Obsidian Command

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The Spaces In Between

Posted on 25 Mar 2024 @ 11:35am by Lieutenant Tobias Hirsh

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: OC, CiC, workstations
Timeline: (TBD — During the time skip)
2114 words - 4.2 OF Standard Post Measure

Lieutenant Tobias-Hirsh generally took up three workstations when he was working in the CiC on the station. Generally he stood, although some of the stool style seating could support him, designed as they were for some of the other larger than average people in the fleet like himself. It was more the sheer breadth of him that crowded into the personal space of anyone working at an adjacent station. But being on an Operations Center the size of a stardock's, with long banks of adaptable workstations any of the personnel could log into, it was rare that anyone needed to be seated immediately beside him. He had to admit that having a little space to turn about without fear of elbowing some poor sod in the nose unintentionally was rather nice.

The Korix diplomatic conference had gone on for several weeks, and technically was only in a suspended session now as deliberations were underway following testimonies and evidence presented concerning what was known of the Pyrryx and the situation of the Korinn people.

As a specialist in defensive tactical measures, Tobias had been assigned on the project quite early, when the wreckage the Pathfinder had first dragged in was brought to the station. He knew he had to have been handpicked by someone on the inside track. The attack on the Fieldmont colony which he had been one of the very few surviving witnesses of had been hushed to prevent media panic. So while he was known to have been a witness to the Pyrryx attack on Fieldmont, his testimony had been sealed up until only recently for the sake of the conference. The Grazerite colony was reported lost to aggressor attack, but the greater understanding was that it was inconclusive as to who was responsible, leaving the tragedy unresolved in the psyche of those who had lost friends or loved ones on the remote settlement. He'd seen the Grazerite media cope with it by reaching back in their history and likening the matter to several other failed colonizing attempts, memorializing the lost settlers as brave families striking out into the unknown, dying for the greater causes of civilization. And the news cycles moved on.

Only Tobias couldn't move on so easily. Himself being so personally affected, it gave him a special level of focus on the problem of the Pyrryx; that combined with his specialization in defensive tactics and counteroffensive technologies meant that he'd been someone's first pick to assign to the evaluation of the recovered Pyrryx wreckage. Who that someone was Tobias was left to guess. There were names on the transfer orders of course, but they were generally no one he personally knew or worked under. He had to trust that what he was given to work on was where he could best be employed and that the analysis he sent back was serving the best interests of the defense of the Federation.

It always made him feel as if he had only one part of a complex puzzle full of moving parts, a view that was flattened and blinkered on either side. But now, with the Pathfinder's return from reconnaissance, there was far more data in one fell swoop than he had ever been given to work with at once previously. He barely slept for weeks, unable to peel his eyes from the scans and recordings, playbacks and debriefing transcripts.

Much of what he was seeing fit with what he knew of the Pyrryx. They dominated mercilessly. When they were fixed on taking out a target, they would crush their own to get it done if necessary. He closed his eyes, remembering the onslaught that drove past defensive concussion canons by piling over one another directly into the blasts, making a landbridge of their own downed bodies until those still on their feet were inside the defensive field. With such frontal assault tactics, the Pyrryx broke inside the walls before the colony could even get the families to underground fallout shelter. Not that they would have been able to hold the doors against the onslaught for very long…

Evidence from Pathfinder’s discoveries and accounts from the Korinn showed what happened to a world that the Pyrryx found to be a valuable resource. Korix had been scraped down from orbit in a single minded effort to release the rare minerals the Pyrryx wished to gain, killing millions of prewarp people at a stroke, causing irreversible damage to a delicate ecological balance which had no advantage to offer the Pyrryx in their estimation. With the level of decimation they could mete out to the unprepared Korrin, it took the Pyrryx as little as a single stationed man and a handful of faithful lieutenants of a subservient race to hold the entire planet under their thumb for two decades.

The situation on Korix revealed quite a lot, in actuality, about how the Pyrryx structured their dominion. The sheer shock and awe of their arrival would lead to forced fealty. There would be little doubt in any survivor’s mind that non compliance could only end one way. The Pyrryx would snap you in half and look at the next fellow in his line until everyone bowed and agreed to whatever demand their subservient managerial races articulated to the new servant class. And that was that. There was not a fleck of regret evident in their treatment of other worlds. It was as if all life was just a resource for the claiming, meant to be ground down into bone meal, sown over the remains of their worlds and moved on from in the search of the next to consume.

As for the ship-to-ship encounters on record, few as they were, Tobias only had access to highly redacted overviews. The wreckage to which he had direct access demonstrated that while some of the technology was highly advanced, it was either reclaimed and cobbled together, such that the energy requirements often would have radioactive bleed or destabilizing spikes. Their ships were dangerous to be on the business end of, but not much safer to serve on, sure to be deathtraps for the crew when the acquired and poorly adapted tech backfired on them. It smacked to him of the same strategic mentality of the Pyrryx who had climbed over their own brethren to slay Tobias’ fellow Grazerites– The Pyrryx soldiers themselves were expendable, and there was little they cared to be careful or reserved about in the effort to take territory or establish dominance. Their thirst knew no bounds to collateral damage, their own or otherwise. The wreckage even suggested evidence of subspace weaponry… the signatures of which personnel had found throughout the recovered parts.

The Pathfinder and the Theseus having tangled with no fewer than three Pyrryx ships and both come back to talk about it was still baffling to Tobias. Testimonies during the conference had turned up another Nova Class’ crew that had survived a Pyrryx encounter– the ship was another matter being decommissioned from the extent of damages— as testified to by Captain Parnell, presently in command of the DeGrasse-A. But it was obvious that someone had redacted how precisely the crew had survived the encounter. Tobias had spent much time rifling through everything his access level allowed, filtering through personnel records and seeking out anything that stood out.

The system they had surveyed had only the DeGrasse’s record of scans, but there was one other search return on the system in an intel file. It too was heavily redacted, but by forcing the record backwards employing a filing system method Tobias had learned from a data engineer, he found one associated serial number which tracked to a massive compound network level file in the intel system. He didn’t have anywhere near the clearance level to access any of the file numbers, and he refrained from doing anything more than scrolling the computer back end log, knowing that accessing any of it would put his serial number imprint on them and make his backdoor trick moot. Although they were long and complex, he committed several of the filing locations to memory, a trick he’d practiced hard at, and then backed out of the entry logs the way he had gone in.

Tobias glanced both ways over his shoulders, but was satisfied that his torso was broad enough to prevent anyone noticing as he ran more searches for unredacted files associated with the sealed ones. Hours later he had a trail of seemingly unrelated systems and individuals, but one name that kept coming up in association with it all. Lieutenant Commander Briar Elin– a Trill woman who was a doctor originally commissioned in the field. The start of her career was not uncommon for a medical doctor, many of whom studied each on his or her own homeworld before going through an abbreviated officer indoctrination training. The first redacted file in her career came from an event aboard the USS Cantell. That perked Tobias’ interest. Quite often the first instances of something held the key to unlocking a mystery. There was a very curious entry in her own medical record from the Cantell’s CMO, suggesting that the patient was overstating her symptoms and engaging in attention seeking behavior surrounding her supposed self-diagnosed condition. There was an attached report including a medical scan. The lab readings all seemed normal for a joined trill. Only… Tobias found himself paging back and forth in the personnel record. Dr. Elin was never joined to a symbiote.

It was a long shot, and quite possibly not related to anything else, but Tobias sent an inquiry directly to Dr. Elin, whose service record showed her between Mission assignments. “You never know.’ He sighed to himself as he closed out his station. Before he had logged out, a return message came through and Tobias accepted the comm. The holographic display animated a new display, and a woman in loose clothing sat beside a ship viewport, in what looked to be private quarters. The comm location betrayed only a subspace redirection port, and not a primary location for the caller– a trick common in intelligence use.

“Doctor Elin, I hadn’t expected such a prompt response,” Tobias said, genuinely surprised.

“You said it was security related,” the blonde Trill said, her head quirked slightly with interest as she took in the Lieutenant who quite literally filled the viewer.

“Yes, indeed. It is a… somewhat sensitive matter.”

She smirked. “It’s rare that a ‘sensitive matter’ is communicated to me outside of my intel handlers.”

Tobias found her curious already, for a medical doctor, she was unusually normalized to sensitive intel. “I have some questions. I will of course understand if you are limited in what you may be free to share.”

Her head tilted slightly back and forth. “My situation has changed quite a bit recently. If you enlighten me as to what you’re after, I can see what I can do for your investigations.”

“The USS De Grasse. I was curious as to how—”

“Just a moment.” Elin’s easy manner faded and she bit her lip. “Maybe it’s better if we meet in person. I’ve been thinking about taking a tour of the Loki System since the station was recovered. Some of my Medical colleagues are stationed there. I think there’s a Slipstream courier run I can catch this week. Assuming the wait doesn’t set your investigations back too far.”

“I've been working on this matter or ones related to it for a couple of years now. Both personally and professionally.” Tobias said, fighting his own eagerness for answers. He thought about the outright and yet informal redactions on Captain Parnell’s testimony and realized that Dr. Elin likely expected to have her own input filtered if she carried on sharing over comms lines. That she would go to the trouble to travel and speak to him in person seemed a gift he shouldn’t turn away. “But any information you have may help with a very delicate deliberation.”

“Let’s not speak again until I arrive.” Elin said with a knowing smile, terminating the call. As Dr. Elin winked, the image collapsed and settled on the Station comms system logo.

Logging out completely now, Tobias’ mountainous shoulders fell considerably and he gave a grunt under his breath. It was his lunch break, after which he owed his weekly update on his research to the command team. He supposed he didn’t want to go into the security meeting on an empty stomach.


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