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Fleet Asset Management I, Dorza Sector

Sample Answer by Dan Carlson

Woo, hey! It’s been a while since I got to stretch my strategic mind like this... *cracks knuckles* But when will Mark finish Sector Gamma, dammit?! (Ahem.) :p

Question One

  1. As in previous sectors, Starfleet’s priorities are as follows:

    • First, to maintain interstellar peace and diplomacy between the various races.

    • Second, to defend Federation members and allies from foreign threats.

    • Third, to foster development of “younger” races in peaceful and equitable ways, under the guidelines of the Prime Directive.

    • Finally, to explore unknown space and uncharted worlds, to make peaceful contact with new and young civilizations, and to enhance the knowledge of the Federation in general.

    Intelligence needs:

    • Status of the “purple” systems. They’ve got class-M worlds, but are they inhabited by sentient life? If not, and if they’re not claimed by any powers, then they should be charted for possible colonization.

    • What’s the status of Federation relations with the Gorn Hegemony? How far away are they from Dorza Sector? What were they doing during the Dominion War? This will in large part shape my answers for the second question...

    • Technological and military capabilities of the Dorzans. How advanced are they, what kind of military do they currently field, and what’s their industrial capacity for building more armaments?

    • Just how far away is the Klingon Empire, and what kind of interest (if any) do they have in this sector?

    • I heard rumblings about some amazing new tactical technology brought back by Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager a couple of years ago; my fleet (currently in some bizarre form of stasis out in Sector Gamma) was due to receive a shipment of this top-secret technology. However, the shipment was intercepted by a strange starship of apparent Starfleet design that emerged from a temporal rift, beamed the cargo away, and disappeared. The only clue to the origin of the vessel was a brief message from its commander: “VOYAGER GO BOOM!” Starfleet Intelligence hasn’t returned my calls on the matter. Does Fleet Admiral Shik have any updates?

  2. Twelve ships? For this puny out-of-the-way sector? Has Starfleet gone mad?! I’m going to need six, maybe eight at most; even that would be an incredibly extravagant deployment in my opinion.

    • 1 Akira-class heavy cruiser; my flagship. Packs just as much punch as a Nebula, but not as crew- or resource-intensive.
    • 2 Nova-class surveyors; research and science vessels. For long-range surveillance of Semma IV, the Zemch, and the three habitable star systems in the sector.
    • 2 Saber-class light cruisers, 1 Defiant-class destroyer; patrol and defensive wing. Should hostilities break out, they will link up with the Akira to repel the intruders. Four starships should be perfectly adequate for defensive operations during peacetime.

    So the Runnymede is an old Miranda, eh? I thought Starfleet was in the process of phasing out those old rustbuckets after their valiant service as little more than manned, flying human shields for the heavy guns of the fleet. Obviously we’re a low-priority sector, but I’d like to see if we can requisition a newer ship for Captain Henschel and her crew. Something like a Norway-class cruiser, perhaps.

    Just to fill out the diversity of the fleet, I’ll take an Istanbul-class heavy transport for colony, cargo, and relief services should an emergency arise, plus a wing of 12 Peregrine-class tactical fighters for defense of SB403 or other emergencies where small ships will come in handy. (For the sake of argument, let’s say a fighter wing is equivalent — in terms of operational capabilities and support requirements — to a small starship.)

    Pending the results of my initial intelligence inquiries concerning the status of the Gorn, Klingons, and the Dorzans (see below), I’d like to reserve the option for some extra assets; preferably an Intrepid-class fast cruiser for troubleshooting and a pair of Defiant-class destroyers for heavy offensive power.

    Proposed deployment map, Dorza Sector
    Proposed deployment map, Dorza Sector.
  3. Well, if these guys are physically fully mature by age five, there’s certainly an incredible potential for expansion into the galaxy for this culture, on a scale not seen since Humanity entered the galactic scene two hundred years ago. The Dorzans certainly bear watching, of course, but I’d need something more than a vague note left on my desk to consider anything actionable. I won’t do anything more than extend my initial intelligence gathering (I must be inheriting one of the laziest adjutants in the entire fleet, considering all the holes in the available data!) to include the Dorzans and get the general feel for their society, their physical, military, and industrial capabilities, and their personal and political ambitions. Anything more would be paranoia and counterproductive for building a lasting, peaceful relationship.

    Revisions to strategy:

    • Considering that the Zemch trusteeship systems are habitable, I now should dedicate one of my Sabers to constant patrol of the small cluster. You never know if someone — like the Dorzans — might get it into their heads to colonize a nearby system, regardless of who it’s reserved for. Plus, I’ve got this sneaking suspicion that they might get it into their heads to make some premature First Contact with the Zemch, in order to hasten along what they would see as “advancement” that would benefit their culture. Therefore, a network of sensor drones will be deployed in the region for discrete monitoring of the area.

    • The Dorzans have every right to colonize planets just like the Federation and the Zemch. I’ll propose the creation of a jointly-established colony on one of the non-reserved stars closest to Dorza; this will get the Dorzans interested because of the possibility of expansion and exploration, but also will get them more used to cooperating and living with the Federation. Hopefully they can assimilate some more tolerance for the “aged.”

    • Concerning the Semmans, I revise my policy and have decided to back off. I’ll open with a brief greeting to them, tell them to call if they need anything, say we’d love to get to know them. But if it’s been that long since First Contact, I’m sure that my predecessors in this sector have tried contact missions of their own. So I’ll let them be. I expect they’ll just hit the snooze button again. I’ll try a few discreet undercover surveys, but nothing more than long-range sensor sweeps and stealth probes. Just enough to get a feel for a bit more of their culture, technology, capabilities, and ambitions. Maybe a few comm monitor drones, too. But nothing that might piss them off if they realize we’re eavesdropping.

Question Two

  1. Critique: Paladin’s response to the possibility of some sort of Dorzan “threat.” I think it’s incredibly species-ist, paternalistic, and nothing short of the same sort of condescension that the pre-modern Vulcans showed Humanity in the early 22nd century. We have no right to judge their culture based on our own perspectives; to do otherwise violates the very heart of the Prime Directive’s purpose, in spirit if not by the letter of the law. Aside from the possibility of active conquest, they have just as much right to expand and colonize as they see fit. Certainly, we feel they could benefit from Federation membership, and that we could gain much from them as well. But should they choose otherwise, that is absolutely their prerogative.

    Initial deployment map, Dorza Sector
    Initial deployment map, Dorza Sector.
  2. The following vessels have arrived:

    • USS Heracles, Akira class, NCC-62504
    • USS Grand Teton, Istanbul class, NCC-38411

    The following assets have been delayed:

    • USS Proteus, Saber class, NCC-61998
    • USS Bayreuth, Saber class, NCC-61949
    • USS Antietam, Defiant class, NCC-76874
    • USS Cheng Ho, Nova class, NCC-72389
    • USS Dakota, Nova class, NCC-73617
    • USS Paladin, Intrepid class, NCC-74836 (you said granted in full, right?)
    • 114th Fighter Squadron
  3. Looks like the Heracles is getting its first assignment. It’s going to start the job of patrol and deploying the sensor net in the trusteeship zone until the rest of my fleet arrives.

    1. I’ll send Runnymede to attempt to make contact; Captain Henschel is ordered to be persistent but up front about what we want to do. Any and all conditions imposed for such aid should be accepted — if they want to collect it all themselves and send it offplanet (thus avoiding any “aliens” from needing to land, we’ll take whatever we can get. However, there will be no provocative or unilateral action taken; the Semmans have ultimate right to their planet, and though we may push, the diplomatic boundaries will be upheld.

    2. First, is this Federation civilian, or Dorzan civilian, or random-bumpy-headed-alien civilian? Unless it’s the first option, I’ll take a hands-off policy. I don’t have any forces to send to the rescue for some random ship not under Federation jurisdiction if the situation isn’t life-threatening. However, if the civilian ship is flying with Federation markings, then the Runnymede will ride to the rescue and attempt to intervene. Orders will be to approach cautiously and non-aggressively, with the clear and stated aim (broadcast via known Semman comms channels) that the goal of their approach is to help preserve the Semmans’ apparently-desired privacy.

      I may consider establishing a Semman Exclusion Zone, to keep all traffic away from their system. Dunno how necessary that might be right now, though.

    3. Fortunately, my diplomatic training reminds me not to laugh in either faction’s faces. If they know about the Prime Directive at all, they’ll know this is purely an internal affair, and the Federation will not get involved. On any material-aid level, period. I will offer the Federation’s services as mediator, with the primary goal of getting the hostages themselves released to avoid bloodshed. (And I will make it clear at the outset that that’s my only goal; the mining colony itself is of minimal importance by comparison.)

      In the mean time, I will instruct my adjutant to draw up a list of all Federation citizens or groups in Dorzan territory; should any sort of fighting break out, I don’t want our people being pawns in the Dorzan cultural revolution. (Good thing I ordered that Istanbul...) Also, I want to know more about these Dorzan rebels, and just how many more of them there might be out there...

  4. Those Gorn ships? (Assuming you send a ship out there,) You find out they’re not heading towards any of the uninhabited worlds in the trusteeship zone, they’re going right towards Zemch itself. No contact has yet been made. How far will you go to intervene and protect Zemch isolation?

EDIT: To clarify, the Runnymede will be departing for a well-deserved decommissioning as soon as its replacement, the Paladin, arrives.

Question Three

  1. Originally posted by Paladin:

    The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe was answered one night for an inventive Zemch youth who broadcasted a signal into the night sky and then several days later heard a response. A merchant ship had picked up the signal and mistaking it’s origin for a second merchant ship, responded back. This wouldn’t have been so bad had they only responded once, but thinking the other ship rude they called again and again. On Zemch the youth informed the authorities who have now heard the merchant ships crass communiqués and have now begun a government organization to find the source of the “Great Out There Messages.” How do you contain this and prevent future contamination?

    There’s nothing that really could be done to “contain” this “contamination.” In a roundabout way, it’s ALMOST a natural development, in that someone on the Zemch developed the ability to send and receive subspace communications. They would’ve naturally been able to pick up all the subspace comms traffic flying about.

    However, this DOES mean we have to step up our plan for making official First Contact with the Zemch. By this I mean preparations and intelligence-gathering, not the actual deal yet. The Dakota would be reassigned to a long-term observation mission in the Zemch system, to get more of a feel for their culture, and specifically, their reactions to this “Great Out There Message.” To go into more detail, more info about their governmental structures (assuming there’s not a unified global authority yet) would be needed, and some sort of contingency emergency contact plan should be developed in case some kind of unforeseen incident occurs and contact needs to be made before everything’s ready. Barring that, it’ll still be years, perhaps even decades, before any official contact takes place. Also, standing protocols should be developed to inform civilian ships traveling in the vicinity of the

    To break off on a philosophical tangent, I wonder if the Federation’s policy (inherited from the Vulcans) concerning the development of warp drive as the definitive point where First Contact can be made is really the wisest course of action. Certainly in the case of Earth, the Vulcans didn’t have any long-term surveillance established (aside from spotty short-term checkups), so they just popped over the instant they realized we could travel to other stars. Certainly, once warp drive is established, it’s then inevitable that the newly-starfaring race will encounter other species. But the critical question for any First Contact is not whether they’re capable of traveling to other stars, but instead whether their culture is ready to absorb the existence of other inhabited worlds.

    I would argue that the case could be made moot by the development of subspace communications before warp drive. With subspace communications — or even short-range (i.e. 5-20 light-year) RF transmissions — there’s still the unequivocal knowledge that life Out There does in fact exist. Certainly, it remains to be seen how the Zemch will absorb this information, and this kind of development is probably best taken in small steps. (I refer readers to the late 20th century human scientist and author Carl Sagan’s s strangely prescient fantasy novel, Contact, for more insight into this theory.)

    I guess what I’m saying is, perhaps the Prime Directive needs to broaden its criteria slightly. Make the whole event of “First Contact” into a little more of a gradual affair, focused more on a society’s interest and awareness in the universe beyond their world (and their capacity to listen/explore/observe it, obviously) rather than the act of a successful warp drive test on its own. Dare I mention the Malcorians, for example?

    Originally posted by Timo:

    A Kaelon science vessel docks at SB 403, with a delegation led by a Dr Rtsonaman insisting on seeing you. The Doctor’s somewhat controversial research has indicated that one of the Zemch reservate stars is on the brink of destruction, and will provide the ideal testing grounds for a technique that could save the Kaelon home star from a similar fate. If Rtsonaman is allowed to proceed, the Zemch star will require several decades of careful husbandry lest it go wild and wreak havoc in that system, potentially in the neighboring ones as well. If not, he predicts the star will explode anyway within the next 300 years, and will be worthless for the Zemch. Rtsonaman may be a kook, but he has political backing - the Kaelon membership in the UFP (not to mention the survival of the Kaelon species) may depend on this experiment. Rtsonaman wants to start right now - and reveals that he has already sent a reconnaissance team to the system to prod the star.

    With all due respect to the good doctor, the star system may be uninhabited, but that doesn’t mean it’s ours to do with as we please. A Prime Directive Trusteeship means exactly that... it’s held in trust for those to whom it actually belongs (whether they realize it or not). Besides, regardless of whether the star will explode or not, he’s forgotten to consider the effects of the stellar explosion’s shockwave... the one that would effectively irradiate and sterilize many planets within a radius of several dozen light-years. Some planets may be able to protect themselves with advanced technology (or so I presume, or supernovae would be considered a much more dire threat than they’ve been treated in most of Trek), but what about planets like Zemch or Semma? I refuse to sacrifice one potential (eventual) Federation member in favor of another. At this time, the possible threat to the Kaelons is still relatively low, and they have time to continue their research elsewhere.

    Therefore, I’d dispatch the Proteus to intercept Doctor Whatshisname’s ship for intruding on a Federation restricted area — specifically, the Zemch Trusteeship Zone, into which all civilian traffic is forbidden. (I haven’t read Prime Directive, so I’m making this part up, but IMO it’s perfectly reasonable, to avoid situations like emergency crash landings and the like.)

  2. The new information does not change the situation a whole lot, unfortunately. I will conduct discreet inquiries to see what the attitudes of the Dorzan rebels are towards the Federation. If they’re favorable, I can use the Federation’s leverage as a mediator, plus our own moral and diplomatic support for their cause. However, I will remain in contact with the Dorzan government, and if it seems like the discussions with the rebels can proceed, I will at the very least inform them of the basic events, but also stress that we have no interest in supporting violence or bloodshed, and especially not any violent overthrow of their system. The Federation stands for progress and change, but not VIOLENT change, because that’s not considered progress. I will make the same thing clear to the rebels, as well.

    All this will hopefully allow me to establish a dialogue towards ending the standoff and creating some kind of workable compromise, or at the least getting the ball rolling on gradual change.

    Should diplomacy fail, however, I will explore options for some kind of low-impact special operations mission, with the sole goal of extracting all Federation citizens. We can assume that the rebels have some kind of shielding capabilities, but our advanced sensors should at least be able to locate the various Federation citizens for some kind of quiet infiltration. Of course, rapid beamouts would be greatly preferred! However, this mission would be dependent on an absolute minimum — i.e. zero — impact on the rebels’ defensive fortifications and a major condition would be zero casualties. This assumes that the Federation citizens are in harm’s way, but are not being actively sought or already held hostage by the rebels.

    Should there be a direct threat to the rebels, however, most bets would be off. A special ops mission would be cleared with a minimum of necessary force, and one of the goals would be to avoid doing the Dorzan government’s job for them (i.e. blowing up shield generators and destroying defenses for an incursion), but I will not allow innocent Federation civilians to be used as bargaining chips for any internal conflict. That immediately would make them de facto enemies of the Federation, regardless of any other issues. (I’d make it clear to the Dorzan government, though, that their repressive policies didn’t help the matter, though, and I’d continue pressure on that front.)

    To effect all this, the Proteus would be assigned to the operation, with Runnymede in a support role.

  3. Meh. I certainly have an interest in learning about the Semman ships, so I would be interested in making some sort of trade. However, I will certainly never agree to accept the information in exchange for some unknown favor to be returned in the future. Who knows what that could lead to? (Something like the mysterious disappearance of every copy of the ancient Earth television series Robots in Disguise from every historical archive, I’d bet. No one’s ever figured out why they were suddenly replaced by images of some armored guy yelling “BWAHAHAHAHAHA!”) So, I’d be willing to make some sort of reasonable exchange with immediate payment, and be done with it.

    The reasoning is simple... the Federation needs information about the Semmans, and given the apparent incompetence of this civilian crew, I’d be willing to bet that the Semmans knew they were being scanned, and just didn’t care. They seem like a decent bunch, just not interested in much contact. And at the very least, what they don’t know can’t hurt them. It’s not like we’re going to use this information to launch a major planetary invasion anyway, right?

  4. Gorn confrontation, Dorza Sector
    Gorn confrontation, Dorza Sector.

    First, I’d want to know exactly how long the Zemch Trusteeship Zone (ZTZ) has been in effect. (Shik, can you tell us?) I’m guessing it’s been around for about fifty to eighty years, based on the dates of First Contact with Dorza (80 years) and Semma (120 years). Therefore, the ZTZ is well established and will easily predate any supposed Gorn claims. If they do claim any previous right to the systems, those claims are quite obviously either unenforced or unenforceable, and in either case effectively abandoned.

    Furthermore, a trusteeship is legally an extension of Federation territory, held in express reserve to be freely released for use of the trustee culture — in this case the Zemch, and the Zemch only. In effect, it’s a protectorate — with the key difference being that there is no governmental or bureaucratic interference; the Federation’s sole role is as guardian to keep others away from those systems until the Zemch can claim the territory for themselves.

    Therefore, I will head out to the ZTZ with most of my fleet: the Heracles (Akira), the Bayreuth (Saber), the Antietam (Defiant), and the Paladin (Intrepid). The goal will be the protection and enforcement of the ZTZ against possible incursion, with the same vigilance as protecting any Federation home territory. (After all, how different would things have been if the planets that eventually became the thriving billion-person settlements of Alpha Centauri, Tau Ceti, Terra Nova, and Deneva were all occupied by the Vulcans, or the Klingons, centuries before we made it into space? Every race deserves some breathing room to expand on their own.)

    However, I will still be happy to recognize the Gorn claim to the star designated AJ-946, which is also perfectly habitable and not within the ZTZ. I will “politely” offer to escort them away from the ZTZ and offer any assistance necessary, as well as establish direct relations concerning activities in the sector. I certainly won’t take an aggressive stance with the Gorn, but I will remain firm.

Question Four

  1. Dang, now I wish I’d paid more attention in my xenobiology classes. I’ve got a couple of ideas, but I don’t know if they’re likely to work. One possibility would be to recruit a couple of Bynars, but I’m not sure how their pair bonds work. Are they usually the same age? Can they change their bonds easily, or is their pairing like a lifelong mating bond? If it’s the former, then I’d recruit a pair, one who fit the government’s demands, and the other who fit the rebels’ demands. They would effectively function as a single mediator, though, through their telepathic connection.

    I had another idea, but unfortunately no one on my personal staff was willing to subject themselves to a “Rascals”-style transporter accident. ;)

    Maybe I could find a “young” Vulcan... (wasn’t T’Pol around 66 Earth years?). One who could easily pass for a 35-year-old on Dorza, but is numerically far older.

    Assuming my Bynar and Vulcan solutions don’t pan out, I will point out to both sides that a compromise is a solution that both sides can accept, but that neither is satisfied with. I’ll gently point out that if they’re serious about some kind of diplomatic solution, then they’ll each have to make some kind of concession. I’ll try to get someone acceptable around the age of 35 or so.

    Finally, if all else fails, I’ll simply demand the safety of the Federation citizens (if they haven’t already been retrieved from the colony), and wash my hands of the matter. The Federation has no direct jurisdiction, the government obviously would rather settle the dispute by force, and we don’t have the authority to hold them off. I’ll try to force a continuation of the stalemate by threatening the Dorzan government with a souring of relations with the Federation if they choose to launch an attack, but that’s about all I can do.

  2. I’m going to have to operate on the assumption that the Gorn are planning a feint, or are otherwise bluffing, and that they’re mainly intending to test Federation resolve to see if we back down without a fight. I’m going to put up a vigorous defense, and hope that they’re not looking to make an enemy of the Federation right now. However, if they manage to establish a beachhead on any of the planets, then it’s obviously going to end up being the purview of the diplomats.

    Therefore, I’ll be calling in every single ship in the sector. Even the Grand Teton will be drafted to serve as an ad hoc carrier for my twelve Peregrines. To review my forces:

    • USS Heracles, Akira class, NCC-62504
    • USS Paladin, Intrepid class, NCC-74836
    • USS Proteus, Saber class, NCC-61998
    • USS Bayreuth, Saber class, NCC-61949
    • USS Antietam, Defiant class, NCC-76874
    • USS Cheng Ho, Nova class, NCC-72389
    • USS Dakota, Nova class, NCC-73617
    • USS Runnymede, Miranda Class, NCC-15017
    • USS Grand Teton, Istanbul class, NCC-38411
    • 114th Fighter Squadron, 12 Peregrine-class heavy fighters

    So, I’ve got five fully combat-capable vessels, two modern scouts that can fight in a pinch, a combustible flying human shield, and an unarmed tin can with a dozen fighters that may or may not be effective against Gorn warships.

    Cheng Ho (Nova) will be dispatched to establish an early-warning perimeter, performing long-range scans to get advance notice of the size, composition, and ETA of the Gorn fleet. Their orders will be to return to fleet as soon as the incoming Gorn are detected.

    The key to any defense will be a limited but strong strike against the transport itself. If the transport can be disabled, then their whole mission will be delayed until more Starfleet support can arrive. Therefore, I will attempt to force the issue before the reinforcements arrive. I will transmit advance notice that if we detect the approach of any new military vessels, we will launch a preemptive strike against their forces in our own defense. I’ll make it sound military to them, as if I’d be focusing on taking out their escorting warships, but I’ll really be aiming to stall the transport.

    My five combat ships can easily pin down the three Gorn warships long enough for the 114th to slip in and make a quick surgical strike against the transport’s engines, leaving her completely dead in space but with minimal injuries and hopefully no casualties. Thus, any further incursion into the ZTZ would be pointless for the next week or two, as far as the Gorn would be concerned.

    Meanwhile, the Dakota (Nova) is going to be busy getting ready my backup plan... nothing quite as inspired as James Kirk’s infamous Corbomite bluff, sadly, but hopefully one that’s effective. Dakota will begin projecting increased warp fields and launch a few accompanying decoy probes equipped with verterium cortenide ingots to create enough sensor resonance on the Gorn’s instruments to make it seem like the Starfleet reinforcements are arriving sooner than expected. The decoys will be a couple of light-years out, hopefully close enough to seem threatening (to make the Gorn think they can’t win before our help arrives), but far enough for them to be tough to detect and to not discover the deception.

    Finally, I’ll send in an emergency request for Klingon assistance... legally, the ZTZ is Federation territory, so I’m perfectly within my rights to request their assistance under the terms of the Second Khitomer Accords for defense. If I’m lucky, a few ships might be close enough to help in time.

    Oh yeah, the Dorzans. Meh. This isn’t their fight, they’re not under threat, so I won’t ask for their help. They obviously have no respect for the Prime Directive anyway...

  3. The Semmans definitely get the benefit of the doubt, because of the extremely limited contact they’ve had with the Federation; although we might’ve sent them a copy of the Encyclopedia Galactica a while back, they probably haven’t read it all the way through. So I will send Runnymede out to intercept the fleet and politely inform them that the ZTZ is restricted territory, reserved for the Zemch. I’ll gently offer to provide them information on YS-2 or KM-45 (the two other unclaimed, habitable worlds in the sector, since AJ-946 is now [probably] a recognized territory of the Gorn Hegemony) for settlement purposes.

    (It’s too much to hope that the Semman ships are coming to assist in blockading the Gorn, I imagine?)

Question Five

  1. Woah! Is this a border skirmish or a reenactment of the Dominion War? If the Gorn are planning a bluff, this is one hell of a bluff! This changes my strategy, kinda in the same way that a runabout reverses course when it sees a Borg cube coming. (Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get my drift?)

    There’s no way that my fleet could possibly hold a blockade against this kind of force, assuming the Gorn want to actually fight it out. Sure, my fleet will have the obvious advantage of smaller size and extreme maneuverability, but I’m quite sure that those battlewagons will be packing plenty of firepower. The best we could possibly do is try to buy time by disabling the colony transport as originally planned, but then immediately retreating back to Starbase 403. There’s little point in the Gorn actually invading the ZTZ, since most of the materiel will be on the transport (although I’d bet that the battlewagons probably have the resources to set up some kind of military outpost).

    Hmm... on second thought, one could argue that the large size of the Gorn fleet is intended to be a show of force to try to get me to back down. I’ll be burning up the comm lines to Starfleet Intelligence to see if there’s any other, similar activity along the other sectors of the Gorn frontier. If there is some activity, then the Gorn are obviously planning to take on the Federation. But if not, then it’s got to be a bluff. Or at worst, something that the Gorn don’t intend to escalate beyond the level of a border skirmish. So potentially, there’s the chance that preemptively striking the advance force before the reinforcements arrive will end up calling the whole thing off.

    Diplomatic overtures will become much more insistent. I will reiterate that if the reinforcements don’t turn around and go home, I will be forced to act in self-defense. There will be an ultimatum sent, giving them 48 hours (or rather, until the reinforcements are 24 hours away from arrival) to withdraw. I will also reiterate my offer to recognize the Gorn claim to AJ-946, the habitable world outside the ZTZ, so that the Gorn colonists’ trip out this way won’t be in vain. Just to show that I’m deadly serious about the timing of my ultimatum, I will have my comm officer continuously broadcast an old tune from an ancient Earth entertainment program called Jeopardy! until they reach a decision.

    And finally, I’ll be burning the comm lines to San Francisco, wondering why the hell the Federation Council hasn’t gotten involved in this situation!

    It occurs to me that I should justify my reasons for launching a preemptive strike before the Gorn reinforcements arrive. Certainly part of it is the numbers issue, since I’d have no chance of winning a straight fight if I just waited for the Gorn to come. But also, I want to launch an active defense (i.e. “the best defense is a good offense”) in the hopes of convincing the Gorn that the Federation is willing to defend any part of its territory, even one that’s “just” a Prime Directive Trusteeship. It’s psychology and brinksmanship, based on the knowledge that the Gorn really don’t have a hope of winning any long-term conflict with the Federation. (Especially since we’d also get the Klingons involved in any full-scale war.)

  2. Finally, some good news. Except, jeez— It seems I’m going to be rescued by Frankenstein’s fleet! What kind of hallucinogenics were the starship designers taking when they laid down the specs for those classes? And where can I get some? (No, scratch that— I don’t want my sense of perspective and spatial orientation distorted that badly.)

    Anyway... this also revises my plan somewhat. Obviously my extant forces won’t be able to hold off the entire Gorn fleet, but now I’ve got a fighting chance. The initial part of the plan will proceed as before — if the Gorn haven’t turned around by the time they’re 24 hours away, I’m launching a preemptive strike. My five combat ships will pin down and disable the three escorting warships, while the 114th Fighter Squadron performs surgical strikes on the transport, doing as much damage as possible to the engines without endangering the civilians inside. The important part here, is to ensure that the transport and the civilians don’t go anywhere, thus ensuring that any further combat isn’t complicated by the presence of civilians. I have no reservations about bombarding any military outpost from orbit, but a civilian colony is completely different. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.

    After the preemptive strike is complete, I will effect a retreat of all my forces back to G5-Q25, approximately 4LY away to the “west.” The Starfleet RRF will be able to rendezvous with my forces right there, approximately one day later. Thus, we’ll be able to form up into a single, cohesive unit and immediately charge back into the ZTZ to meet the Gorn, hopefully before they get their act together and land on any of the planets. (I’m going to assume that the Gorn want to leave Zemch itself alone... their current forces aren’t nearly enough for any kind of planetary invasion, even if it’s a pre-warp culture. Plus, that wouldn’t be worth their while when there are four other habitable systems they think are worth fighting over. Thus, I probably shouldn’t have to worry about any immediate Prime Directive concerns for this immediate engagement.)

    At that point, the Gorn will have had about two days to get their act together, from the arrival of their reinforcements at the original confrontation point. (That’d be three days from the time I launched my attack.) If they simply stay put and cluster around their disabled ships, we’ll reestablish the blockade. If they enter the ZTZ, the intercept time will be shorter, but their arrival in any of the star systems (most likely to be CD-183, since it’s the closest to the confrontation point) will be close enough to the arrival of our forces that they won’t be able to entrench themselves anywhere. And at that point, all we have to do is make too much trouble for the Gorn to think it worthwhile to set up an outpost there.

    Just to be clear, the main goal of the retreat after my preemptive strike is that I don’t want my own fleet anywhere nearby when the Gorn reinforcements arrive. No way can I possibly hold the blockade outnumbered four to one.

    TIMETABLE:

    • D+0: Gorn are one day away, Starfleet three days away, from confrontation point (CP). Starfleet is only two days away from G5-Q25, the rendezvous point (RP). I launch my preemptive strike and immediately retreat to RP.
    • D+1: Gorn arrive at CP, I arrive at RP. Starfleet is one day away from RP.
    • D+2: Starfleet joins my fleet at RP, and we head back into the ZTZ.
    • D+3: Starfleet returns to CP to reestablish blockade, or intercepts Gorn force inside ZTZ.

    Also, as with my command in Sector Beta, I’m perfectly willing to have Captain Shaala take overall command of the tactical side of combat, while I retain full charge of the strategic side of the operation. (This is a decision not without precedent... after all, I’m pretty sure that there had to be an admiral or two somewhere in the 600+ fleet that went to retake Deep Space 9 during the Dominion War, yet the force was commanded by Captain Sisko.)

  3. Meh, fanatics on both sides. Are there still Federation citizens on the colony, or were they successfully evacuated? (Shik, an answer will be needed.)

    If we were unable to extract the Federation citizens, then I’ll send Runnymede back to the Dorzan system, and I’ll declare my right to intervene in order to defend Federation citizens. I’ll spend an hour or two sending some nastygrams to the Dorzan government, demanding that they halt their assault and threatening just about everything short of actual war. Obviously the Runnymede, being two days distant, won’t be able to do anything to intervene if the Dorzans decide to blow me off, but hopefully the Dorzans will be smart. If not, Runnymede will do what it can to rescue any survivors, Federation and rebels both.

    If the Federation citizens are already extracted, then I’ll keep Runnymede for the Gorn engagement. Although I obviously would like to stop the apparently imminent Dorzan slaughter, I can’t justify endangering my officer’s lives to violate the Prime Directive when the rest of my fleet is fighting to protect the Prime Directive. (Because even a combustible flying human shield might be able to account for a fighter or two before it spontaneously explodes from one of the Gorn pilots looking at it cross-eyed. :D ) Therefore, I’ll threaten the Dorzan government with a complete severance of trade relations with the Federation, as well as a complete rejection of their Federation membership application (rather than just a postponement), if they initiate any hostile action against the rebels at this time.

  4. The Semmans seem rather likely to be intending to contribute to the defense of the ZTZ. Unless they’ve made some kind of pact with the Gorn that we don’t know about (something I find highly unlikely), then they’re probably here to help protect one of their neighbors. Considering how little we know of them and their technology, they’ve probably been monitoring the situation and realized the critical nature. Promising. I’ll try to establish contact with them, if possible, if only to determine their intentions. Assuming they’re friendly, I’ll also keep them appraised of our rough strategy and get them involved in some way, try to coordinate. If not, I’m simply going to leave them out of the equation until they start shooting at me.

Question Six

  1. I’ll critique Neutrino’s critique, especially because it includes a critique of its own. While my response may seem overly aggressive compared to TNG-era diplomacy, remember that the Federation just recently emerged from a major interstellar war, which pretty much directly arose from TNG-era diplomacy. (And by “diplomacy” I mean “we’ll just go wherever we want and we’ll ignore any possible threats until they’re about to kill us.”) The advance of the Gorn heavy reinforcements make quite clear their intentions, to either intimidate us into standing down, or to completely blow us away and take what they want. The potential for a major Gorn-Federation war is quite low, given that there’s little indication of general mobilization of the Gorn fleet as a whole. Also, I pointed out in my own responses that the goal of facing down the Gorn is to make it clear to them that the Federation will defend any encroachment of their territory, trusteeship or not.

    On the flip side, I question Neutrino’s recommendation for general mobilization of Federation assets. And you call my response aggressive? I’m planning on fighting, if necessary, a major border skirmish between a few local squadrons, not an all-out invasion. Just why would the Federation as a whole need to go to war over this?

    Going on to actual strategy, I do agree with the plan for hit-and-run strikes against the Gorn. If their ships are anything like the Gorn themselves, they’ll be big, powerful, but slow and impossible to maneuver. However, I also question the usefulness of mines. The only times that mines have ever been useful in space combat has been in low-maneuverability areas like planetary orbit, or else in restricted corridors like the Bajoran wormhole or the Hekaras Corridor. Mines in interstellar space are just a waste of resources.

  2. Well, seeing how my own strategy at the moment is of the “Sir Dan bravely running away” variety, I don’t think there’s really a big deal here. I assume that my initial plan -- the disabling of the Gorn transport and its escorts (three Gorn versus my five ships) -- worked just fine. That means that Marshal S’sgrrng is charging into the ZTZ, but all my forces are otherwise generally intact.

  3. Well, since my plan was to bravely run away after taking out the initial Gorn fleet and rendezvous at G5-Q25, I assume that’s gone according to plan. It seems that the Gorn are heading towards H2-N1, rather than CD-183 as expected. No matter. Our attack plan is to function in three squadrons (each group as its own unit), make a single approach for the first run and focus as much firepower on the battleships to try to knock them out, then split into squadrons and break off in three different directions. If the Gorn stay together in one formation and pursue only one squadron, then the other two will harry their rear while the first draws the fire. If the Gorn split up, then the odds are more even and in our favor. We’ll continue the deadly dance as long as possible; I expect we’ll be able to outlast the Gorn in that regard.

  4. Meh. Leave ’em alone. I’ve got no time to send more greeting cards that never get an answer.

  5. Ho-boy. I’d like to say that this changes things with regard to the ZTZ, but it really doesn’t. Since the Gorn are already keen on taking it from the Federation, it really doesn’t matter as far as they’re concerned if the Zemch are ready to use it or not. Fine.

    At any rate, I’ll detach Runnymede to go make contact. If it looks like the Gorn want to pursue, I’ll detail Proteus to escort, assuming that the Gorn might decide to make the old Miranda an easy target. (Assuming it hasn’t already been converted into a ball of plasma from a freak subspace raspberry or something.) But I’m confident that my forces, though probably not dishing out lots of damage, are giving the Gorn plenty to worry about anyway.

Question Seven

  1. Well, little surprise the Big Damn Battle didn’t go well. My first officer wryly quips, “This is why we almost lost to the Dominion, you know. Superior numbers.” I thank him for the re-enactment.

    As for the Semmans... I’d say I was surprised, but I’ve watched too many 20th century fantasy dramas to be truthful there. Anyway, I’d be quite happy to cooperate with the Semmans in making First Contact with the Zemch. It seems as if they’ve been doing on a local scale what the Federation tries to do for an entire quadrant. I’d ask if they’d be willing to share any knowledge about the Zemch society so we don’t accidentally cause any misunderstandings. (Though I’d be willing to wager that the “incident” with the Semmans was staged to get us to back off, as a sort of test. Dunno if I can ask the Semmans that, though.)

  2. This obviously means that the Gorn will be shacking up permanently in the sector, which will necessitate a major increase in our local patrol squadron. Although the Zemch have achieved warp travel, they certainly won’t be able to take advantage of the entire ZTZ for quite a while yet, much less have the ability to defend it. Without being privy to the exact legalese, I would remind the Federation Council of the old adage of possession being nine-tenths of the law. Therefore, we’d need to continue to defend the zone against incursions for the foreseeable future.

  3. I’d love to head over personally with the Zemch commander, probably hitching a ride with one of the Novas — a ship that’s not too big (and imposing) but still fully capable. (And I’m sure the Semmans will want to have one of their ships along, too.) But the Zemch flight being only in-system? What difference does that make? The Vulcans were happy to pop on over the very day that Cochrane’s first flight took place! Besides, the Federation seems to have expedited their policy concerning political relations during and after the Dominion War... remember the Evora, for example?

    Of course, I’d much rather that the Federation take things a bit more slowly. Certainly the Zemch society needs to gradually acclimate itself to the idea of other alien cultures out there. But we can now start to lay the foundation for a lasting relationship.

  4. I will personally recommend to the Federation Council that the Dorzan membership application be rejected in full. They are quite obviously not ready. I’d like to try to keep some diplomatic channels open, but that will depend on their reaction to our disapproval. Probably we’ll cut off a lot of trade as well, especially embargoing the more advanced Federation technology. Certainly the rebellion was an internal affair that we weren’t going to directly get involved in, but that doesn’t mean we can’t intensely disapprove.

    The Semman rescue, though greatly appreciated, won’t affect the matter in the slightest as far as the Dorzans are concerned. The Dorzans wouldn’t have known that the Federation citizens weren’t in the colony any more! However, I will again ask the Semmans what kind of data they have on Dorzan cultural development, and also ask for their input about how to proceed with them in the future. After all, it seems like they’ve been at this (in this sector) longer than we have.

  5. My first priority in making recommendations is for future fleet strengths. Ideally, I’d love to have at least a force equivalent to the recent Gorn invasion fleet, but that’s unrealistic. I’d instead want to have at least ten or twelve combat ships (everything from Defiants on up) as an in-sector patrol force, but I’d also want to ensure that Starfleet has a much beefier rapid deployment force held in reserve in the region near the Gorn Hegemony. It seems that relations with the Gorn may get testier as time goes on.

    Another idea would be to establish some kind of secondary starbase inside the ZTZ. This, of course, depends on the establishment of friendly relations with the Zemch. But I envision the Federation continuing its role as protector, in cooperation with the Semmans and the consent and active participation of the Zemch. Starbase 403 would be useful for this role, but it’s not ideally positioned. I’d like to keep 403 as a Starfleet-only base for more military and logistics purposes, while the new station would be for diplomacy and lower-level resupply. (One main reason for this is to avoid the automatic assumption that the Zemch will become Federation members. That’s obviously something we like to offer, but we can’t approach that as an automatic given in any First Contact.)

    In other concerns, we’d need to step up our covert surveillance of the Dorzans, especially concerning their military capability. It seems that Admiral Whatshisname, my predecessor, may have been on to something after all. I’ll consider relaying his message to the Semmans, as well, to see what they think of it.

    As to my own career opportunities, I’d be quite happy to continue in my current post, to help cultivate the Semmans and to groom the Zemch. Having some consistency in command may also act as a passive deterrent to the Gorn, as well. (I assume that my answer doesn’t affect any future scenarios, of course.)

Closing Comments

“Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?” “Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.”

Although I absolutely understand Shik’s arguments concerning the military attitude, and share some of his reactions to certain responses myself, I feel that Starfleet and the Federation have also undergone a great change through the 2370’s. Certainly that can’t be used as carte blanche justification in the current scenario, since the Federation is obviously not at war and the consequences aren’t nearly so dire. However, I would like to think that the Federation has learned some lessons from the war, and can apply some of those lessons to avoid from some crises becoming even bigger as a result of past practices.

For example, despite the fact that my ships fired the first shots in the conflict by launching the preemptive strike against the initial expeditionary force, does that automatically make me the aggressor? For the same reason, Sisko provoked the Dominion by laying the minefield around the Bajoran wormhole... mine laying can be considered an act of war in and of itself in certain circumstances. Once it became obvious that the Gorn were not going to back down, despite my willingness to negotiate, my primary responsibilities became (1) safeguarding the ZTZ and (2) safeguarding the lives of the crews under my command.

On another subject, something that’s always irritated me has been the vagueness of the terms of the Prime Directive. Originally, it seemed that those rules only applied to pre-warp civilizations. And although the Federation did have strict rules of conduct for internal affairs of warp-capable societies (c.f. Klingon Civil War, 2367-68), that never seemed to fall under the umbrella of the Prime Directive. But later on, mainly in VGR, it seemed as if the Prime Directive became more of a general non-interference rule for any non-Federation culture. And that’s something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless you are 100% isolationist. Therefore, although I tried to take a hands-off approach with the Dorzan rebellion crisis (except with regard to the safety of the Federation citizens), I don’t see how any kind of political influence leveraged could be considered a breach of the Prime Directive.

Also, a more direct question... Shik, are you passing any kind of judgment on the interpretation of the ZTZ enforcement? I’ve never read Prime Directive, and I suspect most of the other participants haven’t either. I don’t see how sending Federation ships into the Zone for monitoring and defensive purposes isn’t allowed. And if the novel did present the idea of a trusteeship zone to mean “everyone including the Federation isn’t allowed in”, then that’s just ridiculous. If you weren’t referring to the ZTZ, then what did you mean by “intrusions into quarantined areas of space”?

Overall, though, I definitely congratulate you on a quite challenging and thought-provoking scenario. I never really thought about some of the Prime Directive issues in quite the same way before, and I had to spend some time thinking about a few of my responses before I posted. Well done, sir!

This page was last modified on Wednesday, July 09, 2014.