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Crew - "Guess Who Just Got Back Today"

Posted on 2019-01-15 08:59 by Captain Amelia Waterhouse & Lieutenant Commander Zhyalla sh'Thrass & Lieutenant JG Harper Drake M.D., Ph.D. & Lieutenant JG Lexil & Lieutenant JG Lem Broll M.D. & Lieutenant JG Cillian Jarkil & Ensign Centurion Drummond & Lieutenant JG Mayoko Takeuchi & Tain McCulloch

Mission: Ozma

Silence fell over the ballroom as the body of Empress Janicka Selok fell to the stage. Amelia shook her head in an attempt to overcome the shock, and looked around quickly. Cillian wasn't far away, but she could not see any of the rest of the crew. She activated her comm.

"Status."

"Four metres, on yer five," Cillian's response was automatic, it didn't register that she could probably see him, but with guards dropping like flies around the ballroom, and the empress lying on the stage with an impressive burn mark on her forehead, instinct had kicked in. So much for hoping for nothing.

"Paieon, near the service lifts close to the stage. Ready to check the health of ...well." He wanted to rant about the possibility of the empress still being alive, but technically that was highly unlikely. His oath to help anyone, however, still pushed him towards the stage slowly to get a better glance at the fallen woman.

Lexil's voice came through at a whisper. "Daphne near Paieon. Eyes on Cretak, she looks surprised." The Denobulan was being extra careful not to be made by Cretak or any of her staff who were likely more combat-capable than they seemed. On the opposite side of the room Mayoko had been avoiding Tain, but now her eyes scanned the crowd for the Scotsman and she lambasted herself internally as no sign of him was apparent where he had been before this coup had started. She reported everything she had seen over the comms as concisely as possible.

"Thalassa, south rest room. Four IG down, Security station presumed controlled by Vimila."

Centurion hadn't stopped cracking the encryption, even as it observed these events from the sensors. Finally, it managed to break through. "This is Talos. The Empress is a hologram. Estimate 60 seconds until I can make an appearance, if needed." The new encryption was basically the same across the whole system, but it would take extra time to be sure to avoid the watchdogs.

Harper couldn't really say she completely relaxed in her role as a server, but over time, she began to feel confident that she could observe without being noticed. Then, naturally, all hell broke loose. She and her fellow servers had stopped at milling around out of respect for the presentation and speech taking place. That meant she had a not quite front row seat when the Empress was shot and struck down before their eyes. Despite the fire fight going on around her, Harper's first instinct was to make her way to the collapsed woman in hopes that something could be done even though she knew it was probably hopeless. She had to remind herself, of course, to maintain her cover. The last thing she wanted to do was expose her team all because she lost focus. Fortunately, Amelia's voice cut through her shock. Drake immediately scanned the room to determine where she was in relation to everyone else. "Psyche to your north. Will try to initiate green evacuation protocol, acknowledged." Even with the chaos around her, she knew it wasn't going to be easy getting to the rendezvous point. She prayed her disguise as a server would continue to serve her well. First thing was first, however. She had to somehow make her way south getting around the tables that stood between her and her colleagues.

Amelia looked around as discretely as she could, as she replayed Dani's advice from earlier: watch the Empress and the exits. Tory finding that the Empress was a hologram certainly helped put that first puzzle piece into place, but was there more to the exits than expected or was that just a warning that she and her crew would need them post haste? Dani had to know that if the team knew the Empress wasn't actually at the party, they would be obligated to attempt to find her.

"Talos, can you determine if she's alive and if so, where is she?"

"The hologram was an unaltered live feed; she had to be controlling it personally. The feed was cut when she was executed, I didn't track its origin in time." Tory's priority had been on contacting the team first for their safety.

"Talos, see if you can locate her. Everyone else, follow green evacuation protocol. Report immediately if you encounter any issue." Amelia started to make her way to one of the stairwells that lead down to the level below with conference rooms, the kitchen and other service areas.

Lexil was suddenly glad of her choice of flat shoes. The soles were soft and quiet, which gave her the opportunity to slip away from Cretak unnoticed and head for the nearest stairwell, which was the Northeast. The one Romulan whom everyone would have suspected before the coup started was still aghast at the stage and missed the swish of Lexil's many skirts. But as the Denobulan moved behind her an idea hit her, and in a split second she decided it gave her and the team more chance of opening up the Northeast stairwell. She activated her stun gloves, and with a swish as she passed the notorious Cretak, administered a shock directly to her bare spine. As she had hoped Cretak went limp and fell into her waiting arms. A few guests around heard Lexil's feigned expression of surprise and helped her lay Cretak down. This diversion gave her the excuse she needed to hail the guard.

"Quick!" she said quietly as she approached him, all other eyes on the unconscious Cretak or the Empress, new or old, "Miss Cretak, I think she's been injured." His surprise was enough. Her right hand went up to block his and her left administered a stun-shock to his exposed neck. The guard collapsed and she managed to bustle him through the door into the stairwell.

"Talos..." she panted into the comms as she struggled to lay the guard down slowly. "Give me a holographic Imperial Guardsman guarding the Northeast Stairwell entrance quickly! Just for show nothing special." She prayed no-one would notice her antics and the Guardsman's sudden absence in the emerging chaos. It was a risk.

"Confirmed, Daphne. Holo access online, you're covered for now. Unknown how they identified the loyal guards, so I could get made at any time." The holographic guard wasn't doing much beyond an idle animation. Centurion's attention was focused on the network, attempting to trace anyone who was watching the sensors — surely the Empress wouldn't be satisfied to sit in the dark after all that.

On the other side of the room Mayoko had much more ground to cover than Lexil. The hubbub of the crowd drowned the click of her heels on the hard marble floor as she slipped onto the Southern balcony and flew down it's length towards the Southeast stairs. The two western staircases were out of play, she had witnessed the consolidation of Imperial Guard at security, and knew that route would descend into a bloodbath if anyone tried to force their way through. She reached the last doorway back into the ballroom, but the easy option had been removed. The Federation Ambassador and his group were blocking the doorway and his importance and indignant aides were attracting far too much attention from the Imperial Guards who had been holding the Empress. She'd never get through to the stairwell unnoticed. One of the group noticed the sound of her heels and turned. It was Tain. Their eyes locked and he held out a hand toward her, wanting to protect her. But Mayoko had spotted the approaching guard and flattened herself against the Balcony wall as she moved to the Ambassador's group to mark him for Vimila's attention. Tain's expression cycled, first through surprise and then to realisation as the Guard spoke and the reasons for Mayoko's actions became clear. He had clearly encountered Starfleet Operatives before and had suspected there may be some at the party, but he had never considered 'Kitty' might be one. Mayoko looked about in panic, to the doorway, to Tain and then quickly to the middle of the space just a short distance away as one of Vimila's guards emerged to start clearing the South balcony of guests. She was trapped.

Lem had previously tried to make his way through the crowd to get closer to the stage, yet as they started to panic slightly, and he got the order to move away, he followed some and kept part of the mass of people. Slowly inching his way back towards a nearby service elevator, with a small flick of his wrist calling to open it up.

Cillian took a look around, taking in the situation before making a decision. The Imperial Guards were swarming over the security station, and there was some kind of commotion around the Federation Delegation at the South East stairs, and a crowd of people being pushed back from the west side of the stage. Add into that a collapsed Romulan in that general area, which may have been caused by Lexil. He looked to his right and saw a guard heading up the Balcony turfing stray crowd members back into the ballroom. Cillian moved slowly towards the balcony and discarded his tray on a table, he lingered just inside an exit, felt the guard pass him, and slipped round the corner turning on his stun gloves and reaching for the gap in between the guards uniform and hair.

He dropped like a stone, and Cillian caught him, moving him to lean against the inside wall, where he was least likely to be spotted too soon, and relieved him of his disruptor. He looked down the balcony and saw Mayoko further up it. He winked.

Mayoko exhaled. She hadn't even noticed that she had been holding her breath, but the fact that her mind had presented her precisely no good options for escape had only increased her stress level. She stayed close to the wall and gave Cillian the thumbs down to denote an enemy followed by a flat hand pointing in the direction of the guard who was with the Ambassador and his entourage just a few feet away from her.

Frowning, Cillian looked around, trying to come up with another way for them to get out of here. He looked at the railing of the balcony, and down at the disruptor in his hand. He looked back at the balcony and then at Mayoko. "Fancy abseilin'? We'll need some kind o' rope... I could nick a tablecloth?" he said after activating his comm.

"I'll be joining you two in a moment," Amelia whispered into her comm as she found herself kettled in with the Ambassador's group. She met eyes with the Andorian in the group—a shen with the tips of her white hair dyed orange—as she made her way towards the edge of the group near the guard. The Andorian placed herself next to Amelia. "Keep the Ambassador safe," Amelia leaned in close to say and moved on before she could respond. Two steps and she was in the personal space of the Guard, her hand finding his neck and with a touch he crumpled. As she caught him and the disruptor he carried, behind her the Andorian held a finger to her lips as she stood between the group, and Amelia and the Guard.

"Alright, Bubbles, let's not draw any attention to ourselves," the shen said as Amelia was quick to duck into the balcony.

Between her and Cillian, Mayoko had undone the bow and begun to unwind the ribbon sash that was used as a cinch for the waist of her dress. Passing the bundled up material around behind her again and again resulted in one long pile of slightly desaturated cherry-red ribbon which she held up to the pilot so he could see. "Reinforced," she said over the comms and turned as she heard Amelia's boots behind her falling on the marble floor.

Watching Mayoko and hearing her muttered word in his ear, Cillian grinned, as he saw the Captain join them he straightened up. He glanced through the nearest opening back into the ballroom. "We need te be quick, tie it te the railin' an' I'll go down first, we don' know wha's down there," he said, already stripping off his stun gloves and tucking them in a pocket. He'd need his natural grip to hold onto the rope one handed and use the disruptor should he need to.

"I'll cover you both, then follow," Amelia said as she looked Mayoko and Cillian over quickly. No indication of physical harm, good, she though as she turned and stood watching for company coming in from the ballroom, the disruptor at the ready.

Mayoko stepped out of her heels and padded across the cold Marble floor. The soles of her stockings were made thicker than normal and of a grippy substance, but even that couldn't block out the smooth coolness of the Marble surface entirely. With a slight shiver she started to attach the ribbon to the balcony railing, willing herself not to look round and trust that the Captain and Cillian had her covered. She tested the ribbon's hold by hanging from it for a couple of seconds on the ballroom side of the transparent safety railing before tipping the bulk of the material over the other side and watching it flutter down into the wide, empty space. She didn't know for sure how many floors it was until solid ground but it looked like a lot.

Cillian was keeping half his attention on Mayoko and what she was doing, disruptor out and at the ready. Luckily it seemed that people were being far too self-centred to pay attention to anything but their own well being. Once the ribbon was tied, tested and hanging down into the unknown, Cillian started to back up towards the railing.

"Hold this a moment," he muttered, handing her the disruptor, he was agile and good at climbing, but there was a long drop and he didn't want to risk it until he was sure the ribbon was secure. Holding onto the balcony he vaulted it, placing his toes and knees against the outside of the transparent barrier. He let go of the railing and took hold of the ribbon, slowly letting his weight sink onto the ribbon. With a smile he held out his hand for the disruptor and once he had it, started his descent. Mayoko watched him go. She admired Cillian's coolness in a situation like this. Sure she had skills that intelligence wanted but he was better suited to it than she, or so she thought. She had a tendency to become flustered, be overly emotional about things. She couldn't just put it all aside and focus. It was a worry.

Cillian took his time, not overly slow, but refusing to let the adrenaline flowing through his body cause him to rush and slip. Unlikely due to his better than average grip, but still not worth the risk. For him that was what this whole thing was about, what was worth the risk; incidentally a lot was, but he was glad to be able to rely on his instincts in times like this. Once he'd got sufficient length above him, he pushed off his knees, letting his feet sit flat against the smooth transparent surface and continued down, as he approached the next level he cautiously looked down to see what options he had to choose from. He had hoped that the level below would be closed for security reasons, or at least had been abandoned for the announcement.

The room was empty, despite a couple of the chairs looking like they'd bee hastily pushed away from the table and abandoned. With his jaw set he wrapped his lower hand into the ribbon just to make sure, levelled the disruptor at the window, and once he'd turned it up to it's highest setting he fired. He probably hadn't needed to turn it up that high, but a large hole with one blast was better than a tiny hole with several.

With a grin he swung himself round the edge of the hole he'd just made, turning in mid air to plant his feet on the inside of the windowsill. He lowered himself to the floor, and then gave two sharp tugs on the ribbon, tossing the end back out of the window and letting it hang down just to the right of the hole, while he waited to help Mayoko into the room he started knocking stray shards of the material into the room so that no one caught themselves on the rough edge.

Above him Mayoko had studiously tied her clutch bag and heels to her waist with a detachable handbag strap and was psyching herself up for going over the top. She had stolen a glance towards the Ambassador's party and Tain who had (after a glance of his own) very usefully put his somewhat large frame directly in the line of sight between the group and her portion of the away team.

You can do this.

She wrapped the ribbon around her hand, pushed herself up on the railing, and with heart thumping swung her legs over and began to lower herself down. Mayoko had no Klingon strength like the Captain or climbing ability like Cillian, and just holding herself up was quite an effort. She found the ribbon with her feet and used the grippy pads on the bottom of her stockings to gain some extra friction.

Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down.

After what was probably around ten to fifteen seconds that seemed more like ten to fifteen minutes, Mayoko drew level with the hole Cillian had blasted. With a deep breath and her arms throbbing she pushed off from the transparent side of the building and on the back-swing flew gently through the hole. Relief like she had never known before flooded through her as Cillian caught her and she released the ribbon, looking up expectantly for sight of the captain and rubbing her aching arms.

Seeing that she was still in her socks, Cillian caught Mayoko before her feet touched the floor and set her down outside the area covered in shards of window. The last thing they needed was to have to piggy back someone out because they'd sliced up their feet. "Ye might want ter put yer shoes back on," Cillian suggested quietly. "Ready for ye Persephone," he said into the comm.

As Mayoko had headed down, Amelia had backed closer and closer to the railing, watching for any company. The Ambassador's entourage filled the closest doorway into the balcony, and that provided a measure of cover, but there was still the chance someone would come from further down and catch them in the act.

"On my way." Amelia set her disruptor on top of the railing so that she could climb over, picking it up again as she perched on the small ledge on the other side. After taking hold of the ribbon, she considered her options — she didn't want to relinquish a weapon she'd just acquired and may not be able to replace, but she didn't want to take the unnecessary risk of attempting her short climb one handed. "Heads up," she said before she leaned back a little, braced by the ribbon, and tossed the disruptor at the hole into the floor below. She didn't wait to see if it made it, grabbing hold of the ribbon with her now freed hand and starting her descent.

Hearing the Captain's warning, Cillian moved back to the hole and reached out to catch the disruptor, which would have hit the edge of the hole and bounced one way or the other, he couldn't be sure, had he not stepped forward. Keeping to one side of the hole he got ready to lay down cover fire, should anyone try to shoot down the side of the building.

Amelia moved as quickly as she dared, taking a deep breath as she knew the top of her head passed below the edge of the balcony and she moved from sight. Between more stories than she could remember—she knew Lexil had mentioned in the briefing, but that felt like so long ago now—and the fact that she was entirely vulnerable should someone look over the edge, she wasn't exactly pleased with the quickness she'd jumped on this escape route. Nothing to do but get down there and in the hole Cillian had made. She knew she was more than capable, she remembered Zola having mentioned in passing the use of synthetic spider silk to reinforce Mayoko's ribbon, but she still kept her eyes firmly on the ribbon and the building. No need to get distracted by the distance below.

Finally she saw the hole to one side and she stepped her way towards it. As she reached the edge, she snorted in amusement as she pictured herself in the old Adam West Batman TV show and quickly shook the thought away — she wouldn't be able to tell Rik about it anyway and she was hardly dressed the part. Maybe she could make some changes to his batman holodeck program after returning to the ship to amuse herself. For now, focus on the mission. She grabbed hold of the edge of the hole, protected by her finger-less gloves, and swung herself inside. The ribbon fluttered away as she let go of it.

"Shall we to the rendezvous?"

Mayoko had followed Cillian's advice. Her shoes on and bag now secured across her shoulder, she gave Amelia a determined nod.

On the floor above Lexil had clocked the ship's Surgeon heading for the elevator and sent him a quick message on the com.

"Stairwell is open, Paieon, I'd not risk the Elevator," she suggested.

Without hesitation the lift had already been called, but Lem quickly moved out of the way to casually walk over to the stairwell. Using moving crowds as a cover, after all, he was just another person at the party, nothing strange about him. A small smile at another guest before moving down to the stairwell. Quickly stepping down the steps.

On the way up he met someone, an unknown person that made their way up for some reason. Lem mumbled something about the lavatories and feeling sick as he went down, passing this person he oriented himself in the building again and went towards the rendezvous point.

Lexil watched him go. From the comm chatter it seems like Amelia, Mayoko and Cillian were handling themselves. That only left Harper. From her position at the top of the stairwell she looked out through the closing door, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the ship's counsellor. But someone ascending the stairs unexpectedly diverted her attention. She was prepared for it to be Lem or perhaps another one of the team. It wasn't.

"What are you doing in here?" An Imperial Guardsman cornered her and pressed the door release. "Hey, get in here!" He said to Tory's holographic Guardsman. Lexil activated her stun gloves and pressed both to the guard's only exposed skin - his face. Nothing. Her charges were all spent. In a split second the guard's mind caught up with what was going on. A random Bolian passing him on the way up, the unresponsive guard outside, the body of his colleague slumped at the top of the stairwell and now a Denobulan guest clearly trying something to incapacitate him too. With a surge of adrenaline he took Lexil by the neck and slammed her against the opposite wall, knocking the Denobulan into a daze. Lexil's head swam. Her neck was on fire, she couldn't breathe and pain started to course through the back of her head as the hard impact of the back of her skull against the marble, and her various hair ornaments being crushed into the back of her head, created a new and disturbing combination of pains. She scrabbled wildly, trying to reach his eyes or his face or anything that might put him off his clear intent to incapacitate her. She even tried knees to the groin but some clever soul had already thought of this long before and the Guardsman was too well armoured to be susceptible to such a cheap attack.

I can't… submit…

Lexil's consciousness was failing her, being squeezed out of her. She knew she had no chance against a Romulan, especially not a Romulan male hand-to-hand, their strength was at least three times that of a Denobulan, especially a Denobulan female. Despair started to creep in to her panicked thoughts. Was this where she died? At best she was going to be incapacitated and brought before the Tal Shiar. She had heard the name on comms earlier, the Romulan security force from the old Empire whose mention still conjured images of deception and brutality. Perhaps they would keep her alive in jail for years. Maybe she would die right here, right now with none of her friends or her crew to see her or ever even know what happened. Either way her life was effectively over.

No…

The thought of her friends had put Zola into her mind and from there it was a small jump to

The hairpin...

Lexil reached behind her throbbing head and dragged the ornate Denobulan hairpin from its place. The five inch long metal piece had been jammed into the back of her neck and was tipped with red blood but it gave her the extra reach she needed. She pressed the jewel hard, deploying the hidden sharpened tip that Lieutenant Zola had created for her, effectively turning the ornament into a concealed dagger, and without any hesitation jammed it into the guard's neck, twisted and pulled.

Lexil was no stranger to blood, injury and death. She had seen Xavier Aldridge bleed to death in her arms all that time before. She had seen Borg drones unceremoniously neutralised, their pale emotionless faces as they had tried to kill her, but what she had never seen before was the face of a living, breathing person as they suddenly realised as if from nowhere that they were going to die. A jet of green blood fired from the wound on the guard's neck and he dropped her in an instant, clasping a gloved hand to try to stem the flow. Lexil had hit an artery. She hadn't aimed to, she had only wanted to stop him, preserve her own life, preserve her own freedom, not spend the rest of her days in a Romulan prison, if she had any days left at all. But her knee-jerk fighting response had hit its mark perfectly. Green blood continued to pour through his fingers and he staggered back, crashing into the closed door behind him with force as Lexil dropped to her knees, gasping for breath, her eyes glued to her assailant. Her flesh-coloured ballerina shoes scrabbled for grip on the marble floor and she pushed herself back against the wall, clutching her own neck, mindful of her own searing pain but unable to tear her eyes away from horror show unfolding in front of her. The green blood continued down the shoulder of his jacket and ran down his arm in copious and mortal volumes. She hadn't meant to kill him, she only wanted to stop him but it was apparent even only after a few seconds that the Romulan was going to bleed out and very soon. Tears began to punctuate her wheezed choking.

"I'm sorry," she managed to whisper, the words sending her into a spluttering cough. Lexil closed her eyes and controlled her breathing, she took stock of all the pains in her neck and the back of her head, steadied herself and looked up again. The glassy lifeless eyes of the guard stared back at her, still locked in the wild panic of his sudden demise. Lexil shuddered and covered her mouth with her hand. She had killed someone. This wasn't entirely unexpected. Of course Lexil knew that one day it may well come to this. One day she would be more of an operative than a rear echelon sort of intelligence officer, but somehow she had never considered scenarios of this type, never considered that it might be them or her, never considered that she would have just a few panicked moments to prevail upon an outcome, her or them, life or death, success or failure. Success. It certainly didn't feel like success but she was still alive and still had a mission. Lexil staggered to her feet, leaned forward to close the guards eyes and without another moment's thought flew down the stairs towards the rendezvous.

Harper heard the order and considered her options. There was only one way down if she didn't feel like being a stuntwoman and that was certainly true. The scene was chaotic, but she felt sure someone would notice a server climbing down to the floor below. That was just her luck. She noted the stairs closest to her seemed to be reachable if not totally clear and the good news was, a server headed down to the floor below where the kitchen happened to be
would seem nuts at worst and employee of the year behavior at its best. With any luck, she could sell anyone she ran into on the fact that desperate times called for more ale. She walked with purpose but not too quickly to the stairs and was startled to find a body. The doctor in her warred with her own desire for self-preservation, but it was obvious to her he was gone. There was only one thing left to do. She zipped down the stairs, thankful for the practical shoes of a servant.

=/\= End Log =/\=

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

Lieutenant JG Lexil
Acting Chief Science Officer
USS Joshua Norton

Lieutenant JG Harper Drake, M.D., PhD
Forensic Psychologist
USS Joshua Norton, NCC-74819-A

Lieutenant Junior Grade Lem Broll M.D.
Surgeon
USS Joshua Norton, NCC-74819-A

Lieutenant JG Cillian Jarkil
Pilot
USS Joshua Norton - NCC-74819-A

Crewman "Centurion" Drummond
Engineering Crewman
USS Joshua Norton, NCC-74819-A

NPC by Amy: LtCmdr Zhyalla sh'Thrass, Press Attaché
NPCs by Jessica: LtJG Mayoko Takeuchi, Demolitions Specialist; Tain McCulloch, Trade Envoy

 

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