If there is a leak, it will be plugged…

Lieutenant Commander Kretorg and Master Sergeant Alex Ryan
COB's office on mission day 6 at 1830 hours

If there was one person that could assist Kre in finding his feet on this ship, it was the COB. There may be officers, but the enlisted crew ran the ship. Without them and the COB, they would go nowhere and go there fast.

=^= “Kretorg to Ryan, please respond” =^= Kre said tapping his badge.  There was no response, but then his badge also did not chirp. He rolled his eyes and cursed under his breath. “Again…?” For some unknown reason, a glitch somewhere had caused him to have a similar problem on all the ships he traveled on. In fact, it caused a silent alarm to go off on one ship and next thing he was apprehended by security officers. Somehow Starfleet’s personnel database did not believe that he was in Federation space again, or that he was on a Starfleet vessel. So at random, he would not have access. Usually it would be fixed after a few days, but it was irritating.

“Computer, locate Master Sergeant Ryan”

Of course the computer did not immediately recognize his voice, so after he had provided his access codes twice, he got a response.

“Master Sergeant Ryan is in the Surveillance office.”+

“Where the fuck is that…” he mumbled, as he was not quite familiar with the layout of the ship.

“Please repeat the question”

“I did not talk to you…” Kre said and consulted the console and made his way to meet with the sergeant.

Surveillance Office:

Alex grumbled as he tossed the report onto the corner of his desk. Starfleet Intelligence had deigned that he didn’t have the need to know anything more than he already had on the former Mister Murchinson, now deceased. As far as they were concerned, his need to know had ended when the man had been turned to an ash pile in the interrogation room. Case closed, all further requests for information or clarification would be round filed into the fuck it bucket, so quit asking already. It still didn’t sit well with him, having the subject killed while Lewis, Hall, and himself had been incapacitated. If the official channels were closed, he’d have to go through the unofficial onces instead. He was about to call for Vale and have him start digging, but he was interrupted by the chime of his door announcing he had a visitor outside. Obviously not one of his own people, they all knew that unless he specified otherwise they could just come in without announcing themselves.

“Yeah the damn things open!” He called mildly frustrated with things.

Kre lips pulled up in a tight lipped smile as he realized he was not the only one with ruffled feathers. He watched the door as it opened, then he stepped inside the office. “Open door policy,” he remarked with approval in his tone. “I am Kretorg,” he said. He saw no need to add his rank, it would be clear from his pips, “I would say good evening, but it seems you have a rough one, Sergeant” he said cordially.

“Ah, the new XO.” Alex said waving to the seat across the desk from him. “I heard you finally caught up to us. Yeah, its not been the best night. Hasn’t exactly been a good time since the attack on the station.”

“So I heard,” Kre remarked as he sat down. “I can see you are busy, so I don’t want to take up too much of your time. But since we are going to work together, I wanted to meet with you as soon as possible,” Kre stated the main purpose of his visit. “And I hope you can fill me in on what important issues you think require my attention from your side,” he continued, coming straight to the point.

“Honestly?” Alex said, sitting back in his chair. “I don’t have a damn thing for you right now. No-one has brought any complaints to my attention yet. That tells me one of two things is happening, either everyone is too busy with what’s going on since we’re short handed and most everyone is drawing additional duties, or more likely, any issues that are arising are being handled by the Chief’s and Senior Chiefs before problems need to be brought to my attention. Both indicate good things to me. If they don’t need me involved, I don’t need to involve you or the Skipper.”

“If that is the case, then at least some things are going well. But it can’t be said for everything,” Kre remarked, studying the COB. “You were involved with the Murchinson case. I am still trying to wrap my head around what happened there. Information is, to say the least, at a snail’s pace in coming, if at all,” Kre stated, saying that even with his clearance, he did not get satisfactory information from his own inquiries. “Is there anything from what happened there, that can come back and bite us in the ass?”, he summarized his own concern. He was not there when this whole situation played out so there was little he could do about it. But he was there now, and would be for the future. He wanted to be as prepared as he could be. “Personally I don’t want to caught with my pants down not knowing what the hell is going on.”

“Will it come back to bite us in the ass?” Alex repeated the words as he thought them over. Someone at Intel had leaked the information on where Bellona was going. Intel was the only group who knew where Bellona was going and what they would be doing once they got there, after all not that many people were in the know on the Activity’s… activities. “More than likely, yes at some point. The things we do aren’t looked favorably on by most of the brass, and while anyone can see the bureaucratic office cover, not that many people know what it is we really do. Someone in the know leaked information to whoever ordered the hit on Murchinson while he was in our custody. Best case scenario, we have factional infighting at Intel HQ, worst case we’ve got a mole at HQ.”

“As far as I remember there has always been some infighting at HQ, it is just the severity that differs,” Kre said thoughtfully with a hint of irony as that was the last place one should expect it. “It is either territorial, power, resources, clearance privileges and shit,” he said, still thinking hard, as if expressing it would give him clarity. Kre snapped out of his smoking brain and looked at the COB. “We will have to strategize to mitigate that risk,” he said referring to the backlash that could follow. “If it is infighting, we just have to make sure that whoever is winning is the one covering us,’ he said over-simplifying it. “And if it is a mole, then the ‘why’, for ‘whom’ and ‘how much’ or ‘for what’ questions come into the picture, and as you rightfully say, that is worse. We can’t stop digging, just very carefully,” he said. Not that he thought Ryan didn’t know all that. “Do you have anything yet, leads, thoughts, even gut feelings?” he asked.

“Honestly, I’ve been trying to work it out in my head.” Alex said with a nod at the other man’s words. “My network of contacts is going through a bit of restructuring after my murder trial and six months drifting on an indefinite forced leave of absence.” Alex shrugged. “A few more weeks and I should know who I’ve got to work with. I’ve already been making some quiet off the record inquiries.” He didn’t mention that some of those inquiries weren’t about the incident on the base, but about certain members of the crew. As Surveillance Chief, he knew internal issues and blank spots in his knowledge of the crew could be just as dangerous as external threats.

Kre could tell that he halted after a statement that could be explained in more detail. That could be because the inquiries he made might be uncomfortable and unpalatable to some. Yet he mentioned it. “I have also been a little out of the loop’, but I must have some friends there, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here. Those inquiries, they are internal, right?” Kre took an educated guess.

“Internal?” Alex shook his head slightly. “Some of the Surveillance staff are making inquiries for me through their contacts, but my personal inquiries are scattered around the stars. Almost twenty years I’ve played the game, so before the trial my network was rather extensive, now its about half what it was. Not that it matters, no one has a clue about who the hell hit us on the station.”

“So it was well planned and executed. Professional. No one marches in and eliminate someone like that without help, up high or deep inside,” Kre remarked. “Our crew, I know it is a bit premature perhaps, but I need to know. Are you comfortable with everyone on our crew, or do you have a suspicions about a mole here, or less even?” Kre realized that the man hardly knew him and there could not be a developed ‘trust’ relationship yet. But he would rather ask than later regret not asking.

“Commander, even as the head of the Surveillance section, essentially our Intel section onboard, I don’t have access to everyone’s complete file. If I were an officer in a standard ship I’d have higher access to those areas, but what do I know, I’m just a dumb grunt noncom.” Alex shrugged in frustration. “Any blank spots or redacted sections in a file leave me with gaps in our knowledge base. The less I know, the more vulnerable I feel the ship is. This ship is staffed by the misfits of the fleet for its non Intel personnel and lets face it, most of us in the Activity are persona non grata to fleet Intel. In other words this entire ship is expendable to the brass. I’ve got questions about everyone on this ship. Lewis I trust more than most everyone else here. We’ve been through the fire together. Despite my questions, him I still trust. The rest of the crew..” He shrugged again.

“It isn’t comfortable, but yes, you are right, we are expendable. And some would do anything to change that status…” he mused. Even a lot of his own file would be highly classified, especially concerning his last mission. All to protect the Federation… “We can’t start this venture with questions about the crew. I suggest we tackle this together, but it would take some trust. Point out to me where you think I should dig deeper and we take it from there.. The Captain will be and be kept informed of our progress. If there is a weak spot we need to find it,” Kre said.

“Take your pick Commander, all of the Activity senior staff have pretty good sized blank spots in their files. You, me, Lewis, Hall, LaCroix, Soya. Hell I think you have to have classified sections in your file to be senior staff on this boat.”

“Indeed, couple of shady characters we are.” He sincerely hoped they were not compromised at senior level. Even if his gut told him that it was not the case, they needed to be sure. “And at less blank level? Juniors, enlisted, anyone raising a flag so far?”

“Not from what I’ve read so far, but reading up one every person on the ship is going to take a while. Combine that with the action of late and I’ve not made much progress. I could program the computer with a list of keywords to search for in everyone’s file, but that can miss things. Not to mention I’m pretty sure everyone onboard was rather thoroughly vetted by SFI before being assigned here. Just have to wonder which faction of SFI did the vetting.”

“Exactly,” Kre said. “No harm checking them again, run the programme in any case. Maybe we must look at it from another angle. What if we look at who vetted who.  If we can compile a list of the staff and who vetted for them from SFI, I would think between you and the Captain and me, we might be able to tie at least some of those names  to groups as we know it. Perhaps we could see a pattern there which could help us to narrow down the field,” Kre said.

“Worth a try anyway.” Alex shrugged and stretched, stifling a yawn. He was just about running on fumes. He hadn’t slept since before they’d nabbed Murchinson the night before, aside from the hours he’d been unconscious. “You’ll have to forgive me Commander, I’m about out of steam. Haven’t slept since the night before last, other than when those assholes shot me with the tranquilizer this morning.”

“I was about to leave,” Kre said. “Get some rest, we don’t know what’s coming next. Thank you for your time, ” Kre said as he got up and left. It was quite insightful to talk to Ryan, and he hoped one way or the other they would be able to mitigate additional risks for their safety on the ship.