Unearthing A Truth
Episode 4 - The Fires Of Hades
Location: Commanders Office
Timeline: Mission Day -584,947 @ 1000 Hours
The view from the office window was so much different than he was accustomed too. Before it had been a lush green world with crystal blue oceans and now it was a larger, menacing world, a super gas giant that had attempted to rip them apart on arriving in this time... That was a mystery they had to unravel, something he hoped his Chief Science Officer was already in the throws of. For the moment he had another mystery to unravel.
He turned from the view, taking his seat and making a point of inspecting operations through the multitude of windows over looking the command centre. Thank heavens for Cardassian design in this instance. Something about the Lieutenant now sitting at the Ops table was off. She was new to him, a gentle telepathic touching of her mind felt unusual and he had a feeling she was the one who had provided the information about the T'Kon warship.
The doors to his office opened, yanking him from his train of thought. How had he not noticed Mel's approach.
"What a day... How are things in the infirmary?"
"So so," Mel said taking her seat. "No deaths or vole attacks. Always a good day."
Tia felt a sensation she hadn't felt for a long time. The light push of a Betazoid's telepathy in her mind. Where as her people were nowhere near the level of that species they still had a complex mind themselves. She looked in the office, past the woman in blue, and for a moment found herself staring at the man before throwing up a little mental blocking.
She had learned over the years, mostly hiding from Betazoid inquisitors, to shield herself. Many had been caught simply by having a weak mind, that was something she did not have. Broken yes, weak, no way! However, at the moment she was keeping her head down and looking for a way to slip out of Ops. This was too high profile.
"Who's looking for an escape route?" Mel asked suddenly in the office. Had she caught a stray thought?
A quizzical look crossed Keiben's features, was this something else they needed to let Junjie know about?
"She is!" he pointed subtly at the unknown women in Operations Division colours manning the Ops table.
"She seemed to have arrived here without notice, we have perfect records in the database about her, a little to perfect and I'm convinced she is hiding something... Call it Betazoid intuition. Will you stay while I have a chat with her... Your new abilities may come in handy?"
Tia frowned. She had been looking up the Starfleet database, more the historical records she could get her hands on. There was a slight flicker on the console, a flash on her true identity. She called up a personnel file, her own.
Captain Tiandith Tobru, USS Sitting Bull - Killed in action.
'Details of death - Captain Tobru remained on the Sitting Bull to defend the retreat of her evacuating crew and that of other vessels at the Battle of Wolf 359. Reports given by various crew was that the Sitting Bull was damaged beyond retrieval and had to be evacuated. Tobru ordered the evacuation of all hands and remained on board to ensure the safety of her crew.'
'That would explain why I don't feel as displaced as I thought I would.' Tia thought.
This couldn't be a trap. Noone would go to such outlandish trouble to make her look as if she'd died 30 odd years ago. She remembered that day... she survived the destruction of the Sitting Bull and continued her service. A ruse of this extreme didn't seem like the Domions style, not unless the Vorta had taken a dive off the deep end of interrogation techniques.
"I'm not loving these new abilities," Mel said quietly. "But sure I will stay."
Keiben opened a communication channel with the small panel infront of him on his desk, already knowing how he would bring her to the room.
"Lieutenant, could you come up to my office and bring the status reports with you".
Tia almost jumped out her skin. She'd forgotten how jarring a comm call could be when you had not heard it for a while, and if you hadn't expected one. "Yes, sir." She said with a sour taste in her mouth.
Her last interaction with a Betazoid had left her picking up her pieces for months. The Dominion used them as interrogators. They push, pull and dangle anything they could whilst attacking your mind for information. A most unpleasant experience to put it mildly.
Fortunately for her she had been collating reports on station readiness for her own interest so she would not be unprepared for this encounter.
As she entered the office she noticed the Trill from earlier, and the Captain's eyes then met hers. "Lieutenant Bella Aloi." She said stating the name of one of her nieces from years passed.
Mel shared a quick look with her husband. She was getting the same gut feeling off this one as the new Cardassian. There was secrets there. But then everyone "had" secrets didn't they? Why was she focusing so much on peoples secrets right now? She said nothing and waited for Keiben.
"Take a seat Lieutenant" he said, already picking up on her deception however faint it may be. She was practised in covering herself. "No need for formality, I just wanted a chance to greet you. We have so few officers still that I thought I was caught up with everyone but apparently Starfleet dropped the ball here and landed your transfer report directly into the database instead of running it through my desk!"
"Sorry, Captain. It is a force of habit." Tia offered a small smile. Keeping up appearances was important just now until she found out what was truly going on. The sound of Starfleet dropping the ball hit a nerve. Not an angry one, but more of a painful one as she would happily have taken them dropping the ball on her to have them still around.
"Yes, Starfleet's admin division can be a little lax in its distribution of transfer papers at times. I am not anyone special that you really need to know... I am sure I'll be quite forgettable after a few days." she tried to place the thought in his mind for her to be inconsequential.
"I can also tell you are not as Human as you appear Lieutenant... My experience with the machine at Gamma Oriana and then the Telepathic AI has made me understand myself and my latent Betazoid ability a great deal more... I can feel you trying to push a thought onto me... Why is that Lieutenant?"
The Captain steepled his fingers in front of his, wresting his wrists on the table top throwing a knowing look at Mel.
Tia let out a little smile. "In all fairness Captain, I did not say I was Human. Most people are happy with the appearances they see in front of them, so I don't usually go shouting about my species." she answered as he then continued onto his next point.
"I wouldn't say I am pushing any thoughts onto you sir. I am quite a private person." she half lied. If anything she was trying to bury her thoughts, but maybe that was the thought she was inadvertently pushing. "When in the presence of telepaths... I get a little anxious." That part was true given how the Betazoid Inquisitors treated people back in her universe. Every thought that wasn't what they wanted, punished. Every memory investigated, or at least attempted to be.
"Well I will as chief medical officer need to know Lieutenant," Mel stated firmly. "How can I ensure correct treatment should the need arise otherwise?" Anyone who took the time to be shifty about their species certainly had secrets.
"I am El Aurian." Tia said simply. It wasn't a subterfuge, telling them that detail was like a drop in the ocean as even before the Dominion there were El Aurians in Starfleet. "And I don't think any treatments will be needed while I am here." She added believing she would snap back to her own 'world' soon enough.
“Now why would you be so confident to make that statement unless,” Mel locked eyes with her, “someone expects not to stay long.”
"I never expect to stay somewhere too long Doctor, then I am not disappointed when I need to move on." Tia offered a small smile to disarm the look. "Either that or I am super indestructible."
El Aurian's in Starfleet were something of a rarity given how many were left after the demise of their home planet and with how widespread the survivors now were. His fingers had been dancing over his control panel.
"What confuses me the most Lieutenant is that I can't seem to find any mention of you in deployment records for the region, your personnel file is just a little to perfect, I can sense you are holding something back and you strike more than a passing resemblance of Captain Tiandith Tobru of the Starship Sitting Bull... Who is deceased!"
Keiben threw the record onto the main display to the side of the oval window while at the same time signalling for Security to report to his office. "Would you care to level with us now Lieutenant... If that really is your rank?"
Tia turned away from the pair and pinched the bridge of her nose. There was only so much that her fabrication device could do. A change of clothes to suit, a little bit of fudging of files, but the reach of the device could not cover all.
TAG Sher'ra/Kaylee entry
The door opened and Kaylee walked in, her eyes darting around then she focused on those gathered there. She spoke not a word but gave Keiben a nod and moved to one side, to listen quietly.
"I am not sure you would believe me if I told you." Tia admitted. "I do not really believe it myself..." she noted the entrance of the security officers. The looks in their eyes, they looked on edge, almost as if anything could happen. She remembered those days so many decades ago when she was 'fresh out the packet'. "Did you know Captain Tobru?" she asked.
"At this point, having been thrown back in time, met the T'Kon and now have a dead woman sitting in my office I think I would just about believe anything!"
His tone was light and almost jesting despite the subterfuge that had been placed before them.
"I'm not dead." Tia protested in the same light tone as the Captains. "Or, I didn't die where I am from is probably more accurate. In my past I survived the destruction of my ship, the Sitting Bull and continued my career until the end..." she trailed off.
The memories leading to the fall of her Starfleet were still all too fresh in her mind even if they were decades past. The Dominion never let them forget what they once had, a tease of possibility before laying waste to dreams and fantasies alike.
"The end?" Keiben asked gently already sensing a cascade of emotions. Regret, sorrow, mourning, hatred... All intermingling. This was genuine, no one, no matter how skilled, could project so complex a feeling and his own scientific mind was telling him she was really Tiandith Tobru... or a version of her.
Kaylee's eyes widened but still stayed silent at this time, but also catching the wild emotions that were evident.
"Cards on the table?" Tia asked rhetorically. "I am Admiral Tiandith Tobru, former CO of the USS Cavalry. One of Earth's, one of Starfleets and the Federations last defenders before it all fell... to the Dominion. Looks like I've skipped universes." She shrugged.
"It happens," Mel found herself saying darker than she would have liked. "And what are your intentions now then? Now you are here in ours?"
"I find it strange that your response is 'it happens', that you simply accept the answer I have given." Tia said with a tiny creased frown. Maybe it was her more suspicious mind, her nature had became untrusting over the past 2 decades due to many factors. "I have no intentions. I was information gathering when you called me in here. Seeing if this place was real, not an illusion pieced together by the Dominion Overlords. I touched a T'kon device, it pulled me here... and here I sit."
"I'm more suspicious Lieutenant... Admiral... Whatever rank you are. For all we know you could be the reason we have been thrown so far back in time!" Keiben was suspicious but he also trusted Mel and her new found talents. "I want Doctor D'BrooNi to give you a complete physical examination, Lieutenant Reynolds or Verona will remain with you as your shadow until we can figure out what to do with you but, you said T'Kon device... Perhaps you could be of use in figuring out our predicament!"
"Yes... your species has always proven to be quite suspicious of those they cannot look into." Tia commented. This was more due to her more recent experiences with the Betazoid species. Beforehand she had found them quite pleasant and playful.
"And Tia is fine. As for 'throwing you back in time', I doubt it. I found the probe on a planet, not in space where your station would have been... however that does not mean it cannot be of use." Tia added as she thought of potential uses for getting home, or their home.
"If I must submit to testing then so be it. I do not see any way it can be avoided at this point." Tia spoke looking at the Doctor, and then the two security officers flanking her.
"Thank you. Lieutenant Reynolds, would you escort Tia to the infirmary and then settle her into quarters in the habitat ring... Mel, she's all yours. Lieutenant Verona... could I steal a moment of your time!"
Tia nodded and rose to meet Lt. Reynolds. "Shall we, Lieutenant?" she asked almost giving her permission to move. Naturally Tia would follow, no doubt with Dr. D'BrooNi not far behind.
Kaylee just gave a nod and proceeded out of operations with Tia.