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[PLOT] JDL | ACO & CIO | FADM Red, LCDR Stacker | "The New Mission"

Posted on Thu Sep 20th, 2018 @ 10:43pm by Commander James Stacker & Fleet Admiral Blyx Red

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241809.20

Out of everything the great big universe offered, Cold Station Theta had become 'home' for lack of a better word. It was a cruel place, almost inhospitable, but in five years Blyx managed to tame it just enough to have it become 'home' for more than just her. The promenade was a flourishing hub of commerce. The docking rings offering very little in the way of vacancy at any given time or day. Small crafts and shuttles zipped too and fro while Starfleet's lurking crafts kept things tidy. Vindicator would soon be leaving, affording additional space for additional vehicles to make their way into orbit should the need arise.

Of course Vindicator leaving meant many things. It was a rush job, to say the least, bit priorities were priorities and she would never voice what those were outside of the usual buzz line of dedication to duty and diplomacy between the Federation and the Ascendancy. Perhaps that same reason was also why it hadn't exactly surprised the Admiral when Apsha sent a request of such magnitude to her desk. The PADD sit idle, a small light steadily blinking every five or so seconds to remind her that it wasn't off, it was simply sleeping and waiting for her next prompt or command. It wouldn't come until the station's resident ghost was sitting across from her, and that, a quick glance at the old fashioned clock on the wall, would come to pass any minute now.

Outside, in the waiting area - because Fleet Admirals and outer offices went together like tea and biscuits, after all - the yeoman finally gave him the look that he'd been patiently awaiting. There had been a notable chill in the air from the moment of his arrival; in this rarified world, grey collars were either bearers of bad news or summoned to solve mysteries. Typically ones with ramifications that went beyond the office. As a general rule lieutenant commanders almost never came with good information. That was left to their superiors.

'The look' itself constituted little more than a nod and gesture to the door, which opened at his approach, letting him into the sanctum. If a Fleet Admiral's office could be indeed referred to as such. "Good morning ma'am. Lieutenant Commander Stacker, reporting as ordered," he said from the spot by the door. Which dutifully closed behind him.

"Have a seat, Stacker." A flippant hand gestured vaguely to any number of cushy chairs lining the Admiral's relatively posh home away from home. Something lingered in the air that was less than flamboyant and rich. Something cold and hard compared to the warmth the space tried its best to exude.

"Ma'am." Something in the back of his mind reaffirmed his original suspicion: that this was not a social occasion. He had been summoned for a reason. One unfriendly. As he took a seat in a chair before the desk he briefly skimmed possible causes in his mind. A few came to mind; one of them more prominently than the others. He carefully set the notion aside and eased himself back slightly in the chair. It wouldn't do to fall out.

"I'm sure you're, by now anyway, well versed with the Ascendancy." Blyx began. Taking her own seat was a marvelous triumph of human dexterity and genuine flexibility. At nearly two weeks overdue with what would certainly be her last child, it was a wonder that she simply didn't roll out of it and the element of elegance shown as she carefully brought her posterior down to the cushion (without flopping, mind you) was nothing short of incredible. At least to her. To him, it likely meant nothing and she was more than content with that being the case. After all, beyond him being her second officer and the station's resident spook, he wasn't engaged in her life. Thankfully.

From within her desk, a PADD appeared and made its way across the cherry wood desk top in his direction, "They recently sent word that they discovered a moon shortly after the end of the last Dominion War in what would be considered prime real estate for expansion, but..." The Admiral's head shook, a finger flicked in the direction of the PADD in an unspoken order for him to read it, "Mass graves from what looks like the Founder's attempt to hide evidence prohibits that. We've been welcomed to locate and bring home our dead and try to help identify any others that may have families still waiting on their return. This is something I'm rather certain you understand the importance of, and that's why I'm giving the task to you and whatever team you choose to bring with you."

Because what could go wrong with poking around a graveyard? he thought but wisely chose not to say. After all, didn't mass graves typically go hand-in-hand with the undead in the plots of most horror holofilms? There was a new one that had just come out recently - at least, it had only recently arrived aboard the starbase. It had been released on Earth over nine months ago. He wasn't the type to watch them, but the same couldn't be said for some of the younger analysts in his department. Who had taken to vigorously - and loudly - debating the finer points of the acting and plot during their meal breaks.

James mentally frowned and bent a critical eye to the device's screen, eyeing the contents. After skimming through two pages he stopped at an overhead, orbitally-taken, photo of one of the sites. The scale in the corner showed - "These are quite large ma'am. Assuming even two percent of the bodies are Federation in origin, we may need to bring the ship. And quite a few stasis units to preserve the evidence." The ship. The Campbeltown. Was the specialized reconnaissance vessel now to become a barge for the dead, ferrying them on the first stage of their last trip home? Better than to be left buried in some nameless graveyard in a backwater system, alone and unremembered. The very idea sent a chill through him.

Blyx's eyes closed briefly, "They're quite deep as well. All information points to these as being a rather large system of catacombs." Had she known his thoughts were on horror flicks, she'd likely have admonished him for believing in the occult. Then again, the Romulans existed and that was as close to Goblins as one could get. "You can take whomever and whatever you need to, Commander. I want these people brought home no matter what. I'm sure you under stand the importance."

"Yes ma'am." Yes, he did understand the necessity of bringing them home. The need for closure. There would be memorials dusted off and plaques newly-burnished, and worn flags replaced with newer ones. Families would show up for funerals to remember someone dead for decades, and at the end of the ceremony they'd be handed a folded flag and thanked for the service of a loved one who'd died years before. In all likelihood it would be ripping the scar off a wound that had been allowed to close but never fully heal. It'd festered with all the unknown questions. In the aftermath it would finally heal, and yes, there would be closure.

He moved on. "The team should be assembled within a few days." There didn't seem to be a need for speed attached to this. The graves weren't going anywhere, and some specialized equipment would probably be needed to explore the catacombs. Respectfully, of course.

The rush of air that left the Admiral's nostrils was anything but laden with humor. At least not just humor. There was heavy exasperation and perhaps a tiny penchant of annoyance, "I expect that list on my desk in four hours and you on the road within eight. I want this done and tied up within eight weeks. Do it in four or less and I'll give you that extra pip you're coming due for."

He silently regarded her across the desk for a few seconds. Where was his mind? It was ... unclear. Yet his eyes went out-of-focus for a moment, clearly remembering and recalling another place. Or another time, perhaps. Just as soon as they were gone however they were back again and he gave her a nod. "Aye ma'am." Gears were starting to grind to life in the back of his mind. Rusty gears. Ones where bits of pulverized metal fell off as they creaked and groaned. Or maybe they were chunks of bone. He couldn't quite shake the morbid feeling that had settled over his mind.

"That's what I wanted to hear." The Shrike's smile was genuine, "You're a good man, Commander. Thank you for understanding." While his gears may have been going, Blitz felt no need to fan the flames of his relatively gnarly sense of curiosity. He was a ghost. They never stopped trying to draw parallels and lines between dots that may or may not have been imaginary. "If there's no further questions, you're dismissed to make ready for departure. God speed."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Fleet Admiral Blyx Red
Commander, Beta Fleet
Acting CO, Cold Station Theta

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
2XO/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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