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Race Relations

Posted on Apr 26, 2018 @ 10:00pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

"RACE RELATIONS"

(Continued from "Prime Suspects")

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Captain's log, supplemental - in the aftermath of the bombing of the James Kirk effigy during the festival parade, we have launched an investigation into the cause of the incident. Thanks to the prompt arrival of several Phoenix medicals teams, no-one has lost their lives. However, relations between the local Humans and Klingons are deteriorating by the hour.

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Location: Port Emily, Sherman's Planet
Stardate: [2.18]0426.1500
Scene: Makeshift triage centre


Michael Turlogh Kane took a breath. It was only now in the late afternoon, several hours after the initial fire-bombing of the James Kirk Day parade, that he was getting to take a short break. For much of the day, he had assisted the Phoenix's medical teams as best he could, giving first aid to anyone caught in the vicinity of the explosion. This public square close to the parade route had been turned into a makeshift triage centre, with tarpaulin tents and rough mattresses and a constant need for water and anti-burn salves. There were about two dozen people here, all Humans of various ages, suffering first and second degree burns. There were a couple of children who had superficial partial-thickness burns over their upper bodies - until pain relief was administered to them, their screams of pain had been terrible to hear.

Over the course of the day, Governor Chisum had come and gone, wishing the injured well. He had also told anyone who would listen that the culprits - two local Klingons seen skulking around the warehouses last night - had been arrested by Sheriff Edwards this morning. The Klingons were going to have the book thrown at them - Kane had seen Chisum nod more than once at suggestions from local Humans that the suspects be "strung up". There was no death penalty in the Federation, but the temptation to frontier justice seemed very strong among the local Humans.

The legality of the situation weighed heavily on Kane's mind too. No Starfleet officer had the right to subvert the lawful government of a Federation planet, whether that planet was a member of the Assembly or a colony, and could only assist when called upon to do so by the local head of government. Fortunately, Governor Chisum had welcomed the Phoenix's medical assistance for those hurt in the bombing, but had not specifically stated that it was alright to investigate the culprit of the act. Kane was pushing the definition of the term "assistance" by even countenancing a Starfleet investigation within the jurisdiction of another law enforcement agency. They would have to step carefully.

As if she knew that he was thinking about it, Jasmine Yu appeared through the crowded square and approached him. She was accompanied by an older Human woman - one of Edwards' deputies - who hung back and began talking to other people in the square.

Kane pushed thoughts of tiredness out of his mind as Jasmine stood before him. "Lieutenant Yu, report."

Jasmine outlined her investigation over the course of the day. So far, the only real lead they had was Rusa's description of an odd-looking Human man near the warehouses the night before the parade, the same individual who could not be identified by the Phoenix's computer. She also brought him up to speed on the details of the two Klingon men arrested for the bombing.

When she had finished, Kane shook his head. "We've not got much to go on."

Jasmine nodded. Her own brow was furrowed from thinking hard. "I keep asking myself who would gain the most from firebombing Captain Kirk's effigy. You'd think it would be the local Klingons who dislike the parade, those two who Sheriff Edwards picked up this morning. So why then has another Klingon identified a mysterious Human as the perpetrator? Is it a false flag operation by some local extremist Humans?"

"There's been no indication of any such extremist feeling by the local Humans," Kane said with a frown. He briefly remembered the eight years he'd spent as a Security Chief earlier in his career, and the old buzz stirred again. "It's the local Klingons who want to achieve a political aim."

"Yes, but the political aim of the local Humans may be to ensure the status quo," reminded Jasmine, "especially if what Sompek says about systemic discrimination is accurate."

Kane nodded. "You're right. Be careful, Lieutenant. We're walking on eggshells here. If the Governor officially informs us that he wants our investigation to stop, we'll have to comply, at least officially. What's your best guess right now?"

Jasmine thought about it for a moment. "There's no proof that Sheriff Edwards' suspects were doing anything untoward. From what I understand, they were simply talking angrily in public about disrupting the parade and then later seen in the vicinity of the storage warehouse, but that does not make them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand, the story the Klingon woman - Rusa - told me seems difficult to corroborate. The Phoenix was unsuccessful in identifying the man she said she saw, and her description of the suspect doesn't sound like he's the kind of operative that gets clandestine missions done without being spotted. Tall, thin, bald, and pale? Someone like that stands out in a crowd. Somebody somewhere in Port Emily should also have seen him, especially if he's not a local."

"Is it possible that Rusa was lying?" asked Kane.

Jasmine seemed to be second-guessing herself, but finally nodded. "It's possible, Captain. We only had a shortly conversation with her. It might be worth checking her out. Maybe she's connected in some way to Edwards' suspects. If she is, that would bring her entire story into question."

"Alright." Kane stood up straight. "In any case, I am going to cancel the Yellow Alert. The ship is in no danger. Do you concur?"

"Yes, sir. Our operations seem to be confined to the surface for the present. I'll continue working with Deputy Hobbs and keep you informed."

"Good. I'll also order our security and medical teams to begin disengaging and beaming back to the Phoenix. Local authorities seem to be on top of things, at least for now." Kane nodded. "Dismissed, Lieutenant."

Jasmine turned away, moving back towards Edwards' deputy, and Kane felt himself worrying again. He had the feeling that there was something simmering under the surface of Sherman's Planet, that the much-vaunted neighbourliness between Humans and Klingons around Port Emily might be something of a facade. If tensions existed that were not addressed, they tended to fester like an infected cut, eventually damaging the foundations of the society itself. Was that what was happening here?

He composed himself, concentrated on what he had to do, and activated his communicator.

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Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting high above
Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section
Time Index: An hour later


Like the rest of the Phoenix's Alpha Shift, Commander Jacob Crichton was counting down the minutes until the end of his watch. The past couple of days had been utterly uneventful until this morning, when a firebombing at the festival had sparked a Yellow Alert and the swift dispatch of security and medical teams. The ship's senior officers had responded with their usual swift professionalism, and now that the emergency on the surface had passed, the day was settling back into its usual rhythm.

As far as Jake could tell, the mission was going as well as could be expected. Today's ruckus notwithstanding, the Phoenix's mission focus - to reinstate Federation contact and sovereignty over Sherman's Planet - had been a success. Despite the lack of communication with the broader Federation body during the Neo-Essentialist crisis, Sherman's Planet had proven receptive to reinvigorated ties, and seemed eager to reinstate itself as one of the Federation's strategically important colony worlds. The triticale transfer had been completed, and now Sherman's Planet, along with Gault and Aldebaran, could regain its place as one of the Federation's keynote colony and bread-basket worlds. The triticale from this next harvest would number in the millions of tonnes and spike the colony's economy, reinvigorating shipping to and from the Donatu Sector for years, as merchants and haulage firms competed with one another to disseminate the grain across the Federation. Replicators were wonderful and all, but sometimes there was nothing like a bit of home cooking.

He thought about Xana for a moment, then about his children. The children especially were never far from his mind. For a brief moment, he wondered if their life would have been better if he had raised them all on a colony world like Sherman's Planet or Elandipole, away from the easy living of the Federation's core worlds. Childhood might be a very different beast out here on the frontier. They might even have ended up like Kass - for an instant, he imagined Benito drawling at him with his child-voice in Kass' accent and nearly chuckled out loud. "Ah want pancakes an' ice-cream fore dinner, paw, gawdemmit!"

With Byte, Eve, and Jasmine on the surface, there were a couple of changes to the bridge crew. Tomas' Vukovic was sitting at the conn, and Lynette Ryan was monitoring the bridge engineering station, but those were familiar faces. Mackenzie Procter, Jasmine's assistant tactical chief, was manning the Tac station, and the Kaferian Ensign, Rr'llk, was sitting hunched at Ops.

Kaferians were sentient insectoids, with wide-set compound eyes, a pair of clicking mandibles and a set of long, waving antennae. They looked like ants given humanoid form. Native to the third planet of the Tau Ceti system, Kaferians were extremely friendly, and although with a population numbering around only half a million, were expert geneticists and members of the Federation. There were less than two hundred of them in Starfleet, and the Phoenix was lucky to have Rr'llk as part of the crew. They did not usually wear clothing on their hot, wet homeworld, but Kaferians were an accommodating people, and wore the regular Starfleet uniform over their exoskeletons while on duty, sans boots, which could not fit their thin, segmented legs.

Like Chaucer used to do (and Jake felt a pang of sorrow when he thought of the big Gorn), Rr'llk communicated through the use of an external universal translator that sat on his ventral exo-skeleton, approximately where a Human's chest would be. When he clicked his mandibles in his own form of speech, the external translator spoke out his words in a pleasant English-accented voice that sounded perennially happy. Even when Rr'llk was feeling glum or said something sarcastic, the translator's voice spoke it out in warm, friendly tones, often completely misconstruing the meaning behind Rr'llk's words to comic effect. It had not happened yet, but Jake was waiting for the day when Rr'llk was on duty in an emergency situation. Listening to the Kaferian's translator warmly and happily reporting catastrophic damage to some deck section or reeling off a casualty list would be a bizarrely surreal moment.

Rr'llk's antennae were seemingly waving indiscriminately, and his clawed fore-legs were dancing over the Ops LCARS display. Jake sensed a problem. He got up and moved to the Kaferian's shoulder. "Problem, Ensign?"

Rr'llk glanced up at him, and for an instant Jake saw himself reflected a thousand times in the Kaferian's onyx-black compound eyes. The mandibles clicked together in quick staccato, followed an instant later by the familiar English accent. {{No, Commander. I am monitoring puzzling sensor fluctuations and attempting to determine if there is a software problem.}}

Jake looked down at the screen, trying to see what Rr'llk was referring to, but the Ops feed looked like a mass of gibberish data. "That doesn't look normal."

{{Sensor beams are degrading at extreme range, but now that range seems to be shortening,}} said Rr'llk. {{As if there was some kind of subspace interference.}}

Jake turned to Lynette. "Are you monitoring, Ensign?"

Lynette was frowning as she scrolled down her own Engineering screen. "Confirmed, Commander. Checking." She ran a quick diagnostic, but then turned back to him, face scrunched up in puzzlement. "Diagnostic seems normal. I'll notify Commander Malin-Argo in case he can see something I can't."

{{The interference is like a ripple in water,}} said Rr'llk. The Kaferian's vox should have sounded puzzled, but it lacked the ability to contextualise Rr'llk's tone, so it bizarrely sounded like the Kaferian was absolutely delighted with himself. {{The sensors are operating normally now at extreme range, but the interference is closer than it was before. You see here, and here?}}

Jake nodded. By now, the LCARS system had decoded the information and presented it in a live picture - to Jake, it looked like white blobs of subspace interference, emanating from a point beyond their sensor range, were moving toward Sherman's Planet.

"Can you identify what that might be?" he asked. "Is it a subspace radio frequency? A pulsar burst?"

Rr'llk's mandibles clicked again. {{No, Commander. There are no pulsars in the Donatu Sector, and I am not monitoring any subspace comms traffic. The nearest Federation starship is several parsecs away.}}

Jake motioned to Stephanie Trimble, who was sitting at the bridge science station. She was a veteran officer in her forties with over fifteen years' experience as a fleet scientist. "What about you, Ensign Trimble?"

She was chewing her bottom lip. "Nothing, Commander. Pulsar bursts are detected and monitored by the sensors as sudden blasts of seemingly-random white noise. I concur with Ensign Rr'llk - we are not looking at a known natural subspace phenomenon."

{{Interference closer now. Estimated time to arrival, less than one minute.}} Rr'llk turned to look at Jake again. {{Commander, if my math is correct, the interference wave is travelling at warp speed. Look here.}}

"Warp speed?" With alarm, Jake looked to where Rr'llk was pointing, but there it was - the interference was seemingly slowing from high warp, decelerating. There was no known natural phenomenon capable of travelling at warp speed* that Jake knew of. "This is damn peculiar," he muttered. "Yellow Alert."

The alert bars along the walls immediately illuminated in a bright yellow colour. Below decks, non-essential personnel began clearing the decks, and those crewmembers at their stations assumed a heightened air of concentration and readiness for a potential emergency situation.

"The odds that we're about to encounter an unprecedented challenge to our understanding of propulsion science are too long," said Jake to no-one in particular, to the bridge in general. "Therefore, let's assume this subspace interference is being artificially generated." He looked around at everyone, a sinking feeling opening in his stomach. "Unidentified starships?"

{{Moving under cloak!}} exclaimed Rr'llk, his mandibles chittering furiously.

"Romulans!" exclaimed Mackenzie Procter from Tactical.

"We've been damn lucky to detect them, Commander," said Trimble.

"What are Romulans doing in the Donatu Sector? We're nowhere near their borders," asked Tomas' Vukovic from the conn.

Jake gritted his teeth. It made sense. The subspace interference was being generated by several Romulan starships moving toward them under cloak. If the Romulans had spread themselves out better, they might not have been detected, but now they were here, and Jake had about ten seconds to figure what to do before they decloaked inside Federation space. Had they come for battle? Had the war hawks finally won over the Praetor on Romulus?

"Red Alert!" he snapped. As the klaxons sounded and the Phoenix's defensive systems were charged, the first cloaked starship fizzed into view on the main viewer.

Jake's jaw dropped as he saw exactly who they were. They weren't Romulans.

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Scene: Space


At a prearranged signal, ten Klingon starships decloaked in front of the Phoenix. Led by a Negh'var-class warship, six K'vort-class cruisers and four Br'el-class Birds of Prey materialised at various points in the atmosphere and skies of Sherman's Planet. The heavier ships faced down the violet-nacelled dreadnought, while the Birds of Prey hung lower in the atmosphere, visible from the ground in Port Emily.

As the first cries of alarm rose up from the streets of the town, the Klingons waited.

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Location: Sherman's Planet, Port Emily
Scene: Makeshift triage centre


Kane had been supervising the return of the Phoenix crew back to the ship. Now that the local emergency services were up to full speed, they didn't need the extra help, and too many Starfleet uniforms on the surface might cause friction with both Edwards and Chisum, and that was something that Kane was seeking to avoid.

His communicator chirped, and he stepped away from the triage centre into a nearby alley. A dumpster behind him smelled like there were a dozen dead bodies inside it, but he ignored the stench and tapped the device. "Kane here."

It was Jake, but the ExO's voice was strained and worried. [[Crichton here. Captain, a fleet of eleven Klingon starships has just decloaked in orbit of Sherman's Planet.]]

Kane couldn't believe it. In the background, there were cries and shouts of alarm rising from nearby streets. As what Jake was saying sank in, a Human woman ran past the alley, hauling two terrified children with her. Kane stepped out into the street and looked up into the blue sky - perched in the atmosphere between the sun and the planet was a Klingon Birds of Prey, casting its distinctive shadow down over Port Emily.

As more and more people became aware of the Klingons, panic began to take over. Kane looked around. "Beam us up, Commander!"

[[I can't, Captain. The Phoenix is at red alert. We detected the Klingons before their arrival, thanks to their older cloaking technology, but we didn't ID them as starships untl they were almost on top of us. They've not made any attempt at communication. What are you orders, sir?]]

"I need to get back to the ship," said Kane, thinking furiously. The Klingons had no modern starships, at least none that Starfleet Intelligence knew about. On the face of it, any fleet they gathered was likely to be old and not a match for a dreadnought like the Phoenix, but enough of them might be problematic. "Send a shuttle down to Port Emily. If the Klingons fire on it we'll know their intentions. Kane out." He tapped his communicator again. "Kane to Yu."

[[Yu here, Captain!]] Jasmine was struggling to make herself heard with all the yellowing and confusion in the background.

"A shuttle is en route to pick me up, Lieutenant, but I want you to remain on the surface!" said Kane. "I'm putting Lieutenants Dalziel and Byte and Captain Thytos under your command - keep investigating the firebombing, and if the Klingons attempt a landing on Port Emily, give whatever assistance you can to the local government, understood?"

[[Aye, sir!]] said Jasmine.

Kane wanted to tell her more, to give her more specific instructions, but there was no time. Jasmine, Eve, Byte and Kass would have to do the best they could in the shadow of the Klingon fleet. He cut the connection with her, and a moment later, Jake was back in contact.

[[Captain, Ensign Pierrepoint is en route aboard the Berzelius. The Klingons are remaining stationary, they haven't activated their weapons, nor have they so much as scanned us.]]

"Good." Kane shaded his face with one hand, and saw the distinctive outlines of one of the Phoenix's small shuttlepods descending down towards the surface. It was well within weapons range of the low-hanging Birds of Prey, but they did not move to intercept it, nor fire on it. "Maybe their intentions are not hostile," he muttered.

As he moved through the streets of Port Emily to the landing point, he noticed the Humans running around in confusion, but he also noticed others standing still and gesturing excitedly to the skies. The local Klingons recognised the outline of those starships, and they punched the air and cheered to see familiar shapes in the sky for the first time in one and a half centuries.

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Location: USS Phoenix, facing down the Klingon fleet
Scene: Turbolift -> main bridge, deck 1, saucer section


On the flight up, Kane had gotten a good look at the Klingon starships. The command vessel was definitely that Negh'Var-class warship, with the K'vort-class cruisers acting as escorts and destroyers. A half-century ago, the Negh'Var-class was the pinnacle of Klingon starship design, but their numbers had been annihilated during the Romulan conquest of the Klingon Empire fifty years ago. The K'vort-class cruisers were just as old, and the Bird of Prey design went back a few centuries - upgraded over time, to be sure, but still old. By contrast, the Phoenix was equipped with phased polaron beams, quantum-polaron torpedoes, and even an ion cannon network for up close work. None of those Klingon starships stood a prayer against a dreadnought like the Phoenix.

A dozen of them might prove difficult to handle, but the fact remained that if the Klingons were here for blood, the Phoenix would give them an almighty pasting before going down. It would be the worst kind of pyrrhic victory for the Klingons to engage the Phoenix, because they would lose so many starships and warriors to make it worthless.

Why, then, were they here?

The turbolift doors opened and Kane stepped onto the bridge. The red alert bars were still flashing, and all stations were manned. If the Klingons wanted a fight, the Phoenix stood ready for it.

Kane moved to the centre of the bridge, approaching Jake. "Anything?"

Jake shook his head. "No. They're sitting still." He raised an eyebrow. "They're violating our space, but they're not doing anything. Our shields and weapons are charged, but theirs are not."

Kane indicated to Mackenzie Procter. "Hailing frequencies." Together, he and Jake stepped forward as she activated comms. "This is Captain Michael Turlogh Kane of the Federation starship Phoenix, addressing the commander of the Klingon fleet."

"They're responding," reported Procter.

The main viewscreen winked, and a crew of the Federation starship got the first look at a Klingon bridge in fifty years.

Standing before them was a fearsome-looking Klingon captain. He stood tall and proud on the bridge of the Negh'Var-class ship, surrounded by a cadre of his warriors. He had vaguely Asiatic features, with yellow-brown skin and a huge coif of black hair that was splayed out around his shoulders. His forehead ridges were not very pronounced compared to some Klingons, but they were there. He had a lean and hungry look about him, and was not wearing anything over his torso except a light armless vest of grey Klingon leather. His arms were bare and roped with muscle, and his throat and upper chest were clearly visible. When he opened his mouth, his teeth were sharp and his canines slightly elongated.

{{I am Is'toQ, captain of the Imperial Klingon Vessel Bat'Dev.}}

Leading Sword. An apt name, thought Kane. He tried to gain a measure of Is'toQ, but it wasn't easy over visual communications. The Klingon was much younger than Kane was expecting, seemingly only in his late twenties or early thirties by Human standards. He would have thought a fleet this size to be under the command of a warrior far more experienced.

"You have violated the territorial integrity of the United Federation of Planets," stated Kane. "NuqneH?"

Is'toQ's eyes widened when he heard the Klingon word. He nodded, seemingly satisfied. {{I have come on behalf of my government - the restored High Council of the Klingon Empire. I am on a diplomatic mission to re-establish relations with our old allies in the Federation. That is why I am here.}}

Kane glanced at Jake. Relations between the Federation and the Klingons had not been cordial in half-a-century - ever since the Klingon Empire had been sundered by the Romulans, the Klingons had come perilously close to exiting the great stage of history. In their desperation for a new home, they had made an alliance with the Cardassians, and had assisted the Union during its doomed attempt to invade the Federation forty years ago. With the withdrawal of the Romulans from Qo'noS in 2392, the Klingons had returned to their shattered homeworld and begun the rebuilding process. Now, thirty years later, they were back.

"Why a fleet?" asked Kane. "Why not a subspace message?"

Is'toQ seemed to consider it for a moment. {{Because there is no longer a direct border between the Empire and the Federation. Travel this far from Qo'noS can be dangerous. That is why.}}

Kane nodded. He wasn't sure if the answer satisfied him, but it did make sense. The Orions in particular had been engaged on a big resettling of former Klingon worlds. If the rumours were true, the Orions were about to take their place in the traditional Klingon-Romulan-Federation triad of power. He decided to play for time, to stretch the truth a little. "I have no authority to make any agreements on behalf of my government," he said. "I will seek instructions from higher Federation authorities."

{{This was expected,}} said Is'toQ. {{It is acceptable. We are not here for battle. We will wait.}}

Klingon brevity, Kane mused. Is'toQ was keeping his sentences short and on point. "Very well. As this is Federation space, you will not be permitted shore leave on the planet below, and must remain in synchronous orbit with us. In the meantime, would you care to visit me aboard the Phoenix? We might speak more about your mission."

Is'toQ bowed stiffly at his neck. {{These terms are acceptable. I will come and we will speak. Expect me.}}

The connection was cut, and the bridge of the Leading Sword was replaced with the menacing view of the bows of half-a-dozen Klingon starships.

Kane turned to Jake. "Impressions?"

Jake shook his head. "They didn't start shooting. For a Klingon, that's practically a declaration of undying love."

"Hmm." Kane looked at Mackenzie Procter. "Dispatch a copy of that transmission to Starfleet Command and request urgent instructions. Contact Governor Chisum and our away team on the planet and keep them updated. Alert Security and have a team meet us in the transporter room. Finally, get me a tactical report - if this happy get-together deteriorates, how best should we proceed to neutralise that fleet?"

"Aye, Captain." Procter immediately got to work.

Kane rubbed his eyes. He was tired from the day in the triage centre. Maybe he should stop by sickbay, have Aerdan give him a stimulant. He looked at Jake. "Let's go welcome our guest."

Together they stepped into the turbolift, to see where this story would take them.

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NRPG: So, a bunch/fleet of Klingons have turned up in orbit. This complicates everything on the surface and creates a real headache for the Phoenix.

If you need a FRPG Klingon history lesson, check their entry in the website wiki (under K).

If you need to know what their starships look like, go to memory-alpha.org and search for 'Klingon Bird of Prey' and, for a look at the Leading Sword, search for 'Negh'var warship'. The Br'el and K'vort classes are lighter and heavier versions of the same ship design. Their canonicity is unclear, but I kind of like the look of the K'vort-class, so we'll make them canon for the FRPG. The Klingon fleet is old, its weapons and shields are old, and even its cloaking devices are old, which is why the Phoenix detected them.

If your character is on the surface, how do you think the Klingons will reach to seeing and hearing about a fleet of their people appear in the sky above Sherman's Planet? Will they be emboldened? By contrast, will the Humans be terrified enough to be even more suspicious of their Klingon neighbours? Or will both sides be content to watch and wait?

Is Rusa telling the truth? Are Edwards' suspects linked to her? Don't forget about Sompek and other full-blood Klingons - how would they react? The Sherman's Planet Klingons were abandoned by the Empire following the Organian Treaty - afflicted by the Augment virus, they were seen as no great loss, perhaps not even truly Klingon.

My next post will outline the conversation between Is'toQ and Kane, and the purpose of this unexpected arrival of the Klingon fleet. What will yours cover?

I will put up pictures of Sompek, Sheriff Edwards, Governor Chisum and Is'toQ on that chat. If I forget, remind me!

Happy writing!


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

*The only known 'natural' phenomenon capable of travelling at warp speed in Star Trek are/were the non-corporeal Zetarians in their weird light-ship. (TOS "The Lights of Zetar")

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