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EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

A CHANCE REPRIEVE

STARDATE 57655.84
APRIL 19, 2381
0200 HRS

[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Intensive Care Unit | Main Sickbay | Deck 11 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BipSpoon

Thus far, sleep had been coming at a premium rate for Fisher, as his head still ached something fierce, though it was gradually getting better as the lingering drug in his system waned off. The rest of his ailments; broken ribs, punctured lung and whatever else, had been healed by the diligent and caring hands of the Theurgy Medical Staff, to whom he was very grateful. On top of that, his spirits were running at a high thanks to Sam having spent some time at his bedside, their young relationship continuing to flower in spite of the strain placed upon it by the mission and some bad fortune. It should’ve all added up to the perfect recipe for easy and truly restful sleep, but unfortunately, he was still being haunted by the remnant memories of the vivid hallucinations he’d experienced. Hallucinations that had, at least for the moment, seemed to have subsided, allowing him a modicum of peace and quiet from Hurley’s incessant arrogance and annoyances. Yet, here he was, awakened in the middle of the night, with only the constant drone of the ship’s systems audible in the background of his private room within the ICU.

With a deep sigh, he was feeling resigned to the fact that he’d not return to a peaceful sleep anytime soon, and as far as he knew, Sam had returned to her own quarters after having met with her department ahead of Theurgy’s eventual rendezvous with Donatra and her supporters.

“Nah. I’ll let her sleep.” He said softly to himself as he decided against a personal desire to go and see Sam there.

Instead, he swung his bared self out from underneath of the covers of his bio-bed and stepped down onto the carpeted deck-plating, standing slowly as he felt just a hint of wobbly unsteadiness. With a deep breath, he approached a nearby closed cupboard and retrieved a pair of loose-fitting grey slacks with a Starfleet emblem embroidered on the left legging. Slipping them on, he likewise retrieved a simple tight-fitting black shirt from the cupboard and carefully slipped it up over his head and arms, straining a little as the recently repaired muscles and bones in his abdomen flexed with the movement. Content that he wasn’t standing in the abject nude anymore, he inched closer to the doorway that led out of his room, wary of any Medical personnel that might stop him in this attempt to make an escape from the premises. Fisher understood the importance in his staying under their observation, given the tenuous condition he was technically still in, but the man was also stubbornly arrogant enough to think he’d be fine if he snuck out for just a short bit of time.

The only obstacle was a lone blonde-haired Nurse tending to a computer screen attached to the exterior of the room adjacent to his. He’d not recognized her, or known who the patient in said room was, all he was certain of was that if he could get past her without being seen, he’d be able to get out of Sickbay through a different door and then figure out his next move after. Maybe grab a drink from one of the lounges, he thought. Snapping back to the moment as the Nurse turned to leave the immediate area, Fisher saw his opportunity and delicately sauntered his way out through the short corridor and into the hallway just outside of Main Sickbay. “Good enough for Government work.” He commented, moderately pleased that no one had noticed his escape, while also aware that he’d likely hear an earful from said Nurse whenever he got back. A small penance to pay, and one he’d do so happily, especially if he could swing it so that they didn’t alert Sam to his somewhat reckless and mischievous decision.

[ Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]

A few minutes later, Fisher emerged into the nearest lounge he could think of, and at this late of an hour it was essentially empty; only two crewman were sitting together at the far end, sharing a semi-private moment together that he’d no intention of interfering in. Casting them nothing more than a cursory glance, Fisher went over to the replimat. “Whiskey. Irish on ice.” A brief whirring noise later, and the synthehol beverage had materialized from thin air. Taking it in hand, the spy would’ve preferred the real thing, which he could have recovered from the stash of luxury items he’d recovered back on Aldea, but they were still safely locked up in Cargo Bay 3, which would’ve been a different kind of excursion all together. For now, he’d settle for a fake, and the relative ease in which he could have access to it. Taking a comfortable seat on one of the long winding couches, Fisher leaned against the backrest and exhaled deeply as he peered out at the Klingon home world the ship was currently in orbit of.

Sipping at his beverage, the list of things he’d have to start working on in the morning began running through his mind, and to a degree he was thankful for the distraction it represented. Though, he imagined some people might’ve been a little insistent on his foregoing any strenuous work for the immediate future, given how beat and battered he technically still was. Truth be told though, Fisher disliked the idea of not being in control of his department worse than anything else right now, because he was more than aware of the dangers facing himself and the rest of the ship if their effectiveness lapsed for even a moment. Actionable intel would be of paramount importance moving forward, and as far as he was concerned, it was his responsibility to ensure it was gathered, his health be damned if necessary. Besides which, aside from Pierce who’d come to see late the prior evening, he still hadn’t even had a chance to meet with all the new members of his team, though he would see to it as soon as he could find the time. Or rather, as soon as he had been cleared to return to active duty by Medical, and also more importantly as soon as Sam would reasonably permit him to.

Were it anyone else that had been placed in temporary command of his operation, he might have objected outright, but he knew that the Chief Diplomat was as cunning as anyone he’d ever before met.

“I don’t know...” he said absently, unsure of whether or not his behavior was actually prudent, or if it truly was reckless of him to press on the issue.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #1
[ Lieutenant Valyn Amarik | Quarters | Deck 07 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift
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Valyn stood in the mirror, staring at herself. Her torso had a messily sealed slash against the left side. One hand was slowly unwrapping a bloody strip of fabric that had been used to bind it and she let out a grimace as she let it fall to the ground. It was tender to the touch. One the small sink that was in front of her was a tiny dermal regenerator, designed for emergency kits. Sickbay already had their hands full, and it wasn’t anything worse than she’d already dealt with in her life. The wound didn’t go deep, it just looked...angry. She hadn’t given her body much of a chance to rest over the past twenty-four hours, and the wound was clearly reacting to that.

She reached forward and picked the device up, flicking it into the ‘on’ position. It emanated a faint, blue light and let out a gentle lullaby of a hum. Slowly, she began to work it back  and forth over the gouge the Targ had left in her side, watching the wound pull itself closed, leaving nothing behind. It was still tender, and likely would be for the next day, but that was easily fixed. She set the regenerator down with a soft ‘clank’ against the metal sink and retreated into her bedroom, looking for something more comfortable than a uniform or combat exosuit. She found what she wanted. She had a pair of black sweatpants, and a Starfleet-issue hoodie sat near her bed and quickly pulled them on. She slipped some white tennis-shoes on and moved further into her quarters, to a small shelf next to her desk.

She still hadn’t unpacked much, but she had unpacked what she was looking for. A small flask, engraved with: ‘U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E’ with a matching rendering of the ship itself above it. Above the ship, was a single recreation of a pip. The bottom of the flask had an engraving of its own, a Stardate. The date of the Bassen Rift. It had been a gift after the battle, when she’d found out she was being reassigned. Her fellows in the security department had been a pain in her ass to work with, but in the end, they had learned to trust her. Beside the flask, was a very large bottle of Romulan Ale, unopened. She slowly began to peel the wax seal off of the top of the bottle and yanked the cork out with inhuman strength, filling the flask.

She stuffed the flask into the pocket of her hoodie, and slapped her combadge on before she headed for the door. She had no desire to sit in her quarters. She hadn’t exactly had a chance to look around the ship yet, and sitting in her quarters seemed like a waste of a sleepless night, so she headed for somewhere else, a lounge perhaps. Somewhere she could look at the stars.

The corridors were bustling with engineers beginning repair work, and mostly cleanup. Other than that though, there was a surprising lack of activity in the halls. She stepped into the nearest lift and spoke aloud, “Deck…” She tried to think. “Ten? Tryin’ to get to a lounge.” The lift chirped, and sprang to life.

[ Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]

She stepped into the lounge not long after, her hair pulled back behind her Vulcan-like ears and hood down as she started to walk in. She quickly noticed the couple at the other end, who gave her a quick glance before returning to each others attention. The replicator was her first destination, and she already knew what she wanted. “Kettle cooked chips, warm.” They materialized with an ethereal sound and she grabbed the small bowl. As she turned around, her eyes narrowed at the figure closest to her. She couldn’t help but smirk with evident amusement as she started to walk over.

She approached the couch and raised an eyebrow at Andrew Fisher as she took a seat, setting the chips down on the table in front of her. She didn’t say anything for a moment, and instead reached into her pocket for the small flask. “I’m gonna guess that sickbay didn’t cut you loose already?” She shot him a subtle, but still obvious grin and just shook her head. “I’ve got no room to talk so…” She shrugged and popped a chip into her mouth. Her eyes studied him for a moment, his reaction to her presence, his general posture, everything. It was in her nature to try and get as much as she could off of nothing more than a glance.

She broke her look, and unscrewed the top of the flask, taking a drink of the blue elixir with a sigh of enjoyment. “I think this is the first time I’ve sat down since I came aboard, spent all day yesterday killin’ Klingons so…” She shook her head, not sure if the half-joke would land or not, but she still said it. Her eyes bounced to the viewport, staring off at the stellar body that was Qo'Nos.

She paused for a moment, enjoying a second of silence before she spoke again, unsure if she’d introduced herself to him before, or even if she had, if he remembered. “I’m Valyn, Lieutenant Amarik.” She offered a sharp nod of her head before she too, began to settle into the couch, leaning into the backrest.

She held out the flask to him and nodded at his drink, “Assumin’ that’s synthetic?” Her strange, Alabama accent cutting and obvious with every word she spoke. “Romulan Ale.” She gave the flask a bit of a shake, “I won’t tell on you if you don’t tell on me.” Truthfully, she wasn't sure how much of a 'rulekeeper' Fisher was, or even if he was friendly, but she took the risk nonetheless.

It had been made clear to her over the past 24 hours that there wasn't really a way to be a solitary creature on a ship the size of Theurgy, particularly on a mission that was at the scale that theirs was.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #2
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BipSpoon

Fisher narrowed his eyelids in an effort to try and focus on one random point of light among the thousands which dotted the backdrop of Qo’nos, the planet still visible beyond the large transparent aluminum viewports despite the fact that Theurgy was currently on it’s darkside. Internally he’d hoped that in training his eye upon a lone star, his consciousness might be further rewarded with the peace of loneness, and in effect work to drive away all the annoying manifestations he’d been experiencing since his stay on said Klingon home world. It was interesting, how time spent with an actual someone, could precipitate his mind into proper alignment, and assuage the consequences wrought unto him and his psyche. Samantha, and though he’d had trouble at first discerning so, had very much been real, and had performed something of a minor miracle in bringing him back to a point of steady understanding of reality. But the call of duty was still paramount in terms of importance, and with little more that she could do for him during his healing process, she’d left his side to attend to the running of her department, as well as some aspects of his.

This left Fisher alone to himself with only the hum of the ship and the incessant sound of bio-scanners beeping away as Doctors and Nurses went about their duties in sickbay. And, while he could have tried to find someone to occupy his mind with, he’d preferred instead to get away from prodding hands who were obstinate in their need to observe and care for his health.

Simply put, he needed to either be alone some place else, or find the company of someone other than the people working in sickbay.

The contradiction of motivations hadn’t been lost of him, but instead amused him to the point of letting a nearly silent chortle escape in advance of sipping the sweating tumbler of whiskey in his hand. He had sought out peace, quiet, and a measure of loneness, yet simultaneously felt somewhat desperate for any kind of interaction which might hold his attention and prevent his mind from conjuring something or someone out of necessity. The looming threat of a returned Hurley circled round in his thoughts like a vulture, waiting for its opportunity to seize upon a corpse. Though, no sooner had he felt the twinges of hair standing tall on the back of his neck in abject concern, when behind him he heard a peculiar order for snack food that captured his wayward interest. “Kettle cooked chips?” he mouthed silently, turning to peer back over his shoulder in investigation of whoever had made such a request. The Romulan. What was her name? She had been on the strike team sent to recover him on Qo’nos. A member of the security team, too. No, previously a member of security, she had requested and been granted a transfer to his department.

“Not a chance.” He admitted in response to her inquiry over his status with sickbay, and their having not officially released him.

Raising his glass in reciprocation of her own salute with a flask, he intimated an obvious appreciation for her offer of discretion on the matter. No doubt, he’d hear and earful from someone whenever he did find his way back to sickbay, but at least for the time being, it appeared no one would alert the authorities in any kind of a hurry.

Noticing the manner in which her eyes examined him, the kind of cursory size-up someone with background and training in spycraft might’ve made, Fisher felt compelled to tighten up his posture just a smidge, though he didn’t hide everything about himself. He knew all too well, that in this game, you could just as well infer information about someone by how they reacted to what you didn’t obfuscate, but rather deliberately revealed. An old teacher of his, whom he didn’t hate, might’ve called the method baited misdirection. Fisher ached, the pain of being beaten and bruised lingering on in his body despite his having been technically healed by the medical staff with sub-tissue regenerators and other advanced tools. It was a relatively common side-effect, often considered to be psych-somatic more than anything serious or concerning, but in Fisher’s situation, and kind of perceived reality that was anything but, could be dangerous. Still, rather than do what many might have done in his position as a superior officer in the presence of a new member of the team, and hide his level of physical discomfort, he opted to let it be evident in the way his face strained as he shifted.

“Thanks for that, by the way.” Fisher sipped his whiskey, remembering some of the details of his rescue, wherein she had indeed killed a few Klingons to save him.

“Andrew Fisher.” He likewise introduced himself, deliberately neglecting to use his own rank, or define a preferred method for her to refer to him with. He wanted to see how she would choose to approach something that was left undefined and wouldn’t hold it against her however she so chose. “Yeah. Though, I’ve a cache of the real stuff hidden away somewhere on board.” Smirking as he reflected on the slightly-idiotic retrieval of various luxury goods he’d undertaken on Aldea, in no small part thanks to a plucky and surprisingly sure-handed Yeoman, Fisher cleared his throat in advance of sipping at the syntheholic beverage in his hand, an obvious glimmer revealed in his green-eyes. “Pretty sure I might even have a few bottles of that mixed in said cache too.” While not technically illegal within the Federation anymore, especially on a rogue Starfleet ship, the aura of illegality that surrounded Romulan Ale for so long was one of those things that he and a lot of others still liked to have fun with. All the same, he could sense a bit of comradery being extended to him from Valyn and given the fact she’d saved his life a few hours earlier, and she was to work under him for the foreseeable future, he figured it better to accept and return it, rather than refuse.

“It’s a deal.” He winked her a promise, once more raising his tumbler in salute and as an example of how he likely viewed rules as more like guidelines.

“So...” a short silence later, he interrupted. “...I read on a report somewhere, that you’re transferring over to team spook.” Gritting his teeth slightly as he threw a leg over the other in order to better relax, he teasingly narrowed his eyelids again. “Unless of course I imagined the hue-shift of your collar from gold to red, in which case never mind.” How real a possibility it actually could have been, that he’d have imagined it, given recent events, Fisher was thankful that Romulans telepathic capabilities were drastically less than those of their Vulcan comrades.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #3
[ Lieutenant Valyn Amarik | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift
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The business of the past few days seemed to just wash right over Valyn. Stepping into her old shoes had honestly brought a sort of peace with it. She broke her gaze away from him, evidently being impressed with his reaction to her look. She hadn’t exactly been attempting to be clandestine, which might have given away her motivation in itself. She wanted to see how good he was.

“I was never a big fan of being locked up in sickbay myself either.” She admitted before pausing. If this was her first chance to actually speak with her new CO, she was going to take advantage of it and instead of her usual nature of dodging everything she could, she had decided to break the stereotypical mold of her culture. Honesty might serve her best here. “Targ got me during the boarding but I’m not cloggin’ up sickbay with a boo-boo.” There were plenty of officers far more injured than she was, and plenty dead as well. Medical had their work cut out for them, without her making it more difficult. “You might have more than a boo-boo but you don’t look like you’re about to keel over just yet.” She dipped her head at him and simpered.

She didn’t miss the pained, uncomfortable look about him though. However, she didn’t draw any attention to it either. She couldn’t help but hear what felt like a ghost whispering into her ear, Ben’s voice, accent identical to her own. What he’d said in the Camp all the years ago.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Of course, since then she’d actually learned its origin and was as much shocked with the fact that Ben, a Starfleet officer, had bothered to read an archaic religious text as she was with how...gentle it had actually come across. Humans, gentle? She never believed that was possible.

“I don’t expect or want a thank you. Starfleet’s Starfleet.” Sure, she’d grown sick of the Starfleet blowhards but in this instance, the sentiment actually meant something to her. Years of service had warped everything she’d come to accept about the galaxy, including her expectations of Starfleet and humanity.

Andrew Fisher. She’d known his name of course, but she didn’t dare to presume its use was acceptable though. “Oh really?” She made a teasing tut-tut sound and shook her head slowly. “A habitual rulebreaker then.” She made a ‘hmm’ face, her bottom lip pouting out before it broke into an amused grin. Clearly she approved. “I was able to get my hands on one bottle before coming here. Despite its legal status it isn’t exactly the easiest to come by and uh-” She paused for a moment, again giving him a quick glance and once-over. Honesty. “And it’s not like I can just wander up to any Romulan merchant and ask.” She had intended to give her new CO a glance at her history, initially assuming that would be the chief of security but, things changed quickly about Theurgy, something she was learning as quickly as the playing field adjusted around her.

She took a drink as he raised his glass and gave him a nod. “Sure am.” She leaned back, relaxing some as he did too. “It’s uh...admittedly not my first rodeo with intelligence, just...for a different side.” She gave a quick glance around, for a moment forgetting it was the absolute dead of night. The lounge was mostly barren and the other duo were far too involved with one another to pay a lick of attention to their conversation.

She sat up a bit straighter and leaned slightly forward, still maintaining a relatively relaxed posture as her lips opened to speak, but very little escaped them. She’d told only a few about her history, in part due to fear of repercussions from her comrades, and in part due to some shame over her actions. She couldn’t build a relationship with this crew though without being honest with at least some of them, and he was an important one to build trust with, given they were likely going to be in plenty more life-threatening situations together.

“I was with the Tal Shiar for my entire life. Was born into the job. They took me at birth. I’m sure you’ve got enough experience to know what kind of shit that I had to do.” She pursed her lips. “Served in the Dominion war with the Romulans. With Shinzon actually…” She trailed off, her voice dripping with abhorrence for the human clone. “He pulled some political maneuvering further into the war, got me captured and written off as a traitor. Met a Starfleet officer in a P.O.W. camp who saved me when it was liberated. Also taught me English, hence the accent.” She gave him a moment to absorb that dump of information before she finished off. “Was debriefed and allowed to enter Starfleet service, which I did. I’m not one to sit idly. Went to the Academy and was assigned to Security on the Enterprise-E, fought Shinzon on there too. After she was put out of service…” Those very words sounded physically painful for her to say, “Was assigned to a station, then moved here when I was made aware of the situation.” She shut her mouth for a long moment, taking a long swig from her flask before leaning back into the couch.

“Imagine you’d have wanted to know exactly who you’re getting on your team. I’ve got a lot of experience. I just want to start working together, with honesty. It’s hard enough being a Romulan in the Federation, let alone with my history. I don’t-” She searched for the right words, her brows narrowing slightly as she did so, eyes glistening with a haunted gaze for a brief moment, “I don’t tell many people all that, particularly about my past occupation. Stepping back into it though on Qo’Nos though…” A deep sigh escaped her. She’d enjoyed it, much to her own disgust. “Yea, I wanted to transfer.”

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #4
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BipSpoon

Taking a deep breath of some sense of contentment, Fisher shift his gaze away from the Romulan seated near him and peered out through the viewport at the Klingon home world, aware of sort of hospitality he’d been shown while on its surface, yet he felt no notion of negativity toward it or its people. His capture, and the subsequent interrogation was a byproduct of his profession, one which any Starfleet Intelligence operative would have understood.

It was just part of the game.

Regardless, he was more than grateful to have made it back to Theurgy alive. Another aspect of covert training that had been instilled in him, was the troubling understanding that if you were ever captured in the field, the likelihood of being rescued was slim to none. The phrase ‘No one will claim you!’ had been beaten into him and the rest of the people he’d been trained with, as a stern warning to avoid capture no doubt, but also a reminder that the political ramifications of such a capture meant their lives were to an extent, expendable. That said, Fisher had been captured a few times in his career, some purposefully so, and thus far he had been claimed each time, though without it being officially made anyway. To the same merit, he himself had ‘claimed’ more than a few captured friends, similarly storming enemy strongholds to bring them back. It was enough to make him wonder about the veracity of the warning, and if whether or not it really was just a formality carried over from older, now defunct intelligence services, like Camp Peary itself had been. Sipping at his sweating tumbler once more, he pushed the consideration to the back of his mind for another time and returned to the conversation he was having in the here and now.

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” He commiserated with Valyn about injuries sustained in combat and being stuck in Sickbay as a result therein. “All the poking and prodding gets tiresome after a while. Not to mention how they love to interrupt you at every turn.” The latter comment ringing especially true for his recent stay in Theurgy’s Sickbay, where the cavalcade of intrusions seemed to go on with perpetuity.

“Admirable, but don’t let your pride get in the way of being healthy. We’re going to need you and your skillset if we’re going to make it through this.” Smirking, he offered a reassuring wink from one of his green-eyes as an acknowledgement of the slightly hypocritical take on her preference to no clog things up with what she considered a ‘boo-boo’. Rank however, did have its privileges, and while he generally was a practitioner of do-as-I-do, rather than do-as-I-say, he still knew better than to break all sense of protocol in indulgence of bravado, which spies could champion just as heartily as the most thick headed of pilots. In fact, that overwhelming sense of confidence was something of an asset to people like Fisher, and like Valyn; they used it to charm and intimidate their foes, but there were times when it could just as well get them into trouble, rather than out of it. In a way though, what separated people like himself and like Valyn from others, was their unique ability to turn a weakness around, and use it as a strength; and sometimes, even an injury counted as such. Hence the skill and talent that was expected of them, and why they were afforded a greater degree of autonomy than other departments and their staff.

Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he could detect the almost imperceptible internal consideration going on in his comrade, what others might have dismissed as little more than a moment of quiet, he knew more to be contemplation and to a degree coordination.

She knew the game well, he decided.

“All the same.” He proffered, once more raising, and tilting his whiskey in her direction in appreciation of the role she’d played in his return. He could also admire the fact that she wasn’t seeking out any acknowledgement for said role, another mutual trait. ‘Our failures are known. Our successes are not.’ The unofficial motto of the old American Central Intelligence Agency rang true, even today for people like them, and he couldn’t help but smirk ever so slightly in acknowledgement of it. An odd dichotomy of Intelligence Operatives was how they were supposed to be the Alphas of the Alphas; espouse confidence and bravado, yet when the time came, slink back into the shadows and go unheralded. That feeling of completing a task, leaving everyone no clue as to how it had been achieved, was the penultimate in terms of professional satisfaction. Detecting a hint of that in Valyn now, was a trait he more than admired; no he expected it of anyone working under his command, and she seemed to have that down nicely.

“So... a Romulan who worked on the other side of the fence.” He pivoted in his topic of interest as she left behind the levity of their shared preference for rule breaking, and the legality of Romulan spirits within the Federation. Narrowing his eyelids, he gave her an obvious glance of examination as he sized her up from head to toe. She was careful in her divulgence, making sure to keep an appraisal on the status of the room they were sharing prior to advancing their discussion, a prudent measure to take. He imagined, that like himself, she had an almost sixth-sense when it came to her surroundings; her mind subconsciously keeping a running tally on all the faces of those around her, passively aware of anyone who stood out and the threat they posed. Paranoia wasn’t a personality quirk for people like them, it was a job requisite, and the better you could control and harness it, the better and more effective you were. He wouldn’t fault her at all if she was apprehensive about revealing the specificities of her past, or if she obscured certain aspects of it so as to protect herself.

You learned to not only accept lies but to embrace and appreciate the intricacies of them in this particular field of work. Their nuances, and the manner in which a ‘truth’ could fluctuate dependent on the context, taught you how to be a better liar, which, was as good an asset as any.

Yet, she seemed ready to expose some elements from her past, those which he’d already uncovered via a perusing of her personnel dossier, but which helped to frame the context in which she was existing within now. The mention of Shinzon, someone he’d not personally dealt with, but whom he had heard rumblings of during said Dominion War, from his own assets and contacts within the Tal-Shiar, brought a measure of distaste. Details at the time were sparse, but he’d heard well of heroics in battle, and successful campaigns against the enemies of the Empire. Later on, the madman had proven himself to have been the near perfect culmination of sinister dealings that the Tal-Shiar had put into motion; essentially ending up a rendition of Frankenstein, killing his creators and destroying the village from which he had emerged. It was an unusual example of sloppiness from the Romulan Intelligence Service, as they could’ve saved themselves from the internal strife plaguing them now, had they eliminated their asset once his usefulness had been exceeded by the danger he represented. Would have saved the Federation from a lot of grief in the process too, though he doubted they were shedding any tears over that matter.

“Damned shame that.” He commented with regard to the decommissioning of the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise; the then flagship of the Federation, and one of the most majestic ships he’d ever laid eyes on. Recalling for a moment, he remembered having intercepted a number of encrypted communications from various Admirals regarding the fate of the ship in the wake of the Battle of the Bassen Rift. Some felt it a cost worth expending to repair and restore the ship, while others argued for scrapping due to the extensive damage it had sustained. He’d of course had no say in the matter, in fact he really shouldn’t have even been privy to the debate, but some habits died harder than others for spies, in this case, data decryption. He had figured that if the Admiralty truly didn’t want anyone to know of their internal squalor, then they should’ve employed better encryption specialists. Nevertheless, when the decision came down the pipeline, he understood the rationalization, but was disappointed that such a prominent symbol of Starfleet and the Federation had been allowed to go out so unceremoniously.

“Well, I’m glad to have you.” He started off once she’d finished her short explanation of her past experience with Intelligence. He knew there was more to her, far more than she would reveal so openly, and he respected that. “As far as your want to work together, with honesty?” He grinned a little more broadly, the obvious manner in which he was teasing betrayed by the simple expression. “I can say, at least, that we operate with as much of it as we can tolerate.”

Raising his tumbler once more, he threw back it’s contents in one quick motion, gritting his teeth as the burn of synthehol ran down his esophagus.

“We are in the business of lies, after all.”

It was safe to say, that Fisher was already of an approving stance with regard to Valyn, and that his decision regarding her place within his department would sit well with him. “I think you’ll fit in well enough, though I do have to wonder...” setting his empty glass down unto the surface of a table before him, he tilted the pate of his face slightly to one side in contemplation. “...with your background, I’m certain of your skills and talents as a field operative. Hell, I even witnessed it down there, first-hand. But I think there’s more to you than that. More that you can offer, at least.” Clearing his throat, he took a deep breath as once more, the old habits in him won over and he couldn’t help but cast a cursory glance about for anyone who could’ve been listening in and shouldn’t have. “As you witnessed first-hand, I’m far from invulnerable. My medical records can more than vouch for that.” He didn’t find it necessary to go into the specifics of his long-standing health concerns with regard to the degeneracy in his lower-spine, he imagined that for someone of Valyn’s upbringing, she could find detail of it hidden in his personnel dossier, if she already hadn’t.

“My department... or, I should say, our department in in a state of flux at the moment. We lost a few people over the course of the last few days, and if I don’t make some decisions regarding replacements soon, then our whole ongoing operation stands to suffer setbacks. The kind which Theurgy cannot afford when accounting for the mind-numbingly grim consequences of failure.” Sitting a little more upright, he leant forward as if to emphasize what he was getting at, and to ensure that she could understand the seriousness in his otherwise easy-going posture. “Now, as I said, you’ve proven yourself a skilled and talented enough team member, but I have a greater need of someone who can lead if the situation calls for it. I’ve already asked Lieutenant Pierce to take up a role as my Number One, and I’m sure she’ll more than meet the requirements of that job. But I still need to name a Number Two, and frankly, I think you might be a better choice than anyone else in the department.” Theoretically, the offer should have gone to Lieutenant Byrne, who had seniority over Valyn, and in fact over Pierce, but the man had a ton of pure infiltration experience which he didn’t want to hamper by giving him additional leadership duties.

“What I need, is someone who can step in, in the highly likely even that myself and Lieutenant Pierce are compromised who can pick up the ball and keep moving forward with it. What I’m looking for, and I think that could be you, is someone who can lead this department if necessary.”

Leaning back, he let her consider it for however long she would need and was ready to field any questions or concerns which might arise as a result.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #5
[ Lieutenant Valyn Amarik | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] ] Attn: @Swift [Show/Hide]
Valyn gave him a quick glance, not wanting to stare. His look...much about it shook her with a harsh reminder of her time in the war. Her own interrogation at the hands of the Jem’Hadar had been short. She hadn’t been subject to it for long, they’d quickly lost interest with her, deeming her far more useful as entertainment than an asset. She’d been trained to handle to torture. The intimidation, hell even the fights. What she hadn’t expected was dealing with the utter disdain and selfishness the other inmates had offered her. Only one had shown her a hint of kindness; Ben. Ben had given her hope, friendship, and a way out.

What Fisher had handled had been far different.

“Yea, I think that last time I spent much time at all inside of a sickbay was on the ‘E’. Station security tends to be a bit...tame, comparatively. Few punches here and there, but nothin’ to fuss over.” She took a small swallow from the flask she carried and a sharp, relaxed exhale fell from her lips as she lowered it, “Ain’t no such thing as trying to get a good night's rest in Sickbay...someone comin’ in for somethin’ or another at all hours.” She grinned, slowly shaking her head. Being stuck in a sickbed was Valyn’s own personal hell. Being what some would deem ‘useless’ went against every shred of training she’d obtained throughout her career. The weak were trimmed from ranks. A single show of weakness, and that was it. Faster than the snap of a finger, she’d have been dead.

Her pride had carried her through her life. It was almost as if it were hard-coded into her Romulan genetic code. The look on her face may have given  away some of thoughts on the matter as well, “Easier said than done, have you ever met a Romulan without much pride?” She chuckled but gave him a nod, “Of course I don’t plan on neglectin’ my health. I think there might be others with more serious injuries than I had though, if it’s still bothering me, I’ll seek treatment. ‘Sides, looks like you might be taking up a lot of their time…” She trailed off before adding something for good measure, “Commander.” She’d meant it, she knew when to do what she was told, but it was overall a casual encounter, she didn’t want to befoul it with ‘Yes Sir’ ‘No Sir’. By no means did she plan on disobeying instruction either. Her pride and cockiness had helped her far more often than it had hurt her. A lack of fear was almost a requirement for those in her line of work, the cockiness came along with that unnatural lack. Pain. Loss. Each emotion fueled her. Unlike her Vulcan cousins, she embraced the feelings and turned them into her power.

The similitude between the two of them, wasn’t missed on the Romulan. Each of them watching the other, subtle glances sizing one another up with an almost subconscious sense to detect even the slightest changes in the other. Be that posture, a muscle twitch in a face, the variance of vocal pitch. All of it offered almost indiscernible cues to so many, but they ensured the survival of people like Valyn, and the officer sitting opposite her.

She dipped her flask in his direction, almost in tandem with his own tumbler. Recognition had made her...uncomfortable. Before, on Romulus, there was simply success or failure. Success was required. It was expected. Failure was punished, and severely so. Too often, she had watched her brothers and sisters simply...disappear from a mission gone awry. Complications were to be expected, but their survival was entirely on their ability to offer a spin on it to their superiors, and for those superiors who wouldn’t have it, it was important to know people more powerful than them, and bury them in a pile of their own shit before she herself ended up either in a shallow grave or on the wrong end of a disruptor. Starfleet in comparison felt much safer. It was much safer. Failure was equally as dangerous, but her failure wouldn’t be met with a swift execution. She certainly didn’t plan on failure, or use the fact that likely she’d still survive as a crutch. However, it offered at least some sense of security should shit hit the fan.

Slowly, she nodded to him. “All my life.” Her minds eye temporarily flashed with the memory of her occupation. With what she was skilled at. She had been little more than a dealer of death. She was ashamed of some of her actions, of course, but certainly not of her skillset. Her skillset had kept her alive, and for that, some part of her would be grateful to the Tal Shiar for providing her with it. Grateful, in perpetuity. Her eyes broke from him every so often, quickly scanning to the other couple while her ears focused on the door. It was subconscious, an act which she had no control over. Fed by that very same training, and the stereotypical Romulan paranoia which she knew full well, was a stereotype she fed into fully. After another glance, she focused her attention on him, and on his eyes, sizing her up. Instead of shying away from the glance, she simply maintained eye contact with him. She was no stranger with what he was doing, but instead of tripping into the pit that was before her, she leapt into it, fearlessly, absorbing every second of the look without a flinch on her features. She had granted access to him, to study her, and watch her. In return however, she offered him little more than a blank slate. She knew that in itself was a bit of a giveaway, but if she was being examined and tested, she’d do what she did best, and offer nothing. Nothing more than the slightest twitch of her lip.

Valyn's dossier gave away little to those without the clearance, and even those who did, had to know what exactly they were looking at which, no doubt he did. Her ledger was marked with ‘CLASSIFIED’ from top to bottom, but it was evident she’d done her fair share of shedding blood for Starfleet’s enemy. Evident as well, was her own connection with Shinzon of Remus. She had been no stranger to him when she’d finally run into him at the Bassen Rift. On the contrary, in a way, he had been directly responsible for her defection to the Federation, and her very presence on Theurgy. She made no effort to hide her disgust for him, dead or not. He’d turned her life upside down and ensured her inability to ever step foot on her homeworld again. To ever have a true, serious conversation with the citizens of her home. In less than a year, she’d gone from a Warrior of the Empire, earning herself the Cross of Glory in battle against the Dominion, to an abandoned outcast, locked in one of the Dominion Camps; tucked inside, the key disposed of.

“It was. She was a beautiful ship. A display of what Starfleet was really capable of. Hell, even the Empire wasn't keen on seeing her flying too close to the neutral zone. Her crew was…” Her head slowly shook, “They functioned together in a way I’m not certain I’ll see again. I sure hope that I do, but...Picard ran a hell of a ship.” She couldn’t even dance around that fact. Being towed home, and seeing everyone that she’d fought and bled beside shunted to different corners of Starfleet had felt like another betrayal. Certainly not as horrible as the one Shinzon had provided her with, but instead it had almost felt like...punishment for the state of the flagship, and the loss of the Android. She’d objected, as had many others to their reassignment and the scuttling of the ship, but it was to no avail. The powers that be had made up their mind before she’d even returned to dock, at least it felt like. She didn’t stand a chance. “I had some damn nice quarters too, for a lowly Ensign.” She laughed, softly, before she raised the flask, “To the Enterprise.” She swung it back and took a deep swallow from the flask, letting the blue liquid run into her mouth with ease.

“Well I’m glad to be part of the department. Frankly, security was...my own attempt to get away from the Tal Shiar, fully and completely. Being down there though...no offense to your own sufferin’, felt...right. I knew what I was doin’, and was able to do it well. Security is necessary and all, but it isn’t me, I spent too much time being a glorified body guard, or breakin’ up bar fights between pissed off Ferengi.” She rolled her eyes, evidently there was a story there.

“Always.” She offered. A simple statement, to a simple truth he’d offered. She’d grown so used to and comfortable with lying, that often, she could even lie to herself. There was no greater way to sell a lie, than to fully accept it for oneself, even if only temporarily.

Her right brow slightly raised as he furthered his line of questioning, “More?” Her head canted to the side, and after a final swig from the flask, she slowly began to turn the cap back on. She pocketed it, and leaned slightly forward. “I mean...I can mix a mean martini, if that’s what you’re gettin’ at, not only kill Klingons.” She shrugged and bit the inside of her lip as she watched him, again talking on the appraising look that she hoped would feed her some information, to give her a seconds warning to whatever he was about to say.

“I heard about the losses, I’m sorry to hear it.” Starfleet was Starfleet after all. She may not have known them, but she certainly intended to know of them. To honor them the best that she could. Starfleet had given her another chance, and she didn’t plan to squander it. His next words however, actually brought a hint of surprise to her face. A transfer, and a billet promotion in one go? It was...interesting. It was unexpected. “Admittedly, the consequences of losing to the current threat, are the most formidable I’ve ever had to face off against. Parasites, hellbent on the destruction of anything and everything, manipulating the whole of the quadrant to that end…” She shook her head, “Manipulating my home. Both of my homes.” She paused briefly to find the right words, “Pierce is a hell of an officer, she’s a damn good choice. She kicked ass down there.” She knew that no doubt, there were others ahead of her in the theoretical line of succession to the job, and as such...she thought on his offer for a long moment before speaking up.

She gave him a nod, a gentle nod, but one nonetheless. “Alright...I’ll do it.” Her voice wasn’t dripping with the utter excitement that some Starfleet Ensign might exhibit. Valyn had matured beyond that point. She knew that leadership came with real challenges and consequences. One mistake, and life could be lost. She also knew though, that she likely was the best choice for the job. She had experience that many others didn’t, particularly with the Romulans which loomed ever so darkly in the periphery of their mission. “Thank you.” It was of course, still considerate to offer gratitude for the offer, and she was thankful she’d been thought of highly enough to perform well in the role.

“If I’m going to do well though...anything I can start workin’ on?” A more subtle way of saying ‘what next?’

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #6
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BipSpoon

Comradery among colleagues was an important aspect when it came to building a cohesive department aboard any Federation starship, but among Intelligence departments it often times took a back seat to bottom line effectiveness. The operation, as Fisher preferred to call it, would, if acting in close fashion to that of an isolated cell, could feel impersonal and lead to a broader misunderstanding of the importance of adhering to morality. The ability and overall willingness to make the right choice would waver, which in turn could pose the ultimate potential danger with regard to people like Fisher and Amarik. The greater scope of freedom they were granted, which almost always went beyond that of any other department, could be an utterly empowering weapon, and easily abused if not respected and approached with personal restraint. In his past, Fisher had seen many such examples of said abuse of power, and to a degree had himself partaken in them, but eventually he’d turned a corner in life, adopting a bend, but don’t break modus operandi. No longer would the ends always justify the means. After all, what was the point in preserving the Federation if you abandoned it’s key tenants in the process?

This had in fact been one of the initial promises he’d made to Ives when joining Theurgy some weeks earlier; that he would do better than the person who had occupied his position previously. However, Fisher wasn’t so naïve to believe that the reasons behind Carrigan Trent’s somewhat loose adherence to the rule and guide of Federation law were so simple.

Rarely was anything so black-and-white when it came to this profession.

Trent had acted in desperation, something Fisher could not only understand, but sympathize with, because he knew that every man had their breaking point, and that someday he might similarly be faced with the dilemma of crossing the line of personal morality. The challenge was of course being so prepared for any type of scenario that you could forestall being confronted by this apparent inevitability. Hence why Fisher had been working so tirelessly since coming to Theurgy, and why he’d made it such an imperative to ensure that the people working with him, were equally as prepared and willing to make the hard decisions, rather than just compromise and choose the easy path. In taking the time to get to know his people, like Valyn, he hoped they would in turn know him, and know what was expected of them. In essence, their very best, but given each of their backgrounds, he knew that they were the only sort of people who could even hope to hold onto frivolities like morality, especially in the face of a fate as grim as the very literal annihilation of all life in the Universe. To an extent, this was a wholly unfair expectation of Valyn and her fellows, but life, especially the life of a spy, was rarely if ever fair.

Letting the soft smirk permeate on his face as he listened to his Romulan companion share some personal anecdotes of time spent in Sickbay, Fisher let those deeper contemplations circling in his subconscious settle a little more fully into the background. “No. There certainly isn’t.” he acknowledged, echoing the true sentiment she’d made with regard to the impossibility of good rest when resigned to the care of Medical staff. “Always lookin' to poke and prod.” He added with another hint of soft laughter, swirling the exposed ice in his empty glass tumbler around out of idle relaxation. His proffered request that she not take her own health and well-being so lightly was the sort of sentiment he was all-but required to make as her superior, something she’d clearly picked up on as her response came with a measure of levity that wasn’t just warranted but welcomed. In truth, Fisher had only ever known a handful of her people that weren’t so completely obsessed with personal pride, though they were often less than remarkable. Then again, in this particular profession, it wasn’t exactly common to meet anyone who wasn’t prideful or downright smug.

“Fair point.” He eventually conceded, her logic, however tinted with sarcasm and teasing, proving true enough.

The transition to their shared approval of the late Sovereign-class Enterprise soon stirred to the surface other memories Fisher had of his last full-time shipboard assignment with the USS Diamondback. Like Valyn had commented on her past ship, the Diamondback had functioned as such a close-knit, well-oiled machine it had left him doubtful if he’d ever again serve on a similarly efficient starship. Musgrave knew how to get the very best from his crew, and to an extent, Fisher had tried to emulate some of the lessons in leadership he’d learned from the man. Raising his glass as token gesture to the memory of her starship, he felt a notion of gratitude that somewhere out there, the Diamondback was still at it, thunder-running after those unfortunates who were brazen enough to test the sovereignty of Federation boundaries and elicit the full-might of arguably the most powerful and advanced Akira-class starship on patrol. The quaintness of such a mission seemed almost pleasant when compared to the nightmarish one both he and Valyn were mired within, and for a moment, he wondered how someone like his old Captain might’ve contended with it.

Still, the matter at hand was more closely focused on her joining his team and picking up one of the two ACIO positions that needed to be fielded. Pierce already had accepted the posting, and he was truthfully confident that she’d more than meet his expectations. Now, with Amarik, he was starting to feel just as confident that she would likewise prove herself more than capable. Sure, her personnel dossier spoke to that in end some, but getting to sit and speak with her in personal context only further cemented the foundations of the choice he was making in having her as his second. It could be hard to appropriately gauge someone, based solely on the data of their file, even when factoring in the parts that were hidden behind clearance walls, and as such was why Fisher appreciated this opportunity to conduct an impromptu pseudo-interview with the Lieutenant. One in which he’d discovered some intricacies of personality that he might not have otherwise picked up on by simply reading something in a PADD, and he was just as sure she’d found out somethings about him in the process.

With the offer made, he afforded her the chance to weigh it over in her thoughts, knowing it was a lot to ask of someone due to the implicit responsibility that it came with. He hadn’t necessarily required her to make a final determination in the here and now, especially considering the spur of the moment manner in which their meeting had occurred, but when it did come from her, an affirmation and acceptance of the offer no less, Fisher couldn’t help but let the smirk hugging at the corners of his lips broaden a little further. An unfair bias maybe, but he appreciated the fact that she could in fact make such a decision with little to no fore-warning of the consequences therein. It spoke to the self-confidence she had in herself and her capabilities, and reassured him that whenever the day came, in which she would have to make the choice to traverse the difficult path, rather than the easy one, that she’d make the right pick.

“Well, alright then.” He said simply, shifting in his weight so that he could stand from the too-comfortable couch he’d been seated on. Instinctively reassuring her with a wave of his hand that he’d be fine, he sidled around to the replimat and ordered another Irish on Ice for himself. “With the situation here stable...” sipping at his chilled whiskey, he motioned to Qo’noS and it’s fractured moon still visible beyond the viewport. “...well, stable enough anyway, the next item on our list is naturally going to be one in which we, you especially so, have experience with.” Glancing in direction of the couple occupying the opposite end of the lounge, he lifted his chin to invite Valyn to accompany him as he approached the door leading out. “Walk with me, yeah?” he asked, his strides a little unsteady but nothing too uneven so as to elicit any immediate concern from anyone, just a result of his gradual recovery.

Leading her down a corridor to the nearest turbolift, he pressed a combination of commands into the panel directly adjacent to the edge of the frame, ordering them a car devoid of any other passengers. A few seconds later, the doors hissed open, and he stepped aboard, waiting for her to join him and the for the doors to close behind before continuing. “Deck Five. Central Intelligence Suite.” The lift began to move, and he allowed himself to lean against the side. “In for a penny, in for a pound.” He said absently, knowing that if Sickbay personnel were going to be cross with him having left for a stint in the lounge, they’d likely be only a smidge more annoyed by a detour to the CIS. “So, my game is one of deception and disruption.” He began to explain, glancing back to Valyn. “Unfortunately, the fact that there is a very much innocent victim held hostage by each of these parasites, limits the range of our options in dealing with them.” It would have been implicitly clear that Fisher didn’t consider the assassination of an explicit enemy to be beyond moral reproach, though when such an assassination carried with it the added toll of innocent life, he found objection.

As the turbolift came to a stop, he exited it into the corridor that led just a few meters in the direction of the Central Intelligence Suite, his biometrics scanning in by Thea as he approached ensuring he had access. When the doors opened to him, he was a little surprised, as he’d half-expected Rutherford to have restricted him so as to ensure he didn’t sneak off to start working just yet.

[ Central Intelligence Suite | Deck 05 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]

It was relatively quiet inside of the CIS at this hour, especially with everything seemingly at condition green. Only Benton and Chundab were still hanging around, their attention attuned to the large main viewer as they worked to decrypt incoming data streams. The peculiar pair were as close to friends as bitter rivals could possibly be, and they were arguably two of the best coders aboard Theurgy.

“I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to work with old acquaintances.” Fisher said with no small hint of sarcasm to Valyn as he alluded to an emblem prominently displayed in a corner of the display, one of a bird of prey with talons clutching at two orbs. “Only question is, which of those old acquaintances can be... dare I say it... trusted?” He tapped at the console attached to the viewer and brought up a diagram of all the most powerful figures within the Romulan sphere of political influence. “...and of those, who can we effectively rely on to help us in disrupting the Praetor’s call to war against Starfleet and the Federation? Not to mention, how in the hell are we supposed to get them to help us in the first place? We’re not exactly everyone’s favorite these days.” With a chuckle, Fisher pointed at the Starfleet Command emblem as if to emphasize the fact that not even their own people were on their side of this endeavor. “So, Lieutenant. You ready to dive headfirst into this heaping pile of shit, and dig up some options for me and the Captain to play on?”

Not exactly glamorous work by any measure, it nevertheless was an imperative aspect of any effective Intelligence operation, and Fisher doubted anyone, himself included, could better analyze the opportunities hidden within the people displayed on screen.

“Who can we target, and where and how can we best apply pressure?”

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #7
[ Lieutenant Valyn Amarik | Observation Lounge | Deck 10 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift  [Show/Hide]
She watched him closely, not quite enough to appear to be intrusive or if she was sizing him up any longer though. She watched him in the way she’d learned to watch everyone. To pick up on a tic, a habit, the slightest shift in posture. While up to that point it had been a largely casual conversation, that habit stuck with her like so many others had. Entering a room, she always made a first sweep, to learn the exits, its occupants, and dangers. Where most human children would be raised with openness and the freedom to make their own choices in their lives, and the consequences that choice brought…Valyn had no such upbringing. Hers was one of constant training. Constant vigilance. Constantly learning how to perform better not for herself, but for the Empire. It was a cruel and brutal system that she’d been brought up in, largely devoid of affection or any normal childhood. Shattering what most would consider ‘normal’ behavior right from the get-go.

Kinship. Camaraderie. Until recently had been such foreign concepts to her besides the relationship she shared with a sparse few of her previous compatriots. The openness to share and communicate was something she’d come to appreciate a great deal in Starfleet.

On Romulus, every connection she made with another was a potential weapon that could be used against her and the Empire. That’s what she’d been told at least. In truth, every connection she made was a weapon the Empire itself could use against her. They’d proved it to her. More than once. Her warped and washed mind however hadn’t recognized it until years later. She’d been a tool. An efficient, and brutal tool but a tool nonetheless. Starfleet security hadn’t exactly given her many opportunities to utilize the skills she’d learned. Her transfer to intelligence was met with equal measures of excitement and anxiety.

Those skills had defined who she was. Being able to utilize them again was in a sense like being wrapped in a soft, warm blanket. On the other hand, showing Starfleet firsthand what she’d done and was still fully capable of, worried her. She worried for herself, slipping back down a dangerous path that led to nothing but her joy and respect for herself turning to ash. She would do what needed to be done, without fear or apprehension. Her regrets lay in the innocent lives she’d taken under orders, and some of those lives not under orders. Opening the door again, would no doubt reintroduce her to memories best left forgotten.

Her face remained stoic as she accepted the position. The responsibility of the role was not lost on her, nonetheless she accepted quickly. Going from a new transfer, fresh to a ship, to being assistant chief of her new department was anything but the norm in Starfleet, she knew. The confidence that Fisher must have had in her wasn’t lost on her either. Her flask was corked, and pocketed. The casual air about their conversation had shifted, not entirely straight to a professional tone, but not one of two officers shooting the shit anymore.

“Stable.” She scoffed, following his gaze out the window to the shattered husk of a planet. Her head slowly shook. His words seemed to her to be an understatement, but it seemed to now be more of a political and diplomatic battle that needed to be waged on the Klingon homeworld then, not longer a military one. She rose to her feet as he did and gave him a nod, following after him with a glance to the canoodling couple across the room. “Should probably give those two the room anyhow.” She scoffed as they broke the arch of the doorway.

Her eyes watched his hand enter the command, and she followed him in without a word. The subtle hum of the lift was largely ignored and blocked out. She’d yet to see the intelligence suite in detail for herself, only gathering a quick glance during the briefing for Fisher's rescue. She’d yet to gather a uniform or really…anything of the sort. “Sounds like a familiar game.” She’d done her share of subterfuge and spying, aside from the wetwork that she was so impeccably skilled at. “So instead of killing the parasites we have to apply pressure at the right spots. Make their lives just inconvenient enough to buy more and more time to find a more clear solution to separate the victim from the beast.” She slowly nodded, catching on to their goals.

She remembered one operation in particular that utilized tactics similar. A small station, in the fringes of Romulan space with a commander whose authority had grown above his station. Due to his connections they weren’t able to just kill him, having a wife who was a Senator, and a child who was almost always with him. His powerbase needed to be torn down brick by brick, leaving him and his family alive.

[ Central Intelligence Suite | Deck 05 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ]

Stepping through the doorway into the suite, her eyes narrowed with the bright array of consoles. Seeing it all with a new set of eyes, eyes that understood this was soon likely to be her home away from home, she smiled lightly. It was subtle, but still there. “Pretty impressive.” She looked around, nodding with contentment. Seemingly, almost every resource she might need in her work was only feet away. Her eyes fell momentarily on the coders, sizing each of them up briefly before she offered them a nod of greeting, if they even looked up.

“Oh yea, been waitin’ for years to reconnect with some of my old pals.” Her voice dripped with sarcasm. Glancing at the emblem she let out a deep sigh and crossed her arms in thought. “Honestly, I really wouldn’t trust any of them that far. There are a few I know that don’t fit into the category of typical Romulan sycophants. Two actually.” Her eyes locked onto the diagram, resting on the Praetor herself with a cold rage evident behind them. Parasite or not, Valyn was no fan. Her betrayal of the senate and presenting the Empire into the lap of a usurper wasn’t something she’d forget, and she knew she wasn’t alone. “Make it three actually. I know one other, he isn’t a Romulan though he’s actually Starfleet. He’s the one who convinced the Federation to yank me from the P.O.W. camp at the end of the war.” If this was going to work, she’d have to be honest with Fisher, brutally so. “Last I spoke to him he was still working with a handful of contacts in the Empire, some powerful too, he didn’t tell me who though.”

Two fingers ran down her chin momentarily. “Think I can do that. My options are a bit limited unfortunately. That whole defector thing put a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of my old…” She didn’t even know the right word, as they were certainly not her friends, “Comrades.”

Leaning forward slightly she stared at the figures on the screen. “Starfleet friends name is Ben Hewitt, diplomatic corps. I can get a hold of one of my Tal Shiar contacts pretty easily, the other though I’m going to have to do some digging and likely some explaining once I do get a hold of them. Just to warn you though, not that you likely need it but…they aren’t exactly shining pillars of morality.” Ben too, was going to take some talking to. Last she’d spoken to him, just before coming to Thea, he’d believed Starfleet. With her on the other end of the line though, he could be more receptive.

“My first contacts name is Narin Jopek. He’s a sonofabitch but he’s a damn good operative and he hates that bitch as much as I do.” She pointed at the Praetor. “He’s got a lot of connections. Had a Junior Senator killed with a damn snap of his fingers once. From lightyears away.” Her head shook side to side. Working closely with Narin again wasn’t exactly on her bucket list, and their relationship had been anything but professional. She let out a deep breath. “I’ll get to work.” She dipped her head to her new CO.

“Well…”, she pointed at the individual at the bottom rung of the diagram, “We start at the bottom. Brick by brick. They’ll start slipping up, give us more and more to work with the destabilize the top. As clever as Romulan politicians are…we apply the pressure to certain spots…” It’d all come tumbling down. That was the idea at least. Some blackmail. Some influenced data. Perhaps a death. Each individual would be different, and she knew full well it wouldn’t be bloodless.

She took a moment, before her gaze broke from the console, and she looked directly at Fisher. "What you said earlier...speaking plainly for a moment, some of these people are anything but innocents to be rescued from the grasp of the beast. Some of them, may have earned themselves the more direct method, and earned it long before they had a parasite." She wasn't going to dance around the idea, and for some of them, it'd be the most effective way of applying pressure to the throat of the government. It wasn't about revenge, or anything of the sort. She really was, trying to blunt and honest, while feeling out what exactly was permitted and what was not within the confines and rules of Starfleet Intelligence.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #8
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Central Intelligence Suite | Deck 05 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BipSpoon

Fisher understood well the game that he and Valyn were engaged in; a game as old as the spy profession itself and were it not for the fact that they were technically playing on the same side of the board, he might’ve been a little more careful in obscuring the pangs which currently ailed him, and his general mannerisms regarding.

But as it was, they were decidedly on the same side, a rarity for sure given their respective heritages, but in this day and age, and with an enemy which sought the total annihilation of all life, it only made sense. Then again, it wasn’t as if Valyn herself had recently been a foreign operative of the Tal Shiar; no, she’d put in her due diligence as a member of Starfleet, and as such deserved a measure of trust from the otherwise untrusting lead spook. Also, factoring in the aspect of her having played a very real and vital part in his rescue, Fisher understood that he owed her at least that in end some. So, with her in tow, he’d brought her to the nerve epicenter of intelligence aboard the Theurgy, where he and his underlings could conspire in the shadows to try and out maneuver the deviousness of nameless darkness and their parasitic infestation plaguing the Galaxy. As a Romulan, she represented a most valuable asset moving forward, because as he’d previously expressed, and as was made abundantly clear by the tumultuous situation unfolding withing the broader political scope of galactic relations, the Romulans, namely the Empire as a whole, could and would dictate the next phase of this struggle against extinction.

“That’s just about the sum of it, yes.” He admitted to her, a hint of appreciation detectable in his voice that she’d been able to piece together his approach toward stonewalling the progress of their enemy. Grimacing ever so slightly as he stopped to stand before the main viewer in the CIS, he then afforded both Benton and Chundab a nod as though to alert them of his and her encroachment, hoping the two data analysts knew better than to approach himself or Valyn as they were set to discuss the matter of her joining the department, and how she might contribute. “Real change can be... difficult... to affect, especially when you’re still coming to terms with understanding your enemy, how they operate, and what drives them.” Crossing arms over his chest, he exhaled deeply for a moment as his gaze traversed the various monitors affixed to the bulkheads enclosing them in this most secretive of spaces, reserved for the eyes of the most cunning and devious among the crew. “So, while we’re still playing twenty-rounds of proverbial pattycake with the good Doctor down in the brig, all in an effort to try and fill-in the gaps of our general lack of knowledge, I figure we can at least in the meantime delay our defeat.”

Quieting himself that he might listen, he had some idea what to expect from the Romulan ex-pat standing before him, but he also knew better than to let past experience and personal biases taint his judgements. Instead, he let her explain the thinking with all openness he could possibly muster, nodding politely as she went on.

The mention of a set of individuals, one someone with the diplomatic corps, and others within the Tal Shiar didn’t surprise him, as they were often the most common partners that members of SFI bedded down with. Still, they each represented a possible asset to call upon; a new piece to place on the board, and maybe help even the odds up a smidge. Her warning that they might not have been the most upstanding of characters wasn’t a surprise either, as you rarely met anyone with high moral fiber when your job relied upon the effective use of cloak and dagger tactics. In his own right, Fisher had a number of assets he called upon with regularity that by all rights should’ve been imprisoned for multiple life sentences, given their crimes. And those were just the ones he didn’t generally mind associating with, for there were others he had known which likely should’ve landed him in prison for even speaking to. “Sometimes the seedier they are, the better the asset.” He admitted, his way of advocating the use of any and all contacts they could think of in trying to turn back the tide. Sure, he preferred a bend, but don’t break mantra when it came to the rules and moral code, but those rules and morals meant little if they ended up costing you your very right to exist.

“Sounds good.” He said, a sardonic grin perking up at the corner of his mouth in regard to Jopek. Once more, he let his Romulan subordinate expand upon her own take up of the plan which he and the Captain had agreed to and given the confidence he could detect in her voice, he knew indeed that she’d make an ideal addition to the operation. Yet, as she continued, voicing what he interpreted to be reservations over the method of interfering with lives, many of which were in fact totally innocent of any wrong-doing, but were simply victims themselves caught in the wrong place, he had to remind himself of the stakes with which they dealt. “It’s... and understandable thing to be conflicted over. By no means am I immune to such considerations, if I was, then I doubt the Captain would’ve trusted me to lead the department. That said, if we’re going to have any chance of turning this fight into a remotely even one, then we’re going to have to bend some rules along the way. Check some of our moral reservations at those doors.” He pointed past her, in the direction of the doorway that led back into the corridor.

“...and listen, I’m not asking you or anyone to go ‘round, black bagging politicians, or slitting throats.” Pointing toward one of the people whose face was displayed on the main monitor for emphasis, he continued. “But, if so-and-so find themselves in the midst of trumped up or real scandal, thus lessening the effectiveness of their position and how they can direct the machinations of war, then it’s a small price to pay for the continuation of civilized life.” There were of course other methods he intended to make use of during the coming weeks, employing tactics of misdirection, subterfuge, and the dissemination of false information, but those weren’t of the sort which Valyn had any reservations over. A spy was a spy, but sometimes, a spy could and would be an assassin, and while he wasn’t beyond such method if necessity dictated it, he would do his best to try and avoid such drastic measures if at all possible.

Letting his point linger for just a moment, an air of silence permeating the CIS, Fisher let his hand fall away from the monitor and return to cross his chest once more.

“I need to return to sickbay before Doctor Kobol puts out a ship wide APB for me.” With a sigh, he cleared the monitor display, letting the emblem of SFI return to prominence. Stepping toward the doorway, he intended to leave Valyn at this point, though made no outright determination regarding whether she should stay or return to her own doings. “I’ll get you clearance for the CIS right away, so that you can come and go as you please. I don’t generally keep a tally of the duty roster, just make one for the benefit of the XO and the Captain, so feel free to pick your times when you’re actually here. We’re not Ops, so it doesn’t make sense for us to be in predetermined places at any given moment.” Limping once more as he drew nearer to the exit, he turned round to face her one last time. “Anything you need, you come to me, and we’ll get it done.” As the doors opened to allow his leaving, Fisher stopped just outside of the doorway before making his way down the corridor to the turbolift.

“Welcome back to the shadows, Lieutenant.” He said as way of parting, the door closing behind.

Re: EPI: S [D04|0200] A Chance Reprieve

Reply #9
[ Lieutenant Valyn Amarik | Central Intelligence Suite | Deck 05 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift  [Show/Hide]

As she entered the core of Theurgy’s intelligence operation, her eyes flashed from screen to screen absolutely in awe. She hadn’t exactly been permitted to be near anything of that magnitude up to that point. She simply didn’t have the clearance and obtaining the clearance was, given her history, a complicated process. The faith that had been put in her by both Fisher and Captain Ives in allowing her to rejoin the intelligence community, particularly given her history, wasn’t lost on the Romulan. That very same Romulan upbringing though left her with a palpable failure to find the exact right words to express just how much it did mean. Emotions were to be hidden, not shared. Not usually at least, not in her past. 

Her eyes traced over the main monitor, ideas fluttering in and out of her immediate headspace, mulling over the simplest ideas of how to make life for those involved as difficult as could be. Blocking their access. Removing their power base. Each move subtle – or not so subtle, depending. Her eyes bounced over to Benton and Chundab, but she didn’t greet either of them directly, instead her focus remained entirely on her new department CO. While he crossed his arms, Valyn placed her hands palms down on the side of the console, and leaned forward, into the work. “Doctor must not be the most helpful individual then it sounds like.” She scoffed, only having heard rumors about the man up to that point. However, she’d soon make it a point to absorb anything and everything she could about the man, and about the infested. 

As a Tal Shiar agent she’d not often been granted access to such vast amounts of information. She was told what she needed to know and sent on her way. Only towards the end of her career was she granted more privilege, and by that point it was too late for her to do much about it. The situation though, reminded her a great deal of her time on the border, playing pretend to be the Borg, and the level of study she’d put into their species. They were a ruthless species, hellbent on assimilation of every last living organism in the known galaxy. Compared to the infested they may as well have been teddy bears. While the Borg strove for integration for all races, the infested strove only for destruction. For annihilation and violence by any means necessary. They were very different enemies and while the magnitude certainly felt similar, they were by no means close. “Delaying defeat can be the currency needed to purchase victory.” She shrugged once and gingerly reached forward, swiping her hand across the console to flip through some of the images that had been opened up before her eyes.

Her face remained stoic as she thought, but the likely practiced Fisher may be able to tell just how much the gears were turning within her head. Narin was the clear choice for contact. Even back when they had spoken frequently, and in fact, enjoyed one another's ‘company’ without speaking, he had been jaded in regard to the choices the Empire made. He was a brutal man. A calculating man. A man who would use any means to achieve his goal. However, he was a unificationist. He desired a bridge between the Vulcanoid people. He also desired for Romulan society to turn away from their isolationist policy and to join the galactic stage as a true power, not simply a large power behind an iron curtain. He would be ideal for the mission. While his values didn’t align entirely with those of much of Romulus, at his core he was a staunch Romulan nationalist. A patriot. A man who would give his life and limb for the continued safety of his people. 

Just as she would have.

Just as she did now. While she wouldn’t betray the Federation, Romulus was still her homeworld, and she wanted to see Romulus survive. She wanted to see the Federation survive. Unless there was coordination between their people there would be no Romulus or a Federation. Only death.

“Truer words-” She paused and gave him a nod, “I’ll do some digging. I think I can get a hold of him pretty easily, same for my Diplomat, some of the others I’m thinking of maybe not so much.” She pursed her lips, but continued to think over the best methods. 

Methodology just so happened to be the next topic of conversation. “I’m not averse to checking my morals, tucking them deep inside.” She gave him a nod, “Just need to be careful with Romulans. You push some of these innocents into a certain light and while we may not pull the trigger, someone else will. As for black bagging...” She trailed off, considering if she ought to continue the train of thought before she just out and said it, “Not something I’d be new to. Not something I’m even against doing. However-” She paused, “I’m not like I was. I’m not just a weapon to be deployed and removed anymore. If I’m dropping someone, I want to do it for good reason. Not that I think you’re the sort to simply send people around killin’ left and right, sir.” She really wanted to clarify that point, she really didn’t believe him to be that sort of man. To be that sort of leader took someone much...colder. She had been raised on senseless violence. A handler would point, and she would shoot. They would insert her, she would sew chaos, and leave. That wasn’t what Starfleet was, and it certainly wasn’t who she desired to be. Death was a natural part of life and a weapon to be used like any other, she simply had greater consideration then, than she used to. 

“Scandal in Romulan society...” She mulled the idea over. Like a flash of light, she stared at the image of a junior senator on the screen, and it hit her in a flash. An idea. She had no reservations over their methods beyond those she’d already voiced, and she would do her part.

After a long moment, she turned to face the man and gave him a nod. “I think I got enough to work with here. I’ll throw something together for you to look at.” She gave him a nod. “Fleein’ docs is a Starfleet pastime I think, so maybe the Doc’ll understand?” She smirked at him but understood the need to get back. “Thank you.” She didn’t follow after him, instead as he turned to leave, she turned back towards the screen, activating the holoprojector to give herself something more tangible to fiddle with as she worked, moving through pictures and data with the movements of her hands. 

Pausing at Fishers last words, she looked over her shoulder and gave him a nod, “It’s good to be back.” She’d gone into Security for a reason. She knew it was a slippery slope for her, getting involved with intelligence, but she also knew that on a certain level, it was what she was made for. Quite literally, she had been raised for the express purpose of working within that sphere of influence. Security had felt like a natural offshoot to utilize at least some of those skills, but standing there, surrounded by dataflow and information...it felt like a warm embrace.

-FIN

 
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