Federation Embassy

Cardassia

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Breakthrough

Posted on Sat Nov 23rd, 2019 @ 6:35pm by Shiloh Curry & Qiana Kazadi

Mission: E1: The Price of Unity
Location: Starfleet Security Center; Federation Embassy
Timeline: Mission Day 9 at 2200

"Calling it a night yet, Ma'am?" Shiloh Barry White rumble asked from the security situation table. The room was powered down low, the lighting tilted blue-white. The various wall consoles were largely in standby at this late hour, when only a skeleton night shift would work through the night until Alpha Shift picked up again.

Shiloh's dark face was crisscrossed with the illumination of a hologram, the eyes of his eyes eerily blue-white as he studied it. It was the "Frankenship," that odd horseshoe crab shaped, rather old style Cardassian vessel that had been outfit with a lot of alien tech. And it was tech that didn't make a lot of sense to Shiloh Curry. The sensor reflective material was classic smuggler. No news there.

He'd been ruminating on it since the ship had blasted out of Cardassian space a few days ago. And though it was followed by a Federation probe toward the Amleth Nebula, the ship had made no effort whatsoever to lose the tailing probe. And surely it would have detected it by now.

Shiloh's eyes were on some odd numbers- they were telemetry scans from the probe denoting a shield modulation with nearly precise openings enough to send data packets. Every since leaving Cardassia, the gap between those data transmissions had grown steadily longer in time between.

Shiloh was still at a loss as to why.

Qiana didn't even notice the time, she was knee-deep in her work. The ship and the explosion from the day before turned into a waking nightmare. Though, she still had control of the situation as long as she said she was conscious. She kept her now-cold still in a hand, while her other traced a panel.

Her eyes bounced between her console and the display above. She ignored the question from her colleague. Her mind was locked on the enigma, and couldn't entertain the prospect of sleep. "Something just doesn't make sense to me," she said. Her eyes looking over the Frankenship. "There's so many pieces to this puzzle, but the big picture is just not cohesive."

Shiloh grunted agreement. He walked over to the food replicator and ordered a coffee. As the panel lit up and began to materialize his beverage, he leaned a shoulder into the bulkhead to face the woman. She glowed in the light of the hologram. "We know that ship came out of Chin'toka. It was shipped off to some debris field where someone decided it needed refitting. But why not the available Cardassian systems probably hanging around in that yard? Instead they decided to purchase alien weapons, shields and engines that don't talk to Cardassian tech all that well. At least the Tzenkethi part doesn't. I assume the Dominion created something so the Breen and Cardassians could collab."

Shiloh pushed his shoulder off the wall and retrieved his coffee. He went back to the table. He grunted and rubbed the front of his cheek. He watched the clock, "Coming up on another data burst from that thing's shield modulation."

"The Tzenkethi engines do have a higher sustainability than Cardassian, but without exact scans, we're not sure by how much," Qiana said. She looked as the data filtered up on the display. Again, it was the modulator. Just small packets of information. Nothing that seemed different. "Longer time from transmission, too. It's decreasing exponentially."

Shiloh sighed, his head tilted, "S'true..."

"Every time, there's an increase..." the computer chirped urgently at them- three short chimes- and the hologram altered with new data. "There it is. Now what the hell does it mean? I've seen shield modulations that recycle coverage. And I've seen the theoretical modulations we used to combat the Borg invasions of 001. It looks different here." Shiloh did something he hadn't before. He looked at the modulation's EM band. "Hmm. That's strange." His dark brows rose, "That's not a band the Cardassians, Breen or Tzenkethi normally operate in."

Qiana took to flank, and looked over to the panel. Her eyes squinting over the discrepancies. "So, if it's not those three communicating with the frankenship, what is?"

"Someone else," Shiloh replied, "Which just adds to the weirdness. We have a cobbled together ship of various powers' parts. It's wearing a sensor mask so we can't get a scan of the ins-." Shiloh stood up, "Holy shit." The man screwed up his face, "Naw, that's... fuckin' crazy. And why...?" Shiloh tugged on his beard, stroking it as he stared at the panel. "What if this is the hand. And we lost track of the face?" His dark eyes lifted to the Security Chief, "What do you know about magic tricks, Ma'am?"

"I don't know much about magic, but I know about red herrings," said Qiana. It felt like they were chasing their tails, because they were chasing their tails. Whoever designed the frankenship purposely made it misleading. She felt the pressure in her head deflate.

Shiloh was up and moving, "Lets pull the records of the Bou Regreg and the South Platte. I'm betting we're missing something. This does smell like big Red Herring all the sudden." He shook his head, breathing out, "Christ... what if..."

"It's a false trail of breadcrumbs," said Qiana. "What if it isn't from any of the three powers?" She looked at the ship, now seeing it more like a joke than an enigma. "It's purpose is to throw us off the scent."

"... To blame them and incite another war with them, and Cardassia. Who would benefit from a war against the Breen?" Shiloh mused even as he checked the logs. It took a few minutes. Shiloh's dark eyes followed the datatrail of the encounter. He finally sighed. He rocked some on his heels. "Dammit." His fingers went into motion and he zero'ed in on a string of data. "Twenty-eight seconds in, the Bou Regreg was fired upon by the Frankenship. That made it an immediate threat. But look..." he brought the strange shield rotation signature they'd been detecting alongside something from the Bou Regreg's sensors before they were hit. "The exact same signature."

Shiloh folded his arms, "It's a telemetry stream. It's telling the ship where to go. And look here... we didn't see it because of the masking skin of the Frankenship's hull." He traced a wave of energy oscillation in the scan. "They fired on the Bou Regreg's deflector to damage its sensors. But they didn't get a clear shot at the South Platte." He brought that sensor scan up.

Shiloh sighed, "That looks suspiciously like a transporter pattern buffer to me, what do you think? What if they fired on us as a delay, while the crew transported off to safety, and put the Frankenship under remote control? That's why it hasn't deviated or fired on our probe." He growled a grunt, "And they knew we wouldn't return fire in Cardassian space, and risk a diplomatic incident."

Shiloh looked at Qiana. "I think we have something to take to Operations."

 

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