Cloak and dagger – Approaching the border
by HoD Ro' Matlh & Sogh Germite Ephilom & Soghla' HIchop Matlh & Soghla' Terri (Tell) Hope & Soghla' Jared & Soghla' Marie St. Helene & Lieutenant JG Linx Moonshadow

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Title   Approaching the border
Mission   Cloak and dagger
Author(s)   HoD Ro' Matlh & Sogh Germite Ephilom & Soghla' HIchop Matlh & Soghla' Terri (Tell) Hope & Soghla' Jared & Soghla' Marie St. Helene & Lieutenant JG Linx Moonshadow
Posted   Tue Dec 10, 2013 @ 12:39am
Location   IKC FHew Bridge
The bridge was a very quite place the next morning. There were lots of furtive glances between the crew. E was out and about, and no one quite knew where she was. Nor did they like to talk about the discussions that had happened. Each had been uncomfortably tempted by the the Corporation, and they assumed they were not the only ones.

Marie was on Helm again as they approached the edge of Maego space. Tell was at the Engineering station with jaqwI' on cloak drive duty. Jared was at the sensors, and becoming increasingly confused as to why the ship's computer was so unusually responsive. HIchop was on weapons, though that was most likely to stop him hunting down and killing E before they reached their destination. Germite was monitoring Comms traffic, and there was a lot, most of it encrypted. They were about to enter a war zone.

"Engage Cloak," Ro' said.

The lighting dimmed on the bridge to indicate to the crew they were running silent.

"Crossing into Maego space now," the navigator reported.

The flight to their destination was still two hours and tensions were high. As they approached the planet Jared reported.

"I am picking up a sizable Kapular fleet in orbit of the planet. They are bombarding the surface but The Surface-To-Orbital batteries are giving as good as they are getting and there are some Maego ships mixing it up with the fleet as well."

Ro' leaned forward, "If we try to fly through that we may get hit by stray fire while our shields are down. However, the longer we stay here the greater the risk of discovery anyway. Options?"

Germite turned towards Ro'. "We could load E in a modified torpedo and shoot her to the planet. Our mission is to deliver her. That would complete the mission."

Ro' nodded, "A valid suggestion. However, they may have interceptors or Point defenses to minimize the orbital fire. They Maego could shoot down our Torpedo, thinking it is an assault. We will call that plan C."

“The orbital defenses seem to be running to a pattern,” Marie said, “one which the invaders are trying to match. That’s keeping both of them occupied. Maybe we could slip the defensive net. I couldn’t do it manually though; not without a full computer analysis first, anyway.”

Ro' looked at Jared, "Are our computers up to the job?"

"I doubt it. Klingon computers aren't designed for that sort of heavy tactical number crunching in real time. They almost certainly wouldn't have the speed to..."

He glanced down at the terminal as something blipped. He gave the panel a suspicious look and tapped a few keys.

"...On the other hand... I might have that analysis for you in a minute or two."

Ro' nodded, "Then we have a plan B, potentially. Anyone else?"

"Something to lure them away from the planet" Jared suggested. "If you could draw the fight away from the planet, or at least open a gap, you could sneak in and out with relatively little risk of stray fire."

"Alternatively, give them something to back away from. One of those Maego Dodecar battleships would make a big bang when it was about to go up. Probably something other ships are going to get the heck away from. Same if one of those orbital defence batteries went up."

Ro' turned in his chair to consider his science officer, "So, all we need to do is uncloak in the middle of a major skirmish, then, with disruptors only, disable a Captial ship or it kind where all the combined forces of the other fleet are unable to do so. Finally rush into the space where bigger and heavier ships are rushing away from because of the destructive force involved?"

"I didn't say WE had to cripple it," Jared amended. "There's plenty of ships and defence emplacements getting shot up our there."

"We shall call that Plan F, I think."

Unfortunately, the crew knew Ro' well enough to realise he had NOT ruled out this as an option.

A,B,C,D bloody E and now flaming F. Where they going to go through the whole damned alphabet before Ro' would finally makes a decision? They would all crash and burn before they got to Z that was for certain. Tell avoided looking across at Jaqwl', she somehow thought the Klingon felt the same way.

"I personally like Dr Doom's idea, it has potential and its simple. Space E and then go to plan G for get the hell outa here."

Ro' ground his teeth, "Humans! First sign of a fight they dump their mission and turn tail to flee. We''l call that plan 'After you have murdered me and taken command of this vessel',right."

Tell returned to her station and muttered something that only the humans on the bridge would understand. Coat of teflon, she told herself coat of teflon.

"We do have a corporate espionage agent aboard," Jared commented. "One who I suspect has a more than passing knowledge of Maego and Kapular communications and a... penchant for trickery. We could get her to impersonate a Maego commander and transmit some orders that will cause some confusion and possibly draw some ships out of position."

Ro' snapped his fingers, "Now THAT sounds like a plan! Get her up here!"

He turned in his seat to where Lynx was hovering at the back of the bridge observing, "Provided we are not upsetting some delicate Federation morals?"

E was brought to the bridge and the situation explained. she agreed to the proposal and was given a seat a the comms. She placed as series of encryption filters on, "Older ones that we know the Kapular have already broken, but it adds some authenticity to the messages."

There were snatches of conversation back and forth and a hole began to open amongst the ships. A few shots from the Kapular came in their general direction. Apparently they had worked out where the communication had come from and were worried about being flanked. The fact the Kapular could not see any Maego vessels making the broadcasts was not reassuring for them.

Suddenly there was a large explosion from one of the mid-sized ships and it began to list towards the planet.

"She's lost orbital control. There are life pods jettisoning."

Ro' leaped to his feet, "Plan F! Helm, follow that ship down. The Maego are unlikely to waste fire on it, and it should carve a path through the atmosphere for us."

“Onto it!” Marie called. “I’ll get in as close as possible to their wake. If we can sit in their energy trail we might avoid their sensors detecting us.”

A stream of hot shrapnel was peeling off the larger ship as it ploughed into the atmosphere. The FHew dropped into the ship's slipstream, protecting it from the worst buffeting from the atmosphere, but not from the molten hail. The energized plasma was playing merry hell with the instruments and vision through the thick smoke was nil. It was not impossible they would slam into the back of the ship when she reached ground zero. Jared's sensor upgrades meant they were not entirely blind.

However, with their cloak up they were getting hit by every bit of rubbish falling of the stricken ship in front. With out their shields there was also a high probability that, should the ship suddenly explode, it would take the FHew with it. Ro' had not been this exhilarated in years!

"Steady as she goes, Helm!"

“It’ll be tricky without a lot of margin for error but it’s better than sitting out here waiting to be drawn into the conflict. Anyway,” she added, looking slyly at Germite, “worst comes to worst, we can load her into that torpedo and send her away. We should get close enough to the planet to give her a fifty/fifty chance of arriving in one piece.”

"She is right here," E said, without expecting anyone to care.

"We're out of torpedoes anyway," Jared told her over the din of the bridge, in what he hoped was a reassuring way.

As the ship began to rock violently, riding the turbulence behind the plummeting ship, Jared called over the din.

"Are we worried about the fact that once we're down below the battlefield, we don't have a way back OUT again? Or are we just figuring that out when we get there? Again?"

"I have utmost faith in my crew's ability, Ancient!" Ro' bellowed back.

In front of HIchop the tactical display flickered and changed. A new control appeared: Point Defense Mode. HIchop looked at it suspiciously. He had been on this ship for years and was familiar with most tactical configurations for the B'rel. This was not a standard control. Indeed he could not remember ever having seen it or knowing what it was supposed to do.

HIchop did what he always did when discovering new, untested technology. He pressed the trigger.

Targeting data flooded the tactical screen faster than he could follow and the disruptors began to target and fire automatically. each shot vaporized a piece of shrapnel before it could impact the ship. It was an astounding display of speed and accuracy. HIchop wished he had been responsible for it. The question remained for him; who put this new function in?

A collision alarm sounded as they approached ground level and Marie pulled them sideways out of the path of the vessel. Behind them the large ship hit the ground and crumpled like and egg. There was no large explosion of energy or fire, the frame simply folded on itself and spread debris in a wide pattern. Ro', looking at the rear scanner, was a little disappointed.

"Well done, Helm. Maintain cloak and set course for the dro..."

The shock wave flipped the B'rel like a toy. Sparks flew and people inside tumbled like dolls. With a hideous noise the B'rel wing clipped the ground and span her around like a saucer. The crew clung desperately to controls and pylons as the IDS tried in vain to compensate. Spinning and grinding the FHew hit a sandy patch of ground and slid to an unceremonious stop.

Ro' was first to his feet on on the slanted floor of the bridge, "Report!"

Germite found himself thrown into a corner. He lifted his head and looked around. His sight had a reddish tinge to it. He wiped his hand across his forehead and found he was bleeding. He wiped the blood off of his head. He stretched both arms and waved his hands. There was a little pain but it was manageable. Next he wiggled his toes, then rolled his feet. Finally, he stood up. His left knee was a little stiff, but serviceable. Now that he was convinced that he was okay, he looked over to Ro'. "I managed to survive the landing."

"Then get me a casualty report!" Ro' barked.

Jared, light on his feet and without weapons or armour to encumber him, was one of the first back to his station. He was nursing his left arm, and there was a trickle of blood down the side of his face, but he was still alert.

"Hull breeches on decks 5 and 6," he called. "Warp power is offline. Shields offline. Disruptor 1 offline. Impulse power at 31%. Somehow the cloak is still working - for now, although it's looking shaky. We won't be able to run it AND the engines on one third impulse though!"

Tell picked herself off the floor feeling like her brains were well and truly scrambled. Focusing on engineering to steady herself, she realized that despite some fused wiring and damaged panels things were almost intact. She couldn't say the same thing about herself though as the engineer felt something warm trickle down her left arm. But all in all apart from a few bumps and bruises they were still alive so not bad not bad at all.

"Atmospheric integrity fields fluctuating, so we're taking on native atmosphere, and deck 6 is starting to flood. We're gonna need those breeches plugged. Atmosphere is breathable at least, although probably a little rank. Looks pretty dank and swampy outside."

Jared noticed something, and swore a particularly vile oath in a long forgotten language.

"Oh... --gomtu rakada makaah--... We're gonna need that cloak operating! It's looking like the warp reaction control systems are fried. That's... bad. ...I don't even know if we CAN fix that."

Marie ignored the ringing in her head. They’d be time enough to worry about that later. “Helm control seems intact,” she reported. “but it will be like steering through molasses. Sluggish would be an understatement from the look of it.”

Ro' began to bark orders, "Hichop and HoS, you are on Hull repairs. Tell and jaqwI', get me a status on the Warp engines. Jared and Lach, stabilize the cloak. Marie, work out how far we are from the drop off point. Can we walk it if we have to? May'bel, help with repairs then prep your team for an Away Mission. Lynx, you are in charge of E. Germite, see to any injuries, starting with these two," he indicated to the unconscious Marcus and teHbach, "and then this."

He gestured to a large piece of torn metal wedged through the armour on his back. Purple fluid ran freely from it, but Ro' was still standing.

Marie punched buttons. Images flicked across the screen in front of her but little made any sense. “Whatever was done to our computer systems, it didn’t fare to well in the crash,” she reported. She punched more buttons then gave the console itself one almighty hit. It did little to resolve the images but she felt a lot better for the effort. The ringing in her head settled down a bit too.

The computer was behaving oddly, even skittishly. Much of the data being displayed wasn't in a language she could read, and she had started getting good at Klingon.

Slowly the images resolved themselves. Marie watched as they settled down into something that looked vaguely like intelligible data. “The drop off point is a good three kilometers away,” she said. “However, ambient temperature out there is over forty degrees Celsius and relative humidity of forty percent. May’bel, I suggest you take plenty of water with you; I wouldn’t trust any convenient watering holes along the way.”

Jared glanced at her display as he was passing and stopped dead in his tracks. The navigation display was giving all the information that Marie said it was but... the language was a version of the Vetus technical language not used for millennia. There is no way she could have learned to read it. Yet to Marie, it was as if it were written in concise English.