Oberic had finished his communication to the Koragh, and was now composing a relay to send a note to Vulcan. He had promised his mother that he would keep in touch, and so far, was doing a good job of it. Since it would be a breach of intel protocol to use the official relays for such a thing, Oberic was instead using a set of personal contacts accrued over many years of field work. Despite the mundane topic of the message, it was his habit to use high encryption levels for everything; regardless of how innocuous. It kept those who might want to tap his communications channels...confused. Just as he was concluding a short chat with the first of his relays, he heard Savant's disembodied voice come from...hell, who knows?
She informed him that she had detected an uninvited party on the line - that someone on the bridge was already making it their business to snoop around. And they call intel operatives "spooks"??? At least he wasn't tapping communications lines for all command personnel; too bad that someone on the bridge wasn't affording him the same courtesy. This didn't bother Oberic, since the communication they seemed to have found was one about his mother's delicious recipe for bregit lung casserole. Yeah...he almost hoped that someone on the bridge was actually sifting through that trying to decipher if it was some sort of code. The thought made him giggle.
At the behest of Savant, Oberic switched his communications protocols. From this point forward - when speaking to the Andropov or Koragh - he would use around a dozen relays and speak only in a special code that was agreed to just before the two ships set out. Savant made the suggestion that she be permitted to put a backward ping on all communications - so the next time someone got creative and wanted to listen in, she would be able to spot their exact location. Oberic agreed, and everything was put into place. Time to report to the boss...
The screen took a few minutes to flicker to life. The image of a surly and very businesslike Admiral appeared. Since the conversation was being routed through a great many relays, and since the Admiral was a fair ways off, the conversation was an odd one. Oberic would speak, and have to wait a few minutes for the Admiral's face to react and for the man to respond. Ahh...such is the life.
"The Koragh is in place and prepared to render assistance. I daresay that HoD Tora is praying to Kahless for something tragic to happen. His warriors are like caged tigers...caged tigers who've been starved and now have raw meat being dangled in front of the cage - just out of reach."
The Admiral...wait was that a smile? Well, sort of... "Very good, Sierra. Andropov is due to report back within 18 hours on her progress with the latest lead. Are you having any trouble with the Charon's command staff?"
"I am not entirely sure. The Captain responded pretty much how we expected. But my last non-official communication was tapped by someone on the bridge. I have Savant tracking all messages from now on to see if we can figure out who and why."
The old man's face was stern, his voice lower and serious, and his brow furrowed. "I don't like this, Sierra. When will people learn that we are all on the same side? The Starfleet Intelligence community is not out to ruin everyone; we're here to do a job. Yet we get resistance at every turn from people who simply don't get it. Without us, the Klingons would have a death-hold on our space, and the people of earth would probably be speaking Cardassian by now, with the Dominion spread across the quadrant at will. I guess some people would rather this was so..."
Oberic could tell that the Admiral was getting angry. And so far, there was really no reason to get overly excited. Before the old man decided to start sending people to Charon in order to put the thumb-screws to whoever was unfortunate enough to stumble upon an open line, he tried to defuse the situation a bit. "Yes, sir. Absolutely. I think we're safe here, Admiral. Switching to Sigma Code for all communiqués from here on. I'm sure we will be secure enough."
"We'd better be, Sierra. This is not the kind of everyday mission that can be compromised and still accomplished properly. And let me tell you - if anyone on the Charon...and I mean ANYONE, is found to be compromising this mission, that person is going to meet a certain friend of ours, his interrogation kit, and when he's done, they will meet with a court-martial for treason and espionage."
It was obvious that the Admiral wasn't kidding. The "friend" he spoke of - the name he would never utter over any comm channel...was that of Vladimir Alexei - referred to as "Volodya" by those who knew him. It's not that the guy was evil...just that he was brutally efficient. And as the foremost interrogation expert, he was usually feared just on principle. Oberic had gotten to know him, and found Volodya to be a very patriotic person who found his work distasteful, but necessary at times. During the Dominion War, his methods garnered quite a lot of valuable information. The ends justify the means when it comes to him...but still - the situation was not one that Oberic wished on anyone...he silently hoped that whoever decided to start tapping intel communications did so on accident - anything else would be...unfortunate indeed.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Oberic Sierra
Intelligence Operator, USS Charon
Intelligence Operator, USS Charon