How the Romulans did it

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Brutal Strudel, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Vulcans would probably make for the best liars in the universe. In order to carry the lie so far that nobody realizes it for what it is, one needs an extremely disciplined mind capable of not just carrying on the fiction but also separating it from the truth, planning ahead on further untruths, and perhaps branching off to yet other falsehoods...

    "Vulcans don't lie" is a saying that no doubt could obtain a life of its own as an insincerity in its own right: anybody quoting this would simply be acknowledging the fact that you just plain can't catch a Vulcan on a lie. :p

    It never ceases to amaze me how we dare trust Scotty to be making an expert statement on a culture after haphazardly assessing a single vessel thereof. It's not even a matter of not trusting Scotty on his word: it's a matter of realizing that he wasn't concerned with evaluating the Romulans as a culture, merely with assessing the threat vessel at hand. Would we declare Germany incapable of making steam turbines on the basis of their power being "simple electricity" in a U-Boot vs. destroyer escort confrontation? An Allied engineer making that latter statement wouldn't be in error in any real sense - he would just be omitting the part where everybody knows Germans are famed for their superior steam turbines, and the part where everybody knows they can't put those on their submarines.

    Well, Romulan invisibility or plasma weaponry is not established in nuTrek. So the only thing different about the confrontation would be that it would not come as a surprise to Kirk that the skipper of the invisible ship had pointed ears.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    Nope. The stakes in such a confrontation, and therefore the story and the interactions between the characters, would be entirely different.
     
  3. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Maybe that's how they actually do come to call each other "friend."
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    What is so "entire" about it? :confused:

    Apparently, in the TOS episode there was going to be war if the test mission of the invisible ship was a success; the ship scored its points but failed to return, so the success might not have been sufficient for the Praetor to make the move after all (c.f. the cold feet the Romulans got with the as such successful cloning project). None of this would hinge on the Romulan racial characteristics being unknown to the Federation; none would hinge on the Star Empire having been incommunicado for a century.

    If nuKirk destroyed an invisible ship efficiently enough to scare the Romulans into inaction but also gently enough to avoid provoking them into a "self-defense" war, the nuEvents would pan out just like the TOS ones. As for character interactions, there would actually be reason to doubt Spock's loyalty now - he'd be not just a Vulcanoid of the same stock as the enemy, but a rogue left without a homeworld and possibly enthralled by a strong and surviving Vulcanoid culture. Racist remarks could fly, with more venom as befits the 21st century audiences. And Kirk and the enemy commander could play it out like pre-21st century gentlemen fighters again, or then the formula could be used inverted, with both now displaying disgusting brutality but learning from it. Whether to tack on an aborted wedding, or some other extasy-to-ashes story arc, would be up to the writers...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    :confused: I thought it was clear that Scotty was only making a reference to this particular and single Romulan ship.

    Bob
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    On some level, the no-FTL idea for Romulans is intriguing. But that line never should have been let into BoT as scripted, and as time has worn on, and the universe has been expanded by the spin-offs, time has not been kind to it. Instead of what it was [link]:

    it should have been

     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Which then should mean that Scotty cannot be taken as indicating Romulans lack the skill or knowledge or materials to build warp-capable ships. One ship that is already established as being unique in at least two ways (invisibility and plasma gun) might well be unique in her propulsive capabilities, too, and telling nothing about the other ships of the Romulan Star Empire or even this particular Praetor's fleet.

    I'd rather argue we got the perfect rationalization for that in the TNG era. We now know Romulans have their own special brand of FTL powerplants, based on technology the Federation apparently still doesn't understand or know how to duplicate in the 24th century. Scotty would be within his rights not to recognize this technology, then - and it would add a very welcome (and rather rare!) taste of realism if Scotty did fail to identify an artificial quantum singularity reactor for what it is!

    Anyway, we don't have a good reason to think that cloaking prevents warping; this never happens in any of the episodes, after all. It may be that the plasma gun prevents warping in "Balance of Terror", as we do learn of fuel troubles, and the gun could be the real fuel hog. Or then nothing prevents warping, and Scotty is proven wrong so blatantly and quickly that nobody even bothers to comment on his missing the mark. Or then there's some terminology weirdness going on with "impulse power" vs. "sublight-only propulsion", or whatever. But we can rule out the idea of cloaking preventing warping.

    Sure, Spock speculates that a cloak would consume a lot of power, but he's wrong: we see low-power cloaks in all the other shows. At best, we may argue that the particular, perhaps rather experimental cloak aboard this specific vessel was a fuel hog for whatever rare reason. Remember that Spock also refers to the immense power (--> power requirements) of the plasma weapon, thus preserving his virtue...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Again, time has not been kind to BoT. Like many cool things in Star Trek, the cloaks were too cool for writers to resist using, even in ways that should have been anachronistic (I'm looking at you ENT), were BoT respected.
     
  9. grendelsbayne

    grendelsbayne Captain Captain

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    I don't see any reason to infer that Spock's speculation was outright wrong. The Cloak was an entirely new technology. Spock's speculation would've been based on his best guess of what the most likely basis for the technology could be, and he could very well have been absolutely correct. The later, more efficient cloaks could simply prove that (years, maybe decades later) after the technology has been developed enough for them to learn to get around its original limitations, Cloaks have been significantly improved and are no longer power hogs.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    What's there to respect? The idea that invisibility would be "theoretical" to our space-savvy heroes is unrealistic, even within the context of TOS (many of their enemies popped out of nowhere).

    If we ignore the idea of invisibility as a thing being new to the characters, the rest of it remains a nice combination of weird and time-honored, and continues to provide a basis for on-and offscreen speculation - say, as regards the concept of a faceless enemy, a war without prisoners or mercy, the whole Vulcan/Romulan thing, etc.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    But it isn't. Spock makes a categorical statement about invisibility being power-hungry by definition, and he is proven absolutely wrong whenever a low-power cloak is featured in an episode or a movie.

    That Spock by the luck of chance might have been correct about the particular cloak in "Errand of Mercy" doesn't win him any points. Nothing about the correct cloaking theory says invisibility consumes a lot of power, or else there couldn't be low-power cloaks.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    If you take BoT at face value, Kirk and Spock had never heard of invisibility before, outside of theory. That's just not believable, given what was shown to have transpired in ENT. ENT clearly retconned that aspect of BoT. That's what I'm saying.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. But it's not a matter of the episode aging or getting dated or trampled over, it's a matter of the episode being bad from the start (in this particular respect).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    That's what I more or less was getting at the first place, with respect to FTL. Same applies to invisibility, too. Schneider et al probably thought they were helping us accept invisibility in a "non-fantansy" science fiction setting (in order to tell a submarine story in space) by having it be new to Kirk and Spock, by implication requiring technical advancement because only power-hungry methods are known, and having them cope with its newness, just as it was "new" to us. But in fairness to Schneider et al, I don't think they can be faulted for not anticipating that ENT would want to make prequels using Romulan cloaks.
     
  15. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    That is a really cool rationalization, if you feel FTL capability should be mandatory. :techman:

    Fact is, at that point they were chasing a cloaked ship, so it might not have been that necessary for Scotty to spell it out.

    But here is another detail I'm not sure if we did consider it previously:

    KIRK: Outpost 2 was the first to go silent, Lieutenant?
    UHURA: Yes, Captain, then Outpost 3 an hour later.

    Apparently it took the Romulan Bird of Prey one full hour to travel from Outpost 2 to Outpost 3.

    In contrast, the Enterprise, travelling at warp speed, just needs minutes to arrive near the outposts.

    Bob

    P.S. We are all aware that we have changed the intentions and meaning of the OP? :rolleyes:
     
  16. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    True, perhaps. As for the differences in travel time, perhaps the Romulan's warp drive on their BOP wasn't as good as the Enterprise's.
     
  17. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, since in the episode, Spock is able to detect the Bird of Prey when it moves, that would suggest that if it moves faster, it can be detected much easier. Thus not going at high warp speeds, regardless of power source.

    The theory would be that the older style cloaks from the Enterprise era had been defeated at some point by Starfleet sensors, and rendered more or less useless. They would be visible for all practice purposes on an Earth ship's sensor array. This new Romulan cloaking device take a lot more power but renders the ship totally invisible when not moving. Federation senors can detect its movement, and eventually track it during the first encounter. Thus showing there is a flaw in this cloaks design. Add to this the weakening with range of the plasma torpedoes and you have a reason the Romulans don't go to war with the Federation. Their new toys were found and bested by a 20 year old Federation starship.

    This also gives a good reason for Starfleet to attempt to steal a reportedly new cloaking device two years later off a Romulan owned D7 battlecruiser. This cloak seemed to not be detectable while moving, like the previous model. It still took a lot of power it seems, but not so much as to restrict the movement of USS Enterprise (using the alien device directly into their warp drive).


    Question related to the power system. What Cochrane's first warp engine powered by a matter-antimatter reactor? Or was it fusion powered?
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We get a dialogue reference to "intermix" as regards Cochrane's flight, but none to things like "antimatter" or "dilithium" or "energizers" or other familiar warp reactor terminology. The bit about intermix could refer to the mixing of any two (or more) reactants, chemical, nuclear, subatomic, whatever. IIRC, the novelization has Cochrane use an old nuclear warhead as the power source, hence presumably either fusion or fission, but that's not evident from the movie.

    Canonically, we never learn of Earth using antimatter prior to the 22nd century, for any application. But we never learn the opposite, either.

    As for earlier invisibility techniques having been rendered ineffective, this wouldn't account for Spock saying that optical invisibility as a concept is only theoretical. Let's also not forget that the people assigned to the Outposts guarding the RNZ would certainly have familiarized themselves with whatever was known of the Romulans. Yet Commander Hansen never refers to Romulan cloaks, a technology he must have been familiar with as per ENT - he refers to the mystery of the enemy's sudden disappearance. So that's another tidbit that cannot be readily reconciled; Hansen ought to have tried to communicate his plight using terminology he was familiar with, and ENT would have us believe that Starfleet had familiarity with, and therefore also terminology to describe, invisibility devices.

    If we want to accept the dialogue and delivery as is, it's really difficult to assert that our heroes and sidekicks are merely amazed by a new type of invisibility, rather than by the very concept. We'd probably be better off formulating conspiracy theories about how Starfleet has mindwiped everybody, including its own line officers, into forgetting about the 22nd century Romulan invisibility techniques. But even that wouldn't cover the fact that our TOS heroes had themselves already witnessed at least one starship that could appear and disappear at will, in "Charlie X".

    This invisibility thing is really an annoyance because so much is said about it in the episodes, all in contradiction. The Vulcan-Romulan schism, the emotionality problem and coping with it, pon farr, Romulan history... All that is easy because basically nothing much is stated on screen.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    No question, their cloaking device in "Balance of Terror" consumed a lot of fuel (= energy for propulsion).

    That was the outspoken dilemma of the Romulan Commander, use the fuel either for the cloak and have not enough energy for propulsion or don't use the cloak and get home but remain visible and therefore vulnerable.

    The Romulan Birds of Prey in "The Deadly Years" apparently never needed to use a cloak because they outnumbered the Enterprise.

    Indeed, the Klingon-Romulan Alliance (and the exchange cloaking technology for D7 battlecruisers) may have provided the Romulans with what they needed: A ship with superior power output to achieve warp capability while being cloaked.

    Bob

    P.S.

    Thanks again to CorporalCaptain for his suggestion, it put matters into a completely different perspective and the more I think about it, the more I think that's the best rationalization I've seen. And one that has potential for general consensus.
     
  20. Brutal Strudel

    Brutal Strudel Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I'm cool with thre change of focus.
     

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