((CIC Desdemona | Deck 6 | Sim Center))
Scowling at the memories dredged up by Harry’s experimentation with the hand-held reality weapon, Ares moved to the Simulation control panel.
Dakora: Now that we’ve got a feel for Shint-head ship design, let's look at what we’ll actually be facing. ::He jabbed a button with his finger.:: Stennes said we’d need something big to have enough Prisma-thingies for the Des to be able to use it. ::He gestured to the scale model that replaced the patrol ship.:: This is a Shint Cruiser.
Savel: I do not like seeing one of these. Even a model in a simulation.
Sato: ::to Savel:: Just focus on how we can use it against them. Looks a lot nicer that way.
Savel: These sensors could be an ideal breaching point. It could simultaneously give us access to a critical part of the ship while also reducing their ability to track us.
Sato: Now we're talking. Poke 'em in the eye before we pick their pockets.
He cocked his head slightly, considering the idea. It was rough, but it was a start.
Dakora: If we can make it look like the sensor pod ::He pointed to a nodule on the sweeping organic shape of the Shint vessel.:: Was destroyed by the Des’ weapons… it might work.
Savel: We also have the option to partially cripple their weapons. It could make our escape less dangerous, and assist the Desdemona should she engage the cruiser.
Ares’ brow furrowed as he turned to face the young Vulcan.
Dakora: Maybe so. Or maybe that draws too much attention and they decide to send reinforcements down to our incursion points and we’re boned before we begin…
All eyes returned to the representation of the cruiser floating between them. He was nearly caught off guard when the Colonel spoke up. Somehow, Ares had sort of forgotten she was there; Something seemed unlikely given her imposing presence.
MacKenzie: I’d encourage you to keep your eyes on the ball: your job is to come up with the infiltration plan. Leave the rest to us.
Sato: You're saying you don't want us to take out some of their weapons?
MacKenzie shook her head.
MacKenzie: What I’m saying is, if you decide the sensors are the way to go, don’t choose the other option just because it means disabling their weapons – especially if it puts your team in a more compromising position in the long run. We can’t afford any mistakes.
Sato: Makes sense.
The doors to Simulation Center slid open, the right-most door-panel making an awful metallic scraping noise as it did. The engineering team, it seemed, had not deemed servicing the door actuators a high priority item to expend their limited resources on.
Ares snapped off a quick salute as Major Stennes appeared in between the doors and stepped out onto the Sim.
Stennes: This mission will be unorthodox regardless of outcome. Nothing is off the table. We'll see to it that everything is done to make it an unorthodox success.
Again, Ares nodded.
Dakora: Right. Nothing wrong with exploring all the options, but lets focus one entry point at a time. Let’s run it back to the sensor idea…
Sato: So, if we were to use the sensors as our entry, how would we lower their defenses enough to let us reach them? A diversion?
MacKenzie: A distraction.
Until now they knew precious little about the Shint sensors worked. With the bulk of their data having been paid for in blood of those who died learning the extent of those capabilities..
Savel: Our distraction will not have to last long. Only until we are successful in taking our their sensors.
He jabbed his finger at the sensor pod, making a dull tap-tap sound.
Dakora: We also need to understand how they’ll react.
Sato chimed in with his own ideas on the subject.
Sato: If you have something flying at your face, you have reflexes to protect your eyes. Blinking, raising your hands, moving your head - the list goes on. The point is, if a vital sensory input is being threatened, we need to account for built-in defensive measures.
MacKenzie: You have my attention… What are you thinking based on the limited resources we have at our disposal?
Just as Ares was starting to think Sato might have a couple of decent braincells his head afterall, he managed to donk himself in the head with the reality cannon that was still strapped to his arm.
Sato: I imagine the Shint would see right through pretty much any overt bait-and-switch tactic we could take. Knowing that, what if we tried something about as ... unorthodox as it gets? How could we make it look like the away team had broken with the Des?
Savel: We will need to remain hidden from their view for as long as possible. It will need to be something that keeps them from expecting an obvious deception.
Shrugging, Ares tossed his thoughts into the mix.
Dakora: If we can lure them into the debris field of one of the big battles; the last stand at K-7 or maybe the Turkana IV dead zone? Might be able to power down and hide a shuttlepod in there somewhere.
MacKenzie’s eyes narrowed as she listened on.
MacKenzie: ::nodding slowly:: So, let’s say we decide to move forward with that plan – what do you need?
The Vulcan seemed to bristle slightly.
Savel: Considering the importance of this particular endeavor, no resource should be spared.
Ares stepped forward.
Dakora: A hammerhead shuttlepod with the hullbreacher nosecharge still intact. We’ve got one in our hangar bay that we’ve been using as a cargo tug, but her nose charge was repurposed elsewhere. ::He shrugged.:: Could probably improvise one easily enough.
The hammerheads were standard fare before the war. Capable of ramming into the hull of a conventional vessel at a high rate of speed and latching onto the hull before deploying a shaped charge to breach the targets hull, they were a stable for interdictions and raids. These days most of them had been scrapped due to their lack of effectiveness against the Shint.
Sato: And we'll need to know how to minimize the impact of automated fire.
Stennes spoke again, this time with welcome news.
Stennes: I nicked Overdone’s sensor and intel logs before I bailed into the escape pod. It looks like the Shint haven’t modified their conventional shield or weapons frequencies in a while. ::beat:: Complacency.
Sato: Assuming they haven't done some recent spring cleaning, that could be useful. We'd still take damage, but it wouldn't be a one-shot kill.
Savel: It could be useful should we need to find a way through their shields quickly, as well.
Ares turned to Stennes, his left eyebrow raising curiously.
Dakora: If you gleaned any other useful Intel from the logs or your time on Casperia, now is the time, Major Stennes. ::He sighed.:: One way or another, we won’t be getting a second shot at this.
The new XO took only a moment to think about it. They had a decent skeleton of a plan, Ares thought. Now they just needed to flesh it out with all of the little details that would hopefully mean the difference between success and failure.
Stennes: I wasn’t able to get everything I wanted out of there. I didn’t notice their approach until they’d already locked a tractor beam on us. Major Yannick became—— :beat:: unresponsive. Again.
Savel: Let us hope we do not suffer a similar fate.
Absentmindedly, Ares scratched at the place where his flight helmet implant met the skin around his eye. The damn thing was always itchy.
Dakora: At least you didn’t come away empty-handed. That’s something. Any encounter with the Shint that you survive is a victory of its own.
Stennes: I got the most recent schematics. We escaped just before Casperia Prime was attacked, so these might be the only ones left in Commonwealth hands. The Shint aren't the only ones with sensors. We could use ours to create some distracting echoes of our own. At least enough to confuse them while a shuttlepod approaches.
Sato: How many echoes could we create? The more we have, the less likely they are to shoot the right one first.
Ares didn’t relish the idea of going in with an untested tactic, but any test would risk tipping their hand.
Savel seemed to have his own reservations.
Savel: You said yourself, Lieutenant, that they may not fall for regular bait-and-switch tactics used against them.
Dakora: What if we combined the two ideas? Hide out in a debris field AND try to employ the echoes.
Sato: Not the best odds, but they're better than 50:50.
It wasn’t great, but considering the fact that the projections had what was left of the Commonwealth dead or enslaved by the Shint by the end of the year, these were desperate times.
Savel: I may have an idea that could improve our odds of getting close to the Shint cruiser. Even if it may be slight. I do not imagine you all will like it.
Ares gestured toward the model, his scowl flashing just this side of curious.
Dakora: By all means, Mister Savel, share it with the class.
The Vulcan punched some commands into the console and a virtual representation of the Des, the shuttlepod, and a Shint Cruiser settled into view.
Savel: I propose that we use the Desdemona to make the Shint think the shuttle has been destroyed. The Shint will likely have no regard for a defeated CIC vessel the size of our shuttle. Not with the Desdemona close by.
The idea unfolded in Ares's head as he considered the variables.
Dakora: Are you thinking we make it look like the Shuttle is full of separatists or deserters and we make it look like the Des shoots it down? ::He frowned.:: It could work. Maybe.
Savel then grabbed the model of the shuttle and moved it closer to the Shint cruiser, near one of the sensor nodules.
Savel: Your concerns are valid. We will indeed have to power down the ship to minimal levels and likely drift toward the Shint cruiser. A longer period of exposure, however they should not detect us until the last minute. At which point, our shields and systems will be active and we will be in place to breach the hull.
Ares shrugged and turned to the others.
Dakora: It’s possible. If we time our breach with a barrage from the Desdemona they might just take the damage in stride. Then we’d just have to get in and steal the prisma-whatevers and wreck things inside bad enough on our way out that we can get back to the Des and get away before the Cruiser can kill us.
There were a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in the plan. But at least a plan was forming.
Dakora: Let’s run it back from the beginning. We go loud with the Des’ sensors and wait for a Shint Cruiser to pick up the trail. Once they’re in sensor range, we deploy the pod of ::He made quotation marks with his fingers:: deserters and make it look like the Des’ shoots them dead. Then what?
Major. Ares Dakora
Air Group Commander
as simmed by