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Not the Romulans You're Looking For

Posted on Mon Oct 30th, 2023 @ 5:14pm by Fleet Admiral Sturnack & Rear Admiral Tenai Dexu & Rear Admiral Richard Brannigan
Edited on on Mon Dec 11th, 2023 @ 11:04pm

Mission: Episode 3: Conflicts of Interest
Location: Admiral Dexu's Office
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1300

[Admiral Dexu's Office]
[Starfleet Intelligence]
[SFC Complex]
[MD 2: 1300 Hours]

Lieutenant Attol surveyed the room and nodded to himself, satisfied with how he'd carried out his assignment for the Admiral. With the upcoming meeting between Dexu and the invited parties -- Director of R&D, Admiral Brannigan and Romulan Ambassador tr'Lito -- the lieutenant had been asked to ready the office for company and ready it, he had. There were bottles of water arrayed on a side table against the wall, including some of those fancy green bottles Attol knew some people favored. He'd also laid out an array of savory and sweet finger foods, meant to quell hungry stomachs given that the meeting was set to take place during the normal lunch hour: some topics just couldn't wait for regular meals.

Waiting for Dexu on his desk was an ice cold sweet tea that came all the way from the Horseshoe Cafe, a coffee and tea shop that was quickly becoming popular with the upper echelons of Starfleet leadership. Attol had the baristas brew the tea fresh just for Dexu: a special treat on what Attol knew was a stressful day. With preparations ready, all that was missing was Admiral Dexu himself and the other invitees. Having also been tasked with taking notes during the meeting, Attol moved to stand near the table full of water and snacks and waited unobtrusively for everyone to show up.

Tenai arrived at his office seeing the excellent work from his aide and the drink on the desk he smirked as he looked at his aide "Outdoing yourself as always Lieutenant! This is an excellent piece of work." He walked over to his desk and took a seat making sure he had everything in order for the meeting with the Admiral and Ambassador. He took a sip of the sweet tea and let out a satisfying sigh. It was some good tea and Attol had picked up on his love for sweet tea. He heard a chime at his office door and pushed the button under his desk, which opened the doors.

They opened to reveal a man in dark, forest green robes with sharp, padded shoulders in the style favored on Romulus. Ambassador R'kul -- newly appointed in the wake of the embassy bombing -- stepped inside, his eyes sweeping the room as his robes swished at his feet. "Admiral," came the man's cool, crisp clip. "I am appreciative of our inclusion in this meeting. I assume I am the first to arrive? Not including yourself and your aide," the Romulan said, looking down his nose at Attol. He assumed the underling was there to serve and availed himself promptly, disregarding the beverage choices arrayed on the table. "I prefer Romulan rakthal, a sparkling beverage whose molecular pattern you'll find in the database we shared with your people."

"Of...of course, Ambassador," Attol nodded quickly, moving to the replicator. "I should have thought to offer a selection of Romulan beverages. My apologies."

"Yes. Yes you should have," R'kul replied. "But I still appreciate the gesture," he allowed, moving forward towards Dexu. He did not reach out a hand in the human custom, preferring to nod his head as means of introduction. "Ambassador Grathon R'kul, at your service, Admiral. Ah yes, thank you," he said to Attol as the requested beverage was handed over. He lifted the glass to study the liquid in the light. "A passable replica," he intoned.

Tenai smiled at the ambassador "You are the first to arrive, but it is my pleasure in a situation where all parties need to be involved I felt there was nothing better than making sure we are all present."

"A wise take, Admiral," R'kul nodded slowly, sipping again from the beverage he'd been given. There was little more to say until the remaining Admiral joined them, thus the Romulan ambassador fell into silence.

Richard hated to be the last person to arrive at a meeting, but there had been things that needed his finalization before he could go. So here he was, the last to arrive. Glancing at his wrist chrino, he noted that he was not late. That was something, at least. Reaching the office, he tapped the door chime and awaited the invitation to enter. What awaited him inside he could only guess at, and he preferred not to do that as it bordered to closely on assuming.

Tenai opened the door for the late arrival and smiled "Welcome Admiral! I am glad you could join us. Can my aide get you anything to drink?"

Attol looked all too eager to please. "We've a selection of waters laid out but if you'd like something replicated, I'd be happy to get it for you," the young man said, smiling warmly.

Richard studied the aide for a moment, a slight smile curving his lips. God, had he ever been that young and eager? "I would actually love some Spiced Chai Tea, if it's not too much trouble. Thank you," he told the young man before turning his gaze back to Admiral Dexu. "And thank you, Admiral," he offered politely as he moved farther into the room. His eyes then took in the ambassador, and he tilted his head respectfully. "Greeting, Ambassador."

"One spiced chai tea, coming up," Attol smiled and bowed his head, backing away from Brannigan. He moved over towards the office's replicator and got to work filling the Admiral's order.

Ambassador R'kul, meanwhile, merely nodded to Brannigan. "Admiral," he said cooly before taking a sip from his replicated rakthal. The Romulan moved as well, positioning himself near the large picture window that looked out over the bay. He observed the shuttle passing by before turning once again, this time to face Dexu. "Shall we begin these proceedings then?" he asked pointedly, as if he'd been kept waiting altogether too long.

Attol, meanwhile, had come back over and passed the tea over to Brannigan. "There you go, sir," he whispered before making himself scarce, moving to the corner of the room to take notes on a PADD.

Richard acknowledged the young man politely but silently as he took the tea from him and then moved to take a seat in one of the chairs in the room. "Of course, Ambassador," he responded with proper respect for the man's position. Richard's eyes then turned to regard Dexu as he waited to be told what was needed of him.

" that we have drinks and comfortable places to sit," Dexu said, lowering himself into a chair himself and hoping R'kul would join them, "we should discuss the problem facing us right now. Frankly, the Chalvana system is a mess right now, as you both know. What isn't common knowledge is that the mass coronal ejections aren't a natural phenomenon. We've found evidence that Romulan technology was used to create them. Now I'm not saying it was the Romulans," he looked over his shoulder at R'kul, "merely that Romulan technology has been found. Admiral Brannigan, I sent you the specs on the equipment we found. Any thoughts?"

Richard frowned as he looked down at the PADD he had brought with him. "On the surface, and to cursory scans, the equipment looks to be of Rihannsu design and construction," he began, using the Romulans' name for themselves out of respect. Setting the PADD down, he took a handful of computer control chips from his pocket. These he dropped onto the desk.

"However, when we took it apart and examined each piece more deeply, we discovered those." He motioned to the chips on the desk. "While they look normal for Rihannsu technology, they are not made of the correct material."

Picking up his PADD once more, he brought up the scan readings his people had taken of these chips in a side-by-side with typical readings for Rihannsu control chips. He then handed the PADD across the desk to Dexu.

"The readings on the left are typical readings for this type of Rihannsu chip. On the right are the readings we took of those chips." He then waited for Dexu to review the readings.

Dexu's eyes narrowed as he reviewed the findings. "That's...odd. I'm not an engineer but these definitely don't fit what we'd expect to see. Ambassador?" he asked, turning to regard R'kul and offer the PADD for review. "What do you make of this?"

R'kul moved across the room with grace, extending his right arm to take the PADD. His eyes, too, scanned back and forth across the device's display, a huff of disgust finally expelling from his lips. "We told you it wasn't us. This confirms it. But," he psuedo-seethed, "I do not recognize to whom this technology actually belongs. I'm assuming your team has been working on such?" he asked of Brannigan, thrusting the PADD back at the man.

Richard was, fortunately for this situation, not a man easily offended or annoyed. He simply took the PADD back from the agitated -- no, that wasn't strong enough -- Rihannsu ambassador with a nod. "Indeed. We are running every test known and a few we're inventing just for this case to determine as much about these as we can. What we have so far, however, doesn't seem to match any known species' technology." He frowned now, obviously not pleased with the next bit. "The possibility exists that whoever constructed those expected us to eventually figure this out and made them just different enough from their own technology that they wouldn't be easily traced. We are looking into that possibility as well."

"Is the tech kit-bashed?" Dexu asked, not being an engineer himself but certainly having heard the term before. "Made from multiple components from different races' tech?" the Admiral wondered aloud, trying to think through the possibilities. The idea of the saboteurs using technology that could keep them from being identified unnerved the man, even though it did make quite a lot of sense.

Richard frowned. That was a term he hadn't actually heard in a while, but he of course knew what it meant. He shook his head after a moment. "No, not so much that as altered tech. FOr example, if I took a Starfleet tricorder and used a slightly different casing, customeuzed its circuitry just a bit off of Starfleet normal and then, for good measure, made it of slightly altered versions of our materials. It would look different enough that it would not be easily identified as Starfleet. Nowq, that examhple is simplistyic, but it gives the general idea. If we knew to suspect Starfleet in that examhple, we might easily see the differences. But since our list of suspects is not narrow, there are a lot of permutations to check."

Dexu nodded slowly, following his permutations of thought through to their conclusions. "So the solar events were created by tech that appeared Romulan," he offered a reassuring nod to R'kul, "but, in reality, is something that's been altered and repurposed from standard. We've certainly had Federation technology that's been commandeered and corrupted for nefarious purposes. Sounds like the same has happened here. Is there any way," he looked at Brannigan, "to trace altered components back to their place of origin?"

Richard nodded, though his expression was somber. "There are several, but they all take time. Currently, I have split my team, a small section each taking one of the possible ways and looking into it. This way, we waste no time with the 'wrong path'." Taking a sip of his tea, he returned the mug to his knee. "We did even check the possibility that it could be Rihannsu but altered to throw us off the trail. Meaning, we'd get it, go over it, see the modifications that say it isn't their tech, and eliminate them out of hand." He could almost feel the ambassador's eyes boring holes in him. In R'kul's place, Richard felt that he might do the same, so he continued to give the ambassador clarity. "This idea that there could be a faction of their people working against their government's interests was what prompted us originally to scan the thing so deeply. This, of course, as you can see, had the benefit of proving conclusively that the tech is not Rihannsu in origin, period. But it does leave us with the problem of deciphering who it does belong to. I and my people will not stop until we have the solution for you, sir," he assured.

"I appreciate the diligence you and your team are bringing to this," Dexu nodded. "It sounds like you're doing all the right things here. Would you agree, Ambassador?" the Trill asked, looking at the Romulan with a neutral expression on his face. In asking the leading question, it was as if he were daring the Ambassador to speak out in opposition. And perhaps he was doing that but it was important that this meeting end with a tacit agreement on both the situation and the next steps that were required.

R'kul narrowed his eyes at the obvious trap that had been laid out before him. If he disagreed with Dexu, the onus would be on him to come up with a plan: at present, he had neither the authority nor all of the information needed to formulate such. If he agreed with the Admiral, however, he would be locking his people into whatever course of action Brannigan and his department settled on as they continued their investigation. Neither choice was palatable but, in the end, he simply nodded. "Of course, Admiral," the Ambassador said.

Richard nodded, retrieving all of the bits he had entered the office with. "Thank you, Sirs. I will get back to it then, with your permission." At Dexu's nod, Richard gave him a salute, gave R'kul a nod of respect, and left the office to continue his work.

=/\= A joint-post by... =/\=

Lieutenant Darren Attol (NPC'd by Brad)
Attache Officer to Admiral Dexu

Rear Admiral Tenai Dexu (NPC'd by Brad)
Director, Starfleet Intelligence

Rear Admiral Richard Brannigan
Director, Starfleet Research and Development


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