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PLOT - Crew - "Over The Hills And Far Away"

Posted on 2016-08-20 21:46 by Captain Amelia Waterhouse & Lieutenant Zola & Lieutenant Sienna Oswin & Reverend Noah Waterhouse & Lieutenant Streeh Khan II & Lieutenant JG Harper Drake M.D., Ph.D. & Ensign Horan Countrymouth & Ensign Kelly Liebenswert & Lieutenant JG Catalina Barnes

Mission: Black, White & Red All Over

Amelia walked slowly into the Japanese gardens. She was about ten minutes later than the time she'd given Noah for the meeting. Everyone had been told a different time, spread out by a range of two to eleven minutes, to avoid drawing attention to the group, and she had been last in case she was being followed, so that her crew would hopefully go unnoticed before her. Zola had gone in first to check for bugs, followed by Sienna to help her out, and everyone else trickled in after that.

She strolled down the raised wooden path that meandered between the carefully tended plants, taking time to enjoy the view across the koi pond and spotting her crew gathered in the red and white gazebo that was situated in the middle of the pond. The wind teased her hair and simple grey dress as she crossed the bridge and approached the group.

"All clear," Zola said as Amelia made her way up the stairs to join everyone. "Sienna and I set up a sound dampening field around the gazebo."

"Thank you. Anyone have reason to think they were followed?"

"I've been walking around the city all morning. Whoever was following me is most likely bored or exhausted. Or both." Horan said, who had been keeping busy bouncing flat pebbles over the pond. He was sitting on a railing of the gazebo, dressed in a v-neck tee, shorts and sneakers.

"I hope your stone skipping has been as carefully aimed as your walk, Ensign," Amelia observed, seeing the evidence of what he'd occupied his wait with in the form of a couple perfect skipping stones next to him on the railing he sat on. She hadn't been introduced to Horan Countrymouth yet, but she recognized him from the picture in his service record. "From the way the garden curators tell it, every one of those Koi can be traced back to the dozen that were found to still be living there when these grounds were recovered a decade after World War III. They're understandably protective of them."

"Damn!" Horan exclaimed. He scanned the pond in the area he'd targeted, half expecting to see an upturned koi on the surface. He got rid of the stones by his side, and got off the railing.

"Well nobody else seemed to care" he mumbled, more to Sienna who had been standing next to him all the time, looking at the stones he had been flinging.

Sienna directed an amused smirk at Horan, but resisted the urge to chastise him like she would her daughter.

A tall, well built and angry-looking man with black hair and honey brown eyes looked up as Amelia came down the path. "I hear the weather is lousy today," Streeh said as he looked at the others.

Ensign Liebenswert sat cross-legged by the koi pond and looked up with a lopsided smile and gave a nod, but kept silent while a young woman with a distinct Native American cast to her features leaned against a tree nearby. "Hey, Boss," Catalina said.

Harper was aware of the chatter around her, but chose for the moment to keep her focused on the water before. Interestingly enough, she had more opportunities of late to be off ship as a member of the crew of the Joshua Norton than she could remember with her previous postings. It was not what she expected when she accepted assignment aboard a Starfleet Intelligence vessel. She relished the feel of the wind in her hair and the breeze on her face before turning to greet Amelia with a gentle smile. It didn't take her long to realize they were each given staggered arrival times. She was becoming accustomed to such cloak and dagger tactics in short order. "Hello," Drake greeted, with a nod of her head.

"I'm relieved all of you made it here okay, and apologize for having to summon you without so much as an explanation," Amelia said, nodding greeting to everyone who'd addressed her. "We've had some... concerning developments in the time it took some of us to travel to Vulcan and back." She sighed, and started to fiddle with a bracelet on her left wrist that was mostly hidden by the long sleeve of her dress. One of the charms caught a bit of the light, and the gemstones embedded in it sparkled in blues, purples, yellows, and whites. "I had a stranger waiting in my Penthouse when I got home. He claimed to be an associate of the shadows who've been showing up since Aldridge brought S'Blen's murder to our attention. They've taken Rik, plan to murder Aldridge — if they haven't already — and I can only guess that they have a hand in Jonas Refelian's disappearance too, though there was no mention made of him. Zola did you load a copy of the Starfleet Charter onto a PADD like I asked you?"

"Yes ma'am," Zola answered, reaching into a cargo pocket to pull out a mini-PADD. She offered it over to Amelia, who quickly scrolled through it.

"One thing that came up in the conversation with the man who informed me of Rik and Aldridge's situation is he referenced the Starfleet Charter's Article 14, Section 31," Amelia said as she finally found the section in question. She skimmed over it quickly and held the PADD out for whoever wanted to take it. "All it mentions is taking extraordinary measures in times of extreme threat, so I don't know what that's suppose to mean relative to all this."

Kelly thought for a moment on what the Commander had said involving the section of the Starfleet Charter. "Doesn't that sort of give Starfleet the power to do whatever they want against any threat?" she asked.

"That would go against the Prime Directive in some cases, though," Catalina pointed out.

"Whoever has kidnapped Commander Caine and the others as well as covered up several murders is obviously invoking it for some reason," Streeh said. "But what? S'Blen's death was ruled a suicide, which Vulcans don't do. We go to Vulcan and end up in a fight with Romulans and some mysterious shadows, and now we're being threatened without a clue of what's actually going on. Someone in our chain of command has to be corrupted and I recommend that we go black."

"I agree that someone in our chain of command must have ties to these people. They know too much about us, but I am not sure if we have the option of going black. The man who was in my penthouse made it very clear that if he sees any indication we've done anything but bury this, he intends to kill Rik." Amelia glanced at her brother who'd kept quietly to the back. Noah tipped his tricorn hat up so he could meet her gaze and tried to offer her a reassuring smile. She swallowed hard before she continued, even though she'd already told Noah about his friend's presumed fate. "He already stated that Aldridge's death is inevitable, and I wouldn't even know where to start to try to track him down if we could try to prevent it. While I abhor the methods used, I do agree that if the information I've seen gets into Romulan hands, we'll quite probably lose this peace between the Federation and the Romulans."

"Are you saying we have to give into the blackmail?" Sienna asked, her gaze moving from person to person as if to ask if everyone was okay with that.

"We have to at least look like we are," Zola suggested. "Do we know where they've taken Commander Caine?"

"No. I have a PADD that'll give me what is claimed to be a live feed, so I can see that he's still alive, but I've been told any effort to tamper with it means they'll kill him. I have to assume it's bugged, so I left it behind in the penthouse... where my father's currently sweeping for any other bugs, and upgrading the security systems. Have we had a chance to go over the information on S'Blen's isolinear chip, or review the contents of the journal? And how have the backup efforts of both progressed?"

"How do you bury something and not go black?" Streeh asked. "If they know so much about us, they know we have orders and if we stop doing what we have been doing, then we're going to be questioned by the higher ups. The more I hear about this, the less I like it. The isolinear chip confirmed the information about the real reason the Romulans got pulled into the Dominion War, also. Everything was reviewed and it matched the events as they took place in S'Blen's journal. I still can't make sense of what these shadows want."

"Our current orders have nothing to do with S'Blen. Officially, we're still monitoring the Romulan delegation. This project has been entirely off the record, and thankfully hasn't taken us far enough out of the way to draw any attention. But their involvement answers the question why no one has questioned the claim that S'Blen's death was a suicide." Amelia started to pace. "Have you created any of the backups we'd discussed yet?"

"Yes," Streeh said. "I pulled some crew from other duties, but everything is backed up officially and unofficially. If they have people on the inside." he paused to look at everyone assembled. "They may get the official backups, but they will never get the unofficial ones."

"I don't intend to keep the official backups. I want those deleted after we're done here, and done in a way that makes it clear we know they're watching and we want them to see that we're doing it. Let them think we're complying with their demands," Amelia directed, and her gaze moved to Harper, Sienna, and Horan. "Did we make any progress on uncovering this Bajoran Admiral?"

"I did manage to get this chip into one of the intelligence intranet computers. Not sure I gave the Trojan the time it needed though." Horan said, holding out the isolinear chip.

"Given the stakes, we need to assume it got through, and monitor the situation to make sure it isn't detected," Amelia returned, accepting the offered chip. "If we receive the data, I want it included into the unofficial backups, then made to look like it's being disposed off like the official backups. We can't necessarily do anything with the information until we know Rik's fate." Amelia paused a moment, fiddling with her bracelet again as she tried not to think of the negative outcome that implied and was very possible, then she swallowed before continuing. "I have your transfer orders on my desk, Ensign. In case the Trojan is found, you might want to get moved in on the ship so we're in a position to help you if needed."

Horan thought about all the loose ends he had to tie up. Not many. And those he did, he didn't really care much. Those were the leads he was building in case he didn't get a chance to get on a starship. Half-baked commitments, 'I will come back to you about that' commitments. He wanted to shrug them off.

"I'd rather move in, trojan or no trojan." Horan said. He wanted to be out there. Yesterday.

Amelia couldn't help a half smile at the enthusiasm. Even with the situation that was welcoming him onto the crew — the kidnapping and threat of death against the XO — he was enthusiast to be there. There could be other reasons behind it, but Amelia chose to take it at face value for the moment; she needed something positive right now, and if she behaved as if the shadows were manipulating everything she'd get nowhere fast.

"Very good, you've been assigned to alpha quarters on deck two." Amelia looked to Harper and Noah. "So, circumstances disrupted your efforts, but did you make any headway before we had to regroup?"

Harper listened quietly to the discussion around her and focused her attention on the kidnapping of Rik and the efforts to intimidate Waterhouse, and by extension, all of them. It seemed the people or person behind all of this was working overtime to convince the team the kidnappers were behaving morally. In addition, they were also counting on Caine's abduction to leave them so emotionally compromised, they wouldn't ask any questions. Pulled from her reverie, Drake responded to Amelia's question with a shake of her head. "We didn't get much beyond small talk with the mark before we were pulled away." Drake paused, then added, "I find it very odd the people who came to your home to tell you about Rik's abduction made a point to the Starfleet charter as justification for their actions. Since when has the average criminal ever been interested in coercing cooperation, at least in part, by trying to convince us their actions are morally correct and our response to their coercion would be to? They are also counting on our commitment to to rescue Commander Caine, even though people this potentially would have to know any member of Starfleet is prepared to sacrifice his or her life if it means exposing the necessary truth or wrongdoing."

"I think it's safe to say we're not dealing with the average criminal. Based on what's been pieced together, they seem to think whatever they're doing is for the good of the Federation and Starfleet," Amelia said. As she spoke, Zola's attention was drawn away from the group.

"Commander, I believe someone is headed this way," the tiny Ferengi said.

=/\= To Be Continued... =/\=

Commander Amelia Waterhouse
Commanding Officer
USS Joshua Norton, NCC-74819-A

Lieutenant Streeh Khan II
Chief of Security
USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Harper Drake, M.D., Ph.D.
Forensic Psychologist
USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Horan Countrymouth
Infiltration Specialist
USS Joshua Norton

Other Characters by Amy: Lt. Sienna Oswin, Chief Engineer; Lt. Zola, R&D Specialist; Rev. Noah Waterhouse, Pastafarian Minister

NPCs by Rocky: Ens. Kelly Liebenswert, Pilot; Ens. Catalina Barnes, Cryptographer

 

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