Cop to "Cop"
Death in Paradise
Location: Paradise Station
To: Katya, Chief Administrator, Paradise Station
From: Lieutenant Cailus Griffin, Chief of Security, USS Pandora NCC-80114, United Federation of Planets
Administrator, I am writing to you on the subject of the missing children whom you've asked our assistance in finding. After the initial sightings, I believe it would be best if I coordinate directly with your chief of security or equivalent law enforcement official to advance this investigation. Combining your resources and our expertise, I am certain that we will stand a better chance of finding the children and bringing them in safely. Therefore, I respectfully request permission to liaise with your security personnel so that we may proceed with this investigation.
Lieutenant Cailus Griffin
The message, terse as it was, had been forwarded through Lieutenant Sandoval's department the previous evening. It was, Cailus knew, probably unnecessary. The station's head of law enforcement could probably be found by simply finding their office on the station. However, Cailus had found it to be more prudent to forward the message diplomatically, with Sandoval's permission. The last thing he wanted was to start an intergalactic incident because Katya thought the Starfleeters were going behind her back.
The next morning, after approval came, Cailus ventured out alone onto the station. The airlock opened directly into the vast market area, where some of the Pandora's crew were enjoying their liberty with shopping, games, drinks and other pursuits. By now, none of Paradise Station's residents looked askance at a human in Starfleet uniform, not with dozens more like him passing through the commercial areas. Thus, Cailus walked down the thoroughfare, maneuvering through the bustling crowd towards the small security sub-station where he had been directed to wait.
He wasn't just waiting for his escort from station security, however. With Krysia Kaleri elsewhere on the station on a fact-finding mission, with her fiance, who also happened to be the chief intelligence officer, Cailus had requested the next best thing: Natalia Parrino. The young woman's intelligence training would be of limited use in finding the elusive children, but that was, of course, not why she was coming. Starfleet Command wanted information about the Inconnu Expanse and, most critically, whether the Ravagers and the Alrakis Pact had any involvement with Paradise Station. That Starfleet had authorised a computer hack to gather the intelligence was telling of how badly the information was needed, and thus, Cailus had requested Parrino's presence. If Cailus was taken into restricted areas of the station, as he suspected he would, he wanted someone present who could analyse what she was seeing and, if necessary, find weak points to gather the intelligence.
Thus, as the morning shoppers went about their day, Cailus stood at the security sub-station, politely ignoring the two guards in their gleaming armour as he waited for Parrino to arrive.
Natalia appeared on the deck, in a yellow uniform. She was not used to the color, yet no one seemed to bother her. She spotted one of the only other yellow Starfleet uniforms on the deck and smirked.
"We meet again, sir," Natalia said.
"Lieutenant," Cailus said tersely in greeting while the guards, as ever, ignored them. Noting Parrino's smirk, he raised a distinctly disapproving eyebrow. "I take it that you understand our mission here?"
"We are searching for missing children," Natalia narrowed her eyes slightly at Cailus at using the term 'mission'.
Cailus considered Natalia's eyes for a moment, his blue eyes matching her brown, assessing them coldly. "Correct," he said quietly, stepping closer so that they wouldn't be overheard amidst the hustle and bustle of the nearby street, or the guards behind them. "And while we do that, you keep your eyes open and your mind sharp. That is your area of expertise, lieutenant."
Natalia turned her head slightly, "Of course, sir," still trying not to arouse suspicion.
With that, he turned to consider the guards. "Hopefully we shall be seen to soon."
The guards had been standing back, their round helmets seemingly turned towards each other in conversation but it was near impossible to tell exactly what they were doing. After a few moments they stood forward and approached the Starfleet officers.
"Come." One said, their voice the same auto-tuned, translated tone as all the other Paradise Guards.
The Guards marched towards a doorway, which parted to reveal a long corridor - unsurprisingly compromising of bright white walls with round silver circles stationed exactly one metre apart from each other. The Guards did not break stride as they moved forwards down the corridor, walking with pace and purpose. Each of the silver circles turned out to be windows into a series of offices, showing row after row of guards sitting at a small work station comprising of nine video monitors in front of them. On and on these windows showed the same-looking guards sitting at the same-looking desks, watching a bank of screens. Every part of the station seemed to be watched by these guards, and they remained perfectly still in silent observation.
Sticking to etiquette, Cailus didn't talk as they went, knowing that the guards weren't the chatty sort anyway. He simply observed, occasionally glancing at Parrino as they walked.
Natalia did not see Cailus's glance as she was observing the walls as well as the people that passed by. Any time they passed a terminal, she tried to see what was loaded on the screen. Nothing quite jumped out at her though.
It took several minutes before the group eventually reached the end of the corridor, where another doorway parted and a darkened room was now before them. The escorts immediately stood at attention on either side of the doorway and nodded to Griffin and Parrino.
"Enter." One said.
With only a polite nod in response, Cailus did just that, entering the office and standing at polite attention, his feet apart and his hands behind his back.
Natalia followed Cailus in, unsure really what was about to happen.
From behind there came a hurried bustling noise as a young man jogged down the corridor. He pushed past Griffin and Parrino as the lights to the room turned on, revealing it was a very small office - no more than three metres wide. It had a desk and a monitor but that was all. The floor was concrete and there were small outlines around the walls, indicating something used to be stored there. The man appeared to be Ferengi in appearance and was wearing a tuxedo. Without saying anything he turned on the monitor and started to read something. After a moment, he turned to his guests.
"Greetings, members of Starfleets." He said in a monotonous tone. "I am head of securing Paradise Outpost. How can I be assisting you today?"
"There have been reports of missing children and we are here to offer our assistance," Natalia bowed.
Thoroughly bemused by the sight of the Ferengi, the huge ears and the bizarre tuxedo, Cailus frowned, instinctively crossing his arms. "As best as we can. I'm Lieutenant Griffin, chief of security on the Pandora. This is Lieutenant Parrino. May I inquire as to your name, sir?"
The Ferengi read from the screen again before turning back and giving a nod. "I am Colonel Froox. I am the head of Paradise Security." Froox hesitated on that for a moment before shrugging. Back to the monitor, he kept reading, "I know you are looking for the younglings, and so are we. Paradise Outpost is deeply concerned about their well-being and safety, and wish to reunite them with their parents as soon as possible. What information have you derived from your previous searches so that we may assist each other?"
The situation was growing more bizarre by the minute. Cailus glanced at Natalia with a suspicious frown before looking back at the 'colonel'. "Little, besides that the children have a certain aptitude for evasion. I would suggest, under the circumstances, that we collaborate closer in our investigations. We use your resources, such as your local knowledge of the station and its denizens, in coordination with our expertise. Your personnel appear equipped more for defence, intimidation and deterrence, not the kind of civilian engagement that is required in this case. The children might, for instance, go to a part of the station's commercial area dominated by their own species, or a more quiet area to hide, as they did yesterday. Your knowledge of the station layout, culture and inhabitants, not to mention any surveillance that you maintain, would be invaluable. At the very least, you could tell us what parts of the commercial area have the lowest population density."
And, perhaps, if Cailus' suspicion was right, his overcomplicated little speech would fluster the idiot in front of them and puncture the charade.
Floox was flustered, he held his hands together and looked back and forth between the Starfleet officers and the monitor. "I... well, Paradise Outpost is uh deeply concerned about their well being." He groaned. "No, said that. I... I..." Finally he threw his hands in the air. "Look hu-man, I'm usually serve drinks in the Casino, okay? I can't do this." Floox leaned into the monitor and yelled, "I CAN'T DO THIS!"
After a moment there came a sigh from the screen, "It's okay, Floox." Katya said. "You may return to your duties."
"Will I still receive the bonus?" He asked urgently.
"We'll discuss that. Leave me with our Starfleet friends." Katya instructed. "And close the door."
Floox bowed awkwardly, then he turned the monitor around to face Griffin and Parrino. On screen, a bemused Katya was in her office, as usual, though she was noticeably closer to the camera. She wasn't relaxing back in her chair, it looked like she was cradling the monitor in her hands. Cursing in Ferengi as he shuffled past them, Floox exited the room and closed the door after him.
"I apologise, Lieutenants." Katya sighed. "When I received your request, I... panicked. I didn't want you to know that Paradise Outpost doesn't have a chief of security. The truth is, it is an entirely self-sufficient agency that is so departmentalised that it runs itself."
"Runs itself?" Natalia asked with genuine curiosity. "The outpost is so busy though... you simply entrust the safety of the station to self-policing?"
"With no chain of command?" Cailus added, frowning in disbelief.
Katya sighed heavily, "We don't have much time." She said, looking around her, "The children like to spend the days on the Marketplace level, usually some of the traders give them food. We believe that they are sleeping somewhere on the Entertainment level, they were spotted near the Parlour. It is possible they know of a back alley or a place our cameras can not see and they are using this to travel. You need to find them before the guards do. You must find them."
Suddenly the screen turned to black and Katya was gone.
The sudden cutoff, without a goodbye, was distinctly jarring. With a distinctly displeased grunt, Cailus glanced at Natalia. "Evidently there is more to this place than advertised," he commented quietly. "Thoughts?"
"Are we sure people are actually missing these kids? It almost sounds like they are doing well for themselves," Natalia mused.
From down the corridor there came the sound of heavy footsteps, and Floox was speaking quickly, "I...I... I merely left them for a moment. They are just in here."
The door swiftly opened and the scared-looking Ferengi was accompanied by two Paradise guards. The guards quickly entered the room and began looking around, one remained ever watchful of Griffin and Parrino. The other picked up the monitor but it wouldn't turn back on again. They handed it to the first guard but they too couldn't active the screen.
"See? They were waiting to be escorted." Floox insisted, his tone several octaves higher than usual.
One guard turned to Griffin and stated firmly, "Has your business with our Colonel concluded?"
Clearly the guards knew that the game was up, but Cailus wasn't inclined to admit anything. "Yes, we're done," he said mildly, before bowing his head briefly towards the nervous Ferengi who'd been playing cop for the day. "Thank you for your co-operation, Colonel Floox. We will proceed as best as we can with the investigation from here. If you require anything from us, please feel free to contact the Pandora. Good day to you." Glancing at the guards, he added with the exact same polite tone, "Gentlemen, if you could escort us back to the commercial area?"
Natalia tried to put on her best Security face, a blank stare. She almost burst into laughter when glancing at Cailus, yet kept it together.
The Guards seemed eager to get the two Federation officers out of the Security division. As they strolled quickly back down the long corridor, one of the surveillance stations was suddenly swarming with other Guards, some pointing to the corner of one screen. However, when the Starfleet officers walked past, the Guards noticeably stopped and waited for them to leave.