USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Send for the Child Catcher!

Posted on Sun Jan 10th, 2021 @ 9:15am by Lieutenant Asahi Kita & Chief Petty Officer Baen Sloane & Lieutenant Two-Six Trenton

Mission: When the Bough Bounces
Location: Enlisted Quarters
Timeline: MD 04 : 1410 Hrs
2293 words - 4.6 OF Standard Post Measure

"Hey, get back here!"

The giggles could be heard down the hall, the same hallway that a one Lieutenant Asahi Kita found himself down. He wasn't entirely certain what to make of the situation; a young child sitting in the seat of one of his various agents, accessing what he believed was classified information. There was a part of Asahi who wanted to find the petty officer responsible, but he never saw Sloan as someone who just left his work out for a child to see. Or as one to have a child. Maybe a nephew?

But the young boy, who couldn't have been older than ten, was wearing full Starfleet Intelligence uniform when Asahi barged into the man's cubicle area. And then somehow managed to escape the man's grasp, booking it down the hall with the PaDD in hand for no discernable reason. Which led Asahi, and his faithful dog Hojo, to run off in pursuit.

Trenton was out walking the ship, checking on the duty security patrols and generally finding his way around. He had memorized the deck plan but actually physically walking each deck was preferable. With such an large vessel and twenty five decks to cover it was going to take a while, but he planned on two decks a day to have it all done within a fortnight. He arrived at a corridor junction, as a matter of course he stopped to check the forcefield generators and security systems.

As he did so a small figure ran out of another corridor. it was a young Human boy, in what appeared to be a Starfleet uniform. The child looked up at Trenton, taking in the former Drone's size and optical implant, eyes wide in wonder. Then the boy giggled and as quickly as he appeared, the child darted down another corridor and vanished out of sight.

He knew there were families aboard, but children were not permitted to roam about the ship, certainly not one that seemed so young. He was about to tap his commbadge to alter the nearest patrol to be on the lookout for the child when somebody else came around the corner!

Asahi turned a corner to see if he could spot the young lad, he collided face-first into the hapless officer who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Shit." Stumbling back, the Intelligence officer got his footing before looking up. "Shit, sorry. Eff, sorry. Damnit- are you okay with swears. I know it's a weird thing to ask, but some officers aren't- Shoot, did you see where that child in the Starfleet uniform darted off to? I saw him run this way."

The diminutive Intel Officer had slammed into Trenton at some speed but he was unhurt. He reached out and helped Kita straighten up.
"Yes and yes" He replied literally.

"I do not object to the occasional use of colorful terminology. And the boy went that way." He pointed down the appropriate corridor. "Is he yours?"

Asahi opened his mouth, ready to give another example of his expressive vocabulary, but the thought stopped him, and he shook his head. "Not really. He was sitting in the cubicle that belongs to one of my crewmen. He's got one of my crewmen's PaDDs that have very... very very sensitive data on it. Or at least, I think it's sensitive. It doesn't matter, it all is. I didn't have much time to talk to him before he leapt out of the chair and started making a dash for it, so... here we are."

Trenton was a little surprised to hear the child had gained access to the inner area of the Intelligence compartments. He recalled it being rather well controlled.

"The child belongs to one of your personnel then, if they were in a workspace? What exactly are they doing leaving their child there unsupervised. I would suggest we proceed to this crewman's quarters immediately. Presumably the child will return there, or at least we will have a confirmed identification to enable the child to be located by the computer."

"That's the kicker," Asahi pointed out, "The kid doesn't appear in our database." At Trenton's suggestion, the Intelligence Chief gestured to follow him down the hallway. "Not that that isn't easy to track down in the computer, but wouldn't a kid who had access to someone's uniform be in our system?"

"You are saying, we have an unidentified minor, found to have gained access to a secure area and whom then made off with a PaDD, containing sensitive information?" Trenton stated. He followed Kita and confirmed that Kita was really informing him of possibly a major security breach.

"Unconfirmed," Asahi mimicked the official response. "I can only confirm he decided to play dress-up for the day and he's got a PaDD." If one roped off a whole space, then someone was bound to try to break in and see what was there. Any secure information within the Intelligence Department was tied to accounts, people, and semi-randomized consoles. Or, that was how the regular day-to-day went. But, this was only one of a handful of different methods he utilized to keep internal security of information safe. If there was no consistency, anyone attempting to crack the Intelligence safe would have to work extra hard.

But, with an instance such as this, the moment Asahi caught wind of it, the whole department was on lockdown. No information was to be accessed or removed until he had confirmation that this child wasn't secretly another Miran making infiltration attempts. Asahi was erratic, but not without extreme precautions. "Here we are."

Asahi stopped, standing in front of a door that led to one of the various quarters on the floor. "The crewman's room's here. He's usually not the type to miss his shift, and I saw him sitting at the desk this morning, so if the kid's not here then I'm just gonna go track down the Chief."

Trenton was a little thrown by the Intelligence Officer's apparently casual attitude; to him the man was reporting a clear breach of security, even if it did just turn out to be a childish prank. He was about ready to lock down the deck and call in Security Teams to search every compartment, but he deferred for now.

He tapped the chime, there was no response. He tried the old fashioned method of knocking on the door. Again no response.
He tapped his commbadge =A= Computer, Security Over-ride Trenton-One-One-Six Open door... =A= He read off the door's number and lowered his hand to his phaser.

There was a beep and the door slid open.

As the doors slid open, the sight of a young boy hiding under the table in the middle of the room. In his hands, he had the ill-fated PaDD. The young child frowned up at the two men, but didn't say a word, in the hopes that neither of them saw him.

Even if Asahi was looking right at him. "Alright, kid, there aren't too many places to go. Gimmie that PaDD."


"... And why not?"

"Because it's mine!"

Asahi's eyes widened as he inhaled the sigh he threatened to let out. "... You wouldn't happen to know how to deal with kids, would you?"

"There are not many children in the Collective" He replied, looking down at the young boy under the table. Regardless of his inexperience in dealing with minors he realized the child was probably frightened and wary.

He dropped down to one knee, trying to make himself a little less intimidating. "Hello, I'm Lieutenant Trenton, what's your name?"

"Baen," The boy said hesitantly.

"Ok" Trenton nodded, and looked to Kita, eye raised. "Is he on the manifest?"

While Kita looked him up Trenton continued "And who are you parents?"

"I haven't seen them in awhile..." The boy's face turned sad.

"Oh, ok, how long is that? A couple hours ago? Earlier today?" Trenton asked.

"Ummm," The boy looked thoughtful for a moment "About five years ago, they moved to a different planet!" A tear rolled down his cheek "I miss them, a lot."

"Five years?!" Trenton was surprised and suspicious. The boy looked no more then maybe nine or ten, who could he have been without his parents for five years! Trenton looked to Kita.

By this point, Asahi flopped on the ground in front of the child, eyes on the tricorder he had pulled out during all this. None of this weird time nonsense struck him as odd. Not on this ship, where there were two Mirans running departments and he had some run-in with his own temporal anomalies.

Nevermind the whole Vesta jumping three years into the future thing.

What struck him as odd was that this child registered in the tricorder as Baen Sloane, infiltration expert and the first person Asahi would go to if they had issues with kidnapped Admirals or a need to obtain information... Delicately.

Baen Sloane was well over ten years old, last he checked. And his parents were alive and well, off living a happy retirement on some colony he had never heard of.

Asahi looked over to the Security Officer with a clueless shrug, before eying the younger-than-expected officer. "Kiddo-"

"Baen," the young boy adamantly insisted.

"Baen. Right." Asahi rubbed the bridge of his nose. This child, for all intents and purposes, thought and registered as the Petty Officer. That departmental lockdown was looking more enticing by the moment. "How about you do be a big favor and answer a few more of Lieutenant Trenton's questions?"

"So, Baen, if your parents went to another planet, who do you live with on the ship?" Trenton asked, wondering if perhaps he was with a relative or family member among the crew.

"I am on the crew!" shouted the young boy, who glared at Trenton. "I was bigger this morning too! He didn't believe me when I said so!" Baen pointed an accusatory finger at Asahi. "Ask him! He said hi and told me a lame pun!"

Asahi's eyes snapped up from the tricorder. "My puns are not lame!" he protested, "It's not my fault you don't appreciate finely tuned humor!" Then the short-statured man paused, looking down at the tricorder and back up at the young child. Then down at the tricorder again. Then back up at the young child.

Finally, Asahi passed the tricorder to Trenton, revealing the data visually, as if telling him verbally was not enough. "... I don't think I woke up on the sane side of the bed today."

The child, now identified properly, huffed and crossed his arms against his chest. "I told you."

Trenton was a little baffled by the boy's responses. He looked down at the PaDD. The scan was identifying the boy as Petty Officer Baen Sloane; Human Male aged twenty eight; assigned to Intelligence division USS Vesta

He knew father's and sons shared a lot of the same DNA but not an identical match, plus according to Sloane's service record he was unmarried and had no children!

The scan could not be right, but it was saying that the small boy hiding under the table was a twenty eight year old fully grown man, with eight years service in Starfleet!

He glanced at Asahi. "Is this right? He is your Petty Officer?"

"If this is right, he is." Asahi confirmed, shaking his head. "This is too weird."

Trenton turned back to Sloane. "Ok Petty Officer... Baen, what did you mean when you said you were bigger this morning?"

Baen let out a groan. "I was big like you all! Whatever size I'm supposed to be!" He hopped angrily in place. "And now I'm ten!"

"So you woke up normal, but you got smaller and younger since then?" It sounded almost impossible to believe, but he knew there had been rare cases of this kind of extreme regression reported in the past. The question was what was causing it?

Baen shrugged. It was all the now-much-younger man had to offer.

"Ok, did you do anything unusual today? Use the transporter? Go in a Science lab or Engineering? Eat or drink anything strange?" Trenton tried a few obvious possibilities for something to have caused the boy's condition.

"No?" Baen responded. He seemed unsure of himself as he answered, shrugging his shoulders again and pouting.

He looked to Asahi. "He needs to go down to medical right away, we need to establish what caused this."

"He does." Asahi confirmed. "And I need to lock down all of Intelligence." He gave Trenton a frown. "It could be an isolated incident, but I don't want to find out that we have a major security breech before it becomes an issue. You take Sloane to Medical and I'll verify it's at least isolated and not something we have to worry about."

Trenton nodded and tapped his commbadge. =A= Security Team Seven, report to my location for an immediate escort to sickbay =A=

He turned to the boy. "Baen, we are going to take you to see the Doctor. Hopefully he will be able to determine what has caused this."
He ushered the diminutive figure out to the corridor and had the computer seal the cabin door.

A moment later a male and female Security Team jogged up. Trenton briefly explained the situation and the pair left with the boy, heading for a turbolift.

He turned to Kita. "You lock down your department. I'll see what Doctor Sorenson has to say. They we need to inform Command, the Petty Officer may not be the only one affected..."


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