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Cards on the Table - The Dalacari

Posted on Mon Jun 26th, 2017 @ 9:13pm by Commander Cor Cordale & Lieutenant Valeria Mordin & Captain Elijah Michaels & Commander Bertrand Cuprum & Lieutenant Commander Ziyal Tajor & Lieutenant Hel Samedi & Captain Allen Jones & Lieutenant JG Elliot Keller

Mission: Awakening
Location: Meeting Room One
Timeline: Shortly after "CotT - The Ts'usugi"

With the occupants of the meeting room now sufficiently armed with their choice of coffee, tea, or some assorted beverage therein the rabbitess felt it was time to continue with the second half of the briefing.

"Before I continue, I want to take a moment to remind everyone in this room of something that they do not need reminding about. The mantra of the Federation is to explore. To seek out new worlds, new life, and new civilizations. It's the reason we strive ever further, ever faster." she was building up to something... "With the spirit of exploration at heart, allow me to introduce you to the oldest ally of the Ts'usugi, and the single most unique life form on Ts'usugi record."

Valeria started to tap on her PaDD to continue the briefing, then stopped. "What I'm about to show you... is A Dalacari." There was an emphasis there, before the image came up on the screen.

It depicted a pair of identical humanoid creatures, digitigrade leg structure with animalistic qualities to their features. A short tail, triangular ears, and a thin but sturdy looking build to each. The images were shown in motion, with each taking steps in sync, motioning and looking around at a world only in the image.

The image rotated to show a full view of each creature, but rather than rotating each depiction by itself, the image spun on a central focal point.

"This is a Dalacari. They are a binary lifeform, consisting of two physical bodies with a singular gestalt consciousness between them. Shared sensations, shared senses, full motor control..." Valeria motioned to the image to showcase each point as she made it. "They're brilliant, curious, and tend to leap before they look. Impulsive is a good term to describe them."

"They're an incredibly fragile race, not in physical attributes but rather in the esoteric sense. If you injure one bioform, they both feel the pain, and while a broken bone won't duplicate itself in the uninjured pair they will certainly feel the pain." she pointed out. "Which is why the vast majority of their military are drones. The remaining portion consist of field technicians, drone controllers, and snipers." a pause, "Dalacari make amazingly effective snipers."

"I'll be briefly discussing their biology in a moment, before I move on to the core of the discussion: Their technology. Are there general questions before I move on?"

Kevin was busy making notations about the Dalacari on the PADD he had immediately in front of him and as he did so he asked "Yes, what's the Dalacari Hierarchical organizational structure Lieutenant?"

"In regards to governance, or military authority?" she posed for clarity.

AJ decided to chime in. While he was more interested in the military authority, he figured knowing both would be good. "How about both."

"The Dalacari are an elective Republic." she started, "Major population centers on their twelve worlds elect representatives. At last count, their congress consisted of around fifty total."

"Militarily, their structure is slightly similar to that of Starfleet. A Dalacari won't see the field until they reach a certain rank, which varies grin specialty to specialty." she took a sip of tea to wet her throat, "Service in the Dalacari military is entirely voluntary. Though the bulk of the personnel on a Dalacari exploratory mission will be science division. Civilian scientists, reporting to the division chief."

"If a conflict breaks out, your opponents will be drones. Standard Dalacari tactics are to deploy half the forces, then begin replicating losses while slowly deploying the remainder of the existing forces. Of a Dalacari offers to surrender, accept it."

"They prize nothing higher than their lives."

Hel had a question more about Dalacari physiology rather than politics. After all, that was the actual topic of discussion before people ignored that and started asking about politics. "So, Dalacari are basically single consciousnesses shared between two - ... platforms, bodies, for lack of a better word. What happens if one of those bodies is injured or killed?"

"I'd imagine that it would probably be like losing your right arm and a good chunk of your brain." Ziyal observed.

"To describe them simply, you are correct." She offered a smirk, "Sensations are shared across both forms. Tap one on a shoulder, they both look. This also works for less pleasant sensations like pain. Though if you render one unconscious the other doesn't fall limp, instead they become incredibly attentive while defending their other body. A defense mechanism from their earliest days, to locate threats and dangers."

"Should one form die, the survivor will suffer a neurological trauma that either leaves them vegetative, suicidal withdrawn, or sociopathic. Don't ever refer to a lone Dalacari pair as a Single Dalacari. That's their term for survivors."

"Hm." Hel mused, brain working. "You mentioned earlier that they prize nothing higher than their live. And then this. I suppose they have highly advanced health care, both physical and mental."

"Their medical technology is done of the most advanced and most precise that I've ever personally seen, and some of the most advanced that the Ts'usugi have on record. In the time since the accord was signed they have adapted it to, well, non-Dalacari life."

"Their mental health facilities are just as developed. The care and techniques they apply to those suffering from being a Single survivor help those who have lost everything cope day by day."

Bertrand sat forward, interested despite himself. A race with that sort of Trauma response. Was there... could there be something that the Federation could use?

A pause, "Moving on to Dalacari technology. Starting with their primary weapon systems." As the image of the 'typical' Dalacari vanished, and was replaced with presumably the schematic for an energy projection system. "Dalacari weapon systems are a bi-phase array, which uses beams of opposing polarity as a primary weapon. When the beams strike a target, the interaction between the two is what causes the bulk of the threat, as opposed to the beams themselves. This allows prolonged fire without considerable energy drain, though the weapon itself is not very effective alone. As such, Dalacari weapon systems are woefully behind in comparison to Federation technology. Their primary torpedo delivery weapon is a plasma warhead, classified as a medium yield energized matter device. Devastating in atmospheres, though less so in vacuum."

"The danger is that the Dalacari drone fighters carry miniature versions of the same weapons. I'd confidently state the swarm isn't much of a threat to the Victory, but concentrated fire is something to watch for as well as any plasma torpedo that pierces the hull."

"Defensively, the Dalacari are very advanced. Using a monopolarity field, they layer two protective screens on top of one another. Though each field would be rated at anywhere from fifty to seventy five percent the effectiveness of a Federation field, the fact that there are two of them give the Dalacari a strong defense to work with. However, most Dalacari engagements only last until their shields fall. Once their screens are down, expect a hail from the craft requesting terms of a surrender." she looked at Bertrand and Kevin, "Concentrated firepower applied to singular sections of the shield layers will cause their collapse prior to shield regeneration. Outmaneuver and overpower." she had a ghost of a smirk, but it still reminded her slightly of the briefing she just gave. Though now, rather then telling them defensive weaknesses presumably to bolster the defenses of her people, now it just felt like she was telling them how to gut their longest-standing ally.

Bertrand caught the nuance, "So we need to make sure we give their capital ships enough breather to recharge their shield; disrupt long term attacks on them."

She paused to let that notion settle. "This, is the class of Dalacari ship in question." and the rabbitess pulled up an image of a sleek red craft. Design wise, it was pretty sharp. "This is a typical Dalacari Frigate-class. This class of frigate carries a compliment of 24 bi-phase projectors in total, though they are arranged around the entirety of the craft, and therefore they cannot all focus fire on one target. There are four burst fire torpedo launchers, three fore and one aft. Again, I predict this craft could pose no significant threat to the Victory unless we fell asleep and allowed them free range of the offensive. At 225 meters long and 180 meters in width, Dalacari ships are on the average, larger than their designated classes would normally allow. There are two reasons for this."

"First, the entire ship is full of Dalacari. Each Dalacari is two bodies." she let that sink in. "Secondly, Dalacari have redundant systems designs for each of their craft. Rather than simply one primary medical bay, they have two. Two Medicals, two Sciences, even their reactor core is in two pieces." Valeria continued.

"Though the heart of the Dalacari defense, and the heart of the problem before us, is this..." and the images on the screen shifted to a large computer console. Circular in shape, easily eight feet in diameter, with a five foot diameter sphere in the center of the array. The sphere had circuitry along its surface that almost resembled a map of an organic brain. It was almost a little too odd to look at.

"This is the Thinking Engine, typical design. It's a tri-core quantum computer that regulates, defines, and handles all drone activity on the entirety of the ship. Communications with the drones and the Engine occur on a burst subspace method, which makes it difficult to detect and block. The drones are shielded against standard electromagnetic conditions, though only for so long. Eventually the most persistent anti-drone attack will eventually work, but the Engine would have prioritized the source as a target long before then."

"As much as I hate to say it like this, if combat occurs between us and the Dalacari forces, assume you're fighting against a living opponent. One that starts as a child learning your moves, and quickly becomes an adult as the battle continues." a pause, "The Engine is bound by laws that it must obey. Among them are 'Dalacari are never targets', 'Dalacari are to be defended', 'Dalacari allies are to be protected', and 'Seek aid for undefined conditions'."

"The average Thinking Engine has somewhere on the order of a hundred hard laws it must obey, and trillions of tactics to apply to any engagement." she stated, taking another sip of tea. "We can discuss ground combat, only to touch upon defenses within the ship should a conflict arise, or we can move to Drone technology and social technology. Any questions thus far?"

"You mentioned the contact between the thinking engine and the drones occurs on a burst subspace method. That suggests they are not in constant touch. Which in turn suggests a measure of autonomy in the drones themselves." Hel mused. "How smart are the drones? Do they blindly follow the last given command, or do they have limited decision ability? Are there different classes of drones, more and less smart?" Were she to design a drone fleet like that she would include a small number of larger drones, command drones, which act as field officers and have limited command over their smaller brethren.

"We'll use that as the tie in into their drone technology." Valeria commented as she brought up another image on the screen. An odd craft, with large rings and a central body of sorts, that seemed to be more vertical than horizontal. "This is the standard issue Dalacari drone fighter. They come in two varieties: Alpha class which are far more plentiful, and the Beta class which are less numerous but better armed and defended. The Betas carry a more precise sensor packet which the Thinking Engine also relies on to make its tactical assessments. Without contact with the Thinking Engine, drones have a few onboard protocols they follow. Dodge, acquire targets, engage. Though without contact with the Thinking Engine, the Alpha class drones can only go off of the last batch of tactics they acquired. The Beta class drones, while not capable of making their own tactics, have superior sensors and processing power."

"Think of them like an insect hive. The Dalacari ship is obviously the queen, but the Beta class drones are closer to lieutenants. Alpha class are the innumerable drones."

"Do the beta drones communicate with each other to pool processing power?" Ziyal asked.

"Mmm. Good question." Hel agreed.

"An excellent question, but no." Valeria shook her head, "There were initial tests with consolidated processing, but the drop off in efficiency as the pool grew smaller was deemed unacceptable."

Kevin had sat quietly listening to information going back and forth since the meaning of his question had been lost.

"Speaking of thinking of the drones as an insect hive" he said "if I may, I'd like to go back to my original point of asking the question of hierarchal set up...before it got dismissed and us wandering into biological questioning. If we are to look upon the drones as an insect hive, then, given that we're currently not in a combat situation, nor in a bar fight, but could end up in one or other, shouldn't we at least explore how cutting off the queens head may solve a few of our problems? When I was a child, the gardener we had back home kept bee's, and he explained to me one day that if the queen dies, the hive, eventually, dies along with her. A newly hatched queen will 'not' take her place, but will instead fly off to start her own colony. If we cut off the Dalacari's ability to programme their drone army, then the drones themselves lose their effectiveness. My question is this, is there a way we can effectively cut off that hieratical ability to get information out to the drones, thus making the drones less effective?

"That's the million koku question." Valeria mentioned, "We don't know the current status of the Thinking Engine on the Frigate. If it is an emergent AI, then it may not allow itself to simply be deactivated. It may respond to defend itself. If that is the case, destroying the Engine will solve many problems. Though, to continue the hive analogy, we'd be fighting the entire hive to get to the queen and putting the Dalacari crew at risk."

"Upon arrival to the scene we can request the burst frequency of the Thinking Engine, and see about setting up a mass jamming signal. Though the local effects of putting out that much subspace interference, I can't say at the time what they would be. Interfering with sensors is one thing, wide spectrum subspace interference I don't believe has been attempted in recent memory."

"There will be a few questions that cannot be answered until we arrive at the scene and get a complete report of the time we spent in transit from the escort gunship."

"If it is an emergent AI, shutting it down comes with all sorts of moral objections." Hel mused.

"Could I ask a hypothetical question then?" Kevin said "If you had, say...the Borg queen at your mercy, and you knew that shutting her off would stop the myriad of Borg drones hurtling towards you from killing you, would you have moral objections about shutting her down? I realise that the Borg queen comparison isn't the best as I suppose she would only be considered partially an AI, but the moralistic question on hive comparison kind of makes it relevant" Kevin concluded.

"Not in the slightest." Valeria responded, perhaps a little too quick for comfort. "It's a rational exchange taken to the perfect degree. One life for billions. The drones under her command are compelled to obey and have been taken from their lives of freedom and their families." a pause, "It's hardly a fair comparison, putting the Thinking Engine and the Borg Queen on the same scale."

"Shutting down the queen doesn't kill the Borg,: Bertrand muttered. "They are not reliant on her."

"The Borg are confirmed hostile and a threat, these drones aren't." Hel countered. "Not to mention that each and every Borg drone is a biological lifeform enslaved and mutilated. Completely different situation. What if this Dalacari thinking engine is an emergent life form who just wants to be allowed to exist in peace and not hurt anyone? What right do we or anyone else have to destroy it? What if, by threatening to destroy an emergent life form we push it to become hostile, where if treated with respect it wouldn't have? Self-preservation is a powerful motivator."

"My question comes from the thought that there may even be a slight chance of a hostile encounter" Kevin replied "I honestly hope there's not, I really do, but I've got to prepare my Security staff for any eventuality that may come our way that does include hostility towards us, so having this information is vital. Using the Borg as an analogy is the best I could come up with, if you have one that's better please feel free to substitute it in, but, the analogy 'is' the same."

"If the situation does become hostile and if I understand Lieutenant Mordin's briefing on the drone system correctly, shutting down the thinking engine won't end the hostile situation." Hel offered. "It would merely revert the drones back to their own native programming which, again if I understand Lieutenant Mordin's briefing correctly, means that they will enter a seek-and-destroy mode. So, if the situation turns hostile, the quickest way to defuse it with as little loss of life as possible would be to keep the thinking engine intact and functioning, and convince it we're not a threat." she explained. "It's good to discuss options and have contingency plans, but we can't just assume this'll end in a shooting war."

"I'm not making assumptions Lieutenant, unlike some, and if you'd listened to what I just said, you'd know I was talking about Security making preparations for 'any' eventuality. Perhaps you'd just like our department to sit and have tea and scones instead and ignore our responsibilities?"

"I'll bake cookies at this point if it would help." Valeria said, shaking her head, "At this exact moment, with all the information we have on hand about the situation, Hel's assessment is valid. Should that prove otherwise, target the Beta class drones first, then pick off the Alpha swarm. Betas have a higher power output than the Alphas, so they should be easier to find on sensor sweeps."

"Should Security need to, they can prep by running drills for storming a hostile alien ship against a horde that doesn't care for its own losses with a neutral civilian presence to consider. Though I imagine if it comes to that, the Dalacari will move heaven and earth to shut their internal security off."

"Moving on? Further questions? The next subject we'll be touching upon has little to do with security or defenses. Mostly Dalacari society, their limited presence on the battlefield personally, and technologies of convenience." a pause, "Oh, and how to most effectively neutralize a Dalacari. For the sake of their own defenses, of course."

"What is the internal security like on a Dalacari ship?" Hel mused. "Do they have anti-personnel drones, or static emplacements? Do they have armored bulkheads and force fields separating portions of the ship into more defensible ones?"

"Dalacari internal security is 75% security-equivalent Drones and 25% fields and environmental control. Major access ways and passages can be cut into pieces with blast doors, but most of the smaller sections are just easily managed with force fields. If an area is cordoned off properly, environmental control will begin introducing a mild sedative into the region's air supply. The drones, as expected, are unaffected by this." Valeria commented while pulling up an internal schematic of the Frigate, and pointed out larger and smaller regions as she explained. "As expected, internal security will be entirely drones. They'll be armed with stun based energy weapons, rather then plasma casters, as the Dalacari won't risk a wild shot piercing the hull or possibly killing one of their own. There are no emplacement-based weapons inside the ship."

"The drones can request site-to-site transport to flank an invading force, but go offline for one second after the transport is complete, so they cannot transport live into enemy encampments and immediately open fire. They must transport someplace where they can safely materialize. So watch your flanks, keep moving, don't get pinned down, and bring breathing equipment."

"Sounds like Dalacari security is based on suppression rather than killing." Hel offered. "That's ... comforting, actually."

"If you were made of glass, how hard could you bring yourself to hit another?" Valeria asked.

Ziyal had been listening carefully. "Pretty hard, if we are being honest about it. If you have a glass jaw, then you should strike first, strike hard, and strike accurately. If your opponent gets a hit in, then you have lost. It sounds like their internal defenses aren't really meant to go up against a proper marine assault. More designed for controlling perhaps a Dalacari gone mad. Or a small team without the proper tools to defeat their security measures. Unfortunately, I think that if it does come down to it, then that is the most likely situation for us to be in. Bringing in hullcutters, explosives, breathing masks, and transport inhibitors might not exactly be seen as the most friendly move on our part. Unless it is hostile when we arrive, which given the information we currently have is very unlikely, then we will probably have teams aboard the Dalacari ship."

"High marks for refuting Ts'usugi philosophy with education, but I trust the purpose of the statement wasn't lost."

"No." Bertrand interrupted. "If the brain turns hostile Security and the Victory will surrender."

He looked at the aghast faces around him and growled, "Stop thinking like soldiers and start thinking like tacticians. What is the greatest moral compass these people have? Preservation of life. That will be built into the tactics the machine understands. It will not attack a target which surrenders, that would go against all of the things its designers believed and understood about conflict."

"Our job is to mediate a dispute. IF the situation degrades to a tactical engagement, these are alien forces which means hand-to-hand combat is a job for the Marines. But our first priority would be to remove ourselves from the situation. We have not been invited to engage in a war on behalf of an alien species, nor does Starfleet accept that as an option."

He looked around at the assembled crew, "Remember this all of you; unless the USS Victory or her crew are attacked we WILL NOT be involved in a conflict. We will not be going to the military aide of the Dalacari or the Ts'usugi, or the AI for that matter. This is a politically fraught situation, and we will do nothing from knee jerk reactions."

"If you are threatened by any party your best option is immediate surrender. Do I make myself very clear?"

Cordale didn't like the idea of giving up. This would mark the second time that he'd have to turn his back on helping people, though it helped the Thux that this was 99% peaceful and 1% potential conflict. He gave Bertrand a nod, "No argument here sir."

"Understood and agreed, Sir." This put Hel at ease. She agreed with the commander, though still hoping that it never came to that.

AJ was surprised to see the XO go with that tactic. It seemed sound on face value. AJ nodded in the affirmative. He would follow this lead if it came to it.

Elijah had sat back throughout this briefing and had listened to his Crew. He understood where Bertrand was coming from in regards to the political powder keg they were walking into but he had hoped it wasn't going to come to that.

Ziyal was quiet, there was a certain logic to the first officer's orders. She even agreed with the analysis that surrender was probably a good option when dealing with such a situation. However, something did not sit right about it. It felt somehow incomplete. She put it out of her mind and refocused on the discussion.

Valeria gave a nod, "Clear as glass, sir."

"We'll be covering society, comfort technologies, a few final pieces of technology next. Also, I'll finish with a few taboos on both species to know what to avoid. Mostly to smooth over social encounters and avoid foot-in-mouth disease."

"Dalacari replicators are on par with Federation levels, but far outpace in terms of convenience, precision, and miniaturization. The primary long range sniper rifle in the fields is the GX-80, a coilgun with an internal replicator matrix. Various munitions canbe created and loaded on the fly from light anti-personnel rounds to heavy anti-armor rounds. The heaviest round it can produce is the iridium core, osmium tipped anti-material round. The iridium produces anti-protons when exposed to high energy such as generators or nacelles. Enough of them could inhibit a shuttle's warp bubble formation, but it would take a concentrated effort."

"Drones will never be armed with the GX-80. Dalacari tactics in the field are to pin down, intimidate, or injure."

"As for comfort, Dalacari live lives of borderline decadence. Free to explore fields of science and thought they became great thinkers and curious explorers. Their drones perform households tasks, drive, mine, and protect."

"Things to avoid in regards to either species." She cleared her throat, "Don't call one Dalacari Single." She paused, "If a Dalacari offers you a handshake accept it, but don't expect the second body to offer you a second handshake."

"It's taboo for one Dalacari form to come into willing contact with the other. Accidental contact is expected, but willing contact is frowned upon."

"Ts'usugi dislike outright telling someone 'No'. It's considered rude. Rather, you'll be informed of the difficulty of the task, or how arrangements would need to be made at some time. This gives the asker a chance to retract the request, and no one seems impolite."

"Ts'usugi don't use transporters on Ts'usugi, unless it's an emergency. For those traveling with species that do... like myself and the Federation, there are tests. My tests were administered before I left, and I'll be subject to them again upon my final return. If I pass, there i am still the same Valeria Mordin that left. If not, then I'll be legally dead. I'll be able to attend my own funeral, which i suppose is a plus."

"The Ts'usugi dislike transporters. There's still not enough evidence of whether the body is moved to a new location, or if a new body is simply generated and the mind and soul are just copied over." a pause, "There's also some discussion as to the possible generation of life, and the construction of a soul."

"The answers to these viewpoints isn't important right now. What is important is expect plenty of shuttle use. Blink shuttle use."

"That should only pose an issue if we need to extract personnel," Bertrand observed. "Emergency beam out should not be used, so conventional transport will be prioritized. Operations will need to bring additional shuttle to hot standby in case."

"What about medical activity? Are the Dalacari or Ts'usugi inhibited about who can treat their injuries, or whose injuries they are willing to treat?" Bertrand was trying hard to keep the question neutral, as if it was asked purely in support of the Medical team. "likewise with engineering repairs. We have just come form a community that would not allow us to help with repairs. If we need to act on this Thinking engine, what latitude will Cor and his team have, or are we simply to advise the Dalacari on what action is reasonable?"

"Neither the Dalacari nor the Ts'usugi will turn down medical aid if offered. In regards to the Ts'usugi, out in the field every wound is just a scratch, but we self-triage well. Dalacari are very skilled in reporting injuries and conditions as long as one of their two forms remains conscious. Just expect them to worry and fret the entire time. Do not ask them to leave the room." she cautioned. "Simply work around the second form."

"Engineering-wise, Ts'usugi are reluctant to share technical advancements. Though, in an emergency expect special exceptions and the understanding that secrets are best kept until it is time to reveal them. The Dalacari would probably hand over the codes to the Frigate if it would solve this issue. Our team will likely have as much leeway as possible, possibly almost total access, in regards to the situation."

"Sounds good." Hel mused, before pausing half a moment. "Have the teams been set yet? I've been gathering materials and tests we can run, kinda time wasted if I'm not going. Would like to know in advance so I can forward everything to someone who is."

"You're my first pick on a squad for this." Cordale said with a certainty. "I can't speak for any other teams, but you're my right hand girl in this."

"I'd also suggest we have a Diplomatic, Security and Tactical and Rapid Response team on standby." The Captain shot a passing glance. "Just incase."

At the Captain's comment AJ thought it was finally time to chime in. "I can't speak for Security but my Marines have a Quick response team on call at all times." AJ explained. "Just incase."

"Make it so." Elijah said with a nod to AJ. "Question is how do we divide the resources to do such?"

"If we're talking about where to send who in regards to ship presence, I'd recommend sending the Marines to the Ts'usugi ship, and Security to the Dalacari. Ts'usugi favor a strong military presence, the iron gauntlet to the velvet glove you could say. Demonstrating that we, the Federation, have the task force at hand will impress them."

"Similarly, the Dalacari will view our use of a Security detail to safeguard our team on their craft in a favorable light. It will demonstrate that we have the resources and the wherewithal to protect our members in the field. I'm not trying to bottleneck either department, but as a show of talent that is how I would recommend dividing up the two forces."

"Though, just in case, I'll never say no to a quick response team on standby."

"If there are no further questions, this will conclude the briefing on the two species in question. Should anyone have any questions they come up with later, I'll make myself available after a brief meeting with the Captain. We have a few hours prior to our arrival, so please feel free to seek me out should you have a concern."

OOC: Creatures shown are




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