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Open Eyes, Open Ears

Posted on Tue Jan 26th, 2021 @ 10:53am by Commander John Collins & Commander Sarah Deco & Commander Garran Suliborn & Lieutenant Jack Carver

Mission: On the Verge
Location: XO's office, Deck 1
Timeline: MD 01, 0900

As the senior staff left the briefing, Commander Collins looked down at his PADD, apparently idly. Within a minute, his eyebrows raised, but he proceeded back to his office nonetheless.

Some time later, Commander Deco got pinged as soon as she stepped off the bridge, where an Ensign was at helm and getting his flight time in. Commander Collins's voice, after the usual beep, emerged from her combadge. "Commander Deco? Commander Collins. Could you come to my office? Got something here I need your expertise on before we go deep into navigation planning." At the same time, requests went out to Commander Suliborn and Lieutenant Carver to the same effect.

Sarah didn't waste time in acknowledging the request and headed to the XO's office. The two of them hadn't had much one-on-one encounters since their very first one in which Collins had tried to introduce himself. That hadn't gone over too well with Sarah. Aside from that, they hadn't really talked, but had kept things courteous enough while on duty. Determined to keep it that way now, Sarah cleared her throat as soon as she was admitted entry by the XO. "You wanted to see me, Commander?"

"Yes; I've asked Commander Suliborn and Lieutenant Carver to join us given what specifically we need to talk about, so I'll hold off on going further til they arrive. Meantime, you want anything to drink?"

"I'm good, thanks," Sarah shook her head. Going from meeting to meeting, she'd spend half her time in the bathroom if she accepted every invitation for a drink.

Jack and Garran didn't take long to arrive either, both arriving at the same time. Jack entering Collins' office nonchalantly, Garran ducking as he stepped inside, still his ears brushing against the bulkhead. "You called, Commander?" Garran's deeply sonorous tone sounded.

"Yeah. If you'll all step away from the door a bit more," Collins instructed, not a hard task given that his office was actually kinda big for Deck 1, "I'll turn on the blockers and we can get down to business. Feel free to grab any drinks you need from the replicator." Once they'd all quit crowding the doorway, Collins tapped a few buttons on his desk console: First to turn on the jammers and fields that blocked surveillance devices (illegitimately placed or the opposite), second to lock the door so nobody intruded, third to activate a holoprojector that shone forth a projection from a nearby bulkhead.

"Normally, to get to Sokratis Colony from our present position, we'd take subspace corridor Two-Nine-Alpha to a point barely beyond the system's heliopause. There are, however, two problems we face today," Collins began then. "First, 29-Alpha comes right up against the Tzenkethi border. Second: The Tzenkethi have a new sensor array they just brought online. Garran, what I read from higher headquarters leads me to believe that even though that array is within 6 hours of Tzenketh at warp 6, it can pretty well read this ship like an open book if we were to get in range; considering we're newly out of refit, I think we might want to consider if the risk of being read like an open book as to the emissions profile of the ship is too much of an edge to risk giving them. Your thoughts as to the state of play, Garran? More broadly, for everyone in the room, what are our options?"

"First thought is, is Two-Nina-Alpha the only option? Could we skirt around Tzenkethi border space by taking a detour, without it affecting our time-of-arrival too much?" Garran mused, sitting down and rubbing his chin, contemplating. "Second thought is, if that's impossible, maybe we can just assume they're going to ping us and broadcast a bunch of garbage data so loud it'll drown out all our actual readings. Third thought, we just go as planned and when they show up we give them a show of force they'll tell their grand children about, letting them know that the Federation is not as toothless as they expect us to be. Though that still leaves the problem of the Tzenkethi having fairly up-to-date information about a Sovereign refit - tactical information we'd rather keep under wraps as long as possible."

Sarah had settled into a chair and listened to the exchange between the two officers. Why or why they wouldn't ever go somewhere beyond navigational issues, was rarely something she involved herself with. But then, when one of the contemplations got into her own area of expertise she perked up and shook her head when the officer was done talking. "The closest other subspace corridor is 96-Alpha, which would add almost a full day to our arrival at the colony. I'm pretty sure everybody wants to avoid a delay that long if there's any way to help it."

Collins brought up a map on the holoprojector. The surveyed extent of 29-Alpha was highlighted in blue, with 96-Alpha's track in green. He looked at it then, and winced. "Oof, yeah. If we take 96-Alpha at warp 8, how long from exit from the corridor is it til we reach the colony at warp 9?" Collins asked. "I don't necessarily want to push the warp core to that extent, but even using 29-Alpha we'd get there in 48 hours; the usual standard is that the colony holds out after the report is sent to the nearest starbase for 72 hours. I really am unsure if they'll do OK after hour 72 if we haven't gotten there."

"We'd have to check with Engineering. But we should be able to reduce travel time with at least 8 hours if I can hold it at warp 9 for most of the way," Sarah replied after some quick calculations in her head.

"Can we send a warp capable probe ahead to scout the area?" Jack mused.

"That goes well with our earlier discussion," Garran agreed, then turned to Collins to explain. "We discussed dropping out of warp outside of the colony's defense grid and send in a probe to ping the grid, see of it hasn't been hijacked to treat Federation IFF signals as hostile."

Collins put on his thinking face for a second. "Just to clarify. Are you suggesting we launch the probes from the Solaria when we're within the system, or that we launch the probes - I am presuming class 8 recon probes - from standoff a light year away and having them drop from warp just outside of the defense grid's coverage area?"

"The latter seems also workable," Jack mused.

"Yes, which is why I want some clarity as to what I'll be briefing the skipper on," Collins replied.

Sarah nodded as she looked between the gentlemen. There wasn't much she had to contribute to this discussion, as long as she knew where and when they'd want the ship to be able to pull of their probes idea. "Standoff a light year away. Got it," she summarized the part that was important to her.

"That one, the stand-off one. We send the probe ahead, loud so the Tzenkethi and later the Sokratis defense grid ping it, while we take a safer route. If that's alright by you three?" Jack glanced from Garran to Deco to Collins.

"Okay. That works. Carver, I need you to get with Lieutenant Harper," Collins said, referring to the chief ops officer who'd come aboard not long before they left Spacedock, "on drawing up the precise plan of operations here. You and Harper will then brief the Captain before we execute. Deco, for right now let's take subspace corridor 96-Alpha to as close to Sokratis as we can at warp 8, then we sprint at warp 9 or higher to the probe launch site, where we'll wait for the results of the probes before we make an approach ourselves. I will brief that to the Captain before you get the execute order. Garran, you and I both know the standard requirements me and the CO need to see from the SIGINT and ELINT teams; figure we'll need written briefs every 12 hours as events progress, your option to move to every 6 depending on events on the colony." A look from person to person. "If there are no questions you're all dismissed, but if there are then let's hear them."

There were no questions, so the meeting wrapped up there.


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