"You found something?" Krang enquired of his Romulan colleague, leaning forward and reaching for the padd that Rhiana had placed on the desk in front of him.
"I did" Rhiana confirmed, sliding it a little closer to him before helping herself to an empty seat. "Your hunch was right, Krang."
The Klingon lifted the padd and activated it, quickly but carefully scanning through the information it contained. "Interesting," he said, "It appears that Admiral Moore received several substantial payments from the Weyland Yutani Corporation."
Zhiva's eyes were sore and she rubbed them before looking up and returning her attention to the conversation. The ocular implants that allowed her to see were not completely comfortable and tended to ache when she was tired, but without them she would, like all Aenar, be totally blind. Back in the ice caves it did not matter, her other senses more than made up for the lack of conventional sight. In this world however, and in her line of work it was useful to her to be able to see as others did. In her view the convenience of normal vision more than outweighed the discomfort of the implants. "Weyland Yutani?" Her ghostly white antennae twitched with interest as she considered Krang's words. "I have heard of them. Aren't they something to do with weapons manufacturing?"
"They are" Krang confirmed, mentally reviewing what he knew of the company. It was not the first time that name had been brought to his attention. They were, he knew, a long way from being a simple weapons manufacturer. In fact it would be more accurate to call them a weapons research and development facility. Their history was a long and chequered one. Back in the late twenty-first century, the Corporation had been shut down and its directors arrested and imprisoned for illegal practices, but in the chaos of Earth's third world war, the company had not only re-established itself in the weapons industry and other related areas, it had diversified, buying controlling interests in several interstellar freight haulage companies. The Klingon had seen the intertwined 'WY' logo on the side of more than one freighter docking at Starbase 24.
It had long been suspected that they were involved in illegal activities but proof was difficult to come by. Over the last few years they had been under covert surveillance by more than one intelligence agency but they were good, very good in fact and so far they had remained ahead of the game. The Klingon frowned at the thought, wondering if maybe… just maybe… they had finally got the lucky break they needed. If this link proved useful, he would make sure the information got back to Starfleet Intelligence.
"That fits in with your theory about the creatures," Griffiths said thoughtfully, "I wonder…"
The shrill squeal of the door chime interrupted whatever Griffiths had been about to say. Krang looked up in irritation. He'd given orders that they were not to be disturbed, that only authorised personnel were to be allowed entry. "nuqneH?"
The voice that replied was that of the duty guard. "Security Captain, Commander Qeytok is here, he says his team have found something you need to see."
Krang relaxed slightly. Qeytok would not be disturbingthem unless it was important. "Very well, allow him access," he instructed crisply.
As it had done only a few minutes earlier with Rhiana's arrival, the door to the meeting room slid open with a faint swishing sound. The big Klingon engineer appeared in the doorway, a crewmember clad in a slightly rumpled engineering jumpsuit standing behind him, half hidden by his bulk.
Striding forward, Qeytok approached the team and placed a piece of machinery on the table. "I believe this is the evidence you have been looking for." At Krang's enquiring look, he continued, "This is the vid-unit from one of our automated cleaners. It was brought in for repair after a minor malfunction and we found something interesting."
The security captain studied the device with interest before giving his fellow Klingon an enquiring look. "You put surveillance devices in your cleaning units?"
The chief engineer made a sharp gesture towards his companion. Petty Officer Jackson found it. I will let him explain.
The maintenance engineer hesitated, giving his boss a nervous look before taking up the story. "Each ACU has video function," he began. Seeing their glances and correctly interpreting them he added by way of explanation "Automated Cleaning Unit," before continuing, "It's not meant as surveillance, it's designed purely to allow the units to interact with crew and can record approximately fifteen minutes of footage after which it recycles and records over old information." He shrugged self-consciously, feeling a little intimidated at finding himself giving a report to so many senior officers.
The explanation made sense and Krang nodded, encouraging the crewman to continue. "Go on."
Jackson took a deep breath and obeyed. He didn't like this; he was an old fashioned maintenance engineer, the type that a few hundred years ago would have been found under the chassis of a car, covered with oil stains and with a spanner in his hand. He was much more comfortable down in the bowels of the ship surrounded by pieces of broken machinery that needed fixing than in a clean, sterile office.
"We picked the broken ACU up several days ago," he told the listening officers. "With all the other things that were happening, it wasn't a high priority for repair – we've been too busy cleaning up the mess in the cargo bay." His expression darkened with remembered distress. He'd been part of the clean-up team and the carnage was all too fresh in his mind. With some effort he continued, "I started the repair job about an hour ago and when I checked the video footage to ascertain the cause of the damage this is what I found…"
As Jackson was speaking, Qeytok manipulated a control on the padd in his hand, transferring the data to the large screen hanging on the wall of the briefing room. A view of a corridor appeared, the image shifting as the cleaning robot went about its pre-programmed task of polishing the floor. Qeytok pointed towards the screen. "If you look here in the bottom left corner you can see the date and time stamp as well as the location reference."
Krang studied the numbers as they scrolled across the bottom of the screen, performing a swift mental calculation. "Approximately one hour before the cargo bay doors opened."
Qeytok nodded grimly, "Exactly. Keep watching."
For a few moments, the bot picked up nothing relevant. All the footage was good for was the unit's navigation. The screen tilted a little as the ACU orientated itself on the threshold of a door and began to polish out a scuff mark on the bulkhead. A shadow fell across the unit. For a fraction of a second, the toe of a Starfleet issue boot appeared within the ACU's camera view. The perspective spun crazily and the picture flickered. When it steadied down, the Bot was on its side and its cam was aimed up at the name plate on the door. The focus faltered, locking in on a man's face. The final remaining frame froze on the visage of Jonathan Price as he touched the control panel that allowed access to Cargo Bay One.
As the video footage came to an end, there was momentary silence amongst the investigative team as they considered the implications of what they had seen.
"This does not of course provide absolute proof that Lieutenant Price was the saboteur, "Krang growled. "It does however prove that he was lying about his whereabouts as well as putting him in the general vicinity of the Cargo Bay during the critical time frame."
"That's not just the general vicinity," Griffiths objected, "It's right by the door!"
The Klingon nodded, conceding the point.
"Is it enough for a court?" Rhiana worried. She had little faith in Federation law, even military law. It was in her view too obsessed with the rights of the accused. Although… if she were completely honest, it was a vast improvement on the Romulan way of doing things.
As one the occupants of the room looked to Zhiva for an answer. As the SCIS agent afloat, she was their expert on the subject.
"It's certainly more than enough to cast doubt on his story," the Aenar woman replied after a moment. "On its own though, probably not quite enough to guarantee a conviction."
"I think it's as good as we are going to get" The Klingon Security Captain decided. "Very well, you all know what has to be done. Your earlier orders stand. In the light of this additional evidence I want everything gone through with a fine tooth comb. If there's anything else like this I want it found. Now, if there are no more questions, you are all dismissed."
In ones and twos the officers rose from their seats and left the room; all but one who paused just short of the door and turned back.
Krang looked up from the padd where he had been making some final notes and seeing that N'Sal was still standing in the door way, grunted in annoyance. "You were given orders. Why are you still here?"
The half Romulan mercenary approached Krang and keeping the table between them, she placed her hands on its polished surface and leaned forward towards him. "What you did was wrong." She spoke quietly, her tone seeming soft, almost gentle yet somehow warning of danger, of barely hidden anger… or was it rage he saw in those cobalt eyes? Rage and more than a hint of pain at what she undoubtedly felt was his treachery. The big Klingon found himself reminded of steel wrapped in velvet. "Torture is never necessary to learn the truth."
Straightening, she stepped back before turning and making her way out of the briefing room, leaving the Klingon alone with his thoughts.
Ch'Tang's sickbay was quiet, only the occasional faint whirr or bleep from the life supporting machinery breaking the silence. His decision made, Kavoq moved across the room, the heavy thud of his footsteps seeming disproportionately loud to his ears as they echoed on the cold metal deck plates.
Approaching the examination table, Kavoq disengaged the stasis field that protected its occupant. Picking up a hypospray and adjusting it, he pressed it against his patient's neck, injecting the contents directly into the carotid artery. The drug was fast acting and he watched with satisfaction as life signs re-established themselves. Running a scan to reassure himself that all was as it should be, the surgeon lifted the oxygen mask from his patient's face. "Take a deep breath," he instructed.
Obediently Khetara took a gulp of air and immediately started to cough.