Entering the aft section of the bridge after getting off the turbolift, McCallister had called for Slyvexs to join him and the rest of the members of the assembled senior staff. “Report?” He asked the small group that was gathering around the mission ops stations.
“The vultures are circling, sir,” Banfield immediately said. She pointed to one of the screens showing their latest long-range scans. “The Hazari have added to the number of ships that are now hunting us down, taking their grand total to forty-seven.”
“They really are going to make this hard for us,” Horin said as she crossed her arms against her chest.
“Have we got anymore as to why they attacked Jorgeh?” Hunsen asked from where he stood next to Banfield.
Duncan nodded, “It’s something to do with an old grudge the Hazari have against the Ryslanti.”
“Our guest in the brig, we believe, is their leader; he’s spent the better part of his life hunting down the ark that most of you were all trapped on last year,” Horin added.
“I take it that it has something to do with the impressive technology the Ryslanti civilisation had? Maybe they were the envy of many others?” Flemen wondered aloud from where he stood, next to Tomaz sitting at one of the mission ops consoles.
“You get a gold star for guessing correctly, Craigen,” The captain confirmed. “How’d you guess that?”
Flemen pointed to the screen behind his left shoulder, “I’ve spent the better part of my time trying to find out as much about the Hazari bounty hunter culture. Not only are they particular about fulfilling their contracts, but they would also make a Ferengi blush with how eager they are to get rewards if they take out someone else who is the envy of others.”
“Great, a bunch of eager megalomaniacs are on our backs that also have a strict work code.” Duncan sarcastically remarked.
Clearing her throat, Banfield pointed back to the scans. “Not just on our backs, but also in front of us. They’re hiding in that class nine nebula we were originally heading for. We’ve altered course. ”
Sighing heavily, McCallister rubbed his face before looking at Tomaz and Lenjir. “Tomaz, Cline, please tell me you have some ideas on how we can take them on?”
Tomaz looked up at Lenjir, who just gestured for him to answer the captain. “Unfortunately, sir, even though the Hazari vessels are smaller than us and appear to be using two different configurations and sizes of ships, we cannot consider taking them on in battle without the Odyssey being heavily damaged or worse, destroyed,” The Barzan strategic operations officer paused with his grimaced expression to take a breath before tapping a button on the console he was sitting at. A holographic representation then appeared in the middle of them all. It showed a model version of the Odyssey, and various other dots indicated the location of the Hazari fleet. “For now, we’re suggesting our best course of action is evading them as long as we can and use tactics that will keep us ahead of them. That said, we know they may be prepared for them all.”
“We’re working on how we can reduce our warp profile, masking our energy signatures as a start.” Hunsen piped in. “I’ve got an engineering team already looking into how we do that.”
“I’m also searching the Starfleet database to see if there is anything else we can do to help us be more stealthy without building a cloaking device.” Jen said, “However we would have to maintain radio silence for now. We can’t risk them Hazari tracking us if we attempt to get a message out to Starfleet.”
“Will they detect a hyper subspace data stream?” Duncan asked aloud.
Jines nodded straight away. “The power it takes to send those will be enough to light up our position. For now, calling in for any help from Starfleet is out of the option unless we want to show the Hazari where we are.”
“Commander Banfield does have one suggestion that may work, though,” Tomaz said, looking at the chief science officer. “It’s much more complicated than anything Cline, and I can come up with, but I think it’s worth considering as a battle tactic.”
McCallister and Duncan turned to her, as did everyone else. “Corella, what do you have?” The captain asked.
Using the PADD in her hands, Banfield readjusted the holographic model that Tomaz had started. “Using metaphasic shielding to protect the Odyssey, we enter the corona of a nearby star.”
“Won’t we burn to a crisp?” Horin asked, sounding concerned at that idea.
McCallister shook his head. “No metaphasic shielding has come on in leaps and bounds since its invention almost thirty years ago. As long as the shielding has enough power, we can remain in the corona for some time,” He crossed his arms as he looked back to Banfield. “That said, we can’t remain in a star forever. The Hazari will likely wait for us to eventually come out or send in their ships if they have similar defence technology.”
“Either way, we will be ready, sir,” Banfield explained as she tapped her PADD one more time, this time showing the Odyssey inside a sun. “Several years ago, I read a senior honours thesis on solar dynamics, which included an addendum where she put her theory into practice in the field. She reconfigured the tractor beam emitters to fire a particle beam onto the sun’s surface. It caused a solar eruption which ended up destroying an enemy vessel.”
“The Klingons used a similar tactic during the Dominion War; it took out one of the largest shipyards in Cardassian territory,” Tomaz added.
“Is it safe to do?” Duncan asked. “What if we get caught in the eruption?”
Banfield answered the commander’s concerns. “If the flagship of the Federation’s fleet can do it against a Borg vessel and the Chancellor of the Klingon Empire can do it with an old Bird of Prey, I am confident we’ll be successful.”
McCallister nodded with approval to the plan. “Okay, how long will it take to prepare everything?”
“I’m already working on the calculations; I need an hour or so,” Banfield answered. “I’d like to run a few simulations in holodeck three though with a few others, especially Commanders Jen and T’Rani.”
“That would be logical, as I have never flown in the inside of a star before,” T’Rani stated. “Captain, I have also been working on new evasive manoeuvres patterns that I’d like us to use.”
“Excellent; what else have we come up with?” McCallister asked his senior staff.
Tomaz took back control of the holographic display, “A few old tricks from the history books.” He pressed a button, and a simulation of the Odyssey firing a full spread of photon torpedoes from its aft launchers which were then destroyed by multiple shots from the ship’s phasers. The resulting hits caused shockwaves that hit enemy targets. “From the Battle of Vorkado, creating photonic shockwaves between enemy vessels, and hopefully either destroying them or at least disabling them.”
“Our targeting scanners are currently being realigned to do such a feat with better precision,” Lenjir stated.
“We’re also planning a few other diversions by sending some modified probes in different directions to emit fake Federation warp signatures,” Jen added. “I’m also looking into how we can use the main deflector to create an echo displacement to make it seem like we have reinforcements on long-range sensors.”
“I used a similar trick on the Triton over a decade ago to evade a Breen attack squadron,” McCallister stated.
“Echo displacement is not the only thing we’re considering,” Hunsen said. “Installing holo-emitters along the hull with parabolic mirrors to help enlarge holograms of smaller Federation ships, say Defiant-class and Aquarius-class ships and even fighters, might give us an advantage of looking like we actually have our own fleet protecting us.”
“It will take up a lot of our power reserves, but if we shut down all non-essential systems, we could do it,” Jen said, backing up Hunsen’s idea.
McCallister nodded again with consent; as he did that, Doctor Slyvexs finally arrived and joined everyone else. “I like it all, but as Tomaz said, these are only delaying tactics. Even the solar eruption may only take out a few of their vessels. They can still get more help.” He turned to Slyvexs, “And that’s where you come in, doctor; we need to find a way to convince the Hazari that both Jorgeh and Wylem are not the targets they want.”
Interrupting his captain, Flemen interjected. “With all due respect, sir, I cannot believe I’m saying it but a diplomatic approach may not be successful. There’s no room for negotiating a better deal with the Hazari. As I said, they’re pretty loyal to the contracts they make. They see a job right through to the end.”
“That’s why we need to remove my sons as targets, Craigen,” Duncan remarked.
Intrigued by what the captain and first officer meant, Slyvexs spoke up. “What do you need from me?”
Between them, McCallister and Duncan explained how they had told Y’Seki, the Hazari leader, that both Wylem and Jorgeh were Human and were related to Duncan and Court. Horin helped with extra details from their conversion in the brig with their guest.
“So if Y’Seki is convinced we have proof that both boys are Human, then they may leave us alone?” Tomaz asked, checking he got all of the facts straight.
“It’s a possibility, yes.” Horin answered, “However, without being able to read their minds or sense their emotions, I cannot be certain if Y’Seki has the integrity to follow through in calling off the attack.”
“So the proof would have to be that the boys’ DNA is fully human and shows traits from Commander Duncan and Chief Court,” Slyvexs stated as she crossed her arms and considered her ideas. “Thankfully, they look human enough, but I could create a retrovirus that could be used to introduce the appropriate genes into their make-up. A genetic pathogen could also be used to alter their Ryslanti DNA into Human proteins.”
“Will it be painful for them?” Duncan asked.
Slyvexs shook her head. “No, but I can’t be certain if I’ll be able to reverse the procedure once it’s done. We are talking about significantly altering their genetic code. Thankfully I have a doctorate in genetics.”
“If the Hazari do believe the proof that the boys are Human, they may quiz them on their lives,” Horin stated. “They’ll need solid backstories, and we’ll have to alter our records.”
“I can make the adjustments to the computer records to ensure they stand up to scrutiny.” Jen offered.
“Let me talk to Tobias about it all,” Duncan said. “But I’m assuming we don’t have much time?”
Tomaz shook his head, “Not at all; the Hazari fleet ahead of us could intercept us in six hours if they get wind of what we’re doing.”
“And we cannot guarantee that all our plans to evade them will work,” Lenjir added.
Noticing that everyone was now itching to get on, McCallister clapped his hands together and gave the order for them to get going on their work while Duncan and Court deliberated on their decision. “We’ll reconvene here in four hours for updates.” He added before dismissing everyone. As everyone filed out, McCallister turned to his first officer, “Do you want me or Louwanna to come with you to discuss this with Tobias?”
Duncan shook his head gently, “No, this is something we need to chat about in private.”
“Ah, your first marital decision to make together!” Horin teased him.
“Let’s just hope we survive this for there to be a wedding!” Duncan countered back before leaving their company to see his fiance.
Watching his first officer leave, McCallister turned to Horin. “Counsellor, head back down to the brig and see what else you can get out of Y’Seki.”
“Sir, as I said earlier, I can’t read his mind.” She reminded him.
“I don’t mean telepathically,” McCallister clarified, “Use those fantastic skills of yours to assess him, get into his psyche and see if you can find out what makes him tick.”
“You want me to give him a counselling session?” She checked for certainty. “Because I can do that, and it may be enough to put him in a bad mindset if he hates it.”
“Every advantage, Louwanna,” McCallister replied with a slightly devilish grin. “Every advantage.” He repeated before heading towards his chair in the middle of the bridge.