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Lieutenant Snow chased down Admiral Elaine Jaffe after she briskly walked from the transporter pad, breezed past Snow and down the hall toward a turbo lift. She rounded a corner and Snow lost sight of her. He picked up the pace to catch up then tapped his com badge. Becoming short of breath he said, “Captain, Admiral Jaffe has just arrived, should I escort her to the briefing room?”

McFly sat with the rest of his senior staff in the briefing room behind the bridge. He had been anticipating this meeting for two days, from the time he initially contacted his superior about the new revelations the crew uncovered.

Just as Snow was requesting order confirmation from the Captain, Jaffe walked into the briefing room and immediately took station at the briefing table on the far opposite side of McFly. He rolled his eyes over toward Kansas to his right side, his head eventually meeting the same destination. She replied with squinted eyes of annoyance and mouthed the word “dumbass”.

“Don’t bother.” McFly replied with a sigh to Snow then closed his com.

Jaffe quickly set up her position with a couple of padds which also commandeered the screen on the wall. She turned to address the officers and just as she opened her mouth to speak Doctor Vilanne Chalice walked into the room carrying a tray with a coffee pot and three coffee cups. Her eyes carried obvious bags, her hair slightly frazzled and the sheer will she used to prevent her skull from cracking like an egg was evident upon her face.

Like a waiter she dispensed a coffee cup each to McFly and Kansas then poured them both coffee from the pot. She then set herself up and promptly took her own seat at the table.

McFly quietly thanked Vilanne then took a sip. As he did his eyes darted up to see Jaffe glaring at him from the other side of the table. He gulped down the succulent nectar freshly squeezed from the one true Almighty mother’s teat then asked the Admiral, “I’m sorry did you want some?”

Quick thinking forced Jaffe to realize she neither had the time nor the convenience to kill McFly at the moment. And so she continued with her reason for arriving.  “This crew is a few of only a handful of people who will know about a dark secret the top personnel at Starfleet are trying to keep quiet. There has been a data breach within Starfleet computers on Earth. We still don’t have the full scope of the breach but we do know about one of the most troubling pieces of information that was taken.”

The screen on the wall switched to a single column list of numbers. The numbers scrolled by slow enough to be identified but fast enough no individual set could be memorized.

“This is the master list of starship prefix codes to the entire fleet. A list that is useless without this…”

The numbers moved to the left side of the screen, still scrolling. On the right, a list of names appeared, each starting with USS.

Jaffe continued, “…a corresponding list of the ships matched to each code. Without this, the best anyone could do is guess which code belongs to any ship. Section 31 became aware of the breach and was able to catch the perpetrator in the middle of their upload. Only a third of the named list was sent. And I’m sure you would recognize one of the names.”

Both lists stopped scrolling and one name and code highlighted, USS Sumadi.

“So this was an inside job.”McFly said, stating the obvious.

“Yes.” Jaffe replied. “The person has been caught and interrogated. Unfortunately we know very little of the whys of all this. He’s part of a larger organization that feels Starfleet has become too big and should be forced to scale down. He didn’t know what they planned to do with the ships other than steal them and it also seems he was barely a new recruit. His mission was to feed information through an encrypted channel and he only received one mission at a time which was always delivered to him through different means.”

“So the question is,” McFly said as he thought through the situation, “was the Sumadi meant to destroy the station or were they trying to steal the ship?”

“Our analysts believe the situation to be an accident. They feel whomever was trying to steal the ship destroyed the station when the ship became irretrievable in hopes of destroying evidence.”

“But the Bauer and Ethan Carter were still there.”

“Loose ends they seemed to have attempted to tie up when they gained control of your ship.”

“Speaking of which,” Erich Jaenke said looking back to McFly then back to Jaffe, “how exactly were they able to control our ship using just the prefix code? Traditionally I’m only aware of it used to lower shields or disable weapons.”

“And that’s the limits we allow people to be aware of.” Jaffe replied. “The prefix code system is a very powerful tool. Most of the fleet believes it to be a myth. We make Captain’s aware of it when taking command of a ship, but they’re explicitly instructed only to use it in the most extreme of circumstances and we make them believe it’s only capable of disabling the most basic of ship functions. In reality, the code gives basic computer control to a remote user. If you know what you’re doing and you dig deep enough, you can gain complete computer control.”

“And even change the command codes.” McFly added.

Jaffe nodded.

“Why even have such a powerful feature if it can be used against us like this?” asked Keb.

“It’s proved useful for us in a handful of extreme circumstances over the years. I’m sure your history books can remind you of a few famous incidents. In the event a Starfleet vessel has been compromised, Captains have an easy way to fight back without committing too much damage to the offending ship. But really, the prefix system was designed for us, for black ops. Our being able to remotely access a ships computer has been invaluable to us.”

“But only in extreme circumstances, right?” Keb asked slyly.

“Of course, Commander.” Jaffe replied.

McFly leaned back in his chair and put his cup down after having taken another sip. “Alright so where do we go from here?”

“Officially,” Jaffe replied, “you’re mission is over. You’ve gained crucial information to help move this investigation along. But now Section 31 will be taking over.”

Silence fell over the room as if they were just told they’d be decommissioned.

“But I’ve known this ship for too long.” Jaffe said breaking the tension. “They’ve now made this personal for you and no order is going to prevent you from continuing your own investigation. Nor do I believe it should.”

McFly smiled as he took another sip of coffee.

Jaffe continued, “Officially I have to assign you something else. But personally… You have a lead, the cloaked ship that escaped after you regained computer control. Find it, see where it leads you and unravel this before another Sumadi incident happens. Intel foresees major issues for the Federation from other players. We don’t need shadow terrorists weakening our fleet right now. But, if you do this, keep in mind this will be a completely unsanctioned mission. Should anything happen to you, you will be considered rogue and be disavowed. Extradition and the like will not be afforded you. You’ll be completely on your own.”

“So not unlike most of our top secret missions.” Mcfly said raising his coffee cup.

Annoyed McFly finally got to her Jaffe lowered her head trying to push back a smile. She looked up stern faced again. “One last thing,” Jaffe held up an otherwise ordinarily looking isolinear chip. “Your new prefix code. This one-time use chip will reprogram it in your system.” She placed it conspicuously on the table. “You know where to stick it Captain.”

Jaffe gathered her padds and the screen on the wall changed back to normal. “God speed Manticore.” she said and then exited the room.

McFly looked over to Kansas and smirked, “I think she’s starting to like me.”

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