Darshesna Cluster: Federation Zone of Occupation, Cardassian Space
Laria knelt at the burning duranja in the corner of her quarters. The Bajoran lamp for the dead had flickered non-step since she had lost her husband. After saying her prayers each evening, she liked to speak to Daniel for a few minutes before crawling into bed.
"This ship is now a completely different place," she whispered staring up at Tigranian's bat'leth. A triangular wooden case beneath it held the folded Federation flag from his funeral. "Those of us left still remember your leadership, but Grigsby and Hardnett seem to be doing everything to erase all we accomplished together.
This isn't the Starfleet I wanted to be a part of. I'm thinking about putting in a transfer to the Venture to be a part of Annabeth's crew, but I don't think Hardnett would approve it. She doesn't care about anyone on this crew. All she cares about is earning that incompetent moron's favor so she can get promoted. Scharr takes the brunt of her abuse. He says it doesn't bother him, but it does. Every time Katie or Phil try to offer her a suggestion, she relishes the opportunity to make them feel stupid. Alex is more desperate than ever to get back to Annabeth, and T'les is simply retreating back into her closed-off Vulcan mind.
It makes me sick, Daniel. Honestly, I may just resign. It's too painful to put on this uniform every day. I love you, and I always will."
Laria stood up, walked over to her bed, and lay down. She grabbed Rijo and held him into her chest again. She lay motionless for a few minutes, but she couldn't shake the feeling that something was very wrong. Every night, she could hear Daniel's voice calling to her. He wasn't at peace, and she knew it. Suddenly, she froze with thought.
Laria got up and walked over to her computer terminal.
"Computer," she said taking a deep breath. "Display sensor logs for Stardate 53320.9, Time Index 1132.4." She hugged Rijo close to her as she waited for the screen to populate.
Images of electromagnetic waveforms appeared on the screen in front of her. She studied the patterns intently, culminating in the massive spike where the weapons cache exploded.
"Cross reference and analyze for any anomalies."
"Working," the computer said. "No anomalies are present."
"Isolate bio-sign for Captain Daniel Tigranian. At what moment was his bio-sign terminated?"
"Sensors lost contact with the bio-sign of Captain Daniel Tigranian at Time Index 1132.4765."
"Display Time Index 1132.4600 through 1132.4900. Overlay with electromagnetic and subspace radiation spectral analysis."
"Working. Requested Data Displayed."
Laria's eyes grew wide.
"Computer, enhance grid 5645," Laria began furiously entering key strokes on her panel. Something indeed was very wrong, and if her sensor array didn't have this level of resolution, no one would ever have known. "Computer, using backwards analysis of energy release of the known explosives, can you postulate at what time index the explosion started to the nearest millisecond?"
"Based on analysis, explosion commenced at Time Index 1132.4770."
"Computer, you just said sensors lost contact with Captain Tigranian's bio-sign at 1132.4765, correct?"
"Can you explain the discrepancy of 50 milliseconds?"
"If you can't, than I will…" Laria said placing Rijo on the desk next to her. She started furiously pounding the keys on her monitor. Finally, she honed in on a rogue electromagnetic frequency different than the normal background radiation or subspace radio. "Computer, identify this signal."
"Signal matches characteristics of a transport scanning beam in the L2 theta band oscillating at two terra-hertz."
"By the Prophets!" Laria said placing her hands over her gapping mouth. She jumped up from the desk grabbed Rijo, and kissed him. She then ran over to Daniel's duranja and blew it out.
"Sir," Laria said pointing to the PADD she dropped on Grigsby's desk again. "It's right there!"
"Lieutenant, I would hardly call that evidence conclusive."
Laria looked around the captain's ready room again. Grigsby had already taken the liberty of hanging pictures of himself shaking hands with every single Starfleet Flag Officer all over the walls.
"Sir, look at the gap. Captain Tigranian disappeared a full 50 milliseconds prior to the explosion beginning. Also, when I say 'disappeared,' I mean 'disappeared.' There is no trace of his body."
"Ms. Tigranian, that is well within the margin of error of a sensor schematic, especially one that is then exposed to such a powerful explosion immediately following," Grigsby replied. Laria got the distinct imperssion that Grigsby was quite nervous, but patronizing her to cover up his uncertainty.
"With respect, Sir," Laria said. "That may be within the margin of error of most sensor arrays, but not mine."
"Honestly," Hardnett said standing behind Grigsby, "You think you are better than every other sensor designer in Starfleet history?"
"Ma'am," Laria said standing up straight. "I don't think that I'm better, I know that I'm better."
"Now, listen here!" Hardnett said staring back at Laria. "I will not tolerate your arrogance or your disrespect towards me…"
"Cecily," Grigsby said raising his hand. "We have to remember that grief can sometimes overcome the better judgement of people." He turned back to Laria. "Please listen to reason, Lieutenant. If Captain Tigranian wasn't killed in the explosion, where did he 'disappear' to? Was it a dimensional shift? Subspace anomaly?"
"I can explain that, Sir," Laria said changing the data on the PADD. "He was beamed out of the cavern. I detected a transport scanning beam."
"That was the transport scanning beam from the Pershing," Grigsby said casually dismissing her claim.
"Sir, the Pershing's transport scanning beam operates in the L4 band at two and half terahertz. This beam was in the L2 at two terahertz. Now, it is identical to another transport scanning beam we encountered before, when I was abducted by Romulans last year. This, combined with the radiation we detected in the Evora Oxide conclusively link both the insurgency and the abduction of Captain Tigranian to the Romulan Star Empire. Starfleet has to know, Sir! This could be an act of war!"
"Stop," Grigsby said raising a hand. "First, radiation in explosives only means the explosives passed through Romulan territory. It doesn't mean the Romulans were involved. Second, why would the Romulans abduct Captain Tigranian? You're not making any sense," Grigsby said. "Now, I understand that you are still grieving the loss of your husband, but I cannot afford to have my science officer off on a wild goose chase when there's work to be done. I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to order you to not pursue this any further. Starfleet Command has ruled that Captain Tigranian was killed in action, and we have to accept that and move on."
"I get it," Laria said shaking her head. "You're afraid that if we find out Daniel is alive, he'll get his ship back and you'll lose your command. You would rather let a man suffer in captivity than do the right thing. You are pathetic! You're not even worthy to say Daniel Tigranian's name aloud!"
"What did you say, Lieutenant!?" Hardnett shouted at her.
"I will not tolerate dissent on MY ship, Lieutenant," Grigsby said gritting his teeth. "Consider yourself confined to quarters until further notice. All ship to shore communication privileges are suspended…"
"You afraid I'm gonna take this evidence to Starfleet Command?"
"Shut your mouth!" Grigsby said slamming his hands on the desk and rising to his feet.
"Commander Hardnett, place an official letter of reprimand in Lieutenant Tigranian's file."
"With pleasure, Sir," Hardnett said.
"And you. If you open your mouth one more time, you'll be in the brig instead of your quarters. Now, get out of my ready room."
Laria snapped to attention and then exited.
Grigsby collapsed back down into his chair.
"She's not going to let this go, is she?" Grigsby said to Hardnett quietly.
"I do not believe so Sir. As long as she keeps throwing out these wild theories, the rest of the crew won't be willing to accept that we're now in charge. It is very dangerous."
"That gagh-eater was an embarrassment to Starfleet. It was bad enough to see so many qualified officers passed over so he could get this ship. I refuse to let that mistake be repeated."
"Understood clearly, Sir," Hardnett said nodding.
"Watch her. If she so much as breathes in the wrong direction, I want her confined to the brig until we can get her off this ship."
"Yes, Sir," Hardnett said smiling.
Laria charged straight through the bridge and towards the turbolift.
"L?" Phil asked from the helm. "What's wrong?"
"Everything!" Laria said entering the doors and disappearing. Katie looked over from Tactical and sighed.
"She came to me last night, Phil," Katie said looking over towards the closed doors of the ready room. The two of them were still alone on the bridge.
"Katie, what's going on?" Phil asked firmly.
"The less you know about it, the better."
The doors to the ready room opened and Commander Hardnett walked out. She walked over to the first officer's chair and took a seat.
"Assign a security detail outside of Lieutenant Tigranian's quarters. Instruct them to keep her in her confined there no matter what. Any force necessary is authorized."
Alone in the turbolift, Laria stared at the wall. She knew what she had to do now. Starfleet be damned, it was up to her.