Part of Lead Expeditionary Group: Whispers in the Dark

Twist in the Tale

Gamma Quadrant, System Unknown
2399
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[Several Hours Earlier…]

Stood twiddling her thumbs whilst the Transporter Chief watched with curiosity, Ensign Kedam was beginning to feel nervous ahead of their great adventure. Where the hell was her partner in crime?

Skidding around the corner from the turbolift alcove, his lanky frame unruly as always, Robin damn near collided with a young woman in operations gold. Apologizing profusely over his shoulder he continued until he’d reached the transporter room. He had such a good head of steam going that the doors barely opened in time to keep him from slamming into them, and then he was there, finally. “I… Am… So… Sorry…” he gasped out, leaning against the transporter console and holding his side where a distinctly painful stitch had formed.

“You need to come jogging with me in the mornings,” the Cardassian laughed as she grabbed her colleague by the arm and dragged him up onto the transporter pad. “Alright, Chief! Two to transport to the Rhode Island, please,” the Ensign requested as she took her position.

Chief Petty Officer Tomkins, bearded and grumpy as usual, stood with his arms folded across his burly chest and glared at the younger Cardassian. “And what is the purpose of your visit?”

Nisha stood their wide-eyed and like a rabbit in headlights.

Robin effortlessly took control. “We are planning on causing untold mischief and shenanigans,” he replied with a perfectly straight face, and then pretended to glance at a watch on his wrist, and back to the man behind the console, with his eyebrows raised as if he was waiting impatiently.

“Wise ass…” Tomkins growled to himself before taking a step forward and moving his hands to the controls. “If you get in any trouble over there, I ain’t beaming you back…” he remarked with a sadistic smile before sliding his fingers up the controls. “Energising!”

Moments later the pair of junior officers rematerialized on the transporter pad of the Rhode Island. Robin had a bit of a stunned look on his face, and slowly turned his head to look Nisha in the face, eyes wide, “You don’t think he was serious, do you? About not beaming us back…”

“Well, if he is, I’m beautiful enough to worm my way out of anything,” she grinned as she skipped down from the pad before looking back at her companion, “not so sure about you though…”

Robin gave her a wicked side-eye. “I see how it is,” he said with a slight grin.

“But trust me, I flash these pearly whites,” he added, pausing to give her his cheesiest fake smile, “and give ‘em a little of this,” he went on, doing his best impression of puppy dog eyes, “and I might get a berth on this ship and never even have to worry about transporting back. Not sure what I’d be able to get you though… Might wanna make sure you work on using that pretty thing to your advantage.”

“If you’re staying here, I’ll take the nearest airlock and leave you behind…” she countered with the utmost sass before stepping towards the rather bemused looking Crewman at the transporter station. “Hey, Crewman. We’re here to see someone from your science department. Any ideas where we might go?” she asked confidently as she leant on the console with her right arm, looking up at the Terran.

“Ummm…” the poor soul looked like a train had hit him while he tried to find the words for her question, “deck three… section four…” he finally mustered.

Reaching out and clapping the man on the shoulder Robin smiled, “Thanks, appreciate that!”

Less than five minutes later they’d made their way to the appropriate section of the ship, and as they approached the doors Robin felt nearly giddy. “Well, it’s almost upon us!” he said, smiling widely at his accomplice.

“Calm yourself,” she shook her head. “If you blow this thing, I’ll beam you into space at the next available opportunity,” she told him with her trademark Cardassian smile before surging towards the doors and stepping inside. What she didn’t expect to see, although probably should have these days given Starfleet’s more inclusive recruitment strategy, was a pair of shorter beings. The first, noticeable by the elaborate piece of headwear on the back of their cranium (not to mention the sizeable lobes) was a Ferengi. The second? Bushy brown hair, a pig like snout and a grunt that would make the burly Transporter Chief on Ulysses jealous could mean only one thing – a Tellarite. Both wore the old grey shouldered uniform, and neither looked as pristine and smart as the two officers from the Ulysses in their teal-coloured shoulder patches and largely black numbers.

“Well, hello there,” Nisha stepped forward, immediately on the charm offensive as she approached the Ferengi first. “Ensign Nisha Kedam, from the Ulysses,” she smiled as she offered out a hand. “This is my assistant, Petty Officer Robin Jackson,” she lied, not about his name of course, but his job. She’d always fancied an Assistant of her own.

Robin fell into the part smoothly, standing to Nisha’s side, looking as subservient as he possibly could, and not saying a word. Granted there were plenty of words he’d like to say. Plenty he planned on saying later, when they weren’t in a situation that could land them in a whole lot of trouble. For now, however, he would hold his peace.

“I knew they were going to send some people but didn’t think it would be so soon…” the Tellarite grunted whilst he watched his Ferengi counterpart make eyes at the Cardassian female. “I’m Norek Dar. This is my colleague, Brozic.”

“Well, hello Brozic,” Nisha flirted with the Ferengi, “we’re here to see if you fine gentlemen can help us with some enquiries? Do you think you could help us, Brozic?”

After so many years of living and working around humons, Brozic had finally grown used to females in clothing, and even being addressed directly by them, but their brazen flirting still discomforted him. Not that he minded, he was perfectly happy to be flirted with by a beautiful woman such as the Cardassian standing before him, but it still just felt wrong in some ways.

“We would be happy to help you,” he said, letting his eyes travel over her trim form, taking note of the snazzy new uniform they would hopefully be getting soon. “What can we do for you?”

“My assistant has a list of things we need,” she smiled, lifting her hand and gently to the Ferengi’s ear and employing a trick she had learnt from a friend a while back, gently running a finger across the rim of his sizeable lobe.

A rather ecstatic looking Ferengi took the Cardassian female by the hand and led her over to one of the aft consoles whilst Robin remained in a stand-off of sorts with the Tellarite, who was most upset at the intrusion.

But soon enough, the intrusion would be the least of all their worries…

[Sometime Later…]

“So, as you can see Captain,” the Cardassian pointed out as she leant over and pointed to a specific point on the data PADD to draw her commanding officer’s attention, “it’s taken a lot of analysis, but we think there is only one explanation for a signal like this.”

“It’s someone’s life sign Captain,” Petty Officer Jackson blurted out in excitement, before shooting off an apologetic look at the captain and his commissioned companion.

“Heavily masked by the radiation still present, but there is no other explanation for signatures like this ma’am,” Ensign Kedam grinned as she stood beside her blue-shouldered colleague.

Captain Nilani Azulas spun ever so slightly in her chair, side to side, as she looked over the data, she had been presented by the two junior officers from the science team. It was, she hoped, a breakthrough. “And you say the reason we haven’t detected this person before now is the radiation?”

“Yes ma’am,” Nisha nodded, her black bob of hair moving freely around her head, “the radiation levels are slowly increasing. They have masked the life sign for now, but we have no idea of when it will prove lethal to whoever is down there. We need to get to the Kylata system and find them!” the Cardassian exclaimed before looking rather sheepish at her uncharacteristic assertiveness before the ship’s captain.

Nilani couldn’t help but grin at the Cardassian’s outburst, or the subsequent look of shock on the Petty Officer’s face. “I entirely agree Ensign. Excellent work, both of you,” she finally responded, lifting her hand and tapping her commbadge. “=/\=Azulas to Farrell. Please report to my ready room,” she requested, all the while eyeing up the two science officers before her.

A few seconds later, the door chime rang out. At Azulas’ permission to enter, Commander Sebastian Farrell stepped inside, his gaze sweeping the room and lingering on the two unfamiliar faces. “You wanted to see me, ma’am?”

“Ensign Kedam and Petty Officer Jackson have detected a life sign on the third planet in the Ohnia system. A life sign in trouble,” the Trill advised as she slid a data PADD to the XO. “They believe that there is someone alive on the planet, with their life signs being masked by the radiation levels.”

Picking up the PADD, Farrell quickly reviewed the data. The name attached to the initial analysis caught her attention. “Indeed,” he said absently as he considered the underlying data. “It would appear so. Albeit alive may be a very subjective term after a week of intense radiation exposure… Nevertheless, if this data came from Doctor Carter’s analysis, I’d trust it with my life, Captain.”

“Since we are in agreement, prepare a runabout. I’ll take Lieutenant Noli, Commander Prida and these two,” the commander of the Ulysses told, gesturing to the two scientists, before adding, “the ship will remain here, to conclude its mission. The away team will report in regularly, as per protocol.”

Jackson and Kedam gave each a look of disbelief at the Commander’s statement. They were going to get to go on an away mission at last!

“Of course,” Farrell nodded before he glanced across at the ensign, “and congratulations on your first away mission, Ensign.”

“Thank you Commander,” Nisha smiled nervously at the sudden honor bestowed upon her.

“Very well then. Ensign, you will begin preparations for the away team. Make sure Lieutenant Noli and Commander Prida know what’s going on,” Azulas directed as she rose to her feet and rounded the desk. “Use whatever additional personnel you require. This will be top priority, regardless of anything else going on.”

And with that, the Commander dismissed her science team with gentle pats on the back of both officers. As they left their commander, Farrell followed in close pursuit and back to the bridge. The ship’s mission had a twist in the tale.