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Cmdr Waterhouse & LtJG Barnes - "Can't Knock 'Em Out, Can't Walk Away"

Posted on 2017-04-23 08:55 by Lieutenant JG Catalina Barnes & Captain Amelia Waterhouse & Lieutenant Zola

Mission: Cup O Noodle

The computer had directed Zola and Catalina to the base gym when they'd asked for Amelia's location. It was nearly empty as they entered, and easy to spot the red headed Commander on the sparring mat at the far end of the room. Light glinted through green transparent aluminum as nunchuks spun and impacted with the figure she faced. Almost covering the Klingon battle cries and sound of breaking bones was bouncy pop music, sung in English by a female voice with a British accent. Amelia's opponent fell to their knees after a particularly hard hit, and they shimmered out of view. She stepped to the edge of the mat to grab her water bottle, and spotted Zola and Catalina.

"Computer, pause music," Amelia said with a dart of her eyes upward before they quickly flitted back to her crew. "Good to see you up and about, Catalina. How are you feeling?"

Catalina gave the Commander a wan smile and moved her hair aside so she could see the monitor. "Like a Targ on a leash, but at least I'm not confined to that bed anymore. If you have a few minutes, I'd like to speak to you in private, Commander."

"I'm not surprised, based on the report I read." Amelia crossed the gym, clutching her nunchuks in one hand, the chains softly rattling together as she walked over and gave the room a once over. "It's pretty empty in here, or did you have somewhere in mind to go?"

"Let's go find Harpocrates," Catalina suggested, referencing the Greek god of secrets, silence and confidentiality. "I'll fill you in when we find him."

"I think duPont had just installed a fountain in the arboretum," Zola pointed out as Amelia moved to grab her gym bag.

"But that's in the public levels of the base, so even if it'll make it hard to listen in, we still might have a civilian stumble into the middle of our conversation," Amelia objected as she lead the way out the door. "We can grab one of the smaller briefing rooms on three."

Catalina headed out after her. "I appreciate it, Commander," she said. "I wouldn't normally make such a request, but I have a lot on my mind and need to get some of it out."

"Here's some of it, ma'am." Zola offered her PADD to Amelia as the three walked. "Catalina seems to have retained more than was in the data dump, so hopefully she'll be able to bridge a few gaps that exist in the files."

"This is the data from the training scenario. I thought all of it was fabricated by the scenario?" Amelia thumbed through the PADD as they reached the turbolift.

"I had been combing through it, to see if I could find out more about what happened to Catalina... But something came up that didn't make sense." The door slid shut behind the three women as Zola pointed to something on the tablet.

Catalina looked at Zola. "Can you set up a field with your tricorder for a bit more privacy, Z?" she asked the Ferengi. "I've discovered that paranoids are only people with all the facts and have real enemies."

Amelia looked up from the PADD, and all friendliness had dropped from her face. The name that has been under the tip of Zola's blue nail had caused a lot of trouble and Rik was still paying the bill. Zola had her tricorder out in a flash to scan and set up a dampening field.

"All cle-" Zola was interrupted by the chirp of the turbolift. "Computer, hold turbolift. Now we should be good."

"So, not only does this say that information about S'blen is on the Federation president's desk, but it also says he intends to tell the Romulans." Amelia took a deep breath as she clenched her fist and looked between Catalina and Zola. "Do we have anything to indicate this wasn't just made up by the training scenario's AI?"

"I was in the system deep, Commander," Catalina said. "That stuff on the PADD was a summary data dump, but I still have a lot of information stuffed in my coconut." She relayed what she had told Zola in the hospital in detail and took a deep breath when she was done. "I was so intent on cracking the 'Borg' encryption that I went deeper into the computers than any sentient being without authorization had a right to."

"But this isn't even information that should have been in our computer core. Khan was supposed to have removed everything we had related to that investigation once he archived everything, and I have no reason to believe he didn't do that." Amelia leaned back against the wall of the turbolift, running her thumb along the bridge of her forehead ridges. "This isn't even anything we had, this is new."

"I have a theory, but I don't have a way to investigate it because the neural link conveniently disappeared before we could retrieve it," Zola spoke up. "It looks like it may have had a running data link that was still connected while everything else on the ship was locked down for the scenario. Connected to where, I wouldn't even know where to start to guess. Fleegman's explanation on where the device came from leaves a lot more questions than answers."

"That's just it," Catalina said. "I believe that I wasn't just in the ship's computer, but went through the link and back into the system that was running the scenario and deeper than that. The information may have came to me in the form of Borg data, but they had to make it look like that to anyone who tried to break the encryption through normal methods. What I did was anything but normal and I really wish that I had thought to dump everything I had to the backup computer core." She sighed. "Not that it would have mattered considering the fact that if it had been real, the information would have been lost anyway. Still, this situation has gone from SNAFU to FUBAR and I still have information in my melon that will make the shadow boys want to cut it off if they knew what was floating around in it."

"Right now, I want to cut some things off those shadow boys." Amelia hit the turbolift wall. "The information that Rik was taken to keep concealed appears to be on the cusp of being handed to the Romulans, the very people we least want to know about it. Just imagine what will happen to our treaty if they learn about the deception involved in getting them into the dominion war. And the president appears to think it'll strengthen the bonds been the Romulans and the Federation to confess and apologize in one broad stroke."

"All that and they still have Commander Caine," Zola added.

"I'm trying not to think about that yet, because I will go on a bloody rampage and I don't even know where to direct it if I do. Thoughts, either of you?"

Catalina started to say something before she seemed to convulse and started speaking in rapid encryption code language as she fell back against the wall, her eyelids fluttering before she slid to the floor.

Zola mashed a button on the screen of her tricorder as Catalina stated to speak, the tricorder beeping quietly to indicate it was recording after the first couple syllables. Both Amelia and Zola rushed forward, the red head catching Catalina just enough to slow her descent to the turbolift floor as the cerebral monitor started chirping urgently. Amelia and Zola exchanged a look, and both reacted quickly.

"Computer, medical emergency, site to site transport to sickbay for Lieutenant Barnes and myself," Amelia said as she slapped her combadge. As she was doing that, Zola turned off the tricorder. Amelia and Catalina disappeared in the shimmer of the transporter.

"Computer release turbolift, sickbay." Zola directed, and the turbolift chirped as it started to move again.

When they appeared in Medical, Catalina's eyes rolled back in her head as the monitor went off and she went limp in Commander Waterhouse's arms. The monitor behind her ear went into full medical alert mode and sent the nearby nurses and doctors into a full scramble.

As the medical team surrounded Catalina like locust descending upon a field, one nurse broke off and pulled Amelia aside.

"What happened, ma'am?"

"We were just talking, then suddenly she started speaking... it was kind of like that old earth religious thing, I think they called it speaking in tongues? I couldn't make heads or tails of what she'd said, and when she collapsed back against the turbolift wall, I supported her best I could to hopefully prevent any further injury and beamed her straight here." Amelia watched the flurry of motion that had moved her cryptographer to a biobed.

"Okay, we'll let you know when we have anything to update. Meanwhile, you should probably go find something to do." The nurse clasped Amelia by her upper arm and tried to turn her towards the door. Amelia didn't budge, and looked the nurse straight in the eye as she pulled her hand off her arm.

"I'm not going anywhere. I will be here when she wakes up, is that understood?"

"She'll need to rest, she won't be able to have visitors at first."

"I am certain she will try to leave again, unless I'm here when she wakes up. Do you want to let me make this easier for you, or do you want her fighting you the rest of her treatment?"

"Very well, just do not get in the way." The nurse headed towards the flurry of motion surrounding Catalina as the sickbay doors slid open and Zola entered with Amelia's gym bag slung across her back. She held the bag out to Amelia as she approached, and Amelia took it, setting it down against the wall.

"I'm going to wait here while they take care of Catalina, can you analyze what she said before she collapsed?" Amelia lowered her voice as she asked. Zola nodded. "I'll let you know when they tell me anything, okay? And if you can find Fleegman for me, see what you can find out about that neural interface of his."

"Yes ma'am, is there anything I can bring you?"

"I should be fine for now, this is hardly my first vigil in sickbay." Amelia offered a half hearted smile. "I'll let you know if that changes, depending on how long it is until she wakes again." Zola nodded, and after a look towards Catalina and the medical staff that worked around here, the little Ferengi headed for the door. Amelia settled against the wall, arms crossed as she waited and watched.

=/\= =/\= =/\=

An hour later, Catalina was declared stable enough to receive visitors with a stern warning not to upset the young officer. The nurse repeated her orders twice to Amelia and made it clear that rank meant absolutely nothing where the care of her patient was involved before she stepped aside with a stern look.

Catalina rested on the biobed for the second time, once again in a hospital gown. She gave Commander Waterhouse a wan smile and swallowed. "So how much trouble am I in, Commander?" she asked.

"None, as long as I don't have a nurse telling me you tried to pull a jailbreak again," Amelia settled onto the nurse's stool and put a reassuring hand on Catalina's. "And if you know what's good for you, I wouldn't argue with the nurses around here. I'm pretty sure they're as tough as our combat medics. I certain wouldn't bet against them in a bar fight on Qo'noS."

"I won't," Catalina said, her voice soft and full of earnestness. "I needed to get that information to you, though. It was too important not to, even if it meant me ending up back in here."

"You know, if you'd asked me to come here to see you, I would have. Keep that in mind for next, okay?" Amelia shook her head, biting back a smile. "I have Zola following up on some leads, and I need to decide how to best move forward from here. But thank you."

Catalina shook her head. "Harpocrates wouldn't approve this place to talk and you know that as well as I do," she said. "I'm a Starfleet officer and I report directly to you when there's information too valuable to be relayed with other people around who do not need to know."

"I'm not sure that Harpocrates thought much better of the turbolift, but then I trust Zola to be able to handle most needs along those lines, so where she goes, Harpocrates goes. At any rate, no point debating it now... you need to rest, and I need to assure Nurse Ratched that her order will be maintained and you'll be a good patient now." Amelia stood from the stool with a chuckle. "Is there anything I can smuggle in here for you, to help keep your sanity?"

She thought for a moment. "Maybe some real coffee if you can find it?" she asked. "The replicated stuff tastes almost but not quite like anything I've ever had. If you can find it, I'd also love some fried octopus."

"I may need to get you an I owe you for the fried octopus, but I think I know a good place in SF when we get back to earth. I'll see if duPont has any coffee squirreled away, he is constantly muttering about shitty American style coffee in the replicator, and don't even get me started on his thoughts on raktajino. Do you like the full powered French style espresso, or do I need to sweet talk him into un café américain — I think that's what he called it?"

"Just black coffee with one sugar," Catalina said. "I couldn't tell you the difference between French style and whatever the other style is supposed to be. Raktajino is a kick in the head when you need a violent wakeup call and replicator coffee is good for stripping stuff of corrosion."

"I'm sure he'll agree with you about the replicated coffee, I'll mention you said that when I throw you on his mercy... assuming he has the stash of beans I suspect. He'll probably make an effort to hide that he's judging you." Amelia shook her head. "You rest up, and be a model patient, because I want you back in fighting trim when we get to Earth, is that understood?"

"I can feel the love," Catalina said with a laugh. "I promise to be good as long as I can get at least one cup of coffee. Fair enough?"

"I'll tell Cecil that this cup of coffee will carry the fate of the quadrant in it." Amelia smirked.

"Whatever it takes, Commander," Catalina said as she lay back. "Whatever it takes."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Commander Amelia Waterhouse
Commanding Officer
USS Joshua Norton

Lieutenant JG Catalina Barnes
USS Joshua Norton

Also by Amy: Lieutenant Zola, R&D
Medical staff a collaboration between Amy and Rocky


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