Rebecca stepped out of her ready room and approached the operations station, “Mr. Crawford do you think you can trace the signal of that message to its source?”
Crawford tapped at the console, furrowing his brow. “There’s always a way to find the answers.” He pulled the signal onto the console and began to work through what work he had quickly done, “There’s ways to parse a signal and pull apart it’s pieces…,” his fingers played with the signal a little more, “…and you can then trace those pieces back to where they came from.” He stretched the sensors, “It’s going to take a moment to boost this,” he tapped at the console again and grimaced as the computer protested, “…overriding that…scanning that…and then tapping into that…,” slowly but surely the computer began to see it from Peter’s perspective. It took almost ten minutes of bouncing the signal around, using various repeaters in the area and beyond, but the computer soon blinked green on an approximate location. Crawford grinned, “I think…93% sure…that’s what we’re looking for, captain.”
“I knew giving you a promotion was a good idea,” Rebecca teased. “Hail them.”
The comms officer aboard the ISS Vindicator sat up in surprise. Being the only ship of the Empire in this reality there was little call for his services in a day to day capacity, but the station had to be monitored.
“Captain,” he announced to Jeter. “We’re receiving a sub-space communication from the USS Denver.”
Jeter straightened from his display at that, “The Denver? Really? Link it through to the ready room, audio only for now.” With that, he stood, made his way to the ready room, and took a seat before opening the incoming communication.
Crawford glanced up, “We’re getting a response….” He tapped at the console and the screen was filled with faces from the ship where the signal had come from. Peter spoke up, “This is the Federation Starship Denver…,” he turned to the captain for her to introduce herself.
“I am Captain Rebecca Talon. With whom am I speaking?”
Jeter smiled as he recognized the voice, straightening every so slightly in his seat he decided that maybe audio was too limited, “Link in visuals.”
“Captain Talon,” he began once he knew his image was being broadcast, “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, well in this universe anyway. I do believe you already know who I am, well who my double is anyways. I have to have to admit I am surprised you were able to trace the signal back though I guess I shouldn’t be, I assume Crawford helped?”
On the viewscreen Rebecca stepped forward to stand next to the operations station and placed a hand on Peter’s shoulder, “He did, but I think your clumsy attempt to disguise the signal made it easier to track. However, that was intentional wasn’t it?”
Jeter laughed, “Well if the information was just freely given it would likely have been dismissed but with a little bit of work required to dig it out the value of it increased. But without confirmation, I assume your Star Fleet is dragging their heels? Why act on credible information about a threat and a kidnapping when you can debate and let that threat increase with each passing moment?”
“Intel,” Rebecca responded. “And legal restrictions. How do I get Angel Ryder back and take down my counterpart?”
“Did I not give you a map and details of the facility? I had expected the same, if not some of the decisiveness that your counterpart exhibited. Was I mistaken? ” Jeter said with a smile, “I have already provided you with more than you had and I guess you could say I removed the main threat to you. They are trapped on Earth, and their ship will be of no help to them again and the children, spawn. whatever you want to call them are out of the picture.”
“No… you didn’t. There was some corrupted data so perhaps that was that information,” Rebecca responded.
Jeter leaned back in the chair, “I have looked in on you and your crew. I have no doubt if you act fast you will be able to use it to your advantage but if you wait, well, that’s on you.” He turned and was about motion for the connection to be cut when he stopped and looked back at Captain Talon, “Be aware that your counterparts are cruel, more than you can imagine, same goes for yours, Crawford. I know better than most.”
Peter raised his eyebrows, that uneasy feeling returning. Jeter had said ‘yours’ and ‘counterparts’. That suggested more than just his double. He wanted to ask just what the hell that meant, but he held his tongue and just stared at the man. The darker side of him was out there somewhere..and with another Crawford…but who? Which of his family’s double was looking to continue some kind of mad murderous campaign?
“Since I need to spoon-feed you here are the details, maps, excetera that you may need.” Without waiting for a response Jeter’s lips spread into a wicked smile, “Well this has fun but I do have other pressing matters to deal with. Rebecca, please pass my regards along to your counterpart, Bellitor, make sure to tell her that she needn’t worry about Órlaith or Ian any more.” His eyes shifted to Crawford, “And Peter, hopefully, you aren’t as insufferable in this universe but either way. Hope it goes better with your wife this time around if it happens at all that is. Pitty my counterpart wasn’t there.” Jeter’s shrugged, “Oh well.” With that Jeter tapped the controls on his chair and the screen cut off.
Rebecca stared at the blank screen with her hands on her hips. “Did you get the schematics of the facility?”
When Peter announced that they had she nodded, “Good. This should satisfy probable cause. We have a location, and a victim. Transmit those logs to Admiral Dailey for a warrant Mr. Crawford.” Not waiting to for Peter to respond Rebecca slapped her combadge, “Talon to senior staff: please report to the observation lounge.”
Riandri stepped onto the bridge just as Captain Talon finished speaking the order. She had been notified they had made contact with the individual who sent the encrypted signal. See the blank view screen she exhaled and deflated a little, “Damn, did I miss it?”
Ming was reviewing the training information for the Knights at his desk within his quarters. He and his new XO had turned the 5 individual pilots into something resembling a cohesive wing. In fact they were doing better than he’d planned. He looked up from his work when he heard the captain’s invitation. Tapping his badge Knight 1 replied, “Ming…On my way Captain.”
Without hesitation the pilot saved his work, shut down his terminal and left for the bridge double time Whatever was up it sounded important.
Cheon entered the observation lounge, without Seong, and stood next to the Captain.
Rebecca walked into the observation lounge. “Thanks for coming,” she announced. Setting the PADD down on the table she entered commands into the keypad without sitting down. “Ladies and Gentlemen we have our warrant.”
“Good, I am worried we may already be too late given the information we have received. Do we have a plan?” Riandri asked.
“That’s why we’re all here Lieutenant,” Rebecca replied to Riandri. “This is a rescue mission, but there are bigger implications at play here. While, I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to say the very existence of the Federation is at risk I think these people do want to destroy the Federation,” Rebecca continued.
Riandri looked around the room before speaking up, “Given the information, we have from our new friends and the alternative Jeter Captain Talon is not exaggerating. For some reason the alternative version of some of us here working towards causing the collapse of the Federation. We need to get in and put a stop to them.”
At the mention of his alternative version Jeter let out a snort, “He sounded like a right treat, glad I didn’t have to deal with him.”
Collins started speaking. “Captain, this should be a mission for the Recon team. We can infiltrate and look for the prisoner. And maybe….dispose of some of the kidnappers.”
“We’re getting to that Mr. Collins,” the captain said, “But yes, you and your teams will be needed.” She pressed a button on the control pad and a schematic of a massive underground facility was displayed on the wall monitor. “Ladies and gentlemen, our contact has provided us with a massive amount of Intel. Located north of Billings, Montana on a farm owned by the Crawford family. Yes, the same one as Lieutenant Crawford here. Remember we believe these people are from an alternate reality or realities, ” Rebecca continued. “There is a real possibility you could run into an alternate version of yourself, but that isn’t the real threat. My counterpart is imploying Dominion cloning technology, and they have been breeding an entire army. Our contact believes there may be as many as two-hundred clones protecting the facility.”
Ming, of course, knew about alternate universes. Basic quantum mechanics and Starfleet history. He always figured there was an occupational risk of something like this however actually running into it was still a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, he had a job to do and it was in the service of the Denver and the Federation. With that, he refocused on Captain Talon.
“Starfleet is sending in ground forces to help deal with the clones, but we are in overall charge of this operation. Mr. Ming, transport inhibitors are in place preventing beaming in within five kilometers of thr compound. It’s possible that there is fighter or drone protection along with shuttles to allow for their escape. You and your people are to transport us to the site and maintain air superiority.”
Ming nodded, eyes briefly narrowing with thought, before replying, “Understood Captain. The Knights will be ready.”
“Good. We will be splitting into three teams. I will be leading the team that includes Lieutenants Nalam and Willis, and Dr. Kyo to rescue Angelica Ryder. The Starfleet assault team from San Francisco will deal with the clones. Commander Kyo, Mr. Crawford and Mr. Collins’s Recon Team will apprehend Dominus and Bellitor. Mr. Ragez, there’s likely some information of interest to you in that compound. You are on Commande Kyo’s team. Commander Lovecraft, you will be in command of the Denver while we are away. Any questions?”
Riandri shook her head, “Not from my end, the intelligence we have seems to be pretty solid but I do want to remind everyone that the source seems to be acting out of their own interest with little care about what happens. That said they do seem to want Bellitor and Dominus apprehended since I believe he betrayed them, though I think they would prefer killed but that is not how we operate.”
“We’ll try to capture Bellitor and Dominus alive, sir.” Collins tapped his combadge. “This is Collins. Recon Team 1 & 2, saddle up and prepare for a mission. I’ll be there to give you the details. Collins out!”
“I wouldn’t count on her coming quietly,” came a cold voice from out of the shadows. What appeared to be Seong, stepped out of the corner where she had stood silently. “I would also suggest that if given a chance she will use a clone to escape.”
The alternate Seong looked at the Captain, “Would you not do the same if you were being hunted?” she said as she stepped up to the table, stopping next to Rebecca.
“Surrender without a fight? Not a chance,” Rebecca replied. “And Nick won’t either.”
Seong nodded. “Then we have our options,” she stated as she looked at Rebecca.
“Okay people, you know what we are doing. Suit up, and be prepared to move out at…” she glanced at the chronometer, “Let’s hit them right as it gets dark. Let’s all meet on the flight operations deck at 20:00 hours”