No Win Scenario
Mission 0 - Leaving the Blue Marble
Location: Deck 8 - Holodeck 1
Timeline: Day 5 - 1100 Hours
"Are you nervous?" Nokomis asked, her hands behind her back. "If you were looking for a silver lining, I may have found it. We'll all be dead in a few minutes." She was looking out over a replica of the Orion bridge. A small smile creeping onto her face.
Logan looked around the simulated bridge at the identical setting he was used to being in for the last two years as first officer. He turned around to see his new replacement, now that he was taking command after the untimely death of Captain Remington. Logan smiled at Nokimis, a woman he'd been friends with since childhood growing up on Earth. He smiled warmly. "Only to the extent that we won't actually be able to destroy the real Orion in here."
"You're no fun," she whispered back.
Logan offered her a knowing smirk. "Hey... Isn't that insubordination or something?..."
"Absolutely not sir. I have no trouble with your authority. It's your humor, or lack there of that I find difficult to follow." That was probably pushing it a bit. But they hadn't seen each other in several years and she'd missed their interactions.
At that, he frowned slightly and turned to look her in the eye. "I don't think the problem is my lack of humor. I was just making a light observation, Missy. Call it snark...?" He grinned at his first officer. It was true that they hadn't seen each other in a long time, though they usually kept up to date via subspace.
"Yes, and I was teasing you back." She replied, shaking her head slightly. "I think we're both a bit rusty."
He gave it some thought for a moment before saying, "Perhaps we are... Though, just a little."
At that moment, the doors to the holodeck opened where the Bridge's turbolift would be. In stepped, Lamar David, the leader of the task force. This would be the first time he had handed over command of a ship, all pending the results of what happened today. In his left hand was a tumbler of raktajino, his favorite drink. In his left, a PADD that would help him grade the test as well as control the simulation.
Lamar nodded toward the two officers, "Nice ship you have here, almost looks brand new." Sure Galaxies had more on the side of well... everything than his Excelsior, but his ship had a certain character that he found difficult to replace. "I can't tell you much about what you're going to see, but do you have any questions before your crew arrives?" The man's brown eyes moved between Logan and Nokomis.
Nokomis shook her head. "No Sir." This was Logan's show, she was just here for moral support and anything else he needed, an extra hand.
"Fair enough," Lamar nodded. He sort of took Logan's lack of response as an agreement of Nokomis. With a smile, the Captain spotted an empty chair sort of out of the way in a console that had yet to be converted to any position just above the tactical arch.
As the crew began to make their way in, Captain David took his new seat as an observer. With a sip of his coffee, he added with a sly smile, "Don't mind me, pretend I'm not even here. We will be leaving dock at Obsidian, just a few light years from the Romulan Neutral Zone."
As if on cue, T'Sai walked through the holodeck arch, which was this bridge's turbolift door. Without looking around, the Chief of Intel took her seat in the console nook just to the XO chair's right. "Lieutenant T'Sai, reporting," the Vulcan called out as she activated her console.
Barrett walked over and took the center chair, realizing that it was easy to convince himself that this was actually the center chair several decks above the holodeck. He nodded to Captain David and said, "This aught to be interesting." He tugged his uniform tunic downward before turning to his right and saying, "Ready to save the galaxy, Number One?"
"I was going for universe but I guess galaxy will do for now." She took her place on his right though there was something slightly intimidating about the chair. Perhaps it was this particular chair, being next to Logan and feeling as if she couldn't make a mistake and disappoint him.
In truth, there was little that could shake Logan's confidence in "Missy". They'd grown up together and had been there for each other during several strenuous life events.
Lewis entered the holodeck with a confident expression and a slight bruise on the side of his neck. His first days on the ship had been lucrative with a lady or two. He quickly spotted his station, heading down to take the seat. Even though this was a dry run without the chance for danger his adrenaline was going. Holographic projection or not, he was gonna pilot the hell out of this ship.
When the doors opened again, the CMO walked through and onto the mock bridge. When the doors closed, she couldn't even tell it wasn't the actual bridge. She looked down, visually confirming that she had her medkit, even though it was in her hands, and that her tricorder was on her hip. With a short nod to herself, she moved a few steps down the side of the bridge to take a standing position against the wall. "Reporting as ordered, Sir." She glanced around the bridge at the others already at their stations.
Eli was running a bit late. She hit the holodeck door as she was still attempting to pull her brown hair back in a pony tail. She rushed the door and the resounding thud as her elbow collided with the pneumatic door could be heard over the bustle of the virtual bridge. Grabbing her elbow and mumbling to herself she moved to her station. "Sorry, I am late sir." She replied casting a grin over her shoulder directed at Commander Barrett before turning back to her station. She had never run ops for a galaxy class but the motions were the same despite the size.
Barrett nodded firmly at Eli before looking away quickly to make sure everyone else was in attendance. While this was just a test of the crew's ability to work together, he took it personally that they did well. He didn't want to be embarrassed or worse, shake the confidence in Captain David.
Captain David sat back in his chair pressing a few commands on his PADD between sips of coffee. As the Bridge filled up, he looked toward the center chair below his own position. “Ready to take us out, Commander?”
Barrett leaned forward in his chair and nodded to Captain David. "Aye, sir." Looking forward at the helm, he said matter-of-factly, "Mister Lewis, take us out of spacedock, ahead one quarter impulse."
"Aye Sir, one quarter impulse." His fingers flew over the controls. "Underway Sir."
Lamar looked around a bit before tapping silently on his PADD again. This time, the ship would receive a distress call in a few seconds. Keeping a straight face, he called out. “Looks like I have Tactical.” With no one around to argue with him, the Captain took the console on the tactical arch, then brought up a side panel for his test controls.
Ozzie hated being late, but it had been unavoidable, and she hated beating herself up about things that couldn't be helped. She realized as she entered through the arch that her station on this drill had already been taken, and stood smartly so as not to disturb what was in progress until she could relieve the captain at her station, per bridge protocol.
“Sir,” Lamar stated. “We have a distress call coming from a civilian freighter, Groumal-class, named the Kobayashi Maru. They are headed toward the Neutral Zone, the ship will cross into Romulan territory in one hour at current speed.”
Seriously? The Kobayoshi Maru? Ozzie took a long deep breath. Either they should be prepared to cut their simulated losses or they had to hope there was a variant at play here to surprise them. As the captain at tactical finished his announcement, she motioned that she was ready and when he acknowledged her she took up her position seamlessly.
With a nod, Lamar quickly closed out the simulation console and took his position back in the utility chair. It was a better spot to enjoy his raktajino, and he could really get a sense of how the crew worked together from this vantage.
The doctor moved to the science console when Captain David made his announcement. She brought up the sensors, trying to see what it showed of the Maru's lifesigns, but they were still too far out.
Logan frowned at the viewscreen, as if he could see the distressed ship out there among the stars. "Mister Lewis, how long would it take us to intercept the distressed ship at maximum warp?"
Lewis did the quick calculations checking the distance. "Maximum warp, we're only about 30 minutes out."
"Set a course then Mr. Lewis, warp 9.6 and engage when ready." Nokomis uncrossed her legs figuring the program would move them forward to the event and that she needed both feet on the ground so she wasn't tossed when the fighting started and knowing Logan this was bound to be a bumpy ride.
"9.6, aye." His fingers moved over the board setting the course and speed. "Engines engaged."
Lamar tapped a few commands on his PADD, the thirty minute ETA seemed a bit excessive for a simulation of this magnitude. He adjusted the time to bring the Orion within sensor range at the tail end of the warp jump. They'd be well within communications range and dangerously close to a violation of the Neutral Zone treaty.
"Miss Isuri, let's go to yellow alert," said Logan. "We don't want any surprises from our friends out there..."
"Yes Sir, Yellow alert." As she followed the LCARS settings, she noted a change in the alert protocols indicating shields were to be part of yellow alert standards. She thought that odd, as yellow alert was not always a prebattle condition, but she rather did like the better safe than sorry concept behind it and followed through. "Shields are up." Ozzie brought up the settings that set off the yellow lights and keyed into the ship's intercomm. "Yellow alert, stations stand-by. Repeat, all stations stand-by for orders." Simulated representations of crew reporting in and Beta shift personnel arriving at stations scrolled on Ozzie's display. She entered a silent directive to have torpedo crewers sign in and give a readiness report on the weapons and launchers without charging anything.
Logan turned toward the ops station and said, "Lieutenant Kelly, what do the sensors show out there? What's the freighter's condition and are there any Romulan ships in the vicinity?"
Eli's fingers danced across the console as she pulled up the sensor reports. "The freighter's shields are at 5% with significant damaged to the weapons and propulsion system. I am picking up minor hull breaches on several decks with atmo decompression." She tapped a few other controls. "I am not picking up any other ships in the area, but I can't rule it out completely."
"It sounds as if they've been engaged. Either the attackers got what they came for and left, or they are still around, somehow shielded from sensors." Basically, they were there or they weren't which covered all the possibilities and was, Ozzie had to admit, thoroughly unhelpful. But it did amount to one conclusion. "We should stay on our guard."
Barrett nodded, realizing the situation had many unknowns but that he couldn't doubt himself or he wasn't fit to sit in that chair. "Hail the ship, Lieutenant Isuri. Let's see if we can establish contact."
"Hailing Kobayashi Maru, this is the USS Orion. We received your distress signal and are enroute to your location. We read your ship as damaged and adrift. Be advised, you are approaching the Neutral Zone. Please respond as to your status." Ozzie waited for a response.
In response, the Kobayashi Maru returned only static with very broken words that made very little sense before cutting completely into silence. It meant that either the ship had a damaged comm system or it was being jammed.
From her spot at the intel console, T'Sai spoke up, "Captain, I must warn you. If we continue on our present course, we will be in treaty violation in one minute." Her voice was unemotional and spoken as a reminder, giving no indication of her true feelings on the matter.
"Well it's no fun if we don't." Nokmois spoke quietly though she was pretty sure the comment could be heard by those around her. Usually more professional on the bridge she took the opportunity to play a little bit.
"Move to intercept, Mister Lewis. We can't let them cross the border. I have no doubt they will use this as an excuse to start an incident."
A smile formed across Lewis' lips. Finally some action, even the holographic kind. "Setting course to intercept Sir." He tapped the controls. "Course set and engaged."
When they'd gotten into range, Varina had tried again to get a bead on what their casualties might look like. Any readings were coming back fuzzy though, and she wasn't sure what to make of it. "Sir, I can't get a clear reading, but given their damage, I foresee having to take on some of their wounded."
"Keep an eye out for any tachyon particles Lieutenant Kelly, could give us the moments notice we need. They're out there somewhere." Nokomis replied.
From her experience working in the Empire, T’Sai spoke up, “Sir, any tachyon readings would come too late, a Romulan ship could be upon us without notice.” Just then, a beeping noise sounded from the Vulcan’s console. “Captain, we are now in treaty violation.”
"Fair enough," Nokomis answered T'Sai but her response was interrupted by console beeps.
As if on cue, the Kobayashi Maru slowed to a stop as a D’Deridex-class warbird decloaked directly in the path of the freighter. The gigantic green ship shimmered into existence without setting off any alerts, until now. The Bridge consoles set off a symphony of chirps and beeps as the ship now registered the Romulan warship as a threat.
This was the crucial moment, thought Ozzie. Would the captain call a red alert, with all of the implied charging phasers, loading torpedoes, and all hands to battle stations? She preset everything to go at the touch of a key on his order. But she knew there were other postures. The red alert call would escalate the situation quickly, where as a vulnerable position might be more diplomatic. Such an approach assumed that there wasn't already an attack in progress and that there was some kind of misunderstanding here. It would put the simulated lives of the crew at stake, but possibly prevent a war and save millions of holographic lives. "Orders, Sir?"
Varina watched the Captain, waiting to see what he would do. She had participated in many such simulations, though none as the Commanding Officer. The arrival of the Romulan ship didn't leave her in awe quite like it did the first time. For that matter, had this been real, she'd be on her own front lines in the infirmary preparing the Medical staff and the Sickbay to be sure both were ready to accept new patients, those of her ship, and the freighter. For the sake of the simulation, she was directing the doctors and nurses from up here. What she needed to do all depended on the Captain's next actions. So she waited.
"Hail the Romulan vessel, Lieutenant. Inform them of the freighter situation and that we are here to assist." Logan furrowed his brow as he looked out at the menacing image of the green warbird facing them. He tried thinking of the possible Romulan responses but then remembered when dealing with Romulans, expect the unexpected... Turning his head to Missy, he said, "Recommendations, Number One?"
"This is the Federation Starship Orion." Ozzie could be heard behind the command officers, hailing from her tactical station. "We are here in response to a distress signal from the Kobayashi Maru. We read her systems mostly offline and with failing life support. Our intent is to lend aid."
"Hmm, Mr. Lewis. When the Romulan ship fires, and they will fire first, please institute evasive maneuver Diza 17, you will already find it already loaded and queued." She leaned a little toward Logan. "I took the liberty of adding a bit of a show for the Romulans. Perhaps it will give us time to at least get some of the survivors off the ship . . . if indeed there are any."
Instead of responding to the hail, the Romulans unvealed a few surprises. Another two more D'Deridex-class starships decloaked just off the Orion's port and starboard bow. Alerts sounded as the two vessels behind the Orion went to the Romulan equivalent of red alert. The ship dead ahead of the Orion remained just as it had been since decloaking.
From his vantage, Captain David couldn't help but grin. This was the point in the test where a commanding officer's true character was determined. He remembered the feeling that he had when faced with the same situation. The Bridge was really coming alive, and would no doubt become a bit chaotic soon.
The doctor turned to her wall console and alerted the Sickbay to standby, and be ready at a moment's notice. She could see so many ways this could go wrong, and very few in which it wouldn't.
Barrett pursed his lips. The typical Romulan scare tactic. "While it's true that they are just as likely to attack as not, would it be in their best interests to destroy a Federation starship and start a war while they are still recovering from devastation?" He turned to Missy. "Risk is still our business. Take us within transporter range, Number One."
"I believe the Captain gave an order Mr. Lewis. Everyone keep your fingers hovering. Get us close enough to get a good lock on survivors but keep the engines hot. Are we getting any better readings as to what's going on inside that freighter? Number of life signs?"
"Diza 17 loaded, moving to transporter range."
T’Sai decided that now was the time to chime in, before things got pushed too far. “Captain, I must point out the readouts that I’m getting are not from recent Romulan developments,” she started. “Our ship and the Romulans are set to how things would have been in the mid 2060s. It is possible that we are playing brinkmanship with a pre-Hobus disaster Romulan Empire.”
As if to put an exclamation point on the Vulcan’s statement, the warbird on the starboard bow fired two warning shots. One blaze of green flares just in front of the Orion while the other just missed the shields surrounding the starboard nacelle.
"Shots fired, recommend red alert, Captain." Ozzie proposed from her station. It was a difficult recommendation, since the Romulans would detect weapons being charged, but it would put them at their best readiness.
"Make it so," he said in response to his chief of security's recommendation.
"Aye sir," She set the alert and all hands were notified of perilous conditions. Meanwhile, Ozzie was processing the earlier suggestion about a difference in timeline. Well, that didn't make a whole lot of sense, Ozzie thought. She would have assumed that the simulation would handle current events and not some kind of historical reenactment. She checked to be sure. "Ship chronometer reads the current year as 2375." Huh. So there was that.
Varina replied to the XO as soon as she could figure out what to say, and even that was unclear. "Sir, not all life signs are accounted for, and the numbers keep...shifting..." She frowned, wishing she could make sense of that. "As soon as we're in transporter range, I want to start bringing the worst directly to Sickbay."
Logan raised a hand to pause the series of events going into motion as he said, "Wait. They're shifting as in the same ones are phasing around or they are just going in and out?"
"Hard to say, Sir. The number of life signs is decreasing, but occasionally the numbers go back up by a few. I don't know of others are beaming aboard over there, or if the computer is having trouble with sensors."
"Echoes?" Nokomis asked looking at Logan. She moved to stand behind Dr. Hightower's console to see for herself, not that she didn't trust the good Doctor. She just wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Jackson kept up the maneuvers but the numbers were catching up with them. "Not sure how much longer we can keep this up."
Logan thought out loud to the bridge. "We won't be able to last long in this firefight against three warbirds. There's almost zero chance of dropping the shields even if there were people to be rescued. We need sensor confirmation at the very least, which we don't have. I'm not going to sacrifice over a thousand people on my ship for a potential hoax." He turned to Missy. "Do you think we should stay and attempt to continue the rescue with the information we have, Number One?"
"It is definitely suspicious sir. I'm inclined to think it's a hoax also, but I hate the thought of leaving if there really are people to be rescued. Still, it doesn't look like we have much choice." It wasn't as if the Romulans in her timeline were interested in starting a war when they were so crippled, but these were the Romulans of her childhood and she couldn't put it past them to lure them into the Neutral Zone if they believed they had the advantage. "Probably no chance of us tricking them into thinking there's more than one starship answering the call . . . in such a short amount of time." She recalled something in her youth about a battle but couldn't remember the details. Logan would probably know.
"If this weren't the holodeck," Ozzie muttered under her breath, "I could rely on my telepathy to find if they were real life signs or not." Just as well. Sometimes even telepathy was unreliable for any number of reasons."
Logan gripped the sides of his seat as he pursed his lips. It was time to make a choice and the decision was clear. "Helm, turn us about and plot a course to the nearest starbase and engage on my mark. Miss Isuri, launch two salvos of photon torpedoes, dispersal pattern sierra. Target the detonations at forty thousand kilometers in front of the Romulan formation. That should disrupt their sensors long enough for us to jump to warp but at the same time won't harm them." He was hoping to distract the warbirds long enough to make an escape. There was no way he was going to allow them all to die a meaningless death.
Jackson nodded, quickly typing in the commands. "On your mark."
"Aye, sir- " Ozzie entered the specific detonation commands for the warhead's telemetry and early detonation. It would be important to get the firing right and not have an accidental direct hit due to failure to detonate at the right distance. She accounted for the motions of the Orion and the warbirds and moments later received back all-go to fire from the launch bays. "Torpedoes are ready."
"Fire torpedoes..." He paused a moment as they launched before nodding his head. "Now, Mister Lewis!"
Jackson stabbed the button as soon as the order was given to begin the maneuvering sequence he'd programmed and felt the ship shift around him as it began its course.
Varina sighed silently from her corner as the ship accelerated. Had this not been a simulation, and had it been 3 years earlier, she would have argued for at least attempting to beam the other crew aboard, those now assumed lost. But if she were to be honest, sticking around any longer would have pulled them into a fight they couldn't win. Normally, the test simulation was meant to present more optimistic options until leaving was not one of them. And even if this Captain didn't get close enough, as it were, to experience the purpose of the test, she couldn't find fault with his decision.
The spread of torpedoes racing away arranged into a mathematically distributed pattern and then blossomed into a thermodynamic display, rapidly filling the space and dissipating against the shields of the Warbirds. The about-face piloting maneuver was so tightly performed that the Galaxy's tail raced out ahead of the wave as the drive engaged, and the space the Orion had just fled was consumed in fire.
As the ship departed the area of engagement, the holodeck controls froze along with the viewscreen. Logan rose from his chair and turned toward Captain David. "I don't suppose the debriefing will be too cringe-worthy, sir?
"We shall see," Lamar nodded towards Logan with a slight wink. The senior officer was not willing to discuss such matters in front of the other man's crew.
Lieutenant Commander Logan Barrett
Commanding Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Commander Nokomis Diza
Executive Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Elizabeth Kelly
Chief Operations Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Varina Hightower
Chief Medical Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Junior Grade Jackson Lewis
Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Junior Grade Ozanna Isuri
Chief Security/Tactical Officer, USS Orion
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Orion