== portions written with input and permission from Captain Crawford ==
One eye opened in the darkness, confused and unsure.
Another eye opened, and finally the figure sat up, the covering sheets sliding down off the torso.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming. Computer what time is it?”
[It is currently zero one hundred hours]
Wearily, Nathan shuffled over to his desk in stop and start motions, quite like a zombie. This was not his usual wake up time. On top of that, he had no idea why an incoming transmission was coming straight to his Quarters. If it was a regular message, it would just be held until he checked his console. If it were a regular message. That got him thinking, and warning bells went off in his head about what the call could be about. Cautiously, he pushed the console button, where it prompted him to enter his authorization.
That is odd… an encrypted transmission? For me?
“Ramius Whiskey Zero Five One Bravo Delta.”
A face appeared on the terminal, and Ramius’ first reaction was surprised, which turned into happiness, that then melted into concern.
[Nathan, I’m sorry for waking you.]
“Oh, you didn’t wake me,” he yawned and ran a hand through his messed-up hair.
[Liar], there was just the hint of a grin in the corner of her mouth, but that didn’t hide the distress from the rest of her face.
[I got permission from my Commanding Officer to use a secured channel, so that this would transmit even if you were on a mission. It’s about Byron. He’s gone missing.]
“Missing? Well is that anything new? Ronnie is an investigative journalist Ada, he’s probably doing some undercover sort of stuff.”
[That is just the thing, he is, but he setup a schedule with his Editor, and now he has missed three check-ins in a row. They are incredibly easy too, just a tap on a handheld communicator and the Editor would know he is alright.]
“Well, that isn’t good news… but…”
[I know. I know. You are thinking, ‘why contact me?’]
[Byron was investigating the new Nausicaan Syndicate,] Nathan’s eyes narrowed, [on the planet Ponm. Problem is, Ponm is an independent planet and so the Federation won’t step in to help find him.]
“Well, that isn’t good either… but…”
[Yes Nathan, I get it, I know what you are thinking. But the police on Ponm won’t start an investigation unless it is clear that he is a missing person. They won’t do anything at the moment. And you are near Ponm right now, so I thought you’d be able to help find him.]
There was a loud sigh as the security officer sat back in his chair, staring at the pleading face of someone who was basically kin to him. He knew Ada wouldn’t have contacted him if she hadn’t already run out of options. Not that Ramius wasn’t first on her list, but she knew better than most what his duties on a starship entailed.
“If the Federation has already said no, then Star Fleet isn’t going to let me go there to investigate either.”
[Please Nathan, there has to be something you can do. Surely you can just get permission to take a few days leave, go to Ponm, and bring Byron back. Knowing you, and the fact that you know my brother so well, you’d be able to find him quick.]
“That’s just the thing Ada, there is no way my Cee-Oh is going to let me grab a shuttle and just waltz over to Ponm. One, we aren’t authorized to conduct missions on independent planets unless they ask us for help. In which case, Star Fleet would probably dispatch a ship, or even the Artemis. Two, I’m not exactly in the best position to be asking for favors, let alone being trusted to…”
Ada’s face on the screen was upset, and he could see the tears streaking down her face. Inside his chest, his heart hurt like it had been stabbed. It was obvious now that Nathan really was a ‘last resort’, and he knew she was terrified.
“Alright, listen. I will talk to Captain Crawford. I make no promises; I’ve been in the hotseat since the Getty, and I am not in anyone’s good graces. But I’ll make a case, and see if she’ll allow me to petition the local constabulary to start an investigation…”
[Okay…] she was still distraught, but there was a bit of hope there, [I love you, you big idiot.]
That made Nathan laugh a little, “I love you too Squeaker.”
The transmission terminated, the Artemis logo appearing along with the time the hail had ended. Another sigh escaped Ramius, except this one was very long.
At least I have a few hours to figure out what I’m going to say to the Captain…
== A few hours later… ==
“You might want to try that again and really re-think that request...”
Nathan cracked his neck in both directions, and extended the PADD that he prepared a full briefing on. The situation on Ponm was complicated, both for the fact that it was an independent world with all of the diplomatic hurdles that entailed, plus a complicated justice system that was different depending on which province one had to interact with.
“Believe me Captain, I know that I’m the person with the worst track record to be asking for any kind of favor…”
The corner of the redhead's lips pulled slightly as her nose crinkled in an attempt to suppress a snort while she read the PADD,
“…but I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn't incredibly important to me. Ada Miller is my sister – not by blood, but in bond, and so is her brother Byron. I’m not asking to do my own investigation…”
"Good because Hell would freeze over and the Borg would rise from the grave with offers of peace before anyone in their right mind would sign off on you doing anything alone, much less..."
“Not alone,” Nathan dared to interrupt her, “sorry, but, I was… I am going to ask for someone to accompany me. Someone I trust to watch my back and help me navigate the intricacies of Independent World politics. I was hoping you’d allow Ensign Benjamin Elias to accompany me. He has real experience in dealing with authorities from such places from his previous freighter experience.”
“So, I’m just supposed to let ya’ll, two incredibly green J-O's no less, take a shuttle and what?”
“Petition the local security force to start an investigation or missing person case. If not the local security force, then petition the provincial government. And then the federal government of Pomn, if need be. I doubt we’d be more than a few days at most.”
Taking a small step forward, his hands came up into a pleading position,
“Please, Captain. This is my family. Ada and Byron… the entire Miller clan was always there for me, and they would do anything for me. In fact, they have done a lot for me already. I know it is asking for a lot of trust when that cup is empty… but I know for a fact how highly regard family…”
“Stop before you dig your own grave. I can spot emotional toying from a couple hundred lightyears away. What's the timeframe?”
“Four. Six days max. One day to get there, a couple days to file paperwork and meet with an investigator or magistrate. Then straight back to the Artemis.”
Her blue eyes hardly seemed convinced as they drilled into him before the gaze was broken by a shake of the head. "You two will be the death of me. Do you know what term I would use to describe you if I were your COS? 'A **** magnet' and Elias will probably just multiple that trouble by at least ten."
“No trouble, I assure you Captain,” there was another snort, “it will be by-the-book.”
She rubbed a hand over her face before letting it drop heavily. Her posture was one of resignation. "If I say no, you'll just do it anyway and tank both of your careers -- it's what I'd do in your shoes. You have six days -- take Shadow, if he agrees. If not, find another volunteer. You are not there as Starfleet officers, merely as concerned family members so you damn well better leave your official gear at home. I swear to God that if you go and throw your weight around in an official capacity on an independent world, you will wish a cartel had killed you when I get my hands on you." She paused and sighed, shaking her head again. "And please, when you end up knee deep, don't be an idiot and don't be a hero... call for back up."
“Understood, and thank you.”
She glanced at the chronometer, a seeming dismissal incoming. “Tick tock Midshipman…”
Nathan didn’t just hustle out of the Captain’s Ready Room, he sprinted.
== Engineering ==
I hope he is still in the main foyer like the Computer said he was…
The doors to the turbolift had barely opened as he pushed himself between the narrow opening, earning him more than a few irritated glances from a sprocket of engineers as he did so. Even then, he continued at his breakneck pace, making a beeline for the main area of Engineering. Sliding around a corner, he came to a skid-stop like a cartoon character as he glanced around, then spotted his quarry.
He straightened his jacket, and semi-calmly walked over to his friend and roommate. Apparently, he was conversing with a couple of the enlisted crew and one officer, something about a Premodulating Thermal Matrix. Nathan hung back just a bit, not wanting to interrupt Benjamin while he was performing his duties, but as several seconds ticked by, his feet unconsciously brought him closer and closer to the group. Before he knew it, his was standing with them in their small circle, just behind the right shoulder of Ensign Elias.
One of the crew, a Crewman Whitby, smiled when she noticed him trying to edge into the conversation. Most of Engineering knew Nathan, but Whitby often conversed with him at length when he made his rounds.
“Hello Nathan,” it was her normal, warm greeting.
“Kate,” he replied, before addressing the rest of the group, “sorry to interrupt, but I have to steal Ensign Elias away for a moment…”
“We were just finishing up,” Whitby nodded, before the lone Engineering Midshipman piped up in agreement. The small circle quickly dispersed after that, mostly with Kate herding a few that looked like they wanted to ask a few more questions – she seemed to know the gravity of Nathan’s request, though his demeanor was probably quite obvious to read.
Now, with just the two of them standing there, he apologized,
“I’m sorry for interrupting your duties. I really normally wouldn’t have but… I really need your help. It is quite a large favor that I’m going to ask you, and you can say no of course. I already have approval from Captain Crawford, so that should give you some idea of how heavy the situation is. You were the only person that I could think of, that knows the ins-and-outs of how to deal with officials from independent worlds… you have street smarts… and I trust you.”
There was a pause, before he finally said what needed saying,
“I need you to come to Ponm with me. My best-friend… my sister really; her brother Byron has gone missing while doing some investigative journalism on a new criminal group operating on the planet. They haven’t got a response from any of the officials they’ve contacted, and the Federation is staying out of it because it isn’t a member world. Crawford gave me six days to go and get things started as a family member only – nothing official. Of course, she wouldn’t let me go alone… and when I suggested that I wanted you to come along… well, she wasn’t impressed with that either.”
Another pause, his head dipping to the floor for just a split-second before bouncing back up,
“Anyway, like I said, you can say no… but… I’d really appreciate your help on this…”
== tag Ben! ==