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Don't Say It

Posted on Jun 09, 2017 @ 7:56pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Romulan Way

"DON'T SAY IT"

(Continued from "That Thing You Do")

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Captain's log, supplemental - several hours have passed since I notified Admiral Stiles of the Romulan invitation, but she has been quick to notify our superiors and get back to me. Meanwhile, Commander Jaron and the Shai'Dan await our reply...

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Location: USS Phoenix, holding station at the Neutral Zone
Stardate: [2.17]0609.1155
Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section


Michael Turlogh Kane activated his desktop terminal with some trepidation. He couldn't know what had been happening in Starfleet Command ever since Praetor Radaik's invitation was extended, but he could imagine that it had been a flurry of conferences, meetings, and briefings, all with the aim of determining whether or not it was a good idea to pretend to be friendly with the Romulans. The politicians and diplomats and admirals who would have to make this decision weren't on the front-line, though - they weren't the ones being brought into the shadow of the enemy fleet and pretending that all was well.

He caught himself there. Enemy - maybe that was the wrong word to use. The relationship between the Romulans and the Federation was so murky as to defy any sort of analogous word to define it. During the First Dominion War and the Seventh War of Retribution, the Romulans were valuable allies of the Federation. During their Incursions of 2412 and 2429, the Romulans came for blood, killing thousands of people of wreaking havoc across the Federation. They were an erstwhile friend and contemporary foe, and only the Romulans knew what they thought of the Federation.

The image on his viewscreen winked - the sky-blue Starfleet delta giving way to the stern features of Admiral Stiles. The black woman looked tired and drawn, and her red tunic was creased. Her bionic eye glinted dully from a face lined with worry, and she ran her hair over her close-cropped black hair. {{Captain Kane.}}

"Admiral," said Kane. "I take it there's been a decision."

{{There has. You're not going to like it, though. Hell, I'm not sure if I even like it.}} Stiles paused, seemingly for dramatic effect. {{You and your crew are going to Romulus, Captain.}}

Kane swallowed hard. He'd been half-expecting this - after all, it was Federation policy to seek out peace if it could be found - but he still needed to make sure, for his own peace of mind, that all options had been considered. "Understood, Admiral, but there is a bigger strategic situation here. What if the Romulans do have a hostile intention towards the Phoenix? This ship might be the only thing stopping them from launching a new offensive against us."

Stiles was nodding, like she'd heard it all before. {{That is precisely the reason you must go, Captain. The Romulans don't know the capabilities of your ship - therefore, they will be cautious and are unlikely to seek a naval confrontation. It may be possible that they are inviting you to Romulus simply because they will know exactly where you are, and that's fine with us too. While they're watching the Phoenix, it buys me time to shore up our defences along the Neutral Zone.}} She smiled tiredly. {{And I'm sorry to be so blunt, Captain, but if the Phoenix is attacked and destroyed by the Romulans while en route to their capital world, then their intentions towards us will be most clear.}}

"I see." Kane decided to change the grim subject. "Have Starfleet Intelligence compiled anything on the new Romulan Praetor?"

{{Not much more than you know,}} said Stiles, picking up a PADD and scrolling through its data. {{Edgerton really tore Starfleet Intelligence apart - all our information is out of date by at least twelve months.}} Her good eye narrowed as she summarised the information on the PADD. {{Delora Radaik must have retired from the military and entered politics some time in the past two years. If there was a popular election across the Empire to elect a new Praetor, we didn't know about it, so she may have been appointed to her position. We are unsure if her former position as a high-ranking naval officer means that the Romulan military is again flexing its muscles in Romulan politics - if it is, we need to know about it, and soon.}} She paused, and began to correlate the information. {{Other than that, it's what you already know. She's the hero of the Battle of Prygus, which occurred during the Romulan-Klingon War sixty years ago, and has been somewhat of a public figure across the Empire since that time. She seems to be a political moderate, but only insofar as she's never done anything overtly totalitarian. Her status as the first female Praetor in Romulan history is likely to be giving her a wave of popularity among the Romulan people, so she may well be genuine in her peace initiative.}} Stiles seemed about to say more, but then shrugged and deactivated the PADD. {{In short, Captain Kane, we don't know. You'll just have to see for yourself.}}

"I suppose we will, Admiral. Has there been any movement on the Praetor's call for a Federation ambassador to be dispatched?"

{{Still being decided. Any appointed plenipotentiary will arrive several weeks behind at you at a minimum, so it's important that you understand the limitations of your mission. Firstly, Captain, nobody aboard your ship will be empowered to make any sort of treaty or agreement, formal or informal, on behalf of the United Federation of Planets. That does not supersede your own obligations to the safety of your ship and crew, nor does it supersede your general operating orders. In short, Captain Kane, you're an observer. Play nice and be diplomatic with the Romulans by all means, but you should resist any attempt by them to politicise your arrival at their capital world. You do not comment on Federation politics, you do not offer an opinion on Romulan policies, internal or foreign, and you sure as hell don't make any public statements giving your opinion on the future direction of Federation-Romulan relations. All that will be handled by a duly-appointed Federation ambassador. I need to be clear that you understand these orders, Captain Kane.}}

"I understand, Admiral."

{{Good. You must also do your utmost to protect the Phoenix's technology. Starfleet Intelligence were very clear that the Romulans are likely to want to scan the Phoenix down to her rivets. If you have guests aboard, make sure full security protocols are followed. No doubt they will extend you the same courtesy.}}

"Agreed. The first thing that Commander Jaron attempted to do was scan the Phoenix. The Tal'Shiar must be salivating at the thought of the Federation's dreadnought entering their home waters."

Stiles nodded grimly. {{Believe me when I say that, once again, all eyes are on you and your crew. FedCom are running this story alongside the recent Human Council vote results, and a succesful peace accord would give the Federation a greater amount of internal stability. A lot's riding on this, Captain.}}

"When it comes to the Romulans, that's par for the course," said Kane. "Alright, Admiral. I'll notify Commander Jaron of our acceptance of his gracious invitation."

Stiles nodded. {{Good luck to everyone aboard the Phoenix, Captain Kane. Starbase 56 out.}}

The screen winked again, showing the Starfleet delta. Kane took a breath and prepared to implement his orders.

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Location: Romulus, Ministry of Colonisation, Ki-Baratan
Scene: Report


REPORT TO MINISTRY OF COLONISATION (Abridged)

SUBJECT: Second planet of Azri Drakara 1319 (colloquially "Drakara II")
SPECIFIC: Native inhabitants - the Baelorn

Thought of the Day - "Is is better to die for the People than live for yourself"

DRAKARA II
As anticipated by our long-range scans, the second planet of the Azri Drakara star system is capable of supporting a wide range of organic life. Gravity is comparable to Romulus. The surface is sixty per cent water, but this is not arranged in seas and oceans - rather, it is geothermal in nature, rising to the surface from underground aquifers into springs, lakes and pools. Several planetary lakes are tends of thousands of square kalanams.

The climate of the world is cold and often hovers around the freezing point of water. This is due to the planet's thin atmosphere, which will need to be terraformed to some degree before colonisation - a thin atmosphere contains less greenhouse gases than Romulus, by comparison, and cannot retain as much surface heat. Native fauna include many small flying animals, with large wings to compensate for the thin atmosphere, and many animals are capable of extended exertion, having evolved large lung capacity. Several samples show that all life on this planet has iron-based blood, and as a result of the thin atmosphere, has evolved a much higher haemoglobin content than average.

THE BAELORN
Drakara II is home to a pre-warp indigenous sentient species that call themselves Baelorn. They are bipedal, with thin limbs and an elongated torso. Their skin is wholly black - this is an evolutionary response to the high ultra-violet light in their atmosphere.

Anatomical vivisections on captured specimens reveal several physiological details. Baelorn are warm-blooded, generating their own body heat. They therefore require energy, which they consume omnivorously - Baelorn are accomplished hunter-gatherers and have developed many ingenious methods to capture flying animals.

Baelorn are hermaphroditic, able to reproduce by fertilising themselves when certain conditions are met,and bear their young alive. Each Baelorn only seems to have no more than two offspring in their lifetime. This would mean that their population is relatively stable, and their total number only growing quite slowly.

It is estimated that they have been at this Stone Age-level of technological development for approximately two millennia. They have mastered the use of fire and cook their food. They live in extended family circles numbering up to around one hundred individuals. Their life expectancy seems to be around twenty-nine standard years, but this is slowly extending as they evolve more technology. Their culture revolves around this family unit - Baelorn display an impressive connection to their elderly relations, and practice a highly-ritualised cremation ceremony when they die.

Our observation posts around the planet estimate a total global population of eleven million Baelorn, split into dozens of factions. These factions seem to be growing larger as they absorb weaker families, and we may be about to see the emergence of a caste/monarchical system of government.

RECOMMENDATION
Extermination through orbital bombardment. It would take no more than one hour and leave the planet pre-prepared for terraforming.

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Location: USS Phoenix, as before
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section


Kane came back on to the bridge. The main viewer hadn't changed - the Shai'Dan was holding station nearby, smaller by comparison to the Phoenix, but bristling with weapons.

Jake vacated the centre seat, and all eyes turned to the captain. Kane looked around and nodded. "We're going to Romulus."

Each member of the bridge crew absorbed the news as best they could, and the notification was sent down to the various departments. Kane gave them a moment to let it sink in, then indicated to Jasmine. "Hail the Shai'Dan."

"Channel open, sir. They're responding."

The Shai'Dan disappeared from the main viewer, and was replaced with the scene of their bridge. Jaron was there, tall and lean and standing at his central command console, but this time he was wearing his silver jacket, giving off a much more formal air than before. {{Captain Kane. I take it that your superiors have instructed you in a course of action?}}

Kane stepped forward. "Yes, Commander. On behalf of the crew of the Phoenix, I have been authorised, and am happy to, accept the Praetor's gracious invitation to visit your homeworld."

Jaron's face remained impassive, but he inclined his head. {{Excellent. We will depart immediately. Set a course to follow us at warp eight.}} He signalled to his navigator.

"Understood." Kane touched Tomas' Vukovic on the shoulder. "Make it so." He looked back at the viewscreen, keeping his face carefully neutral. "Commander Jaron, we would be honoured if you and your officers would be our guests aboard the Phoenix tonight. It would be beneficial if you could explain to us what is to be expected of us during our visit to the Empire."

Jaron considered this. {{That is acceptable, Captain Kane. Expect to see me later, then. Shai'Dan out.}}

The viewscreen changed, showing the Romulan ship turning on its axis and bursting into warp. Kane indicated to Tomas'. "Follow them, Mister Vukovic." He turned to Jake. "Better get the dress uniforms out and notify Miss Bonviva that we'll have guests later."

Jake nodded. "Guess who's coming to - "

Kane looked at him dangerously. "Don't say it."

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NRPG: The Phoenix is on her way to Romulus, following the Shai'Dan, and most of you have a formal dinner to attend this evening.


Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer
USS PHOENIX


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

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