((New Sabyk, Darime Colony))
The main settlement of the Pelian colony on Darime IV didn’t look like much from the surface. Little more than a small town, filled with short, squat buildings that barely grace a certain Admiral barely with headroom. The taller members of her crew had to stoop, lest they smack their skulls off the ceilings and light fixtures. But despite their small nature, they were elegant and beautiful in their simplicity; white walls, exposed wooden beams, open-plan interiors with floor-to-ceiling windows—or features, in the areas beneath the surface.
It had come as something of a surprise. Knowing that the Pelians built half their settlements underground, Quinn had expected something more cosy or claustrophobic. Instead, they were light and airy, and felt a lot bigger than they seemed.
Unless you were cracking your head on the low ceiling, of course.
She stood with Jo and a small group of her officers outside the surface level of one of those buildings, swaddled in Starfleet-issue trench coats. Holographic barriers established a perimeter, holding back a small crowd of onlookers, another overhead, like a large canopy. The lights from landed Federation Security shuttles splashed the onlookers in flashes of blue and red, smeared by a smattering of light rain bouncing down from cloudy skies and skimming the shield above.
Reynolds: We’ve got a busy morning, so I’ll cut straight to it. Federation Security has asked us to help them with a murder investigation. They haven’t had a murder here in over a decade and even that was a crime of passion, so they’re feeling... a little out of their depth with what looks like a pre-meditated crime. The victim's name was Bisul, and he was a religious leader among the Pelians. From what I can understand, he was like a Cardinal or a Vedek: high-ranked and influential, and the most senior spiritual figure in the colony.
Reynolds: He didn’t turn up for morning services, and when his assistant came to check on him she found her passkey didn’t work. ::She gestured toward the door and the electronic locking mechanism attached to it.:: So she called FedSec, and they found him dead inside his study.
Marshall: As far as FedSec can tell, no one has been in or out using the door, ::similar to Quinn, she motioned to said door, but with a flick of her head before burying herself in her uniform again,:: and without any recent transporter activity, you’ll have your work cut out for you. We’ve got all the access to question who you like. Sensor pods are already sweeping the area for any signs of explosive materials, just in case.
A PADD chirped insistently. Quinn fished it from the depths of her pocket, thumbing away the alert, her hazel eyes flicking over the message. She showed it to her First Officer, then began to tap out a response, multitasking as she continued the briefing. Many plates to keep spinning, several situations demanding their attention, and only so much time to do it.
Reynolds: The agent assigned is called Lynas, and he’s already inside. All he’s done is secure the scene; once he realised what he was dealing with, he asked for our help. He’s lived here for a while, so he should be helpful in navigating the colony, physically and socially. ::She paused.:: Other than that, it’s up to you.
((Survey Site, Darime Colony))
A short while later, Quinn stood in the centre of a small scientific outpost, barely more than a few buildings and the tiny fusion generator which powered them. There was no obvious sign of what they were investigating; the area was a lush green carpet of grass and moss, kept tidy until recently, where it had overgrown around the structures and started snaking roots into the construction. Jo, still wet from the rain, huddled into her jacket, collar zipped up under her chin, and a PADD stuck under her arm.
A small tunnel led into the ground, surrounded by creeping ivy-like sinews of an indigo plant, chunks of rock fallen onto the ground making a home for themselves in the dirt, and a distant rumble deep within echoing through. Small blinking lights paved the way down; the kind of cat’s eye Starfleet tended to leave behind when venturing into the unknown, lighting the path back to the surface like a homing beacon.
Reynolds: —so let’s crack on. When surveying sites for a new settlement, the Pelians discovered some underground ruins. The indications are these are substantially different and considerably older than those discovered elsewhere on the surface. It’s got a few of the scientists excited; there are theories it could be a different civilisation from the same planet, or perhaps this place has been colonised by several different species over its past.
Marshall: Naturally, the Pelians aren’t shouting about this. They don’t want to attract any undue attention, or deal with the social implications if they arise, until they know exactly what this is. If you find anything, make a note of the location, and be prepared to hand over the research when you surface.
Reynolds: Whatever it is, the science is not your primary objective. Starfleet Academy assigned a small group of cadets here for a field project and they’ve gone missing. They’ve failed to report into their two check-ins, and all attempts to raise them on comms have failed.
Marshall: They're small, but they're fierce. They are able and clever, otherwise this type of project wouldn't be granted. The Academy is sending through their details to hopefully make finding them easier, and equipment you think you might need is readily available from the Gorkon.
She handed the PADD over to Jona, rain sliding off the glossy surface onto the floor, and the incoming transmission from Starfleet signalling away. Four images appeared on the screen, a small host of youthful faces; two humans, a Bajoran and a Kelpian, all proper and neat in their cadet uniforms.
Quinn frowned for a moment, hesitating over a few more pieces of information. Her hands dug into the pockets of her coat, and she nodded toward the PADD. Four cadets, full of promise and potential, who should have many years ahead of them. She tried to ignore the churning in her gut, the yawning nausea in her belly, and tried to remind herself that she had assigned three capable officers to find them. That, and ignore the little voice telling her she should go with them, despite all the reasons she should not.
Reynolds: The excavations had only just begun, so we know very little about what’s down there, except that no one’s been able to identify who built it. I know it goes without saying, but be careful, and good luck.
Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds
Lt. Commander Jo Marshall
USS Gorkon, NCC-82293