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Call up

Posted on Wed Feb 24th, 2016 @ 4:25am by Lieutenant Commander Soraya Delrisa & Lieutenant Thomas Stills & Ruby Redford

Mission: Trouble on the frontier

Ruby was running for her life again, badly injured and losing blood. Her breath came out in short gasps. She was the only survivor of a doomed expedition. She had to keep going no matter what. If she could just make it to the caves, she would find shelter there among the resistance. She tripped and fell, lading very heavily on her injured leg and almost cried out in pain but she was nearly there.

She could hardly make out the entrance to the cave, it was so well hidden. There was no one outside so they must have moved deeper into the mountain. No lights shone as she moved further in. She turned her torch on. They should be here; there was more than a 100 people here.

Then her torch picked up the figures lying dead on the floor of the cave and she sank to floor and cried. They were all dead, all of them. Older men and women lying along side young children. All gone.

Ruby tossed and turned in her sleep fighting to wake up from the dream. This was just one of many nightmares that came back to haunt her. When she woke up she would reconcile herself with the fact that she had taken many pictures as evidence of the atrocities that were carried out that night by the Jem Hadar.

She felt heavy eyed when she walked to the office that morning. The office wasn't a bad size and the furniture supplied was decent enough. They were on the promenade squeezed between a new age shop and a clothes shop, there for all to see. They had only been there a few days and didn't know a lot of people yet and so Ruby thought that today was the day. Podes followed her in not long after, but more by chance than any design. He had been scouting out sites for good camera shots. He’d spotted Ruby while hanging from a gantry above the Promenade by two arms while sizing up multiple angles using cameras held in three other arms. He had been going to call out to her then and there but the Promenade was starting to get busy. He thought better of startling those innocently going about their business.

“How do?” he called to Ruby as he entered. “Got a few shots I want to show you. There’s some really interesting vistas around here. I think we could put together a nice selection for a coffee table holocube.”

There was no replicator in the office yet but Podes had switched on the coffee machine and the aroma of fresh coffee filled her nostrils. She poured herself some and then went over to join him. "What you got Podes?"

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

Ruby looked at the pictures they were great. So unusual too, taken from so many different angles. "I like the up angles, how did you manage to get those? They make the station look almost dare I say it ...nice."

Podes had shown her two locations when they heard a hail behind them. Captain Harrison was emerging from a café and had spotted them. “Ms Redford,” he called.

Ruby recogised Captain Harrison straight away from his profile. "Captain Harrison, nice to meet you." she said walking over to him. "Welcome to the F.N.S. Please call me Ruby. This is cameraman Podes."

“Not my real name, but....” Podes began.

Harrison looked the creature up and down. Then he smiled. “Someone got it right though,” he finished. “Most people would use ‘Pi’ but whoever gave you that knickname knew their grammar.”

Pode’s mouth opened and a beak came out. Harrison thought it could be a threat or a sign of pleasure. He decided to take it for the latter. “Most people think the plural of ‘octopus’ is ‘octopi’,” he continued. “They are wrong. The word ‘octopus’ is of Greek derivation and literally means ‘eight-footed’. Therefore, the correct pluralisation is ‘octopodes’; or Podes for short.

“Ms Redford, Podes, I have an offer for you both; one which you, Podes, might be ideally suited for.”

"Lets hear it." asked Ruby pouring herself another coffee.

“You are aware of the attack on Gaspar.”

“Attacks, plural,” Podes said. “I saw last night’s newsfeed. Someone’s setting up fake aid stations and using them to terrorise the local population.”

Harrison nodded sadly. “Indeed. There is also much anti-Federation propaganda coming from the pirates. I need someone on the ground there who can present the Federation’s side of the story. Mister Podes....”

“Podes will do just fine.” Again the beak emerged. “You couldn’t pronounce my real name even if you tried and adding an honorific would just complicate matters. Let’s keep it simple”

Harrison nodded acquiesce. Now that he thought about it, Pode’s voice did sound slightly artificial, like it was coming out of a portable Universal Translator. If it was, the device was a very good one but it did not quite have the timbre and nuance of a real voice.

“You’re thinking that I might be able to get into nooks and crannies in the rubble which other people can’t reach,” Podes continued.

“Something along those lines.” Harrison acknowledged. “But I was also wanting Ms Redford’s undoubted skill at describing...difficult situations. I have read some of your war stories. You have a knack for bringing out the humanity in even the most tragic of events.”

Ruby nodded. Some said she had a photographic memory but she saw it as something else. Her stories were like art to her. But she remembered every brushstroke, every pen mark; it was all etched on her memory. No wonder she still had nightmares.

"I tell it how I see it Captain, I don't hold anything back."

“That is exactly what I need, Ms Redford: nothing held back. You will be accused of propagandising and worse but I gather you are used to that. No doubt you will be accused of lies and distortions. The pictures you take Mister...Podes....” he amended quickly, “....will go a long way to dispelling that. I am relying on the two of you – together – to present a picture which will convince people that the Federation is acting in their interests and it is the pirates who are the villians.”

"Captain, the computer said you were here," Doctor Delrisa said as she approached the group. "I have good news."

Harrison turned to see who had spoken. “Ah, Doctor Delrisa, I could do with some of that right now.”

"Some of the local businesses are going to donate supplies to the Gaspar mission. I'm hoping for fresh food since that is where we're lacking."

“That is good news indeed,” Harrison agreed. “But how so? I thought you were going to have to rely on replicators until we can get some airponics and hydroponics bays set up.”

"I'm concerned that we will need most of the power for the surgeries and regenerators. Mr. Lincoln assures me that the business leaders of Deep Space Twelve will offer some assistance," she said.

“I hear a ‘but’ coming, Doctor. What is this going to cost us?” he asked cautiously.

She pushed a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. "Well... I believe he... Mr. Lincoln... wants to volunteer for the mission."

That took Harrison back a step. “Mister Lincoln? Forgive me, but...are we talking about the same person? The Mister Lincoln who runs the bar?”

"Correct, Captain."

“I do not see what use he would be. It is not as if Gaspar is in desperate need of a hospitality station or is crying out for holovideos.”

"I agree, but I believe his intentions are good. He may yet change his mind," Soraya said.


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