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  Commander Carishai & Captain Michael Holden, SD
JDL: Dances with...Birds???

Dances with...Birds???
Admiral Rointa Katera, Captain Michael Holden and Commander Carishai

(This picks up directly from the end of the sim of SD: 201707.09)

..."Respectfully, Admiral," Holden started, then gave a side glance to Commander Carishai, "and no offense to the commander here, but isn't a decision like this usually left up to the commanding officer? Or, at least I should have some input into this,, don't you think?"

"You've had... what, Captain, over two years to submit some input into a permanent exec?" Rear Admiral Katera shot back.. "I do believe that when you were handed this assignment, it was to clean house in the command staff as Starfleet was none too happy with the ship's handling in Captain Trellis's absence."

"That is correct, Admiral," Holden agreed. "But, in the time since then, I have actually come to respect the officers in the command staff, most notably, Commander Lobren. He may be gruff, but he is a good officer."

"Starfleet Command is not arguing his ability as an officer," Katera noted, "just his abilities as second-in-command of a vessel."

It was quite uncommon for Cari to wish she didn't feel the need to interject her thoughts or feelings into the conversation, but this was most definitely one of those situations and she wasn't going to get away with just a polite nod.  Think politically, choose your words carefully and say your piece delicately, Cari, very delicately.... She thought before delivering her considered thoughts to her superior officers with a restrained but still upbeat tone and a pleasant smile.

"I assure you Captain Holden, that I have only the utmost respect for Commander Lobren. Starfleet could certainly use more officers who are as loyal and resilient as he.  But in the course of reading over his personnel file, I couldn't help notice that at no time during his entire tenure as acting XO did he himself submit a request -- formally or informally --  to be considered for the Excelsior's executive officer position permanently.  That alone may have served to sway Starfleet Command to look elsewhere in order to fill the opening sirs."

Very politically put, Holden thought to himself. Well done, Commander. The Excelsior's captain never took his eyes off Admiral Katera, who actually narrowed his eyes ever so slightly, indicating Command could have thought otherwise, but fortunately the flag officer said nothing to contradict his former XO.

"Very well put, Commander," Holden said, looking the Carishai, then he looked back to Katera. "I can see I have no choice here, so I will say for the record that I am accepting this appointment but also registering a formal complaint as to its manner." He again looked at Carishai. "Again, Commander, no offense to you intended."

The Denobulan woman smiled widely and replied amiably.  "You're going to have to try way harder than that to offend me sir. Actually, I would have found it more offensive if you hadn't spoken up for Commander Lobren." 

"So noted, Captain," Katera said. He then indicated the two seats. "Sit down. Let's talk about Hidargo and the Dirty Birds."

Captain gave the admiral a strange look as he referred to the bird aliens as "Dirty Birds." A quick glance to his new XO showed no sense of surprise at the flag officer's terminology.  Did they know of this species? Seated, he quickly debriefed the two officers as to everything that has happened, including Lobren's reasoning for his preemptive actions against the "Dirty Birds."

Rear Admiral Katera furrowed his brow and looked, first to Cari, then to Holden. "You say they tried to telepathically intimidate your telepaths?"  To his knowledge, he had not heard of any telepathic contact by the DBs, but that doesn't mean they didn't actually telepathically manipulate the minds at Deep Space 6.

"Yes, Admiral," Holden replied.  "We think they sensed the combined efforts of our telepaths to make contact with the missing Starbase 382 crew, and viewed us a threat to their plans. Therefore, they combined their own abilities, creating the image our telepaths reported.  It was around then that they also launched the shuttle that is now aboard Excelsior and sent out a narrow band, focused transmission to reinforcements."

"This is quite an escalation for them." Cari said thoughtfully as she ran a finger down the ridge on the left side of her face.  "As Admiral Katera has said, we've never known them to directly attack our telepaths but they don't visit DS6 often. Both this aggressive telepathy and sending out a fleet differ significantly from what we have seem from their species in the past.  They could have recently experienced a change of leadership -- a coup in their coop perhaps?"

"You have had experience with them before?" Holden asked, first of Carishai then of Admiral Katera.

The admiral nodded. "As Commander Carishai has said, though, they've never caused any real trouble on the station.  They always showed up in a small ship, maybe twice the size of a standard runabout, lightly armed and never really viewed as a threat. In any of their visits, there was never any indication they were up to something like this."

"Absolutely none.  They've been obstinate, appeared totally convinced of their species' superiority, and never seemed to be the least bit interested in cultural exchange.  They earned the nickname "Dirty Birds" because of their habit of...ransacking merchant stalls and shops, primarily by putting their beaks on the merchandise indiscriminately and shedding down in food service areas. That and refusing to give us their names or the name of their species."

Captain Holden listened thoughtfully to the two Deep Space 6 officers -- well one of them a former DS6 officer --. "I wonder if they were sizing DS6 up for a takeover, but for whatever reason decided against it? I wonder what hey might have learned about Starfleet defenses in their visits to your station."

Admiral Katera pondered that thought.  "You have a good point. Maybe their whole purpose for visiting the station was to find out if we would be a threat to their plans."

"An unpleasant thought," Carishai conceded.  "But certainly would not be the first time Starfleet has encountered a species who deliberately tried to disguise their real intentions by appearing innocuous.  The Packleds come to mind.  I would however be quite surprised to find out that they had gained any access to restricted areas of DS6. Our people are no slackers when it comes to security."

"I never meant to say that the DS6 crew was anything but proficient," Holden clarified with a shake of his head. "I was merely considering the fact that they could have gleaned quite a bit of information about Starfleet strengths and weaknesses just through scuttlebutt in the commercial areas."

Katera nodded his head, in appreciation to Holden's clarification of the security of his station and how the Dirty Birds could have picked up on this information. "So, with all this in consideration," he posed to Holden, "What were your thoughts on this whole situation?"

This stopped Holden in his train of thought.  He was so certain Katera was going to come in and take over the situation, that all the Excelsior would do is act as back up. "Considering all the factors before us, Admiral; the invasion of Hidargo by the birds, the over-inflated ego of said birds -- and yes, they are convinced that we are doomed the minute that fleet reaches the system --, I am tending to see things Commander Lobren's way and get them off that planet.

"Now, I know we're skating around the Prime Directive, here, but... If we can manage to do this without the populace of Hidargo being the wiser, then we are fulfilling our end of the Directive. I also believe the non-interference with their natural development does not apply here, because the invasion by the Birds is anything but natural."

"I have a suggestion."  Cari stated, not asking for leave to speak.  "One sure way to keep the Hidargo from seeing something we'd rather not have them see is to bring the battle to the birds. I'm sure  Excelsior and Relentless can intercept their fleet before the DBs get close enough to interfere any more than they may already have.  My only qualms about this idea is that we really don't know their weapons capabilities and we'll have to figure out a way to avoid their new mind games. Captain Holden, have your people learned anything about their technological level from the DBs shuttlecraft?"

Captain Holden nodded.  "We did a quick study of their shuttle, that is in our bay.  My chief engineer believes that while they have some technology that is slightly more advanced than what we have, he doesn't feel they pose a threat to us. " He looked back to Admiral Katera. "My only qualm with that plan is, do we have the right? Technically, this isn't Federation space. It's surrounded by Federation space, but...."

"But, again," Katera finished for Holden, "we find ourselves looking at the Prime Directive. If it would ease your mind any, I'm considering this a threat to Federation security.  If the Dirty Birds feel they can simply waltz in and take over a planet, what's to stop them from advancing into Federation space? And, they may not be a threat at the moment, but given time and manpower... or in their case, bird power, they could become a threat." He looked over to his former XO.

Commander Carishai slapped her palms down on her thighs enthusiastically.  "Let's do this then!  Perhaps our unexpected arrival and willingness to challenge them will cause them to rethink attacking or invading altogether. And if they insist on a dance battle, we'll open with the first round."  Her bright cerulean eyes seemed to become even brighter and bluer when she talked about the potential for starship combat.  "With your permission sirs, I would like to see the rest of this mission through from the bridge of Relentless."

Holden glanced over to Admiral Katera. "I have no objection, Sir," he said, secretly hoping that maybe, just maybe the admiral would reconsider this whole issue, now that it seemed even Katera saw things Lobren's way.

Katera paused a moment and considered the request. Finally  he nodded.  "Very well, Commander.  One last dance in Relentless's captain's seat."

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