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Old October 12 2013, 05:18 PM   #51
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Chapter Seven


Ward Room, U.S.S. Silverfin
En Route to Armada, Beloti Sector

With the stakes high and the situation unknown, the air in the ward room was tense—Kolanis Daezan didn’t need his telepathic abilities to know that. In his two years onboard the Albacore-Class cutter, he had experienced his fare share of tough assignments and near-impossible jobs, but they had always managed to pull through (and not always by the skin of their teeth). This however was a potential threat from the other side of the galaxy.

After they had come on shift, Captain Leijten had briefed the senior staff on the current situation and told to start reading up on all the reports that she’d downloaded from Freedom, whilst she went on the intercom and informed the rest of the crew as to their new assignment. From that moment on, everyone onboard tensed up. Daezan knew that there weren’t many Betazoids in the Border Service, simply because of the strong emotions they would face on a regular basis—it was a lot to deal with and those who served in the Border Service didn’t stay for very long, so he was something of an oddity in the statistics (which suited him just fine).

The crew were now doubling their efforts to prep the ship, whilst the rumour mill was going at warp fourteen. The department heads, meanwhile, had been called into a meeting to address the situation and begin strategising. Looking around the table, he made sure to keep his telepathic abilities under strict control, the last thing his friends and comrades needed was him peeking in on their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Leijten was at the head of the table, a look of concern on her face whilst Amorin next to her was unreadable as always (though somehow he was lousy at the weekly poker game). Ling-Na was in her element, just by looking at her he knew she was going through a dozen different tactical scenarios in her head at one time. Mbeki looked pensive and thoughtful, stroking his goatee as he sat quietly. Th’Shaan’s mind would definitely be set more on the Silverfin than what they were meeting to discuss; obviously he was worried about his engines being up to the demands being placed on them. Llewellyn-Smyth was always a tough one to call; she could appear reserved, but was bristling with anticipation just under the surface. As hard as English Rose was, Master Chief Syva was impossible; her Vulcan detachment and control was the stuff of legends onboard.

“What’s our present status?” Leijten asked, calling the meeting to order.

“Starfleet Intelligence has granted us direct access to the telemetry from the listening post,” Daezan began. “We’re getting all of their scans and readings in real time, though combining that with our own data hasn’t done much to provide us any more answers. The ships are still just sitting there; none of them have attempted to move.”

“The crews could have been overcome by some kind of energy field of pathogen,” Mbeki theorised. “Which of course provides a whole new set of problems; we could be facing a disease that no one in the Alpha Quadrant has ever seen before.”

“Doc, prep for full biohazard containment, just in case,” ordered Leijten. “I’ve requested all the medical logs that the Voyager has compiled; they should be with you shortly.”

“We are fifty-seven hours thirty-two minutes away, sir,” Llewellyn-Smyth stated in her Cambridgeshire accent and perfect elocution. “At present speeds, the Talarians however will get there five-point-four hours before we do.”

Everyone looked towards th’Shaan before Leijten posed the question they were all thinking. “Can we get there any faster, Elak?”

“With the Commander’s help,” he said, his antennae pointing at Amorin, “we’re completed a full diagnostic of the propulsion systems. We can’t go to maximum for fifty-something hours, even out new coils couldn’t handle that. The best thing I could suggest would be to punch it up to nine-point-three when we’re ten hours out from the armada, that extra jolt of speed would shave some time off of our ETA.”

“I thought that we could maintain our maximum warp for twelve hours,” Daezan asked—he had passed warp mechanics, but it wasn’t something he kept up on.

“Under normal conditions we can, but this would be asking for maximum warp after two days at warp nine—the system is going to be under strain as it is. I will try and eke out a little more, but I can’t rewrite the laws of warp physics.”

Daezan nodded in understanding. He knew the young Andorian would be doing everything he could and didn’t envy him the task ahead. Th’Shaan and his staff had to get the ship to where it was needed, without burning out their warp drive and ensuring that every system was fighting fit as well—a lot of work for anyone to stay on top of.

“For what I’ve read so far in the Voyager logs,” Ling-Na interjected, “the Kazon are little more than thugs, however they have access to heavily armed ships. Just one of their large destroyers would be more than the Silverfin could handle. They’re bigger than a D’deridex-Class Warbird, outfitted with over sixty distruptor banks and have a crew of between fifteen hundred and two thousand. Their shielding isn’t great, around a quarter of a Galaxy-Classes output, so we have the edge there. Their warp drive is also slower than ours, it looks like at warp eight we’d be able to outrun them, and of course we have the advantage with manoeuvrability.

“If this erupts into a fire-fight, we can keep them off balance for a while and maybe get in a few good hits, but we won’t hold out for long against eight of them—not to mention what the capabilities of those other ships are.”

Leijten listened intently to the tactician’s assessment. Once Ling-Na was done, she leaned forward on the table. “Hopefully it won’t come to that, this is a recon mission. We are to assess the fleet and then await reinforcements. My main concern is that Talarian frigate that’s on an intercept course. They may attempt to establish a diplomatic overture—from what I’ve read on the Kazon, they too are a male-driven society. The last thing the Republic needs is more alien technology.”

“Even with their new weaponry, we can handle a frigate, sir,” stated Ling-Na confidently.

“Talarians are like Tribbles, where you have one you’ll soon have a dozen,” Daezan quipped.

The only reason the Talarian Militia had proven to be a threat in the past (before the Incursion) was their sheer numbers, where Starfleet had one ship the Talarians had anywhere between five and ten. They may not have been strong, but enough hits and even Starfleet shielding couldn’t hold out indefinitely—it was like being pecked to death by ducks, it wasn’t quick but it would happen eventually. Then of course were the dah’je, ships sent out on suicide runs, whose crews were hell bent on completing the mission.

He noticed Leijten smirk slightly. “That they are, Kolanis. I’ll need you to monitor the border as much as the fleet; I don’t want to find us with Kazon on one side and Talarians on the other.”

“I’ve already got my sensor crews on it, Skipper.”

Leijten gave him a nod and then looked at the senior non-com, who had so far been quiet. “Master Chief, what’s your assessment?”

As the officers in the room turned to the COB, she remained quiet a moment longer, fingers pressed together, her expression passively neutral. Syva was a woman of great experience and knowledge who, despite being the lowest ranked in the room, held the respect and admiration of all those present.

“My observations are as such, Captain. We can approximate how these ships arrived, though we must ask why are they here? What events in the Delta Quadrant has led to the Kazon and four other species to travel seventy thousand light-years—especially when the logs of the Voyager crew shows considerable hostilities between most of the species in that region of space?”

“Perhaps some kind of catastrophe has occurred that forced them to work together,” Mbeki suggested.

“A possibility, even the most adversarial of neighbours can work together against a common threat. So far, all of our precautions have been for facing an invasion force, however their actions since arrival would seem to disprove that. I would suggest that we approach with no preconceptions, otherwise we may cause hostilities where none exist.”

“Very well put, Master Chief. We should try to stay as open and loose as possible, something about this whole situation just seems off.”

“Captain,” Llewellyn-Smyth spoke up.

“Yes Harriet?

“I’ve been taking a closer look at the sensor readings of the fleet and comparing what we’re seeing with what Voyager has encountered. Though there are no direct matches in their database, they have included metallurgical and compositional analyses of ship’s they’ve made contact with. Comparing those results with our telemetry and it looks like Voyager has encountered two of those species before. Six ships appear to belong to the Talaxians, a species they have had peaceful and constructive relations with—in fact they have a Talaxian onboard. Another six are of Vidiian origin. When Voyager encountered them, the Vidiians were suffering from a disease called the Phage, which destroyed their cellular structure and body tissues—this led them to aggressive secure replacement tissue from other races.”

“I take it these ‘donors’ didn’t willingly part with their organs,” Ling-Na stated.

“No. It appears they would regularly target other ships, use the crews as slave labour and then harvest material when it was needed. There was a notation in one of the logs, staying that the Phage had been cured—though there was no corroborating evidence.”

“Thank you, Harriet, very impressive work,” Leijten said with a supportive smile at the helmswoman.

“Thank you, Captain.”

Leijten looked around at the others. “We’ve now got two other avenues of research to pursue; I suggest you read up as much as you can. We’ll start running readiness drills to cover as many different scenarios as possible, make sure that all your staffs are ready for any eventuality.

“Questions? Comment?” There were none. “Amorin, I’ve got a few more points to discuss with you, everyone else is dismissed.”

The crew quickly filed out of the ward room and then split into two groups. Mbeki, th’Shaan and Syva headed for a turbolift that would give them fasted access to the decks below, whilst Ling-Na, Daezan and Llewellyn-Smyth made their way to another and headed for the Bridge. In the privacy of the turbolift carriage, he and Ling-Na shared a look and then turned it towards the Lieutenant.

“Someone’s aiming for promotion,” Ling-Na commented, a grin barely contained on her face.

“What?” Llewellyn-Smyth asked defensively. “Once a course is locked into the navcomp, there is only so much monitoring of heading and speed I can do, and I wanted to be helpful.”

“Sure you did,” he said, sound unconvinced whilst privately admiring her initiative—with all his attention on sensors and keeping a close tab on several different things at once, he’d never had the chance to do any full analysis of the ships.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say English Rose was trying to show us up,” added Ling-Na, who was failing to maintain her stern look.

“I would never dream of doing such a thing to such a thing to my superiors, sir.”

Daezan chuckled and then threw his arm around Llewellyn-Smyth’s shoulders. “That’s one of the great things about you, Harriet. You always know when to bail us lieutenant commander’s out.”

“Here to help,” she replied just as the turbolift stopped on deck one. Daezan removed his arm and headed out the door, never noticing the look the two women shared or the fact that the colour of Llewellyn-Smyth’s face now matched that of her uniform collar.

* * * * *
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Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)
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