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Up to Speed

Posted on 10 Feb 2017 @ 11:47pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Thiago Teixeira & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Temerant Bast & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Elizabeth Marion & Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D.

Mission: Endgame
Location: Briefing Room One
Timeline: MD 14 || 1130 hours

In the initial hour that elapsed following their return to their native universe, Commodore O’Connell had made several quick decisions. The first of those was assigning a permanent command crew to the Cochrane and allowing Commander Teixeira, and anyone else who wanted it, the chance to return to the USS Black Hawk. For the first time in a week, Harvey felt like things were normal again, having his trusted team around him, and the right personnel back in their proper roles.

As for those other decisions, Harvey and the Senior Staff of the Black Hawk now sat in Briefing Room One to hear them. All eyes were turned onto the view screen where the Commodore’s visual image was portrayed.

"It's time to explain our escorts," Zachary began. "Three days ago, a large Consortium convoy attacked Starbase Unity. We were outmatched and outgunned. Several weeks before that, however, we opened negotiations with the Dominion. They had already perceived the Consortium to be a threat. In fact, the Consortium seems to have been around for quite a while. The Dominion has agreed to help us repel the Consortium threat, and were it not for their timely arrival at Unity, the Consortium would control all Starfleet assets in the Gamma Quadrant.

"We've already managed to get a ship through the wormhole, and we can only hope that voice will be heard by Starfleet. However, we cannot wait for them. Starfleet will likely take weeks to investigate, and there's no telling how many Consortium sympathizers are on the other side of the wormhole. That's why we're now on the way to Deep Space 11. Now, I know this is a lot to take in so quickly. So if you have questions, now is the time."

Arjin swallowed as he heard the Commodore speak. He was not sure their ship was in a good enough shape to get in another fight this soon. But on the other hand they could not let the Consortium wreck mayhem on Starfleet properties.

Camila listened to the Commodore and nodded. "What forces are we looking at going up against, Commodore?" she asked. Since they had been in the alternate universe, they had been cut off on what ships had been retaken and which ones hadn't.

"Ten ships defend Deep Space 11," replied the Commodore. "Another eight defend the wormhole, but it's always possible those will be brought in to aid the Consortium's effort."

"What ships?" Thiago asked. "For that matter, who's in command of them?"

"What's that, Commander?" Zachary asked, raising an eyebrow at the question. While he was in possession of such a list, it wasn't complete.

"Knowledge informs strategy. If we're going to mount a successful operation, the more we know...," Teixeira answered, his voice trailing off.

The Commodore was silent for a moment, considering a decision as to broadcasting the names over the signal. Deciding it needed to be done, he said, "The Antares, Hammerhead, Agamemnon, Ticonderoga, Bozeman, Hastings, Sovereign and a few others. We don't have any information as to who's in command of these ships as any contact we've managed to get inside Deep Space 11 has quickly gone silent."

"There's also the matter of the three squadrons between the Antares, Hastings and Ticonderoga," Harvey remarked, recalling the amount of starfighters in the quadrant. "We've--"

"Don't say it, Captain," the Commodore warned. "We haven't ruled out the possibility that the Consortium still has ears on each ship. Speaking of, I look forward to your report on the last week."

Harvey only nodded to the Commodore. He'd been working on it daily since they first arrived in that alternate universe. It wouldn't take much to finish it. "So, what is the plan?"

"We know that Commodore Terlexa has maintained her flag on the orbital base. We're not sure about New Bajor, but our Marines and the Jem'Hadar will take care of that rather quickly." Zachary sighed. "With that said, this battle isn't going to be pretty. The Dominion will engage the Consortium ships. Aside from your squadron, the Black Hawk will lead the charge to retake Deep Space 11."

Bast tapped the controls built into the table and brought up their ETA to Deep Space 11, careful not to move his left shoulder. His arm was still wrapped in a brace, and a deep-tissue regenerator unit was attached to his shoulder. He avoided Kij's eyes, as the doctor had recommended bed rest for at least another day, followed by a couple of days of light duty, but he'd figured that one meeting wouldn't do any harm.

"We should be arriving at DS11 in seventy-four hours," he read on the display. "Which gives us that much time to get the ship battle-worthy." He looked at Lieutenant Marion. "That's quite a tall order, considering the shape we're in."

"I'll do what I can, Captain, but I can't promise you we'll be in top shape," Lt. Marion said, flashing a weak smile.

"Commodore," said Terry, "you said 'aside from the squadron.' Do you have something in mind for the Black Knights other than escorting the Black Hawk? I mean, we're up for whatever challenge is thrown our way."

To the Squadron Commander, the Commodore spoke, "You'll be joining up with the 417th as soon as we arrive. It'll be up to you to keep the Consortium squadrons off our backs."

Terry nodded. "Understood Commodore. I'll have the Knights ready. We'll keep them in their places." He was making notes of things to pass along to the Flight Leaders to get them prepared for the joint battle.

"Will we be the only one sending teams to Deep Space Eleven?" Camila asked since they now were part of a fleet that was heading that way.

"You're quite intuitive, Lieutenant," Zachary replied. He hadn't yet touched upon that subject. "There are quite a few scenarios, which I've sent to your captain in an encrypted data packet. He'll review the plan with you all as soon as I'm done here."

Camila listened and nodded, but inwardly she seethed a bit at having plans handed to her which gave her little room to maneuver. Of course, she didn't know what the plans were yet, but she didn't trust many plans that she didn't come up with people that she knew and trusted. "Of course, Sir," she said out loud. All she could do was wait in the meantime and try to gather as much information as possible.

Jayla was concentrating far too hard on the conversation to be able to think of anything to say. She was vaguely disgruntled that Bast was in the meeting when he should be resting, but decided that just sitting a briefing didn't really take all that much energy, so she let it go without comment. Concentrating on the meeting was keeping her mind off of her own personal problems, so she just sat quietly, brow slightly wrinkled, and listened.

"I'll leave the rest of the details to your Captain," Zachary said. "Good luck, Black Hawk." Immediately, the screen cleared, leaving behind the all-too-familiar UFP logo.

Harvey cleared his throat, doing his best to remember the battle plan he memorized a few minutes ago. "If there's one thing we all know for sure, it's that the Consortium won't be going down without a fight. Their tactics at Unity were... well... downright sinister. Our priority is to disable. Shields, weapons, engines. Anything the Consortium can use against us. The Dominion will be doing the same."

Arjin was glad the Captain spoke of shields, weapons and engines. Of disabling, not of killing.

"Terlexa is smart, determined, and she has nothing to lose," said Bast, who'd had the opportunity to work with the commodore during his time on Deep Space 11. "She's extremely dangerous."

"And we do have to keep in mind that not everyone is Consortium," Harvey simply replied. "Deep Space 11 is home to over five thousand personnel alone. New Bajor is home to over a million. We might have used LRADs against the Cochrane and the Chimera, but that tactic isn't going to work here. There is a whole different war to fight, and it's one the phaser or the torpedo can't win. The entire population of Deep Space 11 is convinced that we are the bad guys, the traitors. We have to convince them otherwise."

Harvey held up an isolinear chip and displayed it to the Senior Staff. "This is one of two isolinear chips we'll be taking aboard the station. It has to be inserted into one of Eleven's computer mainframes. It contains aggressive malware that will overtake the starbase's comm system and LCARS displays and broadcast nothing but the truth about the Consortium and the known agents aboard."

Setting the chip on the table, the Captain said, "The Black Hawk, as the Commodore indicated, will lead the charge to overwhelm the starbase's defenses. Every one of our ships is prepared to send over a boarding party or two. Lieutenant Di Pasquale, I want whoever you can spare to beam over. We'll send over two teams, double our chances. We finish this, and life finally gets to return to normal."

When the Captain nixed the idea of the LRAD's that they had used on the Cochrane and Chimera as well as another idea she had forming, Camila grunted but kept listening before she said anything. "Captain, if they've made their defenses anything like ours, it's going to be difficult just getting into position to utilize the isolinear chip. Do we have any information on internal defenses of the station prior to all contact being cut off from inside?"

"Remember New Risa?" Harvey asked rhetorically. "The Consortium are crafty. Insanely crafty. But, we have outsmarted them on multiple occasions now. We can assume that they know we're coming, and that they are preparing for the worst. That's why other teams are being sent to other locations, like the reactor core and their security complex. No less than two hundred security personnel and Marines are being sent aboard Deep Space 11. The tactic is to overwhelm. Hopefully that will be Enough."

"If they are anything else but stupid, overwhelming will never work.", Arjin stated. "They know their key areas and with good personel deployment and smart use of force fields they will be able to delay us for a longer period than we have the resources for." "We will have a guerilla style warfare on our hands. One we can impossible win. In my opinion stealth and infiltration are the only means to succes."

"We're way past stealth and infiltration," Harvey replied. "If there's one thing we learned during our trip to the netherworld, the Selamat are extremely powerful. They'll sniff out a spy instantly and convert them to the Consortium cause."

"Then we need to send in someone who can resist the Selamat," stated Bast.

"And who would you suggest, Mister Bast?" Harvey asked, locking eyes with the recovering Operations Officer. He half wondered if the Trill was volunteering for the job.

"Me," replied Bast. There was deep anger in his eyes, and a desire for vengeance, which he tried to keep restrained. "Any opportunity to get back at her for what she did to me. In fact, I think our recent experience has shown that joined Trill are better able to resist the Selamat's telepathic manipulation. I don't think they're able to manipulate two minds that easily."

"A well-trained Vulcan, perhaps?" suggested Jayla as the thought rose unbidden in her mind. Certainly, if anyone could resist the Selamat, it would be a Vulcan.

"I don't believe we have any Vulcans in security. In fact," Harvey said, his voice trailing off. "Besides T'Lura, I don't think there are any other Vulcans on the ship. Besides, Terlexa herself is Betazoid. If Betazoids can be turned, who is truly safe?"

"Terlexa is only half-Betazoid," pointed out Bast. "Her mental defenses might not be as strong as a full-blooded Betazoid."

"This begs an important question then," Harvey said, looking to both Bast and Teixeria. "You both experienced what the Selamat can do first hand. Can they manipulate groups at a time, or are their abilities limited to individuals? Can they warp an individuals surroundings and force them to open fire on their colleagues?"

In his mind, Thiago saw flashes of his time with his interrogator, who had remained unseen until just before Bast had shot him. The Selamat had gotten information about the Cochrane's weapons by convincing Teixeira he had escaped and returned to the Intrepid-class ship.

"Their powers are...strong, Captain," he began. "At least those who were interrogating us. I believed I had escaped. It felt real. But it wasn't."

"I'm not sure about effecting multiple people at a time, as I was alone in my cell. What about you, Commander?" he said, looking towards the Trill Second Officer, Somehow, Bast had been able to escape, for real, and had then liberated the rest of the crew.

"I don't know," replied Bast. "I did get the impression that my interrogator wasn't expecting two minds when he tried to... control me," he said after searching for the right word. "The fact that I caught him by surprise might be what allowed me to overpower him. But I don't think the Selamat in that universe had many opportunities to encounter joined species. We can't say the same about the Selamat in our universe. They might be prepared for this kind of resistance."

"I guess there's only one real way to know," Harvey stated. "As for accompanying the team, check in with Lieutenant Di Pasquale. See if the two of you can make it work. Commander Teixeira, I'll need you at the Operations station then."

Camila wanted to object; she wanted Doctor Kij to object, she wanted to declare Temerant unfit for the mission. Her stomach turned and she fought down the urge to protect him but hoped she didn't compromise herself or her team by trying to keep an eye on him. "Yes, Captain," she said, not trusting herself to say more, but after the meeting, she knew that the odds were good they would have a heated discussion.

"Wait a minute," objected Jayla, brow wrinkled in irritation. "He's still recovering from surgery. He's technically supposed to be resting right now. I'm not sure it would be wise to throw him into such a situation so soon. Medically speaking, I mean."

"You gave me two days of light duty," pointed out Bast. "We're three days away from the starbase. I'll be fine."

"I didn't expect you to want to do something so crazy three days after surgery!" countered Jayla.

"If you can think of a better way to beat Terlexa and the Selamat, I'm sure we're all ears."

"Well of course I can't," replied Jayla, fighting to remain calm. "But I don't think it's a good idea to send in someone who's in less that perfect shape. Maybe if you'd already done some physical therapy and were aware of what you can and can't do with that shoulder, but if you misjudge and get yourself into trouble you can't get out of- well! I mean we don't need you putting yourself into such danger."

"Enough!" Harvey declared, almost slapping his hand on the table. "This meeting is not the place to debate the health of an individual. We're here to end this unfortunate business with the Consortium. Let's keep our discussion focused on that, and we can debate the particulars of recovering crewman after this meeting has concluded."

Avery couldn't disagree with Jayla. Bast had been through a lot, not just this mission, but in the previous one as well. This time around he hadn't been a victim, but he had managed to kill his captor, and though he seemed to have his head on straight when she talked to him, Stuart knew, could take a while to manifest itself and it didn't always manifest itself in predictable ways. There came a point when asserting his value to the mission sounded like a poor excuse for putting a healing man through the ringer again. However, she agreed those objections were best raised privately. "I'd like to attend that meeting as well," Avery offered evenly.

The Captain sighed. "As for our mission, are there any questions? Anything at all?"

"Can we trust those Dominion cruisers that are flanking us? They were never crazy about Starfleet's presence in the Gamma Quadrant in the first place, how can we be sure they won't side with the Consortium if the tide starts turning against us?" asked Bast.

"Were it not for the Dominion's involvement, Starbase Unity would have fallen." Harvey leaned back in his chair. "The Dominion had the chance to watch the Starfleet and the Consortium destroy each other. Evidently, they find the Consortium more of a threat than we do. We're just going to have to trust them."

"Agreed.", Arjin replied. "If we are unable to do so or if they would decide to turn against us, we would be unable to withstand the Consortium. It would not be to their own benefit to do so."
Looking at the Captain he added: "As on the matter about joined Trill. There are more than one of them at your disposition."

Camila shook her head. "It's too much of a security risk," she said. "We're going to be outnumbered a hundred to one in there and Security won't be able to achieve the required goal and keep non-combatants safe. I know Commander Bast knows how to use a phaser, but I agree that he may be needed against a Selamat. Anyone else is too many."

Harvey looked at the Science Chief. "Besides, Deep Space 11 is going to be bombarded with boarding parties. We don't really know what kind of a fight the Consortium is going to put up in orbit either, so I need all able crew members at their usual stations, looking for anything out of the ordinary."

Terry had been listening to the whole back-and-forth. In his mind, he was agreeing with Bast. Flying alongside a bunch of Jem'hadar was the last thing he thought he'd ever be doing. He flew against them in the War. He'd watched his battle buddy, Mark Shelby, get blown up by one. And now they'd be joining him in battle. The brawny fighter pilot uncomfortably shifted in his seat. It wasn't something he wanted to do, but it was orders. Was he going to shed a tear if one of them was blown up. Hell no.

Bast looked again at Lieutenant Marion. "We'll go over the priority repair list, in the meantime," he said. "We've got three days before we take this wounded beast into battle again, let's do everything we can to make sure she lives through it."

"See that she does." Captain Geisler did not cherish the idea that his tough and battered little ship might not survive what was coming. But they would. They had to. "If there is nothing else," he then said, "Let's get to it. These next few days will pass quickly.

 

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