USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Colluding and Revealing

Posted on Sun Apr 23rd, 2017 @ 1:49am by Lieutenant No Name & Commander Akiva ben-Avram

Mission: S1E5 - Unknown Territory
Location: Deck 5 - Room 0506
Timeline: MD 79 - 22:45

The last several days had been as enlightening as they had been overwhelming. Many personal issues had fallen into Akiva's plate, which already stacked high enough with professional concerns. Not only was he tasked with helping the captain rebuild the ravaged crew, but the intrigue of the last month had only deepened with the revelations provided by his former enemy. Kazyah Linn, now Mission Advisor to the ship he had betrayed "under orders"--orders which were nowhere to be found. Yet his charges had been dismissed anyway.

As Akiva stood outside the door to Cat's quarters awaiting her response to his chime, he pondered that question again. Just what was Kazyah's role now? Was he an enemy? A friend? A frenemy. They had an uneasy alliance against an unseen threat looming overhead, but Akiva still felt isolated and alone. Claudia's health seemed none the worse for wear, but he could not bring himself to present idle and empty concerns to her without evidence for their basis. For HaShem's sake, he wasn't even certain what his concerns were.

It was time to acquire another ally if possible. The only other person he knew had not let the scandal go.

Cat answered the door a moment later wearing a white robe with a black t-shirt and shorts peeking out from where it was slightly opened. When she saw it was Commander ben-Avram, she stepped aside and indicated that he was welcome to come in. "Can I help you, Commander?" she asked.

"Yes." Akiva bit his lip, then asked. "May we speak privately?"

"Of course, Sir," Cat aside as she waited for him to come in so the door would close and she could take active security measures.

"Thank you." Akiva hurried inside and let the doors close behind him. Out of sight, he visibly calmed a bit. Until he took full stock of Cat's nightly apparel. Suppressing a blush, he turned away to find a seat. He spoke as he walked.

After he stepped in, Cat retrieved a small device that was shaped like a long, thin cylinder and sat it down on the coffee table.

"I don't know precisely where to begin, so let's take it from the top." He sat down and faced Cat again, this time forcing eye contact.

"You know more than I do regarding the events of Veloz Prime. I have strong reason to believe the official reports are... inaccurate. Lieutenant Linn's interrogation did not yield anything solid or actionable, and now he's suddenly our new mission advisor. What's more -- pressure from the highest authorities has told us to simply go along with it."

He sighed with frustration.

"The captain is playing along for now. Officially, I can't do anything more than that myself. However..." He trailed off, hoping Cat would catch his drift. "I cannot just do nothing," he said at length.

Cat tightened her robe and sat down as she listened to the man and nodded. "I understand what you feel, Commander," she said. "And I don't like the situation any better than you do. Ever since I came aboard, I've been blocked at every angle and now I feel like it was done on purpose from the word go. I suspect Lieutenant Linn of deliberate acts against the crew of the Vindex, but I don't have official proof of that and no authority to do anything until I'm ordered to. All I can do at the moment is try to take active measures to prevent something like that again, but it doesn't change what's already taken place. What are you orders, Sir?"

"Officially, I can only order you to investigate your predecessor's files, but you've made it clear you're already doing that." Akiva dry-washed his hands as he thought aloud. "Linn did not act alone, and if my suspicions are correct, he may only be a patsy. I have never heard of a case like his where charges of high treason are dismissed so quickly and buried, much less that he's returned to service on the same vessel where he was charged with mutiny. It's as if it never happened, and all with Starfleet Intelligence disavowing everything. I was as much as threatened by the commodore overseeing Linn's case. We need to tread very carefully, as I don't think official channels are safe at the moment."

He looked up from his hands and gave Cat an assaying stare. "If we cast this line and get a bite, there's no telling how deep it goes. We may shake a pillar or two of Starfleet. Are you prepared for that, Lieutenant?"

Cat stood up and removed her robe to reveal what she was wearing and gave the Commander a level stare. "Sir, in my duties as an officer of Starfleet and Starfleet Intelligence, there is nothing that I will not do to protect the ship, crew and interests of Starfleet and the Federation. Give the word and I'll do it."

The sight of the comely Intel Chief's scantily clad unmentionables made Akiva gulp. He jumped to his feet and turned around, as much to be a gentleman as to hide his embarrassment.

"I... thank you for your commitment." He rubbed his eyes and blinked away the image that lingered in his mind's eyes. "So, with that out of the way, um..." He forced himself to return to his former line of thought. "Can you shed light on anything else? I mean, is there anything you know that I don't which could prove helpful? I'm afraid I'm at wit's end here."

The words made him sigh as soon as they were out of his mouth. Damn him and his unintentional double entendres.

"I'll see what I can do, but I was kept out of the loop, Commander," Cat as as she picked her robe up and put it on again. "I'm going to need higher security clearance to the computer and data access levels. If this rabbit hole goes deep, people aren't going to let a newly minted Lieutenant just waltz in and it certainly won't be in the open."

Akiva rubbed his chin in thought. "I'll see that your local clearance is raised to Level 8 Beta-2. Anything higher can go through me." He paused for a moment, then asked. "I appreciate your not jumping to conclusions, Lieutenant, but what is your gut telling you? This is all admittedly very new to me."

"My gut is telling me that there's so much shit about to hit the fan the moment I begin this search that Waste Management won't be able to contain it," she said. "And I'll do what I can. There's something else, Commander," she added but didn't continue."

The Intel Chief's candor cracked a smile across Akiva's face, though he grew pensive again when she hesitated to continue. "Oh? What is it?"

"If things do go south, you need to have culpable deniability," Cat said, fully aware of what would likely happen to her. "I plan on doing some serious digging and I don't want anyone else to be taken down when they come for me."

"I've made my peace," Akiva said, then added, "but what do you have in mind?"

"I'm planning on going in harder and deeper than an angry Nausicaan," Cat said honestly. "I want to shake the tree so hard that anyone in it will feel it for a month."

"All right. How do you that?" The intensity in her eyes gave him pause. "And what makes you think it will come back negatively on me?"

"You're in Command and you'll be the one giving me a higher clearance," she said, answering his second question first. "As for how I plan to do that..." she smiled. "Brute force and dirty tactics that will make people's heads spin."

Akiva nodded. "You'll recall my order for extrajudicial measures during the hostage crisis. I... struggled with that decision, but I will live with having made it." His next words caught in his throat for the bile that they felt to him. "If you have cause, then I will stand by any action that cause demands. Just..." Hands to face, he sighed. When his hands came down, they revealed a stony face with eyes of smoldering determination. "Just don't let yourself get caught in the same web that Linn did. I doubt he went willingly."

"I won't," Cat assured him as she went to the replicator to get some coffee. "I think that Linn's telepathic abilities made him an easier target. What can go out can be traced back. I've heard that is how the Selamat targeted Starfleet officers who had some degree of psi ability and coerced them mentally. I'm a tough nut to crack. Do you want something to drink?"

"Yes, please. Anything cold." Akiva sat back down. He wasn't about to leave yet as he had thought, and Cat had raised another point worth considering.
"There is another thing, now that you mentioned Linn's telepathic abilities. Saalkan had augmented his own abilities to a level practically unheard of. If there's any way he cheated death, as he always boasted, then telepathy needs to remain on our radar as well."

Cat decided to give the Commander an iced caramel macchiato while she requested a Raktajino. When she had them both, she brought them back and handed him the Macchiato. "I'm not sure exactly what can be done about that short of getting Medical involved," she said as she sat back down. "I'm fully human and have no psi ability at all, but there may be devices which can be worn or implanted to block telepathy."

"Indeed," Akiva said. "Although our experimental measures at the outset obviously failed." He thumbed the embedded tracker in his uniform from before Nurse Takahashi transferred out. "I don't want to speculate, but if Saalkan indeed is at large, or at least whichever group or organization who aided his collection of artefacts, then I'd like to add that to our list of priorities. You can bet whoever held Linn's leash was either in collusion with or opposition to Saalkan and his ilk. That means either one could crop up."

"If anyone attempts anything on me, I plan on phasering them until their atoms explode," Cat said after she took a drink of her potent Klingon coffee. "I'm done playing around, Commander. The moment something happens is the moment that I'm opening fire."

Akiva nodded. "Understood. Do you know what your first step with your new clearance will be?"

"I'm going to turn the system inside out as long as it doesn't affect the rest of the ship," she told him. "There's files which have been deleted, but I'm an encryption specialist and nothing ever stays deleted until the person doing it knows exactly what they were doing. Somewhere, there will be shreds of it and I'll put it back together."

"Very good. Keep me apprised of whatever you find." Akiva finished his drink and left the mug on the coffee table. Returning to his feet, he gave Cat a parting look. "And... thank you."

"No, thank you, Commander," Cat said as she came to her feet to take the mug to the recycler and watched it dematerialize. "Thank you for the chance to get to do something right after so much wrong has been done."

"I know I won't sleep well until we get to the bottom of this." Akiva stuck his hand out to shake on their alliance. "To the end."

Cat shook his hand and offered him a smile. "Until the end," she agreed. A part of her mind noted that he was a handsome, fit man and wondered what he'd look like out of uniform, but this was neither the time, nor place for it.

Akiva ignored the warm tingle of direct skin contact and made for the door. This encounter had been very revealing indeed.

Once the Commander left, Cat went to the terminal and sat down. She had a lot to think about and a lot more to actively pursue. For now, she wanted to learn more about the man she had just entered a covenant with.

 

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