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The Best Defense...

Posted on Sat Oct 8, 2022 @ 10:57pm by Captain Larisna Koralova

Mission: Special Mission - "Crossing The Line"

There was no time for pleasantries, no time to set out snacks or drinks with a little mingle session. The Tzenkethi were coming and this isolated pocket of the quadrant just became the most important one. Larisna pushed aside her fears, the demons of the past, and stood at the head of the table in the observation lounge of the USS Hornet. PADDs were laid out, the display screens had readouts of the Hornet, Cardinal, Deep Space K-17, last known fleet projections on both sides of the border and other relevant data. If information was power, then this was an armory.

She’d already told Commander Draesni to join her and left instructions with the Transporter Room that those from the Cardinal and K-17 were to be directed straight here without delay as soon as they materialized on the pad.

The door to the conference room opened and Draesni entered. He paused ever so briefly at the threshold, eyes scanning the room, before proceeding with slow, deliberate pace to take a seat along one side of the table. As quickly as the situation was developing around them, scuttlebutt always seemed to move faster. Draesni hadn’t needed the whispers and rumors making their way through the crew to guess at why he and the others had been summoned, though the data PADDs and tactical displays certainly helped to confirm his suspicions.

“Captain,” Draesni said, acknowledging Koralova with a quick nod. He turned his attention to the PADD laid out before him and began skimming its contents. Best to be prepared, he thought to himself.

“Commander. We’ll be having a time of it for sure.” Larisna said to her XO.

One of the entry doors slid open and K-17’s Chief of Security walked in. A Human female, blonde hair, blue eyes and looking to still be fairly young. Her gold Operations uniform bore two solid pips, denoting her as a full Lieutenant. But she also was not all that physically imposing in stature. But something that was quite telling was the Type 2 phaser at her hip - that hadn’t been a common practice to carry at all times since the Dominion War.

It was likely a precaution with the Tzenkethi on K-17, but it reminded Larisna of darker times that had been and what could possibly be on the horizon if things did not unfold according to the plans they made today.

“Captain, Commander. Lieutenant Sabine St. James, Chief of Security for K-17.” Sabine said in greeting, “Ah, is seating assigned or just wherever?”

“Pick a spot, Lieutenant, just not my chair. Got it how I want it.” Larisna said with a welcoming smile.

For some reason, the young Lieutenant seemed to take that to mean she needed to walk up and down the table, glancing at the chairs and PADD, their placement relative to the screens and other factors that others could only guess at. And was she mumbling to herself as well?

Larisna glanced at Draesni with a questioning look, as if to ask if he was seeing the same thing.

Finally, Sabine selected a seat that was effectively dead center and sat down, folding her hands in front of her on the table.

Noting the look he’d gotten from Koralova, Draesni watched the Lieutenant make her selection. It was a bit strange, one had to admit, though certainly not the strangest he had ever seen. It could have been some quirk of her personality, a behavioral routine, or even a deliberate act meant to judge the reaction of others. As to which, however, he could not say.

“Welcome, Lieutenant.”

“Sir.” Sabine replied and looked around the room some more, her blue eyes flickering along with the data but in an erratic manner.

“...well, this is an awfully grim assessment of the situation. Not to mention all but inviting war with the Tzenkethi. Deliberate? No, too disruptive with the 10 year anniversary of Mars. Unless it’s happening without the consent of the President or the Admiralty? Possible, but the extreme militarists tend to be on frontline positions or in the Marines.” Sabine almost seemed to be rambling, but it wasn’t clear if this was directed to the senior officers in the room or herself.

“We can discuss this once everyone is here, Lieutenant.” Larisna replied.

“No, no, the pattern suggests…” Sabine snapped her fingers, “Willful ignorance and neglect. Too many underperforming personnel. A plot would have at least some in place to heroically hold the line.”

A rather squirrelly looking Betazoid Ensign entered. He was flustered that he hadn’t arrived with his superior. He looked around the room, opened his mouth to offer a greeting then closed it without a word. He hung his head slightly and rounded the table to seat himself next to Sabine. “I..umm.. sorry I’m late.”

Entering almost immediately behind was a quite tall Vulcan male, wearing the usual gold timed uniform, and sporting an ensigns pip. Striding to the table and an empty seat, he addressed the pair of senior officers formally. “Captain, Commander. Ensign R’reck, security officer representing the USS Cardinal.” Looking next to the pair of officers also in the room. “Lieutenant, Ensign, agreeable to be working alongside you.” His sense of formality meant that he remained standing behind a chair until acknowledged by the senior officer in the room, he did allow his vision to rove over the padds and information on display, this was clearly going to be an in depth planning session.

Lwan offered a curt nod to the Vulcan, then looked down at the table.

“Please, take your seats.” Larisna said, before standing up.

“I’m Captain Larisna Koralova, Captain of the USS Hornet, this is my First Officer and Chief Strategic Officer, Lieutenant Commander Kaedon Draesni. He’ll be your point of contact when I’m unavailable.” Larisna explained, “You’ll have a moment to acquaint yourselves with the situation at a Tactical and Strategic level, but I’m going to cut straight to it.”

“To the point Lieutenant St. James made before you arrived…we are not in a position to defend K-17 in an open shooting match. The station is frankly going to be lucky if even some functionality can be restored in time, the Cardinal is not a combat vessel and the Hornet can only do so much.”

“We’re in an uncomfortable position here - the Tzenkethi Autarch was overthrown by militarists who believe war with the Federation is inevitable. If they find out we’ve stripped border defenses here for the last three decades because we were hoping for peace, the chaos would plunge the Tzenkethi into civil war and we’d never see the end of it. So, we have to show up with something to validate the General and his people but not overly so.” Larisna explained.

“Captain, that’s at least four contradictions in one statement. We have to show force, but not too much. The Tzenkethi can’t see us prepared for peace because it will destablize them.” Sabine interrupted, “How much is too much? How much is too little?”

“Enough to make them think twice about starting something,” Draesni said, “but not so much as to make them even more defensive.” Experience had taught him this holding of multiple different (even opposing) realities simultaneously was an essential part of good strategic planning. He’d seen it over and over again with the Klingons and the Gorn, and he was sure that it would be the case here as well. “And…” he continued, “we have to do it all with the assets we have on hand. No additional resources, outside of what we manage to scrounge up on our own.”

“A solid defensive front would be advantageous.” R’Reck stated matter of factly, despite being new the Vulcan mindset gave him enough confidence to speak up. “If we are to make the most of limited physical assets, perhaps sensor and communication manipulation is an avenue to explore.”

Lwan nodded but didn’t speak. He wondered if he should be taking notes.

Larisna nodded in agreement to the voices that chimed in. Sabine looked as if she was going to say something, thought better of it and decided to leave it for the moment.

“Correct - we only need to maintain appearances until they no longer suit us. Then when it no longer serves us, we discard that cover and assume another.” Larisna replied, “The Tzenkethi are not stupid, they’re going to do threat assessments. But if we can manipulate that data, they see what we want them to see.”

“Ensign R’Reck is correct - the first goal that we need to achieve is to manipulate sensor readings, communications traffic and anything else we can to fool long range sensors. Next, we’re going to be hopefully obtaining physical material that will help add to this ruse. By the time the General and his forces arrive, he faces what he wants to see.” Larisna explained.

“Now - this is only part of this. Lieutenant St. James, Ensign Nren, we also need to see to the defense of K-17. The General could realistically attempt to abduct the Autarch and flee. I can spare Security personnel from the Hornet, but we need to figure out how to frustrate this as well.” She said.

“...yes. That makes sense. Our security measures are seriously lacking. I’ll need to replace the entire armory on K-17 - I red-lined 80% of it three months ago. But…an outright shootout is foolish. Perhaps…a use of mixing false signals, transport inhibitors and…” Sabine paused, “...a nasty surprise. If they board and if they beam up what they think is the Autarch…”

Larisna smiled broader. This was where she wanted the conversation to go.

“Okay, we have two fields to look at - our fleet deception and our Autarch deception. Open field, everyone, we want ideas.” The Hornet’s Captain said, gesturing to the others in the room.

Draesni tapped on the surface of the conference table in front of him, thinking for a moment, then leaned forward to speak. “Well…there are a few different options we can use,” he said, “many of which are rooted in or otherwise come from the historical techniques of several species. For the station itself, thoron fields and duranium shadows are a rather proven method. We can also give the appearance of higher ship traffic in this area by increasing the volume of our ordinary, routine communications with additional, albeit false messages.”

“Would it be possible to isolate a number of sensor clusters and have them project a distorted warp signature, particularly behind the station relative to the border area?” R’Reck asked, going on to explain his reasoning. “That way the fields would have to be passable, not perfect, which could be attributed to the number of fields in the area and the stations increased defensive fields, which would allow for an efficient usage of personnel, power and time taken to effect.

“It’s not clear how long we have. So let’s start with what we can do with the immediately available resources. Anything else we can manage is going to be icing on the proverbial cake.” Larisna explained, “I’m going to try to get any nearby reclamation yards to provide us any intact hulls we can quickly get back to looking functional.”

“...why would you not put icing on a cake? That would be an incomplete cake…” Sabine said quietly, confused by the very prospect of an icing-less cake. She then blinked and continued.

“K-17 has a number of areas that are normally blocked off. I can see us leveraging that into an advantage. I’ll need some help with placement of some hardware. I’d also appreciate ideas on what we’d like the General to beam up instead of the Autarch if it comes to it. A bomb, a canister full of knockout gas…I’m sure Doctor Derik would suggest Lieutenant Ryder.” Sabine continued.

Larisna traded another glance with her XO before continuing.

“Okay. Then it’s settled - one team will focus on the sensor deception. Another will work on preventing the General from beaming out the Autarch and make boarding K-17 a difficult prospect. Naturally, that puts Lieutenant St. James on the latter team. Commander Draesni, Ensigns R’Reck and Nren, you’ll be on the sensor team. We may need to also coordinate with the Engineering and Medical teams as well.” Larisna concluded, “But again, focus on what we can do sooner and build up from there. Better we have at least something in place than hedge our bets on something we can’t have done on a time crunch.”

“Very well Captain.” R’Reck responded quickly, turning to her second in command and querying. “Are we to continue to work from the Hornet, or are we to relocate to K-17 before beginning our assignment Commander?”

“Work where your assets are. The Hornet’s facilities are available as needed.” Larisna replied.

---SIGNATURES (Please add as soon as you contribute)--

Captain Larisna Koralova
Commanding Officer
USS Hornet

Lieutenant Commander Kaedon Draesni
Executive Officer
USS Hornet

Lieutenant Sabine St. James
Chief Security Officer
Deep Space K-17

Ensign Lwan Nren(NPC)
Tactical Officer
Deep Space K-17

Ensign R’Reck(NPC)
Security Officer
USS Cardinal


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