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Posted on Nov 08, 2019 @ 2:18am by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Nov 08, 2019 @ 2:19am

Mission: Last Days of Empire

= Noise =

(cont'd from "Head To Head")


LOCATION: The USS PHOENIX, staring down the Klingon fleet
SCENE: Bridge
STARDATE: [2.19] 1105.0023

Kane and Is'toQ, recent adversaries, locked eyes across thousands of kilometers of space. Lately adversaries, the two commanders regarded each other with something that armchair historians might tritely describe as mutual respect, and yet was recognized by each officer and crewmen there to see it as the instant, mutual decision to destroy one another. Strategy had demanded Is'toQ's withdrawal during their last meeting, though the Klingon warlord had managed to make off with much of Sherman's Planet's triticale harvest in the exchange. Yet despite his successful deception, Is'toQ's honor demanded recompense against the enemy from whom he'd slunk away. And Michael Kane, who had killed the Calnarians, who had thrown a man in front of a disruptor blast to secure an advantage, who had sent men and women to their deaths and would do so again in pursuit of his ideals, answered in kind.

All told, the atmosphere on the bridge had suddenly become very stuffy.

{{Captain Kane,}} Is'toQ grinned, in the way that only lovers and madmen could ever manage. {{I am glad you are here.}}

"Not on purpose," Kane said. "But it's good to see you again."

{{Indeed,}} Is'toQ said. {{Under different circumstances than our last meeting. Now you are prepared to pay me more respect, I think.}}

"Anything's possible," Kane shrugged. "In spite of our past, Is'toQ, and in spite of your bravado... my position hasn't changed. I've delivered you enemies of the Empire. In return, I would like a straight answer to my questions regarding the SATET."

{{My apologies, captain,}} Is'toQ said. {{Your missing ship has been commandeered by the new Klingon Empire. We consider it to be spoils of war.}}

"The Federation has no quarrel with your... empire," Kane said, not quite able to keep the condescension out of his tone as he spoke the final word. "If you would like that situation to continue, I must demand the immediate return of the SATET, as well as any of her surviving crew."

Is'toQ dismissed this with a casual wave of his hand. {{Impossible. Your Federation starship was found rendering direct military aid to the enemy in an openly contested area of space. Her hardware and her crew are forfeit. Unless you intend to press the matter... on Starfleet's behalf, of course.}}

Kane's expression darkened. "Are you so sure I won't?"

Is'toQ laughed, a genuine laugh deep from the belly. {{Captain, I will admit that I've no idea at all what you're going to do next. All I know for certain is that history is watching.}}

Kane looked to Jake Crichton. Their eyes locked; at first, Jake looked confused. Kane widened his eyes slightly, willing Jake to notice.

**Buy me time.**

The moment passed; Kane had to turn his attention back to the main view screen, and all he could do was hope that his first officer was working in tune with him.

"Okay, Is'toQ," Kane said, fixing his eyes once more upon the Klingon warlord. "Maybe you should tell me what *you* want."

From the other end of space, Is'toQ guffawed once more. {{What I want is much more than you can offer, captain! I want the restoration of the Klingon Empire. I want every lost territory back. I want the galaxy to once again tremble at the mention of our name.}}

"And the SATET will help you do that?" Kane asked. "Think about it, Is'toQ. The last thing you want is a joint Starfleet and Romulan task force coming along to root you out."

{{And why would they do that?}} Is'toQ shrugged. {{The Orions are usurpers. These are Klingon systems, from which they will either withdraw, or be burned out. What business is it of yours?}}

"As long as you're holding Starfleet personnel and property, it's our business," Kane said. "And besides. There's still the matter of that triticale."

{{So there is,}} Is'toQ nodded. {{You should know that I would not have you involve yourself in this, captain. You are impossibly outnumbered, and matters are such that I cannot allow you to interfere. You and I, we can settle things between us somewhere else. Somewhere more... equitable.}}

"But what would be our prize?" Kane asked. "The triticale you've taken must be almost gone by now. Crushing some two-penny warlord barely registers as a blip in this ship's log. Without the SATET, you've got nothing I want."

{{Just wait,}} Is'toQ said. Kane notice the sudden stuttering at the edges of the image, followed quickly by a significant lag in audio and visual signals. {{Very soon, we... -trol this-.... ctor..}}

"Sir," Procter said from Tactical. "I'm detecting oscillating waves of subspace interference, they're interfering with the transmission from the Klingon ship."

"That would be us," Jake Crichton said. He and Karrington Crow turned around from the Science station.

Kane turned to look at them. "Commander?"

Jake turned to Lt. Crow. "It was all her, Captain."

"Tetryonic particles can create subspace bubbles, which interfere with standard communication," Lt. Crow said. "With some finessing from Commander Malin-Argo, we've managed to bleed a small quantity of tetryon into our normal warp field emissions. Enough to disrupt any ship-to-ship transmissions."

Kane shifted his eyes to Jake. "Translation?"

"We've got fifteen minutes," Jake said. "Maybe twenty, if they've got an especially dimwitted science officer aboard that ship. After that, they're going to figure out where the disruption is coming from."

"Klingon vessel attempting to re-establish contact," Procter reported from tactical.

"They can't be sure we're even receiving the transmission," Jake said. "Not with all this subspace noise we're dumping into the system."

"Good work," Kane said, nodding to Crichton and Crow. Then he turned to Procter. "Accept the transmission, and then dump it immediately If they don't call us back, call them back, and then dump the connection. I want you to keep them on the line."

"Understood, sir," Procter nodded.

Kane took a stand a few paces in front of his CO's chair. Jake came up to stand beside him.

"Captain, what's the point?" Jake asked, keeping his tone low enough so that the rest of the crew could not easily hear him. "Sooner or later, they're going to figure out we're wasting their time."

"Every minute we can buy for the away team is worthwhile," Kane said, his tone equally low.

"Sure," Jake nodded. "Besides, it's only an entire Klingon fleet out there, right? I mean, how much worse could this really get?"


NRPG: And meanwhile, the Orion fleet approaches.

Sorry to be absent for so long! I'm still around, still reading, still here if there are questions or concerns or JP's to be written!

Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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