Tavol stood at arm’s length from the security field and watched the man Sidda had retained aboard the ship, having called his name out twice now to get his attention. He studied the sleeping man for a moment, this being his first personal encounter with him. He was an older Vulcan, in his later years, tall but within a standard deviation of average height. T’Rev had cultivated a beard, which was not in style when he had left Vulcan or currently, opting for a blend of Human and Efrosian styles,
Presently he was lying on the bench that served as a seat and bed within the Klingon brig, the light lowered but not out so passing guards could still see in perfectly well. It was his sleeping nature, his distance from the security field and Tavol’s own confidence in restraining or delaying the man if need be long enough for help that led to him asking for the field to be lowered momentarily.
“You may use my proper title or name, but I am not your prisoner,” T’Rev said as soon as the security field was dropped, but he made no effort to move. The clink of a padd being set on the floor just inside the field, the snap and crackle as it sprung back to life garnered a further response. “I take it that is your initial scans and impressions of Ta’shen’s planetary defences.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement of fact.
“Yes,” was all he supplied as he stepped back, clasping his hands behind his own back. “First Mate Orelia,” he gave her the rank, seeing as his own understanding of ranks aboard the ship was still less than ideal, “said you had agreed to review it and supply any insights you might have into how we might circumvent the system.”
T’Rev’s movements were languid as he sat up, swung his legs over and then stood. A series of stretches from the elderly Vulcan told him all he needed to know – T’Rev might have been intimidating physically once, maybe even still so for a number of the crew, but he moved like an old man now. After a minute the padd was collected and activated, an eyebrow-raising and the man’s gaze lifted to him. “You have disabled all communications on this device.”
“I have had them removed,” he clarified. “The padd will also be subjected to remote wiping when you are finished with it, if not outright destruction. There will be no data transfer back to the ship’s computer.” He was merely stating the facts, laying out the conditions of T’Rev’s working with the data. There was a need to expedite their work and someone attempting to reprogram a data padd to enact commands on the ship’s computers in an attempt to escape was unproductive at best.
“Sensible precautions, I am impressed.” T’Rev’s attention went back to the padd and he idly flicked through the data present as he consumed it. Minutes passed, a human guard walked past with a rifle in hand, then went past again as time ticked on, two Vulcans standing in silence. There was after all no need to talk. “A remarkable network of weapons and sensor platforms. I would suggest that without other ships you should declare your losses and move on.”
“Unfortunately that is not an acceptable course of action.” Did T’Rev just smile at him? Perhaps the man was even older than he was led to believe. A medical scan from Doctor Ward might be worthwhile to ensure that he was of sound mind after all.
“Captain Sadovu is planetside and the crew’s loyalty is chaining them in place.” T’Rev’s attention went back to the padd, flicking back through the data. “Probes to spoof the ship’s emissions, targeted and destroyed as expected. Interesting, you sent two out at once.”
“I wanted to monitor communications between ground and space to see how well the control systems could handle multiple threats. You will notice that there is a difference in the responses.” He knew just what T’Rev was looking at, he’d prepared the information himself after all. “I would hypothesise that there is a limited control system in place augmented by Romulan controllers. The platforms in cluster alpha were slower to react until cluster beta had finished firing.”
“Control systems with built-in response delays before they act on their own versus platforms with controllers processing those queries or simply issuing orders as they see fit.” T’Rev’s attention never lifted from the padd. “And you tested a cluster on the far side of the planet, which had a delay as well. Controllers should have been able to fire immediately, instead, it looks like the entire system reacted on automatics.”
“Indeed.“ He stepped forward slightly. “My immediate recommendation is that any further attempts at breaching the network be done on the far side of the planet, but we would then be limited by orbital windows as to when we could act over the city.”
“And the maths would be dependent on how many platform clusters you eliminate.” T’Rev stopped and looked over the data. “The platforms never react without a confirmation signal. That is illogical.”
“A Romulan cultural more against automated weapons platforms perhaps?” he offered. “I admit, I had not noticed it.”
“You were most likely looking only at the clusters firing. The fourth probe triggered a signal from two separate clusters and neither even raised shields until a response from their control centre.” T’Rev held the padd up and he stepped forward to read the indicated sections of sensor telemetry. He had indeed missed it, focused on the problem at hand.
“How would you exploit this then?” he asked, continuing to read the small text through the security field. “You after all have the expertise in this matter.”
There was a huff from T’Rev, something he’d seen in other species when presented with a plainly obvious statement. There had been so many situations Tavol had noticed that response that he had yet in his entire forty-six years failed to definitively place what it could be. “This is why Captain Sadovu has kept me. To plunder my knowledge and skills and establish herself as a new pirate leader.”
“My experience and observations of the Captain say that is unlikely. She’s more interested in harassing and limiting pirating operations than controlling them at present.”
“A ruse I assure you.” T’Rev shook his head and lowered his arm. “As for how to exploit this piece of information, you would need a ship with a cloaking device, to which I understand this Klingon vessel possesses, a skilled pilot and engineer and a willingness to get your hands a little bloody.”
He stood there, staring at T’Rev for a moment, then tilted his head sideways in observation a moment more. “Very well, what is your suggested plan of action?”
Not twenty minutes later he called the senior crew together, which had apparently not gone well with Orelia. He put it down to him being the one to call the meeting, not her, and some archaic expectations of the structure of command. Possibly his being relatively new to the crew as well, though Sidda had seen fit to proclaim him as her science officer after all. Was it not logical that the individual tasked with working out a plan call a meeting when they had information to present?
“Right, what’s this about?” Orelia demanded once everyone he’d asked to assemble had arrived in the conference room.
“I have, in consultation with Prisoner T’Rev, come up with a plan for breaching the defences of Ta’shen and eliminating the threat of a reprisal.” He stood there and watched the changing expressions – Orelia’s anger fading under interest, Orin’s static look, T’Ael’s tiredness alleviated by curiosity.
“As long as no one puts any more holes in my ship, I’m intrigued,” T’Ael said.
“That is the intent. However, there will be a fair bit of work from Engineering to pull this off.” He pulled up a diagram of the planet and its defence platforms on the screen. It wasn’t to any sort of scale, but it conveyed meaning well enough. “We will need no less than fifteen probes, all fitted with emissions packages to spoof the network and draw fire while the Vondem Rose eliminates this cluster here.” The cluster on the far side of the planet blinked. “With the probes distracting the controllers, we can fire on this entire cluster and eliminate it before they raise shields. And one last probe can then flee the scene to make the controllers think we have retreated to try again.”
“Fifteen? That’s going to take a bit to pull off,” T’Ael muttered. “And my people want some rest after finding and fixing that power problem.”
“That is the easy part,” he added and watched T’Ael exaggeratedly slump.
“Really?” she challenged.
“Yes. We need to rig the ship for atmospheric flight, with the cloak online.”
She looked at him with utter disbelief. That was an expression he knew well from watching many more emotional people pull it when a Vulcan stated the obvious requirements to solving a problem. “You’re kidding.”
“No.” He tapped a control, the diagram showing the Vondem Rose slipping through the gap in the network and into the planet’s atmosphere. “We slip beneath the platforms under cloak and make our way to the city of T’ma’ru. Once there we can target the control centre, we drop the cloak and fire on it at point-blank range.”
“And that will bring down the network?” Orelia asked. “You sure about that?”
“Prisoner T’Rev spotted the control loop issue and I have verified it upon reviewing the data once more.” He was after all sure of it. Trust but verify had been a mantra one of his mentors had been fond of and it was remarkably compatible with the principles of Vulcan though. “I have identified the target as well inside the Governor’s Palace based on transmissions. Scans indicate a shield system in place, but that it is scaled to resisting ground attackers, not warships.”
“So, we fly a Klingon battle barge,” T’Ael said, a hand in front of her like it was a ship in flight losing altitude towards the table, “through an atmosphere, hover over a city and rain death and destruction on it until our problems go away?” She looked to Orelia and Orin. “Tell me you don’t have a problem with this.”
“I don’t,” Orelia said firmly. “We flatten the control centre, the palace and anything that looks at us funny until we rescue the Captain and our people.”
There was a solid bang on the table from Orin and his fingers moved with a pace that Tavol found unhelpful. His exposure to Orion Sign was growing each day, but a lifetime of experience likely helped when someone was signing in a hurry. The only words he caught were ‘No’ and ‘limited’.
“I’m with Orin,” T’Ael said. “Limited strike only, then we stand off. Seriously, we’ll have the high ground and all the big guns at that point. We don’t need to do anything but make demands and make demonstrations if need be.”
Orelia ground her teeth, he could hear it and just make it out as she stared off with Orin and T’Ael, then looked to him for backup, getting nothing in response. He was disinclined to engage in wanton destruction after all. Finally, she conceded. “Fine. Targeted strike. The palace will do.”
“Just the fucking control centre,” T’Ael spat out. “We need someone to fucking negotiate with.”
“I’m the commander here,” Orelia said. “We do as I say.”
“And I’m the engineer you need to make this all work.” T’Ael got to her feet. “Control centre only.”
“There are sixty other engineers on this ship!” Orelia said. “Some of them are even better trained than you too!”
“And? I’m the fucking best, you know it, Sidda knows it, they all know it. You want to make this ship fly like a bird, you need me!”
“Fucking hells!” Orelia shouted, then slumped in the chair she was seated in. “Fine! Control centre only. Go get to work.”
“I’m taking a nap,” T’Ael said, stopping a protest with a glare and a finger. “I’m exhausted, my best people are as well. We’re having a nap, we’re getting a hot shower and meal, then we’ll get started on converting torpedoes into probes and reading some Klingon manuals on how to make this thing fly.” She stood and marched for the door. “Some fucking idiot before us must have done it.”
As the door closed, Tavol shrugged and looked at Orin and Orelia. “I have already forwarded the relevant manuals to Ms T’Ael and Mr Bourne. His flight skills are the best of those remaining aboard and he has experience with large craft and atmospheric flight.”
Orelia’s response was to dismiss him with a wave, Orin’s was the stand and indicated the door with a head nod, joining him as he left. As soon as they were outside, the door closed, Orin signed at him, slowly and carefully. ‘Orelia owes Sidda a debt. Many debts. Letting her die would mean her debt goes to Sidda’s father, which she will not allow. This is why she is acting so rashly.’
“I see. Then perhaps we could work together to ensure our current commander achieves her goals but with an element of restraint?”
‘Yes. Now, I have questions about how you determined which building to fire. Show me.’ And with that Orin led him back to the bridge.