Star Trek: Defiant

"Power Play" - Part Six

Written by Valas Maerret

Lebin walked into the intelligence office. It was a modest affair, and Clark was sitting at a terminal gazing intently at the displays.

"You wanted to see me, Dan," Lebin asked.

"Yes sir. Sorry to trouble you. I've been noticing some odd internal sensor activity over the past 12 hours. Its almost like someone is accessing the sensors remotely."

"Who?" Lebin asked.

"Its hard to tell exactly. The sensors themselves are running more actively then normal. Also in more areas. Then the computer does some odd routing scheme with the data, and sends it to various other subsystems. Its hard to keep track of it after that, as there are a series of command overrides and encyption schemes used. But many of the short range external relays seem to be activated at about the same consistency."

"D.A.R.Y.L.," Lebin said, asking for the ship's sentient computer.

"Yes commander," the computer responded warmly.

"Can you trace the command paths that access the internal sensor net?"

"Yes commander. The internal sensors are operating within normal parameters."

"But where is the data being tranfered to?"

"Cannot confirm request. Command lockouts in affect."

"That's what I keep running in to," Clark stated.

Lebin frowned. "Can you tell me which command lockouts?"

"They are imbedded in layers," the computer responded. "The foremost command is 11837-B3744 Bridges Omega Alpha. All others commands are protected by this."

"What's the captain up to, anyway," Clark asked.

Lebin shook his head and frowned again. "I wish I knew. He's been acting strangely. And many of the others."

"I saw Catrin this morning," Clark said. "I asked where Mak had been these past couple days, and she didn't say much. But she did mention that he has been acting strange ever since he came on board."

Lebin looked down in thought. He then looked right into Clark's eyes. "Keep me informed directly if you find anything else. In the mean time, I have to find who else on this ship is not 'acting strange.'"

* * *

The doors opened, revealing a dark room. Lebin entered slowly.

He reached his hand for a control panel to turn up the lights, but an icy voice froze his motion.

"I prefer it dark."

Lebin couldn't tell where in the room the voice had originated. He replied simply, "We have to talk."

"So begin," the voice responded. Goth's figure emerged into the glare generated by the corridor lighting.

"There's trouble on this ship," Lebin began evenly. The doors closed behind him, enclosing the room in near total blackness. Only the lights from the control panels, and from the miriad of stars beyond the window broke the darkness. Those stars began to wink out, signaling to Lebin that the occupant was moving closer.

Lebin pressed the control panel and the lights came on ubruptly. Goth was standing no more than a meter in front of him, a knife in one hand. Lebin tensed up.

A smirk came to Goth's face as he raised a piece of fruit he was holding and continued cutting it with the knife. The Trill let out a audiable sigh.

"You were saying?"

Lebin took a breath and composed himself. "Something's going on. Over half of the senior officers on this ship are... behaving oddly. I don't know what it is. I just don't like being left in the dark."

Goth nodded. "I, too, have witnessed some of this. In particular, Mak has not been acting himself of late."

"Yes," Lebin continued, "But for the others, their behavior is even more confusing. They pretend that nothing is out of the ordinary, when there is every piece of evidence that suggests otherwise.

"What I need is to isolate a group of people who are not affected by this, so that we may keep each other informed. Just as a precaution. I need to know if you are with me."

The Thanaos again smirked, as if he was waiting for such a request. "Of course," he replied cooly, "But are you sure you are not just just being paranoid?" he asked as he raised a recently scewered piece of fruit to his mouth and began to chew.

Lebin nodded. "Perhaps. But I would rather take too many precautions than let this get out of hand.

"In the meantime, I'll contact Starfleet and let them know of the situation."

With that, Lebin exited the room, remembering to turn out the lights.

* * *

Schell put the padd down on the desk and picked up his cup of coffee. The deciding moment, he mused.

He had finished reading Lebin's report on the condition of the Defiant. Though it had been intercepted so that it never reached Starfleet headquarters, Schell considered the possiblity that things were just too messy on board for his agenda to continue.

He took another sip of coffee, contemplating the difficult disicion. Reports from his taps on the Defiant's internal sensors indicated that Vex was carrying out his plans to the letter. But the nanite vessel trailing the Defiant was reaching the end of its proverbial leash. The nanites were going to recall the ship soon, so if Schell were to enlist their aid, it would have to be now.

Destroy the ship and loose his project, or hope that Vex could finish his work and contain the paranoia that was building on the ship? He finished he coffee and glanced at the padd.

Lebin's actions had proved to be the deciding factor. Schell couldn't afford the risk.

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