AAR: Esseles System Rescue and Retrieval

From: CENT t'Veras
To: DS13 Command
STARDATE 90838.1

Officers from Task Force Argo successfully rescued Subcommander Davin Mandukar and Captain Oliver Blackwood from their imprisonment on the I.R.W. Okhala, a Tal Shiar vessel.

We used the Llair, the shuttle belonging to Chef Rellir t'Lhaihtrha, in order to scout the Esseles system without alerting the enemy to our presence. The R.R.W. Vastara and the U.S.S. Saratoga accompanied us.

Upon arrival in the Esseles system, we found the wreckage of the Subcommander's shuttle, Okhala, and quickly discovered a cloaked vessel. When the vessel decloaked, it immediately engaged a tractor beam and a weapons lock on the Llair. The vessel, the Knhial-class I.R.W. Okhala, was commanded by Subcommander Mandukar's female biological parent, D'Kera Mandukar, who identified me as the caller immediately, indicating that she had foreknowledge of my presence on the shuttlecraft.

I kept her busy on the comm while the crew engaged creative escape tactics; Petty Officer Foster used the shuttle's deflector dish to disrupt the Imperial ship's systems. When the shields came down, we beamed both Subcommander Mandukar and a human life-sign from the ship.

The human life-sign turned out to be the assassin, whom Centurion Aster identified as Captain Oliver Blackwood, confirming suspicions that he had been surgically altered by the Tal Shiar. Petty Officer Foster successfully ran a field operation to remove a termination device from Blackwood's body, and found many interesting and concerning alterations to Blackwood's body. A full medical and psychological report will most likely be appended by the proper medical authorities as soon as Blackwood can be examined.

At that point, both the U.S.S. Saratoga and the R.R.W. Vastara entered the conflict. The Tal Shiar vessel decided not to engage, and warped away from the system, and we returned to Deep Space 13.

While the retrieval of two valued members of the Task Force and the lack of casualties is obviously a felicitous outcome, I must state that the reason this mission had to be undertaken in the first place was my own fault. Republic Intelligence obviously underestimated the threat of the Tal Shiar vis a vis the actions I took in the past. My presence on the station may continue to open the Task Force to future unneeded aggression from the Empire, and, to protect those here who have become valued colleagues and friends, I will recommend my immediate transfer back to mol'Rihan.

I would like to commend all of the officers on the Llair for their excellent performance today.

// CENT t'Veras

Aster, Centurion
t'Veras, Centurion
McCarthy, Civilian
t'Lhaihtrha, Civilian
Foster, Petty Officer
Kermit, Lieutenant
Kirlan, Civilian

Hassiri, Doctor
Mandukar, Subcommander
Spoiler: USS Saratoga Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.3Show
Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.3. The Saratoga has been placed on standby in support of a possible upcoming operation by a team from DS13. They haven't provided any real details just yet, so we'll wait.

Spoiler: USS Saratoga Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.5Show
Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.5. We're departing DS13 for a staging area near the Esseles system, inside the Klingon Neutral Zone. The RRW Vastara is accompanying us under cloak. I've been informed that we are operating in support of a cloaked shuttle-recon mission, attempting to locate the RRW D'Ishae's missing CO. We're currently at Yellow-Alert, awaiting a signal from shuttle team. I admit, being this close to the Klingon border has the crew on edge. This intel had better be damn accurate for us to risk starting a war over it.

Spoiler: USS Saratoga Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.67Show
Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.67. We've received an emergency transponder signal from the shuttle. We're now at Red-Alert, en route to assist.

Captain's Log, Supplemental: We're about to drop out of warp at the shuttle's location. Sensors show a Khnial Class Adapted Battlecruiser. ROE is ensure the safety of the shuttle, then engage to disable. Vastara will decloak to provide support.

Spoiler: USS Saratoga Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.82Show
Captain's Log, Stardate 90837.82. Once our shuttle team reported mission success and cleared the area, Saratoga and Vastara fully engaged the hostile Khnial Battlecruiser. Despite incurring heavy damage, the vessel's apparently highly redundant systems thwarted all attempts to disable. After a prolonged engagement, the hostile vessel managed to escape into transwarp. Attempts to track them pointed deeper into Klingon territory. Since we are already technically in violation of the neutral zone, I've made the decision to abandon pursuit and return to DS13. With luck, the Tal Shiar will think twice before venturing this close to Federation space in the future.
Relevant Files:
Incident Summary; Oliver Blackwood's Court Martial wrote:
During a Klingon Ambush, the U.S.S. Rhodes took heavy damage, resulting in the incapacitation of Captain Oliver Blackwood. Due to damage to the Rhodes' medical facilities, Blackwood was beamed aboard the Hospital Ship Colorado. It was deemed necessary that surgery be performed; through high-level medical scans, it was revealed that Blackwood had been cybernetically enhanced (this had previously been unknown to Starfleet).

Though a number of Starfleet's personnel operate with cybernetic augmentation, the fact that Blackwood's augmentations were previously unknown to Starfleet implied a number of things, most notably that Blackwood had falsified medical records, and since a ship's CMO would surely notice such implants during regular check-ups, said officer was clearly aware of their presence and had been complicit in his deception. After Blackwood was restored to health, he (and his CMO) were subjected to an official inquiry and court martial.

During his Court Martial, Captain Blackwood revealed a number of things; that his augmentations had not been implanted by choice, and that they had, in fact, been implemented by his wife, Alicia Blackwood, a former member of the Daystrom Institute. The story he told went as so: Prior to his admission to Starfleet, his home colony, Hawking, had been subject to a brutal civil war between those who wanted to separate from the Federation and those who wished to remain loyal. A scout with the Loyalists, he lead a team into an abandoned separatist research facility, where he and his team were infected with a bio-weapon designed to eat away at a victim's muscle and organ tissue. With him on the verge of death, his wife, a cybernetics researcher with the Daystrom Institute, implanted within him a series of cybernetic implants designed to restore and enhance muscular function.

Having, at that point, been simply wishing to be allowed to die, Blackwood did not react well. This drove a wedge between Blackwood and his then-wife, and this lead to their eventual split, though they never officially divorced. The location of Alicia Blackwood is currently unknown. He later joined Starfleet, hiding his implants through falsified medical records. His explained rationale was that his implants gave him an unfair edge over others, and as a result he almost certainly would have been rejected. Eventually, the charges against him were dropped, and he was restored to command, though at the cost of the trust of his crew.
Medical Report; Captain Oliver Blackwood's Court Martial wrote:
I have been asked to examine the cybernetics implanted into Captain Blackwood by Starfleet Command, for use as evidence during his court-martial. Attached to this report are several scans of areas augmented with cybernetics, along with Commander Th'Vrell's examination of the nano-machines that maintain the synthetic tissue.

Though the nano-machines that maintain the artificial musculature are clearly reverse engineered from Borg designs, the musculature itself is not. The design of the implants and artificial musculature lines up with an abandoned project undertaken by the Daystrom institute; said project was abandoned due to a combination of issues regarding nerve degradation, legal issues, and ethical concerns. The head researcher on the project was Alicia Blackwood, the former wife of Captain Blackwood.

As you can see in the full-body scan (attached), the actual synthetic tissue covers only cover the highlighted portions of his body, rather than his entire body. There is a small, unidentified contusion located on the base of spinal column, and another attached to the base of his cerebral cortex. I hypothesize that these are the control centers; a theory corroborated by the commander's report. There is slight scarring on his skin near these areas.

The synthetic tissue itself is fascinating, to say the least. It emulates human muscle to an incredible degree- it's no wonder it took us this long to discover it. It appears capable of self replication; in addition to the highlighted areas, there are small patches of it throughout Captain Blackwood's body. Seeing as the patches are matched by scarring on the captain's body and notes in his medical record, it is reasonable to assume that the synthetic tissue spread to damaged areas to strengthen damaged tissue.

The synthetic muscle is far stronger than human muscle, however. I estimate that it is nearly four times the strength of normal human tissue; given the placement, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the captain has an average strength level comparable to a rather burly klingon. However, his bones and ligaments have not been reinforced. If he were to use the enhancements to their full strength level, his bones would surely snap.

There is a disturbing amount of motor nerve damage to the areas with the synthetic tissue; I hypothesize that they have atrophied from lack of use. The synthetic tissue isn't attached to said nerves. It's connected directly to his central nervous system. By all means, Captain Blackwood is in pain. Depending on the day, it should vary from minor soreness to bordering debilitating.
Incident Summary; Oliver Blackwood's Resignation from Starfleet wrote:
Approximately two years ago, Captain Oliver Blackwood began to experience extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing, and pain. During a medical exam, it was learned that his cybernetic implants had begun to degrade his nerves and eat away at his spinal tissue; the cause was unclear. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the implants, it was deemed impossible to remove the implants without also killing Captain Blackwood. He had less than a year to live. After this, he served for roughly another month before he tendered his resignation from starfleet and apparently vanished, having returned to Hawking, his home colony. Command of U.S.S. Rhodes was transferred to its then-first officer Commander Varen Liandros.

He died months later, and was interred in the Blackwood Family Crypt on Hawking. A copy of his last farewells was given to Deep Space Thirteen, where a number of officers attended a memorial service.
Surgical Report (first round) ; Oliver Blackwood wrote:
  • Successful removal of tracking implant, located under collarbone.
  • Successful removal of implant located at base of spine, purpose unknown.
  • Successful implantation of donated kidney (location of original kidney unknown)
  • Successful removal of holoemitter implants.
Surgical Report (Second Round round) ; Oliver Blackwood wrote:
  • Successful removal of implant located in motor cortex, purpose unknown.
  • Attempted removal of implant located in visual cortex; unsuccessful.
  • Attempted removal of implant located in primary auditory cortex; unsuccessful.
Surgical Report, Observations wrote:
The replacement of Blackwood's organic tissue with cybernetic implants is extremely extensive, even ignoring the artificial musculature (which has spread significantly since he was last scanned prior to his departure from Starfleet). His spinal cord has been entirely replaced, presumably to bypass the degradation of Blackwood's nervous system. There's been extensive implantation within his cranial cavity, only some of which could be successfully removed. Left forearm and hand have been replaced with cybernetic model; recommend either replacing with Federation model or cloned tissue. Unhealed, exposed synthetic muscular tissue visible on lower chest, neck, and right wrist. Several of his organs are missing, either replaced with synthetic replicas or simply absent entirely. Prior to the replacement of his absent kidney, subject was suffering from severe Anemia; hence the apparent lack of skin pigmentation. Displays symptoms similar but not identical to those who have been assimilated by the Borg.
Excerpt; Questioning wrote:
Blackwood: I remember.. bits and pieces. Fragments. Nethali. The Rhodes. Hawking. Starfleet. Angry Warbirds.
Interviewer: Is that everything?
Blackwood: I.. No. But I used to remember more.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Blackwood: I know that, sometimes, when I was out on assignments, I started to see.. flashes. Flashes of my life as Oliver Blackwood. So after each mission, they began trying to.. wipe me. Remove the bits of me that were still Blackwood. Sometimes I'd be able to hold on to the memories. Sometimes.. not.
Surgical Report, Final Round wrote:

  • Successful replacement of implanted cybernetic limb (right arm) with Starfleet model biosynthetic implant. Replacement implant has minimal profile.
  • Attempted replacement of implanted cybernetic occularitory organ with Starfleet model. Unsuccessful.
  • Successful manual repair of damaged, apparently unhealed epidermis.
Surgical Report, Observations, Final Round wrote:
Surgical and physical recovery has been largely successful, despite setbacks. Subject could likely now pass as a typical human, though I'm not certified to say anything about the man's mental state. Tal Shiar managed to somehow counteract nerve degradation; further examination would be required to know how, exactly. Side note: based on tissue markers, subject was deceased for less than twelve hours.