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By Other Means

Posted on Jun 10, 2019 @ 4:48pm by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: Last Days of Empire


(Continued from "Looking Back Through The Years, Part III")


"War is the continuation of politics by other means."
- Carl von Clauswitz


Location: London, Earth
Stardate: [2.19]0609.2250
Scene: Tea Shop, Knightsbridge

Michael Turlogh Kane sipped his tea and carefully examined the sandwich he'd ordered. He was sitting in an upscale tea shop in the middle of swanky Knightsbridge, and part of him was regretting coming here - there was something irritating about the kind of personality (perhaps including his own) that was drawn to affectation. Cute tea cosies, silver-plated cake stands, comfortable upholstered armchairs, and the most witless conversations he'd ever had the displeasure to overhear were going on all around him.

Behind him, a pair of Englishwomen, who had been seated less than two minutes ago, were complaining in mutters about how bad/cold/tasteless the tea was likely to be - Kane rolled his eyes when he overheard one of them complain that she "didn't even like the stuff much." At the table to his left, a married tourist couple who sounded Australian were waxing lyrical about their trip thus far - "I've seen the world from the Dardanelles to the mountains of Peru, but there's no place like London! Nope, there's no place like London!" - and at the table to his right, an anally retentive lordling was bragging to two female friends about how much land his family owned, and how much he stood to inherit upon the death of his mother, which should be "sometime this year, going by her doctor's prognosis, don't you know."

You are young, and life has been kind to you, thought Kane. You will learn.

At least the food and drink was good. The closest they had to a bacon sandwich was a "breaded wagyu synthbeef cutlet sandwich", which was a (mostly) organic, but still vegetarian, concoction. He'd finished one half of it - the other lay looking up at him from the plate.

"Everything alright, sir?" The passing waiter, dressed up to the nines in an impeccable dinner jacket, briefly stopped at his table.

Kane's nod was more like a flicker, but as he turned his view to the waiter, he caught sight of the comms panel on the wall behind the deli counter. The picture had changed from some kind of report on the ongoing research on the new element known as Parisium - that amazing organic compound that was discovered three years ago in the ruins of Paris, that seemed to possess the ability to metabolise any radiation it came into contact with - to a picture that showed the Hall of Voices on Vulcan, the current capital of the Federation government. On screen, several dozen men and women of all species were crowding a grinning Ferengi man that Kane recognised as Grok, the politician he had met a few nights ago in the New Globe theatre. Several of them were shaking his hand, and mouthing congratulations to him.

The ticker running across the bottom of the screen read FERENGINAR ELECTED TO FEDERATION COUNCIL, and the bottom quarter of the picture showed a reporter - Amanda Lane - giving ongoing commentary.

Kane grasped the waiter's hand and indicated the viewscreen. "Can you turn that up please?"

The waiter nodded. "Just a moment, sir."

Kane looked on as the waiter moved towards the counter, then put down the crockery he was carrying, and fumbled with a cloth to wipe his hands. While he did all that, the ticker kept running, announcing HALF OF COUNCIL LOSE SEATS IN TIGHT ELECTION, before moving full-screen to Amanda Lane.

The waiter found the control panel for the viewscreen and increased the volume until Kane could hear what she was saying. {{ - ust joined us, the elections for the new Federation Council have just concluded on Vulcan and the breaking news is that eight of the fifteen seats - fully half of the Council - have been won by new member worlds.}}

Kane raised an eyebrow. The members of the Federation Council were elected for two-year terms from the member worlds of the Federation Assembly. Three of the Council members - Andor, Tellar, and Vulcan - were permanent members. The bonus prize for Council membership was a shot to be elected to one of the upper offices of the Federation - both the President and Vice-President were elected in turn from those worlds sitting on the Council. It was a system that had served the Federation adequately in the past, but now, with almost three hundred member worlds jockeying for space at the table and the clamour for reform rising, it seemed as if things were changing.

The attention of all the patrons in the tea shop was turned toward the viewscreen now, and Kane was glad for the dulling of the hubbub.

"Did we lose our seat?" one of the complaining women muttered to her friend.

As if in reply, Amanda Lane responded, {{Those non-permanent worlds retaining their seats include Trill, Denobula, Cait, and - in what is sure to be a relief for traditionalists across the Federation - Earth has also been re-elected to the Council.}} A picture of the smiling new Council delegate - a light-skinned Chindian woman named Saanvi Wang - appeared on the screen.

An approving murmur ran around the tea shop like an indulgent child. "Good," muttered the complaining woman, in a tone that was a lot lighter.

It was a relief, Kane had to admit. He had been trying to imagine what a Federation Council without Earth might have looked like, and it was hard to do. Disenfranchising one of the most numerous species in the Federation might have been a step too far for the Assembly, though, and if so, Kane was glad of it. Perhaps it was the Human arrogance in him, but he was glad his people were still being represented at the top table.

So were others, too. Alongside the Ferengi, seven other newcomers to the Council had been elected - the Saurians, the Grazerites, the Kelpiens, the Yridians, the Kaferians, the Riseans, and - somewhat bizarrely - the Bynars, whose pair of representatives were to be allocated one Council vote. Of these, only the first two - the Saurians and the Grazerites - had ever previously been elected to the Council, making one-third of the Council - five worlds - a clean break with anything previously convened.

But various screenshots of the smiling winners could only take up so much time. If there were winners, there were losers, too. Big name worlds like Betazed, Bajor, and Bolarus were out, alongside the Zakdorn, the Efrosians, the Benzites, the Deltans, and the Edoans. Already, various political pundits were offering up their opinions on why they had lost their seats, but the immediate point of agreement across all of their analyses was what they were calling a "Neophyte Wave" - some suspected bloc voting, while others pointed to the Neo-Essentialist Crisis, suggesting that there was a need to sweep the board clean of those planets that had, however inadvertently, assisted Edgerton's rise to power.

After a minute or two, the excitement had passed, and people resumed their conversations, but Kane was gratified to hear that there seemed to be general acceptance of the new Council members. The women behind him were no longer complaining, and the (still anally retentive) lordling was regaling his friends with a splendid summer he once spent on Risa's "absoutely stonking" beaches, thankfully neglecting to tell them, and anyone else within earshot, anything about all the jemaheron he no doubt scored.

So there it was, then. What it all meant would no doubt be played out over this Council's term. Federalist politics was always ultimately a game of "who gets what", and history's great wheel never stopped turning. For now, the last nail in the Neo-Essentialist coffin had been hammered home. The Federation government was, finally and completely, restored.

The communicator in his shirt breast pocket chirped. Kane waited a moment to make sure it was for real, and when it chirped again, he took it out and affixed it to his left breast. "This is Kane. Go ahead."

The pompous lordling and complaining women stopped talking and were looking at hm with a measure of interest and bemusement as they realised there was a Starfleet officer in civilian clothes sitting near them. [[Captain Kane, this is Starfleet Command. You are hereby recalled from leave and ordered to report to Admiral T'sen, Starfleet Operations, San Francisco, in one standard hour. Acknowledge.]]

Kane got to his feet and paid for his tea and sandwich. No time to get into uniform, then, just head to the nearest transport station and get beamed around the world. "Acknowledged. Kane out."


The Federation Role Playing Game Presents
A Mind's Eye Production of a Collective Film


Sarah Albertini-Bond as Iphigenia Bonviva
Shawn Collins as Commander Jake Crichton
Alix Fowler as Major Kassandra Thytos
Susan Ledbetter as Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Ranjani Sabarinathan as Lieutenant Jasmine Yu
Jerome McKee as Captain Michael Turlogh Kane



Location: Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco
Scene: Office of the Chief of Starfleet Operations

An hour later, Kane was being shown in to Admiral T'sen's office. It was not his first time speaking with the Vulcan, but it would be his first time meeting her in the flesh. She had contacted the Phoenix directly from her office on two occasions when the dreadnought was on the picket line along the Romulan Neutral Zone last year, but those conversations had been succinct and to-the-point, and there had certainly been no small talk. Admiral T'sen did not have that kind of reputation.

Her office was large and spacious, with a beautiful curved bay window that overlooked Golden Gate, the narrow strait that connected San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Outside, the sunshine sparkled on the water. A large cruise ship was steaming west, out onto the ocean, and for a brief moment Kane longed for the kind of freedom that was about to be taken away from him. He made sure his shirt was tucked into his pants, and had put his communicator on the left breast of his shirt, more for show than anything else.

Admiral T'sen was sitting at her desk, reading a PADD, but she got to her feet as the doors hissed closed behind him. "Captain Kane. We meet at last."

Kane stopped in front of her desk, a beautiful mahogany creation that looked like it was entirely hand-carved. It complemented the sky-blue carpet perfectly. The wall opposite the bay window was a large viewscreen that was still showing the FedCom reports of the new Council members. As Kane glanced towards it, T'sen touched the desk control to deactivate it. "I have been following FedCom for much of the morning," she remarked laconically. "I find Federation politics to be unpredictable at the best of times, but it is always good to know who one's superiors are."

Kand couldn't tell if that was a joke or not. T'sen was almost as tall as he was, with deep black hair and blue eyes, but her skin was waxy in appearance, and her tongue and lips were a noticeable shade of dull green. The colour clash was somewhat jarring. He decided to play it safe. Saluting was outmoded in Starfleet, but he inclined his head professionally. "Reporting as ordered, Admiral."

T'sen directed him to sit, and he did. She, however, stayed standing, and began to pace as she spoke, moving towards the bay window. "I have new orders for the Phoenix, Captain Kane."

"We're ready, Admiral."

"I have no doubt about that. However, this new mission is not sanctioned under Starfleet Operations." T'sen paused in her pacing and turned to face him, silhouetted by the daylight streaming in the window behind her. "Instead, the Phoenix's operational authority for the duration of this mission will be Starfleet Intelligence."

Kane set his jaw. He leaned forward in his seat and ground a fist into his palm.

T'sen raised a satanic eyebrow. "You may speak freely to me, Captain Kane."

"Good." Kane stood up and faced her. "Starfleet Intelligence get innocent people killed. Their motives are often their own. They never give you the full story. You cannot trust anything they say. Believe me when I say that I have never known an intelligence officer that I did not intensely, but professionally, dislike."

T'sen nodded slowly. "This is all on your record. However, there are several reasons why the starship for this mission must be the Phoenix. It is also worth noting that Admiral Koniki was completely transparent in both his contacting me and in his negotiations with me to have the Phoenix assigned to his department. In short, Captain Kane, he has persuaded me with his explanations, and I require you to accept that explanation also."

"I understand, Admiral."

"On the PADD I was reading, you will find your new directives, as well as some sundry personnel transfer orders," went on T'sen, resuming her pacing. She put her hands behind her back. "You may read in detail later, but suffice it to say that a Federation starship has gone missing in a potential war zone, and the Phoenix is needed to mount a rescue operation."

Kane opened the PADD, sat down and began to skim through it. "The starship Satet, a Luna-class transport ship. Crew complement, fifty." He looked up. "Seems a small number, and a bit too rounded."

T'sen was looking out the window onto the bay. "I understand that the Satet was on a very specific mission, with a specially selected crew."

Kane stared at the back of her head for a moment. Already with the half-truths, he thought. "Last sighted in a freeport named The Bazaar. Former Klingon space now claimed by the Orion Syndicate."

"Yes." T'sen had moved closer to him and was now reading over his shoulder, while keeping a respectful distance. "That area of space has become very dangerous in the past few months. Squadrons of Klingon starships have been detected by our listening posts moving in and out of the area, as well as a sudden upsurge in the number of Orion starships in response."

"Those Klingons are a long way from their supply bases and homeworld. Are they operating fleet-level actions?" Kane frowned. He shifted in his seat. "Has a war broken out between the Klingons and the Orions?"

T'sen looked at him levelly. "That is what the Satet was attempting to find out, while disguised as a simple cargo freighter. Neither the Syndicate nor the Empire - what remains of it, at least - would be pleased to learn that Starfleet Intelligence had launched an espionage mission in a region of space disputed by both of them, and so it has been decided that the Phoenix itself should make an appearance."

"You're sending in the muscle," said Kane drily.

"Recall your crew, Captain. I want the Phoenix en route to the Bazaar by this time tomorrow. If the Klingons and the Orions are now at war with one another, you will need all your wits about you to locate the Satet and rescue her crew."

Kane got to his feet again. "And if the Satet has been destroyed?"

"Confirm her destruction and determine if survivors exist. If so, they become your priority."

"Rules of engagement?"

T'sen was a Vulcan, and trained to suppress her emotions, but Kane saw her eyes flicker. She nodded slowly. "Your encounter with those Klingons at Sherman's Planet last year has been duly noted. From a geopolitical point of view, stability in that region of space would be welcome. From a naval strategic point of view, it is lawless - formerly Klingon and now annexed by the Orions. The Federation recognises neither claim, while offering mediation to both parties. The dispatch of the only dreadnought in the quadrant will send a powerful signal to both powers that they cannot make war on one another without expecting some kind of Federation response."

"Respectfully, Admiral, that's not clear," said Kane. "I understand that war is to be avoided, but am I authorised to take offensive military action against Orion or Klingon forces if it transpires that either, or both, are involved in the Satet's disappearance?"

T'sen nodded slowly. "The Federation government has unofficially signalled to Starfleet that the old Human adage of 'peace through superior firepower' will apply in this instance. It is not judged that either Klingon or Orion naval capability is the equal of the Phoenix. Although your official reason for entering a potential war zone will be that you are ensuring the safety of Federation interests and citizens, it is anticipated that a certain amount of force, or the threat of it, may be necessary to accomplish your objective."

Kane put the PADD in his slacks pocket. "Understood, Admiral."

"If there is nothing further, you are dismissed. Good luck, Captain Kane." T'sen returned to her desk and switched FedCom back on.

Kane moved towards the door, then paused. He didn't look back. "The Satet's mission - it was simply to determine whether or not the Klingons and Orions were at war, yes? There was nothing else, nothing could affect the outcome of this mission?"

T'sen paused before answering, and several seconds passed. Kane's heart sank.

"That is what I have been informed," she said a moment later.

Kane stepped out of her office, and touched his communicator, opening a channel to Byte to recall to crew. It would only be a short journey to the Bazaar, and hopefully there would be more details on the PADD about what to do when they got there, but at least he had enough right now to give the senior staff. It would be good to get back to work.


NRPG: Your characters are all being recalled to the Phoenix for the above mission. The USS Satet is missing in a potential war zone, and we're going to go in and find out what happened to her. We'll be doing some world-building this mission, so here's your chance to affect the in-game universe in a significant way.

Here are some GM notes.

Generally speaking, the Orion Syndicate has not been covered in the in-game lore. Apart from a notable storyline headed by Alix, very few 1st. Ed. stories that I can find ever dealt with them head-on. Formerly a simple criminal syndicate, it is now the de facto government of a united people. Read more here:

Locating the Orion Syndicate is also problematic, because its location is not specifically shown in any major 'modern' Trek map. It's not covered in the Star Trek Online map either. If it's anywhere, it doesn't seem to be marked with its own borders, usually being placed inside the Federation somewhere. It has never been part of the Federation in the FRPG, and is not in this story. Facing them is the battered and bloodied Klingon Empire, facing a (very real and existential) struggle for their survival. Having being battered to their knees by the Romulans fifty years ago, the Klingons have not had enough time to recover, and might (through your posts) be about to pass from the stage of history.

So. If you imagine a triangle with the Federation on the top (blue), the Klingons on the bottom left (red), and the Romulans on the bottom right (green), you have a general idea of the traditional layout of the quadrant. The Orions have their space on the bottom line between the Klingons and Romulans, a little left of the centre. Now, though, they're moving left toeards the Klingon corner, at the same time that the Klingons are moving right trying to regain their old power. Their clash is going to decide who is the dominant power in that bottom left corner of the galactic triangle. For one of these two powers, it will be their last days of empire.

Caught somewhere in the middle is the USS Satet, which may already have become a casualty of this burgeoning conflict.

For now, let's get aboard and set off. Whoever posts next can write a launch/staff meeting/reaction to the mission.

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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