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Battle Plans

Posted on 07 Dec 2016 @ 10:36am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Elizabeth Marion & Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D. & Lieutenant JG Felix Langston

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: Briefing Room
Timeline: MD 11 || 0430 hours

It was late into Delta Shift. The ship was at traveling at high warp towards the location that the crew of the Black Hawk knew only as Starbase Unity. Of course, in a dimension without the Dominion, there would be little point of reference for the crew in this arena. All they could do was hope that as soon as they were within sensor range, they could start to figure things out.

All Harvey knew, as he sat in his seat at the head of the table, was that this was going to be far from easy. There would be no backup, no second chances.

it was the Hadyn nebula all over again. Except this time, there wouldn't be any Thalaron radiation or dimensional rifts. This was all or nothing.

When the summons alerted Camila, she had been in her bed and debated resisting the call to the briefing room. She had been on duty since the Captain and away team had left for Razmena station and then assisted in the debriefing of the Karemma prisoner. Now she was being awaken for something else. "Why did I agree to be the Executive Officer?" she mumbled as she glanced at the chronometer and groaned. It wasn't even near the start of Alpha Shift if the 0430 time displayed was correct.

She made quick work of getting her uniform and boots on, then took a moment to figure out where she was and where the turbolift was once she made it out of her room. "I'm going to beat someone," she muttered as she headed for the turbolift and took it down to deck six before she realized she didn't even get a cup of coffee before she left. "No, I'm not going to beat someone," she decided. "That's too kind."

She straightened her hair and posture and walked off the turbolift and headed into the briefing room. "Captain," she gave him a nod as she went to sit near him.

Shortly after Camila entered the briefing room, Joey followed. This was the first time she'd found herself sitting in on one of these, but that came with the territory of her being the acting Chief of Security. She was already privy to some of what was likely to be discussed, but now they needed to come up with battle plans to rescue one hundred and fifty people along with a Federation starship. There was nothing about this that was going to be easy, but one thing this crew was was determined.

She settled down in one of the many empty chairs, then offered the Captain and acting XO a nod in greeting. Thankfully, she'd managed to sleep for a few hours, and that made all the difference in the world. Joey was ready to go and felt she could face whatever was waiting for them when they got to their destination.

Terry walked into briefing room rubbing his face. He was glad he had no hair because he was pretty sure that he'd forget to brush it this early in the morning. He looked at the Captain, Camila, and Lieutenant Corwin and nodded. Followed quickly by general grunt to all three. He took a seat a couple chairs down from Camila and leaned back, yawning and then interlacing his fingers behind his head. "If I fall asleep, someone nudge me. Just don't yank the chair back suddenly. I make a pretty loud thud when I hit the floor."

Lieutenant Elizabeth Marion walked in with a mug of tea, one of the few substances she'd ever encountered that could wake her up after only getting a few hours of sleep. The number of tasks she'd returned to had been significant enough to warrant spending more time in her department than normal. She could tell by the looks on some of the other staff's faces they were in the same boat.

"Morning to those of you that actually slept," Liz said with as much levity as she could muster at oh dark thirty.

That's what is missing... Harvey thought, noting that there was not a single cup of coffee in front of him. How did he ever get out of bed and get here without his coffee. Fighting back a sigh, Harvey stood up and approached the nearby replicator. "Raktajino," he ordered, taking a rare moment to order a caffeinated beverage that wasn't black coffee. Even now, as he sipped the Klingon beverage, Harvey thought he'd have to have a couple of these today.

"I think the Captain has the right idea," Camila said as she got up to order a Jamaica Blue Mountain blend without cream or sugar. Once it materialized, she headed back to her seat and took a drink of the delicious caffeinated coffee.

Jayla had forgotten about the meeting, so it was a good thing she had set an alarm. While she was on duty, she had stuff to occupy her mind and didn't think about the hunter she may have killed or the implications of not remembering it properly. But, as soon as she left Sick Bay, her brain immediately reverted to all of that as it had nothing else to do. So, as she walked to the briefing room, she became more and more preoccupied. When she finally walked through the door and silently took her seat, she was completely oblivious to anyone else in the room.

Eric Burke was quick to follow in Jayla's footsteps. Looking as haggard as the others, with a two-day beard that he hadn't had time to shave, he took a seat at the table. This was an unexpected summons for him. With Lieutenant Marion back on board, he couldn't really see a reason for his presence at this meeting, except to debrief him on the memory wipe. He'd managed to get a couple of hours of sleep over the past 48 hours, but overall he'd been on duty for far longer than he cared to guess, overseeing the operation and submitting his final report while everything was fresh in his mind.

Arjin was tired from his shift and the lack of sleep. But he made it a point of not showing it. So before he left to the briefing room, he made sure to replicate a power drink. Just to make it trough the meeting with a clear head. He would deal with the concequences of such beverage later.

He hurried towards deck 6 and straightened his uniform jacket before entering. Seeing he was one of the last to arrive, he just nodded to the gathered officers and took a seat at a vacant spot.

Felix did his best to walk into the briefing room and hide the fact that he was absolutely exhausted. Waking up for a 4:30am briefing was not one of his strong suits. He silently walked into the briefing room, making sure to acknowledge those already there.

"Morning, everyone," he said in a quiet and crackling voice. Man, that was unexpected, he thought. He cleared his throat and found a seat. There isn't enough coffee in the galaxy for this.

Avery wasn't exactly completely unaccustomed to having her sleep time interrupted. After all, there really wasn't any such thing as a counselor being off duty, even when there were assigned shifts, but she had to admit, the stress of recent events had made sleep that much more precious. Stuart definitely had a hard time forcing herself out of bed this morning, and like so many, she was turning to raktajino to give her energy.

"Let's get started," Harvey said, returning to his chair and sipping his coffee. "I'm sorry that this is so early before alpha shift, but this simply cannot wait. But, first, I want to thank Miss Di Pasquale, Mister Walsh and Mister Burke for making sure there was a ship to come back to after our little excursion."

"Commander Walsh and the Black Knights are primarily responsible for that," Camila said with nod to Walsh. "We came under attack by purported pirates but the squadron changed their minds."

Terry nodded back to Camila. "Just doing our jobs, Captain, Lieutenant. Like the Valkyires of ancient Earth, we chose who died in the battle and who lived. All of my people made it back. Anyway, you've both got the best group of fighter pilots in the Task Force on this ship."

Burke merely nodded. The fact that the ship had been disabled for the entire duration of the battle was not something he was keen on being reminded about, and didn't wish to comment on it.

"I also understand our situation in Engineering hasn't improved," Harvey continued. "As such, Lieutenant Marion, I'll need you to assume command there immediately. Mister Burke, you'll be filling in for Operations until we've recovered the crew of the Cochrane."

"Aye, Sir," replied Burke.

"I'll do my best," Liz responded to the sudden change of position with more than a little perplexity. She'd have to brush up on the more technical parts of the job that she wasn't used to dealing with, but at least her background gave her a bit of a head start.

"Now for the next part." Harvey straightened up in his chair and took another sip of his coffee. "I'm sure you all noticed that we're underway and at high warp. We have reason to believe that the Cochrane is being held at a facility around eight hours from our current location."

"I take it that the information that Lieutenant Corwin got from the prisoner was translated and provided the location?" Camila asked before she took another drink of her coffee.

"The coordinates..." Harvey said, setting his mug on the table. "They're not exact. However, if my hunch is correct, then it's safe to say that the Cochrane, in a sense, beat us home. The coordinates lead to Starbase Unity, at least this universe's iteration of it."

"We did launch a series of probes shortly before the system blackout," pointed out Burke. If memory serves, one of them was headed toward the location of Unity, at least in our universe. We could check the probe's telemetry and see if it's picked up the Cochrane."

Harvey looked to Lieutenant Di Pasquale who had handled the launch of the probes to confirm. "I'm sure we did," Harvey said. "Given the distance from Unity at the time of launch, it's possible it's just now arriving. Knowing now what we know, hopefully it won't serve as an early warning."

Looking up at the assembled group, he told them, "All I know right now is that we don't have much time to prepare. We know that the system will be much like our own Unity. But there's no guarantee they'll be on the same asteroid, nor will we know what to expect until we get there. I'm open to ideas."

"Why not use the fact you've got a bounty on your head in our favor?" Joey asked. "I know it sounds insane, but we currently have the son of a very powerful Confederation member in our brig. Why not splice together, or force him to make a recording saying we were ambushed on Razmena, and he was able to take us prisoner and has possession of the ship? It would get us inside without taking fire."

"That's a good idea, Lieutenant Corwin," Camila said as she thought about it. "Although, they may want proof." She looked at Captain Geisler. "Would you be willing to play the part of a prisoner, Sir? It would have to be audio only, but that could be explained as damage to the ship when the Karemma and Hunter took it."

Harvey frowned at the thought. While yesterday he was willing to sacrifice himself, his tired mind saw matters quite differently. "Audio transmissions can fool just about anyone," Harvey pointed out. "But what about when they come aboard? If we square off against a single ship, our odds are favorable. But, if it's more than one... can we repel them just on numbers alone?"

"The alternative would be to disguise the entire bridge crew as Hunters and the Karemma or somehow do an overlay so we appear that way," Camila said.

"Perhaps Kr'ozzu could be coerced to prevent anything like that from happening. He wishes to get back in the good graces of his father, but his father finding out that he and his goons were able to be overthrown would do the opposite of that," Joey chimed in, shifting in her chair a bit. "Instead of an audio transmission.. why not a video transmission? You and Kr'ozzu on the bridge should be more than enough to keep the heat off until we're able to find the Cochrane and her crew. Between her, the Black Hawk, the squadron and a few well placed torpedoes... we should be able to make it back out relatively unscathed."

Sure... what she was suggesting was dangerous, but they'd been in many dangerous situations over the last couple weeks. "We're in a different universe where they aren't familiar with our technology. We could use that to our advantage as well. Who's to say they wouldn't think a tractor beam wasn't something that could completely vaporize their ships and everyone on it within seconds?" Maybe Joey was reaching, but she was trying to come up with ideas that could be built off of.

"I think we should try to avoid a confrontation," spoke up Burke hesitantly. He was well aware of his status as a junior officer, recently arrived on board, coming from what had up until recently been an enemy ship, and one who was here only by default, because his department head was missing in action. "We've still got a lot of battle damage, multiple hull breaches that are being contained by minimal forcefields and sheer strength of will, and the Cochrane itself was overpowered by a single shot from the Confederate ships. I think they might be more powerful than you give them credit for."

"I'm not saying they aren't powerful, Mister Burke, I'm giving options," Joey pointed out as she turned her attention to the man. "If you've got any better ideas... by all means... say so. That's what we're here for."

"Wait for telemetry from the probe, and see what we're up against. Right now we're going in completely blind," replied Burke.

Terry had been listening to the whole thing. He liked the idea of having plans. "I think we should at least have some plans in place. Waiting is simply asking for last minute planning. Besides, we should also keep in mind the possibility that the probe is no longer there. I like having plans in place instead of putting all my hopes on one probe. And if it's telemetry you're worried about, hell, I'll take a small, maneuverable fighter out there."

"Thank you, Commander. Waiting wouldn't be a logical choice, and it doesn't take a Vulcan to figure that out. You're worried about confrontation, but who's to say they aren't the ones who would like to do just that?" Joey asked. "If you've got nothing useful to contribute when it comes to getting our people back, then let the rest of us handle it."

Jayla frowned. She knew people's nerves were frayed, but really! "I think there's a happy median," she spoke up, deciding to head off any arguments that may develop. "Planning is great, but seeing what the probe has, if anything is also a good idea. Perhaps we can come up with as many likely scenarios as possible and decide on a couple of different courses of action that will suit any situation we can think of."

"We have less than eight hours until we arrive," Camila said as she listened to everyone. "Waiting isn't an option. If we don't intercept the probes telemetry on the way there, we'll have to take our chances." She looked at Commander Walsh. "I don't think it would be safe to take a single fighter there no matter how fast and maneuverable they are. We wouldn't be there to support you. Kr'ozzu is going to have to help us one way or another."

"Everyone, please..." Harvey said softly, though his tone was quite firm. "I get it. We're tired. We're spent. Hell, it's only 4:30 in the morning, and a huge part of me wants to get back into bed for another hour. The rest of me... The rest of me wants to see the Cochrane freed and us back home. I know we didn't pick up much on the station other than a new occupant in the brig. Thank you for your ideas, but let's take a step back and look at this like Vulcans. We have to assume that the moment we allow this ship to be boarded, we've lost, so we need to avoid that at all costs. The weapon the Confederation used on the Cochrane... did anyone see it or know what it is?"

Well, that had exactly failed to work. Jayla had been trying to explain how both ideas had merit, but apparently, she had just started a further argument. Her brow wrinkled. Had her tone been harsh? She hadn't thought so, but... well, maybe it was best to just not say anything further, just in case.

Terry remembered going through sensor data with Lieutenant Cooper and putting together some offensive and defensive plans just in case. But the weapon... "Captain, Liuetenant Cooper and I spent quite a bit of time going sensor data from the first encounter. We were actually putting together some plans for the Squadron. At any rate, the weapon is their primary one, from what we can tell. It's based on, or at least very similar to, our Dominion's Phased Polaron Beam. Basically, it takes out shields. And then the boarding starts. Or I'd assume that would be next on their agenda."

"Polaron?" Harvey asked. "This ship has a strong history with the Dominion. It stands to reason that our shields would fare better than the Cochrane's, but if the Confederation took her out so quickly... Do we have enough information to tweak our shields?"

"It must be a variation of the polaron weapons that the Dominion used in our universe," said Burke, "but it's not identical. Starfleet had developed a modification to shield systems back during the Dominion war - essentially, it amounted to adding a few hundred lines of code to the shield generator software. Of course, Starfleet would never have allowed a ship to cross over into the Gamma Quadrant without incorporating a simple software upgrade like that. But this weapon managed to break through that. I can work with Commander Djinx to find a way to counteract the weapon, based on the sensor readings we have of their attack."

Terry stretched and wished he'd thought to bring a PADD with him. He leaned forward and grabbed one that was laying on the table in front him. "Actually, Lieutenant," Terry said as he accessed the report that he filed. "Three days ago, shortly after the raw materials were brought from the Chimera, Lieutenant Cooper and I analyzed the sensor data. This is what we found." Terry highlighted the areas and slid the PADD across the table. ...they have Phased Polaron based Beams. He also earmarked the sections where Cooper had found that the primary weapon drew power from the impulse drive and auxiliary fusion generators.

Arjin had not yet spoken. He only wanted to work with fact and extrapolate. Not fantasize about what could or could not be. But now at least there were facts to work with. He just wished they had gotten to him and his department sooner. So he streched out his hand and took the PADD to review the data.

"If that is the case, we could maybe have countermesures in place to avoid shield breach. But I have to tell it will not be so quick as to include some extra software. It will take time and even more importantly a lot of extra power to the shield array."

"Do it," Harvey ordered. "In the meantime, we study what scans we have of these ships. We need weak spots to exploit. We'll also need to secure the ship prior to our arrival. We centralize the crew and overstaff departments. Everyone needs to be armed, because if we get boarded, we'll be fighting for our lives. Capture and death are not options."

"Actually..." Lieutenant Marion said after listening to everything that had been going on, "I think perhaps now is the best time to mention this. On my last ship, we... came across... technology that might help us here. Given the nature of the weapons were up against, there's a way to modify the shields using... we'll call it untested technology for lack of a better way to put it... to make our shields act like Borg shields do... namely the adaptability. Since we already have data on the polarity and frequencies their polaron weapons are using, we'd really only have to feed those figures into the adaptive subroutines and it should mitigate the effectiveness of their energy weapons. The drawback to it is that I'd only be able to modify the Black Hawk's shield matrix. We never could get it to work on anything smaller... so fighters and shuttles would still be vulnerable to it."

Liz paused for a moment before adding, "That is, if you're willing to use something like that."

"How long would it take to get up and running?" Camila asked the new Engineer. "Assuming it gets approved."

"Installing it isn't a problem, we designed them with the idea that we'd just plug them in and go. The part that's time consuming is fabricating them. And since I'm loathe to have anyone else assist me in the designing of them, it would take about three or four hours to make enough of them," Marion responded to Lt. Di Pasquale's question, "Well below the target of eight hours, but who can say what we'll encounter in the lag time."

Harvey sipped his coffee and placed the nearly empty mug back down on the table. "Sounds like a decent plan to me," he told Elizabeth. "Coordinate with Misters Burke and Djinx to get us ready. See if there's something we can do about the fighters as well."

"Let's not forget the security protocols that will be put into place," Joey said, casting a glance in Camila's direction since that happened to be her baby. She leaned back in her chair and turned her attention back to the Captain. "General Quarters Four will also be put into place to handle anything the protocols might miss. Critical areas of the ship will be inaccessible as well as be under heavily armed guard. Anyone brave enough to board us will wish they didn't."

Camila gave a nod to Joey. "Double up on the brig so the prisoners we do have don't get out a second time," she said. "That would be the last thing we need, Lieutenant Corwin."

"Trust me when I say they won't be getting out, but with the changes about to be made, I can't afford to put any more personnel in the brig. There are already two armed guards per occupied cell. Should they begin to fill up rapidly, I will implement changes accordingly," Joey stated.

"You know," Avery began, her fatigue clearly evident even though she was trying to keep focused, "we're all talking about trying to get information through probes and sensors, but we are forgetting another potential resource that isn't without risk, but is also less likely to be detectable. Might it be possible to make contact with one or multiple of our stranded crew telepathically? I don't possess psionic skills myself, so I'm not certain what would be necessary to produce a link that could clearly send messages across such a distance, but if it were possible, we could share information with our crew and they could provide information for us to put us in a better position to rescue them."

"That's assuming any of them knows where they're being held," Joey pointed out. "Not to mention we're still hours away from being anywhere near them. Even then, a telepathic link might not be strong enough. I suppose the option to strap one of our Betazoids to the front of the ship in an EVA suit like a hood ornament could help." Of course she wasnt serious about that last part, but simply trying to lighten the mood a bit. Everyone was exhausted and on edge, but she didn't know if her humor would be appreciated, nor did she care.

Stuart chuckled. "I agree, treating crewmembers like hood ornaments should definitely be a last resort. I understand there are potential downsides to any option, and you're right, our crew might not know anything about where they're being held, but they also might be able to tell us a lot. I think it's worth considering. Many of the options suggested here may not work, but the only options we know definitely will not work are those we never try."

"What about using sensor ghosts to make them think there's more ships coming than just us?" Camila asked.

"Not a bad idea," Harvey remarked. "Barring whatever surprises this universe has, we do know the playing field a bit. Let's see if we can use some of our remaining probes to our advantage. In the meantime..." the Captain said before sipping his coffee, "we also talk to our guest. We might get a better idea on how we can infiltrate their base. Let's also take a look at that telemetry. Mister Walsh, get those fighters ready. We'll need all of the help we can get."

Terry covered up a yawn and determined to get the strongest cup of coffee or two that he could stomach as soon as the briefing was over. "Excuse me, Captain. Sorry 'bout that. And yeah, the Valkyries will be ready to fly as will their Knights. I'll make sure of that." Terry made a mental note to have the pilots wake up to a briefing of their own first thing this morning. After he'd had some breakfast. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

"Anyone else?" Harvey asked, looking around the room. The coffee was helping, but it would take much more than a single cup to give them hours of clarity. "If not, let's snap to it. The clock is ticking. As soon as any of you have an update, contact me. Otherwise, I'll be on the bridge. Dismissed."

 

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