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Posted on Thu Sep 24th, 2020 @ 2:41am by Captain Mei Xiang Sun

Mission: Limelight
Location: Captain's Ready Room, USS Shanghai

[Ready Room]

"Lieutenant Cayne is here to see you, Captain," The bridge officer chimed.

Mei glanced up from her desk and took a breath. Dealing with investigative services was always unpleasant, but this kind of thing was especially daunting. She nodded to herself and gave a glance to the hologram of her family on her desk. "Alright, send him in."

There were only a few seconds before the door hissed open and Lieutenant Cayne arrived. He was prim and proper, a clearly dedicated officer. His uniform was in place, though she was surprised to see that science blue. He could have been the poster child for a division brochure if they wanted, and he had a warm smile across his lips. "Captain Sun - it's an honor to meet you."

"And you must be Lieutenant Cayne," She said as she rose and gave a bow. "Please, have a seat."

He nodded a quick bob of his head and looked around her ready room. As he found a seat he found his eyes stuck on the paintings of the ships she had served on, "I love how many COs do something like that. My first Commander preferred models - but the paintings are beautiful."

"Thank you," She said quickly, a bit impatiently.

"Sorry," He said as he turned around. "I know this is awkward and it's impossible for small talk to do anything but make that worse. I won't take up a lot of your time." He gave a wider smile. "I just want to start off by saying that we are on the same team, even though it may not feel that way." He spoke with his hands a bit. "I know that officers tend to see TI as the bad guys. That we're going to come in and give a sweeping set of orders and restrictions and ferret out every single secret." He nodded to himself and gave a shrug. "In this case, though, things are pretty cut and dry."

"How do you mean?" Sun asked as she sat back down behind her desk.

"You rescued a few hundred personnel from the past - and another timeline at that. There is very little danger to the stability of our own timeline due to that. The best example is probably the Enterprise and Bozeman incident in 2368." Cayne spoke quickly, his hand twisting a bit as he emoted. "This case is even simpler. Only a ten-year jump compared to 90. Captain Bateson and his crew adapted rather well, I think. And their contribution to the Fleet over the years has been monumental."

"So, Temporal Prime Directive?"

"Not really applicable in this instance."

"So what is TI doing here, exactly?"

"It's still seven hundred plus people to integrate. Each with a different story and a different reaction," Cayne said with a shrug. "If I saw ten a day I'd be here for months. Luckily, for a vast majority, our research shows that fifteen-minute meetings should be plenty," He smirked, "That said, I'm still not going to meet with all your crew myself. A few hot spots I need to watch. Senior Staff, those looking to rejoin the Shanghai directly." His head bobbed from side to side a bit as he listed some worries, "Mostly, I'm here to make sure it wasn't on purpose, and that none of them match our no-go parallel and alternative quantum state universes. You're familiar with Mirror, Fluidic, one of the Borg controlled AQS, - but there are others. The readings we have so far are coming up fine though, so I don't expect anything."

"Well, that all sounds simple," Mei said with a little shrug.

"Yes, but crews find the acts invasive. And, there is one small complication. Regional powers indicate the Edasichians might have had a hand in the other universe. While they aren't a no-go power, they are an unknown quantity." Cayne smiled, "And, I'll likely be setting up a semi-permanent TI office in the area due to the number of contamination points here..."

"So, this is a long term thing," Mei said with a bit of a groan.

"I'm afraid it is,"

"Any way I can help make this easier,"

"Not that I have found," Cayne sighed, "Starfleet crews rarely like us snooping around. Privacy is important to them, and we know so much more than they expect. I have to ask questions that pry deep to figure out the timelines. We aren't some temporal entity from the future with cool tech that can just scan and figure it out. Our scans can isolate the quantum signatures, but then we have to take notes in the old ways. Most of the people who came over aren't even aware of the Synth Attack. Think of how many notes there will be for each? How many people survived or had completely different paths." He took a breath. "I've got to dig and dig hard. And there will be uncomfortable conversations. That's just a fact."

"I see. Have you tried explaining that to officers?"

"Yes. But even something as simple as... say, in your case..." He nodded towards her hologram, "Your relationship with Ersin, your twins - how many timelines did that happen in? How many did it not? So..." He took a deep breath. "I can't just give you information on another timeline. But I have to pry. How many major sexual relationships have you had? Have you ever slept with a woman? Do you recognize the name Tsai?" He said quickly watching Sun's responses. None of which were particularly flattering.

"Are you actually asking?" She protested, her face a bit flushed.


"None of your business. Ditto. And it's a common name."

"But I need answers, Captain. I can't take no for an answer. I have to push. I know you slept with Ersin, that's obvious. But your attraction to women is important too."

"Why does the name Tsai matter?"

"I can't say. Some quantum states pronounced it Kai, though. You don't really have to answer. I know you're from this timeline." He said with a hand wave. "A lot of quantum states cross paths. When we get a ship that has a database, we get it. We compile all this information to try to keep things straight. But, don't worry. Ninety percent will never matter to anyone but us."

"You are a bit disconcerting."

"I know. If you knew how much I knew about your senior staff... well," He smiled, "You'd trust me even less, probably. But it is part of the job. I don't mind being the snake." He took a breath. He offered over a data chip, "Here are my credentials and orders." He left the chip on the desk and stood up. "I need to get to work, but you should have all the information you need there. And of course, your eyes only."

"Of course,"

"I'll be prying your new crewmembers' secrets out of them if you need me."

"Right. Good luck." Mei spoke as she took the data chip in her fingers and passed it through her digits.



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