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Hard Decisions Part 2/2

Posted on Mon Aug 15th, 2022 @ 7:14pm by Captain Cronin Keys [GM] & 2nd Lieutenant Christian Rogers

Mission: Mission 1: A New World
Location: Kotaba system, 2 days travel from 'Delta Base', Delta quadrant.
Timeline: After "Just A Few Questions Part 1/2"

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Outside Interrogation Room, Brig Level, Pioneer

"I apologise for that display, it won't happen again. I appreciate you keeping that under wraps, Lieutenant." Cronin began facing away from Rogers, he put his hands behind his back and took a quick breath. "It appears I have little choice but to take the Malon at his word and let them go. We don't have time to contact Delta base for orders nor give them to either the Talaxians or Benthans for justice."

He turned and faced his acting Chief of Security. "Though I assume once the Malon jump to warp the Benthans will pursue, that is a small comfort." Cronin watched Rogers, a momentary thought crossed his mind as to how Wyrick was doing and that he should check in on her soon, not that Rogers wasn't aptly performing her role, he is merely filling in for her. That could put stress on him and may or may not have lingering effects. "We have all the evidence and disabled their ability to make bombs I assume?"

"Yes, Captain," Rogers said. "Though, I believe it to be a mistake to simply let them leave. If we are to believe Vrelk, then this represents a fundamental shift in Malon behavior. They have become aggressive and terroristic. Eventually we are going to have to encounter them once more and I, for one, would rather they not have the time to prepare for that. I suggest we call Vrelk's bluff and see if others really do come for them."

He shrugged, knowing he was probably being taken as a bloodthirsty warmonger but that's exactly what Keys wanted when he recruited Rogers and his team. Wyrick's sudden illness was a problem for both of them - Rogers because he was not prepared and felt he should not be the security chief and Keys because he lost an advisor that looked at problems through a Fleeter lens. "I also believe we have a roundabout confession from Vrelk regarding attacks against New Talaxia."

Cronin smiled. "And it is on record as well." He raised an eyebrow. "New Talaxia, huh? I believe it was referred to as New Talax in the reports but it does that has a nice sound to it." He chuckled then became serious.

Rogers just shrugged at his mistake. In the broader view, adding a syllable hardly mattered.

"Yes it is a mistake yet the only way we will be able to get the information from Vrelk is to allow their escape. However, I would assume your team had installed a tracking or multiple devices onboard to ensure we can find them at will should they had managed to regain control and fled?" Cronin asked but continued. "Through those we can determine much more about what is going on as it is going on, and maybe provide some warning. That may appease the Benthans and allow both of our forces the opportunities to ending this shift in Malon behaviour. It may reveal any influences as well, if any." The plan seemed to have formed on its own, Cronin mused as he tried to think of any other contingencies that may occur.

The only problem is if the Malon find the devices. Maybe have them delay activation on a timer? Cronin thought as one option and most likely the better one. The thought that the MACO team may not have done the tracking devices popped up, there is still time if they hadn't, Cronin was willing to take blame for that. A mistake he'd not let happen again.

Rogers frowned slightly. "Captain, under Federation Law, modifying any ship to add a tracking device may be done only by the issuance of a warrant by a proper magistrate and only then after the presentation of probable cause for the commission of a crime or destruction of evidence of past crimes alleged." Combat orders were so much simpler. He didn't have to worry about this crap. All Command need do was to point the Marines at a target and then let them loose. But this? The following of so many rules and laws that made protecting the Federation and its citizens so much harder? It was...irritating. "As well, we have lawfully taken them into custody for the commission of alleged crimes against allies of the Federation. Do we have the authority or jurisdiction to release them?" Not to mention the message it sent: threaten Starfleet and get away with your cromulent behavior. "We are acting as deputies of Talaxian justice at this time."

Cronin raised one eyebrow though smirked. "While I appreciate attention to regulations, laws and the like, there isn't one concerning tracking devices." He smiled, frowned but then a neutral expression settled on his features before he continued. "In light of the evidence of terrorism in the form of bomb making, the clear accusations by the Benthans as to the acts of terrorism via Theta radiation bombs on their colonies and the clear guilt shown by Vrelk that we have just witnessed as to his possession of bombs and manufacturing facilities for such, while the Malon may not see it that way others do, warrants that further investigation by tracking Vrelk to learn more is critical."

He put his hands behind his back. "I will send a report to Delta base, after I set up a meeting with the Talaxians to discuss the Malon and Benthans so Command is aware of our situation. In the meantime, as mission leader and Captain, which does grant me the authority to act, timely, in the name of protecting our allies and ourselves against all threats I'm ordering that your team place a tracking device hidden on the Malon export vessel." Cronin stated before he gestured at the interrogation room, "have Security put him back in the brig."

It took a few moments for Rogers to respond to Keys as he stared at the wall, frowning. Then, with a deep exhale, "Aye, Captain, I'll have Vrelk put back in the brig, separated from the others." He sighed again. "Additionally, we'll place the trackers on the Malon freighter and prepare it for release. Then I'll review rules of evidence to ensure that I am fully up to date and knowledgeable in the future." It didn't hurt to make the admission that he was in error, just that he gave Keys another example to use against him or his MACO team in the future of their lack of capability. But, hopefully by that time he'll have become the subject matter expert he should be at this time. Or Wyrick would be able to reclaim her command of Security. He was sure Wyrick would have known all this already.

"Anything further, Captain?" Rogers asked.

"To my understanding you have a bomb, or explosives, specialist on your team?" Cronin asked.

"Yes, sir," Rogers said. "Corporal Chakton and Lance Corporal Cort. Chakton's expertise is more in demolitions however."

"Could they disassemble one of the bombs? We may encounter active ones in the future and knowing how they are made could help deal with them, hopefully," Cronin said though nodded. "I understand that this will be tampering with evidence, during my meeting with the Talaxian Regent I will ask for permission, as well as share all we learn with the Talaxians. I'll contact you as soon as I have clearance."

Rogers couldn't help but smile at the question. He didn't have to try very hard to imagine how the young Bajoran Marine would react to hearing he would get to 'play' with bombs. He wasn't sure there was enough sedatives to take down that kind of excited 'high'. "If we are cleared to do so, I'll make sure we create a holorecording of the disassembly. That will allow us to recreate it as needed for future needs, to include compare the bomb making signature to other devices we may recover." He brought out his PaDD and started a message to Brownie. He would also have to make sure to include the Fleet officers within security to keep them up to date on current events. "We'll also check to see if the Benthans have technology that could use the holodeck files, if not we might need to consider giving or loaning their court system a holoemitter."

Cronin frowned. "The last time didn't end so well despite best intentions, we will however offer our assistance to the Benthans when they need that kind of resource." He said though he brought his hand up and stroked his chin contemplatively. "Voyager's crew never did see the Benthans' court system, maybe Command should remedy that." He glanced back at Rogers. "While I doubt the Benthans might use this knowledge and make bombs themselves, it is a possibility, so don't put all of it in the recordings just enough to defuse?"

"Understood, Captain," Rogers answered. "But we want to be seen to give them enough to not question our desire to form a friendship, even an alliance in the future?" He finished the message to Brownie, informing him to find Triss and Chakton and bring them to the office for a briefing. He then worked on sending an addendum to bring Baldwin and Kawolski in as well. Even including him and Corvus, they spent the most time searching the Malon vessel. They knew it the best of the Federation crews and would have the best idea how to hide the tracking systems in the ship. Though, he considered, they would probably also need to bring along an engineer in order to help hide the power signatures of the device as well as the communication relays. Plus, the more he kept them off the ship, the less he had to deal with fallout from the shipwide messaging that was sent out earlier.

He smiled. "You leave that to me and Command." Cronin said and put his hand back behind him. "You have your orders and I have to meet with Ambassador Neelix and Regent Oxilon. Oh and before I forget, please pass on my best wishes to the two of your team members that will be dealing with their partners soon or should I go through Security's personnel to recommend training of replacements?" He asked with a chuckle. Cronin turned and began walking back to the Bridge, though at a leisurely walk should Rogers speak up.

"Why would I want two fools to be replaced?" Rogers called after. "That's assuming bodies ever get found."

Rogers waited until Keys was out of sight, watching as the brig officer returned to the room. He presumed Keys recalled him as he left. Rogers let him know that Vrelk was to be returned to a cell but with no contact with any of the other Malon fugitives. Still he waited just outside the interrogation room until Vrelk came out, followed by the Brig officer. Except they didn't get too far out of the room before Rogers moved.

In a swift movement he crossed the short distance from where he stood to where Vrelk was. In that same movement, he'd grabbed Vrelk and shoved him against a bulkhead. Before more than a yelp could be uttered, his fist smashed into the Malon's clay colored, bulbous face. He intended to put enough force into the hit to make sure he had Vrelk's complete attention but just short of breaking it or causing permanent damage. It took several seconds before blood began flowing from the Malon's nostrils but by then, Rogers had already moved to press his forearm against Vrelk's neck, leaving just enough pressure to let him gasp for breath but not enough to talk or be comfortably breathing.

With just a look he stopped the young brig officer from interfering. "You threatened my captain right in front of me," Rogers hissed, keeping his voice low and not shouting. He put as much menace and threat into it as he could. "You threatened my ship and my crew. For any one of those transgressions I should kill you now."

If Vrelk tried to speak, Rogers didn't let him have the breath to do it. "You may mistake the captain's actions for weakness, but you'd be wrong. He can afford to be decent and nice because he has me. Voyager didn't have Marines aboard so you may have come to believe the Federation to be soft or merciful. I assure you we are not!" He hissed harder, pressed harder, shoved a knee against a pressure point just above Vrelk's knee, knowing that it caused extreme pain but at most would leave a deep bruise. "I have cause to hear you are being a problem while in our custody, you will see me again and I will not be so considerate next time. If we have to return to find you as a problem to our friends and allies again, then you will se me again and I will. have. lost. my. cherub-like. demeanor." The last few words were spit out as if a knife-thrust.

Once more he punched Vrelk's face, a mere tap compared to the first hit, but with nose still bleeding, the flesh still swelling from that previous insult, the pain would be worse than before while again not causing injury serious enough to require him to be sent to Medical. Then Rogers threw him to the floor. "Get him to a cell, call Hannah to give him a medical evaluation," Rogers said, glaring at the thug scrambling to get off the floor. Then, glancing at his brig officer, Rogers merely stated, his tone flat and emotionless, as if what he just did meant nothing to him, "This will be reported both by me and in your log." He wanted to make it clear he didn't expect the young man to cover up anything that happened in the Brig merely because it was done by an officer. Then, with a final glare at Vrelk, Rogers too left the room. He hoped he put the fear of him into Vrelk. But if it didn't sink through the theta irradiated brain and take hold, then Rogers was more than willing to make good on his promises.

Looks like they will have to be on guard for Vrelk in the future, Cronin being a Betazoid had received the pained angry thoughts screamed from the Controller's mind, probably all the Betazoids on board did. It did not matter where on the ship they were, the half Betazoids probably sensed the pain momentarily. He hoped that it wasn't too much to trigger questions and gossip but he was conflicted about it. Maybe Vrelk would not continue terrorism after being released? He'd think on it more once the report was filed and after all the meetings.

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