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Posted on Apr 06, 2018 @ 12:17am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale


(Continued from "Against The Grain")

Captain's log, supplemental - after an uneventful voyage, we are nearing our destination. Sherman's Planet lies in the Donatu Sector, and half a century ago this area marked the border between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. That was before the Romulan conquest of Qo'noS and the scattering of the Klingons across the quadrant. Now, the Donatu Sector looks out onto a new frontier, and Sherman's Planet is something of a prosperous frontier world...


Location: USS Phoenix, en route to Sherman's Planet
Stardate: [2.18] 0405.2015
Scene: Main Bridge - deck 1, saucer section

There wasn't much for a starship captain to do during a voyage, so Michael Turlogh Kane wasn't doing anything except sitting in the centre seat and pretending to read routine departmental reports. Every one of the Phoenix's department heads was more than capable of intercepting and solving minor problems pertaining to the smooth and efficient running of the ship, and anyway, even if they couldn't, that was what an ExO was for. There had been a time in Starfleet when an ExO had also been a department head, and in those days captains were much more active in the day-to-day running of their starships, but time's great wheel had moved on. Nowadays, captain of capital ship like the Phoenix were more like nominal overseers, remaining free to deal with larger crises or take the lead in some kind of diplomacy. So Kane was sitting on the bridge, pretending to read routine departmental reports, while the senior staff got on with the job of actually running the ship.

The voyage to Sherman's Planet had been uneventful, and in a little over an hour's time, the Phoenix would power down her engines, deactivate the extended warp field, and, dragging the enormous quadrotriticale container behind her, emerge into realspace near her destination. Whatever apprehensions Kane had voiced to Starfleet about towing the grain had been groundless - although put under more strain that usual, the engines had not deviated from warp factor six-point-four for the duration of the voyage, and there had been unanticipated flickers in the extended warp field either. Malin-Argo and his staff had outdone themselves again.

"Now entering communications range of Sherman's Planet," said Jake from his seat to Kane's right. The ExO was monitoring a combined Ops/Tactical feed on the monitor attached to his own armrest. "Broadcasting standard hails."

Kane reminded himself that the authorities on Sherman's Planet knew that they were coming. A popular festival - James Kirk Day, named after a famous Starfleet captain - was approaching on the planet, and the Federation was making a gift of a million tonnes of heirloom quadrotriticale to Sherman's Planet for this year's crop. The authorities in Port Emily would have been working for weeks now, figuring out how best to distribute the stuff across the planet. Technically, the Phoenix's mission concluded when the last of the grain was on the surface and the spaceborne container had been unhitched, but Kane fully expected that the dreadnought would still be in orbit of the colony world come James Kirk Day.

Jasmine's Tactical computer beeped an alert at her. She read out the details. "Incoming message from the governor's office on Sherman's Planet."

Kane nodded. "On screen." Sherman's Planet was a colony world of the Federation, and thus had a slightly different legal status than a member planet. Being a planet of primarily Human colonists, Sherman's Planet was subject to the laws of the Federation Assembly without bring represented on it. Instead, they (like other major colony worlds such as Gault or Aldebaran) elected their own Governor and lobbied hard to the various Assembly members to protect their own interests. Earth was naturally a strong ally of its own colonies, so colony worlds were still able to influence the great pluralist melting pot of Federation politics.

The viewscreen winked, changing from the familiar image of the starfield-at-warp. Now, the picture showed a simple, functional office room made primarily of rich woods. There was a beautiful desk made of some kind of mahogany, polished to a fine finish, and the same elaborate wood panelling was visible on the walls.

Behind the desk, an interesting painting hung on the wall. It depicted a family of a frontier colonists leaning on a white picket fence next to a field of amber-coloured triticale grain that was waving in a pleasant summer breeze. The sun shone high in the clouless blue sky, and both parents and children were smiling and happy. Their farmhouse lay in the background, a modest affair made of faux-brick and slate. The entire scene was dominated by a huge farming robot that was working in the middle of the field, standing on tripod legs as it shone out a sonic beam to gently keep pests away from the crop. The dichotomy between the simple rural lifestyle and the looming presence of the technological mechanisation was obvious.

There were two Human men on the screen too. One - an older white man with a balding pate, chubby red cheeks and friendly blue eyes - sat at the desk itself. The other - a younger black man with high cheekbones and a lean and hungry look about him - stood in a stiff military posture to one side, a bright five-pointed iron star on his left breast.

Kane knew a local official when he saw one. He stood up and moved to the centre of the bridge. "I am Captain Michael Turlogh Kane of the starship Phoenix. We're here with your grain and the best wishes of the new government on Vulcan."

The older white man grinned widely, letting out a whoop and slapping with the table with his right hand. {{Well, ain't that just dandy!}} he exclaimed. {{Y'all're welcome ta Sherman's Planet, right welcome indeed! Bin a long time since we heard frum you folks in tha big city, but y'all shore are welcome now y'all're here, yes siree!}}

The entire bridge crew, except Byte, were smiling. The man was giving off such an air of effervescent enthusiasm that it was impossible not to grin along with him. His frontier accent sounded strange at first, but then Kane realised that of *course* everyone on Sherman's Planet talked like Kass. Where else could she have picked up the accent from?

"We're delighted to hear from you," said Kane. "You are...?"

The man slapped his own forehead. {{Wheah are mah manners! Mah name is Dick Chisum, and Ah'm the governor of this here planet! Ah'm a-callin' frum mah office here'n sweet lil' Port Emily!}}

Kane inclined his head respectfully. "Governor Chisum."

The governor indicated the sombre black man standing to his left. {{This here's Ethan Edwards, sheriff o' Sherman's Planet. His people'll be overseein' tha transfer o' the grain down here.}}

Kane nodded again. "Sheriff Edwards."

The sheriff made no reply, but bowed politely at the neck. When he did, Kane that he was wearing a blaster on his right hip, secured in a leather holster, and that his sheriff's badge was affixed to his clothing and not part of it, much like the Starfleet commbadge.

Governor Chisum was still grinning. {{We'll make shore we're ready for when ya git here, Cap'n. Chisum out.}} The screen winked off, and Kane turned to face his bemused bridge crew.

"That went well," remarked Jake, as Kane returned to the centre seat. "Governor seems friendly."

"No reason not to be," shrugged Kane. "They're probably very happy to see us. Let's head into the ready room - we need to pick who we're going to send to the surface."

Jake nodded, and the two of them got up and left the bridge.


Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section

Kane moved to his desk, and Jake sat down on the couch, crossing his legs. "Are you thinking of going to the surface, Captain?"

Kane stopped by his desk and raised an eyebrow. "I gave nothing away that would indicate that, Commander."

Jake shrugged wryly. "The situation is safe. Sherman's Planet has been a peaceful colony world for two centuries. I would not object if you decided to lead the away team."

Kane sat down. "Very well. Who do you recommend accompanies me?"

"The Major would probably appreciate it. She's got family there. Lieutenant Yu to liaise with local law enforcement. Lieutenant Byte, to oversee the transfer of the grain on the surface. The cargo transporters are going to be working overtime, not to mention the fact that we'll have to run several cargo shuttle flights a day. All this on top of whatever arrangements the colonists have made." Jake snapped his fingers. "How about Lieutenant Dalziel? Having a psychologist on the surface might be a good move. There's sure to be something of a culture shock and she might be able to smooth the path, as it were."

Kane considered it. "I see your point. Alright then. A diplomatic mission to shake some hands, get our picture taken, and make a short speech at the festival. Meanwhile, you run the logistics from orbit - get that grain transferred to their storage facilities as efficiently as possible."

"Sounds nice and relaxing," smiled Jake.

[[Bridge to Captain Kane.]] Byte's voice was filtered through the comms system. [[One minute to arrival.]]

Kane and Jake got up and headed back out to the bridge.


Location: Space

A sudden flash of light bloomed like a flower in the long night, heralding the arrival of the Phoenix and its cargo into near orbit of Sherman's Planet. The extended warp field, visible just for a moment as a violet bubble around both vehicles, flickered and disappeared as the inertial dampers activated to protect them from the shearing force of such a sudden deceleration.

Ahead lay Sherman's Planet, one of the quadrant's breadbasket worlds. No starbase or space station hung in orbit to protect it, out here on the edge of the Federation. From orbit, it was clear to see that the planet's surface was predominantly terraformed green land, with a sprinkling of large lakes and threaded rivers to provide a water table. No oceans sparkled in the distant sunlight, but white cloud systems scudded across the blue sky.

Under impulse power, the Phoenix entered the atmosphere of the planet, taking up a standard orbit, hauling the triticale container behind it. The voyager here was over, but the work was just beginning.


Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Sherman's Planet
Scene: Transporter Room 1 - deck 6, saucer section

The officers chosen for away team duty had assembled in the transporter room. Jasmine had a small hand phaser in a hip pouch and Byte was carrying a tricorder, but there was no need for the team to beam down laden with equipment. Kass and Eve waited impassively.

Stiles Orion was busily working the transporter when Kane came in. "You have the co-ordinates?" Kane asked.

Stiles Orion nodded. "Beam-down location is a transporter pad in Port Emily. Sensors indicate it's the only one for miles around."

{{Quite likely,}} Byte agreed. The android was stepping up onto the Phoenix's transporter pad. {{We must remember that Sherman's Planet is sparsely populated compared to Earth. Port Emily's population was twenty-two thousand people at the last census, with the rest of the population spread out around the planet.}}

"There won't be a hella lotta tech down there either," grated Kass. "Y'all're useta sweet-ass sonic showers n' replicated food and shee-it. Folks on Sherman's Planet got a frontier spirit. Aside from the farmin' droids, ain't a whole lotta mechs either. We don' use many replicators nor transporter pads n' suchlike. An' they all friggin' talk like me too."

Byte cocked its head. {{Perhaps we should take some time to re-adjust our universal translators,}} it said innocently. {{It would only take a few minutes, and we would be more than able to understand the pidgin speech of the natives. Shall I make the correction?}}

"Lieutenant..." said Kane, but it was too late. Kass had her hackles up.

"What didja say?" she snapped. "Ah don't talk like no friggin' pigeon, ya glorified waffle iron!"

Kane rolled his eyes while Jasmine and Eve stifled giggles. He held up his hand to silence everyone. "If we're all ready..." he said, then turned to face front. "Energise, Ensign."

Stiles Orion nodded, and the transporter room disappeared in a haze of white-blue fizz.


NRPG: You can decide where in Port Emily the transporter pad is located. It's a rough-and-ready spaceport - imagine a futuristic Wild West town, perhaps something out of Firefly (if you know that TV show). People there don't live the easy lives of citizens in the core worlds of the Federation, and local laws might be very different. People might be allowed to carry blasters, might like to get drunk in public, be suspicious of outsiders, and have different (perhaps more conservative) points of view that our characters might have.

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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