Unlikeliest Place To Put An EPS Conduit
Episode 6: War Crimes
Location: Observation Lounge, Deck 1
Timeline: MD143, 1040 Hours
It had been less than thirty minutes since the Captain had concluded his meeting with Commodore Azulas and the new Strategic Operations Officer, but it was almost thirty minutes that had been well spent as he reviewed the intelligence data given to him by Commander Hunt. In doing so, he had decided that it was important to discuss the data they contained with two people in particular. With that in mind, the Captain had summoned both Commander Neprem and the still fragile Lieutenant zh'Khessi to the observation lounge.
Whilst he waited, he stood at the large bay window and stared into the cosmos as he contemplated what he was about to share with the two officers. How would they take the news? What would the injured engineer's reaction be? Would the XO hold it together after a tense few weeks for her? Whatever the reaction, it would tell the relatively new Captain of the Nogura a little more about two of his senior most officers.
While Meibei was undoubtedly still in a fragile state while recovering, Tara felt confidant that Mei could take on the universe! The little blue Engineer still had some low moments, but who didn't?! Somehow through it all, she was the perky and vibrant Meibei that Tara had come to adore.
"Are you sure you're up for this?" Tara asked out of polite caution as she walked beside Meibei, who was in her chair. "I can ask the Captain if he can delay this meeting if you're really not ready."
"Beats stayin' in bed," Meibei affirmed brightly, although her enthusiasm was clearly rather forced. In reality, she was still in rough shape. The burns were still healing, necessitating extensive bandaging across her entire right side, even up to her scalp. In that, Meibei had been extremely fortunate; if she hadn't covered her eyes with her arm, she'd have unquestionably lost one of them to the fire. Still, she was still rather tender and aching awfully, her bandages clearly showing in the bulk underneath her red silk medical clothes. Worst of all, Meibei had come to realise, was the loss of her right antenna, amputated during surgery. The organ would grow back in a few months, but until then, her balance was a mess.
Which showed as, when she turned her head to look up at Tara, Mei's head drooped a little to the side, although she was still smiling at the redhead. "Ready when you are!"
"Ready," Tara replied, and together they continued on to the observation lounge.
When the doors to the observation lounge parted and revealed the two senior officers, the Captain walked away from the window and gave them both a sheepish smile as he gestured for them to take a seat at the table. "Thank you both for coming. I know it hasn't been an easy few weeks," he sympathised as he took his own seat, "but I hope what I am about to tell you might change that."
Meibei tapped the controls of her hoverchair, moving it forward to the table, and she smiled automatically at the Captain. "All ears, Cap'n," she said cheerfully.
"Monhok is dead," the Captain blurted out in one short sentence that would no doubt need elaborating on. "Earlier today Commodore Azulas and our new Strategic Operations Chief came aboard with an intelligence report that has been fully, and correctly, verified. Monhok was killed following an arms deal that went south between him and the Order of Twelve. Cardassian intelligence had operatives inside the Order who apparently disrupted the arms deal, which resulted in the deaths of Monhok and several mid-level Order operatives. Cardassian intelligence has provided complete reports and data files about the whole thing and Starfleet has no reason to question the veracity of the claim," he revealed with a smile, knowing that they would no doubt be as relieved as he was that the man they had been chasing had got his comeuppance, even if it hadn't been at their hands.
"Ah, I notice that you have not mentioned th'Zorati," Tara said calmly enough, giving Meibei's good hand a comforting squeeze. "Let me guess, the twisted punchline in all this is he somehow managed to escape, didn't he?"
At that point, Colby tapped a panel on the tables surface and activated the wall mounted viewscreen behind the two officers and nodded to it. On the screen was live footage of an Andorian inside a Cardassian prison cell. "We've been given this live feed of the cell on Almatha Two. The Cardassians captured him in an unrelated incident. Our embassy on Cardassia Prime confirmed his identity and has provided the former Captain with limited consular assistance, as limited as they can given the treaty. He is awaiting extradition to the Federation, which I'm told are underway," Drayton grinned as he watched the feed of the Andorian sitting in a jail cell. "I'm told he had an accident or two with the wall and floor. He appears to be quite clumsy..."
While the captain was smiling, however, Meibei was quite the opposite. She watched the former Captain th'Zorati with a pained expression, squeezing Tara's hand tight. "Okay," she mumbled, looking around uncomfortably, her head movements exaggerated oddly by her lack of equilibrium. More than anything else, Meibei looked deeply confused.
The Captain terminated the feed and provided the two officers with a bit more context. "It is the belief of Command that he intelligence was given in order to improve relations between Earth and Cardassia before the Breloc Tejar trial begins. We can expect the Embassy of Cardassia on Earth will negotiate with the Palais in the next few weeks, seeking assurances that Tejar is tried fairly. I think they’re hoping we’re more likely to respond positively if they help us stop a known terrorist," he told as he looked at the confused expression on Meibei's face. "There's more. Cardassian authorities have given our embassy a transcript of their interrogation of th’Zorati. It’s...not pretty so I’ll spare you the details. But one thing he revealed is that the devices used to sabotage this ship and USS Ulysses were prototypes. Only a few were made and apparently they only used them on those two ships. We obviously know now how many he deployed on Nogura, but we are now also confident neither he nor anyone loyal to him deployed such devices on additional ships.”
Now that the talk had turned to tech, Meibei seemed more focused, pouting with a bobbling nod. "Cap," she said in a quiet but earnest tone, "I still think all core monkeys in the fleet should check for those boomers. They're really nasty 'cos they don't need to be anywhere particular, like, and they'll blow ya ship to bits before ya can even sneeze. It only takes one boomer on a junny to cause a feedback that gets the plasma all jiggity, and then you can guarantee that somethin' will burst. Might be her nacelles, might be the saucer, might even be the ass if it's a Vesta or a Galaxy, cause those ships have real big tushies with lots of business in 'em. The monkeys can check the junnies real good, I reckon, if Andy tells 'em how to see through the boomer cloak. The brass hats at SCE might not like so many ships and bases running checks on their EPS, but it sure beats more ladies blowin' up, right? Then we know for sure that nobody's junnies have any boomers. It'd be good trainin' too, I reckon. Lots of monkeys are real chimps, all on their fancy displays and their pretty dresses, not getting their hands stuck in on a girl's insides 'cos they might get dirty."
“I understand that, which is why I have contacted Admiral O’Connell and implored him to continue all inspections,” the Captain retorted with a reassuring nod. He was thrilled to have the Engineer back at it, even if she was a little weird.
"I've seen to it that all of Chief Carter's work has been disbursed to the fleet Engineers so that all ships can be thoroughly searched, as well as the readings we were able to salvage from your tricorder so they can recreate whatever you did to short out the chain reaction in case a device is activated; everything that can be done is being done, there will be no repeats of what happened to you," Tara said to assure the little blue Engineer, giving her good hand a comforting squeeze. "But I think the important thing to take away from all this, the man who did this to you is in custody, he can't hurt anyone else." Tara knew Meibei had been out for th'Zorati's blood, and honestly the Trill couldn't blame her, Tara wanted th'Zorati dead as well for killing Hunter, but this would have to do.
It was at that point that Drayton dropped his next bombshell to the gathered pair. "We're leaving," he declared as he changed the graphic on the display to show a map of Federation space and a flight path developing. "I've spoken with Admiral O'Connell and we've decided that this crew needs a change of scenery and a change of pace. As such, we're headed to an area of space designated as 'the Wastelands' where we will meet with the Adriatic and begin exploring the region, making first contact with some of the natives and flying a flag in the face of Alrakis Pact vessels who have been spotted nearby," he elaborated as the screen changed to reveal a close up schematic of the Penthara System. "We'll meet the Adriatic in Sector thirty-five-oh-five and head here, to the Penthara system where we will resupply Starbase 214 before heading into the Wastelands for some good old fashioned, Starfleet Charter mandated exploration," he concluded with a smile as he relaxed in his chair. "I'll be informing the crew of our new orders shortly, but we wont be back here anytime soon. We can draw a line under everything that has happened and finally move on."
That sent Tara reeling mentally, but she was also somewhat relieved. She had just accepted the idea that she would be working in the Corridor again, but it was something she did not relish, so hearing that they would be moving on released some of the tension in her. "That's good, no more Consortium, no more Order of 12... This is good," Tara said with a small smile.
"It is," Drayton nodded, trying to reassure her. "A clean break of so many of this crew is just what they need, including both of you. We have a chance to do some good down in the Wastelands and I'm sure I can count on both of you to continue giving me your best, when you're fit enough of course," he grinned as he looked at the Engineer. "How long until you're back on your feet Meibei?" he asked with curiosity.
"As soon as you need me to, Cap," Meibei said with a bright grin. "Doc says I'll need ten days, but he's such a ninny. I'll be up and hammerin' fine sooner, I reckon. Just mind over matter, that's all. Besides, the engine is purrin' great and we're set up real nice for the quantum slipstream trials." She glanced at the map, sticking her tongue out briefly as she did some quick mental math. "I'll be back on duty by the time we get to the Wastelands, promise. The warp core is purrin' like a kitty, anyway and the QSD is runnin' beautiful."
“Do not over exert yourself Meibei,” the Captain told sternly, “If we’re going to disappear into the unknown, I need you at your best.”
"Well, I'm always at my best for the Nog," she replied with more than a hint of cheek, but Meibei sobered slightly. "I hear ya, cap'n, loud and clear."
"Very well then. There will be a briefing in the coming days about our new mission. In the meantime, Commander, you'll be expected back to normal shift rotation tomorrow. Lieutenant, light duties, and I mean light," he told as he rose to his feet and nodded to them both before departing the room and leaving them to their own devices.
Once the Captain was gone, Tara looked at Meibei. "So, you alright with what happened to th'Zorati?" she asked her. Tara knew this might make the little Andorian emotional, but despite the Captain's wishes that Meibei return to light duty tomorrow, Tara still had to make sure that Meibei was emotionally ready for that.
"Honestly?" Meibei said, shrugging with a cute smile. "Yeah. I think so. I mean, it's awful an' all, and I did wake up a couple of times and dream of stuff. Ya know, like putting him in the warp core intermix chamber, or shovin' an EPS conduit up his bum and watching him fry. But it wouldn't solve anything. I'm not really the type to go on a big revenge rampage, anyway. He's been caught, and we can go on." The quirky Andorian's smile faltered briefly before recovering, and then widened into a grin. "But I guess you could do the whole revenge rampage thing, huh? You got that whole hot sultry redhead thing."
Tara blushed crimson. "I have no idea what you're talking about," she replied, trying to brush off the comment and maintain her composure. "You are such a trouble-maker, you know that? Sometimes I wonder if you're worth the effort," she said in jest as she rose to escort Meibei out.
"Uh huh," Meibei teased before finally bursting out laughing as they left the room.