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Posted on Jun 30, 2018 @ 4:08pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale


(Continued from "Powder Keg")


Captain's log, supplemental - the situation on Sherman's Planet has reached the edge of the abyss. A civil disturbance by the local Klingons is ongoing, and I am running out of options...


Location: USS Phoenix, orbiting Sherman's Planet
Stardate: [2.18]0630.1215
Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section

Michael Turlogh Kane waited for the communication from Starfleet Command to connect to his desktop terminal. It had been some time since he'd requested instructions from higher authorities, as he was directed to do in a situation like this, but now that events on the streets of Port Emily were threatening to overtake his ability to command and control all the players involved, he had the nagging feeling that anything Starfleet was about to tell was already going to be out of date.

It was a delicate line that the crew of the Phoenix was being forced to walk. The Klingons living on Sherman's Planet, aggrieved by what they viewed as the Human settlers' institutionalised racism towards them, were giving vent to their frustrations and anger. Although descendants of Klingons who had been infected with the Augment virus, and thus superficially Human in appearance, these Klingons were calling for a more equanimous society all across the planet. They were indirectly being encouraged in this by the arrival of a squadron of Imperial Klingon starships hailing from the restored Empire on Qo'noS, who claimed that they had penetrated Federation space in an effort to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Federation. To make matters worse, unrest had broken out on the streets of Port Emily, leading to the unauthorised beam-down of several Imperial Klingons.

Kane had to respond, and was preparing to, but the arrival of this Starfleet communique might contain new orders or alter the situation in some other way. The screen showed that the message's origin was from the Head of Starfleet Operations herself, Admiral T'sen.

The screen winked - the sky-blue Starfleet delta disappeared, and the Vulcan woman sat there at her desk in her San Francisco office. T'sen had a noticeably waxy pallour to her skin, and her cheeks and chin were an obvious pale green. Her appearance was more Romulan than Vulcan, and she looked at Kane in the same way that a cat looked at a mouse.

{{Captain Kane, this is Admiral T'sen at Starfleet Operations.}}

Kane inclined his head respectfully. Saluting was outmoded in Starfleet, but it was still a done thing to show deference to a higher rank than yours. "Admiral."

T'sen's hands were clasped loosely togather, and she was sitting with her back straight and her shoulders squared. {{Captain, I do not have good news for you. When you contacted Starfleet Command with the momentous news of the arrival of the Imperial Klingon squadron, the Federation Diplomatic Corps sent a subspace radio message directly to Qo'noS. The message contained our good wishes, expressed a desire to arrange a summit with a Klingon ambassador, and a request that Captain Is'toQ's squadron withdraw to the edge of Federation space. At the same time, I dispatched the starship Courageous from Starbase One-Three-Three to support the Phoenix's operations in the Donatu Sector.}}

Kane frowned. The Courageous was a Sovereign-class battleship - an ageing, but still effective, design. It was welcome news that she was on her way, but he held back from expressing that opinion. "When will the Courageous arrive?"

{{At least a day, Captain Kane. Your sensor data indicates that the Klingon squadron is composed of older ship designs. While we project that a military confrontation between the Klingons and the Phoenix would likely result in a victory, it does no harm to strengthen one's hand. Hence the dispatch of the Courageous.}}

Kane nodded. "Understood. Has the Klingon government responded?"

T'sen's lips thinned, and she took a heavy breath. {{That is the bad news. There has been no response from the Klingons in any official capacity. There has not even been an acknowledgement that the message was received. We had expected - }} T'sen paused, and corrected herself. {{That is not accurate. We had *hoped* for a quick evaluation and reply to our message, but since that has not occurred, we must now act to preserve the security of the territory of the United Federation of Planets.}}

Kane nodded again, grimly this time. He could see the problem - there was no way to know who, or if anyone, was in control on Qo'noS, and without some sort of official corroboration of Is'toQ's claims to represent the Klingon Empire, accommodation of his squadron within the borders of the Federation was problematic. "I understand, Admiral. Be advised that, within the last hour, Imperial Klingons have beamed down to the surface of Sherman's Planet against my express orders. The local Klingons are agitating for political reform, and I'm anxious not to give Is'toQ any excuses to harden his stance by encouraging them."

{{If foreign military personnel have violated the territory of the United Federation of Planets - }}

"With respect, Admiral, it's not that clear cut. These local Klingons see a connection between themselves and IstoQ's people. Is'toQ himself is claiming that the Empire is calling home its sons and daughters to rebuild, and that kind of nationalist rhetoric strikes a chord with many people on the surface."

T'sen raised an eyebrow. {{But the Sherman Klingons are Augment descendants, are they not? It is my understanding that the Augment subspecies was extinct within the Klingon Empire, that they were not considered true Klingons because of their Human DNA.}}

"As far as we know," said Kane with a helpless shrug. "Perhaps these are desperate times for the Empire."

T'sen looked off-camera. Her expression was inscrutable. She appeared to be thinking deeply, but Kane wondered if there was someone else in the room with her, someone he couldn't see. Finally she looked back at him. {{You are in a most difficult situation, Captain Kane. While the Federation is desirous of good relations with the Klingon Empire, we are wary of allowing a squadron of Klingon starships to remain unchallenged within Federation space. It is suggested that you request that Captain Is'toQ withdraw his ships back to our border. If his intentions are peaceful, he will comply.}}

"And if he refuses?"

T'sen didn't bat one of her blue eyes. {{Without official word from the Klingon government, we cannot treat Is'toQ as a plenipotentiary for the High Council. If he refuses to comply, you are authorised and ordered to eject him from Federation space.}}

Kane drummed his fingers on his desktop. "That might mean war with the Klingons."

{{It would mean a diplomatic incident at a minimum, to be sure. But we feel that an incident has already been precipitated by the unannounced violation of our territorial integrity by several foreign starships.}} Admiral T'sen seemed about to say more, but then stopped herself. {{You may wish to await the arrival of the Courageous before taking any military option. If that is your decision, then so be it.}}

A stay of execution, Kane thought to himself. He inclined his head. "Understood, Admiral."

T'sen looked almost sympathetic. {{Good luck, Captain Kane. You and your crew are in our thoughts.}}

The screen winked off, leaving Kane alone in the room. He let out a sigh, and rubbed his eyes.

Outside, Sherman's Planet tumbled over and over in space, and the Leading Sword and her escorts moved silently in its wake.


Location: Sherman's Planet, streets of Port Emily
Scene: Outside City Hall

Kassandra Thytos was looking over the new arrivals, and she didn't like what she saw. A party of six Klingons, led by one of the most ferocious-looking Klingon warriors she had ever seen, was standing at the foot of the steps that led into the public building known as City Hall.

The building itself wasn't much - two storeys of offices and rooms of public administration - and was made of wood and stone, not anything that could stand up for long against the disruptors strapped to each of the Klingons' hips. Mayor Dick Chisum's office was upstairs, and Sherrif Ethan Edwards' office was in the basement. Edwards' lock-up was pretty primitive - just an office and a hallway with some cells on each side of it - but since crime on Sherman's Planet was restricted to public drunkeness and the occasional fistfight, it didn't need to be as high-tech as the Phoenix's Security Centre.

Her marines - ten of them, all Humans, led by Sergeant Nelumbo - were organised in a line on the street, at the bottom of the half-dozen steps that led up to City Hall, positioned there to stop anyone making a run for the building's door. Jasmine and Eve were watching carefully nearby, and Sheriff Edwards and Deputy Hobbs were standing by Governor Chisum in the doorway of the building.

The recent civil unrest had quietened down now, but there were plenty of people still on the streets. Most of the population of Port Emily had the sense to remain indoors and out of trouble, but there were several dozen people standing in the street immediately outside City Hall, and there were just as many Klingons as Humans.

The Klingon facing the line of marines was younger than she was expecting, seemingly only in his late twenties or early thirties by Human standards. He stood tall and proud in the street, backed up 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 and visible. He had a lean and hungry look about him, and he was not wearing anything over his torso except a light armless vest of grey Klingon leather - normally, a Klingon warlord would be clad in a distinctive cloak adorned with badges of rank, but this one was only wearing a thin, waistcoat-like suit of grey leather armour. 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.

The Klingon did nothing at first except look. He looked at City Hall, he looked at each of the people standing outside it. He looked at the marines, taking in their armour and pulse rifles, and looked slowly around at the other buildings in the street. He looked at everything before he spoke.

"I am Is'toQ," he said. "I am in command of the squadron of Klingon starships orbiting this world."

Kass watched as Eve Dalziel stepped forward, moving down half the steps to get closer to the Klingon. Jasmine moved forward to stand beside Kass.

"I am Lieutenant Eve Dalziel of the Phoenix," said Eve.

"Are you in command here?" said Is'toQ wolfishly. He didn't look at Eve, he just spoke. His shaggy mane of hair was ruffled by a breath of wind, and his sharp canines glinted in the streetlights.

"I am the senior Phoenix officer on the ground," said Eve. "We have already reported your presence here to Captain Kane. You risk much by taking this action."

Is'toQ turned his black eyes on the counselor. "We do not come seeking battle. We have defied your captain because of the plight of our people here."

Kass looked around at the growing crowd. Everyone was listening intently, and the local Klingons were gravitating towards the Imperial Klingons. The Humans were forming their own ring, hemming in Is'toQ and his warriors. With alarm, Kass watched several Human men at the back pick up rocks with a purposeful intent.

She got Jasmine's attention and threw a look toward the crowd. The Security Chief nodded, and both women fanned out, moving to each side of Eve as the mood of the crowd soured.

"Now y'all hold on just a goldarn minute!" exclaimed Governor Chisum. The man was wiping his heavily-sweating face with his handkerchief, and he moved down the steps to stand beside Eve. He jabbed a thumb in her direction. "Starfleet ain't in command here! Ah am the duly elected leader o' this here planet, an' if'n ya got any kinda problem, ya kin talk ta me!"

Kass shook her head. "That ain't how it works, Governor," she said firmly. "This ain't about Starfleet takin' over, it's about uninvited guests violatin' our territory. Lieutenant Dalziel has authority here."

"The hell it is!" exclaimed Chisum angrily. "Y'all people were supposed ta just deliver our triticale and hit the trail! Y'all're still here with yore guns an' such! Last Ah heard, the military didn't run our friggin' lives!" He extended his arms to Is'toQ. "Listen here, friend, ya'll're scarin' the folks here. Why don' we all jus' take it down a notch? We kin talk - "

"Now ya want ta talk?" yelled one of the local Klingons. "We've been trynna talk ta ya for years! Now our people turn up, put the fear in ya, and y'all wanna talk!"

A nearby Human yellow out a response. "We're yore friggin' people, ya fungbrain!" A stone lobbed through the air, arcing lazily, but it clattered harmlessly on the bottom step. "Why don't y'all git the hell off our planet!"

A cacophony of anger arose as Human and Klingon began yelling at each other. Voices, raised in old grudges, cried out in increasing frustration, and someone shoved someone else. Through the rising shitstorm, Kass watched Is'toQ - the Klingon warlord was just watching everything, taking it all in, and she realised with a shudder that whatever game Is'toQ was playing, he was winning.

A white-blue pillar of light split the night, and the familiar whine of a transporter engaging drowned out the noise. Kass looked back to see that Captain Kane had materialised at the top of the steps by the doorway to City Hall. She moved up toward him, and he came down.

"Cap'n," she began, "we can't guarantee yore safety. Might be better to head back up ta tha ship."

Kane flashed her a look that meant that that was the last thing that was going to happen. He moved closer to Is'toQ, standing behind the line of marines that were keeping everyone away from City Hall. "Captain Is'toQ," he said loudly, "you were forbidden from beaming down to the surface of Sherman's Planet. I remind you that this world is the territory of the United Federation of Planets. Why have you invaded it?"

There was silence for a moment, but then Is'toQ started talking. As he did so, he moved back and forth, like a wolf prowling outside a farm fence, observing what's beyond it. "I am not an invader!" he called, his voice strident and strong. "The Klingons of this world are oppressed! Their rights are not respected under Federation law! The Klingon Empire - "

" - may not even exist!" said Kane. Kass could tell there was an undercurrent of anger in his voice. "Your government has not responded to calls to clarify your mission here! Nobody on Qo'noS can back up anything you've said! You might be telling the truth, but why bring eleven starships? Why defy my orders to remain aboard your flagship? These are not the actions of a warrior of honour!"

Is'toQ flashed his sharp teeth. "When ethnic Klingons within the Federation cry out for help, the Empire responds!"

"On whose orders?" Kane took another step closer to him. "Who is the operating authority for your mission?"

The crowd had stopped their arguing now, and were looking on intently.

Is'toQ levelled a finger at Kane. "From across the stars, we heard the plight of our brothers and sisters - "

"That is no longer the issue!" Kane matched the pitch of his voice with Is'toQ. "Without corroboration of your mission from Qo'noS, the Federation cannot respond to you, and I must now act not as a diplomat, but as a soldier!"

Is'toQ's eyes narrowed. His right hand dropped to his waist, near the handle of his disruptor. The marines stiffened, and Kass curled her finger around the trigger of her pulse rifle. "What do you mean?" the Klingon hissed.

Kane stood up straight and looked Is'toQ dead in the eye. "Is'toQ, as the ranking Starfleet officer in this system, I am ordering you to withdraw your fleet from the Donatu Sector to the Federation border. You have one hour to comply with this order."

Several local Klingons looked dismayed, and one or two of them cried out "No!", but there were several smatterings of applause from the onlooking Humans.

Is'toQ jutted his jaw forward. "And if I do not withdraw?"

In a voice so hard he could have driven nails with it, Kane delivered his answer. "Then I will drive you out."

Kass shot a glance around. Jasmine had one hand on her phaser, ready to act. Eve was carefully watching Is'toQ's face. Edwards and Chisum were likewise looking on, as if realising that events were overtaking them.

A look of fury passed over Is'toQ's face. He motioned to his warriors to surround him, and touched a communicator stud on his forearm. "Bat'Dev!" he snapped. "joI yIchu'!"

A moment later, the half-dozen Klingons were gone, beamed back to the Leading Sword in a blaze of orange transporter beams. The onlooking crowd stood by, then started to depart in dribs and drabs into the night. The marines visibly relaxed.

Kane turned to everyone on the steps of City Hall and motioned to the door. Although he was looking at Governor Chisum and Sheriff Edwards, his words were directed at everyone. "Let's go inside," he said. "Someone should contact Sompek and we can form some kind of committee. We have a lot to talk about, and not much time to do it in."


NRPG: Shorter than I wanted, but meh - more next week, hopefully. Can this situation be defused?

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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