In the Reflection of My Mind's Eye (Part III)
Posted on Thursday, 24 September 2020 - 3:03pm by Captain Barret Stillwater & Lieutenant T'Lanna Vali & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley & Lieutenant JG Maximus Mackenzie
Location: USS Crazy Horse | Deck 01 | Captain's Ready Room
Timeline: MD 4
After the meeting in the Briefing Room came to an end and everyone was dished out their serving of orders, Commander Stillwater led several members of his Senior Staff across the bridge and directly into his Ready Room. The general meeting may have been over, but in private, there were still matters that needed to be discussed. What if the others were not found? What if Stillwater himself went missing? All of that was left out of the previous meeting for various reasons. One was that morale still needed to be kept up. A CO needed to keep the crew confident and determined that they would solve an issue, but looking at things only optimistically was too dangerous.
There was not much room in the Ready Room of the Standing Bear, but two chair across from the Captain's desk, and a small sofa near a small observation area. It was enough for the four of them: Commmander Stillwater, Lieutenant Kingsley, Lieutenant Vali, and Lieutenant JG MacKenzie to meet and discuss from a more realistic perspective. "What's said in here does not leave this room unless it becomes absolutely necessary to disclose this conversation. In which case, the access code for the recording of this discussion is Delta-Tango-Theta-077," stated Stillwater. He gestured for everyone to find a seat as he took his own behind his desk.
"We are facing something or someone that we do not know," The Commanding Officer noted swiftly. "That is the harsh reality. We are all suffering from insomnia...sleep deprivation, and complete and utter exhaustion. It is only a matter of time before this crew starts experiencing more extreme symptoms. Irritability and fatigue are minor compared to hallucinations and potential psychosis. It may become necessary to start forcefully sedating the crew if they become physically aggressive or lose touch with reality. Lieutenant MacKenzie, you need to have all security personnel on high alert. Lieutenant Vali, I need you to monitor ALL the crew from a psychological point of view, myself included. If my judgment is compromised, Lieutenant Kingsley, Dr. Rose, and yourself may remove me from command."
T’Lanna nodded. “I’d like permission to involve Emerick in any Command decisions Sir. If my judgement is impaired at least Emerick will be unaffected.”
"Emerick...the EMH," said Stillwater nodding. "Yes, please do. He is the only one among us who may be of little or even no interest to whoever or whatever is taking the crew and he does not require 'sleep' in the physical sense" Stillwater continued. "Lieutenant Kingsley shall continue as Acting First Officer. Should I become incapacitated or if I am 'taken,' she will take over as Acting Commanding Officer" added Stillwater with an audible sigh. "This goes against Starfleet's modern regulations and Federation guidance right now, but I am going order the Operations and Engineering personnel we have to remove some of the blocked subroutines to the EMH's programming, namely the accessibility to the Emergency Command Hologram subroutines."
Alex frowned at the final part. Was it necessary? Probably. It was a precaution that needed to be taken. Yet as someone who had lost a lot as Mars burned, as they mourned family and friends, the decisions taken in the aftermath had seemed right in respect to AI. And that included the EMH programmes. Equally though, she had to trust in Stillwater's judgement. His experience. Her own was very much lacking.
Mac gave a nod. "Security will be ready. I'll order a sweep of all personnel this way the compute will notify us if anyone else goes missing. "
He studied the people in this room. He knew Soral would not be trilled about the EMH. "Sir I think...permission to speak freely about something that was said in the briefing."
"Please do. That goes for all of you, speak freely and be as blunt as you need to be right now. We don't have time for niceties."
"I just want to say for the record Soral is not insane. He is not suffering from psychosis. He's the most stable man I know."
Alex flashed Mac a grateful smile, relieved to know she wasn't alone in thinking so. But she knew also know the log had sounded so... out of character for the Vulcan this crew knew. They did not know his struggles - especially lately. "I second that," Alex added, before smiling ruefully, "which I'm sure shocks everyone.
He also would not like us installing those subroutines in the EMH," she added. "I'm not exactly thrilled myself. I know a lot of people disagree with what the Federation did after Mars and a lot of things were wrong but how do we know it is safe to do this? We agreed reactivating Borg implants wasn't safe but honestly, does nobody else have concerns about this?"
She knew her youth and inexperience were allowing her emotion to show through but it felt better stating it. Soral would perhaps have made a more logical, nuanced argument. She just had raw emotion from losing so much when the Synths went rogue.
Mac, unable to sit any longer, stood and walked over to the wall leaning on it. "I agree. Soral wasn't though testing the EMH. But he is needed so I would suggest security wise we have someone who can pull the plug if the EMH gets...power hungry. It is the logical thing to..." As he spoke the air around him seemed to shimmer. His own voice sounded, to him, as if it came from the depths of the ocean. A sudden wave of dizziness overcame him. He tried to step forward but fell to his knees.
Shaking his head Mac noted the looks. "I...feel...I..." His thoughts became scattered as his body pixilated right before their eyes breaking into little cubes of light. His skin seemed to glow and lift off. His tactical mind knew the feeling in an instant. Had they raised shields like he suggested in the briefing. Transporter! "Sh...I......." before he finished his cubed body exploded in a flash of light and he was gone.
“Max!” Already on her feet, eyes wide, Alex watched in horror as her friend disappeared in a flash of light.
Likewise, Stilwater was brought to immediate alert. Instead of rising to his feet like Lieutenant Kingsley, he reached at the holo display at his desk for the comm control. "Stillwater to Bridge, I said maintain yellow alert and keep the shields up damn it!"
Lieutenant Vadoma's voice came crisply and without missing a beat. "Your orders are being followed, Captain. We are maintaining yellow alert status and the shields have been up."
Stillwater stood from his chair. "Internal sensors....scan my Ready Room and alert security personnel, Lieutenant MacKenzie has been taken. It looked like a transporter, Lieutenant" the Commanding Officer instructed. His mind immediately filtered through his command training, encounters with various species, technology tricks of the years. Cloaked vessel? Transporting through shielding? So many thoughts at once rushed him.
"Sir, we are detecting residual energy readings from your Ready Room, but they do not match the signatures of anything the Federation has encountered...not exactly. I'm trying to pinpoint the source, but it is as though it originated from within the room itself."
"Treat it like the Borg," replied Stillwater. "Change shield harmonics, rotating frequency" he added and cut the comm channel. He was left there baffled by the awesome technology, in the original roots of the word, evoking awe of what had happened. He looked at the two women "They just...they took him before our eyes."
"Transporters..." Alex said softly, frowning as she began to pace. "But to where? And who? There is nothing on sensors to suggest a ship nearby but maybe the natural radiation in this region is helping someone avoid detection... or they are still on the ship. Just hidden. I need to make the sensor adjustments and then go over everything again - internal sensors, external too. And coffee. Really strong coffee."
Stillwater shook his head still in utter disbelief that an abduction had happened right before his own eyes. "At this point, I may just dip a spoon into some instant coffee from our field rations and guzzle down some cola" commented Stillwater. "You are right, Lieutenant. We have had no indication of another starship. Make sensor adjustments, prepare more probes. We may need to start launching every damn probe we have."
He vacated the area behind his desk and gestured towards the doorways leading back to the Bridge. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Right now, we need to eliminate whatever the hell we can. Cloaked ships, phase cloak, warp bubbles...everything you two can think of."
"Aye sir," Alex assured him.
T’Lanna was still processing what she’d just witnessed, running it over in her head frame by frame. “Sir, the Borg could quite literally hide aboard a ship unawares when necessary. It happened aboard the USS Enterprise when it was under the Command of Captain Picard. They didn’t even know they had Borg onboard for a while. Perhaps this ... enemy has an area of our own ship they’re using, cloaked from our sensors in some way?”
"If they do, we will find it," Alex promised.
Just as they exited the ready room a young petty officer approached Alex. "Ma'am...um...I didn't want to disturb you but there I a young lady claiming to be Commander Soral's daughter...she is rather insistent on speaking with him... or you."
“Oh no,” Alex groaned inwardly. Of all the times... “I‘ll speak to her, can you put it through to our quarters?”
"Yes ma'am." She hurried away.
Stillwater raised a brow and was concerned, but he knew that Lieutenant Kingsley had matters under control on that front.