Some time earlier in the day, Zane had requested both departments of Security/Tactical and Strategic Ops/Intel to conduct a meeting together in probably one of the largest department auditorium/briefing room available on board the Aquarius. He walked through the corridor with his padd in hand, still going over reports coming in from his department as well as specific details about the ship they are serving on. Simply just making sure he was prepared for this collaboration between the two departments. Zane reached the door that led to the very briefing room, the room that he expects to see the entire staff of both departments in one single room.
“Lieutenant! Sir!” A voice came from just down the corridor, a voice he partially recognized and also starting to worry. Zane turned his head and he saw the very Ensign that he had hoped would be in the briefing room as well, but apparently was not. “Ensign Utsall. Running late?”
“No, sir! Not my intention.” She told him.
Zane sighed, “Except you’re out here, and not in there per requested timeframe.” Zane told her.
She lifted her chin up a bit, trying to hide her embarrassment, or anger…he isn’t sure just yet, still has to figure it out. “I just wanted to give you this before the start of the briefing, sir.” She held out a large padd.
Zane once more sighed, taking the padd from her and looking it over. “What are these?” He pointed at the dots.
“Locations on where some hidden Phaser Pistols would be, in case we were boarded and needed to act quickly.” She explained then pointed at the bullet points. “Each one is explained here on where they would be located.”
Zane licked his lips, trying to not sigh again especially when he felt a little annoyed. “Ensign. You are once again doing something without being told.”
Zane held up his hand. “I will take this and go over it with Commander Q’orvha. But this is the last time. You are not to do anything unless told to, understood?”
Zane saw the look of defeat in her eyes and couldn’t resist sighing, placing his hand on her shoulder to keep her from activating the door sensor. “Look. If no one else proves to be a worthy candidate of being my Assistant, I’ll consider giving it to you. But it is not a promise. All right?”
Zane now saw the look of pride…maybe joy…in her eyes, before he had let her go and watched the double door split open to let her in. It’s now or never, so Zane followed right behind her and headed straight for the podium in the front. He knew this briefing room also had an office for department heads to use, but he was not going to assume that Commander Q’orvha was in there or not. He turned his attention to the crew of both departments who are in their seats, aside from Ensign Utsall sitting down right now. “We will begin once the Chief of Strategic Ops and Intel arrives.” He told them while setting his padds down on the podium, turned around and started setting up the display screen to bring up the Master System Display (MSD).
Instead, the screen brought up the image of a shadowed figure in a dark room. “I am already here, Lieutenant”. The figure spoke, before the image vanished and the screen finally brought the schematics and information monitoring feeds that were expected from the Master Systems Display.
To the side of the briefing hall, a door opened to the darkened office and the tall pale figure of an athletic woman, dressed in Klingon-designed armour and a heavy brown robe, strode forth from the shadows with the hood of her robe pulled long over her head.
“Computer, lower ambient lighting by 5 deflhr.” She stated with fanged teeth brimming behind thinned greyish lilac lips and the computer beeped in acknowledgement as the briefing room darkened to an ambience that was just slightly brighter then what one could expect on the Aquarius’s bridge when a Red Alert was ordered.
“Pardon the theatrics.” The Klingon woman stated as she pulled her hood back, revealing ivory skin and darkly dyed and thickly dreaded hair, bound back in bands of metal and leather. “The opportunity to make such an entrance is…very rare, in my current line of work so I decided to allow myself the indulgence when it presented itself.”
Zane had blinked when the screen had changed like that before returning to where he was setting it up to. Then his attention diverted to the door when it opened and watched as the hooded figure, dressed in entirely a Klingon outfit while the lights were dimmed to their request. Zane couldn’t help but smirk a little at the comment and then shrugged his shoulders. He could understand the reasoning for dimming the lights but being entirely in a Klingon outfit? Either it was fused to their skin, or they came from some assignment and had not changed to the Starfleet uniform.
“If I was in your line of work, I probably would have done the same.” He then cleared his throat and looked at the team before them. “As some of you may be aware, I am Lieutenant Zane Bates, the Chief of the Security and Tactical Department on board the Aquarius. And the woman with the most theatric entrance I’ve ever seen in my career, is Lieutenant Commander Q’orvha, the Chief of Strategic Operations and Intelligence Department. If you don’t mind the introduction, Commander.” He smirked before continuing. “The goal here is to get ourselves familiarized with one another, because we will be working closely together for the safety and security of the entire crew on board this vessel, including the Command Crew, which consisted of but not limited to, the Captain and First Officer. If anything happens to them, we would objectively failed our jobs, then the risk of morale and a weakened command structure would put the entire crew at risk and we cannot allow that. We will not allow it.” Zane then stepped away from the podium to give Commander Q’orvha a chance to add their piece.
Q’orvha walked up to the podium, which seemed like a child’s prop in comparison to her almost 7-foot tall frame. “Indeed. My department is relatively small here, all things considered…just a handful of forensic data analysts and a few encryption specialists, plus the odd expert in foreign affairs that we pull aside from Commander Hyden’s cultural xenology pool on a case by case basis…The Aquarius’s main mission after all is one of humanitarian aide, and the Resolute Class in this current configuration is a second tier cruiser, at best. Not a lot of berths devoted to tactical specialists and warriors.
”To be absolutely clear on this, just because Starfleet has assigned a non-combat configured vessel to a relief and aide mission, allow yourselves neither complacency nor apathy. Even if our mission was in the heart of the Federation and not on the shattered and lawless frontier of the former Romulan Neutral Zone and border worlds, we should be ever vigilant and ready to safeguard this vessel, her crew, and the mission with our very lives, should it come to that.”
Q’orvha’s voice bellowed out through the hall, even without the help of the audio enhancement systems installed in the podium. Her accent gave harsh emphasis every now and then to certain words, so that the assembled audience could feel the weight of those words in their bone marrow. She had once commanded a Klingon Bird of Prey…and captaining a Klingon ship often required those dramatic skills, both to keep the crew inspired and also in line. Life on any Klingon vessel, even the largest of the Negh’var dreadnaughts, was often cramped, harsh, and smelly…balancing morale and discipline were literally a matter of life and death for any commanding officer in that fleet.
Doubly so when such a vessel went rogue and it’s crew turned to outright piracy.
”The security briefing reports that will be sent to you on our primary area of operations barely cover a mere third of what potential and certain dangers await us…and believe me, as I have already read the reports on this ship’s compliment of crew and materiel…we will be running the risk of finding ourselves understaffed and outgunned, especially for a ship of this size.” The Klingon paused, both to let her prognosis sink in and to take a deep breath to refill her lungs. “The first step to victory is knowledge; Without it, we enter each fight having already lost…hence this briefing.
”Lieutenant Bates,” Q’orvha said, turning to the Security Chief. “Is there any particular area or threat you would like to start with?”
Zane lightly cleared his throat before stepping up to her side at the podium. “I doubt that we will need to cover the Borg threat, as we have not had much contact with them since the Battle of Sector Zero Zero One. But we will go over it another time. I believe our main concern, since we are still in the region of Federation space that borders closely to the three Romulan Governments, try to prepare for possible incursions. Such as the Tal’Shiar. Then there is the matter of any rogue Klingon factions that has the capability of surgically altering one of their own to appear almost perfectly Human, and I have no doubt that they have improved to avoid any discrepancy from medical scans. Long as we prepare ourselves for these particular threats, we should not have a problem with any other threat out there. But the longer we work together, the more we will prepare ourselves for the unexpected, Borg, Species Eight Four Seven Two, Hirogen and even Dominion. No doubt there will still be Changelings who disagree with the treaty that ended the war.” Zane paused for a moment to think it over before looking to the Commander. “You have been out there more often than I have, that I have no doubt. Which do you think is best to cover first?”
“Well, I doubt we’ll have to worry about Hirogen hunters in the Beta Quadrant.” Q’orvha commented. “And while the Neutral Zones could be rife for infiltration opportunities back during the Dominion War, it’s been over three decades since and the collapse of the Star Empire makes for a less tempting target for shapeshifters…a supernova did more to destabilize this region then the Great Link ever did before, during, or after that conflict.”
The Klingon went silent for a moment, memories of the Dominion War surfacing up…she had been a young captain at the time, assigned as gin’tak for a great house to recently command an old bird of prey in their private fleet. When War was called for, first against the Cardassian Union, then the Federation, and then finally the Dominion themselves, all of those private fleets and house crews were absorbed into the Klingon Defence Force as was custom. She had spent most of that time raiding in small “flocks of prey”, or delivering allied special forces and intelligence agents behind enemy lines…Starfleet Shadow Operations teams, Reman Commando squads, Klingon Raiders…even Tal Shiar Agents (on two occassions at least, that she could confirm…one could never be certain with the Tal Shiar). It was necessary work and she excelled as a stealthship commander…but it had also kept her out of most of the bigger and more glorious combat.
Any other young klingon warrior would’ve grown restless in the subtle and inglorious nature of the tasks: Q’orvha had thrived on them, even the challenge of actively avoiding conflict that would complicate or give their mission away.
“That all said…” Commander Q’orvha stated. “The Borg and 8472 have the technology to pose a possible threat anywhere in the galaxy, no matter how improbable these days…however, the Borg do deserve a special mention here, or rather, their technology does.
“Let’s get that out of the way first.” The Klingon picked up a PADD from the podium and after a brief moment to retrieve the information and decrpyt it with her security clearance, before displaying the file on the large viewscreen on the wall behind her. Even with her clearance, some sections were still blanked out.
“The Borg have always had an interest in the Neutral Zone and the first contact with a Beta Quadrant species and the Borg is believed to have occured in the Mid-2300s with the complete destruction of several Romulan borderworlds on their side of the Zone. In fact, it is believed that it was these string of mysterious attacks that caused the reversal of the Insular Policies by the Senate and a return to acting openly on the Galactic stage once more.”
Q’orvha could almost feel her voice becoming flat and monotone as she delivered the information. Such reports were often better with a fair bit of poetic flair that she just did not have in her at the moment. “Since the collapse of the Star Empire, more and more information has been ascertained as to the state of the Borg encounters with the Romulans and their response. Until very recently, this included extensive research projects into salvaged borg technology, including a damaged Cube known as the Relic, which was opened up to joint scientific study after it fell under the purview of the Romulan Free State…in addition, a humanitarian measure was taken to free and rehabilitate many of the drones still alive, many of them Romulan. You may look all this up by searching the Computer for the term ‘ExBee’ or ‘The Relic’…which last I heard had been crashed into a planet that is now under the Federation’s protection…so while I doubt the Borg themselves might show themselves, do be aware of their technology showing up amongst the other actors. Pirates and Mercenaries are rather…adaptable…when it comes to combining the technology of others…much like the Borg.”
Zane didn’t see the need to add more so he remained silent and listened closely, learning more from this briefing than he thought he would.
“With that out of the way…I would say that the most significent powers in this region are as follows: The 3 Successor States of the Romulans, meaning the Free State, the Restored Empire, and Republic…” Q’orvha tapped on her padd and a threat assessment summary of each of the three romulan organizations appeared. “…though many of these are suspected to just be puppets of the Tal Shiar in the end.
“The bloated Corpse of the Star Empire has also brought the Klingon Empire more in to the region, often just small vessels…scouts, raptors and bird of preys, acting as privateers and raiders. This also includes more rogue elements such as exiles, which brings us to the next major players: Piracy and the Criminal elements” Exiles and pirates like myself. Q’orvha thought as she worked the padd again, this time bringing up a string of cycling Wanted “sheets” across the screen. “The Neutral Zone, as a political void between two opposed forces, had always served as a staging area for pirates, criminals, fences, information brokers, the Orion Syndicate and Ferengi Free-Marauders since it’s creation.
“As you reach the point known as the Triangle, the region of space created by the joining of the three neutral zone borders between the Romulans, Klingons, and the Federation, the more clustered these honourless dregs and blackguards become.”
Zane waited patiently before speaking up. “With that said, everyone will be given plenty of material to study up on. We will give you some time but eventually we will schedule a holodeck simulation of how to deal with these threats if they ever came on board the ship or if we encountered them while on any type of away mission. You could be simply escorting a bunch of scientists and them stumble upon a hive nest or ambushed by pirates. How you handle those situations and protect the lives around you, is something you should know and be prepared for.”
Zane then smirked, “Not to toot our own horns prematurely but I intend for us to be the best in the fleet and if anyone wishes to challenge us in that regard…we’ll think of a challenge that we can best them in. So I know that we will be asking a lot from you, and I mean it, but try to have fun with it. You learn the best when you’re in a good mood, so if I see any frowny faces the next time we all gather, you’re going to be the first to endure our tests.” Zane then waited to see if the Commander had anything left to say.
“…right.” Q’orvha eventually replied to the Lieutenant, after a pregnant pause and a long side-glance. While personal discipline had never been a standardized thing across Klingon vessels, with carousing and other frivolities being a matter of course to maintain morale of restless warriors, Q’orvha could not help but feel some rising concerns with the light-handedness displayed by the younger Security Chief so far…then again, this was really the first time she had ever spent with the man and her own internalized instruction told her to resist harsh judgements on initial assumptions.
”I shall have summaries of reports and available information on each potential known threat and hazard copied and send to each of your personal datapads over the next few days…study them, memorize them, let them guide your own investigative research to gain more depth.” The Klingon Strategist spoke, her voice emphasizing with seriousness and severity. “The mind is the weapon with the greatest potential in any scenario, and knowledge is the fuel that makes it run. Feed it well and win a hundred battles before they even begin.”
As she finished her quote, Q’orvha took in a deep breath as her own thoughts began to conjure of up the smell of burning blood candles and incense wells, the noises of pain sticks crackling with energy upon activation, and the stifled screams of initiates desperate to maintain the facade of stoicism in the face of painfully-reinforced lessons at the unrelenting hands of a strict abbess.
That had been the crucible upon which Q’orvha had been forged as a child…it remained to be seen if the multitude of obviously junior officers and crew assembled for the meeting would be able to measure up on Starfleet training alone.
Q’orvha picked up her own PADD again and worked it’s controls for moment, before the viewer altered the displayed information to a specific topic, displaying the symbol of a raptor-Aquila quite prominently at the top. “With that in mind…let us begin our in-depth briefing with the successors to the Star Empire…beginning with the Romulan Free State…”