Part of USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again Part: 2 and USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again

Interpreting the Data

USS Denver
April 16, 2374 09:30
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Rebecca appeared on the transporter pad in transporter room two with Peter Crawford and Alexander Willis at her side.  “Thanks, Chief,” she said the the transporter operator as she stepped off the pad and walked out into the corridor with her two officers in tow.

“I’d like you to work with Lieutenant Nalam to see what kind of information you can extract from the data we’ve acquired,” Rebecca said to Peter. “Riandri was following her own leads.  Hopefully, she has something that will paint a more complete picture.”

Crawford gave a nod, “We’ll do everything we can to get us on the trail, Captain.”  He headed to the intelligence office with PADD in hand.

Riandri had left a message for the Captain but had yet to hear back. Given how long she had been away, she had stumbled to her quarters and passed out on the bed, still in her uniform. Her alarm jarred her awake after only a couple of hours, and she sat up, blinking as she brushed her blonde hair from her face. Quickly making herself presentable, she headed back to the intelligence office and her work. Getting there, she opened up the files and began to sift through the data associated with the transporter signal and communication she had detected.

Peter walked up to the door of the intelligence officer, remembering the miscreant who had called this place home before.  He’d made everyone hate him, and nobody had really been sad to see him go…or even asked about why he was gone.  They were just glad he wasn’t on the Denver anymore.  He tapped the door chime.

Riandri barely glanced up from the computer and two other displays she was using as she worked on isolating the transporter signal. “Enter.”

The ops chief stepped in, “Lieutenant Nalam, good morning.  Captain asked me to bring you the data we managed to pull from the house and inside…said you had your own leads you were chasing down?”  He smiled quietly, appreciating the look of the room now that a new face occupied it.  She’d improved the decorating which he mentioned, “The office looks better than it did.”

Riandri smiled faintly as Peter entered “Ensign Crawford, good morning,” she said then quickly covered her mouth hiding a yawn as he waved at one of the chairs. Blinking the last of the sleep away she nodded, “I do, I was able to identify an odd transporter signal as well as a communication signal from the house in question. We lucked out as a random sensor sweep was covering the area at the time. Someone or likely more than one definitely beamed out from there. What did you find? We can load it in here and see what we can extrapolate.”

Crawford slipped into the chair opposite her and handed over a chip, “We found a complex transporter signal.”  He explained how it looked and what he thought had been done to the signal to hide it or keep it from prying eyes.  “They’ve mixed it up pretty well, but I don’t know if they expected the crew of the Denver to pick up the case.”

She transferred to data that Crawford presented to her and merged it into her analysis; seeing similarities she was confident that the two were the same but the on-site data was more refined than the board sweep had picked up. “They were not trying to hide the signal at all which concerns me.”

Crawford pulled out his PADD and keyed in a few items, “You know, there’s something I’m still not fully sold on.  They took this girl…and there’s been no ransom call, no note, no nothing.  The place wasn’t even trashed.  Usually, if someone’s looking to get a rise outta someone, they’ll do the full smash and trash.  They did none of that here.  It was clean.”

“That is odd, I do think we are missing something important here. As you said we know the how but not the why?” Riandri said, giving Crawford a sideways glance, “What’s with the ‘full smash and trash’; you watch a lot of detective holos?”

Peter suppressed a quiet smile, “Don’t laugh, but for a long time, I wanted to be a police officer or something.  Did some studying in my high school years – I still dig into that world every so often just to see if it’s still an interest, you know?”  He meekly shrugged, “Dreams of a childhood.  You find anything?”

“This definitely has cleared the data up a bit. The signal is strange, almost federation but not; maybe a modified transporter,” Riandri said with a shrug as she blinked several times and ran her hand through her hair. She could feel another wave of dizziness and headaches coming on. “Part of me feels like I have seen a signal like this before, in a briefing notice,” she said as she tried to keep her thoughts clear, “I, ah, um, I need to…have a think on it. Run a comparative…analysis.” She raised one of her hands to her head and rubbed her temple and leaned back in the chair. “Just, um, give me a second…”

Peter frowned and gave her a careful look, “Lieutenant…you doing ok?”

Riandri blinked her eyes a few times before waving her hand dismissively, “Yeah, yeah…it’s just a headache and dizziness. Been happening since we got back to Earth, comes and goes.”

Crawford made a mental note to keep an eye on Riandri.  He wasn’t a doctor, but his concern for her was growing.   They continued to work on the data.

Ready Room

Rebecca stared at Cheon over her ever-present coffee.  Leaning forward, she selected a slice of banana bread from the plate between her and her first officer.   Tearing off a bite-size chunk, she popped it into her mouth. 

“How are you feeling, my friend?” She asked, concern in her voice. 

Cheon looked up from the duty roster on his PADD.

“I’m fine, captain,” he said, returning his attention to the PADD.

Inside, he was fighting an old foe, one that he had let slip during an interrogation not long ago in front of a fellow officer.

“That must be one heck of an interesting…. whatever that is that you are reading,” Rebecca teased.

Cheon raised his head from his PADD, saying, “Just the roster for tomorrow,” before tossing it aside, “Not all that interesting.”

He then reached up and rubbed his eyes, letting out a soft sigh.

“Okay, what’s the matter with you?” Rebecca demanded.

Cheon rolled his head back and lowered his hand, his gaze fixed on the stark bulkhead above.

“I’m not certain,” he admitted. “I have a feeling something is wrong, but I’m not sure what it is.”

“Medically, I’m as fit as a horse, and the doctor says there’s nothing wrong,” he says to her. “However, I haven’t felt myself since that Dominion attack,” he admits, lowering his head to lock his brown eyes on Rebecca’s.

Rebecca stared back at Cheon, speechless. Whatever she was expecting, this wasn’t it. After a long silence, she sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. “I need you, Cheon. The daughter of our task force commander is missing, who also happens to be a close personal friend. Do I need to look for your replacement?”

Cheon leaned forward as the announcement of a missing person caught him off guard. As he reflected on Jolie, his eyes became cold. “What is her name, and why wasn’t I notified sooner?” His voice had a tone in it that he was certain Rebecca had never heard before.

The inner battle he was fighting abruptly ended as he allowed the demon to flow forward, as he allowed the torture from the Romulan Tal Shiar as they attempted and succeeded in breaking him to flow. Even his outward appearance seemed to change into that of a cold, calculating Romulan Empire agent, even though he was fully human and completely loyal to the Federation.

“Angel,” Rebecca said, surprised at his reaction.  “You have been distant.  I didn’t want to bother you, and I have Lieutenants Crawford and Nalam on it.  We found some security footage of the suspects.  They are trying to decipher the data.”

Cheon brushed aside the remark and tapped an icon on her desk.

“Lieutenants Crawford and Nalam report to the captain’s ready room,” he said over the intercom before closing it.

Intelligence office-

Riandri looked up as the comms activated, and she heard the XO’s command. She looked over at Crawford. “We have been summoned,” she said with a faint smile, her headache gaining traction.  She quickly downloaded the summary data onto her PADD and stood up, causing her to sway slightly until she placed her hand on the desk to steady herself. Inhaling deeply before closing her eyes and focused her breathing. “Shall we Peter?”

Crawford gave her a concerned look, “I’m keeping my eye on you, Lieutenant.  We need you upright and functional.”

Riandri smiled faintly at him, “ I am ok, though I appreciate your concern. The headache will subside in a minute or two, always does. Let’s get a move on, Ensign.” With that, she grabbed her PADD and walked out of the office and towards the nearest turbolift.

Crawford followed her, and as they walked, he asked, “This the first time this kinda thing happened?”

Riandri nodded, “As far as I can recall; at least in any, ah, any consistent manner.” She continued walking and paused at the turbolift, calling it to their deck. “Some days it doesn’t happen at all, other days several times though the frequency has been picking up. I had been meaning to go see a doctor about it but work got in the way then this with Angel.”

Crawford turned to her, “You’ve lived a little longer than I have, so you’ll understand when I say – you gotta care for yourself before worrying about others – no matter the situation. Lieutenant, as Chief of Operations, I’m recommending you for a checkup regarding your symptoms.  We have a doctor, and you have a situation.  Whatever happens with Angel, I…we’re going to need you at full strength.”  He smiled as the turbolift doors opened, “Operations officers are notoriously a bit bossy when it comes to ensuring everyone’s in good shape.”  They stepped into the turbolift, and the doors closed.

Riandri knew he was right, “I hear what you’re saying, Lieutenant. And I will make time once we are done here.”

A couple of minutes later, both Riandri and Peter stood in front of the doors to the Captain’s ready room. She looked over at him and smiled, “All gone, feeling fine now. Likely just stress,” she said as she pressed the door panel to let the Captain and XO know they were there.

“Enter,” Rebecca’s disembodied voice came from the comm.

Crawford gestured for Riandri to enter first with a sly smile, “Age before beauty, as they say.”

Riandri rolled her eyes a that. “You think yourself funny, don’t you?” Her smile bled through into her voice. 

In his head, Peter muttered, “I don’t think I’m funny.  I know I’m frickin’ funny, ma’am.”

She then stepped forward into the ready room and looked at the XO, then the Captain, “Lieutenants Nalam and Crawford reporting as ordered.”

Ready Room-

“At ease, before you blow a gasket,” Rebecca said to her officers.  While on the bridge, she expected protocol. In an informal private setting such as this, she was less inclined to stand on formality.  “I was just bringing Commander Kyo up to speed on what’s going on.”

Crawford handed the Captain and the XO a PADD, “Lieutenant Nalam and I took some time examining the data I brought back as well as information she had gathered.”  He glanced at the intelligence officer, yielding to the floor to her to share what she had found.

Cheon accepted the PADD and looked over its contents.

Riandri nodded at Crawford. “I had found an odd transport signal near the location of Angel’s house along with a weak communication signal to a location in orbit. When I matched this data with what was found at the house, we,” she nodded towards Crawford, “were able to determine it was the same transporter signal, and the more detailed reading showed it to be Federation-like. Almost as if a federation ship’s transporter were slightly out of phase. I have a search running looking for similar events.”

“I am also trying to pinpoint the location in orbit. I have narrowed it down to several hundred square kilometers, but they appeared to be empty at the time. I hope to have more information soon.” Riandri remarked.

“You might set up a continuous scan. If the signature is as unique as you suggest, it might lead us to them,” Rebecca suggested. 

Crawford noted in his PADD, “The out-of-phase variable is odd – usually there’s a good answer for why something is out of phase, and you can track it back and get it sorted pretty quickly.  But here…there’s something just off enough that defies standard scientific resolutions to the problem.”  He tapped at his PADD as he thought and stared for a moment at the result.  He handed it over to the Captain and the FO, “No matter how much we try and separate the variable, it resists a standard explanation.  The scenario tests I ran keep coming back with no joy.  The last one just finished.  Red, red, and red.”  He looked to Riandri and then back to the CO and XO, “There’s another layer here that has me worried as I think it through.  We’ve had intrusions from other realities, universes, and times.  There’s always a nagging piece of evidence that points to the impossible…or unthinkable of the intrusion.  What if that out-of-phase variable is not some kind of error or even misdirection by someone we know…what if it’s from someone we think we know…but don’t?  We watched the footage and examined the house – Angel acted like she knew them.  What if she did know the face…but not the actual person who stepped into that room?”

Riandri pursed her lips and nodded, “A federation vessel or transporter from another reality or universe would definitely cause some phase variance in the signal.”

Rebecca considered the information, “Can we see if the computer could give us the faces of the suspects? As crazy as it sounds I think I know who she thought she saw. There’s something disconcertingly familiar with the suspects.”

Cheon looked up from his PADD and over at Rebecca, a curious expression on his face as he tilted his head to the side.

“Me… and her father,” Rebecca said answering the unspoken question.   “Nick is my best friend.  I know his walk.  I know the shape of the back of his head, the slope of his shoulders, and his mannerisms.  Hell, I should be able to pick myself out in a line-up,” she added.

Cheon nodded his head as he understood what she meant now by her statement of how Angel could have possibly known her kidnappers.

Bridge-

The helmsman sat checking over her station’s console, running diagnostics when a rift suddenly appeared before her. She reached up, on her console, and tapped the comms.

“Bridge to Captain Talon. Captain, we have a situation happening just off our ship’s bow. Approximately 1500 kilometers.”

Ready Room-

Cheon looked at Rebecca when the helmsman’s voice came over the comms. 

Riandri head snapped towards the viewport knowing it was unlikely she would see the rift but instincts were instincts. She then turned to look at Captain, “What the hell is going on?” she muttered as she then turned towards the bridge.

Rebecca was already out of her seat and heading for the bridge,  “I don’t know.” As she stepped onto the bridge she instinctively looked at the viewscreen in an effort to figure out the situation.  “Report.”

Riandri followed the Captain onto the bridge and watched as the rift appeared before the ship. “What is that?”

To be continued…