USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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A Piece In The Jigsaw

Posted on Wed Sep 21st, 2016 @ 11:28pm by Rear Admiral David Hutchinson Sr & Lieutenant Elsa Johansson

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: USS Renown
Timeline: Mission Day 7; 15:00

David had left his meeting with Claudia and decided to have a go at talking to Elsa about anything she knew which could offer anything towards the suspicions he and Claudia both shared. The Rakhar system had never been that quiet before - so why was it now? They both agreed something wasn't right and it was time to shed some more light on it. The Consortium were a formidable enemy and definitely worth taking seriously.

After locating Elsa's guest quarters David pressed the chime and waited patiently for permission to enter.

Elsa was engrossed in a book on the origins and development of the game of kubb when her thoughts were interrupted by a chime announcing a visitor at the door. She adjusted the featureless uniform she had been issued, while the corner of her mouth tugged in amusement at the thought that someone was allowing her the illusion that she could refuse a visitor on the Renown. "Enter, please," she answered, as she stood up from her seat.

David smiled to himself before entering the room. Repairs on the Renown were progressing relatively well - although the impulse drive was still just under a day away from being operational. Nevertheless the crew's team spirit was stronger than ever and David was confident they'd be back to full operational status before the end of the next day.

"How are you this afternoon Miss Johansson? I thought I'd come down and check in on you" David said.

"Catching up on my recreational reading," Elsa answered, setting her PADD down. "Not something I've had time for, over the last year. I was about to make myself some tea," she added, stepping over to the replicator. "May I get you something, Captain, before we get down to the business of what brought you to my quarters? Considering that you have ongoing repairs to supervise, I can only surmise that your appearance in my quarters are for reasons other than purely social ones."

David smiled and looked down at the young human officer. She was a brave woman and he was certainly going to make her actions very clear to Starfleet in his report. He was going to do his utmost best to lessen any action taken against them by Starfleet senior staff.

"A cup of tea sounds lovely. Thank you Ensign" David replied.

"Two cups, Soderblandning, hot," Elsa ordered. The replicator produced two clear tea cups, each containing a light brown liquid with a subtle floral scent emanating from them. "My parents have a tea house in Stockholm," she told Captain Hutchinson, looking the slightly shorter officer in the eye before setting the cups down on the table between them. "I'm looking forward to working in their shop again, once I'm separated from Starfleet. That, and being able to ride real snow again." Taking a seat, Elsa added, "So what I can I do for you, sir?"

"I'll have to go and visit once I get the Renown back to the Alpha Quadrant. I'll tell them you sent me" David started.

David accepted the cup of tea and smiled. He took hold of it in both hands and waited a few moments for Elsa to sit down before taking a sip. It was the first time he'd tried Soderblandning but he very much enjoyed it.

"The reason I came here today was because myself and Commander Ainscow of the Vindex have a few concerns. The Rakhar system is deserted save for one Consortium ship - last time I checked there was supposed to be at least three. I know this is a long shot but if you have any information...anything at all...it could be vital. Something like this just doesn't feel right at all" David said.

"Bear in mind," Elsa began, "that a good deal of information that Commander Bogolyubov possessed he kept compartmentalized. Close to the chest," she elaborated. "An example of this is the technology that the Consortium has collected from across the Gamma Quadrant that is was experimenting into incorporating into the various ships in its fleet. I was Chief Engineer aboard the Cakula, and I could only tell you the energy requirements on these experiments, and not their hoped for results."

"One of the reasons the Cakula was assigned the Rakhar system was that it could operate as three vessels, and three very effective vessels at that," Elsa continued. "And Commander Bogolyubov was trusted enough be the Consortium leadership that they gave him the responsibility of being the...spymaster, for this region. The primary reason for entrusting the Cakula with this area was that there was a big operation being prepared, though I don't know what its objective is. As I said earlier, Commander Bogolyubov kept most of his communications with the Consortium leadership to himself, doling out information sparingly even with his senior staff."

Elsa paused, her brow furrowing. "Commander Bogolyubov had a bad habit, of always talking to himself in Russiann. A good deal of it was about his sister, an officer in Starfleet somewhere. He used a rather rude word to refer to her all the time."

"I know a little Russian," Elsa told Captain Hutchinson, "My uncle was a biologist who worked part of the year out of Murmansk, Russia, and I'd go and visit him there. So I tried to keep tabs anytime Commander Bogolyubov got particularly upset or agitated about something. I remember him muttering the word 'yedinstvo' right before we began hunting you down, Captain. Presumably on Consortium orders. Anyway, he mumbled 'yedinstvo' a few times after that. It's Russian for 'unity," she translated.

David nodded and listened. "That does make sense but even with that it doesn't seem like a lot for one entire star system. What would you think the likelihood they've perhaps moved vessels from here to say...I don't know...in a staging position to launch an attack somewhere key to our cause? Commander Ainscow and I have grave concerns this could be the case but without anything to go on we could be sending both of our ships to their doom - or worse - fall into the hands of The Consortium. Is there anything at all you could think of that could even remotely suggest it?"

David took another sip of his tea and smiled.

"You'll have to leave a note of what this tea is called if you decide to leave for another ship. I'm willing to bet I'd probably forget it by the time I leave the room" David added.

"I suspect this will be the last ship I'll be on, Captain, at least until I'm mustered out of the Fleet," Elsa replied, without even a hint of rancor in her voice. "You see the word 'Traitor' on my forehead every time you look at me, Captain, and that's after I prevented the attack on your ship. I don't expect much better from --- Gavary system!" Elsa interrupted herself. "Commander Bogolyubov had an argument with Consortium leadership. They wanted him to use on of the ship's section to provide security for the Gavary system. I only got the beginning of that conversation before I got shuffled out of the ready room. Obviously Commander Bogolyubov talked then out of sending part of the ship to the Gavary system." Elsa was quiet for a moment, a thoughtful look on her face, before she shook her head. "The only two things I can give you, Captain, at least anything recent."

David nodded and listened. He knew that Elsa may feel insecure but he felt she was a good officer - whilst he might not be able to offer her a home - he felt Commander Ainscow might be willing to let her carry on. The information that Elsa had provided him with was extremely useful indeed - it was a piece in the jigsaw that would allow Claudia and David to get their heads together and find out more about what was going on there.

"That Ensign...is just what we need. If they're providing security there it must mean they are using the system for something or other. Based on where that is they must be using it as a platform to launch an attack on Starbase Unity. And as for the last starship you're on - maybe not here - but I'm sure Commander Ainscow would see past the 'traitor' you think you are. You made a bad choice and you've realised that - I see past it and I'm sure she would too. You're a damned good officer and you're also brave and you have courage to stand up for what you believe in. Don't give up Elsa" David replied.

"And there lies the rub, Captain Hutchinson," Elsa said, with a wan smile. "You are still under the impression I made a bad decision. Consider my position, Captain. Put yourself in my shoes, as it were. You are the most junior officer on a starship. You are off duty and getting the sleep regulation requires before you report to duty. In the middle of your sleep shift, you are awakened to discover that your ship has been taken over by a mutiny led by the ship's most senior noncommisioned Marine officer. He is aided by the fact that the Marine CO is young and inexperienced, and that the ship's senior security officer is inept. As enlisted and officers are rounded up, you discover either that your senior officers were in on things, or that they have been neutralized. You are given the choice of joining the Consortium or not. The decision to not join means imprisonment, death or being sent to be psychologically re-engineered by Consortium experts. Your first thought is to make some grand gesture of defiance, but then you reconsider. The Consortium has just captured one of the most powerful vessels in Starfleet. What if you can get yourself in a position to disable that vessel permanently? Wouldn't that be worth swallowing your pride a little? And so I joined the Consortium. A number of like minded people did as well, Some of them were still culled for no apparent reason. I suspect the Consortium has had to face that particular ruse before."

"And so, Captain, I gathered people around me to do what senior officers such as yourself failed to do: get the Cukela back to Starfleet, or at the very least, get it out of the Consortium's hands. And when faced with the possibility of your ship's destruction, I put my plans for the Cukela's return to Starfleet to save your ship, though I was able to disable the Cukela in the process."

"So Captain," Elsa concluded, "My problem isn't that I think I made the wrong decision. If I and others had not engaged in subterfuge, I suspect the Renown and possibly the Vindex would either be destroyed or part of the Consortium decision. My problem is that I have been labeled a traitor for having taken my course of action. If that is Starfleet's position, sir, then I think I will take my leave of it." Elsa paused, her voice still calm, when she added, "Will there be anything else, sir?"

David nodded. "I can see where you're coming from Elsa but your actions saving the lives of my crew - 661 people - and also the starship in turn is enough in itself to lessen anything they might try and throw at you. If I have anything to do with it then you and your colleagues will not be branded as anything as you are still people and ultimately you did your duty to Starfleet. Besides - Starfleet are going to need people like you and your colleagues out here if we're going to beat them and prevent it happening to anyone else. You may not have brought the Cukela back but at least you and your crewmates are safe from The Consortium now. I won't let them hurt any of you again. You all saved my ship and for that I will always be eternally grateful"

David took another sip of his tea. He guessed that he had said perhaps the wrong thing but he wasn't planning to go without apologising and at least giving Elsa something to think about. The Vindex was still in need of additional staff - David knew that Elsa would make a fine addition to Claudia Ainscow's crew.

"You're good officer Elsa and I really think there's a lot of potential in you. I'd hate to see that talent go to waste because of what happened on the Cukela. I guess my lack of understanding saw me brand all people on Consortium ships as the same - but after meeting you and your crewmates - I can only deeply apologise for making that assumption. I will do everything in my power to protect you and your crewmates from any punishment as you certainly don't deserve it. I promise you that from the bottom of my heart" David finished.

Elsa nodded and took a deep breath. "My apologies, Captain. As we've discussed, some of those I did recruit did join the Consortium voluntarily, but thought better of it when given a chance. And I will give your words the consideration they're due, sir, and they're due a lot." For a moment, Elsa looked like the young recent Academy graduate she was, and not the young woman who had managed everything she had done. Then that girl vanished, once again replaced by the strong willed woman Elsa showed the world. "And if there is anything I can do right now to assist you, I am yours to command, sir."

David finished his cup of tea and smiled. He was glad that his words had at least some influence and gave the young officer something to think about.

"Well I'll have a chat with Commander Ainscow in a couple of days once you're all feeling better and have had some rest. If we need any help I'll be sure to come down and give you a knock. And if you need anything - anything at all - just ask" David said.

With that he stood up and left Elsa in peace. He had enough to go on to tell Commander Ainscow that their suspicions did look like they carried some weight and that The Consortium could be about to do something big. He made his way up to the bridge and straight to his ready room to contact Claudia - it was the piece of information Elsa gave them that might just convince Claudia that they needed to act and stop The Consortium's plan before it was too late.

 

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