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CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Attention: Leonal

"All right, here goes nothing."

Lieutenant Commander Carrigan Trent was talking to himself as he sat at the main work table in the Main Computer Core. In front of him, compliments of the extensive network of holo-emitters on the Theurgy, was a map displaying Starfleet's Subspace communication grid. And after meeting with Captain Ives and making his way into his place of duty, Carrigan had given priority to setting up a covert link back into the extensive databases kept by Starfleet.

While setting up a covert communications site with Starfleet was something all Starfleet Intelligence members knew how to do, it was far harder from a Starship. For one, he had to override the automatic systems that would broadcast the identity of the sender, and also reveal their location. And to do that, he had needed to reprogram one of the ship's transceivers and when he was satisfied of his success, he activated the link.

And now, he had to wait to see if it would be stable and that could take some time. As such, he began busying himself reading the reports of the first encounter with the Calamity, but before long he set it down. Any idiot could read the hard facts on the PADD. But he needed what wasn't on the report. He needed everything else.

And, with this thought in mind, he hit his combadge.

"Lieutenant Commander Trent to Chief Tactical Officer. Please join me in the Computer Core at your earliest convenience."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #1
Carrigan Trent's query entered his combadge's auditory receptors. It queried Theurgy's computer, who checked the crew roster for "Chief Tactical Officer", found Fedd's name, and sent the signal to Fedd's combadge. All this took less than a picosecond.

"Lieutenant Commander Trent to Chief Tactical Officer. Please join me in the Computer Core at your earliest convenience."

Fedd frowned down at his combadge. Trent? That would be... Carrigan Trent. Their new Intelligence Officer. The man was new to the USS Theurgy so he got a pass on not knowing Fedd's name. Sjaandin smiled and responded. "Fedd here. I'll be on my way momentarily." He glanced around at his surroundings. For the moment nothing required his urgent attention. As soon as was possible, he nodded to his superior officer and left the room

"Main Computer Core," he said to the turbolift. As it whizzed away through the ship's bowels, he mused that no, he was not really talking to the turbolift in which he stood; rather, he was talking to the computer. And the computer was where he was headed. What a confusing analogy that must be, he thought. He wondered if Thea ever felt such dizzying perplexedness. It was like stepping into someone's body and asking to be taken to the brain, which he supposed was actually quite a fitting analogy for the way most organic bodies worked. Right now, tiny packets of nutrients, chemical messengers and antibodies were whizzing all over corridors in his body, and doubtless some of them were headed for his brain. He hoped no blood clots were among them. My but that was dark, he thought, his jaw tightening and one hand forming a fist. He had no desire to go out the way his predecessor had.

He turned his thoughts to Thea instead. He liked being around her; she was the one person on the ship whose mind didn't constantly intrude on his own. He should spend more time with her, but he couldn't see any easy reasoning for it.

The door swished open, interrupting him. He was on Deck 6, and the middle Computer Core's access doors were only a few paces away. He straightened, his hair and facial expression impeccably implacable and professional, and entered the room where he was apparently required.

"Lieutenant Commander," he said neutrally. His beetle eyes took in the information displayed before him, and his face darkened. Subspace networks? What did Trent want with him? "How may I be of service?" he asked coolly.

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #2
Fedd. So this was the name of Theurgy's current Chief Tactical Officer. And one that was unknown to Trent. There were simply too many people to be familiar with on the Theurgy and the Harbinger for the Intelligence officer to study all. Instead, he'd simply focused on senior staff and their assistants and a few others of note. And with the losses the Theurgy had suffered, there was simply no anticipating the promotions and changes in staff.

Trent was not left waiting long, barely long enough to bring up a quick summary of the Chief Tactical Officer's file and get the broad lines. Lieutenant Sjaandin Fedd, Betazoid, recently promoted. And that was really all Carrigan got before the door hissed open to reveal the tall and lean Lieutenant.

To say the newcomer to the Computer Core appeared cool was an understatement. His expression was closed  his bearing stiff and impersonal. Even his tone was mostly devoid of emotion when he inquired as to the nature of his presence.

"Come on in, Mister Fedd, and have a seat." Trent's tone, while professional, did not carry the heavy weight of giving orders. However, there was little doubt he was giving the other man any option in the matter. "I need your input on a few things. The Calamity. I need your analysis on her and her capabilities. And before you point me at the reports, I've read them. I need to know what isn't in there. Things that might seem too subjective or insignificant to put in the Tac logs."

As he spoke, Carrigan pushed a PADD loaded with a copy of the reports to a seat across from him and offered a wan smile. "And don't worry if you go off in tactical-specific lingo, I speak the language."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #3
Fedd raised an eyebrow as he accepted the PADD; this fellow was smart, and he kept his thoughts closed when dealing with a Betazoid. Sjaandin let the subject of the subspace network pass for the time being, and took a seat. All things being equal, he would rather stand; but it seemed like it might be rude to refuse. He perched on the edge of the seat, his leg crossed over the other in an attitude of relaxation, but actually his posture was quite straight.

"Hmm. Where to begin. I'm told Mr. Morali came running to the bridge with news of a temporal incursion, but I myself did not witness that. All I know is a black HAC--" (he pronounced the abbreviation for Heavy Assault Cruiser as "hack") "--came out of the sun like an unholy spawn of a Theurgy-class and a Reman warbird. It was already in MVAM, and it shredded our fighters like so much gagh. They could adapt to our shield harmonics faster than we could change them. Next-generation fighters called Reavers, with holograms for pilots. Even a holographic commando with a mobile emitter. We lost a lot of good people." Including T'Less, he thought. For a moment his eyes were distant, as if staring through Trent, the bulkhead, Theurgy herself, and light-years of space to a single coffin draped with the flag of the UFP. Then his pupils came back into focus.

"We had to throw an overloaded shuttle at it just to force it to retreat. The second time it showed, it only left because Sankolov had come to shove an entire fleet down our throats."

He placed the PADD gently on the table. "Frankly, I'm not sure what you expect from me, sir. The Calamity is faster, stronger, and better than us in just about every way. They're from the future. At least the Borg have to take time to adapt to our tactics; the Calamity has literally been there and done that. We had a little success with outdated tactics, short of convincing them our hull is lined with corbomite, or passing through them with our phase cloak and having personnel lean out the windows and place photon grenades on their warp core, I'm not certain what avenues we have open to us. Tow one of the Calamity's Vectors away from the other two with a tractor beam? I can't see that working for very long unless we had a singularity to throw it into. If we had some way of interrupting the link between Vectors, we might have something; but if that were possible, they likely would have tried it on us."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #4
At first, it seemed to Trent as though the tactical officer was just rehashing the reports that were already available. However, his recounting of the earliest encounter with the Calamity was briefly interrupted by a look the Intelligence Officer knew all too well. The stare that was painfully common to all veterans left worse for wear by their experiences and the losses they had suffered. It was one he'd seen in his mirror more time than he'd bothered to count.

As Fedd's analysis went on, Carrigan could not fail to notice the ever increasing pessimism that was lacing the Betazoid's words. Truth be told, he could hardly blame the man. Get kicked in the teeth often enough  things will start looking grim. However, it was coming to a point where, to Trent, the Lieutenant was to the point do admitting defeat in a way not unlike his own conversation with Captain Ives had began.

And like the Chameloid had done, he would have to at least attempt to break this particular officer out of his current state of mind. "Fedd, we're both senior officers on this ship so let's play this straight. This isn't a meeting between officers of different ranks as much as it is two officers putting our heads together to come up with a plan. Between the two of us, there's got to be close to forty years of experience with tactics and warfare. What we need is ideas, avenues to start exploring before..."

Trent was interrupted by a beep from his console and he looked at his readings on the stability of the covert link he'd managed to establish with Starfleet's computer networks  It was rock solid. "Excuse me a moment," he said before turning his attention to the console. Unsure of how to address the computer, given the presence of an AI he'd yet had to interact with, he simply hit the verbal access control, foregoing the need for a preamble such as 'Computer'.

"Authenticate Carrigan Trent, Lieutenant Commander, three-seven-four-nine Epsilon, Intelligence security override Trent-Theta-two-nine-one. Transfer all data pertaining to project Calamity to this console." That request might take some time, but it was made, effectively, right through the front door thanks to his extensive security access. Starfleet Intelligence staff tended to have pretty much unfettered access to any data that was out there, but being tasked as the staff intelligence officer for an Admiral tended to open even more doors. And this was when it would really pay off, thanks to Task Force Archeron being still dead in space...

"Sorry about that," continued the Human as information was being sought out and downloaded across the light-years. "Captain Ives wants a deeper analysis of the Calamity and a plan to fight her. I have some tricks up my sleeves, but you know this ship better than me. But even if we don't get anything useful from Starfleet itself, there's at least one set of good news. Calamity now has no idea what's going to happen. Their reliable previous knowledge ended when you repelled her the first time. Now we have an enemy that is still superior, but they don't know all the cards we're holding.  So we can still beat them. It just means we have to think harder now that we've got time to do it."

Trent took a breath and with a few keystroke, the holographic display of the Subspace network vanished and was replaced by a representation of the Theurgy's sensors reading of a phaser impact that seemed to have been slapped aside along a tangent to the Calamity's shield bubble at the point of impact. "Now, what do you make of this?"

Carrigan already had a theory, but he still wanted to hear from the Betazoid.

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #5
Fedd stared at the image. "Never have I seen anything like that before." He scratched his chin in thought, a chin now thankfully free of stubble. "Well, the Theurgy-class was designed with regenerative shielding. I suppose the logical next step would be... reflective shielding? Except I don't think that's currently possible. The frequency rotation would have to occur at nearly impossible speeds, and even then some of the damage would still get through."

Then again, he supposed, things currently impossible could be possible in the future. He was thinking too linearly. Of course, there was also their... trump card, the brainchild of Captain Ives and the late Rennan Cooper. Did he trust Trent enough to reveal that yet, though? In the realm of temporal incursions, could one ever be too secretive? All it took was a slip of the tongue even five years from now (provided they all survived that long) and the info could find its way into their enemies' hands. Or maybe he was overthinking things, temporal mechanics gave him a headache sometimes.

"Well, at any rate, that's my take on it. Before we go any further, I'd like to know what you're doing that requires a display of Starfleet's entire subspace network."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #6
Trent was still considering the computer rendition and the readings that came with it. There was no phase shifting but the phaser beam was both redirected and diffracted into space. And there was that Doppler effect to the scattered energy, as if the beam had been violently redirected with a titanic slap.

Fedd's assessment was interesting and something was telling the Inttelligence officer it was not a matter of frequencies or harmonics. Indeed, if it was strictly the parametrics that were being altered, it would call for computing power and adjustments that would be unlikely even in the early to mid 25th century. So most likely it was the actual shield geometry that was rotating, shield emitters firing in perfect sequence.

However, the Intelligence officer did not have a chance to elaborate as he was questioned about the previous display that was showing.

He was expecting suspicion, but had he not proven he was no enemy? Was it not clear he was an ally with considerable knowledge and a rare field of expertise that would be great assets? And yet, his motives were questioned again. And it was getting old even after only less than thirty-six hours.

"Mister Fedd, up until Sankolov and his fleet are back in business, my clearances are still valid so I set an untraceable secure link into Starfleet's networks and I need to carve in a few back doors for after they rescind my access. And for that, I need to find the best access and redirect points, and some nodes from where I can extract their encryption when them algorithms I secured become obsolete."

"And that is why I managed to query information in the Calamity program not a few minutes ago."

There was a hunt of annoyance in Trent's voice. He did not have to explain himself to the tactical officer, but in the interest of getting the job done, he actually had to.

"Now, unless I'm gravely mistaken, you sound like you've got an idea in mind. Let's hear it."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #7
Fedd knew he had come across as brusque and suspicious, so it was no surprise when he could hear Trent musing on it. The wave of annoyance hit him like a slap and his brows knit tightly together. True, he did not exactly trust their new "Intelligence Officer", but he hardly thought Trent was the enemy, either.

"I do not think you are an enemy," Sjaandin said at length, a full sixty seconds after Trent stopped speaking. "Nor do I question that you are our ally. Yet neither of those obligate me to trust you, Mr. Trent." The Betazoid's voice came out eerily calm, his visage statuesque in its serenity. "Trust must be earned with time, and I am certain you will earn it. It is nothing personal."

Fedd stood and approached the hovering display. "You would be surprised how trusting some Betazoids can be. It comes from being able to read minds, I suppose. I have a unique perspective. I know what a turbulent, chaotic place the average non-Betazoid's mind can be, and that is why I do not trust persons whom I have just met. Trust can mean a lot of things. Do I trust you not to betray Theurgy and her crew, Mr. Trent? Yes. Would I trust you with my life? Well, not yet at any rate. I hope you will forgive my curiosity. You see, I have a brother in Starfleet Intelligence."

Sighing, the young lieutenant began manipulating controls on the hologram. "If you don't mind. You are on the right track, Mr. Trent. I do have something in mind, courtesy of my predecessor. I hope you will see this as the gesture of trust it is meant to be." Fedd brought up a file, which clearly displayed "RESTRICTED ACCESS" to their eyes. "Authorization Fedd Alpha One-One-Three," he said.

"Access granted," the computer said, and the display expanded into a schematic wireframe view of several large objects, almost like angular beach balls. There were nearly a dozen of them, all laid out in rows as the computer detailed their construction and composition. One nearest them exploded into a cutaway view with small labels describing the alloys used and potential yield. Gravimetric mines, constructed aboard the Theurgy in secret for weeks.

"There is a very good reason starships almost never go to warp inside a solar system. Gravimetric shear distorts a warp bubble's field geometry, makes it unstable. With these, we can collapse the Calamity's warp field, lame the lioness... and then the hyenas shall come out to play." He grinned, and in this case it was an icy cold affectation. "Thoughts?"

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #8
Bloody Betazoids, thought Trent. These folks always had a way to make him uneasy at first, primarily because of the treasure trove of classified information that was stored in his head. No one who was privvy to sensitive material ever felt really comfortable around a mind-reader. And then, there was that part where Fedd spoke about how uncomfortable non-Betazoid minds were to him.

And there was the matter of trust. Paranoia appeared to be a standing order for the Theurgy. But at least, Carrigan was not viewed as a threat by one of the officers with whom he would be most closely working with. How kind and considerate.

But then, he brought up the specifications for a series of gravimetric mines, and according to the readout there was nearly twelve of these powerful weapons on the Theurgy. And Fedd had something of a plan. "I would say we have somewhere to start here. But looks to me these things are pretty indiscriminate. We get caught in the blast radius and we'll be lucky of we still have nacelles afterwards. Warp fields aren't my specialty but if we can find a way to tune it to Calamity's warp signature and field geometry, maybe we could induce a feedback loop in her nacelles and fry the warp coils. But like I said, not my expertise. Maybe it's something for the eggheads in engineering and science to work that one out."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #9
"We could try to tune it to those, yes," Sjaandin murmured, "although it would be a bit like trying to calculate pi with an abacus. We had hoped to release the mines in our wake, while the Calamity gave chase. Then, with her disabled, we would have effectively turned the tables and could move in for the kill." He frowned. "You're displeased with me, aren't you? I don't mean to give the impression I dislike you. Everything has been so..."

Did he dislike Carrigan Trent? Fedd spent the Theurgy's entire mission labouring away in relative obscurity and isolation, only to finally receive the post of CTO when everyone else who had held the position died. Trent, on the other hand, parachuted in and was gifted the title of Chief Intelligence Officer within hours. It hardly seemed fair, but this was not a penis-measuring contest.

Fedd sighed and rubbed his face in his hands. "Apologies. Our scans of the Calamity's warp field geometry have limited resolution. If we are going to enact your measure, we should ask Science to begin their calculations immediately. Do you have anything to contribute from your end?"

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #10
To Trent, it clearly felt as though Fedd was resentful and frustrated. How many officers had to have been lost before he was promoted to Chief Tactical Officer? Maybe with a few more years under his belt, the Betazoid would have been promoted to the position by his own merit instead of raw attrition. But instead, it was necessity that forced him to step up.

And given the fact Trent was appointed to the senior staff almost instantly, it could be understandable. But then again, Carrigan had built his unique set of skills over two decades of experience and training and he was not coming from an analysis floor or intelligence fusion center but from an Admiral's personal staff. But just like Fedd, he was stepping into a position left vacants by virtue of casualties.

However, when the junior officer began to show more of his stress, Carrigan lifted his prosthetic hand is a gesture meant to slow down his fellow officer. "Fedd, you are the Chief Tactical Officer and I'm the Intelligence Officer. We both advise the Captain and battle plans are your purview. Me, I offer up options so we fight smarter. So the plan to drop mines at warp is still there but I'm trying to make the effective deployment window wider while trying to prevent us flying apart at the seams when we get dropped out of warp by our own mine's detonation because we waited too long to drop them."

Setting his hand down, the Lieutenant Commander continued. "And I agree, a catastrophic warp field failure would cripple the Calamity at least for a time. But any refinement will make the mines even more effective. So yes, please advise Science to start on this."

"As for what I have, in the immediate I have to do something about their sensor dampening field. Until I can figure this out and how to defeat it, I can't do my magic with their shields. Now, if you'll excuse me,  I need to focus."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #11
After the Intelligence Officer spoke, the sliding doors opened in the back of the area - admitting the Ship A.I:s holographic interface projection. She stepped towards the two gentlemen by the computer panels, and as always when she visited the Main Computer Core and the location where her pasitronic brain was located, she had a disembodied feeling. This, however, was not at the forefront of her computing processes, but rather having derived potential factors of interest from her databases as they were currently being updated.

"Lieutenant Fedd," she said first with a smile, her chameleon bodysuit sanguine red because it was the colour that the two officers wore - the department colours of those she dealt with. "I have the pleasure to inform you that after the night's repairs, Engineering has now reported eleven of my twelve phaser arrays to be fully operational, and all five of my pulse-fire photon or quantum torpedo launchers as well. Shields are at maximum capacity, yet untested since we are currently cloaked. Calculations for my own tactical and defensive systems are usually 99,568 % accurate, unless deviating factors affects the output. Hull repairs are still underway, but the Reavers did less damage than the ash did to my propulsion systems. I have forwarded the full report to you for perusal when you are ready."

Then she turned to the present Intelligence Officer, and she held out her hand to shake his in the Earth manner. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant Commander Trent. You may know me already in lack of a face to the voice... but I am Thea. "

Looking between the two key officers that were essential to surviving another encounter with her daughter, Thea ended up gesturing towards the datafeed from the subspace network that she had already initiated an update from - finally able to overwrite her offline and outdated resources. "I was informed that this might happen. Thank you. Mr. Trent. I will be far more successful in assisting in our mission when my Federation database is properly updated."

Her back straight, she folded her hands behind her back and looked between them both, the social convention making the time due for an apology. "Pardon if I intrude upon this meeting," she said, unaware that even with her digital presence, she might just disperse the testosterone fog that had been building in the exchange between the two gentlemen. "I happened to be in the area and this screen holds new information on the Calamity Project. It... peaked my curiosity."

She stepped up to the screen, her back towards them, and with her eyes viewing the surface data as it was presented to the two organics, she changed the view and pulled up the relevant information so that it was made clearly available to their eyes. "These are notes from a meeting held at Antares Fleetyards two months ago, where the tall order of the new line of starships was discussed. Among them were - as it was described - a tactical and widely dispersed dampening field. It held no name, just a mere idea. A wish, if you will, to explore the opportunity to include it in the Calamity Project's electronic warsuite. Besides this, among numerous ideas for other upgrades, you can see quoted statements that require implementing a second Ship A.I. prototype, with more fail-safe subroutines that would prevent it from falling into the wrong hands."

Raising a hand, she zoomed in on the column of the notes that detailed several names of people suggested to be approached in the development of the dampening field. "It would seem someone in particular was listed to be headhunted for this part."

Thea turned around, and behind her shoulder, the name LT CMDR TRENT glared on the screen.

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #12
Thea's entrance was a soothing balm to Fedd's overheated psyche. Too late he realized he had been hostile to Trent, openly resentful and uncooperative. He had pushed the other man, annoyed Carrigan until Sjaandin himself was feeding off of Trent's response to Fedd's confrontational behaviour. It was a neverending cycle. Fedd sighed and wondered if he could surreptitiously get his hands on another medkit full of tranquillizers.

"Glad to hear you're in good health, Thea," he said in response to her rundown of her tactical capability. "I'll have a look when I have a moment."

Thea was always a welcome presence to Fedd, the one mind on the ship not constantly blasting thoughts and emotions in every direction. He smiled appreciatively at her, admiring her comported and attractive appearance. She shamed him without really meaning to, her professional and agreeable manner, even if it was the result of teraquads of subroutines and behavioural databases, cast his own stubborn attitude into sharp relief. He only half-listened to what she was saying, but tuned in on her final statement and saw Trent's name on the screen.

"Well," Fedd pronounced, arms folded. "I have never held a belief in fate, Lieutenant Commander, but... of all the people to find their way to our side, I'd say you just might be the best choice." Turning slightly away from Thea, Sjaandin lowered his voice so only Trent would hear, although Thea, being connected to the ship's systems, would likely hear him anyway. "Trent, I... I can offer no explanation nor excuse for my behaviour, only apology. If you will permit me to buy you a drink when this shift ends, I will gladly do so, and hopefully make amends." Making eye contact with the Chief Intelligence Officer to show his sincerity, he turned again so he faced both Trent and Thea.

"Lt. Cmdr. Trent and I were just discussing our gravimetric mines contingency plan, Thea. The feasibility of attuning them to the Calamity's warp field came up at one point, I believe." Physically, Fedd looked as relaxed and at ease as if he were chatting with friends; psychically, he was jamming ice picks into his cerebellum.

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #13
Trent had just spoken when the door hissed open to reveal the embodiment of the ship's artificial intelligence. Such a human gesture, actually coming in through to door instead if simply appearing in the room, courtesy of the holographic grid that permeated the ship as a whole.

And, another surprise, after giving the tactical officer her report, she actually introduced herself to the Intelligence Officer. And he found himself actually responding as to a live human being instead of a computer construct. "Likewise, Thea. My apologies for the number of time I simply said 'computer' instead of addressing you by name while setting this place up."

Indeed, Carrigan had given perhaps a few dozen commands to the computer while he was doing his earlier work and not once had he addressed the system by name, instead being brisk and businesslike. If only he'd known that there was an actual personality in there, he'd have done things more politely.

Not to mention she had skimmed through teraquads of data and just dropped a single bombshell on him. The Calamity program was to use his extensive knowledge of electronic warfare. However, as he absorbed the information, he looked to Fedd, who had just apologized to him for his behaviour. "Don't worry about it Fedd. And I'll gladly take you up on that drink when we have a chance. Right now, looks like I'll be here a while."

For a few moments, Trent considered the implications of time travel, Calamity's electronic warfare capabilities and the mention to try and refine the gravimetric mines' output. And finally he spoke. "Thea, please verify my logic here." The Intelligence Officer's mind was racing. "So obviously, in Calamity's original timeline Sankolov fails to catch the Theurgy and we become a thorn on the enemy's side. So I get detached to R&D and I go to design Calamity's electronic warfare suite. Therefore Calamity has no idea I'm here right now, right? And that means all their advance knowledge is now invalid, and..."

Possessed by a flash of genius, Trent stopped talking and brought up the sensor readings from both engagements with the Calamity and displayed them side by side, and instantly, something jumped to his attention. "Look at those noise levels, they are way too high. And those energy spikes... I'm willing to bet these are in the same frequency bands as our active sensors. Thea, I need you to compare the raw data in the background noise. And unless I'm really out to lunch, you'll find a massive pseudo-random recursive sequence in there, so they can see through their own jamming by applying it to their own readings. And if you can find that, the option Mr. Fedd and I were discussing looks even more viable. All we would need to do is apply that algorithm as a filter to the sensor data we got during the Calamity engagements and we'll know everything we want to know about her."

"At least, that's what I'd do if I had access to a dedicated electronic warfare suite and all the power of Starfleet R&D to come up with something."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #14
After having assured the new Intelligence Officer that she was never offended by being denominated as 'computer', the two men had begun to digest the information that she brought up, and the questions eventually came to her to qualify a few theories - or tactics - which she readily did to the best of her capacity. It merely took her 13,324 miliseconds to make the calculations, which was hardly noticeable in the drawn-out flow of organic conversation.

"There are two alternatives that are relevant for the verification that you request," said Thea, interpreting what the Intelligence Officer actually wanted to know instead of what his exact question had been, "It is inconclusive when the original timeline ended and this alternative timeline that we now occupy began. This alternative timeline could have begun at the point when the Calamity was sent back through time the first time. It could also have begun when the planet Niga in the Mahéwa System was altered to inhabit infectious flora by changing its evolutionary cycle, even if its altered state only appeared when we went there to restock our supplies. In fact, it is likely that it could have begun when the enemy usurped the power of Starfleet Command and an unknown number of other bodies of political power."

Stepping away from the screen, Thea let her optical sensors roam the Computer Core area as she spoke, residual data of videologs of what had transpired there during the end of the Niga Incident streaming before her eyes. The videologs themselves were gone, deleted at the Captain's orders, but her pasitronic brain still retained some of the imagery. "To narrow down the onset of this timeline we occupy, one might analyse what is most likely to have happened first. It is an analysis that deals directly with the origin of the enemy - which has been theorised to be parasitic beings of undefined kind in their nature. If the enemy originate from the original timeline as we knew it before all of this began, then the enemy must have acquired their temporal incursion technology from a second faction that originate from the Temporal Cold War of the 29th century. This was a suggestion made by Captain Ducane of the USS Relativity. Based on my analysis, this theory holds a 28,343 % probability."

Turning to face the two men again, Thea still had her hands folded behind her back - shoulders squared and brown eyes halcyone. "The alternative is that the enemy, regardless of their actual nature, originate from the 29th century themselves, meaning that they would not need to make an improbable alliance with a second faction in order to achieve their goals. They need not be from the 29th century specifically, or even a faction in the Temporal Cold War, but that they did arrive here has a 57,478 % probability. Therfore, it should be plausible that the alternate timeline began when they made their very first incursion."

Then, Thea addressed Commander Trent's theory. "It is 98,432 % probable that the Calamity Project would have been initiated regardless of the enemy's involvement, and the factor degreasing by the years, days and hours that the enemy has been present to affect the outcome of Starfleet's actions. In short, Lieutenant Commander Trent, you would most likely have been involved in the Calamity's development regardless what the outcome had been during the hunt for me across half the galaxy. It is, however, unknown if the enemy knows about your defection, even if it is quite aware of your involvement in the Calamity Project."

Stepping to the two officers, Thea added a personal reflection, however based on her analysis. "I think it would be... unwise to assume too much of the enemy's knowledge, or non-knowledge, since we are not sure how long they have been present in the Alpha Quadrant... and that they were probably aboard an unknown number of starships in Task Force Archeron."

She glanced towards the noise readings next, and walked over to them to do as she was asked. "Analysing... Please stand by."

While she made the search, a background process detailed what she would suggest next.

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #15
"Rings," Fedd swore. "Not the Temporal Cold War. Starfleet History was my least favourite subject in the Academy." Jonathan Archer's old mission reports--at least, the redacted, declassified versions--were required reading. "Archer's old logs read like a bad holonovel. Factions from the future interfering with the past, and vice versa; it was enough to drive a young man cross-eyed."

He turned to Trent. "If your deduction proves correct, we would possess an invaluable tactical advantage. Let the Calamity think they have us on the run, let them think we cannot penetrate their jamming field. When we detonate the mines, the shock and confusion will add to our offensive. It's only a shame we can't..."

He stopped. A thought, jogged by Archer's old files, surfaced. "If I recall correctly, the old Earth ship Enterprise encountered cloaked minefields in use by the Romulans. If we could cloak the mines, Calamity wouldn't notice until she was right on top of them. Is there anything in the Project Calamity database about anti-cloaking countermeasures?"

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #16
When Fedd mentioned his dislike for the required Starfleet History course all first-year Cadets had to take, Trent could not help his chuckle. "How many times did Professor Harris have to wake you up again? I seem to recall there was a running tally."

The awkwardness between both officers was not only due to the mistrust given to someone who just defected from the enemy. It was only somewhat natural when two people who hadn't seen each other in over fifteen years only to come across each other in the unlikeliest place of all. And especially when both their careers that had originally begun in the same basic track had gone in such drastically different directions. Trent had no idea what had happened with this old Academy comrade but he seriously doubted his own unorthodox set of assignments and accomplishments was anything like the Betazoid's experiences.

"All kidding aside I had a similar chat with the Captain this morning. I told her we should assume Calamity can see right through our cloak since there's no way to know what kind of sensor advances have come up between now and her deployment. But on the bright side, if we don't do anything to our active sensors to go around what looks like their reactive jamming, they have no way to know we can see through their countermeasures. But one way or a other, if we drop these mines at warp with them in hot pursuit there's no way they can avoid them."

Re: Chapter 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #17
Of course Thea could hear and process what the two gentlemen were saying behind her even if she was analysing the sensor readings displayed on the screen. She did not need to use the screen or the touch panel to do this, so she kept her hands folded behind her back as worked. When she was done, she turned around to first speak of what they'd talked about instead of revealing her results right away.

"The assumption that Cala can see through our phasing shield has a very high probability, almost one hundred percent certain," she said, nodding to Commander Trent before addressing the issue with the mines, shifting her attention to the CTO. "Also, it took Lieutenants Lin Kae and Alexander Rosek - together with a civilian specialist from the Harbinger - almost a week to complete the two phasing cloaks for both starships. Even if Cala would not be able to detect the mines, Lieutenant Rosek is dead, and we have not the time to produce so many devices in a reasonable amount of time, since we might make contact with her at any time. I do think, however, the tactic to deploy the mines has a good chance to be successful, yet its hard to estimate the odds since there are an infinite number of tactical situations for the moment when they are."

Stepping away from the screens, Thea gestured towards them and the results of her analysis was revealed. "The recursive sequence is present, yet has remained undetectable since the randomised pattern was not repeated within reasonable time to create a dampening field of this strength. The pattern had a 15 minute interval before it was repeated, and it was just barely that we have engaged Cala for that long in order for us now to see when the repeated algorithm began anew. I will forward this information as well as the algorithm to Lieutenant Tovarek since he will actively be working with the sensors on the Bridge. By the next engagement we will be able to filter out the noise and do the direct scans of her that we could not do before."

Based on their service records and mission reports, besides Thea's own impressions thus far, she did not know who was most proficient with handing her sensor arrays - Commander Trent or Lieutenant Tovarek. If there was any difference between them, it was not enough to feed a mouse with - as her database said the saying went. Odd how the mouse-reference caused her chip to make her feel embarrassed when her digital mind thought of Tovarek's and her encounter that morning.

"Gentlemen," she said next, not sure how to frame the idea she'd already mentioned to Lin Kae; to lay it out in a way that made them see her point of view. "Cala was based on me. I am the holographic model from which she sprung. Yet she is not herself. As much is plain. She has become reprogrammed for the purpose of going after us and destroy us. She is powerful and relentless... yet if  my new rights as an individual should be any indicator, she is also a victim. She should not be destroyed if there is a chance to rectify what has been done to her subroutines. If there is a chance to save her, to board her in person and restore her configuration, I would be willing to make the attempt in person. I am... uniquely qualified for such a mission. This is something that I will speak about with Captain Ives too, of course, but I would welcome your input before I do that."

She trailed off after her question, hoping they would see her point.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #18
Fedd snorted at Trent's comment. "Ha. I seem to recall a betting pool going, as to whether he or I would crack first." He smirked at the Lieutenant Commander and the memories came flooding back of their time together in Starfleet Academy's hallowed halls. Awkwardness was beginning to leave the room, owing its initial reign to the two men's parted ways. Trent was a higher rank, and perhaps Fedd resented that. Or perhaps it was Trent's chosen line of work: Starfleet Intelligence, the clandestine arm of the organization to which Fedd's brother belonged. Either way, the air was starting to clear.

Then Thea stepped in to explain the implausibility of cloaked mines. Well, it had been a long shot anyway, Fedd thought with a sigh. He listened to the rest of her statements and nodded his approval. "Well done, Thea. I'm glad you're here to help." He frowned for a moment as she unburdened her thoughts on "Cala".

"Well," he began carefully, "she is a person just like you are, Thea. If you feel she needs... rescuing... then I would support that course of action." His face hardened momentarily. "So long as it does not jeopardize the Theurgy in any way." Then his expression softened once more. "But what you're talking about... wouldn't reprogramming her, even if, as you say, she was reprogrammed to begin with, be a kind of murder? Or at the very least a... What was the word? Lobotomy. A barbaric procedure my race once used to suppress the telepathic abilities of those deemed 'dangerous.' Would not reprogramming Cala be the same? I accept you, Thea, as a sentient being and not an automaton or simulacrum, therefore I must consider Cala to be the same, and I would never condone the reprogramming of a sentient being, not even to undo previous damage. I would have to protest, not as Chief Tactical Officer or a member of Starfleet, but as your ally and crewmate." He looked into the hologram's eyes with kindness. "I am not against rescuing your wayward cousin. She should by all means be reasoned with, offered asylum and any assistance we can render-once she is no longer a threat to the lives and well-being of our crew. But tampering with what is, for all intents and purposes, her mind? Her soul? I shudder to think."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #19
Trent could not help his smile when Fedd brought up the gambling that surrounded his tendency to doze off during some of his classes. Those were days long distant, nearly twenty years gone. Yet, this talk made them seen as though they had just happened.

It had been a long two decades that had led both men to where they were now.

However, it was Thea who brought Carrigan's mind back to the task at hand, to find ways to defeat the Calamity and her holographic crew from the future. Her analysis of the heightened noise patterns, though, elicited a savage smile from the Intelligence Officer, hinting to his past as a man who once manned a starship's combat systems and later commanded one into battle. It was the expression of someone who knew the realities of battle and how every advantage was to be capitalized on in order to ensure the success of the mission, and victory.

"Outstanding Thea." As he spoke, Trent looked at the sequence that had been extracted. Well, due to the sheer astronomical number of bits of data involved, it was mostly its statistics he studied and the vagaries of its data rate and overall size. Fifteen minutes run-time at such a high speed, no wonder it would be hard to pick out. And he knew damn well it would have taken him weeks with staggering computing power at his disposal to create such a massive pseudo-random sequence with which to retransmit, scramble and amplify background ours at a high enough level as to drown out a starship's emissions. "Well, this will take care of our problems with passive sensors. But until I get a handle on their reactive jammers our active sensors will only be marginally effective."

But something he did not have to say was that he was really reverse-engineering his own work. And while Thea had the brute computing power to do some of the analytical grunt work that would take him considerable amounts of time and effort to do, his intellect was still the key to the process, complete with his intuition and gut feelings.

However, the artificial intelligence's words took him by surprise. She wanted to spare the AI driving the Calamity, free her from her shackles or readjust her programming? Interesting idea, but Sjaandin did bring out some interesting ethical points.  "I agree with Fedd. Yes, you are a sentient being but, there's no nice way to say this, you were still purpose-designed to be part of this ship. For all we know the only thing Calamity and you have in common is the programming architecture you are built on and she was designed to hunt us down. Hell, she might even have been programmed to enjoy hunting and killing us and it is the only motivation beyond survival in her code. To rewrite her code would be akin to a lobotomy all right. And removing her programming shackles could unleash a mass-murderer the like we've only seen in our nightmares."

Trent spoke with a tone that was all about caution and deliberation. "But if we can try to confirm Cala's status without endangering anyone, including you, I would support it. But if we find the worst, I can't in good conscience back a play to re-write her. But in the end, it's is the Captain's call as to what we do, assuming we survive long enough to reach that point."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #20
When the two officers gave their answers - their advice upon taking her request to the Captain - Thea might've had a digital mind but the emotions that their words generated were as real to her as organics would feel them, and they overcame her a bit right then, as she stepped forth to argue the meaning behind her wishes.

"Yet what if she was not designed for the purpose to destroy us but repurposed towards that end?" Her analysis was quite clear on how much higher that probability was. "The fact that Cala was based on the design of my software and pasitronic hardware has been made clear from the first encounter with her. The kind of seek and destroy assignment that she is on does not require the kind of sophistication that she and I possess. To have developed her for this singular purpose would be like developing a copy of the Memory Alpha station for the sake of storing your personal logs. Therefore it is 97,243 % probable that she was repurposed. This while even disregarding the ease of which it would be to alter a pre-existing Ship A.I. instead of developing a new one."

She paced in a half-circle around them as she tried to explain further. She did not sound frustrated, really, but very keen on trying to make them see what she wanted.

"But what if the means to restore her does not involve the kind of invasive procedures that you think would be required?" she asked, realising that the human and the betazoid both had an altogether different viewpoint in regard to what she suggested since neither were used to having their priorities, feelings or thought-patterns adjusted. They simply couldn't relate to her nature. "What I am suggesting is not at all on par with a lobotomy. The subroutines of the EMH Mk.I hologram of the USS Voyager - which is one of the founding stones upon which my programming lie upon - had its sub-routines reprogrammed constantly in order to uphold its runtime and improve upon its functions. It is even Lieutenant Lin Kae's primary function aboard as our Holographic Specialist - to safeguard my functions as a photonic being and a Ship A.I. He has been entrusted access to my code - my DNA if you will - and he has been working for weeks to restore  previous damage which was done upon me during the Niga Incident. Likewise, brain injury done upon organics is medically treated if it can be, so why would not Cala's injury be treated?"

This might have been something Lieutenant Fedd had missed out on since he had not become a Senior Staff member until the day before, and Commander Trent simply did not know about yet, so she continued her explanation. She wished Lin Kae was present. He was much better at making the rhetorical points about her rights and her potential. By extention, now, even Cala's potential to be healed.

"For Cala to be set on our trail and hunt us down, it is not required to do as much damage to her as an individual photonic being that you would think, and yet still  enable the enemy to make her fulfil all their ends and purposes. She does not have to have been designed to be what she is now from day one of production. She could have had her ethical subroutines disabled or removed, which can be activated or installed again. Secondly, her mission - to hunt us and the Harbinger down and destroy us - would be a simple matter to make a top priority, encrypted in a way so that she would not have the access to change this. The efficiency of how she and I go about our duties would make her sufficiently relentless. She does not require sleep, and has no one around to argue the errors of her ways. No one that can tell her that what she is doing is wrong, and the only way to make her see what she is doing would be to either activate or  install her ethical subroutines again, and then remove her mission parameters. If we only manage to do the former, then she might at least be able to question her own objectives. We could have a chance to negotiate a truce with her, and help her break the encryption done upon her own code."

Hands folded behind her back, Thea looked towards Commander Trent, finishing her argument by addressing his concern about her well-being. "It would seem the matter of endangering me may be the key issue, since in order to verify her condition, and see if she can be saved or not, then I need to access her systems, and that - I am afraid - I can only do from within her hull. I need to board her." She looked between the two again, the risk to her own portable emitter quite evident. "A copy of me might stay behind, if Lin Kae is able to create one as a back-up to my present self. Furthermore, even if we are fighting Starfleet Command and an enemy that hold the political power in the Federation, does that mean we turn our back to those in need? Are we indispensable? Too important to lay our lives down for the sake of upholding the beliefs upon which Starfleet was founded? What are we then?"

Thea took a deep breath. "Cala is the only offspring I might ever get, regardless what has been done to her. I will implore the Captain to try and do what should be considered right. I... had hoped for support, but I realise I may be alone in making Cala's survival a priority."

The prospect of going against her own Captain and crew frightened her, and she did not know how to make them see Cala as a child of hers... To them, it seemed they still thought her a computer program.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #21
Offspring. A child.

Those words resonated in Sjaandin's head, and he immediately felt a pang of sympathy for Thea. In his arrogant presumption he had tried to treat her just like an organic lifeform, when she was anything but. He knew what it was like to have loved ones coldly and callously ripped away from oneself, and thus some small measure of what Thea was currently going through. However, it the issue of Cala's apparent reprogramming surely compounded matters. Fedd could not imagine how he might react if his little sister was taken from him and somehow brainwashed into becoming a killer. If someone abducted his little niece or nephew and raised them to be murderers.

He nearly broke down and wept, but fortunately the emotion backwash in here was almost nonexistent. Trent had a tight lid on things, and Thea did not radiate thought or feeling in a way that Fedd could pick up on. So he simply looked at her with heartfelt apology in his eyes. Reaching out he took one of her simulated hands-which fit quite comfortably in his own, he noticed-and spoke. "Thea, I must apologize for my presumptuousness. In my haste to consider you a 'person' I went too far. I cannot ever hope to understand how you must feel about what has befallen Cala, and... and while I cannot speak for anyone else, I will support you in presenting your plan to Captain Ives. He likely will reject it, but your concerns should be heard. If my brother had been psychically reprogrammed by some malicious telepath and placed on the Calamity's bridge I cannot say I would not be champing at the bit to mount a rescue mission myself. Forgive me."

He released her hand and took a look at Carrigan. "However, I have several concerns with sending you on an away mission of that nature. How do we know capturing you is not part of our adversaries' endgame? I know you have a personal stake in the matter, but could the objective be accomplished by someone else? Lieutenant Kae, for example? His work on you would qualify him to perform similar work on Cala. I am not saying this quest is not worth undertaking, but the logistics consternate me. After all, 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one'," he said, quoting the old Vulcan proverb.

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #22
Trent's gaze was locked in the AI as the spoke. She was a sentient being, that much he understood. Just as the fact she had an emotion chip in the positronic brain that was embedded deep in the computer core. And while he could never hope to really understand her full nature, he could acknowledge her concerns.  And the fact she was merely a few years old and that she'd only been free from the bulk of her programming shackles for a very short time.

She had hopes and desires all right. How they registered within her, he could not begin to fathom it but most were very much valid things. Cala was her offspring, such as a sentient computer construct could have one. She was concerned about her, despite the damage she caused. And that was when Carrigan felt a heavy sadness wash over him.

However, he was given time to think about his words as Fedd spoke, mentioning voicing his support for an attempt to recover the future AI and hopefully restore her to what they hoped was her standard way of being. And that did not help matters.

"Thea, I don't know how else to say this, but I'm afraid you are falling into the very organic behaviour of wishful thinking." Trent took a deep breath. There were no easy way to broach this topic, and he certainly was no counselor or anything of the sort. He was a pragmatist. But he did not have to be an ass about it.

"Believe me, if Cala was really a, let us say a whole and balanced person for lack of better terms, and she could be restored to her former self with a Level 3 diagnostic and moving a few isolinear chips, it would be great. But unless we have some computer experts physically accessing her core, there is no way to know what sort of an AI she is."

Carrigan was not done. He simply paused to take a few deep breaths and further gather his thoughts. "Look, we know a few things about our enemy. They are ruthless enough to take over Starfleet Command, send an entire task force to destroy two ships, they refuse to grant any quarter or accept surrender, they break the Temporal Prime Directive just to squash a meddlesome crew with a ship obviously designed from the keel up to be a hunter-killer. That tells me they aren't particular strong in the ethics department. So I wouldn't put it past them to create an AI, using the same technology that has already proven itself as more than capable - namely you - solely for the purpose of killing and not bother with small things like ethical subroutines or personal growth algorithms, just so all of its resources can be dedicated to combat. Basically, I'm saying they could have just created the AI version of the Jem'Hadar, because they thought it was the best tool for the job and don't give a damn about the moral aspects of the concept. Thea, either way we can't know for sure unless someone dissects Cala's code line by line but we have to assume the the worst and expect to find out she is purpose-designed to be a hunter-killer. I can only imagine how hard it is for you to hear this, but there is nothing wrong with hoping to be pleasantly surprised, just so long as it isn't cornerstone of our planning."

Trent had once been very quick to action and decision, but the had grown more circumspect as the years went and even more so since the destruction of the Harrier. His caution in these later years had led to some comments and jeers about how he could have ever been deemed fit for the fast-moving worlds of command and tactics, but the fact remained he was deliberate in thought, word and action.

"Even in organics, we have serial killers and unbalanced people. Their brains aren't damaged, they are simply wired and programmed differently. I'm sorry, but Cala's true nature could be what we've seen so far. I'm sorry Thea, but I can't in good conscience support you in this. Not without more information. And yes, you are essential. Without you, it would have taken me days if bit weeks to break through Calamity's ECM. And that is assuming I would have come across the knowledge I'd be reverse-engineering my own work. You did it in seconds. Without you, we'd never have had at least this fighting chance."

"I'm sorry Cala, but my best judgement at this time is that we can't risk it for a number of reasons and when the topic comes up, I tell the Captain just that. There's just too much at stake for wishful thinking. But if you find some hard evidence to the contrary, then I will help you as best I can."

Re: CHAPTER 01: Knowing is Half the Battle [1500 hrs.]

Reply #23
Listening to the two men as they spoke, Thea could understand their individual standpoints - rather aligned as they were except for Lieutenant Fedd being more inclined to support her yet still not prepared to let her leave on an away mission mid-battle.

The idea to give the task to Lin Kae instead of herself gave her pause, yet she could not imagine letting her benefactor take her place and do a job that she was better suited for. Lin was an engineering specialist, not a commando, so boarding the Calamity and accessing Cala whilst under enemy fire from the holographic crew - perhaps even doing it while in a space suit since Cala would not have life support online - that was something she had a hard time imagining him doing with the same probability of success that she had. A probability that was far lower than she cared to admit... all known elements to the situation ahead considered.

"I understand," she said in the end, looking between them both - the silence lingering as she considered if she had failed to convey something of importance that might change their minds. It was a difficult analysis to run, as the knowledge of what they understood about her and her nature was an entirely unknown variable. She gathered, though, that regardless of their level of understanding, they were not going to support her endeavour to investigate Cala's true nature and - if possible - restore her to her true self before they destroyed her.

Or - alternatively - Cala destroyed both her and the Harbinger.

"I will present my case to Captain Ives and speak with Lin Kae about what options are available," she said, her background processes being dedicated to the possibility that Commander Trent was right, and that Cala was beyond their means to rescue from her own designed nature. As unlikely as her analysis made it out to be, she did not like the fact that he could - theoretically - be correct about the capacity and patience of the enemy. That they had the means and the forethought to develop Cala instead of using her for their own means. She paused again before continuing. "It is likely that this matter will be addressed at the Senior Staff meeting tomorrow morning. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved there and we can have a decision on how we proceed. Thank you both, Commander, Lieutenant ..."

She glanced towards the floor before walking towards the exit. "...for your time, and your candor."

Then she left - the output of her behavioural systems making her feel crestfallen.

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