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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Thu May 04, 2017 5:25 am

Going Down, Part Four
Timothy Rouse, Ash Sullivan, Sylok (NPC Sera), Jason Beauvoir, Nikki Barclay (NPC Meru)


Mentus III

With a press of his finger on the PADD, Vike completed the transaction and sent the shield frequency to the Breen vessel in orbit. "Well, Mister Brel, it was a pleasure doing business with--"

"Sir, we're being hailed by an incoming Breen cruiser," blurted out one of the henchmen. "It's Thot Brel!"

"But--" stammered Vike, before drawing his disruptor and pointing it directly at Tim.

Jason charged at Vike, knocking the man from his feet and sending his disruptor skidding across the floor.

With Vike's men drawing their disruptors, Tim dove behind the cloaking device, reasoning that that was the one thing in the room that they wouldn't risk shooting, if only to not displease the real Thot Brel. "Ensign Barclay," he called out, "get us out of here!"

Not wanting to risk damage the cloaking device, the henchmen turned their weapons on Jason. The Science Officer, pulled out a plasma grenade and held it above Vike's head. "Gentlemen, put your weapons down, or me and your boss go bye-bye." He said more calmly than he felt.

Ash took cover behind a nearby bulkhead and trained his weapon on the nearest henchman as Jason pulled out a plasma grenade. 'Surely he's not going to use that. He'll take us all out at this range.' Ash thought to himself. He was, however, surprised at the scientists bravery. While Jason's threat bought the crew of the freighter time to get the cloaking device out, it also gave the henchmen on the ground time to lock the place down. "Get the cloaking device out now before they alter their shield frequencies." Ash said over the comm.

Sylok performed the Vulcan nerve pinch on the nearest bad guy and removed his disruptor from the crumpled body. He pointed it at the closest member of Vike's thugs and held his aim. His Vulcan mind wanted to point out to Jason that it was most illogical to threaten the gang with such a maneuver.

With the Thugs distracted, Jason clipped an isolinear tag to Vike's neck, and took the man's security remote. He then got of the man and throw the grenade in the direction of the thugs. As they scattered for cover and awaited the explosion, the Science Officer used the remote to drop the shield. A thug that wasn't taken by his bluff made for a security terminal, Jason shot him down and dived behind a column.

Using the distraction the team had provided Tim gave the command to transport the team of the planet. As the blue glow of the Transporter enveloped the team and the cloaking device, Vike charged towards Tim and knocked him over, making his phaser fly through the air away from him. Vike's was a lot more lucky and managed to keep hold of his own weapon which he directed to Tim. The tag has followed the same direction as the weapon. Tim had managed to get up, being made a lot more difficult due to the armor he was wearing. Trying to grab hold of his weapon once more to protect himself from another blow. But before he could reach it, Vike fired at him. Hitting him in the shoulder, right through the Breen armor.

Transporter room, Breen Freighter

Following the whole affair on her helmet, Nikki frantically reprogrammed the transporter to match the shield frequencies and tried to get a lock. "Come on..." she muttered to herself, manipulating the targeting scanners and trying to beam aboard the Portland crew and not any angry space pirates...

The sudden movements of Tim and Vike made her yell, "No, no, no," She couldn't compensate for the two men and when the team had transported over, there was one less person on the transporter pad then there was suppose to be.

The events of the last few seconds on Mentus III seemed to occur in slow motion yet there was nothing Ash or anyone could do to prevent them. The dematerialisation process seemed to take longer than usual giving Ash a chance to contemplate what had just happened. As the blue shimmer of the transport began to clear and the transporter room of the Breen freighter began to come into view he expected they would either be joined by an extra passenger in the form of Vike or that Tim would not have beamed up with the rest of the team. Somehow he could feel that the latter was the case before he looked around to confirm it.

Sylock stood from his kneeled firing position. As the Vulcan stood, he noticed that one of their party was missing. He removed his helmet and held it to his side as he walked off the transporter pad to make his report.

"Can you get us back down there?" Ash asked almost frantically. As security chief it should have been him down there not the XO.

Nikki tapped a few buttons on the transporter console, but all that happened was a the console lighting up with red warning lights. "They changed the shield frequencies... I can't penetrate the facility..." Nikki started shaking as she spoke, slowly beginning to comprehend the gravity of the situation.

After hearing the team was beaming over Ellen removed her helmet, took the medical kit she brought from sickbay and headed to the transporter room as soon as she could. They probably needed medical attention of some sort. Upon entering she noticed the odd expression on the team's faces. Her eyes automatically searched for Tim. He wasn't there.

"Where is Tim?" she asked. "Where is the Commander?"

With that, Nikki suddenly burst into tears and began shaking uncontrollably. It was worse than her usual Nikki Barclay meltdown, because now there was something actually serious troubling her. "I couldn't get him... I tried..." she managed to utter between sobs, before collapsing on top of the transporter console.

Looking from his collapsing Assistant Chief of Hysterics, he turned to the obviously concerned Ellen. In a tradition Vulcan manner, he replied, "In an unforutunate set of events, it appears as though Commander Rouse's pattern and the criminal known as Vike became too intertwined. The transporter could not separate them and chose not to beam the Commander back to the ship." However, in an un-Vulcan like manner, he added, "I am sure that the crew will do all that they can to assist in bringing Commander Rouse back."

Ash made his way over to the very upset ensign manning the transporter controls. He vaguely remembered seeing her around the ship but hadn't really gotten to know her before this mission. While Sylock's apathetic glance toward her was a fairly normal Vulcan response, it seemed odd to Ash that no one else seemed to show her much concern. "It's okay ensign. You did everything you could." He said as he put his arm around her shoulders trying to comfort her.
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Thu May 04, 2017 5:27 am

Going Down, Part Five
With: Alenis Meru, Tyrlai Zade, Marcus Kallan, Delainey Carlisle, Jason Beauvoir, Arthur Reynolds,
Bridge, Breen freighter

"Captain..." bawled an audibly distressed voice in Meru's helmet. "We have the cloaking device... but Commander Rouse is still down there."

The words hit Meru like a dagger to the chest. With Vike's shields re-activated, there was no chance of recovering him, short of an all-out assault on his compound with an entire company of marines. Not to mention that it was only a matter of seconds before Vike alerted Brel to the game and the freighter would come after them. As much as it pained her, she knew what she had to do. They had to leave him behind. The only solace she could take was in the fact that he was too valuable a prisoner for them to kill. That might buy Starfleet some time to mount a rescue.

Breathing heavily through clenched teeth, she focused intently on the screen in her helmet, analyzing vectors of attack, weapon arcs, and any other tactical considerations she could think of. But right now, they needed a good plan fast, rather than a perfect plan soon.

"Ms. Zade, please tell me that our warp core is stable enough to attempt a double-jump..." she called out.

Tyrlai looked over her readings, destabilizing the core was really the limit of her engineering skills. Restabilizing was an order of magnitude more difficult. Still speaking in the Breen fashion she replied, "likelihood of explosive dispersal in the area of thirty percent." Alenis looked over at her with a concerned expression. "Sorry, Sera could fix it I'm sure, I was actually planning on blowing it up."

"Well, it's better odds than we usually have. Mr. Kallan, set our course, three-five-seven, mark 31"

"That's... awfully close to the enemy vessel, sir," Marcus snapped back, but he was already laying in the coordinates. "Anybody for a Breen hug?" He muttered to himself as he worked.

"I am aware of that," countered Meru. "Carlisle, Reynolds, prepare to eject our auxiliary fusion reactor, and the contents of cargo bay two. I want us to come out of warp right on top of them. Eject the reactor, and use the EM burst to blind their sensors while we head for the nearest nebula. If we're lucky, they'll confuse the scorched cargo for our wreckage."

"Yes, ma'am," Delainey replied, her voice sounding strange to her ears within the Breen configured helmet. It had been a very long time since she'd served in a capacity on the bridge that didn't require providing diplomatic advice or medical care. She was resting enough when it came to serving in any other capacity aboard a Federation starship, let alone an alien ship she'd seen before. Praying her Academy training would come back to her and grateful the controls had been configured to be understood in standard, Carlisle held her breath and prayed she had her fingers hovered on the right button. Assuming she didn't and they lived, Delainey knew she would never live it down.

"Captain, that is a reckless and illogical plan." Jason said in a solemn tone. Then a smile crossed his lips. "But when has that stopped us before?"

"Not helping, Jason!" Marcus called out from his station as he worked. "Course ready, sir!"

Arthur could only frown. It was interesting: once upon a time, he would've jumped at the opportunity to pull off a risky plan like this. Being aboard a small, Orion raider meant he and the crew had to be insane; anything more than a small freighter could've blown it to pieces. But perhaps it was the trauma of what followed his last mission that made him far more cautious now than he had been. Either way, he silently prepared to follow the captain's instructions. At the very least, she seemed competent, especially given the fact they were still alive ever since that Borg encounter.

"We could also detach the entire cargo bay from the underbelly. These ships were designed to be modular." Just like most clunky, ugly-looking Orion vessels, he noted to himself. "At least then they'll detect some actual hull fragments."

"Do it on my mark," replied Meru, squinting at the display in her helmet, watching the positioning of the Breen ship. It remained on course for several moments, before suddenly swerving to the right and lining up its forward weapons with the freighter. As she stared down the disruptor barrels of the frigate, a chime went off in the helmet, alerting her to an incoming transmission; no doubt a demand to surrender from the real Thot Brel. She paused for a few seconds, leaving Brel on the line just long enough to let him eat a little static. "Mark."

Marcus' hovering hand dropped onto the console, the chime of the system acknowledgment a split second before the ship lurched forward.

In the same instant that Thot Brel's frigate opened fire, the freighter's warp drive kicked in, which in a matter of milliseconds launched the freighter into its new position, right on top of the Breen cruiser. With the targeting sensors of the frigate confused by the warp jump, its disruptor beams arced harmlessly at the former position of the freighter, giving the freighter crew just enough time to eject the reactor.

"Dump the reactor and go to warp!" called out Meru, signalling the ship's crew to proceed with the plan.

Arthur didn't have to be ordered twice. Although the actual reactor controls were in the hands of Carlisle, Arthur at least had the ability to do as he suggested: release the cargo bay and let it take the brunt of the explosion that was likely to follow. If they didn't, only the remains of Brel's ship would be discovered later, and that would undoubtedly raise some helmet brows among the Breen investigating the wreckage.

Hearing the mechanical whirring and clunks of the releasing cargo clamps and the ejecting fusion reactor, Meru leaned back in her seat and gripped the armrests tightly. One way or the other, they were in for a bumpy ride.

As the freighter went to warp, the fusion reactor exploded behind it. With the shields on the Breen frigate, it wasn't powerful enough of a blast to severely damage it, but it was enough to knock out some ancillary systems. With the Breen vessel blinded, the crew of the Portland made their mistake -- on a damaged freighter, and missing a man.
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Thu May 04, 2017 5:29 am

Meanwhile, on the Planet...
Mentus III
Shortly after the freighter's escape
Authors: Timothy Rouse, Vike, Brel (NPC Meru)

As the wind kicked up the planet's red dust, four figures materialized outside the shield dome, all in the same Breen armour as the last four visitors. A guard just outside the dome tightened his grip on his carbine. "Thot Brel, the complex is right--"

Before he could react, however, the biggest, tallest of the Breen had advanced and grabbed him by the throat. "Take me to Vike." he said, staring the guard down, savouring the fear in his eyes for a moment before letting him down. The guard stumbled backwards towards the access controls in the arch of the shield dome, frantically placing his hand on the touch-sensitive pad to let the Breen in.

A few moments later.

"Well, Mister Rouse," said Vike, as he paced back and forth of the prisoner who was flanked by two Nausicaans with disruptors to his head. He paused for a moment to glare at Tim, letting out a wicked chuckled. "It's been a long time. Last time we met, you and your captain destroyed my cruiser and took my eye. Not to mention several of my crew. Perhaps," he said, pulling out a switchblade, "I should return the favour? I'm sure that would send your captain a message."

Tim closed his eyes at the sight of the blade. He had run multiple scenarios through his head of how to escape, but he knew not one of them gave him any change of survival. And life was to precious to him to give it up. "The message has already been received...." He said.

Vike simply snickered menacingly at the comment. "Perhaps," he muttered. "And perhaps you are more valuable to me alive..." Turning the knife over in his hands, he pondered what to do with it for a moment, before being startled by a large crash at the door. Instinctively spinning around to see what it was, he found himself face to face with a tall figure in a Breen coolant suit. The suit was decorated with relatively ornate metal pieces and insignias, identical to the suit Tim was wearing.

"Vike," said the Breen warrior, no doubt Thot Brel, through the Breen voice modulation unit and the universal translator, the anger in his voice so powerful that it registered through both layers of technology. "My cloaking device. Where is it."

"I..." Vike stammered for a moment, before pointing the knife at Tim once more. "These Starfleet spies!" he shouted. "They stole it. They--"

With that, Vike was thrust suddenly upwards, being gripped by the neck and lifted up into the air by Thot Brel. In the process, his knife went clattering to the floor. The henchmen in their room drew their disruptor carbines, precipitating the Breen to draw their weapons once more. "Did you say you no longer have it?"

"I... The device..." Gasping for air, Vike's face began to take on a purple tone. Brel could crush his windpipe easily if he wanted to, but preferred to keep him alive. After a few attempts to speak, and a little bit of struggling for air, Vike was thrown against a console.

"The Breen Confederacy does not like failure, Mister Vike," warned Brel, giving his crew a nod to begin lowering their weapons and de-escalating the standoff. With that, his eyes turned and fell onto Tim, the prisoner, still wearing most of a Breen armour suit. The Breen warlord stepped forward, towering over Tim, who had been forced down onto his knees by the Nausicaans. "Identify yourself."

Figuring there wasn't much point in keeping silence as many already knew who he was, Tim identified himself. "Commander Timothy Rouse, United Federation of Planets." he said with a sight.

A menacing chuckle emanated from Brel's helmet. "A Starfleet commander;" he mused, sizing up the prisoner before him. "A very valuable prisoner," he added, before motioning to his companions to grab Tim.

"You can't take him," started Vike, "he's my--"

With that, Brel turned to face Vike once more. "You have failed me, and you have lost my cloaking device. I am taking the prisoner as compensation. Pray that I find said arrangement to be... satisfactory."

"Starfleet doesn't negotiate with criminals," was all Tim said. He didn't expect much from Starfleet, but he did hope on his friends to come back for him.

"For your sake, I hope they reconsider that position," replied Brel, brushing off the insult. While he would never tolerate insolence from one such as Vike, Tim was his prisoner. What he said didn't matter. "It's not like your dead friends are going to save you."

His scream came out of his throat as his brain started understanding what Brel had said. That couldn’t be possible, they couldn’t be dead. Looking at Brel again he saw that the Breen was not saying that just to put him down. Tim lunged at Brel, yelling “What have you done, you a**le. My wife was on board that ship, my friends!”

As soon as Tim's hands reached the throat area of Brel's armour suit, a rifle butt came whipping through the air, landing on his left cheekbone and knocking him to the ground in pain. As Tim tried to get up, Brel stopped him with a foot on his chest. He chuckled a little at Tim's emotional reaction, knowing that it meant it would only be that much easier to break him. "Vike, fail me once more and you will receive the wrath of the Breen," he warned, before tapping a few buttons on his wrist to beam the party and his prisoner out.
Capt. Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Thu May 04, 2017 5:31 am

A moment's relief?
Bridge, USS Portland
Shortly after the battle on Mentus III
Authors: Alenis Meru, Ellen Washington (NPC Tim), Coln Jena (NPC Beauvoir), Jason Beauvoir, Ash Sullivan

As the freighter dropped out of warp, smack-dab in the middle of a nearby Class D nebula, Meru breathed a short sigh of relief. Thot Brel didn't seem to be following them; either presuming that they all perished in the explosion, or simply unable to track their escape given the fusion explosion and subsequent EM blast in close proximity to their vessel. They had been badly shaken, but they had somehow managed to make it to the nebula, where sensors were useless and communications spotty at best.

"Damage report," she called out, stung by the realization that Tim didn't make it back, but trying not to show it as she looked after the first priority -- the immediate safety of the remainder of the crew.

At the Ops console, Jena reported. "Captain, the SI fields and life-support are functioning, but without the warp core we have no warpdrive so we're running on battery power. There was a hull breach in Cargo Bay 2, though, it won't be a problem since the auto-repair systems are plugging the hole, ma'am."

Meru nodded. "What about communications? Can we reach Starfleet?"

"They're intermittent, especially in medium and high frequency bands, but I'll see what I can do to boast the signal." Jena replied.

"Good. Hail Washington; ultra low frequency subspace band. Put him on sc--" Meru paused for a moment. "Helmet."

"Aye, ma'am. Frequency established, on helmet."

As she tossed the helmet back on, she found herself practically in Admiral Washington's office. Of course, with the damage to the communications system and the interference of the nebula, static was prevalent.

"Captain Meru," started Washington, visibly surprised at the transmission. "I--"

"Admiral," interrupted Meru, cutting him off, as she pressed a couple buttons on the chair. "I'm transmitting our location. We have recovered the cloaking device, but are heavily damaged. However, one of our crew has been captured by the Breen and is being taken into Breen space. I am requesting an immediate extraction."

Washington sighed, straightening his tunic as the responsibilities of the admiralty weighed heavily on his shoulders. "I am dispatching a vessel to your position to recover your crew, however we do not have diplomatic authorization for an action against the Breen."

Ellen, who had put her helmet back on just seconds before the transmission started, said with a heavy voice. "But da.. Admiral, it's Tim who's been captured."

For a moment, Washington was silent. He slouched down ever so slightly in his chair, a physical manifestation of the metaphorical weight that had just been added to his shoulders. It was hard enough being an Admiral and having to make decisions such as these. Having to say no to his pleading daughter and lose his son in law was even worse. As much as he wanted to launch a rescue, the Breen had sensor nets all along their border. Anything short of an all-out assault against Breen space would be easily detected and countered. And violating Breen territory could trigger counter-attacks or even an all-out war, the costs of which would be enormous in comparison to the loss of one officer. No, Tim's fate was in the hands of the diplomats now. And given the reclusive and xenophobic nature of the Breen, that didn't leave him with much hope.

"Officially, your current mission doesn't exist," explained Washington. "It's classified at level six, and launching a mission to recover an officer captured on this mission would be an admission that said mission does exist. Not to mention that we can't violate Breen space without diplomatic authorization. It could start a war."

Clenching her teeth to prevent herself from making an outburst, Meru stared coldly into Washington's eyes through the helmet. "I'm not leaving a crew member behind," she said, in a tone more serious than any she had spoken with before. "Especially not my first officer."

It seemed to Ash that Admiral Washington was trying to allude to something without saying it out right. Not wanting to interrupt the conversation he typed a message to the captain which would appear on her helmet display. 'Captain, if our mission here doesn't exist then we aren't representing Star Fleet with our presence. It's a stretch but I think the Admiral might be pointing out a loophole we can exploit.'

Meru nodded towards Ash.

Trying to remain firm in front of the crew and in front of his daughter, Washington continued. "No rescue has been authorized. The USS Dresden will be dispatched to your position, to recover the cloaking device and your crew."

The Dresden, thought Meru, realizing that the ship name sounded familar. That's Ellen's brother's ship.

Ellen looked at Meru, having recognized the name of Frederick's ship. Did that mean that her father was sending help to recover Tim or not.

Meru took a deep breath, and then looked into Washington's eyes through the helmet. "Admiral, if you aren't going to send a ship to recover Commander Rouse, we're going to have to rescue him ourselves," she said, in a deadly serious tone.

Ellen released the breath she'd been holding, relieved they weren't going to let Tim die on that planet.

Washington just stared back at the helmeted officer on his terminal. "A rescue is not authorized, your orders are to hold position and wait for--"

"Sorry, Admiral, your transmission is breaking up," called out Meru, interrupting him before he could finish the sentence.

Jena cut the transmission. "What a pity," Jason said. "That EM interference is an annoyance, I wonder what the Admiral was going to say? I doubt attempting to contact him again, will be of any use. I guess it is up to us interpenetrate his intentions from what little we received."

Meru smiled at Jena as she threw the helmet off. "All right, if anyone has any objections to our current course of action, please state them now. They will be noted in my log, and I will take full responsibility for any consequences that Starfleet command may dish out."

A silence filled the bridge.

"Then it's settled." Meru stood up from her chair. "Coordinate damage control teams. All senior staff, ready room, 10 minutes."
Capt. Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:49 am

We need a plan...
Makeshift Ready Room, Breen Freighter
A few minutes later...
Authors: Alenis Meru, Ellen Washington (NPC Tim), Arthur Reynolds, Sylok (NPC Sera), Marcus Kallan, Tyrlai Zade, Jason Beauvoir

Inside the makeshift briefing room, Meru paced back and forth. She had tried to keep herself focused, but she found herself wracked with guilt over the loss of her friend. It was the battle of New Algiers over again for her, as she ran the events of the mission over and over again in her head. If only they had been a little faster, or if only they were able to pull Tim out a split-second earlier. Now, her friend was in Breen custody, no doubt being subjected to rough interrogation techniques. She shuddered a little at the thought of Tim being subjected to neural spikes and pain sticks.

Knowing that the Breen would be taking him into their space and throwing him into whatever maximum security facility, Meru knew that to rescue Tim would be to do the impossible. She paused for a moment to offer a quick prayer to the prophets, before being interrupted by the door opening.

"Did you want me to be here as well?" Ellen asked after entering. "I am the only medical personnel on board."

"Ellen..." Coming face to face with Tim's wife almost broke the calm, collected demeanour that Meru was trying to put on for the crew. It wasn't that long ago that she was officiating their wedding; now Tim had been captured. She felt guilty more than anything. She had agreed to this mission, she had dragged the crew along, keeping it secret the whole time. And she was the one that ordered Tim to lead the away team. No matter how she tried to spin it in her mind, everything kept coming back to what her dear friend may be suffering under Breen captivity and that it was all her fault.

"I'm sorry, I..." Meru trailed off and looked off to the side, not wanting to show weakness in front of her crew, especially not Ellen.

"Is that a yes?" Ellen asked. Purposely ignoring the emotion that accompanied that apology? She had to be strong. If they wanted to have any chance at getting Tim back they all needed to focus. And not sit in a corner and cry. She kept telling herself. And so far she had managed not to collapse.

"Yes, take a seat." Meru took a deep breath and walked across the room to fetch her teacup. After taking a long sip, she returned to the chair nearest the center of the room. "Ellen, we're going to find him and rescue him. I don't know how yet, but we will."

"Of course we will, we just have to keep faith." Ellen said. "And Tim would do anything he could to get away. We just need to come up with a plan." She took one of the empty chairs and sat down.

Jason entered the makeshift briefing room followed by Jena. Jason acknowledged the Captain with a nod, before turning to Ellen. "I'm sorry that Tim was left behind, but there was nothing I could do to prevent it."

"We all did our best..." replied Meru, putting on a brave face and hiding the torrent of emotions underneath. She had to be strong, for the sake of the crew and for Tim.

Ash entered the makeshift briefing room at a quick pace, still getting used to the low temperature of the ship. He noticed the emotional tension in the room and decided to make his way to his seat in silence. Only offering a brief nod of condolence to Ellen.

Tyrlai walked in a moment after, the cool environment of the ship was energizing, very much like early spring on Trill, only without having to be on Trill. It was puzzling though, based on her evaluation of the suits the Breen wore. The choice of ambient temperature was puzzling. It wasn't nearly as cold as it should be.

For his part, Arthur appeared somewhat irritated as he entered and took a seat. Although his skin had grown noticeably pale from the cold, he seemed too occupied with his own anger to notice. What annoyed him, however, probably differed from what affected the rest of the crew. He barely knew Timothy, and given the relative distance he maintained with the crew, one might forgive him for lacking the sort of emotional torque that kept the relationships among the Portland crew spinning. Still, even he wasn't happy to hear about a fellow officer being taken captive.

The Vulcan engineer arrived next to the meeting room. He decided to forgo pleasantries as it seemed that the more Human crew were in a compromised emotional state. With barely a peep, he took an open seat. "The ship is operating within established parameters," Sylok informed those gathered, knowing that delving into the details would simply go unnoticed or lead to a misunderstanding.

Marcus arrived last. "Ensign Barclay is in medbay, with Lieutenant Carlisle" he said, his words somewhat heavier on the last factoid, by way of explanation. Despite Marcus having acclimated to the cold a lot better than most of the crew, he was a bit red in the face and rubbing his hands. "I'll catch her up later." He dropped into a seat tiredly.

Meru nodded. "I see." She took a deep breath before sitting back down at the table. "So... we're in a heavily damaged, practically unarmed freighter, hiding in a nebula, operating without any official authorization or support from Starfleet. And we have to rescue a missing crew member, who is currently on a Breen frigate, no doubt speeding at maximum warp towards the nearest maximum security facility." She looked around the room, carefully studying the faces of the assembled crew, before taking another deep breath. "Any ideas?"

"Owed any favors?" Marcus asked sarcastically. "I doubt we'll be able to shenanigans out of this one, sir. We might just have to pay for him."

Meru took a deep breath and looked over at Tyrlai. "I don't suppose you have any connections in the Breen confederacy, or a line on something that Brel would rather have than a valuable prisoner?"

Tyrlai shook her head. "If the Ferengi, Orion or Tholians had snatched him, then possibly. Nobody really has Breen connections. We do have a runabout, we could catch up with them. And if we had a nice cloaking device about somewhere we could catch up to them less noticeably."

"If we could go back to the planet, we might be able to find something," Arthur chimed in, though he instinctively knew the answer. Memories of his time as a pirate aboard an Orion freighter, a past he believed he so cleverly hid on his own, came flooding back. He flinched. "On the other hand, security's likely been doubled. Somebody's going to have to hitch a ride on a different ship... or we're going to have to take one by force."

Marcus snorted. "I know enough about Borg energy signatures and could fake an incursion. That'd get people to run, real quick. And depending on what I can salvage on this flying ice rink, I can probably mock up a handful of nanoprobes." He looked at Arthur. "Nobody's going to stick around and try to fight the Borg."

Nodding along, Meru absorbed the information brought in by her senior staff. "Excellent idea. If we can track Commander Rouse down and fake a Borg attack on wherever he is being held, that might be able to give us an opening. Fortunately, I had Ensign Barclay implant a viridium patch underneath Tim's back before the mission," she replied. Without any full doctors on board, the duty fell to Ellen and Nikki, who had taken an elective on artificial implants and cybernetic devices at the academy. Fortunately, Nikki only fainted once during the whole process, but Ellen was there to prevent her from banging her head on anything. "We should be able to track him from two sectors away, which means a daring rescue should be in order. Now," she started, looking over towards Sylok, "is it possible to install the cloaking device into either the freighter or our runabout?"

Sylok highly doubted the medical capabilities of Nikki, from what he had seen the officer acted as more of a detriment to the operation. Getting those thoughts out of his head, Sylok stated, "A runabout would offer the better choice. Its power output is enough to both power the cloaking device and to alter the sensor echo to appear like a Borg probe."

Jason listened to the others. "I suggest we use the shuttle for the ‘daring rescue, it is smaller and more maneuverable than the freighter. With a few alterations, the freighter could function as a mobile control platform.”

"The freighter's communications array is limited in range, at least for outgoing signals," Arthur opined, given a comparison between it and the average Starfleet ship. "We could patch through via the emergency comm system, but we may be limited to Morse."

"It's better than nothing," opined Meru as she began processing all the ideas that the crew had come up with. The freighter, with some tweaking to the transponder codes, could possibly travel within Breen space without raising too much attention, while a cloaked runabout could give them the ability to make an escape.

"Then it's settled," she started, having finished her impromptu analysis. "We'll enter Breen space in the freighter, and install the cloaking device in the runabout to make our escape once we recover the commander. Sylok, you're in charge of getting this freighter back in working conditions. Enlist any staff you need; Acting Ensign Coln and Ensign Barclay will be working on installing the cloaking device. Ensign Sullivan, you're in charge of getting any hand weapons we may need locked and loaded. We'll be setting course for Breen space in four hours; I expect us all to be ready."

"Yes, Captain. The alterations to the runabout are estimated to be complete in 2 point 86 hours," Sylok added as he picked up his PADD.

"Very well; keep me appraised." Meru tugged on her uniform, straightening it out somewhat. "Your first priority are the sensors; we won't be able to track the commander without him."

Although noticeably distracted in brief intervals throughout the meeting, Arthur glimpsed over at Sylok out the corner of his eye. "I know a thing or two about jury-rigging a piece of equipment to something it's not meant to be rigged to. If you could use an extra pair of hands..."

Jury-rigging, the sound of that phrase figuratively sent chills up Sylok's spine. However, the prospect of help with such a limited crew was difficult to pass up. "Your... improvisational... skills would be quiet useful. I accept your offer to help," the Vulcan responded to Arthur.

Marcus watched them all plan around his idea. He blinked, but said nothing, and managed to hide a smirk. You really ought to keep your ridiculous ideas to yourself, he thought to himself.
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:46 am

Breen Is the New Black
Asteroid prison B-08

Authors: Timothy Rouse, Sera Williams, Emmony Safford, Unnamed Nausicaan (NPC by Alenis Meru)

They say it is cold in space, but in a Breen slave labour camp, it's not much warmer. This particular location was an old asteroid mining facility, with some additional security in place to keep the alien slaves in place. Not that there was anywhere to go; as far as Breen prisons go, this one was relatively lightly guarded, with the vacuum of space providing the main deterrent against any potential escapes.

Here, slaves picked up in Breen military campaigns and the occasional cross-border raid would mine dilithium to power the ships of the Breen fleet. Conditions were miserable, as there were always more slaves to be found somewhere. The food was little more than old Breen combat rations nearing their expiry date, and the temperature settings on the environmental controls were always set to the comfort levels of the Breen guards.

The main eating area was hewn from rock; an underground cavern with guard stations and catwalks overlooking the area, manned by Breen soldiers with disruptor carbines. From here, they would watch the slaves, but rarely intervene in any of the rivalries and fights that they would get into.

In the middle, Thrullg, a tall, muscular Nausicaan, sized up a new arrival. This one was a human, a species that was rare but not unheard of in these camps. The man was still bearing bruises from his earlier interrogations, and walked slowly, as though he was still in pain. With these humans, Thrullg knew that he needed to show them who was where in the pecking order early, and decided to take advantage.

"Your rations..." he said, coming up behind the human and placing his hand on his shoulder menacingly. "Give them to me."

Tim turned around to face to person behind him. Winching when did so to quickly and his head hurted even more by that action. "Get your own," he simply said, even though the Nausicaan was several inches taller then him. He didn't have the breath to get into this right now. He moved his shoulders to remove the hand and walked away. Or tried too.

Tightening his grip on Tim's shoulder, Thrullg pulled backwards, spinning him in place. Before Tim could get into a defensive stance, he found himself lifted in the air by the front of his coat. "I really don't like to ask twice..." replied the Nausicaan, sneering at the pathetic human.

Almost as suddenly as he had been lifted, a loud metallic twang rang out as Tim and the would be assailant fell to the floor. A hand reached down to help the Portland's First Officer. "You're a long way from the Portland, but I'm happy to see you, Sir," Sera smiled, for the first time in awhile. She was not her usual neat and tidy self, she was dressed as many of the prisoners were and her hair was matted. She didn't have the same warm glow to her face and sparkle to her eyes. She looked like someone who had seen things that she wished she had not.

"Sera?" Tim asked in surprised as he attempted to get back to his feet. "What are you doing here?"

Emmony sighed. At least that solved one problem, but created another. She didn't know either of the humans involved in this particular altercation but she did know the Nausicaan. She approached carefully. "You all right?" She asked the male. Raising her hands to get a look at him she suddenly stopped, realizing she should probably ask first. "Lieutenant Emmony Safford, I'm a doctor."

"I'm fine. We need to get out of the crowd." he said after seeing everyone was still looking at them.

Satisfied that he was not seriously hurt. Emmony bent down, feeling the top of the Nausicaan's head. "Nice swing. I think you may have given him a concussion, not an easy thing to do to a Nausicaan." Not that she approved of course but there was little choice in a Breen prison camp.

"Believe me, not my first choice," Sera responded. Clubbing one of the prison's toughest inmates wasn't on her to-do list when she woke up. "Did you hear about what he did to the Bolian last week?" she followed up. Looking to Tim, she stated, "Besides, I know him from the outside, he's the First Officer on a ship I used to serve on."

"Yes," Emmony answered shakily in response to her first question then she turned to the male again. "Nice to meet you, now let's get out of here before he wakes up." At least he wouldn't be bothering them for a little while but she doubted he'd learned any lesson. She knew where to take them, it certainly wasn't fancy but she thought they'd all fit and be away from prying eyes for a bit.

As they were walking away Tim looked at Sara. "You haven't answered my question. What are you doing here? Last I heard you were on Earth."

With the ragtag team scurrying away from the scene of the clubbing, Sera responded to Tim, "Short version... Selina and I went on a quest to find dad. He didn't make it, but I got them to safety just as the Breen caught me. They don't like strangers in their space." Her voice seemed relieved that only she had been captured, but still held some anger at her captors for her father.

"Come on," Emmony waived them forward. "I hope neither of you are claustrophobic." She moved aside what looked like debris that no one had bothered to clean up and pulled on a grate just enough so she could slip through. It wasn't a total escape but it offered some protection, perhaps from being overheard. "Jayme showed me this." It was a hole in the side of the facility that looked as if it had been dug with bare hands. It didn't lead to anywhere it was just a hole. "He didn't make it." She said sadly, remembering how he had taken her under his wing those first few days.

"I crawl through Jefferies Tubes on a century old starship for a living, you haven't seen small until you experience that," Sera stated. "Sorry to hear about Jayme," she added with a twinge of sorry in her voice. Many had not made it. Being here more than a few months was a very rare occurrence.

"About the Portland," Tim said as he followed the woman. "She is gone."

"What do you mean, she's gone?" Sera asked, almost stumbling. "Is everyone ok?" her thoughts immediately jumped to Nikki and Marcus, her two best friends in the galaxy.

"The ships itself isn't gone,"Tim said, "Just the heart of it is gone." Saying it aloud hurt like hell, because it meant admitting something he wasn't ready to admit. He started to explain. "The senior staff and a few other crew were on a secret mission involving a Breen freighter. The freighter got blown up while it was trying to escape from the Breen. The Captain and everyone on that ship is gone."

Once settled in her spot as far back against the walls of he asteroid as she could get and still allow entry for the other two Emmony looked back and forth between the two of them. She wasn't familiar with the Portland but then again the fleet had a lot of ships and she was only a medical doctor. "I'm Emmony," She interrupted what sounded like a horribly sad conversation. "Did I say that already?" She was so tired, sleep didn't come easily in this kind of place, you had to keep on your guard.

"Se.. Sera Williams," the former Chief Engineer spoke just above a whisper. She was visibly shaken by the recent news. She had just learned about the demise of most of her friends.

Suddenly Emmony realized how insensitive she was being. Being tired was no excuse for that. "I'm so sorry!" She took a breath, "About your crewmates."

"We need to come up with a plan for revenge." Tim said. "And I need to get out of here. I have a little boy at home who doesn't deserve to become an orphan."

"Or a sister who can't loose anyone else," Sera echoed Tim's sentiments. Flinching like she just remembered something important, Sera blurted out, "The containment field by the showers has been on the fritz, wouldn't take much to bring a small section of it down."

"It's worth a try," Tim said. "I don't suppose you know of a way to get our hands on some firepower."

"Depends," Sera responded with a shrug. "If I could get my hands on a piece of metal and a power source like a portable battery or potato in water, I could make a nasty little taser."

Emme thought hard about some kind of power source. She knew of various places to pick up scraps of metal that might not be noticed, but nothing she could think of would offer a power source. "What about a PADD? It's Breen technology though. There's this one guard who comes through occasionally with one. " She glanced at the other two. "Not that I condone violence of course . . . but to escape."

"Don't think of it as violence," Sera responded with lighthearted smile, "Think of it as using anesthesia, only more aggressive." To those who had known Sera before her escapades, it was a testament to what she had been through to see her almost wanting to create a homemade weapon.
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:21 am

The Anomaly
Breen freighter, Briefing room
After the briefing
Capt. Alenis Meru and Lt. Arthur Reynolds

When the briefing had ended, Arthur stayed behind with his hands crossed on the table in front of him. He looked lost in thought, that distant look in his eye returning from the last time he and Alenis spoke on the Portland. In his hands, he absentmindedly spun a device shaped like an irregular polyhedron, each face a display with some sort of pictorial sensor data. While his gaze bore a hole through the bulkhead, he stopped moving the Breen standard-issue 'PADD' + data sphere combo device and slowly lowered it on to the table. After only reluctantly breaking his dreamlike gaze, he briefly glanced down at the object before realizing the briefing had finished--and turning his gaze up toward the captain as the blood drained from his face.

"Lieutenant?" asked Meru, observing her Chief Tactical Officer's absent-minded fidgeting. While the rest of the crew had left the briefing room, Arthur remained, similar to how Tim would stay back every so often to try to talk her down from some plan or another. Taking a step closer to the position across from the table from him, her eyes fell onto the strange device in his hands. "Is everything all right?"

"Captain," Arthur exclaimed with a brief stutter, followed be a deep breath and a look away. For much of the briefing, his mind had wandered toward his latest discovery. But even now, when the time came for him to be forward, he found himself hesitant to say anything. The last time he conversed with Meru, it was about his attempt to resign. She had made a powerful argument for why he should remain with the crew, not run across the border into the unknown. Now, he felt overwhelmed again, although this time, without good reason. "I'm sorry. My mind's been a little... preoccupied today."

Meru took a deep breath. Her mind hadn't been totally clear throughout the briefing either, but she had done the best she could to keep her composure. "I know. I'm worried about Commander Rouse as well..." she started.

In part, Arthur couldn't help but let out a quiet chuckle. Once more, his lost stare fell on the object in his hands. "I don't know whether to feel sorry or to envy you, captain. Having someone you're close to like that, to think... to worry about." Despite his distance toward the rest of the crew, he certainly didn't lack an eye for their relationships. Timothy and Alenis in particular shared many a touching moment on the bridge, particularly during their last showdown with the Borg. It wasn't something the CTO felt comfortable discussing; however, he found himself stuck on that subject a bit longer than he'd wish, if he were paying closer attention. "Did he ever tell you I gave him my resignation first? Neither of us exchanged pleasantries. The whole encounter felt sort of... one-sided. Like I did all the talking."

"He did..." replied Meru, thinking back to that day. It had felt like ages ago now, but she had remembered discussing the matter with Tim. She had simply brushed his questions off, telling him that Arthur had changed his mind, and leaving it at that. The discussions of future selves and whatnot, she had decided was best kept between her and Arthur.

"Captain..." Arthur had to ponder his next words, buried deep within as they were in an inaccessible part of his mind. Even a Betazoid would have a heyday sorting through the jumbled mess he had to. But as they found their way into his mouth, the quiet, tormented man began to look up to Alenis. "Remember when you convinced me to stay in Starfleet? To stay with this crew?" Beat. That moment when one thought ends and another begins. "You said you'd help me. That before the Prophets saved you, my life..." Discomfort from the topic elicited a slight shiver and a brief glance away, before his eyes lit upon the drab, grey table between them. "Well, you seem to have all the answers."

"I wouldn't say I have all the answers; sometimes the Prophets work in mysterious ways," replied Meru, trying to figure out what Arthur war getting at. "Is there something troubling you about our mission, Lieutenant?"

A moment later, Arthur decided to carefully slide the Breen PADD to where Alenis stood without another word. On all three flat sides, there were images of the explosion from when they escaped the notice of Thot Brel's frigate. Most of them were of the cargo module Arthur released along with fusion reactor during the explosion, demonstrating how they fractured just before the freighter went to warp. One in particular, however, focused on part of a flash, ostensibly made by the ejected reactor just as it went critical. The light warped around the faint, transparent silhouette of what appeared not too unlike that of an abnormally large type 11 Federation shuttlecraft flying toward them.

"I collated the results of that scan with the sensor readouts Ash..." He caught himself and briefly pursed his lips before continuing. "Lieutenant Sullivan took from the station on Oromi. The faint ion trail we picked up matches not only that... but also the one Lieutenant Kian and I investigated at DS9." Although he knew none of this meant anything to Alenis yet, he struggled to tell her everything. She had enough on her plate, but now this? In a way, he secretly felt guilty for laying this on her so fast. But if anyone deserved to know, it was her. She earned that much.

"It's him." Now he locked his gaze firmly on Alenis, his brow creased and voice stern. "It's my future catching up with me."

Taking a deep breath, Alenis sank back in her seat. <i>What is he doing here?</i> she asked herself, before picking up the device again to stare at what was clearly the outline of a cloaked ship. Now, in addition to finding her lost first officer, she had to worry about making sure that one of her flock didn't stray. "Has he attempted to contact you?" she asked.

"No." Arthur folded his hands, one atop the other, on the table in front of him. He'd hoped that minor gesture would show he remained stern and decided. Unfortunately, all it did was remind him that he was shivering, though whether because of the cold or this new piece of information, at least Alenis wouldn't know. With a subtle, but deep, breath, he hoped to hold on to that ambiguity, if only for his own sake. "No, but if he's anything like me--" Hopefully not, Arthur quietly opined. "He's here for a reason."

"Agreed." Alenis paused for a moment, pondering what the other Arthur could possibly want. She knew that he had them at a disadvantage; coming from the future, he knew everything about her Chief Tactical Officer. All his darkest secrets, all his insecurities and vulnerabilities. If he was as good at psychological manipulation as she suspected, he was a serious threat. But she did have one trump card, that was herself. Being from an alternate future where she was dead, there was no way he could have as detailed intelligence on her as she did on the others. "I don't like to sit around and let him make the first move; any ideas as to how we can address this?"

"The freighter's sensors can't give us a proper reading of the hull. When Ash and I calibrated them, it was to ensure we could see Breen patrols before they see us. That required some delicate work with the isolinear circuits. We can't reverse the effect... not for several months, at least." His request remained hovering in the air between this explanation and his claim of intent, a melody hinted in his words that never quite escaped its exposition. But then, Arthur steadied himself, paid heed to the uneven pattern of each breath, and brought it out.

"But we can use the runabout. Its sensors can scan the hull in less than a minute." Arthur released a breath of pent-up air through his nostrils and eyed the Breen data 'sphere' in Alenis' hand. "We need to drop out of warp for a few minutes, but I think I can mask our warp signature long enough so we don't catch anyone's attention."

"I suppose we will need to test out the cloaking device at some point..." Meru paused for a minute and balanced the risks and the rewards. "Coordinate with engineering. I want you to do it, but wait until they've finished installing the cloaking device. See if we can do it without giving away our knowledge of his presence."

Arthur nodded only slightly. "I understand." Again, his eyes wandered back toward the image of the shuttlecraft's faint outline, deep in thought. What would happen when the two met? Why was he here? But, most importantly... would he take away Arthur's only choice?

Only time would tell.
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:27 am

A slight mental breakdown...
Transporter room, Breen freighter
Before the briefing
Authors: Nikki Barclay (NPC Meru), Delainey Carlisle, Marcus Kallan

Shivering and shaking Ensign Nikki Barclay, deep in need of someone to console her. The moment that she lost a transporter lock on Tim replayed over and over in her head, and no matter what she did, she couldn't get that feeling of failure and helplessness out of her mind. As she shuddered, alone in the transporter room, she heard the door behind her open.

"Nikki, we're late for briefing," Marcus said as he came in, looking around the room. Upon spotting her curled up in the corner, he immediately went into damage control mode. Tapping his combadge, he called out, "Lieutenant Carlisle to the transporter room."

Crouching beside Nikki, he tried to get her attention without touching her. Sometimes that made it worse when she was in full meltdown mode. "Nik, it's Marcus," he said quietly. "What's wrong?"

"It's all my fault," she sobbed, not even looking up at Marcus. "I had him in the transporter lock and then... if I had only reacted a split second quicker..."

"Nik, we're not Borg," Marcus offered as gently as he could. "We are flesh and blood and we do our best with a natural cognitive system. And you're the best we have on an LCARS console. No one could have done it faster or better than you," he said. "Besides, there was a chance of risk, and Rouse knew that."

Turning slightly towards Marcus, she grabbed him by the hand, only to use his sleeve to wipe away the tears from her eyes, before looking up at him, red-eyed and with a quivering lip. "It was my job though... to get them out of there. Now what about Ellen. And Andy..."

"If you couldn't do it, none of us could," Marcus said. "You don't always win. You don't always get the bad guy. Sometimes the bad guy gets you." He plucked at Nikki's uniform jacket sleeve. "That's part of wearing this uniform. Tim knows that. Ellen knows that."

The doors to the transporter room hissed open and Delainey entered, immediately taking note of a distraught Nikki in Marcus's arms. She didn't need to know why the young woman was upset, but it was surprising to find her in Marcus's arms. She approached, but didn't crouch down, not wanting to interrupt a private moment just in case. "I know you're hurting, Nikki, and I'm here if you want to talk it through," Carlisle offered gently.

Noting Delainey's glance, Marcus muttered, "It's a long story. I'll fill you in later..."

"Doctor Carlisle?" gasped Nikki. She had had many sessions with the counselor before. Now whether that was because she needed them, or because Dr. Silverton had decided to refer her to a specialist in order to avoid having to deal with her was open to interpretation. But in truth, Nikki needed more than a little counseling to help her over her various anxieties. "We lost..." she paused for a moment to wipe away some tears. "The commander... I lost him..."

Delainey moved closer but did not crouch down uninvited. "You were right the first time. We lost him. This was not your fault, Nikki. You were doing your very best. It would only be your fault if you intentionally lost him. Anything else is just a terrible accident. I don't want to intrude," she added, noting Marcus was being a good support. "I'm here if you want to talk now or later."

Marcus gave a part-sympathetic, part-panicked look at Delainey.

"But it was up to me..." continued Nikki, the dark areas of her mind doing their best to block out the reassurances of Delainey and Marcus. "Now the commander has been captured, maybe even killed..."

"Counselor, I have a staff meeting," Marcus asked quietly, letting Nikki to continue her meltdown. While he was doing his best to be understanding, it was clear that his patience was at an end. "Can you stay with her?"

Looking up at Marcus, taking note of his general discomfort and impatience, Delaney offered, "Of course."

Turning her attention back to Nikki, she said, "The only evidence you have right now is that he isn't here. We don't know anything else with certainty, so as challenging as it is, I want you to practice focusing on what you know is true in the here and now. One thing I know with certainty is that you would never intentionally hurt the Commander and that you were doing your very best at those controls."

"Okay... here and now..." Nikki took a deep breath and closed her eyes as Marcus left the room. It took almost all of her concentration to control her breathing and keep herself from hyperventilating, but somehow she managed. "Here and now, here and now..."

Opening her eyes, Nikki stood up and walked over to the transporter console, and grabbed one of those strange Breen helmets that gave her claustrophobia. As he put it over her head, she pressed a few buttons to display a status of the ship's systems. It wasn't good. The damage from the explosion and their bumpy ride had knocked out a good chunk of the EPS systems, and there were some minor hull breaches that were being sealed by emergency structural integrity fields. She took several deep breaths as she read the detailed status reports generated by the ship's computer.

"Wanna help me fix the ship?" she asked, pulling the helmet off and wiping away her tears.

Delainey smiled. "Sure. Where do we start?"

"Come on, I'll show you," replied Nikki, the sadness in her voice being replaced by the excitement of being able to work on some strange Breen technology. Grabbing her tool box in one hand and one of the Breen helmets in the other, she headed for the door, leading Delainey down towards where the EPS system had taken the worst of the damage...
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Tue Jun 20, 2017 2:28 am

Locking and Loading
Cargo bay three, Breen freighter
A little while after the briefing
Authors: Alenis Meru, Ash Sullivan

As the crew worked on repairing the freighter's crippled systems, Meru was getting restless. Without the engineering expertise to be much help, she decided to head down to the weapons locker to see what she could do there. Entering the room, she saw Ash there, looking over a weapons case. "Lieutenant," she called out as she walked over, "how is the weapons situation?"

Ash had been running an inventory check when the captain walked in so he didn't notice her at first. Upon hearing her question he snapped to attention, passed his PADD over to his left hand and offered a quick salute. "I'm just running an inventory now captain." He responded looking back down at his PADD. "So far we have a full compliment of hand held phasers, enough for all officers and enlisted crew members here. We also have half a dozen compression rifles, some stun grenades, that sort of thing. Additionally, some crew members it seems have opted to bring some of their own more... exotic weapons along." He reported. "It might be a good idea to have everyone bring them in for inspection too."

"Good idea," replied Meru, as she stepped towards an open case of compression rifles. Picking one up, she sighed heavily, overwhelmed by her feelings of loss. Tim was more than an executive officer; he was her closest friend in the galaxy. She had been so confident that the mission would succeed, she had brushed aside Tim's concerns, and now...

She only hoped she was doing the right thing. She opened her mouth for a moment, only to close it again before more words came out, as she lined up her eye with the sights of the rifle, aiming off in the corner at nowhere in particular to get a feel for the weapon. It wasn't too different from the ones she handled during her marksmanship training. She had always been a good shot, able to block everything out and isolate all but a pair of iron sights and a target. But now, the weight on her shoulder was just to much.

Ash could see the pain in the captain's face. He didn't know Tim well but he new he was a good officer, and from what he'd seen he and the captain were good friends. Setting the PADD down he approached the captain and in a much less formal tone than before he said, "We'll get him back captain." He wanted to say more. Truth be told he felt an incredible guilt that he'd let the away mission go the way it went, that he let Tim get taken at all.

"I just hope we're doing the right thing..." replied Meru, flipping up the reticle on the rifle. The lost of her first officer had shaken her to the core. Even prayer and studying the words of the prophets couldn't bring piece to her troubled soul. "I mean, proceeding into Breen space without Starfleet authorization... we're taking a hell of a risk, not to mention the consequences if we make it back."

The encounters Ash had shared with the Captain had, until this point, been strictly professional. He could not deny though, that seeing the captain in such a tormented, almost vulnerable state, he felt somehow closer to her. "I have no doubt in my mind that Commander Rouse would do the same for each and every one of us captain," he said as he leaned on the weapons crate between him and the captain, "You made the right call."

"I sure hope so," she said, taking a deep breath, pausing for a moment before launching into the real reason why she came down here. "If we have to bust him out, I'm going on the away team."

Ash shook his head and almost laughed as he replied, "That's a joke right? Do you know the first rule of being a security officer captain?" He paused for effect, though not long enough for the captain to respond, before answering his own rhetorical question, "Don't let command staff off the ship. I've just lost the XO on an away mission he shouldn't have even been a part of. I'll probably face an investigation at the very least when we get back to Federation space. But this isn't even about my career..." Another pause, this wasn't easy for Ash. He didn't have a good relationship with his family so Starfleet, the Federation, the Portland and its crew were everything to him. "This ship is my home. This crew is my family, and its my responsibility to keep them safe. We aren't a crew without you in the captains chair, so I hope you can understand why there's no way I can let you get caught up in this prison break."

Checking the safety on her rifle before returning it to its case, Meru thought about Ash's words. Family. That's what the crew of the Portland was. Forged through adventure, struggle, and adversity, they had created bonds that were far deeper than simply shipmates and coworkers.

Taking a deep breath, Meru realized that this wouldn't be an easy argument. "Your concern is noted, but sometimes a captain has to take care of business personally." She sighed once more. "This mission was my responsibility. Tim being captured by the Breen... the buck stops right here. It's up to me to fix it. Besides..." Taking one more deep breath, she looked Ash in the eye. "I owe Tim my life. It's up to me to bring him back. But I will need a damn good security officer to keep me safe when I do it."

It was plain to see that the captain wasn't going to take no for an answer. Looking into her eyes, Ash could see her calm and level response was just covering over a torrent of emotion. There was a fire in Meru's eyes that Ash knew would not quickly be snuffed out. He let out a sigh before responding reluctantly, "You'll have one captain." Ash looked back to his PADD, updated some numbers briefly until the silence between them became too much for him to bare. "We will bring him back," he said looking up again at the captain, "everyone will be coming home safely."

"Good," she replied, closing the case on the compression rifle that she had been inspecting. "It seems like you have things under control down here. I'm... going to consult with a higher power and return to the bridge," she added. "I'm sure the prophets will smile upon us, and guide us in our quest."

"I've never been much of a religious man captain, but I hope you're right." Ash responded. Before the captain could leave he added reassuringly, "We'll get him back ma'am."

Meru nodded and headed for the door. She hoped Ash was right...
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Re: Mission 9: "Cold Case"

Tue Jul 04, 2017 2:04 am

Bridge, Breen Freighter
En route to Breen space
Authors: Alenis Meru, Jason Beauvoir, Ash Sullivan

On the bridge of the Breen freighter, Meru sighed and pulled her helmet off for a moment. With the rest of the crew busy on repairs and preparing for their rescue attempt, she had taken the bridge and was single-handedly piloting the ship and monitoring the systems so the crew could do what they were good at. "Prophets, give me strength," she muttered, closing her eyes to recover from the strain of the helmet.

A few second later, she threw the helmet back on. But this time, there was a blip in the bottom left corner of the screen. She blinked and squinted, making sure it was there. It was definitely approaching from the rear left quarter at a very high rate of speed. As her hands darted across the controls in front of her, she looked in closer and immediately recognized the energy profile as a Sovereign class starship.

"Federation contact approaching," she called out. "It's the USS Dresden. All available personnel to the bridge."

Jason had been preparing for the rescue mission, when he heard Meru's message. He grabbed CRM 114 , he found in a weapons locker and headed for the Bridge.

After preparing Sickbay as she could Ellen headed to the Bridge the moment she heard the Captain's comm message.

Ash was finalising his report on the weapons inventory when the captain's announcement came over the comms. After ensuring all the equipment was locked down, he quickly proceeded to the bridge, helmet in hand.

As the rest of the crew arrived on the bridge, a video transmission was patched through the helmets. It was a Starfleet bridge; sleek, modern and spacious, in stark contrast to the cramped, cluttered bridge of the freighter. In the center sat a captain. He was average height, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Relatively young, he nonetheless commanded respect with physical fitness and confident pose. Flanking him was a Vulcan female with a severe expression on her face, and a scowling Tellarite.

"Captain Washington," called out Meru, asserting herself before he had a chance to speak. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."

"The pleasure is all mine, although I wish it were under better circumstances." Frederick said. "I heard you require some assistance?"

Meru carefully analyzed Captain Washington's tone. After all, they were on an unauthorized mission, and no doubt the Dresden's orders were to recover the cloaking device. On the other hand, the offer seemed sincere enough. "We, ah, had a little bit of a rough ride earlier and took some damage. However, we do have a little something to recover before returning to the nearest Starbase," she said, giving Frederick enough to go on, but not tipping her hand completely in case she misjudged his intent.

Frederick raised his eyebrows. "Would you be able to come aboard the Dresden, so we can talk in private."

Meru considered her options. She didn't like the idea of leaving the Portland and leaving her crew on the freighter. If Washington was following official orders, she would end up in custody and the mission would be over. Instead, she decided to counter. "Why don't you come over here? Our ship is nicer than it looks, besides, how often does one get the opportunity to take a look at a Breen freighter?"

"That sounds like a plan," he said. "Send the coordinates to my ship and you'll see me in a minute." After the channel was closed Frederick turned to his First Officer. "You've got the comm," and headed for the turbolift. "But sir," the officer sputtered. "What about your orders?" "That's for me to worry about." Frederick said as the lift closed.

Meanwhile, on the Portland, Meru breathed a sigh of relief as she removed her helmet. "Well, you heard the man," she said as she stood up from her seat. "I'll meet him down in Cargo Bay 3. Ms. Zade, you have the conn. Mr. Sullivan, I'd like a little privacy, but I want you outside the door with a transport inhibitor in case things go south."

"Yes ma'am. I'll meet you down there." Ash responded after removing his helmet. Making his way to the door a question popped into his mind, not one he would normally need or want to ask. Before leaving the bridge he turned back to the captain, "Will you be meeting the captain unarmed?"

Pausing for a moment, Meru analyzed her options. "It wouldn't be nice to our guest for me to have a phaser on him, now would it?"

"If he's under Star Fleet orders, he may well have a phaser trained on you, but I understand ma'am. I'll be right outside should you need assistance." Ash replied before exiting the bridge.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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