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A Mission to Reclaim

Posted on Mon Aug 26th, 2019 @ 7:20pm by Commander David Braddock & Lieutenant Isabelle Verhagen [Braddock] & Commander Michael Wilcox & Commander Francheszka Braxton, née Mackelsen & Lieutenant Theodore Hawthorne Ph.D. & Lieutenant Doctor Ayasha Laith D.V.M., M.D. & Captain Jordan Hale & Lieutenant T'Lorok S'Karon CallSign: Lancer & Lieutenant JG Sikat & 1st Lieutenant Grayson 'Gray' MacKenzie

Mission: Episode 3: Gorn Hospitality
Location: Briefing Room
Timeline: 1/26/2389, The day of departure from XFY
Tags: Sylestia Laith, Sylestia

A whistle sounded, and then a shipwide announcement broadcast to every member of the crew. =/\= Braddock to all senior staff, report to the briefing room immediately. =/\=

David waited at the head of the table, a presentation ready on the room’s main viewscreen, and watched as the rest of the senior staff filed in.

S'Karon ambled in, wearing his habitual flight overalls, nodded to Braddock “Commander”.
He found a seat and made himself comfortable, his face fixed in that classic Romulan half smile.

Unlike in his last encounter with the CO, Hawthorne now entered in a well-pressed uniform, hair tidy. His was not a demeanor of military precision, but refined decorum, and he took his seat with a languid, comfortable air. “Good day, Commander. Lieutenant.”

Hale was the next to arrive. She nodded to the crew and said good morning before quietly taking her seat on Hawthorne’s left.

Sikat made his way in, selecting a chair that was unoccupied along the side of the table approximately halfway down its side. He settled in, pasture proper, and without a word unless he was greeted by another at the table.

Commander Francheszka Braxton entered with a stilted limp to her gait, the neuro-receptive servos in her left leg having decided to act up that morning… between preparing for her new assignment and still only having one hand available to work with, she just had no time to properly reset those systems. Mechanical hiccups were not the only thing troubling her mind however, as she entered… she had to make a concerted effort not to march right to the head of the table, where Braddock had taken up residence.

She wasn’t senior staff or even officially on the USS Devonshire’s manifest anymore, so it felt more than a little odd to be called in… even the importance of her current project to the joint mission that was about to unfold, did little to stunt the awkwardness of it all.

Fortunately for her, her nerve damaged ‘poker face’ was in full effect that morning too and her already awkward gait covered up any body language tells she might have otherwise given off about her uneasy mood. She pulled out a chair near one of the display terminals and practically collapsed back into the chair, creasing up the sleeveless black/grey vest and golden yellow uniform that Frankie had finally returned to wearing after many long weeks.

Doctor Laith soon entered quietly and in hir customary approved, modified uniform and labcoat. S/he was accompanied by a Thylacinidae close at hir heels. The CMO crossed to a chair giving hir a view out the windows, pulling it out so the quadruped could take her accustom spot out of the way under the table where she lay down. Bringing out a note PADD from somewhere Laith took hir seat, smiling around at those gathered so far. “Everyone’s so solemn, one might think we’re here to discuss plans for a memorial.”

Gray stepped into the room as Laith spoke growling at Laiths words, “Some of us have family in Gorn controlled space. If you want to make a joke about that, may I suggest you try comedy night.” Grayson said as he crossed the room to the table placing his PADD in front of a seat.

Doctor Laith hadn’t been aware of the situation. S/he’d simply been commenting on how quiet everyone was being. S/he was surprised and slightly hurt by the lieutenant’s reaction. “I’m sorry Lieutenant, that wasn’t intended as a joke.”

Karon snorted at the pompous Marine “What would you suggest? We cover ourselves in ashes, sit around and sing funeral dirges?

I think the fact that the Federation didn’t finish the job last time, left a deadly foe unconquered and then ignored the renewed Gorn threat for years until they caught you by surprise to be tremendously entertaining.

Besides, I thought you were a soldier, Lieutenant, aren’t you looking forward to going into battle, a chance to show your metal, a fight for family and Federation?”

“What exactly is your role in this? Besides getting people killed in the fastest time possible. I want to save lives not get people killed and if you have any other ideas on that I strongly suggest you voice them in the privacy of your quarters.” Grayson managed with barely contained anger he added as an afterthought. “Sir.” With gritted teeth.

“My role? I’m a fighter pilot, my job is to kill people as fast as possible.” S'Karon replied wryly “So those people don’t get close enough to this battlegroup to kill our people and trust me Lieutenant, we do save lives”

“Oh my,” drawled Hawthorne. “One engagement with Gorn ships and we’re already at the stage of devaluing life and treating battle as a cause for celebration rather than a necessary evil? We’re all bound by the principles of the Federation right now, which labels our war crime ten years ago as an atrocity, not something we should have ‘finished.’ I’d hope the senior staff of a ship of this caliber can remember their primary duty. Quick reminder: it’s not ‘victory at all costs.’” While he tapped his stylus against his PADD with studied indifference, there was an unusual hardness in the scientist’s eyes, a particular tension in his jaw.

“Oh yes, how very Romulan of me” Karon said with a smirk “Sometimes it’s hard to be such a peace-monger”

Doctor Laith wanted to speak up, but as s/he was the newest one here, s/he still wasn’t sure of the dynamic of the group, nor weather this was the usual banter between them. It made hir said, though, to think s/he may have triggered it. S/he bit hir tongue for now.

Concerned, Sylestia nuzzled her head into Laith’s lap where she attempted to encourage hir to fondle her ears and the rest of her head and shoulders; meanwhile wondering whether there was someone else in the room in need of her attention to settle them down.

~Why don’t you go see to that man who lost his family to the Gorn. See if you can offer him your ‘puppy-eyes,’ let him know we’re sorry for upsetting him.~

Sylestia did just that, she quietly went over to the man who turned out to be Grayson, and set a paw on his knee, offering him her best doe-eyed expression, and ears back in apology, and as a member of the councilor team, checking on the emotional wellbeing of her crew.

Not quite knowing what to do with the animal in question, his head tilted slightly, “What am I supposed to do with the furball?” He asked politely. Career military man who although a mother in many senses of the word had never actually allowed his children to keep a pet beyond school projects. “Will it bite?” He asked.

Doctor Laith didn’t want to interrupt the meeting, so s/he picked up hir PADD and brining up a text-communication app, accessed Grayson’s PADD and respectfully informed him that Sylestia was an Exchange Officer trained in therapy and let him know they were both just concerned for him and his family; as well as his emotional wellbeing.

Sylestia waited patiently by Grayson to see if he would respond to her.

Looking at his padd he stared at it in confusion. An exchange officer, really, what was he meant to do with that. "Uh thanks I think." He said with a shake of his head. Wondering all the time how he would explain this experience to a wealth of consellors he would likely eventually need to see. He however did not make an attempt to take what comfort was being offered by the officer in question and simply folded his hands on the table in front of him. Feeling slightly uncomfortable if he was being honest.

Michael shook his head as he caught the end of the conversation as he arrived, PADD in hand with his ideas and plans that Braddock had asked him to go over when they’d had their initial meeting in the hangar bay.

“We’re all on the same side here. Try and remember that.” He commented as he sat to Braddock’s right. It was hard not to take his old seat at the head of this very table, but one did what one must. “Captain Hale, Commander Braxton good to see the two of you again. Glad to see you’re not THAT much worse for the wear Commander.”

“Likewise,… sir,” Hale responded, catching herself before she called him Captain.

Commander Francheszka Braxton returned the greeting with a knowing nod…the seat at the end of this table had also once been hers as well, after all. “There ist a wrecked engineering console somewhere in reclamation storage vith meine old arm melted into it und a few new vires in meine Kopf, but…I’ve had vorse, ja?”

Frankie’s gaze narrowed briefly to Wilcox’s collar…he was also missing a part of himself, she noticed… but that was hardly a conversation for public discourse in front of the Devonshire’s senior staff. “How es dir und deiner family doing?” She asked instead, her Neudeutschsprache and Federation Standard mixed-patois speech, once again bleeding through the universal translators.

“Mom decided to go to Luna and stay with my sister.” Wilcox replied with a shrug. “So my extended leave of absence was cut short. Only way to get back onboard the Dev was as XO, and…” He shrugged again. “Well, here I am.”

“Well…three commanders on a vessel, at least for this mission, all of whom served as the commanding officer…” Braxton commented, a small smirk forming on her thin lips. “…I am sure that this vill in no way, lead to moments of awkwardness, ja?”

Now that the majority of the ship’s senior staff appeared to have arrived. Karon looked expectantly to the Captain.

Commander Braddock cleared his throat and fixed a level gaze at the assembled officers. “Everyone, we have received our orders and will be participating in the campaign to re-take the Canterra system. Most of you know this already but, given all of the additions and adjustments the crew has undergone recently I felt we needed to go over everything one more time; to make sure that everyone is working from the same information. Our mission is split into two operations, and three phases: re-acquisition, reclamation, and recovery. The first part of this broader Canterra campaign will be referred to as Operation: BLACK ARROW, it consists of driving Gorn fleet assets from the Canterra system and establishing in-system space superiority.” David pressed a button on the remote control he was holding, and a diagram sprang up on the viewscreen.

“Starfleet has assigned two battlegroups to this operation, and we will work together to achieve our objectives. The other group will be led by U.S.S. Hawai'i, which will be in overall command. As you can see from the group listing, Battlegroup Devonshire consists of ourselves and U.S.S. Tegetthoff as capital ships. Baltic, Caesar, and Trafalgar will fill the role of destroyers. Courage will act in concert with our fighter units, and Neptune and Voltaire will employ their advanced sensor capabilities to act as pickets, as well as filling other support roles as needed.”

Sikat listened as the summary of the basic premise of the operation had been set. The briefing seemed a formality to be sure people were working with the same information. He waited, glancing at others to be sure no one had any objections to the larger plan, His head turning a little so he could watch half the table for a moment then looking the other way so he could do the same for the other half.

“Intelligence assessments are that the Gorn will be protecting their mining operations as we assess Canterra to be one of their prime resource supply areas. However, based on preliminary sensor data, we also assess the majority of the Gorn fleet is collecting at Cestus or guarding their border elsewhere. I expect moderate enemy presence with likely 2-3 capital ships along with associated support vessels,” Hale informed the crew.

“I don’t see that being too much of a problem,” Wilcox observed and looked towards Braxton as he finished his sentence, “our cut in assets was to the ground forces component, not space. Even without a type six module installed we’ll be able to hold our own.”

Commander Braxton met her former Captain’s gaze with the irises of her synthetic eyes rotating briefly to provide a sharper focus. The decision to transfer the bulk of the marine detachment in favor of a more diverse collection of specialized forces (and also to bulk up the security and disaster response capabilities of Starbase Xavier) had been her call, not his…if Wilcox wanted to make an issue of it, they’d have to have a chat later about responsibilities and the foregoing thereof…a chat, Braxton conceded, that would be a lot easier for her to have, now that they were the same rank and Braxton was now outside the direct chain of command of the Devonshire.

“Agreed, especially since both Tegetthoff and Devonshire are currently configured as ‘pocket carriers.’” She pointed out, her eyes refocusing on Braddock. “The Capital ships vill probably actually be less oft an issue vonce the squadrons habst engaged, Gorn vessels oft cruiser weight und above are nicht generally configured for point-defense…the support vessels and any defensive constructs avround the Battlegroup’s targets though…”

She trailed off in thought for a moment before leaning back in her chair. “In any event, once ve’ve the soundly broken das Gorns’ snouts und established our presence, the Corps oft Engineers from meine Project CRAM, vill commence the first phase and begin fortifying our beachheads for further operations und establishing both relief und triage centers as the situation unfolds, ja? Ve vill probably need fighter escorts for ze landng transports if direct cargo-beaming is unavailable, and RECONning of das area.”

Meanwhile under the table, Sylestia stood, and crossed over to ‘mom.’ She’d been trying to listen and keep up, but somethings were hard to understand. She gave a slight lick to Doctor Laith’s paw-hand and placed her head in hir lap in order to check on hir.

Doctor Laith had been listening attentively. The thick accent from the woman down the table was a little difficult, but s/he thought s/he was keeping up alright. “I’m sorry for the interruption, but I have a question.”

“Yes?” Braddock prompted the doctor to continue.

Doctor Laith continued, “are we expecting this engagement to be solely ship-to-ship, or will starfighters be involved?”

“Yes,” Braddock informed. “The Gorn’s lack of small craft is one of our biggest tactical advantages over them. Ship to ship, their vessels are more heavily armed, more resilient, and overall more combat capable since they are single-purpose warships. We need to make the most of every strength we have, so our fighters will be joining with a squadron from the Tegetthoff, as well as maneuvering together with Courage, as I explained earlier. We will also be networking our sensors, to take advantage of another area where we outperform the enemy. Mission control in Module H will monitor and command our fighter units, while sensor control will serve as the primary hub of our battlegroup’s sensor net.”

“Then in that case captain, I’d like permission to setup an on-site MASH unit near or in each of the launch platforms for any wounded starfighters who may not be stable enough for transporters and whom need medical care more urgently before carrying them through the ship to sickbay.”

Karon let the Doctor speak then injected a dose of reality. “I don’t want unnecessary personnel hindering operations on the flight line during combat.

Any wounded pilot who is capable of making a landing is certainly in a condition to be transported directly to sickbay. Anyone so badly injured as to be unsuitable for transport would not be in a condition to competently control their craft.

I will also not risk having combat damaged fighters wrecking the flight line during a battle. Two months ago, the USS Mansfield attempted to land a fighter damaged in a meteor storm. The warp core detonated and killed twenty-three personnel. I trust the intention, Doctor, is not to cause more casualties.

As per current practice, injured pilots will be beamed to sickbay or recovered by support craft. Damaged fighters will be abandoned and recovered after the battle” He stated and folded his arms across his chest.

Doctor Laith hadn’t had a chance to meet this vulcanoid yet, but s/he felt he was being a bit abrasive in his response. S/he had heard of that incident on the U.S.S. Mansfield however. S/he frowned recalling the loss of life. “A tragic incident to be sure. I hope you didn’t know anyone involved, but if you did, I’d like to offer my condolences. No, you’re right, I would rather avoid a similar incident, but I can’t help but feel I’d still like a medical presence nearby in case something like that does occur. If I’m not mistaken, I believe there may be room outside the shuttlebay across the corridor perhaps?” S/he looked to ops then the CO and XO for confirmation.”

“That would be perfectly acceptable Doctor, pick your spot” S'Karon agreed “Decks Eight, Nine or Ten all have hanger access, just so long as your personnel are not getting in the way on the flight line”

“…and don’t let equipment get too comfy, either.” Braxton added in her gravel-laden tones. “…a lot of the extra medical and relief supplies have already been earmarked for use in the logistical plans for setting up triage centers once we make planetfall, for Starfleet and civilians alike…though I guess, if it’s set up near the hangar, it will also be set up closer to the runabouts for transport…”

“Thank you, Commander Braxton,” Braddock offered before continuing. “This moves us into the second part of our mission, once Operation: BLACK ARROW is completed and we have control of space, we will begin deploying assets to the moons of Canterra III. This phase of the mission is set aside as Operation: CLEAR DIAMOND, our orders are to secure the mining infrastructure and civilian population of the moons while inflicting as little damage to either as possible. In service to that we will be using our own marine and security contingent as well as the security forces of the other vessels and a larger marine force being carried by the Tegetthoff. The overall plan is to blast Gorn assets from orbit wherever possible, and make use of more targeted ground operations only where vital strategic points overlap with civilian infrastructure and populations”

“With that being said Doctor, once those areas are secured, you’ll be able to set up your MASH sites, keeping in mind the Marines also have their own medical support built into their organization. Once on the ground they should theoretically be able to handle their own casualties, leaving you free to handle the civilians.” Wilcox spoke up from his seat. “Ideally we’ll have very few of those civilian casualties from our operations, but until we get on the ground, we won’t know for sure just how gracious our Gorn guests have been to the local populace.”

“We’ll be ready to assist with any overflow the marines may encounter too. What about during the skirmish? What sort of ground resistance should we expect from the Gorn? Should I prepare a field team? What do we know about Gorn close-combat fighting tactics, should I be expecting blunt-force trauma, or large lacerations and puncture wounds – a Klingon-like style of battle – or more burns from particle weapons?” Then even another possibility occurred to hir, s/he gulped. “Animal bites? Should I prepare anti-venom kits?”

“We won’t know the ground contingent until we are in range for sensors,” Hale reported. “From our current assessments though, we do expect ground resistance and we assess with moderate confidence that the Gorn are likely using some form of slave labor at the mining sites. As far as expected wounds, Gorn ground weapons tend to consist of disruptors. Close-combat could result in deep lacerations and amputations, though, from Gorn claws and teeth,” Hale answered.

“Where a Klingon might deliver said lacerations or amputations with fine bladed cuts…the Gorn are far more likely just to rip the limb right out of the socket with their bare [claws]…or teeth, if you have really pissed one off.” Francheszka added with a jaded sigh, remembering the autopsy and casualty reports the previous CMO had compiled for her. “Severe shock and trauma are to be expected…and the Gorn are significantly more robust than a Klingon…no brachial redundant organs and systems, but it can take a lot of phaser fire to take one down if they start a charge.”

“Close quarters combat should be avoided but is often inevitable. Plan your counter tactics accordingly.” The elder commander finished with a more silent sigh…she was supposed to be here as the director of an SCE-led joint project attached to the wider mission, and yet she had just acted more like a tactical advisor or even…a ship captain. This change was definitely going to take some getting used to, still.

“I do believe l already mentioned it is a pity you did not finish the task last time” S’Karon said quietly “Now the good doctor and his patients will have to deal with the consequences of that decision…”

“We could go on saying ‘perhaps,’ and ‘if only’ forever,” Braddock retorted “We can learn from the past, but we are the ones here now, and we have to take on the challenge in front of us, not the one we want.”

Doctor Laith sensed the mood of the room was beginning to get depressed. S/he supposed it would be inevitable when talking about so much killing and death. S/he wished there was a better solution in deal with the Gorn. S/he’d met one once, a long time ago, and she wasn’t all that bad. They did slightly remind hir of the Klingons though; the Federation did find a way to make peace with them too… eventually. Tamara wished s/he could think of something inspirational to say.

“Close quarters combat with the Gorn and here I thought security was going to have all the fun.” Gray said smiling.

“With the Kingons’ and Romulan’s help, we successfully pushed back the Dominion horde, and now we’re exploring the Gama Quadrant even more than ever before. I have faith as long as we maintain old alliances we can team up and contain this Gorn threat before long. Before you know it, we’ll be back to ‘Seeking out new life and ancient civilizations,’ sooner than we all think.”

Sylestia paced under the table, she was going from person to person trying to figure out who needed her the most. Perhaps it would be best to just wait to see who came to her after the meeting. She loped heavily over to her hermaphroditic ‘mommy’ and plopped down in front of hir again.

Braddock surveyed the table, and no one else seemed inclined to add anything, so, he decided to bring the proceedings to a close. “Well, that’s it then, we have our mission, we have our resources, and we will use them to carry it out, dismissed.” he ended the briefing, turning for the doorway himself.


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