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Bridging The Gap
Episode 11 - Family Matters
Stardate 73834.3
MD005 0900 hrs

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The Search Part III

Posted on Tue Jun 22nd, 2021 @ 3:07am by Captain Tyler Malbrooke & Colonel Loval & Lieutenant Commander Vaebn tr'Hwersuil & Ensign Eleanor Raine & Warrant Officer Mira Jayna & Captain Cornelius Tremble & Lieutenant Junior Grade Jayden Robertson & Sergeant Miranda Schultz & Corporal Adélaïde Moreau

Mission: Episode 11 - Family Matters
Location: The Oakley Deep Within Romulan Space
Timeline: MD004 2000 hrs


Last Time On The Search Part II

"Well the only way that we are going to find out is to catch up. Let's keep getting a fix on that warbird. Jayden looks like we are going to have to push those engines again, especially if we are going to play catch up. See what you can do to get me more warp drive." Tyler called from the conn, he thought that if he could get everyone concentrating on their jobs perhaps the tension would lessen.

“I’m on it, Captain,” Jayden called out and went to work to give them the maximum amount of warp he could and still stay in one piece.

And Now The Continuation...

The Oakley had been at warp for the past eight hours. Tyler's brain felt like it was going to ooze out of his ear due to the constant concentration. It took all he had to keep up with the course corrections that were called out. Loval was certainly giving them a run for their proverbial money. Tyler rubbed his eyes... "Does anyone have any ideas on how we can close the gap?"

Vaebn kept his eyes on the sensor readouts from the whiskers he deployed. He turned in his chair as he realized something. "Check for any Romulan outposts around the Glan'To's last known position. Something the Empire would never have anyone know is that if a warbird is travelling at high warp under cloak for as long as she has been the ship will need to put in for repairs or explode. It is similar to how our warp cores can burn out if they are overtaxed. Save on a Romulan ship it is a quantum singularity."

"On it," Jayna said, pulling up the data available on Romulan settlements. After several minutes, she found one. "There's a Romulan outpost on Tavea IV."

Tyler set a course and engaged at maximum warp. The engines burst into life. "Neil get a team together I think some undercover work is going to be needed here. If I were Loval I would go to ground while the ship was being repaired. I would try to blend in with the colony etc... Banking on the fact that we do not know what his crew looks like. Jayna you are with him your expertise will be needed here as well. I will remain with the Oakley upon arrival."

Neil turned in his seat and said, "Aye aye, sir. The trick for us will be be going in well below the radar. Local won't have to work very hard and if he's half as clever as he's made out to be, he'll guess we're after him. So, our cover story will need to be better than normal. It's a small colony and likely be suspicious of many new faces..."

Jayna nodded and turned to Neil. "I don't think there will be many Vulcans on the colony. I could pass as Romulan, with a little alteration."

Neil nodded to infiltration specialist, "You're best suited to be our face on the ground, so you'll do the talking. If things go tactical, I'll jump in. We've got a Pathfinder kit that'll make us look like Romulans in about an hour."

The marine reached under his desk and pulled out a rucksack, from which he pulled a flat box. Popping the box open, he withdrew a flat foiled pouch. "These bio/electrical patches will get us past all but detailed medical scans. They're called Mimic skins," he explained, "They mix with our blood and release appropriately Romulan bio signals. They also function as a localized Theta band com net so we can minimize the use of our own coms for long range communications."

Neil tucked the kit away and shrugged, "The hard part will be acting like Romulans, which goes to our cover. Most colonies have personnel who live apart...remote farms and the like. Maybe we can cook something like that up..."

Jayna nodded. "Good idea. That would explain why we aren't as familiar with the main areas as we should be." He had a solid plan.

"Yeah," Neil remarked, meeting the Infiltration specialists eyes, "My plans always work, sometimes."

She couldn't help laughing. "About as good as mine, then. I worked with Romulans a long time ago, we'll see how much I remember--and how much has changed." She hoped with a colony like this, it wouldn't be enough to get her in trouble.

"I've always wondered what I would look like with pointy ears." Adelaide remarked without pause. It was a random thought that popped into her mind and it just came out as she rounded a finger on one of her ears.

Meanwhile aboard the Glan'To Loval ordered his ship into low orbit around the outpost Tavea IV. The ship's engines were too far gone and they were in danger of a breach. He had to get repairs done and fast. Loval learned that Malbrooke's crew was resourceful, with everything they had put him and his ship through just to keep track. He would not underestimate them again. Loval ordered his crew to pick up the pace, he did not want to get caught here if the Oakley discovered them.

The idea occurred to him. He ordered his first officer to disperse the crew into the outpost. They would blend in. He would take Lyie personally for her first test of loyalty. Time was of the essence and there was not much of it as he ordered Lyie to to don Romulan civilian clothing, something that took no small amount of coaxing. He did the same and they disappeared into the diaspora of the outpost, just two more Romulans. Right now Loval hedged his bets that the Constable a human named Codington was still as bribable as ever.

Loval and Lyie arrived at the Constable's office and ducked inside quickly but without giving a hint that something was amiss. Lyie kept a sharp eye out through the window as Loval spoke with the Codington. If she was fighting whatever was planned she did not show it.

"Codington, I am not going to beat around the bush here. I have a task for you. One the Tal Shiar would be in your debt should you accept. However, before I tell you what it is, you must accept it. So what will it be and please do not waste my time. As I do not have much of it." Loval walked right up to the desk as he spoke. The Colonel showed no respect for the Constable and his mannerisms demanded that Codington fear him.

Tauran Codington was a robust man, a human by birth. Although he was born on a Federation colony. He moved to Romulan space as a smuggler in his twenties. When Hobus went he settled on Tavea IV as the constable. For some reason Romulans trusted him. It was here that he began to take bribes to give whoever, whatever they wanted. For his part Codington leaned back in his chair and smiled. For a change he felt he had the upper hand on Loval. "Who am I to argue with the Tal Shiar. But the favor will depend upon what you want from me. So out with it Loval."

For moment Loval was going to chide Codington for his insolence, however, that would have to wait for another time. There simply was not enough time right now. "In a short period of time a Starfleet Away Team will beam down to this colony. They will attempt to blend in as they look for both me and the girl. You are going to have to detain them and make sure they do not find us. I do not care how you pull..." Loval was interrupted as Tauran slammed his hands on his desk and leapt to his feet.

"You want me to detain Starfleet Officers, are you daft? If they are here then you must have stepped knee deep into the big muddy. There is nothing I can do there." Codington said a little hot tempered. "You are the law here and they are here without authorization. So there is a lot you can do." Loval responded calmly as Tauran stroked his chin. "Fine I will do it but this is going to cost the Tal Shiar big time." Codington said. "Fine we will discuss terms later. Lyie come we must go." With that Loval and Lyie ran from the office and disappeared again into the milling people.
*****

Neil studied the village through a monocular, synced with his contact as it collected data. More data was coming in from a dedicated drone they'd launched which was doing it's best to act like a local avian life form.

And they still didn't know where Loval was.

"So much for technology, "the marine commented as he offered the monocular to Jayna. "Looks like your average drank-hole. Two hundred or so inhabitants, some weapons but not an overabundance. I don't see any signs of a ambush. Yet."

She took the device and looked around. "No, but they would not be so obvious. If they know we're here, they'll lure us in first." She carefully made another pass, then handed the monocular back to Neil. "Should we try the tavern first, or the marketplace?" They were generally the best places to hear gossip and possibly look for crew passing time while the ship was repaired.

"Could certainly use a drink." Adelaide admitted. "Loose lips sink ships." She added, the old metaphor was very relevant given the circumstances. "I think newcomers in a marketplace would raise suspicion on us, unless we separated. Can cover more ground apart..." she said fiddling with her new ears.

Glancing at the SAR specialist, Neil knelt and activated his contact and a 3D map of the village appeared on the ground. Reaching out, he touched two places, causing them to glow within the model. "Looks like a canteen or pub here, right off what looks to be a market. We enter town as a group, take the measure of the place like most traveling troupes would."

After a pause, the marine continued, "If it feels hinkey, we stay together and go into the pub. If not, we can break off. Jayne takes two into the pub and asks around, I'll stay outside with the remainder. We'll set security and get an initial look around the market. Our story is we're from a small farm halfway between here and the Forsj settlement. We had a fire and are looking to replace some of our losses."

Looking up at the cluster of faces, the marine captain went over the plan they'd come up with one last time. "We ave limited cash and are hoping to barter this fall's crops. We know we won't get as much due to the risk, but it that might let greed cover up any holes in our story."

Standing, the map blinked out of existence and Neil said, "If things go south initially, we fall back into the pub and escape and evade from there: either a direct beam out or whatever seems like the best course of action. If we come under fire and get separated, this is our rally point. Questions?"

"No questions. It's a good plan," Jayde said, nodding. "Might get a few people talking." She hoped, anyway. She was grateful for her Vulcan memory most of the time. She had a compatriot in the Maquis who was Romulan. Tannis' accent would be perfect for this place. What concerned her was the colloquialisms. She ran her fingers through her slightly-mussed hair as she mentally reviewed the map. "I'm ready."

Miranda nodded. "I'll go wherever you need me," she said.

Glancing at the marine, Neil nodded. "Miranda, monitor comm's in the area's discreetly. If need be, use a signal's blanket to cut all comm's in the area. Our net will work within that. Loval will likely be using a discreet frequency of his own. Localizing, triangulating and tracking it could end this soonest."

Then Neil grinned, "No pressure of course."

Miranda grinned. "Semper Fi, do or die." She'd done a lot of training, but this would be her first time using the gear in the field. In spite of everything, she was looking forward to it.

Adelaide nodded as she agreed with the soundness of the plan. Truth be told she was happy to get off the ship and have some solid ground under her feet again. The holodeck was nice but it wasn't the same as the real thing. "I think I'll keep the dying until old age thank you." She quipped. "Got so much to do first." she grinned.

Looking at the SAR specialist, Neil said, "Weapons on stun. ROE is fire only if fired upon or if you see that clot Lovell. Stun settings. Adelaide, I want you to browse around outside the pub. Hint that we saw others arriving as we neared the village maybe and see if anyone volunteers anything. If they're not in the village, they've got to be somewhere."

Looking at the other members of the team, Neil said "My gut is telling me the village is a way-point. Likely someone's going to be feeding intel to Lovell. Look for people who seem to be overly interested in us. Note them and counter-surveil them as best you can. But, remember to play our roles first."

Glancing at the non-marine members of the party, he said "JG Robertson, Ensign Raine. Match up our orbital and approach scans with what we're seeing with the ol' mark I eyeball." Neil tapped the side of his eye and said, "Make sure things are what they are supposed to be. Where they're supposed to be. And track power signatures. Intermix yourselves as you like between the pub and the localized market outside, but don't wander too far.

"Yes Sir," Jayden went to work. "Let's synchronize together and see what we come up with, Ensign." He knew this was a very important part of the mission.

Jayden headed into the market to find a suitable place to verify that things were as they should be, without being detected. This was an important part of their mission. To ascertain that what they were looking at was accurate as well as locating any power signatures that could be a problem.

Finally, Neil looked at Vaebn. "Sir, I'd recommend you accompany Jayna. Talk to people and see if we can get a lead. Once we get a direction, we'll re-arrange an order of march and get after Loval and your sister.

Vaebn was mystified for a moment after materializing. The sites and sounds were so eerily similar to the Romulus he lost. However, they were different as well. Tremble speaking to him drew Vaebn back to the task at hand. "Yes of course. That is the best course of action." He nodded and motioned for Jayna to lead the way.

She nodded back and moved ahead, her gait a bit slower, more hesitant as befitting a down-on-her-luck farmer. She looked more at the road than the people around her, but she was keenly aware of the colonists and how they looked at the newcomers.

"I believe if we make for the refectory we should be able to get someone to talk to." Vaebn motioned toward a building that looked like a cross between a cafeteria and a coffee shop. His eyes darted around ever vigilant. Loval and his sister could be anywhere in this mess.

"Refectory," Jayna replied in Romulan. "Wouldn't mind a bite to eat."

As the team walked into the refectory the locals eyed the newcomers. They all knew that it was rare that new folks would arrive. The keeper behind the counter was none too aware of this. He called out to the large group as they walked in. "Can I help any of you?" The look on his face managed to be both welcoming and wary at the same time.

"Drinks please," Jayna said, doing a fair imitation of the local accent. "It's been a long journey."

The barkeep paused and his eyes narrowed at Jayna as she spoke. He knew there was something odd about her accent. But just as quickly his face flashed back to normal, accents were no big thing around here as people came from all over the former Empire and he knew it. "We have a local ale for cheap, or the good stuff but that will cost ya."

She fumbled in her pocket and frowned. "Local's fine." She glanced at Vaebn. "Two drinks."

The barkeep poured two glasses of something that resembled Romulan Ale. Although it was bit greener in color. He slid the two glasses to Jayna and took the money with a grunt. With the transaction over he walked away to tend to another customer.

Vaebn inhaled sharply. " He suspects something but is not sure. The fact that he asked no questions about who we were in a local bar in and of itself is suspect. I believe he is waiting for us to tip our proverbial hand." He spoke in hushed tones with the glass to his lips so that it would cover anything that he said.

Jayna took a sip of her drink. She'd suspected as much, but he was far more familiar with Romulans than she was. "I'm beginning to wonder if we can get anything close to a decent price here." Let the bartender be suspicous, she was going to keep up the act as long as she could.

"Probably not. New folks always have to pay the highest price..." Vaebn began. "And shouldn't they..." The barkeep interrupted. "We all have paid our dues with blood, sweat and tears and you lot think you can just come here and reap the benefits."

"We've paid our dues working in the fields," Jayna snapped. "We're here now to sell, not beg."
*****

Adelaide had veered off the group as they entered the refectory. She had planned to do a little recon of the surroundings, get a lay of the building, exits, points of entry and such. That way if the mission went south they had a quick exit strategy as well as an awareness of danger zones or choke points for incoming hostiles.

As she walked around the building, she pretended to look lost. That she'd lost track of her group and was looking for the refectory but with no real knowledge of where it was. Playing the young, lost Romulan girl, or just lost girl in general, was often a good ploy to draw someone out. She kept her comms open, for safety.

She turned a corner and a large built Romulan male approached her. He had suspicion in his eyes as if he was a grand protector and a new face needed to be questioned. Adelaide's thoughts were that maybe he would talk to her, she'd lay it on thick about being part of a group and maybe he'd spill about Loval...

In a gruff voice the Romulan with a scar on his face spoke. "You lost miss?"

Adelaide looked around her looking for this miss he spoke of before looking at him and pointing at herself. "Oh me?" she said as she approached the man mountain. "I usually think much older people than me should be called miss, Ade is fine." she said introducing the name she'd came up for herself to him. She was essentially playing herself, aloof and carefree with a little dash of energy and innocence. "I came down with a group not too long ago and I think I've gotten myself a little turned around. I'm new here if you cannot tell..." she said as the man stared at her. She could most definitely talk. "Have you seen any groups? Maybe point me to where I might be able to find my people."

"The only two new people other than yourself that I have seen around here are sitting at the bar. I haven't seen any large groups around here." The man replied he eyed Ade suspiciously. There was something that struck him about her name. It didn't sound Romulan. However, with things being what they are in the Empire right now anything was possible. So just as fast the suspicious look faded.

"The bar..." Adelaide said as she pointed and feigned confusion. "Are you telling me I've been outside the bar this whole time?" she asked. "You get a bit thirsty after travelling a lot. What do you do here Big Man? Look like you've seen quite a bit..." she made a reference to not only his age but the scar on his face.
*****

Loval withdrew a small device from his belt. It had chimed just a moment ago, and it confirmed what he had already suspected. The Starfleet team was here. "Lyie you will have to go find your dear brother had bring him to our side. Should he refuse you must kill him. Is that understood?" Lyie nodded her head in agreement and holstered her disruptor. If there was a part of her that regretted having to kill Vaebn it certainly did not show.
To Be Continued...



A Joint Post By

Captain Tyler Malbrooke
Commanding Officer, USS Pioneer


Lieutenant Commander Vaebn tr'Hwersuil
Chief Science Officer, USS Pioneer


Ensign Eleanor Raine
Diplomatic Adviser, USS Pioneer


Warrant Officer Mira Jayna
Infiltration Specialist, USS Pioneer


Captain Cornelius Tremble
Marine Commanding Officer/Second Officer, USS Pioneer


Lieutenant Junior Grade Jayden Robertson
Operations Officer, USS Pioneer


Sergeant Miranda Schultz
Communications Specialist, USS Pioneer


Corporal Adélaïde Moreau
SAR Specialist, USS Pioneer


Colonel Loval
Commanding Officer, Tal Shiar


Cadet Junior Grade Lyie tr'Hwersuil
Cadet, Starfleet Academy

 

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