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Posted on Tue Jan 3rd, 2023 @ 12:08am by Commodore Tyler Malbrooke & Lieutenant JG Gage Tohoyia

1,285 words; about a 6 minute read

Mission: Episode 13 - Crooked River
Location: Romulan Encampment - Planet Igion
Timeline: MD05 1000 hrs

Cortana sat in her office in deep thought. The experiment while going in her favor had been taking longer than anyone, especially Central Command had thought. She had exhausted almost all of her avenues of exploration in order to speed up the process. She had been monitoring the Starfeet Officers since they arrived days ago and now she needed rest. But who could she trust to keep things moving. She tapped a button on her desk. "Sulim please come to my office."

Gage paused before replying. Even if he had been a real Romulan, being contacted directly by the scientist in charge was never a good thing.

"Acknowledged," He said and put down the instrument he had been using. He passed through the door to the lab, turned right and moved towards the director's office. Along the way he passed a handful of other scientists and one security officer. He inclined his head to each of them. He'd been inside the facility for some time and his face wasn't new. He was just another drone.

When he reached office he paused again, tugged on his lab coat to smooth the wrinkles and pressed his palm against the access point. It read his identity and transmitted his arrival to the director.

"Come in Sulim, come in. Please have a seat and relax." Cortana motioned toward the seat in front of her desk. "I have selected you for a special task. One that if successful will go over quite well for you with Central Command. But first, I must know how much of what we do here do you know about?"

Gage gave Cortana a small smile. "Thank you for your trust," he said. His mind was racing. Could this be a ruse of some kind? Romulans were notorious for their political backstabbing. Gage had been careful to fulfill his tasks exactly but not step over any boundaries. "I have an excellent grasp on the work that my section is doing but I have been so focused on my work. I've not had much time to look at other things that are taking place."

Cortana nodded as she sipped a Romulan Ale. The answer he gave was to be expected. Before Sulim arrived she had looked at his file and learned that he was exemplary in his work, and by all accounts loyal. That is what made him perfect for the task at hand. "We are working on creating something that would render war and Romulan loss of life a thing of the past. Hell, it could singlehandedly bring the Empire back from the brink. That is of course if it works. We are creating a drug that induces Body Integrity Identity Disorder in people. This disorder forces the brain to think that a certain body part is foreign and should be removed. If untreated the victim will sever the body part rendering them unable to attack or defend. Think about it in a gaseous form we can render an entire army useless."

Before taking on the assignment, Gage had been given a thorough crash course in biology, chemistry, physics, and any other topic that his handlers thought would be helpful. It had been a grueling process and not very enjoyable. But he was glad that he'd done it because it helped him understand what Cortana was saying. Biological warfare on a vast scale.

"Very interesting," he said. "Aerosol form is the most efficient means of distribution but it makes the toxin uncontrollable beyond environmental controls. Still, it sounds very promising. How can I help bring this project to a successful conclusion?" Inside, Gage was thinking about how he could get the information to Starfleet.

Cortana pinched the bridge of her nose and she could feel the tension that came from a lack of rest. "Sulim, I have been observing my experiment non stop for weeks. I need someone to take over while I get some much needed rest. That person is going to be you." She paused to allow her words to sink in. Surely he knew that this was a high honor.

Gage swallowed so hard he was sure that Cortana could hear it. This was the dream of every infiltration expert. Get close to the person in charge and somehow take over. He was definitely getting a promotion. "Thank you, Director. I am honored by your trust. I will not let you down," Gage said.

"See that you don't this is an extreme honor. Now I do not want anything to happen to our subjects. Provided there is no breakthrough they are to be given a dose of the drug every twelve hours. If there is a breakthrough I am to be summoned right away. If the drug works on these subjects then it will be ready for standard use and the Empire will be well on its way back." Cortana could sense the accolades and awards that would come her way. She would scoff at all those who said she was crazy and that it could not be done.

"Of course, Director Cortana. I will follow your orders exactly. I am hopeful that this time we will achieve the breakthrough. Is there anything else that I need to know about while you are absent?" Gage asked.

"Make sure that they are goaded. The drug works but we have to give a push of sorts. If they ask what has been done to them assure them that they have been victimized and their limbs are not their own. Should they wish to remove them the tools have been provided. Once the healing is done they will be returned to their starship." Cortana continued the explanation and she chose her words carefully. Her statement was designed to see how much Sulim knew. If he knew more than she wanted she would have to have him killed.

Gage frowned. Starship? "I... I'm not sure I understand. Starship?" Gage asked slowly. "What kind of subjects are these, exactly?"

Cortana smirked and then laughed almost maniacally, there was a touch of insanity in her laugh. "Why Starfleet starships of course. These latest and hopefully last subjects were taken from the USS Pioneer. They were foolish enough to get too close to our experiment and so here they are. If we can beat their training then we should be ready to take on any enemy. This is wonderful news. You should not look so worried Sulim."

Gage was trying to understand how his world had been so suddenly turned upside down. He would have to find a way to do something about the subjects if they were Starfleet. At the same time, he was hoping that the Romulan Director was exaggerating to try and throw him off balance. "Of course not, Director. I have full faith in your leadership and I will do exactly as you direct," Gage said, trying to calm his emotions.

For the second time Cortana smirked. "See that you do Sulim, see that you do. I suggest you get to it, you have a great amount of work to do." As Sulim left the office she knew that either he would do everything she expected or would be dead. Either way Cortana would have everything she needed.

In the corridor, Gage increased his pace, ignoring the curious looks from those outside Director Cortana's office. He had to find out what was going on with the test subjects.

A Joint Post By

Tribune Cortana
Director of Romulan Installation
Lieutenant Junior Grade Gage Tohoyia
Infiltration Specialist, USS Pioneer


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