That Escalated Quickly...
Posted on Sat Oct 17th, 2020 @ 1:03pm by Sublieutenant Mila Lynn & Colonel Sehan t'Varis & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Centurion Nancy Gable & Lieutenant Taryn & Lieutenant Rehana t'Shaan & Lieutenant Xia Idris & Lieutenant Taev d’Lhara & Centurion Ashley Rogers
Chapter II: Spreading our Wings
Location: Conference Room, the Raven's Claw
Raven took her seat at the head of the table in the conference room. Their time at Drozana had been very productive. The crew had grown with some very talented new hires, and they had gained some vital information. Over the past few days, she had worked out a plan on how best to proceed, and it was time to share that plan with her crew. To that end, she had asked all department heads to attend this briefing.
Mila was the first to arrive at the meeting, the first time on the ship that she had gone to anything without her brother present. As the only science officer on board, she had been thrown into the role of acting chief science officer, and in the past few days, she had begun to get the long disused laboratory back into some form of working order. Luckily, Gedak had been very understanding of the long list of requisitions she had required, and she felt that at least she was now equipped for some basic work. Quietly, she entered the briefing room, nodded a greeting at the Colonel, and took a seat. She already knew she would not be contributing much, if anything, but it would still be a valuable learning experience.
The Colonel returned Mila's nod. She had been very pleased to see how diligently the young scientist had worked on getting the lab up and running. She would have to thank Ash for bringing the twins on board, as they seemed to be valuable additions to the crew. While Mila had been getting ready for her duties, her brother had been learning the controls and familiarising himself with the characteristics of the Claw, ready to take second shift as pilot. So far, things were progressing well.
Ash strolled into the room with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Colonel," she acknowledged with a head nod. She sat across from Mila and put down her cup to make an attempt to sign a greeting to the young acting science officer. She looked at Mila, hoping she didn't sign something terrible.
"Centurion," Raven returned in greeting. "Well rested and ready, I hope?"
Having stocked up with weapons and other goodies with Hatham, Ash smiled. "Yes, ma'am. Hatham and I have acquired some pretty fun stuff. I'm looking forward to getting a chance to use them."
Mila waved at Ash. She was pleased to see Rogers was making an effort to learn how to sign, and so far, she seemed to be doing a good job.
Ash grinned somewhat proudly and gave the teen a thumbs up before she looked around and took a sip of her coffee.
Taryn entered and chose a vacant seat furthest away from the head of the table. She was looking forward to getting away from Drozana, because it meant that her next payday was finally on the way, and her funds were starting to dry up with the recent expenditure to upgrade her shuttle. They weren't necessary modifications by any means, but Taryn liked to make sure Kestrel had the best of the best at all times.
The next to arrive was Gable, raktajino in hand. Probably the first of many, she thought, since almost anything this crew planned was bound to end up with more work in medbay. With a nod to Raven and Ash, she took a seat and waited.
Kaiae followed Gable less than a minute later, looking perhaps somewhat exhausted, hints of dark circles under her eyes, despite her species' greater ability to short themselves on sleep relative to humans.
Taev entered the cramped meeting room, wondering how in the Empire he wound up here. His sister was right, the galaxy had gone mad.
“Err...Colonel,” Taev said in acknowledgement, realizing how terribly ignorant he was about what was really going on.
"Lieutenant." Kaiae waved a hand slightly at an empty seat, the other still grasping her oversized tumbler of tea.
Rehana bounced in with her usual insouciance. "Morning, all. Boss," she drawled, giving Raven a halfway respectful nod.
Xia Idris entered the conference room freshly showered and scented after a good morning workout, a nice fatigue set into her muscles, and a slight headache from working out the less physical muscles. She inhaled the scent of her pumpkin spice raktajino. The headache would ease with the caffeine. She had a hot caramel cinnamon roll still steaming on a plate, lathered with melting butter, which she set down as she took her seat with her padd, ready for the meeting.
When everyone had arrived and taken their seats, Raven stood and looked around the room. Quite the colourful group of officers, she thought to herself. None of them would likely have expected to be at this table now. But life worked in mysterious ways, and here they all were.
"Good morning, everyone," she finally began. "I hope you are all well-rested, because it's time we got back to work."
She tapped a button in front of her, and a flap in the centre of the table opened, revealing a holoprojector that immediately hissed to life, displaying a rotating model of the Ourainavassa.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we are after. The highly modified Mogai-class prototype warbird Ourainavassa. With its enhanced stealth systems, AI-driven computer core, and specialised weaponry, this ship represents the pinnacle of Romulan shipbuilding technology. It was built on the orders of the Tal Shiar's director of technology, General Varis. But on its shakedown run three years ago, the ship disappeared."
Kaiae's eyes widened briefly, then narrowed in a split second at this mention; making the obvious connection.
She looked around the room. "General Varis was my father, and when he passed away, he not only had me commissioned into the Tal Shiar, he also arranged for the Ourainavassa's tracking codes to be given to me, along with her command codes. In anticipation of trouble, the General had locked most of the ship's more advanced systems behind a code only he had. Specifically, its cloak is disabled, and its shielding, weaponry, and propulsion is limited in power."
The projected image changed to a map. "The ship is currently in possession of a band of pirates, who have offered it for sale. Some investigation has revealed that these pirates are somehow connected to the individual known as the Vulture. It is vital that we acquire the vessel, and any information it may hold."
The projection changed again, to a more zoomed-in view. "From what we were able to piece together, this is what will await us. The ship is held in an old shipyard, hidden in an asteroid belt. We will fly in under cloak, remotely disable the warbird's systems, beam a commando team including myself onto the the Ourainavassa, secure the ship, unlock her systems, and be out of there, using its full range of systems to aid our escape. We will then return to Drozana, where we will transfer the remaining crew from the Claw before transferring this old bird here into storage. It should be a straightforward smash-and-grab operation. By the time the pirates see us coming, it'll be too late for them to stop us."
"Hatham and I will be with the Colonel. It will be imperative that we keep her safe. Not that she can't handle herself," Ash added.
The colonel looked around the room again, sat back down, and switched off the projector. "Any questions?"
"If given the opportunity, once we have the ship, will we be able to...gather intelligence on Vulture from any surviving pirates?" Ash asked, avoiding eye contact with Mila.
"That bird will be heavily protected, because you can bet they know how valuable it is complete or parted out. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they've already started stripping it, so I would advise you to include engineers in the boarding party," Taryn offered.
Raven turned to Ash first. "Definitely. By any means necessary." She looked at Taryn. "We know the ship is intact, at least mostly. The veracity of the sale advert has been confirmed. But taking along our engineers was the plan from the start, to make sure she is running as needed. As for defences, that is why we are going in under cloak." She looked around the room. "Anything else?"
"You'll have to lower the cloak to beam people on board, so they'll see us coming and react accordingly. My shuttle is small enough to pass off as an asteroid, if the hull is ionised and inertial dampers are deactivated. Oh, and my shuttle can depart while the ship's still cloaked," Taryn suggested.
"And how are we going to get on board our target with your shuttle? Knock on the door and ask nicely for them to open the docking bay? We will need you on the boarding team, operating the tactical systems of the Ourainavassa once she is under our control, and I highly doubt you would just leave your shuttle out there in space to be found by pirates."
Raven turned to Mila. "You said you would be able to calculate a phase shift in our cloak that would allow us to beam through it. Any progress on that?"
The young scientist nodded. "I think so," she replied, with tangible nervousness in her quiet voice. "I will need to coordinate with engineering on that, see if our systems can support the necessary modifications, but I should be able to open a window for us to transport while still remaining nearly invisible."
The Colonel smiled. "There. A solution. The boarding party will be led by myself. Subcommander Kaiae will have command of the Claw once we transport over. Centurion Rogers and Lieutenant Taryn, I will need you two to work together and put together a boarding party. Rehana, you will lead a small party of technicians over once we have secured the warbird."
"Yeah...that isn't going to work, because this whole working together thing isn't my style. Either she picks the team, or I do, and based on what I've seen so far, it's not like there's many people who could hit the broad side of a barn anyway," Taryn said.
Nancy sighed inwardly, knowing how well that statement was going to go down. "I guess I better go along," she cut in, darting a caustic glare at Taryn and a warning one at Rogers. "Because with this sort of esprit de corps, we're as likely to wind up shooting each other as the pirates."
Ash glared at Taryn and practically growled her response, "Then I'll pick the team. You just get out of our way and we will keep you alive. I'll take Hatham with me." She then looked at Nancy. "I won't shoot her..." until after we secure the Ourainavassa was the unspoken end to that sentence.
"Please do, Rogers, because at least it'll all be on you when the brainless farts who can't hit a barn door with a banjo all get shot," Taryn said.
After Ash finished speaking to Nancy, Taryn concluded, "Thinking about killing me during the mission and making it look like an accident, are we? I'd like to see you try"
I'm going to have work on my death glare, Nancy thought, and directed a 'you better not be thinking that' at Ash. Then she switched to an eyebrow cocked at Taryn, who frankly struck her as the real problem. "Have you even seen anyone here in action? Because I think you have not, and frankly, tossing out these opinions and accusations makes me wonder if you're mentally fit to be on this mission."
Taryn had always rubbed Ash the wrong way, ever since the first time they met. It was obvious that she was just baiting her into a senseless confrontation. She didn't even dignify Taryn's last comment with a response. Ash looked at Nancy with an appreciative smile before looking at Taryn. "Quite frankly, I don't give a damn about what you think about me or my people. We have a job to do and it's to make sure everyone here comes back safe, and we have the Ourainavassa. And that includes making sure your self-important egotistical walking overcompensation for deep internal inadequacies ass comes back safe. But I'll be sure to tell my fellow brainless farts all about what you think of them."
Raven shook her head. Ash and Taryn were both skilled people and important parts of the crew, but this constant arguing between the two was going to cause trouble soon. "Right, you two," she said, her tone making it clear that she had had enough. "Lieutenant Taryn, Rogers outranks you. However, Centurion, I would hope that you of all people would be able to keep your emotions in check more. You can bicker all you want outside this briefing, but I pay you both to do a job. I expect you to work together as needed to get that job done."
Ash rubbed the bridge of her nose in frustration before looking Raven in the eyes. "My apologies, it won't happen again. You will have no issues from me." If she can survive getting tortured by the enemy for years, she can survive working with Taryn. She doesn't trust that nutjob, but she will work with her. "This mission is far too important to risk over a petty squabble."
Raven sighed. "Rogers, you know our people best. You will be in charge of the boarding party. Taryn, once the operation begins, you will be on standby with your shuttle as a backup plan, in case anything goes wrong with the transports. I think it will be best for everyone if we keep you two apart. After all, nobody wants to add to Doctor Gable's workload by adding friendly fire."
Friendly... Ash had to resist the urge to roll her eyes. The thought of Taryn being the last line of defense between them and death if and when things inevitably go wrong makes her eyes want to roll back so far she can check out her own ass. She knows Taryn would bail and save her own ass if things go south without hesitation. But orders are orders, and it's not like she hasn't been in situations like this before. At least now she can expect being stabbed in the back, so that part of Taryn was refreshing.
Focusing on the rest of the mission at hand, Ash continued to select the boarding party. "I recommend Dr. Ralaa stays behind on the Claw. He's..." Ash looked at Nancy, trying to be polite, "better suited... for... that. But I will definitely have Dr. Gable with us. She can handle herself in a fight, and it never hurts to have a medic on a mission like this. Not that our crew is that large, but I do recommend keeping the boarding party small, but coordinated. We want to strike them hard and fast to decapitate their command and control before they realize what's happening. We will need to secure the bridge, main engineering, the transporters, and the armory, if we have time."
Nancy swallowed a chuckle. 'Better suited' to staying onboard was a massive understatement. But if she was injured on the mission, she'd be glad to have him working on her. Provided he had learned to manage time so she didn't bleed out waiting.
"Yeah, whatever, as long as I get paid I don't give a fuck what I have to do to get my money. I'd also suggest you call me Taryn, not Lieutenant, because ranks are bullshit, and some people clearly think it makes them superior to others," Taryn replied, pulling off the insignia attached to her collar.
Raven stood. Finally, she had had enough. "When you signed on to this crew, Taryn, you agreed to certain conditions." The anger in her voice was palpable. "Those conditions included wearing military rank, and following orders. You are in breach of your contract, and you are causing undue disturbance in the crew. You will report to my ready room after the briefing. And for now, you will either apologise, or get out."
"Yeah, all of this military Starfleet wannabe crap isn't going to work for me, so you can cancel my contract. I'll have my shuttle packed and ready to go in an hour," Taryn responded, standing up and walking out of the briefing room.
Ash watched the exchange happen and bit her tongue to keep from saying what she was hoping everyone else was thinking. Good riddance. "Colonel, we can't let her leave. She knows our entire plan. There's no telling if she'll sell us out, and everything we have been planning for would be for nothing. Once we get the Ourainavassa, I'll shoot her out of an airlock myself, but we are too close to have this loose thread dangling," Ash told Raven.
"I wouldn't agree with shooting anyone out an airlock, tempting as she makes it with that attitude," Nancy said, shooting an irritated frown at Taryn's empty seat. "But Rogers is right about her being a danger to us if she leaves before we have the Ourainavassa. She clearly has neither honor nor anything but self-centered pride, and that seems to be wounded. You know what they say about wounded animals."
Raven sighed and shook her head. "It certainly needs to be addressed. Not only does she know what we are planning, we also need someone to operate the tactical systems. But I will deal with that after the meeting concludes." She entered a few commands into the console in front of her. "Until then, the only way she gets off this ship is to blow it up. All airlocks and the shuttle bay are sealed."
Ash raised her eyebrow at Raven. "I can have Hatham keep an eye on her, quietly of course. I wouldn't put it past her to blow us up."
Rehana raised her hand. "You mentioned engineers in the boarding party. I volunteer! I've been wanting to get my hands on a ship as lovely as the Ourainavassa for years."
Taev eyed the woman raising her hand. He had heard an apt Earth saying for this meeting. “I’ve seen monkey shit-fights at the zoo better organized than this” was the phrase he had once heard decoded. Keeping that, and his opinions to himself, he spoke. “I am familiar with the Mogai class. I was assigned to the Anarhai until recently,” he said.
Raven nodded at both. "Excellent. Red, you were my first choice for the engineering contingent anyway, as I said," she added, chuckling. "I know, things got off track for a moment there. Get a handful of technicians to assist you."
She turned to Taev. "Very good. While the Ourainavassa has seen extensive modification, the basic thing should be the same. Once we have secured the ship, we will need you to take us out of there. Miles Lynn will take over the helm on the Claw for that part of the mission."
Xia picked off parts of her cinnamon roll and sipped her raktajino as she listened, her eyes ping ponging between the two bickering women with amusement, though the tension in the room wasn’t doing wonders for her headache. “I assume I am monitoring comms with the boarding party. Are you sure these old codes will work?”
Raven nodded. "Positive. You will need to monitor and maintain all comms throughout the operation, and warn us if an alarm is raised."
She looked around the room once again. "This is an important mission, and a sensitive one. We cannot allow anything to go wrong. Target location is roughly one day's journey away, but we will time our arrival to strike at an opportune moment. We depart Drozana at 0700 hours tomorrow. Make sure you have concluded all affairs here and report to stations at 0600 for pre-departure checks. Now, I have to deal with Taryn. Meeting concluded."