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Devils in the Details

Posted on Mon Dec 7th, 2020 @ 10:05pm by Civilian Cetus Lapetus & Civilian Josh Cagney & Lieutenant Junior Grade Teagan McGuire Ph.D.

Mission: Mission 1 - "Pound of Flesh"
Location: Station 314 Security Offices
Timeline: MD 4

"There we go!"

Cagney leaned back in his chair and gave a jubilant clap. Small successes were to be celebrated when one found them.

"That's the last algorithm for the background searches." He knit his brow in thought. "It's really kind of funny nobody had done that yet. Oh well." He shrugged and looked at Teagan. "Do you have eyes on the reporter yet?"

"Yes," Teagan replied, staring at the camera footage, backing it up and attempting to zoom in."It's interesting how even amongst all of these people, this particular man seems to make himself obvious," she added dryly. She hadn't been present for his follow up interview, but she had read the summary, and after reading the words and seeing the man's picture, she had a pretty good sense of whom she was looking for.

"Imagine being so bold..." Josh trailed off almost longingly as if he had never done anything bold.

Still keeping her eyes on the target, Teagan ventured. "I couldn't help but notice your physical discomfort during the staff briefing. Feel free to tell me it's none of my business and forgive the healer in me, but are you feeling alright?"

"I feel fine..." Josh lied. "Just... eh, had a medical issue. Uh, personal issue. Or, eh, personal issue of a medical nature." He gave Teagan a nervous eye without turning to face her. "I didn't think anyone would notice... right up until the chief said something, that is."

Naturally, Teagan became curious and mildly concerned about Josh's response, but as always, she was mindful of not wanting to overstep her boundaries, especially given her newness to the team. "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you by bringing it up," Teagan replied genuinely. "If you'd rather not talk about it, I understand, but I guess I should share I am a shrink, so if you did want to talk about it, I know how to keep a secret."

"Are you familiar with... Koro syndrome?" Josh turned away, sparing Teagan only the slightest of sidelong glances.

"I am not," Teagan replied sincerely. Even though she wasn't familiar, she could surmise it was either serious, embarrassing, or both.

"It's a disorder," Josh said. "Psychological, allegedly, but I know better. A man knows..."

Her interest truly sparked now, Teagan offered, " I don't follow. What is it you know better?"

Josh blushed furiously. "I think I'd be more comfortable talking to a mental health professional who is more familiar with my condition." Turning to his computer console, he said, "I wonder if the search algorithms have turned up any results..." As he pushed a few buttons, he accidentally brought up his recent personal search history. "OOPS!!!"

"Fair enough," Teagan replied. She saw no immediate need to mention that she was in fact a mental health professional. If Josh wasn't comfortable talking to her, she didn't see a point in leaving him thinking she was throwing her weight around. She was content to let the matter drop, and then suddenly she caught sight of his search history. She hadn't meant to see it, of course, but the mention of male genitals was somewhat prominent. Trying to come up with a way to address what had happened diplomatically, she decided the only way to not come across as completely strange was to be honest about her background. "As it happens, I happen to be a mental health professional, so any secrets are safe with me, but no pressure."

For a minute it looked like Cagney was going to say more, but at the last minute he pointed to the monitors.

"Look! The reporter is going into a Moclan gentleman's club!" He sighed at the realization. "No cameras allowed. They were pretty clear on that last time. I hope we haven't lost him!" Cagney chewed his lip in thought. "But... I wonder if there are any connecting maintenance corridors to other establishments. Pulling up station schematics now."

Cagney's eyes roved across the screen as he quickly scanned multiple lines of information.

"It looks like... the gentleman's club shares maintenance access with the rectory portion of the Stellar Catholic Mission, the swimming pool level of the Artanis Hotel, and the station's central reclamation plant."

Teagan smirked at the irony that a gentleman's club would be connected to a rectory. She wondered if that had been intentional. "Is there a way to check all three locations? I know it's a lot to monitor, but if our intrepid reporter is using the gentleman's club as a cover to head somewhere else, I'm not sure I can predict which location makes the most sense."

"Well, I... I don't know," Cagney said with a nervous scratch to his neck. "Maybe that's for the chief to decide." Taking the initiative, he decided to contact her.

"Joshua Cagney to Commander Sarafian," he said into his wrist communicator.

But there was no response.

"Cagney to Sarafian," he repeated.

Dead air.

"Why do you suppose she isn't answering?" Cagney pondered aloud. "Can we alert Station Security on our own authority?"

"To look for her?" Teagan asked. "I think we may be worrying prematurely. There could be any number of reasons she isn't answering us right now. I for one don't want to have to answer for it if we called in security because she needed a little extra time in the restroom. Let's try her again in a few minutes, don't you think?" Inwardly, Teagan's mind went on alert. While it was true there could be any number of reasons they weren't getting an answer, she was concerned that the team leader wouldn't make time to hear any of the reports. "If we need to, we'll do it. Better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission."

"I meant to have station security sweep through all the different locations where the reporter could've went," Cagney explained. When he processed what Teagan had said, though, a small sadistic smile teased at his mouth. "But do you think something bad could've happened to the chief? Karma and all?" He shook his head. "No, there is no justice in this universe. Never mind. We need to focus up. Should we call in the infantry to search these places or wait for the chief to call us back?"

Cagney's comment about karma surprised her and she was about to inquire further when she decided it was better to focus on the task at hand. What he said wasn't exactly sinister, but she couldn't quite put her finger on how she felt about it. Teagan was as eager as anyone to get answers, but she didn't see the value in calling in reinforcements without checking in with the Chief. There was a possibility that information she or the others could provide would help them focus their investigation. "I think we should wait for the chief. Information she might give us could help us figure out our next move."

"I suppose you're right," Cagney said with dejection. He leaned his hand into his cheek as he continued to stare at the monitor. "Hey!" he exclaimed, perking up. "Our intrepid reporter just got flagged at the entrance to the Stellar Catholic Mission! That's suspicious, right?"

"Definitely," Teagan remarked. "Shall we report this to the chief?"

Josh nodded. "Let's see if we can reach her." He tried to raise her again on his wrist communicator. "No luck. I wonder what she's doing?"

At that moment, Cagney's communicator went off. "It's the chief!" he gasped as he activated it. "Cagney here," he said in his deepest voice.

"Whaddyagot?" Talina asked, her voice slurred.

"Are you all right, Chief?" Josh asked. He was caught completely off guard.

"Yeahfinenowtellmewhatyougotforme."

"Well, that UNS journalist we were tracking went into a Moclan gentleman's club and then was just flagged at the Stellar Catholic Mission. We've already identified maintenance corridors connecting them. There might be a connection..." Cagney paused for a moment before asking, "Should we notify station security?"

"Negative," Talina managed to say. "KeepmonitoringthesitchyashununtilIcomeback."

Cagney frowned. She wasn't nearly as excited as he'd hoped. "With all due respect, when might that be?"

"Assoonastheyputmyeyebackinplace," Talina managed to say. "Sarafianout."

All Josh could do was blink at that. "Did... did she just say she had to get her eye put back in place?" He blinked repeatedly, not believing his ears. "And did she sound intoxicated to you?"

Teagan had an uneasy feeling as she listened to the exchange, and now, with Cagney looking at her, the pit in her stomach grew larger. She took a slow breath and considered what they actually knew. Teagan didn't know the chief well, but there was no reason for her to be running her words together and for sounding so flat. It wasn't a normal speech pattern given the woman she had read about and interacted with, however briefly. "Something definitely seems up. I think we should contact the second highest ranking member of the team to ask for guidance." Normally it would be a no brainer to seek out security, but the counselor wasn't sure they could be certain whom to trust.

"Good idea," Cagney said. "Let me just--"

He trailed off as an emergency report came in. "Wait a second..." His eyes scanned back and forth. "It appears that... Lieutenant Klein is KIA?! And Commander Sarafian is under emergency medical care?!" He stared at Teagan in horror. "How in the world... They were just supposed to go question the Rad Ratels, right?"

A junior adjunct from Station Security approached them.

"I have information for your chief," he said.

Cagney winced. "She's... not here."

The messenger boy shrugged. "All right. Here you go." He set a data pad on the desk and walked away.

"What do you think it is?" Cagney asked Teagan. The conflict was rife on his face. "Should we open it? It is for the case, and I'm technically the chief's personal assistant..."

Alarmed at all the news she had just heard, Teagan knew she had to act. Hearing Josh's indecision, McGuire briefly wondered whether it had something to do with the chief's no nonsense personality. She couldn't help but wonder if that was part of the reason he was so uncertain now, not wanting to risk disapproval. Calmly, she offered, "We need information to plan our next move. I can open it if you're not comfortable."

"No, I'll do it," Cagney said. He took the communique in trembling hands and entered his adjunct code. After scanning it for a moment, he said, "Sector Security tracked the Rad Ratels to the border of the sector where they rendezvoused with a Gelatin freighter. The freighter was detained and DNA was a match - they found the remains of our missing persons on board." He cringed as he read further details. "Evidently their remains were liquefied into jetted jacuzzi tubs. What... why?" He gave a shudder at the description. "This is sick. I can't read anymore..."

He set the communique down onto the desktop. Tears began to fill his sensitive eyes at the horrid descriptions he'd just read.

The news was disgusting, to be sure, but beyond the impulse to recoil from the imagery, Teagan was trying to make sense of the facts. She was about to inquire further, when she noticed how upset Cagney appeared to be. "Are you OK? Would you rather I take a look?"

Cagney shook his head in protest, but his eyes began to redden as tears began to fall. Soon his hands covered his face as he started bawling. "Why? Because I can't do my job without bawling like a baby? Because I'm a weak man and everybody knows it? Because I pee in a sitting position? Because I fpudbwadimgshmn..." He words descended into unintelligible gibberish as his crying took over.

Break Room


"Why... didn't...she...want...to...hug...newer!" Cagney wailed into Teagan's lap much as he'd been doing for several hours now. Every time they seemed to reach a stopping point, some new cistern of inner pain would crack open. Square One was starting to get all too familiar.

Unfortunately, as helpful as the impromptu counseling session was for Cagney personally, it meant certain reports and communiques did not reach the chief in a timely manner. By the time the water works came to a halt, the investigation had continued on without them.

 

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