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Detonation

Posted on Jul 08, 2018 @ 2:05pm by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jul 08, 2018 @ 2:06pm

Mission: The Trouble With Triticale

= Detonation =

(cont'd from "Countdown")

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LOCATION: USS PHOENIX
SCENE: Bridge
STARDATE: [2.18] 0709.0044



Jake Crichton slowly leaned forward in the CO's chair, and frowned.

"Sleeper agents?"

[[That's right, Commander,]] came the steely voice of Captain Kane from over the comms. [[Klingon Augments, disguising themselves as human. They've been working with Is'toQ from the beginning.]]

"So his arrival here was no coincidence," said Jake.

[[We already suspected that much,]] Kane replied. [[What concerns me now is the distraction the Millers mentioned. Distraction for what?]]

Jake glanced around the bridge, but none of the other officers looked like they had any better ideas than Jake himself did.

"We've been keeping a close eye on Is'toQ's fleet," he said. "We haven't had any readings, not since they beamed back their shore party. If they're really up to something, they're being awful coy about it."

[[You can be assured they are,]] Kane said. [[We have only 15 minutes until the deadline, and I don't think Is'toQ is going to let us make the first move.]]

"Are you coming back aboard?"

[[I want to see what more I can find out from the Millers,]] Kane said. [[In the meantime, you keep a careful eye on those ships, Jake.]]

"I will," Jake said. "Captain... what if I haven't heard from you by the time the deadline has passed?"

[[Starfleet isn't in the business of making idle threats, when they have to make threats at all,]] said Kane. [[Especially not against the Klingons.]]

"If we open fire on Is'toQ's fleet, it could turn into a real mess up here. And not just for Sherman's Planet."

[[This situation is not of our making, Commander,]] said Kane. [[If the time comes to make a decision, I trust your judgment.]]

"Understood, sir," Jake said. "PHOENIX out."

Jake sat back in the CO's chair, which felt suddenly like it had grown two or three sizes. Then, he looked up.

"Yellow alert. All crew to battle stations."

Tomas Vukovic turned around to look at Jake from the FCO station. "Commander, are we really going to attack them?"

Jake frowned. "We might not have any choice."

=[/\]=

LOCATION: Sherman's Planet
SCENE: Port Emily Lockup


Michael Turlogh Kane came to a stop just outside the bars of John and Edna Miller's cell. John had taken to pacing like a caged tiger, but Edna seemed to have retained her cool, collected demeanor.

"You said you were to cause a distraction for Is'toQ," Kane said, brusquely pushing past any additional pleasantries. There simply wasn't any more time for them.

"I did," Edna said calmly.

"So what's he planning?" Kane demanded.

"I already told you, I don't know."

Kane slammed the bars with the flat of his hand, causing them to rattle loudly. "Bollocks! You had all that equipment, not just holographic projectors and weapons. What was it for? What were you doing with it?"

"You have a warrior's temperament, Captain," Edna said, the faintest of smiles playing at one corner of her mouth.

"Very soon you may not think so," Kane said. "I gave Is'toQ one hour to leave the system, and his time is almost up. If he does not comply, he will be removed by force."

"He will resist."

"I know," Kane frowned. "He'll die before surrendering, and he'll get a lot of people killed alongside him. And he might very well trigger a new war between the Federation and the Klingons. What do you think that will do to human and augment relations here on Sherman's Planet?"

Now Kane leaned forward, so close that his face was mere centimeters away from the bars of the cell. "Sompek and Mayor Chisum have just reached an agreement for more accommodations for your people, laid the groundwork for the future you claim to have been fighting for. But if Is'toQ gets his way, that future goes up in smoke. That's what a warrior's temperament wins you, Edna... fire and blood."

Finally John Miller stopped pacing, and leveled an angry glare at his wife. "He's lying."

"I'm not," Kane said, keeping his eyes on Edna. "It doesn't have to end this way. There's still time to stop Is'toQ, but I need to know what he's planning."

Edna Miller's eyes had dropped to the bare concrete floor of her cell. John Miller went down on one knee beside her, and seized her by her shoulders.

"Is'toQ will take us with him," he said. "Us, and all of our neighbors who are sick of the life under the heel of human bigotry. The Starfleet crew is terrified of what he will do, and they're grasping at straws trying to stop his plans. And if they get in his way, Is'toQ will leave their ship burning in space."

"There will be more ships," Edna said quietly, without meeting her husband's eyes or Kane's.

"Don't!" John said. "Don't lose faith! We only need to wait a little while longer--"

"The clock is ticking!" Kane said, trying to press his advantage. "Whatever it is he told you, whatever he had you doing... I *need* to know!"

Edna Miller looked up into her husband's face. John Miller saw her expression, and leaned back, almost as if she had slapped him. The look of reproach he found there stopped whatever further arguments before they could pass his lips.

"He said he would take us with him," Edna said quietly. "Us and anyone else who wanted to go. He never said anything about starting a war."

"Edna--"

"Enough, John," Edna Miller sighed. "It's too much. I never wanted this. I didn't think you did either."

"I didn't... I never..." John started, but he trailed off. Edna stared at him a moment longer, then turned to look at Kane.

"I really don't know what he's planning," Edna said quietly. "But... he had us doing something to the silos. Where the triticale is stored."

Kane blinked. "Silos?"

"I don't know the technology," Edna said. "We're farmers, not engineers or scientists. But... some kind of device. Attached to the outside of each silo. Hidden."

And with that, the last of the pieces clicked into place. Kane's eyes widened.

"Transporter tags. He's going to steal the triticale."

Edna Miller looked confused. Even John seemed caught off guard.

"The triticale?" Edna asked. "Why would--"

But Kane was already turning, rushing towards the door. His hand flew to his comm-badge as he went.

"Kane to PHOENIX."

No response. Kane halted for a moment, confused. He hit his comm-badge again.

"Kane to Commander Crichton. Do you copy?"

Only silence.

Just then, Eve Dalziel rounded the corner, nearly colliding with him. Jasmine Yu was trailing only a few steps behind her.

"Captain," Eve said, her eyes wide. "Something's happening."

"I can't raise the PHOENIX on the comms," Kane said.

"Comms are jammed across the whole settlement," Yu said. "Possibly across the entire planet. It has to be the Klingons."

Kane cursed inwardly, then looked at Yu. "Where is Sheriff Edwards?"

"He was still sitting in with Mayor Chisum and Sompek," Yu said, glancing over her shoulder.

"We need him, and whatever deputies he can muster," Kane said. Then he turned to Eve. "Where's Major Thytos?"

"Last I saw, she was still on guard outside."

"Get her."

"Sir, what's going on?" Eve asked, but Kane had already stepped around them and was heading for the doors.

"Is'toQ had the Millers tagging the silos where the triticale is stored," he said, without looking back. "Transporter tags. Is'toQ is going to beam the triticale up from orbit."

"He's here to steal... triticale?" Yu blinked. "But why?"

Kane stopped long enough to look back at her, and his expression was grave.

"An army marches on its stomach."

=[/\]=

LOCATION: USS PHOENIX
SCENE: Bridge


"Sir," Virgo Silsby said from tactical. "The Klingon fleet has begun jamming communications across the planet."

"Here we go," Jake said, standing up from the CO's chair. "Mr. Silsby, hail the Bat'Dev."

Silsby entered a few commands on his console, then looked at Jake. "No response."

"Figures," Jake grimaced. "What about the rest of that fleet?"

"No movement-- wait."

Jake's stomach tightened.

"They're moving," Silsby continued. "The K'vort ships are on an intercept course with our position, with the Br'el ships in support positions. Their shields are up, but their weapons are still powered down."

"What about the Bat'Dev?"

Silsby consulted his terminal. "Descending into low orbit above the planet."

Jake blinked. "Low orbit? Why would they do that, unless..."

Then a thought came to him. He turned to Silsby.

"What about their shields?"

Silsby looked at his console again, then back to Jake. "Powered down."

Jake turned to look back at the main viewer, which showed the approaching Klingon fleet, and, far in the background, the Bat'Dev, descending above the blue semisphere of Sherman's Planet.

"They're going to use their transporters," Jake said. "Beaming something down... or beaming something up."

"The captain is still planetside," Vukovic said urgently. "Commander, they might be trying to capture him."

"Enough is enough," Jake said. "Lieutenant Vukovic, plot an intercept course. I don't want the Bat'Dev anywhere near that planet."

Vukovic complied, but an instant later, Silsby had a new report. "Sir, the Birds-of-Prey are powering their weapons."

"Red Alert," Jake said. "Re-route auxiliary power to the shields."

Suddenly, the whole ship rocked under the volley of disruptor fire from the first of the Klingon ships, nearly knocking Jake off of his feet. The bridge crew gripped their stations, and Jake felt the weight of a dozen pairs of eyes settling on him for guidance. He set his jaw, resumed his seat in the CO's chair, and fixed his eyes on the main viewer.

"Okay," he breathed. "Let's do this."

=[/\]=

LOCATION: Sherman's Planet
SCENE: City Hall, Port Emily


"Is'toQ has been lying since he arrived," Kane said.

"Lying?" Mayor Chisum asked.

Sompek settled on the more useful question. "How do you know?"

"The Federation sent messages to Qo'nos," Kane said. "There was no reply. Nothing. I'm guessing there is no restored High Council, no new Empire. And even if there is, none of them wanted to vouch for Is'toQ."

"So who is Is'toQ?" Sheriff Edwards asked.

"A warlord," Kane said. "Or an aspiring one, anyway. A forceful personality, able to command troops, weapons, ships... but without the infrastructure of an official government to support his command."

"He ain't here ta retake the colony, is he?" Mayor Chisum asked, wiping his brow with a handkerchief.

"Unlikely," Jasmine Yu said. "He could never hope to hold it, even if that were his plan. Even if he had the full weight of a restored Klingon Empire backing him, Sherman's planet is too far away from the heart of Klingon territory to be their first step in a conquest of the Federation."

"The Millers were marking silos for Is'toQ," Kane said. "He's here for the triticale."

"Why'fer does a Klingon warlord need our triticale?" Chisum asked.

"Cause he's marchin' off ta war," Kass Thytos said. "Not here, not with us, not if'n he can help it. But he's going somewhere, some far-off battlefield. An' he needs food ta' feed his troops. That's where the triticale comes in."

"Thousands of tonnes of quintotriticale," said Kane. "Enough food for a long campaign in enemy territory. If Is'toQ gets his hands on it, he can feed his army for months, maybe more than a year."

"But his transmission," Sompek said. "He told us he'd come for the augmented Klingons."

"No time fer farmin' on a battlefield," Thytos said.

"His message was a ruse," Eve Dalziel said gently. "Misdirection, to distract us from his true purpose here. It's unlikely he had any real interest in your people, Sompek."

"Except as cannon fodder," Kane frowned. "Is'toQ was never here to help you. But I'm not sure all of your people will believe that."

Sompek frowned. "What do you mean?"

"We've gone over the tech we recovered from the Millers' homestead," Yu said. "They had more than a dozen transporter tags left. Even assuming some redundant units, it's likely we apprehended them before they could finish tagging the silos."

Edwards' eyes widened. "Ya'll think he's gonna be sendin' some o' his men down t' the surface."

"That's why we need men protecting the silos," Kane said. "Whoever you can spare. I don't think we have time to find the tags the Millers already planted, but maybe we can at least stop him from taking the whole harvest."

"And that's where you come in," Eve said, looking to Sompek. "It's likely Is'toQ's men are going to try to foment more civil unrest, to cover their mission and stretch our resources. As much as is possible, we need you out in front, talking them down."

Sompek sighed, and his eyes drifted up towards the ceiling, as if he could see Is'toQ's flagship through the ceiling of the City Hall building. "I'm not sure I can do what you're asking. Please don't think I'm unwilling... but things may have progressed past that point."

"You need to try," Kane said, resting a hand on Sompek's shoulder. "For your people. For the settlement."

Sompek met Kane's eyes, and for a moment, Kane wasn't sure what the augmented Klingon would decide. Then, an instant later, they could hear the sounds of screams coming from outside the building. Thytos and Yu moved immediately towards the doors, even as the sounds of phaser fire cut through the screams.

"We have Klingons on the street," Kass reported. "Mah' men're engagin', but ya'll kin' bet if they're here, they're elsewhere too."

"We're out of time," Kane said, not taking his eyes off of Sompek.

Finally, Sompek nodded. "I'll do what I can."

"Yeah, well," Kass said. "Do it quick, 'cause them Klingons're headed this way."

=[/\]=

NRPG: It's all come to a head. We know what Is'toQ was planning, and the final stage of his plan is set in motion. Now it's up to us to stop him... or, at least, mitigate the damage and prevent a full-fledged diplomatic incident with the Klingons.

The PHOENIX is engaged with Is'toQ's fleet in orbit. Meanwhile, Klingon troops have beamed to the surface to finish tagging the triticale silos. They're going to try to stir up more trouble with the Klingon locals to cover their tracks - Sompek is there to hopefully talk down the worst of the mob, but who knows how many augments will be willing to listen? And they've got a mess of angry, full-blooded Klingon warriors backing them up besides.

Just a tiny bit of guidance, which Jerome and I discussed - there may be casualties, but we don't necessarily need a bloodbath. Our characters are still healing from the Federation civil war, and the last thing they should want is to plunge Starfleet into a brand new one with the Klingons. Is'toQ might be acting on his own, but then again he might not... strictly non-lethal methods may not be possible here (there are innocent townsfolk to consider, after all), but they should at least be kept in mind, where possible.

We're in the final stage of the mission now, so go crazy! Give these Klingons what for!


Shawn Putnam
a.k.a.
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer
USS PHOENIX

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