A Tangled Web
Captain's Ready Room <Deck 8> [Gibraltar Station]
Though not terribly spacious, this office is well-appointed and comfortable. The central feature of the room is the smoked glass desk, trimmed in oak, which sits with its longest side facing the door. There is a small terminal atop the desk, as well as some personal items of the occupant. Behind the desk is a light maroon swivel chair, well-cushioned with comfortable armrests, and in front are two smaller copies of this chair for visitors to sit in. To the right of the door is a light maroon couch with a small white table set in front of it, above which is hung an artist's rendition of Starbase 247 in orbit of the planet below. The couch is large enough to easily hold three people. Behind the desk and chairs is a small cherrywood shelf upon which various items of art have been put on display. The right side of the room is a curved wall dominated by tall windows that look out onto space. To the left is a small door that leads to a washroom. Next to this is a small replicator. The walls are paneled in maroon and the carpet on the floor is a matching color. Lighting panels line the upper junction between walls and ceiling.
Hawkins sits behind her desk as the scene opens, frowning down at a PADD. She glances up as the officers enter.
Solvek walks in a brisk pace and takes a seat in one of the chairs opposite the Captain. His manner is precise and deliberate.
Ames walks in behind Solvek, glancing around the office before stepping over towards the Captain's desk and taking a seat - just after Solvek sits - across from the Captain, "You asked to see us, Captain?"
Hawkins nods to Ames. "Yes. Thank you both for coming." She sighs, folding her hands on her desk. "This meeting is confidential, of course. Before we continue... what I'm going to discuss with you is highly classified information, and there's a chance--a slim one, but it's there--that if things fall out the wrong way we could all be put up on charges of treason. Myself definitely, and you two for coming into this. However, this matter concerns the safety of the Federation, and specifically this base, and I've put off letting you know what's going on for too long. However, if you'd like to leave now... you may."
Solvek doesn't seem to notice the severity of what his Captain is saying, or if he does his face does not convey this. He sits in the chair, his eyes focused on Hawkins, "I will stay, Captain."
Ames looks at Hawkins, curiousity on her face. What the Captain said has sunk in, but her curiousity - one of her key traits - driving her to stay, "I'll take the risk, Captain, so long as you're not asking me to betray the Federation or it's ideals..."
Hawkins shakes her head. "Not at all. In fact, it's the Federation's ideals that are at stake here."She pauses for a long moment, clears her throat, then says, "What do you know about the organization know as Section 31?"
Solvek pauses and thinks for a moment. His speaks slowly, "Section 31 was a rogue organization loosely tied to Starfleet Inteligence. Their ideas and methods were thought by most to be fanatical at best. Some of these ideas included the destruction of entire species. Sometime during the Dominion War, Starfleet Intelligence enacted a purge of their ranks and disbanded the organization. Their purge was sucessful and Section 31 is no more." His eyes are emotionless as the full weight of what Vulcan Intelligence knew is released to the people in the room.
Ames looks at Hawkins, a look that blatantly indicates her lack of comprehension on her face, "Nothing, Captain. I've never heard of it." After Solvek gives his briefing, her look is shifting to curiousity and concern - now that is something that she didn't expect.
Hawkins actually laughs at what Solvek says, if softly and wryly. "If only that were true, Commander. If that were true, I'd still be Captain of the Akagi. No, the Intelligence 'purge' just got rid of the ones we knew about in Intel, and the spin of them being completely gone was just that--spin." She pauses, then looks to Ames. "Section 31 is an organization that goes all the way back, we believe, to the original Earth Starfleet--making it older than the Federation itself. Their purpose, as I've always heard it stated, is to protect the Federation... but they do so by violating every principle the Federation was founded upon. According to our data, they were behind the events surrounding the Khitomer Accords--Admiral Cartwright had ties to them--quite possibly the Tomed Incident, several attempts to violate the Treaty of Algernon by researching cloaking technology, and they were almost certainly behind the entire business with the Son'a. Which is a very, very short list. And, yes, as Mr. Solvek said, they are not above genocide. We won the Dominion War in part because of a genetic plague they created and implanted in the Founders." Her expression twists at that--she's clearly unhappy about the fact.
A look of sadness and loss flashes across Solvek's face at the mention of the genetic plague. It is quickly supressed and his face returns to its normal expression. "My apologies, Captain. I was merely relaying the information that had been gathered by my people upon the discovery of the organization. It was not my intention to misinform."
Ames gets a disgusted look on her face at the last comment, but doesn't seem as surprised as, perhaps, she should be. "A group of extremists, so dedicated to protecting us they violate everything we stand for.." She sighs, "History is full of such groups. I would suppose it was foolish to believe there were none left in the Federation."
Hawkins nods and sighs. "It is a shame. They're a minority, but somehow they keep managing to be a powerful minority. Just enough to do dangerous things. I understand why Vulcan Intel had the wrong information. Even most of SFI has the wrong information. I happen to specialize in bringing them down." A pause. "Most of my career, I've been chasing and rooting out Section 31. My first... oh... five years in Intelligence, I was inadvertently working for them. That happens to plenty of people, but I happened to have evidence of a very dangerous plan that was going to jeopardize the ship that happened to be transporting me while in civilian guise. I exposed myself as an Intelligence officer to her Captain--violating her clearance levels and several layers of orders to do so--and we stopped the entire affair. I was lucky in that the Captain of that ship was Alison Crawford. She brought me into a group that combats Section 31 wherever it can, a group founded by Captain Kirk years ago and carried on for well over a hundred years. I'm not sure if we've done well or not, but we're certainly trying. I was lucky in that another member of that group is part of the upper echelons of Intel and smoothed over my indiscretions. And ever since I've been chasing after them. I'm here, now, because we have credible evidence that Section 31 feels there is a dire threat to the Federation in this sector and is moving much of what's left of their operations out here. It's easy to see them around every corner when you spend so much time looking, but this is something they were moving on before the War was even over, and we're about 99% certain our information is correct. So Admiral Crawford and I are here to stop them... and since they're unfortunately very good at picking out those possible threats, we're also here to combat... whatever it is."
Solvek seems uncertain about something, "I understand the need for Commander Ames and myself to know of their exsistence and their growing hold in this sector; however, I am led to believe that this meeting was called to discuss something more."
Ames looks at Solvek, offering but a slight nod in response, then glances back to Hawkins, leaning back in her chair, "I'd understand the need for us to know about this, Captain... but I'm unsure exactly what you're expecting of us." She lets out a quiet sigh, "Aid in keeping an eye out for agents of this... Section 31, aid in other matters, or something else?"
"Doctor Omtala brought some disturbing news earlier," Hawkins begins by way of explanation. "She completed the autopsy on the Antarean bombers and discovered implants at the base of both of their skulls. Implants based on Borg technology, but with Federation make, and with coded Starfleet communications frequencies embedded. She believes these implants were at least partially controlling the men and led to their deaths. She had concluded that the men must be Starfleet Intelligence operatives, but Intelligence has never used Borg implants on its people, and is not currently. However, those implants were in those men, and in addition, security codes we know to be used by Section 31 were used in certain alterations of repair logs that led to the first two bombs being overlooked by maintenance staff."
"It is logical to conclude that Section 31 is at least partially responsible for the attacks on this station." Solvek pauses for a moment. "The question that needs to be adressed then is, 'why?'"
Ames's eyes widen at that news, "Let me get this straight, Captain.. you're implying that this Section 31 was responsible for the bombings?" She leans back and considers, "Then... as the Commander says... why? What do they have to gain from damaging Starbase 247? It seems like that would be acting against Federation interests - as well as ideals - instead of promoting them."
Hawkins shakes her head. "That, I do not know. Maybe it wasn't them. Maybe it's some rogue mad scientist. Maybe it's part of some larger scheme--you'd think violating treaties and assasinating Presidents would be against the Federation's interests, too, but they've done both. However, something strange is going on. Someone is using members of an Antarean political faction and Starfleet officers in some sort of plot. Maybe the intentions are as the men stated, but I highly doubt that. Clearly, though, there is a threat to the station--and whatever is going on, whoever is behind all of this, has bigger plans than blowing up our docking bays, I think. I asked you two here to let you know what I know, so that whatever else happens we can face as we should--together. I plan to inform Doctor Omtala and Commander Volchenkov as well, since they're already hip-deep in this mess. As for the rest of the senior staff... soon. I think Koram and Tremar could handle it, but I'm not sure about Alexandria yet."
Solvek nods in agreement. "I am concerned with her behavior recently Captain. I am aware that you discussed her mannerisms during the social activities you held. But I am not certain as to its effectiveness. If I may ask, what solution did you offer her?" His tone is slightly informal as he obviously thinks that Ames already knows of these developments.
Ames gets a sorrow-filled look on her face as she nods, "I understand, Captain. I'll do my best to keep an eye out for anything unusual." She turns to glance at Solvek, "I... regret... that I've been unable to meet with Lieutenant Alexandria since her assignment aboard the station, Commander, and... my time for social activities has been cut short recently, and is only starting to return to normal... what sort of mannerisms are you referring to?"
Hawkins sighs again. She's been doing that a lot lately. "Lieutenant Alexandria seems to... avoid social situations. Certainly, she put on a show of enjoying herself when she truly did not, and I suspect she was trying to continue her work during a poker game. We've had a few complaints about her treatment of other officers, mostly about her manner. Evidently she logs 12-14 hours of work a day, and we suspect more, because she believes she must to make her department the best it can be. I advised her to lighten her workload, trust the people she delegates to more, and to come to us if she needs any help. We'll see if it makes a difference."
Solvek nods. "Very well, sir. Is there anything more that needs discussion?"
Ames offers a slight nod, "I'll make it a point to try and get to know the Lieutenant, see if I can offer assistance in any way..." She offers a faint smile, which the Vulcan, at least, would notice is a cover for more tulmultous feelings within.
"I'm sorry to have to dump all of this on you both. It would be nice if this was a quiet posting... but, truthfully, if it wasn't for these problems I probably wouldn't be here. Solvek and I would still be on the Akagi, making our way toward the Galactic Core." There's a hint of bitterness there which fades as Hawkins continues speaking. "However, Section 31 answers to no one but themselves, and is willing to violate the spirit of the law to uphold the letter of the law--and sometimes even break the letter. We have to deal with this, and if they aren't behind it, well--there's still a threat. What I'm asking of you is, for now, to watch and listen. Later, to do what needs doing to protect the station and stop these people."
Solvek nods, "There is no need to apolgize Captain. It is our duty as the Command staff to assist you in any way we can. " He pauses for a moment. "As for stopping these individuals, I will do all I can to take notice of any suspicious activity and report it to you."
Ames offers a determined gaze to Hawkins, "Indeed. We'll do everything in our power to stop these people, Captain, I can assure you of that. Whether it'll be enough... we'll need to wait and see for that."
Hawkins nods. "I have faith." She pauses, and smiles, if slightly. "In happier news, Commander L'Treaux is planning a Masquerade Ball to honor the new Antarean Ambassador and allow us all to wind down a bit. We're looking at holding it soon. I assume you both can attend? In appropriate garb? It is an important diplomatic function." She's looking at Solvek on this one.
Solvek seems to consider this news for a moment. "I will be attending this function Captain." He does not seem strained in this acceptance. His words actually have a somewhat uplifted tone as if he is almost excited about the prospect.
Ames looks at Hawkins, and offers a quick nod, "Of course, Captain. I'm looking forward to it." She looks down at a PADD she brought with her, tapping some notes on it, then glances back up, "It ought to prove an... interesting... experience."
Hawkins nods to this. "My only dilemma is what to wear. Dress whites really aren't a costume." She smiles. "It will be good to have such a... trivial dilemma, however." A pause. "I don't really think there's anything else. Unless either of you had anythig you needed to bring up, you're dismissed."
Solvek rises, "Nothing else, sir." He turns to Ames, "It was agreeable speaking with you Commander. I may have need of your assistance in the near future, until that time, farewell." He turns to leave.
Ames stands up, "Nothing further at this time, sir." She bows slightly, "Have a... well, have as good a day as you can, with all that's on your... on our... plates."
Hawkins nods. "And you as well. Both of you." A pause. "Actually... Solvek? A moment?"
Solvek stops in mid-stride and turns, "Of course, sir." He returns to his chair and takes a seat once again.
Ames quietly walks towards the door, taking a moment to mold her face as best she can into an impassive look before stepping through the door and into Operations.
Ames leaves through the door toward Operations <Deck 8>.
Ames has left.
Hawkins looks down at her hands, takes a deep breath. "I know this is probably unnecessary, but I'm sorry." She looks up. "I lied to you, deceived you... about our missions, our purpose, here and on the Akagi. I had good reason, and I know you'll say there's nothing to forgive, but you are my friend. If there's one person I know I can trust with this, it's you, but I held back on bringing you into it because... I didn't want to burden you with it, when you had so much else going on. I shouldn't have made that decision for you, so for that, I am sorry."
Solvek looks at the Captain thoughtfully for a while. "Gwen, when I took my promotion and became your First Officer, I understood that there were orders and information that you were unable to share with me. As your friend, I understand that even now. I am content that you have shared this information with me at this time and I have no regrets about what our actual mission on the Akagi was or what it is here. So, you are correct in one thing, there is no need to apologize. I am thankful that you were considerate enough to allow me my own time to..." he pauses, "handle... my own affairs."
Hawkins smiles. "Of course. Thank you." She shakes her head, sits back. "I just hate deceiving people. Isn't that ironic?" A rueful laugh. "I keep looking forward to someday having a position that isn't steeped in intrigue. But I suppose someone has to do all of this."
"I do not think you would enjoy a position that did not have some manner of danger involved." A smirk shows at the corner of Solvek's eyes, "I believe you would find it... boring. However, now is not the time for wishful thinking. Do you want to... 'get a drink?'" Solvek separates the last part of his sentence, obviously unsure of the use of the phrase.
Hawkins raises an eyebrow, Vulcan-like. "You're getting better. Remove the hesitation. But yes, certainly." She stands. "I could definitely use one."