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How to Fight a Timeship - Temporal Shenanigans, pt. 2

Posted on Sat Apr 8th, 2023 @ 10:30am by Lieutenant Mila Lynn & Sublieutenant Miles Lynn & Captain Freya Mannerheim & Subcommander Kaiae t'Lien & Lieutenant Batsheva Olmert & Major Ashley Rogers & Lieutenant Hatham tr'Krotash & Lieutenant T'Ango & Sublieutenant Seira t'Reiza

3,610 words; about a 18 minute read

Mission: Chapter VII: Into the Storm
Location: Briefing Room, Ourainavassa
Timeline: 238704.24

Less than two hours had passed since Magpie had returned from its mission to rescue Gunnar Arnason in the past, when Mila called another meeting, this time to discuss the tactical aspects of going into battle against the Terran ship. She had decided to call everyone who would be important for a combat mission to the briefing - the Subcommander, of course, as well as the Chief Tactical Officer Lieutenant Olmert, her own brother Miles and Sublieutenant Seira as the ship's pilots, and Ash and Hatham as representatives of the ship's security team. She had also invited T'Ango, fully expecting that the Cat Dancing would play a role in the fight to come. Lastly, Captain Mannerheim, officially the commanding officer of the vessel they were planning to destroy, was also invited.

The Captain was the first to arrive to the meeting. She had changed out of her Terran Captain's uniform for what she assumed would be the last time, instead wearing a Terran uniform from the time of the Dominion War, accented in sciences blue, and removing all of the Terran insignia on it other than the Captain's rank pips on the collar, instead wearing one of Ourainavassa's communicator badges. She nodded a greeting at Mila as she entered. "Well, this is a strange feeling," she remarked. "I don't think any Captain of a ship would ever expect to attend a briefing to plan the destruction of their own vessel." She shrugged. "Well, it needs to be done."

"It's definitely happened before." Kaiae shrugged her eyebrows, seemingly unbothered by the concept in a general sense: The last duty of any commander whose ship was expected to otherwise be taken by an enemy or have to be abandoned, after all, was to destroy it rather than let that happen. Though this was admittedly a bit different in that it was effectively treason on Freya's part, having that meeting with the 'other' side, rather than with your own officers or those on another ship in your own service. "I suppose my first question is, is there any chance we can avoid a fight - just set some charges or otherwise sabotage her to blow on her own; or to cripple her in the midst of or in advance of our strike at least, and make our job more feasible?"

Hatham nodded at that. Like Kaiae, he knew a captain holding a briefing on destroying their ship was not that abnormal, though in his case, he could think of a few incidents where the circumstances were not SOP - there had been at least two such examples during the Reman uprising when Shinzon had replaced COs on key warbirds, which the original captains decided fell into the 'prevent from falling into enemy hands' category. "Destroying a ship through sabotage is much less risky and costly than a ship-to-ship battle, but it's best accomplished with inside aid. Since the Captain is under suspicion and Perez has resigned, we need credible imposters to infiltrate to pull it off."

Freya sighed. "Unfortunately, I don't think an infiltrator is an option, now that Rogers has returned to Amelia. She would recognise all the humans on this crew, and sending another species would not work either. I was able to successfully plant Miss Nakai's virus in the computer core, which runs on a modified version of the Tal Shiar code that's embedded in Ourainavassa's systems, but even that will only allow limited override access. No, a direct confrontation seems inevitable. I've been monitoring their communications, and they have now received the message declaring me a traitor, stripping me of my rank, and promoting Rogers to Captain."

She looked around the room. "However, they were also instructed to wait until the evacuation flotilla leaves before attacking this ship. Their orders are to try to capture it, and only to destroy it if that is unsuccessful. I think the reason they want the other ships gone is a simple one - while they may not be designed for combat, they are all armed, which would make an attack on Ourainavassa more difficult. That gives us an opportunity to strike first, which I think we should take."

"Captain, you helped save Arnason. We both owe a debt of honor and will repay it however you require," T'Ango said earnestly. "But, I must agree with our Romulan friends that covert action is always preferable to overt, especially when the stakes are this high. Terran Rogers might recognize the humans on this crew, but we have the individual holotech to impersonate any of them, and if that wouldn't work, we have our Rogers." She smiled at her friend, though it was the sly smile of one operator to another. "I'm willing to bet she could replace evil Ash, and I'll gladly help her take her counterpart out."

Ash furrowed her brow at her friend, "I hope that's not some misplaced subconscious thing stemming from me missing one too many of your birthdays..."

Mannerheim scratched her chin. "Amelia has a crew complement of 250, plus thirty MACOs. As much as I'd like to say we stand a chance boarding her, it'll be very, very difficult to pull off. In any other situation, I would agree with you completely, T'Ango. Disguising any operative as one of their own would only work if we can ensure that the person being imitated isn't on board, and from what I understand, Commander, no, Captain Rogers is not letting anyone off the ship, for any reason."

Mila raised her hand. "You said you had a virus that gave you a backdoor into their systems, right? Surely we can use that to our advantage somehow? Disable their internal security, sneak someone on board to sabotage some systems, and slip out again before they notice? Of course, we'd need to be able to transport in, and from the looks of things they have their shields up pretty much all the time now."

The Captain shook her head. "That's not the problem here, Magpie's transporters could get through that." She looked at Ash, Hatham and T'Ango. "Do you really think you could pull this off, board an enemy battleship full of Terrans that are armed to the teeth and probably under orders to kill anyone suspicious without any hesitation?"

Ash smirked and shrugged, "I've been involved in worse..."

Hatham pursed his lips, thinking. He personally felt that an opportunity to kill a bunch of Terrans might be welcome stress relief at this point, but there was no reason to be stupid about it. "If their shields are no issue for Magpie, could you transport us into the Captain's quarters?"

"If she's there, the three of us can take her. If she's not..." a smile spread on T'Ango's face. It was not a nice smile. "...our Rogers is biometrically identical. Can your backdoor get her command codes? Because if it can, we can lock everyone out of eveything and set it warping away while it counts down to self destruct."

Freya chuckled. "I like your thinking, but unfortunately it won't work like that. The reason we can use Magpie to transport you over is that the shuttle's transporter has the access code to Amelia's transporter, allowing transport from the shuttlecraft directly to the home ship, even when shields are up - but only to the transporter room. They've probably tried to lock it out, but Miss Nakai's virus will make sure that lockout didn't work. So, sadly, the transporter room is the only available boarding point."

She stroked her chin and turned to Mila. "Bring up the ship's deck plan, I have an idea."

"You'll need to bring Perez with you, they know their way around Terran tech and the way their MACOs operate, even though they won't be as familiar with this ship. Bring Ben Asher as well, the new girl in security, she's a human none of them have ever met. You'll need to make your way to the spore drive's core." She pointed out the location on the deck plan, and the transporter room on the same deck. "If we sabotage the spore drive and then force them to jump, I'm pretty sure it can be arranged that they either jump into the middle of a star, or that the ship rips itself apart. Or send them to the end of the universe or something. Anything they can't come back from."

Batsheva studied the plans. Every ship had a weakness. No matter how good it was, there was a weakness. Somewhere. She just had to find it. Her lover's name was mentioned. Of course it was. Of course she'd be going on this mission.

Then, it hit her. There was a weakness on a silver platter.

"You'll all be killed before you get near the spore drive." said Batsheva, looking at the plans. "We could use a tachyon pulse to force them to reset their shields. You could transport to any part of the ship while they're down. I can modify the shuttle to fire a tachyon beam. But you'd only get one shot. And you'd have to be close."

The Captain pondered Olmert's suggestion for a moment. "It could work. But it would be extremely risky. Sure, you'd be able to get in, but you wouldn't be able to get back out. And I can guarantee that the moment they pick up on the pulse, they'll know what's up, and where it came from. So we'd likely lose the shuttle as well. It's a feasible plan, but it's pretty close to a suicide mission."

"You're going to lose the shuttle anyway. Do you think they're going to let it sit there while our assault team transports aboard and tries to destroy their ship?" Batsheva countered, still studying the plans. "The best chance of this mission succeeding is minimising the assault team's opposition. If they're focused on the shields, they might not notice the assault team straight away."

Batsheva stood back, folding her arms below her chest.

"If it were evenly matched, I'd back your plan fully. But we're heavily outnumbered, outgunned. The team can steal another shuttle on the way out."

"Losing the shuttle isn't necessary," T'Ango objected. "and stealing another on the way out may be a back up plan, but it's not one I'd want to rely on. If we can get evil Ash's commands codes, then get us into the transporter room. If we can take out whoever's there fast enough, we can site-to-site to the Captain's quarters and use my original plan. If not, we use those to lock down the transporter room and mess up as many security protocols as possible. Then Hatham and your mate hold the room while Perez, Ash and me use these." She cast a sideways grin at Ash as she pointed to ductwork on the schematics, tracing a path. "From the access here in the transporter room, we can follow this to the spore drive core. Sabotage, high tail it back the way we came, and beam out. Or if they block that way back, then we fight through a steal a shuttle and the team in the transporter room can beam out."

Ash nodded, "That's definitely doable. I'm in."

"Okay, we'll use your plan." she said. It seemed like a plan was already decided. Her presence, in Batsheva's mind, seemed unnecessary. Her advice, suggestions pointless. She then turned to Freya, arms now unfolded.

"If a Tactical Officer is actually needed at any point, come and find me."

Batsheva then left the meeting.

Ash chuckled, "Well then...."

A fit of petulance worthy of a 20 year old Uhlan Hatham thought as he watched the hired TAC storm out. He cocked a brow at Freya. "How much are we paying for them?"

Freya shook her head. "What are you looking at me like that for, I thought you all refused to see me as having any form of authority on this vessel? Besides, she left just at the point where we were definitely going to need her input." She turned to Mila. "Ping her on the comm and get her back. The sabotage is only the first part of the plan, we still need to figure out how to force them to jump. Which would require using this ship's tactical systems."

Mila nodded and tapped her badge. "Lieutenant Olmert, your presence is still required at this meeting. In fact, we cannot continue the meeting at this point without our tactical officer."

Kaiae's took in most of the scene from the corner of her eyes, which otherwise appeared to be fixed on the display still. She should take control of the situation; and it was rather to her shame that she had not. But she had only a small idea how to handle all the various interplay of aliens at this meeting; and a lack of when it came down to it either Freya's knowledge of the Amelia and Terran protocols or Rogers, T'Ango, Hatham, and Batsheva's deeper, more expert knowledge of this sort of combat and boarding operations. It might make more sense here to let the humans and the Terrans handle one another for the moment; but it still left her feeling once again like she wasn't sure of that decision, and so also wasn't sure she wasn't failing in command again. Most commanders she'd ever served under would have shut down half of what had just gone down ages ago; and certainly would forcefully impose their will and charge now if nothing else. But most commanders she'd ever served had never dealt with this sort of mixed crew or situation, either. She was making this all up as she went; and mostly just hoped it wasn't too obvious.

It was impossible not to notice that the felinoid's ears had flattened back at Olmert being called back. Hatham couldn't blame her; his gut reaction was much the same. He did NOT relish the idea of having to trust that walking ego for anything. Especially since Olmert had been TAC for ...what? a week? So anything she knew about this advanced Romulan warship's tactical systems, she'd been taught by someone else. Someone infinitely less likely to stomp out in a fit of pique. But in the next moment he realized what Mannerheim must be doing - stopping a self-involved touchy merc with zero loyalty beyond a pay out from walking and selling them all out. Under other circumstances, he might solve the problem by neutralizing the threat permanently, but there were two of them and too many other urgent matters to plan it properly. And at least if her lover was on the boarding team, she might refrain from letting her ego get in the way of the mission objective.

T'Ango was not thinking that far ahead. To her, walking out like that was both unprofessional and dishonorable. "I assume we have back up if she decides to just sulk somewhere? The new merc can't be the only one who knows your tac systems."

Mannerheim snorted. "I could always ask Captain Rogers nicely. Or do it myself, if nobody else is available. Still, it would be quite good to have our tactical officer here for this, I mean, that is her job. With my knowledge of their tactics and the way they fight, I think I'd be far more useful assisting in commanding the operation." She scratched her thin. "You know, now that I think of it, we shouldn't disregard Olmert's idea of a tachyon pulse as a distraction."

She turned to the schematics. "We do not need to send in a boarding team at all, if we do it right. Or even mess with the spore drive. Here's my idea. We use the Cat Dancing to blast out a tachyon pulse. When Amelia's attention is diverted, we activate the virus, scrambling her command systems for about a minute or two until they reboot - which will stop them from raising their shields. And then we just empty our torpedo tubes on their biggest weakpoint." With a smirk, she pointed out an area around the Terran ship's main warp core. "Three or four solid hits should rip her to pieces."

"Use the Cat Dancing?" T'Ango's fur poofed. "My ship's a modified freighter - even if we could generate a large enough tachyon pulse, it's not remote control - one of us would have to be on it and didn't you just say that we'd lose the shuttle if we used that for the pulse?" She sat back, ears flattened and eyes narrowed. "If you're so chakking sure the virus will work before they can get shots off, use the Ourainvassa. She can take the hits if you're wrong."

Hatham frowned, thinking it through. He didn't like losing a proven rescue transport, but he liked even less that the Dosadi was right, if not only for the reason she gave. The Ourainvassa was unique and had been flagged as a ship taken by traitors, so her primary value in the rescue mission was drawing fire - not a worthless contribution, but one she could still accomplish as long any damage wasn't severe. "She has a point. Neither Rogers is a fool. I doubt the Terran one there won't immediately presume the Ourainvassa is behind the attack and turn weapons on us. Given the current situation, if it was me, I'd already have weapons locked on us as a precaution. So unless Mila can rig a cloaked drone that can deliver that tachyon pulse, we might as well be the ones to do it. We'll take the brunt either way."

He crossed his arms, looking around the room. "That said, what's the back up plan if the virus has been discovered and neutralized?" he asked, leaning in on 'Romulan paranoia', which any actual Romulan would call 'common sense'.

"The back up plan..." said Batsheva, returning to the room. She'd had time to calm down. Collect, regroup her thoughts. Think. " I take a team of my own and rig the warp core with explosives. If there's two teams, one of two scenarios. One. Their security is divided, making obstacles a bit easier to remove. Two. My team goes in undetected, rigs the warp core. Then we can augment the first team. It'd save wasting precious, expensive torpedoes."

The Captain scratched her chin for a moment. "Welcome back, Olmert, first of all. Glad you've decided to return to us." She turned to the schematic and pointed out the warp core and the spore drive. "We won't need to sabotage the spore drive if we manage to rig the warp core to blow. Doing that is going to be a little tricky, though. In the couple of hundred years that this thing is ahead in time, the warp cores have gotten a lot more solid. Which is why that was not my initial suggestion. That doesn't mean, however, that it can't be done."

She looked at the pilots, who by now were completely out of place in this meeting. "My apologies, the plan seems to have changed from ship-to-ship combat to a boarding action. Anyone not involved in such an operation, feel free to leave. We'll call you back if you are needed."

Returning to the schematics, Freya indicated for Mila to zoom in on main engineering. "As you can see, it will be nearly impossible to directly access the warp core. Instead, the sabotage team will need to use one of the control consoles to override any of the security functions of the warp core. My access code, thanks to the virus, should still be active and able to do just that. Then, you will need to find a way to force the core to overload and go into meltdown."

T'Ango lifted a finger, claw tip almost visible with frustration. "Point of order, or points really. One: If we can only beam over to the transporter room, then two teams have to beam there. I'm good with two teams each with a different objective for crippling the enemy, it's good tactics to force the enemy to split their security effort. But it doesn't guarantee anything if that virus has been nullified. Two: if the second team's chances are dependent on your access code working because of the virus, then it is not a back up plan."

Freya groaned. She felt as if this meeting was going around in circles. "There is a very simple way to test the virus. One moment." She walked over to a console, and the projection of the schematics disappeared. A few moments later, the projector came to life again, first displaying duty rosters, then the daily log, and, finally, some communications recordings between Amelia and the Terran admiralty.

"Look at the timestamps. How do you think I know what exactly their orders are? The virus works."

"Is there anything else?" asked Batsheva. She could tell the Captain was frustrated. "We don't have much time. I need to select my team and prepare the explosives."

The Captain nodded. "Right. Two teams. Olmert in charge of the warp core operation, Hatham in charge of going for the spore drive. Pick your crews, work out your plans, and reconvene in two hours. We'll make it work, somehow. We have to."


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