OOC: I am setting this timeline as the end of a week in the story timeline. That will allow for everyone to have “time” to experience bringing something to the meeting. I know a lot of us are busy with real life and at times are not able to post as fast or as frequently as others. Please look at this as a working storyline. Please feel free to interject, insert posts, and post as far back as needed to share what you choose. That means, for our newer players, you can back post to the entrance in the thread even if we are far past that. Yes, it may make the post slightly “messy” at times but life is messy for many right now. I have created a resource sheet for the story if needed or wanted. https://www.star-fleet.com/core/character/1836/
OOC: There is a lot of info so I am putting it up in stages so it is easily readable. It will also allow people to enter the thread or comment and expand on parts if they want.
Ian slid into his seat at the conference table taking a sip of his coffee and making a face. Cold the murmured and shook his head. Cold coffee was something he rarely experienced since he had married Kelly. She drank coffee enough of the stuff and fast enough that it never got cold. It was just one more reminder of all the changes that had taken place in the past week. Glancing to his right, her seat still remained unfilled. A small smile curled the corners of his lips when he noticed not only was it not filled but also missing.
Mardusk, Nash, or Drayke had to have removed it since the last meeting. It was not a show of crew solidarity or respect for her absence in being attacked by the aliens called the Elders that were now sitting in the brig. It was purely vindictive against the pompous Admiral sent by Starfleet at an oddly specific time for no clear reason. Admiral Niles Primrose had been anything but helpful cutting out the crew whenever possible and making decision only an idiot would find constructive. In the last staff meeting, Primrose had taken Kelly’s seat as a sign of being the superior officer. Ethan, Gravel, and Jacen seemed to have made sure that the visual option was eliminated. The fact that Ian made sure not to send Primrose any reference to the meeting about to occur might mean the inflated egomaniac would never grace them with their presence.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, suddenly rang out in his head in his grandmother’s voice. It again brought a small chuckle from Ian as he got up and moved to the replicator to get a new drink. He was so tired of tribal wisdom and archaic quotes to last a lifetime. Jessa was a walking Socrates with poetic quotes and stupid mantra’s about life. When this was all over, he was going to take a long vacation with his wife on some isolated beach without comms and devoid of any other lifeforms with the capability of speech.
Sitting down at the table, Ian sipped his coffee and review the plethora of notes that needed to be shared with the officers that would soon be joining him.
Maddie appeared to be the first to arrive and nodded to Ian “Sir.” She said taking a seat and letting out a deep breath, first staff meetings aboard a new ship were always nerve wracking, this one more so than normal since she had left in unusual circumstances.
“Just Ian,” he laughed and nodded behind him to the table laid out with sandwiches and other assortments of food. “Sorry about the lunchtime meeting thing. Get something to eat if you are hungry,” he gestured at the half sandwich caddy-corner from his PaDD. “As you are about to be caught up to speed it has been one helluva week. Our staff meetings have been scheduled around Jessa seeing Rinker. It is not ideal but someone has to keep eyes on that kid at all times for now.” Leaning back in his seat, Ian looked the woman slightly up and down. While it was not unusual to get new crew, timing right now seemed to be oddly specific with a lot of things.
“So what do you know about the events of the past four days?” Taking a sip of his coffee, Ian waited. The coffee felt warm and comforting as the heat filled his body. It was a temporary reprieve from the stress and tension that kept him from sleeping or eating a decent meal over the past few days. Setting the mug down, Ian’s mind drifted to what Rinker said before they entered the Brig to speak with Rogan. Life is never going to be normal again. He knew this was a fact but part of him wanted to resist that thought.
The ship in general knew the broad scope of what happened. An alien ship arrived, the captain was hurt, prisoners were taken, and the Atlantis had been on a steady yellow alert for the past seven days. Only a tighter circle had more specific details.
Maddie stepped over and grabbed a sandwich and a glass of water. That gave her time to compose her answer, she knew alot more about what was going on but had her orders, turning back to Ian “I know that we encountered an unknown ship, Captain Bordeaux was injured and that is about it.” She said sitting down with her food “Is there more to what’s going on?” She asked as she took a bite of food.
Ian set his cup down and gave Maddie the once-over in his mind. It was not that he had any reason to distrust her but there was no reason to trust her. Yes, the woman was new to the crew but so were a couple of dozen other people. Kelly had specifically requested this woman to be part of her senior staff weeks before. It was then Ian realized his hesitation had nothing to do with the officer. It was because the situation felt like airing dirty laundry to a stranger. Whether he broke the news or someone else did in the next ten minutes wasn’t going to change the facts of the situation. Having a fresh pair of eyes and someone slightly distant from the problem could however present facts and a different point of view.
“You might have wanted something stronger than water to hear my answer,” Ian said dryly. Opening his mouth, he was stopped by the swish of the pneumatic doors as the operations officer blew into the room with all the youthful vigor of a fresh-faced cadet. If Ian had not been told about Tenzig’s peculiar situation of his own, Ian might have barked an order for the officer to leave.
Tenzing popped in with enough energy for the entire crew. Given his history being far from home, one would think he’d be the opposite. “Scuse me,” The Ops Officer said as he made his way over to the table and picked up a sandwich. Trainor stopped momentarily and looked between Bordeaux and the CTO, the shrugged. “Someone telling secrets?” He asked.
Trainor then took a seat and grinned towards the pair, “So… spill the beans?”
Oh my god if you start singing Whitney Mears songs I will blow you out of the airlock, Ian thought looking at the youthful expression on Tenzig’s face. It was not the kid’s fault. The guy was practically as old as everyone about to sit around the table. That meant he had a wealth of knowledge but it was just hard to get past Tenzig’s boyish good looks.
Since these were the only two new faces joining the table, it was best to get them up to speed so real discussions could begin when the rest of the officers arrived. If anyone else showed up they would just fill in the blanks. Reclining back, Ian rested an elbow on the edge of the table and activated the large wall PaDD. Four images and one vehicle appeared on the screen. Clicking on the vehicle, Ian wore an annoyed expression. “The Beacon of Hope,” he said as the large vessel appeared on the screen, “arrived off our port bow just before fourth and first shift change. We are not sure if this was calculated or coincidence.” It was common knowledge that the third and fourth shifts were the shifts with the least amount of command experience. “If the aliens wanted their arrival to confuse us, it worked because as you know most of us are in bed at 0400 hours. Kelly was on the bridge because she was finishing up the last of Ensign Rio’s observations required for him to officially take the helm and get in his command experience hours. I was pulled into a closed-door meeting an hour before the aliens arrival. Nash and Drayke were dealing with a warp core fluctuation. The rest of the crew was asleep until all hell broke lose.”
Ian waited to see if either of them thought it was odd about the timing. In retrospect, things seemed off but hindsight was always twenty-twenty.
“There was is a lot much to summarize. It was best to take it in easily digestible parts. Let’s start with the ship.” Expanding the image of the ship so everyone could take in the details, Ian continued. The Beacon of Hope gleamed like it was just off the assembly line. The hull looked almost like wet metal without the small pockmarks or dings associated with space travel. The color was silver but so highly polished that one wondered if they could almost see their own reflection in it if they were up close. A slight shimmer to the ship indicated that it had a shield or force field of some sort around it.
The overall design of the ship might be described at torpedo-like. It was completely long and cylindrical with no wings or beams visibly linking one section of the ship to another. The ship was larger than a shuttle and about fifty meters in length. There were no windows except for the large viewport on the front of the ship. There were also no seams in the hull that was readily visible as if it had been poured as a single mold. Examining it from all angles, there did not even appear to be a door or a hatch.
“Styxx was sent over with a Marine contingent to enter the ship. She will go into more detail when she arrives but the Marine contingent was armed to the teeth entering the ship. All I know for now is that we took on heavy casualties.” Ian’s voice had a strained quality to it. The body count was going up but there were spinning their wheels in place. It had been four days and they barely had figured out who was who or verified any of the information they had gained.
“From what we can tell the propulsion is not like anything we have ever seen. We are going to send an engineering team over with Nash now that it is cleared but preliminary results show it is fast like a fighter but with no discernable warp capabilities like we are familiar with. I will let Nash explain our findings when he gets here but the even bigger mystery is where they are claiming they hail from.”
Ian glanced at his friend singaling it was his turn to present. Getting up from the table, Chris moved to the large wall PaDD. Stellar cartography on the surface was simple. It was essentially just a map of the stars. When you were about to get into the theoretical stuff, is when most people’s brains melted because of all the unknown variables. He had been doing this for twelve years, the department head and still needed a bottle of analgesics and several bottles booze before he had grasped enough of it to create a working hypothesis to present at this meeting.
“Okay, so I am just gonnah say keep an open mind. I am wawrkin’ with a language bahrriah ‘n the bloody scientific expertise of a twelve yeahr ol’ kid.” Chris looked exhausted with an expression born of someone with too little sleep and too much coffee.
“Yours or hers,” Ian threw out a weak joke about his accent which was only responded to by the single middle finger. A thin chuckle filled the room helping to dissipate the thick level of tension hanging in the air.
“Hers but I gottah tell ya I do believe my interaction with hah wasn’t the bloody smoke ‘n mirrawrs the bloody rest of ya get because I av the bloody one thin’ she needed. Ta figah out weah the bloody hell she actually is. So afder I brought up common celestial land mahrks ta find a point of reference, Jessa became a wealth of infawrmation. It took a hot minute ta realize these people just slapped a religious undertone ta everythin’ wich backs up Rinkah ‘n Styxx’s theawry our guests ahah probably some sawrt of theocratic fawrm of government. Hercules-Cawronah Bawrealis is the Solahr Chasm, the Sloan wall is the Arm of the Divine, and the Boss Wall is the bloody Heahrt of God.” Chris labeled the big ones most everyone would know to give people a sense of where they would be talking about in the universe.
“So once I got a direction it was just liyyke plottin’ a trip ‘n that trip ended here: Velah Astriah.” Circling the spot on the star chart, Chris let the image continue to shrink and expand to give everyone at the table a sense of how far he was actually talking. Second by second the image of the known universe continued to grow making the spot he circled continually decrease in size until it was a pin prick. When it finally stopped the image of the Milky Way galaxy and Vela Astria were nothing but faint red dots. The only reason one even could see them was the large written labels over the spot.
“Jessa is claiming she is from the bloody Caelum supercluster which is a one-point fah billion miles from Eahrth. It’s the bloody lahrgest supercluster with a collection of ovah 550,000 galaxies.” Chris let the claim hang in the air for the room to digest before moving on “Ta bung this in perspective we ahah in the bloody Virgo superclusder ‘n only av about two thousand galaxies. I mean this thin’ is so distant it defines the bloody very boundahry of the observable universe.” Chris protested signaling to the map. It was clear by his awe, excitement and disbelief even Chris thought the Nobel Prize Jessa told Rinker about was a possibility.
“Jessah is also claimin’ they made the bloody trip in about a month. Now we know what she is sayin’ is impossible but she is hearh. So that means she got heah somehow ‘n if i understand her right they ahah usin’ the bloody cosmic web ta pop up like gophers in a meadow on a grand scale. We av only stahrted ta explain wawrmholes ‘n our wawrmholes only function inside the Milky Way. This is like a netwawrk of interstellahr wawrmholes. It would take ya anywheah in the known universe in seconds.” Chris turned back to the people at the table ready to field questions he probably didn’t have a clue of answering.
Chris Robbins, Stellar Cartography
OOC: I am going to have a paragraph above so people not involved in the sim so far can have several possible places to post.
I know that time is tight for a lot of people so if you want to share your part of the sim as Nathan did (ie: Rinker, security, engineering, science, etc) just pop it in and I will alter my posts to make it all flow. That way we have the story summarized and people can comment or add where they want. ~ Kate
As they spoke River walked in carrying a case. She had changed out of her armor and into her normal uniform.
The meeting stopped as Styxx walked in, all eyes on her and the items in her hands. Of all the people who were going to speak at this meeting, right now Lt. Styxx, officer in charge of the marines, was undoubtedly the most important. “Styxx, what have you got,” Ian shifted in his seat from the laid-back posture to one of more rapt attention. During Rogan’s interview with him and Rinker, the Elder hinted the ship held a lot of answers. Maybe a few of them could be answered during Styxx’s report.
“Five dead, three wounded.” she said simply as she placed the case on the table and opened it. Taking out Jessa’s dairy and the picture she took from the other bunk she placed them on the table so all could see them “We’re dealing with religious zealots on some dam fool crusade, they have advanced technology and everything on that ship was designed to kill trespassers. However the ship isn’t much of an issue now” she said pausing.
“Five,” Ian said leaning back in his seat. He had heard they took casualties but five was a hard number to swallow. The Marines were smart, tough, and almost invincible. It they took on that much damage under the command of someone like Styxx, the Altantis was in far more trouble than they originally realized. Ian glanced at Styxx. While it was only visible to those that knew her well, Ian could see the tightness in her facial muscles. The way her lips stretched into a thin line as she talked and the dark circles under her eyes told Ian volumes. Styxx was not cracking under the pressure of what happened. Instead, the Marine leader was storing it up like emotional fuel. When it finally was released, nothing in the world was going to stop Styxx from reigning pure holy hell on the Elders. Nothng he said would make a difference but not saying something felt wrong too. In place of words, he locked eyes with Styxx and nodded slightly. It was a silent pact between them that Bordeaux would allow her to do what she needed for the marines she had lost.
River locked eyes with Ian and returned the nod. She knew he understood where her head was and she knew he would let her unleash hell when the time was right. River was not interested in showing mercy to their guests. She wanted to make them suffer and she would.
“True enough, everything I’ve learned confirms that… at the level of a cult, Kool-Aid and all.” Rinker had a few ethical issues he had to work out in his head. But generalities he could confirm, not that 5 dead wasn’t confirmation enough.
“So no more Kool-Aide in the replicators. Got it,” Ian said looking up at Rinker. “Don’t want to give her any ideas if she tries to replicate something for us to drink then.” The joke wasn’t funny and in some ways it wasn’t meant to. It was just a fact about the level or fanatical craziness they were dealing with.
Rinker’s words confirmed what most of the crew suspected. It felt like a weight on everyone in the room. Defeating an enemy was one thing. Defeating religious fighters on a mission made the job that much harder. In history, wars built on religion tended to have many more martyrs. Martyrdom was one hell of an opponent.
“Between the firefight with the mechs onboard and my less then gentle sample gathering, it isn’t in much of a state to fly anywhere. I’ve also put enough explosive on it that if they tried to escape, which I hope they do, on it the only thing going to warp would be their ashes.” she continued her tone sadistic for a moment before returning to a plain tone. she moved to the computer screen and punched in a few commands. The screen lit up with a list of samples, readings from various sections, a full schematic for the ship and materials gathered from the ship, all split into what department would be best to analyse them
“I took the liberty of gathering samples from all over the ship and bringing them onboard, figured you guys would like to have a crack at sorting it all out. I also started a partial translation key for their language and text, while I was over there. I sent it over to xenolingustics hopefully they can pick up form where I started and fill in there blanks. I’m hoping to hear from them soon. I told them to contact me as soon as they had something.” she said her tone professional.
“Good call,” Ian said. “Rinker and I have a smattering of the verbal components of their language which I can safely say is translatable by context even if we don’t know that exact translation. I will send that over to Roth and the xenolinguistics team.” Glancing at Rinker, Ian debated the line between personal and public knowledge. The psychiatric chief had stated Jessa had an epic breakdown writing her language during their last session. As her parent, Ian could freely share what he wanted. The question was did he want to. Rinker held the vast majority of Jessa’s therapy sessions behind a durasteel door only sharing what he felt was needed to be known to Ian. Was the fact that Jessa was willing to pretend to be illiterate instead of sharing her language something for public consumption? Ian held the glance long enough for someone as experienced as Heathcliff to know Ian had just okayed the therapist to share what if anything the man felt important.
“Well if you mean that we understand the curses.”
“I am still a little fuzzy on the drakk but I would lay money on being able to define triff, yatza, and varp,” Ian tapped the stylus on the table several times.
“I would like to get a look at that when they done with the translation.” Rinker face was implacable under Ian’s glance. However his lack of further addition to the conversation was the answer to whether Heathcliff had any interest in giving any additional context.
“I’ll get you a copy,” Ian said feeling a knot form in his stomach. Maybe now was not the right time to bring up they had someone that could probably, willingly translate it for the right motivation. Jessa wanted to see the Elders. The crew needed a translation. With five dead, maybe it was time to push Jessa a little more.
“While we wait I can give you a briefing of what we encountered over there, just let me know where you want me to start” she added as stood at the head of the table.
Lieit Styxx (Marine OIC)
“Maybe with the defensive mechanisms,” Ian suggested picking up the diary and thumbing through it. None of the symbols looked like anything Ina had seen before but it was handwritten and the phonemes repeating enough that it wasn’t some made-up language.
Ian Bordeaux Chief diplomatic Officer
River nodded “The exterior defences consisted of a force field of some kind that repelled anything that came in contact with it. I threw a combat knife at it and it came back at such force that imbedded itself in the shuttle. There was also a series of spikes that shot out at the slightest pressure, the spikes killed one of my men.” River said pausing “They where strong enough to punch thru marine armour. we where able to disable the shield with emp grenades, and disabled the spikes by keeping a weight on them so they would not retract.” as she spoke River displayed her tricorder scans and the screen recreated the spikes coming out
“Once we where past that, the hull showed its seams and two hatches one was a fire trap, the other the entrance. Luckily the marine that entered the other hatch was half Klingon that combined with his armour protected him from the fire. He told me that there was camera in the fire trap, meaning our guests are a sadistic bunch. After that it was going pretty well. Until we bumped into the next defence” she said playing her helmet cam footage on the big screen. it showed the mech attack and what River did to destroy it. As the video played river gave commentary.
“It was made of something that looked like liquid mercury it must have come out of the ceiling. As soon as it saw us it spat acid, we barley avoided it. Vahsar and I opened fire and we though we where getting somewhere but it spilt into to parts and resumed its attack. That was when I noticed it a black disc at it base. That was its weakness. I was able to use a canister shot by Vashar to destroy it. But there was another one onboard.” she said simply as she paused the helmet cam to show the mech in its form and the black disc.
As she was talking River saw Ian thumb through the diary and moved to grab one of the pictures she had gathered “That diary belongs to the kid, I found it in what I assume was her bunk. There was also this” she said handing Ian the picture with Jessa in her Ceremonial robes surrounded by others in similar robes. “They probably brainwashed her from an early age to heed the word of her elders and what ever religion compels these people” she added.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“Ya think,” Ian replied staring at the image before passing it over to Rinker. The image did not match what they knew of the Galactic Union. It showed a little girl, smiling and dressed up in what was traditional clothes. Shop the face into a communion dress, and Jessa would have passed for any five year old girl in the universe.
Rinker only glanced at if for a moment before passing it on. Children looked like children in every galaxy and of every race. Cute faces weren’t going to change his approach or his theories.
River just nodded “Children are easier to manipulate and brain wash, for the most part. Though it never worked on me as a kid. Adults are far harder to break. Its doable but it takes time. Unless of course you use a chemical or other substance.” she said a knowing tone in her voice “She was probably told and taught form birth that her elders where the greatest thing in the galaxy and that everything they did, the controlled life she led was how everything was and that she should be happy and thankful for it.” she added.
“Or maybe she was happy,” Ian threw out tapping the diary on his hand. “It is clear the girl was well cared for. All medical records indicate she is healthy. She is well-spoken when she is not imitating the verbiage of a Nausicaan pirate. Although I am not doubting Rinker’s assessment, I do think we need to be careful with our verbiage.” Popular opinion was going to sway widely on this but everyone had their own points of views. Styxx’s view was colored by the chip on her shoulder regarding the events in her life and the emotional toil of the death of her men. Ian’s was influenced by the fact Jessa somehow was carrying half his DNA.
“I think we need to decide if we make sure we are all using the same terms correctly. This is very important because while on some level they are cousin synonyms indoctrination and brain washing are two separate things. Indoctrination is the teaching or inculcating a doctrine, principle, or ideology, especially one with a specific point of view. Vulcans indoctrinate their children to believe emotions are unnecessary while Betazoids embrace emotion to help understand people better. Is one of these systems wrong or better? Whose to say,” Ian began reciting the classic definition of the term sitting a little more rigidly in his seat. “Brainwashing is a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, especially through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques employed, typically for malicious means. Lucky for you,” he looked at Styxx clearly annoyed by her higher than thou comment, “you were obviously superior than other kids…because brainwashing didn’t work on you. So just for some clarification,” Ian could feel his temper starting to rise and finding it harder to maintain the laid back sarcasm that typically characterized his speech, “if we were in the US Army back in 1940’s Germany would you ship all the Nazi Youth straight to Nuremberg and the war crimes tribunal because they should have been able to resist the indoctrination of the culture they were born into?”
“If they where part of a team that attacked us, or took part in the various atrocities yes. But if they hadn’t done anything then no. She probably willingly came on the mission, she signed up to it. She had to know there could be negative consequences. So she should be treated as an enemy combatant, Even if it is in a far more lenient way” River said simply. She could see where Ian was coming from, but she was also acutely aware of the danger any of there guest presented.
Rinker just glanced between the two of them. These conflicts were the precise reason he had no interest in working in the command area of the ship hierarchy. He almost never used the rank that he possessed.
“That’s my guess, I’ll know more once her diary is translated. Or if I get to have a word with her” she said after a short pause.
Chris reached forward and picked up several images that were thrown around the table. Flipping through several of a large building, he froze seeing the one of the dark-haired female with the jagged edge indicating a portion had been ripped off. “Ian,” he said softly not paying attention to the increase in tension filling the room.
Ian’s eyes shot up locking in Styxx ‘s. The stare was intense. Few people had access to Jessa out of an abundance of caution. The security teams had been hand picked by Mardusk because of their temperament. If Jessa was stupid enough to take a swing at the big green guy, Mardusk needed people to manage her that sort of physical aggression and lack of intelligence.
Styxx had the temperament and the skills…under normal circumstances. Any other time, Ian would not think twice to hand the Marine a child and say take care of her. When the child however was part of the group that just killed half your squad it had the potential to change things. With Jessa’s singular talent to fighting authority figures, it could make a meeting explosive. “Noted.” Ian’s vague reply did not take the informal request off the table but it did not grant it. Until the body count started going in the other team’s direction, Ian wasn’t sure who should have contact with her.
“Ian,” Chris repeated only to be met with a sharp not not by his best friend.
River’s eyes matched Ian’s gaze and in the the brief moments of their eyes locking, anger and annoyance flashed in her eyes. River wanted to yell she wanted to tell Ian that his attachment to the brat was clouding his judgment. She lost five men trying to help the ship, while everyone else babied and coddled someone that could be key to unlocking everything they needed to know. She wanted to say as usual marines died while the rest span their wheels. But she didn’t instead she took a deep breath and walked around the table grabbing the dairy as she went.
Reaching her case she put the dairy back in it and took out a few padds. Before slamming the case lid down with more force then she meant to . “Very well” she said coldly “If you could do me a favour Sir. The next time you talk to that little b… Girl give her a message. Tell her that Lieutenant River Styxx officer commanding marines aboard this vessel, boarded and ransacked her precious elders ship. Inform her that I alone have her dairy, her personnel pictures and even her cuddly toy. Then tell her I am willing to give her these items if she behaves and cooperates. If she does not, I cannot guarantee the safety of anything taken from that ship. And believe me if all that we get out of this is couple ripped pages in a child’s book, after what happened over there. we will have been very lucky” River added it wasn’t a threat but a warning. Her marines and her where baying for blood and revenge.
Every muscle in Ian’s body tensed. If they were at a bar, he would have thrown a punch and not looked back. This undoubtedly would have caused Styxx to react and the last thing anyone needed was more tension. “Styxx, we are going to need that diary back. It is not yours and needs to be analyzed by the xenolingusitics team. In fact all of that is evidence so take it out of the case and put it back on the table.” Nothing in Ian’s tone suggested this was up for debate.
River looked at Ian and fought back the urge to swing at him. All she wanted to do was get the situation resolved and get answer. And to her it seemed no one else as capable of that. The soft touch wasn’t working and they where putting all their effort into one child. They had four other prisoners who could be broken one way or the other. Sighing River reached for her case “Star fleet marine corps regulation 89: Any intelligence gathered about an enemy by marine forces is to be kept within the marine corp chain of command. Until such as a time as chain of command decides it is necessary to release it. Regulation 90: Information as characterised in regulation 89 is to be shared at the discretion of Marine senior command and can be rescinded at any time” she said flatly before opening her case.
“You want to quote rules and regulations then lets start with the one that is most important here. SFR-06-8342-9322 grants Special Authority for Federation Diplomatic Corps which is me.” Sitting up straight backed and eyes focused on River, Ian was was ready to show his rank and powers also. “First Contact Protocol 001 describes First contact as the first official encounter between representatives of two races or governments and lets be clear ladies and gentlemen this is a First Contact situation between the Federation and the Galactic Union. We may not like it. We may be in a gray area on it until Chris’ hypothesis is proven correct but best practices dictate we follow the procedures and guidelines outlined for it until told otherwise. So on that note, First contact protocol 006,” Ian countered looking directly at Styxx and his case, “restricts away teams from borrowing or altering the property of an encountered civilization without the civilization understanding Starfleet’s objective and agreeing to it. Since there was a security event surrounding the individuals from the Galactic Union all materials should be placed with the appropriate departments for further study and this fact must be disclosed. Believe me, I am not taking their side. What I don’t want however is the people in the brig to get off scot-free on some technicality because we screwed the pooch on a first contact situation. From what I am hearing from the legal team they could use the defense of removing an individual from a planet, or in this case, their ship, against their will violates several regulations, including the Prime Directive. “
“I concede they asked to come aboard but they do not have beaming technology and asked to use a shuttle. While we don’t see it as an act of aggression, since they did not nor have to the best of our knowledge beaming capabilities, it could be construed as us forcibly removing them. This led to their aggression towards the captain causing us to make them prisoners. Don’t shoot the messenger on this one. I think it is a load of bull however we all know people pull shady stuff when legal gets involved.”
River knew all to well how much federation politics got in the way, how many worlds had fallen because of such politics. She also knew how many lives such political delaying could cost. She also knew how pointless the Federation legal system was. Having been on both sides of it in the past. How so many f the regulations stopped people doing what they needed to. However River knew she wasn’t going to get anywhere, in then end even though he was different Ian was and always would be a federation politician. That was his greatest strength but also his greatest weakness. “Very well Sir” was all River said.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“xenolingustics as a scanned copy of this, they do not need it.” she said holding the diary before throwing it back on the table “Just remember when you give it to her because she flashed doe eyes at you, that you will be betraying all the people who bled to get it.” River said coldly. Was t uncalled for. probably. However River knew Ian was soft on the girl and she also knew it wasn’t hard for the enemy, to twist that softness to get what they wanted.
“Are you suggesting I get out thumb screws and waterboarding to make the twelve year start talking,” Ian asked clearly not pleased that he was falling as the scapegoat in this situation. “Directive 101 says any individual accused of a crime does not have to answer any questions. That does not mean however we are not trying however I will completely defer to Commander Rinker here if he thinks sickbay is not a suitable containment facility for her. I do not have the authority to transport a patient. That is to be performed at the discretion of the attending physician. Currently she is under the care and supervision of the chief medical officer from injuries sustained upon her arrival and the chief psychiatric officer for mental health issues unless being indoctrinated into a zealous religious cult hell bent on galactic domination doesn’t fall within his scope of practice.” It was clear Ian was not targeting Styxx although his words were directed at the woman. Sometimes as an adult you wanted to throw a tantrum but as an adult he could not flop around and lob curses like Jessa did. Ian was venting steam. It was directed at Styxx because right now the Atlantis Marines suffered a tremendous loss that all were processing.
Heathcliff was here for a purpose and while Ian didn’t want to drag the man in, he had to make it clear that he was trying to follow procedures as best he could. So far only the security officers thought tossing the kid into the brig was the best course of action but that was their job. Styxx, Mardusk, and O’Neill had to worry about the thousand-plus lives on board where only a few were singularly focused on one. Ian more than any of them was only focused on one life to the exclusion of all others.
“Well, I think everyone has stated their opinions.” He reached out and took the diary that somehow became the instrument of everyone’s anger. “To be blunt,” He glanced at Styxx, “You can’t get anything of value from a religious extremest via torture, bribery, or imprisonment. You know that. So anything you are suggesting is ineffective and only would make a true sadist feel better. What it would do to a good person - would be a few moments of vengeance replaced later by years of regret.”
He looked at Ian, “She is a little girl who only barely understands what she’s doing, but she does understand - not like an adult, but she does carry responsibility. Treating her as an ignorant child is counter productive. We need to show her that responsibility and hope she has the honor we accept as the norm,” He looked at Styxx, “in our Federation and in our officers.. We will never get what each of us want from her if we treat her just as an enemy combatant or a child who doesn’t know better.”
“A trip over a knee will fix the part about some things she should know better about like that mouth of hers,” Ian slumped back in his seat.
“And stop the chuckin’ a wobbly every time she doesn’t get her way,” Chris added taking a sip of his coffee. “If she was my ankle biter I would set the bloody ground rules damn quick. The second I asked hah if she wanted hava blue with me she backed down real quick. Jessah isn’t stupid just a brat at times. She can tell who is in authawrity ‘n how fahr ta press them. Ya stahrt backin’ down ‘n ya ahah gonnah lose the bloody high ground, cobber.
Just then the door opened and Nash walked in. Pausing just inside the door, he reached into his tunic and pulled out the stub of a cigar, clamped it between his teeth, and then sat down in one of the free seats around the table.
“Ian,” Chris said using Nash’s entrance as a distraction shoving the image of the woman in front of him. “How is this possible?”
“I have no fah,…idea,” Ian replied feeling a knot in his stomach as he caught himself about to delve into a round of profanity.
Ian’s eyes snapped immediately to Rinker’s and then back down at the image. Sliding it to Rinker who was sitting next to him, Ian cast the man a side glance and a look that said we need to talk about this. It was not hard for one to make the connection that the woman in the picture bore a striking resemblance to Jessa especially when paired with the younger image of Jessa in the ceremonial robes.
“What I miss?” he glanced from person to person.
“Ian wants ta backyahrd brawl across the bloody table with Styxx ‘n Styxx wants ta recertify hah snipah certificayyte by shootin’ Ian between the bloody eyes. Oh ‘n we played the bloody rules ‘n regs game measurin’ peckah size.” Chris’s reply was less than professional but summed up the events so far. It was not that he didn’t see both parties point of view. Styxx only had crew safety involved and was dealing with the emotional trauma of losing Marines. Ian was balancing crew safety but also the future. Only a smattering of people in the room knew Jessa was his biological daughter. There was too much going on however to share that tid bit before now yet the fact the baby momma was just revealed to him and Ian from the picture they shared probably meant Jessa Novar was soon going to be publically announced as Jessa Bordeaux to the room. At least the flippant comment by Chris afforded his best friend a moment to process the image in the picture Ian was staring so intently about.
“The rest is uploaded on the PaDD,” Chris waved an index finger at the large wall PaDD with all the info they had covered so far about the origin of the Elders and Chris’s working theory about transgalactic wormholes.
River watched as Nash came in and took a seat “I was just briefing the room on what I discovered on my mission to our guests ship Sir” she said simply “I manged to get onboard and retrieve several samples and access all the ships files. I have them stored and sorted ready for your engineers and the other departments to inspect them.” She said simply ” I was also informing the room that the stuff I got came at a very high price.” she added
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“Yes, I heard about that.” Nash grunted.
“Now shall we continue with the briefing.” River said as she picked up one of the padds she had taken out, and walked back to the view screen. Once there she pulled up the service record of on of her marines he was a young man with dark hair and kind green eyes “This is private James Mayson, aged 22 he married his college sweetheart a year ago and his young wife is six months pregnant. This picture was taken when he joined the Atlantis. This” She said as she changed the photo and showed a marine lying on the ground, it was clearly helmet cam footage. The marine skin had bubbled and his armour had melted to his skin “Is what the acid thrown at him by the mech did to him. It melted through his armour like a hot knife through butter and seared his skin. During the autopsy it was found that in some areas it had melted down to the bone. We don’t know much else but it I’m hoping our science teams can figure more out.” she paused for a moment and allowed the others in the room to take in the image.
“It was clear that the mechs used on us where internally impervious to this acid, but our best guess was that if it spilt on the Atlantis it would easily melt through a whole deck. We only managed to get a sample after it stopped eating through Private Mayson. I’m not sure who would be best to analyse it. Any ideas?” River asked.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“So you boarded and led your team to their deaths on an Alien ship we had no intel on in a first contact situation where we beamed their crew to our ship without their permission, causing a violent scene and stole equipment from them like a common pirate?” Nash just shook his head. “Sounds to me the price you paid was what you earned.” Looking around the table, he continued without pausing. “I say put it back where we stole it from and stop acting like them, but I’m picking that’s not on the table. So we want Science to take a look at the acid?”
River eyes turned dark and she clenched her fists “How very star fleet of you. Marines do the dying Fleet just does the flying.” she said coldly “You might have forgotten. But you can’t always get things done the good a proper way. Hell if we did the good and proper way all the time, there wouldn’t be federation left. The order to beam them over was given by our captain after seeking advice from myself and our Chief of security. So if you take issue with it talk to her, oh wait you can’t she’s in intensive care because they attacked her.” she snapped.
“You don’t have to judge to mission to understand the valor of those who risked and died to complete it.” Not to mention, Rinker didn’t think the mission was poorly conceived it was just risky… risks that were the marines duty to take.
Sighing River shook her head “I did my duty after conferring with Mardusk. We had to find out something, one way or another. But I know you can’t understand that. So I’ll say no more. But at least I now know what your personal opinions are” She said using all her strength to calm down. It wasn’t going to do any one any favours if she exploded again. But to hear another member of the command team say Marines deserved to die had hit her hard. How could someone think so low of the the sacrifice others made. Maybe her emotion where clouding her thoughts but that is exactly what Nash had just said, that they got what they Earned.
Tensions were going off the charts right now. Everyone was in the dark. Would it help the meeting to come out with Jessa was Ian’s kid. Maybe but he needed a few minutes to find his feet and steady ground. Until he saw the picture Bria Novar, Ian had had doubts. With Chris’ confirmation seeing the same thing, all doubts were gone. Now it was just time to figure out that ten thousand new questions piled into this crap storm that had hit the Atlantis broadside. “Okay we need to focus on how to fight them and not each other,” Ian said. “As to the samples the Marines brought us back lets see what we can figure out about them. “
“My guess is send a sample to Engineering. Madison and that new science chief to work with them,” Ian stated to the new science swing and wondering if anyone sent the memo to this Audrey she was going to have no downtime upon her arrival.
“Nash what can you tell us about the engines or how they got here,” Ian said.
River took a seat as far away form Ian as she could and turned her attention to Nash.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
Ian Bordeaux and Chris Robbins
“From the scans I’ve taken their ships have minimal shielding as we know it, but the hulls and armor systems are substantially advanced. Looks to me like these people are no strangers to ship to ship combat but prefer to rely on physical armor rather than energy shield systems. Their impulse engines are based on Ion technology somewhat less advanced than ours, their ships are slower to respond to the helm and slower to accellerate but, they do have a form of Warp that I am still trying to work out. How they got here, I have no idea yet. If they come from where they say they do, there is no way in hell they got here with those engines. There must be a wormhole of some kind that links the two galaxies.”
“Good job someone retrieved their sensor data, flight plans and navigational charts then isn’t it?” River said simply.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
Nash looked at Styxx and simply raised an eyebrow and shrugged one shoulder. “If you think that was worth the lives of your people, sure. Good job.”
Rinker glanced over, “Another can of worms please. ” He held up his hand as if he were making an order at a bar.
“Nah,” Chris rubbed his chin. “The problem is the only thin’ we av ta go on is Jessah ‘n she is about as unreliable as they come. I do think howevah the bloody cosmic web is our best bet. I can run some simulations with Nash ‘n see if we can’t make some sense of it.”
“We can see how compatible their information and language is with our systems, see if their charts have any correlation to ours. Just because we have their information doesn’t mean it will be of any use to us yet. Knowing where they came from is going to have less importance than knowing why they came here. Flight paths and charts will probably prove pointless for that and considering we were ordered to this location before they ever arrived, someone knows more than we do already.”
Running his hand over his jaw, he looked around the table. “Let me pull apart whatever tech we have from them. That staff thing for example. We find out how it works might give us an insight into them.
“I agree. I will have the science team send it to you. The preliminary reports are saying that the stones are some sort of crystal not in our geological databases,” Ian read the report sent in by the geology department.
“Lieutenant Styxx,” a voice broke through the iciness of the room. “Your mission was far more of a success than anyone at this table can realize especially not with this diary” The officer set down the small diary that was being lobbed across the table like a football. Tapping a button on his PaDD, the large wall PaDD shrunk the current images cluttering the screen into their respective files as it was replaced with sound byte waves and clips from the packages the Marine team retrieved at such a deadly cost of blood. Isolating a sound clip, he played Jessa speaking a multitude of curse words all of which were recorded by the computer each times she used them.
“Sorry sir,” he glanced at Ian. “If I had samples of something else I would have used them.”
Ian glared at the man but his only response was shifting in his seat. Jessa’s mouth was the least of his problems at the moment and data was data.
Standing up the linguistics officer moved to the screen. “Okay, so all language was just a code. The difference between it and a written one is the nuances. Spoken language is almost a living breathing entity influenced and ever-evolving through generational use. Written language is based on symbols and characters to which we assign meaning. A vowel is a vowel but a spoken word dynamic. One can read but that does not necessarily mean they can truly understand a language. Take the word Aloha. It is not just a greeting but also conveys love, peace, compassion, pity, sorrow, sadness, and grief. These samples your Marines brought back will essentially be a Rosette stone of sorts. Your men have done the impossible. I just thought you should know that,” the linguistics officer replied. While he wasn’t a Marine, many of the crew felt the loss. They just didn’t know what to say. What could they say? A Marines job was deadly and at times the cost was an expensive price for some to pay.
River listened to the linguistics officer and as she did she looked round the table. Her eyes landed on Nash and a brief smirk crossed her face, before she turned back to the officer talking. “Wait. So you’re telling me that my men have recovered something that is of massive importance and a once in a life time discovery?” She asked trying to piece to together and process what was being said.
“So the mission was worth it. Despite the opinions of others” she said a little shock in her voice.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“Yes,” the linguistics officer nodded. “Far more than you will ever imagine. Now if we can get more language samples out of the girl,” the linguistics officer tried not to look at Ian as he made the request.
As if on cue, Jessa’s voice was suddenly heard. =/\=Ian…Rinker…I hate you. Why did you lie to me when I trusted you.=/\= Her voice blared out of the comm badges worn by both Ian and Rinker. The sound echoed cutting through the room like a hot knife through butter. The venom and anger was almost physical in the tone.
“Maybe we should have taken that twenty minutes,” Ian said in a dry tone to Rinker across the conference room table. His comment might have sounded cryptic but both Ian and the psychiatrist would know what he meant. In the chaos of Celia and the impending senior staff conference, they had made the judgment to give the kid some space if she was going to refuse to speak to them and participate in one of her epic meltdowns.
River heard the voice and looked directly at Ian “You gave the little brat, a com badge?” she asked her tone one of disbelief “Wow my estimate of my fellow officer’s intelligence has dropped sharply” she added shaking her head.
Ian shot RIver a dirty look. There was so much that had been said or revealed which was not the norm for the senior staff. Kelly typically was full disclosure on information but full disclosure now was still just conjecture.
“Well it sounds like your nicey, nicey approach hasn’t worked.” she said after a short pause “If only someone told you it wouldn’t work.” she added coldly
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“No one gave her a comm badge,” If Rinker was half the judgmental personality as everyone else he could have just as easily switched the blame to the security officers that where supposed to be watching her. “Don’t be ridiculous. She must have taken it. From one of the not nicey nice security officers.”
“Which I presume means she already negated security.”
“Okay she might have taken a swing at a few of them but I am pretty sure she could not have negated security,” Ian tapped his comm badge. =/\=Jeh=/\= he immediately stopped at his looked at Rinker noting his comm badge did not seem to be working. A cold knot began to form in his chest. Jessa did not have the skillset to block someone on a comm badge or the knowledge that one could even do it however that was a far better outcome than her negating security as Rinker surmised.
“Check yours. Maybe she is just pissed at me,” Ian tensed his body praying this was some epic meltdown and Jessa was going to try to pit him against Rinker.
Rinker glanced about as he tapped his non-reactive badge. “Well this isn’t good.” To no one in particular, “That is literally a cry for help if anyone of you are planning on getting a degree in psychology or general intelligence. If it wasn’t, she wouldn’t announce her behavior. We would still be in the dark while she was doing whatever she’s up to. A cry for help, she wouldn’t have made if we didn’t have a positive effect on her.”
“That’s what I am afraid of?” Rogan’s behavior two hours ago when he and Rinker interviewed him was predatory and psychotic. The Elders had entered the ship with a bang but seemed to just be waiting for something. Ian only prayed that Rinker was correct and they had some kind of effect on Jessa and her message was a warning or cry for help. “Anyone else’s badges not working,” Ian asked the group of senior staff assembled in the room.
“Have any of you thought that it might be a trap. They could be trying to lore you out?” River asked “Also if she has got out that means someone is helping her. We have a traitor or a group of traitors onboard” she added
He went to a computer panel, “We are intentionally being cut off.” =^=Computer why is my comm badge inactive.=^=
=/\=Commander Rinker=/\= the voice from the counter agent comm’s officer placed on the bridge replied back. =/\=We are currently having issues with a solar storm. It is being addressed. Can I help you with something=/\= Her voice was not unknown to the senior staff but had just transferred over about a month ago?
“I don’t buy that at all.”
=/\=Well I am not sure what to say=/\= the comms agent kept her tone neutral and light making sure she no longer used his rank or name to clue in who she was talking to. =/\=My suggestion would be to take it up with engineering at your first possible convenience.=/\=
“I don’t think this is a news flash Jessa is on the move. Her first destination would be transporters, shuttles, or the brig. Probably the Brig.”
Her response was transmitted to the rest of the counter-insurgent team causing several things to happen. The security feed of Jessa’s sick bay room would show the holographic image of Jessa in bed sleeping. This would only hold up until someone went into the room to wake her and their hand passed through the body. The counter-insurgent team’s engineers were locking down the conference room the senior staff was currently using as if it was a brig. All comms would be dead for those officers in the room, the exit from the room to the bridge would be fused shut, and a forcefield put up to try and delay the chief engineer from getting to the panel. Keeping everyone in the dark was never going to last forever. The counter-insurgent team was lucky it had lasted this long. The best they could do was try and delay the senior staff from working against them.
“At least we know who one of the traitors is. Because a solar storm does not account for all of this. Wow you’d think traitors would be better at BS then that.” River said. Of course it was just hypothesis but if she got out she’d find out the truth one way or the other
She looked at Ian “Maybe you should come clean now and spill the beans. Who the hell is that kid? and why the hell would anyone go to this length to break her out?” River asked not expecting an answer but still at least she had tried. She would find out eventually she would make sure of it.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
Ian stood up and walked to the conference room door. “Not now Styxx,” Ian said in a clipped tone. It was not to the Marine but more to the growing knot twisting in his gut. Palming the control panel released a slurry of profanity from Ian as the door did not open. Since the room was off the bridge it was soundproof so that conversations stayed privy to those in the room. This meant pounding on the door would do no good.
“Nash get this door open,” Ian commanded.
Looking at Rinker, Ian held a concerned expression. “Is she with us, them or straddling the fence?” The message sounded cryptic but Rinker had spent the most time with Jessa. He was also an expert in understanding the human mind. Heathcliff seemed to be leaning more to the positive side in the deprogramming results but three sessions was a long way off from the six months to two years he had given Ian as a timeline for Jessa’s recovery. All Ian could do was hope Rinker had placed a nugget of doubt the crew of the Atlantis could use against the Elders.
Ian Bordeaux CDO
“She isn’t a malicious actor, but she isn’t an innocent either, Ian. We have to stop looking at her, at any of them as black and white archetypes. I suspect they all are telepathic and probably telekinetic as well. So anything is possible, add the fact that section 31 is here too.”
Fixing a split. ~ Kate
“What,” River said her voice raised and full of anger “Section 31 is here. No wonder we’re getting shafted” she spat slamming her fist into the wall. it was either the wall or either Rinker or Ian “When the hell were you planning to tell us? or are you just incapable of telling the truth in this scenario?” she asked coldly
“Back off Styxx,” Ian’s voice was laced with unbridled anger, “there was an incident with the aliens. It is being handled. Until we know something one way or another I am not going to authorize a witch hunt on the ship. It is need-to-know info and right now you don’t need to know because it’s damn obvious the line is drawn and you are just looking for blood.”
Chris stood up and inserted himself between Ian and Styxx. “Enough. Ya mates wannah av a blue about this then head ta the bloody gym lader. Right now everythin’ is gray ‘n it will be until we get that doawr open.” Staring at his best friend, Robins added, “Keep the triffing fight out theah ‘n not in heah.” The use of Jessa’s slang instead of the Federation’s was a subtle way to remind his friend what was important.
Ian pushed off Chris and paced a few steps before regaining his composure slightly. Casting a side glance at Nash, “How’s that doawr comin’ mate?”
Chris was right. They could do nothing or know nothing until they were released from this room. With Nash working on the door, Ian focused on the more pressing issue of containing the Elders without killing at least Jessa.
“Yeah well, gray isn’t the area we want to be in right now.” Roughing up his hair he let out a breath he was holding and set a serious gaze on Rinker. “She might not be malicious but the rest of them are. If they are doing what we think they are doing right now it is going to be a bloodbath if she gets them free. Do you think you can control her or at least get her to listen to you to stand down?”
River shook her head “He’s failed already. I doubt letting him try again will prove any more beneficial” she said her tone still cold. “Besides its not his responsibility any more. When the rest of the crew cannot handle a situation its time for security to step in, when security fails, which unfortunately they have. Although if they’ve bene left out of the loop a much as everyone else, I can see why. Then it’s time for the Marines to step up. We’ll get her to stand down, it’ll be at the end of a phaser rifle but she will stand down. If she survives or is unscathed then you can deal with her.” River added coldly she was going into battle and that meant she was ready to do whatever it took to complete her mission. As soon as the door opened River was going to go hunting.
Lieut Styxx (Marine OIC)
“You arsehole,” Ian snapped and threw a punch at Styxx. Chris Robins knew his best friend’s tone and had known him long enough to predict what was going to happen. Spinning on his heel, Chris placed himself between Ian and Styxx stopping the punch.
© 1991-2022 STF. Terms of Service