The End of the Beginning
Location: Prata VI
The team beams down a 1/2 mile from the eastern side of the base. A large four story building rises above the base and our intel says that is where the bodies/prisoners were taken.
Millie brushed a wisp of hair from her face. Her usual up-do had been changed to a series of smaller braids, most of which fell to mid-back. She shifted the small pouch of medical supplies to her other shoulder.
Edra peered at the building from their vegetative cover. A brief look around showed that many things seemed to be proportionately smaller around here. "We need to figure out how to get in there without getting caught. Maybe one of us could be an anomaly, but not all of us."
Millie looked to both Edra and Caressa. "No offense, Commanders, but---"She tapped the bridge of her nose. "I think your ridges might be a giveaway. Besides, I appear to be the shortest among us. I'm sure I can...explain my accent to them."
There was a manned guard post at the road which lead into the complex. One guy in the booth, one outside checking the square vehicles which chugged along belching a thick black smoke from their exhaust.
"I'm not real keen on sending in one person alone." Edra said. She turned to Caressa. "You have any ideas that will make us look more like we belong?" She didn't remember anything medically that would make a person shorter. Taller or any other body type, possibly, but not shorter. "Can we somehow project a native person while cloaking ourselves?" Or maybe just the latter if they were desperate.
"Well, we could always use Hologram emitters in reverse to project what we want to look like? I could tweek them! Its all I got" looking at the other two ladies for confirmation.
Edra nodded. "Let's try that out then. Millie, you wanna go first? You may be shortest of us, but you'd still tower over this species."
Caressa pulled 3 emitters out of her bag and placed them on the sleeves of her comrades. She made a few adjustments on each one then engaged. She giggled at first. All three women shrunk to one foot less than they were before. Nose ridges where gone, hairstyles were appropriate for the area. The medical bags, tricorders, and other objects were disguised as random objects, but worked fine for the women as what they were intended. I should have broke these out for use long ago.
Edra saw the effect on the others, but less so on herself, being inside the emmitter field. "It's hard to tell is mine wor..." She stopped as her attention was drawn beyond them.
Some activity suddenly popped up at the checkpoint as a red vehicle came up and was passed through followed by a very long armored personnel vehicle.
"That looks heavy duty, like they don't want anyone unauthorized getting into it. I want to get a closer look. Let's go."
Caressa trailed behind the others, descretly taking readings as she went. "Looks about like twenty humanoid life forms in the armored personel carrrier. Two in the Red one. I do not read any explosive devices between us and them" she whispered to Edra and Millie.
"I have an idea." Millie waved the other two over. "Hand me all of the equipment. If anyone asks, I'm your new research assistant, and sound really, really disappointed in me."
Edra considered, looked at Caressa with a raised brow, but shrugged. "Okay, lead the way, disappointing intern."
Millie grinned, grabbing all of their supply kits and medical equipment and slinging them over her shoulders. "Give me a five minute head start. If it looks like it's going south, keep your distance." The counselor slipped to the edge of the tree line, looked both ways, and stepped out onto the road. She staggered slightly (quite legitimately) under the burden of a couple of medical kits, diagnostic supplies, and a couple of tricorders, but she slowly approached the guard post.
The guard outside of the post watched her approach before he began waving his arms. "This base has been sealed! You cannot enter."
Millie gasped--somewhat exaggeratedly--as she reached the guard post. "It's okay." She gave a smile, playing up her supposed awkwardness as she shifted some of the equipment to her other shoulder. "Doctor Stepanova, I'm--" She caught one of the tricorders from slipping off of her arm. "I'm the medical research assistant for the--" Millie gestured with her head towards the buildings beyond the gate. "For whatever it was that they just brought in. I don't have a high enough security level for them to tell me all of the details."
She set one of the kits down at her feet so she could push the loose wisps of hair--awkwardly--from her face. "All I know is that we got the call, and my supervisors sent me ahead to get the equipment set up." Millie looked at the guard, gave a somewhat goofy smile, and giggled. "It's my first big project. I worked for five years to get on this team. I'm--just a little excited."
"I don't know if I would call it exciting," the guard said in a low tone. "Rumors say that when they pulled one of the giants from the crash he was huge with sharp teeth." He shook his head, "Monsters prowl the stars. Anyways, show me your identification."
Millie gave a soft chuckle, rummaging around in her pockets and trying her best not to drop any of the equipment she was still holding. "I thought those were the sort of things they just said in children's stories. Things to scare children into behaving and listening to their elders." She began to act more flustered, shifting a bag to her other shoulder and reaching into the pocket of her tunic. "Things aren't always so scary when you can--" She knelt and began to rifle through one of the duffels of medical supplies. "When you can take a closer look. See why they--" Another pocket turned out. "Why they work."
Millie gave a nervous look over her shoulder down the road, now able to see Edra and Caressa rounding the bend. She began muttering nervously, with the occasional "no" of disbelief scattered in. "Please...if my supervisor's find out that I've left our orders and identification back in our office, I'm done for." She stood, a desperate look on her face, and placed her hand on the guard's arm. "Please, I'll do anything to keep this job."
"You're a pretty girl and normally we could come to an...agreement but it's not worth my job. This is all top secret now because of what they brought back here."
Millie's cheeks flushed nervously (some of which was legitimate). She looked back over her shoulder one more time. "Please." As she made eye contact with the guard, her hand slid down to brush against his. "I can't lose this job, and my supervisors will be furious if they lose this contract for the scientific find of a lifetime."
She glanced over to the guard booth, and she willed her cheeks to flush an even deeper shade of red. "Maybe, after both of our shifts are done tonight, we could meet for a meal and drinks, and..." Millie made a point of biting her lower lip as she once again glanced at the other guard, "maybe your friend would be interested, too?"
The guard looked over at his coworker in the booth, then back to her. "Oh to Baggan to him, if anyone is gonna have a good time tonight it'll be me." He seemed to hesitate but then waved at the booth to lift the barrier. "Go ahead."
Millie bit her lip, expressing excitement this time, and gave the guard's hand a gentle squeeze before bending to scoop up the medical equipment. "Thank you thank you thank you." She gave a sigh of relief and another smile. "You've saved me. So...when and where should I meet you tonight?" she asked, checking over her shoulder for her two 'supervisors'.
"My shift ends in four cycles."
"Have you gotten no further than this?!?" came an annoyed voice from behind. Edra and Caressa were only a few paces out, but the XO's voice carried, even in this empty, arid landscape. She turned to Caressa. "You promised she would be more useful than this. See if I let you choose the hired help again." She rolled her eyes as she looked at the guard. "Is there a problem here that I need to fix...again?" she added.
"This will most likely be her last assignment, unless thing improve dramatically." :: looking at Millie disparagingly::
The man stiffened his posture. "No problem, she was just cleared to go about her work."
Edra nodded her thanks shortly before looking at Millie. "Think you can go any faster? You were supposed to have everything set up by the time we arrived. I suppose we'll have to wait for you now."
Millie scooped up the rest of the equipment. "Yes, ma'aam. Sorry ma'am. I'll get everything set up immediately." She shot one more grateful look to the guard, and scurried past him and the barricade.
Beyond the barricade there were people scurrying around in every direction. The large (for them) red personnel vehicle was parked in front of the largest building. It gave the look of a cross between a hospital and an office building.
Millie gestured with her head, having breathed a sigh of relief of making it through the barricade. "I think that's going to be our best bet to find the shuttle passengers." She looked back over her shoulder at the guard standing at the barricade. "And however long a 'cycle' is, we have four of them until the guard starts to suspect he's been lied to."
"That was very good, nice ploy" Caressa smiled at Millie.
Millie managed a nervous grin. "Perhaps...but he's expecting a good time tonight after his shift ends, so we'd better hurry and find the missing crew before he figures out that I'm going to stand him up."
"Well, we can stick around if you want to uphold your promises, Counselor," Edra remarked, winking at young woman.
The team made their way to the building and the buzz of activity actually lead to effective camouflage. When they got near the red vehicle, they could see heavily armed security men and non-armed men in head to toe blue containment suits, similar to what one might expect to see with hazardous materials.
Edra watched the activity for a moment, soaking up what was happening, and a plan formed. "This way," she said. But before she moved away she turned, took a tricorder from Millie's stack of equipment and handed it to Caressa, leaning in close. "Scan and record one of the hazmat suirlts as we pass," she said quietly. She nodded for them to follow her and walked into building. She found a nearby hallway, and chose a random door to duck into. Fortunately, it looked to be an empty office.
"Quickly. We'll take our stuff back. Make sure you have transporter tags to put on all the bodies. Caressa, we each need to be in a blue suit. We'll look like everyone else. When I sound the alarm, I need both of you to push the others to evacuate the area, then fall back discreetly. Understand?"
Millie passed off the equipment, placing herself at the small window in the door. She watched down the hallway, keeping an eye out.
“I am going to change the holo-emitters” Caressa changed each one with the change each of them wore blue haz-mat suits. “ I must say that these aren’t very fashionable.” She took back her equipment, tricorder and transporter tags in hand. “Ready when you are.”
Millie looked both ways down the hallway. "Coast is clear!"
"Actually, I want to follow the next group of hazmat workers...they'll lead us where we need to go. Step out into the hallway, but don't go far." She checked to be sure they didn't leave anything behind. When she stepped out of the office behind the others, she heard voices coming from behind. "Millie, let me see your tricorder."
Millie gave a nod through her holo-suit. She slipped the tricorder off of her shoulder, passing it back to Edra.
Edra took it from her and tinkered with it as she heard the voices getting closer. She glanced up and confirmed it was as she'd hoped. 3 other people in hazmat suits. As they passed, she closed up the tricorder, and handed it back to Millie. "There all fixed. Let's go." She fell into step behind the others, making sure Millie and Caressa were with her.
Millie followed along behind Edra and Caressa, keeping an ear and an eye out for anyone coming in behind them. She had to admit, she wasn't used to being this hands-on during an away mission, and certainly never right in the mix of things during a search-and-rescue mission. She was nervous, but she was always good at keeping that pleasant expression on her face.
Being in the middle gave her cover enough to scan with her tricorder. Whispering to Edra." There is no reason for anyone to be in these containment suits." Following the other suits up the stairs to another floor. "Where are we going?"
Edra grinned, even if no one could see her. "They give us cover though, and I plan to use the fact that they don't know that to our advantage. And access to the bodies is likely guarded, so going in with the others is our cover." As they got to the top floor, the access to the bodies was right there.
As Edra had expected there were two armed guards at the door with stern looks. They were without protective gear and clearly unhappy about it. As the group got closer the grumbling became clearer.
"You don't even know what kind of germs those off-worlders have."
"And here we are, probably getting infected."
"They don't care, we're all replaceable."
As they walked past the guard, Millie paused, flipping open her tricorder and allowing it to make a chirp. At the chirp, she looked up at both of the guards, concern on her face through the holo-suit. She looked down at the device in her hands, and then back up at the guards. The tricorder chirped again. "You both...might want to report to medical. Soon." Without another word, she followed the others into the room.
The two guards looked at one another before jogging down the hall.
Edra sighed. She had hoped for as little interaction as possible, but she couldn't deny the idea had worked. And, they were in. She whispered to the others, "We need to confirm these are who we're looking for. Millie, you and I can scan a few. Caressa, see if you can pick up any life signs we may be looking for elsewhere in the vicinity.
Millie nodded. "Guards are gone," she whispered back. She began slowly walking down the row of tables, discretely scanning with her tricorder.
At the far end of the room were three metal tables. The bodies underneath were clearly too large for them as both the legs and arms hung over the sides and a sheet covered each body from knee to over their head.
Caressa rushed over to the tables, taking out her tricoder and going over each one of the bodies and shaking her head.
Caressa's tricorder showed the bodies to be two males--human and Bajoran and one female---human. That matched the missing crew.
Millie frowned, reaching and pulling back the sheet over one of the faces.
Face wasn't exactly what she found. The eyeballs had been removed along with the skullcap and brain with the throat filleted out butterfly style.
Millie let out a tiny gasp of surprise, taking a couple of steps back and backing into one of the other autopsy tables.
Edra heard her gasp, and quickly moved to her direction, surprised by what she found in front of her. She did, however, keep her reaction quiet so the Pratans' attention wasn't drawn to them. She covered up the body again. "Well, this puts a spin on this whole mission," she said so only Millie could hear. "Bugger."
Caressa stepped up to the next autopsy table. Pulling back the sheet, it was also degraded in the same manner. "Why and who would do such a thing?" Moving to the next table, finding all the bodies butchered in the same fashion. She continued to scan the bodies as she went.
Her tricorder noted the female crew member also was without her reproductive system.
Millie frowned. "Did this happen before or after the crash?" she whispered.
"This happened postmortem, I am thinking the locals did this after the crash. Reminds me of old earth and Area 51. So pointless. Really pisses me off in fact." She covered the bodies, with respect. " I just want to get them back to the ship"
Millie nodded. "I'll...see if I can find the rest of them. See if we can recover all the parts." She turned, looking around the room, looking for signs of the missing body parts.
Edra put a hand on Millie before she got too far. "We need to get the Pratans out of here first. Hold on." She looked at her tricorder and made some adjustments. Suddenly it was sounding an alarm, and she spoke aloud with authority and urgency. "We need to evacuate this floor, immediately! The bodies are giving off a form of radiation our suits were not designed to block. Sweep the other labs and be sure everyone meets at the designated check spot."
She ushered the others out first, until the three of them were left, making sure everyone else was engaged in their tasks and not them. Once the room was clear she locked it shut. "This is only going to buy us minutes. We need to find all...body parts, and at least account for what's missing. We'll match them up back on the ship. Understood?"
Millie nodded, quickly turning on her tricorder. A quick scan of the shelves and cabinets narrowed down her search. She flung open a set of cabinets to reveal a refrigeration unit. "Looks like I've got the missing parts!" She pulled several clear containers out, tucking them safely into her shoulder bag.
Edra shook her head. "Make sure the number of parts you have equals the number of of missing parts. We can't take the chance that they put everything in one place." She looked at her tricorder for the number of missing organs, shaking her head at the information being shared from the others' tricorders.
Millie turned to the other women. "I think I've got all of the parts." She gestured to the console in the corner. "What about the computer?"
"I can take care of that." Tweaking a few buttons, she downloaded all the files in the computer. It did not take long due to the simplicity of it. Then she took out her phaser and totally ionized the computer. Nothing was left. " That was easy! Absolutely nothing left for them to even exam. Was like we where never here." ::She smirked::
Edra nodded. "Good, let-" She stopped when she heard a noise from the hallway. With8n a few seconds voices could be heard. "Time to go, now!" she hissed. "Make sure each of them has a transporter chip on them." She tapped her combadge. "Mercutio, 6 to transport straight to Sickbay on my command." She looked to the other two to know when they were ready.
"I am more than ready! Let's go! " ::Caressa nodding fanatically::
Millie nodded. "Da! Go!"
Edra nodded, and tapped her badge again. "Energize!"
They were all engulfed in a transporter beam a moment before the door was forced open.
The man in a bright red uniform looked around in disgust. "Find them!"
A siren began to wail.
Commander Edra Crow
Executive Officer, USS Mercutio
Lieutenant Commander Caressa Melanick
Chief Medical Officer, USS Mercutio
Lieutenant JG Aemilia "Millie" Stepanova
Chief Counselor, USS Mercutio