Planning a Little Trip
Location: Conference Room 2
Timeline: Three weeks after the Cardassian Station Mission
Enalia was pretty sure she had everything she needed but a few more things had to fall into place before their next mission could take off. She also needed to go over it all with her Intel Chief and XO. "Computer, please have Commanders Xustos and Eneas meet me in Conference Room Two to discuss our upcoming mission."
She then went to the replicator to get a fresh mug of coffee, leaving several dozen PaDDs and holographic displays scattered around the table and the representative of the Office of Temporal Investigations at the other end.
Mal stopped plucking his lyre when the computer passed on Enalia's request. He set down the instrument, put on his uniform jacket and left his Ready Room headed for Conference Room Two. He was there in short order.
"You summoned me to your august presence, Captain?" he said.
"Yes, we all need to make sure we're all on the same page for this mission." Enalia said, returning to her seat with her coffee.
The man at the other end spoke up, drawing out his words like an old school proctor. "Premeditated or not, time travel is rarely without risk and I'm here to ensure the continuity of... said... con-tin-uity..."
"And that dour gentleman is Agent Alden Engstrom the thirteenth from Temporal Investigations." Enalia introduced the man joylessly.
Clio was a bit slower getting to the conference room, but once she arrived she gave the Temporal Investigations agent a critical look. She knew their type, always sticking their noses in other people's business for the sake of 'continuity' while ignoring that their own presence destroyed the continuity they claimed to protect. "Does he have to be here? He's only going to complicate things."
Enalia stared into her mug silently a moment. She knew all too well what kind of complications Clio was referring to. "Unfortunately, to even get clearance to go on this mission, I had to agree that Mister Alden Engstrom the thirteenth be a part of the planning of this mission. Now that he and I have... discussed... the mission, it's your turn."
"Sounds like a bull-- er, a nonsensical excuse from his department so they can meddle if you ask me." Though she'd censored her words, it was clear what Clio's opinion of Alden's presence was.
"Regardless," Mal said. "It appears that Mister Alden Engstrom is an unavoidable fact, as evidenced by the fact that there have been thirteen of him so far, with no end in sight. Shall we proceed?"
"Please," Enalia pleaded as she picked up a PaDD and clicked to the projected timeline. "In two weeks time we're going to the Bepi 113 system. We've been provided the coordinates and calculations to do what that sun is perfect for. Slingshot effect time jump. We'll have to load the flight plan into the computer and let it do it. When we wake up, if all goes to plan, it'll be the year 2160 and we can begin our journey to the target location. An Orion spaceport. More precisely, an Orion research facility housed under that spaceport."
"2160?" Mal said. "That would be the year that Earth's war with the Romulan Empire ended. Approximately one year later, the United Federation of Planets was born. Tell me, the date we are travelling to, will the Earth-Romulan War have already ended, or will we arrive in its final moments?"
"Immediately after," Enalia answered. "History tells us that that entire spaceport was vaporized in an accident of some sort. We'll be arriving a week prior to begin reconnaissance. All team members will be painted green and have to pass as Orions."
"You mean I get to wear a sexy armored bikini while fighting bad guys? Sounds kind of awesome to me." Clio grinned a bit, thought it wasn't entirely clear if she was joking or not. "Can we take Commander Xustos? Because that sounds like fun, making Dodger try to make him look Orion."
"While I would pay latinum to see Clio in an armored bikini," Mal said. "No one is removing my horns no matter how temporarily, or shaving my legs, and I think it's fairly impossible to convert digitigrade legs to humanoid legs and even if you could, I have no idea how to walk on humanoid legs. My that was a long sentence! No, unless I can pass as someone's exotic bodyguard or heterosexual sex slave, it looks like I'll be back on the ship...again."
"Hey, the Orions do trade some pretty exotic stock." Though she pretended not to notice Mal's comment about paying latinum to see her in a bikini, Clio felt a trace of color rise on her cheeks. "Anything they think will sell, and people are into pretty kinky stuff..."
Alden piped up at that moment. "As true as that is, the Commander's homeworld won't be discovered for hundreds of years after this mission so as... exotic... as he may be... he will be required to stay... on... the shi-p..."
Enalia waited painfully for Alden to finish his sentence. For a TI Agent, he wasted more time with his words than she cared to spend listening to them. "I have to concur. I'll be leading the ground teams while Mal coordinates from the ship. With our stealth plating, no one in the galaxy should be able to detect us so while the Hera will have to maintain a high polar position, we'll have timely support if needed."
"Okay, fine. Spoilsport." Clio frowned a bit, not liking Alden's logic. Enalia's homeworld wouldn't be discovered for quite some time, and her own people hadn't been fully discovered until rather recently. With the logic applied by the TI agent, he could easily bar all of the most qualified people from even going on the mission.
Alden continued. "Captain... I would find it most helpful if you could share your own knowledge of this era. You are joined, correct? How far back does your... lineage... go?"
Enalia glared daggers at him for a moment before replying. It wasn't that she tried to keep it a secret that she was the first Telvan host, but it wasn't something she brought up often. "My joined status has no bearing on this mission."
"Are you sure?" Alden pressed. "Any details you may remember from a past life may be helpful."
"Leave her alone. She doesn't want to talk about it." The more this guy talked, the more Clio disliked him. She didn't know or care how many hosts the Telvan symbiont had in its past and didn't think it relevant either.
Mal frowned, his generally genial demeanor vanishing. An angry satyr was almost as intimidating as a an angry minotaur.
"Move on, Agent," Mal said in a menacing tone. "Before I rid us of your odious presence and move on to Alden Engstrom the fourteenth!"
Alden raised his hands in defeat and Enalia looked back down at her PaDD. "After some recon and some espionage, the base is destroyed, killing one point two million civilians."
"So we have to get out before that happens," Mal said. "Wait, are we supposed to blow it up? What if it's us who blew it up in the first place? Uch, time travel makes my horns itch!"
"We won't know that part until we get there, just like the Enterprise didn't know they were part of first contact with the Vulcans until it was about to happen." Clio wasn't overly fond of the time travel aspect of the mission, particularly the apparent predestination paradox they might find themselves in. "Or, you know, that time when the Hera was part of a historic battle..." She hadn't been on board, but she'd read about it. It had been interesting reading.
Alden spoke up again. "Historical records show..."
Enalia cut him off before he could take an hour to explain the situation. "They show that residue from a twenty fourth century explosive was used to destroy the facility. Specifically, three tri-cobalt devices that match the residue patterns of those carried aboard the Hera. The spectral analysis patterns reveal that those explosives were even most likely replicated with the Hera's current industrial replicator."
"So we're going to murder all of those people to maintain the timeline?" Mal said. He sighed. "This sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. We have to blow up the station because we apparently already did blow up the station but we don't know yet if we are blowing up the station just to blow up the station or if there is another, at least remotely legitimate, reason for us to use not one, but three weapons of mass destruction on all of those people. And we have to all of this with Alden Engstrom the Umpteenth looking over our shoulders, telling what we can and can't do and otherwise getting in the way? Lovely."
"...bloody fucking hell. Why does your ship keep getting tangled in these weird quantum paradox catastrophes?" Clio sighed, somewhat regretting that use of colorful language but forging onward anyway. "Wait. Research facility under a spaceport? Does... does this sound familiar to anyone else?"
"Not offhand..." Enalia furrowed her brow in concentration, trying to remember any similar incidents.
"Hm. Could just be me then." Clio shrugged, chalking it up to having carried out a lot of similar missions in dark or strange places. Though they had just been at a research facility that had been rather odd. "I've done a lot of undercover missions to research labs in weird places. Don't mind me."
"Fair enough," Enalia replied. She couldn't think of anywhere the Hera had been that had a spaceport on top of it like that, but who knew all the places they'd been. "This research facility is known as Facility One. We've destroyed Facilities Five and Six. Facility One was destroyed during Earth's Eugenics Wars. Facility Two was officially taken out by the Enterprise under command of Captain Jonathan Archer. Facility three was taken out during the Four Years war. Facility Four is still unknown but records recovered from Facility Six say that it was destroyed in 2305. Facilities Seven and Eight are still operational according to those same logs. Unfortunately, we don't know where either of them are, nor do we know where this 'Master' is."
"...aww, hell. Not more of that. Nexi's going to murder you if you send her into another one of... those." Clio shuddered slightly. While she hadn't been as traumatized as Nexi, she wasn't looking forward to whatever monstrosity this new facility held. "Do we... have to be the ship to do this?"
"We know that the Hera... and Nexi... were... or will be... there..." Alden punctuated.
"Damn it," Clio muttered. Normally there might be an argument that it was just a ship like the Hera, but now the ship was unique. There weren't any ships similar enough to her for someone else to go.
"Who are you planning on taking with you on the Away Team?" Mal asked. "Or will that be Away Teams?"
Enalia nodded and pointed to a PaDD. "Myself, Clio, and Nexi will each lead a mixed team of three. The other six will be at your discretion but I prefer volunteers."
"Are you gonna tell her or are you gonna make me tell her? Because she will lose her shit, I am not kidding." Clio decided not to mention her own misgivings about leading her own team again after that last disaster, not with Alden the greasy in the room.
Enalia brushed off the question. "I'll leave that task to Mal. By the way, Nexi is scheduled for her bridge stress response exam soon, right? I want you and her to do it in the nude."
Mal blinked once, then twice.
"Are you serious?" Mal said. "I have no problem with nudity, but isn't that a little...odd? I mean, wouldn't that be better suited to a course called Nudist Colony Operations?"
"You're ok with nudity and she worked with Ferengi, whom prefer women naked. It might give her a confidence boost." Enalia replied.
"Uhm...Alright," Mal said, a little unsettled. The kind of orders he normally gave naked women while he was naked were most likely against the Starfleet Code of Conduct and the Uniform Code of Justice but he'd have to adapt.
At least after she said we had to do the test nude she didn't say I had to take Nexi aside and get something straight between us!
Somehow, Clio kept a straight face through all of that. "This is probably a conversation better suited to another time."
"Indeed," Enalia tossed her current PaDD aside and picked up another. "We know a lot about this mission already, but we don't know some of the most crucial details. Any thoughts on how to proceed?"
"Yes," Mal said. "Select your away teams now. They'll need to start preparing for their mission immediately. The technology will be different, the culture will be different, the languages of course, and the slang, even the food, some of which may be toxic to Cervans, Brekkians, Trill, or Humans."
Enalia nodded. "And we'll need pheromone blockers. Like I said - I'd like the rest to be volunteers. If we don't have six by morning, I want you to select people. We'll begin training tomorrow on holodeck six."
"If I may suggest," Mal said. "Take Rasputin with you. He doesn't need make-up to look like an Orion and he'll be good in a tight spot. For the other five, what skillsets are you looking for?"
"People that can work under pressure in difficult situations. Intel, science, and tactical skills. Anything that might come in handy," Enalia replied.
"Alright, I'll look into it," Mal said. "Anything else?"
"Skill in hand to hand combat or bladed weaponry." After reviewing the logs, Clio had determined that a large part of why the recent away mission went so badly is the security personnel relied too heavily on their rifles. They hadn't trained for the possibility of extremely close quarters. "And if we're going to be Orion slave girls, people who already have dancing ability will have an advantage."
"Speaking of which, I need to discuss training with T'Pral. See if she needs anything. I don't want to lose that many people again." Enalia set her current PaDD aside and picked up another. "If there's nothing else, in a week's time we're going on lockdown and briefing the crew. let's be ready to go at that point so that our trip to the BEPI 113 system is just building on our training."
"If she needs help incorporating blades or hand to hand, I can help her. I'd rather not repeat that experience." A week wasn't much time to prepare, but if all the team members were diligent about their training, Clio thought it would be sufficient.
"I'll track down some Filipino martial arts training programs," Mal said. "Fast-track versions. If they train everyday, they should pick something up within the two weeks of training time we have between now and the actual slingshot. Also, I'll track down some appropriate dancing programs for the Holodeck so you ladies can practice getting your dance of the seven veils on. I'll have to observe, of course, to make sure that everything is going as planned, and provide constructive criticism."
Mal took a moment to look at Enalia.
"Captain," he said. "We need to talk after this meeting regarding your orders to me about Nexi. I have serious concerns."
"Any sane person would," Enalia replied. "Should we adjourn now then?"
"I think so," Mal said. "Commander Eneas?"
"I don't have anything further." Though she'd found the orders about Nexi's exam amusing, Clio didn't really want to be involved in that discussion. She also wanted to get away from the exceedingly creepy Engstrom, and the easiest way to do that was to get back to her usual duties.
"Then this meeting is adjourned," Enalia declared. "Please spread the word that there will be a staff meeting at oh nine hundred tomorrow morning. Mister Engstrom the Infinite, I assume you know your way back to your quarters." Not looking up from her current pad, she waited while Clio and Alden filed out, then finally let herself relax and laid her head on the table with a sigh.