Obsidian Command

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Technically Tired

Posted on 13 Aug 2022 @ 1:38am by Captain Corvus DeHavilland & Major Declan Finn & Commander Calliope Zahn

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: Captain's Ready Room - USS Pathfinder
Timeline: MD05 - 1942HRS
2196 words - 4.4 OF Standard Post Measure

Corvus felt like a Cadet all over again. Overwhelmed, overworked and completely confused as to what she was looking at. For the thousandth time she flicked the technical schematics Commander Quinn had provided across the holo in front of her and tried to break it down into simple, layman’s terms. She knew it probably wouldn’t help, but she had to try. Rubbing her eyes with the palms of her hands, she doubled down on her resolve, bundled her hair up into a tighter ponytail and declared, “Ok. Again, Amelie.”

She reached out and speared another bite of chicken on her fork and chomped it with forceful determination as she reread the holo. Maybe, just maybe, she’d get it through her head this time.

The chime to her Ready Room rang, but she didn’t answer immediately. She finished the passage of technical details, paused a moment to close her eyes and let it sink, and then… finally… she responded as the bell chimed a third time. “Come in,” she called out.

“Captain.” Calliope was all the way inside the room before she spoke. Presenting herself before the desk, she noted Corvus was absorbed in a technical display of shield schema. “I see you have Engineering’s report already.” It was one of the departments Calliope hadn’t made additional efforts with for the afternoon. She trusted Lance had it well in hand, as he obviously did.

“I’ve had them for three hours, and I’m no closer to understanding the technical details now than when I got them,” Corvus sighed, slumping back in her seat and shaking her head. “I’m sure it makes perfect sense to Commander Quinn… but what I wouldn’t do for one of Commander Esenti’s breakdown,” she complained, missing the simple and easy to digest technical writeups the Praetorian’s Chief Engineer was famous for, “Sorry. You’ve no idea who that is…” she waved flippantly. Frustrated and tired she sat up, stabbed the last bit of chicken with her fork and ate it as she sat back again. “What do you have for me?” she asked finally.

Calliope bit her lip for a moment, having second thoughts about leaving her husband without an interpreter. She shook her head, not willing to make any promises of getting him to write his work in plain-speak, though she decided she would make an effort at it for the morning briefings. Proceeding with her own update, Calliope called up a file icon and directed it to Corvus’ terminal. “To start, here are the plans for security drills to be run tomorrow. Some in the holodeck with simulated fire, both ship-to-ship action and worst case scenario, repelling boarding parties. The other plans were drawn in cooperation with Major Finn for coordinating anti-boarding action in the corridors. Marshal Steiner is… bringing some fairly unique approaches.”

“If you think the Major will leave my door long enough to manage drills,” Corvus muttered as she read through quickly.

“The technologies we’ve been able to decipher are advanced but… quite varied. Commander Quinn believes strongly that the tech was not developed by the same people. If the intel about the Pyrryx is accurate as they seem to be world subjugators, then they’re taking technology as they take territory and applying what they acquire for further conquest. The Marshal doesn’t think there’s going to be a lot of success in just trying to out gun them.” Calliope went to the wall display to open up the computer’s animation of the expanding freeze foam. “He’s fighting fire with… chewing gum.”

DeHavilland snorted lightly, “It isn’t crazy if it works…” she trailed off. “How long will it hold them?” she asked.

“Computer modeling based on the footage and estimates of the force they can employ estimates we can hold one for under a minute. Security is identifying a way to bust their armor with some medieval methods. Armor breakers and rail guns.”

She wasn't keen to use a tool that tied up their own access to the corridors and other spaces, but if it rendered their enemy inert long enough to dispatch them, she would use it. Just… more of a last resort. “And how long is it going to take Engineering to clear the decks afterwards. Are we talking about a short term cement or are we going to have to gut the corridors and rebuild?”

“If science can formulate it, I have every confidence they can formulate a dissolution of the foam. Even if we do have to replace the carpets. I’ll put it on the miracle wish list.”

“I’m more concerned about the immediate loss of function to an area,” DeHavilland countered. “If we have to deploy this on the bridge, are we handicapping ourselves?”

“I think it’s particularly of use for the corridors. In open spaces, the foam will not have as many surfaces to adhere to. I hate to say it, but once they’re on the bridge or in engineering…” Calliope didn’t finish the thought.

Corvus replayed the specs on her PaDD and nodded in understanding, “Do we have any indication they have transporter technology?” she asked, setting the PaDD down.

“I had thought about transporters.” Calliope replied. “Honestly, they’re often overlooked in combat operations. Some of the reports explain that the Pyrryx used strong signal interferences employed to disrupt communications and transporters, and that signal and subspace hubs were some of the first targets when they attacked the colonies. Meaning that during the attack, neither side has that technology to their advantage. My gut tells me that it’s intentional. That the Pyrryx have encountered transporters and decided that the finesse involved was unnecessary if they could just be overcome forcibly. They didn’t adapt the tech as much as they adapted countermeasures to it.”

“Based on what I’m seeing here and what I have in the Admiral’s brief, they aren’t too invested in anything that doesn’t have a heavy military application. I have some information from Falkirk that they seem to lack anything more than a basic medical understanding. Almost a survival of the fittest mentality.”

“Pretty much. I definitely wouldn’t be looking for a Pyrryx primary care physician. No one can tell you anything about their physiology or psychology, but it’s safe to say they’re unlikely to have a medical corps in their military. With how eager they seem to be to die for their military ends? It would make the most pious of Kahless’ followers blush.”

“If only we had a few Klingon warbirds to bring along for the ride,” DeHavilland mused.

Calliope bit her lip, looking at Corvus. For all of the Captainy-Captain vibes her friend could muster, Calliope knew all of this brutal worst-case reality was too much for any one person to bear. “Hey uh, I think…” She faltered, her voice going from business to earnesty, cautious while not wanting to be misunderstood in the context of past situations. “I think you should… talk to Finn.”

Corvus guffawed in disbelief, “Commander. Whatever this is between you and I…” she said, gesturing between them, “It isn’t going to improve with you trying to play matchmaker.”

“No, I mean, the Marines, they handle this stuff all the time. It’s what they do.” Calliope reflected on more than one instance where Marine support had helped Paracelsus away teams extract innocents and how cool headed they were between fire. “They get laughed off as jarheads way too much. But everything they put themselves through is so that when the time comes they can trust the training. And today's Marines have a lot more training in the psychological game, especially surrounding violence, risk, and loss. You should talk to Finn.”

“Oh,” DeHavilland answered, turning scarlet rapidly so fast her hair started to look more brown than red itself. “Tha…that’s a good idea, Commander,” she tried to nod nonchalantly.

Calliope cleared her throat and tried to carry on with the next item of report, wanting to spare Corvus her obvious discomfort. “I uh… I ran the first set of simulations with the six most junior bridge officers aboard,” she continued. “It was a severe battery of poison platter options. I gave Ensign Wiser the command role and ran him until he defied orders in order to press his advantage. He’s got a lot to think about. They all do. I left them all to record their posthumous messages for home. In my opinion, the Ensign at Science, Wonai, is not prepared for Bridge duty despite prior qualifying test marks. But I gave Wiser the responsibility to score his peers and he issued Wonai passing marks. I think he’s holding back because she’s a friend. I could override him, but it’s important he makes the right call on this.”

She shook her head, “He knows better than to do that,” she said quietly.

“I was thinking you could talk to Wiser, Captain.” Calliope's expression was stony, controlling her own feelings and pulse as she ventured out to her point. “He needs help overcoming the fear of marring his friend’s reputation and setting back her career.”

“I’m not sure I’m capable of a soft touch right now,” DeHavilland answered, “But he’s a good Officer and he’s got a lot of potential to be better.”

“Yes, ma’am he does. If it weren’t so I wouldn’t be putting him in the hot seat and taking him away from his first love at helm.” Calliope tried further to prick Corvus’ conscience by highlighting the parallel with Corvus’ own career arc.

“Why don’t you push it back to him. Tell him I’m reviewing the training logs and asked for his scores, but you didn’t want to give them just yet. You wanted him to have a chance to give it one more glance before you let me see it. Maybe he’ll surprise you?” Corvus offered hopefully.

Calliope’s shoulders fell. “If that’s what you think is best.”

“You disagree? You think I should question his decision head on?”

“I think… I think he’s gonna kick this can as far down the road as possible. And I gave him authority with this scoring. If he doesn’t change his mind, Wonai is still on your bridge, ma’am. I can prompt, but there’s a good chance he’ll stand by his original numbers and then I’ll have to override him and make the whole exercise of his authority a sham. It would be best,” Calliope licked her lip to hide a quaver, “for the ship, for Wonai, and for Wiser… if he could be made to understand the priorities of Command.”

DeHavilland exhaled slowly, a mixture of exasperation and exhaustion, and picked up the plate with what was left of her dinner and walked to the replicator pad with it. As she set it down, it disappeared in a whirl of energy.

She knew she was over tired and probably kicking the can herself. She had enough on her plate right now than to have to deal with this kind of low hanging fruit, but Calliope was right. There would still be someone on her bridge that was unqualified to be there.

“Send me the details,” she said finally, returning to her desk where Zahn was waiting still. “And I’ll speak with Wiser. Hopefully he sees my point and amends his scores,” she shrugged and sat down heavily. “We’ll find out if he’s the Officer we think he is.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Calliope folded her hands to indicate she had nothing else to share, for now.

Corvus moved to grab a data PaDD from her desk and got it about an inch off the table before she dropped it and drew her hands across her face in exhaustion. “I think I’ll have a power nap and come back to this, and Wiser,” she sighed, standing up once more. “That was all you had, right?” she asked, walking around her desk. She grabbed her uniform coat and pulled it on as she headed for the door, looking back to see if Calliope was following.

“That was all, Captain.” Calliope watched her fumble and tried to pretend she hadn’t. “We’ll have further department updates in the morning.”

“I can hardly wait…” she yawned.

Calliope followed DeHavilland out of the office a few steps behind and looked up to greet Finn who had posted himself outside the ready room. She said nothing, but just exchanged a look with him and a long thin exhale, as if to say, “she’s your problem now.”

Corvus felt her face flush slightly in response to her and Calli’s earlier conversation and quickly moved past Major Finn before he might notice something different. He turned his head slightly in recognition, and as soon as Corvus and Calliope had gone by, he moved to follow - a silent shadow once more.


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