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Posted on Sat Jul 10th, 2021 @ 5:50pm by Lieutenant P’rel M.D & Captain Jacob Kane & Lieutenant Finnley Keating VII & Ensign Kateyo Fenn

Mission: By Artemis' Bow
Location: Engineering Lab
843 words - 1.7 OF Standard Post Measure

Finn and Fenn had just completed digging out the remaining pieces of the transponder code found buried in the data from the outpost as the Captain walked in. Finn kept her gaze on the console, still in disbelief over what they found. "Captain, you're going to want to see this," she pointed at the screen which now highlighted a full match between the Cavaliers transponder code and the code recorded for the second vessel in the poaching chain.

"From what we can tell, the Cavalier and the ship that's currently in our shuttle bay, are always at the outpost when there's a movement of self sealing stem bolts. Which maybe wouldn't be unusual, except that it's an awful lot of self sealing stem bolts for any vessel and we know based on what was hidden in the compartments of the alien shuttle, that it wasn't transporting stem bolts." Finn gave him a quick overview of their findings.

"Captain Rodriguez and his crew shouldn't really have had any need to conduct trade in the system anyway," Kane replied, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "They're a Starfleet crew on a critical assignment. I can understand them approaching the station like we did, but multiple visits? That doesn't seem right." He found it hard to believe that any Federation starship could be involved in poaching, particularly when it ran so directly against the Prime Directive.

"Maybe they were trading in information?" Finn wondered out loud. It was the only explanation besides poaching. "Maybe the outpost said they had info on the poachers or information on the creatures? The only other possibility that I can think of is that the Cavalier is somehow involved in the poaching ring itself." She spoke her own assumptions aloud, wondering if anyone else had differing thoughts.

P’rel arched a brow, again mildly frustrated at the cultural idiom which had become an involuntary habit. “Logically speaking, to lack possession of an answer, does not necessarily equate to lack of existence of an answer”. She looked again at the correlating logs on the screen and shook her head, “there would be no need to move the ship to trade information, and in any case the level of correlation between movements and whatever was really being shipped is more than coincidence”. She turned to Kane, noting the almost imperceptible stress in his posture and expression; “do we still have contact with the away team aboard Cavalier?”

"Wait," Teyo spoke up before the Captain had a chance to answer. "There's nearly 90 crew members aboard the Cavalier, let's say two-thirds of them are 'blissfully unaware'," he used his fingers to punctuate his point with air quotations, "that means 30 Starfleet officers are involved, or at least are aware of this. That's unheard of, right?" He wasn't sure if he should be scared or impressed, it was the kind of behavior he expected from the Ferengi or Cardassians, but not Starfleet.

"It should be," Kane replied. With everything that had been going on the last few months, it was starting to look like it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility. "Just lately my mind has been changed on that." He looked at P'rel. "Are my people in danger?"

Inwardly of course, the Vulcan slightly scoffed at the idea that Starfleet officers were some evangelical force for good without their own agendas. Returning the Captain’s gaze, they communicated almost telepathically a rehash of all the pieces of the puzzle up in the air, the mysterious visitors, discreet nudges in certain directions, the seeming monetary use of the pilgrims. Neither her, nor he, was fully in possession of the whole picture just yet, but it was enough so far to recognise a far a bigger operation than simple smuggling. “Yes sir, very much” she replied honestly and directly.

"We have to help them," Teyo said, his eyes wide and a bead of sweat running down the right side of his prominent spots.

"Way ahead of you, Ensign." Kane touched his commbadge. "Kane to bridge. Battlestations."

"Aye, sir. Captain - there's a message coming in from the Cavalier..." the report came back.

"Down here." Kane motioned to the access panel on the wall of the lab and strode over as an unfamiliar Starfleet commander appeared.

"USS Athena. We have your people. They're alive, for now...but you'd better come and claim them back before anything happens to them." The message was brief, one-sided, and very clear. Someone had his people held hostage over on the other ship, half a system away. Was this trading post intended to delay them? He looked back at the others.

"To the bridge. We'll convene with the rest of the senior staff when we get there."

Finn instantly thought of George as the message played and hoped that he was okay. "Aye, sir," she replied with a quick nod as she closed the files on her console and followed the Captain out of the lab.

Looking briefly around her colleagues, P'rel nodded at Kane and they set off to convene with the others.


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