Obsidian Command

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Refractions: Find Out

Posted on 04 Jun 2024 @ 10:02pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Senior Deputy Marshal: Sven-Erik Lofthammer - FMS

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Pathfinder - en route to the station
Timeline: MD25
1931 words - 3.9 OF Standard Post Measure

As they were escorting one Metjin Luuveyichk Yatzjeirnit back to the holding cell, Lofthammer knew he couldn’t put the Nausicaan back in the same tank with “Harv”, not with what he had just learned about Yatz’s personal interest in getting back at Harv for taking advantage of him, over-leveraging his Father’s debt to cheat the Nausicaan.

On the one hand, it would be convenient. It was always more than a little tempting to let criminals sort themselves out in prison… but Lofthammer couldn’t look the other way and let things like that go down under his watch. One hand on the manacled arm of the prisoner walking out in front of him, the other on the hilt of his phaser, he and the Gunner’s Mate marched Yatz back to the cellblock. As the door latched behind him, he saw a familiar freckled green face just outside of the cell block door, looking through the inset transparisteel viewing window.

“Commander Zahn is here, Sir,” one of the watchmen told him. “Should I buzz her in?”

Lofthammer’s eyes flicked over the cell block scene. The other seven prisoners in the two tanks, mostly milling around. A couple lying on the fold out bunks… Three of them traced his eyeline back in return: the Andorian woman in cell A and the Orion and the silent Bajoran in cell B. They looked more like they were prowling than pacing. It put him on edge.

“Not yet. Just a minute.” He came to the center of the block, between the two holding cells and did some quick figuring. Originally the Nausicaan had been in cell A with the skiff captain. Lofthammer needed to put one of the low men on the totem pole from cell B in with Harv’s lot so he could keep Yatz from yanking out the Pirate Captain’s windpipe in revenge. He’d have to swap someone out.

“Cell B Prisoners! Everyone up. Face the wall,” he ordered to the four in the full cell. No one moved at first. “We can go with anesthetic gas. It’s up to you.” With obvious resistance, they shuffled towards the back wall. “On the lines, hands up on the wall.” When they were lined up facing the wall– the Orion man, the Bajoran, and two of the younger lackeys– Lofthammer continued. “Second from the right, Prisoner Number Seven. Turn around and come forward slowly. Everyone else, keep your nose to the bulkhead.”

As the younger pirate came to the force field as ordered, Lofthammer further updated everyone.

“I’m going to lower this force field and you’re going to step forward with Ensign Kramer. We’re switching the arrangement slightly. No one makes any sudden moves.”

With one of his hands each respectively still on Yatz’ arm and his weapon, Lofthammer glanced around and got an affirmative nod from both of the security officers in the room with him, then gave an up-nod as a ready signal to the officer at the control board.

With a moment of static flicker and the characteristic snap noise that killed the electric hum, the security field was switched off.

The Ensign got one restraint on one wrist of the pirate before Lofthammer saw a twitch in the prisoner’s face; in Sven’s trained and honed perception, time slowed down to a forced drip and Lofthammer’s pupils went wide, taking in the sight as Prisoner Number Seven up and smacked Kramer in the side of the head with the wrist iron as a bludgeoning aid.

Inside of a heartbeat, Lofthammer’s phaser had cleared the holster but the instinct of the Nausicaan was just as fast as his, the big fellow yanking out of the Deputy’s grasp as he sensed his crewmates taking the opportunity to rush their guards. In a swirl of braids and spittle the Nausicaan twisted, manacled hands balled into fists while winding himself up to strike the human in the jaw.

Lofthammer’s finger was already on the trigger.

Meanwhile, just outside, Commander Zahn wasn’t sure what the hold up was. She’d told Marshal Lofthammer earlier that she intended to join him as he took statements from the prisoners they were processing. He should have been expecting her. She’d announced herself at the brig’s entrance yet the guards weren’t buzzing her through. Since taking command, Calliope wasn’t accustomed to delays to her getting into anywhere on the Pathfinder.

“Did you tell him I’m here?” she prompted as a minute or so passed and she was looking through the glass, watching the Marshal returning a prisoner from the interior interview room within the bring suite.

“He’s aware, Ma’am,” replied the Petty Officer manning her post.

“Then why am I still st–” The question died on her lips as flashes of phaser fire illuminated the viewing glass of the locked door. Calliope moved to look more intently through the pane.

Before Calliope could even process what had happened, Lofthammer was holstering his phaser and stepping over the Nausicaan to drag the big guy by his feet into the holding cell. An Ensign with a bloody gnash on his face was staggering up from the floor with the help of another guard, a stunned prisoner at their feet. Inside the open cell B, the Orion was collapsed, his beefy arms reaching out over the threshold of the brig cell where he’d apparently fallen. A Bajoran was slid against a side wall, gripping his side and having the glazed look that came with the effect heavy stun had on the nervous system of most humanoids. Only one prisoner in cell B still stood, trembling, feet spread apart, his arms raised very high against the back wall with his fingers spread as far apart as he could splay them.

Calliope shook her head in disbelief. She’d only just been looking through the glass a moment ago. And now half of the prisoners were stunned and scattered around. What had gone down only meters away on the other side of the transparisteel, between one blink and the other?

She watched as the Marshal and the two security officers scanned the prisoners they had stunned, checking the prisoners’ heart rates and looking for any knock on effects of the stun energy they’d been dealt, and then saw the security officers restore the containment field, with only one of the prisoners left being hauled up by the junior officers while Lofthammer brought his side arm back to hand.

Calliope tried to lipread as she watched him delivering instructions and a warning to the inhabitants of cell A. From her angle at the door she could see him but could only imagine he was getting compliance from the other half of the prisoners, switching out their stunned man and bringing out the Andorian woman in his place. Despite being underwhelming in size, she produced her own kind of presence: knife-like in her posture with shoulders back, her antenna turning outward in what Calliope knew to be a sense of smug pride as Lofthammer calmly stared her down. Lofthammer said something clipped and Calliope observed the Andorian complying and turning her back to him, presenting her hands behind her; Lofthammer kept the phaser in the middle of her back as he, single handedly, twirled a pair of mag cuffs off the back of his belt and clipped them simultaneously over both of her blue wrists, tugging them slightly to check the latch.

Calliope could make out visually the words "Let's go," on his lips as he pointed the Andorian in the direction of the little passageway back to the interrogation room. It was then he glanced back to the Ensign nursing his cut and resuming the control station with his fellow guard. Sven said something and motioned towards Calliope through the window with a small wave of his phaser on his way to reholster it.

Then the door to the Brig buzzed to allow Zahn entry and the Petty Officer stood aside. “Commander,” she said.

Stepping inside, Commander Zahn let her head swivel across the scene now that she had a full view of the cells from the watch station within. In cell B, only one of the prisoners was fully conscious. He had only just turned around from where he had been obediently glued to the wall and, wide eyed, seemed to be surveying his crew mates who had been hoisted onto the fold out bunks to sleep off their stun hangovers.

From cell A, there was a wheezing chuckle and Calliope knew the sound even before she trained her eyes on the source. It was the captain of the skiff, Harv– or so they had dubbed him even though they didn’t yet have a positive ID for him. It was just what his crew had been referring to him as, and the only name anyone seemed to have to go on.

Besides Harv, two other figures were inside. One prone prisoner on a wall cot who had, Calliope was guessing, precipitated the action that had triggered the Marshal. Likely (she thought as she was still putting the scene together without a sensor replay) this had been the one who had dealt the cut to Ensign Kramer’s face. The other was a Ktarian who, during cell B's short lived escape attempt, had been in cell A with Harv and the Andorian woman, and was now picking at a seam in the wall to avoid eye contact with the Starfleet Commander.

Calliope couldn’t help herself walking right up to the force field and taking measure of Harv in person. He was, overall, a kind of a mound shape. There was a hump form in his back, probably characteristic to his race, whatever race that was. His thick arms were webbed inside of the elbows, and every time he blinked, an inner eyelid was whetted and freshly shimmered over the bulbous eyes set wide on his face. Harv had no nose and no eyebrows, and ratty fins roughly analogous to ears, projecting from his head. Unused to his species, it was surreal for her to look at him, as if seeing a giant animatronic figure walking out of a holodeck program.

That he’d been such a thorn in her side was one thing, continually running unproductive attacks on her ship until her crew could capture his skiff. But that he seemed less than bothered by having engaged in a deadly act of piracy, precipitating the killing of three of the Virgil’s crewers... just left her without words. People like that always did. She could just never really understand. Where was their conscience? That was what she was really looking for in his features. Some kind of remorse that would make it make sense.

“What have we here?” Harv said through his thick lips in his wheezy breath, as if he was the one looking at Calliope behind the force field and not the other way around. His voice always began at a baritone and ended comically high as the wind in his air bladders ran out. “I know a fair few who would pay very good latinum to be your captive.” He laughed in the climbing pitch, his balloon bladder running out of air before he drew a squealing breath through his secondary intake.

A single slow shake of her head was all Calliope could respond before turning to follow Lofthammer.


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