USS Portland, docked at Deep Space Nine
Authors: Arthur Reynolds, Tolaran
The day had stretched on forever. The admirals were still debating over a botched mission Portland had apparently been involved in prior to Arthur's arrival on DS9 for the transfer. As for him, Arthur remained unconcerned with the proceedings. It helped that he missed that particular mission, after all. But after what he did upon arriving here, the future CTO had to take stock of the events which brought him here.
To make it brief for himself, so he could focus his energy on the matter at hand, he recalled his failure to keep a Yridian ship from escaping Starbase Montgomery while he was stationed there. The Yridians purportedly stole top secret data from a Starfleet Intelligence transmission. As a result, Starfleet reassigned him to the Portland, and he would end up starting this new phase of his life on DS9. A Yridian ship was docked there, and Arthur saw an opportunity to redeem himself by enlisting the aid of Ensign Nikki Barclay and stealing data from their computer core which could implicate them in the theft. Yet while he found evidence it was the same ship, he found no sign of the data... and he knew he couldn't share it with Starfleet Command for fear they would chastise him further for illegally searching the ship and - especially - coming up with only a map of their flight path since their time at Montgomery.
Arthur left the data in a secure data rod in his quarters. Little did he know that upon arriving, he would find it missing.
For a moment, Arthur felt his heart stop. Who would've stolen it? Who knew it was there? Tentatively, he reached for his comm badge but stopped short of tapping it. If he called security, he'd have to explain the situation. What would he say? After pondering the possibilities, he gave in and slapped the badge at his chest. =/\= Arthur to security. I've had a break-in and need someone down here right away. =/\=
Tolaran had been sitting at his desk filing reports and going over information, he hadn't long transferred to the Portland and arranging security details and rotas was always time consuming when you came on board a new ship but he was getting to know the team from their profiles. The call came through from Arthur about a break in and he considered sending one of his team before deciding to go himself as it would give him an excuse to get away from his desk for a bit. =/\= Lieutenant, this is Chief of Security Kian, I'll be right there. =/\= Standing up, he straightened his uniform and headed for Arthur's quarters where he pressed the Lieutenants door chime.
"Come," Arthur practically shouted as he scoured his room for the missing isolinear chip. The room was a mess, with furniture turned over and drawers sprawled out on the ground. It looked like a tornado had thrown everything into a state of disarray... and that was putting it mildly! By the time Tolaran would have stepped in, Arthur stood from his position behind the couch and briefly held his arms out to either side before letting them fall limp. "That's it. It's gone." With a disturbed, albeit constrained, look, the Portland's CTO focused on Tolaran. "Somebody got in here and stole the only acta crystal I had. It's worth a small fortune, I guess I'm not surprised."
Tolaran observed the scene in front of him, he didn't respond straight away to Arthur, instead walking around the room carefully taking in the positions of furniture and other personal items belonging to the Chief Tactical Officer , it seemed like a lot of effort for an acta crystal, despite their value. "Tell me Lieutenant, where was the crystal held in your room before *sweeping his arms around* this happened. Also, who would have known you had this crystal in your possession?" someone must have known the item was here, maybe Arthur had been bragging about it on DS9 or when he came on the ship, also someone clever enough to get into the Lieutenants quarters without detection was going to a lot of effort for a crystal.
A lopsided frown crossed Arthur's face as he stepped around the chair, stubbing his toe on something and silently cursing under his breath before stopping just in front of the security chief. "I don't know," he replied as he looked around his quarters. "But you can excuse the mess. I just tried to make sure I didn't misplace it or drop it... or something." Once Tolaran had asked about where it was, Arthur led the way toward his bedroom, making sure not to trip on anything else along the way. He approached the set of drawers that were hanging out from the wall beside his bed and pointed out an area in the back of the one on the top. "It was there. I thought it was well-hidden, but I guess I was wrong."
"You know we have security boxes that can also be used by crew to store anything extra valuable, what concerns me is that someone knew you had it and managed to break into your quarters. Can you describe the item in detail, do you have any images of it that I can circulate to my crew and on the station? Their security chief may be able to begin some investigations too, try and locate and recover the crystal." Tolaran rubbed his forehead, something wasn't quite right here, whoever had stolen the crystal probably wasn't in Starfleet, they wouldn't have need for the crystal although he wouldn't rule them out which meant checking the civilian crew members first.
"It's just an everyday acta crystal. They're rare enough that I doubt you'd find more than one on the station. But I didn't want a few co-workers to get bent out of shape because I keep a little money around... so I didn't exactly register it." Arthur put on a nervous smile - not difficult to do, since he knew sneaking items aboard wasn't exactly permitted under Starfleet regulations. Still, a cursory check of the logs would've proven that eventually, so there was no point in hiding it. "Actually, can you take a few forensic scans? Apparently, whoever raided my quarters disabled my tricorder. They probably thought I'd catch on to them if they didn't."
"I'll have my assistant bring some guys down here and run scans, for now I'd rather not touch anything more until thats been done, I am still confused by this Lieutenant, it's a lot of effort for an 'everyday' acta crystal isn't it... and we'll discuss you not registering something later, right now isn't the time considering we don't want to miss whomever has stolen your crystal. Now... shall we take a trip to the station as I am sure that whomever stolen it won't still be here?"
"Don't know much about money, do you lieutenant?" Arthur said with a constrained chuckle as he approached. "Lead the way."
:: Time passes, they visit the station and talk to security there to be on the look out for any crystals and suspicious activities. Tolaran gets a message from one of his deputies and the reports are odd, to return to his office and review them, he takes Arthur with him::
Tolaran glanced down at the report, he scratched his head and looked up at Arthur who sat opposite him, a questioning look on his face. He looked back down at the report. "Lieutenant, I'm not sure how I can explain this... but your the one who entered your quarters and ransacked it, it's the only explanation for what I'm finding ... is there something you want to tell me?"
Once settled in the security office, Arthur felt increasingly tense. The longer they kept up this investigation, the sooner the truth would have to come out. It wasn't until Tolaran put forward an absurd theory that he knew that time might be coming sooner than he'd hoped. "What are you talking about?" There was genuine confusion in his voice. It sounded nothing like the confident, albeit concerned, officer who called on Tolaran to help only minutes ago. "Okay, I admit I threw some things around when I was looking for it, but my crystal's missing. Wouldn't you get a little desperate too?"
"Don't lie to me Arthur" Tolarans voice becoming hard and stern, ever the security officer, he'd been trained well at the academy and whilst he was also a tactician like Arthur his responsibility was the ship and her crew. "If you'd have moved items around you'd have told me as it would have been important and you were also trained in security so you know that's a sloppy response. You are the only one who entered those quarters so why would you ransack your own place for something you have told me is yours? I don't buy it."
Not one to respond well to any threatening tone, Arthur narrowed his eyes and replied with renewed confidence. "That's why I asked you to excuse the mess, lieutenant. I made most of it because I thought I'd misplaced it." Indeed, it wasn't a secret as far as Arthur was concerned. But it did make the tactical officer grow ever more suspicious of the Portland's chief of security. "But, as I said, it's stolen. I wouldn't have contacted you otherwise." He stepped forward and put a hand on the back of the chair sitting across from Tolaran. "Now the question is: what's security going to do about it?"
Tolaran leaned back in his chair, and let out a huge sigh, it was obvious that Arthur wasn't going to be forthcoming about what he knew, and based off the tests his deputies had run he couldn't see how he couldn't. "Lieutenant." short, sharp, pausing and then before Arthur had the change to respond, he could see his mouth begin to open "read the damn PADD. My team found DNA in your quarters and indeed it's your DNA but it's not 'YOUR' DNA" Tolaran emphasized the second your for effect and then waited to see the facial expression...
For a brief moment, Arthur raised a brow as if a certain Vulcan questioning the logic of such a ridiculous statement. But once he stepped around the chair and pulled the PADD over to his side of the desk, that same look was replaced by a feeling of consternation. "What the hell is this?" he asked as he picked up the PADD and, seemingly spellbound by it, sat down in the chair. After he stared at it for some time, trying to find some sort of inconsistency in the words, his eyes fell on Tolaran with some concern. "What does it mean by 'older'? Did I just grow a grey hair or something?"
Tolaran watched Arthurs response carefully, he'd come to a conclusion and it was not a good one... "What were you really hiding in your quarters Arthur, your future self obviously wants something you have now so badly he's broken the rules to come back and get it. You realize a temporal violation means I should inform the Captain straight away..."
"Kian," Arthur exclaimed before correcting himself in a calm manner. "Lieutenant. I don't..." He paused only to realize the security chief wouldn't let up on this one, no matter what Arthur said. So he decided, only reluctantly, to tell the truth. "To be honest, I think I know what he was after." The CTO stood and stepped over to the back of the room, considering his words carefully before turning around and leaning back against the wall with arms crossed. "Before I transferred here, I served on Starbase Montgomery." He felt he'd told this story one too many times already, though he'd only told it once. "We had an Yridian ship dock for some much needed repairs. Starfleet ordered us to hold them so we could investigate some alleged data theft from Deep Space 3. Everything went fine until...
"They faked a core overload, and I released the docking clamps." With a frown that made no secret of his disappointment in himself, Arthur continued. "The XO was pissed. Said I botched a very important operation for Starfleet Intelligence. The Admiral transferred me to the Portland as... as punishment." He looked up and explained, "So you can imagine, lieutenant, that when an Yridian ship docked with DS9, I thought I'd found a chance to get back on my career path. I had security detain it while I slipped by and searched the ship myself. I downloaded some navigational data off their computer core onto a data rod, stunned a few Yridians... and left."
"The only reason I haven't given this information to Starfleet is because of how I attained it. Maybe it would help solve their case, but it could mean a demotion or worse: I could be stuck on a penal camp on a moon somewhere!"
"Dammit Arthur... what the hell were you thinking, now we're going to have to find your and fix it... let me tell you, that is not something I ever wanted to say during my years of service, temporal stuff never leads to good things, do you know how much paperwork I'd have to fill in. Besides, sounds to me like by transferring you he was doing you a favour, not punishing you. So, why would the future you want to come back and steal a data rod with Yridian navigational data..."
"Your guess is as good as mine." When Arthur thought Tolaran would express disbelief, which would be all too understandable given the fact he didn't exactly tell the truth the first time, he added, "I mean it. I don't know what data the Yridians stole from DS3. Just that it was valuable enough for Starfleet Intelligence to get on our XO's back about it. It was probably some top secret intel on the Breen or something. DS3's located on the border with the Breen, isn't it?" He sighed. "Chances are, if anyone wanted that data rod, it was for the same reasons I had..." He further explained, "To go look for it. The data, I mean. If it was a 'future' me, maybe he knows what's on it. But I don't really care. I just want it so Starfleet won't treat me like a failure for the rest of my life."
"Well, whatever it is, you must know how important it is by coming back for it, and I don't think this is going to help your situation if it gets out... let's go to the bridge, we'll need your station to start running scans of the ship and the station for life signs matching yours other than you..."
Tolaran stood up and picked up the PADD, motioning for Arthur to lead on...
Once they were on the bridge, Arthur wandered toward the Tactical console. He'd reviewed the basic layout on the way to DS9. Upon taking a few seconds to get adjusted, he managed to manipulate the console layout as needed. With that out of the way, he made a basic DNA scan. The readout came back negative, so he tried again but avoided increasing power to the sensors in fear doing so would otherwise draw the attention of the station. Again, negative. "I'm not getting anything." He shook his head. "Let me try something else."
Instead of scanning for lifesigns, he recalibrated the sensors to detect any ion trail, no matter how faint, and compare it with the data of outgoing ships from DS9. When the computer demanded an access code for the information, Arthur looked at Tolaran. "You mind?"
Tolaran's eyes skimmed across the bridge making sure they weren't being closely observed and then he tapped in his access code. "Lets hope this works and no-one questions it because otherwise we are both going to be in serious trouble, now lets find you Arthur..."
With a chuckle under his breath, Arthur said, "Never thought my first time on the bridge would have me chasing after... me. I'd much rather it be after an Orion ship or som---" Suddenly, the perimeter alert beeped on his console. He found an ion trail matching the criteria he'd searched for. It was too faint to tell exactly where it led, but at least now they knew which direction it went in. "There it is." Arthur stepped back a little so Tolaran could get a better look. "It's the ion trail of an unidentified class of ship with a Federation warp signature. Looks like he was smart enough to cover his tracks though. See all that interference? He probably left half an hour ago."
Now he turned to the CSO and put a hand on his hip, leaning against the railing as he did so. "Now what?"
Tolaran frowned... "We need a runabout... I don't think the Captain is going to let us borrow the entire ship without us telling her why but we could take a runabout probably, the Portland isn't due to leave for a while yet and if the Chief of Security and the Head of Tactical can't borrow one for 'security' reasons and come up with an elaborate lie then we probably shouldn't be in the fields we're in, right?"
"Or... one could argue two department heads shouldn't go off gallivanting through space after a potential lunatic alone. What'll we do if we can't come back for some reason? You think the Portland can do without us?" With a sigh, Arthur turned back to the console and saved the data from the sensors. Then he just chuckled. "What the hell am I saying? Twenty years ago, I would've jumped at an opportunity like this."
"We're not due to leave the station for some time, I don't think we'll be missed when we have so many crew on shore leave or doing other work, my assistant is more than capable of handling security and why on earth would the ship need a tactical officer docked on a station, again I am sure your assistant can fill in, we have a potential security mess and temporal incursion which would not go down well Arthur... I may be young, but I know this is something important..."
Considering he had no prior experience with temporal anomalies of any kind, Arthur had no idea how important they could be. But he had received a basic education in quantum mechanics during his time at the Academy, so he knew Starfleet took them seriously. Either way, he sighed and finally acquiesced. "Alright. But I hope you realize if something happens to us and we're not able to come back, our assistants are going to steal our jobs." A short chortle later, and he stepped away from the console. "Well, let's get to work. But, for the record, I'm following you only because I'm an idiot who doesn't know when to quit while he's ahead. And if Starfleet takes this sort of thing so seriously... I might be an even bigger idiot for not going along with you."
"Oh yes, you are definitely an idiot either way, there's no doubt" Tolaran flashed a grin before it quickly vanished again. "Now, let's find a runabout shall we... and we'd better prepare anything else we need to take, weapons would be good... but I'll leave some false information on the system and make it look like we're heading somewhere else for a couple days so there's no questions asked." Tolaran quickly laid in a flight plan and request on the system for a warp capable vessel and looked at the nearby star systems, trying to work out what would be best as an excuse for Arthur and himself to be gone for a few days. He let out a groan and saw Arthurs look become puzzled... "I'm going to say we're going to Trill, I don't want to but it's probably the most believable given it's my home world... right... shall we?"