Chapter 3 - Operating Tactically

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USS Hou Yi – Security Suite

T’Shan had followed the computer’s directions to the armoury in a quicker time than it had estimated for her, she credited the achievement to a fortuitous availability of turbolifts and the relatively empty hallways in her intended direction. T’Shan was hoping for a quick and productive discussion, but having glanced at the Chief of Security and Tactical’s profile, she began instead to hope that her experience in negotiating with Tellarites would not be necessary. She attempted to recall it all the same as the armoury got closer.

Even though it wasn’t a private space, out of propriety T’Shan pressed the entry chime and waited with her arms behind her back, a padd held lightly between them.

“Come,” said a gruff voice.  Which belonged to a tall Tellarite woman who had a recharging rack partly dismantled.  She looked at the Operations officer.  “What do you want?”

“I am Lieutenant T’Shan, Ops. We must discuss the submissions your department has made for alert-status power defaults. Further delays will only compound the issues for Ops and result in ship-wide slowdowns ahead of launch.” T’Shan told her assertively, observing the state of disassembly the rack was in.

“The power requests are within standard perimeters for this class of ship, what is the problem?” asked Sheza straightening up.  “We need to be ready at all times, we are a patrol craft in dangerous space.  Operations is certainly capable of providing for this.”

“Our power systems are being augmented with several modifications by the team at Esquimalt station. We are currently working towards standardised settings, however I have taken the liberty of revising your submissions as per our non-standard configurations.” She offered the padd she carried to Sheza, with all the information explained in diagrams. “This means an approximate overall power reduction to power consumption among security and tactical systems of 15% at yellow alert, and 3% at red alert, as default. You should find that the effects on relevant systems are negligible.”

Sheza took the report and read over it.  “Unacceptable at yellow alert.  That is when tactical needs to be able to respond before a situation get worse.  Losing those power options limits the tactical options availiable putting the ship at risk.  The limit on red alert level are acceptable, the extra power for the brig and armory are likely unneeded.”  She handed it back.

“I appreciate that these may not be levels you would consider, particularly in the phaser prefire systems, but the modifications mean that using only 20% of the power required for the chamber coils that prepare the phasers would mean a delay of only 0.2 seconds in the event they are required. That alone comprises a 9% overall saving.” T’Shan wasn’t sure if numerical arguments were going to do it.

T’Shan tapped a few buttons on the padd to bring up schematics that supported her arguments and held them towards Ensign Yaz so she could still read them even if she didn’t take the device out of her hand. “Every system has had fat trimmed. If we can maintain these defaults, we can almost double our operating time at full power before backup batteries are needed. I am sure that our options are exponentially increased in any tactical situation where we still have power.”

Sheza looks at the numbers and nods.  “I appreciate your concern about power levels, Operations, but having full batteries will do us no good if we are wreckage floating in space.  You consider 0.2 seconds an acceptable delay.  I do not.  In the unlikely circumstance we are required to maintain a yellow alert level of readiness for an extended time, this could be a concern, but it is an unlikely situation.  Look for solutions there.”

“The solutions I have considered are the crux in the suggestions I am presenting. I can assure you that I have considered all the options. Batteries are always our last resort. Avoiding their need is the objective of the settings I am suggesting.” T’Shan explained, keeping the padd extended.

“The most recent data from Starfleet tactical suggests that in areas adjacent to our intended deployment region over the last two years less than 22% of yellow alert encounters have progressed to red alert status within one hour. Of the encounters that did not progress, just over 30% remained at yellow alert in excess of 12 hours. The odds of needing to sustain yellow alert exceed the odds of needing to suddenly engage tactical systems.” T’Shan explained calmly.

“That is correct also irrelevant,” replied Sheza.  “If we need to use phasers we need to do so instantly, without any delay. 0.2 seconds does not matter in a marathon race, which is what you seem to be considering.  But it does matter in a knife fight, which is what it will be.”

“In the interests of better understanding how I can accommodate your expectations, may I ask how many combat situations you have found yourself in since graduating from the academy, Ensign?” T’Shan asked, withdrawing the padd and holding it behind herself once again.

“None,” said Sheza.  “But that has no bearing on the matter at hand.  My remit is the safety of the ship in tactical situations.  In such cases a delay in being able to fire could have disastrous consequences, therefore no delays can be allowed,” she said slightly flexing her arms and legs.

“Your remit also includes, if I may correct you, the application of resources allocated to the security and tactical departments. Mine includes the apportionment of the ship’s power resources to each department. Being as I am, aware of savings of the extent proposed, the allocations to SecTac will be reduced by 15%, which I am satisfied can be achieved while meeting Starfleet operational standards. You may need to find further reductions elsewhere in the current yellow alert energy budget if you are unable to accept my suggestions.” T’Shan said with a seasoned logistics officers confidence. “I could not find anything approaching that without sacrificing significant functionality, but I am admittedly not as familiar with the security and tactical facilities of the ship as you are.”

Sheza slid the rack she was working on back into place, she confirmed that the floor padding was installed.  She then executed a Tamak legsweep and dive, so she knocked T’Shan off her feet and then caught her before she hit the floor.  A risk but one she executed properly, keeping the Operations officer from more than a light bruise.  As Sheza helped T’Shan back to her feet, she said, “Zero point two seconds.”

T’Shan recognised the move as it began. It was not a possibility she had actively considered, but quickly Sheza’s intention was apparent as her shoulders tightened and her hips engaged. T’Shan’s instinct was to bounce over the sweeping leg and bring a downward step to disable her knee, but her professionalism, pacifism and confusion deterred a response. Even as she fell she considered alternatives for counterattack, a heel-strike to the sternum, or a grappling stranglevine turnaround with her ankles to use her own momentum to fling Sheza into the wall while righting herself. Instead, she remained passive, and with some relief the Tellarite caught her, though her antenna emerged and snapped forward into a threat-posture instinctively.

“Quite demonstrative, Ensign. But perhaps optimistic.” T’Shan leaned down to pick up the padd she had dropped, reburying her antenna in her hair as she did so. “I spent almost two years as a gunner aboard an Imperial Guard Long-range Cutter, beginning the week Hobus exploded. 15 of 18 months of our tour were spent in disputed Romulan space. In the first few months we found ourselves in an engagement on average every 33 hours and lost eight Guardians. I am not some detached, fair-weather number-cruncher hoarding power reserves with a miser’s eye. I know very well the difference that small amounts of time can make in a tactical situation.” Though her tone remained devoid of emotion, her cadence was clear and unaggressive but with an assertiveness and haste that did not brook interruption, an experienced Vulcan officer’s dispassionate and forensic analysis.

“I also know that power resupply is not guaranteed on deep space deployment, and it is better to have a thing and not need it than to need a thing and not have it. I do not expect you to take my word as gospel, but I do expect you to find more diplomatic ways of making your point. I will keep this incident between us, in the hope that it will be the last of its kind. If you intend to make it beyond Ensign, I suggest you consider that while the application of violence is a significant portion of your charge, it is always our last resort.” T’Shan said.

Sheza laughed.  “I still dispute your analysis, Operations, but you are willing to go to the ground to defend it.  I respect that.”  She clasped T’Shan on the shoulder.  “The decision is yours and I hope neither of us has cause to regret it.  If you change your mind and wish to report me, I will, of course, assist you.”  She returned to her maintenance task.

T’Shan was wary of Sheza’s reach to her shoulder, but did not react. “Please have a revised submission to my office by this time tomorrow. If you need assistance with the installation of any systems, do not hesitate to ask.”

Sheza nodded not turning from her work.  “It will be there within two hours.”