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A Little Birdy Told Me

Posted on Fri Jul 14th, 2023 @ 4:44am by Ensign Ziahli Lorel & Lieutenant JG Nayisa Wrea & Dominic Lowell

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Station
Timeline: Just after "Investigations"
3162 words - 6.3 OF Standard Post Measure

"So, what are we looking for?"

In the time that had passed after Zora had left for medical, there had been a decided lull in activity. This, at least, was Zia's perception, which may have been influenced by the rush of adrenaline from earlier successes. Kevan seemed content enough to keep watch but the brig officer, whose aspirations veered drastically away from the patience required to stand sentry, was far more interested in what the Intel officer was up to. Leaning sideways against the terminal, the Betazoid studied the other woman's features, knowing well enough that peering over her shoulder was only likely to cause irritation. At the very least, it wasn't something she enjoyed.

Nayisa didn't mind having company this time. It wasn't high-risk to be discreet, as the Commander had requested. She had led the way down the corridor, away from the security offices and into what resembled a neglected science lab. From there, she was able to connect one of the still-functional consoles to the rest of the station. Hopefully before the virus reached here, too. "Anything that may be of interest to the Commander," she replied. "If we can find what this Olon guy was so interested in, I'm sure that would be plenty satisfactory."

"Anything I can do to help?" As much as there was a persistence to the Ensign's enthusiasm, Zia managed to curb it enough to sprinkle in a decent portion of consideration. Aspirations aside, this was Nayisa's assignment and the telepath was more or less content to just watch the process unfold. "I think I've already mentioned everything of use from what I overheard but maybe I can recognise some of what he was accessing." Zia grinned. "I may have done my best to peek over his shoulder."

Glancing up from the console, Nayisa gave the security officer a cheeky little smirk. The woman's enthusiasm, while subtle, was contagious. "Two pairs of eyes will be better than one, especially if you may have seen what he looked at. I've got this console set up already, so you can take over here and I can walk you through some of the steps." She then gave a shrug, "only if that would interest you, of course."

The only response that statement warranted was a pointed look of 'are you kidding me?' as Zia made her way over to the terminal. "Feel free to bump it up to a jog, learning under pressure means it's more likely to stick, right?" If anything, it was simply a pace the Betazoid preferred.

Nayisa's grin widened when the reverse psychology worked, even if the Betazoid was genuinely happy to be of assistance. "Sure, jogging speed it is. Let me get another workstation set up real quick," she agreed, moving to her own console so she could work alongside Zia. After about a minute, the console was functional, even if it was flickering for some reason, and she began to lead Zia through the steps she'd take to look for information. Of course, Nayisa omitted the extra steps she would take to get information, instead doing those steps silently on her own console. It helped to have Zia look through what required minimal clearance to access.

As she followed the Intel officer's directions, there came a point where Zia fixated. As exuberant as her disposition frequently was, there were times when a similar intensity narrowed itself into such extreme focus that very little interference from external interruptions tended to distract her at all. It was a feasible excuse, at least, for her complete lack of reaction to the sudden emergence, from overhead no less, of a flail of arms and legs and a tangle of emergency fire equipment. It took the accompanying exclamation of, "Whoa, nelly!", and the clatter of extinguishers onto the floor plating, for Zia to even frown.

"I did say not to touch anything," she murmured. Eyes still fixed on the screen ahead, there seemed some expectation that the commotion was the fault of a certain Trill. Meanwhile, dangling upside down from a cocoon of hose extensions, the strained features of the actual culprit definitely lacked the necessary dermoglyphs to even qualify as a decoy.

"Uh...little help?"

The clatter, on the other hand, spooked Nayisa, and in a moment she had her phaser drawn and aimed at the source that was currently dangling from the ceiling. She studied the man for a moment, seeing that he had sufficiently ensnared himself in fire equipment and wouldn't be moving from the spot anytime soon, so the silver-haired woman spared a quick glance at Zia, a bit surprised that she hadn't been bothered by the noise. Turning back to their unexpected guest, she recited a simple phrase appropriate for such an occasion. "Identify yourself."

"Currently-Losing-Sensation-in-Extremities." The response was strained, as if forced through an already-compressed diaphragm.

It was the entirely unfamiliar voice that finally forced Zia to listen to what her intuition was screaming at her. Whirling a little too late, immediately aware that it wasn't the best situation for a security officer to sleep on the primary responsibility of their job, her hand froze pressed against her phaser as a quick evaluation of circumstance lead to immediate amusement. Now that she was paying attention to the background psionic noise, she could see how he'd managed to pass himself off as Dash. There was a decidedly similar bravado flooding the room.

Dangling precariously, the mystery man waited until a slow rotation brought him back around to add, "Anyone order room service?"

Not lowering her weapon, Nayisa looked over the man as he slowly rotated, checking for anything constriction that would prove fatal. Not perceiving him as an immediate threat, she cautiously lowered her phaser but kept it in her hand. "No." Internally, she found this poor man's situation absolutely hilarious, but her analytical side questioned if it was a ploy to make them drop their guard. She had just enough experiences with such a thing to know better. "Obviously, you're going to be questioned, but first I have to ask: how the hell did you manage to get tangled up like that??"

"Isn't that," the voice faded slightly as the rotation angled it towards the back wall, "already a question?" A ridiculous earthworm impression ensued, the frantic wriggling back and forth to at least speed up the spin so that he could look at his interrogator. It worked, somewhat, though it did act to accelerate the entire cycle, leaving the next statement only a matter of seconds to be rushed out before the opportunity was lost. "Iwasconductingroutineanalysis."

The hose squeaked as they all waited for the next revolution.


Squeak, squeak, squeak.


Squeak, squeeeeeak.


Looking over the rather impressive hose tangle again, Nayisa debated if it would benefit them to free this man or keep him where he was. Perhaps they could at least stop the spinning so he didn't get nauseous. It wouldn't be a simple task to free him, though. "So you felt the need to, what, unwravel the whole thing as part of your analysis?" She asked sarcastically.

"Checking for kinks," came the immediate response. As much as it wasn't easy to manage around the loose chain swinging precariously back and forth across his face, the hapless janitor did his best to peer up pathetically at the only hope he had of salvaging circulation to his legs. "Can we continue the inspection report after I'm right-way up again?" Another attempt at wriggling didn't help at all. "I have feedback regarding the overhead safe-clasps that you're gonna want to hear."

Sparing a brief glance at Zia that silently asked 'what is with this guy?', Nayisa turned her attention back to the hose, more specifically at the sections of hose that disappeared into the ceiling. She then glanced down to change the settings on her phaser before aiming above the man and firing. One section of the hose snapped, dropping the man a couple inches but otherwise fulfilling his request to be upright. "So what were you really doing?" Nayisa asked.

Rescued by a bloody pedant.

If it was possible to look more ridiculous, the guy managed it as he flipped upright with a shriek and abruptly stopped mere inches from the ground, still strung up and now wobbling precariously in a pattern of chaotic pendulums as the artificial gravity tried to make sense of him.

"Does she always ask this many questions," he groused, directed at Zia, who had leaned back against her terminal to thoroughly enjoy the exchange. There was a moment where the telepath seemed to take pity on him, enough that she stuck out her foot to slow down his trajectory and then gently nudged him into place to dangle, upright but ineffectual.

"You haven't even scratched the surface," the telepath assured.

Groaning, and once again inclined to untangle himself if proper assistance wasn't forthcoming, their new friend struggled a moment, elbow up in the air as he attempted to negotiate a freed hand from the wreckage.

"I was attempting to get into Sickbay," he offered, which sounded a little more genuine in that he wasn't pleased to be saying it at all. "Or at least, the air vents in its ceiling."

Nayisa's expression gained an air of amusement as she watched the ridiculous man come to terms with his new position. Her dark eyes skimmed his expression, looking for signs of deceit hidden in his body language. Funny how a brief sensation of free-fall makes people more willing to talk. "Since you're informally shadowing me," Nayisa said, turning to Zia, "what do you think? Is he telling the truth?"

The telepath screwed up her nose. "What's the pass mark on this? Because he's not lying." Zia folded her arms across her chest and raised both eyebrows at the glowering spider's prey. "But he's being pretty evasive." In actual fact, there was no need to have any sort of psionic gifts to tell that much but, as most Betazoids knew, suggestion was often easier than actually trying to extrapolate. The amount of information you could get out of someone who mistakenly thought you already knew was considerable.

"Listen, there's a guy in there nearly blew my head off. Apparently," the unintentional-prisoner added. "I'm just...fact-checking a few things."

For a moment, Nayisa completely ignored their suspended guest and instead gave Zia a wink. "Good, you caught on to that as well." The mention of 'fact-checking' drew the silver-haired woman's attention back to the man, and she repeated his words in her head. "You're apparently fact-checking a few things? Sounds like a roundabout way of saying you have a murder planned." It was a hell of a conclusion to jump to, but Nayisa had her reasons. She gave the man a simple smile, one that revealed nothing about her true intentions but definitely held something back. "Unless you'd like to elaborate..."

"Hey, I don't know what you people think fact-checking is..."

He'd managed to get his arm free, only to realise he couldn't lower it. Stuck with it pointing right up, as if seeking permission to speak, the trapped man had a moment of mild temper tantrum and kicked his legs. It didn't do much, other than to make a rather unfortunately-placed hose shift further into an uncomfortable position.

"You're with Starfleet." Given that the pair were in uniform, this wasn't much of a revelation, but it was offered with the air of one who viewed it as potentially their only trump card. "Aren't you meant to be here to help?" Very gingerly, he tried to adjust himself before the slowly slipping hose could do its worst. "I wasn't planning to hurt anyone! I just want to hear what your people got him to confess to!"

There it is. Seeing one of the sections of hose getting tighter the more he moved around, Nayisa decided that she had had her fun. Aiming the phaser again, she shot the section of hose that held most of his weight, allowing him and his hose-cocoon to plop onto the floor in an indistinguishable mess of hose and limbs. "We are here to help. You just haven't indicated which side you're on." While still not trusting the man, Nayisa decided that he was hardly a threat. She was confident that she and Zia could keep him from the ongoing interrogation.

The ensuing muttering barely passed as Standard, and definitely was not when it came to several of the expletives. Extracting himself, a job left entirely to the man's limited vantage, eventually became a matter of mermaid-flapping his legs free and, upon attempting to stand, there was an ultra-suave moment where he fumbled, tripped, and landed awkwardly in the vicinity of Nayisa's feet.

Understandable defeat saw him roll onto his back and stare up at her, one eye squinted closed as if to ward off the impending judgment.

"Most people would have asked my name first."

Pocketing the phaser, Nayisa crossed her arms as she stared down at the man, stepping back only slightly to make sure he didn't take her down with him. "I did, genius. Or did the hose cut off circulation to your brain?" She made no movement to help him, instead watching him struggle in the entanglement that he brought upon himself.

A rustle of fabric saw an index finger, slightly smudged, raised in partial objection. "You asked me to identify myself, which is far less congenial." A sudden grin betrayed a boyish enthusiasm and, certainly, a vast improvement to his mood. "I'm Nic. And you," he pointed up at the woman glaring down at him, "are Ensign Wrea. And you," he angled the finger roughly in Zia's direction, "are Ensign Lorel."

There was a brief moment where the whirl of the man's brain catching up with his mouth was almost audible. His expression froze, as if realising that he'd just given away more than he'd intended.

"I mean, probably." It was a terrible attempt at damage control. "Who knows if the person I asked got it right." Another pause got the better of him. "This isn't how I usually introduce myself."

It wasn't often that Nayisa met people who knew her immediately. It made her nervous. "What else do you probably know?" she asked, not buying his sad attempt to cover his tracks. If he was crawling around in vents like he claimed, it was plausible for him to have overheard the conversation in the security center. It explained how he knew that someone was being questioned in the medbay.

"You know, we're on the same side here."

Pushing himself into a sitting position, Nic brushed himself somewhat clean of debris and grimaced at all the parts of him that protested as he slowly got to his feet.

"You want to know why our friend in there is aiding and abetting a bunch of pirates and I want to know if they know where my stuff got taken." His hands swept frantically back and forth against his backside as a craned head couldn't quite make sense of whether he was presentable back there or not. "Since I assume 'the pirates took it' is the most likely answer, I would say that makes us teammates." Turning back, he beamed at Nayisa. "Your luck's improving."

As incredibly vague as his response was, Nayisa did have to admit that Nic had a point. "Fine, I'll roll with it," Nayisa shrugged, a silent 'for now' heavily implied in her tone. She didn't trust him, but Nic also gave no signs of deceit. "But you're not getting access to Sickbay, not while we're investigating."

Now that he was upright and a natural height advantage buoyed his confidence somewhat, Nic crossed his arms and directed a furrowed brow towards the Sickbay doors. It was, in many ways, a pantomime of dissatisfaction, which certainly accounted for the roll of Zia's eyes as she turned around and went back to what she'd been doing.

"How about then," the newcomer attempted to negotiate, "we bypass the whole interrogation thing and you help me get access to that big ol' cargo storage that's currently got 'VIP access only' barriers up?" A pair of raised eyebrows lent the man an infinitely hopeful expression. "That'll be where the thing you're trying to figure out the identity of was last kept, even if it's probably long gone by now."

This time, rather than look abashed by hinted at revelations, Nic merely flashed his best enticing smile.

"See? Teamwork."

This man definitely knew more than he let on, and it left Naysia strangely curious. Curious about what he sought in the cargo storage, and curious about what knowledge he held. Pausing for a moment, the silver-haired woman did a risk assessment in her head to gauge if this was worth indulging. Separating a team was a guaranteed way to take them out, and this man had given the perception that he was nothing more than a clumsy buffoon, but was it a ruse? He knew a surprising amount about their purpose on the station, but he also had several opportunities to take them out, and didn't. Keeping her eyes on Nic, she turned her head to address Zia. "If you're ok continuing the search through the computer, I can check out the cargo hold with our guest."

Glancing back towards the somewhat-surprised man, Zia fixed him with a dubious grimace and then turned her attention to her colleague. "You know if you need back-up, it's probably going to be Dash you need to call." The Betazoid's eyes sparkled, harbouring an impressive ability to flirt with the Trill even when he wasn't in the room. "I don't know if even a cargo bay can contain that amount of swagger, so I guess we'll just have to hope Nicky-boy here has some semblance of self-preservation." Zia turned back to her work. "I'll have this done by the time you get back."

"I think she likes me." The undeserved expression of confidence trailed Nayisa out the door, not far enough out of earshot to avoid the huff of disparaging amusement from the room behind. "But she's worried over nothing, I am absolutely committed to full cooperation with whatever shenanigans Starfleet is trying to pull here." Nic grinned, which was somewhat wasted on the back of a strikingly-silver head.

Nayisa had given a nod to acknowledge what Zia suggested, then led the way to the cargo bay, rolling her eyes at Nic's quip. A small shiver went up her spine when she realized that her questionable company was behind her, and discreetly adjusted her pace so he could at least walk beside her instead of behind her. "Good, I expect nothing less," she responded.


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