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Intel Peeps

Posted on 21 Dec 2017 @ 10:40pm by Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Petty Officer 2nd Class Mofrich Torg

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Intelligence Center
Timeline: MD2 || 1000 hours

"Scan the Zone, they said," muttered the Tellarite Intelligence Analyst. "Compare the data, they said. It'll be informative, they said. They should have mentioned that it would be boring as hell..." Frustrated didn't even begin to describe the analyst. This was perhaps the worst job he'd ever been assigned. There was nothing intelligent about the Zone, and he really didn't know why he was here. But, it was Starfleet, and he was curious as to what was on the other side. Hopefully this was all worth it.

Joey sat at one of the consoles, and could sympathize with the Tellarite, but they'd been tasked to do a job. Even if it did seem to be useless, orders were orders. "While I agree with this being boring as hell, this is our job, Mister Torg. We're analysts. That's exactly what we're doing," she said, moving her fingers over the console in front of her. The Chief had no hope of finding anything that would prove useful, and that was simply because if there were to be something, it would have been found long before now. Dealing with the mundane and keeping themselves as busy as possible was what this was all about.

"There's got to be a better solution to this," remarked the Tellarite. "For seventeen years, the Vasco da Gama patrolled this border, scanning, probing, studying. Whatever came out, came out dead. Surely there has to be something in those hulks for ships that emerged."

"We know that Science went over to the da Gama, but do we know if they copied any of the important stuff? Logs... anything. All I've seen from the ship was Security footage, and that was to confirm that Akagi's death was indeed a suicide," she wondered aloud. "Maybe there's a weak point in there somewhere. And if there isn't, then maybe we can make one."

Mofrich checked the database, calling up anything related to the Vasco da Gama. "It appears to all be here," he replied. "Seventeen years of scans and probe telemetries."

"In seventeen years, I doubt they would have found a weak point. If they had... I'm sure they would have used it themselves," Joey said before turning to her console to pull up the da Gama scans. "I seriously doubt we'll find anything useful, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't dig anyway. Who knows? Maybe we'll get lucky and find ourselves a way in." And on that note, she turned began moving her fingers over the console in hopes of finding something, but the Intel Chief just wasn't that lucky.

The Tellarite scowled and grunted while looking at the data. Layers upon layers of notes and scientific mumbo-jumbo. He wasn’t a scientist, and had severe doubts that they’d be able to get anywhere, and there were certainly more qualified aboard the ship for that. “Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. We might not know how to get in, but there’s a lot of attempts to get out, most of them failures. Looks like there’s data downloaded from those computer cores, but it’s in languages we don’t understand. There’s even images of the ships. Maybe we can learn something about what’s inside the zone, get a leg up on what awaits us.”

"It's definitely worth a shot. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't want to go into it completely blind," the Intel Chief stated as she switched gears, making quick work of pulling up that information instead. All the other stuff could be dealt with by Science and other departments knowledgeable to that kind of thing. Maybe they'd be able to find a weak point or something, but she doubted it.

Truth be told, all of this made her incredibly nervous, but she didn't show it. As the Petty Officer said... there were many attempts to get out, and most of them were failures. Who said trying to get in would be any different? Nothing about this was going to be easy, but then... when had anything ever been easy for them? Shaking those thoughts from her mind, Joey started digging through the the mountains of data they had. If there was anything to be found, she was going to find it. "So, according to this, there's been at least one attempt per year, and they were all failures save for the Aketi. The ships did manage to survive... just two Aketi, and they're on Deep Space Fifteen. Talking to them might have provided answers."

The Tellarite checked the database for anything regarding the Aketi. “Looks like they’ve been here for years. If they’d have been helpful, they would have been so by now.” Another search of the database pulled up several craft, all alien of origin. “Looks like all of these computer cores have been downloaded, but the files are unreadable. I could work on trying to convert them to formats recognizable by our computer.”

"Once that's done, we'll start working on cross referencing every known language to the Federation to see if we can find some kind of key to work from. From there, we'll start formatting the cores once the language key has been cracked," she paused, looking thoughtful for a few seconds before speaking once again. "Then, we can analyze every exit point ever attempted from the Zone to find out what they might have in common. We'll also look for things we may encounter on the inside and how they interacted with those who tried to get out."

The Tellarite nodded, setting to work on one of the data dumps, using several tools to identify coding patterns and structures. "Looks like this system, Item 0394C, appears to be duotronic based. Sadly, these aren't the best compatible with LCARS systems, but there is a shell in which I can attempt to unlock it. This will take some time."

"While you're working on that, I'm going to see if I can find anything about different species aside from the Aketi," Joey said, focusing her attention back to the screen in front of her. "This could take a while as well. We might be here for the long haul. You don't drink coffee, do you?"

He shook his head. "No offense, but I cannot stomach human beverages." It was the only thing worse than their scent. "Caffeination, I imagine, won't do us any good. It'll take weeks to sort through all of this raw intel."

"None taken. If you were a coffee drinker, I was going to ask that you not do it here because it makes me nauseous," the Intel Chief explained with her eyes still glued in front of her. He was right, of course, this was going to take time. "We don't have much of that, so we'll have to do whatever we can to make this happen as quickly as we possibly can."

"You can't think the Trill Commander and his merry team of scientists can figure out a way to penetrate the zone that quickly, can you?" he asked, calling up a service request for Operations to make adjustments to the amount of processing given to intelligence operations.

"One never knows, which means we need to get this done as quickly as possible. We'll try to aim for a few days," Joey said, fighting the urge to pinch the bridge of her nose. And she thought Security was stressful. "Thankfully, there will always be someone here to monitor things, so if anything pops up when we're off duty, we'll be notified."

“Why have a warm body tell you your file’s done?” He asked. “That’s the beauty of automation these days. You can get the computer to notify you in the middle of your sleep cycle, if you so desired.” The Tellarite put the finishing touches on an automated script and turned it loose on one of the data dumps. “This is a creation of mine. It’ll look for similarities in the text, eventually leading to translating the code. It’s about seventy percent effective, but it’s better than nothing.”

"Anything is worth a shot at this point," she said, taking a moment to get to her feet and stretch her arms above her head. "We can work on some other things while this is being done."

"Such as?" Mofrich asked, looking up at the woman, taking particular note of the slight bulge in her midsection. There were times that he forgot she was pregnant, which was not good form for the specialist.

"Taking a nap sounds pretty good right now, but it's not logical, I know," she said, sitting back down in for don't of her console once more. "In the meantime, maybe we can see if there have been any familiar species inside the Zone."

Mofrich was a bit confused by her suggestion. If others had emerged from the zone, surely they would know about it. It struck him a moment later that the zone had existed for an unknown period of time and was likely connected to the near-catastrophic event on Finnea Prime centuries ago. "We can run a search in the Gamma Quadrant cultural database to see if there are any connections," he suggested. "A simple subspace query to Deep Space 11 is all that's needed, and we can leverage their processing power instead of our own."

Joey never expected any of their missions to be easy, but this one was more difficult than she ever could have imagined. Everything was going to take time to accomplish, and she just didn't have the patience for it. Despite that, she planned to do whatever she could to gather as much information on the inside as she could. "I'll put in the query," she said, retaking her seat once more. This was all beginning to feel impossible.

As the computer set to work on cracking the foreign database, Mofrich called up an image of a small craft. "This was the first spacecraft that the Vasco da Gama detected leaving the zone. The ship itself was fine, but the two occupants... You humans call it origami. Both persons were dead on arrival. Helium atmosphere with high concentrations of methane and argon. Warp capable, but the warp core had destabilized. Best guess put the speed around Warp Five. Two fixed forward polaron cannons, and there were small arms inside the craft as well."

"If the ship was fine, then how did they die? That's what I want to know. With no breaches or anything, in theory, those gases should not have affected them, so what did?" Joey asked, trying to wrap her mind around all of this.

"How exactly they died is unclear, especially since the ship itself was unaffected," replied Mofrich. "I'm also not a mortician, but without more knowledge of the species itself, it's a pure guessing game."

"Doesn't this all seem like a guessing game to you?" Joey asked.

"This is all guessing. But there is plenty of room to make educated guesses." The Tellarite wrinkled his nose. "The Federation has explored less than three percent of this galaxy. But, in that three percent, we have seen so much similar life. It is feasible to come to some logical conclusions about what we could expect." He grunted, knowing a Vulcan would have enjoyed his logical reasoning. "And, if for nothing else, we know that polaron weapons are employed by at least one species inside the zone. We can adjust our shields for the frequencies, and now we are more prepared."

"I can't argue with that, and it gives us an advantage," she agreed. "We can also assume we'll encounter hostile species once inside, too. They're everywhere. We may even come across Followers in the Zone, too."

"Followers?" Mofrich asked. "In the zone? Is that even possible?"

"Stranger things have happened. I mean... it's probably a stretch, but not entirely impossible, so it shouldn't be ruled out," the Intel Chief stated. "It's better to be open to the fact that there could be and expect it, than to shut it down immediately and have them catch us off guard. Besides... they could be the whole reason the probe was sent in the first place. No one knows."

"And if we couldn't spot them while out here, how can we spot them in there?" Mofrich asked. The whole idea was giving him a headache, and if there was one thing he did not appreciate, it was headaches.

Joey sighed. It felt hopeless. All of it. "We don't. Like out here, we won't know until they reveal themselves to be."

Mofrich grunted, turning back to his console. The computer's attempt to convert the first database was ongoing, and based on the progress bar, it looked like it would extend into tomorrow afternoon. Computers were always too damned slow, and if only he had some sort of enigma machine for computer databases. "I'll catalog the rest of this craft and add its characteristics to the ship's recognition database. It's hull structure is common enough to be detected by sensors."

Joey nodded her head. "When you're finished with that, you can take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow, we'll get back to things with fresh eyes and find out everything we can about the inside."

The Tellarite nodded, though he was perfectly keen to work through the shift as normal. And, while it was his nature to argue with authority, he knew his place, and he knew his superior was pregnant. She'd be liable to rip his head from his neck should the wrong word be said. Not verbalizing a response, he just nodded to the Lieutenant.

Joey couldn't help but blink as she regarded the Tellarite. "I... was expecting more of a fight."

Mofrich looked back at her, a blank stare on his face. "We Tellarites love to argue, especially with Zaldans. But, we do not argue with pregnant women. It is how we males... lose hair."

"That's actually rather smart, and I can't promise I wouldn't rip hair out," she stated in a joking tone.

The Petty Officer grunted and turned back to his console. "My father once remained hairless while they expected my arrival. It took him five years to get his hairline back."

The Intel Chief winced, still doing some digging while they spoke. It definitely made things less stressful on her talking about other things. "Was it your mother's doing?" she asked, glancing toward him before looking back to her screen.

"It was," he confirmed. "I do not know the circumstances of their argument, just that they were both right, and he tried to convince her that she was wrong."

"A word of advice for the future... never try to convince a woman she's wrong. That's a battle you most certainly will not win. Especially if she's expecting," she said, feeling a bit bad for his father. Though, he did deserve it. "Women are strange creatures, and I say that from years of practice at it."

Mofrich grunted his affirmation and continued to tap away. He did retort, however, "I did not know it took practice to be a woman."

Joey shook her head. "It doesn't require practice. That was my way of saying I've had many many years of experience at being a strange creature," she said in an attempt to clarify her meaning.

"You humans are strange creatures," observed Mofrich. "Your men have strange hair. Your women do not have enough." He did, however, stop himself for commenting on their foul stench, always wanting to smell like a field of flowers or a sporting event or false pheromones. When would they ever learn that a mud bath would suit them nicely?

"Our women don't have enough?" she asked, looking over at him. "We go to great lengths to make that the case, otherwise, we'd look like the mythical creature Sasquatch."

Mofrich looked at her and blinked. "You only have it on the top of your head, and you keep it as long as a snake. And, you insist on shaving your arms, legs, pits... Tellarite women have beards, nicely groomed ones too." He'd almost said real, but changed it to Tellarite at the last minute. He did, after all, like his hair and intended not to lose any today.

"Shaving is too much work. Waxing is quicker. Painful, but quicker," Joey clarified. She studied him for a few more moment before she looked back to her screen. "Tellarite women are welcome to all the hair they wish to grow, but that's just not for me. I'll keep what hair I do have." She stopped and looked over at him again. "Are you adventurous?"

Mofrich raised a bushy eyebrow. "I am an analyst in Intelligence," he replied, matter-of-factly. "Do I look that adventurous to you?"

"Not even a little bit, but you should be. We've been working with one another for over a month now, and how well do we really know each other?" she questioned. "I think it's time we changed that, don't you?"

He considered his options for a few moments. Finally, he grunted and nodded, agreeing with her thought. "What exactly did you have in mind?"

"I have to admit... I hadn't thought that far ahead yet. I honestly expected to have to do some convincing," she admitted.

"You are a lieutenant and I am a Petty Officer," reminded the Tellarite. "I'm only allowed to put up so much of a fight before someone cries insubordination."

Joey gave him a slow smile. "I handle insubordination with a fight to the death," she said, though it was clear she was joking. "But... in all honesty, I don't cry insubordination every time someone might disagree with me."

That's reassuring, he thought as he continued his work on the console. "Fair enough," he said. "So, what did you have in mind?"

"Questions, of course," the Intel Chief replied. "I'll ask one, then you can. Are you married?"

The Tellarite raised both bushy eyebrows. Without directly answering her question, he spoke, "An Intelligence Chief who has not reviewed personnel files? That is unwise."

"I've reviewed every file that belongs to every member of the Intel team," Joey retorted, moving her fingers over the control. "I was merely getting to know you, but since you don't want to answer, I will for you. You are, in the way Tellarite's recognize being married, and you have two children. Why didn't you bring them with you?"

"Starfleet is more lenient with officers they are non-commissioned," replied Mofrich. "Space is a dangerous place, despite it being statistically the safest way to travel, and in our culture, children remain with their mother until they are weaned."

"How long does something like that usually take?" she found herself asking. "Were you present when they were delivered? If so, what was that like? I know I'm asking a lot, but I've never had children before, and books will only tell me so much."

"That's three questions," Mofrich pointed out. "I thought I was supposed to be one question a piece? As for upbringing, that lasts through primary school and before vocational training. I was present when they were delivered, and we keep in touch. As for what it was like, I would assume it is like any birth. A lot of screaming and clawing followed by happiness and joy."

"Screaming and clawing...?" Joey repeated trying not to look too horrified by what she'd just heard. Screaming, she could see, but clawing... that was a bit extreme. "Okay... I'm going to have to keep myself in check there. Your turn. Ask anything."

"I get to ask thrice," the Tellarite said with a grunt. "First question. You traded a prestigious career in security for intelligence. Why?"

There was no hesitation when it came to giving her answer, though, she did take a deep breath and let it out slowly. "It was time. Before I joined the Black Hawk, I was a Close Protection Officer. It was my job to make sure those I was assigned to stayed safe. That didn't come without a lot of risk to not only their lives, but to mine as well," she began, giving him her full attention now. "It was time for a change. I wanted something else. Not that I didn't love what I did. Honestly... I still love Security, but our last mission..."

Joey paused as the memories came flooding back. "I got injured. Seriously. My heart stopped beating, and if it weren't for my team I wouldn't be here now. My plan was to retire entirely until the move to Intel presented itself, and that was because I spent some time in the area before I got assigned to the ship," she said. "So, here I am."

Mofrich nodded. Only a note of an injury had been placed in what he could view of her file, but none of the details accompanied it. "If you still love it, why trade a love for safe work. What is it you humans call it? A desk job?"

"I wouldn't necessarily say my new job is all that safe. I've still done field work despite my new position," Joey explained. "But, to answer your question, my family is the reason. They mean far more to me than my role in Security ever did."

The Tellarite understood the maternal instincts and role, and he certainly did not object to or wish to attempt to refute her reasoning. "And what of the father of your children? Do you find it difficult or complicated that he is also the Captain of this ship?"

"Sometimes," she answered honestly. "But mostly because there are things that happen, and I know they eat away at him, but there's nothing I can really do to alleviate any of it. I do what I can, but it just never seems like enough. So, I go the supportive route, and hope he'll come to me if he needs to."

"I'm sure he will," the petty officer remarked. "But, in our scenario, we are now even on our questions. I believe it is your turn."

"My turn again?" Joey asked, looking thoughtful for a moment. "What do you think of having a person in charge of Intelligence who is former Security and has limited experience in the area?"

A grunt was first out of his mouth. "To the uninformed, the departmental transfer and promotion might seem like taking advantage of a relationship with the Captain. I am, however, not uninformed. You have the proper skill sets and knowledge. I do not feel slighted, if that's what you mean, I am only a petty officer. My type rarely get the chance to lead a department."

"Stranger things have happened, though, and I would never say something like that couldn't happen," she said. "And trust me when I say I will never receive preferential treatment where the Captain is concerned. He's a fair man regardless who he may be married to. Now... I think it's your turn again."

"Very well," Mofrich replied. He sat in silence for a few moments as he considered possible inquiries. Finally, he asked something that wasn't a personal question, but would give him insight with his new supervising officer. "Do you think that this zone was meant to contain something that should never be released?"

Joey blinked. That was something she hadn't considered before. "Anything is possible," she answered, giving thought to a better answer. "Given the fact that anyone that attempts to leave it dies, except for two Aketi, there's a good chance. And there is no record of anyone trying to get in, so there's a great possibility that entering the zone could have the same effect."

"I know that a safe way inside is being worked on, but I there's the nervousness and what ifs that still sit at the back of my mind," Joey continued. "Sadly, I don't think any amount of research we do is going to fully prepare us for what we might encounter once we're in there."

"Fully prepare?" asked Mofrich. "I doubt anyone can be fully prepared for anything? But, having knowledge of what we could encounter, even if it's a guess, is better than nothing. What do you humans call it? Being caught with your pants down?"

"Yes, that's what we humans call it," the Intel Chief confirmed. "Here's something we never considered. What if there's someone on the inside that doesn't want anyone leaving? What if that's how they're dying before they actually make it through?"

"Then how would you explain the Aketi?" mused Mofrich. "Unless the Aketi themselves are defectors from this evil, but it's never shown up in any of their debriefing. Then again, there's no external damage on this craft that we were looking at. It's possible someone or something was in the craft and caused it to fail. Perhaps the logs will be revealing." He glanced at the progress bar, which held at a mere three percent complete.

"And all of that makes it possible," Joey pointed out, frowning when she saw the progress bar. Nothing was going to make it move faster, so they were stuck waiting for now. "There is no definitive proof of that, but it's a guess, which is what we're currently stuck resorting to. Which means, there's a chance we may encounter something hostile once we're inside."

Mofrich grunted. "It's a safe bet that there is something hostile inside." Adding sarcasm to his tone, he added, "Seeing how so many ships have fled the zone, it's quite dangerous." Overall, only a dozen ships had attempted to penetrate the zone in the last decade, demonstrating that there was no real exodus afoot.

"People try to flee the Zone, but there are no reports of anyone trying to get in," she said, trying to keep her frustrations at bay. "The second we cross over, is the second a dozen ships could be on top of us with the intent to wipe us out." Of course, thanks to the probe, she knew they survived whatever was waiting for them, but it did nothing to ease her troubled mind. "I don't like any of this."

Neither did the Petty Officer, but a noncomm did not voice such opinions to a superior officer, even if one of them were Tellarite. "I suppose we'll find out when we get there. And we can at least alert tactical to let them know polaron weapons exist on the other side of the barrier."

"Yes, and that gives us an advantage," she stated. "Rank aside, what do you think? I'm all for hearing opinions."

Mofrich didn't hesitate. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

Wasn't that exactly what they always did in every situation they were put into? "That's not any different than what we've always done. The polaron weapons are a bit worrisome, though, but we'll be able to prepare for those the best we can," she said. "And until this is done..." She point at the progress bar. "We wait."

 

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