus.”
The situation was by no means an ordinary one and the diplomat realized that. But he thought he may have just outfoxed their tormentor. So, he sent out mental feelers towards both women. He seldom experienced resistance when reaching out mentally but it was like walking through mental quicksand. The more he pushed, the more resistance he felt. Then he was through and everything seemed normal until it wasn't. Both women seemed to be identical, their thoughts, their emotions, even the very limited picture of their memories.
Then suddenly the connection was cut off and when it was, he felt like someone might have felt centuries in the past had they stuck their finger in a light socket. He was knocked a meter and a half back in the air and landed hard on his tailbone. A severe migraine hammering inside his head.
The Captain stood mouth agape as she looked at where the diplomat had been flung. If the sudden appearance of a second Amelia hadn’t been enough of a threat, they now knew one was very dangerous. She dared not move. “Lieutenant, are you alright?”
Ian winced, closing his eyes for a good thirty seconds. "I've been better ma'am," he admitted. Shaking his head and trying to fight back the pain, he rose to his feet. "I think I'll be okay," he lied more for the benefit of their opponents than the Captian
Morgan heard his name called and saw something going on toward the edge of the camp. Some kind of confrontation? He slipped away from Thyra, leaving her with a cool cloth over her head and his jacket as a pillow. Gathering his kit, he made his way over then knelt next to Ian as he looked at the phaser drawn dark-haired women. He chose to ignore that for a moment as he ran the remote over the Diplomat and checked the tricorder's readings. "Rest easy, Mr. Acainus," he said automatically. After a few seconds, he spoke again. "Looks like a form of Osmotic swelling, known collectively as a Cerebral Edema. It's a whisper, but it's there." He put the sensor and tricorder away and fished a hypo-spray and several vials from the kit. Finally, Morgan loaded the hypo-spray and touched it to the diplomat's neck. "Best I can do is Malathacin. It'll decrease fluids in your system, so we'll have to monitor your hydration levels over the next few days. However, it should drain the excess fluid from where it doesn't belong."
Patting Ian on the shoulder as he put the instrument away, he asked. "The headache should clear in an hour or so. Feel like joining Thyra over by my makeshift aid station?"
Ian nodded his thanks, "Normally I'd turn down your kind offer, I'm not that big on taking it easy and feeling helpless, but I think I might have to join the Andorian, if only for a little while. You know until the headache, the Cerebal Edema as you called it, clears up."
He brushed himself off ad made his way towards where Thyra was.
Morgan nodded, adding to Ian's back, "Thanks. There probably could use company other than mine anyway." Then he pushed himself to his feet, sliding the sling for his aid kit diagonally over his torso and looked at the two Amelias. Frowning and feeling a bit put out over the entirety of the whole affair, he raised one hand toward each of them and stepped more or less between their field of fire. "Alright you two. Put those damned phasers away before someone gets hurt and I have even more work. Obviously this is no way to settle any of this."
He looked back and forth and then crossed his arms and scowled, "Put em away I said. Doctor's orders!"
Each of the two Amelia's moved in almost perfect unison, lowering their weapons tentatively, not letting them get too difficult to re-aim. "Fine. But only if she does too," they replied.
Charlotte was about through with the situation. "Pierce, O'Donoghue. Is there any piece of information you can think of, anything that only the real Amelia would be able to provide? Childhood stories not in her personnel file, personal phobias, whatever you can think of."
Pierce looked at the captain. "I think I may have an idea, captain." He holstered his phaser and approached one of the "Amelia's". He stood close to her and whispered, "Tell me something about us that the others don't know."
The Amelia next to him, the one who had just joined them, shot daggers at him with your eyes. "That threat I made. I wasn't joking. If you tell..." She didn't finish the sentence. She hoped he knew better than to give away their secret. If he didn't, he'd be in for a world of hurt.
Pierce nodded then walked over to the other "Amelia" and repeated the same question. "Tell me something about us that the others don't know."
This second Amelia, who had been with the group, gave an eerily similar response. "That threat I made. I wasn't joking. If you tell..." Her stare wasn't just similar. It was identical. She darted her eyes toward the first Amelia. "What'd she tell you?"
Pierce just shook his head, and headed back to the Captain, and said those words he dreaded saying to his commanding officer, "Sorry Captain, I failed."
The captain caught his eye. “Let me guess. They both have the exact same answer.”
"Yes ma'am." Colby hung his head, knowing that he failed his captain...not a great career move.
Charlotte shook her head. “You didn’t fail, Ensign. You may have just confirmed a theory for me.” She turned to her XO. “Maralen, a word?”
Maralen approached where the captain stood with Niamh and Pierce. He had observed the 'test' Mr. Pierce had used to try and determine which Amelia was the original and the results of that test. He had also been studying the two, looking for any tiny variation in movement, expression, anything that would give one away. The problem was that the fakery was flawless. He frowned as he approached Charlotte. "Yes, Captain?"
“I want you to be very cautious about this. Do not open yourself up to attack like Acainus did by probing. But...can test the air, see if there’s a psychic force perceiving here?” The whine of tricorder interference drowned out most of the surrounding noise.
He understood what she was asking. In essence, she wanted him to do a 'passive scan', sense any other mind that wasn't the crew. He nodded. "I will try," he said. Acainus had made the mistake of directly probing; Maralen did not intend to repeat that mistake.
He closed his eyes and opened his mental walls, 'listening' to the 'background noise' of the place. Slowly, he began to filter out the minds of each of the crew with him and the captain. One by one, they disappeared until only he and anything not them would remain. His ears flattened, and his tail fur fluffed. Very quietly, he said so that only she would hear, "I do sense some... thing? here." It was very alien, and he did not want to antagonize it or alert it to the fact that he had sensed it, so he pulled his walls back up and opened his eyes, looking to Charlotte.
The captain nodded. She assumed that answer to be the case, but wanted to be sure. Now...how to deal with Amelia. Clearly whatever Pierce had asked had been too easy for Typhon to read. Not that it was Pierce's fault. How are you supposed to know how deep of a secret to reach for?
Charlotte had her own idea though, an idea which would test the abilities of Typhon's mind reading. "Alright. Chief Redgrave, I'm going to ask you a question. You are going to answer that question immediately. No delay. No time for our imposter here to read your mind. If you delay, I am going to shoot. Are you ready?" She wiggled the phaser pistol in her hand, as it audible charged. Whatever setting it was on, it certainly wouldn't tickle.
The two replied in near unison. "Um...yes? I guess?" They both looked tense.
"Ok..." Charlotte paused for a moment, bringing the phaser up and aiming it toward the sky in a readied stance. "I once told you the thing I fear most. What is it?"
The next second passed in the blink of an eye. To the right, the Amelia who had escaped the pirates alongside Isley and MacBride spoke, a relieved smile on her face. "Liars."
The one on the left, who had appeared suddenly along with only one member of the crew to vouch for her presence, hesitated. "Uh..."
You're damn right," Charlotte said, a dangerous smile spreading across her face.
And with a swivel so fast it blurred her motion, Charlotte Reynolds spun and fired a shot, directly into the chest of the Amelia on the right. With a shocked look, the officer staggered backward, clutching her chest.
Charlotte stepped forward, a bit of confident swagger in her gait. "You're a little too convinced of your own greatness Typhon. It was a nice trick, especially taking the least suspicious approach to entering the camp. But you were so eager to have the right answer, you spent all your energy in my mind and forgot to probe the person you were impersonating. Amelia and I never had the little conversation. There was no answer to give, other than the one I had laid out in my own mind."
The illusion of the second Amelia began to dissolve, as a sinister smile spread across her face. "Well played, Captain. I should have sensed the deception, you're getting better at this."
"Spare me the compliments," the woman replied. "See you soon." With that, she fired a second shot into faux-Amelia and the illusion shattered. Instantly, the interference from the tricorders went silent.
Maralen had watched silently. Whatever the captain had been planning, he was ready to move if needed. Fortunately, he had not been needed that time. His eyes flicked to the tricorders as that insane whine just... stopped. He frowned, though he was glad for the cessation of that sound. "Odd..." he commented, looking at Charlotte. "When she appeared, that started. When she, or he, vanished, it stopped." There was a connection there. Something about the fakery had interfered with the tricorders. But what exactly did that mean? He needed a bit of time to analyze, but they really didn't have it, so he waited for her or the others to weigh in.
"I noticed. It's also interesting that our real Amelia here was the one who appeared when and ended with the fake's elimination. Why would him assuming Amelia's form make them both exhibit tricorder interference? A psychic link wouldn't explain that. I know his powers are substantial but..." She didn't really have anything else there. She turned toward the larger group. "We have work to do. We always assumed he knew the plan, so no reason to change it now. Redgrave, join the tactical team. McConnell, you'll go with Commander Seitha's team. Otherwise, you have your assignments."
She let out a sigh. "Now, let's get to work."