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What's discussed at the Replimat...

Posted on Fri Jul 1st, 2022 @ 11:53pm by Freya Mannerheim & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien

Mission: Chapter VI: Racing the Storm
Location: Drozana
Timeline: 238704.19

Finally, some time to relax, Captain Mannerheim thought to herself as she sank back into the soft material of her booth, closing her eyes to focus on the heavy bass of some 21st-century Japanese electronic music playing in the club. She knew there would be only few people able to recognise her here - all shore leave on I.S.S. Amelia had been cancelled, and the crew on Ourainavassa was equally focussed on their preparations for the upcoming mission. And even if someone saw her, she was still wearing the work clothes she'd worn on her grandfather's ship earlier. The only things hinting towards her identity were the Terran standard-issue dagger and phaser pistol on her belt, and the tricom badge on her shirt. Still, those few who came to Drozana to unwind after their work for the day was done usually kept to the main bar, which was one reason why Freya had chosen to come back to the Black Pearl, the same club she had visited on an undercover investigation with Subcommander Kaiae six weeks earlier. She smiled to herself at the memory of pretending to be on a date with the Romulan officer.

When another memory from the same date - yet at the same time fifteen years ago - surfaced, Freya put her hand on her cybernetic leg. Her own counterpart, whom she'd met earlier, had gone through the same thing, and yet she was here, working on her grandfather's ship to get it ready to help with the evacuation. "Maybe I shouldn't have gotten involved," the Captain whispered to herself, fully aware that she had irrevocably changed her own past when she told her counterpart of what would happen in the Badlands a few years in the future. Still, she was certain it had been the right choice, even though it meant that Freya was now a living, breathing paradox. She looked at the PADD on the table in front of her and sighed. Despite all the chaos in her mind, there remained something she had to do. Freya took a deep breath and tapped her badge.

"Subcommander Kaiae, it's the Captain. Would you join me at the Black Pearl for a drink? I need to ask you some advice in a personal matter."

Kaiae checked the trace and other qualities of the feed twice before responding; because the request was so...strange. 'Personal matter' might be code for something one didn't want said within an official setting or earshot, but even if one felt a matter best taken off either ship, of all the places aboard Drozana, the one where people had been drugged and robbed probably would have been near the bottom of her own list to choose as more secure. She couldn't find anything wrong with the signal itself, though, and made a careful reply.

"I'll meet you at the entrance." If, then, the issue was with the source, not the signal; she'd have a better chance of getting away from any Orion goons who might have captured or drugged the Terran captain to ensnare her. And if Freya herself proved the issue, well, it was still going to be easier to get away than inside the bar.

Freya nodded to herself, downed her drink, and stood, picking up her PADD. Of course, good old Romulan paranoia was kicking in, but she couldn't fault the Subcommander for being cautious. In fact, it was this quality that had made her choose Kaiae to speak to in the first place. So, she quietly left the club, and stood opposite the entrance, somewhat hidden from direct view, with her hand on her weapons. After all, one should always be cautious, especially on Drozana.

Kaiae spotted Freya - and the ready-to-draw stance; but that could just be prudence. Drozana was the sort of place she hoped dearly to never see again, once they were through with the current endeavors: At least one drunken Ferengi had tried to paw at her on the way over, for example, and been slammed into the bulkhead by his ears in response. A hand in position to draw a weapon of her own if need be, Kaiae carefully approached Freya's position. "I suggest there are better watering holes, if that is your aim." Kaiae said quietly, with a subtle jerk of her chin towards the Black Pearl entrance.

Freya smiled. "Good evening to you as well, Subcommander. I just needed somewhere to think without being disturbed, really. This place is remarkably good at that." She tilted her head slightly. "Although the volume of the music makes proper conversation difficult, and I did ask you here because I need some advice, so..." She paused for a moment, before spotting a small diner nearby that appeared to be nearly empty. "There we go that will do. Shall we?" Without waiting for the Romulan to follow, the Captain headed over to the restaurant.

"If you are interested in ensuring that your words are not overheard or passed on; the odds of success are greater in motion than in a single space, unless the space in question is private and well secured." Kaiae said quietly, baffled that anyone could think a public space aboard Drozana a decent spot for getting advice of most any kind: The place as a whole was filled with people willing to sell information to you for the right price; who by their nature also were quite willing to sell information on you, and gather it.

The Captain turned back and shook her head. "I appreciate the concern, as always, Kaiae. But it is, in this instance, not needed." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a little device. "Didn't think I noticed you blocking recording devices, did you? And look inside, there's only that one girl in there. I doubt she speaks Rihannsu. Now come on." With a wave, Freya led Kaiae into the diner, which turned out to be an automated replimat. She quickly purchased two raktajinos from the replicator vending machine, before taking the Subcommander to sit in a booth at the far end, as far away from the only other customer as possible.

"Like I said," she continued once they'd sat down. "I need your advice in a personal matter. Tell me, how familiar are you with the Temporal Prime Directive?"

"....Not at all?" Kaiae tilted her head slightly, and one hand reached under her tunic to quietly throw the switch on her own little jamming device. "Only the Federation's standard one, with it's bizarre absolutes towards no interference in...much of anything."

"That's pretty much the gist of it, yeah." Freya shrugged. "Don't interfere with historical events unless absolutely necessary, or in order to address a previous incursion. Which is what our mission here was initially all about. Probably the biggest part of the directive, however, is never to mess with your own timeline." She sighed. "Which I did earlier today. Remember what I told you when we went to the Pearl six weeks back, about what was happening to my counterpart in this timeline, at this time, as we were speaking? I'm sure you do. And then I went and contacted my grandfather, or at least the man he is in this universe, and recruited him to help us. He pretty much figured it out straight away who I was. And then, when I went to their ship to help preparations earlier today..." She paused again, and took a long sip from her raktajino. "I met her. I did some work with her. And I interfered with my own timeline. When I was thrown into this universe, five years from now, I found her in an escape pod, dead. I assumed her identity to join Starfleet."

Freya took out her PADD, and placed it on the table in front of Kaiae. "You can see where this is going, right? I simply told her to avoid the Badlands. And as you can see here, in her personnel file, she did. Or will do. And survives. Which means that, well, my own timeline, my personal experiences, my memories, are a paradox. Some of them, anyway. And it hurts my brain, but I had to do it. I couldn't just let her die, you know."

Kaiae wondered briefly if the point of saying any of this had been to share the headache, in which case it was quite successful, and she gave up trying to decipher it all fully. "And so?"

"I have broken the most fundamental rule of time travel," the Captain explained. "I'm already committing treason against the Empire by giving my superiors false reports, and now I've gone against Federation Starfleet Temporal as well. It's only a matter of time before the Terrans figure out what I've done, if they haven't already, which is a death sentence. If I somehow find a way back to my own time in this universe, I'll end up spending the rest of my life in prison. So, really, there's only one option left. Once the evacuation mission is underway, I will order Amelia to return to HQ to prepare for their attack on Hobus, and then give command to Commander Rogers, resigning from Starfleet in the process."

"One hopes that order will at least get her off my bridge, then." Kaiae muttered. The Terran officer was just one more contingency she and Hatham had had to develop plans to counter if need be, and in this case she strongly suspected there would turn out to be the need, eventually. "As to the rest...." She shrugged her eyebrows up and down as her voice trained off; while she couldn't quite appreciate the time displacement aspect; nothing else said was beyond what she was facing herself; from the treason charges and the death sentence to the concrete inability to ever see home again.

"Our bridge, if you'll have me." Freya sighed. "It's not as if I'll have anywhere else to go. Going back to Nygard just feels wrong, it's not my home. Not the same world where I grew up. I mean, I get along with the people just fine, but I don't fit in. And besides, it's probably best if I don't do any more damage to my own timeline." She opened another file on the PADD. "As for the Rogers issue, she'll gladly take command of Amelia, but I highly doubt she'll let me, or us, go without a fight. But this should help with that. On that PADD you'll find a complete technical readout. Well, not complete enough to recreate any of the technology, but complete enough to know its weak points and blow it up."

Kaiae accepted the PADD with a slight rise of one eyebrow, stuffing it under one arm for review later. "You could perhaps take other measures in advance, then." She was still exceedingly uncomfortable going into much detail in a public space; Freya might feel confident the other customer did not understand what was being said if they could by chance overhear it; but Kaiae was still baffled at why one would take the risk, when the conversation could have as easily been had while walking without the risk of the single placement; and so was unwilling to blatantly spell out a recommendation to sabotage the other vessel.

The Captain chuckled. "You think I'm not already working on it?" She leaned out of the booth. "Nakai!"

As soon as Mannerheim called out, the young woman in the other booth stood, and walked over. "Captain?" Standing in front of Freya and Kaiae was a young human woman, with decidedly Japanese features, short black hair, and glasses, dressed in a casual, yet elegant skirt and blouse combination. Her most striking feature, however, were her pale blue eyes. As was prudent on Drozana, she carried a phaser pistol on her belt.

Freya simply nodded at the woman, and turned to Kaiae. "Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien, may I introduce you to Nakai Shizune, owner and manager of a tea house in Osaka, Japan, on Earth. Which is not why she is here. But, if you really are as perceptive as I think you are, you'll have already recognised her."

"Which makes it make even less sense." Kaiae sighed.

The Captain slid over to make room for Shizune, who sat down and placed her own PADD on the table. "After Hansha- I mean, my counterpart, the one you know as Perez - came to visit me in Osaka, we stayed in touch. Not very long ago, they contacted me and said that their old Captain needed my help. So, I spoke to the Captain myself. And, well, now I'm here."

Freya nodded again. "See, I'm not all that good with computers. But Nakai here is. She's written a nifty piece of code for me that I've already fed into Amelia's computer. Or rather, she's taken a bit of Ourainavassa's code and adapted it. I'm sure you remember that Tal Shiar shutdown override."

"Yes." Kaiae said nothing as to the fact that a great deal of software of their own had now gone into attempting to counter it; plus the last-resort physical 'override' now in place that would enable her to kill power to the computer core entirely if necessary; that was known only to herself, Hatham, and the single Romulan engineer who'd done the installation. If she ever had to throw that switch it would cripple the ship entirely (and should there be a battle in progress, or no resolution to any internal struggle in time to resurrect the life support systems within a few hours, would lead everyone on board to their deaths; but that was quite preferable to the alternatives at that point).

Shizune smiled. "Quite a powerful little bit of code, that. I was able to turn it into a virus compatible with the systems on the Terran ship. It will allow remote access to any command functions. And probably the neatest feature of the original code is that it's self-replicating in a way that it cannot be removed without wiping the entire computer core. So even if they find it, they won't be able to get rid of it."

"As you've probably discovered yourselves," Freya added. "After all, it is Tal Shiar handiwork. Unfortunately, it isn't a perfect match for Amelia's systems. It will only be effective for a very brief period of time before a system reset. But the solution for that is quite simple. Just blow her up while the shields are down."

"Right." There were enough people seemingly now in on various pieces of things that Kaiae was once again fast developing a splitting headache over the risk levels; no group of the size that had various knowledge now - and certainly none with multiple competing agendas in play - had, to the best of her knowledge, ever succeeded in keeping a secret.

"I know you're worried about discovery, Subcommander. But let's make this simple. Let me worry about the Terrans. You make sure the evacuation happens, and when the time comes, I'll make sure Rogers won't be a problem any more. I wanted to make sure you know there is a plan in place." Freya smiled. "We're a good team, Kaiae, whether you like it or not. We'll pull this off."

Assertions aside, Kaiae thought silently, nothing about any of these endeavors was simple. And she had an obligation to the officers and crew who had followed Arreinye here and their families, to make sure there was more than one plan in place: In case their allies betrayed them, or perhaps even more likely, in case the first plans failed.

"If there is nothing further, then, I'm afraid I really should be returning to the ship." Kaiae replied.

Freya nodded. "As should I. You know where to find me, in case you need anything, Subcommander."

Shizune stood. "I will be staying on the Nygardian ship, if either of you wish to contact me. Good night."


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