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Blood From A Stone

Posted on May 03, 2018 @ 11:34pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

"BLOOD FROM A STONE"

(Continued from "Race Relations")

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Captain's log, supplemental - with the arrival of a Klingon fleet in orbit of Sherman's Planet, a new dynamic has been introduced to the rising racial tensions on the surface. For my part, I have returned to the Phoenix for a meeting with Is'toQ, the Klingon commander.

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Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Sherman's Planet
Stardate: [2.18]0503.1420
Scene: Conference room - deck 1, saucer section


Michael Turlogh Kane stood by the viewing port and looked down on Sherman's Planet. There was no sign of Port Emily - it was on the other side of the planet - but the view was no less spectacular. A whole continent coloured yellow-green stretched away on all sides - millions of square kilometres of triticale grain in various stages of development. With a weather control satellite system in place, backed up with environmentally-friendly artificial fertilisers, several harvests a year were possible on Sherman's Planet - mostly of the triticale grain, but also of some other cereal crops and vegetables. Right now, across the vast swathe of land that he was looking down on like a god, automated robots were tending to the growing grain, and farmers whose nearest neighbours were a hundred miles away carried on the age-old tradition of planting and growing.

The arrival of the Klingons in orbit was no doubt ratcheting up the tension on the ground. The period of time surrounding James Kirk Day seemed to be one of tense relations between the local Humans and Klingons, marked this year with the fire-bombing of an effigy of Captain Kirk, and Is'toQ's decloaking of his fleet in the skies over Port Emily was not going to help the two peoples reach any kind of detente. Kane would have been well within his rights to demand that Is'toQ take all his ships and immediately depart Federation space, but it was not Starfleet policy to ignore a request for diplomatic contact. Almost nothing had been heard from the Klingons since their Great Homecoming of forty years ago, returning to a Qo'noS that had been ravaged and looted by seven years of Romulan occupation. Now, Is'toQ was claiming that he represented the restored High Council, the legitimate government of the Empire, such as it was, and if that claim was true, then the Federation would naturally be interested in opening diplomatic relations with it.

The great wheel of history never stopped turning. Was a new era in Federation-Klingon relations about to begin here in Phoenix's conference room?

He didn't need to wait any longer to find out. The door hissed open, admitting Is'toQ, Jake, and both Mackenzie Procter and Virgil Silsby, who were following close behind. The Klingon's stride was businesslike and purposeful, but his eyes were bright and quick, darting everywhere, taking in every detail of his surroundings. He was dressed the same way as he had appeared on the main viewer earlier - bare arms and chest - and up close Kane could see several scars and cuts along Is'toQ's forearms and torso. Normally, a Klingon warlord would be clad in a distinctive cloak adorned with badges of rank, but Is'toQ was only wearing a thin, waistcoat-like suit of grey leather armour. The overall effect was to make him look as lean and menacing as possible.

Jake dismissed Procter and Silsby with a nod. "Captain Kane, may I present Is'toQ of the House of Martok, commander of the Klingon fleet."

Kane approached the Klingon, careful to keep an air of determination about himself. He kept his head held up high, squared his shoulders, and looked down his nose at Is'toQ. The two of them were about the same height, but Is'toQ was younger, leaner, and more wiry. Kane felt old next to him.

"I see you, Is'toQ of the House of Martok," said Kane, using a traditional Klingon greeting. "You are welcome aboard the starship Phoenix."

Is'toQ was not armed, but Kane noticed that the knuckles of his grey-leather gauntlets were spiked with inch-long blades. No disruptor, no dagger, but not totally defenceless. When the Klingon spoke, his voice was deep and gravelly.

"You have invited me, and I have come. We will speak of my mission here."

Kane motioned to the long table that ran almost the length of the conference room. He sat down at the head of the table, while Jake stood at ease by the door. Is'toQ looked around for a moment, then sat down with his back to the viewing port, facing the door, keeping both Kane and Jake in his line of sight. He sat down slowly, seemingly suspicious of the softness of the seat and how it reclined slightly backward.

"Something to drink?" said Kane.

Is'toQ showed his teeth. They were filed down to sharp points, especially his canines, giving his smile a savagery to it. "I will drink with you."

Jake replicated a decanter of lemon-infused water and two glasses, passing one to each of them. Is'toQ sniffed his drink suspiciously, but then tipped his head back and drained the glass in one long draught with several loud gulps. His thick black mane of hair fanned out behind him, draping itself impressively over his shoulders. He licked his lips wolfishly. "It is good."

Kane glanced at Jake with bemusement. "It's only water."

"I mean the hospitality." Is'toQ looked at them carefully. "You are wondering why I am here. You are unsure of my purpose in this star system."

Kane nodded, unsure if he would get used to Is'toQ's brevity. The Klingon spoke in short, staccato sentences that he almost spat out, not in the calm, measured tones that one would have expected of a diplomat. Kane had also assumed that any Klingon diplomat would have been much older - but then again, perhaps there were few old Klingon men these days. Through the viewport over Is'toQ's shoulder, he saw a Bird of Prey in low orbit of the planet.

"You've said that you're here to open diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Empire," he said. "You've said that you represent the restored High Council. Are you to be the ambassador of your people to the Federation?"

Is'toQ glanced at Jake, and then at Kane, and finally Kane figured out what he was doing. The Klingon had been conducting a threat assessment of everyone and everything he had seen since he stepped aboard the Phoenix. Unsure of himself in an unfamilar situation, he was reticent and guarded in his speech and manner. Not a born diplomat, then, he mused. Is'toQ was a warrior first.

Several seconds passed before the Klingon spoke. "No. That will be arranged later."

Silence fell again, and Kane frowned as it stretched out. This was like getting blood from a stone. He wondered if it was some kind of psychological ploy the Klingon was pulling. He tried a different approach. "Can you tell us about the new High Council?"

"Yes." Is'toQ thought about it for a moment. "The Hall of Heroes has been rebuilt. The Great Houses meet there. The most powerful sit on the High Council and make politics. We have twenty-four noble houses on the Council. There is a Chancellor, and other positions of importance. We have returned to the old ways."

"I see." There were hundreds of Klingon Houses, but the most powerful were referred to as Great Houses. They were like institutions unto themselves, centred around one family, able to command the loyalty of hundreds, if not thousands, of warriors. When the Empire was at peace, the Great Houses tested and honed their warriors through internecine conflict, each politicking and jockeying for power enough to win a seat on the High Council.

The silence surged softly back again, but then Is'toQ leaned forward and broke it. "Our people on Homog Three. Are they still Klingon?"

Kane frowned. Is'toQ had referred to Sherman's Planet by its Klingon name, and his question was a curious one. Was Is'toQ asking if the Klingons on the surface still practiced their culture, or was he asking a question regarding their allegiance? He thought a moment about how he should phrase his answer, then realised that he was being guilty of the same reticence that Is'toQ was showing.

"That depends on what you mean," said Kane. "There are few pureblooded Klingons living on Sherman's Planet today. Many of their ancestors interbred with the local Humans. They still practice their culture freely, although I daresay it has been modified to some degree to suit their society. In any case, all are Federation citizens and enjoy the protection of our laws, and also the protection of Starfleet." He made sure to make that final point. No harm in innocuously cracking one's knuckles.

More silence. Is'toQ seemed to be digesting what Kane had said. Eventually he spoke again. "I have a request."

Kane and Jake shared a glance of bemusement. Is'toQ had been doing such a solid job of being the strong silent type that his initiation of this new topic seemed weird. "Yes?"

Is'toQ made fists and placed them on the table. "I wish to go to the surface of Homog Three."

Kane frowned. "To what end?"

"I wish to show my face to my people," said Is'toQ. He seemed earnest. "My warriors, too."

Kane was shaking his head. "Out of the question. Your fleet crossed unannounced into Federation space with a mission unprecedented in living memory. We are still awaiting a response to it from my superiors."

"Perhaps a local arrangement could be made." It was a statement, not a question.

"No, Captain Is'toQ," said Kane as firmly as he could. "Sherman's Planet is a Federation colony world, not a freeport, and I am responsible for ensuring its territorial integrity. No Klingon will be permitted to transport to the surface without authorisation. You must wait. We must all wait." He tried to phrase it delicately yet directly, but the last thing Kane wanted was a bunch of Klingon warriors wandering the streets of Port Emily, getting into confrontations with nervous local Humans.

Is'toQ took his fists off the table, and sat back slowly, a shadow of anger on his face. He released his fingers and placed them on his knees. After several seconds of silence, he spoke. "I have nothing more to say. I will return to the Leading Sword."

"As you wish." Kane got to his feet, Is'toQ matching his movement. "It was good to meet you, Captain Is'toQ. You can be sure that I will not delay in informing you of the decision regarding your diplomatic mission."

The Klingon didn't make any reply. He bowed stiffly at the neck, broke eye contact, and strode out of the room, Jake close behind. Kane watched them go, and when the conference room door hissed shut in their wake, he let out a deep exhalation that left him feeling drained.

Introductions were difficult enough, but that one had been tough.

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Scene: Main bridge - deck 1, saucer section


Several minutes later, Jake returned to the bridge and sat down in his seat to Kane's right. The main viewer was still dominated with a view of the Leading Sword, the Negh'Var-class warship that led the Klingon fleet, and its K'vort-class escorts, while the Birds of Prey floated far below in the planet's atmosphere.

Mackenzie Procter had, in Jasmine's absence, submitted a tactical analysis of the Klingon fleet, and Kane was reading it with a measure of both dread and satisfaction. In the event of an attack on the Phoenix by the Klingon fleet, Procter was projecting that, with skillful manouevring and a little luck, the Starfleet dreadnought would probably emerge victorious. The Klingon starships were old, and their systems had not been upgraded in sixty years - they would have to concentrate their fire in order to overwhelm the Phoenix's shields and cause any kind of damage to her superstructure. By contrast, the Phoenix's phased polaron beams and quantum-polaron torpedoes would wreak havoc on the older Klingon ships, especially on the Birds of Prey, each of which the Phoenix was capable of destroying with one effective salvo.

However, Procter also projected casualties aboard the Phoenix exceeding one hundred dead, and that kind of number was unacceptable to Kane. The dreadnought was likely to take several hits which might affect her spaceworthiness, and there were no Starfleet repair installations within easy reach. Therefore, the most tactically sound thing to do was not to end up in a battle. Granted, a battle did not seem likely, but it was good to know the balance of power.

"How did it go?" asked Kane when Jake sat down.

"Not one word!" said Jake, shaking his head incredulously. "Not a single one, not even when I thanked him for coming and wished hm well. What sort of diplomat doesn't talk?"

"Maybe he doesn't deal with underlings," deadpanned Kane.

"Communication is the key to resolving conflict, right?" said Jake. "Why did the High Council send a guy who won't speak?"

An alert tone sounded at Ops, cutting the conversation short. The bridge shifts had changed about an hour ago when Is'toQ was aboard, and now Ops was being manned by Ensign Jimena Carrasco, a diminutive Latina with a distinctive mole next to her right eyebrow. She turned in her seat to face Kane and Jake. "Captain, the Leading Sword is making a subspace transmission."

"To us?" asked Jake.

"No, Commander. It is a blanket transmission across the whole planet."

Kane looked up in alarm. "What?" He got to his feet and moved to the centre of the bridge. "Put it on screen."

Carrasco manipulated her controls, and the viewscreen changed. It showed Is'toQ's head and shoulders. He appeared to be sitting in a small, dimly-lit room, presumably somewhere on the Leading Sword. A tapestry that displayed the distinctive emblem of the Klingon Empire - the red three-pointed star - hung on the wall behind him. As the Phoenix's bridge crew watched, Is'toQ began to speak. The words were in Klingonaase, but subtitles in Standard appeared along the bottom of the screen.

{{To the Klingons of Homog Three. I am Is'toQ, of the House of Martok. Mine are the starships you see in your sky. I bring you greetings from your brothers and sisters on the homeworld.}}

Jake was standing at Kane's shoulder. "What's he doing?"

{{One and a half centuries ago, the Empire abandoned your ancestors on this planet,}} continued Is'toQ. {{That was wrong. Though your blood may be diluted, you are still Klingon. As the Empire rebuilds following the Great Homecoming, it calls to all its sons and daughters across the stars. If your hearts are Klingon, there is a place for you on the homeworld. If you yearn to be inflamed with the joy of battle, join us. If you wish to win glory with honour, set your spirits free!}} He thumped his chest with a fist. {{We do not surrender! We are Klingons!}} The transmission cut out, being replaced with the view of the silent Leading Sword, facing down the Phoenix.

Kane set his jaw. Even if only one hundred people on Sherman's Planet had picked up that message, it would spread like wildfire through word of mouth. In an hour, there wouldn't be a dog on the street of Port Emily that wouldn't be talking about Is'toQ's transmission and its implications.

Life on the colony world was about to get even more complicated.

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NRPG: How will the local Humans and Klingon respond to Is'toQ's message? How will it be interpreted, both by Humans and Klingons alike? Has life on Sherman's Planet suddenly become more dangerous, or tense, or cautious? Take it where you must!


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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