Part of USS Century: 1. Videre Invisibilium

Puzzle Pieces, Loose Strings…

USS Century
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“… After the investigation of the vessel is complete, the outpost will tow it to their dry dock facility and store it there in the event it is needed in any follow-up investigations. The crew has been taken aboard the Century to await transport to the nearest holding facility once we have determined who is responsible for staging this elaborate scheme,” Captain Gar’rath explained to the officer being displayed on his office terminal.

“Understood, Captain, we’ll await your next report,” came the reply before the image cut out and shifted to the Federation logo for a few seconds before the display powered down completely. Gar’rath leaned back in his chair, running a knuckle under his maw contemplatively while considering what the ship’s next step should be. His security department was handling the interrogations of the newly acquired prisoners as well as sweeping the now deserted ship nearby. Depending on the information gleaned from those sources, the decision on what to do next might be made for them.

As he considered all that, another thought came to him as he remembered that the outpost was currently hunting for the illustrious Mister Vol. If the station managed to capture him before he made himself scarce, they might gain a better understanding of just how complex the smuggling operation actually was. That did, however, rest entirely on how honest the Bolian was upon capture, which seemed like a lot to ask for given just how dishonest their dealing with him had been. Even without his cooperation, they still had the cargo, they had still managed to thwart Vol’s smuggling operations, and they had managed to come through the other side of it all relatively unscathed. 

As his thoughts began to wander even further, the chime to his Ready Room door sounded, pulling his focus from the middle distance it had settled on toward the door. “Enter,” Gar’rath said, watching as the doors parted to allow his Security officer to step through the threshold. When the Lieutenant reached roughly midway into the room, he stopped and rested a hand on the back of one of the chairs in front of the Captain’s desk.

“The boarding party has just returned to the ship, Captain. It would appear that they were not carrying any additional cargo aboard, nor did any of their databases contain any information of note. Either they deleted all their records prior to being taken aboard the ship, or the vessel was used solely as an attack craft and nothing else,” the Klingon reported.

“Was the team able to establish where they came from?” the Captain inquired.

“Yes sir,” Khar responded, “The vessel came from what appears to be a stellar debris field in deep space. It sits approximately half a light year away from the leading edge of the Paulson Nebula. Long range scans of the area are currently being conducted.”

“What about our new ‘guests’? Have they given your people any actionable intelligence?”

“They are rather tight lipped, it would seem,” the Klingon frowned, “I doubt any of them will betray their superiors. While I respect their sense of loyalty, it does make our mission here far more difficult.”

“I believe Humans call that ‘honor among criminals’…” Gar’rath offered.

“Thieves,” Khar corrected him, “Lily often uses that phrase when she is discussing scientific journals and declaring some of her colleagues in the field possessing no honor.”

“Ah yes…” the Gorn nodded in realization, “You are currently in… courtship? Is that the word?”

Khar mulled over his response for a moment before replying, “I suppose in a broad sense, yes. We call it a partnership, her and I, but it does share a great many similarities to the concept of courtship.”

“I see. Thank you for clarifying that,” the Captain said before shifting back to the previous topic, “Depending on whether the outpost can apprehend Mister Vol or not, and subsequently pry information from him that we can use, we may need to bring our friends in the Brig to Gateway Station and let their personnel handle them from there.”

“I’ll head down and see where we are with the interrogations,” Khar offered.

“Please do,” Gar’rath nodded before turning his attention back to his desk display. The Lieutenant took his Captain’s shift in focus as his cue to leave and departed the office. The Gorn brought up the information on the stellar debris field his away team had identified and began to look it over, his mind beginning to connect more pieces of the strange puzzle they were currently trying to solve. His surveillance of the map allowed him to watch in real-time as the ship took the measure of the area’s various celestial bodies, displaying bit of information one after another as different long range scans completed their analysis. Some twenty minutes slipped by as the Captain watched the various readouts flash before his eyes until finally the updates stopped. Judging from the information they had gathered, this particular area was likely a dead end. The warp signature from the ship they’d encountered did indeed pass through it, but it was not where the trail originated, meaning it had been a stopping point for the to redirect course… probably when they got the call from their contact on the outpost.

A frustrated sigh erupted from the Gorn’s chest, a fairly natural response to having invested so much time watching something prove to be fruitless. Gar’rath slumped back in his chair and quietly mused about how their string of luck with finding clue after clue seemed to have finally come to an end. 

“Bridge to Captain Gar’rath,” the voice of his XO called out over the audio system in his Ready Room.

“Go ahead.”

“We’ve received word from the outpost that Mister Vol has been found,” the woman reported, “However he was dead by the time their security team caught up to him. Their initial investigation into his demise indicates that it was some manner of power surge that triggered an overload of a panel he was near while trying to climb up an access tunnel toward their shuttlebay. They aren’t certain if the explosion or the fall is responsible for his death.”

“Has the station managed to get anything from his personal terminals or his quarters?”

“It seems like he introduced some manner of virus into his access terminal right after we spoke with him. It took out half their data core and temporarily blacked out their security systems. Nothing he left behind gave any indication as to who he might have been working for,” Abigail responded.

“A literal dead end…” Gar’rath muttered mostly to himself.

An amused snort could be heard over the comm before Peters asked, “What’s our next course of action?”

“Take us to Gateway Station. We’ll offload our prisoners and the cargo and let the authorities there handle the clean-up from this incident. I’ll let them know we’re coming,” the Captain instructed.

“Understood,” Abby responded before the communication line was terminated.