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Day 01 [1100 hrs.] A New Beginning

"A NEW BEGINNING"

STARDATE 57558.84
MARCH 11, 2381
1100 HRS.

[ Captain Ives | CO Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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The meeting with the former SI operative still lingered in Jien's mind when she decided it was time to go over the first report from the ship's new Intelligence Officer, Carrigan Trent, whom had been demoted the day before. She imagined that the man may still believe he'd acted correctly at the third Rendezvous Zone, and that his demotion to Lieutenant was unfair, but she cared not what he might feel about it. What she did mind was the way his suspicions against Commander Dewitt lingered in his continued duties in Intelligence, which was evident in the way he asked for recordings in all her dealings. Not just her, but also in everything Zyrao Natauna did. Such was not the sign of a man accepting his errors, but then again, more hours had passed since that first report had been made.

"Thea, please summon Lieutenant Trent to my Ready Room," she said, and sighed, for she expected the meeting to give cause for further demotions, if he did not behave as befitted a Starfleet officer. If not the fact that a Bellerophon officer served in the Senior Staff wouldn't be a message clear enough, and a demotion for his poor leadership didn't open his eyes, then Jien wondered what kind of duties he would be left with at the end of the meeting. At least his current assignment gave him a chance to redeem himself, but she doubted he'd see it like that.

"Aye, Captain," said Thea, and something in her tone suggested that she recognised the gravity of the summons.

While Carrigan Trent had served as First Officer for a very short time - shorter than Edena Rez - it was debatable which one of the two had caused the most harm to the crew's morale and the mission. Only in Rez' case, the current host of the symbiont seemed to understand the magnitude of Jona Rez' actions at Starbase 84. Jien truly doubted Trent did.

She remained seated, and sipped her coffee while reading reports - waiting for the current pariah to arrive.

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #1
[ Lt Carrigan Trent | CO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] attn: @Auctor Lucan

Even a night's sleep next to Heather had done Trent very little good.  Still he weighed what had happened the day before, and still he felt, no, knew he had been wronged.  In the heat of battle, he did not have the time to spell out his plans word for word, and frankly he should not have had to.  The pursuing fighters had been caught in that subspace blast; their fire had been sufficiently random; the plasma leak was close to being plugged, and the gross motion he had ordered Veradin to wave about their base course was breaking up the plume.  A few more hard turns, even a ship built specifically for exploration would have been able to pick up their plasma trail. 

The math had been solid; until someone decided to open fire on those fighters, then the math had changed.  He'd been forced to roll with it, and for a reason he'd yet to figure out, what had been meant to be a strike to take Bellerophon cleanly out of the fight, unable to pursue, fire, or even seek them, had ended with that ship broken in half. 

All because he had refused to give up on the other Vectors, and not run at the first sign of danger, never mind the risk of his underpowered Vector being run down at will by the Task Force if they'd picked him up doing just that, and hoping a beacon, or even a full-power omnidirectional transmission to the other vectors would remain undetected long enough to prevent the others from running headlong into Sankolov.  And now, he was left with second-guessing everything he had done from the start...

And what hardly helped was the headache he was left with.  Due to having to work out of his quarters, and Heather sharing them, he'd had to tweak his viewscreen and the room's holoemitters, to shift everything outside of the visible spectrum and he compensated by wearing what looked for all the world like a pair of anachronistic aviator's sunglasses.  But the slight changes in how the light came through, and the minute distortion to his depth perception, were leaving him with a dull pain behind his eyes as he went over the limited data about the system's traffic patterns that could be gleaned without revealing any particular sensor emissions, and what comm traffic happened to be unencrypted and accessible to Theurgy's subspace ears. 

On another part of his screen, he was watching the early progress of an early start at data-mining Aldea's public databases for relevant political and economic information, not that he knew what he was looking for, what to make of anything, let alone had the background knowledge to interpret any of it.   And until he would have better access, then his sources would remain limited...

He was reviewing one particular transcript of what passed for a question period in their local parliament-analogue when his combadge chimed, and Thea's voice was summoning him to the Captain's Ready Room. That could mean either some good, or some ill.  But at least, he would have a chance to make a case for a real workspace; and if not, at least it would let him take a break.  Logging out of his console, he replied briskly.  "On my way."

Rising from his chair, he pulled his jacket over his shirt and smoothed it in place; at least, the replicator had been fixed and he had proper trousers now, and he knew his appearance was as crisp as it nearly always was, as he made his way to Deck 1.

And, just outside the Captain's door, he pressed the chime.  "Lieutenant Trent reporting as ordered."

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #2
[ Captain Ives | CO Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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When the signal of Trent's arrival came, Jien continued to read the PADD in her hand while admitting him. "Enter. Please, have a seat."

Once the intelligence officer was seated, Jien flicked between the reports on it until she got to the one that Trent had sent her - the initial report made in his new role. Many of the concerns and requests had been touched upon in the meeting at 0800 hrs., where the Senior Staff had spoken with the Aldean representative as well as the stationed Klingon general. "I've reviewed your report and I can now answer most of the points you brought up."

While he was seated, Jien rose to her feet and spoke of each point in order as they had come in the report, slowly walking towards the viewport - the Aldean planet surface and clouds stretching out like a golden sea outside Vector 1. "We have gained access to traffic monitoring, but since this is a task that needs constant monitoring, the on-duty Tactical staff will be observing traffic during all shift rotations. You have also gained access to this feed, and will be able to see the logs of coming and going ships."

Outside the viewport, a worker bee slid past, and its flashing nav lights touched Jien's face when she scrolled down. "As for shuttles and warp fighters, they are already being fitted with new transponders and they will also be given light visibility cloaks to hide their appearance. With Chief Ji's help, their emission trails have been altered just enough to suggest that they might as well be Aldean crafts instead of Federation in origin. The point is to hide identity but not make them invisible. No deniability required. The Aldean Defence Committee will claim responsibility for our small craft operations. As for ground assets, on duty reports will serve as accounts of observation, and of course any officer observing something out of the ordinary will be reporting it. They are Starfleet officers, even off duty. The Chief of Security will handle rapid response needs and suitable deployment of personnel."

Pacing in the other direction with slow steps Jien touched upon the next matter. "Your report seem to suggest that our Liaison officer wouldn't report their ongoing duties clearly, but as for recordings, that will have to be on a case-to-case basis. You will gain access as according to your security clearance, Lieutenant, since all matters should not be under your purview at this time. Your duty is not Aldean and Klingon relations. Let the Liaison officers and our Diplomatic attaché do their duties."

Almost finished, Jien set a slow course towards her seat again. "We are already receiving Aldean communicators that will mask Human lifesigns and show Aldean ones instead, along with Aldean replication data for apparel. Non-Human personnel will be getting worker or trade permits under false names, and the Aldeans are giving us all false identities that are verified through the Custodian Network. We are already using non-Starfleet communication frequencies since months back, but they will be switched to an Aldean spectrum instead. Still encrypted, of course, for us alone, since we're not opening our communications to our hosts, just like we won't have access to their secure channels. As for transportation, rules and access are already arranged for at this point."

She seated herself then, putting the PADD down. "I think we've covered the limitations upon your interaction with Aldean and Klingon authorities already. You are an analyst, and act as a listener. Your ear against the rails, as the saying goes, using your remaining access to Starfleet Intelligence in order to learn if or when Command may have learned about our presence here. I look forward to learn if my old safehouses here on Aldea are safe to access or not, and if they might be accessed, I think we will benefit from those back-doors into Starfleet's channels. The import, however, is to remain hidden here, any such access should be made by former Starfleet Intelligence operatives, who knows how to not trigger the subspace alert systems. This was included in your training."

She stopped there, letting Trent come with any other concerns he might have, leaning back in her chair patiently.


OOC: The report for sake of reference: [Show/Hide]

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #3
[ Lt Carrigan Trent| CO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ][/color] attn: @Auctor Lucan

The greatest benefit of having slept, however inadequately, on his report meant that Trent himself had some things to add to it.  And being cut out of senior staff meetings and only finding out what had been discussed well afterwards was hardly a good way to do business.  Especially if the intelligence support was always going to be lagging behind the operational priorities.  This was a recipe for disaster, if anything. 

Taking a seat as invited, he absorbed the information given to him, more questions started to germinate.  Questions that might no occur to someone who'd made a career as  spy, counselor and diplomat rather than a tactical officer. 

However, he had to fight a wince at some of the other answers.  His requests for the recordings had nothing to do with mistrust, even though he would never dare put any faith in Dewitt ever again.  So far as he was concerned, the damage was done there; someone who would declare their shipmates dead and give up on them, and then not saying a damn word when proven wrong about this, did not factor high in his esteem.

"That does answer a number of my concerns, Captain, but I have a few more, and some more questions are coming up.  First among them, is I can't do my job if I'm going to be playing catch-up with our operations; I need to be present for senior staff meetings, if only to learn what's required on the spot rather than hours later. Especially if anyone has any urgent requirements for information."  He had been disgraced, and it was bloody well clear he was in the doghouse.  The question was, just how deep was the hole he was in?

"Second, with access to traffic monitoring, do we have an in on planetary surveillance as well, or the local communications networks, or am I limited to what we can intercept?  I'd rather not have to rely on overflights of points of interest if we don't have to, too many chances to get picked up."  Sensor exploitation had been his bread and butter for a long time; and it was always better to not tip one's hand with active measures like hard scans or reconnaissance patrols if there was a way to do it with listening posts and picking up emissions from a target. 

"Those cloaks you've mentioned, how good are they?  Will they stand up to more aggressive sensors?  Different emission profiles might be enough to fool a casual observer, but would it stand up to someone trying a hard scan or to get a hull map?"  Granted, civilians tended not to do much active scanning save for navigational purposes, but should someone feel like taking a closer look at those 'Aldean' craft and it returned they really had the profile of the newest Starfleet fighters or uniquely Starfleet shuttles, it could lead to a lot of questions needing answering. 

"But with regards to our liaisons, the reason I need the raw recordings from their meetings, preferably untranslated, is so I can run a comparison with historical conversations held by those people.  We cannot afford to ignore the possibility key figures in this system have also be compromised.  I'm running data-mining in the Aldeans' open source systems right now, and once it's compiled, I'm hoping to be able to work off of the personality rendering subroutines of the holodecks to have the computer create something like a profile for key personnel, and then sift through them to see if there are any shifts in behaviour and word choices that don't correlate with their biographical data."  He had noticed it when he had worked out of Starfleet Command, particularly when Sankolov had become infested, not that he really knew what was going on.  There had been slight, subtle changes in his daily routine and behaviour, things that could go unnoticed.  Ideally, he would need a team of forensic psychologists and profilers to deal with this, but given he had no staff and no authority beyond asking for more coffee with his breakfast, he would have to rely on the ship's computers to do entirely too much of the work for his taste.  But he had been tasked to identify key figures and figure out where they stood in relation to the ship and the mission, and he still meant to do just that.

"Also, since there is no consulate or embassy on Aldea, only a trade legate, there is no Starfleet attache, therefore no formal intelligence presence."  That much was part of the games of politics and diplomacy; everyone knew there would be source handlers, maybe even genuine spies, in consular offices.  But, it did not spell safety if there were no such formal presences.  "If there is any kind of Federation intelligence presence here, let it be Starfleet, Diplomatic Corps, Foreign Office or even Section 31, it's going to be entirely clandestine."  Trent did not further amplify on this; it meant they would be dealing with professional spies and operatives, who well might have well-placed sources, assuming they were not undercover themselves in sensitive positions.   This situation would be a counter-intelligence nightmare for a specialist in that field; for someone who only had a cursory introduction to the field, it would  be a reason to lose a lot of sleep.  "I already recommended giving the standard security and CI briefs to everyone, so I'm going to amend that to giving more detailed briefings with a broader threat range, and further encourage anyone going ashore to report anything they think is suspicious.  We are all Starfleet even when off-duty, but it can't hurt to push for heightened vigilance.  Also, I would recommend pointing our liaison towards local security organs, see if they have any indication of security penetration, and by whom."

And, as he said this, the Human's eyes lit as a fresh idea occurred to him. "In fact, maybe we could use local security forces to our advantage.  Perhaps we could report disturbances or prowlers in the vicinity of your safehouses, use them to see if there is any activity in the area before risking overflights or an in-person look." Which segued nicely into another point... "And while I have received that basic training, I'd feel much more comfortable having another pair of eyes handy; we are short on field operatives, but there is bound to be some expertise in tripwires and booby traps within Security.  Or, if need be, destroy the alert transmitter in place." 

And that covered the operational aspects of his job so far, but there remained more to discuss.

"Captain, you've given me an extremely broad task that will require me to request resources from every department at some point.  I need to be able to relate to department heads on an even footing, not as a subordinate knocking at their door with his hat in his hands begging them to disrupt their operations so they can loan him what he needs."  Trent took a deep breath.  He had a fair idea of what the response would be, but if he was going to be left at the mercy of the good graces of people who would see him as little more than a disgraced officer asking them for a favour, it did not bode well for his ability to discharge his duties effectively.  Which, to be truthful to himself, he half-expected that was precisely what was intended, that he was being set up to fail.  "Also, I would need a real workspace, not a desk four feet from my bed, Sir."  Another deep breath.  "Initially, I worked out of the Flag Bridge as your Intelligence Officer.  It is a secure facility, with all the resources I would need and then some.  Alternatively, this ship was built from the keel up to serve as a flagship; certainly there is at least one office meant for a flag officer's staff I could use.  If only so I can meet other personnel without having to kick Warrant Officer MacMillan out for the duration." 

That alone ought to count as a valid reason, but there were others as well.  Working out of one's quarters was never healthy; people needed a separation between their duty station and their personal space lest they never have a chance to truly rest.  And there was the matter of the crushing headaches the filter lenses he was using were leaving him with, headaches that left him with visible furrows in his forehead still, and his eyes somewhat squinted still, signs the Captain well might be able to see themselves.

But there was still something at the back of his mind: that Ives meant to show everyone his disgrace, that he was in such disfavour that he did not even rate belonging with the crew and ought to remain hidden away as much as possible...

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #4
[ Captain Ives | CO Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
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In quietude, Jien let Trent finish, before she answered, dealing with the point brought up last first.

"I think it would be a good thing for your humility if you did come with your proverbial hat in your hands and made your requests, actually, because of what you did at the Third Rendezvous point. You will not likely have an equal footing with the Department Heads again, much less be present at Senior Staff meetings, and I know the downgrade from the Flag Bridge might seem big, but I will not let you set a foot near a command position, much less give you access to one of our four bridges. I don't trust you to conduct yourself as befitting a Starfleet officer, having abandoned our values for sake of this threat. If we forget who we are, we've already lost. You will simply have to apply yourself to your task, as broad as you may think it is, and prove that I can trust you again."

Not the kind to mince words, Jien continued. "Your task is to find any clandestine presence of Starfleet Intelligence here, and I welcome you to work with the Aldeans in this endeavour. I will ask Dewitt to bring that up, and you will be sent a point of contact in the Aldean Defence Committee. Whatever recordings of Liaison meetings can be made will be sent to you, of course, for sake of comparison to the findings in your data mining."

Almost finished, Jien put the PADD in her hands on the desktop. "The Aldeans have given us access to their planetary surveillance, which is the same system that minitors the traffic in the Epsilon Mynos System. I suggest you start working with what you have, in wait for your point of contact with the Aldean Defence Committee. Furthermore, I think you may need to give yourself some time off. Go planet-side, not just to install sensors or surveillance units around the location for old safehouses I sent you, but to enjoy some time off duty. I think the stress might have been a large contributor to your failings, so besides that, I will also order you to attend mandatory counseling sessions, three times a week."

About to wrap up the meeting, she added - as an afterthought - the obvious. "I don't recommend you schedule your appointments with Commander Hathev, however. That might be less than ideal, wouldn't you agree?"

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #5
[ Lt Carrigan Trent| CO's Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ][/color] attn: @Auctor Lucan

It was only years of self-discipline that allowed Trent's face to remain a mask, but a flash of rage crossed his eyes.  He had abandoned Starfleet values and did not behave as a Starfleet officer should?  That he had forgotten who he, and the crew were?  That he could not be trusted, because he refused to give up on his crew?  Because he valued his own principles, integrity and honour and could not in good conscience abandon anyone behind.  He remembered it was he who did not fire on Black Opal to take out its computers, lest his fire would take out significant portions of its habitat spaces; it was he who did not launch the second volley against the Orcus and spared her, recommending she be allowed to surrender; it was he who tried to save the Asurians when he realized they would be exposed to Sankolov's massed fire; and it was he who opted for light harassing fire and evasion against Task Force Archeron and to not let the other Vectors blunder into danger, giving them their hour, and only resorted to direct fire as
 last resort, unlike Dewitt.  If he failed to behave 'as a Starfleet officer', then Ives must have a widely different take on Starfleet than he did. 

But everything Ives was stating, that making him beg for support would teach him humility, that he would always be hours behind changing requirements, that he would not be able to provide the latest at briefings, and should just apply himself to his task, that hardly spoke of any Starfleet ethos he'd ever heard of.  If anything, it spoke of petty vindictiveness.  It spoke to him of trying to engineer points of failure. 

"Captain," he said with an icy calm following a deep breath, a deep effort to keep his indignation, and misgivings, under control for the time being.  "I still require  proper workspace that is not in my quarters.  You have mentioned stress being a factor, how is one supposed to put some of that behind if he has to work four feet from his bed?" 

Starfleet had long past learned of the need to separate personal quarters from one's duty station; of course, thanks to the architecture of the computer system, one could easily do much of their work from their quarters; hell, in theory one could fly and fight the ship from a PADD if they were so inclined.  But the nature of intelligence work and the security requirements surrounding it meant he could not just work off of a PADD in the Arboretum or in a quiet lounge.  However, the directives to go for counseling could work in his favour: one mention of being forced to work out of his quarters and how it would interfere with his ability to get any real rest, would generate a medical recommendation; but that would hardly help his standing with the Captain, and waste time.  "You do not want me on Flag Bridge, that is fine."  Not that the explanation given really held water; that facility was meant for an admiral to control a formation and had absolutely no direct links to Theurgy's own command system; keeping him out of there had to be little more than a show of disfavour. "But there remains a number of offices for Flag or consular personnel that are currently not in use.  Is there a prevailing operational concern as to why should not be made available?"

"The mandate you gave me, Captain, runs across at least half-dozen disciplines I have no background knowledge in, and you would make my ability to discharge my duties effectively contingent on the good graces of the senior staff, while constantly playing catch-up with any changes in operational priorities because I am to be kept away from the decision-making loop.  Your aims should guide my efforts, Captain, but my capabilities will affect the operational planning process; keeping me away negatively affect my ability to do my job"  Approaching those senior officers for assistance, he knew, would be met with mixed returns.  He expected Stark and most likely Martin would be supportive; he did not know any of the others and they did not know him, which meant all they would know was that he was thoroughly disgraced and mistrusted, therefore unlikely to assist him in any way.  As for Dewitt, should he need anything from her, he expected to be put through a gauntlet to get so much as time time of day from her, let alone data or support.  But the additional difficulty of only not learning of any changes in operational priorities until well after those decisions had been made, with no lead time to orient his work, that was begging for something to go wrong or people jumping blind because he would not have the time to provide them with the information they would need.  For which, he had no doubt, he would be blamed for.

"With respect, Captain, it means I cannot rely on having any assistance at all.  And without proper support, there will be very wide areas of my mandate that I will not be able to address without making more than vaguely informed guesses.  And if I have to tackle all of it, it is inevitable that I will miss something crucial at some point."  If there was something Carrigan Trent knew, it was his limitations; he was an officer who trained crews, and he knew that he did better as a subordinate captain within a task force than one with a fully independent command; he knew he was a skilled tactician, but his grasp of strategic operations was less than perfect; and he knew precisely where his strengths and base of knowledge as an analyst lay, and where they did not.  "If I prioritize counter-intelligence, communications exploitation, the spacegoing picture including counter-piracy, Federation activity and working through a refresher on fieldcraft and tradecraft, I have a chance to keeping my head above water, and cover the more crucial bases.  It would make the political, economic, environmental and sociological aspects secondary at best, but something has to give."

Re: SD 57558.84: A New Beginning

Reply #6
[ Captain Ives | CO Ready Room | Deck 01 | Vector 01 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @CanadianVet 
[Show/Hide]
Again, Jien let Trent make his complaints, ignoring the flash of anger - merely finding how it confirmed her opinion of him. Not a single word about his failings, pointedly not speaking of the Bellerophon crew aboard the ship, not even when Hathev was mentioned by name. The arrogance, the self-absorbed egoism and self-righteousness, how could she not have seen it before? Or was he simply in denial? Was it born from insecurity? A facade to mask his inadequcies? She would let some other counselor find the answer to that.

"Indeed, prioritize counter-intelligence, communications exploitation, Federation and non-Federation activity. It may seem daunting to begin with, but you need to start somewhere," she said, leaning forward and folding her hands on her desktop. "You not getting any assistance unless requested at this point, as well as the location of your current work station, are precautions recommended by Security until the officers from the Bellerophon have been gauged - them all currently under surveillance by Thea. You included, for your protection. I would rather not have any altercations aboard in relation to the destruction of the Bellerophon. At any point where you might interact with them, you might incite fighting. Over a lost friend, a superior officer... or a partner."

Trent earning back trust and keeping him safe went hand-in-hand, of course. Jien just hoped she was wrong about him, and that he could ground himself in analytical work again.

"I expect that you schedule your first appointment with Counselling tomorrow at the latest. I look forward to your second report. Dismissed, Lieutenant."

Having dismissed the man, Jien picked up her PADD again, expecting him to leave when told this time. She had planned to speak with him about the message delivered to her, but decided against it - needing more information and to confer with the Senior Staff about the possibilities.

- FIN

 
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