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Topic: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1 (Read 365 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • Swift
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CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1

STARDATE 57649.87
APRIL 16, 2381
1700 HRS

[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan @stardust @GroundPetrel

With face lowered and arms crossed in apparent introspective thought, the Chief Intelligence Officer of the USS Theurgy stood silently outside of the doorway that led into the chamber outside of Dr. Lucan Nicander's somewhat permanent residence of the brig. This interview had originally been scheduled for another day, but given the events that had unfolded earlier, it demanded being pushed up to now. There were answers to questions that he needed, and there simply was no further room for delay or stalling in getting them. This war was already unfolding in devastating ways that he'd not imagined, and he made no mistake about it, this was a war. Not a contrived war like the one between the Romulans and Starfleet that was now about to erupt, but a war between the sentient peoples of the Galaxy and an enigma that would see them all annihilated.

Unfolding an arm as he leant back against the wall, he checked the time on the PADD he'd brought. It read 1657 hrs. Any minute now the other members of this pending interview would arrive.

For the monumental part she'd played in digging through the mountain of shit that Fisher had thrown at her in the form of personnel dossiers, reports, and innocuous files, he'd made sure that Lieutenant Dantius was invited. Her value as an analyst was to be of paramount importance in deciphering whatever information the imprisoned Câroon would offer them. If anyone could make better sense of a wider picture, it was going to be her. Afterall, she'd already returned to him a number of promising leads he was intent on exploring as part of his campaign of disruption against the support structures surrounding those high-ranking Starfleet officials that had been infested. A campaign that had now become an even greater necessity, as time was a factor they had little of, and needed desperately.

His Diplomatic counterpart, Lieutenant Commander Rutherford would make up the third part of their little trio. Fisher had serious doubts as to the viability of any kind of peace being brokered between the sentient peoples of the Galaxy and the enigmatic presence known only as the Nameless Darkness. For his part, he could only see containing this great evil behind some kind of a barrier. A prison to keep the Nameless Darkness cut off from every other plane of existence for the rest of eternity. The idea had been posed by Commander Martin in a previous interview with Dr. Nicander and seemed like the only option that could potentially solve the crisis in a permanent manner. At least, other than seeking out a means to annihilate them in their entirety first. That means waved in the face of every notion of what it meant to be a Starfleet Officer, and though he and the others were dealing with feelings of rage and a desire for vengeance in the wake of the destruction wrought in Paris, he knew he couldn't damn an entire species to extinction, regardless of how much a threat they posed to the Galaxy.

To deny existence to another sentient species was utterly soul damning, and he couldn't condone it unless it would cost only the bare minimum in that regard. In his mind that meant himself, but he also understood that when the time came, the decision would likely rest with Ives.

He'd not envied him in that responsibility.

As he lowered the PADD to his side, he felt the still lingering stinging of fresh wounds and abrasions on his knuckles. His fury having exploded out of him just minutes earlier in his personal quarters, costing Theurgy one-bathroom mirror.  In a sense, the slight tingling pain was a welcome distraction from everything going on around him. The ship was in a state of absolute haste, as crew were moving about in an effort to get the Theurgy ready to move. Martok and his delegation had also made somewhat of a mess after they had come aboard, though aside from a minor note in a ship wide update from Commander Ducote, he'd not read much into it yet. There had also been the issue of the Orion Syndicate having attempted to sneak a damned spy aboard, to no doubt feed information about Theurgy back for sale to the highest bidder. Were it not for the dutiful assistance of Ensign Avirim and Theurgy's Orion informant, Y'Lev, it was entirely likely that the spy would've been stowed aboard for the remainder of their mission.

Shaking his head, Fisher dismissed the distractions from his mind, and tried to focus on the line of questioning he'd prepared for another ofTheurgy's informants.

A brief moment later, he watched as his compatriots arrived together through the outer doors of the Security Center. Dantius had already impressed him in how she'd handled herself during their initial meeting, reciprocating his own intense confidence and determination in turning the tide. She hadn't been afraid to assert herself, and that spoke volumes in his book. He didn't need yes people, he needed someone who wasn't afraid to challenge him if need be, and he was willing to bet that was her. Rutherford on the other hand, he hadn't yet gotten to know on a professional working level, but he had begun to know her on a deeper personal standing, that even now stirred some strong sentiments in him, which in turn forced him to stifle them outright in order to maintain focus.

Pushing off of the wall where he'd been leant, he nodded to them both, then turned so as to face the outer-most door that led into the antechamber of Nicander's holding cell. From the corner of his eye, he thought for a moment that he caught sight of an odd man with one leg and a cane, lingering after Sam, but didn't think to examine it.

He'd already cleared everything with the Security personnel posted on overwatch duty of the prisoner, ensuring that all measures had been taken in order to ensure the safety of himself, and more specifically the others. From what he'd read in the reports, Nicander's loyalty to Theurgy was promising, but the veteran spy in him didn't trust most people, let alone someone who played harbor to one of the enemies that sought to destroy them, and who had been an unwilling participant in their plans until very recently. He was willing to give the Câroon a certain level of benefit, but only to an extent. That much would have been eminently clear to him as the forcefield to his cell was polarized from the interior with reflective photons, making it impossible for him to have seen beyond it.

There was risk to revealing their faces to the man, as their identities likely hadn't yet been associated with Theurgy. If the Nameless Darkness could indeed see through his eyes, then there was a chance, however small, that they would be compromised.

"The man in there was once a colleague. He still wears our uniform and were it not for the Parasites that dominated his mind, would likely have remained in good standing in Starfleet. Whatever reservations or personal concerns we have in that regard we will hold onto for later consideration. We will treat him with the respect he is due, in addition to respecting him as an informant ready to grant us vital information that can be used against the enemies that would seek to undo us. Understood?" his words clarified how he intended to proceed.

Touching the LCARS console adjacent to the door, it opened and the Security personnel within the antechamber turned to face Fisher and the others as they moved in together. Through the one-way forcefield he could see the exhausted former Chief Medical Officer resting within his cell, no doubt having been drained by his use of the 'farsight' with Ives earlier in the day. According to reports, the process took a lot out of the man and in fact had posed a severe danger to his well-being. That fact hadn't been lost on other members of the Senior-Staff that had interviewed him, and Fisher made mental note that it wouldn't be lost on him either. Other Intelligence Leads were often too ready to resort to dangerous and harmful procedures in order to ascertain information from an asset without considering the deeper consequences of those measures. It also wasn't lost on Fisher, that Nicander was a victim of this great evil, just as the other infested in Starfleet were.

"Doctor Nicander." he'd opted against modulation, as opposed to the polarized forcefield meant to protect their faces, it seemed unnecessary to obscure the sound of their voices. Besides, any kind of harmonic modulation might have altered the tone or emphasis of their words in a way that they didn't intend.

"I am the Chief Intelligence Officer aboard Theurgy. With me is my Senior Intelligence Analyst, and the Theurgy's Chief Diplomatic Officer. I'm afraid I must refrain from granting you our names, as we must maintain the secrecy of our ties to this ship." At least, for now he thought to himself. "I'm sure you understand the need for precautions." He was granting the man an early semblance of respect, as Fisher truthfully felt a sense of it toward him. Were it not for his own research and attempts at removing the parasite from himself, Theurgy would likely still be back at square one in terms of developing an effective deterrence. "I apologize for having pushed this scheduled meeting up, but given the events of this morning, I believe you can understand the reasons behind that decision."

Taking a step closer to the forcefield, he attempted to garner an appraisal of the man before him. It was one thing to read someone's personal file, but it was another to see them in the flesh before your eyes, and make an assessment based off of that. Unlike telepaths, he didn't have a cheat code that granted him immediate in depth understanding of those around him, though that'd clearly been a useless trick when it came to this Câroon. No, Fisher had to rely on his intuition, and his training as an Intelligence Operative.

"We have a series of questions to ask of you, but I promise they will not be of the kind that you've previously heard once, or even twice before." he recalled how annoyed the Doctor had been at being asked the same questions in subsequent interviews, when reports had existed that could have been read in advance. It was his intention to get across the fact that he'd indeed reviewed said files, as well as start off with an ounce of levity.

Lingering in his mind was the thought that Nicander's answers would play a drastic role in Theugy's immediate future, and that there was no room for mistakes by him or the others.
  • Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 11:58:48 AM by Swift
Writer of [ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #1
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @stardust @GroundPetrel  
In the wake of seeing the citizens of Paris collectively fall victim to the enemy, as witnessed through the eyes of a host who could be no other than the Praetor of the Star Empire, Doctor Nicander had rested on his bunk - hating how right he'd been.

By the winds, since I failed to stop Acreth, it seems like this cycle will be just like the rest, only without the Borg... he thought pinching his nose where he laid. His eyes still hurt a bit from the transphasic light blast, but it had effectively done what it should. The parasite was still there, coiling in the abyss of his mind, but the whispers were faint once more. Whatever impulses or inclinations might spring out of the dark, he was in control again. His torso still bare, he felt how his skin was still tender, as if sunburnt, and he really didn't care for getting a tan in quite such a fashion. He'd been unconscious for a full hour, but he'd been right there before then, as a spectator, hearing himself address Captain Ives. Feeling the searing agony of the impact with the forcefield. Then, the cannon mounted outside had fired... and then nothing.

Worst of it all was how him being a spectator was that it was a partial experience, for he also experienced himself possessed by the parasite, and knowing what it knew. It had been too brief, the connection lost before he could gather much of anything. Yet he felt how he'd been confident in his claims about more cities falling. This splinter reality of being an Infested, in both being the enemy and fighting it, was - admittedly - getting to him. He hoped Commander Kaeris would find a way to isolate the thing inside, and separate them with a secondary containment beam. It would put an end to it, his services no longer needed... but he had agreed to Stark that he would protect the ship and crew with this 'farsight' ability - as the moniker had become. If he could, he would fulfil his duty as a Starfleet officer.

In fact, it was quite a welcome feeling for a change, that he had actually contributed. Even if it was merely the identity of another Host, and not the tactical advantage of a hostile ship's shield harmonics. I truly don't care about the reward for my labour, however... he thought and glanced towards the cannon mounted outside his cell.

Only he saw his reflection instead, as if the forcefield had become a solid wall with a mirror. Frowning, he sat up on his bunk, slowly, and stood up - barefeet and in his uniform trousers. That was when the voice came through the wall, addressing him. An unknown speaker, though he introduced himself quickly enough.

"Quite prudent indeed," he commented in his faded Câroon accent, and lifted his tattooed hand to run it through his unkempt hair. He turned his pale grey eyes away from the mirror, since there was no use looking at it anyway. He began to slowly pace his cell, collecting his wits about himself while he listened.

"Yes, I had a feeling that given the development, we need to know more," he said and picked up a stand-alone PADD from his small table, his artificial hand holding it up while he accessed his personal notes - few as they were since he'd been too drained to truly delve into what had been gleaned. The surprise he felt at the comment about new questions, however, made him glance back at the mirror.

"Oh? My gratitude," he commented and replaced the PADD from where he'd taken it. "Though I suppose me regurgitating what I know endlessly is a small price to pay in this mission of ours, vexing as it might be. Then again, I would assume information has actually begun to flow as it should between the departments at this rate. It's been over a month, so people should have begun to familiarise themselves with each other, new as many are. In that particular sense, I can confirm that I don't know your voice, so your identity remain unknown. Thus, this would be true both for me and... well..."

He gestured towards his abdomen, the right side of which still had a subtle seam from where the Devoted's phaser had nearly cleaved him in two. He didn't let himself be distracted by the curiosity about whom had come to fill the two vacant seats of the Senior Staff, since he didn't even know what had happened in the chain of command after they'd escaped through the second aperture. He knew of his own successor, Hathev, Stark and a couple more, but he hardly had the whole picture.

"I might be a Doctor, not a fortune teller, but I am ready for your questions," he said, at last, and loosely folded his mismatched hands behind his back.
  • Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 05:00:30 PM by Auctor Lucan

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #2
Lt. JG Dantius Thi Anh-Le | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy  Attn: @Auctor Lucan @stardust  @Swift

Anh-Le held a bag of ice to her throbbing eye; getting into a fight with Klingons earlier had been a rather painful mistake.  Personally, she worried that the security measures would make it more difficult to get Nicander to connect emotionally during interrogation, but she recognized the need for strict operational security after the last few months of insane crap the Theurgy had been through. 

"Dr. Nicander, I'm an intelligence analyst working for Com--our intelligence chief."  The near-slip was deliberate.  When manipulating someone, it was better to seem normal so as to lower their guard.  "I know you've had...well, a 'rough time' is an understatement bordering on insulting.  I won't waste your time with flowery descriptions of how I feel your pain, because I can't, or how horrible your situation must be, because you know that better than I ever could.  We have no intention of hurting you, even the exploratory vivisection option is off the table unless we get your explicit informed consent.  So, my superior has some questions pertinent to the immediate strategic and operational situation, while I have..."  She chuckled ruefully.  "Quite frankly, I want to know everything about these parasites, but I'll settle for anything and everything you know, no matter how seemingly inconsequential.

Anh-Le licked her lips.  Here was the big one.  "I want to find a way for us to negotiate with these people, Dr. Nicander.  I want to know how they think, what they want,  why they think the way they do, if they can be trusted to deal in good faith, all of it.  The way I see it, there are two options; finding a way to negotiate, thereby eventually reaching an equitable peace, or bombing the shit out of them until they can never threaten anybody ever again, and then helping them rebuild the ashes.  I think we'd all prefer to avoid the latter, obviously.
OOC: Anh-Le would much rather do this in person, form a personal connection to help Dr. Nicander open up to her, but obviously that may not be a practical option.  :)
Really enjoying writing a halfway stable character for once...

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #3
[ Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @Auctor Lucan @GroundPetrel ( @Masorin )

This day was slowly shaping up to be the most stressful, Samantha had, since arriving on the Theurgy, and it was probably a pretty good reminder of what the entire mission must've been like, for everyone who had been a part of the crew, from the beginning. Now, she understood, why so many people she'd met were on their last legs, emotionally, and some of them also physically. It had been a crazy succession of meetings, interventions, research, rescue missions, fights and then some. It was now only 6 hours, since the news of the Paris attack had reached them, but it felt like a week. Speaking of the dreadful news ... the notion was only playing out in the far back off the diplomat's mind. It was a horrendous tragedy that she could not qualify in any capacity, but it was, in that regard, only anonymously so. She had thought about her grandparents back in Paris only briefly on the bridge, not knowing how extensive the blast was, but duty and her Vulcan professionalism had quickly taken over. A sentiment that had filled the minutes and hours ever since. Ironically the teachings of her grandfather.

Making her way up to Deck 07, alongside Lieutenant Dantius, who had so heroically fended for herself in the brawl with the Klingons just then, the other officer had not so successfully tried to negotiate a peace. Well, to be fair, she had come to Below Decks to prevent a diplomatic incident between Hi'Jak, aka Jack, and Chancellor Martok, whose only son the former had nixed. And given that Jack was still upright, following the two of them in his pitiful limp, she had been somewhat successful after all. He could still walk, couldn't he, albeit not well. No words were exchanged for the duration of their turbolift ride and subsequent small walk. Too much was going on in the blonde's mind. She had hoped she'd get her meeting with Dr. Nicander in due time. But things had been accelerated, through recent incidents, and her appointment had now been consolidated with the intelligence team. Which was fine. If anyone could get answers out of anyone, it was them. She had her certain approach and it worked a lot of times, but not always. Maybe Intelligence could fill this gap, or she theirs.

Samantha gave the Orion woman with the ice-pack an empathetic, if not apologetic smile, as she beckoned for her to pass through the security center's outer doors into the foyer first. Following suit immediately the diplomat was then tailed by Jack, which was a bit awkward. Was she supposed to tell him to wait out here and not to chew on anything? He obviously had nowhere else to go or be and since she'd practically demanded he stay away from the Klingons, this was as good a place as any. Giving Fisher a thoughtful nod she first had to deal with this, and thus let herself fall behind a bit. Turning to face Jack she took a deep breath. "This might take a while, just ... sit down here, read something." She took a look around, not sure what else to advise him. "If you need to go to the toilet, ask the lady over there." She pointed at the front desk and then gave the ensign a loaded look, hoping the woman understood that the man was not to leave the premises unsupervised.

Giving him one final nod and a prodding side-glance to the row of chairs, the officer pulled at the waistband of her uniform jacket to even out the shoulders, before turning again and slipping into the observation room, off Nicander's cell, behind Fisher and Dantius. The door closed behind them and they were left in considerable darkness, almost only illuminated by the lights in the man's cell. Why was he never wearing a shirt? In all the intel she'd skimmed through, on the interrogations and tests, he'd been shirtless in almost all of them, she felt like. "Someone should adjust the heating." she muttered under her breath, before Andrew started his introductions, giving Anh-Le a look behind the man's back. It didn't really matter whether the others thought she was getting hot, by the view, or the man, by his simplistic clothing choice.

But yes, the Chief Intelligence Officer, that was an entirely different story. It was curious that she seemed to share a personal connection of some sort with any of the people in this room. Well, the security guards in full body armor, and the doctor in almost nothing, aside. Even though she had seen Andrew last this morning, on the bridge, they had had a more meaningful and deeper encounter, days prior, in the lounge. The fact that she hadn't seen him since that night could've potentially meant he'd finally gotten to a persistent sleep schedule, or changed his hours so crazily that they no longer overlapped with hers. And it was just as her blue eyes skimmed his posture that the perceptive woman noticed his bruised knuckles. Had everyone but her been in a fight?! Looking back up at the side profile of his face sternly, the blonde was only distracted by her being mentioned last, in this little summary of attendants. And the fact that such a subtle discrepancy, to a diplomatic protocol for example, made her spider senses tickle, was saying a lot. This was an intelligence operation.

Shaking her head lightly, blonde curls waving in the gentle notion, Samantha composed herself and looked ahead through the one-way mirror. Nicander seemed exhausted, but not only physically. She could only imagine what it must've been like to cohabitate in your own body. And not in an enriching, cool, Trill way. She had to agree with Fisher though, the poor man had been through enough without having to repeat himself to every dyslexic newb. "How are you feeling, Mister Nicander?" she asked firstly, to break the proverbial ice of good manners. But not without using it as a segue to a more loaded agenda. "Can you ascertain how your - visitor - is feeling?" Maybe it was a curious question, but it held all the potential for the correct, revealing answers. Did these parasites even feel anything and if so, what and to which extent? If only this very specific one. As with most parasites they, to an extent, also adopted mannerisms of the host. It wasn't ever an entirely one sided connection ... not so far. Which was why they had to play this whole smoke and literal mirrors game in the first place! It was always easier to feed into emotions, than logic, or the absence of both.

Clasping her hands together behind her back the Commander's view slowly shifted over to where Anh-Le stood on the other side of Fisher, as she started to speak. Not wanting to waste time on expressions of sympathy was a good start, and probably not a dig. But was the subsequent 'beating around the bush' an intelligence technique? She had to admit she felt a bit dumbfounded, as a rather wide net was cast. And then suddenly negotiation was on the table. BY INTELLIGENCE! Taking a deep breath, closing her eyes the second time tonight, to collect herself, the officer contemplated for a moment to just watch and let this play out.

But given that time was on everyone's mind, and in her opinion, there was no brief way to answer any of this, she leaned over to Anh-Le and whispered. "Maybe there is a way to ask a more concise question? Or ... an actual question?" Samantha didn't intend to be rude; she had actually acquired a good deal of respect for the woman in a very short amount of time, what holding her own was concerned. Also, she wasn't HER subordinate. The only power she held over her was of sheer rank, and she didn't feel the need to play that one. At this point it was obviously too late to hold back the few details that had been provided already and the diplomat only hoped this would stay between the four of them and not seep into the dark void occupying a sizeable part of Dr. Nicander.

OOC: I do must apologise for Samantha switching to a considerably ruder manner in her professional dealings, which may not be entirely justified /;-D this shall not reflect how I feel about anyone in this thread (L) I love you all
  • Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 07:33:14 PM by stardust

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #4
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan @stardust @GroundPetrel

In a way, Doctor Nicander's 'farsight' made him exactly what he amusingly claimed not to be. A fortune teller. The ability to peer through the eyes of another, seeing what they could see, and relaying that information for others to digest and make use of could very directly play into their fortunes. Good or bad depended on how they acted in regard to that information when they got it. Though to the Chief Intelligence Officer, any information at all would have been taken as a sign of good fortune, because it would give him leads to explore. Leads he desperately needed more of, if he was going to meet the goal of delaying this seemingly inevitable war that was about to unfold. If they could bide for time, then maybe those with more capability of finding a more permanent solution could do just that.

Turning his head ever so slightly as the other Commander spoke, asking of the Doctor's health, he took stock of and understood the importance of the inquiry. Though there might have been an ounce of genuine concern for his health in her consideration, he wagered that the Doctor meant the same to her, as he did to him; he was an asset. Arguably the most important asset they had, but an asset all the same. It was cruel to think of another sentient being in such a manner, and even might have been hypocritical given the uniform they wore, but it was also a necessity of their respective positions and titles. Intelligence operations and to a lesser extent Diplomatic corps often didn't have the full luxury of keeping the simpler humanitarian aspects of the Federation mission on their mind at all times. They had to sometimes think in more pragmatic ways, taking stock of the resources they had, and could or couldn't afford to lose.

In this case, the Câroon fell into the latter category.

The same could even have also been true of the extra-dimensional creature inhabiting his body. For as much as Fisher had already come to dislike, and even despise the creatures of the Nameless Darkness, its connection to the greater whole of the conspiracy, and the ability it afforded the Doctor made it just as valuable toward the purposes of their mission.

As his Junior Lieutenant spoke up next, a gambit of sorts played in her near slip of his rank as she introduced herself, he listened to the questions she added in follow-up of the Diplomatic Chief's own. He appreciated her approach at disarming the Doctor, by making it clear that she wouldn't claim to understand the pain he felt when using his 'gift', and that she made an opening concession as the vivisection of him had been removed from the table. It was a simpler approach in gaining a sense of trust between the Doctor and them, and though he wondered how necessary it might have been to re-establish that trust, as from the reports he'd read there'd already been a relatively strong record of that, he still understood where she was coming at this from. Like him, she hadn't known the Doctor prior to the revelation of his infected status, when he'd still been an active member of the crew. Whatever trust had been made since then, hadn't necessarily been made on their behalf as of yet.

However, when the Analysts approach took a turn, he felt an ounce of apprehension creep up as she began to openly ponder things that might have been best left for a personal discussion between them. The Diplomatic Officer had clearly felt in similar fashion, as she attempted to redirect the conversation before it started off in the wrong direction.

At the same time, Fisher felt it necessary to re-clarify another aspect before things moved forward.

"Doctor Nicander. Make no mistake, we understand the vicious simplicity of the goals of this 'Nameless Darkness'. It's malice toward, and desire to annihilate all sentient life. It's being and nature, as you so eloquently put it; as a nexus of crisis, an interstellar, gaping maw of atrophy, aimed at consuming everything." He read the direct quote from his PADD as he brought it to bear, then lowered it again as he continued. "And the events of today speak to that ultimate destructiveness." Though he could understand the peaceful desires of his Diplomatic counter-part and the Orion Lieutenant, the fact remained with him, that at every turn their enemy had promised only death. Compassion, or reason hadn't been concepts that it had even remotely entertained, and he was under no illusions as to the contrary. As far as he was concerned, whether or not there could be a negotiated peace was not an avenue he was interested in exploring in this immediate moment. In fact, the idea had been proposed several times prior, and had been met with the same outright dismissal on each occasion.

Granted, he still recognized the possibility that those testaments didn't entirely preclude some kind of brokering, especially if they held all the cards, but as of now they had few if any. He also couldn't fault his counterpart if she decided to press on the issue, and gauge what if any cards they did indeed hold.

"Whether or not these things would back down if faced with their own annihilation..." he let a pause in the middle of his statement speak to the threat being imposed, not meant to be directed toward Nicander, but as a statement as to where he felt things might lead, though there was an obvious distaste toward the concept of genocide in his tone. " not of my immediate concern. Though that may be something to discuss sooner, rather than later. However, what I am here to obtain right now, is additional information that may be of immediate value to us. Understandably, I cannot reveal where we are in terms of the counter-measures you pioneered in your efforts to remove the infection of your body, but I can simply admit that we still need more time." Therein was the pragmatic essence of his approach to this interview. As he and the Captain had discussed during his initial briefing; science and medical were hard at work in an attempt to unlock a means to safely remove the parasites from their hosts, but as of yet that breakthrough hadn't come. And any kind of leverage they could hold over their enemy depended on those breakthroughs.

Intelligence gathering often meant understanding how the roads ahead curved, how best to navigate them, and which ones led to the best outcomes. It meant giving whoever was driving the best understanding of the situation, so that they could steer in the right direction.

Crossing his arms over his chest as his gaze went to examine the Doctor's face, he then resumed. "I need to know if there were any other details that you picked up on in your most recent use of the 'farsight'. Anything that might tell us what steps to take. What city will fall next?" He thought of and referenced the promise made through Nicander when Ives had spoken with him earlier that day. He doubted that the Doctor would know the specifics, if he knew anything at all, but maybe together they could sort through whatever details he remembered and paint a picture that resembled a road map they could follow.

He hoped there was something that lingered on in his memory, because if there wasn't, then Fisher was already regretting the ask he'd be forced to make of him.

OOC: So, as I reviewed this I realized Fisher closed shut the door on other avenues of exploration a little harder than I intended, so I've since made a minor edit of his dialogue, so as to leave that door open just a smidge. Apologies. ;)
  • Last Edit: June 27, 2020, 02:55:03 PM by Swift
Writer of [ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #5
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @stardust @GroundPetrel 
The analyst present beyond the mirror seemed - at first - to make a broad enquiry about things he'd already explained countless times already, going entirely against the grain of what the new Chief Intelligence Officer had guaranteed in how no questions would be repeated. But, it had been no question at all, but rather a statement about what her general intentions were, and that was something she shared with a lot of the officers aboard, not limited to Intelligence. As an analyst, however, proclaiming what her main task for the hearing was did make sense. Lucan merely inclined his head.

"I have shared all I know in the hearings so far, barring mere speculations of mine, which can neither be proven scientifically nor be something you should vest your time towards. Besides all that you can find in the reports, I have one recent observation that I would like to add, and it's from the time when Commander Kaeris asked for my help to narrow down the phase variance in which the parasites existed in flux with our reality." Bespeaking the event made him remember the sound. The screech from beyond. He frowned. "The sound... it made as it was almost brought into our presence, louder in my head than it has ever been before, it suggests, that even if the thing is a mere extension of the chaos plane, it might have a level of individual understanding of it's own mortality. Not the darkness itself, but this thing inside me specifically. It seemed to me that it understood - on some level - that it was about to fuse with the biological matter of my body. So, this is important in this specific regard: Was it a lie when it claimed the parasites in the Hosts - the skin-puppets, as they call them - are not individual entities?"

Spreading his mismatched hands, he offered what little he could supply in his speculations. "Were they once creatures in their own right, used for this purpose? Did they become some manner of focal points through which the nameless darkness spreads its domain? Are they bred, these things, for the purpose of being passed to hosts? Are they artificially created? I have merely experienced possession, and not witnessed the origin; how the parasites become manifest." Sighing, he rubbed his forehead with his tattooed hand. "Reduced as the influence of the darkness is over me now, I don't have access to any knowledge lest I use my connection to it. I merely possess the memories I have up until this point, of what I have glimpsed this far."

The third voice, the new CDO he assumed, had asked how he was faring and it made him smile a little. "Thank you for asking, I try to stay as healthy as I can whilst inside here, exercising as much as I might when I am not trying to just pass the time or do research with whatever data I am allowed access to." His smile faded a bit, however, when it came to the naive query about the well-being of the beast inside him. His tone shifted, becoming foreboding. "I don't think you would like to know about its state-of-mind, however. Its not for those faint of heart or weak of stomach... and I truly don't care to delve into its desires. Much less bespeak them."

For oh, there were vivid imagery and urges there, coiling in his soul. Clawing at the bulkheads with bloodied fingers and loud laughter. Imagining the voices raised to cries of pain and pleasure. Rending of flesh. Twisting of limbs. Splitting of bone. Sodomy of corpses and desecration of skulls. Breaking exosuits like eggs, eating the red yolk inside.

The Chief Intelligence Officer, however, had directed the inquiry towards whatever he might have gleaned earlier, when he espied the Romulan council chamber through the eyes of the host. Of course there were other things in the background, and he had merely been able to notice so much in the brief time he'd stared into the abyss. He stepped back towards the PADD and picked it up, and he struggled a bit with finding the words to describe what he'd seen. Visual impressions were seldom given justice in mere words, and much less so when seen through a murky lens.

"I got the distinct impression that the promise of more attacks was very real," he offered to begin with while he sorted out the memories and the notes he'd made. "The implications towards more targets were plain. Time was brief, however, and I cannot guarantee the order in which things will occur, but the most vivid image I have is that of someone walking down a corridor, and looks through some kind of visor. As if he - or she - is wearing a helmet... and then..."

The next image in his head is troubling, because he couldn't be sure it was the same Host, but it had to be, didn't it? The same impression remained, looking through a visor, and if that was the case, the figure he saw next was a definitive lead. "I believe I saw a Breen, facing the host. They were familiar with each other... so that means I saw through the eyes of another Breen host. Outside the corridor, through the window, I could see a city I've never seen before. We were high up, hundreds of yards from to the ground, so the building was large. I may not have seen any device that might have been another bomb, but when the thing inside me promised more attacks... that Breen... it was as if that specific host jumped to the forefront of my mind."

Lucan hated speaking uncertainties, and trying to make sense of the nonsensical. How do you retell a dream well enough for someone else to understand what you experienced? It's impossible.

It did spring a question best directed to the present officers.

"If there is an attack in Breen space, what would that mean in terms of seeding this promised war?" he asked, since he was but a Doctor in the end.

  • stardust
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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #6
[ Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @Auctor Lucan @GroundPetrel

As expected, the reply to Anh-Le's query didn't yield much in the sense of veritable answers. None new at least. But then, the Doctor volunteered an added shred of information, that struck Samantha as quite curious. A tangent she had herself explored in her mind, prior to this meeting. Did the parasites feel anything, were they aware of the danger this level of reality could pose, and could they be, well scared. "Poetic semantics aside, the fact that they seem to be aware - and scared - about their own potential mortality, whether as an individual or a whole, is certainly already something to go on. Thank you for that." She appraised the man's elaborations, as helpful as they were.

Sure, her inquiriy into the man's wellbeing had been a means to level the playing field and establish an air of their care, but it had also been a mere steppingstone to a more pressing question. One that conincidentally played right into what he had revealed just second ago. Still he chose not to elaborate. Putting forth her own emotional wellbeing, as an excuse, before also admitting his own was of concern too. Recomposing herself, the diplomat tried to subdue the urge of her Vulcan side to assert logic in a way that might've come across ruder and colder than necessary. Brushing her plump lips together, the struggle was real, and obvious, as her blue eyes temporarily searched the floor for tranquility and inner peace, before looking up again with an icy determination.

"With all due respect, doctor, it is up to us to determine which questions would be, or could be, too disturbing for you to delve into. I don't think we'll get anywhere in this questioning, or this conflict for that matter, trying to skirt around the assumed sensibilities of each other." she told him, straight forward, stern, unwavering in her determination, that there was nothing he could tell her, that would shock her. A foolish assumption, perhaps, but one she was willing to risk, as an officer of Starfleet, with a sworn oath to serve and protect its ideals. "So I would like to reiterate: How is the parasite feeling about the current situation?" For if it could potentially feel fear, it was instrumental to know what else. How far did these feelings expand to. Was it only logical that maybe their emotions were a part of their exposure to this level of reality? Did they somehow become real living things here? With all advantages and shortcomings?

The conversation thus moved on to the answers on Andrew's questions, ones that had been so impeccably constructed that the reply seemed the most fruitful. It was the most imminent threat, for sure, that the Chief Intelligence Officer concerned himself with. Samantha had noticed that it was his thing, to address the more immediate threats first, whereas she sometimes, or all the time, glossed over the little things to focus on the grander plan. But the question posed WAS her area of expertise, after all. She furrowed a brow at the mention of the Breen, it made her heart burn with a long lost passion. The last time she'd seen one was at the signing of the peace treaty with the Dominion, whom they had collaborated with.

"The Breen?" she recited, even though the reply had been directed at Drew, and not even really as a question back, more as a testament to her disbelief. There were many species who wore helmets. But as he definitely identified another, there was no denying it, it seemed. "The Breen have been under close surveillance since the war, there is no way they could've rebuilt their forces to a level that would pose a retaliatory threat to the Federation without us knowing." The diplomat thought about her experiences with the race for a second, giving a side glance to Fisher, for that kind of intel was more his arena. "Also they don't usually wear their helmets, when only among themselves, in their own territory. So, I don't think we're looking at the attacked, but the attacker. But they don't have Thalaron technology and could not explain away possessing it. The parasite you saw, could be trying to establish an alliance with Tal'aura and the Romulans, executing their next attack for her. Or maybe they are already working together. Any more significant details on the location you can give us? A large metropolitan center, that certainly fits the modus operandi."

Bringing one hand to her rosy lips Samantha briefly chewed on the nail of her thumb, before taking a step forward. Sometimes it was easier to recall a feeling, from a dream, rather than an image. "What about an emotion? Did they feel comfortable there? Was it far from home? Cold, hot, wet?" Not really waiting for the doctor to formulate his reply the blonde turned to Anh-Le and Fisher, the two intelligence officers, with a slightly more subdued voice. "Someone should cross reference his travel records and postings with major city centers of significance. Potentially within a realistic sphere of influence for the Breen. If Paris was anything to go by, they will choose another important place." Surely, she was only speaking out, what everyone in the room was already thinking. But how could they narrow it down? Especially in what short timeframe they surely had?

OCC: Okay, didn't want to get ahead of myself but might have a little bit :3 At any rate, someone can (or has to) still come up with them maybe exploring the source rather than the symptom = the attack, and travel to Breen space.
  • Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 04:13:42 PM by stardust

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #7
Lt. JG Dantius Thi Anh-Le | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy  Attn: @Auctor Lucan  @stardust  @Swift

Anh-Le frowned as Commander Rutherford spoke, sifting through the Doctor's revelations.  That sounds like a temporally or dimensionally displaced energy-form.  Like the Bajoran wormhole aliens, or a much less powerful Q.  Which begged the obvious question--why weren't the Q intervening yet?  They like to fuck with us, but it's always to teach us some kind of lesson that makes us better people.  Most of the Enterprise logs detailing encounters with the first-encountered Q entity were similar in broad details--the Q encountered the ship, made the senior staff deal with some arch morality play for its (his?  Did Q have or give a shit about gender?) amusement, then left them restored to their unmolested state and back on their course.  And when that Q showed up on DS9 and Captain Sisko punched him out, he, it, whatever, took it in stride according to the records. 

So then why, with some sort of extradimensional beings of uncertain biology and number attempting to--as the Doctor claimed--destroy the Federation and reduce the universe to a  primordial soup, weren't the Q intervening to protect their favorite pets (while, as Q, being incredibly patronizing about it)?  That implied a number of things, none of them good.  Unless...there's an angle we haven't seen yet, some way to solve this crisis that the Q know is there but we haven't comprehended yet.  She wasn't sure if she was happy at the idea that this could be un-fucked without the quasi-deities intervening, or pissed that the best and simplest solution she could think of was still 'beg and grovel for  the Q to un-fuck us'. 

Not that that would likely work, given the Q. 

And then there was the matter of the parasites' illogical motivations.  "Dr. Nicander, another question.  You have claimed that the parasites are motivated by some sort of ideological belief in a need, or perhaps some kind of mental or physiological compulsion, to increase the entropy of the universe.  But life by necessity increases the net entropy of the universe in order to achieve a localized reduction of entropy.  Is there any insight that you can give into their thought process?  Anything that could help us understand their psychology is useful right now.

Actually--would Captain Sisko be able to help?  Anh-Le was a creature of logic and rigid mundanity, so the idea of begging for scraps from a man who'd become an alien deity was as frustrating as the thought of being bailed out by the Q, but Captain Sisko was perhaps uniquely suited to deal with a threat from alien energy-forms. 

Anh-Le might as well ask about the possible similarities, at that.  "Also, Dr. Nicander, if you are familiar with the Bajoran wormhole aliens--how similar would you say that these parasites are to the energy-forms known as 'pah-wraiths'?"  She rapped her fingers on the back of her PADD, wishing that she had a Rubik's cube to fiddle with.  Those always helped her think. 
OOC: OK so while writing this up I realized that Q is basically a benevolent seelie-fae, who fucks with his mortal pets for his own amusement but in ways that help them out in the end.  XD
Really enjoying writing a halfway stable character for once...

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #8
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan @stardust @GroundPetrel

Fisher listened carefully as their infected prisoner explained the revelation, he'd just had in regards of the possibility that the parasites experienced some form of individuality. An individual consciousness could potentially be governed by any number of rationales, or emotions; and these creatures certainly expressed an aspect of emotionalism. If they could feel pain. If they could fear, despite their protestations of being immune to it, then they could be threatened, and maybe even be forced to the table. Still, that was all theoretical thinking, and based on the pure assumption that they would survive long enough to find a means to instill fear and pain within the parasites. However, none of those considerations would even matter in the end if they didn't soon discover a method of stalling the full-on outbreak of this war. As such, Fisher was glad to hear that Rutherford was on-board, seeming to have understood the same impetus that drove him, as her line of questioning soon shifted tone to one of a more immediate focus.

That need for focus was ever more paramount now that the Doctor had begun revealing additional details from his most recent use of the 'farsight'. He spoke of looking through a helmet of some kind, a visor even; he'd been making his way down the corridor of a building until he came upon another being, and recognized that he'd been seeing through the eyes of an infected Breen. Instantly a dreadful sense began to build in Fisher's mind, as he remembered the skillful tactics and surprising capabilities the Breen Confederacy had displayed in the waning months of the Dominion War. Their entry into that conflict had firmly tipped the balance of power in favor of the Dominion, and were it not for a series of incredibly fortunate events, the Federation and its allies would have likely fallen against such overwhelming odds. Confounding things was their evasive and relatively unknown nature, as the Breen were as secretive as the Romulans, and arguably more powerful.

Turning his back to the Doctor as he finished relaying the events that he'd witnessed; Fisher could feel a tension headache starting to settle in at his temples and felt the urge to massage a hand against his forehead. Instead he visibly checked the motion, so as not to concern the other two participants of this interview. Crossing his arms over his chest, and stepping away from the forcefield until he passed between them, he attempted to avert his gaze and hide his face from their inspection. He dared not appear rattled before an immediate subordinate, or the head of another department. But as he was starting to see the dominos laid out before him, it was becoming increasingly clear just how difficult a proposition it was going to be in order to prevent them all from toppling. It was a masterful stroke and were it not for the Doctor's ability to see through the eyes of the mind behind it, the Galaxy would be doomed to an all-encompassing war yet again.

There was no guarantee however, that it still wouldn't be.

"The Confederacy is vast. Their resources incredible." He began addressing the diplomatic officer's own protestations, realizing that it was likely a failure of intelligence services to have kept watchful enough eyes on the Breen, ensuring they'd been sticking to the military limitation accords signed in wake of the Dominion War. Though, it was fool-hearty enough to even believe that an adversary like the Breen, would have considered faithfully adhering to any form of signed agreement. "It's likely they've not only rebuilt their forces to pre-war levels but have actually far surpassed them." Fisher's tone was one of reluctant acknowledgement, as he was starting to understand the manner in which the 'Nameless Darkness' would ensure mutual destruction between the great powers of the Galaxy, eliminating a vast majority of those who might have stood in defiance of eventual annihilation.

"They aim to draw the Breen into war with the Federation. Unifying the weakened Romulans with a strong ally in the Breen; an alliance that can counteract and rival that of the Federation and its own allies." He turned slowly to face the CDO as she had correctly ascertained the meaning behind the use of a thalaron weapon in the Paris bombing, as it linked the two powers together in the eyes of the Federation and its citizens. The implicit guilt would be enough to easily wash away any attempts at discovering the true origin of the attack. Blind rage and a need for retribution would fuel the more hawkish parts of the security council and silence any doves that tried to caution for peace and reason. "The compromised leadership at command blames the Paris attack on Breen infiltration teams, capitalizing on the still fresh memory of their stealth attack on San Francisco seven years ago. At the same time, a seemingly retaliatory weapon goes off on a Breen world, implicating Starfleet, and any chance of peace goes out the window. Only war remains as an option for both sides."

Swallowing audibly at the gravity of it, Fisher's gaze trailed away from Rutherford to where Nicander stood on the opposite side of the forcefield, and then back to Rutherford again. "If Paris is anything to go on, then they'll choose a site of equal importance in the eyes of the Confederacy." But therein lie an issue, as information on the Breen and their society was limited at best. Still, it was a lead worth following up on, and he needed to report it to the Captain as soon as possible. "Whatever that target is, it lies in Breen space." Turning away, he moved between the two other Officers once more, leaving them behind in the antechamber as he exited back into the Security Center's main atrium. If there were more questions that didn't immediately pertain to the location of the next bombing, it was likely that they could have asked them then, and as the door closed behind him, he could hear Anh-Le offering up an inquiry into a connection with the Bajoran Wormhole Aliens.

"Ensign!" he called out to a security officer as he was passing by, gaining his attention. "I need a secure commlink to the Bridge." With a nod, the Ensign motioned for Fisher to follow him to a nearby empty security office, where inside Fisher accessed a wall panel in order to raise the Captain and apprise him of the details of their discussion with the Doctor. "Thea, please raise the Captain on a secure commlink. Priority one." he asked of the ship's AI.

[Yes, Commander Fisher.] she replied, a moment later the Captain appearing on screen before him.

"Captain Ives..." Fisher began speaking.
Writer of [ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #9
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @stardust @GroundPetrel 
As usual, the preamble of 'with all due respect' was just short-hand for 'fuck you', a crude expression the Humans tended to express themselves with, uncultured as they were. Lucan could understand where she came from with her sentiment, new to the mission as she was, and thought she could stomach terror in its purest form. Fine.

"The thing inside me wishes to know what you look like underneath your skin, how your flesh tastes, and it also wonders how it could defile you for the longest amount of time while you are still conscious to feel it all," he said without emotional inflection, stating what twisted thoughts rose from the abyss. He sought to distance himself from it all, merely reciting the notions as they welled up inside, sickening as they were. "It thinks there are not enough orifices on you to please itself with, and considers where it might cut new ones. It finds your naive disposition towards it amusing, and looks forward to reclaiming my body so that it can show you just how much fun it can have with you... before it discards what's left afterwards."

Lucan took a deep breath after that, as if clearing vile air from his lungs, and closed his eyes for a moment. "So I would also like to reiterate: I truly don't care to delve into its desires. For your sake and mine. After all these years, trust me when I say there is naught to gain by trying to reason with it. It consumes, ruins and desecrate. That is all. It is the skin-puppet it wears that gives it forethought, focus and directed purpose. That is what we're good for, some more than others. Hosts lend it control and refined impetus for its chaotic whims."

The conversation had moved on to the Breen at that point, with observations made from the two new Departmental heads, along with some questions of their own. The question he posed himself, opened up for bleak prospects. Starfleet Intelligence knew a lot about signs that the Breen Confederacy had used its vast resources of space to rebuild their forces after the Dominion War. It made sense that, while evidence towards this fact appeared to be limited, the educated assumptions of what little had been gleaned pointed towards the obvious. A force like the Breen would not sit idle for seven years. It would rebuild its fleet by any means necessary to protect its borders, lest they'd loose territory to other powers quickly.

Troubled, Lucan ran his tattooed hand through his hair, thinking that of course Intelligence wouldn't throw around its scarce evidence lightly either. Perhaps only Command and the Presidency knew the scope entirely.

"What about an emotion? Did they feel comfortable there? Was it far from home? Cold, hot, wet?"

"My abilities only extend to sight, not emotions..." he said, shrugging whilst still thinking of how exactly the Infested would provide the rationale that the Breen had been working with the Romulans to bomb Paris on Earth. The Intelligence Officer clarified it, however. Indeed, wouldn't it be best for them if they could make the Breen think the Federation attacked them, rather than the Romulans? Otherwise, the praetor would merely gain a powerful adversary, who might even side with the Federation, unlikely as it might seem given history. "I agree. Whatever will happen in the Breen Confederacy, it will not be a thalaron bomb, but something with a Starfleet insignia on it. With Paris bombed, I don't even know if the President is still alive to stop Command from justifying an official action against Breen. Even if the President still lives, she might be too late to stop Command from retaliating..."

The Intelligence Officer seemed to leave, judging by the sounds from beyond the mirror. Likely he went to deliver a message about what Lucan had just said, which was well and proper given the circumstances. The Analyst spoke next, and while the shift back towards the nature of the enemy seemed off key given the reveal, Lucan suffered it graciously, since he knew that whatever he might provide might help in some way, shape or form. "That is not entirely correct, for I have not claimed that the nameless darkness itself would be motivated by ideology. Nor any compulsory belief in that it must consume. Therein lie the problem, and how it might be difficult to accept what is happening. The enemy beyond our existence, it is..."

Momentarily, he searched for the best way to describe it, frowning as he stood there with his mismatched hands on his hips, and the overhead light rippling over his frame as he took a deep breath. "It is a force of nature that devour everything. Not because it is sentient. Not because it has inherent thought, or wish. It is a vast entity, that twist and feeds off existence. Uncreation, on a cosmic scale beyond what you and I may fathom, even spanning across parallel dimensions. It seem even fuelled by temporal breaches, allowing it to feed over and over again in cycles established by the Infested." Lucan could but hope that it made sense, explaining something so vast and beyond what his and their current understanding could grasp. "As it consumes - pulling galaxies towards it - everything will eventually descend into the chaos plane. It is, simply put, the end of everything."

Sighing, he knew it might seem like he tried to scare them, but that was not his intention. He had just been exposed to the nightmare for so long that he'd become numb to the enormity of it all. He rubbed his forehead with his non-artificial hand as he continued. "What I have inside me, it is some manner of manifestation that acts as an extension of this consuming entity. As I said earlier, how the parasites themselves come to be is mere speculation of mine at this point, but hypothetically, if they are created for the purpose of razing evolution and destroying intelligent life - to be an extension for the dark - then someone must have made them. If they are rather lifeforms that live inside that dark void, as some kind of demons thriving in that dimension, do they possess individual thought..."

He paused, as another realisation came to him, and it sickened him because it made a lot of sense. "...or do they absorb the minds of the host, becoming a distorted mirror of what we originally were?"

By the winds, was the scream I heard my own?

"Created or not, I now believe... that there is no sentient enemy beyond the individuals possessed. It explains... this splinter I feel, as the voice in my head is actually a manifestation of me, twisted by the chaos beyond. The Infested... are merely us, only aberrant perversions of what we used to be. The parasites are both a conduit... and live through the hosts, by subsuming the present minds into the tenebrosity of their origin or design. If that is the case, it was telling the truth, in how there is nothing to reason with. No grounds for bartering beyond the Infested themselves, whom are merely wisps of smoke out of the abyss."

The subsequent question from the analyst had been about the 'Pah-wraiths', of which little was known in Starfleet, and Nicander was no expert in Bajoran mythology, much less what actually happened to Captain Benjamin Sisko, who had perished at the end of the Dominion War because of his involvement with the alien entities in the Bajoran wormhole. Quietly, staggered by his realisations, he added simply, "Based on what little I know, I would say the similarities between the Pah-wraiths and what we are dealing with now is either superficial or non-existent." Sighing, he raised his pale grey eyes to the mirror. "While the Pah-wraiths could possess humanoids - as I recall it from reports? - they were highly individual entities of their own will and agenda, at war with the other mythological aliens they opposed. What is inside me... is no malign fire spirit. That much I know."

He fell quiet then, and went to sit on his bunk, contemplating how he'd likely had conversations with himself all the time. That when he'd imagined himself speaking to his mirror image, it had actually been himself he spoke to. The transphasic light had indeed split him in two, and the twisted version of him resided in the parasite. While he hosted the thing inside his body, it - in turn - hosted his shadow psyche. Primal and depraved.

When he ran his tattooed hand through his unkempt hair, he couldn't keep his hand from shaking.
  • Last Edit: July 10, 2020, 03:31:47 PM by Auctor Lucan

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #10
Lt. JG Dantius Thi Anh-Le | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy  Attn: @Auctor Lucan   @stardust  @Swift

Anh-Le frowned, sifting through what the doctor had just said.  If he was right, she'd been thinking about this all the wrong way.  "That...if accurate, that would explain the apparent strategic and tactical limitations of the parasites, and would preclude any form of negotiation.  But there's one thing--by our very nature, life-forms like us accelerate the descent into entropy of the universe--by the laws of physics, that's the only way we can even exist, by trading a net increase in entropy for a local decrease in entropy.  By that measure, then, this 'great attractor' would appear to be artificial in origin, although what other than the Q could construct such a thing, and why someone would make it, I have no idea.

That would explain why the Q hadn't shown up to dick around with the Federation again just yet.  But the level of carnage...Q tests involved local drama but rarely if ever permanent harm, it seemed to some sort of stricture the god-like beings had. 


"You said that this thing feeds off of temporal anomalies.  Might it have been, I don't know, somehow created accidentally, by overuse of time travel warping the fabric of reality?  But that makes no sense, how would it then spit out these...fragments of itself that, by your description, gain a crude form of sapience by piggybacking off of sapient life...Fuck!  This was a puzzle and a half.  "Never mind, that's me thinking aloud.  Alright, I hate to badger you when you're already having such a rough...well, few decades, but this question's pretty important, more so than the deep stuff about how you think the enemy came to be and whether they're truly sapient.  Do you have any idea at all of how they possess people?  How they choose their targets, the mechanics of possession itself--I know you have mental impressions from your end, but can you theorize about what exactly they used to get inside you, how they might've suborned the known infected?"  It was a long shot, but with any form of hard intel on the mechanics of possession, they could work on a more effective protection system than "kill anyone who's infected with anyons". 
Really enjoying writing a halfway stable character for once...

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #11
[ Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @Auctor Lucan @GroundPetrel

Samantha was a little bit overwhelmed by the revelation that Fisher, or intelligence as a whole, seemed to be privy to information pertaining to Breen re-armament and they had not yet chosen to share that information with the branch that had negotiate the original accord, stipulating the limits of their future arsenal. Or at least not to her level. The revelation truly came as a shock, though her outward reaction was limited to a stoic stare at the man. It was not only the fact that this seemed like a betrayal of the Federation but against something very personal to her. The Breen had been instrumental in driving the Pegasus' engineering section into the firing range of the Jem'Hadar battle cruiser that had ultimately destroyed her, and her happiness. But it did not end there.

Subsequently Fisher drew a very surprising assumption, one that the diplomat was not yet sure was rooted in knowledge outside her realm of influence or merely speculation. "That is a very dangerous assumption to make." the blonde urged firmly, a notion belying the way she had acted toward the man in a more private setting before. She hoped it was his assumed judgment of the infested Starfleet command and not his very own. "The Breen and the Romulans have a history of antagonism that isn't limited to the war. A presumed alliance between the two is unthinkable. This whole argument is ridiculous." she contested, rubbing her forehead in frustration. The far-fetched connections were so obvious that she still had a hard time believing that no one else out there came to the same conclusion as the Theurgy crew had. That this all was just some elaborate smoke screen to play them all against one another. But to be fair, she had just been as oblivious, until Anderson had contacted her.

And of course, she was coming from a political, diplomatic point of view, that sometimes ignored more covert connections, that weren't readily available. That's why they relied on the intelligence department ... but expecting a little more than hearsay and theories. "The president, or whichever part of the government, in the line of succession, still functions, would never sanction a strike against the Breen, on the sole basis of such a weak narrative." Then again, this was the political narrative, what a corrupted Starfleet command would do behind the scenes, was a different pair of shoes. And they were not hers to fill, as frustrating as that was. Watching the Commander leave the room, an almost pleading glance followed him. She knew his sense of duty would demand the issue to be pushed forward, not looking at potential future ramifications down the line. She also knew the Captain would be inclined to share the sentiment.

Turning her attention momentarily back towards the doctor, the diplomat brushed her plump lips together with a barely noticeable wiggle of her brows, indicating satisfaction over getting the unfiltered truth she'd been asking for. Though a mere few lines in, she slightly regretted having asked for FULL honesty, even though her quick lunch still seemed safely settled in the pit of her stomach. She took the waves of verbal assault in stride, assuming then, it was not the man she was looking at, who thought these thoughts. Not really. Her outward reaction and tone, however, remained unwavering. It was like watching a rabid animal in a zoo, somewhat fascinating, wielding yourself in naïve safety behind forcefields or tempered glass. "Colorful." the blonde muttered under her breath, not immediately drawing any direct intel from the narrations.

The entire, violent sentiment stood at stark odds with what they were being told subsequently. That the great darkness was an existence, not even a being, without motivation or even self awareness. Something more akin to a natural phenomenon rather than a sentient cloud of evil. Or maybe something in between. Either way, it was safe to say that diplomacy was not the weapon that would bring this enemy to its knees. It was a, frankly, disillusioning revelation. Especially to the diplomat, who now saw her involvement reduced to putting out brushfires along the perimeter, while the real war was fought elsewhere, with weapons sharper than words. It was the Dominion War all over again. "In summary, that, what we perceive as actions and reactions, from the parasites, is rather a response to this level of reality and the hosts they possess, than a direct relayed message from the void as a whole."

Well, that pretty much made all of them puppets, even inferior to the Vorta, didn't it. So, there was no point trying to appeal to any single one of them. If she had the switch for the weapon that would fry all their wormy little asses right now, she'd see no alternative but to push it. Luckily that responsibility was not bestowed upon her. Watching Anh-Le speak, bringing her own thoughts to an end, Samantha realized that the last question on her mind had been asked by the Orion woman already. But with all the information she held now, she wasn't even sure if it held any merit. If the great darkness did not feel any motivation at all then it would have no way of 'deciding' who to infect. That required a higher form of sentience, Nicander did not currently seem to prescribe to the void. At any rate, she could read about this answer, and the one to the Q-query, in the final report.

"Thank you for your time, doctor. Let me know if you need anything." Samantha dismissed herself from the room with a courteous nod to Anh-Le by her side. Making her way through the guards with swift steps, she moved in the comparably bright anteroom, stopping as the doors slid shut behind her. Taking a deep breath, a few of the more vivid elements of recent revelations still playing in full technicolor in her head, she looked around the seemingly tranquil and quiet place. It was such a stark contrast to the situation she had just stepped out of. It almost felt as if total annihilation was not a threat out here, though it very much was. The door to a nearby office opened and Fisher stepped back into the foyer to the interrogation room. A moment of silence ensued as blue eyes fell on green ones and the initial swoosh of the doors had echoed out. She didn't quite know what to say, the unspoken of their little argument form before, still lingering in the air - at least she could say so about her side.

"Seems like negotiations are off the table. Doctor Nicander is not sure the parasites even function as individuals, but might rather be mere perversions of a host's character inflicted by the darkness." she shrugged weakly, as if it didn't matter to her, when quite the opposite was true. "So, what's the plan?" the diplomat asked, across the void of the empty room between them, as she had made no effort to close the gap. The luster having seemingly drained from her azure seas. What she wanted to hear was that the captain would take his theory under advisement and think about it. What she knew was going to hear was their course for Breen space, or something akin to that. What she wanted to hear was that she was right, that years and years of a treaty, bought with the blood and sweat of countless officers, had not been a mere piece of paper that the Breen had been hiding behind, conspiring, while Starfleet intelligence knew about it. But what she was going to hear was probably the opposite. In this moment, it made her feel helpless, pointless even. If that was what the parasites wanted, good job, they'd won a battle. Luckily, the war was not only dependent on her current emotional state.

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #12
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan @stardust @GroundPetrel

Fisher felt physically sickened by the abhorrent desires of the parasite residing within Nicander. The things it wanted. What it demanded. As the Doctor described those wants in brief fashion, his own apparent distaste clearly evident, Fisher couldn't help but feel as though the desires had been specifically projected against the woman who had made the inquiry. The intensity of the thought caused his already brilliant hatred for the creature, and all others like it, to flare like a sudden nova within his conscious mind. Slowly, and with a slight tremor, his hand began to clench tightly into a fist, stretching and tearing at the scabs that had only barely started to heal over the abrasions of his knuckles; and fresh crimson once again began to seep from those wounds. If he could have lunged through the force field at Nicander, and slugged him, he would have, even though Fisher understood that it wasn't the Doctor who had harbored such disgusting desires. None of that mattered in the moment however, he could only see red, and wished only to punish the damnable being, as irrational as it would have been.

That nearly insurmountable aggression gradually subsided however, as Nicander thankfully shifted his topic.

Though it was certainly less anguishing than the previous, it still brought a difficult realization to the Chief Intelligence Officer, as the apparent unknowing of the status of the Breen by his Diplomatic counterpart had been put on display. It didn't speak to a failure on her part, but rather a failure of his. More aptly, a failure of Intelligence services to keep her, and other Diplomats appraised of the true reality of the Breen Confederacy's efforts to rebuild. It was symptomatic of the greater epidemic of arrogance prevalent among the Intelligence community. A community consisting of many operatives that had taken it upon themselves to decide who should, and who shouldn't know certain things. As such, Fisher felt the guilt of association mount as he could hear the genuine disbelief in Rutherford's voice. The fact that he knew, and she didn't, ate at him greatly. It generally wasn't up to operatives to make decisions regarding intel that was gathered, but rather to forward it onto those who would; and she should have been included in those. But somewhere along the line, someone had decidedly kept her out of the loop.

It was a fucked-up reality of the job, and a practice that was all too commonly abused. Worse still, it was also something he'd been guilty of doing in the past. It prompted him to leave the antechamber, so that he could forward what he'd learned thus far onto Ives.

He'd relayed everything that was relevant to the next bombing first, knowing that every second of time wasted could spell further disaster. Attentively, the Captain seemed to absorb all of what Fisher offered, as well as the subsequent conclusions he had drawn from them. It wasn't that Fisher necessarily wanted to dictate what happened next, or even determine how the Captain attempted to make sense of it all; but rather, he'd wanted to give another analysis of the information that might factor into the decision. And, in typical yet customary fashion, the Captain had chosen to seek the advisement of his Executive Officer, prior to making said decision. Fisher appreciated that cautiousness, though when Ives subsequently asked if there was anything else, he felt the dread in his stomach return. He'd considered leaving the apparent personal motivations of the creature out of his immediate communication with the Captain, instead offering them later via a filed report; but now that he'd asked, Fisher felt as though he had to oblige.

With the briefest of descriptions, he outlined what Nicander had revealed to Rutherford, trying his best to not seem as overtly concerned, as he truthfully was. Likely, he failed in that regard.

Upon the shutdown of the commlink from the Captain's end, Fisher hung around a moment in the silent security office, determined to collect himself before he emerged back into the main atrium of the Security Center. Closing his eyes, he breathed in deeply to try and quell the mixed bag of negative emotions he was feeling; all of them so very vivid, and so very much to cope with in a single day.

A minute later, he exited from the security office, and now in greater detail recognized the broken man that had trailed Rutherford down to the security center, as Hi'Jak. The Klingon/Human hybrid that he'd spoken with a few days prior, in a pseudo-interview. He wondered how the man was fairing after their discussion, and if he'd made any determinations as to what his future might behold him. He even considered approaching him to check up, but before he could, the door to the antechamber of Nicander's cell opened, and through it stepped the normally vivacious Chief Diplomat. Immediately he could see the discord in her face, a sense that had no doubt been caused by the events that had played out during their conversation with the Doctor. Their gaze met, but the spark that had existed there, now seemed less alight than before. Gone from Fisher's mind was the stirring of a more pleasant emotional reaction that her pleasant face normally brought, replaced only by a feeling of disdain for himself.

She broke the silence that lingered after a short moment, and shared the revelation that the individual creatures held no actual individuality to speak of, but rather only assumed the personalities of their host, albeit bastardized and deformed to an unimaginable degree. It made their effort to find some form of agreeable outcome even less likely, and he could see in her the strain it caused.

"The Captain will seek out the counsel of Commander Ducote, before making any official decisions." He began to explain, his gaze trailing away from her own as he clearly struggled to contain his self-admonishment. "But given what little we were able to gather; it's only likely we'll be splitting our efforts between the situation with the Klingons, and now the Breen." Feeling the need to lean against the desk just outside of the security office he'd emerged from, Fisher pressed both palms flat against its surface as he slumped his head down in apparent fatigue. "My educated guess is, Ives will be forced into asking our Savi allies for help in ferrying a contingent into Breen territory, while Theurgy makes the journey to Qo'nos." With an exasperated sigh, Fisher pushed against the desk as he arched his back, tensions slowly building again to the point where an ache began to set in.

"Who knows what kind of shit-storm awaits those headed into Breen space."

OOC: Tagging @Masorin since his character was referenced.
  • Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 09:05:57 AM by Swift
Writer of [ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #13
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @stardust @GroundPetrel 
Hearing her bid her leave, Lucan couldn't say he was surprised that the Diplomatic Officer excused herself. Not when she's heard what she'd asked for. He would have apologised, despite how she'd been the one to insist on a reply, but he was still shaken by how his identity had been split, and she was already gone.

That left just the Analyst, and she wasn't deterred. To her credit, she both saw the advantages for the mission if he was correct about the nature of the parasites, and how they absorbed the minds of the host into themselves, as well as the apparent detriments, in how reasoning with them would likely be futile. It would be better to subdue or remove the parasites in the hosts, and make sure no more could become Infested. Curiously, she brought up an entity Nicander had read about in other reports. The alien entity of the Q Continuum, whom had pestered Starfleet Captains once in a while. He wasn't quite sure why she thought there would be some kind of correlation or relation to the Continuum, but he knew of the encounters well enough from his time in the Academy. It had been a fascinating subject to study. Nonetheless, he didn't think Q had anything to do with the development. First, though, he was quite certain she was a bit presumptuous about evolutionary logic being a factor.

"I cannot fathom anything creating something of this scale, which has a gravitational pull like that, and I think it might be a bit cheeky of us to presume knowing the entirety of the cosmos. Assume we know the laws of physics in their entirety is brazen in itself, when we are not even sure how many dimensions of perception there is," he said with weary smile. "Our basic understanding of physics makes it hard to process, but even early string theory stated there must be at least ten dimensions of space plus one dimension for time, but there are still physicists who argue that there are more. As far as I know, twenty-six dimensions is the number according to Bosonic string theory, and it's as high as mainstream physicists are willing to go for the time being. Either way... I think it might be too early to suggest that this phenomenon we've encountered adhere to physics as we know it."

He shrugged a bare shoulder and gestured with his artificial hand, adding something that he felt relevant. "When we eat, do we care whether that which we eat has eaten something else before? Regardless what we take away from our own existence, I don't think this phenomenon cares in the least. Moreover, what we consume does not feed that entity either, it just feeds ourselves. As for the Continuum, I think you give those reports too much credit. This universe isn't run by those entities, nor do I think they truly care what happens to any of us. They don't preside over who lives or dies. I hardly think the universe is that badly designed."

The next question, he had definitely already answered, when Counselor Ejek had come to him with her questions.

"This should already be in your reports, but long before my first step aboard the Theurgy, I was displaced in my sleep. As for how..." He sighed, and slowly paced up to the mirror. "I can tell you what I experienced, and I have educated guesses to add, but I don't know with certainty what exactly transpired. I was asleep, and when I woke up, I was no longer in Starfleet Headquarters. I was in a cave, without clothing, and suspended in chains from the ceiling. It was the only time I have been there. There were... figures in the darkness around me, and I could not see their shapes. They might not even have been humanoid. The parasite... it fell down upon me from above. It was real. Physical. Tangible. Unlike it's present, invisible state. It tells me, that this place I was in could not have been entirely inside the bounds of this reality, since the darkness exist in a state of flux. Absent, yet present here nonetheless."

Nicander paused, running his tattooed hand through his unkempt hair. "The change... I was the same person, only with another will. Another intent. My memories, my abilities, my mental presence... It was still the same. I might have held on to personal ambitions at first, but it was always there, making me a part of this... calling. The common will of all Hosts, to further the cause of un-creation. Of course, that would mean the death of us Hosts, but the thing was..." Nicander frowned, having difficulty putting words to it, even if he had nothing to hide. "I realise now that the out-of-body experience I've attested to might just be an effect of the transphasic light separating my consciousness from what I used to be. The possession breaks down your rationale, takes away something about your survival instincts. You don't question your own fate when the darkness achieves its goal. Your purpose, as a Host, is to act as a vessel for desecration in an orderly society. Only the Hosts gives the darkness a semblance of patience, or directed purpose. It's through the Hosts that they instigated the persecution of the Theurgy, along with everything else they've done to tear everything down."

He looked up at the mirror reflection before him, seeing himself, unknowing where the Analyst stood behind he surface. "That is the 'mechanics' as you put it. As for how they choose targets, it must be some manner of abduction, meaning that another Host may have to have access to a new victim, but I can't be certain of it. I have previously stated that the number of parasites might be limited, or gradually added to this reality through some kind of breach into this darkness. If there was unlimited access to these creatures that dwell inside the Hosts, then the number of Infested would have been growing exponentially... and I doubt that's the case if they have been around for at least six years."

Whatever little he had to add to that seemed obvious to him. "Their manner of selection... I think it partly has something to do with the temporal breaches, and how they might perpetuate the Cycles we're locked into. That's why I was picked, I believe. Because I was supposed to nurture the seed child, born by Ash'reem DNA after the Niga incident, and then give it to Sonja Acreth, so that she might travel back and seed the planet all over again."

Feeling drained, not just from revisiting memories, he gave the reflection a small smile. "Thank you, for your curiosity. Was there anything further, or can we perhaps continue this after I have rested a bit? Having been shot by that cannon out there, it... wasn't the most pleasant of experiences, but I am grateful that the crew have found a means to preserve my sanity, unorthodox as the method might be."

Lucan knew he had Commander Tiran and a Gorn to thank for the transphasic light treatment, and hopefully, Vael Kaeris might be able to find a manner in which they could remove the parasite altogether, one day.

OOC: I think you guys can wrap this scene now, right? Thank you so much for an awesome thread! Sorry for the lateness in this reply, but I had Chapter starters and a heap of other things to prioritise first, not limited to the Newsletter. :)
  • Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 04:55:00 PM by Auctor Lucan

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #14
Lt. JG Dantius Thi Anh-Le | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy  Attn: @Auctor Lucan  @stardust  @Swift

Well, that was singularly unhelpful.  The victim's perspective would seem to be more useful to a psychotherapist than to an intelligence operative.  Anh-Le had been hoping for some detail that could help in formulating a method of preventing infection, but it seemed that wasn't forthcoming. 

The doctor's comments did seem to support Anh-Le's hypothesis of a malevolent transdimensional entity being behind all of this, though.  She'd never put stock in 'Who are we to know the mysteries of the universe?' pseudoreligious babble, any such 'mysteries' invariably turned out to be either a very clever use of technology (like that con artist who'd pretended to be an evil demiurge back in 2367), or a transdimensional being with a quasi-divine ability to manipulate reality.  (Which begged the question of why the Q never put on airs of divinity despite being functionally omnipotent and near if not outright omniscient; the wormhole aliens could be explained by simply not being able to understand the concept by all accounts)  Not to mention, the inevitable increase in entropy was the only reason that life could exist, using a series of chemical reactions that provided short-term localized increase in order for a significantly greater long-term global increase in entropy--a basic law of the universe that even the Q had never been proven to disobey. 

But if this thing was linked somehow to time travel...It seems like the more time travel happens, the stronger these things there's a mind-bender if I ever heard one, how do you plan around THAT?  If you go back, then logically you've already been back...damn it, I hate temporal mechanics. 

And now she was back to the core problem of how do you fight something that's probably an extension of what's functionally an evil demiurge?  Fuck my life.  We might as well break out the sacrificial knives and start offering sapient beings' hearts to Q to beg for aid at this rate.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Doctor," she said aloud.  "We can finish this some other time.  Your answers have been...useful, in illuminating the victim's perspective."  No reason not to be kind to the poor bastard.  She turned and headed for the door, a frown etched upon her face.  She'd known this would be a tough, damn near suicidal mission going in, but this wasn't a challenge, this was being chained upside down at the bottom of a pit with sheer, greased sides and spikes at the bottom! 

Parasites from another dimension...  Anh-Le froze on her way out the door.  Stardate 45892.4.  Two officers aboard USS Enterprise are phase-shifted by an accident with a molecular phase inverter and returned to our reality by being overloaded with anyons, the report stated that a Romulan officer was trapped in space after phasing through a bulkhead and wasn't recovered.  We know that the anyon scan works similarly on these things.  They're probably native to that dimension...Maybe with a molecular phase inverter, we could investigate them more directly!  We might even be able to surgically remove the parasite without killing the host if we perform the operation in the phased dimension! 

Anh-Le swore in Vietnamese and sprinted out the door.  I need to tell Commander Fisher right away!
OOC: Hope this works! 
  • Last Edit: July 20, 2020, 04:49:03 PM by GroundPetrel
Really enjoying writing a halfway stable character for once...

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #15
[ Lt. Cmdr. Rutherford | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Swift @Auctor Lucan @GroundPetrel

Maybe, in the end, it wasn't as hard to accept Starfleet intelligence services over who they were, as a secretive organization, as it was to accept defeat. Samantha had dealt with the former many times, even down to a rather personal level, and even if years of exposure to the truth had not reciprocated a sense of acknowledgment, it certainly had created a notion of numbness towards it. Seeing the chances for negotiations, on a peaceful solution, slip away, the door for calm and educated calculation closing, however, was a far harder fact of life to accept. Even though she had encountered it once or twice in her life, just the same. When the original negotiations with the Cardassians had ceased, in favour of war preparations, as well as when the Beijing had been recalled from Romulan space, to make room for the Enterprise, which subsequently created one of the greatest space battles, the neutral zone had seen in decades. While it was obviously outlined as a detriment of the trade, by Starfleet command, it wasn't something that had ever sat right with the headstrong blonde. If only for the aspirational backhand-slap of being pulled from an assignment, in favor of tactical or intelligence, devising a less subtle solution.

Watching Fisher take the blame for the discord within herself, adding to the weight on his shoulders which was 90% not his to bare in the first place, the diplomat had to admit she appreciated the sentiment, to the point where she did not intervene to remedy it. Him taking on the guilt, meant that she could bask in the glory of being right. Which said as much about the bearded man for offering the salvation, as it said about the blonde officer for accepting it quietly. Not even offering a sentiment of gratitude in return, that could've potentially ruined the entire selfless gesture, in a twisted way. Listening to his elaborations, she nodded slowly, tongue pushed into her cheek, but not in a metaphorical capacity. Commander Ducote would not make much of a difference. He had seen enough fighting in his career to likely realize the quick fix it could offer. Averting her eyes of his aching figure finally, as he conceded they would likely split up their efforts to investigated unsubstantiated claims, blue orbs dropped to the floor and across the dark blue carpet to where Jack was sitting dutifully. His presence infusing a small glimmer of levity into the moment. She hadn't really expected him to still be there.

Taking a deep breath Samantha looked back at Andrew, who in the meantime had sought support by a nearby console he now hunched upon. Biting her bottom lip the blonde contemplated for a moment If she should attempt the futile effort in chipping away some of that added weight on his shoulders and adding it to her own, if that was even possible. "I'll send Captain Ives a suggestion for a diplomatic attaché to accompany whatever side-mission they deem fit. In the meantime I'll prepare my department for Qo'nos." she related, at least trying to steer the conversation back to a constructive level. Blue eyes soon dropped to the bruised knuckles again that had first stirred her imagination in the anteroom to Nicander's cell, just minutes earlier. And while she hadn't exactly come up with a solution to the rift that had formed between their departments, the two of them, reasonably so by her own doing, she remembered something that had somewhat worked, once upon a time.

Beckoning Hi'Jak to get going with her, she cleared her throat, as steady strides started to carry her across the room. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see either Maudlin, or a coy Yridian, with a bruised cheek in the hallways." she remarked dryly, not quite hitting the right comedic note, as bitterness still burned too vividly within that fresh wound. Words that certainly belied the honest attempt at making things better, no matter how weak. Yet with that missed opportunity falling to the floor, like the entire ceiling of the room, as she left, the rift persisted, for now.

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #16
[CPO Eun Sae Ji | It's Been a While | Doppleganger | Lucan's Cell | Facing the Music]
@Auctor Lucan

It had been a while, since she had been to visit Luca.

She had decided, in order to get her mind straight, this was Luca.  The one up on the other ship, was Nicander.  It was the only way she could easily separate the both and head herself towards the brig where she knew Luca would be waiting.  She had received several messages from him, not over a PADD because he wasn't allowed to have one, but through various people that had hunted her down.  That hadn't gone very well at the start, when the very first one ended up with a great black eye and a trip to get it healed after he had made sure to give Luca her message.

He had slowed down since then but occasionally she would find small notes, he had gotten smarter, having other people send her messages from their PADDs or having a small paper put on her desk when she got into the office she used when she needed to get off her feet or stop feeling so shit every time she saw Liam across the deck pretending he was fine.  With that fake ass smile and the mountain of awkwardness between them.  Those she had not responded to eventually tracking someone down and paying them in some Aldean tea she had been able to score from the surface in order to give him a message personally. 

'Stop contacting me.  When I am ready, I will come.'

It had been several days since the communications stopped and it had allowed Ji to finally think about what she wanted to do.  Knowing that she was going to the Allegiant she had tried to give Liam a clue about how she was feeling.. to feel him out, to find out if he was in a forgiving mood but it hadn't landed.  So, she knew that wasn't an option.  However, she did want to see Luca before she went, because that was another piece of unsolved business and honestly, Ji wasn't sure how she felt about it at the moment. 

Everyone knew that something had happened.  It was plainly obvious when the two officers that came back from the anyonic dimension as she liked to call it, weren't together as they had been.  No longer sharing Quarters, no longer secreting away for kisses and small make out sessions, Ji missed them, to be honest.  But, she wasn't sure that she could forgive herself for what she had done much less expect Liam to.  It would always hang over their heads.  That much was for certain. 

As she rounded the corner to the Security Post outside the Brig cells, luckily it wasn't the same two from her last visit, she signed in putting her name on the PADD and making sure everything was on the up and up.  The young Security officer gave her the same bracelet that she had before which would allow her access into the Brig cell should she want it.  As Ji walked down the hall towards the cell several officers were coming up from it.  She wondered what they had been talking to Luca about, but she didn't recognize any of them and certainly didn't think that they would be interested in talking to her about it anyway.

Luca was alone by the time she reached his cell, the defenses she had put up initially to keep her ass firmly planted on the other side of the force field when she saw his face.  It wasn't that it was attraction (well it was) but it was how tired he looked when she took him in before he noticed that she was there.  Without thinking, Ji stepped into the Brig cell the forcefield shimmering as it allowed her entrance before solidifying behind her. 

"Did I come at naptime?" she asked trying to be a little sassy.  Ji stood there, a bit curled in on herself, the confident Ji that had been here just weeks ago, was altered.  Her shoulders slumped slightly, dark circles under her eyes as she had been losing a lot of sleep over the whole ordeal (that and the nightmares), as well as the fact that Liam and she were on this odd.. well she didn't even know what to call it at this point. 

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Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #17
[ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Security Center | Deck 07 | Vector 02 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Auctor Lucan @BZ @GroundPetrel @stardust

There was an unpleasant silence that pervaded the main atrium of the Security Center, as Fisher stood hunched over a console with palms firmly planted against its surface, his back tension sending a surge of deep ache throughout his body. Stress would often cause the muscles that encased his surgically repaired, though never truly healed lower vertebrae, to tighten and knot up, thus applying pressure to said vertebrae. It had the effect of sending pangs of dull ache up throughout his core, and down into his thighs; his Doctors had told him, that the injuries would likely never fully heal, and that he'd deal with the pain for the rest of his life, or at least until he eventually opted for additional extensive surgery. Of course, being the always too busy man that he was, meant that he'd passively selected the former rather than the latter. In a way though, the pain sometimes served to remind him of the need to cherish the good moments, because when the pain was absent, he felt relaxed in a way that was hard to describe. In another more depressing way, it had been the only steady companion to accompany him throughout his entire career.

It was in effect, the only part of who he was that never changed, regardless of whatever persona or name he adopted. In other words, it had become his normal.

A normal that a few nights earlier, over some shared pleasant company, that he had finally begun to question, and had even considered fully rebuking it. It was the first time, that he'd actually weighed the option for surgery, so as to make a real change in his life. A decision to leave the old Fisher behind, and instead try to accept a new one that wasn't solely focused on the results of his position. A new Fisher that offered even a modest level of consideration for himself. But when he heard the questioning tone in the Chief Diplomat's voice, as she clearly began to express doubts as to the kind of man that Fisher might truly have been, as opposed to how he had appeared that night; all of that progress seemed destined to inevitably regress. That his 'normality' would yet again, win out in the end. Even as she attempted in vain to add a sense of levity to her words, he could sense the bitterness and tepid nature behind them, leaving him to feel utterly and completely resigned to the reality of his persistently bleak situation in life.

So, it was without a single consideration of voicing a countering quip, that he remained still in his self-imposed loneliness, and let her leave.

A minute later, he finally felt relented and stood more vertically, his gaze scanning the immediacy of the Security Center atrium, noting how its crew and officers were hastily working to bring everything to bear. The ship would need to be underway soon, as Theurgy's location had been revealed at large, and would now attract a bevy of hunters looking to spear their prey. That of course meant work for him and his department too, as the paramount need for actionable intel just figuratively quadrupled. It was in his duty that Fisher knew he could find distraction from a personal life that seemed devoid of personal considerations, so with an audibly reticent sigh he began to make his way out of the Security Center, intent on heading to the bridge in order to review any relevant comms chatter that PWO Ravenholm might have marked for him. From there he could also wait in expectation of the Captain's orders, though he could already surmise what they would likely entail.

Approaching the check-point that led out of the Center, he stopped to give way to a young Chief Petty Officer he'd not yet made acquaintances with, affording her a simple cursory nod that belied the troubled thoughts that still ran through his mind. Yet as she passed him, he made note of her direction, clearly headed to where he had just departed. Who was she, that she felt it necessary to consult with Doctor Nicander during a time of such duress, and criticality, he wondered. Perhaps it was something he would need to look in on at a later time, so as to ensure that there were no loose ends left untied from the time before he began his stint aboard Theurgy. After all, there were few things that spies disliked more, than loose ends. With narrowed viridian eyes, he turned away and made mental note to later review the security recordings of the Doctor's cell, hoping he'd find the necessary answers hidden within them.

Regardless, it wasn't an issue that demanded immediate answers, and so he let it be for now, and stepped through the checkpoint.
  • Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 10:34:29 AM by Swift
Writer of [ Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Fisher | Chief Intelligence Officer | USS Theurgy NX-79854 ]

Re: CH01: S [D01|1700] “Darkness lay your eyes upon me...” | Arcana Intelligo, P1
Reply #18
[ Doctor Lucan cin Nicander | Brig | Security Center | Deck 07 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @BZ  
Having seated himself on his bunk after the Analyst left, Lucan had watched the mirror image of his holding cell until the security personnel deactivated it - allowing him to see the big cannon mounted outside the cell once more. The three officers were nowhere in sight, and there wasn't even any officers in security exosuits either. Apparently, the hearing was over, and the regular routine with the posted brig officer overseeing his captivity had resumed.

Any other day, it might have been welcome; this break from the norm that he'd had a chance to experience that day, with Ives visiting followed by the three new voices beyond the mirror. Unfortunately, it all had happened in conjunction with using his cursed ability again, learning more than he wanted to know through what he'd seen in the Romulan Senate chamber. He'd seen the Breen city, and then... he'd felt himself loose control. Slipping out of his own skin, trying as he might to remain, and yet feeling himself animated by something not entirely him. Or was it just a copy of himself, twisted and living through him? Did the phased demon inhabiting him subsume his mind unto itself, so that it did not need his brain matter or nervous system - merely using his body for its enjoyment? If that was the case, it opened up more questions. Was this twisted psyche truly him, if hosted inside the parasite? Did it even matter, since the base template was still him?

Lucan raised his tattooed hand to rub his eyes, a headache coming to him. He was a doctor, not a philosopher, so he didn't know what to make of it any more. Obviously, however, the cannon outside the cell worked, since the transphasic light suppressed the darkness that dwelt inside.

"Did I come at naptime?"

Somewhat startled, and yet too weary to rise or do ought else than lower his hand and raise his pale grey eyes, Lucan had to blink twice to believe what he saw. "Ji?"

It was her. At long last. He'd tried in vain to reach her, to make sure she was all right. He'd been plagued by images rising out of the abyss, showing how she'd somehow ended up where she shouldn't have been. Most disconcerting was the company she kept with an officer from the Resolve, so he could impossibly have been affiliated with those images. At first, he'd though it was something from another Cycle, but it seemed too... concurrent. As if he had seen the visions in real time, while they happened. He hadn't been able to make sense of it, thinking it was just smoke from the darkness, but that disconcerting feeling had stayed with him, and he'd tried to make sure she wasn't subjected to the horror that had to dwell in that reality - in a place where the Niga outbreak happened.

"By the winds," he said hoarsely as he rose to his feet, wanting to reach for her, to embrace her, and yet that look in her eye... The way she tried to seem cheeky, and yet her posture didn't match the words. It caused him to raise his mismatched hands and gently rest them around her shoulders. He tried to gauge whether or not the visions were true by merely looking into her eyes, even if it was impossible. "How are you? I saw things, terrible things, and I wanted to... I didn't know what to make of it. I tried to reach you. How did you come in contact with... Oh, Ji, tell me it didn't happen. How could it even happen? You're here, not in some other reality, in which naught this ship did to alter history ever happened."

He felt how his face was twisted in worry, in how he couldn't bear the thought that some other version of him - connected to him through the dark - had done harm to Ji. "I'm so sorry," he said, shaking his head and he moved his hands to the sides of her face, lest she'd shy away from him, in which case he'd step away and respect her need for distance. "I'm so sorry. It wasn't me. I would never..."

Was it an untruth? If the Infested were themselves, essentially, could he really say that and not lie?

No, he had to believe that the parasitic 'self' was something else entirely, else he wouldn't be able to live with himself.
  • Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 08:23:52 AM by Auctor Lucan