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The Verdict

Posted on 02 Jun 2016 @ 8:57am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale

Mission: Outbreak
Location: Ready Room
Timeline: MD 10 || 1600 Hours

Camila left Engineering at a fast stride with her tricorder held as if it contained the most valuable information in the quadrant, which at this point could be assumed to be true. She barely acknowledged other personnel before she made it to the turbolift and did a Security override to go directly to the bridge without interruption. Her thoughts were teaming with the information that she, Carmichael, Temerant and Rykov had gleaned from the probe and knew that the Captain had to be informed as quickly as possible. When the turbolift came to a halt, she stepped on the bridge and headed for the man who needed to know what they had learned.
"Captain," she said as she clutched the tricorder in her hand. "I have very important news that is for your ears only."

Harvey hadn't been on the bridge long. Word of Commander Xiao's death had just reached him, and he was sure it was about to hit the rumor circuit. He himself had only been released from sickbay that morning, and with no command team to speak of, Harvey had much on his plate. Now more than ever his presence was needed on the bridge.

He looked up at Camila. For a moment, he'd thought she'd learned about the incident, but logically he realized there had to be something else. The Captain gestured for her to follow him, and he rose to walk for the Ready Room.

Camila followed behind him and barely was able to hold her silence until the doors to the ready room closed behind her and handed the tricorder over. "Myself, Lieutenant Bast, Doctor Rykov and Lieutenant JG Carmichael just finished analyzing the probe, Captain," she said without preamble. "The results aren't a hundred percent conclusive, but we believe it was from the Chimera, Sir."

The day just kept getting better. Harvey accepted the tricorder with a grim face and activated it to see its information for himself. "Dammit!" he spat out. "First they take over Deep Space 11. Now they try to wipe out a planet. The Dominion were a harsh enemy, but at least you knew what they want. Same with the Borg, and the Cardassians."

"Carmichael reported that the probe began to release a concentrated gas into the atmosphere roughly a kilometer from the ground and continued to release for minutes after impact and that it was likely meant to be found. He estimated that it was fired from near Yolvanda III, Sir," Camila said.

Harvey frowned. Carmichael had been one of the few officers who had been with him since he took command of the Black Hawk, so Harvey had no reason to doubt the Lieutenant's judgment. "Then this was definitely malicious. You said this isn't totally conclusive. Any chance we're wrong?"
"Carmichael and Bast pulled the inner core and launch logs out," Camila said. "The registry number was missing, but they did find the letters U S S C H. The only ship in the system with those letters is the Chimera. The other ship is the Cochrane."

"So it could be the Cochrane?" Harvey asked. "Is there anything we could cross reference? Either way, we know both ships are controlled by the Consortium."

"It's possible," Camila admitted after a moment. "Unfortunately, most of the serial numbers have been removed to the point we can even get a read that they were there to begin with. The last official listed probe payload before the Consortium took over, however, was for the Chimera."

"And there's no point in moving a probe to another ship, unless it's for a bizarre reason." Harvey sighed. "Something doesn't quite add up though."

"Whatever the fact may be, Captain," she said. "It's highly unlikely that it came from another ship. We couldn't find any DNA evidence or anything else pointing to a particular person or ship, but what we do have, which is the U S S C H and the fact that a Class Two probe only has a range of four hundred thousand kilometers and the letters match one of two closest Consortium ships. The probe hadn't been on Yolvanda II for a day or two, either. I wish the Paradan had more information. Did Doctor Kij report back about the autopsy that was done on his original body or her findings on the probe? Maybe that could tell us something."

Harvey shook his head. "Between getting the crew back on their feet, and starting an autopsy on Mr Xiao, I haven't heard anything from her." Handing back the tricorder, he said, "I doubt it will tell us much. This whole thing seems sloppy. Why would a virus take so long to work unnoticed? And how could it be cured so easily? Maybe we have more ground to stand on against the Consortium than we realize."

"Autopsy on Mister Xiao?" Camila blinked as she took the tricorder back. "Was he affected by the virus as well? As for the sloppy work...what if there's still loyal Starfleet officers on those ships who are fighting back any way they can, Captain?"

"I hope that's the case," Harvey replied. After all, just a few weeks ago, all save two individuals aboard the USS Black Hawk were loyal to Starfleet. Intelligence even reported that the number of Consortium agents had to be very few. That would mean a ridiculously high number of officers and enlisted who were blindly following orders only because they didn't know different.

Changing to the other subject, Harvey stated, "Commander Xiao's body was found in a Jeffries Tube. Looks like an Engineering accident."

"Of those two officers, one turned himself in and the other is doing very well in redeeming himself, Captain." Camila frowned at the news. "That's horrible," she said. "What was he doing in a Jeffries Tube doing an Engineers job?"

"Trying to help out since most of the ship's been sick, I suppose," Harvey replied, shaking his head. It was a shame. The lieutenant commander had just had his first executive billet and he was terribly excited about it. Though Harvey preferred Kos in the role, this likely meant he'd have to break in another XO before Kos could return. "We won't have the opportunity to ask him, unfortunately." All Harvey knew was at this moment, he didn't have a command team.

"Mister Bast does seem to extremely involved in our predicament," he commented, having seen Lieutenant Bast in sickbay working with Commander Casey on the cure. "Are we certain he's not trying to help hide something?"

"If that's the case, then why have you left him in his current position instead of having me put him in the brig with Commander del Rosario, Captain?" Camila asked him, fighting to keep her voice even, but her eyes were flashing fire.

He didn't need empathic abilities to see he'd struck a nerve. Harvey remembered her defense of Lieutenant Bast earlier that day and decided to use more caution with his wording. "Never before," Harvey said, moving towards his desk, "has Starfleet seen such utter betrayal in its ranks. Human instinct prompts us to cut ties with those who betrayed us, or worse, seek revenge. Believe me, I wanted to transfer him to another ship, or court martial him or something."

Harvey sat behind the desk. "By trade, I am a researcher. So I researched. As it turns out, there's a precedent with this sort of thing. Years ago, the Chief Engineer of the Enterprise, the D I think, was kidnapped and conditioned by Romulan agents to assassinate a person of high influence. The action was against his will, and that officer remained in service with Captain Picard for many more years without loss of rank or position. Mister Bast was in a similar boat. While I didn't trust him, he deserved a chance to show who he really is.

"I look at you, and I see that he's made at least one friend. I'm sure there are more. I hope that there are more. Because if there's anything Starfleet needs right now, it's to trust the person or starship beside them as we work our way through this crisis."

Camila listened to what he had to say and calmed herself. "What we really need right now, Captain," she said. "is people to be professional and band together. If I find out there's a single person on this ship is harassing Lieutenant Bast, I will personally escort them to the brig for conduct unbecoming an officer. You made a judgement call on him, Sir, and your word isn't to be questioned. I've spent personal time with him and this was after he tried to kill me on the T'Pring and I have a relatively good understanding of what happened to him that made him do that, and I'm willing to defend him and his name based on that understanding."

"I couldn't agree more," Harvey stated, acknowledging what she'd said about being professional. "And, for once in my life, it's nice to be proven wrong. As for this crew, I shall hold you to your word. Harassment aboard this ship will not be tolerated, especially against a member of the senior staff."

Now she relaxed and nodded. "You made me the Chief of Security because I take action, Sir, and you can count on me to take action when the time comes without hesitation. If a single member of this crew steps outside of the rules and regulations of Starfleet, I will be there to remind them of the oath they took and the penalties for breaking that oath."

He almost pitied the Consortium soul who came to the Black Hawk looking for trouble. A Black Hawk officer crossing Camila would be one thing. A Consortium agent... or Consortium ship would be another matter entirely. "USS Chimera..." he said, his voice trailing off. "It sounds like we need to get to them as soon as possible. If Yolvanda II is any indication of what they're capable of, there's no telling what they'll do next."

"I'm going to work with Lieutenant Davis, Lieutenant Cooper, and Ensign Alexander and see if we can come up with some ideas to fight the Consortium ships that doesn't involve phaser and torpedoes. As outnumbered as we are, there has to be alternatives to head to head combat, and we aren't out to kill them. Most of them are just officers who don't know they're being led by the Consortium."

Harvey nodded. He needed alternative ideas, and so did the rest of the Task Force. Too much blood had already been spilled. "That's not going to stop them on firing on us. We'll need ways to disable their ships as well."

"We'll get it, Sir," Camila said with confidence. "I'm a former Master-at-Arms and I learned a few things that may work. I just need to bounce ideas off the others, then I'll get back to you as soon as possible."

Nodding again, Harvey rose from his seat. "I look forward to it. Is there anything else?" he asked, knowing that he needed to get back to the bridge.

"No, Captain," Camila said. "I understand you're very busy, but you can rest easy knowing that Security is on top of things. Good day, Sir."


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