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Truth Tact or Test?

Posted on Thu Aug 23rd, 2018 @ 1:11pm by Lieutenant JG Devin Ward & Lieutenant Commander Merzia Jalel & Warrant Officer Sarish Anjar

Mission: Preflight
Location: CIO Office
Timeline: MD64 1200 hours

On

Reporting to a new boss was the most interesting thing about a transfer Devin thought privately. Being on a ship again was very welcome though. Sure lots had gone on while she had been assigned to Kelvin Station but she didn't get to go places very much. Devin made sure her hair was pulled back in a tight braid and had it coiled around her head as opposed to hanging down her back. Her uniform was fresh and she was as ready as she going to be.

Lieutenant Commander Nagn Duvos paced the room, scanning once more through the mission brief. To some, it might be a sign of nerves, and there was certainly some truth in that. The Trill officer had waited some time for this position, and he didn't want to mess it up so early in the game. Mostly, though, it was pent up energy. He had suspicions about what was happening in the Gavarian Frontier, and wanted confirmation. The two operatives on their way to him now couldn't get here fast enough, he felt, yet it still took him a little by surprise then the door chimed.

"Enter" he shouted as he watched the office door slide open.

Devin walked into the inner office her transfer orders in hand, she offered up her cheeky grin of greeting as she spied the Lieutenant Commander behind the desk. "Good morning, Sir." she said lightly, offering a hand first, "Devin Ward reporting." She had gotten in the habit of not mentioning her own rank because it changed so frequently and she was in no mood to get it wrong and be corrected.

Anjar strode down the hall with the relaxed poise of someone who knew exactly where they were going. The uniform felt a little strange after several days in civilian clothing but nonetheless familiar. He'd always been more comfortable in civilian clothing, but that was most likely the sensation of being conspicuous in the distinctive Starfleet get-up. He was so dead on time that the door was already open when he reached it, following the woman into the room. Anjar quietly waited his turn, taking in the auburn hair, mismatched eyes and cheery demeanour. He settled into parade rest facing Duvos, letting his gaze track from 'Devin Ward' to the CIO. "Sarish Anjar, sir," he introduced himself when Devin looked at him expectantly, voice pitched to carry no further than needed. Two infiltration specialists, he inwardly mused. That was unusual. Either the higher ups were expecting a great deal of trouble from without... or wanted an extra set of eyes from within.

Devin waited for the Chief of department to reply but they looked over the PaDD's letting a silence fill the room. Devin waited and she gave a wry grin to Sarish Anjar, it wasn't usual for two infiltration officers to be assigned to the same ship, not in face to face any way. One known and one 'hidden' was more the normal habit. Whatever was about to unfold she was be ready, in the meantime Devin waited. She was good at waiting and had a cheeky grin on her face.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, specialists," Duvos said, a tight smile on his face, "I am Lieutenant Commander Duvos, Starfleet Intelligence Operating Forces Sub-division. I'm afraid Lieutenant Aurilieus has been recalled. I will be serving as your handler, though it won't be on this vessel."

He handed a PaDD across to Devin. "As of 1200 hours, Starfleet Intelligence are extending Lieutenant JG Devin Ward the position of Chief of Intelligence aboard the USS Palatine. This has been run past the ship's captain and approved. All you need to do is accept."

Devin blinked fast then took the PaDD after a moment of stunned silence. "I accept, nothing like a surprise of promotion after breakfast." she retorted cheekily. It had to be a trick or prank. There was no way this was really real.

"Congratulations, Lieutenant," Duvos said, inviting her to take the CIO's chair on the far side of the table. For himself, he took one of the chairs on the visitors side, folding his arms against his chest.

Devin hesitated and then walked around the desk. She sat down slowly. Her thoughts were a jumble for a moment and then she eyed both men on the other side of the desk, where she had been a moment ago, and she was getting the feeling that maybe this was really happening. "So what do I need to know, Commander?" she motioned for Anjar to relax, she wasn't going last long if he didn't relax.

Anjar nodded respectfully, still at parade rest, hands clasped behind his back and his lips curved upwards a little when Ward smiled at him. "Pleasure, sir," he answered crisply, dark eyes tracking the man's expression. He wasn't terribly surprised to hear Aurileus had been recalled, a ship that was too spy-heavy tended to draw attention. "Understood, sir," he said calmly when Duvos explained he would not be on their vessel. That made a lot more sense. His gaze moved to Ward, mind turning as he absorbed the change in rank, but otherwise the only trace of his reaction to Ward's promotion was a small smile. "I look forward to working with you, Lieutenant." At her gesture, Anjar let his arms swing forward to his sides, a small graceful motion, and rested a hand on the back of a chair facing his two superiors.

"Yes, to the core of my visit," Duvos said, "SI's role aboard the Palatine is two fold. Firstly, the Palatine represents a fresh class of starship, one that foreign powers have not yet had a chance to study in detail. To that end, you are to work with shipboard security to dissuade and counter leaks and investigation.

"Our second is more traditional intelligence gathering. The Federation has been removed from the Gavarian Corridor for some time, and our information is out of date. The Palatine's scientific mission allows us cover to correct that. Politically, we need to learn more about where the Romulans, Cardassians, and independent worlds of the Corridor stand. Further more, they Typhon Expanse beyond the end of the Corridor is likely to contain potential threats as yet unknown to the Federation. You are to use both overt and covert techniques to gather information, assess capabilities, and report back to Starfleet Intelligence, as well as advise the ship's captain of threats to the vessel. Does anything need clarification?"

Devin sat back, this was really happening. Well she would make it work, and still have fun doing it, she loved a challenge after all. What better than a surprise promotion and more to do. The paper work was going to suck but there were worse things. "No I understand everything very clearly, Commander Duvos," she looked to Anjar to see if he had anything to add in or questions of his own.

Anjar listened attentively, to what was said and what was unsaid. The first part of their mission was entirely unremarkable - the bread and butter of the security and infiltration personnel aboard any ship. Anjar himself had been eager to get his hands on the ship's specs, and had devoured them aboard Deep Space 10. He couldn't fault a foreign power for having that same hunger, especially when the technology was possibly superior to their own. The second part though, that was where Anjar's heart truly lay. "Officially removed… does not necessarily mean we have no presence," Anjar observed, tone unassuming and calm. "Is there no pre-existing intelligence infrastructure at all, sir?"

"Many of our agents had to go dark when we pulled back, as the Cardassians and Romulans fought over the region" Duvos said, "Some, we know to have been rooted out. Others, we believe will return to contact, quite likely with valuable information. If you are able to contact with them, that will reduce the amount of legwork you would need to do on your own. There's little in the way of established logistics or organisation, though."

Devin frowned she was going to have to call about getting some help the two of them alone taking care of all the facets of the intelligence department would get at worst backed up besides mountainous amounts of paperwork. Data encryption, decryption, analysis, research the Infiltration was covered with Anjar and herself. She fully intended to still do that but she didn't have to just let Anjar be the only one who got to leave the office and uniform behind while working undercover on something.

"I can provide you will limited resources and personnel to assist your mission, though as you would expect that will become more difficult as you progress further down the Gavarian Corridor," Duvos added, "But acquisition and recruitment within the Corridor might be your best option, with careful vetting of course. Coordination with the Palatine's Operations and Security departments may also provide assistance, should you need."

Devin frowned and looked at Duvos, "The agents that went dark do we know who their handlers were or what contact signal or words they'll accept as valid after all this time?" She wasn't happy hearing that folks had been left behind. If there was a way to get their agents back safely she was all for it. If it meant going in with a shuttle or borrowing a freighter to slip in or whatever she fully intended to get those folks home. No one deserves to be left behind politics be damned.

He nodded. "I have forwarded that information to your database. Locations and identities may have changed, but it will at least give you a place to start."

"Went dark implies a certain amount of voluntary action on the part of the agents," Anjar observed quietly, while his gaze slid from Duvos to Ward at her question, wondering if the pair seriously believed the abandoned agents would blindly allow themselves to be found after effectively being given a burn notice by the Federation. In their line of work, optimism was laudable but often impractical. "With respect, sir, were they asked to hide or forced to do so when the Federation pulled back? Those kind of distinctions can make or break a contact." Anjar was not given to believing that the agents would necessarily want to return.

That was going to be Devin's next question but since Anjar already asked it, there was no need to repeat it. She was glad they seemed to be thinking along the same lines. No real surprise considering they both were infiltration specialists. Devin nodded slightly, "Anyone you want us to keep an extra close eye out for or are they all preferred, bring back for debrief as soon as possible?" She wanted to see what the priority had been set too but she fully intended to find a way to to bring all missing agents back even if only confirmation of life or worst case KIA. If nothing else their families deserved that for closure.

Anjar watched Duvos, curious to know the man's answer. Intelligence always had priorities. It was only a question of whether they would be shared or kept close to the chest.

Devin had a feeling that there wouldn't be too much trouble between herself and Anjar at least based on his questions and attitude thus far. She agreed with his statements and view but again she was usually in the same seat he was as an infiltration specialist. She was gong to have a hard time getting it in her head that she was the one giving the orders.

"They were both forced to hide, and volunteered, in a way," Duvos said, "It was made clear that options were available for extraction, but for those that chose to stay, there would not be further support available. They would have to keep a low profile if they wanted to remain. Some did, either because of commitment to the Federation, local ties, or just practicality. As often in our field, it's a calculated risk. We expect that now the Federation is operating in the Corridor again, some may reach out to us. These are the ones we would prefer you focus on, those actively reaching out, as they are likely to be either seeking extraction or to provide important information. Bear in mind, though, that the Palatine isn't the only Federation vessel in the region, so you won't have to shoulder all this yourselves. In fact, we anticipate most restored contact will be made through freighters, medical ships, patrol vessels, and other more routine vessels, and we have agents exploring those channels. For many deep cover agents, the Palatine's high profile mission would be too glaring a spotlight for them to be seen in."

Duvos made a small circling motion with his hands. "From your perspective, though, your mission is not their extraction, but the gathering of information. So, despite the Palatine not being the ideal vessel for their goal of extraction, they may be your best source of information. If they are able to be extracted in the process, we achieve two goals at once, which is commendable. But that's not this unit's goal."

Devin nodded she understood their orders but there was no way in hell she was leaving folks behind. If she had to call in every remaining favor she had to get to them or get them out she would do it. She just didn't need to let Duvos know her ideas on the matter. She would talk it over with Anjar at a later time. "Understood, Sir anything else you want us to know or do you have some folks to come into help with data gathering, encryption and decryption?" She replied lightly.

"You'll have some NCOs transferring aboard to assist you in the next few days," Duvos said, "For now, though, I believe that should conclude our briefing. All the best out there, agents."

The answer was neither here nor there, and completely unsurprising from an intelligence officer. Anjar knew enough about grey areas to know there were pockets of black everywhere. He wasn't inclined to think the ones reaching out were the most important - it was the ones who didn't want to be found who posed a threat. Crossover could be a problem with other ships, but Duvos seemed unconcerned about that possibility. Space could be surprisingly small, and the last thing they needed was to run across an agent already being handled by another ship. As to the NCOs, Anjar was reserving judgement. "Aye, sir," he acknowledged, never one to use fifty words where two would do. "Thank you, sir."

Devin stood up in a fluid easy motion walked around the desk and towards the doorway to walk the Commander out. "We will be happy to have the help, thank you Sir." Devin was inwardly trying to guess whom might be sent out to help them with the data analysis, research, data decryption and encryption. She really hoped it would not include the two nitwits that had been caught betting on the very illegal vole fighting in the station's underbelly.

Duvos nodded to them both, then turned on his heel and left the office, leaving them alone.

Anjar stepped aside out of Duvos' path and watched the man leave out of the corner of his eye. The briefing had not thrown up any surprises aside from Ward's promotion, which could either be good or bad. He didn't know enough about her to know if she was a killing officer or a murdering officer, and the description made him smile inwardly at the old Human show that had highlighted a difference that had proven true in reality. One got you killed by mistake, the other got you killed on purpose.

Devin watched Duvos leaving the intelligence offices once the commander was out of sight, she than turned to Sarish Anjar, "Do you trust Duvos?" She asked point blank. She didn't know anything about him but she been on station service until being brought in to the Palatine. She sure as hell hadn't expected a freaking jump in job from Infiltration to the Chief of intelligence.

Anjar turned to Ward, meeting her mismatched eyes steadily. "I never trust anyone I've just met," he said bluntly, waiting to see if his hunch about her was right. "You?"

Devin blinked at him a moment, "First impressions are important, I honestly trust you more than anything Duvos has told us." She motioned to the seats in front of the desk. "Do you want to talk or take time to think over the new development?"

Anjar smiled slightly at the way Ward took his words on board, with no overt reaction that could be construed as approval or rejection of the idea. His dark eyes softened a little, taking on a twinkle of humour. "Diplomatically said," he praised her subtly as he took the seat she offered. "I can talk. I'm no good to you if I can't think on the fly in any case." He met her gaze steadily. "He didn't specify who the NCOs would be reporting to."

Devin sat down smoothly, "Diplomatic me nope? I say what I mean no filters or I keep my options to myself." She gave a cheeky grin, "You noticed that too, yeah I am pretty sure unless they openly say so they'll be reporting to him. Going to love seeing how long before I get a notification saying I need to stop calling him the untrustworthy A--hole." She shook her head softly, "I don't put any stock in rank I have been busted down to petty officer so often I am surprised I made Lieutenant junior grade. I'm still thinking it's a typo that no one wants to correct at the moment. So far as I am concerned we are working together as equals. I will do the freaking paperwork though." She made a face as sh glanced at the enormous stack of PaDD's that was going to take a while to go through. **~~Oh joy, I am going to end up hating Duvos over this but I sure as hell don't trust him, now.~~** she thought to herself, with a cheeky grin. Sarish Anjar she did trust. Devin hoped she could eventually trust him enough to know when she wasn't around that the feline in the room was her. She was actually looking forward to to finding a friend that wouldn't mind knowing that and give her the petting attention without feeling put off. When she was a cat she only wanted petting and maybe some cold milk but that petting let her relax like the best massage had been received. It let her be free to just be.

Anjar couldn't help wondering how long the cheeky grin would last once they were well underway, but maybe Ward would prove to have the required mettle. Sometimes people surprised him. "Hmm, I'll keep an eye on it," he decided, knowing it would be easier for him as 'one of them' than it would be for Ward as the CIO aboard the ship. "Ironic that whoever blows the whistle on you will be exactly that," he said wryly. "Enjoy the rank. I hear it's less fun the higher up the chain you go." He quirked an amused eyebrow at her. "If you're expecting an argument over dotting our I-s and crossing our T-s, I'm going to disappoint you."

Devin laughed, "Oh yeah I never wanted to go up the ladder but I seriously doubt it will stick. Once they get a few reports with my flavorful opinions at the end of the dry bones stuff." she smiled showing off her dimples, "They will have to be happy I put everything in order. I don't cross every t or dot every i either. If I really want to jerk them around I might use some languages from old books to make them use the UT to read the damn reports." That idea actually appealed to her. Using Tolkien elvish or mando'a written reports and making the others really work to see what she had given them.

He could work with Ward, Anjar decided after another moment's reflection. "Should I be looking out for stick figures giving the finger in the margins?" he asked idly, eyes dancing. "I get the feeling I'm going to have to brush up on my Dothraki."

Devin couldn't help it she laughed delighted and full heartedly. "Dothraki, will be for the days when I actually get annoyed." Her eyes twinkled bright with mirth and mischief. They were going to get along just fine. For a while at least.

End for now...

 

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