Location: In orbit of Jutus
Speed: Standard Orbit
Shields: Nominal
Hull: Nominal
Systems: All Systems Nominal

Bridging The Gap
Episode 11 - Family Matters
Stardate 73834.3
MD005 0900 hrs

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The Search Part II

Posted on Wed Mar 31st, 2021 @ 1:18am by Captain Tyler Malbrooke & Colonel Loval & Lieutenant Commander Vaebn tr'Hwersuil & Warrant Officer Mira Jayna & Captain Cornelius Tremble & Lieutenant Junior Grade Jayden Robertson & Sergeant Miranda Schultz & Corporal Adélaïde Moreau
Edited on on Wed Mar 31st, 2021 @ 1:26am

Mission: Episode 11 - Family Matters
Location: Somewhere In The Glintara Sector
Timeline: MD004 1130 hrs

Last Time On The Search Part I

"Great. At least we will get a snide remark before we are blown to bits." Adelaide muttered to herself as she rolled her eyes and looked towards the mission leaders at the front. "Maybe they want to invite us over to ale? I know I could use some..." she said not knowing what the outcome of this hail would be.

Tyler exchanged a look with Tremble. The look was as if to say all will be explained in a moment. "Put it on screen..."

The small viewscreen that the craft had blinked on and showed a Romulan male wearing the old uniform of the Tal Shiar. The rank insignia showed that he was a Colonel. The Romulan smiled broadly and menacingly. "Ah Vaebn my old friend so glad that you can join us. However, I was not expecting so many friends. No matter we will make use of them as well."

And Now The Continuation...

Vaebn stepped toward the screen with his hands clenched in a fist. However, before the Romulan could speak Tyler stepped in front of him. "Before we proceed with anything may we have the honor of knowing who we are speaking with?"

Loval scowled at Tyler and the group before him. "Come know Captain, Malbrooke is it? Do you honestly expect me to believe that our dear friend Vaebn did not fill you in on who I am. What is more is that you are in no place to ask anything. I as a representative of the Tal Shiar and the Romulan government by extension. Would like to know why you have breached our sovereign borders."

Jayden had their engines on line and they were ready should they need to leave in a hurry. He watched this game of wills between Captain Malbrooke and the Romulan.

Now that the ship had de-cloaked, Jayna pulled as much data as she could on the ship. If she could get a lock on their communications, she might be able to get more.

She looked at Miranda, who glanced down at her own screen, then gave the intel officer an almost imperceptible nod. She had an idea what Jayna was doing, and thought she might be of help--or be a distraction, if needed.

"Seeing as this is official and we are at a loss, I would have the pleasure of your name." Tyler replied.

Loval's eyes narrowed and his head tilted in query. He wondered at the moment why the Captain was bothering to posture. "Very well I am Colonel Loval of the Tal Shiar. I also sit in command of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Glan'To. State your business within the Empire."

Before Tyler could answer Vaebn interjected. "The Empire is gone, it went when Hobus went."

"And that is where you are wrong. But we have plenty of time for that. For now I suggest you tell me why you are here or you turn around and return to your own territory." Loval cut in quickly.

Neil kept his eyes to his systems, though they were linked through his contact so he could watch the Romulan as well. He began running software for facial recognition, background information, and what the databases held on the Glan'To.

"Well... I am guessing the invitation for ale isn't happening." Adelaide muttered quietly to herself as she too monitored the console she was station at.

Miranda glanced at Jayna, who gave her a brief smile of acknowledgement.

Schultz reached out through the comm-link to the Romulan computer. She got little, but it was enough.

Jayna's worm slipped unnoticed into a relay node to collect data and send it to the shuttle, hidden inside data packets. If the ship collected stellar data, the worm would use that to communicate. She couldn't guarantee what data it would find, but at this point, anything would be helpful.

The sheer gaul of some Romulans, Tyler thought. He had enough of this posturing. "Listen why don't we just cut the bullshit. You know why we are here. So, we can either discuss the release of Starfleet personell that you kidnapped or we can sit here and posture." Tyler had hoped for something more subtle, some diplomacy of sorts but that did not seem to be what Loval wanted.

Loval glanced at the readout on his screen. It was a message from his Security Chief. It seemed that someone aboard the Oakley had figured out how to hack the Glan'To's computers. This was something that had been unexpected. "Well it seems that you are indeed ready for anything, and may I say kudos to your crew for being so full of surprises. However, that little stunt will net you no further communication." Loval cut the channel and ordered his ship cloaked and into high warp. Let them track him if they could. He knew that they would his old friend Vaebn would see to it, the game had just begun.

Vaebn turned to Tyler he could not believe what had just transpired. He feared that all may be lost, however, he did not show any sign of that fear. For a brief moment he stared at Tyler in disbelief.

The Oakley's sensors picked up the transition and Neil's contact logged it as he moved his hands over the tactical computer. "They're cloaking and spinning up their engines. Given specifications, I'm guessing we've got about fifteen seconds before they're at warp."

It was Miranda's infiltration he noticed, she was sure of it. Then again, she was the decoy. She pulled up the data she'd collected and turned to Vaebn. "Would you like to see if any of this is useful? It'll be faster than translating and sorting it."

Meanwhile, Jayna's little program had replicated itself and was now hidden in a dozen subroutines as ordinary packets of data. Several moments later, she had the shield harmonics and the encryption for their communications. "Miranda, here." She sent the data to the communications specialist so she could monitor communications.

"Neil. Incoming." She sent the Marine CO the harmonics and the specifications on the ion trail so he could make use of them. Information was her specialty. This was his.

It would take a bit longer for things to start going wrong on the Romulan ship.

As data flowed over his contact, Neil formed a targeting package and glanced toward as he touched the Oakley's weapons. Phaser fire licked out painting the warbird's shields. In under a second the Glan To's shield bubble popped and the rapid fire micro torpedo cluster Neil had triggered, whispered impacted the hull of the Warbird.

Then the Warbird blinked into warp.

Seeing Tyler's look, the Marine shrugged. "Tracker's attached. We should be able to follow that Ion trail, though we'll have to go slow. Once they drop out of Warp, the beacon's should feed us a trail of bread crumbs, and will drop off one by one if they jump to Warp again trying to shake us."

Then Neil amended, "If they don't jump more than five times that is..."

“It is a sound plan, the engines are ready for anything,” Jayden spoke up. “We just need to keep our eyes looking for trouble or any company they might have, since they know were tracking them.”

Tyler looked around at his crew. The faces did not show the anger that he knew must be there. He hated hiding things from them, but there was nothing for it. There would be time to explain everything but at the moment they had to catch up. "Engage a pursuit course..." The Oakley turned in space and jumped to maximum warp. A speed that all involved knew would not be a match for the warbird.

Meanwhile aboard the Glan'To Loval sat in the command seat with a smug look on his face. He had bested the Pioneer crew and would continue to do so. The sound of his security officer's voice cut off the revelry. "Colonel, there seems to be some sort of tracking device on our hull." Clever boy..." Loval thought. "Transport it onto the hull of one of our shuttles, launch the shuttle and control it remotely on any course. That should confuse their sensors somewhat."

Jayden was helping in keeping track of the Romulans. “It has taken a sudden course in a different direction,” he informed Captain Malbrooke. “Almost like they had a change of plans.”

Watching the telemetry feed, Neil nodded, then realized no one was watching his agreement and said, "Telemetry on tracker alpha1, is showing a change in course...and alpha2 is coming on line."

Turning his head he made eye contact with Tyler and said, "That means they found the first one after 50 klicks, the daisy chain kicks in. Alpha2 is set to a different frequency and will switch to burst transmissions after five minutes, that should give us a fix and we'll bread-crumb along from there. That didn't take them as long as I hoped though, so the last three trackers will only give us hints as to where they're going...."

That concerned Jayna, but her worms were still working, and would give them something before long. At least she hoped so.

Tyler ran his hand through his hair as he thought. This was a tight situation to be in. He hoped that he would have been able to get the job done without going deeper into Romulan territory. However, this Loval had other plans. He realized that everyone was waiting on him. "Set an intercept course, maximum warp. Vaebn I think it time that you tell everyone what you know about this Loval and what is going on here."

Vaebn resolutely sat down at his station. He turned to face the crew at large. After years of playing things close to the vest it was time to come clean and let someone in. "The Colonel contacted me and stated that he knew me, and needed me to repatriate to the Empire. In order to make it worth my while he told me that he had kidnapped my younger sister from Starfleet Academy on Earth. He did this to both threaten me and show that he could get to the heart of the Federation with little to no effort. I was also contacted by the Chief of Security at the Academy and it has been confirmed that my sister has been taken. However, for the life of me I cannot remember who this Colonel Loval is or what he could want."

"What skills of yours do they want badly enough to kidnap your sister?" Jayna asked.

"Or do you have something they want?" Jayden added. "Or maybe even knowledge to something they are trying to attain. You are the key here."

"There are things that I have done in a former life that I am not at liberty to discuss in their entirety. Suffice to say that if I wanted to bring back the old Romulan Empire, then I would want me or someone like me on my side. If Loval is a Colonel in the Tal Shiar as he claims. Then he would already know anything that I do. However, it could be my connection to the Federation and Starfleet that he seeks." Vaebn responded while employing a scaled down version of his whisker technique to try to find the Glan'To.

"It could be that simple," Jayden acknowledged. "I know as a scientist, you are always working on projects and discoveries. There isn't something you have developed or been working on that he could have discovered and has an interest in?" He knew he was grasping at straws but he wanted to feel like he was contributing to this mission.

Tremble kept his eyes on the Oakley's tactical systems as he listened to the Lieutenant Commander dance around why this Loval was after him. Neil began running systems checks and opened the back door link to the Pioneer and sent a flash message to Corporal Shy even as he combed through the database. "Computer has this Loval listed as an Ambassador, mission located out of Port Royal. Family is recorded as dead and he's suspected of being in the Tal Shiar. A really empty bio by Intel as you'd expect with the Romulans."

The disgust was evident in his voice as he said, "Well. A nice can of worms. This Loval is a couple steps ahead of us. We need to figure out a way to get ahead of him somehow..."

"Well, I do have a worm in their computer," Jayna said. "Schultz let me piggyback off her. She was noticed. I was not. I'll get a message through the data relay network when the ship drops out of warp." Jayna looked at Vaebn. "Maybe you can use it to get some information?"

Jayden had said his piece but he was puzzled that Vaebn hadn't answered his questions. It could be that the science officer dismissed them or that there was something...perhaps something he didn't want to share. He waited to see what happened next but if it wasn't answered he would talk to the Captain about it.

Tyler could sense the tension rising aboard the Oakley. He could not blame the crew he would be upset as well if he risked everything for a crewmate who was not forthcoming. However, something in Tyler's gut told him that Vaebn would come out of his shell in due time. "Niel do me a favor contact Captain Sarah Martinez aboard Port Royale. I believe she is the Chief Diplomat there. See if she can give you anything more on Loval. In the meantime I need a course to lay in to follow this thing. What do you have Jayna?"

Jayna nodded. The worms had been programmed to infiltrate passive subroutines and cause subtle alterations to make it easier to locate the ship and, after time, cause small failures. The first alterations would be to the waste reclamation system. The timing would be recalibrated to be ever-so-slightly off, causing an almost imperceptible ping. Not enough to be picked up by internal sensors, unless you were specifically looking for it. Another program would loosen a seal just enough to allow one drip to escape the ship every few seconds. Humanoid waste was not something the sensors were programmed to pick up.

The second failure was in the air filtration system. The fans would rotate at slightly different speeds, vibrate at slightly different, causing a minor, imperceptible vibration. Between the three, they should be able to track the Romulan ship.

She pulled up the long-range sensors and searched for the specific criteria. “There’s the ship. The waste replication system is pinging at 35 kilohertz every 122 seconds. It's also leaking waste at a rate of one drop every 5.78 minutes.” As she mentioned each item, she pulled it up in a box on the main viewscreen. "A course of 338 mark 3 will put us on an intercept course, sir."

“In three hours, the air filtration fans will fluctuate speeds by a difference of 0.684. If they find the problem in the waste filtration system, we can pick up the vibration. In five hours, one life pod will send out a signal for 0.24 seconds. In thirty minutes, another will be sent. Then another in thirty-one minutes, increasing each time by one minute. After fifteen hours, the pattern will reset. That's in case everything else fails.”

"Keep an eye on that and keep me informed. However, I do not think we can wait three to five hours. That said I believe you may be on to something. Laying in a course 338 mark 3 and engaging maximum warp. Call out any sensor hits. Vaebn see if you can get through the cloak with those whiskers." Tyler said with a smile, happy that they had a course and were hot on the trail again.

Jayde nodded.

The orders from Tyler sounded hollow and distant to Vaebn, almost as if they had come from another place instead of the same room. The questions that Jayden had asked sat in his head and he could not get rid of them. They were excellent questions, Vaebn was not sure if they should be answered. He was not proud of his past, however, at the time what he did was the best thing for his family, and his Empire and he would do it again if he had to. However, a lot had changed the Empire he loved was gone and whatever was in its place had kidnapped his sister. His home now was in Starfleet with this crew and it was time to prove it.

Vaebn turned resolutely toward Jayden. He exhaled sharply through his nose, it was indication that what he was about to say did not come easily. "Mr Robertson, when I was with the Empire I was an Intelligence Operative much akin to what Ms Jayna here does. So unfortunately no I do not think that this Loval is after anything that I have worked on." He paused as he turned toward Tremble. Vaebn knew that the Marine Captain had taken the lack of information to heart. "I believe what he is after is what I know now, the information I can provide as a Starfleet Officer. He is trying to test my loyalties. What most people do not know is that Romulans pride loyalty above most things, in fact more so than Klingons. However there is a time when one must choose where their loyalties lay, and for me this is such a time, and this is where my loyalties lay." He knew that with Marines actions spoke louder than words, however, Vaebn hoped that Neil would accept this by way of an apology.

"We're still here to help," Jayna said. "You are not responsible for his actions, and we'll do what we can to get you and your sister safely back to the Pioneer."

“I did not mean to infer you were hiding anything,” Jayden said to Vaebn. “The questions were in my head and I can’t help but feel that maybe you don’t realize what your value is to him.”

"In fact I don't know what value I would have. Any information that I had on the Empire would be woefully out of date by now." Vaebn replied.

"Well the only way that we are going to find out is to catch up. Let's keep getting a fix on that warbird. Jayden looks like we are going to have to push those engines again, especially if we are going to play catch up. See what you can do to get me more warp drive." Tyler called from the conn, he thought that if he could get everyone concentrating on their jobs perhaps the tension would lessen.

“I’m on it, Captain,” Jayden called out and went to work to give them the maximum amount of warp he could and still stay in one piece.
To Be Continued...

A Joint Post By

Captain Tyler Malbrooke
Commanding Officer, USS Pioneer

Colonel Loval
Commanding Officer, Tal Shiar

Warrant Officer Mira Jayna
Infiltration Specialist, USS Pioneer

Lieutenant Junior Grade Jayden Robertson
Operations Officer, USS Pioneer

Lieutenant Commander Vaebn tr'Hwersuil
Chief Science Officer, USS Pioneer

Captain Cornelius Tremble
Marine Commanding Officer/Second Officer, USS Pioneer

Sergeant Miranda Schultz
Communications Specialist, USS Pioneer

Corporal Adélaïde Moreau
SAR Specialist, USS Pioneer


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