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C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

[ Lt Kestra Pren| Departure Lounge | Starbase 324 ] Attn: @RyeTanker‍ 

The battle unfolded before her eyes and she watched, helplessly unable to change anything. Weapons fire flew from the ground to the sky. Striking the hopper. The vehicle’s ascent slowed, faltered and the transport seemed to hover for just a moment before falling back to the surface in a fiery explosion. Klingons swarmed forward charging the tattered Federation lines, the first rows falling under the barrage of phaser fire. But the Klingons had strength in numbers and the smashed into the defending lines, their disruptors and Bat’Leths cutting the defending forces to ribbons. The Federation line collapsed within seconds, leaving any survivors of the crashed hopper undefended.

Kestra Pren switched off the PADD, needing to see no more.  The battled of Ajilon Prime had not been a significant engagement during the Federation/-Klingon war of 2372-2373, but it had been one of the last ones, and up until now, Kestra had not had the opportunity to study it until now.

Even before she looked over the after action reports, and the statistical analysis, all generated with the benefit of seven years of hindsight, Kestra already saw some glaring tactical errors.  Allied forces had not sufficiently taken control of the higher ground.  The Trill suspected the Klingons had established transport inhibitors, but even so they had been allowed to control the ridge lines almost uncontested.  Sloppy.  Additionally. Federation ground forces had relied on narrow beam settings that restricted them to one target at a time.  A wider beam configured for heavy stun would have slowed the Klingon lines and bought the defenders more time.  It might not have changed the outcome, but it might have saved some lives in the process.

Sighing, she slipped the Padd in her go-bag, tucking it between the PADD containing her orders and debrief from Admiral Anderson, and the PADD the Admiral had provided to her to pass on to Theurgy’s Command staff.

“Would you care for anything else, Ma’am?”

Her server’s voice, a bolian female, drew her attention back to the present. 

“I could go for another,” she said indicating her empty mojito glass.

“Of course.  Any preferences?”

Kestra considered for a moment before responding, “Orion Rum if you have it?”

“Of course.  I’ll be right back with it.”

True to her word, the server returned within minutes and after a few more pleasantries, Kestra decided to vacate her seat at the restaurant and move to the viewing gallery.  While not as large as a Space Dock type Starbase, Starbase 324 was significant in it’s own right, especially given it’s proximity to the Romulan Neutral Zone.  It still had it’s own interior dock yard, though not as expansive as that of Starbase One.

She found an open seat near one of the massive gallery windows so she could watch the ships as they came and went.  They mostly came.  Already she counted one Sovereign, three Akira’s, and a handful of Defiant class starships and more. Based on what Anderson had told her it sounded like Command was fortifying along the border in the event of another Romulan attack… or to attack against the Romulans in retaliation for Paris.  Regardless, he had said, with as much movement in and out of that base, it would be very easy for her to disappear aboard the freighter she had been sent to meet.

She checked her orders; the USS Mary Baldwin would be carrying her contact, Dominic Lau.  Anderson had strongly suggested that they utilize as much discretion as possible.  So, she’d kept quiet, minding to herself.  Anderson had arranged for her to travel to 324 on board a contracted cargo currier as a cargo security escort.  It was an odd cover, one that was technically well beneath her skills and abilities, but one she understood was necessary to get her off the grid so she could meet up with Theurgy safely.

It all seemed a bit too cloak and dagger for her preferences,  and she was still not entirely sure she understood everything the Admiral had told her.  Truthfully she was more concerned about finding Reggie Suder, and if helping in this fight against these hidden invaders within Starfleet was the price to pay, then so be it.

She sat back with a sigh and took a look at the ships in the dock once again.  How many hundreds if not thousands of crew aboard those ships alone were gearing up for a fight based on lies?  How many of them were good honest people, doing their duty and following their assignments?  How many of them were these…infested…hellbent on sabotaging and destroying everything the Federation had built over the last two centuries?

She wanted to do something.  She wanted to stay, transfer back to Earth, work with Anderson, build up a case, and a proper fighting force and hit these ‘infested’ from behind the lines.  She’d proposed as much to Anderson, but he’d vetoed the idea.  This thing went so much deeper, he had told her.  That the fight needed to be waged carefully and strategically.  Any move they made here, would be quashed before they could act.

Kestra wasn’t sure she fully believed that, but she chose to yield to his expertise.  Not that she had much choice in the matter.  He was her superior officer and she had agreed that she would take on whatever assignment he gave her in exchange for information on Reggie Suder. 

Even so, given what she knew, it seemed like Suder and the rest of the Theurgy crew needed every ounce of help they could get.

She sat back in her seat as she tucked into some leisure reading, while she waited for the Mary Baldwin to arrive.

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #1
[CPO Dominic Lau | Cockpit | Mary Baldwin | Approaching Starbase 324] @P.C. Haring @Ellen Fitz

Chief Lau sat cross armed in the co-pilots seat as PO3 Bessir flew the ship to the Starbase and he contemplated the mission orders.  It really was all cloak and dagger since all he really knew was that the orders had come from on high, possibly the highest.  It was so need to know, that he hadn't even told the rest of the team who they were supposed to meet. The only thing they knew was they'd needed to cross back into Federation territory first, then head off some place where their extremely reluctant guest was supposed to help.  For the Chief, who was in the know, it was possibly worse since all he had was a pick up location and the picture of a trill.  It wasn't even a profile photo, but a slightly grainy random picture.  It had taken a few days to reach the border and the Mary Baldwin was supposed to register with the local authorities before venturing onwards.  His team tech geek, PO2 Klaudia Cheung had taken that time alternatively keeping an eye on their captive Romulan scientist, and doctoring their credentials and flight plan.  Officially, they were headed to Barolia after stopping at the Starbase to pick up some passengers headed in that direction.  The space around the station was quite busy.

The comm crackled to life. "Mary Baldwin, this is Starbase Operations.  Please transmit arrival codes, manifest and flight plan."

Bessir activated the comm system. "Starbase Operations, Mary Baldwin acknowledges and transmitting."  The Cardassian Bajoran hybrid punched a few buttons and the data burst went flying to the large space construct.  While this was occurring, the sniper looked at the team Chief.  "We don't have anything to worry about right?"

Lau was a realist at the end of the day, otherwise he wouldn't have survived as long as he did. "We've taken the necessary precautions and we're just another civilian freighter making a stop inside Federation territory before moving on.  The Chief paused for a moment. "Though in this case, we have a better reason than most to do so. Bessir nodded.

The comm came on again a few moments later.  "Mary Bladwin, information received.  Please head for buoy 145-96-Gamma and standby for close in scan."  This was expected, especially with the outbreak of hostilities from a nearby hostile power.  "Please explain why you're cargo holds are empty."

Bessir glared at the distant station and Lau was quite certain he was thinking Bureacrats, but instead he said "As soon as we heard the word of fighting between Starfleet and the Romulans, we ran back home.  We dropped our contract to get back as fast as we could."

There was another pause from Operations before the reply came back. "Understandable and a similar story from most of the ships here.  Glad you made it back.  Head for the buoy and a security beam will be aboard shortly."

The pair of operatives frowned at this, but again, it wasn't unexpected.  "Acknowledged." Bessir replied then killed the link. Sitting back.  Bessir waited for the Chief to come to a decision on the next step.  "Let's get ready to receive our guests." The sniper was still doubtful. "Do you think the egg head will go along with this?"  He had to ask.

"We have a room with a whole bunch of Vulcan stuff in it and she's the closest we have to one.  Besides she wants to get out of here too to get her research and keep on living.  Kinda hard to do when it goes on record that Starfleet caught a Romulan trying to sneak into Federations space." Truth be told, Lau really would have preferred to stuff their Romulan guest into a box and bury her behind a lot of other crates till the inspection was over, but the late Lieutenant Fynir's quarters were going to be hard to explain.  The best they would have been able to do was sanitize the room and stuff the more personal items into a bag, then a specially shielded area near an EPS junction.

As the ship approached the buoy, the Chief popped his head into the dining area where Cheung and her charge were drinking tea.  "It's show time."  He gave a pointed glance to the Romulan. "Remember, you're a Vulcan for this.
The scientist looked back blankly and nodded before returning to her tea as a silent fuck you as she was already playing her part.

The Chief nodded his acceptance of this and headed to the cargo hold where he entered just as a pair of harried looking security officers beamed in. "Greeting Captain Lau.  I'm Petty Officer Favian and this is Crewman Slims.  We're here for your entry scan."  The Chief smiled sympathetically. "Sounds good, let's get started."

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #2
[ PO2 Frances Lee Knox  | Sickbay | Mary Baldwin | Approaching Starbase 324] @P.C. Haring @RyeTanker

“For the record, Bessir,” Knox waited until the security officers departed, moving on to inspect more of the ship before he cut through the tension, “I don’t like this any more than you.”

The sniper didn’t say anything as he continued to lean against the counter opposite Knox. Claudia had been the one to alert them that the nice security officers knew there should be a Barzanian teammate. Since they’d all agreed on the way here that, wanting to avoid the rigmarole associated with reporting deaths, especially with their stowaway bitch of a scientist masquerading as their Vulcan team member, they would report the losses of Yemma and Fynir later, that left them with little else to do when the officers requested to interview PO1 Yemma personally.

With his unique skills now known by all, save for that Romulan asshat, it’d been understood what Knox was to do. He’d hoped to do it without Bessir nearby, but when the sniper had shown up alongside the security officers, Knox had merely gritted his teeth—female teeth at the time since he looked exactly like Yemma. There would’ve been hell to pay if either of the lame-tard officers had known about the relationship between Bessir and Yemma and stupidly asked for a demonstration between them. Thankfully they were just numpties and not perverts – at least, as far as Knox could tell.

“Have they already met PO2 Knox, or do you have to change back?” Bessir’s voice was emotionless, his eyes hard, as he continued to study Knox as if he were a walking ghost. And in some ways, he was. His voice sounded almost exactly like Yemma’s, with only minor inflections being different, not that the security officers would’ve been able to tell without special hardware to test.

“I already got a formal dressing down from the Chief in front of them as Knox just outside the cargo hold, so it should be fine to stay like this till they leave.” Knox picked up a hypospray and glanced at its contents. At high enough dosages, this sucker could help Bessir see pink elephants. Waving the hypospray with a forced grin, Knox waggled his eyebrows, “Wanna get high?”

“Fuck you, Knox.”

He swallowed his retort. He’d liked Yemma and had been happy for her and Bessir. Forming that kind of stable affection in their line of work wasn't easy. He knew it was going to hurt like fucking hell for quite a while for the hybrid glowering at him from across the small room.

“Ah, well, wish I could,” Knox chuckled at Bessir’s expression of confused surprise, “get high I mean. Not fuck myself. I very much could fuck myself and truth be told,” he cupped a hand by his face and added in a not at all whisper, “I have. And I am a good fuck, no exaggeration. Both in the fucking and in being fucked.” He gave a little shiver of delight, glancing up at Bessir and finding satisfaction in seeing the man go green at the gills, now thoroughly distracted from his pain.

“The fuck, Knox, that’s disgusting!” Bessir pushed away from the counter.

Knox only blew a raspberry at him, “You’re just jealous you can’t suck yourself off or get fucked in the ass by your own hand.”

Bessir did his own rendition of running from the room, his hands braced over his ears to keep from hearing any more. Glancing at the hypospray once more, Knox snorted before tossing it back onto the counter. He wondered how the Chief fared with Tweedle Dim-wit and Tweedle Sucks Ass.

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #3
[ Lt Kestra Pren | Departure Lounge | Starbase 324 ] Attn: @RyeTanker‍  @Ellen Fitz‍ 

Kestra continued to study the data on her PADD.  It was one of the three she had taken with her when she left Earth, the second containing, her orders as well as background information on the Theurgy.  The Third, of course was secured, eyes only data from Admiral Anderson to the Theurgy CO or XO depending on who was first available.  She had forced herself to stop reading the Theurgy mission logs in public.  No matter how discrete she thought she was, and she knew she could be extraordinarily so, she would not risk the possibility of that information getting out somehow.

Instead, she focused on her leisure reading and one of the strategy games she’d been working on for the past few weeks.  She hadn’t made much headway on it, but she enjoyed the fact that it challenged her and that at least in this run, her strategy was leading to a stalemate.  She wasn’t gaining any ground, but she also wasn’t losing any either.  Damn, were the Zakdorn good in their design. 

Kestra issued her latest round of orders into the sim, and switched over to her leisure reading.  To the average observer it might look like she had tuned out the world around her, but she was not that naive.  At least not any more.  Not since her abduction and Tess’s death.

Her breath caught in her chest, her breath shuddered, but she caught herself and pushed the urge to cry for the girl down.  She’d mourned her already, but even after almost a quarter of a century, the loss hit her in the oddest ways at the oddest of times.

It was no surprise, though, why this was all coming back to her now.  Learning about Suder, shed an entirely new light on what had happened to her…to them both, she guessed.  And now she was reliving everything all over again, from a new perspective and even though she knew she had to speak to the fighter pilot eventually, Kestra Pren did not relish in sharing this with her.  If her Betazoid twin was anything like she was, the first question Regeine Suder would ask…the same question Kestra had asked would be ‘am I real… or am I just a copy’

Despite the question haunting her, Kestra had decided she did not care to know the answer.  She could only hope Lieutenant Suder, felt the same.

Her PADD beeped as an alert appeared on her screen informing her that the Mary Baldwin had arrived.  Kestra switched over to the Sarbase transit records and found the freighter’s listing.  It did not show as docked but that it was in Starbase controlled space, which meant that for all intents and purposes it had arrived.

She let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding and switched over to her PADD’s comm interface.  Using the protocol Admiral Anderson had provided she keyed a quick message to the Mary Baldwin to notify them that she was on station, and ready to transfer over to their ship at their discretion.  She signed the message as the Admiral had instructed and sent it on it’s way.

She sat back and tried to focus once again on her reading while she awaited a reply.

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #4
[CPO Dominic Lau | Cockpit | Mary Baldwin | Approaching Starbase 324] @P.C. Haring @Ellen Fitz

As soon as the customs team came into sight, Lau got het feeling that this particular inspection wasn't going to be an ordinary one. He could see the redness in the men's eyes and  the way their hair was just somewhat disheveled.  Their shoulders also seemed to be slumped a bit from the imaginary weight that had been placed on their shoulders.  He smiled internally as he greeted them.  It seemed like the timing was fortuitous as number of Federations ships moving to cross back over the border had sky rocketed as nobody wanted to be blasted by a plasma torpedo at worst, or maybe have their ship seized by the Romulans.

His main concern wasn't any real inspection. The Mary Baldwin had been thoroughly tested by Intelligence to get passed inspections.  It was the fact that they were light two people from their debacle in Romulan space. Now, their tame shape shifter was pretending to be a Barzanian, while a Romulan, who nobody trusted in the slightest had to pretend to be a Vulcan. He could only hope that the scientist regarded her work as more important than causing problems, otherwise the Operatives were going to have to deal with the Security personnel in a very unpleasant manner.

Cheung and Bessir passed their interviews without comment.  Lau mentally held himself when they talked to Knox, masquerading as Yemma, but she passed without comment. It was when they got to the 'Fynir' that he had his doubts. The security team made their way into 'Fynir' so room and they found the 'Vulcan' sitting cross legged on the floor, hands held together, finger tips touching lightly.  The room was more well lit than usual with candles burning on the desk and a few shelves as the mediation was being carried out. It was an unusual sight, and the Starfleet personnel stopped momentarily to process what they were seeing. Lau looked non-chalant as he stood in the corridor while the Petty Officer checked the information he had. This was actually harder than Knox impersonating Yemma since Klaudia had needed to create new records for the scientist, t'Na, and scrub any references that 'Fynir' was a male Vulcan. All of the real Fynir's records had been transferred to a security chip, along with Yemma's, and hidden in the engineering space.

"Sorry Ma'am, just a routine customs inspection." t'Na quirked an eyebrow and nodded and she dipped her head and closed her eyes in meditation once more. Lau crossed his arms as he leaned on the doorframe and watched the two security officers go to work making a scan of the room. His suspicions were instantly raised as the harried team appeared to be hurrying through the process of making their check, but the rhythm of the check seemed off. There were slight delays at certain parts with more attention being paid to t'Na and the personal console in the room. The Chief felt himself tense as he started to get the feeling that they were going to be made by a security team of unusual skill, and his hands clenched into fists.

The senior stopped his review and took a much more intensive scan of t'Na. t'Na must haven been exercising all her control as she tried not to move.  "Is there a problem?" she finally broke and and asked. At some unseen signal, the security team both pulled their phasers and pointed it at t'Na and the Chief. "Maybe there is.  I can't really say yet Romulan. Chief Lau tensed as the dangerous snout of the energy weapon was trained on him. The lead man pulled a small hypospray from his pocket and backed towards t'Na, then injected the scientist in the neck, where her eyes widened for a split second before collapsing. "Chief, step inside and close the hatch."  The Chief knew he'd been made as he followed the order, but how seemed to say that there was something more going on than just a routine customs inspection.  With one target out of commission, the two mustard shirts turned and kept the human in their sights. "I'm Commander Favian and this is Chief Slims. Obviously this is not Lieutenant Fynir, so how did you end up with this particular passenger, and the answer had better be very very good." the Intelligence Commander practically growled at him.

Chief Lau had to grin at meeting someone from Intelligence this way as he held his hands up in front of him.  " If I may Commander? he asked gesturing at the computer. The commander nodded and Lau moved to sit at the desk then pull up his mission report. Moving away from the desk, Commander Favian took the seat and began his review while Slims took Lau's blood sample then kept an eye on the operative while the air seemed to thicken with tension. When he reached the end of the report, Favian asked several more questions, looking to catch Lau out on any little details that could have been fabricated.  It was an old interrogation trick.  If there was even one wrong detail, one thing out of place, Lau and his team would go to sleep, and probably waken in a dark cell, never to see the light of day.

When the questioning was over, Favian nodded to Slims who holstered his weapon and confirmed the genomes from the blood sample matched the one provided. "You're lucky Chief, King sends his regards and asked to pass along Turn the Jem'Hadar's stomach into braised bowels? Do I really want to know?" Lau felt himself relax and let out a breath that he didn't realize he'd been holding. "You had to be there and if you want to know, you'll need to ask 'King' about it." The officer snorted.  "Not likely going to find out then." he replied before leaning back. "I'm sorry about the losses your team took, but we had to make sure your team really hadn't been compromised, and we'd like to do a more thorough debrief, but time is of the essence here. A big chunk of what got you off the hook was the Warspite ambushed a Romulan Science ship near where you were operating, then raided Decadius Station.  Word is they made off with a goodly bit of unexpected Tal'Shiar information. Captain Chang then blew away another warbird for good measure before running back to Federation space."  The commander shook his head at the temerity the aggressive captain had.

Lau nodded, but was still stunned at the havoc that had been wreaked in the wake of his team's escape. It was just adding on to the toll of mayhem that the quiet reconnaissance mission had quite publicly incurred. "Anyway, the main point here is that you have your pass to continue on mission. I'll send my findings up the chain and any other information you need passed along." Lau nodded. "Thank you sir.  I'll have the team put together Lieutenant Fynir's effects." The Commander nodded before pulling out an isoliniear chip. "Here's your clearance to dock and good luck with whatever happens next." As the Commander stood and left, he stopped as he remembered something and turned to face Lau once more. "Also, koodos to Cheung for the attempt to cover Fynir's death.  I think it would have fooled anyone else if they didn't have details on your team to start with." Lau grinned at this and nodded "I'll let her know."

It didn't take long for the ship to reach a docking space and Lau went aboard while crew put together a crate of their dead team leader's belongings and records to be transported to Starfleet Intelligence. Before leaving, Lau picked up a chip that had been left behind by the other Intelligence operative detailing his passenger, a Trill with Security. Boarding the station was pretty hassle free since he'd been pre cleared. Making his way through the throng of arrivals, the Chief kept his eyes peeled for the new passenger.  

Seeing the woman he was looking for, he took a moment to verify it was the person who matched the file, then made his way over. Stopping in front of her, he cleared his throat. "Kestra Prenn? I'm Captain Lau, your chauffer from on high. He offered an easy smile and wasn't entirely lying since he was in command of the modified freighter at this point; and the best lies contained a kernel of the truth. "If you'll let me get your bags, we can chat a bit while I get your trip started to the Betazoid Trill colony in the Regianne cluster."

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #5
[ Lt Kestra Pren | Departure Lounge | Starbase 324 ] Attn: @RyeTanker‍  @Ellen Fitz‍ ‍

At the sound of his voice invoking her name, Kestra lifted her eyes from her PADD to see who had approached her.  She recognized him almost instantly and remained quiet while he intoned the agreed upon language that would be his sign to her.  A moment of trepidation took her as he invoked Reggiene’s name, an issue the Trill suspected she would be dealing with until such time as she could meet her Betazoid doppelganger…sister?…twin?

The man standing in front of her dressed as a non descript civilian, but Kestra already suspected he was not necessarily what his outward appearance wanted the world to believe.  While the look worked for him and she might have otherwise been none the wiser, Admiral Anderson had mentioned she would be meeting with a 'freighter captain'.  He'd said it nonchalantly, but something in his tone had suggested that it was more of a cover than anything else.  Given how much difficulty she had just getting any information on Suder, and how cagey the Admiral had been prior to her agreement to an assignment he couldn't tell her about until she agreed to take it, the cloak and dagger feeling continued.  She was happy to play along, of course, but she did not for a moment believe 'Captain' Lau was offering her a fully accurate depiction of who he claimed to be.  Hell, even if he hadn't said so directly, the Admiral practically confirmed that himself when he’d given her the sign/countersign protocol to use and she suspected he was somehow affiliated with Starfleet Intelligence

Even so, Kestra knew another martial artist when she saw one.  He had maybe ten centimeters and easily a dozen kilos on her if not a little more but he wore it in his muscle mass.  His thicker shoulders seemed to want to tear out of his uniform, not that the standard issue wardrobe was too small for him, but rather that despite being appropriately sized for him, she could see just how well defined his upper body truly was.  Depending on how this voyage went, and just what inanity lay before them, Kestra idly wondered if the two of them would find themselves sparring with one another.  That, she decided, might be a fun way to take her mind off much more stressful things to come.

“Thank you, Captain,” she said calmly, intoning her countersign as she toggled her PADD off and slipped it into her go-bag and stood. “I am looking forward to the trip, though I understand there is a detour we must make on the way?”


She shouldered her gear, politely declining Lau’s offer to carry it for her and let him lead the way to their ship.

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #6
[ PO2 Frances Lee Knox  | Sickbay | Mary Baldwin | Approaching Starbase 324]  @P.C. Haring  @RyeTanker

After Bessir left, Knox took a moment to review his new disguise. He wasn’t sure that he had every detail correct under the uniform, and he would never have the chance to verify that. After giving her/himself one last look, Knox shifted back into his normal male form. He felt slightly more confident in his ability to portray himself.

Knox left the medical bay and headed out…out to be seen again by these inspectors. Solids had a strange fascination with knowing exactly what other solids, both living and non-living, were around them. But they were remarkably bad at it he thought as he made his way back to where the inspectors would likely depart the ship.

Finding a few odds and ends in the cargo bay, Knox arrayed a menagerie of bits and bobbles out on the floor then grabbed a clipboard. He started to mutter to himself about random bullshit just under his breath, but not loud enough to be heard. This was to act the part of a disgruntled crew member, since the last time this solid shape had been seen by them, he had been getting a verbal reprimand. It took a little longer than expected for them to come back from that ‘Not a real Vulcan’s’ room. He wondered if she had caused trouble. Anyway, all seemed well enough when the two humans seemed to have completed their lackluster search and finally departed.

As soon as they did Knox cleaned up the mess. He spun his head around 360 degrees slowly to ensure he was alone, then sprouted 4 extra arms. The six limbs moved with lightning speed to clean up his fake mess in the cargo bay in just seconds. After putting the extra limbs away he rubbed his two real human hands together, having completed his part in the charade Knox decided to go seek entertainment elsewhere. And as far as Knox was concerned, that would most likely be on the bridge. This was just a pick-up-and-go operation after all. Once Lau was back with another solid, it would be time to go. Knox slowly walked the hallways contemplating whether or not he could get there faster by growing wings or wheels. After reaching a ladder he decided that wings would win out on this ship.

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #7
[CPO Dominic Lau | Passenger Loading Area | Starbase 324] @P.C. Haring @Hans Applegate 

The Asian man nodded as he gestured towards the boarding gate. They passed a variety of stalls of people selling various wares. He restrained from shaking his head since he didn't see the point of it for himself, but it made the shop keepers happy. It also reminded him of bad times, but that was a long time ago. To this day though, he'd never bothered to forgive his father or grand parents for essentially ditching him when he was younger then having the temerity to think he owed them something afterwards. Still, if there was one thing his male genetic donor had managed to get right, at least he knew how to make a ducking bowl of noodles. Maybe after all this shit was over, he'd look him up and steal the recipe for his personal replicator files. Dominic grinned at the thought. It had been a while since his last good heist.

It took a little bit longer as the pair made their way through the waiting area and picked up a few more passengers.  If Intel had gotten it right, there would be a few more bunks carted onto the freighter and everyone settled into the holds.  It wasn't the best set of accommodations, but they weren't expecting to be living on the ship permanently. At the customs area, Dominic appeared completely disinterested in any sort of discussion as he let his paranoia have free reign when on an operation. There was quite a lineup as ships headed back into Federation space to ply their trade or find something to do. Still, the process was efficient and when the pair reached the booth, he handed over a chip with the necessary travel documentation that had been prepared by Intelligence and the actually harried looking customs officer did a quick scan, asked the right questions and passed them through. An arch security systems lit in standard blue scanned each person as they came back and nobody caused the arch to switch to red with an illegal or dangerous item on their person.

As the group approached the docking port, Lau finally let out the breath he'd been holding. "Alright everyone, welcome to the Mary Baldwin.  She doesn't look like much, and she isn't a passenger liner, but she'll get us to our destination quickly."  The NCO started as he entered the airlock. "Just in case you have to reminded sirs and ma'ams, this is my ship and I'm the Captain, so what I say, goes.
That can change when we reach our final destination.  I'll have my crew show you to your quarters, and what the hell is going on!"

Lau's face went into a state of shock upon exiting the loading dock as he saw Bessir and Cheung grappling onto Knox in what looked like an attempt to restrain their teammate. The three stopped and the hard breathing Cheung was the first to recover despite being in a head lock. She smiled as she replied sheepishly. "Uh, hey there Chief, weeerrre we expecting guests?"

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #8
[ Lt Kestra Pren | Passenger Loading Area | Starbase 324 ] Attn: @RyeTanker‍  @Hans Applegate‍ 

Kestra followed behind Dominic, her questions held until they could be assured privacy as it was telling to her when he did not answer her question about their detour. As they arrived at the loading area and the dock. The crew on the dock seemed an odd group, especially given that one of the crew looked as if they had just been in some kind of fight while not knowing they were taking her on as a passenger.

The Trill didn’t have much time to think about it before Lau re-asserted his dominance as the Mary Baldwin’s commanding officer. That suited Kestra just fine and it was not the first time she’d been put under the command of someone who, likely did not hold the rank of Captain.

“Shouldn’t be a problem, Captain,” she said. 

She followed the assigned crewman to gave her a quick tour of the ship and then to her quarters.  To call them spartan would be an understatement.  She set her pack and case in the corner and stretched out on the provided bunk where she stayed until the crew signaled all clear from departure and undock.  There was no point at all in getting in their way while they did their job.

Once they were clear, Kestra emerged from her quarters and made her way to find Lau.

“Thank you again for the lift, Captain,” she said to him.  “I’ve come to understand that we have a stop to make before we arrive at our final destination?”

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #9
[ PO2 Frances Lee Knox  | Bridge | Mary Baldwin | Approaching Starbase 324]  @P.C. Haring  @RyeTanker

Knox waited patiently at the bridge sitting in the helmsman seat until the captain got there. He was looking forward to finishing what had turned into a fetch-and-grab mission. Soon he would be aboard the USS Theurgy. There he would have many other solids to study and interact with. Also, a holo deck to play around with, and the possibility of going on more missions. He always loved away missions.

Knox looked up when the door to the bridge swooshed open. Dominic Lau walked onto the bridge making eye contact with Knox. "Ready to go Captain?" Knox asked his friend.

Knox tentatively reached his hand towards the control panel in front of him waiting orders, but there was a sudden beep of an incoming transmission. Knox quickly scanned it and the turned back to Lau before he had time to answer Knox's last question. "It's for you Sir. Do you want to take the message here or shall I pipe it over to your secure comm at the Captain's chair?"

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #10
[CPO Dominic Lau | Passenger Loading Area | Starbase 324] @P.C. Haring @Hans Applegate 

Chief Lau had given everyone the nickle tour of the ship.  There wasn't much to show, the passengers could congregate in the mess hall and some of the cargo bays.  A few were completely off limits, and if for whatever reason they tried to break in, the 'Captain' promised a swift response  followed by and equally swift incarceration.  Since the whole endeavor was being handled clandestinely, they may or may not make it out of holding.

At the notice that there was a message for him, Lau nodded. "I'll take it in my quarters. Klaudia, Knox, get everyone settled in.  Bessir, get us pre-flighted and ready to depart."  He tossed the hybrid an isolinear chip with their clearance which the sniper lazily caught, gave a quick visual examination, then lazily saluted with before heading back to the cockpit.  Lau nodded to everyone then slid down a ladder and made his way back to his room.  After locking the hatch, the Chief brought up the message and went through the biometric authentication process.  The computer considered the code, voice, and DNA print for a moment, then brought up the message.

The voice was distorted and there was only a Starfleet Command crest.  Given the message headers, the team's new handler was going to some length to make sure his identity was concealed. "Chief, first off, well done for getting out of Romulan space.  Your casualties' families will be looked after and notified.  You're not to contact them in the future.  I know it's hard, but those are the missions needs."  There was a brief pause as the next section was being brought up. "There's been a  change of plans. The message has coordinates for a Romulan Weapons involved in Thalaron research."  The Chief's mind spun at that one as he stared stone faced at the screen. "We don't have any information about the site, but it got flagged for priority investigation after the Warspite's raid.  We have reason to believe that a crew from the Theurgy will also be in the area. Your orders are to enter the facility, grab whatever information you can, prototypes if possible, and destroy the installation. Given the nature of the facility, you are authorized to use extreme prejudice for the mission."  The Chief's eyebrows rose at being told he was being given a Licence to Kill. "Report back your findings after the mission is over and bring your team and passengers up to speed on the mission details.  Good luck."

The terminal screen switched to a summary of what little information was available, and the Chief steepled his fingers under his nose as he quickly absorbed it.  When he sat back, he spent a few moment committing himself by tapping on the table, then punched the comm to the cockpit. "Bessir, we have a destination change.  Sending them over now.  Let me know when we go to warp and I'll call everyone for briefing. A pause to take in the details "Got it Chief.  We'll be cleared for warp in thirty minutes."  The Chief acknowledged this before killing the link and preparing in his head the briefing he was going to give on this rather significant detour.

Shout out to @Ellen Fitz for background

Re: C01: S [D01|[0940] - Shipping Out

Reply #11
[ Lt Kestra Pren | U.S.S. Mary Baldwin ] Attn: @RyeTanker‍  @Hans Applegate‍ 

Kestra had known there might be a detour on her way to the final destination.  Captain Lau had alluded to the same when he picked her up on starbase, but she had not expected they would be hitting a Romulan weapons research station.  Given her history, she had been briefed on Romulan Thaloron technology and how it had almost destroyed the Enterprise-E.  But she hadn’t truly expected she’d ever come face to face with the technology.

Quietly, she stood in the corner of the room while Lau briefed her and the crew on the details of the mission, Kestra let out a quiet sigh.  What she wouldn’t do for her war time Rapid Response Unit.  If she had that team still at her disposal, they could have made mince meat out of the facility and no one would have been the wiser.  But that would never happen.  From her own fire team, Amado was a Captain now, Galbraith was dead, and Labonne had resigned the service after the death of her father.  The rest of her unit had been long since re-assigned and scattered.  At least officially.

She suspected the RRU still operated in secret, especially given the endorsement she had received from Admiral Anderson.  But in this moment, at this place, that was neither here nor there.  She could only work with what she had available to her, and she had technically been placed under Lau’s command for the duration of this trip.

Kestra listened as Lau finished up, asked what she needed to ask, and returned quickly to her quearters when he dismissed the meeting.  Even though they were still eight hours out, Pren found herself already falling into her familiar habits. 

The duffel came out of the closed where she had stowed it and she began unpacking.  The personal items she had brought with her, as well as the things she had specifically set aside for when she finally met Lt. Suder were grouped together, along with the isolenear chip that stored the replicator patterns for her wardrobe.

At the bottom of the large duffel lay what she sought. 

It had been difficult for her to properly pack her tactical vest.  Common sense told her to store it in the replicator files she brought with her, but superstition had won out.  That vest was hers.  It had seen her through the war, through her special assignments, and to put it into the replicator for storage felt like destroying it.  Even though the wear and tear the vest had seen would be preserved, it just didn’t seem right.  At some point, she knew she would have to retire the vest.  It simply would reach it’s end.  But even then she would not discard it as it had been with her since AR-558.

Setting the vest on her bed, she turned back to her bag and pulled out the lock box that contained her phasers.  The type two holstered onto her belt, and she snapped the type one around her ankle.  The combat knife she left on the bed next to the vest.

Finally, she realized, that she needed to have Lau assign her a rifle.  Early and premature, yes.  But she would need time to disassemble it, check it, and adjust it to her preferences.

Perhaps a bit much, all things considered, but this, was who she was.  Years ago she had shipped out to the Dominion front.  Today she was shipping out to the USS Theurgy by way of a Romulan weapons research lab.  Yet no matter the assignment, the old war soldier that was Kestra Pren could not, would not, let go of her rituals. 

After all, as they had served her so well in the past, and given the chaos she knew was sure to come, why should she?


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