Admiral Quinn Dailey sat in the captain’s chair and Rebecca sat to his right going over the latest reports from the fleet and the war in general while they waited for the rest of the briefing participants to arrive.
Cheon stood outside the Observation Lounge, he despised being in the same room as any ‘Brass,’ and this one was no exception. He walks in after taking a deep breath and tapping the doors’ entry icon on the console.
He takes his seat next to his captain, crosses his arms, and waits for the rest of the senior crew to join them.
Riandri approached the Observation Lounge humming to herself as she played over the events of the last few hours in her head. When she reached the door she massaged the back of her next for a second as she silently thanked the doctor for the meds to help with her headaches. Without pause, she entered and nodded to Cheon and Rebecca before giving the Admiral a short, “Sir.”
Peter followed Nalam into the room and found his seat next to her. What they had to share was mind-boggling.
Rebecca leaned forward on the table with her hands cupped flat on the black surface with her elbows resting on the edge. “Thanks for coming. Lieutenants Nalam and Crawford what have you found on your surveillance of the ranch?”
Riandri looked over at Crawford and took the lead, “Not much sadly. We set up surveillance of the ranch but did not approach it. It seemed quiet and nothing out of the ordinary. The information we have though indicates the underground network is beneath the ranch. We did ask around the nearby town about recent events and there wasn’t much to go on. Sadly I think we will have to make a direct approach and see if the Crawfords will invite us in….”
Peter spoke up, “What little recon we were able to get I didn’t see my Aunt Tilly or Uncle Angus Crawford. Passive scans also turned up nothing. Both are pretty regularly active in the community, so the fact that we didn’t see them is telling. Telling of what, I do not know.”
“Anything we can get a search warrant issued?” Admiral Dailey asked.
Riandri frowned at the question and shook her head, “No, not from what we saw.” She paused for a moment and continued, “But that said it would be foolish to disregard our information and the threat that this incursion could present to the Federation. We could continue to observe but we might miss our chance to stop the threat before it gains a footing. There is nothing, legally, from my understanding to allow a relative to visit with a friend unless I am mistaken?”
“I caution restriaint. They don’t know we’re on to them,” Rebecca replied. “We don’t know who our enemy is, what their capabilities are, and what their plans are. Before we start knocking down doors, we need to do this so we aren’t putting our people at risk, or we don’t scare them off. This is the best lead we’ve had in months since the surveillance footage. We know our main perpetrators look like myself and Captain Ryder. It is possible that there are others on this crew that have doppelgangers and the sudden appearance of a second one might be cause for alarm.”
“These are exigent circumstances,” Admiral Dailey pointed out. “If you can get that I’ll back whatever raid you perform.”
Crawford spoke up, “I’ve been having some…experiences recently.” He glanced at Riandri, “We’ve been talking about my symptoms – we think there’s a possibility I have a double down there.” He tapped at his PADD, sending the report to the gathered officers, “It falls under a paradox – having two people with exact DNA from different universes or realities together in the same place can have this effect. Given how close we got just doing the distance check – my hunch is there’s a Peter Crawford down there.”
Cheon remained silent as he listened to the senior staff explain what was going on. Cheon’s eyes narrowed when Crawford told them about his condition and symptoms. He was aware of what was going on and cast a quick glance over at Riandri.
His wife had informed him of her condition and the knowledge she had gained while studying in the holo-suite.
“Please excuse my interruption, but what do we know about the current situation, as well as the location of our missing person?” Cheon stated as he picked up a PADD and gave the impression that this conference was an annoyance. He was actually waiting for a message.
“Well…” Rebecca started, “That’s what we are trying to determine. Mr. Crawford, with your doppelganger in play and we don’t know where he is at. You better stay here. Let’s get Lt. Nalam as much information as possible. Lt. Nalam, I don’t want you doing this alone. Cheon how do you feel about a trip to Montana?”
Riandri nodded along, the discussions she had with Crawford about the possibility of a double of him and others on the ship were worrisome and made her wonder if there was one of her as well. “I am happy to go back, we can easily make an approach to the ranch under the guise of a survey company or such though having Lt. Crawford there would be the easiest reason to approach.” She glanced at Crawford then back to the Captain and the XO, as she absently rubbed her temple “That said we can make it work, the last thing we would want is for this paradox to cause any further issues.”
Cheon looked up when Rebecca said his name, “I have a better idea, but I will need to discuss it in private,” he replied as he looked at his captain.
Admiral Dailey stood, “You know where I stand on this. Make this legal and let’s nail these sons of bitches to the wall. Becca keep me informed.”
“I will sir.”
With that, the Admiral walked out of the Conference room. “Pete, go ahead. I’m sure you have plenty to do.” Rebecca added.
Crawford gave a long sigh in response, “The fun never stops. On it, Captain.”
With just Cheon and Riandri, Rebecca turned to Cheon, “The Lieutenant is involved; I would think she needs to know what you have to say.”
Riandri looked between the Captain and XO, she had gathered there was more to what was happening than she knew but hadn’t pushed too much on it. “I assume you know more about these visitors than you have previously let on? Or have I missed the mark on that?”
Cheon gave Riandri a brief glance before nodding. “That is correct, and one of them should be beaming into this room in a few moments,” he said, shifting his gaze from her to the captain.
The room suddenly lit up with a light blue hue, as if on cue, as a young woman appeared next to Cheon. “Captain, Lieutenant…” he paused for a moment, looking at them again, “I present Seong Kyo, my wife’s doppelganger.”
Seong reached up and removed the top of her helm, leaving a half mask behind to protect her face from total identification. Her gaze moved from Cheon to the two other women in the room.
Rebecca gave Cheon a dirty look, “This is not protocol Commander. You better have a good reason for this.”
Frowning Riandri looked between Cheon and the alternative version of Seong, “I think you have some explaining to do Commander, and why this intelligence was not shared before. Starfleet intelligence would be VERY interested in this.”
“Simple,” Seong said as she reached into her pocket and tossed a photo onto the table. The image was of a woman who resembled Rebecca. “We all have a common enemy, and a woman you met briefly is hunting her and others like her.” She then tossed another photo onto the table, this time of Seong’s mother, with Seong sitting next to her. “That is my mother; I am unaware of her whereabouts; however, I am aware that the woman you are looking for has something to do with this.” She then tossed a third photograph of Angel onto the table.
She paused for a moment, allowing the information to sink in, before speaking again. “I know she’s important to someone, or else the Federation wouldn’t have sent you.”
Cheon had remained silent throughout this encounter, knowing that what he had done was morally ambiguous and violated several protocols. Still, he also knew that this woman was their best hope, and frankly, their only option, for capturing their enemy, dead or alive. He also knew that if something went wrong, no one would know, which is why he waited until only three of them before bringing in Seong.
“Yes, I am aware of my doppelganger, and Angel is the daughter of my best friend. Of course, I would help look for her.” Sitting back in her chair Rebecca crossed her arms, “Okay, what are you planning?”
Seong looked at Rebecca, “You misunderstand, Captain, I am not planning anything as I have already executed my part by showing myself to you and Lieutenant Nalam.” Seong looked at Riandri. “How’s your headache being around me,” she paused for a second. “Or should I say your species’ inherent gift?”
“So you drop in here and expect us to do the work?” Riandri said with some annoyance. “As for my headaches, they are under control for now but the sooner we remove these individuals and stop them from impacting the timeline the better.”
Riandri looked over the Captain, “If we act quickly with what Peter, ah, Lieutenant Crawford, and I mentioned I think we can bring this to a close.”
Seong’s eyes narrowed as she looked at the young Lieutenant, and Cheong caught the look in her eyes.
“Riandri, I think you misunderstood what she said,” he stated as he looked at Riandri.
Seong leaned forward and her dark eyes flared for a moment. As she spoke her voice lowered several octaves, and in a near whisper she spoke, “I know exactly who and what you are. So don’t play games with me and I won’t have to play them back, El-Aurian.”
Seong then turned her attention to Rebecca, all the while keeping her eyes locked on Riandri, “Tell me, Captain, how well do you know yourself?”
“How well do I know myself? What does that mean,” Rebecca demanded.
Before Seong could speak Riandri cut in and looked at the Captain, “I believe she is suggesting you try to anticipate your doubles actions.” Turning Riandri fixed her eyes on Seong and she continued, her voice cold, “Though it would go quicker if you could speak plainly here. As you said games have no place here.”
Behind the half mask, a smile began to spread, and she nodded to Riandri. Without conceding she stood up and focused on Rebecca. “So, Captain, what do you do if your children were being held captive? Or rather that was the last piece of intel you had on them?” Seong asked.
“My children are on Starbase 75 with their dad. But, in that scenario, I would be doing the same thing I am doing for Angel Ryder. Her father is like a brother to me, and she is basically family. And when I found the people responsible… well, that is not something a Starfleet officer should utter out loud, but let’s say I may not be too careful with my phaser. You don’t mess with a mama bear’s cubs.”
‘Interesting,’ Seong thinks to herself. “So you believe that Bellitor will come after her children?”
Rebecca considered the statement and nodded, “Very likely.”
Seong looked at Cheon for a brief moment. He caught her eye and nodded. “Then I would exploit that weakness and follow this ion trail.” She reached into one of the pockets that were hidden and produced a small device.
Rebecca didn’t even look at the device before sliding it over to Riandri. “Lieutenant I expect you know what to do with that?”
Riandri grabbed the device and looked over it, “It’s a data storage device, should be compatible with our systems,” she said as she linked her tricorder to it. “Yes, it has the signature of an ion trail on it that approached Earth recently. Let me bring it up here.” She activated the wall display which slowed the trajectory of the ion trail leading toward the planet below, “Looks like it gets close to the planet but then is lost in all the background noise of the other ships but I would say it is heading towards North Ameria.”
“I take it by your line of questioning that my counterpart has children, and they are on whatever it is that is generating that Ion trail?” Rebecca asked.
“They are children by age but not by appearance, clones would be the exact phrase in this situation. As for what they are on. It is a runabout from the ISS Heracles. The vessel you saw exiting from a temporal rift, to be precise,” Seong said, emphasizing the importance of processing this information quickly. She looked over at the Lieutenant as she spoke about the urgency of the situation. “I let them go with the knowledge that if they completed the impossible fool’s errand, they’d be free.”
Riandri scoffed, “What is this fool’s errand and do you intend to allow them to go free?”
Seong looked at Riandri, “Now now Lieutenant, I can’t give all my secrets away. However, let’s just say that someone will not be leaving this fast-approaching assault.”
“Well, it’s something,” Rebecca said with a sigh. “So, what is this? Enemy of my enemy is my friend? How can I know to even remotely trust you ?”
“You can’t,” Seong said in a nonchalant sort of way. “Or rather I wouldn’t if I were you, but that being said I am the best shot that this crew has to relieve this universe of a very dangerous enemy.”
“Be that as it may,” Rebecca said standing. She hated cloak-and-dagger nonsense, and this definitely fell into that category. “I’ll use your information under advisement, but please don’t be offended if I don’t take your word as gospel. Cheon, you allowed her on this ship, she’s your responsibility.” With that, the Captain turned and headed for the bridge.
Cheon nodded and waited for the room to clear, all except the Alternate Seong. As Rebecca was about to leave he gently placed a hand on her forearm. “Rebecca, I know I have severely violated your trust and have broken more policies than I care to image, but I could see no other way to get this accomplished in a manner that would preserve what is left of the integrity of our universe.”
“Commander you haven’t violated my trust,” Rebecca replied. “But you shouldn’t have kept this from me.” With that she stepped out of thr lounge and was gone.