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Nobody Sneeze

Posted on Aug 23, 2017 @ 2:39am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Aug 23, 2017 @ 2:39am

Mission: The Romulan Way

= Nobody Sneeze =

(cont’d from “A Rock And A Hard Place”)

LOCATION: USS PHOENIX

SCENE: Bridge

STARDATE: [2.17] 0822.1630

{{Am I to take it that events have reached an impasse?}} On the main viewer, the Romulan woman D’Mara was looking not at Praetor Radaik, but at Nevar. For his part, Nevar looked totally at ease, in a sharp contrast with everyone else currently stationed aboard the PHOENIX’s bridge. Nevar stepped forward, and nodded a greeting to the main viewer.

“They have, D’Mara,” he said. “Please begin preparations-”

“They have bloody well not!” Kane cut in, stepping in front of Nevar with his back to the main viewer. “Order those warbirds to stand down at once!”

Nevar met his gaze and didn’t flinch. “Or what?”

Kane wasn’t deterred. “We’re here under a flag of truce, on a diplomatic mission to establish peaceful relations between your Empire and the Federation. That truce is very much at risk right now, Senator!”

“Only if you cannot be reasonable,” Nevar said. “You and your starship are of little interest to us, Captain, for reasons that will shortly become clear. My business is with the Praetor. It’s an accident that you’re even here, and so long as you do not interfere, I see no reason that you or your crew should suffer unduly.”

“Are we your prisoners, then?” Kane asked.

“Would it expedite matters if I said yes?” Nevar asked. “Stand down, captain. This is no longer for you.”

“Quite right.” Kane felt a hand settle gently on his shoulder, and he turned to see Radaik standing beside him. “The Empire thanks you for your service, captain, but this is Romulan matter.”

Kane didn’t look happy. He cast a final, baleful glare at Nevar, then stalked back to the captain’s chair. He settled into it roughly and crossed his arms before him. Beside him, Jake Crichton was reminded of how Kass Thytos had looked the night before in her quarters, when Jake had come to chew her out.

Nevar turned back to the screen. “As I was saying, please prepare the station for visitors. I want everything brought online for a full demonstration.”

On the main-viewer, D’Mara looked concerned. {{A full demonstration? Senator, the project is nearing completion, but I’m afraid we still can’t sustain-}}

“We can discuss once we’ve arrived,” Nevar said. “Once the Praetor sees how far we’ve come, I’m quite certain she will forgive us what little distance we have left to go.”

{{Very well,}} D’Mara nodded. {{We will signal you once we’re ready to come aboard. D’Mara out.}}

The viewscreen abruptly cut back to the image of the station, suspended in high orbit above Azri Drakara II. Nevar turned away from the viewscreen and smiled at Radaik.

“What’s this about, Nevar?” the Praetor asked.

“The future,” Nevar said. Then he chuckled. “I know how that must sound, please forgive me. It’s just that I have waited so long to show you what you’re about to see. All those fights, all that bickering and double-dealing in the Senate… all of it, to protect this.”

He nodded in the direction of the main viewer.

“The galaxy is about to change, forever,” Nevar continued. “Take your last look at things as they are, Praetor.”

“What is it?” Radaik asked. “Some new ultimate power source? Perhaps a superweapon? It’s going to take a lot more than that to put you back in my good graces.”

“Just wait,” Nevar said. “And remember I told you, you’ll be thanking me before this day is done.”

“You can’t expect me to go over there alone,” Radaik said. “I still don’t trust you.”

“I will accompany you,” Chevet said, immediately appearing at his master’s side.

“And me.”

Radaik turned, and saw that Kane was on his feet again. He stepped forward, until he was also at the Praetor’s side.

“Out of the question,” Nevar said. “Starfleet is no longer relevant to this discussion.”

“My mission is to protect the possibility for peace,” Kane said evenly. “You’re about to take the best chance for that over to that space station you haven’t bothered to identify, to look at some project you haven’t told us anything about. With all due respect, senator, my place is with the Praetor.”

“Your dedication to duty is commendable and, as I said, irrelevant.”

Radaik stepped forward. “I insist.”

Nevar looked at her. “Praetor, I appreciate your dedication to diplomacy, but I assure you there is no longer any need of it.”

“I said I wasn’t going over there alone,” Radaik said. “If you don’t want me to have a Starfleet escort, I suppose I could always return… with a fleet of my own, of course.”

Kane’s eyes widened. The Praetor had just casually floated the idea of a Romulan Civil War. They were close to the bone on this one; the situation could explode at any moment. Nevar seemed to be genuinely weighing the consequences of turning Radaik down, which put a cold lump of fear squarely in the center of Kane’s guts. Finally, the senator’s expression softened.

“Very well,” he said. “We would be honored to receive you, captain.”

At the Operations terminal, Cantor Von suddenly stood up.

“And me, sir.”

Kane looked at him. Cantor looked determined and sure of himself, but he cast a brief sidelong glance at Nevar, quick enough that nobody but Kane noticed. Kane didn’t have to be an empath to know that Cantor didn’t want to talk about his reasons in front of the Romulans.

“Very good, lieutenant,” Kane nodded.

“Is that a sufficient entourage for you, Praetor?” Nevar asked.

“Hold it.” Now it was Jasmine Yu, stepping away from her position at tactical and coming down towards the center of the bridge. “Starfleet protocol clearly states that the captain cannot go aboard an enemy ship or station without a security escort.”

“Are we enemies?” Nevar asked slyly. Yu ignored him and looked at Kane.

“Surely we will be disarmed, lieutenant,” Kane said.

Yu lifted her chin ever so slightly. “That won’t be a problem, sir.”

Kane smiled. “As you will, then.”

Yu stepped over to stand with Kane, Chevet, Cantor Von, and Praetor Radaik. Nevar looked them over, then gave a sardonic shrug.

“Suit yourselves,” he said. “Very shortly, none of this will matter.”

“We’re receiving a message from the station,” Tomas Vukovic reported from his station. “They’re ready to receive transport at our convenience.”

“Then let us waste no more time,” Nevar said. “Captain, I recommend you order your crew not to do anything rash while we have you as our guest.”

Kane frowned at him. “My crew knows what to do, Nevar.”

Nevar smiled at him. “You know, I once found human bravado irritating. Now… it almost seems quaint.”

Nevar stepped around Kane and made for the turbolift. Kane nodded to Von and Yu, who followed, along with Radaik and Chevet. Kane lingered, turning to look at Jake Crichton, who had risen from the ExO’s chair to walk Kane to the turbolift. Kane placed a hand on Jake’s shoulder, and looked him square in the eyes.

“You have the ship, commander,” he said.

Jake nodded. “Aye sir.”

Kane tightened his grip on Jake’s shoulder slightly. “Be ready.”

“I will, sir.”

“Jake,” Kane said. “Be ready.”

Jake searched Kane’s expression, and suddenly he realized what the captain was trying to tell him: **If you need to destroy that station with me aboard… don’t hesitate.**

Jake’s mouth suddenly felt very dry, but he met Kane’s eyes without looking away.

“I understand, sir.”

Kane nodded. “Good man.”

Kane turned and followed the others to the turbloft. Jake kept his eyes on the captain until the turbolift doors slid shut, then he turned back to the bridge. All eyes were on him now; outside, a fleet of warbirds, waiting for the signal to attack. One wrong move, even the slightest provocation, and this situation could deteriorate into a full-scale war.

**I guess it beats all the paperwork,** Jake thought.

He stepped forward.

“Okay,” Jake said, only just managing to keep the shakiness out of his voice. “Nobody sneeze.”

=[/\]=

Shawn Putnam

A.k.a.

Jake Crichton

Executive Officer

USS PHOENIX

 

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