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Part of USS Denver: Mission 5: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Intel Networks and Fighter Jock Networks

USS Denver
August 30 2374, 1400 Hours Ship Time
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Ming was still getting to know the senior staff.  He figured that was important given the fact he was now, in theory anyhow, a department head himself.  He found that a bit amusing as his department’s area of operation was OFF the ship.  Now that he was faced with that irony he found it a bit amusing…in an ironic sense anyway.   

There was one department that had a focus that had been an area of curiosity if not interest for a while.  It seemed of special interest based on the rumors he’d been privvy to based on secure transmissions he’d gotten from colleagues on other ships.  Things like that had impressed him about fighter command if he really allowed himself to be honest.  Either way, if his pilots were going to see action, he felt honorbound to find out all he could to ensure they were ready.  He was almost fanatically committed to bringing everyone home after all.   

Toward that end, Ming opted to take a bit of a walk.  He gave Andrews a warm smile as he left his office and walked through the fighter bay.  He was feeling a bit more like her older brother than anything else at the moment which was ok with him.  Hopefully, that’d not turn awkward later on he thought as he started to make his way through the corridores of the ship.   

After a short walk, a hello or two and an amiable nod or six he was where he aimed to be.  The placard next to the door announced that this office belonged to “Riandri Nalam.”     

Ming offered a mental shrug at the thought of it being time to see what could be seen and activated the door chim.  He then opted to stand at parade rest as he waited for a response.  

Riandri was half-listening to the latest intel report on the capabilities of the Dominion vessels as her mind wandered. After watching the report for the second or third time she was confident she had pulled out all of the key information. The sound of her door chime activating brought her attention back from her wayward thoughts. Sitting upright she straightened her jacket, “Enter.”

Marcus took a steadying deep breath followed by exhale before entering. After he entered and the doors automatically closed he maintained a mask of professionality as he made a quick mental assessment.  Pleasant looking El-Aurian woman. Blond hair and blue eyes that he realized seemed quite observant.  Maybe it was his mind imposing the expectation of her species but he sensed it was not.  

Riandri smiled at the man who walked in, “What can I help you with,” she glanced at his rank insignia though she already knew who he was, “Lieutenant?”

He said formally, “Lieutenant…..I hope that I wasn’t interrupting anything important.  We really haven’t formally met outside of attending a command level briefing or two.  Lieutennant Marcus Ming….Bravo Flight CO.  It is an honor to meet you.”   

“Lieutenant Ming,” Riandri said as she stood and shook his hand, “It is a pleasure to meet you. I had been hoping to cross paths with you soon and please call me Riandri.” She gestured to one of the chairs in her office and sat back down, “How are you settling into the Denver? I like to think it is a good ship, though I will admit I am still very new to her myself. Most of my time assigned to her has been while we have been in orbit of Earth.”

Ming nodded and offered a bit of a lopsided smile as he moved to the offered seat to sit as he said, “Very much appreciated, Lieut….er…Riandri.” 

Once the pilot took said seat he said, “I arrived on the Denver recently myself but it’s been a matter of so far so good overall.  The toughest thing so far has been hammering my flight into a cohesive unit which they’re doing well at as illustrated during our first action over Wyoming.   I’ve picked the one Denver veteran as my XO.  Seemed appropriate as she is an exceptional pilot, has the most experience and I think she has leadership potential based on her record and what I have seen so far.  The remaining three pilots are new to the squadron and all graduated since the start of the war.  All of them, as you might expect from Starfighter Command, are top notch pilots.  Most of the bad ones don’t last long in our line of work if they get assigned into it I have found.  Something to be said for piloting small craft during times of war I suppose.  It’s the ultimate pass/fail course and, as the old Earth saying goes, the dice have no memory.” 

That last part was said with a grim tone of experience tempered with a matter of factness.  He knew how cold it sounded but if anyone would appreciate facts it was likely to be an intel officer.  He added, “Hard truths but war is full of them.  History, especially the history of war, is full of them.  It was a pattern I started seeing while I was in school and it has only been reinforced as I have gained real-world as well as outworldy experience.”  

He let off a snort followed by a wry smile, “And they say I used to have a cheerful disposition.” 

Riandri lips turned up into a sad smile as she nodded in agreement, “As you say, it is the stark reality of war. Especially this one.” She shook her head slightly as she glanced over at the small picture on her desk. “War… any conflict really does test everyone involved and I can imagine that your pilots will feel that test more acutely than most.”

She paused for a moment, “Would you like a drink?” She waved at the replicator on the wall beside the door. “Thank you for asking.  Purple tea with honey, chilled if you don’t mind,” Ming said.

Riandri nodded and stood up, taking a quick step to the replicator, “Computer, Peach Ice Tea, Unsweetened and a Purple tea with honey, chilled.” She picked up the two drinks and returned to her desk after handing the purple tea to Ming.

“I am glad to hear that you thinking highly of your flight, I am sure the Captain will put them to good use. I am curious though, how are they doing as a whole? Is the team cohesion coming together?” Riandri said before she took a sip of her tea.

“They’ve done surprisingly well with coming together as a team in such short order.  I found a natural second in command with Sh’iv which is especially helpful,” Ming said.  

He tacked on after a breath, “How about you?  How’re things coming along with Denver’s Intelligence department? Hopefully well as if not better as expected I hope.”  

Riandri let out a little chuckle, “It isn’t much of a department really especially as we act as a front-line vessel. Just myself and Ensign Fernla. That said it is going fair well, the ensign joined recently and will be assisting with the processing and interpretation of all data we receive. The main job is really liaising with the intelligence teams from command.” She shrugged but her smile showed she did enjoy what she did, “Lots of desk work and number crunching.” 

Marcus looked thoughtful for a moment then smiled, “I see.  Not the excitement, intrigue and adventure that the holonovels like to illustrate it as I suppose.” 

Ming knew better.  He also was well aware that it wasn’t always the boring desk job Riadri made it out to be albeit that was some of it much of the time.  He waited to see the reaction and the response put forth by the El-Aurian intel officer as much curiousity as any alterior motives he had in mind.

Riandri let out a short laugh and smiled, “No, definitely not like the holonovels, well not all the time. There are moments but depends on the assignment. That said I am sure the undercover officers and such have a lot more intrigue than the analysis teams that I work on.” Her eyes shifted to the wall behind Ming and lost focus as she thought back to events in her past before her expression grew serious, “What it lacks in intrigue it makes up for in identifying threats and allowing us Starfleet to act, such as with the last Borg attack, that intel allowed us to get the ships in place to destroy the cube.” 

“I bet that extrapolating possible motives and next moves makes some of the desk work more challenging…sometimes at least.  But, it’s pretty obvious Starfleet Intel has at least a fair idea of what they’re doing as your choice of events illustrates along side many others.  I realize it can be a dice throw at times but I’ve admired your department’s work more than once.  Point in fact it was one such case that saved my last ship as well as my last wing’s collective ass in what would’ve an utter defeat had we not gotten some very good intelligence leads prior to that action,” Ming said.

Riandri cracked a smile, “I am glad that the intel was good and that it saved your ships. We do our best to ensure what we have is credible. I will do everything I can to ensure your team and this ship has everything they need before any engagement, sadly though,” she said as the smile faded, “sometimes things are missed and lady luck doesn’t always play for our side.” 

Ming scowled slightly but nodded.  He added, “Sadly the latter seems to be the way the tides of war are shifting towards.   Collegues at Starfleet’s new Starfighter Command seem to be reporting some victories and increasing….setbacks.  I realize I am a lowly lieutanant in charge of a flight of five fighters total but I’d very much like the chance to figure out ways to turn the tides in favor of the Federation, Klingon Empire and, I can hardly believe I am saying this, the Romulans assuming they formally weigh in along side their fellow Alpha Quadrant residents.” 

Marcus’ severe annouance and frustration over the matter was something he wasn’t even bothering to hide.   He loved the Federation and sum of the best parts of it.  Even with the lukewarm aspects and handful of faults that he was well aware of seemed pale compared to some of what was out there beyond it’s borders.  He’d never been fond of fighting.  He’d learned early on, however, that it was a necessity sometimes and when it came time shying from it wasn’t quite in his nature.  He was wagering that the disclosures he’d just made would pay off.  He hoped that he was right. 

Riandri shared his frustration as she let out a sigh and leaned back in her chair, “I know what you mean. The future is daunting at the moment. As for the Romulans, only time will tell. From my experience with them you can only ever count on a Romulan doing what they feel is best for themselves…” She let that statement hand in the air for a moment. “I do believe they will see that they need to act soon. They have leaned that way in the past but the destruction of their fleet, well the Tal’shair’s fleet, seems to have changed that. Or there are some well-placed changelings within the Romulan military and senate,” she mused. 

Ming listened as the ship’s intelligence officer spoke.  Once she finished he mulled over what she had said and his violet eyes all but sparkled.  He said, “I have seen some rather wild things during my life.  Improbable things to put things mildly.  From what I have learned over the years I can’t say that you’re wrong about the Romulans.  The Rihansu, as they like to call themselves, tend to look out for themselves first as a rule and cloak & dagger is a sport to many of them.” 

Ming took a second pause to form his next words.  He added, “Something like that last scenerio would be most likely do the trick.  If Starfleet happened to maybe help the Romulans discover such a thing….I strongly suspect it’d help things along quite nicely.  That would be amazing albeit improbable though wouldn’t it?”  

Riandri couldn’t hide the smile at the statement, “I cannot say that I know of anything along those lines but I would not be surprised if it is something that is being investigated.” She shrugged slightly, “Time will tell.” As she spoke her computer chimed and she glanced at it, “I hate to cut this short but I have a debriefing I need to attend. If you ever need to chat feel free to drop by Marcus.”

Marcus David Ming fixed Riandri with a slight smile that mixed cordiatlity and a certain slyness.  He said, “Aye….Time can tell for sure.  I’ll look forward to our next conversation.  In the meantime I’d say don’t get into trouble however think simply saying ‘don’t get caught’ might be more fitting.” 

Riandri laughed at that comment and smiled, “I will see what I can do about that.” She stood, “Be safe and we will speak soon.”

“See you soon then,” Ming said maintaining the same smile.  He nodded cordially then turned to leave this office and back to his.  The war just got a hair more interesting and he liked it.  


  • Ming gives us a personal look at how the fighter pilots, people so much closer to enemy fire than most, are handling the realities of what they face, and Riandri speaks with a competence and degree of experience that makes her perspective compelling. A great post between two officers trying to navigate the situation!

    June 27, 2023