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[PLOT] DL | CMO, CIO | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | "Buried Secrets"

Posted on Thu Dec 27th, 2018 @ 4:26pm by Commander James Stacker & Commander Valeese Stacker

Mission: Lacuna
Location: Mess Deck, USS Campbeltown, NGC-517XA System
Timeline: SD 241812.27

James grunted, again. This was followed by a shake of his hand - which did little to extract himself from this predicament. Little pieces of clementine clung to his thumb and two fingers like - like - God, they're as bad as rice beetles after the harvest, he thought with no small trace of frustration, thinking of a pest from home which had thus far failed to be eradicated. Despite a concerted effort. Another shake did nothing to dislodge the offending fragments of white.

The simple truth was that he was getting frustrated for a multitude of reasons. The first and foremost one was that a mission supposed to last little more than four weeks had run far beyond the originally-projected deadline. Courtesy of catacombs that had proved more extensive than first thought. There was also an issue with still-unidentified low-power emissions detected from somewhere in the planet's northern hemisphere. In short: unexpected curveballs. He shook his hand again, scattering some of the peel across the tabletop in the mess, and sighed once more. Finally he reached for a napkin.

"Next time wash your hands before you peel a citrus fruit." Valeese heralded her arrival with that candid bit of advice, having watched the man struggle with his snack for a moment before deciding to join him, a cup of almonds and grapes in one hand, a PADD in another. The former found a resting place on the table in front of her as she deposited herself in a chair and crossed her legs with a momentary huff of irritation, "Dry skin is a total target for the pulp to stick to like glue," She muttered and flicked the PADD, looking over at him, "The Stenellis said they hadn't touched or moved anything, but some of the findings show that most of these bodies were relatively recently deposited or at least moved... The level of decay stands true to what the Stenellis reports held, though." An almond was popped into her mouth and it didn't take long at all before she winced and lifted a brow, "Probably not what you want to talk about while eating, so I'll spare you the nitty gritty details."

The look he shot her could be charitably described as 'withering', although it wasn't so much due to her words at his general feeling of frustration. Mission command was not sitting well with him: the hustle-up-and-go had given way to extended periods of reports and paperwork. And there were other reasons to be frustrated. Ones I shouldn't dwell on right this second, he thought, muffling it with a cough. A moment later her words caught up to his mind, and his eyes narrowed in thought. Trials and tribulations of the clementine were momentarily forgotten.

"Recently? How recent are we talking about?"

"Weeks... Days..." The Vorta shrugged, "Like I said, it makes zero sense and there's no indication that this is still a dumping ground. We're seeing skeletal and mummified remains, no soft flesh or..." She paused, once more choosing to spare him, "You get the idea." At times it was difficult to remember that not everyone was a science or medical nerd and not everyone would appreciate an at length description of postmortem decomposition. While she'd made a career around medicine, he'd made a career around keeping people like her in business - it wasn't entirely lost on her how one hand seemed to wash the other. Rinse. Repeat.

"Um ..." He rubbed his jaw - still forgetting about the clementine juice that stained his fingers - and thought. Brows furrowed in even more intense concentration. There had been nothing in the briefing files to confirm the planet was being used as the 'dumping ground', and he wasn't inclined to doubt her. Or the materials that he had studied very closely in the sanctity of his cabin. But then a thought occurred to him. Unbeknownst to him it played out across his face, in lifted eyebrows and a slight curling of the corners of his mouth, as if to say 'it's certainly possible.' Then the eyes lifted back to hers.

"The engineering team has been trying to chase down a power signature for a couple weeks now. It doesn't match Federation or Stenelli signatures. Or Dominion, for that matter. They 'think' it could be a starship, but it's only speculation. A base, outpost ... who knows."

Valeese's ears flicked forward, pricked in avid interest, "Oh?" Definitely avid interest. Curiosity was one of the little woman's insatiable appetites and her desire to learn kept fueling that fire more than she'd have liked to admit, "I mean we're not seeing new bodies in late staged of decomposition being added and the idea of someone readily wasting Vorta and Jem'Hadaar or even Human life is not exactly giving me the warm and fuzzies... If that's the direction you're going with this."

Another pause for thought, followed this time by a candid admission. "I don't know what direction I'm going with this. You're telling me the bodies show recent signs of being deposited or moved. The engineering team is chasing a phantom power signature." He stopped, fingers drumming the tabletop as he thought; hard enough to make some slices of clementine rattle on his plate. The drumming ceased. "This isn't giving me the warm and fuzzies either, but we also have a mission to complete. How soon before you wrap up your work in the catacombs?"

The Vorta sighed and set her PADD down beside her dwindling supply of treats, "A day, maybe two. Provided nothing else weird jumps out. Except, there is one thing that you should probably hear about if you already haven't." This gave her pause to stretch her fingertips, "We found what looks to be like part of a small craft. Design is rather odd and it's taking some time to uncover because it's literally been covered over with bodies. I mean we noticed it by chance and chance alone but if the scans are right, it's a bit of technology from the Dominion that we haven't exactly seen before. Single pilot style..." Her head canted softly to one side, her eyes half-lidding in thought, "Almoooost like a throw back to the fighter planes your people used to use in war, just a tad bit bigger and well... Meant for space. I think. Maybe." She shrugged, "Won't know until we get it out."

He pushed his tray back a little, all fatigue and irritation now completely gone from his mind. "A space-fighter? A Dominion space-fighter? No, I haven't been told about it." Although now that he thought, there had been rumors about a recent find on the planet. It was all very hush-hush, as if people were whispering about it outside earshot of him. Maybe waiting and thinking others would brief him about it? It wouldn't have been the first time he'd seen something like that. Even then, the degree of the find drove any irritation he might have felt from his mind. "I'd like to see it as soon as possible. Before we get it out." There was a hint of a smile quirking the corner of his mouth.

"There's no guarantee it's Dominion. It belonged to someone at some point, but there's a whole lot of mystery about who and when and what." Valeese seemed to soothe response, quietly resisting the urge to tell the big Spook to simmer down and breathe, but the light in his eyes poked and prodded at different sensitivities. These missions were intriguing. He being the leader meant that they swaddled and protected him a bit - perhaps more than necessary. "If you're done fighting with your orange, I can take you to it. You just have to promise not to touch a damn thing. All eyes, no hands. Think you can follow the rules?"

He wiped his hands on the napkin taken from the replicator - at first regarded as non-essential, later on as damned necessary - and tossed it onto the tray. "Yes, definitely. One stop to make on the way, but I can absolutely follow those rules." The chin dutifully nodded: excited as he might have been, he was still professional enough to know words of sound advice when he heard them.

A nod of her own, singular, answered, "Good. Then you'll get a peek at the craft. Just a word of warning, though..." Her fingers toyed with the last of her grapes, pushing them around the little purple plastic bowl, "It's still partially covered, last I saw, and cataloging bodies takes a bit of time. Can't just dig it out and put things back together as an afterthought." Valeese sniffed, capturing one of the pieces of cool green fruit.

"Noted. I think I can stand whatever's left, though." He would forever regard the word choice as extremely poor; at the time, however, it seemed like nothing. Confident reassurance of his ability to withstand the sight of bodies still piled over an alien spacecraft. One of unknown origin.

"You got it." The grape disappeared into the doctor's mouth and she rose to toss the remnants of her snack back into the replicator. Patting her lab coat over her midsection, her brows furrowed gently, "I seem to have misplaced a pen light... What the hell." She sighed, "If you see it... You know where to find me."

The look that briefly flickered around his eyes was hard to describe. Suspicion? Interest? Focus? When he spoke however there seemed to be nothing amiss. He was back to being James Stacker, intelligence officer, mission commander, and spook of grey collar. As well as other things of a more personal nature. The corners of his mouth quirked into a faint smile and eyes seemed to gleam at her. "I most definitely do."

=/\= End Log =/\=

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer
Cold Station Theta (SB 1170)

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
2XO/Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta (SB 1170)


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