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Crew - "The Seeker Will Be Found By The Looker On The Ground"

Posted on 2019-02-26 10:46 by Captain Amelia Waterhouse & Lieutenant Zola & Empress Janicka Selok & Lieutenant JG Lexil & Lieutenant JG Lem Broll M.D. & Lieutenant JG Cillian Jarkil & Ensign Centurion Drummond & Lieutenant JG Mayoko Takeuchi

Mission: Ozma

"Talos, do you have access to the shield system to guide the team?" Zola sat at her terminal in the library, looking at the specifications for the shield booster. Since the lock down had occurred, her access to the palace systems had been compromised, and she was limited to the single encrypted voice line in that had taken her time to get re-established without setting off any of the heightened security. Even that much had required deploying additional Little Big probes so she could get the mesh network extended towards the palace; thankfully they'd been small enough they weren't drawing the attention of whatever sensors were monitoring the outside of the building.

"No access, but some diagnostics, including the location. I have access to most of the holosystems outside the residential floors if corporeation becomes necessary." Centurion's voice was as calm, but faster than usual, carefully calculated to remain within organic comprehension speeds.

"I can keep up with faster speeds, if you wish to further compress your vocal transmission rates, Talos," Zola said, as she switched the focus on her terminal to the palace floor plans. "Can you verify if there are holoprojectors in range of the shield unit Thalassa and Paieon are headed towards? The plans I have here do not indicate any."

"Not close enough for direct contact, but close enough to help with guards if necessary." As requested, the voice was even faster now, its diction distorting slightly — no longer quite the same sounds that an organic would use, but somehow even easier to understand because of it.

Zola made a face, Tory's voice sounded odd to her sensitive hearing, but it was clear enough. "Thalassa, Paieon, what is your ETA?"

"One to two minutes if no enemy contacts." Mayoko's voice returned over the line. The small two-man team moved down a corridor quickly and quietly. Mayoko led Lem, her disruptor clutched in a scarred hand, her eyes frantically scanning the way ahead for any sudden movements, any Imperial guard rounding a corner or other threats, her mind calculating and remembering the best cover points as they progressed towards the target.

Lem wasn't used to hostile situations like this. His expertise was more the creation of altering costumes and cosmetic prosthetics before missions. This whole sneaking and stealth through the corridors was hardly what he had done before, but it was an enjoyable tension. His fingers clutched around his own tri-corder as he was lead. "I always imagined we'd have a theme song when we did this. Something with a lot of duns. And then someone pops around the corner and I ninja ch... right sorry, not the time. Nope."

"Detour to the left, hallway to the right is occupied." Tory's voice sounded over their communicators. A moment later, music began playing quietly in Lem's ear — the theme from an old spy movie.

Since Lem was actually wearing a tuxedo at the party before, he felt like a true spy that you would've seen in the 1990s. Yet, it was now time for more serious work. Following Mayoko, her expertise, so her lead. She led the team to the left as instructed into another hallway moving slowly and quietly, her ears peeled for the sounds of movement.

"Where next?" Mayoko knew the route but the detour had thrown her off.

"Take the first right, straight until that hall ends, then another right and you'll be back on your previous path. Sensors show a clear path all the way to the shields at the moment. Will notify of changes." A moment ago, the path had not actually been clear; the guard now unconscious in another stairwell didn't seem likely to raise any new problems, however.

Right, straight, right. Mayoko repeated to herself in her head. "Thank you." She kept a steady pace, occasionally looking back to check on Lem. Just as Tory had described the route was clear and after another minute they arrived. Interspersed between the doors to the various rooms that from what Mayoko could tell were quarters of some kind was a door appointed in a different hue with markings apart from those around. Mayoko looked both ways up the corridor and activated her comm.

"Thalassa and team at objective."

"Understood." Lexil's voice came back. Update given Mayoko pressed her thumb to the bio sensor lock and was rewarded for her good work by the door staying most stalwartly closed. Mayoko pressed the release again. And again. But the more she pressed it the more the door didn't open.

"Chikushō! Talos, can you get this door open?" Mayoko said to the bot clutched on to her bag. Mayoko didn't know if it heard her through her comm or through the bot itself but it seemed prudent to address a physical form like she would anyone else.

"Not virtually. You need an engineer. Step back." After a moment, a hologram shimmered into existence — a Romulan in muted blue formal wear, holding a pair of crowbars. "It's reinforced. This particular model is subject to wear if not fastidiously maintained; apply pressure here," it handed off a crowbar, indicating a point near the bottom left corner of the door, "and I wedge this in here–" it shoved the tip of the remaining crowbar into the right end of the track of the door. "This will be loud, then the door will fall. Ready?"

Mayoko nodded and took two steps back, continuously checking the corridor in both directions. Surely someone would hear, but they didn't have much choice.

"Ready." She looked at Lem.

Lem put his hand held device into a holster on his hip and gave a nod. "Ready." Readying himself for the possible drawbacks of this move.

Tory-the-Romulan waited another moment. "Guards on this floor should be out of earshot now." It dropped its projected mass nearly to zero, jumped clear up to the ceiling, then kicked off. Its mass restored, and then some, it slammed both feet down onto the crowbar, tearing the door from its track with an ear-splitting shriek of metal on metal. It caught the door as it began to tip precariously, and lowered it quietly to the floor, discorporeating itself and both crowbars as soon as it was done.

"Watch the scans please Talos. We don't want to be surprised. Paieon please cover the door." Mayoko asked as she made her way into the shield room. It was darker than the rooms about, small, perhaps twelve feet across each way loud with the hum of electronics and cooling systems. As the dems expert carefully stepped into the gloom it lit up automatically with bright artificial light, allowing for maintenance by the crews who seldom visited. On the wall (or perhaps the wall itself) opposite the door was the shield emitter, a large and impressive example, larger than one even a Starship would use. Mayoko took a deep breath and tried to marry up the specs she had seen to what was in front of her. She had imagined something smaller, but larger was good. Larger was easier to work from.

"Acknowledged, Thalassa. You're clear for now." The guards on the floor below had heard the door coming down, and were searching for the source of the noise. They hadn't managed to pinpoint the direction, however, so by Tory's calculation they'd be searching their own floor for at least another two minutes before they started checking above and below. If necessary, it could use the palace's sound system to lead them off track. No way to tell how long that would work, though.

Paieon, Lem, moved with Thalassa in this moment, watching the door as she did her things. He had a hypospray in his kit, would it become dangerous, he could always sedate someone with a quick flick from the wrist to the neck. He had looked in databases to synthesize a anesthetic that wouldn't react adverse to romulan biology. Somewhere it was in conflict with his Hippocratic oath, but he knew that an oath wouldn't hold up against a disruptor.

Her disruptor placed carefully on a nearby surface Mayoko went to work. She accessed the shield emitter controls, navigating through menus and updating settings, entering codes provided by Talos in readiness to take the shield emitter off-line. The only physical work to do was fool the alarm system that would notify the central building security that the shield was down. Mayoko took a couple of paces to her left and popped open a hatch revealing a set of isolinear chips which were juggled about in reasonably short order. Mayoko wasn't technically an engineer but she spent enough time in R&D with Lieutenant Zola working on new and interesting devices that she would have made an excellent applicant for Starfleet engineering if her current career path ever became obsolete. It was almost appealing, but why would anyone give up the opportunity to create really big explosions? Her work complete, a final couple of taps on the control panel and the hum of the shield emitter began to wane.

"Wait?" Lem softly said. "It's that easy? I should pay more attention to the people in Engineer. Then again, Engineering of a machine is almost the same as engineering of a body. Moving parts, oils that could be seen as blood. Hm! I like this. Do machines have a heart like system? Maybe. A hydraulic pump." Lem rambled as always, it seemed the situation was relaxing a bit and so was the Bolian.

Mayoko smiled at him, she too was relieved the task had been so simple.

"Seems so…" She commented quietly, looking about the room and focusing on the door that sat on the floor in the corridor outside. At least Tory would be able to give them advanced warning of any company, so now all they had to do is defend the position until Amelia and her team were ready.

"Thalassa." Tory's voice came through the comms. "To expedite my own extraction when the time comes, could you go ahead and plug the bot into the nearest console?"

"Yes, just one moment." Mayoko tore her eyes from the door and set about fulfilling Tory's request. She pulled a panel off below the maintenance terminal and located the external interface and...

"We have a rabbit hole, Thalassa, what's your status?" Amelia's voice also played in her ear. Mayoko spoke back quickly.

"The garage is unlocked, the ramp is down and the parents are in the car and waiting." Mayoko replied as she connected the Tory bot as it had requested. Amelia spoke again quickly as Mayoko stood up.

"Metis, can you get a signal lock and start beaming the team out? Priority is the Empress, then everyone else based upon their risk of discovery by Imperial Guard."

Mayoko took a deep breath, pleased that nothing had gone wrong. Suddenly a loud clunk filled her ears and the the shield emitter hummed back in to life. Turning to the terminal in a panic she checked the readouts.

"Acquiring lock on the Empress now–" Zola answered Amelia over the rising whine of the shields. If the transporter stream was interrupted as the shield came back up...

"Don't energise!" Mayoko activated her comm again quickly. "It's coming back online and I don't know why!"

"Multiple imperial guards converging on your position, Thalassa. And quickly." Tory's voice again. "There are holoprojectors just outside this room if you want me to run interference."

"Yes." Mayoko told the Hologram, looking over the control panel for the emitter desperately trying to work out what was going on. "Paieon, help Talos on the inbound where you can but keep me covered. Kill if you have to, there is no stun on disruptors. Talos, lead on the inbound. If you can spare runtime to analyse the shields that would be good, it looks like automatic failover, but disabling it is different access level."

Paieon grabbed his disruptor and frowned. "I don't like these things, but what we got to do, we got to do." Lem softly sighed and looked at the weapon in his hand, it felt like a crime to even use it to him. A quick pat on the hypospray in his pocket however. "Hm, I wish we could just stun the majority of them. Any ideas to do this quietly and nonlethal, Talos?"

Tory's voice came through the comms again. "Depends on how non-lethal they are. If they engage hand-to-hand, I can armor you. If they hit you with the disruptors, though, the feedback will disable the projectors in the area long enough for you to be vaporized with the next shot." Down the hall, the same voice shouted in excitement and a Romulan guard let out a cry, cut short with a grunt. "The group to the south is distracted. Step into the hall so I can test the armor before the northern group gets here."

Lem stepped into the hall as asked by Tory and smirked. "Well, I never thought I was the one to do this, but as long as we can take out most of them without them dying I am good. I learned some moves back at the Academy. Heck! I even learned some stuff from my uncle Captain Rix. He is well versed in the drunken style of pugilism!" He looked down the hall. "Well then, time to armor up!"

As he said these words, the transformation began — plates of armor, translucent blue, the largest ones appearing first, then finer, as the sensors got a more accurate lock onto Lem's body. Breastplate, legs, arms, then the joints between them, the fingers. Finally, an elaborate helmet, in the style of an old Earth samurai, with a particularly dramatic addition — a broad, immaculate mustache.

Meanwhile down the hall, Tory's holographic form was busy with a set of Romulans. It had appeared behind them, knocking out one and with the next in a classic meat shield hold before they had any idea it was there. Now it was in a bit of a standoff, taunting the remaining Romulans as it removed its hostage's disruptor and tossed it back down the hallway.

Lem was ready for a pummeling and that wasn't meant as receiving one, but as giving one out. Lem softly murmured something in his native language, akin to a blessing of Myrmidon, a Bolian holy figure before stepping more into the hallway. Quickly moving to a corner overlooking the room with Mayoko and the rest of the hallway, waiting for the rest of the romulans.

Now that Lem was ready, Tory didn't need to stall the Romulans any longer. It knocked out its captive with a single headbutt, then tossed his listless form towards the remaining three guards, distracting them long enough for it to discorporeate. While the three were all facing the same way, it reappeared behind them, taking down the rearmost with a well-placed swing of a holographic staff.

The northern group was arriving. Tory knew that Lem's armor would hold against their hand-to-hand skills, but the doctor would still need all the help he could get. A well-timed tripwire sent the foremost of the group sprawling to the ground within the Bolian's reach.

A swift kick to the ribs of one of the laying down shoulders signaled the start of a small brawl that was about to ensue. With another movement back of his foot, the heel of his foot would hit a Romulan on the floor nearby the first tripped soldier. Lem looked at the rest of the group and whispered something about flaring up the armor. Psychological factors were as much part of combat as physical was.

His first fist hit connected on a disruptor, knocking it out of the surprised romulan hands. While another aimed up, Lem moved behind one of his squad mates to cover him. Disruptors had a slight wider arc of fire, so using another to cover yourself was useful. A quick push knocked the two Romulans together, from the side however, Lem got the butt of a disruptor against his side.

With a loud grunt, he threw up an elbow to knock another disruptor out of the hands of the fifth romulan. On the ground one of them men pulled his security knife to stab at Lem. While it connected, the force field of armour helped it reflect off. Lem winced at the sight and did a shout. "Get us out!"

The previously staggered duo tried to grab Lem while he flailed around in a flurry of punches. One attached to his shoulder, while the other missed the grab. A swift knee in the side of the Romulan brought him down, but then a fist connected to the back of Lem. Making his knees buckle very slighty. Romulan were strong, it might not damage him, but he could still feel a slight pressure. "We need extraction!"

Back in the shield room Mayoko was struggling with the emitter controls. She could bring the shield down again, probably, but keeping it down was a whole different matter. Disabling the failsafe in the timeframe she had was looking increasingly unrealistic. The demolitionist pushed the sounds of combat from her mind, took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart and activated the com.

"Metis Thalassa. I can't deactivate the failsafe! We will have to coordinate transport. How long do you need to get everyone out?"

"If everything goes as expected, I can have you all in no more than ten seconds. However, given the number of variables involved?" Zola chewed her lip. "I'll do the best I can with whatever window you can give me. How long did it take to reinitialize last time? That's our window."

"Thirty..." Mayoko checked the timestamp on the console. "...thirty seven seconds. We don't have much time." She added, the sounds of fighting outside getting closer. "Bringing down the shield again in ten... nine..."

Mayoko counted Zola down and deactivated the shield again, bringing the noise of the combat into further prominence as the shield emitter slipped back into silence.

Tory had been putting off transferring its primary consciousness; the nanoseconds of latency it would experience controlling a hologram through the bot's dataport could easily have jeopardized the whole mission. As the countdown started, though, it began the transfer, while simultaneously attempting to tie up loose ends — if the Romulans didn't know about Torchwood yet, it didn't want to be the one that spilled the beans. Its holographic form shoved a couple of them down as it set off at a dead sprint towards the nearest doorway to discorporeate out of sight, while in the virtual realm it rapidly pored through sensor and access logs, deleting large sections around anything that could identify it. The gaps would themselves be suspicious, but it didn't have time to be delicate — it would just have to hope the gaps were large enough to prevent any useful "creative analysis".

As Mayoko reached zero, Zola go to work. Target lock acquired for... one, two, three– she counted as each indicated a confirmed lock. Six, seven– and the locks stopped. She needed eight, and Zola quickly skimmed the listing of patterns that waited dematerialization. Waterhouse, Lexil, Jarkil, Broll, Takeuchi, Drummond, and Empress Selok. Where was Drake? Fifteen seconds had elapsed at this point, and they only had thirty-seven. Zola remodulated the signal and the seconds continued to tick by. As the counter rolled from twenty-eight to twenty-nine, and Zola was about to materialize who she had, she caught the last one — whatever had been preventing Harper's lock was no longer an issue. Zola's fingers slid across the controls and the team dematerialized.

As she engaged the transporter, Zola's system overrode the library's video feed on the camera in the room, replacing it with a loop of Zola's activities over the course of the evening, and covering the materialization of the team in the small room. The delicate nature of attempting to beam them out through the gap in the palace shields left Zola feeling that this was the better option than attempting the relay up to the ship. She let our a small sigh as seven figures and a small bot materialized.

"Everyone have all their limbs, toes, and fingers?" Zola looked to Amelia as she asked.

"Where are we?" the deposed Empress Selok spoke up from the far end of the table. She looked at the group, taking half a step back as she did. She bumped into the wall. "And who are you?"

"Apologies for the sudden relocation, your Imperial Majesty. We were concerned about your safety, given the display that your cousin put on in the ballroom." Amelia stood from the floor where she'd materialized in the same position she'd been in the crawl space.

Lexil stood as gracefully as possible and looked around quickly for the empress. She skirted about the rest of the team and put herself into prominence in front of Janicka.

"You might remember me, your Majesty?" She asked gently. "Lieutenant Lexil, Starfleet Intelligence. We met once on your Warbird. The Praetor was worried about tonight and requested our presence in case something... unexpected should happen."

Janicka looked at Lexil for a long moment. "You were the one with the short tempered man, terran wasn't he?" She looked down the length of the table before Lexil could respond, and stared at Amelia a long moment. "You wouldn't happen to be related to the Reverend Waterhouse, would you?"

Amelia bit back a sigh and forced a smile. "He is my younger brother. I was concerned when I saw he was at the event tonight."

"He was there as my guest." Janicka stood quietly a long moment, her gaze returning to Lexil. "Bok'ra saw this coming, and didn't see fit to tell me? Even he thinks I'm a weak fool. No matter, if I retake my empire, he can be removed... and if I fail trying, he's likely to be ousted by my cousin and her people anyways."

"We have reason to believe her people are Tal Shiar, Majesty." Amelia stood up straighter, and looked around.

Janicka clenched her fists, and looked around the room. "Okay, when are reinforcements coming? What is your plan to retake the palace from that cousin of mine?" She stepped forward and stared into Lexil's eyes as she awaited an answer. The Denobulan cowered a little internally but rallied her nerve well enough to phrase her response in as diplomatic manner as possible. For those who knew her the struggle was a visible one.

"Your Majesty, this rescue is a strictly off the books operation." She started in a levelled tone. "While the Federation respects you and supports your reign, indeed all of us here risked our lives today to help you, officially the Federation cannot interfere in the internal politics of others. To be blunt we can't be seen to go against your Cousin without risking war with the N.R.E. I'm sorry, there is no plan."

"It was also off the book operations that helped put down previous coup attempts against me." Janicka took a deep breath.

"The previous attempts did not have the Tal Shiar backing them," Amelia said. "Nor were they lead by someone who could actually argue they had a legitimate claim by your own laws. And even if we ignore those very good reasons for us to stay out out this, the fact of the matter was the previous coups attempts by the Cretak family and the Ralaaram Ocala were known before they happened, allowing us to prepare the response. Where as the only reason we were even here was because the Praetor had reached out to us when his attempts to contact you about his concerns were continuously shut down. He called for us because he was unable to warn you himself."

"Very well." Janicka shifted as if to stand straighter, though her posture was impeccable already. "Give me one of those disruptors you borrowed from my palace, and I will go in and deal with the usurper myself." She looked expectantly at Lexil, holding her hand out.

"The window we made through the Palace shields has closed, ma'am." Lexil explained, beginning to look a little flustered under the gaze of the Empress. "Come with us... back to the Federation. Perhaps another way can be found." She suggested, the disruptor staying firmly where it was.

The wait for the beam out had been agonising, Cillian was not good at sitting and doing nothing, especially when his colleagues, his friends, were in danger. So once they were out he'd pushed himself off the floor and stood, straightening his clothes and listening to the exchange taking place in front of him. He held his tongue until he found he couldn't any more. "Yer Majesty, if I might interject," he said, stepping forward and not really pausing to give her opportunity to object. "Goin' back in there, even armed would be suicide, if ye were ready to die tenight ye wouldn't have taken the precautions ye did, and..." he paused for a beat before deciding there was no way to be delicate about this. "I don' think yer people are ready te see ye shot in the head twice in one evenin'. Some of them died protectin' ye tenight, make their sacrifice worth it and take yer empire back when ye've got a hope in hell o' winnin'," he nodded respectfully and took a step back again. Hopefully, what he'd said would make matters better and not worse.

"Shot in the head?" Janicka repeated the phrase dumbly, and looked around the room at the others. Her gaze fell to Lexil again — without any indication of rank, she had no way to determine who was in charge until someone said something, and at least Lexil was a known face.

"I can only presume that Vimila and her people cut your holo-feed just before she fired her disruptor, because we saw her lay you out on the stage dead." Amelia explained. "If we hadn't had one of our people monitoring the palace systems, we wouldn't have known it was just a hologram and you'd still be awaiting whatever fate she had in mind instead."

"My people think I'm dead?" Janicka's shoulders slumped for a moment before she steeled her her face once more. "Perhaps regrouping is the prudent move."

"That being so I think a quick transport is in order." Lexil acknowledged and looked from the Empress to Zola and the Captain. "The farther we all are from here the better."

Cillian was relieved that he seemed to have said the right thing to bring the Empress to her senses, and slowly let out the breath he'd been holding in until he was sure that breathing wouldn't serve to offend her any more than he might have done with what he'd said. He stood up a little straighter, if he could talk an Empress down from a suicide run then just maybe he stood a hope in hell of finding the right words when talking to another fiery woman. He stood patiently waiting for the beam out.

"Okay, Metis, beam us back to the ship." Amelia laid a hand on the small Ferengi's shoulder, then looked towards the Empress.

"Okay, I'll meet you all back on the ship after I clean up here. Materializing in three, two, one..." As she finished the countdown, everyone in the room other than Zola faded away in a shimmer and a whine. Once her terminal told her that the Emperor had received and rematerialized everyone, Zola started to move around the room to take down the transporter equipment and pack it up.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Captain Amelia Waterhouse
Commanding Officer
USS Joshua Norton

Lieutenant JG Lexil
Acting Chief Science Officer
USS Joshua Norton

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

Lieutenant JG Cillian Jarkil
USS Joshua Norton - NCC 74819

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

Written by Amy: Lt. Zola, R & D Officer; Janicka Selok, Deposed Empress of the New Romulan Star Empire

NPC by Jessica: LtJG Mayoko Takeuchi, Demolitions Specialist


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