Obsidian Command

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A Thread, Neatly Pulled

Posted on 30 Jun 2024 @ 4:01pm by Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar & Captain Lachlan Callum & Commander Thaddeus Zayne

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Admiral's Ready Room
Timeline: MD26 - 1704HRS
2180 words - 4.4 OF Standard Post Measure

Thad rolled his neck on his shoulders as he stood before the door, PaDD in hand, steeling his resolve. This was not what he wanted to do, but he’d been unable to silence his instincts and had to dig in further, much further. He had found enough to suggest to him that there was more going on here than met the eye and he had convinced himself of it. The question now was could he convince anyone else, most particularly, the Admiral. He took a deep breath, steadying the thoughts in his mind.

He didn’t want to do this, knowing it was effectively a move against his commanding officer. Captain DeHavilland had been good to him. She trusted him to do his job, gave him the unfettered remit to do it and only asked to be involved, never micromanaging. She was the best kind of superior anyone could hope for. One that trusted. The problem was, this information, put him in a position not to trust her.

The evidence was shaky though, certainly not enough to make this an open and shut case of subterfuge but there was enough there that he knew he had to at least try it out on the Admiral. One, because he needed someone else to know, but more importantly because he needed access to things that only the Captain would generally be able to authorize. As she was the source of this concern, he knew he couldn’t go to her.

Thad shook it all out of his head; the doubts, the fears, the concerns that this was the right choice. He’d debated it ad nauseam in his head. He’d made his decision. Now, time to was time to act. With that unifying thought, he reached out and pressed the chime to the space the Admiral had claimed as his ready room.

“You may come,” the Admiral’s gravelly voice sounded through the comm in the door as they hissed open in invitation.

Zayne stepped in, slowing his step as he did and looked around. He had been in the Admiral’s Ready Room aboard the Alexander a few times on his own over the years and had always admired the man’s orderliness. Everything had a place and everything in it’s place. Yet what he was looking at right now was unqualified chaos. His entire desk was littered with PaDD’s, the display view on the corner was turned askew and several more PaDD’s littered the edges of the holo-table that was on the left hand side of the room for Thad. It was as if the man was searching for a singular data PaDD and had gone through an entire deck’s worth trying to find it.

The Admiral was standing before his desk, between it and the holotable, PaDD in hand looking to the Commander as he came in. He took his glasses off and set them on the corner of the desk, on top of his PaDD and the pile of others.

“Mr. Zayne,” Sepandiyar offered. “How may I help you?”

Thad walked in, closing the distance between them and simply began. There was no need for formalities or ego stoking with the Admiral. Straight to the point always worked best with him. “Admiral, I’ve been going over some data and I’ve found some… inconsistencies I wanted to discuss with you,” he began explaining.

“Would this not be something to discuss with Captain DeHavilland?” Sepandiyar asked, holding a hand up to silence him. Of all the officers he thought he’d have to redirect to speak to the station commander and not him, Commander Zayne would have been last on the list.

“It would. But. The data…” he sighed, steeling himself. “The data I have controverts the official reports that Captain DeHavilland has issued. That’s why I’m here, with you, sir,” he explained.

The Admiral stood up a little taller, his attention piqued and the hairs on the back of his neck standing up once more. “Go on,” he said quietly.

“I will admit, sir, the evidence could be coincidental, but in my experience when you have enough uncertain angles pointing the same way, there’s a high likelihood that it isn’t mere coincidence,” he said, offering the data PaDD. There was still plenty more digging to do with Lieutenant Hirsch but what they had so far was hopefully enough to get the access they needed to dig on deeper.

“Of all of that, sir, this is the most compelling at the moment. This is the report of the damage taken during the Pathfinder’s escape from Korinn space. And this is the metallurgical analysis of the damage done by a secondary algorithm, not the one their Engineer did. It’s indicating damage from gravimetric shear, nothing close to what the official report says,” he explained. “Now that could be just the computer reading it incorrectly, but it’s my beli-,” he stopped abruptly as the Admiral held up his hand again.

“Does Captain DeHavilland know you’re investigating this?” He asked quietly.

“No, Admiral,” he replied.

“And you said, Lieutenant…”

“Hirsch, sir.”

“Lieutenant Hirsch is involved in this too?”

“He identified inconsistencies of his own, but when he brought them up to Captain DeHavilland she dismissed them out of hand. I approached him separately and we agreed that there’s more to this than is being reported. We both felt it was our duty to get to the bottom of it. In order to do that, I need more access than I have. Of course, it’s also possible that you know something of this and will tell us to stand down. Either way, coming to your was the next best course of action.”

The Admiral nodded his head slowly, letting a silence fall between that that seemed to go on forever as he read the complete details of the PaDD Thad had given him.

“… should I stand down, sir?” Thad finally asked quietly.

Sepandiyar looked up, as if just realizing that the man was still there. He shook his head slowly, “No, Commander,” he said, finally shaking out of the reverie. “No,” he repeated, handing the device back. “Have a look at this,” he said, waving to the holo table now and walking over there to adjust the screens.

The Admiral began to show Thad the data archive he’d accumulated from each segment indicating that there was a glitch of some kind in the archival process around a certain timeframe - the same time frame of the supposed action in the reports. Thad agreed indicating that he and Hirsch had also gone over that data and found nothing of note. Sepandiyar then showed him the inactive system reports and how hydroponics, the tertiary science lab undergoing refit and the powered down crew weight room all had logged the same ghost data, corroborating what he’d found initially.

Thad stared at it, open mouthed.

“How… does that happen?” He asked, shaking his head with confusion. “There’s glitch enough to kill the data dump but not enough to effect the ‘echo’ of it?”

“It is possible it’s a glitch, but all of my computer simulations suggest that has a point three-one-five percent chance of being true. Do you know what has a ninety-eight point seven percent chance of being ‘most likely’?” The Admiral asked.

Thad shook his head, not because he didn’t know the answer, but because he didn’t want to believe that was the answer. “… someone purging it,” he replied.

“Hastily,” Zavareh added. “Whomever did this, do so in a hurry. They purged active systems, bridge logs, all of it. But they didn’t consider that inactive systems. They were thorough, do not get me wrong. They fooled you,” he said, gesturing to Thad. “Unfortunately for them, I happen to know a thing or two of the Operations world - it was my service path. This was well hidden, but hastily done,” he explained.

Thad continued shaking his head, “Who on Pathfinder has that kind of a skillset. Corvus is a good officer, but that’s… not her strength. Aside from Commander Zahn, who was aboard but Ensigns?” He asked.

“I think that is the greater mystery, Thaddeus. How is important, yes. But whom is even more so.”

“Do we just ask Captain DeHavilland to her face?” Thad pressed. “Show her the evidence, and demand the truth?”

“I wish to know why she was hiding it first,” the Admiral replied. “If she is part of something greater, than I would not spook the others involved. We have to presume that, at a minimum Captain Cal-,” he stopped dead as the chime to his office rang. He looked at Thad, who shook his head to indicate that no one knew he was here. But before the Admiral could speak, the chime rang again as if the caller was in urgent need.

“You may enter,” the Admiral said, quickly hiding the holo’s on the table.

The doors swished open and Captain Lachlan Callum stepped into the office, looking slightly disheveled which was saying something for a man that generally operated with a five o’clock shadow, and looked as if he was recovering from an all night bender. The man appeared as if he hadn’t slept in days but was dressed in a freshly pressed uniform as if perhaps he was preparing to walk to the gallows.

“Captain. How can I help you?” The Admiral asked.

“I… ehm,” he said, looking to Commander Zayne. “I need to speak to you, Admiral. I have… something I need to tell you. Something…” he kept looking to Thad, “Something for your ears only, sir.”

“Regarding?” The Admiral pushed.

“Regarding… Theseus’ last mission, sir,” he offered cautiously, still eyeing Thad.

“Commander Zayne was just here to discuss the same thing,” the Admiral said firmly, gesturing to the man. “Regarding inconsistencies in the reports to the physical damage assessed,” he went on. “We were also discussing the data glitch in the reporting,” he went on.

Thad looked at the Admiral in alarm. This was supposed to be secret. He didn’t want him to go after Corvus, so why was he going after Callum. It didn’t make sense to him. Was he confident that Captain Callum wasn’t keeping secrets the way Corvus was?

“It’s not a glitch,” Callum replied solemnly, stepping closer to the two of them as if someone might hear him and smite him where he stood. “They deleted it,” he said.

Thad and Zavareh looked at each other, both of them standing up a little taller.

“Who deleted it?” Zavareh asked in a near whisper.

Callum swallowed, lowering his head. “You have to understand, Admiral. The threat that was made. That we’re risking our commands. Our careers,” he said softly. “I wanted to keep the secret for that but… you’ve… always stood up for me, even when others wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have this command but for you. I couldn’t… I cannot keep this to myself anymore. Career be damned, I’ll not have a guilty conscious about it any longer.”

“Callum?” Sepandiyar said quietly, almost fatherly to the younger man. “Callum. Who deleted it?” He asked, but it was as if Callum was in his own conversation, almost muttering to himself. Thad observed that the man looked exhausted, he had looked out of sorts when he came in but now it just looked like pure exhaustion. It made him wonder if he’d slept at all since they’d returned.

“He said, Security Protocol Seven-Eight-Six-Bee,” Callum went on half muttering. “Saved our asses, he did. How do you tell him no? How do you tell a man like that no?”

“Captain Callum,” Thad pressed, reaching out and stirring his attention to them with a hand on the shoulder. “Sir, who deleted it?”

“Captain Bowdler. Of the Alabama,” he replied solemnly.

That took Thad by surprise but when he turned to look at the Admiral the man looked as if he’d seen a ghost, his demeanor now suddenly close to Callum’s.

“Sir? Admiral?” Thad asked urgently.

“You are certain he said Seven-Eight-Six-Bee?” The Admiral pressed Lachlan.

“Aye,” he nodded. “Had to look it up, though that didn’t help at all. Details redacted. Short version, someone very important just overrode everything.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” Thad frowned, folding his arms across his chest.

“You would not have,” Sepandiyar said, leaning back against the holo table almost as if winded. He had his hand to his temple, clearly working through something far more profound than Thad thought it was.

“What does it mean?” Thad asked quietly.

Slowly, Sepandiyar began to nod. “It means…” he said slowly, looking up. “We may all three be in over our heads.”


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