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Posted on May 30, 2020 @ 11:42pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: Dog Days Of Summer


(Continued from "Compartments")


Location: Starbase 56, on the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone
Stardate: [2.20]0530.1540
Scene: Admiral Stiles' office

Michael Turlogh Kane and Robert Book were eyeballing one another outside Admiral Stiles' office. They were doing it quietly, but any passer-by would have had to be blind not to notice the tension in the body language of the two men. Book had his arms folded and was staring daggers at Kane, who had his hands behind his back and was staring back at the older man. Neither of them were saying anything.

Her shadow loomed against the glass in her office door an instant before she opened it. Amanda Stiles - a long-limbed, bald-headed black woman somewhere in her sixties, and local sector admiral - glanced at both Book and Kane. "Well, gentlemen, thank you both for your punctuality. Take a seat, please."

Kane let Book move ahead of him as they stepped into Stiles' office. He could see the Phoenix through the viewing port on one wall, gunmetal grey against the backdrop of the gigantic Starbase. The office itself was gorgeous - there was a plush new sky-blue carpet under Kane's booted feet, and the interior decor was all some kind of stained and varnished thick-grained Teresian hardwood. Stiles' desk was topped with a brand-new desktop terminal and flanked by three beautifully-upholstered faux-leather armchairs. The replicator built into one wall looked like it was fresh off an assembly line, and the wall behind her desk was one huge viewscreen, wirelessly connected to the Starbase's computer network. Right now, it was set to a screensaver - a series of images that showed each of Starfleet's ten insignias throughout its history - and Kane grudgingly acknowledged to himself that the whole ambience was polished and very professional. This was a room when important decisions were made, decisions that affected entire sectors of space, decisions that affected the careers of the people who crossed its threshold.

Kane sat down opposite Book while Admiral Stiles replicated three glasses of water on a small tray. As she returned to her desk and sat the water down, she indicated her giant viewscreen with a nod. "Have you two heard the news?"

Kane shook his head.

"What news?" asked Book. He reached over and took the glass of water, placing it on the floor by his leather armchair.

Admiral Stiles sat down. "About two hours ago, I received a secured subspace message from Ambassador Sardak on Romulus."

Kane leaned forward. Sardak was a former Federation President, the fifty-fourth in a line stretching back three centuries, the last remaining legally-elected member of the Federation that had existed prior to the Neo-Essentialist take-over. He had provided an important function during the Battle of Earth, rallying the remnants of Starfleet around his office and giving continuity to the legitimate government-in-exile. Following the defeat of the Neo-Essentialists, Sardak had astonished everyone in the Federation by engineering the expulsion of Earth as a permanent member of the Federation Council, reasoning that Humans were gaining too much power and influence over the Federation. Shortly afterward, with the constitutionality of his accession to the office under question, Sardak resigned the presidency, retiring to Vulcan to finish his studies of the kolinahr. Two years ago, he had accepted an appointment to serve as the Federation's ambassador to Romulus, tasked with negotiating a new treaty of peace with the Romulan government. Now, it seemed, those negotiations had finally borne fruit.

"There's a new treaty, then?" asked Book.

Stiles nodded. "Yes. Here, take a look." She activated a holographic control on her desk, and her viewscreen winked. It showed a room that Kane had seen before - it was the office of Praetor Delora Radaik, the head of the Romulan government. The great wooden doors that led to the rest of the Imperial Senate building were off to one side, closed shut. The rest of the Praetor's room was magnificent - the floor and walls were hewn from some kind of marble-like stone, polished to a smooth finish, and the ceiling was high-arched wood, like something from an old church on Earth. A censer hung from the central beam, moving back and forth slowly overhead, and Kane remembered the earthy, aromatic scent that it had put out. The wall opposite the main doors opened up into a heart-shaped balcony that overlooked the shining azure waters of the Apnex Sea. Kane, and the rest of the Phoenix's command crew, had seen this room three years ago, when the Phoenix had visited Romulus at Delora Radaik's invitation.

Sardak looked the same. His features were still thin and sharp, his eyes were still bright, and he was still wearing his trademark voluminous hooded brown robe. As ever, there was no emotion on his inscrutable face.

Delora Radaik looked a little older than Kane remembered, but then again, he and the crew of the Phoenix had first met her five years ago on the Triangle space station called Limbo. She seemed much more comfortable in her movement than Sardak, seemingly being naturally possessed of a regal bearing. While the Phoenix had been on Romulus, a group of Romulan senators had attempted to overthrow her by precipitating a new war between the Federation and the Empire, but Delora Radaik, the first female Praetor in Romulan history, had moved swiftly and ruthlessly to destroy opposition to her rule, personally executing the leader of the rebellious senators. She was wearing a two-piece off-white suit of clothes, with a high collar about her throat enclosed by three ivory-like buttons. A silvery chain was attached to the front of her suit, brooched here and there with ancient Romulan symbols.

The two of them were standing on the outdoor balcony. A light breeze made their clothes ripple, and the message seemed to have been recorded at midday, with the Romulan sun high and bright in the sky over the sea.

Sardak spoke first. "I am Sardak, Ambassador of the United Federation of Planets to the Romulan Star Empire. Almost three years ago, Praetor Delora Radaik invited a Federation diplomatic mission to her capital world in order to negotiate a new treaty between our governments. I was the ambassador chosen to represent the Federation. Today, I announce the successful conclusion of those negotiations. A text for a new treaty of peace between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire has been agreed to. It redefines and details in specific terms the location and function of the Neutral Zone border, and under what circumstances a military vessel from either power may enter the Zone. It also institutes a new emergency subspace radio frequency between the two governments to better facilitate communications. Finally, the treaty makes clear that no state of war currently exists between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and makes a pact of non-aggression between our two governments in perpetuity. This treaty supersedes the Treaty of Algeron, and is envisioned to become the new primary document governing our relations."

Delora Radaik stepped forward. "To President Kevak and the Federation government - greetings. This new treaty has been ratified in principle by the Senate of the Romulan Star Empire. We await the same from the Council of the United Federation of Planets in order for it to take effect. In the meantime, Ambassador Sardak will be escorted back to the Neutral Zone and transferred to a Starfleet vessel - further details of which will follow this message. On behalf of the Senate and People of Romulus, may the agreement of this treaty be the first step in a new era of peaceful relations between our two governments."

Stiles swiped a holographic control, stilling the image into a freeze-frame. "There you have it."

Kane nodded. "Good news for a change."

Book snorted. "We'll see."

Admiral Stiles gestured to the Phoenix through the viewing port. "A shame the Phoenix is not operational right now or I would have dispatched her to meet the Ambassador at the Neutral Zone."

"Who are you sending?" asked Book.

"The USS Consul, an Emissary-class cruiser that yesterday was on picket duty near the Typhon Expanse. She's commanded by a Vulcan named Sparnak - I thought it wise to keep the whole Vulcan thing going."

"Sparnak?" said Kane. That name rang a bell.

"I thought you'd remember him, Captain. You and Captain Sparnak are graduates of the same ACT class. You can catch up when he delivers Ambassador Sardak here."

Kane chuckled. "Sparnak. That was twenty years ago!" For a moment, he remembered his old Academy classmates, and felt the gulf of time separating him from those days.

Robert Book sighed. "While I welcome Ambasador Sardak's news, can we move to business?"

Outside, the stars twinkled.


Scene: Starbase Exterior

From the outside, the scale of the Starbase is not readily apparent - after all, the Universe is infinite - but when compared to the docked Phoenix, we can see its true size. With around ten thousand inhabitants spread over two hundred levels, all connected by a dense network of access tunnels and turbolift channels, even the mighty violet-nacelled Phoenix is miniscule against the Starbase's girth. The linch-pin of Starfleet's defences across fourteen Federation sectors, Starbase 56 can dock dozens of starships and act as a fortress against any Romulan invasion. It co-ordinates the movements of dozens more patrolling the Neutral Zone. Six years ago, the Romulans blockaded the Starbase while they laid siege to Bolarus, harrying the approach lanes to the Starbase and cutting it off from outside help, but could not risk a direct attack.

This is the very edge of the Federation - beyond its lights, a million Romulan eyes watch from the dark.


Scene: Admiral Stiles' office, as before

Robert Book was in a talkative mood. "I delivered my report to Admiral Koniki as soon as the Phoenix docked, and I made an official complaint about Captain Kane's decision to needlessly destroy the Satet and a year's worth of vital intelligence work. I assume - "

"I did not destroy the Satet. I scuttled her to prevent her technology from falling into foreign hands and to preserve the peace with the Romulans," stated Kane. "I hardly call that needless."

Book ignored him. "I assume that Admiral Koniki has read over my report and made a decision as to his next step?"

Stiles nodded. "You were not the only officer to make a report, Captain Book. I remind you that the Phoenix's mission might have been under the command of Starfleet Intelligence, but she reverted back to Starfleet Operations as soon as she crossed the border." She help up a hand to cut off Book's protest. "As expected, Admiral Koniki acknowledges the loss of the Satet, and makes no recommendation for any disciplinary action against any officer aboard the Phoenix. He is recalling you to back to Starfleet Intelligence on Earth, where I expect you will get a chance to brief him in person."

Kane felt a jolt of elation. The climax of the search for the Satet had been poised on the edge of a knife - the Orions and the traitorous Klingon House D'Ghor had been colluding with the Tal'Shiar to fight a de facto war against Is'toQ's attempt to restore the Klingon Empire. When the crew of the Phoenix had tracked down the Satet and exposed Tal'Shiar involvement in the conflict, it became clear to Kane that the Satet's intel needed to be destroyed in order to prevent a spiral of escalating proxy war between Starfleet Intelligence and the Tal'Shiar. In the end, there had only been one winner - the Klingons, who won the Battle of Alcyonus, delivering a heavy blow to the Orion Syndicate's hopes of forming a new empire. By not recommending disciplinary action or the convening of a Board of Inquiry, Admiral Koniki was signalling a grudging acceptance of the overall strategic picture - Koniki would have been more displeased to have Starfleet Intelligence dragged into a proxy war against the Tal'Shiar than losing one starship from his command.

There might have been another reason too. If Admiral Koniki already knew that the treaty negotiations between Sardak and the Romulans was about to come to fruition, he might have decided to back off on confrontating the Tal'Shiar in order to give the new treaty enough space to breathe. Either way, it meant that nobody on the Phoenix would, at least for now, face any kind of censure for the loss of the Satet.

Admiral Stiles wasn't finished. "Furthermore, given the Klingon victory at Alyonus, I understand that Admiral Koniki is turning all Satet data that does survive - including the Phoenix's logs during the mission - over to the Diplomatic Corps, in preparation for a concerted attempt to establish new diplomatic relations with the Klingons."

Book was angry, but he was retaining his professionalism. "I understand, Admiral. I disagree with Admiral Koniki's decision but I will defer to his seniority. I will organise passage to Earth and depart the Starbase as quickly as possible."

Admiral Stiles stood up, and Kane and Book followed suit. "Very well, Captain Book. You're dismissed."

Book turned on his heel, and, without catching Kane's eye, strode out of Stiles' office with his head held high. Kane watched him go.

"You've made an enemy there, Captain Kane," said Stiles, when the door had closed.

"He can get in line," said Kane.

Stiles chuckled. "I have to hand it to your people, Captain Kane. For a crew of rebels, you all seem to inspire a hell of a lot of loyalty in each other. And Charles Koniki is a powerful ally."

Kane raised an eyebrow. "Good to know. I can consider the Satet matter closed?"

Admiral Stiles activated her HCARS and deleted the file from her desktop right in front of Kane's eyes. "Closed." She indicated the door. "I'm sure you have a lot of work to do, Captain Kane."

"Admiral." Kane turned and left the office, and went back to the Phoenix.


NRPG: News will be breaking on FedCom's hourly bulletins about the new Romulan treaty - maybe your characters will react to it?

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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