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  Commander Joshua Trellis, Captain T'Ashal, Lt. Commander Zarian Lobren, SD
 
'A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words' JDL
 
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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

by Captain T'Ashal, Commander Trellis, and Lieutenant Commander Lobren


 
    The XL's Brikarian chief of security watched the other members of the away team file out to go get cleaned up.  He glanced down to his rather mangy looking wolf. "This can't wait, Buddy." Lobren tapped his comm-badge. "Commander Lobren ta Cap'n T'Ashal."
    "T'Ashal here," her voice came back, "You have returned?"
    "I have, sir," Lobren confirmed, "An' I have some things ya need ta see right away."
    "We will be there in a minute, Chief."

    "Uhhh.. I'm still in th' transporter room, Sir.  MY office?"
    "Sounds good."
    "See ya there, Lobren out."
 
    T'Ashal glanced to Josh and nodded toward the turbolift. Just then the doors of the lift slid open and Lieutenant Commander Zlar stepped onto the bridge.

    Josh took a step toward the lift and paused seeing his favorite Andorian, he glanced at T'Ashal.
    She scowled at the new arrival. "Well, if it is not Commander Zlar. Fancy to see you here," she remarked dryly. "Since Commander Trellis and I are on our way to an important meeting, how about making yourself useful and take the bridge?" It wasn't really a question but more a command in question format. T'Ashal motioned to Josh to assure him it would be alright. "Come on. I am sure he can handle watching the screen." She stepped around the Andorian and into the lift. "We shall return soon, Commander."
    With a nod, Josh stared at Zlar and offered a polite smile as he brushed past him. "Keep my seat warm, Commander," he said entering the lift.
    The turbolift doors closed and T'Ashal glanced at Josh. "At least we know where he is located for the time being. No snooping around."
    Josh smirked, "Yeah, I do like knowing where he is. The bridge might be his new leash."
    "Oops... did we just say that?" She put her hand to her mouth in mock embarrassment, glancing briefly to her commbadge, sure that Zlar would hear their words later when he would check on his listening devices. Rolling her eyes, she requested, "Deck 7."
 
    Lobren and Maverick stepped into the main lobby for Security.  As he made his way to his office, his boots still had a sloshing sound, and were leaving tracks on the deck.
    Walking behind his desk, Zarian plugged the interface for the power-glasses into the computer.  Maverick laid down on his mat.

    As Josh waited for the lift to reach their destination, he couldn't help but think aloud, "Lobren called us quick. Do you think..." he trailed off not wanting to speculate just yet.
    "Yes, I was thinking the same," she replied, "he sounded very serious, too." She side-glanced to Josh, "Ever had that weird feeling in the pit of your stomach when something monumental seems to be about to happen?"
    He glanced at her wondering if she could read his mind. "Unfortunately. Having a gut instinct is a curse sometimes," he said as the lift slowed to stop and the doors opened. He step aside for T'Ashal to exit into the corridor, "If they found anything significant we are going to be right in the middle of a fiasco. Maybe we should have ended the mission with Tigelis?" he attempted a smile.
    T'Ashal grimaced but didn't reply.

    A minute later, they rang the door chime on the Chief's office. "Here we go," she took a deep breath, feeling that churning in her stomach get stronger.
    "Enter," came the voice from the office.  The door slid open to allow them entrance.
    T'Ashal stepped inside. The smell of wet fur and who-knows-what-else hit her nose. She looked Lobren up and down. "Looking a bit worse for the wear, Chief."
    The odor hit his nose before he even stepped into Lobren's office and Josh's eyes started to water. That feeling he had earlier about wanting to be part of the away team immediately took a 180 degree turn. He cleared his throat and blinked, in hopes that would alleviate the slight burning sensation, fortunately it did, the initial shock of the aroma already dissipating.
    "Ya oughta see th' other guy," Lobren quipped.  "We did retrieve th' probe," the Chief started.  He left out the part about it being used as a lizard bat.  "We did find out the other info ya wanted as well."
    The Captain nodded solemnly. "And?"
    Lobren tapped his console, and images of the camp started to display on the large wall screen.  "It's just as yer informant said.  Definitely humans bein' guarded by Roms."
    Lobren's appearance reminded Josh of Chavana V when they picked up Timir. Another wonderful away mission, he thought. As the images flashed across the screen, Josh stepped forward and sighed. "How many?" he asked.
    "Hard ta say," Lobren answered.  "There is an additional dampening field around th' encampment itself.  Judgin' by th' way Mav was reactin' I would say it was ta keep the local.... wildlife outta the camp."
    T'Ashal's eyes narrowed as the images displayed, silently observing, though her mind was turning overtime. "Computer, halt image," she pointed when three people were visible through a window.

    Josh glanced at the screen again at the Captain's order. He studied the image of the two Romulans and the human, "Whoever he is, he looks like hell," he said quietly, then looked at T'Ashal, "Do you recognize him, Captain?"
    "No..." She shook her head slowly. "Computer, zoom in on the people in that image." The three people were isolated and enlarged. "Enhance," she asked. The section became more clearer.
    "No one I know," Lobren commented.  "We can run facial recognition."
    Josh gave him a quick nod. "Find out who he is, Commander," he folded his arms across his chest, his eyes still on the screen, "So now we know. And I wish we didn't," he said, the remark directed at T'Ashal.
    Her eyes shifted off the image and to Josh. "Yes." She exhaled slowly, pursing her lips. "Next move?"

 
    "Computer.  Attempt identification on the Terran in image two eighty-three."  The computer beeped its compliance, and Lobren looked to T'Ashal. "Ya gonna tell the Roms ya found this place?"
    Her eyes darkened suddenly. Her face turning to stone. "No."
    Josh shot a look in T'Ashal's direction surprised by her answer, he looked at Lobren a moment, "'No'?" he repeated to be sure he heard her correctly.
    Lobren had the same reaction as Trellis, but said nothing.  He simply stared at the captain, not liking what she might be thinking.
    "Considering that none of their ships are even close, I see no reason to involve them," she stated, her jaw tightening. Of course, she knew the chances that they kept a cloaked vessel near the Federation fleet was reasonably high, but if they didn't want to show themselves openly, she wasn't about to look for them. "I have no wish for them to try and keep us from taking actions."
    "You think their involvement would keep the prisoners in political limbo?" Josh asked, realizing that her kind of thinking was more along the lines of his impulsiveness.
    Lobren wondered if the Roms would admit to having a prison planet here.  The chances they would deny any access to the planet was pretty high.
    "Perhaps," she replied, her face set. "But just look at him..." her gaze shifted to the Human on the image again, "does he look like he needs to wait for liberation any longer than he probably already has?"

    He didn't believe he was going to say what was crossing his mind but Josh felt compelled to offer some logical thinking. "How can we even be sure these people are Starfleet officers? We have no confirmation besides this man's appearance and his clothing, which could be anything," he said referencing the image still on the screen, "it, looks, like the tunic beneath a standard uniform jacket, that's all. He could be a pirate like the Tchopitoulas' captain. A slave trader."
    There was a dark flash in T'Ashal's eyes, "Well, if they are Starfleet, I want to be able to free them and then throw this into Rohnok's face with all the impact it will have."
    "I can agree ta gettin' them freed, Cap'n," Lobren commented.  "But, throwin' it in Rohnok's face?  Ehhhhhh... I don' think that's a good idea."
    Her eyes snapped to the side, glaring at Lobren. "You leave Rohnok up to me, Commander." There was bite in her voice, more than she had had for a while lately.

    Lobren was all ready to reply, 'Yeah, we saw how well ya handled th' Admiral b'fore,' but he exchanged glances with the XO.  "Still don' recommend it, Cap'n."
    "It does have a hint of being vindictive, Cap---" Josh was interrupted by the beeping and chirping of the computer as it matched the image to a file.

    The screen image split with the present image on the left and a Starfleet record being scrolled down the right with a healthier and slightly younger, clean shaven looking image of the same man. The computer read aloud, "Varjak, Frederick. Commander. Executive Officer, USS Flanagan. Missing in Action on stardate 042284.37."

    "Four years?" Josh said shaking his head in reaction to the stardate.
    "Well, there you have your answer," T'Ashal breathed, hearing the computer.
    Lobren let out a sigh.  No matter what, this was not going to turn out well for them.
    Resting the palms of his hands on the edge of Lobren's desk Josh lowered his head and closed his eyes for a moment. He lifted his head hearing his friend's sigh, "Yeah, I think it just got bad for someone, too. But who?"

    Lobren gave Josh a look of total surprise.  "Readin' me that well, Commander? Us."
    With a frown he nodded in agreement with Lobren, "I knew Tigelis was too good to be true. We should have savored the moment."

    T'Ashal stepped closer to that image, her jaw clenching once again. Was she being vindictive? Perhaps. But she so wanted to rub this into Rohnok's face. She was sure he had no idea of this place either, but the fact that he was breathing down her neck all the time just begged her to slap him with his lack of knowledge on this.

    She suddenly whirled around on her heel and looked at the two men. "I want a DH meeting at 1600 hours."
    "Alright, Cap'n," Lobren let out in exasperation.  "How soon ya wanta do this?"
    "I will determine that after the meeting," she remarked. Her eyes fixated on Josh, "Commander, I want you to inform all DHs to be present." Then her gaze went back to Lobren, "And I want every bit of information you managed to gather about that facility available for them all to look over. It seems clear this will not be an easy mission, and I want every possibility explored on how to proceed with it."
    "Aye, sir," Lobren acknowledged.
    "I'm on it, Captain." Josh answered.
    "Thank you," she gave a sharp nod to both, "Now, if you will excuse me, gentlemen. I have one other piece of business to conduct before the meeting." She exited the Chief's office with gusto.


   
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