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Part of USS Seattle: In A World Called Catasrophe

Lost and Found

USS Seattle / Arlila
2401
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[Bridge]

 

The Cardassian looked annoyed as he glowered from the viewscreen. Of course to Captain Hawthorne Cardassians always looked mad, or frustrated so it was hard to judge how well this was going. He smiled, and repeated the offer, “Let me send a team down to the planet we’ll go in covertly and get your people out.”

A Cardassian runabout, or the equivalent had crashed on a pre-warp planet, and now the Captain of the Cardassian ship that had been sent to rescue the survivors wanted to send a special operations strike team to go in all guns blazing. Though the Cardassians did not have the Prime Directive Starfleet hoped that they could be enticed to follow it in this case.

”I can take an hour and have my people out,” the Cardassian shot back. The survivors had been taken prisoner, pulled into the local government complex and now the population knew about what was going on crowds had formed outside the building. Like beyond the planet was confirmed and any strike team would be fighting through a mass of civilians.

Hawthorne nodded, “But this costs you nothing. If we can do this covertly you get the survivor back and the credit. If we fail, well you go in your way and nothing is lost.”

”Fine, you have forty eight of your hours,” he snapped, “then my team goes in.”

The screen went back to the view of the Cardassian ship in orbit. Hawthorne turned to Commander Cruz, his First Officer.

”Take Hume, Jara, Constable, and Kolem and get those people out. Medical will handle disguises you have a day and a half, I don’t want to bet against the Cardassians jumping the gun,” he said.

Once the Cardassians entered the picture guns ablaze all bets were off. Better to wrap this up early, get things done the right way and not be party to a massacre.

Cruz nodded and tapped her comm badge summoning the crew in question to medical bay where Doctors Va’Tok and T’Rala would handle the prosthetics that they would need to blend into the population. Now just to figure out how to get the Cardassians out, given that the government building they were locked up in was shielded from transporters. 

 


 

[Arlila]

 

The team materialized in a back alley roughly three blocks away from the hordes of people who were gathering either to protest or celebrate the discovery of life beyond their world. The problem was they were not ready for first contact, and this was seriously ruining the planet’s natural development. Lieutenant Junior Grade Hume peered out of the alley, towards the crowds.

”Once we join them we’ve got to get past the guards and into the building,” he observed.

Cruz nodded, “Let’s split up, try to figure something out. Hume and Kolem and then Jara, Constable, and myself. Try to find some how to get in. We’ll get in touch.”

Cruz, Constable, and Jara headed for the crowd and get as close to the hastily erected barricades as they could. The electronic security measures would be no problem for the Assistant Chief Engineer to handle, but the trouble was getting into a position to disable them required getting past a lot of Arlilian security forces that were as Constable put it “meat based”. Ie. Arlilian.

Stunning their way to the front door was not an option, there were too many people both in uniform and out of it.

”I’ve spotted at least a dozen agents that I’d assume are undercover security people in this crowd,” Jara said, “if we went in shooting it would be no better than the Cardassians sending a team in.” 

Even on stun, the phaser first and ask questions later option was not an option.

Hume and Kolem were not having much better luck. Or at least not at first, they had however joined a group of demonstrators that seemed to be in favor of life beyond the planet and were cheering for the removal and freedom of the alien prisoners. Hume cheered, and shouted while Kolem spoke with one of the protesters her translator working to handle everything linguistically seamlessly.

“Why are they being arrested?” she asked.

The other protester shrugged, “They’re trying to get their secrets, and stuff I guess. You know how the military is. They want to have to have the best weapons and stuff. Fascist shcraws.”

Kolem assumed a shcraw was something like a pig, but not close enough for the universal translator to just use the word pig. She nodded in agreement, about how awful the military was. 

“I know we just want to help them, hopefully they won’t hurt them,” she said.

The protester shrugged, “Well if they don’t get what they want, who knows.”

Kolem looked at Hume concerned. If they did not get the Cardassians unmolested then things could get tricky, it was likely that only the fact that at least some of the Cardassian government wanted better relations with the Federation that was holding them back. If their people were hurt, well they’d come down in force.

Meanwhile as Constable scouted the barracks looking for a weak point in the human, or Arlilian security there, Cruz and Jara were with the anti-alien protesters. There was a jostle and temporarily Cruz lost her footing, falling to the ground in the scramble as the protesters tried to break through the barricades. When she stood up she noticed first Jara’s expression and then felt the prosthetics which had been crushed in her fall. Soon those around her noticed, and stood back from her and Jara.

”They’re not Arlilian,” yelled one of the protesters.

Suddenly a ring formed around the two Starfleet officers, and there was no where to go. In the crowd Constable melted away, putting distance between herself and them, realizing she had to meet up with Kolem and Hume now. 

A team of uniformed military types approached with weapons drawn, “Come with us.”

Commander Cruz nodded, and the two women fell in line, realizing that they were not going to be able to get out of this easily now. Not without causing more damage than had already been caused by the initial crash and their unmaking. 

 


 

[USS Seattle – Ready Room]

 

Aboard the USS Seattle Captain Hawthorne was uneasy. Things were going badly, and the idea that the Cardassians would have to solve this was making him worried. While there were still three officers to handle the situation he had lost two of his best and now had to rely on the others. Hume was doing the right thing by checking in, but finding out that he had lost his two best officers was not good, at least the other three were safe and together.

”Just don‘t get captured, and get out of there with everyone, including the Cardassians,” he said.

Hume’s voice acknowledged the order and then went silent as the line was closed. 

Lieutenant Eleanor Dorian shrugged, “I have faith. They’ll get out, and other than being two people down, we haven’t revealed anything the Cardassians being there wouldn’t already have. We’ve only really shown them that there are multiple kinds of aliens.”

Hawthorne nodded, “That’s one way to frame it. But we’re making a mess of this, this should be easy.”

”No contact missions are never easy. The number of times Starfleet has had to clean up a lost deck of cards or missing officer starting a new civilization of Nazis or something is tremendous. We’ll handle this and move on, it may get messy but it was messy before we got here,” Dorian said.

Though he was unconvinced by his Chief Strategic Officer Hawthorne allowed her words to calm him a bit. There was nothing he could do from here aside from sending more people down there, thus increasing the chance that things went off the rails. For now the best plan was to wait and see what Lieutenant Hume and Kolem managed.

Unhappily he nodded, having to settle with accepting this for now.

 


 

[Arlila – Government Building]

 

Lieutenant Jara saw the Cardassians as she was marched to a cell alongside Commander Cruz. Both women had had their prosthetics ripped away, revealing their alien-humanness. The Cardassians peered at them but said nothing as they were shoved into a cell. They remained silent until the guards who were depositing the two Starfleet officers had left. 

“Oh good you’re hear to save us,” a Cardassian said.

Cruz decided to tell them what she knew, “There’s two ships in orbit, ours and a Cardassian one. We’re trying to get you out quietly.”

”You’re doing a great job,” the same Cardassian said.

Jara sat on the hard cement floor, outside the others had better be working on a plan. With only about a day left they had to get them out before the Cardassians got there. Because right now the Starfleet way and the Prime Directive were looking more than a bit sad.

The guards returned with a man with more ribbons on his uniform. He stood in front of the humans’ cell, “Well hello, what are you?”

”We’re Arlilians,“ Cruz lied.

”You did look quite like us with a bit of makeup. Not like these reptiles,” the man said.

The Cardassians glowered. Cruz shrugged, ”Well it’s all a misunderstanding then, you can let us go.”

”Don’t try your alien mind control on me,” the man said.

”Alien mind control?” Jara asked still on the ground.

”Influencing my thoughts,” the man said.

”We can’t do that,” Cruz pointed out, not mentioning Betazoids or other species that could.

The man shrugged, “Well we have some questions to ask of you two and since our other aliens have been uncooperative hopefully you will respond better.”

The force field lowered and the guards grabbed Cruz and pulled Jara to her feet. The Lieutenant and Commander did not struggle, they were too outmatched for that. They were leaned into another room and strapped into chairs. A complicated and outdated metal helmet much like you’d wear to protect yourself on a skydiving trip was placed on their heads.

Jara immediately felt a wave of peace and relaxation. She smiled, almost drunk. She could tell the relaxation was not natural, but was too calm to worry about it. Everything seemed fine, even being a captive on an alien pre-warp planet.

The man smiled, “You’re both entering a very suggestible state. This did not work on your alien friends, but your minds seem more receptive to our programming. Now tell me who you are and why you came here.”

”We work for Starfleet an organization of species that explores and protects the Federation. We came to rescue the Cardassians, your other prisoners,” someone said. It might have been Jara or it might have been Cruz, Jara was not sure, she was too relaxed to care.

”Why help them?” 

“If we don’t their people will send down a strike team and free them, and we’re trying to uphold the Prime Directive,” was the answer.

The man shuffled and looked at the guards, clearly learning that there was an armed strike team being prepared was concerning to them. Not that the two women noticed, as neither felt much like thinking for themselves at the moment. Whatever technology the Arlilians were using it was effective on humans.

”What is the Prime Directive?”

”Our highest ideal that cultures and planets should develop at their own speed until they develop faster than light travel,” one of the two women said.

The man checked a time piece, “Much longer and the brain fries. Though nobody would mind, we should save you, just in case. You’re going to sleep now. So sleepy, feel your eyes closing and sleep now.”

Jara felt herself slump forward into darkness.

 


 

[Arlila]

 

Hume glanced at Constable and Kolem. They had ended up in a kind of hippie commune that reminded him of what much of the Pacific Northwest was meant to look like before the Eugenics Wars. People milled about and there seemed to be no real central leadership of the group, just a loose collection of individuals. They had been chased away when the two “aliens” had been uncovered in the crowd, and the government had imposed a curfew to keep people away from their main offices and headquarters. Whatever was going on inside the building, security had increased and more of a panic had set in. 

As the security officer Hume had taken control of the mission once Lieutenant Jara and Commander Cruz had been taken even if Lieutenant Kolem was the real ranking officer as a full Lieutenant. Still he had to admit she had a knack for this, agreeable and personable everyone they met seemed like an opportunity to learn something new or advance. It was like being in a badly designed holodeck game, where every computer character just gave you the plot points you needed at the time.

Gathering together with Yuhiro Kolem and Vanessa Constable around a barrel where someone at some point had lit a fire he looked at Constable, “What can we do?”

”Their electronics are roughly twentieth century earth. If we can get close enough an electromagnetic pulse which I can rig up would cause a system wide collapse. Then we can get in, and get out people as well as the Cardassians,” she said, as if it were that easy. To Constable every problem required an engineering solution.

Kolem however was less convinced, “We don’t know how many people are inside the building, we could be fighting our way though.“

”We need a distraction, something that draws security forces away,” Hume said.

Kolem thought about it, “If we can play on this inequity, maybe we can stage a riot. Get the population to protest, and draw the security away.”

Staging a riot seemed very much against the Prime Directive but there was a lot of inequity, and the population seemed mad about it, rightfully. Maybe it was less staging one than just giving them a push to do what they would have done anyway, just in a useful time. 

“Okay, start building your thing, we’ll stoke the flames,” he said.

Kolem said, “Be loud, they respect men more than women, so be big and male. Shout, and get them going.”

Hume stomped over to where a crowd had gathered and swore loudly and angrily.

”What’s up man,” some guy asked.

”The government they have these aliens but aren’t telling us anything. Who knows that invasion they’re planning, or whether they’ll plot with the aliens to hand over the planet to them,” Hume said, as if that were a possibility. Maybe with the Cardassians, but that was not something the Federation did.

The crowd grumbled. Despite the curfew Hume had the feeling that they had no where to go, as if they did not have homes, which was a kind of inequity that he’d only heard about in theory, Like the old East Hastings in Vancouver where he’d lived, before the wars.

Another man swore at the government, and everyone seemed convinced that such a plot was exactly what they would do. Kolem leaned towards him, “Tell them that the government probably already has their hands on their technology, and we should riot.”

”The government probably already is learning how to use their weapons, we have to act now,” Hume shouted.

Cheers went up, and Hume nodded at Constable who was back a few yards fiddling with wires that she’s gathered from an old music box machine. Looks like they were on. He’d started a riot.