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Gamma Section To the Rescue!

Posted on Fri Sep 8th, 2023 @ 9:02am by Lieutenant Leah Bailey & Lieutenant Alexis Ryan & Ensign Quinn Alka-Sutton & Petty Officer 3rd Class Sam Saghir

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Gamma Section
2399 words - 4.8 OF Standard Post Measure

"Hold us steady here, ensign."

It had been several minutes since she'd emerged from private reverie and, in that time, Ryan had issued orders without providing any context. Having sequestered the tactical station once more, the Lieutenant had been a flurry of concentrated productivity amidst an otherwise awkward silence, interrupted only by the furious tap of fingertips against the display and the occasional clearing of a throat as several of the crew attempted, in turn, to be the subtle reminder of communal ignorance. Whether she noticed or not wasn't immediately obvious, though there came a point where the briefest redirection of her gaze caught the quizzical nature of Bailey's and the Science Chief seemed to realise that fixation wasn't going to pass scrutiny this time.

Alex glanced to her left.

"Sam, how goes the hunt?"

His shoulders were practically touching his ears, Sam was that anxious and stressed. At least they were still alive. "Uhhh um we have the b b best candidates at 090 mark 015, 012 mark 346 and 331 mark 087...C Captain"

"Monitor the fluctuation rate, tell me how much volatility we're dealing with. Quinn, you're up."

A jerk of her head invited the current Communications officer to approach her terminal.

Quinn looked suddenly from their place at the comms panel; it had been silent out there so far, aside from bursts of interference coming from the nebula, leaving them with little to monitor. The sudden summons, however, set them on edge; they stepped over towards the console, earpiece still hissing, "Sir?"

"I've accessed our three warning buoys, I need you to program their transmission to mimic our hailing frequencies."

Alexis allowed the command to hang in the air, suggestive without being entirely explicit. Having made a decision to deviate from standard procedure and draw from strategies that were more inferred tactics than actual experience, the Lieutenant's demeanour had taken on an unapologetic determination that, whilst not overly harsh, also didn't leave a lot of room for negotiation.

"These will be decoys, it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be confusing enough to provoke hesitation."

The half-Bajoran science officer blinked, "I... I ummm... guess that should be simple enough? I-it won't pass close inspection... er, since we won't be able to mimic the checksums used by the ship's computer to make sure they're legitimate hails but..." Quinn nodded slowly, looking at the console and the specs for the warning buoys, "... I can do it."

"Decoys?" Leah asked out loud. "Do you mind filling the unenlightened among us what your plans are?"

Even though it was the Lieutenant's gaze that Ryan held, the Science Chief could feel the combined bated breath of the rest of her team linger as palpable tension. A slight turn of her head considered the collective before Alex leaned her weight against her palms and focused on Leah as a sounding board.

"Our best projections indicate Alpha section is dealing with boarding parties. It seems to be the way these guys operate and all the data we've got from Shan regarding their attack matches the energy signatures we're picking up at Alpha's last known coordinates."

With a sideways glance at Quinn, Ryan stepped away to allow the Bajoran to work and took up the seat next to Bailey. "As much as we know our people will hold their own, we have no way of guaranteeing that they aren't outnumbered. We are still upright, we are still functional, and we are the only current option for levelling the playing field but that's going to require getting us close enough, for long enough, for Sam to transport us over."

Sam's lower guts suddenly imploded faster than an old D'Deridex Warbird under singularity collapse. "I errr you yes..." he muttered, struggling to contain the painful build up of - 'damn...' he thought, as his tummy relaxed into a far more comfortable state. He accessed the targeting sensors for the transporter relay protocols, and pulled a diagram of Alpha section alongside the scanners. "Com - computer core is probably our b best bet...Captain" he said, hoping his deliberate ignorance of his pet ge'nant would rub off on the others. His reasoning was that it was a relatively contained space, and if all else failed they could literally vaporise the core and kill all but life-preserving functions in the section.

"Turning the tide under pressure from considerable imbalance of firepower was something the Maquis became so renown for that some of their aerial tactics are still cited under emergency evasive procedures. Dressed up a little differently," Alex added, supressing a smirk, "but fundamentally the same and they all draw from the basic concept that it doesn't matter what your situation actually is, it only matters what your enemy thinks it is."

"Smart," Leah nodded. "Unorthodox, but smart." Her fingers danced over the console. "There's a pocket of ionic radiation between ourselves and the pirates' position. We can use it as a little cover for this daring maneuver of yours," she added with a twinkle in her eye.

Alex glanced at the console, nodding almost before the information had registered. "Sam's complex composite clusters will be enough to mask the buoys. We're going to need a viable extraction point, however."

Quinn frowned intently at the work in front of them; this wasn't exactly what they had been expecting on their first actual mission out to space. They were a scientist not - a light flashing on the console drew them out of their thoughts. They gave a nod, "Lieutenant... ma'am... er, sir? The buoys are... well, they're reprogrammed like you ask. I uhh... I can't say how long they'll last but as long as no one looks too close at the signal they should buy us some time." They hoped, anyways.

With both palms pressed to her knees, Alex rose from her seat and returned to the tactical station. "We need to move quickly." Grasping the console's edge in both hands, the Lieutenant leaned her weight forward and addressed, for the first time since formulating her plan, the entire crew compliment. "We will only get one shot at this. At the moment, to the best of our ability, we've been able to ensure that our approach will bring us up behind Alpha section. Once we are in range, the buoys will be deployed to start broadcasting. If this works, we buy ourselves a few minutes confusion and hesitation as they try to determine which of the four signals is us."

Ryan cast her gaze from face to face, lingering a moment on Sam's stricken mortis of dread.

"The only way this deception works is if we tailor our own outputs to match what the buoys are capable of. This means we will be stationary, with weapons offline, obscured by the pocket of radiation Lieutenant Bailey has indicated until we have a clear shot at a full-powered approach. One pass, one opportunity, and we cannot risk combat at such close range without potentially engulfing both sections in flames. Sam, as soon as we are clear for it, transporting my team as close as you can get to your mark will be priority."

The Science Chief turned to her honorary second-in-command, not at all blind to the fact that Leah probably would have managed this entire situation at least as well, if not better. She was long-overdue for a chat with the Captain about Bailey's lack of seniority. "Lieutenant Bailey will assume command of this section. Sam, you will stay with her. A little cat-and-mouse with our pirate friends will help to keep their attention divided. Quinn, you're with me."

Leah swallowed and nodded. It wasn't her first rodeo, but she hadn't been in such a position for a very long time.

Sam's tummy betrayed him again, as it cramped up tightly with anxiety and apprehension. He wasn't a bridge officer, hell he wasn't even an officer and he was being left as a de facto second in command... "What the fuhh-" he quietly exhaled to himself, as one of the other bridge crew's voices suppressed his own.

Quinn listened, taking in the chief's words. An ambush did seem the best way to handle the situation and - wait, did the lieutenant just say... ? The ensign gave a quick nod, "U-understood." Did it really count as an away mission if they were just beaming over to the rest of the ship?

As she moved methodically through crew allocation, assigning several of the security detachment to her away team, and instructing those remaining on how best to support, Alex realised that she wasn't anywhere near as nervous as she'd expected to be. The remnants of old grief, whilst providing plenty by way of responsibility for avoiding this being a Ryan's final legacy, didn't evoke the same blinding white anger that it once had. She'd thrown herself into studying everything she'd been denied, obsessed over manoeuvres and tactics well after the ceasefire had rendered her knowledge tardy at best, and at the time it had only lead her down a path of self-destruction. The marines had reshaped her, then Starfleet had adjusted her trajectory, and now she was back full circle in a way she'd never anticipated. Too many good people had died but perhaps there was purpose enough to be found now, as she used the lessons learned in retrospect to bring her people home.

"Any questions?"

Alex waited patiently in the silence.

"Then everyone to stations."

The garble of interference their sensors were trying to interpret was both a frustration and a blessing. Flying blind was only a comfort when it guaranteed a similar lack of preparation on the other side's part. Their progress was necessarily slow, skirting around the periphery of their intended strike zone, deploying each buoy from just enough distance that their own presence should have appeared as a disjointed scramble of half-guesses. Guiding the buoys manually into place was costing time but their positioning, coupled by simultaneous activation, were crucial to this plan having any chance of success. Alex watched her readouts, adjusted the last buoy's telemetry yet again, and then slowly allowed herself to push upwards and roll back her shoulders.

So far, so good.

"Move us to position, ensign," she quietly ordered the helm. "Sam, how are those transporter adjustments going?"

Sam winced, squinting at the readouts. He shook his head, "I think it's more likely than not that you won't be beamed into a bulkhead....I wish I could promise though...." he pained, genuinely scared for the away team.

"They'll be good enough." Regardless of the accuracy of her statement, Ryan at least permitted the frightened crewman the benefit of her confidence. "Quinn, prepare to synchronise communication broadcast on my mark." One of the drawbacks of needing to lower their own capacity to match what the buoys were capable of was denying themselves the opportunity to scan the communication frequencies for any helpful chatter. The sooner she could start seeing things with her own eyes, and hearing them with her own ears, the better.

With a steadying sigh, Quinn brought just enough systems online to simultaneously match the ship's broadcast into line with each of the buoys', mirroring the signals. It wasn't a perfect match but - they had to admit - rather good work for how quickly the situation had developed. The station trilled and they nodded, "Ready on your mark."

The gentle buffet of turbulence was more a comfort than a threat, assurance that the location they'd chosen for themselves was sufficiently convoluted to buy them the best chance at deception. It took only a glance in Bailey's direction to receive a nod of confirmation, and Alex stole precious seconds to ask, "You ready to become a terrorist?" Maybe one day, she'd explain to the woman why that statement, now of all times, was particularly ironic.

"Let's hope we do a better job than the Captain..." Leah sighed, a moment of gallows humour amid the tension.

With a huff of tired laughter, Ryan set her shoulders in determination and refocused. "Bringing the buoys online now. Quinn, synchronise in three, two, one."

Heading bobbing, finger right above the command key, Quinn counted along with the lieutenant. At the exact end of the count, they pressed the key. The console flashed for a moment and then chimed and the half-Bajoran looked up, "Signals synchronized. Broadcast is mirrored with a... uhh... 98% match."

"And now, we see how well our deception has played out. All stations, prepare for delivery."

With a final pat of the terminal, Alex pushed away from the tactical station and allowed Bailey to switch into it. From the waiting security personnel, she took her phaser and clipped it into place, and a rifle, which she checked over quickly and then held ready. With a jerk of her head, she motioned for Quinn to do the same.

And now the moment that had been slowly causing panic in the ensign - Quinn nodded, stepping away from the communications console and following the chief's lead, ensuring their own phaser was secured in place and taking a rifle as well, hefting its unfamiliar weight in their hands. They had, of course, had basic training on it but had yet to have any field experience. "Well, first time for everything," they mumbled under their breath. Nodding, they moved after the science chief, standing ready for the sensatoon that would indicate successful transport.

"Sam, we're just waiting on you now."

" we go..." Sam replied, having auxillaried the helm to his station, his left hand piloted the ship whilst his right made live adjustments to the transporter. "Standby in three..." they edged closer, though it didn't appear they'd been identified, "two..." - a bogey lit up the track as it came screaming towards them at high speed. "Shit!" he exclaimed as he activated the transporter beam without warning.

"Good luck..." Leah whispered, almost to herself as she watched the team depart.

His eyes on the display begging the readout to show a successful transport, Sam turned around to his colleague on the bridge, whose name he had yet to learn, "nothing to suggest anything went wrong..." he meekly offered. Both hands now flew across the helm controls as he spun the section around and barreled straight back for the dense radiation cloud.

All they could do now was wait.


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