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Haven't I already done a No Win Situation. Why am I asking for it to be HARDER?

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3 years 1 month ago #43693 by Cryptic
Cryptic created the topic: Haven't I already done a No Win Situation. Why am I asking for it to be HARDER?
Bit of a Library story I felt like sharing. Star Trek Online Lit Prompt: The No Win Situation.

~*~

Remedial Cadet Na'tall's Personal Log

OK, so it's taken me longer to get to this point then I thought, but there was more to learn then I expected. Still two and a half years is rather remarkable for a remedial student from my original era to get to the No Win Scenario. Preparing for this new run has me thinking back to the first time I did Maru senario.

I was on tactical for the run, a post I was happy with. Our crew had discussed several ideas ahead of time, one that it didn't matter regarding who was at what post. We had also approached the proctors and made a few arguments based on other captain's missions, suggesting that to make it a fair test the ship we commanded had to have a history; what had we been doing up to that point. Yes it backfired on us some as the dean decided to give us partially repaired battle damage that limited out warp speed and a few other systems. But we also got a few concessions in the form of 'tricks' other captains and engineers had implemented on their ships that had proved 'shelf stable' when installed next to standard configurations.

Any way... the Maru was my first run in with time travel. The Enterprise had made it's sling shot to the past and returned. Even with it being a classified mission, the word got out and being cadets we where cocky and sure we could replicate this feat to save the Maru without resorting to Kirk's way of cheating. (Which is something you shouldn't get me started on...)

By some miracle the computer calculated we managed to sling ourselves back in time, though we over shot by a week. We got a ruling that we could fast forward through the wait instead of playing it out, so we lurked around keeping an eye on the border while effecting repairs. We where powered down for 'stealth reasons' and on passive sensors when the Romulans slipped over the border four days ahead of the Maru's arrival. We where slaughtered. I know it is No Win, but I pray that this run goes better for us.

~*~

“What eager beaver cadet group's ego is to be sacrificed to the Maru today?” Commander Gregory Check asked as he strolled into testing chamber, joining the rest of the proctors and techs who would be running the exam. He paused frowning at the man in a civilian suit standing in the corner, out of the way, reading a pad.

“Cadet Na'tall sh'Narra, and those she's chosen to act as her officers. She is a Remedial.” sniffed an elder Caitian admiral, his russet coloring loosing it's battle against encroaching gray. “Computer, Access program No Win 35-49. Commander Check, Admiral Zirgal, Commander Lorna as proctors with full admin privileges.”

“Complying.” the computer chirped as the black and yellow room shimmered and created several control consoles and enclosed the group in a stark white room while leaving the rest of the holodeck it's basic grid.

A Betazoid female in science blues shook her head. “Zirgal, you may wish to explain why she is a remedial to Greg.”

“She was on the USS Trion when it was brought forward three years, four months and twenty seven days ago.” the civilian supplied with out looking up from his pad. The pregnant pause that hung in the air caused him to look up and finally offer an introduction. “Agent Hunters, DTI. I am one of her case officers and wanted to see how well she has adapted to her new era.”

“Fine, but you are an observer only. Computer, grant Agent Hunter Observer status.” Zirgal sniffed as he went to the computers and began pulling up files. “Now, let us see what the randomly generated scenario is for her... The Narada. I like it. We haven't used that beast in any simulations yet.”

“Gorzit.” Greg breathed as he read the known data on Nero's vessel as the information appeared on the screen.

“What?” Agent Hunters asked as he put away his pad and moved over to join them. “Hmm, an interesting combination... may I make a suggestion though to make it a real challenge? How about making this a real miss match, No Win? Put her in a vessel from her era, or earlier, and let her deal with this modern beast. It wouldn't be the first time a captain has faced odds of that nature.”

“Gorzit.” Greg stated again as the Starfleet personnel mulled over the suggestion.

“I like that idea. It's quite a change up from the usual. Hmm, but what should we put her in then...” the Caitian Admiral mused as he brought up other files.

“A Connie is just clique, and I believe it is overused.” the Betazoid offered and Hunters raised an eyebrow. “Ah, my bad. Commander Grace Lorna Psyche department. I can read people about as well as the med scanners. Most of the time.” she added eyes narrowing as she studied Hunter.

“Pleasure. And I agree about the Connie. Besides she's dismissed the class in the past. How about putting her on a Perseus fast response boarder cruiser? It's close to the Pioneer she last served on.”

“All right, that will do nicely. I was tempted to put her in an Andorian Cruiser from that era.” Zirgal admitted.

“Which, while also a valid test, was not an official Starfleet vessel.” Hunters pointed out. “And she is also familiar with the design so it would have hardly thrown her.”

~*~

Nat looked around the black and yellow holodeck as the rest of her command crew filed in, then down at her chrono to check that they had arrived on time,

“Excuse me, I was wondering if I could request a... change regarding this test.” Nat said to the thin air, counting on already being monitored by those proctoring the exam.

“I am afraid that students can not request changes to the program.” a familiar voice said from out of thin air before Daniels, wearing a nice, if cheap, civilian suit and several beings in uniform appeared from seemingly no were.

“Really? Not even if it would make the test harder?”

The Caitian, another human, and the Betazoid exchanged looks then the feline being said “Go on, we're listening. Though I somehow doubt your scenario could be harder then the one we drew up.”

“I've done the stock Maru simulation before. OK a century ago, but I have done it. And I have done it in real life at Cetus IV. I really shouldn't need to take this again. But I am willing to anyway. But this time; put me in the Maru. Same situation, across the border, up sh!t creek without a paddle... I always hated how the Maru does nothing to help herself. Which is why for my first run through, if you check the transcripts, I suggested to my captain we say 'f it' and scuttle the Maru with a torpedo with out crossing to far over the border, as I believed the crew was already dead or been removed by that point. My cap preferred the slingshot attempt which got us killed.”

Daniels was frowning at Nat, looking like she had just ruined his fun, while the Starfleet trio conferred in low voices. After a bit the Betazoid nodded. “All right, that sounds like a far more interesting scenario then the mismatched slaughter we had planned. Cadet, select two of your classmates and we'll fit the rest into the schedule.”

Nat smiled and held out a pad. “Here's what we'd like you to add for us. And before you argue, there is president, it's not like any of the ships in the simulation is brand spanken new, they've been in service and the crew has modified them and what not...”

The Caitian let out a groan. “I am aware you finagled that president Cadet... fine we will take it under advisement. Come back in a half hour for your session.”

“Thank you sir.” Nat said shooting Daniels a smug smile.

~*~

“May I suggest we give her her band new stock transport?” Daniels asked after the trio of proctors and he where back in the holographic-ally hidden control room.

Grace snorted and shook her head. “Few transports are stock even when they are brand new. My uncle has a freight business, and he either buys up proven vessels as they come on the market, or he has them built to his specs, and that includes what mods that have proven useful through the years.” Taking the pad from Zirgal she looked it over and nodded. “And none of their mods are really that outlandish, and are on most of my uncle's vessels in real life. I'd even say they missed a few obvious swap outs... but that could be because they aren't used to freighters.”

Gregory Check nodded in agreement with her assessment. “I say give them what they want. Should prove amusing at the very least.”

“All right. Start programming it.” Zirgal sighed.

~*~

“All right, we will give you ten minutes of pre-sim time on set to get a feel of what is wrong with the Maru, before we start the clock.” Nat heard over the intercom as she and her chosen crew stood in the surprisingly spacious bridge of a Tuffli class freighter.

“This is good.” Nat said as she flashed her crew a grin as she moved over to a status panel. “We're in a Ferengi owned independent freighter, in other words a smuggler's vessel, with a crew of thirty holograms. Cargo is... oh, wow, I think I ticked the Admiral off. It says here we where on a run to transport food stuffs, plants, and seeds to a colony, and apparently a few tibbles got into the holds. Add in that we're just over the Old Romulan Empire's border, being harassed by at least a Mogai and a Dhelan with Tal Shiar markings. Fun scenario. OK, Looks like we have only a handful of borders...” she looked over to where her roommate was working. “What do you have?”

Angel was humming happily she worked the weapons panel. “Oh this is lovely. We have a 360 phaser bank and a missile bank in our forward arc. The missiles don't have the punch of torps, but we have a lot of them as it looks like their magazine is hooked up to a dedicated replicator. Also looks like we have a few with nuclear warheads. There is also a leech system installed on the phaser. And rear weapons are... OK, not bad; we have another missile bank. Same set up as the fore arc. I should be able to remove the inhibitor that limits how many are launched at a time. That will create a hell of a bang. No power to the beam, and guidance looks scrambled. Coms are only being jammed, the transmitter and receiver are still intact. Oh, and it looks like while we have transporters, the Rom ships have their shields up so we can't just beam over to them.”

“Mr Broc, your job is to get to engineering and get things back in working order. Take to the vents, and do what you have to to get us back on line.” Nat stated to the small rock like being who gave her a salute and a smirk. She'd heard rumors that the little guy's family was somehow connected to Montgomery Scott, but Broc was tight lipped when off duty, and he rarely talked about his family when he did speak of things outside his job. Still he was the best engineer Nat could bribe onto her team.

“Shields off line... damaged relays looks like. Hull breeches in cargo two and three. Contained though. Warp core is in auto shut down... I can get it running, no ish.” Broc ground out as he stood on one of the seats to get a view of the screen.

“All right, suit up and we'll signal that we're ready to begin.” Nat said with a grin.

Unseen by the cadet crew Greg Check nodded his approval as he stepped through the bulk head and walked over to the rest of his fellow observers. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Agent Hunters, trying to place the man, not that he had much interaction with DTI. And in trying to place him, trying to put a pin on why he had a feeling the man was up to no good. Palming his pad Greg tapped in a personnel search for the mystery man. His eyebrows went up as another group of cadets entered the room, made up mostly those who had accompanied Cadet sh'Narra the first time she had shown up and asked for the change up with a few replacements.

“Cadets, welcome to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. You know what this is, so we'll get started.” the Caitian admiral said with a smirk on his muzzle which the cadets couldn't see. “Good luck. You will need it.” he finished as the bridge of an Ambassador cruiser appeared around them.

~*~

As the sim went live Angel frowned at the monitor before swearing.

“Crap. Captain, Rom ships just cloaked, and they are still jamming us. However they are broadcasting a Federation automated distress call so it looks like we're the ones shouting for help. I think they have a cloaked shuttle or something hovering close to us.”

“OK, Angel, you remember the old flash codes?” Nat asked glancing at her roomie.

The short, currently pink dyed, furry cadet nodded. “Yup. Let me guess; Not captured, don't shoot us. Working on Escape.”

“Something like that. Phrase it as you see best.” Nat said as she hefted her pint sized engineer into the vents.

“Not an ish.” Angel replied as her four sets of hands flew over the control board. “Heh, I just thought of something that might help with seeing through the cloaks, give me a moment to see if I can make it work.”

A burst of light flashed on the freighter's view screen. “Our 'rescuers' have arrived. Get the flash going, and I'll see what I can do to break the jamming.”

“Roger.” Angel replied with little attention to her CO.

“Broc, get those weapons back on line before I have to try and hit the broad side of a barn with just a spit wad and my eyes closed.”

“You come in here and say that.” his grumbled echoed back to her.

~*~

Cadet-Captain Gaxton stood behind the command chair, mentally wishing that he could change it out for one that fit his tripodal body. Resting his chest hand on the back of the chair as his tactical officer stated with Vulcan calmness. “Sir, we are detecting the distress call. Kobayashi Maru, Just in visual range across the Romulan boarder.”

“Her condition?”

“Dead in space, some hull breaches to cargo bays and ship's decks. She is salvageable.”

“Do an anti-proton sweep.”

“Nothing at the moment, but if there are cloaked ships they may be out of range of the sweep.”

“Engineering, reconfigure several probes to do the anti-proton sweep, launch them as soon as they are completed.”

“Aye captain.”

“Sir, do we cross the border?” Gaxton's helmsman asked glancing over his shoulder.

The Triexian used his chest hand to rub his chin. “No, we wait to see what the probes flush out.”

~*~

“They aren't moving Nat.” Angel muttered as she eyeballed the screen, stubby fingers twitching over the control boards as she worked on her plan to reveal the hidden vessels.

“Huh.” Nat grunted as she moved over to look. After a moment she stabbed the Ambassador class vessel on the screen. “I think we're being played. I don't think that is an AI.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Just a gut feeling. OK, Blind launch a mess of those missiles with proximity triggers. Our armor should take the damage. I want that shuttle or what ever taken out, and I want to show them we are alive and still fighting.”

Angel looked up, a nervous expression on her face. “I'd rather wait until the shields are back up before we do so.”

“The Romies won't fire on us. That is the real prize, they don't want to scare them away by uncloaking just yet.”

“We don't know that those ships don't have upgraded shields based on what the Scimitar had.” Angel countered. “But I think my anti-cloak plan is ready, I can launch it at the same time as I do the missiles.”

“Those are expensive systems, I don't think at this moment anyone other then the Klingons and us have the resources to equip ships with them.”

Angel shook her head, not really putting any effort into the argument. “And we also don't know that...”

“Angel, trust me.”

“I do Nat, just being the Spock to your Kirk. Deploying missiles and my surprise.”

~*~

“Sir, something's happening to the Maru. I am detecting transporter activity and life signs!”

“Magni...”

“Warp core breech detected!” the tactical officer cut in as the screen shifted to show what was at first just a flicker, then a ship rxploded into reality sending debris into the freighter's hull. “Distress call has been terminated!”

Gaxton squinted at the Maru. “Zoom in on the running lights and the debris...”

“Sir?”

“Humor me.”

“Aye.” the crewman did as instructed, her mouth dropping. “Are those... tribbles? And missiles?”

“It appears so. Hmm, look at the running lights. It appears to be flash code... Play back from since the Maru came into view on my screen.”

~*~

“Angel, did you weaponize tribbles?”

“Maybe?” Angel said with a grin as her fingers started to dance over her control panels as a new plan came to her.

“Good job. Hmm, OK, we have any of the fuzzballs left? If we can figure out where the ships are, I want you to try and beam a bunch of them into their warp cores, or any where into the works where they will cause the most harm. Which is what I think you accidentally did.”

“I can do that. Let me see if we have a schematic for the Mogai and Dhelan.”

“And what are you doing? You have a sh!t eating grin on your face, and you are chuckling. Evilly.

“I'm hacking the repli-magazines for the missiles to upgrade them some. If it works we'll have control of the missiles at least.”

“Just on the one.” Nat cautioned, “I don't want you to trash both our impact weapons in case this idea of yours goes bust.”

“Huh? Oh all right. Hey Rock head, how's my phaser power coming?”

“Slowly. I had to go around a decompressed section.”

“All right, well I'm improving something right now... YES! HA! They do have kids toys in the basic replicator programming. Let's see if they have the one I want...”

~*~

“They managed to get the kestrel. With tribbles.” Gregory said with surprise in his voice as he looked up from his console.

“I am beginning to get a head ache.” the Caitian muttered as he watched the simulated Romulan ships begin to change positions. He touched a few buttons and several more ships where added to the simulations. “The patrol sent out a message before the Federation ship arrived. They will arrive in twenty.”

“What class?” Agent Hunter asked. “And how many?”

“Two Ar'kif. Let them deal with some fighters.”

“Don't the Romulans have some drone ships as well?”

“Agent, we have only ever seen those deployed from stations.” Zirgal snipped.

“Well I was just asking as they could have an updated version of the tele capture unit...”

Gregory's brows rose. “I know we and the computers cheat, but that seems a little... over the top.”

“This is the No Win Scenario Commander.” Zirgal snorted. “Nothing is out of bounds. Let's change one of the carriers to a Scimitar. Shame the Narada was under the command of a renegade or I would send that in... hmm, maybe a thalaron generator?”

~*~

“Probes are away and beginning their sweep.” Gaxton's ops officer stated.

The tripodal captain let out a grunt as he focused on his chair's screen. “All right, looks like we may have allies on the Maru. Flash code says there are survivors, and they are working to get the ship operational. And they say there are two ships here; a Dhelan and a Mogai.”

“Can we trust them?” His first officer asked. “it could be a trick to force us to commit to crossing the border.”

“I doubt the program would include who's running the test as part of their verification code if it was a computer gambit.” Gaxton replied.

“Sir, probes detecting a ship... uncloaking and firing on the probes. Probes are gone, but we flushed a Dhelan.” barked tactical.

“Helm, take us across the border. Tac; Shields to full, computer counter measures to full, weapons hot. Let them fire first, then shoot to disable.”

“Aye sir.” chorused around him.

~*~

“Gorzit! They got shields up before I could get the fuzzballs beamed over.” Angel spat as the Dhelan swooped away.

“We have guidance and phasers!” came the voice of Nat's engineer just as Angel let out a squeal of delight.

“Missile mods are also done.” the four armed alien said with a very wide grin. “Nat, ever watch the old Stargate Atlantis vids or the holonovels based on them?”

“Can't say I have, why?”

“They had drones in that series that where just amazing. I just semi reproduced them by merging a toy with the basic...”

“Short version?”

“Remote guided missiles. Have fun.” Angel said indicating a set of controls.

“All righty then. B, can we get moving?” Nat asked as she targeted the now visible Romulan vessel.

“Working on it. Weapons where a matter of putting a few chips and plugs back in place. I think I can give you a quarter impulse shortly.”

“Work quickly please.”

“Maneuvering thrusters are a go.” the rock like alien replied.

“They're some help, I suppose.” Nat muttered as she took control of the drones Angel had created, sending several dozen of the glowing squid like devices after the visible Romulan vessel.

~*~

“Maru is fighting back!” was the startled squawk from tactical in a tone that made Gaxton flinch. “they're using some kind of squid-missile-thing...”

“Range.”

“One and a half out.”

“Tac, random beam barrage, I want phaser energy flying every where save at the Maru. There is another un-sheilded ship out there we might get a lucky hit on. Target the visible Rom with the torps. Helm, fly us under that freighter and then come about 180 on our vertical axis. Tractor the Maru and draw her into our Force bubble, get her as close to our hull as we can between the nacelles. I want her piggy backing us.”

“Tight fit, but I will do my best.”

~*~

“Interesting maneuver.” Gregory muttered as he watched the plots of the holographic ships, and he winced as the computer made a minute adjustment to the location of the still hidden Romulan Mogai, putting it right into the path of the speeding Ambassador class vessel. “Gorzit.”

~*~

Nat's eyes went huge as the speeding Federation craft was decapitated by an invisible blade, the saucer section speeding towards her smaller ship with apparently no guidance. “ALL HANDS HOLD ONTO YOUR BUTTS!! IMPACT IMINANT!” Nat yelled over the com as she hit the RCM thrusters, sending the Maru into a lateral barrel roll.

Angel's quartet of hands locked onto what they could as the little alien swore out a nasty string of words in Bolian as she was jerked around in her harness. Nat wasn't fairing much better, though she faintly heard Broc bark. “You have half impulse and shields!!”

“Thank you!” Nat breathed as she pushed the Maru's controls to their stops as the ship leaped away from the out of control saucer. “Angel, status?”

“Fed shields are down on both parts, saucer impulse seems to be down, no power to phasers or launchers. Engineering section is a wreck; both Nacelles are gone, life support is minimal and there are several hull breeches. I am honestly surprised the core hasn't breached Mogai is... just as dead as the engineering section with both wings sheered off and the head is crushed back into the neck spar. They might have an auxiliary bridge and impulse engines, but they can't do much. Core seems stable for the moment. The Dhelan has cloaked again.”

“Dump cargo from the holds and begin beaming survivors to them.”

“Just Fed?”

Nat made a snap decision and shook her head. “No, grab any one still alive from both ships. Start with the Roms while I try and hail someone over on the Bass.”

“Their coms are down, let me set up some lines of communication.” Broc snipped from the engineering section.

~*~

“Well that is the end of that.” Zirgal said with a thin smile, “Computer; End...”

“Hold it Admiral. Let's let them have a little more time. After all the Maru isn't dead yet.” Hunter said with a small smirk.

“I have to agree, the scenario isn't finished.” Gregory chimed in.

~*~

Gaxton cradled his dislocated chest arm with his left one as he looked over the remains of his bridge. The tactical station and it's officer were charred husks (a disturbing addition to the program the holographic wounds where, he thought). His helmsman was struggling to get up, but was having little luck due to the simulated loss of a hand. One of his crew, he wasn't sure at this point what the man's original position had been, was working on rerouting damaged systems.

The shimmer of a transporter effect drew the bridge crew's attention and those who could brought up what ever came to hand as a weapon. For a moment a small device hung in the air then a hologram flickered to life. It was bare bones, and had the same half formed features of a Changeling. It cocked it's head to one side and then stated. “Your coms are down. The Maru wishes to beam you over to her. Will you allow this?”

“We have reactors! Impulse coming on line, as are saucer weapons!”

Gaxton gave the hologram a grim smile. “Focus on the engineering section. We'll cover you as best we can.”

“Understood.” the hologram said with a nod. “Message relayed. I will stay here until you wish to be beamed away.”

Gaxton looked around his bridge and shook his head. “That will not be necessary. We will cover the Maru with all we have.”

~*~

“Holds are empty, and I have re-purposed some of the holo-crew for various tasks. Three are over being com-units on the wrecks.” Broc stated. “Hold porter controls transferred to bridge.”

“I was wondering why replies where in your voice.” Nat nodded. “Thank you.”

“Holo rights people will skin him, but it works.” Angel observed as Broc transported from engineering and scrambled into a seat.

“Bass secondary is scrap. Holo's playing spacer tape.” the rock like alien stated as he strapped in.

Nat nodded as she worked the transferred “We have as many of the saucer crew willing to beam over. The captain is making a last stand to cover us.”

“All right, Angel, head for the border, best speed. Broc, have your man vent the warp plasma to cover us.”

“Barely holding on.” Broc replied shaking his head. “Got Boom, or no boom. No fancy.”

Nat nodded absently as she looked over the screen. “You said you sent a holo over to the Rom wreck?”

“Yes...”

“Can they blow that core?”

Broc considered for a moment then nodded.

“Do either of them still have a working tractor beam?”

Broc nodded again looking puzzled.

“OK, it looks like they should be in range of each other still.” Nat observed.

Broc's dark little eyes lit up and he smirked as he transmitted some orders. “Floor it Angel.” he stated as the two wrecks began to draw together...

~*~

“Well that was fun.” Nat said with a grin as the cadets settled around a table in the 602 club.

“Indeed.” Gaxton said as he sipped from his glass. “I have to say it is rare that one wins the senario without cheating.”

“Eh, that's debatable.” Nat said looking over at Angel who was having some kind of drinking contest with Broc. She really hoped those two didn't wind up doing something possibly anatomically, and biologically, incomparable that night. “We exploited unexpected tactics.”

“Still, it was quite the run, and I hear we all got passing grades. I just wish it hadn't been at the expense of my first command.”

Nat shrugged. “That's the job Gax. We're a bit like firefighters of old; we run towards the problems, not away from them, and some times it costs us in blood to stand against the problem.”

The tripodial alien nodded and pulled something out of a pocket. “Before I got your invitation for drinks, I looked you up and found your original after the Maru photo...”

Nat took the print out from him and stared at her class mates, most of them long gone either by mishap or old age. A figure in the back with the proctors caught her eye and a little growl escaped her.

“What is it? Do you not like the memento?” Gaxton asked leaning forward.

“This guy look familiar to you?”

Gaxton blinked and took the flimsy from Nat's fingers. “That can't be agent Hunter... it has to be a relation...”

“Guy's a temporal agent, and bad news. Next time I see him, I need to kick him some where it will hurt, cause I think he's been grooming me from the start.”

I am a caffeine heathen; I prefer the waters of the mountain over the juice of the bean. Keep the Dews coming and no one will be hurt.
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