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Part of USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again Part: 3 and USS Denver: Mission 4: Can’t Come Home Again

Cryptic Messages

Intelligence Offices
July 15, 2374
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“Ma’am,” an Ensign announced. “I am picking up an encrypted message piggybacked on a sub-space signal from one of our remote listening posts.”

Riandri had just walked into the intelligence office and was not expecting anything like this so quickly, it caught her off guard, “Sorry, what? Where did it come from?”

“I don’t know. It looks like they were trying to disguise the signal, but did it poorly. The signal itself is an encryption I have never seen before.”

Moving over to the central terminal Riandri pulled up the sub-space signal in question, “This is odd, very odd. Have you tried running it through all the know decryption algorithms?”

She shook her head, “No.  I don’t even know where to start.”

Riandri studied both the sub-space signal and the encryption of the message, “Odd, the encryption itself seems basic in a way. The more complicated part was how it was embedded within the signal itself.” She puzzled over it for a minute when an idea came to her. “I think this is very rudimentary if I am not mistaken. I remember reading about this years back, I think it is a one-way hash function; see these repeating binary stings every 8 digits? I think those might be breaks. Try running it through the computer with a focus on primitive encryption methods.”

She followed the instructions and the computer went to work decompiling the message. After a moment the computer beeped and the Ensign stared disbelieving down at the results.  “It worked.”

Riandri let out a little chuckle as the file appeared before here awaiting to be opened. Before she clicked on it she isolated it onto a secured location on the off chance it had any unpleasant surprises hidden within. Once done she opened it and a short message appeared on her screen. 

This message contains a warning to Star Fleet. I will not go into detail of who I am but your adversary is the same as mine. They have arrived at the end of March from an alternative universe and seek to undermine and destory the Federation. As you are likely aware the daughter of one of your captains, Nick Ryder has gone missing. They have kidnapped her and are now setting up a base north of a town called Billings in Montana at the recidence of the Crawfords. I would recommend you act fast.

Riandri read the message twice before she sent a priority alert to the captain and XO with the message attached. “Damn, this thing is getting twisted,” she muttered to herself.

The ensign glanced up at Riandri,  “There’s some technical data in the message as well.  It looks like coordinates,  technical specs and other data as well. This mystery individual has intimate knowledge of this operation.”

“So it would seem,” Riaindri remarked as she began looking through the data. “I can only think of one way to have gotten so much data on this. Whoever sent this is or at least was working with them very closely. It could be a trap for us and they intended us to get it since we are already involved to a degree or they want to use us as a tool to remove those on Earth.”

Riandri paused for a moment as she thought through several possible options, “Let’s catalogue everything here for starters and quickly. Then I need to take this to the Captain. One way or another I expect we will be on the ground in short order.”

“Understood,” the ensign replied.

Riandri found herself standing outside the Captain’s ready room 15 minutes later. When she entered the bridge several heads turned but no one asked her why she was there. Without pause she tapped the door panel next to the door and waited, clutching a PADD to her chest.

Enter,” Rebecca’s voice came over the comm.

Riandri walked into the ready room and nodded towards the Captain, “Captain, we came across a message that is of top priority, it is about Angel.” Riandri stepped closer and handed her the PADD before she continued to speak, “The communication indicated that those responsible for the abduction are located at a ranch north of Billings Montana. Oddly enough the ranch appears to be owned by the family of Lieutenant Crawford. It also confirms what we believed, they are from an alternate universe.”

Rebecca set her coffee down slowly before speaking.  “There’s a lot going on in that statement. Let’s start at the beginning. What message?”

One of the ensigns on my team picked up a message piggybacked on a sub-space signal from one of our remote listening posts. As expected it was encrypted but was done with what we would consider a rudimentary algorithm, the computer had issues with it but once identified it was easy enough to access. The file contained the message you see there as well as the exact coordinates of an underground facility and a rough map as well. There is also information on what appears to be cloning equipment, it appears they are trying to increase their numbers.

“And you believe it’s legitimate? This isn’t some sort of well, I don’t exactly know what else it could mean.”

Riandri frowned for a moment, “It is hard to say, there was no ID on who sent it. It could be a trap or, and I tend to think this more likely, someone who was part of this group and wants us to remove their enemy. Either way, we should be cautious but it is the best lead we have at the moment.”

“I agree,” the captain replied, “but the United Earth Constitution protects people and property from warrantless searches.  We don’t have any evidence Angel is being held there beyond some cryptic message. We can get this to the Circuit Judge in Bozeman,  but I doubt he will issue a warrant with this message. We may rescue Angel, but the perpetrators could very well get away free. We need more proof before we can raid them. We can’t just do this half-cocked.”

Riandri frowned but fully understood the reason for the laws. She thought on it for a moment then a smile crossed her face, “We do not need to have a warrant. The property is connected to Lieutenant Crawford; we, well several of us could travel there under the guise of a visit. It would give us an opportunity to scan the area and get an idea if the information is in fact accurate or if we have been sent on a wild goose chase.” She turned to face the viewport for a moment before continuing, her stance relaxing slightly, “It is not perfect but is a workaround, if there is nothing, no harm. If we encounter those who the message indicates are there it would only make sense to have a security team from Denver beam down to assist their crewmates who suddenly find themselves in danger. That said I would expect local law enforcement to be contacted and brought in.”

“Nothing against a knock and talk, and hopefully Mr. Crawford won’t be cause to spook them into fleeing before we can get enough evidence for a warrant. Make it happen.”

Riandri grinned, though she was very happy to sit back and observe and review intelligence as it comes she always enjoyed the chance to get out of the office, “Will do Captian. I will speak to Lieutenant Crawford right away.”