USS Traveller
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First Step Of The Campaign

Posted on Tue Jan 7th, 2020 @ 12:56pm by Captain Remas McDonald & Lieutenant Commander Shadi Zatra & Lieutenant Mar Megara MD

Mission: S1.5:1:A Time To Heal
Location: Mapping Room, USS Traveller
Timeline: MD26 12.15

Mazarian's hooded cowl flared up and down slightly as his sharp intelligent eyes drank in the mapping room of the Traveller. For the Castalli the room was small, as he sat upon a coil of his own both with his secondary limbs folded across his 'lap' as his upper limbs rested at his side. To anyone walking in, the massive snake-like alien might have looked like he was just standing on the other side of the holo table beside Captain Remas McDonald.

"This is a good day for beginnings," Mazarian said in a sibilant whisper, a smile on his lipless face. "I look forward to gaining the input of your officers. The challenges of getting to my home system, and getting through the Myriad's defensive screen, will be a daunting task."

"Daunting is what we do," Remas said and took a sip from his cup. "They should arrive soon. We have a few new arrivals from the Starbase who haven't met your like before."

"Yes, ophidian life forms are a rarity compared to warm-blooded mammalian humanoids," the Castalli chuckled. "But then we have all risen to the challenges of our birth. Your species survived entering into space only to meet hostile nations in the form of the Xindi and Romulan Star Empire. We only ever met the Myriad, so I do not know if it is a rite of passage that one meet neighbours who alternatively attempt to remove you from the competition for resources, or aid your in prospering."

"We all have our crosses to bear," Remas said before waving a hand. "An old expression."

"So it sounds."

Jolani's resolve was firm. "Let's go get them. I'm more at home out there than in here." She pointed out to the great expanse of darkness. "I'm already dead but at least out there, I can live for a little while."

The political talk bored Shadi to tears. Or it would have had she possessed tear ducts. She sauntered closer to Mazarian, tempted to dive into those slick, sensuous coils and be buried in them once more. Captain Remas had coached her on proper etiquette, though, so such indulgences would have to wait for a private setting. "Sssickbay reports our egg is doing well," she said to Mazarian. "Maybe it will hatch by the time we get to your homeworld."

"If we are deemed to be so fortunate," Mazarian said diplomatically.

Garrett had been doing his regular check of the personal weaponry, making sure they still functioned as they should and no one had tampered with any of the components to put any of the crew at risk. Of course he knew that he would not be able to catch every single one (if any tampering was to be done) but he hoped that it would not be coming down to such in the first place. He had been thinking about the conversation he had had with Liars & Thieves as well as that of Remas - how best it would be should they find themselves in the situations as was presented before his arrival on the Traveller. The ExpSec came with a lot of cerebral activity; and between checking weaponry of the ship, crew and that of their away kit, Gaz busied himself drafting up various scenarios and how best to counter them.

He couldn't cover it all, and he was more than aware that plans were capable of changing rapidly when in the heat of the moment. People wouldn't listen, people started to flap, some people got injured in the process - he couldn't plan for everything. But he would try his upmost hardest, as he promised on his first day on board the ship.

It was when he had been summoned by the captain himself, Garrett had quickly arrived - making certain that he had properly secured away the kit before he left. Garrett had just gotten through the doors leading into the room when he paused, his brow twitching upwards at the sight of the massive snake-like alien before glancing over at Remas. Garrett had to assume that everything was good, considering that the message hadn't seemed entirely urgent or life-threatening as such and everyone else seemed to be having a great time talking about whatever they were engaged in. "Apologies for being late, Captain." His eyes darted to the snake-like alien before taking his stance just by the doorway and a few steps in.

There were a number of tasks required of senior staff that Meg would have much rather avoided. Meetings were one of them. Even so, she entered the mapping room as she entered any room- head held high in an almost regal manner and with a gentle smile on her face. (She has long ago learned that Klingons more than anyone had what was known as “resting bitchface” and found that a good way to counter it was to always be half smiling.) She caught sight of the snake-man and her smile widened; she had always had a soft spot for snakes and it would appear that this extended to snake-like species. How interesting, she thought. She noticed Shadi near him and surmised that this must be the father of the egg. Oh good; she would have a reason to talk to him. But later. Right now, they were gathering for a meeting.

Lieutenant Commander Brynhild Keil didn't make it a habit to be late for anything. Normally, she was one of the first persons to any meeting or gathering that she was expected to take part in. Sadly, she was delayed today. The rather-tall-for-a-human-woman walked into the mapping room and saw that quite a few were there first, and she had to suppress her annoyance at herself. She just strode in with those space-eating strides, nodded at everyone, and found a place to settle herself for the meeting.

"Glad we could all make it," Remas said with an easy smile as he eyed the later arrivals. He was not the sort of captain who took such things as a personal affront, given that that sort of command style often resulted in poorer officers less willing to take the initiative. "As some of you may or may not know, the fine gentleman here is Mazarian, a representative of a species native to the Messier 4 cluster called the Casstauilli."

Mazarian rose a little higher, uncoiling himself a little more as his hood flared out. Goldeyes, red and amber coloured scales, he looked every inch a terror from earth's mythology. He looked around the room, bowing his head.

"A pleasure to be sure," the alien said in a pleasant speaking voice. "I would only have wished our meeting could have been on better terms. Three centuries ago my people were visited by an alien species, or at least an alien pilot. We have never seen their like before or after, but they came with a warning to us: the Myriad guard the stars jealously. The pilot's vessel carried a vast array of information about our foe, their capabilities, their strengths, and vanishingly few weaknesses. It was enough for us to hide away civilisation, to break ourselves in two: one culture would remain on our homeworld, the moon Casstaul. We removed our technology, devolving our infrastructure to a pre-warp state. Meanwhile, another would arise in the clouds of the gas giant pour home orbited."

Mazarian nodded at Remas, who tossed a holographic prompt to the map rooms projection system. A caramel sky of arching cloud banks appeared, and at its centre was what looked like a great oak tree made of polished brass. Its boughs were wrapped around great spherical chambers, pinned and held within the limbs. Long roots drifted down into the cloudy depths, whilst bird-like machine darted and drifted around it the clearly massive structure.

"The is one of our cloud cities, the capital of the Casstaul Ascendancy. There are many of these great cities scattered throughout the cloud layer of our gas giant, hidden from Myriad eyes by a mixture of technology and the planets naturally powerful magnetosphere," Mazarian said. He took a four-fingered hand, and scrapped it down his arm and held up a single flaked scale that sat there. "Every Casstaulli who takes flight with a Myriad takes a copy of our history encoded within our DNA, a means of providing any ally we might find with both a means of finding us and a means of avoiding detection."

The hologram shifted, revealing a simplified orbital schematic of a star system. Mazarin's home moon and gas giant clung to the habitable zone, with a variety of rocky dead worlds and comet sweeping gas giants playing in the outer system. A webwork of amber lines and dots began to appear throughout the hologram.

"The Myriad use our system as a major transhipment and storage area. Our asteroid belts are littered with their cast-off treasures and forgotten wares, and they have an orbital tether station affixed in geostationary orbit over Casstaul. The Myriad in residence when I left went by the name Flenix. I have not met him face to face, but I am told he is a player of games and desires amusements above all things," the snake man laughed to himself. "Then again, which Myriad do not enjoy their games with live pieces?"

Shadi trembled with rage at the mention of the Myriad. "How I hated that Abborax and his starving lifeless body. I would give my other leg to tear him apart head to tail!" She punctuated her outburst with a snort of contempt. "This Flenix cannot be any better. I wonder how amusssed he will be with my claws in his insides!"

"Given the Myriad only use the bodies we see as Proxies, and exist within the data scape of their ships, it might be a better thought to vaporise its hull atom by atom," Mazarian said. He nodded again at Remas, and a second hologram floated above the orbital schematic. A Myriad thorn ship, like the one Abboarx had used, appeared. Looking like a tree flying root's first, with its leafless branches covered in the thorny protuberances of weapons and drive spines, it was far larger than the Traveller.

But what stood out most, was an odd angular hoop that was held out before it's prow, entwined in the jagged roots.

"Flenix's ship is called the Transgression Of Material Things. I have seen many Myriad vessels on my travels, and that hoop-like structure at the prow...is a Wormhole Gun. A prize from one of their past client species. It's a two-part weapon, the first being a solar probe it has to fire into the star. After that, the solar probe opens a metastable wormhole, whose terminal point is within the hoop. The ring acts as a throttling device, allowing the mouth of the wormhole to opened and closed."

"In essences a stellar flamethrower," Remas said through gritted teeth. "Best I think we avoid that."

"Agreed. But we will need to get past Flenix's vassals, the Reka Den called Five Barons. A rarity among the Reka, this den is ruled over by five males instead of a singular patriarch. It means they operate as a loose collective instead of a tightly controlled flock," the snake looked over the table at the other officers. "That might provide you with a window of opportunity."

A wormhole gun, Gaz could feel every atom in his body tense. That spelled trouble, that spelled being outgunned. But, he reminded himself that the explanation of such a weapon could provide them with something of value - he was no scientist but he knew his way around weaponry. A stellar flamethrower seemed like a layman's term that he would stick to. Gaz folded his arms, taking a sharp intake of breath as he listened and observed people's reactions. This was where his vow to help keep the crew of the Traveller alive and safe came into play, a vow that he was going to uphold with the best of his ability.

"Could make for a good barbecue." He replied dryly, in regards to the stellar flamethrower.

He clicked his tongue as he thought about what had been said about the Reka and compared it to what Liars & Thieves had to say about their kind. "Loose collective? They still work off of the shared subconscious, from what I recall." Part of him wanted to go and confer with Liars to figure out whether they knew anything about attacking the controlling influence. Gaz walked further into the room. "I'd like to bring up the word of caution that they're more than likely going to try and misdirect us, try to separate us with their ability to mimic. But, are we engaging them at a distance, captain?"

Shadi recalled her last engagement with the Reka that ended with far fewer kills than a daughter-spawn of Ragolar should have claimed. "I sssshould hope not," she said with a snikt of her talons. "Those tricky devils need thinning out."

"That weapon needs destroying," Jolani simply responded. "And any that know how to make it."

"Get us close enough to scan and I'll find a loossse scale in its hide," Shadi offered. "Taking things apart is what I do."

"Getting close is the problem. With a built-up sensor net and the Reka's own skillset, we'll be hard-pressed to enter the system undetected, not without blazing a trail directly to the door of the Castalli," Remas said. He made another gesture to the hologram, and the system zoomed in directly to the gas giant Ressix. A blink green icon appeared beneath the upper atmosphere. "So we make our slipstream transit directly into the cloud layer. The magnetosphere and ambient radiation should shield us from detection. Obviously, a jump like that will take a lot more than the best guess. We'll need as much data on our point of entry as possible."

He looked to Lieutenant Commander Brynhild Keil .

"Commander, how would the Wyverns like to glide into the star system and act as our trailblazers?" Remas asked.

The pilot had been listening closely, thinking a lot. She thought in shades of strategy. When the captain turned to her, she met his eye briefly before turning back to the images. She smiled slightly and nodded once. "We'd like a chance to stretch our wings, sir."

"Good to know," Remas said. The map zoomed out from its close up the moon and became a simplified diagram. From the edge of the system a Starfleet Delta appeared. "The Traveller will drop out of slipstream beyond the heliosphere of the star, using impulse drive to cross into the system at sublight speeds and maximum stealth. We'll then launch the Wyverns, who will proceed on a least time ballistic course through the system. EMCOM all the way. Once you're in the cloud layer of the gas giant, using a Quantium Entangled Comm array paired to the Traveller's main array, your pilots will transmit up the second atmospheric data allowing a micro slipstream jump from the edge of the system into the gas giants upper atmosphere. Without that data, the ships astrogation team can't give us a jump window larger than ten thousand square kilometres. We could end up where we need, or inside the metallic hydrogen core of the planet."

"Understood, Captain," Brynna said with another nod. "We'll get it done."

Shadi perked up at a thought. "How do the Cassstalli get from the decoy moon to their real cities in the clouds?"

"We do so once every seven years when at least two of the outer moons are eclipsing Castaul from the Myriad facility. Its the one time we can allow advanced technologies like medicines and smart matter to affect the lives of those who must live the honourable deception," Mazarian said. "As for how, I am not a scientist. But I believe it is a technology similar to your transporters. We call it Whisking."

While Mazarian talked, Shadi made big, glimmering eyes at him and clutched her claws to her chest, hanging on every word."Sounds amazzzing. When does it happen next? Maybe it would be a good Plan Beta?"

Gaz had listened closely to the exchange as his eyes went from one crew member to the next. There was plenty of opportunity to chip in, but he was more content with watching. The conversation hadn't included his input, but he was still thinking of ways to assist in his own role should his input become needed. The Traveller had an impressive arsenal, recently improved since the ship's last adventure; with good defenses: ablative shielding and a reactive armour plated hull. But he needed to test theories with how they would hold up with a wormhole gun blast. "Would be a good plan B if we fall into the right time frame." He commented, his voice soft as he looked around the room, his arms folded across his chest.

"Anyone know how much the shielding can hold against the wormhole gun?"

"Depends on the magnitude of spatial dissstortion and the radial integrity of the aperture." Shadi didn't fully understand what those things meant, but she did know their values went together in a technological jigsaw puzzle. Enough to put them together in a pinch if nothing else. "Sssooo... there's no telling how many direct hits the shields can take before failing. Maybe as little as one."

"Well, that sounds like a party," Brynna commented dryly, half under her breath as she contemplated the size and shape of the situation and how it would or could affect her fighters.

"I don't plan on having us get hit at all," Jolani announced proudly. "I will make sure whoever else is against us is hit enough instead."

"To that end any thoughts on weapons to use against the Myriad. That wormhole gun is a single point of failure we can use against them," Remas said. Then holo captures of the Travellers fight against Abboarx appeared. Phaser beams being bent from impacting the hull and being absorbed into the thorny barbs of the Myriad ship. Even the main cannon volleys did little but make the sharpened points glow briefly. "Shadi I believe you were working with Victor to make a 'silver bullet'?"

Shadi shook her head. "Only in theory. Abborax's ship usssed what I've come to call dysphasic shielding. Rather than deflect incoming fire, the dysphasic shield array sssoaks the weapons fire and bleeds it into local subspace. We sssuspect this technology is at the center of the Myriad's comms, hacking, and all else, which means if we rig a few quantum torpedoes to detonate at max power and low yield, we can flood local subspace with theta band radiation that would disrupt subspace transferences." She began to hiss with excitement. "If done correctly, we might be able to keep the Myriad confined to their ship and unable take control of ours!"

"To that end, I have this message from Starfleet Command, direct from Admiral Crossenshield's desk. Given the nature of our unique location beyond the bounds of the Milky Way Galaxy, we have been granted special dispensation to ignore Article 5 of the second Khitomer Accords," Remas said gravely. "Which means we have a licence to develop and use subspace weaponry. Which just about covers the silver bullets. I want a brace of them ready for deployment before we reach our target volume. We'll never get a better chance to test them than ramming them down the throats of a Myriad occupation."

"Famish the milk-drinking Klingons and their treatiessss," Shadi hissed hard enough to spit. "Thisss... isss... war!"

"By Blue Fire, I hope you're wrong Shadi," Remas said softly. "But to have us stand idly by whilst they go about stealing the birthright of self-determination for the peoples under their yolk, it might well be a cost we must bear."

Shadi shrugged. "That, and potential lossss of warp capability wherever we deploy the... silver bullets as you call them... since we're planning on flooding sssubspace with the worst kind of radiation. If we don't ssstrike hard, then we might as well not strike at all."

"Well, the Traveller's upgrades should hopefully give us an edge. Who knows, we might not need the silver bullets. Mister Davies, I want you to train your department in use of the ships tactical systems and the Buckler shield system. With the new focusing lenses in the main cannons, we might have the upper hand this time," Remas said. He then looked to his Squadron Commander and Chief Flight Officer. "But first, we have to get into knife-fighting range. We have a few days to get everything ready before we depart Canopus Station. Let's make every hours count."

Gaz had been listening, his blue eyes bouncing between each speaker during their turn; only wavering ever so slightly to look at Marazian. His stoic look only broke, becoming closer to a smirk than a grimace upon their captain mentioning gaining a license to develop subspace weaponry to assist them. That was when the conversation turned sharply to him, asking of him to train up his department in the use of the tact systems.

"Aye, Captain." He replied with a curt nod of his head. The mention of war had brought back his time during the Dominion War; the pain and suffering that kept dogging him. His smirk turned briefly into a scowl before schooling himself back into a neutrality in his features. "Knife-fighting range. Right. So, if anyone's up to be a dance partner, I'll be down in the holodeck after this."

He would have to run several simulations of possible angles of attack, and close quarter methods he might use. He certainly hadn't wanted to miss a beat, not with the deadline of leaving the safety of the station so soon.

"I'll send you the holo files of a colleague of mine, a Chief Engineer who served aboard the USS Black Hawk. He was as crazy as they come, but so far as I know he's the only man alive who figured out a way to box using a starship," Remas said with a smile. "But before that, I'll need you to escort Liars & Traitors from her stateroom to the flight pod."

He looked at Keil.

"You'll be flying through Reka infested skies, makes sense to use a valuable resource to get us past them, Or at the very least provide insight into their thinking. Talk to her, enlist her help. Gaz here has a rapport with her I believe," Remas explained.

"Information is power, as they say," Brynna said, inclining her head. She looked at... Gaz, apparently. "Any assistance you can offer will be appreciated."

Though he had other plans to work on, plans changed. Gaz nodded his head, responding with a curt 'aye, captain.' Gaz had formed some sort of bridge between him and Liars, but even so, it was with a wary eye. He couldn't think of any solid reason for the Reka helping them, but as it turned out, they might as well have her on their side. The ExpSec officer would revisit the Reka, perhaps even try get something else out of her (even if having his voice parroted back to him was unnerving at the very best of times). "I'll go have a chinwag, but I don't see much use in revisiting trodden turf."

"Liars and traitors?!" Shadi shrieked. "Did somebody let that walking electrical fire Arivek Zhuri back on board? Why would they do that?!" She looked at Remas and screamed even louder, "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!!!"

"First Of Liars & Traitors is the name of the Reka who sided with us at the Battle of Beacon," Remas said with the fatherly sigh of long repetition. "In either case, we have our various assignments. Mr Davies, bring our Reka friend to the Squadron Ready Room and then assist Chief Zatra with preparing the silver bullets. Flight Chief Khonar, please work with our pilots to link their sensor suite with the Travellers and prepare a course that will see them safely through the system."

He looked around the table.

"Any questions?"

"Starving Reka," Shadi muttered under her breath. "Almost as bad as traitorousss holograms."

Meg had so many questions it made her head hurt. But, none of them pertained to the mission at hand, so she simply shook her head mutely. She could find answers to her questions later.

 

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