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Digging for Answers

Posted on 12 Aug 2017 @ 1:02pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Thiago Teixeira & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Lieutenant David Moreau Jr & Petty Officer 1st Class Allen Miller

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Finnea Prime || Sixth Steading
Timeline: MD 6 || 0600 hours

Commander Teixeira had told Dr. Kij and Lieutenant Corwin to meet him in the shuttlebay in the morning. He'd also requested Security Chief Moreau to assign a two person team to accompany them. As he now walked down the corridor towards the flight deck, he wondered if he would be the first one there.

Three cups of coffee and a cool shower woke Jayla up. Truthfully, she'd just wanted to stay in bed, but that was not an option today. Well, it was not an option any day, but today especially. She half considered sending Road in her place and taking a mental health day, but decided that her mental health was absolutely fine and taking a day would be absolutely ridiculous.

So, here she was, not quite as bright-eyed as normal, but with her usual half grin on her face. She stifled a yawn as she walked onto the flight deck and glanced around. She didn't see anyone, yet, so she busied herself triple checking her medkit to make sure everything as in order.

David walked down the hall with the standard Security belt around his waist which held a Type II phaser, two extra power cells, a gas mask, a tricorder, two stun grenades, four pair of zip restraints, a stripped down medkit which held a hypospray with two ampules of sedatives, stimulants, and a truth variant. He had a backpack on his back which contained a change of clothes, a broken down Type III phaser with two extra power cells, fifty feet of monomolecular rope with a grappling hook and launcher, and a bottle of water.

He had already notified Petty Officer First Class Miller to meet him at the shuttlebay and figured that between the two of them and Commander Teixeira's phaser skill, they wouldn't have much problem if a situation arose. As he entered the shuttlebay, he saw Commander Kij checking her medkit and gave a friendly smile as he headed for the shuttle.

"Mornin', Doc," he said as he entered the shuttle and removed his backpack and set it aside.

Joey made her way into the shuttlebay shortly after David. Like the Security Chief, she was also wearing the standard belt around her waist, but it was equipped with different gear more suited to her own needs, and since she had no idea what kind of situation they were walking into, she brought one of everything. What she wouldn't give for a phaser, but that was no longer a possibility for her any longer. What was, though, were the stun gloves she wore, and were now part of her standard uniform.

Instead of boarding the shuttle, she stood beside it to wait for Commander Teixera to arrive. There was a small matter she needed to discuss with him before their departure regarding their mission. It was nothing horrible, but more of a starting point thanks to the downloaded information she'd sorted through just before arriving.

Allen walked in and took note of who was there, including his boss. His big boss. Literally. Dude was bulkhead all to himself. As he quickly walked up to Chief Bulkhead, the things he'd packed in and on his utility belt bounced slightly. Well, some of it did. His Type II hand phaser was pretty secured. The Petty Officer had grabbed a couple extra Phaser Energy Cells from the armory and stowed them. Unsure of what could happen, Allen grabbed two anesthezine grenades. And just in case, he took some restraints, the optional gas mask, a tricorder, and the exographic targeting sensor.

When he closed in on Lieutenant Moreau, he called out, "Petty Officer Miller on deck, Sir."

"Relax," Teixeira said, having entered the hanger in time to witness Miller's report in.

Allen grinned and then chuckled a little. "As much as possible, Commander." He'd been on a recent away mission with the Commander before and was glad to be going on another. Especially with Chief Bulkhead along for this one.

"Glad you could join us, Mister Moreau," Thiago said to the large man.

"I wouldn't miss it, Commander," David said.

Motioning to towards one of the Type-8 shuttles, the Visitor, the Executive Officer directed a question to Joey. "Do you have a recommendation for site?"

"The downloaded information provided quite a bit more than I could have hoped for, Commander," Corwin answered. "I was able to catch a glimpse of the probe. Sadly, I was unable to pinpoint its exact location, but was able to narrow our search down to two dig sites out of the dozens of possibilities. I'll give the pilot our coordinates to the first location once we've boarded."

He gave the Intelligence Officer a polite half smile. "I'll be at the helm. I might be the ranking officer on this mission, but I'm following your lead. You know more about the area and players involved than I do."

Joey nodded her head. "Then it seems I'll be giving you our coordinates," she said with a smile before passing over a PADD that contained the information regarding both areas they'd be searching. It was not secret by now that she'd spent a bit of time in the area, so it came as no surprise that she would be taking the lead on this one. She just hoped things would go fairly smoothly, though, that was somewhat doubtful all things considered. "I'll definitely do my best to make sure that this expedition of ours is successful." Of course, there was no other way for it to be as far as she was concerned.

Thiago took the offered device and starting closing the distance to the shuttle.

"I gave Captain Geisler the variant quantum signature of the probe that Lieutenant Carmichael provided and he said it could pinpoint it within a few hundred miles," David said. "He also said the Selubassari used old subsurface scans of the planet before they started digging."

"Good to know," Teixeira replied as he approached the hatch of the Visitor. Entering, he dropped into the chair at the flight control panel. He touched a series of controls, configuring the console to his personal preferences and starting the preflight sequence. Turning his chair to look at the rest of his team. "This will, hopefully, be a non-confrontational mission. Leave the phasers in their holsters, if possible. I don't want to endanger the tenuous agreement the Captain managed to arrange."

Why did Jayla feel so awkward all the time? She really just wanted to hide in a corner and hope nobody saw her, but she forced herself to just find a seat on the shuttle and do some of the breathing exercises she'd learned from Counselor Stuart. Just relax, Jayla, she told herself. These are your friends! You don't have to be afraid of them! Yeah, easier said than done.

Once she was finished speaking with the Commander, Joey boarded the shuttle and took a seat. There was a slight case of nerves coursing through her as she settled in. The situation they were about to put themselves into could turn ugly fairly quickly, and lethal force would only escalate it in ways it didn't need to be. However, if they were fired upon, then the only logical choice would be to defend themselves, and that was when heavy stun would come into play.

Hopefully, it wouldn't come down to that, but if she were to be completely honest with herself, the Selubassari wouldn't willingly give up the probe they'd gone to great lengths to get in the first place. Time would tell, and that would be upon them before any of them knew it.

"Everyone in?" Teixeira asked rhetorically before sending a request for departure to shuttle control. Upon being granted clearance, he eased the small craft out of the Black Hawk, and started their descent to the planet below. He directed the Visitor toward the first dig site on Corwin's PADD. "Are we going to be good to land at this spot, Lieutenant, or should we be looking?"

Joey looked around the spot that was chosen. The two digs sites happened to be near the mountains, which allowed for the Selubassari to hide things. And while they were able to hide things, so could she and the rest of the team. The various jagged rocks and the like would work in their favor. "This is likely the best spot to land. It won't get much better," she said. The landscape was barren except for the mountains, which meant, once they cleared their current location, they'd likely be spotted fairly easily.

He didn't give verbal confirmation, but Teixeira's hands moved to enter a flight path to the location Joey had identified. He checked the sensors to make sure things were clear.

While Corwin talked to the Commander, David went over his gear once more before he looked at Miller. "Did you do a double check on your gear?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. Double check and ready to wreck. If needed, that is." Allen kind of chuckled at the last.

As the shuttle made it's descent and neared the landing site, Teixeira called out, "Get ready for touchdown."

Joey braced herself as the shuttle prepared to touchdown. If someone were to tell her nearly six months ago she'd be coming back here, the Lieutenant would have laughed in their face and called them a damn liar, but... here she was... about to set foot on Finneans Prime once again. "Lieutenant Moreau... Chief Miller... keep your eyes and ears open for anything. A lot has changed since the last time I was here, so I don't know if they've put scouts out this far," she said. If there were any orders to be given, she would leave that to the Commander.

David nodded and looked at Commander Teixeira. "Sir, with your permission, I'd like to scout ahead. I was trained for that and I can take out any opposition before they know I'm there."

The Executive Officer nodded his consent before quickly adding, "Scouting only. Do not engage. Return and report."

"Yes, Sir," David said as he pulled his tricorder out and made a few modifications to it, then hooked it to his belt again. "Do not engage."

Allen took up a position near the Commander. He was mentally going over where he had things packed in his belt and then removed the tricorder. He began scanning the area, checking for any signs of life other than theirs.

"Stay alert, Mister Miller," Thiago said to the Petty Officer. "I suspect the Lieutenant isn't going to have good news when he gets back."

"Understood, Commander." He did a quick scan and then put the tricorder back. With Chief Bulkhead scouting out ahead, he thought he'd be better off with a hand resting on his phaser. The other, he kept near the exographic targeting sensor. If it came down to it, he could get it on in a heartbeat. Then Allen smirked to himself and tapped his phaser.

* * *

Down on the surface, Kawram put all of the energy he could as he shoved his spade into the dirt. It was early in the morning, the sun just breaching the horizon. With this time of year having more than seventeen hours of sunlight, the Selubassari were trying to take every advantage of it. Their tools, primarily lasers and shovels, were substandard, which required their work to be tiring and highly labor intensive. He had no idea what the Selubassari wanted, just that it was under the surface. Way under the surface.

They'd found several items yesterday, a composition unknown to Finnea, and the Selubassari immediately shifted resources. More than seventy percent of the diggers were concentrated in an area, all fighting to get below three hundred meters. All he knew was that this couldn't last longer. The seeds of rebellion were slowed, mainly because everyone did want to know what this fuss was all about.

The items from yesterday changed everything. Under this soil was history. Several hundred years ago, the planet was nearly destroyed by something crashing from the atmosphere. Legends claimed it was an asteroid. But why would a rock be so valuable? Maybe it was from that mysterious convergence zone that the aliens spoke of. If so, the Finneas had a right to it. Maybe this was their ticket to freedom from their--

Kawram's thoughts were interrupted by a glimmer in the distance. Something had come down from above. It couldn't be the Selubassari. They would have landed in the camp. But a Selubassari shuttle hadn't been seen in weeks. They only ever beamed down or up.

The Selubassari were also curious. In fact, twelve guards were pulled from their posts throughout the camp. Under leadership, they marched out, weapons ready just in case, to greet whoever decided to grace them with their presence.

David had left the shuttle without his backpack and moved softly and stealthily for a guy his size, moving from rock to bush to outcropping and stayed in any available shadow. He pulled his tricorder and studied it, then looked up. "Just when you think the enemy doesn't know, they're almost on top of you," he muttered quietly to himself. He started back the way he had came and tapped his combadge when he was out of range of the Selubassari. =^=Moreau to Teixeira. We have a dozen Selubassari heading our way=^= he reported as he moved at a steady, ground covering pace.

"Incoming, heard," he replied, wishing the feeling he'd shared with Miller had been wrong. He got up from the chair he was in and moved towards the hatch. "Come on," he said to the others.

Stepping out of the Visitor, Teixeira's hand checked to ensure his phaser was in its holster, although he was banking on not needing to use it.

There was no element of surprise when travelling in a shuttle, but did they want that? Joey didn't exactly know. What she did know was that the Selubassari were in possession of something that didn't belong to them, and they needed to give it back. She made sure her stun gloves were in no jeopardy of falling off and moved to step out of the shuttle. While she wasn't Security any longer, old habits were hard to break, and she prepared to cover Jayla once she was on the surface. "It appears we're following your lead now, Commander."

For some reason, that annoyed Jayla. She felt as if she should be the one protecting Joey instead of the other way around. Never mind that she had yet to pass her phaser recertification. Joey had two people to think about and Jayla would rather die than let anything happen to an unborn child. Still, she silently exited the shuttle behind the others and did not attempt to shove Joey behind her.

Allen stayed back a bit to let the others out of the shuttle. Then he followed, keeping a wary eye on the surroundings. Who knew what could happen even though the negotiations had worked.

It didn't take long before the Commander could see signs of the approaching troops.

The twelve Selubassari approached in plain sight, walking in four columns of three. In any other circumstance, they might be considered marching. Their weapons were not raised to attack, but they were out and lowered. If they were meaning to be hostile, there certainly weren't any visual cues.

"Federation," declared the lead Selubassari guard, his yellow skin hue barely glowing under the rising sun. "Your presence is not permitted here."

Having been around the Selubassari for a long time before she left, Joey could pick up on their emotions based on the color of their skin. Maybe others would pick up on it as well, but it didn't hurt to be sure. She leaned in toward the Commander, speaking where only he could hear her. "They're suspicious, or cautious, of our presence here. If we don't get past them, we don't get anywhere near the dig site," she said very quietly.

"I am Commander Teixeira," he started, keeping his hands open and in plain sight. "Captain Geisler sent me after he negotiated with Commander Couric." He hoped that mentioning the Selubassari Commander would open some doors.

"We are aware of your Captain and his deal," said the leader. "That deal encompassed the starbase, and not the Sixth Steading, which is under Selubassari jurisdiction until the debt is repaid."

"And what debt could Federation personnel possibly have to pay?" Joey asked, keeping her tone neutral. The Lieutenant just couldn't help herself. She still didn't know for certain that there were actually some of their own on the surface, but then the Selubassari didn't know that. The faint pings she'd gotten from components used in combadges was enough for her to speak up. "I'm merely curious."

The Selubassari just looked at the woman for a moment. She seemed somewhat familiar to him, but he could not quite place her face. "There are no Federation personnel here. Just those who have crossed or are indebted to the Selubassari."

"Then, you wouldn't mind if we took a look around?" Joey questioned. After all... if they didn't have anything that belonged to Starfleet, they shouldn't mind them looking around a bit. "Commander Yuki seems to have come up missing, and we need to find her."

"We do mind," replied the leader. "The Finneans have surrendered this dig site to the Selubassari."

Joey tried to keep her cool. The last thing they needed was any kind of confrontation. "We aren't interested in your dig site," she lied. "We're interested in locating a fellow crew member who could be seriously injured. Besides, Federation personnel are neither Selubassari, nor Finnean, concern. We're within our rights to look for our own people."

"It's not like a Starfleet Commander would simply walk onto our dig site," replied the Selubassari. Though it was difficult to see, the leader's skin tone began to turn orange.

"We're also missing several Engineering, Operations, and security officers," Jayla added as non-confrontational as was possible. "Since we couldn't think of where else to look, we thought, well, maybe they had come down to the planet and got stuck here." She shrugged, trying to make herself look completely innocent and totally unsuspecting.

The leader was silent for a moment. He knew very well what, specifically who, was contained inside the dig site. He had to use that moment to recall his briefing with Commander Couric. "The release of the personnel on this planet were not a part of the agreement between the Selubassari and your starship," he plainly stated.

"And yet... you just told us that there were no Federation personnel here," Lieutenant Corwin stated. "Our people have no debt to pay off, nor have they crossed anyone. In fact, if anyone was crossed, it was them... by you. Your protests of us going to the dig site are now null and void as you are illegally detaining Starfleet personnel. Take us to them."

If it were physically possible, the Selubassari would have frowned. He was cornered, quite more quickly than he would have thought. "And if we refuse?"

Joey tilted her head to the side as she studied the Selubassari guards before them. "As you are holding our personnel against their will, noncompliance would not be wise. You can escort us to the site, or we go on our own. The choice is yours."

Watching the exchange, Thiago was impressed by Corwin's skill and tact with interacting with the Selubassari. The species wasn't necessarily the easiest to work with. He decided to let the Intelligence continue to press for information.

Meanwhile, David had decided to circle back around and headed for the dig site to do a bit more scouting. The large Security Chief moved slowly and kept his tricorder scanning for Selubassari in the area as any elements which could belong to a Federation probe or combadge. He let his eyes move over the terrain constantly looking for any signs of moment and paused any time he heard a noise that wasn't natural as he approached the closest dig.

When the bald man saw that the dig was too open and there were too many people around for him to scout without being seen, David backed off until he was far enough away from it. He tapped his combadge. =^=Moreau to shuttle. One to beam back=^= he said quietly. A moment later, he was beamed back to the shuttle and accessed the sensors to check on the rest of the away team. If he was questioned, he'd simply say that he was the shuttle pilot and had been ordered to stay behind to protect it.

The Selubassari guard, having stood silent for too long, realized that he had no choice. He was under direct orders to avoid a conflict as any negative action would incite the Finneans. Debt or no debt, even the Selubassari knew that the locals were prepared to revolt. It was an acceptable risk when this all started, but now it was becoming a volatile future. The guard had to trust his commander, no matter how unusual the decision was.

"Very well," reverberated his voice from the vocal chamber. He turned to walk back to the dig site.

One step closer, Joey thought to herself as she followed behind the guards. It only seemed logical to open things with their missing personnel, and that choice seemed to pay off. They were on their way to the dig site, which put them that much closer to finding the probe along with their people. Still, though, they would all need to handle this very carefully.

When David saw and heard the Selubassari start to head back to the dig, he came out of the shuttle and secured it as if he had been there. "Time for a walk?" he asked as he looked at the others.

"Yes, to the dig site," Joey replied, stopping briefly and gesturing for the others to follow before she began to move once more. Her past dealings with the Selubassari gave her a bit of an advantage, and now, it didn't matter if any of them recognized her.

The guard led them into the encampment. Many Finneans tried to look up at the Starfleet crew, only to be berated and beat until they went back to their digging. All around the Away Team were large, gaping holes that sank nearly thirty feet into the Earth. Several strange elements had stuck out, and they were being carefully, yet quickly extracted.

Several yards away, three Selubassari pushed an antigrav cart carrying a large black rock towards a large glass building. The three looked over to the Away Team. Instantly, though it was hard to tell with the rising sun, their skin turned yellow. Their pace quickened, hoping to quickly get out of sight.

Meanwhile, inside the glass building, a human figure stepped up to the window to observe the new arrivals. Her uniform had long ago been discarded, replaced with civilian clothing. This site had been given to her, and she would not allow interruptions or other delays to slow the work that they'd been so focused on.

Joey looked around without a word. So much had changed since the last time she'd been here, and it was definitely not for the better. A frown began to form, but she quickly forced it away. There was a single word she would use to describe what she was seeing... hell.

The Lieutenant looked toward the guard that did all the talking before their arrival. "Take us to whoever is in charge, and keep in mind... that was not a question."

Allen had kept close to the Commander during the walk over. He had one hand on his tricorder, taking readings, and the other resting on his belt. Particularly, it was on the section that held the two anesthezine grenades. They were, after all, outnumbered.

While they walked, David pulled out his tricorder and set it on an active sweep for any signs of human, Bolian, Vulcan, Bajoran, Andorian and a number of other races that normally served on a starship. He saw the three Selubassari pushing an antigrav cart and idly swung the tricorder in their direction and left it there long enough to get a reading, then swept it back the other way. Whatever they had, they didn't want people to see, but the joy of technology captured the important details of the strange rock that was on it.

"What was that?" Teixeira asked the hulking Frenchman.

David looked at the tricorder reading and back at the Executive Officer. "Looks like traces of duranium and other foreign metals, Commander," he said before he lowered his voice. "And they certainly didn't want us to see it."

Thiago just nodded. That the Selubassari were keeping things from them was clear. But what aren't they telling us? he wondered.

"Make your examinations and leave," declared the Selubassari guard. "Our leader is quite occupied at the moment. You will have to, as you humans say, Make do."

"You're in no position to tell us to make do with anything. You're illegally detaining Starfleet personnel and forcing them into slave labor. This does not bode well for any of you... or your leader," Joey stated. "And don't think for a second that we missed one of the diggers being whipped. Our personnel better be in the same shape you acquired them in, or there will be consequences. Again, not a threat. Theft of Federation property is a punishable criminal offense, and not just for a few individuals. So, yes, we'll make our examinations. What we find, though, depends on if we leave." She gestured for Doctor Kij, Moreau and Miller to step forward.

"There are no slaves here," the guard said, his skin clearly shining red now. "Every individual is paying off a debt, no matter the severity. Now, make your examinations and leave."

Joey nearly laughed. "We've been though this before. Our people owe you nothing," she pointed out once more. "They were separated from the rest of their crew, brought here, and forced to dig. Everyone here is forced to obey you, and are owned until their debts are paid. That, is the definition of a slave. Except... our people have no debts. We'll be making our examinations now. Leave us."

The Selubassari pulled back, but not all of the team of twelve left. In fact, four of them kept within fifteen paces of the Starfleet crew. Though Federation personnel were working at the dig site, it was still Selubassari-controlled. They wouldn't allow the Away Team to cause trouble.

David walked forward towards the dig site, ignoring the Selubassari who stayed and scanned with his tricorder scanning. "Any Starfleet personnel present, please step forward," he called out in an authoritative voice that he used for Security purposes.

In this particular section, there were no Starfleet officers within ear shot. The dig site was nearly a hundred acres in size, and it sported thousands of individuals. A Finnean who heard them, and who happened to understand Federation Standard, stood erect and pointed to his left. Just two acres away was a rather bustling hole in the ground. Several people were going down it, including someone whose skin was blue.

"Looks like we're walking," Joey stated, making her way toward the direction the Finnean had indicated. It was impossible to miss the blue skin, which caused her to raise an eyebrow.

Jayla, who had taken out her tricorder and started broad scans of the 'workers' nearest too her, had not noticed anything, but followed Joey instinctively, brow furrowed. She didn't like the results she was seeing. A lot of exhaustion and dehydration. "If any of our people are here, they're definitely not going to be in great shape," she muttered angrily.

"That will be handled," Joey assured Jayla as they continued forward.

David looked at the poor wretches being worked to death and he wanted to pull his phaser and start sending the guards to whatever fates they believed in, but he was a trained officer and it would make Starfleet look bad. Instead, he focused on taking scans while keeping an eye on the Selubassari as well as the other members of his team.

By the time the Starfleet team had reached the rather large hole in the ground, the blue-skinned individual had reached the bottom. But, the Andorian was not the only species from the other side of the wormhole. Vulcan, Betazoid, human and six other species were working alongside the Finneans down below.

"I am Commander Teixeira from the USS Black Hawk," he announced, hoping to attract attention of those who clearly did not belong at the dig site.

The hole was barely twenty feet deep. Though there was no conversation, only the sound of pickaxes, shovels and other digging equipment could be heard. When the Commander spoke, all of it stopped. Over a hundred faces turned upward to see the human towering above them all. The Selubassari guards looked up, but turned their attention back to the rest of the group, shouting to the Finneans to return to work. One of the guards began to move among the group, allowing the non-Finneans to withdraw naturally.

Out of over a hundred people, there were eleven Starfleet personnel. At least, that's what their soiled and tattered uniforms indicated. Down in the bottom of the pit, the eleven gathered together, looking at the Finneans, the Away Team above, and then quietly talked with each other.

Joey looked at the eleven gathered at the bottom and her brow furrowed. Seeing them down there angered her, but she had to remain calm.

Allen couldn't believe what he was looking at. Had they been forced to do this? Had they been looking for a way of escape? Starfleet officers...forced, someone was gonna pay for this.

Slavery, unfortunately, had been a common occurrence in the history of many species, Humans included. Thiago's homeland, Brazil, had been deeply involved in slavery, though they had abandoned the practice before many other nations had, the United States included. To see it, in person, was sobering. Knowing it still happened and seeing it with your own eyes were very different.

Finally, out of the eleven, a purple-skinned Saurian turned and climbed the ladder. Even in his weakened state, he was still able to scale the ladder rather quickly. "Commander," he greeted. "I am Lieutenant Zz'ardd of the USS Vasco da Gama."

"Are any of you injured?" Joey called down. "And roughly how many more of you are there?"

"In this camp?" Zz'ardd asked. "Maybe sixty or seventy of us. They usually keep us all spread out, maybe three or four of us on a dig. As for injuries, the Selubassari have made sure we're not dying."

"Everyone who is Starfleet," David called, raising his voice to carry. "Come up out of these pits!"

"About that..." Zz'ardd said, looking towards Commander Teixeira. "You're here for the Finneans too, right? I mean, we can't just leave them here with the Selubassari." Gesturing towards the other officers that he left back in the pit, the Saurian added, "My shipmates feel the same way."

Joey moved to stand at Teixeira's right. This situation just got extremely touchy, and she was definitely going to let him handle this. She leaned in, turning her head away from the others around them slightly so that no one would be able to see what she was saying. Hell, there was no telling if there were any lip readers around. "Commander," she said, speaking in a voice that only he could hear. "I think this is going to put us in a very tight spot. The Finneans have already spoken of a rebellion. Should that happen, we're looking at a war. On the flip side, I don't see the Selubassari parting with their laborers."

"A less than ideal situation," Teixeira agreed. "Mister Zz'ardd." he said, stepping towards the Saurian, "I appreciate your compassion for the Finneans. At this time, however, we're here to retrieve you and the other Starfleet crew."

As much as physically possible, the Saurian frowned. He wasn't pleased with this at all, and he knew it would only enrage the Finneans more. Perhaps, he mused, this would be the very catalyst the population needed to remove themselves from the oppressive thumb of the Selubassari.

"I understand, Commander," Lieutenant Zz'ardd said at last. "Most of us are out here. There are personnel being treated in the infirmary inside the main complex." He pointed at the large building behind them all. "They also keep what we're finding in there. And I think I've seen a human woman working with them."

David looked at Joey when the Saurian mentioned a human woman and looked back at Zz'ardd. "What does she look like?" he asked, mentally wondering if it was Commander Yuki.

Joey arched a brow at the mention of a human woman. She didn't think Zz'ardd had gotten a good look at her, otherwise, he would have recognized her as his ship's Executive Officer. Perhaps, they'd get lucky and the Lieutenant might have noticed minor things that would help them identify Yuki. "Anything you might have noticed about her will help no matter how small the detail."

"She's short," replied the Saurian. "I'd say around five foot two. Black hair. Unfortunately, she was always too far away from us, but I could never get a good look."

Joey leaned toward Teixeira once more. "That sounds like Yuki," she whispered. "The crew being treated in the infirmary is our way inside. With your permission, I'd like to take Lieutenant Moreau and go. He and I have seen her, and would know her the second we saw her." Not to mention, she was capable of handling herself in such situations. "The less of us there are in there, the less threat we pose."

"If we're using the injured as our cover," Teixeira replied, mimicking Corwin's whisper, "then we need to make it look genuine." At that, he motioned, with his head, towards another member of their party.

"Lieutenant," he said, returning his focus to the Saurian, "Work with Mister Miller to get your people together. He'll help you back to our shuttle." He shot a quick look to the petty officer.

The Saurian nodded. "Of course, Commander." Looking to the Petty Officer, the Lieutenant sighed and turned around towards the hole.

He approached one of the Selubassari guards. "Some of our people are in your infirmary. My doctor is going to check on them." Looking over his shoulder to where Kij, Corwin, and Moreau stood, he summoned them with the wave of a hand.

Had anyone here known Belar Kij, they'd have recognized the icy, warning glare Jayla wore as one if his. She approached Teixeira, eyes locked in anger on the Selubassari. And they said there weren't any of our personnel here, she thought. It made her wonder how many other lies they'd told.

David headed over to where the Commander was and kept his eyes on the Selubassari before he gave a nod to Miller and then glanced at the others. When he saw the glare coming from the Trill Doctor, remembering her lack of marksmanship in her phaser certification and wondered if she thought she could take out the Selubassari with looks.

If the Selubassari guard could frown, he would have done so at the Commander. "Very well," he said. "You will be accompanied." He waved over two guards, thinking that they would be enough to escort the three females and still leave enough behind to keep the dig in motion. "You have thirty minutes to remove your personnel from the complex."

Offering the lead guard a fake, polite smile, Thiago locked eyes with Joey. "Proceed, Lieutenant."

"We will return with our people, Commander," Joey said, holding his Teixeira's gaze. Of course, there was something unspoken there for only the Brazilian man to see. With all of them. On that note, she nodded her head and turned to their escorts. "If you would be so kind as to lead the way."

Reluctantly, the Selubassari did so.

~To Be Continued~


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