SD242008.26 - Plot Log - "Good News and The Other News"
Posted on Wed Aug 26th, 2020 @ 3:59pm by Brigadier General Jonathan Grey & Captain Jackson Esposito Dr & Lieutenant Commander Finchley Kerr & Lieutenant Commander Thomas Houston & Lieutenant Commander Ky'La De'Lenn & Major Orin Thrix & Lieutenant Yarinna "Fanthom" Hawkins
The Sincerest Form of Flattery
=^= Senior Staff Briefing Room =^=
Possibly the only undamaged room on the entire station, this room was a carbon copy of every other briefing room everywhere.
A long room with doors on one side and a line of windows on the other, this place was designed to host the most important people on the station. As such, the table was made of immaculately-polished oak, and ringed with the softest black office chairs money could buy.
That is, the General thought to himself, if anyone at Starfleet used money.
Standing at the window, he took a few seconds to breathe and centre himself, gazing into deep space.
Finchley arrived at the briefing room and entered. He saw the CO standing by the window and nodded his greeting as he sat in a chair at the far end of the table, awaiting the arrival of other Senior Staff.
Major Orin Thrix was the next to enter. He walked in the room and was sweating slightly. "Wow, who would have thought just getting here would be a physical workout." He said taking a seat. Then, he nodded to everyone around.
Jackson had taken a while to get to the main briefing room, he had spent the last 4 hours picking apart medical records and getting ready for the next round of side to side medical transport, his hair was a total mess and he looked like he had'nt slept "Greetings General" he said as he walked in his black lab coat flapping behind him.
Ky'la walked in carrying her PADD and tea, "Morning all" she said and quietly took her customary seat. She had the recent repair lists and it was long ones too. Her main worry was power and where she was going to get it from. She also wanted to get her beloved station away from that treacherous black hole!
As the rest of the senior officers from both Versailles and the docked USS Bolton arrived, the General took another breath and turned on the spot. Nodding to the eyes that rose to meet his own, he walked over to the seat at the head of the table and placed his left hand on the headrest.
Yarinna slid in quickly grabbing a seat watching the General.
Here, the General paused, dwelling on his own thoughts. His lips pursed, eyes flickered back and forth. Then, like a man resigned to his path, the bulky fleet officer slowly drew the chair back, and sat down.
"Hello everyone." he announced, clasping his hands in front of him. "Thank you for coming on such short notice. For those who haven't met me yet, I am Brigadier General Grey; Commanding Officer of Versailles."
At this he paused, waiting for this to sink in before continuing.
"As you've no doubt noticed, this station is being damaged by continuous exposure to the black hole on our doorstep. We may survive this long enough for the artificially-created singularity to break down. We may not. Either way, the Science department reports that this may take years. Even if the station survived, we'd be a ghost station, and no longer a centre of commerce and diplomacy."
"Which is why, after little consideration, I've decided to move the station."
At this proclamation, the General pushed a few commands on the mini-terminal and dimmed the lights, bringing up a large holographic image of the station and the black hole.
"In precisely three days, the station will be met by multiple fleets. Their sole purpose: the extraction of Starbase Versailles from the Black Hole's orbit."
One more button-push caused clusters of vessels to appear, each a different colour, and tagged with a different symbol of affiliation.
"Romulans. Klingons. Civilian. Starfleet. For reference, that last group is made up of local patrol ships, Federation Border Defence Network ships, the station's own shuttles and maintenance craft, and a group of Galaxy-class ships from Starfleet HQ."
As the General talked, the ships took up position on the opposite side of the station to the black hole. Tractor beams lanced out from each group, coupled with the glow of the station's own thrusters.
Gradually, both the ships and the simulated station moved away from the black hole, and the display moved the black hole down the table to indicate distance.
"Once we have reached a safe distance, we will link up with the Tristan and Isolde shipyard, which has been sitting beyond range of the black hole. Credit to our Klingon allies for towing it to safety before it could be shredded by the singularity."
Keen eyes spied the shipyard, whose framework had been compressed into a smaller size, appear on the hologram. It seemed to hover over the station, before lowering itself alongside the spindle and "landing" atop the rings.
After a moment, the holographic station began to glow.
"After we have locked down the shipyard, and channelled their power into our grid, we will disengage thrusters and reinforce structural integrity across the station. With the additional power, we should also have enough juice to establish a subspace bubble around the station."
The General paused for emphasis.
"At which point, Starbase Versailles will go to warp."
As if reacting to his words, the starry backdrop in the holo-simulation became streaks of light, flying down the length of the table.
"That concludes phase 1. Questions?"
"Yes Sir" Finchley said "what's the margin of error that's been factored in for the amount of ships pulling the Starbase, how many ships can we afford to lose before we pass critical mass and get drawn back towards the Black Hole? Also, I'm curious, you said that we'd have help from the Romulans and Klingons. Neither of them are exactly known for their generosity in 'free help', so what's in it for them for helping us move the Starbase?" he finished.
The General's eyes glazed over slightly as the stampede of questions went in one ear and formed some sort of plug inside his brain, turning his thoughts to mush.
After a few seconds, the mildly stunned CO realised his subordinate had finished speaking. He frowned as he tried to focus on what the questions had been.
"Alright. The margin of error is quite small for the ideal scenario, but we should still be able to achieve escape velocity with fewer ships; it'll just take longer and increase the risk of system damage as we pass through rough spots. There's no risk that we'll get pulled back towards the black hole, as we're maintaining orbit using our momentum and thrusters as-is. The further out we get, the easier things become. And as for the Romulans and the Klingons, we're primarily offering them the chance to put a 50-person garrison aboard the station, as well as a rep that will join the senior staff. Each."
"Also," the General added, briefly rubbing his temple, "in the future, everyone, please ask one question at a time. Next?" he asked, looking around the room.
"Did you want Intelligence to co-ordinate efforts with Station Security?" Asked Major Thrix
"Well I'm hoping we won't need intel during this specific exercise, but I'm sure Security can never have too many skilled assets on hand."
Thrix smiled. "Understood Sir."
"Also, about that matter we discussed earlier?" the General alluded to Commander Kerr, keeping it vague. "If this is the event, and that person tries to interfere in some way, I want you to go in hard and heavy. I'd rather lose some marines than lose the station."
"So, any more questions before we move into Phase 2?" the General asked, glancing distractedly at the moving starfield in front of him, and tapping a few keys to raise it a little further up.
Finchley sat and stared at the CO. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard him say, especially after the discussion he and Karadis had had with him not fifteen minutes before. He'd held back on information, vital information, that could possibly explain why De Jong and his syndicate were here on the station, not only that, but he knew Karadis would be going back into that vipers den not knowing the seriousness of what potentially lay ahead. Her life was seriously now at stake and she had to know about what the CO had just told the room.
"Yes, I have another question for you Sir" he said through gritted teeth "What time frame are we looking at for these garrisons to be in place on Versailles?"
Noticing the gritted teeth, the General pursed his lips.
"Not for a month or two." he said, checking a bullet-pointed list on his terminal. "I want the station to get where it's going and get settled before we add a hundred spies, thugs, and assassins to the station. Though I don't think they'll cause us trouble any time soon." he added, "As their reps won't be keen on losing their spot in the station's hierarchy. Which is exactly what'll happen if they mess us around. Your thoughts?"
"Personally, I think it's a grave error allowing the garrisons onto the Starbase in the first instance, and in the second, having Romulan and Klingon 'reps' in the bases hierarchy...that's just a recipe for disaster" Finchley said "we all know what they're like. If they don't get their way, the Romulans just sulk, and if the Klingons don't get their way, they have a temper tantrum and throw their dummy out the cot. If you want to give your Marines something to do, they can baby sit the Romulans and Security will take care of the Klingons. You're correct about what you said regarding having a hundred spies. thugs and assasins though..."
Doctor Houston finally spoke up; "General, I will welcome representatives from the Romulans and the Klingons in to the medical facilities. It's about time we got a medical exchange program going. I've been going back and forth in my head on the appropriate way to handle this...if we really are going to have garrisons from the Klingon and Romulan Empires onboard...we're going to need a security and Marine detachment in sickbay to keep the peace. The last thing we need is medical personnel getting roughed up because we can't contain the intergalactic pissing contest between our three governments."
"No Doctor Houston" Finchley said with conviction "you cannot have Security and Marines, if there's trouble I won't have my Security personnel put in danger by the potential of contradictory orders being given by the Marine Commander. I don't mind which it is you have, either Security or Marines, but not both and for the reason I just gave."
"Security only, Doctor." stated the General, flatly. "I'm aware that the Marines have been helping a lot of departments during this crisis, as they have the same fundamental skillset shared by all Starfleet personnel, and we've had little need for warfare specialists. That said, the marine department *is* focused on warfare, and I don't want anyone confused as to their purpose. Security provide, well, security. Marines blow stuff up and raid strongholds. You do not want them plying their trade in your sickbay."
Ky'la being quiet now had something to say...."General, between you and I, this station will not stand the stresses of......how many tractor beams? Even if I can get the station's SIF fields up to 105% over max.....the sheer alone will tear her apart. The damage sustained by the black hole has weakened several bulkheads and pylons, and I am not sure our own engines will be enough to help. If you plan on towing her out to the waiting dock, the beams are going to have to be placed in key positions and each beam will have to be monitored and readjusted to allow for the steady and constant pull by each ship. You can't just attach 30 or 40 ships tractors to her. The smallest...and I emphasise smallest misalignment of pull by even one ship,we will tear her apart. There can be no room for errors at all," she said, looking the General. Her face showed the seriousness of what was just proposed.
The General's face, however, showed more than a little embarassment.
"Actually, the math has already been done." he admitted, pushing some buttons. The warp-speed starfield was replaced by a grid view of the station, complete with the ships towing it. One by one, a series of hard-points were highlighted, complete with several lines of mathematical formulae indicating multiple tractor beams per point. Numbers floated around the ships as well, including engine thrust calculations, tractor emitter force ratings, and the specific nuances of each ship class' ability to project and sustain ranged power contribution.
"Starfleet isn't suffering the same power issues we have," the General explained, "nor are their engineers overworked keeping the station afloat, so they volunteered this plan a few hours ago. I'm told the key elements were handled by some high-profile group in Australia. They won several engineering awards, and their work is meant to be solid."
"Here." he added, passing a mini-padd over to her. "A copy of their work, plus their names and contact details. Go over it all with a fine tooth comb, and don't hold back if you have questions or concerns."
Taking the PADD, "You can believe I will go over it with a very fine toothed comb, and if I find anything, you will know about it, and fast," Ky'la said seriously as she looked at the PADD.
"Good. Thank you. Moving on. Stage 2." the General announced, deciding not to drag this out. He reached out and tapped on the control panel, moving the holo-image back to the moving star field.
"After approximately one week at low warp, we will arrive at the Azurean Corridor. Though we will not be entering the corridor proper, we will be as close to it as you can get without leaving Federation space."
Above them all, the moving star field stopped moving, and the simulation of the station dropped into normal space.
"Once we drop out of warp, we will begin Stage 3."
At the edge of the simulation came a large, black, spherical object.
"This is Rogue 17. It is a planet without a solar system, and despite appearances, it is blue. The entire planet is one big ice cube but, given a lot of work, could make a few million beachfront properties some day."
Another button was pushed.
Gradually, the station moved closer to the planet. With some tractor assistance, it was guided into orbit, and the ships departed.
"Now, before I continue, I want to tell you about a project that the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan admiralty have been working on for some time now. Termed the 'New Harbour Initiative', it is designed to address the surplus of refugees in all three territories, plus a number from the Azurean corridor itself."
"Put simply," the General continued, taking a breath, "the intention is to terraform Rogue 17. Before dropping over 2 billion refugees onto it over several years."
"The Romulans contribution to this project is the controlled detonation of multiple short-life singularities along the planet's path, to bring it to a complete halt. This will be completed before we arrive, so we don't have to worry about it." said the General, hoping that if he said it quickly enough he wouldn't worry about that point.
"The Klingons will be depositing a number of atmospheric purifiers onto the planet's surface, which will be manned at first by members of a Klingon terraforming group. Over time, the refugees will be trained to maintain and operate these, at which point the group will be extracted."
"The Federation's contribution will be two-fold. Firstly, we will be in orbit to assist with any problems the planetary governments have. Note that the planetary governments will consist of trained groups of refugees from the word "go", and they will be running the show on the planet's surface. We are not running it for them."
Here, the General's finger prodded one last button.
"The second part of the Federation's contribution is the addition of a solar emitter, plus a series of three independent warp cores, to the base of the station. We will be orbiting Rogue 17 once every twenty-four hours, and we'll be beaming down faux-sunlight the entire time in order to heat and illuminate the planet."
A glowing red object was attached to the bottom of the simulated station as he said this. Once connected, it glowed a bright yellow, and began warming the planet beneath.
"As we do this, each of the involved parties (Federation, Klingon and Romulan) will place a single, sealed dome on the planet. Each will be placed on the equator, for maximum sunlight, and will be evenly spaced around the planet. These will contain those initial, trained groups of refugees I mentioned, and they will take on the business of terraforming the planet and building new housing."
"Oh," the General added, slightly bitterly, "and we'll be handling all this with fewer personnel than usual because the admiralty thinks we need a challenge. Our reports have indicated to them that the civilians in the outer ring are getting by, barely, without our intervention. This, coupled with a personnel shortage in some other sectors, is why our standing compliment is being reduced from eight thousand to one-point-two thousand. Total."
"Well, that's everything. Questions?" asked the General, waiting for the storm.
In his minds eye, Finchley could see disaster written all over this plan, but he'd already said his piece about how wrong it was going to be having both the Romulans and Klingons playing such a major role in what was going to happen with the Starbase and Rogue 17.
He sat back in his chair and said "Nope, no questions here General, after all, what could possibly go wrong with having two of the most war like enemies the Federation has ever had in it's history terraforming a planet for two billion souls?
"The cold war between the Klingons and the Romulans has been going on for some time now, Commander." the General pointed out, standing up. "It's causing problems for the border worlds, the planets in the Azurean Corridor, us, etc." he explained as he made his way over to a side table, pouring a glass of water from one of the glass jugs.
"Unfortunately," he continued, between sips, "this sort of project is how cold wars wind down. Sides with no reason to trust each other banding together to complete projects for mutual advantage. If we can make this work, it'll bring the peace one step closer."
"And you think this'll have everyone sitting round the campfire, arm in arm sing Kumbaya my Lord do you Sir?" Finchley asked.
"These people are here to survive, not to sing songs." the General clarified, mildly. "If we keep them focused, and prevent outside parties trying anything stupid, we should be ok. A better question is; should this result in death and fire, do we call it quits? The answer is no. We pick up the pieces and try again. And again. And again. No matter the cost. Even to us. Is that clear?"
"Can you clarify for me what you just said there General" Finchley asked "no matter what the cost, no matter how many Starfleet lives it takes, you're willing to continue to sacrifice them till you think this Rogue 17 situation is working?"
"2 billion lives will depend on this planet remaining secure. True, I'm not expecting events down there to harm us up here. However, should a fleet arrive and attempt to bombard Rogue 17, then yes, I will absolutely lead this command in the planet's defence. Even if it means casualties. 'To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.', Commander. It's in the Federation charter." the General remarked.
Finchley could see the political minefield and nightmare that this was heading towards and a hundred questions then came to mind as he replied "Sir, the Federation Charter covers those planets that are part of the United Federation of Planets and it's then the Federation Council who decide what action, if any, gets taken, not us here on Starbase Versailles. You just basically explained to us that this is going to be a situation where terraforming is going to be taking place by the Klingons before anyone is put anywhere near it, so by the look of it Rogue 17 won't be a member of the UFP so won't be covered by the Federation Charter. You then went on to say 'we will be in orbit to assist with any problems the planetary governments have', now, what if part of that government doesn't join the Federation if they're offered a place, do we then force them to or do we walk away? You also said 'Note that the planetary governments will consist of trained groups of refugees from the word "go", and they will be running the show on the planet's surface. We are not running it for them', so does that then mean to say that it's 'we', the Federation, who decide who is hostile to Rogue 17 or do we leave it to the planetary government to decide? What if the planetary government decide anyone coming onto the planet isn't hostile, or what if the planetary government are divided, do we help them, or do we not interfere? Sir, forgive me, but this is a hornets nest that if stirred, could have unbelievably horrendous consequences."
Ky'la thought about what was said, "General, maybe it is not by place but, I agree with Cmdr. Finchley. This may not fall under the Prime directive but, aren't we essentially putting warp cores ahead of the ship? Then to top it off, reduce personnel? This is a volcano waiting to explode. I too see all kinds of disasters happening, especially with Klingons and Romulans in close quarters," Ky'la said shaking her head in utter disbelief as to what was proposed.
Yarinna was stunned and speechless. It was totally ludicrous and fool hardy. "General up till now I have remained quiet and patient. Versailles has the best fighter squadron in the quadrant, and they want to reduce my pilots and fighters? If both the Klingons and other rablerousers, no disrespect Cmdr. De'Lenn, decide to start some bull****, how do my people get control of the situation? Especially with less fighters," Yarinna asked.
"One at a time, please." insisted the General, feeling their frustration, but unable to share it. The burden of command meant that, to these hard-working men and women, he was representing this terrible force that was swooping down and snatching their people away.
"First, the fighters." he began, tugging a padd from his pocket and making a note of the other points while he still remembered them. "We are losing none of the hardware, so you should still be able to field the entire squadron. Here." he added, posting personnel numbers to the projector, which hung them in the air for all to see. "With 100 people, pilots and crews, I'm sure you'll see that this is more than enough. It just means you won't have as many support staff."
"Next, the Klingons will be terraforming the planet while we are there. The planet will not be a Federation planet at the start, but it will be located in Federation territory, and a third of the people down there will be Federation citizens on a Federation colony. There will be three governments; one each for the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan colonies. We are to help the Klingon and Romulan colonies when asked, but we will not have access to their regions unless they ask for it. Above low orbit, it is still Federation territory, and we decide who is hostile. Our space, our rules. Below low orbit, the Klingon and Romulan governments can work with us or choose not to."
"Now, I realise you all have strong objections here, but this is the situation, and we have to make it work. Do you have any more questions?" he asked, debating handling their concerns individually, as it seemed there were far too many fine details to hammer out all at once.
Finchley could hardly believe what he was hearing "General, this isn't a 'my bat, my ball, my rules' situation, the Federation simply does not, and more to the point, cannot, dictate that because somewhere a world has been dragged into Federation space, it can then just dictate that it's theirs. In respect to how we are able to defend somewhere, worlds or planets or civilisations need to formally apply to the UFOP and it takes quite a while for the process to fully take place, this world hasn't even been created yet so it cannot self determine. Disregarding 'all' of that for a moment, even if we were to see someone try and take over the planet and either or both of the Klingons and Romulans didn't ask for help, we can't just defend 'some of the planet', it'd need to be all or nothing because the attackers could use taking over the Klingons and/or Romulans part of the planet as a staging post to attack any Federation population that's there. I know this isn't what you want to hear from one of your Senior Officers Sir, but this is a political and governmental mess, and you're basically saying you'll do what you want and use the cover of the Federation as your excuse, when the Federation charter does not cover this situation, it doesn't even come remotely close. What you've just set out is in fact Marshall Law under your own terms and I'm sorry, but it's unlawful. There are alternatives, and they need to be explored."
The General stared at his new CSEC as the man gave a speech, debated giving a detailed response, and elected not to.
"The decision has been made, Commander. Fortunately your duties include securing this Starbase, not the planet below. If your people are required, it will be on a case-by-case basis, at the request of the regional government in question."
"Now," the General rushed ahead, "you know what we're doing, and I'll have dates and times in your message queues soon to tell you when we're doing it. If anyone has further engineering concerns, please raise them with the australia team, and if anyone has other concerns, my door is open."
With a quick tap, the holo-display shut off, and the room lights rose to a normal level.
=^= End of Log =^=
Brigadier General Jonathan Grey
Lieutenant Commander Finchley Kerr
Chief of Security
Lieutenant Commander Ky'La De'Lenn
Lieutenant Yarinna "Fanthom" Hawkins
Fighter Squadron CO
Major Orin Thrix
Chief Intelligence Officer
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Houston
Chief Medical Officer
Captain Jackson Esposito
OOC: For the curious, here is a breakdown of the new numbers by dept: 350 Security, 350 Engineering, 150 medical, 100 fighter pilots+crews, 50 marines, 40 R&D, 30 diplomacy, 30 science, and the remaining 100 split between intel, strat ops, and misc (flight control, quartermasters, etc).
Also, here's a picture of the station with the solar emitter attached (turned off): https://www.deviantart.com/euderion/art/Picards-last-journey-on-the-Enterprise-806397613