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Formulating a Plan

Posted on Friday July 22, 2022 @ 4:28am by Ewo’tOst Merrova [GM]

Mission: Crossing the Line - (56s Arc)
Location: K-17

Larisna straightened her jacket as she stepped onto the transporter pad. It was hard to not just draw assumptions about the kind of people dumped on Deep Space K-17, but she herself hated when people only judged her from her own service record. It had led to a lot of misunderstandings to those who let that speak for her, usually argumentative and unproductive ones. But the doubt was still nagging at her.

“Alright, Chief, energize.” She said to the Tellarite manning the console.

“Aye, Captain.” He replied with a curt nod. With a flash and that unusual feeling of a gust of air when there wasn’t any, she was no longer on the Hornet but K-17. She stepped off the pad.

“Captain Larisna Koralova, USS Hornet. I need to speak with Captain Kaz, where is he?” Larisna asked the junior officer at the outdated console. She wasn’t trying to be intimidating, but intent and reality often did not intersect like they ought to.

“Uh, he’s currently in Ops. This way, ma’am.” The Ensign managed to finally get out. As they made their way, Larisna noted the crew was trying to make the best of a bad situation but they were clearly not prepared for this. But K-17 was far less prepared than they were - more than a fair bit of places were marked off for not being accessible due to indefinite repairs.

They found a turbolift and headed up to Ops but she had only one thing to say to the situation now. The mix of dismay and disappointment came through in a muttered statement that was from her father’s side of the family.

”Bozhe moy…”

“Captain?” The officer asked. Larisna just shook her head. If Admiral Picard made the occasional “Merde”, then this was close to it, just in Russian and maybe slightly more polite.

The doors opened and Larisna stepped out

“Thank you, Ensign, I’ll find him from here.” She said over her shoulder.

Having left the ship in the very capable hands of her tactical officer, Ewo tapped in the last few commands including a hold in the final process before sweeping her hand across the panel and stepping quickly to the pad. She could have pulled M’Riz or Trinity to help but it seemed unnecessary.

A moment of disorientation later she was standing on the K-17 transporter pad, just before a door opened and an ensign walked in. Stepping down and over to the officer. “I believe I am expected by your CO. Ewo t’Ost Merrova, Lieutenant Commander of the Cardinal. Judging by the ships around I am not the first new arrival.” She commented by way of introduction.

“No Ma’am, it’s been a busy one.” Came the reply by the clearly rushed and flustered young officer.

“Can you put me in a turbolift that will take me to your Captain.” Ewo asked, which received a simple nod and a turn, as the ensign retrod a path they had just taken to the turbolift. “You'll want Ops, Deck 19.” The ensign stated, in the short time between them arriving and the doors opening, Ewo stepped inside, turned, and thanked the ensign as the door closed, and the car took her to the desired deck.

Larisna made her way to the office, not hard to miss the rather unusual form of a Tzenkethi also present, nor the partly averted gazes of the Ops crew in that direction. She pressed on the call button once arriving at the door.

Glancing across Ops as the turbolift doors opened, the place a hive of activity, she noted another officer about to enter what she presumed was the station commander’s ready room. Electing to cut straight across, weaving between consoles and duty stations, she caught up with the person she could now identify as a female captain, an actual four pip captain, and introduced herself. “Ewo Merrova, Cardinal CO, I assume you’re here to see the station boss, mind if I join you? save him opening the door twice.”

“Of course. Larisna Koralova, Captain of the Hornet.” Larisna replied with a more pleasant smile as she regarded her fellow captain.

Since the Tzenkethi party had arrived at the station, Kaz had spent every moment debriefing Korzenten who seemed to be their leader and learning of the new regime that had taken control.

Together they sat in what was once a well appointed office. The Trill had done whatever he could to make the Tzenkethi man comfortable, being sure to document everything for Starfleet’s benefit.

Kaz had been informed of the arrival of the first of his reinforcements and expected the other Captain’s imminent arrival.

“Come in.” Etan called, the hours had clearly not been kind to him and his voice betrayed his fatigue.

Larisna stepped in along with Ewo, nodding to Etan first, and then the Tzenkethi guest of honor.

“Captain Larisna Koralova, USS Hornet. A pleasure to meet you at last, Captain Kaz.” Larisna said, before regarding his guest, “And an honor to meet you, sir. It’s a rare opportunity to meet face to face.”

Lieutenant Commander Ewo’tOst Merrova, Cardinal CO. A pleasure to meet both yourself, Captain Kaz and our distinguished Tzenketi guest.” She followed trying to get through this portion, but with a measure of decorum, and going as far as asking. “I would be honored to know how to address you?”

Etan offered curt nods to his comrades and then pursed his lips. “As it happens, our friend here has just dropped a bomb on that front.” He instantly regretted his choice of words. “Care to tell them the little tidbit you’ve been withholding since you came aboard?”

The hulking Tzenkethi man looked straight ahead. “Strictly speaking I did not withhold any information. It simply was never explicitly asked.” He took a breath. “I am Korzenten Rej Tov-AA, and I am the rightful Autarch of the Tzenkethi Coalition.”

It took a moment to process that, and Larisna could only blink in surprise at that as she did. And she had to fight back against using the same muttered statement again as she had in the turbolift. “Judging by your choice of words, Autarch, what I was told was accurate then. There was a coup in the Tzenkethi Coalition. And you were ousted.” She kept her tone professional and analytical - emotional outbursts weren’t going to help here.

“I suppose that is a fair assessment, though not entirely accurate. For the purposes of our discussion it will suffice.” There was a certain tone to Korzenten’s voice that combined political and regal methodology.

Although aware that the situation was delicate, the last little piece of information took Ewo by surprise, and her expression of puzzled disbelief most likely betrayed that fact, with a slight head shake she moved on to what she considered to be the next issue. “ May I ask what you know of the current heads, or usurper, or whatever you want to call them, attitude towards their neighboring powers, particularly and possibly selfishly, the Federation?”

Korzenten regarded the Betelgeusian’s Green-Gold eyes intently as he spoke. “As you know, political relations between the Tzenkethi Coalition and the United Federation of Planets have been cold since the end of our last armed conflict. Most of my predecessors have held a stance on non-aggression but also no contact. While we’ve not been openly antagonistic we’ve not been friendly either. Myself and my colleagues in the Tzelnira have been working towards opening relations which is a major stressor in the current situation.” He paused to make eye direct contact with the other command officers. “Lorqueten Siv Lom-A is the leader of the Tzenkethi military and has always been vocal about resuming conflict with the Federation by expanding our territory. I suppose I always suspected Lorqueten would take exception to my rule, though a coup such as this is hard to anticipate.” The imposing man shifted in his seat.

“To answer your question, with the military in control of the Coalition I’m certain policy has shifted to reflect Lorqueten’s very anti-Federation stance. I also suspect a contingent is en route here to pursue me, and finish Lorqueten’s work.”

Larisna’s mind went straight to work, making the sleepless night at least worth it. Her blue eyes seemed to focus on a point away from everything in the room as she mulled over what the situation looked like and based on this new information, what it would unfold into. Quantum mechanics always spoke of infinite possibilities but Strategic Operations and Chess both said you had limited ones if you wanted to win.

“If that is the case, Autarch, then it comes at an ill time for both parties.” Koralova started, her gaze finally focusing back on all those in the room, her eyes darting between each person, “I don’t suspect Lorqueten has the total loyalty of the Coalition or its military. Majority, most likely, but when there is a change, there is always a period of consolidation. This means that while the majority will be swayed and eager to cross the border and start a war, there’s still likely those who were still loyal to you, either out of ideal or principle, and those who are undecided. That alone could cause unforeseen fractures.”

“Next is our situation - after our conflict ended, we were embroiled in our wars first with the Klingons and then the Dominion. Now our focus is on the chaos overtaking Romulan space and the war ongoing between the Klingons and the Gorn, as well as peacekeeping in Cardassian space and half a dozen other places.” Larisna continued, “Unfortunately, a quick victory for Lorqueten is actually a worst case scenario for both sides. Starfleet because it’d create a crisis in the Federation because we basically created our own security lapse and the coup forces because if they’re expecting a strong opposition and find none…a lot of people will have thrown their lot in for nothing.”

The Autarch nodded his large reptilian head. “You’ve a keen mind for situations as delicate as this.” He said to Larisna. “Tell me, Captains, how many ships have you brought with you?”

At some point during the exchange came the dawning realisation of how completely out of her depth or element Ewo actually was, the circumstances and threat had been laid out by their Tzenkethi guest and the very accurate assessment by a Captain, who had actually spent time training for the role and and probably situations such as this, the insecurities of being the default choice for command of the Cardinal came bubbling to the surface, all of a sudden the time spent with the crew dreaming up inventive ways of dealing with the problem seemed like just that dreams. When the question came about the number of ship Ewo grimmiced, it was unplanned, unfiltered and very obvious.

Noting the reaction of the Cardinal’s captain, Etan sat forward slightly. “The reputation of this station is not exactly pristine in Starfleet,”: He regretted it as soon as he said it “ and with resources spread elsewhere the Cardinal and Hornet were all that could be directed this way for the time being.”

“I see.” Korzenten blinked. “Do you think that Starfleet will assess the situation as important enough for the required resources?”

“In time. But this is a scenario where we do not have that luxury.” Larisna replied, “That said, that does not mean we are out of options. Rather, we have to come at this from another angle. Lorqueten needs Starfleet to be here - we need a strong response if we’re to keep this under control.”

The Captain of the Hornet looked to her colleagues and a rather inspired smile came across her face, “Warfare and deception go hand in hand. Circumstances will not give us what we need, and so that forces us to our next option - manufacturing opportunity instead. Captain Riker had a rather interesting essay on this - used a wargame he conducted with the Enterprise-D as an example and I used it when I taught Strategic Operations. We’ve got the element of surprise, we have intellect and we have creativity - those will be our assets I think.”

Ewo listened carefully for the next few minutes at the next few exchanges, making herself focus on what was being said rather than her own insecurities, that she could deal with later. She quickly latched onto comments regarding making, ‘manufacturing opportunities’ and ‘having intellect and creativity. “Are you think in terms of making it appear we have greater numbers than we have? Magnified and duplicated warp fields could be employed, and perhaps simulated comm traffic would really sell that, do you think?” She offered.

Kaz nodded. “It would be a start, but that only works until they’re in visual range.” He thought for a moment. “I have a whole mess of Class F shuttles below decks. We could Jerry-rig them to fly and outfit them with holo-emitters so we can give the appearance of actual traffic.” He sounded almost excited at the prospect.

“If a few modifications were made to K-17s communication and data transfer setup it might be possible to fly them remotely.” Ewo added to the suggestion. “Perhaps a number of ‘traffic patterns’ could be programmed, and set to run in a sequence.”

“Those will all work at range, yes. I think when we speak to Starfleet Command and try to get a few more ships, we should also propose the transfer of any retired ships that can be made to look the part in a short time. But only a handful - our engineers will be busy. It will require us to pool resources but I feel this is our best bet.” Larisna said.

Ewo thought for a moment, more ships sounded good even if they were shells made to look the part. “As far as contributing engineers, I only have one and that is me, one each for tactical and medical but both are at the top of their game. A helm officer who also wears a medic and engineer hat when situations call for it. Science is where we can really contribute, as well as a science officer, there are four civilian scientists that could pitch in.” Given the small compliment it was relatively easy for her to give a run down of who would be best where, what they lacked in numbers they made up for in quality that much she knew, something she made clear with a little quipped comment accompanied by a smile to make it less apologetic. “Small ship but lots and lots of brain power.”

Kaz nodded. “Alright then, Captain Merrova, we’ll have our available engineers report to you on the Hangar Deck.” He spoke with an authority and passion he’d once thought lost. “Forgive me Captain Koralova, what was your focus before command?”

“I taught Strategic Operations at Starfleet Academy but my original background was Tactical and Security. But that’s not the focus of the Hornet - though we can hold our own in a fight, we’re still configured for general operations and I don’t think we have time to go get a different pod.” Larisna replied, “We have a solid command team as well, they’ll be made available to the respective projects. Of note, Lieutenant Yamashi is Tsu’ugi and served her three, offering us a unique perspective for Engineering. My XO wears several hats as needed, Tactical, Security and Strategic Ops. And I’ll make my Chief Science and Medical officers available.”

“I am not familiar with the Tsu’ugi species, much less encountered one, an opportunity I look forward to.” Ewo stated honestly, her thoughts staying with the task at hand promoting her to add. “A unique perspective will serve us well, on a technical front at least, I feel.”

“Let’s get our teams together, and regroup.” Etan pushed back his seat and stood. “Hopefully we can get through this together. Dismissed” the commanding tone of Etan’s voice was like an old friend returning to his side. It forced a smile to creep into the corner of his mouth.



Captain Larisna Koralova
Commanding Officer, USS Hornet

Captain Etan Kaz
Commanding Officer, Deep Space K-17

Lieutenant Commander Ewo’tOst Merrova
Commanding Officer, USS Cardinal

 

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