Part of USS Pioneer: Mission 1 – Operation: Shadow Strike and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

O:SS – Chapter 10

U.S.S. Pioneer
March 2401
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“Anything yet?”

Kosev was leaned forward in his chair, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands as he continued to study the view screen. It had been nearly two hours since the Pioneer entered the nebula, but still they had not yet found Saxue, or any other Dominion presence for that matter. Could the intelligence provided to them from Fourth Fleet Command be wrong? Maybe the intelligence didn’t even come from command, maybe it was planted by that changeling as a deliberate ruse to lure them out here, in the middle of no where, where they’re all alone with no hope for reinforcements or rescue. 

He knew that at least Savar had considered the same possibility, he could see it on the Vulcan’s face. Kosev’s known Savar long enough to know when he suspects something is up, and the more time that passed during this mission, the more it seemed like a trap over a critical mission. But regardless, they at least had to see it through to confirm either their orders or suspicions one way or another. 

“No, sir. We have searched twenty seven percent of the nebula, but so far no sign of the planet.” Lieutenant Evani reported from the ops console. 

“No Dominion activity either, this is damned peculiar Kosev.” Ginell said, sitting next to him on the bridge. 

“Maybe Savar was correct, perhaps their systems don’t function in the nebula and they are all concentrated at the planet itself.” Kosev said, throwing an idea out there. 

“If that’s the case, when we finally do reach Saxue and confirm the facilities existence, how are we going to lure those ships out of orbit so we can move in and destroy it?” She said again, a little louder this time so the rest of the bridge crew could pitch any ideas they might have. 

Alia spoke up first, “What about setting up probes in the nebula cloud to emit Starfleet warp signatures and lure the Jem’Hadar inside and away from the planet?” 

“That’s an idea, but I’m a little concerned about putting Jem’Hadar ships in our escape path. Once we destroy that facility, you can bet we will have all of them on our tail. We don’t need any of them in front of us either.” Ginell replied, looking around the room for more ideas. 

“There’s just too many variables and unknowns to make any concrete plans, lets put a pin in this until we locate the planet.” Kosev said, everyone around nodded and going back to their respective consoles. He tapped his badge and said, “Bridge to Engineering, any luck on cleaning up some of this interference and boosting sensor effectiveness?” 

“Beya here, Captain. Unfortunately, no. Sensor technology has come a long way, but we are still unable to filter out all of the interference. Sensors will only be able to scan within a radius of ten thousand meters while we are inside the nebula.”

He shook he head, but he understood that he couldn’t expect any miracles. He was just anxious to get this mission completed, or at least confirm the facilities existence and that this wasn’t some wild goose chase set up by their changeling saboteur. He leaned back in his chair, still staring at the view screen for any signs of the planet or other Dominion ships. 

Another hour went by, Kosev was now checking some of the Pioneer‘s systems on his chair’s control panel when he heard Alia speak up, “Captain, possible contact, bearing 270 mark 320. Range, ten thousand meters.”

Kosev immediately stopped what he was doing and looked at Alia as she was speaking, then turned his attention to Kyth, “Ensign, change course for those coordinates. Savar?”

Savar picked his head up to meet Kosev’s look and said, “Still no Dominion vessels on sensors.”

The Pioneer streaked across the nebula towards the new coordinates, and then emerged from the nebula cloud and into the calm pocket of space that contained the planet. Everyone was quiet for a moment as they took in the rare sight, then reality set in when they saw the several little specs in the distance moving around in orbit. Kosev, without taking his eyes off the view screen, only uttered, “Magnify.”

Pressing a few commands, Alia enhanced the image to show what they all feared. A dozen Jem’Hadar attack ships in orbit, all in various locations around the planet, ready to intercept any would be attackers. Ginell looked towards Savar and asked, “Any indication that they’ve detected us?”

“No, Commander, the refractive shielding appears to be working to design specifications. They are not showing any signs that they have detected our presence.” Savar said, returning his attention to the view screen. 

“Alright people, we need options and we need them fast. Refractive shields are working for now, but we still need a way to get to that facility on the surface. Thoughts?” Kosev said, looking around the bridge at his officers. 

Savar was the first to speak, “I’ve completed my scans of the facility on the surface, aside from the ships in orbit, there does not appear to be any planetary shielding or armor. I estimate the entire complex can be neutralized with six to eight photon torpedoes.”

“Could we fire them from here?” Kyth asked, shrugging his shoulders.

“They would never make it all the way there without being shot down by the ships in orbit, at which time our presence will have been revealed to them.” Savar said. 

“So our best bet is to try and lure them away from the planet somehow. Maybe probes? We could modify them to emit Starfleet subspace signatures and make them appear like starships?” Alia suggested. 

“Unfortunately, that won’t work.” Beya said over the comm, listening to the conversation, “We would need to leave the probes on the far side of the system and then move the Pioneer to the other side to give us a chance to get to the planet, the interference from the nebula would prevent us from sending any remote piloting signals to those probes, we’d be too far away.”

“So let’s not use probes, let’s use shuttles.” Ginell said, looking at Kosev who was raising his eyebrows. 

“That could work, Captain. I can modify the shielding systems on our shuttles to emit signatures to fool the Dominion ships into thinking they’re much larger Starfleet ships. It wouldn’t take them very long before they realized the error, maybe thirty seconds at most.” Beya said.

“Thirty seconds is still plenty of time for those Dominion ships to leave orbit and make it all the way across the system before they discover the ruse.” Ginell said, looking at Kosev. 

“I would advise against this plan, the shuttles will not be able to outrun the Dominion vessels and they will not be able to take more than four or five shots at most until their shields fail.” Savar pointed out. 

“Then we can install the refractive shielding subroutine on the shuttles themselves. Once they grab the Dominion’s attention, then can slip back into the nebula cloud and disappear while the Pioneer come from the far side to destroy the facility.” Ginell suggested.

“That could work, Captain, the refractive shielding can be installed on the shuttles as it was on Pioneer.” Beya said over the comm. 

Thinking for a few seconds, Kosev gave a quick nod before issuing his orders, “Alright, let’s do it. Beya, begin the modifications to the shuttles. Savar, scan the facility and determine the optimal targets for the photon torpedoes, set them to the highest possible explosive capacity, we will only have one shot at this. Kyth, I want you to head down to shuttlebay, select three pilots to fly with you, you will command the shuttle distraction while we destroy the facility and engage any Dominion ships left in orbit, Ginell will take the helm in your absence.” 

He looked around the room, all officers still focused on him, “We don’t have a lot of time, people, let’s get to work.”

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  • Ah the plan starts to come together. The banter and problem-solving are on point. An idea is proposed, the pros and cons worked out and the plan iterated on until a workable solution comes to mind. I did really enjoy the start with the paranoia settling in with Kosev. Distrust is what the Changelings want, what they need after all. Just got to plant that seed. And it doesn't help to have a Vulcan spot the obvious problems that just helps reinforce the paranoia.

    June 17, 2023