Star Trek Canon Database

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Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2017-10-19

Page 1

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

PICARD VO: Captain's log, Stardate 42923.7. We are en route to the Braslota System, site of the first Starfleet battle simulation. Joining the Enterprise as observer and mediator is the Zakdorn Master Strategist, Sirna Kolrami. Despite misgivings, I have agreed to Starfleet's request that we take part in these wargame exercises.

Culture: Picard claims that the Enterprise vs Hathaway exercise was the "first Starfleet battle simulation." That sounds exceedingly bizarre to me. In three centuries of space exploration, no wargames were ever conducted before? Not even in Kirk's era?

Wayne Poe notes that this statement is very interesting in light of the fact that we saw a TOS-era Starfleet wargame exercise (albeit a disastrous one), in "The Ultimate Computer". How could Picard have forgotten about such an important and disastrous event in Starfleet history? It sounds like peaceniks have rewritten history in the 24th century.

Moreover, Ted Collins noticed that Picard made reference to Riker's established tactics from an Academy military simulation later in this same episode! This calls his mental competence into question. How could he be familiar with Riker's tactics in military simulations while simultaneously denying that military simulations take place at all? Could it be that simulations take place only during Academy training, and not in Starfleet? What an incredibly asinine policy that would be! So much for continuous skills maintenance and upgrading, eh?

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

WORF: Despite their reputations, this Zakdorn does not appear to be a very formidable warrior.

DATA: In the game of military brinkmanship, individual physical prowess is less important than the perception of a species as a whole. For over nine millennia potential foes have regarded the Zakdorns as having the greatest innately strategic minds in the galaxy.

WORF: And no one is willing to test that perception in combat.

DATA: Exactly.

WORF: Then the reputation means nothing.

Culture: Worf has a point, does he not? How could everyone be cowed by fear of a species which has not engaged in real warfare for millenia?

It seems more likely to me that the Zakdorn government is a master of manipulating public perception, and has found ways to stay out of wars based on that perception. They apparently now use the Federation as their shield, giving their "expertise" but not their lives when a war breaks out.

Ted Collins notes that we saw and heard nothing of the Zakdorns during the Dominion War; that's quite curious if their strategic abilities are as overpowering as claimed. It says a lot about the Federation that they tolerate such uselessness in their midst.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

KOLRAMI: Captain Picard, I understand that you initially resisted Starfleet's request for this simulation.

PICARD: Yes.

KOLRAMI: May I know why?

PICARD: Starfleet is not a military organization. Our purpose is exploration.

KOLRAMI: Then why am I here?

PICARD: Because with the Borg threat, I have decided that my officers and I need to hone our tactical skills. In a crisis situation, it is prudent to have several options.

RIKER: I still prefer brains over brawn. I think it's a waste of effort to test our combat skills -- it's a minor province in the make-up of a starship captain.

Culture: Picard claims that "Starfleet is not a military organization", even though that's obviously public-relations nonsense. If Starfleet is a non-military organization, then why are their ships so heavily armed that they can dice with the warships of neighbouring superpowers such as the Cardassians, Romulans, and Klingons? Why is it called upon to fight the Federation's wars? Why does it use the rank structure and chain of command of a military organization?

If anything, this insistence on Starfleet's non-military nature speaks of habitual self-delusion and public relations obsessions within the organization. As for Picard and Riker, they demonstrate asinine stupidity when claiming that tactical skills are "minor" for a starship captain. Tactical skills are what keep his ship from turning into a drifting debris field.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

PICARD: Begin long-range scanning of all sectors within three light years of Braslota.

Sensors: their long-range scanners apparently have a range of at least three light years. However, their selectivity at this range is unknown, as is their sensitivity to obstructions. Some trekkies leap the simple-minded conclusion that if their range is three light years, then they can pick up anything within that radius, but that's just another example of the "no limit" mentality.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

GEORDI: There are only minute dilithium fragments left in the holding clamps. And even if we had intact crystals, there's no anti-matter to fuel the drive.

...

WESLEY: The lining is still smooth, and we ought to be able to do something with the dilithium chips we scavenged.

GEORDI: Sure the system is functional, but without antimatter what difference does it make?

...

(Wesley sneaks some antimatter off the Enterprise)

RIKER: Assuming you can -- can you regulate the reaction?

WESLEY: There's just enough crystal to do it. We plan to channel the reaction through the chips.

Power: finally, a canon description of how a warp core works. The dilithium crystals (or chips in this case) "regulate the reaction", and antimatter is the fuel.

Some of the non-canon literature describes the same, but this episode is important because it represents canon verification of that idea.

It also represents verification of the excess reactivity mentioned earlier. Instead of regulating the reaction by controlling the reactant flow into the chamber, they pump in excess quantities of fuel and use dilithium to control it. As previously noted, that's an extremely hazardous design concept.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

RIKER: She's really been stripped down, Captain.

KOLRAMI: The only offensive systems you need will be simulated by computer.

RIKER: What's the Zakdornian word for "mismatch?"

KOLRAMI: Challenge! We do not whine about the inequities of life. And how you perform in a mismatch is precisely what interests Starfleet.

Naval Tactics: Kolrami boasts that the Zakdornian term for "mismatch" is "challenge", but as we shall see later in the episode, it's actually "run away" :)

Anyway, note that this wargame is utterly useless. If they want to prepare their people for war, whether it be against the Borg or anyone else, it serves no useful purpose to play wargames designed around scenarios that have no relevance. Would the US Air Force run wargames pitting F-16 Falcons against ill-maintained, barely airworthy F-4's? Nothing useful could be learned from such exercises.

Wars don't turn on the occasional outmatched man or ship achieving a freak victory over overwhelming odds. They turn on the huge chess-board movements of putting the right forces in the right places at the right times. You would think that "master strategist" Kolrami would know this, but in the end, this exercise is about the usual Star Trek self-help mantra of self-actualization and personal growth. It's a test of character rather than a genuine military exercise.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

WORF: With my knowledge of the Enterprise's security override, we may be able to convince the sensors that an enemy ship is approaching. Their instruments would "lie" to them.

RIKER: If you can pull that off, Mister Worf, it might just give us the edge we're looking for.

NAGEL: But what about the viewscreen?

WORF: If I am successful, the computer will project a false image of the enemy ship on the main viewscreen.

RIKER: And unless they run to a window and look out....

NAGEL: They're going to fall for it!

Design: this was no idle talk; this plan was successfully executed during the actual battle simulation. It highlights the excessive centralization and software vulnerability of the Enterprise computer system, because a decentralized system wouldn't be so easily confused. Individual weapon control stations would report conflicting results, thus raising warning flags.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

DATA: I have several examples of Commander Riker's battle technique. At the Academy, he calculated a sensory blind spot on a Tholian vessel and hid within it during a battle simulation. And as a lieutenant aboard the Potemkin, his solution to a crisis was to shut down all power, and hang over a planet's magnetic pole, thus confusing his opponent's sensors.

Sensors: Riker's tricks provide some insight into strengths and weaknesses of Alpha Quadrant starship sensor technology. There are blind spots, they don't easily track ships which have been powered down, and the magnetic pole of a planet presents a difficulty for them.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

KOLRAMI: Begin!

PICARD: Screen off. Set course two-two-three mark two-five-seven, full impulse power. Initiate Kumeh maneuver.

(on Hathaway)

GEORDI: The Kumeh maneuver -- why are they starting out with such a recognizable ploy?

RIKER: He's teasing -- wants us to reveal our tactics on his terms. Worf?

WORF: Counter with Talupian stratagem on instrument sighting.

RIKER: Agreed. Three-quarters impulse, full on my command. Ensign Nagel, maximum shields. Mister Worf, prepare your little surprise.

(on Enterprise)

PICARD: Course three-one-seven mark seven-three. Present minimal aspect. Ready warp one, optimal spread on simulated torpedoes.

Naval Tactics: while we don't know what the "Kumeh maneuver" and "Talupian strategem" are, we can tell that Picard's opening move left Riker so much reaction time that he was able to briefly discuss it with his command crew before offering a response.

We also found out that targeting is a factor. Captain Picard orders the Enterprise to maneuver in order to present a "minimal aspect" to the Hathway; a prudent and sensible maneuver if the Hathaway will have more trouble accurately targeting a smaller profile, but a completely pointless maneuver if Federation targeting is "perfect" as some mindless Trekkies continue to insist. Moreover, since we could see both ships in external shots during this sequence, and since both ships were within 10 km of each other, we saw another example of the typical combat range of a Federation starship (especially since Riker wasn't getting hammered from the word "go").

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

BURKE: Captain -- Romulan warship approaching fast from astern!

PICARD: What the -- ?!

BURKE: He came from nowhere, sir!

PICARD: Bring us about, Ensign -- maximum shields!

DATA: Disengage modified beams.

PICARD: Weapon-systems full -- lock on! Open a hailing frequency.

BURKE: I can't, sir. There's nothing there.

(The Hathaway moves to 5 o'clock high, and hits the Enterprise repeatedly from a range of only 1 or 2 km. Picard realizes he's been had)

PICARD: Warp three, evasive! Disengage weapons, re-engage modified beam.

...

WORF: Computers report heavy damage to Enterprise, sir.

Naval Tactics: we saw the imaginary warbird approach. It approached at warp speed and then dropped to impulse speed before it could exchange fire with the Enterprise. This gives us some insight into the tactical value of warp drive, since the Enterprise was also about to initiate a warp jump. It is used for positioning rather than "strafing", as some Trekkies erroneously claim. You make warp jumps in order to put distance between yourself and your attacker, or to rapidly close that distance preparatory to an attack.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

BURKE: Captain -- Romulan warship approaching fast from astern!

PICARD: What the -- ?!

BURKE: He came from nowhere, sir!

PICARD: Bring us about, Ensign -- maximum shields!

DATA: Disengage modified beams.

PICARD: Weapon-systems full -- lock on! Open a hailing frequency.

BURKE: I can't, sir. There's nothing there.

(The Hathaway moves to 5 o'clock high, and hits the Enterprise repeatedly from a range of only 1 or 2 km. Picard realizes he's been had)

PICARD: Warp three, evasive! Disengage weapons, re-engage modified beam.

...

WORF: Computers report heavy damage to Enterprise, sir.

Shields and Forcefields: the Enterprise is fooled into coming about, in order to face imaginary Romulan ship and they raise their shields to maximum. But the Hathaway is able to damage the Enterprise anyway, thus indicating several possibilities:

  1. The Enterprise's aft shields are weak. So weak that a few hits from an eighty year old ship would cause heavy damage to the ship even with shields at maximum. This is consistent with other incidents in which the shields were seen to be weak around the warp nacelles.
  2. The Enterprise "angles" its shields in combat, so that they're stronger against attacks coming from a particular direction. This is consistent with some dialogue referring to aft or fore shields, as well as the effectiveness of lightly armed fighters wending their way through fleet formations in DS9 battles (the capship shields would have been angled toward the opposing battle line, thus leaving vulnerabilities which fighters could exploit).
It is also possible that both possibilities hold true: the Enterprise may have weak aft shielding, and it may also angle its shields in a particular direction.

Note that this is simulated damage rather than real damage. But since the simulator is designed to accurately model the effects of a real confrontation, it is reasonable to conclude that if it were real, the attack would have been just as effective.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

BURKE: Captain, sensors picking up a Ferengi warship closing at warp five.

PICARD: Did you input that new code?

BURKE: Yes, sir!

PICARD: Mister Worf -- I didn't give you enough credit, continue the simulation.

(the Ferengi ship drops out of warp and starts pounding the Enterprise)

PICARD: Divert all power to shields!

DATA: Sever modified beams, engage phasers and target!

PICARD: Stay between the Hathaway and the Ferengi!

...

PICARD: Where are my weapons?

BURKE: Unavailable, sir! We cannot disengage the modified beams -- the connections have been fused!

...

DATA: Captain, the Ferengi have broken off their attack. Drop shields. Transport the away team aboard.

BURKE: Transporter functions gone, sir!

DATA: Shields reduced to one-fifth intensity.

...

DATA: Our shields will not withstand another assault.

Misc: this incident and the Battle of Maxia give us our only glimpses into the Ferengi military organization. Their ships appear to be formidable enough to pose a serious threat to the Federation's finest warship, and Data estimates that a single salvo would be sufficient to knock out shields which are down to "one fifth" strength. It seems reasonable to extrapolate that therefore, five salvoes would eliminate the shielding of a fully functional Federation starship, which seems to place the Ferengi warship on rough parity with the state of the military art in the Alpha Quadrant.

This makes sense in light of heavy Ferengi trading activities; what they couldn't invent, they probably purchased. In fact, it seems probable that actual Federation technology is built into the Ferengi warship, since Worf was able to use the same trick on their ship that he did on the Enterprise (and without knowledge of their access codes!). It seems as if there's some sort of "backdoor" into the Ferengi computer system which he was able to exploit, but this would require extensive knowledge of their system.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

BURKE: Captain, sensors picking up a Ferengi warship closing at warp five.

PICARD: Did you input that new code?

BURKE: Yes, sir!

PICARD: Mister Worf -- I didn't give you enough credit, continue the simulation.

(the Ferengi ship drops out of warp and starts pounding the Enterprise)

PICARD: Divert all power to shields!

DATA: Sever modified beams, engage phasers and target!

PICARD: Stay between the Hathaway and the Ferengi!

...

PICARD: Where are my weapons?

BURKE: Unavailable, sir! We cannot disengage the modified beams -- the connections have been fused!

...

DATA: Captain, the Ferengi have broken off their attack. Drop shields. Transport the away team aboard.

BURKE: Transporter functions gone, sir!

DATA: Shields reduced to one-fifth intensity.

...

DATA: Our shields will not withstand another assault.

Design: this attack highlights the vulnerabilities of the Enterprise's over-centralized design philosophy: somehow, the ship loses all of its weapons, as well as all of its transporters, at the same time.

If the ship had been built around a decentralized, redundant design philosophy, it would have been exceedingly unlikely for damage to any single system to knock out every single weapon on the ship at the same time, or every single transporter at the same time (particularly since the damage was so light that we couldn't see any visible signs of damage on the ship's hull).

Some Trekkies like to argue that the ship was using simulated weapons and this somehow changes everything (they're always looking for escape routes to explain things away ), but that objection would not address the fact that the control of every weapon on the entire ship is routed through a single point of failure.

Matthew Hyde relates his experiences in the US Navy to confirm that in real-life battleships, each gun turret will have its own fire control system. Therefore, if the central fire control system is knocked out or the intervening connections are somehow severed, the gun turret's crew can take control and open fire. This level of redundancy (which is really just good old fashioned common sense) completely eliminates the possibility of a Star Trek-style simultaneous failure of all weapon systems. Trekkies like to portray the manned gun turrets of Imperial warships as archaic, but they obviously fail to understand the benefits of such a system; no Imperial warship could ever lose all of its weapons due to a minor hit in one place; even the total destruction of the ship's bridge wouldn't keep its turrets from firing (as we saw in ROTJ), because each turret can switch to local control.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

BURKE: Captain, sensors picking up a Ferengi warship closing at warp five.

PICARD: Did you input that new code?

BURKE: Yes, sir!

PICARD: Mister Worf -- I didn't give you enough credit, continue the simulation.

(the Ferengi ship drops out of warp and starts pounding the Enterprise)

PICARD: Divert all power to shields!

DATA: Sever modified beams, engage phasers and target!

PICARD: Stay between the Hathaway and the Ferengi!

...

PICARD: Where are my weapons?

BURKE: Unavailable, sir! We cannot disengage the modified beams -- the connections have been fused!

...

DATA: Captain, the Ferengi have broken off their attack. Drop shields. Transport the away team aboard.

BURKE: Transporter functions gone, sir!

DATA: Shields reduced to one-fifth intensity.

...

DATA: Our shields will not withstand another assault.

Naval Tactics: the Ferengi attack is identical to the way the simulated Romulan attack was unfolding; the ship approaches at warp speed, drops to impulse, and then opens fire.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

DATA: Premise: The Ferengi wish to capture the Hathaway believing it to be of value. Therefore, we must remove the ship from their field of interest.

KOLRAMI: They will soon relocate it after a two-second warp and --

PICARD: There is a way. Are you with us, Number One?

RIKER: Yes, sir. We're all here -- anxiously waiting for you to pull another rabbit out of your hat.

PICARD: Data.

DATA: At the captain's signal, we will fire four photon torpedoes directly at the Hathaway. A millisecond before detonation, the computer will trigger your warp jump.

GEORDI: I think I hate this plan. Data, we don't even know for sure if our warp jump will work.

DATA: If the warp engines should fail to function, the result could be... unfortunate.

WORF: Very unfortunate... we will be dead.

PICARD: Captain Riker, I can't order you to do this...

RIKER: What the hell. Nobody said life was safe.

PICARD: The advantage is that it will appear from the Kreechta's perspective -- as though you were destroyed in the explosion.

WORF: That will only deceive them for a few minutes. Their sensors will soon locate us.

Sensors: the Federation has precious little information about Ferengi technology, as we discovered in "The Last Outpost". Therefore, they must be going on the assumption that Ferengi sensors are functionally equivalent to their own (or perhaps even superior, since the Stargazer was caught completely by surprise in the Battle of Maxia).

Captain Picard and Kolrami both expect the Ferengi ship to take several minutes to reacquire the Hathaway after a two-second warp jump. This suggests that the Ferengi are using electromagnetic, gravitic, and other light-speed sensor technologies for primary target acquisition.

Some Trekkies conclude that the Ferengi must therefore have no superluminal sensors, hence the success of the Picard Maneuver as well as the potential success of this very similar maneuver. However, that possibility is oversimplistic and unworkable. How do the Ferengi safely navigate at warp speed if they have no superluminal sensors? How could they have known to fly to this star system and attack the Enterprise, since it would take years for light-speed sensor information to reach them even if they just happen to be sitting in the next system?

We discovered in "Balance of Terror", "Arsenal of Freedom", and "The Battle" that subspace sensors have a narrow scope of usefulness; they pick things up before they're visible, but not accurately enough to target and shoot. This means that the Federation and the Ferengi probably both use active and passive electromagnetic sensors for target acquisition, with subspace sensors filling the secondary role of long-range detection.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 47: "Peak Performance"

FERENGI TACTICIAN: Destroy your own rather than endure the ignominy of defeat and capture?

BRACTOR: I did not think the Federation had such iron.

Misc: this is a far cry from the cowardly Ferengi described in DS9. The Ferengi have apparently been the victims of a smear campaign, based on the attitude of a few cowardly individuals and precipitated by Federation hostility toward capitalism.

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