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Old October 14 2013, 02:29 AM   #1
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Author's Note: This short story will describe Intercept Group Four's battle with the Kothlis'Ka armada that is mentioned in the ongoing TFV story "Quality of Mercy".


************************************************** ************

UNITED TREK:
TASKFORCE VANGUARD:
NO WIN SCENARIO

Ready Room
Starship K’mpec
Early 2378

As he retold the story, the battle replayed in Captain Kenji Tanaka’s mind. “Responding to the distress call from the Narcissus, we encountered a Kothlis’Ka attack cruiser,” he said, struggling not to be engulfed in memories of fire and blood.

“It-it looked like a flying bat’leth,” he recalled, “All curves and sharp edges…and there was nothing we could do to stop it.” He paused, unable to continue, the shriek of his deceased first officer ringing in his ears. Even though the other captains he was addressing hadn’t been there, they each bore looks of knowing horror. They had all rushed to meet the K’mpec at its warp sled, where the ship had limped back to for repairs after nearly being atomized by the Kothlis’Ka warship.

“So, the Narcissus was destroyed,” Commander Gilma Rhizzo, of the Saber-class USS Ariane, repeated, seemingly more to process in her own mind than to repeat what Tanaka had just told them. The Zakdorn woman eventually lowered her head, unable to accept the cold finality of the Narcissus’s demise. “Captain Landau sponsored my entrance into the Academy…I can’t believe that she’s gone.”

“She might not be,” Captain Ottah offered, his voice steeped in hope and compassion. The Edoan somehow maintained an optimistic disposition even in the midst of oncoming doom. The master of the Nebula-class Starship Shuttlesworth craned his elongated neck in the direction of the weeping Rhizzo. “Your sensors did detect Narcissus escape pod energy signatures.”

“Yes, but the infernal Kothlis’Ka prevented K’mpec from retrieving them,” the dour Captain Thelius said. The Andorian’s twin antenna writhed like serpents, as he added, “For all we know those pods were picked off by now, for sport.” Thelius commanded the Norway-class Baltimore.

Captain Tan Erasia, of the USS Empress, frowned at the pessimistic Andorian. The trim Efrosian had now become the leader of what remained of Intercept Group Four, with the destruction of Narcissus and the likely death of Captain Gretchen Landau. Empress was a Galaxy-class starship, just like Narcissus. Captain Landau had had far more years in command of starships than Tan, ergo her being placed in charge of the taskforce.

“Captain Tanaka, how many escape pods did your ship’s sensors detect?” Erasia asked, forgoing rejoining Thelius’s negative comments.

“We picked up fifteen, but there could’ve been more. The warship’s shields and weapons interfered with our sensors,” Tanaka answered.

“My gods, only fifteen,” Rhizzo shook her head.

“There could be more,” Ottah pointed out.

“Or none left at all,” Thelius just had to say.

“Well, we won’t know until we find out for certain,” Erasia said, “And that is why I am dispatching shuttles to retrieve any survivors.”

“That’s a good idea,” the Zakdorn said, perking up slightly. “I think we should all send shuttles.”

“I concur,” Ottah nodded.

“Of course,” Thelius didn’t attempt to hide the doubt in his voice.

Tan nodded, and offered everyone a reassuring smile. Tanaka thought that the woman was adapting to her new role as taskforce leader very well. “I’ll have my first officer coordinate with his counterparts.” The woman winced when she noticed Tanaka doing so. “I’m sorry,” she said to the man. “Commander Baird was an outstanding officer,” she added. Tanaka nodded in acceptance of her apology. His memory of Davin’s last, shuttered cry had robbed him of speech.

Erasia gave him a moment to collect himself. Then she said, “That was the easy part of this discussion,” she began. “Now, comes the tough sell,” the captain paused and gathered herself, “We’re going after the Kothlis’Ka armada.”
************************************************** ***************

Ready Room
USS Empress

Erasia had barely signed off with her counterparts before her first officer was out of his seat. Leaning halfway over her desk, Commander Mark Sheppard asked, with his clipped English accent, “Are you serious?”

Tan sat back, and pondered his question for a moment. The dark-skinned human tensely waited her out, with his hands gripping the sides of her desk, and his brown eyes gazing into her pale blue ones with a forced attempt not to stare. “I wouldn’t have proposed this course of action if I wasn’t,” she reasoned. Sheppard was relatively new to the ship. Though she had served with humans for years, she still found them sometimes hard to discern. Her last XO had been Vulcan and far easier to comprehend.

“It wasn’t even the armada, just one ship destroyed Narcissus and nearly vaporized the K’mpec,” Sheppard said, “and now you want us to go after their entire armada?” Now, the man’s incredulity was quite clear.

Sheppard’s sudden spate of trepidation was curious. Tan was well aware of his Dominion War record and his actions during the Talarian Incursion. Mark Sheppard wasn’t a man who shied away from battle. In fact, it appeared that he to some extent thrived on it, allowing it to keep other demons at bay.

It was something he had never shared with her; Tan could read it sometimes on his face. It was the same look that often greeted her in the mirror. “Well, perhaps our combined strength might at least force the Kothlis’Ka to talk with us, and if that happens, perhaps we can avoid further bloodshed.” One of the eeriest things about the Kothlis’Ka was their silence. Either they didn’t understand Federation Standard, were mute, or simply saw no point in talking. The last possibility chilled Tan, and that was hard to do to an Efrosian. Both Narcissus and K’mpec had not been able to establish contact with the armada to convince them to change course.

Captain Landau had been forced to begin laying a quantum minefield to get them to do so. The Kothlis’Ka had interpreted that as an act of aggression and had mercilessly responded.

Sheppard shook his head. “I don’t think these guys are big into talking.” Erasia shuddered inwardly, spooked that the man’s summation dovetailed so easily with her own thoughts.

“What would you propose we do then Commander?” Erasia asked.

“I think we should wait until Starfleet can send a larger force,” Sheppard answered.

“It will be too late by then,” the captain said. “At their current speed the armada will skirt Tholian Assembly space within weeks and if they encounter little to no resistance their path will lead them into Romulan space.”

“The Hobus system,” Sheppard nodded, “If I recall what Science Officer K’Baara said correctly.”

Tan nodded, “You did. And from Hobus, Romulus would easily be within reach.”

“And we should be concerned, why?” Sheppard asked, drawing a stern glare from the captain. The collapse of Romulan forces at Draken IV to the Jem’Hadar had resulted in massive casualties, including the loss of his pregnant wife, and hadn’t left him too fond of their erstwhile wartime allies. “Perhaps they can do a better job defending their homes than mine.”

“I am sympathetic to what you have endured,” Erasia said, doing her best to hide her own chastened feelings.

Similar to the Romulan retreat at Draken IV, Empress had been part of Tango Fleet, which had failed to hold off Dominion forces from Betazed. She could sympathize with Sheppard and certainly empathize with many of the Romulans at Draken IV. Continuing, she said, “While I don’t understand fully the depth of your loss, I advise you not to express any prejudicial view on the bridge or among subordinate officers. In here or with the ship’s counselor is fine if you must, but out there, I want your mind clear and strictly on the job.”

Sheppard shot up and stood at attention, the consternation on his face evaporating completely. “Aye sir,” he said tightly.

“Oh at ease Commander,” the captain waved. Sheppard relaxed, but only a bit. Erasia continued, “We have a duty, not just to the citizens of the Federation, but to the galactic community to do our part to stop or impede that armada. Millions, maybe billions, of lives might be at stake.”

“Something tells me that our sacrifice won’t be remembered as gloriously by the Romulans as the Klingons revere Garrett’s stand at Narendra III,” the first officer rejoined.

“Perhaps so,” Erasia conceded, “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to save lives if possible.”

“Even at the expense of our own?” Sheppard asked, not completely convinced.

“Certainly at the expense of our own,” Erasia concluded. With that, she dismissed the commander after he had no additional questions. Once she was alone, Tan sank into her comfortable leather seat.

Mentally she climbed down from her self-righteous peak. She couldn’t help but wonder if the ghosts of Betazed were still haunting her, if her survivor’s guilt over escaping that charnel house with her ship and life were compelling her to throw both of them away on the Kothlis’Ka.

“Only time will tell,” she whispered to her ship. Empress didn’t respond.
************************************************** *************

Last edited by DarKush; October 15 2013 at 02:18 AM.
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Old October 14 2013, 07:20 PM   #2
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

************************************************** **************

Main Engineering
USS Empress

Captain Tan Erasia felt the weight of history on her shoulders as she crossed the threshold. Before her dominated the towering warp core, which beat like a great heart. Serious-faced engineers scurried about, many of their noses or breathing organs pressed against personal display devices. Others were hunched over table-like master displays.

The normal cacophony of life had been replaced by the buzz of war. Tan had witnessed it in every department as she toured the ship. She felt both heartened and horrified at how easily her crew seemed to adapt to a wartime footing. Many had been baptized in blood courtesy of the Dominion War. Some lucky enough to escape that hecatomb had been blooded by the postwar occupation or the Talarian Incursion.

The Efrosian had hoped that the Vanguard mission would be getting Starfleet back to exploring and not making more war preparations. “I know that look,” Chief Engineer Thav said, breaking free from the throng. The stout Andorian gave her a wry grin. “How about you come to my office?”
***********************
Chief Engineer's Office
USS Empress

Erasia’s tension started to ease only after the second glass of sky blue Andorian ale. Thav always had the best Andorian spirits, even putting the recreation lounge to shame. Thav sat back in his chair after taking his own second bracing shot. “I’m no doctor, like yourself, but it seems like my liquid prescription is doing the trick.”

Tan smiled as she also sat back. “Right as always Thav. You know me too well.” Erasia had served with the hale Andorian for years aboard the Gral. The man had been pondering retirement, to return to his bond group on Andor before Tan had convinced him to join her aboard the Empress. The biggest enticement was that the Galaxy-class ship also carried families and Thav could bring his entire bond group with him.

A benefit to Tan was that she not only got a good friend serving alongside her, but a talented operations officer in Lt. Aarti, a member of his bond group who had already transferred back to Andor in anticipation of Thav’s return. However he had convinced Aarti and the rest of the bond group to join him on Empress. The other two members of the group served in civilian posts aboard the ship.

“I guess I should let you get back to your inspection,” Thav said after a few moments of pleasant silence. “It’s not as if my team doesn’t have enough stress,” he half-joked.

Tan chuckled. “I know,” she conceded, “but this is not a formal inspection. If anything, I’m just walking the ship one last time, right before a fateful battle. I heard that Picard did that…shortly before the first Borg invasion of Sector 001.”

“Ah yes, I remember he was mimicking an Ancient Earth captain…Horatio Nelson, if I recall correctly,” Thav gave a tight-lipped smile. The Andorian’s love of ancient Andorian ice cutters expanded into old sailing vessels from many cultures. His personal quarters were filled with models of several such vessels. “The HMS Victory was his vessel,” he said. “A ghastly tradition,” he added.

“Excuse me?” Tan cocked an eyebrow.

“You know that Nelson didn’t survive that battle, and Picard nearly didn’t either,” Thav answered. “You should’ve picked another tradition.”

The Efrosian sighed. Thav was the one person aboard that she felt she could be the most honest with. They had saved each other and seen each other at their worsts more times than she could count. So she didn’t hide her true thoughts like she would around another member of the crew, including her first officer.

Recalling the damage inflicted on the K’mpec and Tanaka’s account of the attack cruiser that he had barely survived, Tan regarded her old friend with a sober expression, the ale’s effects drained from her. “No, in light of what we are rushing towards, I think the tradition is most appropriate.”
************************************************** ***********

Last edited by DarKush; October 15 2013 at 02:19 AM.
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Old October 15 2013, 10:27 PM   #3
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Excellent idea, this, to fill in the gaps of what happened when Starfleet met the Kothlis’Ka.

I liked Erasia from the few glimpses we've seen of her in your other story but I'm starting to like her more and more even if her decision to go after the armada will turn out be a fateful one. Her intentions are noble. And considering that she appears in the other story, at least we know she is safe. At least for now.
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Old October 17 2013, 01:54 AM   #4
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Thanks CeJay,

I'm glad you like the idea. I hope people aren't getting impatient over my putting "Quality" on hold for a moment. But this idea was in my head so I had to write it and get it out there so I can get back to writing "Quality".

************************************************** ***************

Observation Lounge
USS Empress

Captain Erasia had barely sat back down in her command seat before the Starfleet communique she had been waiting on had arrived. After reviewing it privately in her ready room and sending the message on to her taskforce counterparts, Tan thought a meeting with her senior officers was in order.

From the head of the long, polished black table, shaped like a Starfleet chevron, she watched the reactions of her crew to the images on the display behind her. They were a cross section of compassion, empathy, terror, and anger. They had mirrored the emotions roiling inside her when she first viewed the footage.

The images were of the planet Hestravar, a colony under the protection of the Nyberrite Alliance. The Alliance had sent the data on to Starfleet Command which had rushed it to the Empress.

The colony world, which reports had described as lush was a hollowed out shell of its former self. Deep, ugly gouges crisscrossed the planet like scar tissue. Buildings and other structures lined the ground like broken teeth.

The caliginous clouds ringing the planet, the result of a global nuclear winter, reminded her of the scenes of postwar Cardassia Prime. And images of the few wretched, disfigured, and broken survivors among the oceans of the dead would haunt her forever.

The carnage was created by what the Nyberrites dubbed harvester drones, city-sized spheres that had roved the planet, plundering it for bio-mass, atmospheric gasses, and mineral deposits. Nyberrite scientists predicted that Hestravar had only two weeks of sustainability left.

That was the fate that awaited the Tholians, the Romulans, or anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way of the Kothlis’Ka. The captained trained her gaze on Commander Sheppard until the man noticed.

He returned her gaze, a stricken and contrite look on his face. “My God,” he muttered, “I wouldn’t want this to happen to anyone else, even our adversaries.”

“I don’t see how we have much of a choice,” Dr. Segen pronounced, with palpable gloom.

“The Kothlis’Ka armada destroyed at least nineteen Nyberrite capital ships that had tried to defend that colony.” The Mazarite medic ran a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. “We are severely outmatched.”

“We’ve been outgunned before,” Flight Control Officer L’Naar replied, her whiskers twitching in annoyance at the doctor’s defeatism. “We’ll find a way to turn the odds in our favor this time as well.” The calico-furred Caitian glared at the doctor, running her tongue over her sharp incisors as if she was considering making him into a meal.

“From what we’ve seen of this footage, and from the account of Captain Tanaka, I don’t see how that is possible,” Segen said, stroking his goatee and girding for a fight. The man had left Starfleet because of his pro-Maquis leanings and only returned under order due to the need for skilled medical personnel during the Dominion War. “This isn’t one of the Satie administration’s carefully orchestrated public events, where every ill can be cured by a dose of good old Federation know-how, our innate superiority, or manifest destiny. This is the real galaxy and there are threats out there that even we can’t defeat; civilizations that are far more advanced than us; that view us as nothing more than insects.”

“I don’t think any of us need that lecture…again,” Security Chief Moeller retorted, her blue eyes flinty. “You’ve aired your views quite exhaustively over the years, yet still you remain in the organization you constantly disparage.” That sharp jab drew several nods of approval among the senior staff. Tan stopped herself from joining in.

Why Segen had stayed on after the war was anyone’s guess. Tan suspected that he furtively liked serving in the Fleet, though the Mazarite was never shy about critiquing the military aspects of the organization.

“And I will continue to do so because it is my right as a citizen, as a sapient being,” Segen replied. “And you all know I speak the truth. This is not just an impossible battle; it is one that we should not be undertaking.”

Erasia’s eyes shifted to her first officer. Feeling her gaze again, Sheppard stiffened in his seat. He had voiced similar sentiments only days ago in her office. Now, his expression was full of consternation. The captain wasn’t sure if it was because he was now opposed to not interfering or merely because it was the doctor who shared his mindset.

“I’m not going to debate that with you Dr. Segen,” Erasia replied, smoothly, but firmly. “We are going to do our best to prevent another Hestravar.”

“Or a Narcissus,” Sheppard added.

“Despite the bravado I just don’t see that happening,” Segen wouldn’t back down. “The Nyberrite fleet was shredded by solid neutronium slugs. Our shields can’t stand up to that.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Moeller’s grin was feral.

“Excuse me?” Segen asked, incredulous at the security officer’s boast.

“Enlighten the man Katrina,” Sheppard said, beating the captain to the punch.

“Yes sir,” Moeller nodded at both Sheppard and Erasia before she continued. “Thoron shielding.”

“That’s theoretical,” the Mazarite scoffed.

“Not so,” Science Officer K’Baara waded into the discussion. “My counterpart on the Baltimore has devised a thoron-based screen that should be stronger than traditional shielding, which has thus far proven ineffective against the Kothlis’Ka’s neutronium weaponry.”

“What’s the drawback?” Segen pressed.

“The power drain will be significant,” The bronze Chezkenite science officer replied without hesitation. “We will need to draw power from every source, including weapons, propulsion, structural integrity, and life support, if we want to enact a long-sustaining shield.”

“How much will that affect our propulsion systems?” Lt. Commander Thav worriedly asked. Lt. K’Baara turned his enlarged head carefully on his thin neck to look at the Andorian engineer as he spoke to him.

“Warp power will be impossible and while full impulse is achievable, it’s recommended that the ship travel only at half-impulse or lower while the thoron screen is activated,” the science officer said.

“That will reduce our maneuverability a great deal,” Thav replied, not pleased. But the Andorian said nothing more.

“So that will reduce the yields of our armaments?” Segen nearly threw back his head.
“That reminds me of an old Earth saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face. That shield might buy us a few seconds but it robs the ship’s ability to actually damage Kothlis’Ka vessels.”

“While it might impede our phaser banks, our complement of photon and quantum torpedoes will remain unaltered,” Moeller pointed out.

“And there are other options available to us,” Sheppard added.

“The unmanned warp combat vehicles,” Segen said, his voice becoming frosty. He was a vocal opponent of the increased usage of the UWCVs since the Talarian Incursion. The medic felt that the weapons detached leaders and citizens from the real consequences of military action and could lead to adventurism.

“Yes,” the captain interjected, wishing to head off another futile bit of pique from the Mazarite. Though brilliant and often engaging, the captain wasn’t in the mood for Segen’s moralizing at the moment. “I also intend to use quantum mines to disrupt and alter the course of the armada.”

“It would help if the Tholians could send some of their ships,” Operations Officer Aarti said, “But so far, they have not responded to our long-range hails.” The thin Andorian’s expression conveyed her deep disappointment over the Tholians’ silence.

“Nor have the Romulans,” Sheppard added. “They might not know what’s coming their way, but more than likely they just aren’t replying. Perhaps they don’t want to be seen as getting assistance from us.” He shook his head, an expression of disgust contorting his features. “They would probably consider it a sign of weakness.”

“We’ll they’re getting our help whether they want it or not,” Erasia declared. “And I have every confidence in you all to have your departments ready to insure that this crew and ship performs at its peak.” They all nodded at her assertion, even a still reluctant Segen, to the captain’s challenge.

Erasia sat back and allowed herself a smile as she looked on at her senior staff as they talked among themselves, the din rising in the observation lounge. It was the best bunch of people she had ever served with, and she was honored that most accepted her decision to track down and impede the Kothlis’Ka armada. They trusted her with their lives and it was a solemn duty she had to respect to the utmost.

The weight of the responsibility turned her smile a bit sad. She cleared her throat and all of the side conversations came to a halt. Everyone shifted their attention back to her. Self-consciously Tan tugged down on her tunic and wet her throat.

“It is not my intention to dismiss the gravity of the task before us,” She nodded in Segen’s direction. He nodded back. “And Dr. Segen has made several valid arguments, and dissent is always welcome in my meetings, so for that I thank him.” She paused, unsure how to say what was in her heart. Eventually, she just let it out, “This might be our last meeting together…and I thought it might be appropriate to bring this meeting to a close in the ways we sometimes did on the Gral.”

Tan’s smile turned mischievous as she looked at Thav. “On my mark Mr. Thav.” The stocky Andorian sat up in his seat.

“I’m at the ready Captain,” the grinned.

“Mark then,” Erasia motioned.

Thav tapped his compin. “Energize.” The familiar whine and harsh blue-white light of the transporter effect gave way to a tray containing several glasses surrounding a bottle filled with a rich purple liquid.

“Nelag,” Tan said, impressed. Thav had promised that the beverage would be special, though the captain had thought he would pick something exotic, like a potion from the Gamma Quadrant or some other far-flung locale. Instead he had gone with her favorite Andorian spirit. The last time he had shared the libation with her was to celebrate the end of the Dominion War.

For a big man, Thav moved quickly, placing glasses in front of all of the senior officers. On the second round he poured quick dashes of the violet liquid into each glass. They all mimicked the captain as she held her glass aloft.

Tan knew that was as far as Moeller would go. Her Islamic faith forbade her from ingesting alcohol. “To the best crew in Starfleet,” Erasia toasted.

“To the best captain,” L’Naar said.

“Seriously L’Naar, you pick now of all times to buck for a promotion?” Aarti teased. The laughter afterwards almost felt as good to the captain as the drink.
************************************************** ************

Last edited by DarKush; October 17 2013 at 10:07 PM.
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Old October 17 2013, 07:31 AM   #5
Gibraltar
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

A stalwart captain and her good and loyal crew on the eve of a great, noble battle.

They still have no idea what's coming...

Wonderful character work here, DarKush. More, please!
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Old October 17 2013, 07:01 PM   #6
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

I don't find myself in agreement with Segen even if it appears that he will ultimately be proven right, validating his skepticism. It's actually quite refreshing to see an anti-establishment type freethinker wearing the uniform and it speaks volumes about Erasia that she not only tolerates him on her senior staff but also values his minority opinion.

And you've got a Commander Sheppard on your crew! Kind of fitting as the Kothlis’Ka bear a certain familiarity to the Reapers.
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Old October 18 2013, 03:13 AM   #7
Galen4
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

The most chilling statement a CO can make to his or her crew: "This might be our last meeting together."

An intriguing group, to be sure. You've taken a background ship from UT and turned its crew into flesh and blood. In a short amount of space, you illustrated the bond these people have and made us care about them.

Now, with a hopeless battle on the horizon, we can only cringe. Sometimes surviving hell is worth than dying in it.

Looking forward to more!
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Old October 18 2013, 11:56 PM   #8
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Gibraltar and CeJay,

Glad you are liking the character work here. Segen is a fun character to write. He just says what's on his mind and he doesn't care about ruffling feathers.

Galen,

I appreciate the compliments, but let me give credit where it is due. You created the Empress and Captain Erasia and Commander Sheppard. And you were gracious enough to allow me the opportunity to fill out the rest of the crew. It was also your idea to include Empress in "Quality of Mercy" which inspired this story. And less I forget, you also created Nelag.

************************************************** ***************

Ready Room
USS Ariane

Commander Gilma Rhizzo had waited a few hours after concluding her meeting with her staff to call in the security chief. Lt. Zileena stalked into the office, as was the custom of her predacious Zaranite species.

The lithe woman stopped crisply in front of Rhizzo’s desk and stood at attention. The Zakdorn could only imagine the true expression on her subordinate’s face. Like most Zaranites in Class M environs, Zileena wore a breathing mask which obscured her eyes, nose, and mouth. The apparatus provided the vital fluorine Zileena needed to survive.

Without allowing the woman to stand at ease, Rhizzo asked, “Is it ready?”

“Yes Captain,” despite the breather, Zileena’s voice was mellifluous. “But sir, need I remind you that if you proceed upon this course of action it will be in violation of the second Khitomer Accords.”

“No, you don’t,” Rhizzo snapped.

“Sir, abrogation of the Accords and so near to Tholian and Romulan space could have serious repercussions,” Zileena pressed.

“You know as well as I do Zil that our standard weaponry will not stop the Kothlis’Ka,” Rhizzo reasoned.

“Permission to speak freely?” The other woman tightly asked. Gilma toyed with not granting it, but then relented.

“Speak,” she brusquely ordered.

“Captain Erasia said that our mission was not to defeat the armada per se but to impede it, to impel upon it the unwanted costs of continuing on its present course,” the Zaranite security officer said.

“And I don’t see a better way to demonstrate that than to cleave through that armada,” Rhizzo said, “Violence appears to be a language they are at least conversant in.”

“Are you sure that you are doing this to send a message or to avenge the loss of Captain Landau?” Zileena asked, cutting right to the quick, in the best tradition of her hunter ancestors.

Rhizzo didn’t hesitate. “Both. And now you’re dismissed.”
************************************************** **************

Captain's Quarters
USS K’mpec

The two glasses of Altair water sat on the coffee table untouched. The two occupants on the couch facing the table were too engaged in conflicts, external and internal.

“Sir, Command stocked each of our vessels with tricobalt devices,” Lt. Commander Mehita pointed out. “I would think those would be sufficient.”

Captain Tanaka, sitting opposite his new first officer, grimaced as he wrestled with his ethics. “We can’t be certain of that, though we didn’t even have time to use them before the Kothlis’Ka were on us.” He finally said. Similar to Tanaka, Mehita was dressed in civilian clothes. He had called the woman to his domicile after his discussion with Commander Rhizzo. He needed the Ktarian’s counsel.

“And even if we had used them we don’t know if they would’ve been sufficient, especially if we had set them on a lower yield, which is what we are wont to do,” the captain added. The seldom used weapons were extremely dangerous and were even capable of creating subspace tears. However they weren’t specifically created with that goal in mind which made them permissible under the second Khitomer Accords.

“But creating isolytic subspace weapons,” Mehita shook her head, her voice clotting with disbelief. “That would make us no better than the Son’a.” Tanaka’s heart pinched a little as the Ktarian looked at him with baleful yellow eyes, and he saw her losing respect for him.

“To be honest, if the Son’a used those isolytic burst armaments more, they might be winning their war against the Alshain right now,” Tanaka soberly replied.

Mehita’s eyes widened in shock, “Sir I can’t believe you said that.”

“It’s true,” he sadly shook his head, “And you know that is so.”

“Maybe,” she conceded, dipping her head a moment. “But at what cost? Sometimes the price of victory is too high to pay.”

“Well at least you’ll still be alive to agonize over it,” Tanaka rejoined. “The Narcissus crew is not, the same as millions on Hestravar.” He paused, his voice turning colder, “Or Commander Baird and thirteen other crewmen, though I sometimes wonder if the Kothlis’Ka didn’t spare K’mpec to send their own message. I think it’s time we repaid them in kind.”

He was pleased that Mehita took in his words but didn’t back down. “Or we could be making a horrific situation even worse.”

“I already raised the potential fallout with the Tholians and the Romulans to Commander Rhizzo,” Tanaka answered. “She had already considered that.”

“And?” Mehita prodded.

“The commander felt repelling the Kothlis’Ka with a decisive show of force was more important,” the captain replied, “and that the Tholians and Romulans might grumble about our methods but no one would hold us to account if we were successful in stopping the incursion.” He paused again and looked the woman squarely in the eyes, “And I agree with her.”

“I don’t think the other captains would,” Mehita bluntly said, “especially Captain Erasia.”

Tanaka’s smile was wry. “That’s why Rhizzo came to me first.”

“Sir, whether I agree with this action or not, I don’t think it’s right to keep this from the other captains,” Mehita was all business. The captain’s small attempt at levity had sunk like a latinum balloon.

“If this does go badly, the less who know, the less who will have to pay the price for our actions,” Tanaka reasoned.

“You really think the admirals are going to see it that way?” Mehita didn’t hide her skepticism.

“It will be the truth,” Tanaka shrugged, “And I can live with that.”

Mehita shook her head again, “I wonder if you will be so sanguine once this is over.”
************************************************** ****************

Last edited by DarKush; October 19 2013 at 12:39 PM.
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Old October 19 2013, 07:30 PM   #9
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Desperate times and all that. We already have a good idea of the outcome of the upcoming battle but I wonder if the ramifications of Tanaka and co disregarding the rules of war will have some even more serious repercussions.

Of course considering the fate of this fleet it's difficult to imagine a much worse outcome.
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Old October 25 2013, 01:53 AM   #10
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

CeJay,

Some of your questions might be answered by the following passage.

************************************************** ************

Ready Room
USS Baltimore
Three Days Later…

“You can’t be serious?” Captain Ottah asked, his semi-simian features scrunched in disbelief.

Captain Thelius frowned, not used to not being taken at his word. “I trust my Science Officer,” he sharply replied. “She would not lie about what she heard from her counterpart aboard the Ariane.” The intercept group had been traveling together, at a cruising speed of Warp 8, in an attempt to catch up with the fast moving Kothlis’Ka armada. The arrangement had allowed the ships to continue refining the experimental thoron shielding in addition to their battle plans.

Ottah shook his head, unable to digest the magnitude of what Thelius had revealed to him. “Subspace weapons?” The man eventually said, more to himself than the Andorian. “That would violate everything we stand for.”

“It appears that Commander Rhizzo would rather deal with that at her court martial,” Thelius said, unwilling to empathize with or soft pedal the woman’s motivations. He leaned back in his chair and forced himself to be quiet and let the Edoan’s mind process the truth. Though Ottah leaned forward, in Thelius’s direction, his yellow eyes were lightyears away. Eventually the man’s gaze refocused on Thelius and now Ottah’s saturnine expression nearly matched the Andorian’s.

“And Captain Tanaka is on board with this?” Ottah asked, his longish face falling.

“Yes,” Thelius nodded, “It makes sense,” the Andorian added.

“How so?” Ottah asked; still not ready to completely accept that which was plainly obvious.

“The Kothlis’Ka nearly destroyed K’mpec, murdering thirteen of their crew, including the first officer,” Thelius replied. “I’m surprised that it wasn’t Tanaka that brewed this idea.”

“Are you certain that this isn’t a mistake, that these weapons aren’t being created as a last resort?” Ottah asked.

“I don’t doubt the veracity of what my Science Officer reported to me,” Thelius kept his temper in check. He hated repeating himself. “Plus we conducted our own surreptitious scans and detected elevated isolytic build up…concentrated in each ship’s weapons banks.”

The Andorian paused to savor Ottah’s stunned expression at that hammer blow. He had been holding it back until he was certain he could trust the Edoan, and by the man’s crestfallen countenance, Thelius knew that Ottah had no foreknowledge of this scheme to use banned weapons against the Kothlis’Ka armada.

“My gods,” was all that Ottah could muster.

“Even if this was a doomsday scenario plan, it would still violate the Khitomer Accords,” Thelius added.

“Yes, it would,” Ottah said, stroking his pointed chin. “And that would only make things worse.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Thelius nodded in affirmation.

“Do you think that Captain Erasia is aware of this plot?” Ottah asked.

“It’s true that Edoans are telepathic then?” Thelius asked, “Because you must have just read my mind.” Ottah chuckled.

“I think you’re getting us confused with the Triexians,” the man said. “Don’t worry, it happens all the time.”

“I don’t know if Captain Erasia has endorsed this disastrous idea or not,” Thelius said, all levity drained from his voice. He stared portentously at Ottah, before adding, “But there’s only one way to find out.”
************************************************** *************
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Old October 26 2013, 09:40 PM   #11
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

I'm starting to get a bad feeling as to why this upcoming encounter will end in disaster. The Kolish'Ka are bad enough, but now there appears to be growing dissension within the ranks of the task force itself. That cannot be good.
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Old October 27 2013, 12:11 PM   #12
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

CeJay,

Your bad feelings are prescient.

************************************************** *************

Main Bridge
USS Empress

Captain Erasia’s eyes watered slightly, a nervous tic. The woman’s stomach tightened and her shoulders bunched. She cleared her throat softly before she gave the order.

Seconds later the main viewer split between images of the bridges of the K’mpec and the Ariane. Despite her anxiety, Tan’s voice was strong. “Don’t deny it. We have scanned both of your vessels.”

Captain Tanaka looked mildly shocked, but Commander Rhizzo nodded in affirmation. “How could you do this?” Erasia asked, with a hint of the disbelief that she had displayed when Thelius and Ottah had brought this to her. “Constructing subspace weapons; and without authorization. If you had used those weapons in combat it could’ve had a disastrous effect…not only on the Kothlis’Ka, but on the taskforce. We don’t even know what kind of propulsion propels that armada but we do know that isolytic-caused tears are drawn to warp cores.”

She felt the charge run through the bridge crew at the revelation. Only Commander Sheppard had been privy to the information until this moment. Tan had felt it necessary to put this out in the open, for her crew and those aboard the K’mpec and Ariane who weren’t aware, to see the dark corners the Kothlis’Ka had pushed her compatriots down. Perhaps it would add internal pressure on the two captains to abandon their course while serving as a warning to Empress’s crew not to abandon the rules of war even in the face of impossible odds.

“I thought it was an acceptable risk,” Commander Rhizzo stated, looking her squarely in the eye. “And I still do.” Tanaka’s gaze wasn’t as unwavering, but he had a determined expression. He wasn’t going to back down either.

“I understand how the loss of the Narcissus,” Tan nodded in Rhizzo’s direction, “And the near loss of the K’mpec,” she acknowledged Tanaka, “affected you both. Dismantle those weapons immediately and we’ll forget this happened.”

“No,” Rhizzo shook her head. The Zakdorn looked off to the side and muttered something unintelligible.

“Sir, Ariane is powering weapons,” Lt. Moeller informed her, unable to hide the shock from her voice, “And has broken formation.” The human shook her head in disbelief, “Ariane is now moving to engage us.”

“Gilma, what are you doing?” Tanaka asked, beating Erasia to the punch.

“Our long-range sensors picked up that armada hours ago,” Rhizzo replied. “And now we are only hours away from engaging them. I’m not going to be denied the opportunity to save this taskforce and the Tholians and Romulans as well, not by some fleet captain by default.”

The jibe stung but Erasia took it in stride. She hadn’t asked for the responsibility, and she knew she didn’t have the experience or accomplishments that Captain Landau had, but Erasia intended to carry out her new assignment the best she could. “Lt. Moeller,” she said, her voice devoid of emotion, “Charge our forward phasers and target the Ariane.”

“Captain Erasia!” Tanaka shifted his gaze from Rhizzo to Tan. “What are you doing?”

“Something I don’t want to do Captain Tanaka,” Erasia answered honestly, “But it’s not really up to me. This is Commander Rhizzo’s decision. As we say on Efros, the Levithi nuts are on your tree.”
************************************************** ************
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Old October 27 2013, 03:40 PM   #13
CeJay
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Oh wow, this is so much worse than I thought. What a total mess. There is no way this is not ending in tears and blood. And now I can also see why Erasia may have little objections for somebody else to take over the reins once all this is over.
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Old October 27 2013, 07:28 PM   #14
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Damn... and here I thought the Kothlis'Ka were the primary threat. Dissension from within is threatening to tear the intercept group apart before they've even met the armada in force.
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Old October 28 2013, 01:00 AM   #15
DarKush
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Re: UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

CeJay and Gibraltar, glad you guys are enjoying the road I decided to take this story down. I would think that the stresses of facing an invincible foe are wearing the IG-4 captains down and the dissension is the result. We'll see how much blood might be drawn before they reach the armada.

************************************************** *************

Main Bridge
USS Ariane

Commander Gilma Rhizzo tried to ignore her first officer’s plasma burning stare. It would not do for her to blink in front of Captain Erasia, the Empress’s crew, or her own.

Typically, Lt. Commander Gerald Atwell would not be ignored. “This is futzing ridiculous,” he said sotto voce while leaning over toward her. “What are you doing Gilma?”

“What I have to,” she snapped, refusing to look at the lanky Australian. “Lt. Zileena, aim forward phasers at Empress’s primary hull.”

“Belay that order!” Atwell called out loudly. Incensed, Rhizzo whipped around to confront him.

“How dare you?” She bellowed. “Right now, they’ve got weapons trained on us!”

“Only because you made the first aggressive move,” Atwell said, with smoldering but damnable reasonableness. “And that’s not the only one you made. Constructing subspace weapons without informing me,” he shook his head. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Are you angrier about me planning to utilize subspace weapons against the Kothlis’Ka or you not being in the loop?” She charged, hoping the dagger drew blood.

Atwell looked unfazed. “This ends now Commander,” he said tightly.

“Zil, you heard me!” Rhizzo yelled, ignoring her first officer. “Get those weapons on the Empress.”

“Don’t make me relieve you of duty sir,” Atwell warned, his voice clearly filled with regret.

“Relieve her,” Erasia’s voice issued over the still open channel. “That’s an order.”

After a few charged, indecisive seconds, Atwell’s shoulders fell. “Sir, please get up from the command chair.”

“No,” the Zakdorn shook her head and dug in her heels. Atwell sighed. He stood up, consciously towering over her, but far enough away to lessen the threat of the gesture.

“Lt. Zileena, please remove the captain. Take her to her quarters and set up a security detail to contain her until we can straighten this mess out.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the Zaranite said. And it was the first time Rhizzo’s stomach twisted. Among her senior officers, Zil was the closest to Gilma, and if she had lost the Zaranite’s trust there was little hope in retaining anyone else’s.

“I’m not leaving,” Rhizzo declared. “You’ll have to force me from this chair.”

“So be it,” Atwell’s sigh was deeper this time, coming from the well of his soul. She hadn’t heard the man sound so bone weary since the Talarian Incursion. “Lt. Zileena,” he called again.

“I’m so sorry,” Zileena repeated. Gilma closed her eyes and steeled herself for a fight. It wouldn’t be the most dignified way to exit the bridge and possibly her command, but it would show the crew that she would fight for them until the end.

She jumped at the familiar sizzle of a phaser. Her eyelids flipped open just as she saw a sparkling beam punch into Commander Atwell and drove him to the deck.

Zileena stood on the upper deck, the phaser now shaking in her hand. Gilma threw herself out of her seat. She knelt down at the unconscious Atwell and checked his pulse. It was slow, but steady.

She looked up at Zileena and nodded grimly. Both women understood that they had just thrown away their careers. Then Rhizzo turned toward the stunned Erasia. “There’s your answer,” she bitterly stated.
************************************************** ************

Main Bridge
USS Baltimore

Captain Thelius was done with the drama playing out on his viewscreen. “Enough of this hand wringing,” he declared. “Fire on the Ariane,” he ordered, “Targeting her propulsion systems.” He added, a bit too jauntily, “She’s going to have to sit the big fight out.”

“Aye sir,” the Xenexian at the tactical console replied. Commander Erean shook her head as twin golden spears arced from Baltimore and slammed into Ariane.

The Andorian would commiserate with his Argelian first officer later. Right now he had a dust up to resolve before the real battle began.
************************************************** *************
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