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Lt Costello, LtJG Lexil, Ens McKenzie, Ens t'Rehu & Ens sh'Eikshah - "Pay Per View"

Posted on 2020-04-20 07:55 by NPCs (Amy) & Lieutenant JG Lexil & Lieutenant JG Mayoko Takeuchi & Ensign Liam McKenzie Ph.D. & Ensign Lia t'Rehu & Ensign Siriad sh’Eikshah & Lieutenant Amadeus Costello

Mission: Poisoned Apples

All the displays in the shuttle, as well as any PADDs and tricorders present, suddenly blanked out and the consoles and devices started to chirp and beep as the screens flashed and tried to display an incoming signal. At first it was a bit of a probing intermittent beep, but quickly is escalated to harsher error tones coming faster and faster. The first display to succumb to whatever was trying to take it over was the PADD Brock was holding, he held it out at arm's length before he tried to turn it off. The display showed an older blond man talking, but the sound was too low to be heard over the beeping of the shuttle systems. The tricorders soon likewise started to display the video feed, still no sound. But then the signal took hold of the main display in the shuttle.

"–bbling over who decides how everyone is allowed to live in this sector or that, who's allowed to live or who must die. Who is considered acceptable collateral damage." There was a pause as his focus moved away from the device recording the feed for a moment. "It is unfortunate that sometimes the outside world chooses not to let us be. Chooses to violate the sanctity of our home. To remind us of those we have lost."

Behind him the following people could be seen: Thal sh'Teris, Cillian Jarkil, Tybal Borom, and Veda Dragomirov. The first three were still in some amount of their Starfleet uniforms, which made it likely they were part of the Emperor's crew, but Veda was wearing civilian clothes. Also behind the man were a handful of guards carrying large disruptor rifles, presumably this universe's Cecil duPont, and a blond woman wearing a white doctor's coat over a peach and turquoise silk dress. The sound of agreement with his statement came from Cecil, the guards, the blond woman... as well as what sounded like a number of people who were outside of view of the camera.

"Thalzejiv sh'Teris, shei of Kervejiv ch'Zhelth, and Tybal Borom, son-in-law of Komaz Jolax." The guards prodded them both to step forward. "Your chada, and your father-in-law, both had hand in the attack on the vIghro' base, where my wife lost her life. You will face retribution for the death of Andrea Stevens."

The gasp let out from the pilot seat of the shuttle was audible even over The sound of the message playing from every display and speaker. Lexil had met many people in her life and many in her Starfleet career but there were a few faces, this one included that were forever etched on her consciousness. Images from a very dark night in her first days as a Starfleet intelligence operative flashed in her minds eye, a pot of tea that had been shared looking out over the San Francisco sunrise, the beauty of which made a stark, surreal and stinging contrast to the emotions a very green Lexil had been feeling after a night of panic, murder and blood. A rather more seasoned present day Lexil clasped her hand to her mouth in surprise and turned quickly to face lieutenant Costello, her eyes wide and her chest heaving under her arm.

"That's Corey Waterhouse," she said to the doctor through her fingers, loud enough that everyone else in the shuttle could hear, "that's the captain's father."

Ensign sh'Eikshah, who had been busy with her own piece of material at the moment, was caught completely by surprise, still a little bit jumpy over her mistake earlier.

sh'Eikshah's first reaction to the sudden—in her eyes malfunctioning equipment—was to pull her hands away from it. She didn't do anything this time! When she finally started prodding around with it the main display finally got taken over, forcing the young woman to focus on the screen leaving her own stubborn material alone, for now.

The Andorian kept silent throughout the entire experience, not sure what emotions to convey to the outside world, especially not when the captain's father got mentioned, leading to a quick glance towards mentioned character.

"That might be Corey, but that's not the Captain's Father," Costello replied quickly. "Jarkil doesn't look good, he looks like he's struggling to stay on his feet," he added. This was so far from good, he tried to concentrate on what was being said, Thal's short conversation with Corey and the rifle being levelled at their chest. "There's nothing they can say, he's going to kill them. It's written in every muscle of his body, even the tone of his voice," but he was only addressing Thal and Borom right now, and was that their Veda or the Veda from this universe?

Lia had seen more than her share of executions. It turned her stomach. At least her killing over the decades has been for self-defense or war, with the rare exception for self preservation. "Are we really going to watch this, or try a pinpoint the source and do something about it?" she asked. To her mind they needed action.

It was over almost before it was begun. The light of the disruptor blast illuminated the feed for two brief moments and when it cleared, Borom could be seen falling out of view — sh'Teris was no longer visible.

"Did he just–" Brock visibly paled and dropped his PADD.

"Yes, he did," Costello was as shocked as anyone else. They hadn't had time to pinpoint the signal, to do anything. "Lexil trace that signal, subtly," he said. It was too late for Thal and Borom, but if they could find his lifesigns quickly enough Cillian could be saved. He could not sit by and watch as another crew member died.

"Yes sir," Lexil replied quietly, Attempting to hide any outward appearance of shock or discomfort. Of course she felt them, she felt them keenly. The crew were trained for extreme situations but most of them they planned and chose how and where to get involved. Those were missions and on missions sometimes people died. Lexil could accept that, hard as it was, but this was something completely different. The comparisons to her first days as a member of the Joshua Norton crew were inescapable, especially given the face of the man Who was now causing them so much harm. Time to get out of her head and do her job.

"He can jam and confuse our sensors as much as he wishes but to be broadcasting a signal the laws of physics dictate that the signal transmission point must be able to be triangulated, even if that point is just a relay. It's the moon base sir, having the computer adjusting for atmospheric scattering with a standard computational model based on the atmospheric composition of this planet and using what we know of the moon base put through a standard intelligence architectural modelling algorithm I can give you the likely location to within a couple of hundred metres.

As Lexil worked, the broadcast continued. Corey pointed the disruptor rifle at Cillian. "Now for you, Jarkil."

But before the disruptor could fire again, or even a monologue start, Veda had stepped between the two men. There was a piercing and fierce look of determination painted across her face, and Corey immediately pointed the disruptor up and away from her.

"His life belongs to me." She snarled, and to his credit, Corey offered her the disruptor with a snort of amusement.

"You're hardly the only one here this silver tongued devil has crossed, but as you're a guest..."

Brock took a step away from the view screen. "Remind me never to piss her off," he muttered to himself, looking around to meet the eyes of anyone who would look back at him.

As the disruptor changed hands, Veda looked like she was about to say something more when she quickly looked up. In the blink of an eye a blur moved into frame, and then Corey was gone. The curtain behind where he'd been stood were swaying in his wake. Cillian's reaction was immediate, taking the disruptor from Veda and grabbing her around the waist.

"Gentlemen, Ladies, this is the day ye will always remember as the day ye almost executed Cillian Aonghus Jarkil." And he backed himself towards the curtain, pulling Veda with him as a human shield, letting off a few pot shots before pushing Veda through the curtain and following her quickly.

The arm's specialist had frozen, watching the situation unfold before her eyes. She wasn't sure what to say to the people around her, sensitive issues definitely weren't her forte. She scraped her throat trying to come up with something.

"I am so sorry Lieutenant... What are your orders?" she said slowly, almost monotone as her head laboriously turned towards Costello.

Having seen much of the same treatment of people her entire life, Lia had also developed a dark sense of humor. Only recently had she felt comfortable enough to share it, instead of it being just an internal monologue. "We could wait until they kill each other then start the coup."

"With respect, ma'am, that'll likely include more of our crew being lost in the crossfire," Brock said, stooping over to pick up his PADD. "If we need to return to the moon base to help those of our crew who are still alive, I believe I could rig the escape pod for remote control... we can use it as a decoy paired with the modification to the shuttle deflector I'd previously discussed with Lieutenant Lexil to attempt to make us harder to track on sensors."

"Yes!" Lexil fist pumped the air. Since her discourse on the origin of the video signal she had been quiet, save a series of beeps from the control panel that she was working at her usual high speed. It had occurred to her that if the base communications were open enough to transmit a signal they could be open enough to receive one as well. Even regular Starfleet officers who were not intelligence trained were capable of piggybacking a signal on top of another and Lexil had been able to do exactly that, accessing the moon base systems with a very low level data stream.

Now, Lexil was no Amelia or Centurion, but she knew the basics of hacking into a computer system. What she needed was an open door somewhere to gain access to some kind of secondary system without setting off any alerts. Some kind soul had left a debugger on in the replicators. Perfect. Credentials acquired it wasn't too hard for her to gain some access to the internal communications, left gloriously open by the decision to showboat the executions, the downfall of many a villain in the past, and no doubt in the future as well.

"Costello!" she called loudly, "I'm in. I'm on the moon base network but I have no idea how long it will last. Persephone, this is Daphne. Persephone, Daphne. Please respond!"

There was a pause before Amelia responded. "Good to hear your voice. Little busy though. Are you on the planet? What's your headcount?"

"Your parents named you Persephone?" a strange voice in the background said. "Doesn't seem Dizi's style."

"They didn't– Just keep leading the way." Amelia cleared her throat. "Sorry about him, local wildlife."

"Planet affirmative. Eleven humanoid one Degu," Lexi replied quickly.

"Good, that matches my expected count. Are you able to leave the planet again or will we need to pick you up? Currently formulating escape plan, but may have acquired help–"

"Calling me the local wildlife isn't going to get me to help you." The stranger's voice could be heard in the background again.

"You're a marshmallow, you'll help. Now shut up so I can Captain. Your job right now is to get us to that holding cell." Amelia sighed. "Sorry, he takes a rough hand, but desperate times and all that."

Everything had happened so fast with suggestions and comments flying all over the place it was all Costello could do to keep up for a moment. As always, Lexil was on the ball and he was very glad that she was here. He nodded his thanks at her managing to make the connection and took over the conversation. "We have the beginnings of a plan to get to you, shall we finalise and implement, or await further instruction?" he asked, may as well considering the Captain was contactable for the moment.

"Shit's really hit the fan, Doc, so the sooner you can get here, the better. Do you have a solution to get past those damn satellites, or do I need to see if we can do something from this end about them?"

"Potentially, but anything you can do to assist would be appreciated," he said, glancing at Mayoko. "If we could make the pod explode, but with the spacing they had we'd only take out one or two...?"

Mayoko looked a little surprised that she had been addressed directly. She had been sat quietly in the rear section listening to the unfolding events but hadn't felt it was her place to contribute anything. She stood gently so as not to disrupt the Degu sat on her shoulder and skirted around some bodies to be closer to the com.

"I can rig fuel cell on the pod, set the nav computer as a remote control and detonator," she told Costello after a moment's thought. Such words weren't normally used in such a reserved and unpretentious manner. "I think one satellite. But we could also use it as a decoy. Does that help?"

"If I can find a terminal we can pause at a moment, I can transmit a copy of the specs to the defense satellites — along with some notes. I think the model he's using is vulnerable to a cascading failure if you can short the mesh network they communicate on." The stranger spoke up once more. "Should be encrypted on–" there was a pause. "The base owner's personal system. I might need some decryption help, Captain Kiddo."

"We'll do our best to transmit that to you, if you'll find it a help? Is there anything else we can send from here that would be useful?" Amelia spoke up again.

sh'Eikshah watched the discussion as if she saw water burning, the group had moved into action so quickly already while she was still checking the facts for herself. "Do we have any idea what type of encryption they're using? That might speed up the progress, especially if it's a little bit outdated," she added as she tried to peek on the screen. "Anything I can do to help?"

"The transmission is audio only Ensign, please take your seat," Costello said, calmly but firmly as Siriad tried to force her way to the front of the shuttle, which was already rather crowded. Seeing an approaching explosion, he decided to calmly make the situation obvious to the young Ensign who clearly wasn't au fait with their Captain's credentials. "Encryption is also one of the Captain's specialities, and it sounds like they might have already had some fun hacking the system up there," he said, still polite and professional in both tone and demeanour, but making it clear that should the Captain need help she would ask for it, and most likely from someone who could see what was going on up there, rather than someone down here, who could not.

The stranger's laughter spilled over the comchannel. "I assure you, kid, your Captain's very well suited to this particular hack job. Focus on what the Doc says you can do to help down there." The laughter suddenly stopped.

"We'll transmit that data as soon as we can. Anything else before we let you go?" Amelia cut in again.

"Nothing from me..." Costello said, looking at Lexil and Mayoko to see if they had anything more to say before they all got on with what they needed to be doing. Mayoko shook her head in a retiring fashion and buried her head in her PADD again, accessing schematics for the Norton's escape pods from Turing's computer.

"Internal layouts and plans for the base if you can," Lexil added optimistically.

"We have a copy of the map the cleaning system uses—which includes maintenance hatches and the like—but we can see if we can get something more thorough when we get those schematics for the attack satellites. Look for our transmission shortly, Waterhouse out." And the computer chirped to indicate a closed channel.

"Ah, okay. Apologies, Lieutenant," the Ensign responded as she quickly made her way back into the chair again. Overzealous as she was, she was basically jumping in the chair to ask for other things the Ensign could help with. It didn't seem like the most opportune time to interrupt the captain and the others at the front of the ship, and she already had made her fair share of mistakes today. "Let's try not to get into the centre of attention again, alright?" she told herself quietly, sitting on the edge of her seat.

Meanwhile, outside the shuttle, Ensign Liam McKenzie approached quickly. His still-new uniform was splashed with mud and scratched from a myriad of passing branches during his reconnaissance. After a quick glance back at the members of his team, whom he had asked to hang back with the captured drone, Liam knocked on the closed hatch. "It's McKenzie. We're back, and I have news."

Lexil waited for Mayoko to coax Rusty into her new mobile home (complete with filters) before pressing the release for the hatch from her console, sat as she still was in the pilot's seat. She swivelled said seat to watch Liam's entrance to the shuttle.

"We've managed to contact the Captain and shall be striking out for the moon base shortly," she caught him up in a businesslike tone. "What news?"

Liam kicked off some of the mud before stepping into the shuttle, nodding respectfully to everyone as he entered. As soon as Lieutenant Lexil mentioned the Captain Liam's eyes lit up. News that they would be leaving soon was icing on the cake for him. He was ready to go.

"That's... really great," he said sincerely, as if he had been waiting days for some good news. "On our end, we located a natural outcrop that would offer shelter, if we need it," he added, realizing as he spoke that they likely wouldn't at this point. "On the way we encountered a surveillance drone. We were able to engage it and bring it down before it saw us. At least, that was our best estimation. We brought it back in case it could be helpful. It's outside the landing zone right now. Everyone made it back unharmed," he added for good measure.

"Good, well done," Lexil returned with an encouraging smile. "It occurs to me, sir," she started addressing Costello next, "...that the drone may well have some sort of communication system with the moon base for sending back telemetry and receiving orders. There's a possibility we could... re-imagine... the use of such a system for out own purposes."

Costello smiled at Liam, yes, this all sounded promising. "Yes, definitely, see if we can salvage anything useful, and see if there's something that might help that cloaking idea along too," he looked back at Liam. "It seems like we're going to be moving out sooner than we might have done. We're working on a diversion tactic to draw the fire of the probes around the moon and get us up there to help. Any information you have on that pod would be helpful, and we're waiting on base schematics from the Captain."

As if knowing its cue, the computer systems beeped to indicate an incoming transmission. The file name was Schematics from Captain Waterhouse, and indicated it was signed with her personal key and used the default encryption for the crew.

Lexil gave the information a quick look over once it was decrypted and considered the way forward. It was good intel, exactly what they needed. If the plans that were coming together panned out they had a chance of getting to the moon base in one piece. The Denobulan took a deep breath.

"With your permission sir," she said to Costello. It was a statement rather than a question. Lexil knew the Chief Medical Officer was out of his comfort zone, he had told her in a quiet moment a short time before and had largely deferred to her since planet fall. Perhaps it was a slight risk, but Lexil felt the urgency of assisting the moon base teams quite keenly given what they had just observed and the orders they had just received. As a result she started handing out orders of her own like beers at a pro sports match. Unusually for her she used ranks and last names, firstly to illustrate that she meant business and secondly to reinforce the chain of command.

"Lieutenant Takeuchi. Until we lift off for the moon base Dhodot, Sampson and Ms. sh'Eikshah will report directly to you. You are engineering team. Your priorities: first analyse the drone, remove threats and ascertain if it gives us a way into the moon base computer system. Mask up, work outside, away from people and equipment. Second rig the escape pod for a return to orbit, remote control and remote detonation. Keep Rusty in her carrier and pass her off to Crewman Kaeriss. That is an order. I need you focused on what you and your team are doing. There will also be no freestyling, embellishment or initiative taking..." The lieutenant looked specifically at Siriad as she said this. " will follow Lieutenant Takeuchi's orders to the letter. If you do not you will have me to answer to. Work as quickly as you can, we need to be leaving this planet as soon as possible.

"Ensign t'Rehu. The shuttle is not designed to take as many people as we will require it to. I want a full analysis of the impact to The life support systems and any adjustments you feel we need to make. There is space here at the co-pilot controls. Report directly to me and Lieutenant Costello.

"Petty Officer Ek Will be in charge of security team with crewman Popples under her. Keep an eye, especially on the engineers who will be moving around a lot.

"Ensign McKenzie, take Crewman Kaeriss and make sure all of the supplies and essential equipment based on our recent inventory is accounted for and properly stowed and secured. You are the equipment team."

"Roger that, we'll take care of the inventory," Liam replied briefly, genuinely glad to have a task to focus on.

Having looked at various of the newly appointed team leaders in turn Lexil looked around everyone assembled in the shuttle.


Siriad stayed silent, listening closely to her orders as everything got explained, feeling awfully guilty as her mistakes of this chaotic day got stressed once again. Determined to do better this time she searched around for her lieutenant, not yet leaving her seat. When found contact with the person in question, she started preparing for the task at hand. As long as she kept to the orders to the letter nothing could go wrong.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Amadeus Costello
Chief Medial Officer
USS Joshua Norton

Lieutenant JG Lexil
Acting Chief Science Officer
USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Liam ‘Mac’ McKenzie
Linguist & Cultural Specialist
USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Lia t'Rehu
Combat Medic
USS Joshua Norton NCC-74819-A

Ensign Siriad sh'Eikshah
Weapons Specialist
USS Joshua Norton

NPCs and Guest Appearances by Amy: Captain Amelia Waterhouse, Commanding Officer; Crewman Brock Sampson, Engineering Crewman; Travis Foster, Cell Leader, Defenders of Earth - ACDC
Also by Jessica: Lieutenant JG Mayoko Takeuchi, Demolitions Specialist


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