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Day 01 [1500 hrs.] 39 Problems

| Rylan Sil | Hotel Jarantine | First City | Qo’noS |

Klingons have always had a hard culture, and that was generally reflected in everything from their vaunted warships to their very minimalist furniture. Luckily for offworlders, like Rylan Sil, who came from a very different and much softer background, the Hotel Jarantine did not ascribe to tradition and offered a much more comfortable experience for its guests. The building's exterior still bore the hallmarks of an ancient temple, the interior had been converted into a modern commercial wonder ideal for alien diplomats and others not used to ‘Klingon hospitality.’ The Federation News Network started off all of their correspondents assigned to Qo’noS in a small suite at the Jarantine. It was only a temporary arrangement for the first few weeks until other, more permanent arrangements could be made. Rylan was already pushing the boundaries of temporary accommodation at this point, but it was hard to beat the hotel for comfortable, alien friendly accommodations in the First City.

The suite he had been provided was small but plush, even by Risian standards. Rylan was silently thankful that the staff had been by to tidy up while he’d been locked in at the Federation embassy last night and earlier that morning. He plucked the two PADDs that he’d been given back at the embassy from his left jacket pocket and plunked them down on the wooden tabletop in the sitting area. One had been given to him by Ms. Barnum, who was part of the embassy staff, and the other had come from Thea, the holo-presence of the mysterious starship Theurgy, currently in planetary orbit. From his right pocket he lifted out Mera, his multi-functional camera drone and depressed the activation trigger with his thumb. The thrum of the drone’s tiny antigrav generator was barely discernible as it floated away from his hand and awaited command.

Rylan turned away at first, just letting Mera hang in the air. He ran a hand through his rust-colored hair and looked at the replicator. Captains Ives and Jackson had given him plenty to think about back at the embassy. Now he just needed to do the thinking. Rylan punched a button at the top of the Klingon replicator nestled in the wall just across from him. “Two shots of vodka and a pot of deka tea with one mug,” he ordered. The order appeared in a shimmer of crimson and gold accompanied by a faint whine. Rylan immediately knocked back the first of the vodka shots. He savored the burn as it went down. “Okay, Mera, access the FNN data network and get me everything that’s been published on the U.S.S. Theurgy and Captain Jien Ives in the last nine months and put it on the monitor.”

The drone chirped in response and the small monitor on the desk across the room lit up. An expansive list of articles and holos began to populate on the screen. Rylan sighed and downed the second vodka shot. He lifted the replicated ceramic teapot and accompanying mug from the nook then made his way to the desk. He pulled yet another PADD from the desk, one of many that he’d stashed away in the suite at the Jarantine and poured himself a cup of the tea. Then he was ready to dig in and start taking notes.

“Kevin Alton,” he muttered to himself as he looked through the bylines on the list. “Kevin Alton, Kevin Alton…. Almost every one of these was put out by Alton.” Rylan didn’t know the other reporter personally, but he was familiar with the name. Kevin Alton was a longtime FNN veteran. His reporting on the Dominion War had been far better sourced and received than Rylan’s own. Alton had several awards for journalism sitting on a shelf somewhere. And Kevin Alton was well respected by his peers.

“Mera,” Rylan said, glancing back and looking at the drone hovering over his shoulder. “While I read, scan the located media and compare to the tactical logs from the Theurgy. Identify any inconsistencies between the two and compile a database.” The drone chirped again and began working silently.

“Okay Mr. Alton, let’s see what you’ve got to say,” Rylan said to himself as he pulled up the first of the many articles Mera had located and began reading.

Rylan had only managed to make it through the first three articles with Kevin Alton’s byline before Mera’s digitized voice said, [Analysis complete.] He turned away from the desk and looked at the drone. “How many?”

[Thirty-nine inconsistencies found,] the drone acknowledged flatly.

“Thirty-nine?” Rylan repeated, surprised at such a large number.

[Affirmative. Thirty-nine,] the drong replied.

“It was rhetorical,” Rylan said tersely. “Save the list; we’ll come back to it later.” He turned back to the screen and delved back into the archive of articles. As he sipped his deka tea and scribbled notes on the PADD at his side, Rylan noted how nothing he’d seen so far had made any indication of the type of conspiracy that Ives and Jackson had intimated back at the embassy.

Over an hour later the pot of deka tea was empty. Rylan had reviewed all of Kevin Alton’s articles and holos relating to the Theurgy, as well as the handful of others that bore a different byline. Mera had the list of discrepancies between the reporting and ships tactical logs displayed as a hologram in the empty air of the hotel suite. Thirty-nine items that were either different between the two or were missing from one or other all laid out in neat little rows. “Where are the Borg?” he said as he ran a hand through his already tousled hair.

[References to the Borg occur in the U.S.S. Theurgy tactical logs beginning at stardate…] Mera began.

“Rhetorical!” Rylan snapped, exasperated already at the steaming pile he seemed to have stepped into.

“The other night at the bar, there were those drunk Klingons singing… wasn’t there something about the Borg there?” he wondered aloud to himself. He’d been half-drunk on bloodwine at the time but he was sure someone had mentioned a cube in one of those songs that were being sung around him. “Mera, scrub the bar footage from last night and look for any references to Borg or cubes.”

[Working,] Mera affirmed. There were a few seconds of tense silence when Rylan wondered if he maybe imagined it. Bloodwine never did quite agree with him. [Footage located,] Mera said finally.

“Play it,” Rylan said. He watched as a holographic display from inside ‘Iwllj jachjaj resolved itself in the air before him. The ruckus of the drinking house played over Mera’s integrated audio system. It was difficult to make it out at first, but after two playbacks he found it and was able to use the drone to isolate it. There was only one line that was really clear but it had to be a reference to the Borg being at the battle in the Azure Nebula. There was no other explanation for the words that made any sense.

“One more time, audio at max,” Rylan said and the hologram skipped back to the beginning of the isolated section.

The voice of the burly Klingon bard erupted in Rylan’s hotel suite. "...'a ship as white as bone turned the tide, skewering the enemy's side, carving paths through which we rode, and saw the Queen and cube both explode."

Rylan was nodding as the line concluded and the playback stopped. “Yeah, that sounds like Borg to me. So why’s Alton not reporting on them?”

- FIN

 
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