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Shifting Tides

Posted on Wed Oct 6, 2021 @ 3:19pm by Captain Larisna Koralova & Lieutenant Rei Yamashi & Lieutenant E'Lor Yeserina Daughter House Morlag & Lieutenant Sakkar & Lieutenant Penny Mc Taggart & Lieutenant Calvin Hirsch & Commander Amanda Malloy & Lieutenant Commander Kaedon Draesni & Lieutenant Jaro Antos

Mission: Mission 1R - Vigilance Be Our Shield
Location: Disputed Sector - Klingon/Gorn Border Region
Timeline: M1 Day 3 - 0950 Hours

It was the second day of the evacuation operation. Tensions were hanging in the air, anyone who saw the sensor readouts could see groups of Klingon and Gorn warships on either side of borders. It was like swimming in a tank between two shark tanks, but knowing at any moment, the dividers could be removed and a feeding frenzy could break out. The display of ships were impressive, though curious in a way - no battleships were present on either side. The Klingons did not field the Vor'cha battlecruiser or the Negh'var battleship, and there were none of the Gorn equivalents on the other side. Perhaps there was some of restraint, perhaps these ships would be deployed later in more decisive battle. But for the moment, the agreed upon peace was still in place. The sharks remained in their own tanks.

E'Lor was watching the engineering console from the bridge station. So far the power grid was holding and the engines were 100% online and functioning. She was ready for anything should it need her attention and kept am open comlock with her people down in engineering. Tension was so thick, you could cut it with a kut'luch. She could sense the anxiousness of the crew and to say the least it was extremely high.

Oddly enough, the only one she couldn't sense, couldn't really get a read on was her new assistant. That long-eared woman was like a ghost. Even in person, her body language was reserved enough she was hard to read. Now, across the gulf of all the decks, she was just a hole in the world to those senses. From the engineering pit, the rabbitess gave E'Lor her latest report. "Chief, I have the latest power efficiency markers from the fusion plants and the primary reactor, sending to your station. We're green across the board on all systems. All reactors are at optimal levels, and all stations are standing by." a diligent report from someone produced by a society that almost raised protocol and bureaucracy to an art form. "I'll run the numbers again in two hours, unless I see a spike."

Antos arrived on the Bridge, more than a little late for his shift. Luckily, Jazmine had graciously accepted to extend her shift rotation. The shuttle project was proving to be more difficult than the flight team had anticipated, which in and of itself should not have been a surprise, but somehow was unexpected.

Needless to say, in addition to his responsibilities as department head, his active participation in the shuttle project was becoming a lot to manage, which one might notice if looking rather closely at Antos, to see the bags underneath his eyes.

He had only been able to manage three hours of sleep last night. His morning raktajino was yet to kick in yet...a clear tell tale sign that it was time to adjust the 'dosage' of the Klingon coffee.

Stepping onto the command centre, Antos wordlessly headed for the helm station where he nodded briefly at Jazmine as he took over from her. He logged into the station, officially beginning the start of his shift and began to get himself to speed on events that had occurred since his last shift.

"Good to have you with us, Mr Antos. How goes the evacuation?" Commander Malloy asked.

Swiveling to face the Commander and secretly glad that he was a quick reader, he replied saying, "It appears to be proceeding more or less smoothly," he restrained the impulse to smile knowing that Sakaar, who was seated to his left and being Vulcan, probably disliked the lack of specificity in his sentence.

"Navigational sensors shows heavy traffic in and out of the area. The Klingon and Breen ships are amassing on their respective sides and are mostly well away from the evacuation routes of our ships and the civilian vessels. The Divya Iyer reported aggressive maneuverings by Gorn and Klingon ships some hours ago but nothing since then, and the Windhoek is en route to back them up.

"The Zaikov is at the agricultural cooperative site. Both the Tahoe and Almaeda last reported leaving separate trading posts en route to the Divya Iyer. The next planned check in with all ships is in twenty-three minutes."

"Gorn," Draesni corrected, speaking from his position just to the left of the command chair. He glanced up to see that both Malloy and Antos were looking at him, apparently confused by his sudden interjection into their conversation. "You said 'the Klingon and Breen ships are amassing'," Draesni clarified, recounting the lieutenant's words, "but I believe you meant Gorn."

Ordinarily, the Zami might have let something like this slide, especially since Antos had spoken correctly only a few beats later when he identified them as Gorn vessels. However, this was not the first time the Hornet's XO had explicitly asked for the strategic report from another officer. Draesni had tried giving her the benefit of the doubt, well aware that most folks were not exactly used to having someone from strategic operations aboard to consult with, but they were going on day three and a part of him was starting to wonder if maybe there wasn't something more to it.

"Let's stay in our lanes, folks. Commander Draesni is our Strategic Operations officer, let him handle the big picture. I need you all focused on your duties, not trying to do everything. Trust in one another." Larisna replied calmly. She was pacing around the bridge, a force of habit. She was used to being on her feet and teaching actively for two years, sitting down and waiting was something she was still trying to re-learn.

Hirsch found his way to the Bridge. Sickbay was non-responsive. The sickbay was flatlined. The sickbay... Well, it was boring. The Medical Laboratory was spotless, and each nurse was now past boredom, now turning to gossip, with the occasional re-cycling of the stasis ventilation systems. That was it for Hirsch.

"Dr. Hirsch what brings you to the bridge?" Commander Malloy asked.

Hirsch turned to Malloy. “Commander.” Having sided the Medical Terminal. “Checking the Medical Systems, as per…" His memory recall function, milliseconds recalled fundamental duties as of his Chief role. “... addressing the functionality and sign off as having visited this terminal.”

Standing at the aft Medical Station, a small albeit functionally necessary means from the Bridge, Cal found himself more concerned with what was happening or not happening. The Klingon's and Gorn were drawing anxiety. The anxiety, the building of stress, the confusion all worked towards an eventual breaking point. Was it intended to work this way? A tactical advantage of who drew fire first? Hirsch kept his thoughts to himself.

Once Penny had fed Cara and made sure he was comfortable. She left for the bridge. The Chihuahua had calmed down a lot since their arrival. Which was a great relief, the last thing McTaggard needed was problems with her pet. But as the science department was really not needed yet , if at all for this mission. Plus in truth she had not been on the bridge yet. Which as Chief Science Officer was really not the best thing. Penny decided it this would be the best time. To fore full her duties aboard the Hornet.

After giving everyone a respectful nod. She took up her station at the science console. Her eyes scanned all the data or what little there was. Luckily she had a nice comfy seat. This was going to be a long shift.

"USS Zaikov says they are moving to a lower orbit," Sakkar said, watching live reports as they appeared on his console. "Apparently a farmer requires beam-out for two 'hornbacked mauras.' They are working animals of some type. They refuse to leave each other and will not fit together in the cargo shuttle. Zaikov says they will be back in position shortly."

"Signal our acknowledgment, Lieutenant." Amanda stated.

Larisna smiled at the report from the Zaikov, "And that's why we had several ships do this. Moving farms and animals has a special focus." She laughed a little, hoping to dispel some of the tension.

Sakkar did not laugh, nor did he feel tense, but he was silently grateful that his duties today did not include dealing with farm animals. He signaled their acknowledgement as ordered.

Penny gave a sigh. She glanced at her readings. Everything was as before. Penny knew that this was part of the job. There would be days when she would be run off her feet. Then there would be times like at the moment. When you just monitored the situation and all seemed to be going well.

=======

Things in the Engineering pit were far from as humorous as they were on the bridge. Rei padded about from station to station, checking power feeds and EPS power flow. "Good, good, everything good. Alright, how are we looking on generation?" she asked the officer at one of the panels. "Ma'am, we're stable and steady across all generators. Had a minor power flux in Reactor Four, but it was corrected automatically. I sent someone to run an on-site diagnostic just to be sure."

Rei gave a nod, "Good thinking. With things how they are right now, we may need everything running hot." and to that, the officer at the power station gave a nod, "Ma'am, if I may, what's it like out there?" and Rei shook her head, "It's a Slate Debate out there." then seeing that that phrase didn't translate well, she continued, "It's a standoff, mostly posing and posturing. Seeing as how no one's been thrown to the floor yet, there's no actual engagement out there. We'll be done here before you know it. Keep me posted on that on-site diagnostic."

He gave a nod, a little more comfortable about the situation, "Yes ma'am." and Rei then continued her inspection. Too soon to report the same readiness, and nothing that needed immediate attention. Smooth and by the numbers... just how she liked it.

=======

"Captain, USS Tahoe is moving off station," Sakkar reported. "Proceeding at best speed to the Divya Iyer." He worked intently, trying to make a coherent picture out of the flurry of logged orders and commbadge activity from the Tahoe's real-time operations report. He paused with a somewhat concerned look. "They are treating numerous critical injuries." He glanced over his shoulder at Koralova. "Their sickbay is unable to handle all of them."

From his own workstation, Draesni continued to monitor the situation, taking in not only the reports from the vessels in their task group, but also those nearby - both allied and otherwise. However, his attention kept coming back to one in particular. "Excuse me, captain," he said, speaking so that the woman seated next to him could hear, "I think we may have a problem..."

Larisna was about to respond to Sakkar when Draesni made his report. She sat back down in her chair so she could see the readout.

"It's the Alameda, ma'am." As he spoke, Draesni leaned back slightly so that Koralova could see the readout on his display. "They should be on their way to one of the trading posts," he explained, "but according to this...they aren't moving."

That changed her expression to a frown, "How long?"

"Six hours ago."

Larisna considered for a moment, shaking her head, "That's too long. Something's happened to the Alameda."

She looked back up and around the bridge, "Yellow Alert, shields to maximum. Mister Jaro, lay in a course to the last known location of the Alameda, best possible speed. Get us underway." Larisna stood up, "Commander Draesni, advise the task force of our current status. Mister Sakkar, Lieutenant McTaggart, check long range sensors, I'd like a read out on what we're about to warp into."

At the helm station, Antos keyed in the last known coordinates of the Alameda and plotted an intercept course into the navigational computer drawing up the suggested trajectory. Firing the ship's reaction control system, the pilot oriented the starship on a new heading that was heading straight for the Alameda. He next keyed in the sequence of commands to take the ship into warp at her maximum speed.

"ETA to the Alamedais ten minutes Captain," Antos announced, his gaze focused squarely on his console.

Penny nodded and pulled her hair into a pony tail. So it should not get in her eyes. She ran her hands over the console.

“Picking up plasma radiation could either be from a warp core breach or a damaged engine.” Penny reported not taking her eyes off the scanners.

"Sensors indicate two other ships in the area," Sakkar added from his position. "Klingon and Gorn energy signatures."

The Hornet gracefully made her way around to the desired heading before leaping into warp. Less than ten minutes later, they were at the scene, and it was about as bad as could be expected without actual shooting...

The Alameda was listing slightly to port, that nacelle dark and leaking plasma from a slow leak partway down. Some of her lights were out as well. To her front was a Klingon K'Tinga class cruiser, and to her aft, a Gorn cruiser that was roughly analogous to the K'Tinga in the Gorn fleet. Both had shields up and weapons charged, but communications were quite active between the two ships.

As soon as the scene came into view, Draesni set to work. He had the computer run identification on the two non-Starfleet vessels and then cross-reference them with the relevant databases. Within seconds, the initial summary report appeared at his workstation. It was followed almost immediately by a series of text notices. “Task force acknowledges our change in status, captain,” he reported, “and as for our ‘guests’…we’re looking at the IKS Qed and the GHS Vesilg…”

"Captain Recommend we go to red alert" Amanda said.

"Belay that. We're staying at Yellow Alert." Larisna replied, "This situation is bad enough as it is - we ready weapons and we're done here. Keep shields raised, though."

"Aye Captain, then my next suggestion is that we rig a tractor beam and tow them out of there so we can more safely help repair their damage." Amanda stated,

"Also no. We are not taking actions that could be seen by either party as a provocation." Larisna stated, "As well, this is a disaster scene and we need to preserve the scene and act immediately."

McTaggard glanced upward at the screen. She was glad to be half correct. The plasma radiation came from a damaged nacelle. But how did it happen? The sensors were not picking up anything. Except the plasma leak if it had been from either side. Their part in it was well hidden for now.

Deep in the heart of the ship, Rei cupped her chin in thought, long ears perked up... plasma radiation? This was indeed a mystery. "Dr McTaggart, would you kindly send a copy of the scanner results down here to Engineering?" the voice of Rei came over from the console. She had remained down in Engineering to make sure things were directly attended while the Chief was stuck on Bridge duty. "I'd like to directly study them and begin a structural analysis."

“ Doing it now.” Penny replied her hand moved over the console as she spoke.

"Status report on the Klingon and Gorn ships?" Larisna asked, tugging at her jacket as she stepped closer to the view screen.

"Both ships are at red alert, weapons and shield at full power." Amanda reported.

Penny looked at the data coming in. The scanners were picking up the plasma radiation from the damaged nacelle. She had been hoping to find a trace from either ship. That would identify the culprit. But for some reason either natural or not. That was not forthcoming. She hoped engineering could find something.

"Open hailing frequencies." Larisna put an edge to her voice, "To all vessels, I am Captain Larisna Koralova of the Federation starship Hornet. We are responding to the situation. By interstellar agreement, this is a deep space disaster scene and we will begin an investigation as such. You are asked to stand down and participate by providing statements and answering a few simple questions, but if you choose to depart, I can't stop you. But it will go in my report that will be viewed by Starfleet Command and the embassies of the Klingon Empire and Gorn Hegemony."

There was a tense pause, then the view screen came up with three separate scenes. A Klingon male, dark skin with no hair on his head but with a well trimmed goatee on the bridge of a Klingon battlecruiser at battle stations. A bluish green tinted Gorn, his ship also at battle stations, and a Denobulan female Lieutenant JG on the bridge of a very harried Alameda.

"I am Captain Rotho of the Klingon battleship Qed. Your vessel was found here, disabled, and this Gorn about to claim its prize. The Gorn claims that your vessel was here on a mission of espionage, and I was in the act of determining that for myself, as the Federation has been known to break its agreements with the Klingon Empire when it suited their needs." The Klingon said.

"I am Captain Nasskit, and the Klingon lies. They attacked your ship because they wanted the data for themselves to launch an attack before the cease-fire. Their mission and your presence is proof the Federation lies and intends to strike Gorn space." The Gorn added.

"Captain, I'm Lieutenant Sannah...I...to be honest, I don't know what to say. Captain Shren and many of the senior staff are in sickbay with injuries, we've suffered a few secondary explosions as a result of whatever happened. But we were on our way to our next pickup site, the trade post, when this all went to hell." The very frazzled Denobulan explained.

The conversations overlapped until Larisna made a gesture to mute them all.

"Captain Rotho, Captain Nasskit, Lieutenant Sannah. First, allow me to reassure you that the Federation will honor it's commitment and not engage in this conflict. At this time, we must be open to all possibilities, we are all familiar with the dangers of every day space travel. At this time, wild speculation and innuendo are the last things we need. I invite all three parties to send over a delegation of no more than four officers. The Klingon and Gorn parties will be housed on separate decks on separate sides of the ship, but you may come armed with small personal weapons. You come over with any large disruptors and I'll leave those in the pattern buffer until the war is over. We will conduct a straightforward interview, you may use any of the facilities on this ship to present any evidence to support your argument." Larisna explained, "Is this agreeable?"

Once the line was restored, the responses came.

"Of course, Captain. I'll come over with those that I think saw the most of what happened." Sannah replied.

"You try my patience, Captain. But as the Klingon Empire honors its agreements at all times, I will respect the rules regarding interstellar travel and participate in this inane and pointless process. For now." Rotho said and cut communications.

"I will participate if only to prove that we were not the aggressors. And to find proof that you are being dishonest in your intentions, Captain Koralova." Nasskit also cut communications.

"I'll let you know when to send over your people, Lieutenant. I'll also have a team come over to the Alameda to help out and figure out what happened. Deep breath, Lieutenant, you're doing fine. Hornet out."

Larisna turned and faced the bridge crew, "Lieutenant Sakkar, you were dead on with your suggestion yesterday. This powder keg is all but ready to explode without us, striking a match would only have hurried it along."

"We have three sets of interviews to conduct now and I need an Engineering team over to the Alameda. My report to Starfleet Command must be as factual as possible, and that starts with you. I'll assist where I can, offer advise, but I can't be everywhere. But if you can't set aside your innuendo and prejudices, let me know now so I can relieve you of duties for the duration of this situation." Larisna said, her eyes darting around the bridge to each person, "I'll let you decide where you best will be needed."

The readings were bad. Not that the person taking them did a poor job, but rather that the scans themselves didn't show anything good. Rei shook her head, this would need to be handled personally. "Captain." the rabbitess spoke up from the Engineering pit over the comms, "I'm volunteering to handle the Alameda. The races involved here don't strike me one way or the other, but those are our people out there. I'd like to handle that facet of this mystery personally, along with a small team. By your permission, of course, unless there's somewhere else you'd rather have me."

"I would similarly like to join the away team heading over to the Alameda Captain. I think I can lend my expertise to the analysis of the ship's movements before, during and immeaditely after the attack from studying the ship's astrogation data."

Rei shook her head, listening to Antos' request. She wasn't turning him down, no no. Many hands lift the weight of the moons. She was just thankful that there was an entire ship between her and him at the moment. "I welcome all aid, but... If you're going to join me, I'd very much prefer that you do so without the preconception that it was an attack. This is an investigation, not a proclamation."

Sakkar arched his brow slightly. "Indeed, there are other possibilities. A catastrophic accident aboard. Various subspace phenomena. But all of it is speculative until we have gathered the data. Captain, if you will permit me I can speak to the Klingons and the Gorn. I have no prejudicial emotions towards either species. Perhaps I can persuade them to share their sensor logs.

Penny raised her hand.

“ With your permission I would like to go with the away team to the Alameda as well. A pair of science eyes would be of a help to you in the investigation.” She explained.

In the depths of Engineering, Rei was already at work. She'd wait for her chief to give the final approval, but she wanted to at least have SOMETHING for the Chief to approve. Two damage control specialists, a reactor specialist, and two no-spec engineering hands to handle general assessment. That, plus herself, plus someone from the Science Division? Oh that would be perfect. She'd be ready for when the time came. She double checked the specialists and their fields, including her own fields of study into her calculations. Yes, two general no-specs should be plenty, she mused.

She'd be ready.

"Very well. Rei, you'll lead the team to the Alameda. Penny, Jaro, you'll join her. Get what you need, meet up in Transporter Room Three. And keep an open mind that numerous possibilities exist past the obvious." Larisna said.

"XO, I want you and Commander Draesni to oversee the interviews. Sakkar, I'd like you to take point on the interviews with the Klingon and Gorn representatives, but feel free to make use of anyone on the crew to assist. Draesni, I'd like you to interview the personnel that come over from the Alameda. T'Sae, E'Lor, and Doctor Hirsch, you will be at their disposal but I will defer to those doing the actual interviews to decide how the three of you are to be best utilized." Larisna continued.

"All of you, please keep in mind - this is a hostile situation and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn in by accusations and innuendo. We must remain impartial and focused on seeking out the truth. And remember - the truth is our first duty as Starfleet officers. And the truth is often found among various perspectives. I'll contact the three ships and arrange when they are to send their parties over. Let's get to it."

 

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