USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Diagnosing the Enemy

Posted on Tue Jun 21st, 2016 @ 7:47pm by Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant T'Mia & Lieutenant Commander Soren Himmel & Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant Noah Fields M.D. & Lieutenant Elijah "Eli" Dreznik & Major Storr Garlake & Lieutenant JG Imogen Kaz & Lieutenant JG Tora Benjarvi & Lieutenant JG Annie Wilson & Ensign Otoha Takahashi RN
Edited on on Sun Jun 26th, 2016 @ 8:57pm

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: Deep Space, Rescue Bound
Timeline: Mission Day 2; time 16:00

[ON]

The order had been given. USS Vindex had made her ritual departure from space harbor and was now outbound. Nurse Takahashi was given to impulsive proactiveness. Even though they were probably forthcoming in due course, she felt an inner spurring to find answers before those answers found her. Ship's computer wasn't much help. Information on the Consortium wasn't detailed, and details were what were needed. Otoha submitted a general request for a briefing. Unsure of who would respond or be invited to join, she wrapped up Sickbay duties and hastened to Ops Center. Dozens of questions haunted her as she traversed the corridors. If a battle was in their future, who was the enemy? What weapons do they use? What kind of casualties could be expected? What species crewed USS Renown, and what were their medical requirements? To what ecosystems might they be exposed? What radiations might be encountered in transit? Memory of her mother's admonition echoed in her mind, ~Listen first, child.~

When Benj had received the open request for a briefing, he found it a bit odd to be coming from the Nurse, but since it wasn't countermanded by the Captain, he went along with it. Each ship ran differently and if anything it would give him time to meet more people and also to confirm some of the information that he had gathered.

So with PADD in hand, and a phaser in his holster, he made his way up to the Ops Center. As he rounded a corridor, he bumped into another crew member. As he steadied himself, he reached out to steady the person he bumped into. He recognized her as a human female with what most referred to as Asian heritage, She was small, petite, smaller than the Captain. So far, Benj felt like a giant among the crew. She was wearing a teal collar, which denoted medical or science. He recognized her from her file.

"Sorry about that, Ensign Takahashi. I didn't mean to run all over you. I am Lieutenant Tora, Chief of Security." Benj motioned down the hallway that lead to the Ops Center. "Shall we? I look forward to this briefing of yours."

She offered the bow of politeness, "I hope there is no misunderstanding, Sir. I am not presenting a briefing. I requested that one be given. Knowing what species and hazards we are up against will help my department protect our crew. At the moment, I know almost nothing about the Consortium that we face."

"Ah" responded Benj, now it was more clear. Again, he started walking towards the Ops Center. He held up his PADD in his hand. "I have a little bit of information that I've gathered, however I believe it to be painfully inadequate. I fear that most of what we are going to learn about the Consortium is going to be first-hand experience. However, I will definitely share what I have. Hopefully we all have different pieces to the puzzle that will form a picture."

At the Ops Center door, he stepped aside, allowing Ensign Takahashi to enter first.

She deftly slipped into the room and selected a 'wallflower' chair. This meeting would offer good opportunity to study personalities of officers in this new crew and how they interacted. Once seated, Otoha assumed a quiescent, meditative poise.

Eli Dreznik came up immediately behind the pixieish nurse and the towering Security Chief, a PADD tucked under one arm and a steaming cup of black coffee in the other hand. Although he had never even heard of coffee until he came to Earth for his Academy training, it was now an indispensable part of his day. His eyes lingered on Lt. Tora for a moment, then Eli took his seat near the head of the table. He would be expected to be in the know about the Consortium...he hoped he could deliver.

Benj watched with interest as Ensign Takahashi tried to disappear into the background. He was about to choose a seat when the door opened again. This time it was a human-sh man walked in. Again wearing the teal, Benj assumed it was the Chief Science Officer. "Greetings Lieutenant", was his greeting as he, too, chose his seat. he walked a few chair down so that he was in the middle of the table. Then he pulled out his own PADD and began going over the details that he had collected.

Eli nodded and inclined his head toward the Bajoran. "Mister Tora," he said in acknowledgement and greeting. He was trying to appear aloof and disinterested, and largely failing.

Claudia had been planning to brief her crew prior to departure but such was the urgency that she didn't have time to fit a briefing in before the Vindex was given the order to launch. She entered the room and sat at the head of the table with her hands clasped on the table's smooth glass surface.

"Good afternoon all. I see we've still got a few people to arrive," Claudia said.

Late as ever Noah entered with a PaDD in one hand and a small thermos of hot tea in the other. Before taking his seat he nodded to Claudia and pushed himself closer to the table. "I apologize, I was asked to consult with the doctor on base. They had a Tamarian trader with a terrible case of gout. It took me two hours to figure out what 'Storka when the skies opened' meant." He paused before saying, "You don't want to know."

Benj smiled at the Captain as she arrived and then turned back to his reports. As the Doctor came in and sat down, Benj couldn't help but overhear his conversation to the Captain. When he talked about "Storka when the skies opened", Benj couldn't help but let out a suppressed snort of laughter. The ends of his mouth twitched as he tried to control a smile. Threatening to break out into a full-blown laugh, he coughed in his hand, but it was very obvious what he was doing.

The doors to the room parted once again as the ship's resident Vulcan effortlessly glided into the room and took her seat to the right of the Captain. She was neither early, nor late. She arrived exactly as she intended - and made no apologies for it. She had done her own reading regarding the Consortium and felt sufficiently prepared for the challenge ahead.

Nurse Takahashi discretely opened her wristbook down in her lap under the table to take notes. Rather than utilize a small holo-screen above her wrist, she instead viewed screen images via the tech contact lenses on her eyes. As her fingers curled inward to type shorthand, symbols and control buttons became clearly visible to her. As she stretched fingers out, they faded away. Her eye movements gave the appearance that she was staring forward and reading a book that wasn't there.

As T'Mia walked in Benj nodded in greeting to the XO. She said nothing and simply took her seat at the right hand of the Captain. Calm, cool and collected, thought Benj as he went back to his own notes. He read them again, but by now, he almost had them all committed to memory.

Himmel strode into the brief, not much paying attention whether they started. He was swamped with ship preparations and his timeliness suffered. He grabbed a chair further down from the presenter and took a seat. He had unfastened the top of his shirt to cool and had forgotten to fix it before arriving to the meeting. The engineer nodded to the others who were already present.

Why hadn't he been told about the briefing? Rather, Captain Garlake supposed as he strode towards the briefing room at an accelerated pace, why wasn't he informed about it in time? *No matter,* he thought as he stopped just short of the door, taking a moment to smooth out his shirt and run a hand through his hair and beard. He instinctively looked to the side for a mirror but there was not one; he had gotten quite used to them being strategically located at entryways to senior officer ready rooms and conference rooms on the Agamemnon, a Marine fast-assault ship. While physical vanity waxed and waned from Marine to Marine, a professional appearance was demanded of everyone in the SFMC and the mirrors were a passive way of both showing and expecting it. *Blou Fleeters.*

Storr entered the room and immediately realized that he was late, had no notes (like everyone else there) and was the last senior officer to arrive...at least according to his recent scan of the ship's command manifest and a quick assessment of the room. He chuckled and shook his head while (still confidently) making his way to the seat immediately left of Captain Ainscow. "5 minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable...my apologies, Ma'am" he directed to Claudia with a nod and the continued smile. Taking his seat, he winked playfully at T'Mia and then turned back to the Captain with his undivided attention.

T'Mia acknowledged the wink with a single raised eyebrow and a glance to the Captain before returning to her notes.

Akiva sauntered into the room and paused for a moment, eyeing each person in turn. He nodded toward an empty spot as if he had measured it and found it acceptable, and then seated himself. "Forgive me," he said in the clipped Hebrew brogue of his homeworld. "I had difficulty stepping away from a minor problem." With PADD in hand, he settled himself in and gave the commander his full attention.

Imogen had been working on the bridge when the briefing had been called. She walked swiftly to the meeting room and sat in one of the empty seats. "Sorry I'm late, I was waiting for my relief to show up!" She said, smiling softly.

Last to enter was Annie, she had forgotten about the meeting and she saw that upon entering, she was the last to arrive. She quickly made her way over to the other side of the lounge, finding the nearest available seat and turning herself to face Claudia. She was still nervous, and Annie found large gatherings such as this extremely uncomfortable.

Claudia smiled. "Thank you all for coming - I thought I'd let you know about who we're facing now we've launched. I'll try and keep it fairly brief as possible but I just wanted you to know a little bit about who we're facing. Our visiting Mission Advisor - Lieutenant Tolan - has briefed me on them as much as he possibly can. We're up against a group of people who are intent on removing our dwindling presence from the Gamma Quadrant because they're not very happy with us being here. Ultimately as a result they'll do whatever they feel necessary to remove the Federation's presence and assets from the Gamma Quadrant. They outnumber us on a massive scale and we're one of the few capital ships still on the Federation's side"

She paused before continuing.

"We're likely to be one of their key targets which is why we need to avoid them at all costs - so we'll avoid travelling at high warp speeds as much as we can and avoid the surrounding areas of their strongholds - at least that way we have a decent chance of avoiding getting into any firefights. Lieutenant Tolan has said they're extremely ruthless and they won't stop until they get what they want - and the remnants of the Federation's forces out here are tasked to stop them getting what they want" Claudia finished.

"I can begin working with Lieutenant Himmel on masking our warp trail," said Eli, with a nod to the Chief Engineer. "That would give us a slight edge, hopefully."

Nurse Takahashi was more than a little hesitant to ask, but the situation didn't make sense, "Please forgive my political naïveté, but if the Federation insists upon non-interference, then why is it forcing expansion and presence into a zone where we are not wanted? Is that not what precipitated the Dominion War?"

Benj spoke up. "Starfleet isn't about non-interference, though the Prime Directive does play a huge part of what we do. According to the Janaka Accords, we just can't build any more bases, colonize any more planets, but we can explore which is what we have been doing out here. According to my findings, a significant portion of the forces that we will face are former Starfleet vessels. The insidiousness of the plan is that for every neutral world they attack, it will be blamed on Starfleet. It will give cause for the Gamma Quadrant to turn against us. It could be war again, except this time it would be a United Gamma Quadrant we would be facing. We might even had to collapse the entrance to the Celestrial Temple to preserve the Alpha Quadrant."

As he spoke, Benj shuddered a bit. The thought of closing off the Wormhole and denying his people of their Gods was a very disturbing. It would forever change the fabric of their being. Suddenly the missing equipment made more sense. Not only did the Consortium need weapons... they need Starfleet weapons. Beam down, butcher a city and discard Starfleet rifles all over the place and put dead bodies in Starfleet uniforms and you have instant chaos... and pretty damning evidence that Starfleet was attacking colonies.

"We're not looking to expand our territory in the Gamma Quadrant Ensign - our one colony in the quadrant comes as part of Bajor establishing it prior to joining the Federation so it's exempt from the terms of the Jankata Accord. Our presence here is for exploration only - The Consortium however...aren't very happy about that. As for masking our warp trail it's certainly worth doing Mr. Dreznik - I'd like you to work with Mr. Himmel on implementing it" Claudia replied.

Eli nodded once. The Bajoran Security Chief had brought up a good point as well -- what if they needed to collapse the wormhole? He keyed in a few short commands on his PADD to send a message for the Physics division to begin coming up with contingency plans in the event that such a radical step were to become necessary.

Storr looked around before speaking to make sure that he wouldn't interrupt. "Concerning the Consortium and those in Starfleet that joined with them, are they being controlled somehow or did they defect of their own volition? I ask because, regardless, are we to attempt limiting turncoat-Starfleet casualties in order to capture as many as possible? And if so, should we start converting a portion of the ship for POW (Prisoner of War) facilities?"

"It was a mixture of both Mr Garlake - some people turned to them of their own accord whilst others were compelled to do so telepathically. Your idea is certainly worth bearing in mind but carrying a large number of members of The Consortium could be risky at the same time. It could be worth setting up a separate brig away from the main brig so if we do capture any members of The Consortium we'd make them a bit harder to find if their friends come looking for them" Claudia replied.

Otoha silently questioned the situation. A number of planets across the quadrant had begun suggesting that they would renounce Federation membership in a desire to form alliances that better aligned with their philosophical preference. Aware that historically secessionists have been maligned by those in power as being radical, she wondered just how true the portrait really was that was being painted of the enemy.

"If I may make a suggestion," Akiva interjected. "I do not note any telepaths on board, aside from the first officer, of course, and I do not see a ship's counselor among us. Might it be prudent to requisition an additional telepath from another ship? Perhaps a ship less vital to the success of the Task Force. Our numbers are stretched thin, I know, but I feel a ship counselor could prove the last line of defense in the vulnerability of potential infiltration or subversion." Akiva bridged his fingers and eyed Lieutenant T'Mia. "With all due respect, ma'am."

"Having an abundance of telepaths does not necessarily bring success," the Vulcan countered, "I have seen ships with no telepaths have just as much success as those with plenty. I would suggest we work with what we have, develop our own expertise."

Annie still didn't really understand very much, but she got the general idea. She continued to look at Commander Ainscow, choosing not to say anything unless she was spoken to first, thinking that she didn't have anything constructive to add to the debate the other officers were having.

Nurse Takahashi raised a hand, "Brain waves of telepathically dominated minds are abnormal. I request permission to manufacture personal medical warning bracelets. Using circuit design instead of software, they would be unhackable."

Akiva nodded. "I would like to assist however I can -- perhaps a periodic ship-wide scan to detect tampering or unauthorized removal. With the commander's permission, of course."

Storr nodded at a few of the comments and took some mental notes. Especially the one where he actually agreed with Nurse Takahashi on procedures.

"Perhaps we could also work with Security and Engineering to encode the phasers and secure passageways in the ship to respond only to those wearing an uncompromised bracelet," he said, inclining his head to the ensign in the corner of the room to acknowledge her original suggestion. Turning back to the Captain, he continued. "I'm usually the last to want to add technology into a system, as I subscribe to the KISS principle, but in this case it could help prevent unauthorized access by the telepathically compromised, though I recognize that it does nothing against those defecting of their own free will.

The nurse returned a light bow of the head. "I shall begin with the diagnostic devices and coordinate with Security on the weapon query responses."

"Consider my full staff at your disposal as well," Akiva said.

"Thank you, Sir."

"Might I remind you all that this is not a ship of war, despite our current predicament. Our aim will always be to uphold the true ideals of the Federation and nothing we do should compromise that," T'Mia spoke firmly, drawing all eyes to her after remaining quiet for a few moments. "I urge caution on these measures, Captain. The ships sensors need only be modified by someone with a compromised bracelet and we could be deceived, even if the bracelets continue functioning. We are Starfleet, we do not need to keep tabs on our personnel. We need to create an element of trust between us all. This situation with the Consortium has developed because they no longer trust the Federation, just like the Maquis in the last decade. By tagging our people, we will destroy that trust," T'Mia spoke quietly. She thrived in the devil's advocate role and it was her job to offer sound advice, even if it went against the grain of what everyone else suggested.

"I do not understand, Lieutenant T'Mia. Does not the ship already perform biometric check of anyone using a console to ensure that they have proper authorization? Are not officers given special code authorizations for specific actions? Cannot the medical diagnostic simply be added to that verification step? Anyone wearing a powered-on communicator can already be tracked and silently eavesdropped anyway." Otoha shook her head, "I also do not understand the 'ship of war' idealism to which you refer. If we truly did embrace the philosophy of pacifism and trust, then we would disarm in the manner of the Vulcan Surak."

"Defenselessness is a poor defense," Akiva agreed. "It is not jingoistic to utilize measures already available, but prudent. I should think security would bolster trust rather than weaken it."

Storr rested his jaw in his palm and looked across the table to the Vulcan First Officer. She was as adept at analysis as she was alluring, but he still disagreed as it seemed many others did as well. "Given our situation of having no retreat, no resupply, limited communication, the ever-present potential for ship-board insurgency and crossing into hostile territory with marginal intelligence, I would say that it's prudent. Besides, Murphey was an optimist."

Claudia watched with interest at the debate that was going on between her senior staff. There were some interesting points being made and it was a lot for her to bear in mind. She wasn't sure what to do - if they didn't act it could be a risky move - but if they did act and implemented tagging or other stringent security measures then they could lead to trust issues amongst the Vindex's crew.

"We've got a lot to think about that's for sure. We've already had a large quantity of phaser rifles disappear before we left space dock so we can't be entirely sure there's no Consortium agents or sympathisers on this vessel. The problem we do have is if we tag people...it could lead to distrust...and widespread distrust amongst the crew could lead to an opportunity for any Consortium agents who are aboard to strike. It's a bit of a catch 22 situation that we have here" Claudia said.

Nurse Takahashi appealed with eager hopefulness, "Everyone, the medical bracelet, or whatever form it takes, need not serve as a tracking device. Its circuit can be designed to only flash signals when the wearer's brainwaves become abnormal in a dominated way. They wouldn't need to function in any other way. Whether it is Borg, Consortium, or enemy moles, nobody will be able to tactically exploit the devices." She offered an assuring nod, "Everything hinges upon how the circuit is designed. People have worn medical alert bracelet devices for centuries. Seizures, heart attacks, allergic reactions, hypoxia, insulin imbalances,... harmful brain anomalies would simply be another medical aspect to diagnose. Please allow us to construct and present a prototype for consideration. You will see. It can physically serve only one function, if you wish. I certainly..." A thought struck her, and she suddenly stared off. She glanced around nervously and then quietly added, "Such devices will need to be calibrated for each individual to function properly."

"Very well. Create a prototype and come back to me when you've finished the testing of the device. If there are no more questions you are all free to go back to your duties. Thank you for coming everyone" Claudia said.

[OFF]



Cmdr. Claudia Ainscow
Lt. T'Mia
Lt. Elijah "Eli" Dreznik
Lt. Soren Himmel
Lt. JG Tora Benjarvi
Lt. Akiva ben-Avram
Marine Capt. Storr Garlake
Lt. Noah Fields MD
Lt. JG Imogen Kaz
Nurse Otoha Takahashi

USS Vindex
Bravo Fleet

 

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