An unexpected First Contact leads to a murder mystery and the fate of the Telemachus’ commanding officer rests in the hands of his newest officers.
3 June, 2210
Several weeks after what is becoming known as the Venture Incident, the NCC-36 USS TELEMACHUS continues its routine patrols and cadre duties with the Starfleet cadets aboard. During this time, the five new Starfleet officers – Ensigns Aceves, Berzinev, Dalis, Mao, and Roland – have gotten to know the command crew of their ship a little better with varying results:
- CDR Ford, who has a rep among Starfleet officers as a “disaster waiting to happen,” seems to have taken a shine to them, although time will tell if this is a good thing or not.
- LCDR Prescott is the XO and tactical officer. He’s grim and taciturn.
- LCDR T’Lessa is the Chief Engineer and a bit of an odd duck for a Vulcan. She likes bright colors, weird human foods, and actually seems to have something of a sense of humor.
- LT Dane is the senior science officer and is generally disliked by pretty much everyone. He’s angry and bitter about something and treats everyone as if they have the IQ of a rock.
- LT Maggie Laredo is the chief helm officer and has a reputation as a reckless, seat of the pants pilot. She’s a little lazy, though, and sometimes, it shows.
- Dr. Malcolm Barber is the Chief Medical Officer. Callous and gruff, he doesn’t seem to like anyone … except perhaps Arkady, whose presence implies that Barber’s time in exile may be over.
Late in the evening on DATE, Darzen detects the unmistakable signature of a vessel going to warp in an uncharted system. The duty officer – LCDR T’Lessa – informs the captain who orders a change of course to investigate. Several hours later, Telemachus drops out of warp at the periphery of the system to discover a beautiful but primitive starship. Communications are established and the commanding officer of this ship is revealed to be an attractive blue-skinned female. The Telemachus is invited to Thessia, so as to make a formal First Contact with this new species and CDR Ford eagerly agrees.
Despite his first officer’s objections, the captain decides to take the new junior officers along on this landing party, confident that they are more than capable of handling anything thrown their way. “What is the worse that could happen?” is the captain’s final say on the matter.
With ENS Mao at the shuttlepod helm, they descend to the Executive Building where they are greeted by the leadership of this planet. They identify themselves as Asari, and their chief executive is an individual called The First. Her successor is known simply as The Voice. The chief finance minister is The Heart, the minister of internal security is called The Eyes, and the commander of the military who spearheads exploration is The Shield.
Almost from the moment he sets eyes on her, CDR Ford is besotted with The First and the two quickly abandon the other Starfleet officers to the rest of the Council at the prepared banquet awaiting for them. The new officers do well enough, answering the numerous question stated about their species (albeit carefully in the case of Darzen) while learning many new things about this new species.
Midway through the dinner, CDR Prescott contacts the captain – a distress signal from a Federation transport has been detected. After a moment of consideration, CDR Ford asks The First if she can put them up for a few days – she gladly agrees to do so – and then orders Prescott to break orbit to handle the emergency while he and the PCs finalize what is looking to be a promising First Contact.
The following morning, the new officers emerge from their quarters in time to meet with The Eyes and The Heart, both of whom are on their way to speak with The First who is already late. CDR Ford’s continued absence – and his disappearance the previous night along with The First – is noted, but left unremarked. The group proceed to The First’s quarters where, to their horror, they discover a horrifying scene.
Commander Ford is still in bed, with the dark blue blood of The First and her unmoving corpse at his side. Both asari present react with horror and shock, with The Heart turning and bolting, calling for guards, while The Eyes immediately begins to examine the room. She grudgingly allows the Starfleet officers to do the same, and they quickly note that CDR Ford seems only partially aware of his surroundings. The First’s wounds are consistent with massive blunt trauma, but there is no sign of a weapon nor bruising on the captain’s hands to indicate that he is responsible. Within minutes, asari guards descend upon the chamber and clap CDR Ford into chains.
The Eyes appoints ENS Roland as the captain’s “Arbiter” in accordance with asari law, and it is he who is expected to defend Ford before the Low Council. He alone can question others, but may enlist additional assistance. Roland instructs the other officers to conduct a search of the room while he accompanies the captain to the cell where he is to be incarcerated.
Their search is partially successful as they obtain all genetic signatures in the room for their tricorders as well as a curiously compact phase pistol under the bed that is set to Kill. The lack of cameras in the area complicates matters, but ENS Mao manages to get The Eyes to admit that this much evidence is too perfect. She grants them permission to enlist additional support.
Doctor Berzinev completes a scan of the captain and finds no sign of intoxicants or other drugs, although a part of Ford’s brain is active when it should not be. Later poking reveals that the asari do, in fact, have a history of psionics in their culture. The captain’s actual memory is completely blank for the region in question.
The officers spend nearly thirty hours going over all available data and recordings of the banquet, eventually focusing in on a silent asari whom everyone seems aware of but try to avoid. After some additional pressing of their liaison, they learn that this figure is The Justiciar and they let it be known that they wish to speak to her.
She eventually does make an appearance, entering the room while Carlos and Darzen are alone – John and Keung have gone to examine the phase pistol currently in the evidence locker while Arkady sits with the captain. They quickly learn that she is the former First and that the Justiciar is the living embodiment of asari law. There is no way that she was responsible and, according to her, The First’s death was “a milder fate” than what was in store…
Additional digging reveals a camera outside the network that records a hooded asari utilizing her psionic abilities to disrupt the camera feed outside The First’s quarters before gaining entrance. ENS Mao takes careful scans of the damaged camera so they can isolate the keyed radiation frequency of the “biotic” assault. With this information and equipped with discreet scans ENS Aceves took of the Justiciar when she utilized her own abilities, Arkady, Carlos and Keung combine efforts to begin construction of a scanner upgrade specifically keyed to this genetic scan.
Armed with a mountain of circumstantial evidence that clears the captain, the officers ask that the trial be pushed forward. They have narrowed down the list of suspects to a member of the High Council, and since they will all be present at the trial, the officers plan to spring a counter trap utilizing the new scanner. Darzen is elected to speak before the Low Council and, to everyone’s amazement, he seems to undergo a visible change and suddenly speaks with passion and eloquence they have never heard before. Even before he reveals the scanner, it is clear that the Low Council is strongly leaning toward acquittal of CDR Ford.
The scanner, however, functions beautifully and identifies … The Heart! Almost instantly, she panics and the distinctive blue aura surrounds her as she lashes out with her biotic abilities, hurling the members of the High Council away. The officers scramble to protect the captain but an answering burst of living blue fire announces the arrival of The Justiciar. Acting quickly, The Eyes and The Shield hustle the Starfleet officers out of the court as The Justiciar descends upon the guilty woman…
Sometime later, after Telemachus returns in-system, the former Voice and now elected First wishes the Starfleet officers well but fears her race is not yet ready to join the galaxy at large. She reveals that The Heart was extraordinarily deep in financial difficulty and investigations have revealed that she was utter corrupt. Evidently, the previous First had uncovered this corruption and was intending on acting when The Heart acted. Now, though, she has been punished … and the officers momentarily greet the new Justiciar. Despite looking very much like The Heart, the voice that emerges is distinctly the former Justiciar.
Justice has been served.