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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2018 5:53 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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Captain's Personal Log, Supplemental. Stardate 75593.1

"I can't keep doing this."

Archivist's Note: This log, likely the first one recorded by Commander Kalpov following the Battle of the Badlands (see Hyrzix et al.), is also the first of the Argonaut logs in which Commander Kalpov refers directly to his own status as a Changeling. It is probable that other such logs existed, but have not survived. As noted previously, Commander Kalpov's habit was generally to maintain the illusion of his identity as a human starfleet officer, even in private correspondence, but it is clear, from context, that this log was never intended to be recovered by anyone, and was only preserved by mischance, as explained below.

"We're an hour out from the edge of the Badlands, and the sensors are starting to recover. That enormous Romulan monster that the pirates had when we jumped them is still holding together, despite everything, and the Klingons have even managed to get one of the fusion reactors working again, at least partially. I'm surprised their engineers could do anything after the party they threw on Riskadh, but they're Klingons, I guess."

Archivist's Note: IKV Riskadh was a Vor'cha-class Attack Cruiser, commanded by Captain Kadon zantai Khemera. As the Argonaut Chronicle makes clear, Captain Kadon and his ship had joined the task force either before or directly after the Battle of Nivoch, and was heavily involved in both phases of the Battle of the Badlands. Captain Kadon was a seasoned battle commander from as far back as the Dominion War of 2373-75, whose experience was well-regarded within the squadron. For additional details on Captain Kadon's background and that of his ship, see Warriors of the Stars: The Soldiers of the Quadratic War (pp. 183-230)

Though there are strong references made within this chronicle and from fragmentary sensor logs recovered from the USS Humboldt, the exact details of IKV Riskadh's actions during the second phase of the Battle of the Badlands have escaped consensus of historians. See details below.


"We've not heard a peep out of the Borg since the Klingons pasted them, and that's fine by everyone concerned. I've stood the crew down to half-quarters and rotated everyone as much as possible to get some rest, but the ship is bursting with refugee kids and the scrape with the pirates that Anderson decided to plunge us into didn't help things at all. Argonaut missed most of the heaviest fighting, but there were still enough hits to cause casualties. It's a good thing kids are as tough as they are, but we still lost three of them, and our last counselor got assimilated eight months ago."

Archivist's Note: Historians generally agree that this last remark was a form of black humor, as Doctor Drishti Tafwik, Chief Medical Officer of the Argonaut, had originally begun service in Starfleet as a trained counselor. It may also be that Commander Kalpov had simply forgotten this, or perhaps did not know it in the first place, given the unknown circumstances of his arrival on board the Argonaut.

"Anderson has insisted that all discussion of what happened be deferred until we get to Bajor, where no doubt there's going to be too much going on to discuss it at all, conveniently enough, and I don't know where the hell that puts me or the ship. The whole point of this operation was to operate alone, and now two different captains know what's going on and as soon as one of them decides to tell Anderson or what's left of Starfleet command, that's the ballgame."

"Three days with the rest of the captains, and I've already screwed it all up."

"Ereshal won't listen, of course, but I know what the slightest rumor of a changeling on board this ship will do to Command, and given that we're all under the authority of someone who just decided to kick-start a minor apocalypse for no reason, and killed about a hundred people on our flotilla and three to four thousand more on the rest of the ships, I'm not sure if that's not the better option, considering. I've got better than a thousand crew and two thousand civilians on board, and with the rumors going around, I don't know if Starfleet's at the point where they'd just scuttle the entire ship to make sure I'm not on it anymore, or if Anderson might decide to do something similar.

So where does that leave me?

*Sounds of a drink being poured into a glass*

"I tried to beg off the celebration that the Klingons planned, but they insisted on sending a bottle over anyway. I lost my taste for Blood Wine back in the Khitomer days, but this is good stuff, as Blood Wine goes. I guess they have enough to celebrate."

Archivist's Note: Changelings did not require food or water for sustenance, synthesizing the energy required for their continued operations directly from subspace, but sufficiently experienced changelings could manifest sensory organs for taste and smell so as to imbibe foods and beverages.

Kalpov's oblique reference to Klingon celebrations has proven highly controversial among scholars of the Battle of the Badlands, particularly supporters of the "Kadon's Rift" theory concerning the semi-permanent maelstrom orbiting the barycenter of the Badlands. Supporters contend that this reference supports their theory that the maelstrom was created by IKV Riskadh during the Battle of the Badlands through use of Tricobalt munitions, and may have even been responsible for the destruction of Borg Cube 6725, last recorded as entering the Badlands in pursuit of the Argonaut Flotilla. Supporters further cite the lack of any reference to such a phenomenon in either the Voyager Chronicle or Starfleet's Galactic Geography records and indicating that the phenomenon originated during the Quadratic War itself. Opponents of this theory cite the lack of verifiable evidence from this or other statements, and the inferred inferiority of Klingon Tricobalt munitions, which do not appear to have possessed sufficient precision or yield to trigger a subspace prolapse comprehensive enough to have created the maelstrom. Opponents further cite the fact that Klingon warriors, hunted to near-extinction by the Borg, would naturally have celebrated their escape from Cube 6725 regardless of whether or not they had physically destroyed the Cube, and that, of the pursuing force of 11 Borg Cubes that swept the Badlands three days later, two were lost to entirely natural features of the Badlands, and two more badly damaged enough to require replacement on the front lines.

For further analysis of this unresolved historical problem, we suggest 'The Violated Heavens: The Legends and Science of Kadon's Rift'.


"I don't know what to do. And it's increasingly looking like the decision is going to be made for me by the least stable element in the room. There's an obvious solution, of course, but I honestly don't know if I can pull it off, not with a ship and crew I don't know. Anderson could be insane or unstable or just operating on logic I don't get, and none of those things make this any easier."

*Long pause*

"The Romulans seem like they're willing to play ball. Which usually means they're about to stab you in the back, but there's nothing usual about this situation, and their captain took a big risk in meeting with me without preconditions. But it's beyond them now, and I cna't control the narrative for much longer. The Klingons... well who knows what they'll do, but this Kadon fellow doesn't strike me as a fanatic, not by their standards anyway. And the other Starfleet captains are no more happy than I am with what went down, but all those calculations go out the window as soon as someone breathes the wrong word. So logically, I have to get ahead of this, right?"

*Another pause*

"I can't keep doing this."

*Sounds of someone drinking*

"I promised Ereshal and Tafwik that I'd protect this crew against all comers, but I can't protect them from myself. My... situation represents a clear and present danger if certain people decide it's going to be. And I know that's self-serving, but that doesn't make it wrong. We've all had to do what we have had to do, and justified it to ourselves later on. That's why the rest of them drink this stuff. I wish it worked."

"I wish I'd had the damn sense to end this years ago."

*Sounds of a glass being refilled*

"I have near to three thousand people under my direct responsibility. I have to do whatever's necessary to safeguard them. We all do. Isn't that the first duty of a Starfleet officer? Not 'the truth' or some other pack of altruistic bullshit. This isn't a theoretical exercise in the academy, this is the universe. And the galaxy is a cold place. What if Empyrean hadn't been as quick with their transporters? What if I were as vulnerable as those Gorn? Nobody would be stopping to justify whether I deserved what happened to me. Anderson wouldn't have thought twice about it. Didn't think twice about it. How can I?"

"How could anyone?"

*Another pause*

"This must be how the road to hell starts."

*Longer pause*

"Argonaut is my ship. Like it or not. And nobody has the right to break her apart around me. Not even Starfleet. I can't watch this happen passively. I need to get control of the situation somehow. Maybe that's the Dominion talking. Or maybe it's just reason. I don't know. I just know that I can't keep doing this. I have to... do what's necessary.

"We all have to do what's necessary."

*Another pause. Sound of a glass being put down.*

"Computer. Delete this entire log entry."

Archivist's Note: There is no consensus as to why Commander Kalpov's instructions were not followed. Argonaut's computer, like all Starfleet computer cores, would have required confirmation before eliminating a command-level log entry, and apparently never received it. Though it is possible that Commander Kalpov simply thought better of removing the log entry, the most likely scenario is that, as a changeling impersonating a Starfleet officer, he simply did not know that he had to enter a security code in order to delete the entry. This is, after all, as far as anyone knows, the only log entry that Commander Kalpov ever tried to erase.

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Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:21 am 
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"Captain's Log, Apocalyptic. Stardate...uncertain, different computer systems disagree. Stardate after the last one and before the next one.

We made it. We almost didn't. If Scylla's systems weren't quite so redundant, if Scylla herself hadn't reacted instantaneously, if Rennthek's pet project, that integrity field/inertial dampener hybrid, hadn't kicked in in time, if nobody had tried to tow us clear...any of a dozen things, any of them go wrong, and we're all dead, or trapped aboard a NCC-tagged tomb.

But we made it. Not without cost, both in lives and in widespread system damage, but you have to be alive to complain. Thirty-one are not, at present. Given how overloaded Sickbay is, I hope that doesn't rise any higher."

Chaos. Medical uniforms of a half-dozen different cuts and stylings, wrapped around a bewildering array of species. The near-constant humming whine of site-to-site transports, mandated with portions of the ship still uninhabitable. Cries of pain. The particular tang of largely-Andorian blood. Walking wounded dragging or carrying their more badly-injured comrades towards sickbay. Temporary cots set up in the corridors around Sickbay, in nearby compartments. Triage outside the doors, the most egregious cases admitted to proper medical facilities.

"Our impulse engines are in sorry shape, as are most of the shields, but after the Klingons' little stunt there's really no one left to maneuver against, so there's that. Warp drives were cold when everything went to shit, and seem to have escaped...well, not unharmed, nothing did, but less harmed than other systems. Life support redundancies mean we haven't even had to start repairs there yet. I don't even have a full report on weapons systems yet; priorities. Ship's got to live before we worry about if she can fight, and-- I was going to say you can't shoot a plasma storm to make it go away, but current events would argue that point."

Yellow-shirted engineers work until they drop, laboring against a tide of overloaded and twisted and -- in the case of one particular shield generator -- literally inverted hardware. When spares exist, replace and repair later. In all too many cases, after such a long time at space and at war, proper, matching spares are a fond memory. A hundred arcane bodge-jobs span Scylla's decks, each one unique, each one necessary to restore that much of the venerable starship to life.

"I'm just glad everyone's too busy to care about anything silly like, say, racial tensions. Given the overwhelming Andorian majority, Sabine Westlake-Uriah (oh, how I'm going to get tired of saying THAT last name) could have posed a problem, what with her elevation to replace the late Rennthek ch'Tel as chief engineer. Fortunately, everyone's too busy and she's too good at the job, so we've dodged that beam.

For the moment, we'll be sheltering behind the rest of the flotilla until we're back on our feet. I suppose it's too much to hope that no one noticed the Badlands going mad, or if they did they don't care enough to look closer.

Hah. Hah. Hah."

_________________
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:26 am 
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The atmosphere of the Riskadh was pleasantly hazy, the atmospherics having cranked up the temperature and humidity to a very comfortable level which almost hid the smoke from blown conduits that the filters had mostly handled. In the dim lighting, the reinforced bulkheads and corridors of the battlecruiser resembled the fortress buildings of Qo'noS on a cloudy day, which was to say most of them.

Arikel touched the call button of the door in front of her. There was a long moment while she waited and then the door opened. The officer's cabin in front of her was small by Federation standards and spartan even by Klingon practices. No prizes, no weapons, no insignias, no mementos of wounds taken and battles won. Just a few cases, a bed, and a desk computer.

"Executive," said the Klingon sitting at the desk with a smile. "Please come in."

The tall Klingon woman stepped into the Intelligence agent's cabin. "The captain has invited the Romulans over for dinner. I have need of your services."

"I serve the Empire, of course. I'm sure you're already aware that the dining room is monitored and that there's a list of dishes that the Romulan's are likely to enjoy so I'm not sure what I use I can be."

"Romulan ale."

"Ahh," said the spy. "That I can manage. I don't think the darsek has much value anywhere, but authentic Romulan ale is another matter." He got up from the desk and knelt by one of the cases. "How is the captain?"

"He's sleeping while he can," she replied. "As if you didn't know."

"I didn't," he replied. "Too much analysis, not enough hands. I trust the Though Ensign to fend for himself. He so rarely needs me to rescue him." The case clicked open. He pulled out two bottles of electric blue liquid.

He held them out to Arikel. The Klingon woman was as tall as he was. "This authentic, not the replicated stuff and not a trivial percentage of my operating budget."

"Operating budget?" she said said with a raised eyebrow as she took the bottles.

"There's a Ferengi bartender who, if he's not dead, will be willing to trade Section Thirty-One's entire archives for those bottles. And if they made it to DS9, he will be able to deliver. If either of them still exist."

"Section Thirty-One?"

"Starfleet Intelligence. Don't worry about. Worry about the Romulan."

"That dangerous?"

"She's left a trail of dead enemies, betrayed allies, and discarded family members for longer than you've been alive and here, at the end of all things, she's sitting in the captain's chair of a Klingon battlecruiser. You tell me."

"The captain wants this to run smoothly."

"Which is why I only gave you two bottles."

"And where will the captain's oldest friend be?"

"Where I am needed. In the shadows."

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:14 pm 
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Captain's Log:

Things could be worse. I'm not sure how much of that statement is denial. I have reviewed my XO actions, First Officer Shran Tak during the battle. It could have been handled better to put it mildly at the same time, these men were holding people in slavery and the ships we took in the battle will be of use in the future. We have discussed it privately and gone over better courses of action and I will take full responsibility for his actions once we face a board of inquiry.

...

If we face a board of inquiry. Part of me is afraid that there's nothing there at Bajor, another part is afraid that I'm heading for another doomed defense. I can't let my doubts get the better of me however. I must hold faith that there will be a fleet at Bajor and that we can accomplish something besides another fallen planet. The crew is depending on me. As is the fleet more or less. The Alliance is holding together and not as tenuous as it would be in better circumstances. It is ironic we approach the ideals of Federation with greater fidelity as civilization falls around our ears as opposed to when the central worlds were practically outposts of utopia. My crew is only half Federation at this point but everyone works together because they must. It's a hell of silver lining.

Whatever happens I am proud of this ship and it's crew. They have performed labors greater then the old heroes of Federation, if we are to fall, it will not be because we were lesser beings then our forefathers.

That said I am getting a lot of requests from the new Romulan commander. I intend to grant whatever is reasonable but keep an eye on her. I don't believe she would do anything that would reduce our chances of survival but what if she miscalculates? We will have to feel things out and take it as goes.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:55 am 
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Bridge
USS Humboldt
Badlands, Alpha Quadrant

"If I never see a borg cube again, it'll be too soon." Tlorn said in a very human expression while he took stock from his chair on the bridge. Beta engineering shift was crawling all over the Sahir, Alpha and Gamma shift were resting. Somehow, his ship hadn't taken appreciable damage.

"I'm pretty sure we're looking at seeing more cubes fairly soon Captain." his XO replied.

"I am... aware... Number One. I have little idea how we got out of that alive. That subspace prolapse was a mixed blessing. The Scylla lost a lot of crew, including her chief engineer."

"Well we saved the Immortal and Sahir at least."

"True." Tlorn replied "I just hope Bajor is still there and inhabited when we get there." the whispering thoughts of his crew echoed in his head, there was the exubberation of survival in there, but the overall tone was exhaustion and despair. Each little pinprick of an emotion spike got hammered down by the mallet of Vulcan logic, but it was mostly those emotions that required hammering, and eventually without something that looked like R&R even Vulcans could break. "Morale is low. It will do the crew some good to see a living planet." Tlorn sighed "I am in terrible need of meditation. Will you be alright here for a few hours?"

"I should be. Go, get some rest." Alan replied in encouragement "I'll keep your seat warm and call you if there is anything I can't handle."

"Thank you Commander."

"No problem."

Tlorn got off his chair and headed to the turbolift.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:01 pm 
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khre'Riov Ishtar i-Nalim Charvanek sat in Khanjar's seethed with murderous wrath. The Artificitor-class fleet tender ChR Saeihr, the only vessel of its kind left anywhere in the quadrant, lay shattered before her, exceeded in its ruin only by all the carefully laid plans to capture it intact. So much sacrificed for that damned tender, so much lost, so much pain endured, only for it to be wrecked by the foolhardiness of others. She'd been diplomatic about of course, keeping the extent of her shock, sadness, and anger hidden behind a façade of respectful politeness when introducing herself and her ship to Captain Anderson. Yet had the man kept Betazoid counsellor at his side like the late Admiral Picard famously did, he would know of the barely restrained anger raging behind the Rihannsu woman's charming face. Instead all he knew was that she was glad to have found a friendly task force, and was very concerned about the tender, fussing about it like a mother hen.

She had directed the Khanjar's engineering crews to board the Saeihr and help with the repairs, lead by Chief Engineer Valentr tr'Vitege. No one could be more qualified to repair the tender than the men and women who had shoved the guts of a hulled Rihannsu ship into the hull of a gutted Klingon ship, while using a Mirak shipyard and Mirak spare parts, yet somehow made the resulting Frankenstein's monster of a ship into a better combatant than any of the wrecks it was stitched together from. The crews had all agreed that they were not likely to be able to repeat the grand miracle that is the Khanjar, but they only needed minor miracles to get the prize to towable condition. Well that and the reactors of some damaged pirate ships they'd docked to the Saeihr, hooked up to power cables, and were even now cannibalizing for spare parts. They also had the Khanjar's manufactory running full time on producing non-substitutable items necessary for repairs. Fortunately raw materials were in plentiful supply.

It had all been a welcome distraction, but Charvanek's simmering anger boiled once more when she got to reading the after action report she'd requested from Anderson. Sure the Captain was not shy about accepting responsibility for the disaster, but the report still took a tone of "mistakes were made" and "understandable under the circumstances", which grated on khre'Riov. She also requested one from Kadon, who had proven himself worthy of a measure of trust, and whose perspective would provide needed contrast to that of the Starfleet's. The report provided by the Squadron Leader was dry and to the point, with little in the way of exculpation, editorializing, or recrimination. Nonetheless its account reflected very poorly on the actions and judgement of Gabriel Ethan Anderson and one Eoife Kirk.

Ishtar threw her datapad on the table and took a long stiff drink. She vaguely recalled hearing about the girl enrolling in Starfleet Academy, and making arrangements to keep an eye on her, as no doubt had many others, but she'd not given the matter any thought since Borg invaded. Nonetheless it was interesting that the Kirk-child still alive, and in command of a starship no less, but disappointing to find that her leadership acumen had thus far proven hardly better than that of any other unseasoned tyro. Indeed, thoughts of what Kirk and Anderson's foolishness had wrought made Charvanek's rage flare hotly, while the sight of wrecked tender made her heart ache.

This was something of a problem. Anger could be a useful emotion yes, but it could just as easily be exhausting and distracting. Here at the end of all worlds, it would be far more useful to try and curb her allies' foolishness, than to attempt to punish them for it. A subject perhaps worthy of discussion with Kadon, Ishtar thought. She checked the time, noting that the dinner appointment with the Klingon was in but two hours. She would need a shower and a fresh uniform, but that still left quite a bit of spare time. It might be helpful to spend it venting her anger on something, or someone. A smile crept across her lips, yes perhaps she would be punishing someone for this travesty after all. But first, some arrangements would have to be made.

"Charvanek to Murugan," she called through the comms.

"What do you wish, Commander?" the dour Klingon replied.

"Do you remember that fire wine you were saving for a special occasion? I'm going to need a bottle."

"It's not a special occasion if I'm not drinking it."

"Good news then, you will be my escort to my dinner date with Kadon aboard the Riskdah in two hours, wear something nice."

"And here I thought you weren't into males," Murugan said, in that peculiar way of his that let you hear the smirk that was absent from his face.

"Turns out I just needed to meet a sufficiently virile one," replied Ishtar sarcastically.

The old Klingon snorted and signed off.

All right then, with that out of the way, time for a family call. Galan Cretak, Riov of ChR S'harien, her brother-in-law by virtue of his elder sister's marriage to Ishtar Charvanek's younger brother. She'd been wanting to talk to him ever since she learned of his presence in the fleet, and he likewise wished to talk to her, but each one's calls to the other had caught them busy with something else. Now that they had some down time, perhaps they could finally chat.

She sent a message, "Hello brother, it's been a long time."

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 6:13 am 
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A single overhead light pierced the gloom of Kallor's quarters. Stone skittered against steel as he worked the edge of his bat'leth in the old way, with a stone, by hand. A modern tool with an integrated scanner and a laser would theoretically be better, but sometimes the old ways were best. Kadon and he had an argument about it once, but that had been when the komerex had still stood. Perhaps the one's opinion had changed.

He had killed Borg with this bat'leth. Klingons loyal to Duras and Breen as well. Jem'Hadar and Cardassians, but not Federation. The dispute between the Federation and komerex had been too brief to afford him any opportunities to fight. Even then he was counting the good years left and knowing they could not be many.

Yet here he was, sharpening the blade of an already razor edged bat'leth, his hands as steady as they had been twenty years ago. He, with hair white as the snow that was so rarely seen on Qo'noS, still lived and was still strong when he should have been honorably dead years ago. That was why he had joined Kadon's crew and it had been understood by everyone on board. War had failed to kill the elderly Dahar Master so one of the greatest warriors living had sought a post pushing back the fringes of the Empire.

He was treated with awed respect and deference by everyone and sought out for advice and training and he had given them whatever he could. He had joined every landing party where his skills would be of use and the galaxy had refused to kill him. It had tried several times, but failed. And then the Borg came.

They had failed to kill him too. They kill the young, killed and worse, of course. You could see the klin die in a Klingon's eyes as the assimilation nanites did their work. Even that had failed to kill him. Unusual blood antibodies picked up from a disease on a survey mission had helped him fight off the nanites until medical treatment arrived.

So everyone died. Some glorious deaths, others miserable ones, and the unlucky lived to become less than kuve. Yet he lived. Dahar Master, perhaps the last Dahar Master living and perhaps the last Dahar Master there would ever be, living longer than any Klingon should while everything Klingon died.

The warning chime rang. He sighed and stood, placing the bat'leth back on the rack. He put on his sash, heavy with metals and his mantle, which was almost as heavily laden. Everything ached these days, but his hands were still steady, his eye sight was still sharp, his reflexes quick, and his muscles still strong. He could still serve and tonight he would serve by sitting tall at the table and looking into the eyes of Klingons Charvanek brought with her and seeing if they were still Klingon and if she was truly their captain or if they would have her dead.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:31 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant,
IRW S’harien, Bridge


Riov Galan Cretak took a deep breath and held it for a moment before slowing releasing it. The sound danced for a moment in the quiet of the bridge of his Warbird before it died. His attention focused fully on the screen to his left which provided to him a number of data points about the current circumstances of the IRW Saeihr.

It could have been worse.

The thought swam to the surface of his mind and vanished moments later. The tender had been crippled during the exchange within the Badlands and only the tenacity and skill of a number of Engineers within the task force had allowed the ship to be salvageable at all. Nonetheless, the IRW Saeihr was a shadow of her former self and would require weeks of attention upon their arrival on Bajor in order to regain its full operational abilities if it did so at all.

We have no idea what is waiting for us at Bajor.

He shook his head and glanced around the bridge. All around him his crew functioned in silence. The lack of sound was a welcomed respite and allowed him to contemplate not only his immediate circumstances but what had transpired before. The Badlands had provided him with a gift, a memory of home. And as expected of a Galaxy over run by the Borg, it had quickly cast that memory in darker shades. The Saeihr was a near perfect reflection of the state of the Romulan Empire. His left hand moved, the image of the fleet tender replaced by a list of casualties, ongoing repairs and a myriad of other projections. They were a little over an hour of the edge of the Badlands.

I am glad to be rid of this place.

He leaned back against his command chair his attention leaving the data presented to him for a moment as he summoned the communication features of his console. He had been just about to begin establishing protocols requesting communication with Solheim’s ship when a voice dispelled the silence around him.

“Riov, priority message coming from the Khanjar. It is addressed to you from…” There was a slight hesitation before his communication officer continued. “khre’riov Ishtar i-Nalim Charvanek.”

The name caused a murmur to spread through his bridge crew. Riov Galan Cretak did not fault the momentary lapse in protocol. The last time that they had worked alongside Ishtar i-Nalim Charvanek had been during the Battle of Earth. During one of the heaviest periods of fighting, the S’harien had been part of four different task forces over as many days. The initial contact with the Borg had taken place around the outer edges of the Sol system. The survivors of those exchanges gathered around the vicinity of Saturn the second day, the vicinity of Jupiter the third, and eventually near Mars during the fourth. Ishtar had been one of the leaders of the battles around Mars, leading a contingent of non-Federation ships. When the Borg had finally broken through to Earth, the S’harien had lost track of her ship.

I had thought her dead.

“I will take it in my ready room.” Galan said simply standing from his command chair in one smooth motion before he disappeared down into the room which was adjacent to the bridge and functioned as the Riov’s ready room.

Erei’Riov Hanaj Dar watched his commander disappear into his ready room and frowned.

Ishtar Charvanek is a complication we do not need.

Alpha Quadrant,
IRW S’harien, Ready Room


Riov Galan Cretak hesitated for only a moment before activating the communication console in his ready room. His eyes seeking those of his sister by marriage as the IRW S’harien and the Khanjar established their communication protocols.

“Sister. I thought you dead.” Galan said simply. He was happy to see her but there was something else behind his eyes that he was actively trying to conceal. The history of her family was spotless and the love between his sister and her brother had always seemed to be sincere. The Cretak/Charvanek union had always been strong but after what had happened to his aunt, there had been rumors of friction within their family.

In order for a family to rise, another had to fall.

_________________
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"A dog doesn’t need to show his teeth as long as his growl’s deep enough, his food bowl is full and he knows where all the bones are buried." - Frank Underwood


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:00 pm 
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Ishtar had always liked Galan, he had a good head on his shoulders and you could rely on him to keep secrets. The downside was of course that this made him difficult to manipulate, and ties by marriage only stretched so far. Though perhaps farther than before, given how little family either of them had left. Any relations still alive at this point were a gift to treasure, but as always also a threat to be weary of.

"Likewise brother," she replied, "frankly I'm surprised that I have any family left at all."

Galan watched Ishtar closely a she spoke. She had not changed at all from what he remembered of her. His last strong memory of her was during the battle of Earth, her control in the tactical net as Romulan, Klingon, and Federation ships desperately sought to keep the Borg away from the Federation home-world. Her face had not changed, if anything, she seemed a harder woman now than she had been then.

We all have been changed by this conflict.

Some had changed for the better. Others, had changed for the worse. He was unsure what changes had happened to his sister in her time away. He was certain that he would find out. He watched as her lips parted and she spoke, a ghost of smile touching his lips before it faded. They had lost so many people but here they were together. The bonds they shared still held.

“I am still here sister and I have every intention to remain.” He said. He hesitated for only a moment before continuing.

“I have a cousin that survived and is now part of the crew of the USS Gilgamesh. Captain Solheim’s ship but aside from that, you are the first familiar face I have seen and it is good to see you. Although, I must admit I had hoped to see the Imperatrix Ael t'Rllaillieu.” He paused, his body shifting as his arms moved from his side and retrieved a data pad. The information picked up from the sensors of the S’harien regarding the Khanjar examined briefly before he looked up once more.

“Still, quite the ship. I am sure it has its share of secrets.”

Charvanek laughed, "Yes I too wish I could have come here aboard the Imperatrix, my grand-aunt's namesake was very dear to me. Alas, her hull was too damaged after the Battle of Earth. Yet her heart does live on aboard the Khanjar. We salvaged both the Imperatrix's reactor and her computer core, as well as the cloaking device, one of the impulse engines, one of the type 20s, a number of the type 16s, and all kinds of other odds and ends.

"What about you, Galan? You seem to have augmented your ship's armament considerably, and the power readings we've getting from you are... strange, almost Borg-like according to my people."

Her laugh surprised him, it was not a sound that he vividly associated with his sister. It was not as if she had never laughed, but his strongest memories of her were not moments of levity. He took the moment and enjoyed it as much as he could. For the moment, politics and long-term concerns were put aside as he sought to take pleasure in the simply joy of rediscovering a family member. The Charvaneks like the Cretaks were not without their faults. But their bloodlines were pure and the deeds of their ancestors without question.

If the Empire still existed, how close to the top of the Imperial succession line would Ishtar be right now?

The thought swam to the surface of his mind before he realized it. He allowed himself to consider it for only a moment before he banished it back to depths.

No politics.

He blinked as Ishtar spoke of what had transpired after the Battle of Earth. The S’harien had suffered over time and had changed from the contamination that had been the Borg infection. They had adapted as best they could after the Borg had been expelled from the ship but what Ishtar spoke of was a massive undertaking. The S’harien had changed because of what the Borg had brought with them, but fundamentally the core of the ship her bones were still her own. The Khanjar was a different animal altogether, a true Chimera.

“You speak of an impressive undertaking sister.” He paused for a moment. “It is good to know that some of the Imperatrix lives on.”

He looked at her and smiled as she spoke about the S’harien and nodded his head politely. “It is as you say. Like your Khanjar my S’harien has had to adapt, shed her skin and become something else. I will make you an offer sister, when you have the time, why don’t you come and visit? I would be honoured to give you a tour of my ship.”

He knew that he could not keep secrets from Ishtar for long and he did not need to. Sooner or later, all would be revealed as she integrated into the task force. It was clear that now that Ishtar was part of the group, she would be loathe to relinquish her position. There were a dozen ways that he could think of her manipulating elements of the task force to her own advantage. Why should she not? It was precisely what he would have done. It was best to arrive to Bajor as part of a task force than alone. Besides, in the end she was family. She would use him as much as he sought to use her and together, the Romulan people would only prosper.

"I would love a tour of your ship, and I too would like to show you mine. About two-fifths of my crew is Klingon. They've been most useful, and I would not be alive without them. It's a pity the old alliance between our people and theirs did not last long, we work very well together, frankly better than they ever did with the Federation. Perhaps in the future, if we have a future, we can rectify this old mistake."

“Then we must arrange it," Cretak said. "I am aware of the worth of a Klingon warrior in battle that they are willing to follow you speaks highly of you. It may end carry some weight with Captain Kadon, he and his crew are unlike most Klingons I have ever met."

But Charvanek seemed to have trailed off, and her expression turned serious.

"Enough about old times, brother. As much as I would like to continue reminiscing with you, I'm afraid I have some business to take care of. It's my understanding that you have pirate by the name of Shodar Tyran in the brig of the Saeihr, along with his senior officers. I need you to transfer custody of them over to me. I need to settle a..." she paused searching for the right words, "a personal matter, a matter of honour. You understand, yes? If you would do me this favour, I would be deeply grateful."

When Ishtar's expression shifted Galan knew that the next words would be important. She had always been a woman that demanded respect and she rarely allow the façade that she presented to others crack. He suspected that her expression had shifted for his benefit. He liked to think that it was because they were family that she was willing to drop her guard just a bit. He listened to her request before he nodded. He had little love for Shodar Tyran but before the Khanjar had arrived he had made certain pledges and compromises. While Shodar Tyran and his men were very much under his authority due to their actions against the ChR Saeihr, the leaders of the task force were Captain Anderson and Captain Kadon.

“I am willing to transfer the custody of Shodar Tyran and his officers to you if your honour requires it," he said. "However, while they are under my supervision I will need to inform Captain Kadon and Captain Anderson of the transfer. If they need Shodar Tyran for the purposes of information then your honour will have to wait. These were arrangements that were done prior to your arrival. I expect that they will acquiesce to your request and I will throw all of my influence behind you in this regard.”

They were after all. Family.

"I suppose that the forms must still be obeyed, even in these trying circumstances," she replied. "Do make certain to assure Anderson that I intend to treat the prisoners in full accordance to the laws of our people. Starfleet types tend to have... scruples about such matters."

Galan chucked, "I will be sure to, sister."

With that the call was over, and khre'Riov Ishtar Charvanek leaned back into her seat. From the looks of it, she probably wouldn't be able to settle this before dinner. A pity but at least the wheels were turning. In the meantime, she would go have a chat with Intelligence.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 10:46 pm 
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"Badlands border ahead sir, three million kilometers and closing."

The Badlands did not end discretely. Sector-sized spacial phenomena never did. But the ferocity and strength of the storms had been dying back progressively for the last two hours, and ahead lay the line that someone at Starfleet cartographical had drawn on the holo-image to indicate where they ceased being part of the Badlands and started being part of "unexplained subspace phenomena" or some such.

"Sensors?"

"No sign of any Borg, sir, not even on long range sensors. Unless they're coming up behind us, I think we might have given them the slip."

Several people tapped on their consoles for superstitious luck. One Ensign knocked on his own head for emphasis. Kalpov did not participate, but neither did he comment on it. The Argonaut's crew had earned belief in luck. And a great deal else besides.

Time to see if it worked. "Prophet's Landing?" he asked.

"Scanning now, Commander," came the reply.

Prophet's Landing, Bajor's largest and closest extra-solar colony, had not originally sat at the edge of the badlands, but vagaries in the orbits of the storm around the center of the galaxy, versus that of the local spiral arm, had brought them closer together in the years since its foundation, to the point where it loomed large over half the night's sky, and was even dimly visible by day, or so the stories told. The two were not projected to collide, at least not according to the last surveys taken on the subject, not that many would have trusted to such things. Now the prospect of being subsumed by an active plasma storm seemed almost pleasant compared to the alternatives.

"No sign of Borg, sir," said the Lieutenant, relief apparent on her voice. "I'm reading... twenty three ships in orbit over the colony. Mostly Bajoran, some others. All civilian-grade. Orbital defense system is reading as active, lifesigns on the surface... sixteen million. Half Bajoran, give or take, the rest..."

She didn't have to finish. The rest would be the amalgamation of every other race of the Alpha and Beta quadrants, the the sentient tide called "refugees" that was every race and none of them at once. It was the same racial mixture that was packed aboard every ship in the makeshift fleet, thousands of different species bound by nothing but a desperate desire to remain un-assimilated, and who in their desperation had found assimilation of another sort.

Kalpov sat back in his chair, letting the sigh of relief exhale silently into the rest of the bridge. "Signal the Immortal," he said. "Ask how he'd like to..."

"Sir, we're getting a wide-band transmission from the colony itself. Looks like they're trying to hail us all."

"Well let's hear it then."

The voice of a Bajoran woman came onto the speakers, her voice loud and defiant, with a sharp, rustic Bajoran accent that the universal translator could not entirely mask.

"This is Vedek Ikesh of Prophet's Landing to all alien vessels approaching our planet. We welcome you, strangers, to Bajoran space. Provided you carry no Borg, you are welcome to pause here on route to Bajor. The Borg have been raiding ships moving between our planet and the homeworld, so you must wait for their patrols to pass before making your run there. Please feel free to enter orbit and prepare to send your leaders down to meet with the colony council."

The bridge fell silent again, as Kalpov and the others considered the message.

"How'd they know we're going to Bajor?" asked one of the Ensigns.

"There's Klingon Warships in this fleet," answered Lt. Luther. "Not hard to guess they're headed to the big throwdown."

"To say nothing of the Romulans," concurred Kalpov. "Signal Immortal and ask them what their instructions are. Tell them that if we're stuck here for a couple of days, I'd like to get as many kids off this ship as possible."

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:07 am 
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"Captain's Log, Dramatic. Stardate Just After The Last One, we'll fill in if we get around to it but frankly we're busy."

Jason Leyton's lips quiver in a suppressed smile for a moment before breaking into a momentary flash of a tired grin. Long gone were the days of spacious captain's quarters, and Scylla's old ready room now played host to the bridge security post and armory. The Borg's fondness for beaming straight onto starship bridges mid combat had prompted that particular conversion. On the official deck plans for an Excelsior, the cramped compartment was labeled as part of a conference room, but instead it was home. Nice and close to the bridge for depressingly-common emergencies, small enough to free up space better used for more important things than luxury. Spartan, but what wasn't, these days?

"So my father's alive. James Leyton. Formerly Admiral Leyton. Now Traitorous...no, no, I'm not going to get into namecalling. Ford the record, he was foiled in the midst of an attempted military coup against the United Federation of Planets. Anyway! He survived, I should say. Twice, actually, once from New Zealand, the second from being on my ship--" his tone sharpens harshly before he cuts himself off, taking a slow breath before continuing, "...for some bloody reason or another when that godawful subspace storm hit. I suppose I should back up a step."

"Shortly before everything dropped in the pot, Scylla received a directional laser transmission, inviting me to a meeting. At that meeting was my father, being all mysterious and trying to hook me into some plot or another. As I was busy, I shot him instead and dragged him back to the brig. There, you're all caught up."

Again, Leyton's lips quivered in the ghost of a smile before he went on, "In any case, he's in the brig now, with no more to show from the whole affair than a collection of bruises and, given how heavy a stun setting I used, probably a nasty headache. Hopefully. In fact, I'm going there now; I wanted to get this down before meeting with him, just in case...well, just in case. I'll say this for the old man, he's a smooth, persuasive bastard and I can't help but think I might need a before-and-after on record."

"Computer, end log and encrypt to my command codes. Automatically red-flag this entry for any future captains."

The door hissed open, then closed behind Scylla's captain. It was time to see what Dad had to say for himself.

--------------

USS Scylla
Maintenance Storage Bay 4-8


Voices in a dark compartment.

"We've got a problem. The captain's not the ranking officer aboard. He doesn't even have particularly high seniority, not as long as Starfleet kept him a lieutenant."

"And we're headed straight for -- presumably -- what's left of Starfleet Command."

"Precisely. Even worse, as far as they're concerned, he's...what, a two-time mutineer?

"Something like that."

"We've got to do something. Otherwise someone might try to give me command!"

"Then we're agreed? The Captain stays in the Chair. Period."

"Agreed."

"Agreed."

"Agreed."

The door hissed open, letting in outside light for a few seconds as a handful of figures filed out. Silence reigned for several seconds, finally broken by a sigh.

"Anderson is going to hate this..."

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:23 am 
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khre'Riov Ishtar i-Nalim Charvanek checked herself in the mirror one last time. The dress uniform was sharp and impeccable, a short belted tunic with thigh-high boots, and newly washed hair straddling that line between professional and seductive. Her equally impeccable batgirl and bodyguard Nerio stood by her watching impatiently. "You're not going to get better looking that perfect, you know," she said.

The commander smirked, "Nothing is ever perfect, but I do take pride in getting closer than most. Tell Murugan to grab that fire wine and await us for transport. It's time to go."

Dahar Master Murugan the Dour had worn something nice after all, an outfit Ishtar had only seem him don once before at General Denkara's funeral. It was a dress uniform of black armour weave with red trim and a white sash heavily decorated with all kinds medals and honours. On his belt he carried an elegant but functional Klingon disruptor pistol, along with a vicious-looking d'k tahg. He had also brought two bottles of fire wine, which he held up as if to say, "One wouldn't have been enough."

Nerio was wearing something akin to a senior enlisted's dress uniform without any markings, and carried an engraved machine pistol with matching combat knife. Her charge on the other hand had no weapon other than a Rihannsu flag officer's ceremonial dagger, and it would appear as such on scanners. In truth, it was a Tal Shiar assassination dagger, a design built with a special disruptor cell in the hilt. When activated via a hidden button, it energized the blade such that it could kill even a Borg Heavy Drone with one well placed thrust. It was Ishtar's preferred sidearm since her days at the Imperial Officer's Academy.

The three nodded at each other in greeting, and stepped in the pads for transport to the Riskadh.

They materialized on the Klingon transporter pad, in gravity that was almost the same. Almost. The temperature was right, even if the air held more moisture than a Romulan might prefer and the lighting wasn't as bright as they would like. A Klingon warrior was operating the controls of the transporter stage.

Standing before them were two tall Klingons wearing the insignia of a captain and his executive officer. Kadon was clearly tall by Klingon standards and leaner than many. Arikel wasn't much shorter, with long dark hair flowing over shoulders just as broad. They both wore the standard klingon uniform of armoured vests over black tunics and trousers as well as the ubiquitous weapon belts with disruptors and d'k tahgs. Both wore metallic sashes across their chests and sleeveless robes.

Arikel's was of a red so dark that it almost appeared black under the ship's lighting. Gold lettering proclaimed her membership in the ancient and noble line of Labarga, listing great deeds and heroes of her line. Badges denoting military and scientific achievement flowed down her sash, with the highest spot being marked with the Vulcan IDIC pin worked in ruby and platinum.

Kadon's sash glimmered gold, but his robe was plain black, marked a stark white glyph of the Imperial trefoil superimposed on a barb pointed starburst. He wore only three awards on his sash. One, marking him as a member of the Order of the Ba'tleth, another badge that was obscure even to Klingons, and the last was a personal house badge that did not match the insignia on his robe.

"Commander Ishtar i-Nalim Charvanek," he managed in passable Rihannsu, "please be welcome aboard the Riskadh. I am Captain Kadon zantai Khemera and this is my Executive Executive Officer Arikel sutai Labarga. Dahar Master, it this one's honour to host you."

There was little remarkable about the awards and honours on Charvanek's uniform, beyond what one would expect of a successful career officer. The one exception was an obscure medal of distinctly different design from the others, practically never seen on a Rihannsu breast, but the Havrannssu would recognize it as the highest honour given by their people.

"It is a pleasure to meet you in the flesh, Kadon zantai Khemera, and your executive as well," the Commander replied smiling. Her Klingonaase was just as perfect as her tlhIngan Hol had been, though if she spoke the latter with the Klingon equivalent to a New Yorker's accent, her approach to the former was more akin to that of an English aristocrat's. She motioned toward the well aged but still muscular Klingon besides her, "This is Murugan the Dour, the Khanjar's advisor and first among equals of the Dahar Masters aboard my ship. He advised me that you would prefer Klingonaase to tlhIngan Hol. The girl is Nerio, she keeps me alive despite my best efforts to the contrary."

The last part was said with levity, but the younger Rihannsu woman did not appear to see the humour in it.

"I'm afraid this one's command of Rihannsu is not nearly so elegant as your Klingonaase," replied Kadon. "And no gift could equal the knowledge that more than one Dahar Master is aboard your vessel. Even at the height of the khomerex their numbers were few. We count ourselves fortunate to benefit from the wisdom and skill of a single Dahar Master.

"Titles are, of course, a tricky matter these days. There are few promotion boards to consult, no ceremonies to present awards, no admiralty boards to gives honours or assign prizes. This one has gone from Captain to Squadron Leader back to Captain and now back to Squadron Leader. If the Borg were to disappear to tomorrow and things were to go back to how they were, I would have to file reports recommending half my crew for promotion and half of them for more than one grade. I imagine things are much the same aboard your vessel." He gestured to the door. "Dinner, however, will not improve in our absence. If you would follow this one?"

"Of course," said Ishtar making towards the door. "The matter of ranks is indeed not as straightforward as it once was, and even more so with a mixed crew such as mine. That I continue to call myself a Commander-General is more a matter of custom than the reality of the field." It was well known that the Rihannsu were very particular about matters of social rank, both civilian and military. "As for our Dahar Masters," she continued, "the greatness of General Denkara's legend attracted considerable talent to her side. It pains us all greatly that she is no longer here to lead us." Might as well start getting that unpleasant bit of history out of the way. No doubt the story had already begun filtering from the Khanjar's engineering crews to the Riskadh's.

"There are, unfortunately, no shortage of the honoured dead," said Kadon as he lead the party out into the corridor. "It falls on the living to uphold the causes they died for. I have read that the Rihannsu hold to a similar belief, but as my executive will remind there can be great gulfs of misunderstanding in an ocean of similarity."

"It seems to be a common trait among standard-template sapients. We are honoured by the sacrifices of our predecessors, and we honour them in turn through our own sacrifices. A family's honour is never gone so long as one still stands to uphold it." This belief was why, for all the murderous backstabbing viciousness of Rihannsu politics, they were loath to exterminate families in their entirety, lest their dishonour go eternally unredeemed and so forever taint the Star Road of the People.

A Vor'cha class cruiser sported several dining halls. One had been selected for the dinner and then the ship's crew had gotten to work. The air was noticeably drier and the light brighter, much closer to Romulan ideal norms. Most of the chairs were in the heavy, almost industrial style of the Klingon Empire, but several to the right of the high seat were more elegant constructions straight from Romulan designs. Kallor sat at the end of a long table, enthroned in high style. Every high award of the Klingon Empire covered the old man's robe, almost transforming it into armour such was the weight of metal. He stood.

"Honoured guests, be welcome aboard this honourable vessel. This one is pleased to see Murugan again. These Borg are poor at giving one a death worthy of song."

Murugan cracked the faintest trace of smile and raised one of his bottles, "This is most pleased to see Kallor still shuns the halls of Sto-vo-kor to grace us with his presence. Would be a pity to drink this fire wine without worthy company, and who better than an grizzled grey mane too good for any old death? He set the bottles down on the table and went to give Kallor a manly bear hug, "I missed you my friend."

Kallor hugged him back. "Bah! We were never friends! You are sourer even than this young pup of a captain, who thinks too much! It's a good thing that you can fight so well or no one would ever invite you to a feast!" He pounded the other Klingon's back with what might have been rib cracking force to a less durable species.

"And the captain has anticipated you!" He held out one of the bottles of Romulan ale. "You are well matched! Shall we eat?"

"We are friends, I talk with you not at you, do I not? And I'm sure your captain's deep thoughts are entirely unrelated to this ship's continued failure to explode into a cloud of vapor." Nobody had yet been able to determine whether Murugan actually enjoyed deflating other people's jokes, or if he was just that much of a curmudgeon. He pointed at Charvanek, "That one has been promising to get your captain a good drink ever since he annihilated that assault cube. I've been thinking the vicious kit likes him, how fortunate that your pup seems to like her back."

"Two bottles of fine Rihannsu Blue Ale, and two more of excellent Klingon Fire Wine," observed Charvanek while pointedly ignoring Murugan. I know a barkeep who could sell us the entire secrets of the Obsidian Order for just half of those. This promises to be an excellent feast. I am honoured by your hospitality."

"Please sit Commander," said Kadon, sitting down on Kallor's left. "We should-"

The door to the dining hall opened to reveal a broad Klingon of average height. He was bald and his beard was barely more than stubble. Scars criss-crossed is scalp and the faint remnants of what must have been a serious burn wound marked his face. He wore armoured vambraces on his forearms, which looked like they could throttle a Gorn. Two heavy disruptor pistols hung on his belt along with a mek'leth, and a d'k tahg was strapped to his thigh.

"Commander, this is Force Leader Menmoth sutai Vorbash, leader of ship's Marine compliment."

"Please excuse my lateness," the Klingon rumbled. "The one had duties to attend to."

Charvanek eyed him up and down. "Not one to lead from behind, I take it," she observed while taking seat along with the other two guests.

"Too close to the paperwork," Menmoth replied. "Buried in bureaucracy is a bad way for a Klingon to die. I see our guests have managed to be enough of an ocassion to break out the blue. The replicated stuff isn't the same."

Klingon junior officers came in, bearing plates and platters. The platters contained sliced zilm'kach fruit and pipius claw, along with a selection of dipping sauces. "On Terra," said Arikel, "there are similar dishes, prepared from crusteceans known as crabs and lobsters. A very good version was available from Vulcan food synthesizers even though the Vulcans are vegetarian."

"I've had the pleasure of indulging in that before," said Ishtar as she took a sampling of fruit and pipius claw onto a plate. "It's my understanding that a long time ago lobsters were a poor man's food on account of their abundance and propensity to rot, then a rich man's come advanced food preservation on account of their taste, than a poor man's again as they were one of the few things that could proliferate on Terra's poisoned oceans. It remains popular to this day, though I cannot understand why the lot of them insist on eating the creatures boiled like vegetables, when the meat takes on such great flavour when put to the flame. It is however curious that the Vulcans would have it in their replicators. Do you have members of my humourless cousin-race aboard?"

"Vulcans," said Arikel, "strive for perfection in all things, including their replicator menus. I believe we have two Vulans aboard, although that count might be off do the shuffling of refugees. Human cooking includes an unfortunate amount of boiling, although it can be quite excellent."

She picked up a claw, cracked it open and dipped in sauce. "We don't have Federation replicators, but we do have data downloads from them. You seem quite knowledgeable about Terra."

"I've made it my business to know a thing or two of the Star Road's rivals. The oh so cleverly named Earth is... was the capital world of the Federation, and the homeworld of its most... energetic species. They had a drink called Malort, which serves roughly the same purpose as gagh does on Qo'noS, in that it is consumed precisely because it is revolting. It pleases me that there is none of either to be seen on this table."

"No," said Kadon, "no gagh. It's only good live. The replicated stuff is complete garbage even if you have the taste for it. It's the wriggling as it goes down your throat, which most sapients find even more disgusting.

"Terra is a remarkable planet," said Kadon. "Who would have thought that Starfleet would become the Federation's major military arm at the beginning of the Federation? But it did. It is a reminder that other species do not think they way one might think they ought, that what you see reflected in them might be a projection of your own mind. Even concepts as simple and basic as 'safety' mean different things.

"And if not 'safety' then how do 'honour' and 'trust' and 'agreement' stand? And yet the Federation managed to integrate Tellarites, Vulcans, and Andorians into the same polity."

Ishtar looked into Kadon's eyes, intrigued by the man's obvious intelligence and philosophical mindset. "Most successful interstellar nations integrate wildly different cultures one way or another. What makes the Federation different is a matter of circumstance more than anything else. The four founding races were roughly equally matched in strength, and faced with the threat posed by the Rihannsu, it made sense for them to form a defensive alliance on equal terms. They would not have been able to stop us otherwise, the cost was steep enough for them as it was.

"Yet had any one of the four been decisively stronger than the others, that one would quickly taken a dominant role in the alliance. Indeed the Terrans eventually went on to do so regardless. Who would have predicted it? Well the Vulcans of course. Their greatest victory was in recognizing the great energy and ambition of humanity and turning it towards diplomacy and exploration. Otherwise, I expect it would have been a Terran Empire facing both our peoples on the other side of the Neutral Zone. Though I suspect the Vulcans would have found a way to maintain some power behind the scenes, my distant brethren are more cunning than given credit. Still things would have no doubt have been considerably bloodier for everyone involved."

"But they were not equally matched in terms of strength," said Kadon. "That is the logical assumption for us to make because of who we are and what the expectations of the cultures that educated us, but those are not the facts. The facts are, the Vulcans and the Andorians were the most powerful nations by far. Rivals in fact. It is Earth that becomes the heart of the Federation because the Terrans can do what no one else can: bridge the gap between the Andorians and Vulcans. "

"You are the one making assumptions," Ishtar replied. "I am not looking at it solely from the perspective of fleet strength. Being a neutral third party in a position to tip the scales is in and of itself a kind of strength, one invaluable and oft underestimated. It is by virtue of their neutral position, the fact that they could choose to join the one against the other, or to join neither and watch them destroy each other, that the Terrans had the leverage to bridge the gap between Vulcan and Andorian, with the Rihannsu expeditions providing the needed catalyst. Statecraft is not magic, and though the humans are unarguably good at it, they are not sorcerers. At times they can and do fail."

"And yet they were weaker in all ways," said Kadon. "Technologically, scientifically, militarily, economically, and politcally." He reached out and took a single slice of zilm'katch. He flipped it in the air so it landed perfectly in his open mouth. "They were weaker in all ways that matter, but they held one advantage: position. The reason a thousand generations of every species have taught their warrior children to play games on boards. We do it, you do it, the Humans do it, Vulcans do it, and so on. The reason both of our races developed cloaking technology and the reason both of us understand the difference between deception in war and politics and real treachery."

The Rihannsu Commander smiled broadly, "Yeess, precisely my point. I've had variants of this conversation many times, and so few seem to grasp that key point even after I lay it out explicitly. It was positioning that gave the Terrans the crucial advantage needed to be a player on the board rather than a mere piece. You are have a keen tactical and strategic mind Kadon, with the temperament to make good use of it. We've known each other briefly and yet it shines like a star. How is it that this Anderson is in command of the task force, and not yourself?"

"Many reasons," said Kadon. "Anderson's record is not short of glory and his ship is famed. That most of the ships in the fleet are Starfleet and he is Starfleet need not be said."

The Rihannsu woman muses on Kadon's words as she takes a long drink of the frankly excellent Blue she'd been provided with, "This is magnificent vintage, good enough for an Empress, my sincere thanks in making it available."

"You're welcome," said Kadon. "It's one of my vices. I picked it up during the Dominion War, after your people joined the fight. There were three weeks, starting with the Welcome to the War Party, that DS9 was all but swimming in it."

Ishtar smiles, "Certainly a good time to pick up the habit. How is the fire wine? It became something of a verboten thing to have in my Empire after yours allied with the Federation, needless to say every other noble immediately took on a taste for it. Blood wine proved rather less popular, though I understand many humans have grown fond of it over the years."

"The fire wine is most excellent," said Kadon as the Klingon junior officers swept in again. They changed out plates and laid down platters of bregit lung, beef and broccoli in black bean sauce, and Romulan jumbo mollusks. "I don't much care for bloodwine myself. The humans do some excellent vintages. Have you ever tried Bajoran springwine?"

"Oh yes, I arranged some shore leave on Bajor after the end of the war, and treated my whole crew to a couple of truckloads. It's so light and drinkable that they went through it all in one night, getting raucously and terribly drunk. When I ordered it, the locals could not believe that any sapient race could tolerate that much alcohol, then they saw it in person and realized too late that they hadn't thought through the implications of having many inebriated Rihannsu cavorting through town." Charvanek laughed, "We did not leave a very good impression, but I did make sure to pay for the damages."

"I also spent some shore leave on Bajor. A great hunting trip on Tozhat Province. The Bajorans were very hospitable, but that was after we had broken the back of the Cardassian Empire."

"Saving a people from slavery does tend to incline them to graciousness. Also, unlike the Cardassians, we intended to leave. It's unfortunate we're not coming back under more favourable circumstances." Ishtar took an interest in the bregit lung, savouring the texture.

Kadon powered through a large helping of beef and broccoli as Ishtar spoke. He paused to sip some of the excellent fire wine. "Have you every met a vedek?"

"Yes, she had very strong things to say about public drunkenness, public nudity, destruction of public property, and especially my qualities as an officer. Also pridefulness, lots of things about the dangers of pridefulness when, come morning, I demonstrated I had things under exactly as much control as I wished to exert. The damage was, after all, only superficial." Ishtar paused to chew a mouthfull of jumbo mollusk. "This, by the way, is quite good. Not as good as my personal chef's, but that was fresh not replicated, and he was a first tier chef."

"That sounds like one of the vedeks I've met," said Kadon. "Others weren't as bad. The problem is that the Bajorans listen to them. And since Bajor and its colonies are the largest chunk of what is left of the Federation, that means Starfleet will be getting their orders from people who listen very closely to vedeks."

Charvanek pondered this, "No I don't think so, Starfleet will be getting orders from what's left of Starfleet Command. That said, the people who listen very closely to vedeks are going to be exerting an outsized and growing influence. A prospect which, I must admit, does not very much appeal to me. I have no ill will towards the Bajorans, but in matters military they have not exactly covered themselves in glory."

"Starfleet takes its orders from the Federation Council," said Kadon. "Operationally it will be run by whatever is left of Starfleet Command and the individual captains, but the principles the Federation will fight and die for includes subordination of their military to their elected civilian representatives." He took another sip of fire wine. "Which means they will obey the Federation Council and many of those men and women will pay a lot of attention when a vedek speaks."

"True," said Ishtar, "but the war against the Borg has seen the influence of Starfleet Command over the Federation Council increase considerably. Long wars nearly always shift power from the civilian leadership to the military's. Nonetheless, that military will still listen very closely to what the elected representatives have to say, which does leave us with the same unpleasant prospect: a religious official having more influence on military affairs than blessing decisions that have already been made. Which I think, brings us back to the matter of the commanding officer of this task force, does it not?"

"We need to know the political situation before we start laying plans," said Kadon. "Starfleet will have its own inquiry, complete with interminable meetings around tables as they endlessly discuss things. We don't know how things are at Bajor. Perhaps the vedeks are divided. Perhaps they've overplayed their hand. Perhaps they're running everything. Unless you have other ideas."

Charvanek worked on her food for several moments, as if pondering the matter, but she'd already arrived at the answer. "Captain Anderson was elected to command this task force by vote of its assembled captains, was he not? We only need to convince enough of them that in light of the botched capture of the Saeihr and your brilliant victory against that Borg assault cube, you are clearly more fit for command. All we need is the time to bring the matter up for discussion, before we arrive at Bajor."

"It will take more than that," said Kadon. "They will resist being pushed into doing this before Bajor. Unless Anderson loses more of their confidence in him they will not look to me."

"It's all a matter of approach, dissent can be sown over time, and mundane decisions can be painted in a bad light. The limiting factor is that the period of disruption must be kept very short, lest we find ourselves facing the Borg with a dysfunctional command. I think one other badly thought out or impulsive decision on Anderson's part would definitely provide the necessary catalyst, the problem there is that by the time we get one we could have another disaster in our hands. In all, it's a difficult problem. Still I believe that if we get the time to bring the matter up for discussion, we should strongly consider doing so."

"If it is necesary to do so, I will not turn from it," said Kadon pushing his plate away. "But we are close to Bajor now and without an incident to justify it, such a move will be seen as a power grab and justify their fears."

"That sounds agreeable under the circumstances," replies Ishtar.

"Is that about it for the conspiring or do you have any other matters you wish to discuss?" asked Kadon.

"One more matter yes, I wish to have custody of Shodar Tyrian and his senior officers given over to me. I must settle a personal matter of honour. I hope you understand. Would you have any objections to this?"

"I will support you in this, but it is a fleet matter," replied Kadon.

"Thank you Squadron Leader. Since Riov Cretak has custody over the prisoners, he has agreed to take the matter up with Anderson. I do hope that he will not be disagreeable."

"Starfleet can be difficult in matters of honour, but seizing the tender was a crime against the Romulan Star Empire and you are the senior Romulan officer present."

Ishtar nods, "I'm glad you understand."

After that the conversation shifted to small talk and trading war stories as the assembled company finished off the drinks.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:31 pm 
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IRW S’harien
Alpha Quadrant, Ready Room


Riov Galan Cretak glanced at the crystal glass which was half-empty with Romulan ale. The genuine article was a rapidly dwindling resource in the galaxy since the fall of the Empire. In the eyes of many of the surviving Romulans, these tangible reminders of home were important almost as much as ordnance and personnel. His eyes lingered on the midnight blue color of the fluid before the glass was brought to his lips, half the remaining contents drained before the glass was put aside.

Erei’Riov Hanaj Dar the only other Romulan in the room with him waited until the glass was placed down before he spoke.

“What do you think your sister is after?” Hanaj asked.

“An advantage of some kind I expect. I do not know of the history between her and Shodar Tyran and I did not care enough to ask.” Galan hesitated for a moment before continuing. “It may be residual anger over the situation with the Saeihr or something else entirely.”

Hanaj took a sip from his own drink before he responded. “If Ishtar wanted him dead, this would be one way to do it.”

Galan nodded. “It would be. I don’t have any plans or aspirations for Shodar Tyran. He is lucky to be alive and if Ishtar simply wants his life, I am happy to oblige.”

“Ishtar was always reputed to craft plans within plans.” Hanaj added.

“It was our way. Ishtar was simply better than most.” Galan continued.

“So what comes next?” Hanaj asked.

“I told her that I would speak with Captain Anderson on her behalf. I expect that she will be speaking with Captain Kadon in short order herself. I don’t foresee any difficulties in convincing Captain Anderson that this situation is best resolved by supporting Ishtar’s request.” Galan drained the contents of his glass and placed it down. His eyes glancing towards a data pad which mirrored navigational data from the S’harien’s sensors.

“We are almost to Prophet’s landing.” He said.

“Let’s see if our visit goes more smoothly than the last time we visited a Federation aligned world.” Hanaj said dryly before draining the contents on his own drink.

“We will see.” Galan said.

IRW S’Harien
Alpha Quadrant, Prophet’s Landing
Bridge


The bridge of the S’harien was quiet and professional as the Warbird traveled along the rest of the task force towards Prophet’s landing. The Warbird’s passive sensors sought to gorge themselves on as much information as possible military or otherwise within the system. All non-encrypted and encrypted emissions within its sphere of influence snared. The open communications were quickly sorted, categorized, and forwarded to relevant parties within the Warbird by the ship’s computer. Encrypted communications were sorted by point of origin, encryption type, and overall usefulness. The computer sought to employ a number of encryption cracking protocols with these communications. The success rate was far lower than it would have been had the Empire still survived.

“We are getting hailed by Prophet’s landing Riov.” The communication officer said.

“Acknowledge the hail. Let’s see how Captain Kadon and Captain Anderson want to handle this approach.” Riov Cretak said. His eyes glancing at a console as the hail from Prophet’s landing was transcribed into the console.

“Follow the task force in to orbit. It looks like we are going to be here a few days. Give me a list of all the ships in orbit and cross-reference with existing records.” He continued.

“Understood.” The sensor officer responded.

Riov Cretak glanced towards Erei’Riov Hanaj Dar and leaned slightly into his command chair.

Let’s see what comes from this.

The thought made its way to the surface of Riov Cretak’s mind before it vanished. He took a deep breath and held it before speaking once more.

“Communications, send a message to the Immortal. I would like an opportunity to speak with Captain Anderson after our approach is worked out. I am willing to speak to him in person aboard his ship or through my ready room if that is more convenient.”

“As you command Riov.” His communication officer said before establishing the necessary communication protocols with the Federation ship and sending his request.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:19 pm 
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"One of the many fundamental difficulties in understanding the Klingon people has been their own concept of honour. As always, something is lost and translation and while the numerous honour codes found throughout the history of such worlds as Terra, Andor, and even Vulcan provide useful parallels it is also at critical junctions that they fail us. Carl von Clausewitz famously wrote "War is the continuation of politics by other means." Clausewitz went on to emphasize that politics continued during a state of war. Klingons may be helpfully understood to reverse the statement. "Politics is the continuation of war by other means." Conflict does not cease because the war is over.

"In English we have the terms hot war and cold war and these are very well understood by Klingons. It is not treachery to conspire against an enemy in cold war, to engage in covert violence and sabotage, to intrigue and to undermine one's enemy. The struggles for power by the Great Houses and the so called khomerex zha, the Great Game of Empire, show how deeply routed this concept of conflict is in Klingon society.

"This is not to say that Klingons, like any other species, can't be enormous hypocrites on the subject of honour and treachery. The enormous practical convenience of treachery creates its own argument for the violation of ethical norms."

-Michelle Ford, The Fire Among the Stars: Towards an Understanding of the Klingon People



"What did we learn?" asked Kadon as senior officers begin to sit around the table in what would the conference room on a Starfleet Vessel. The Klingons called it the planning room.

"She knows this game," said Morizan. "She's played it many times." The Intelligence agent touched a display. "She displays a few ticks when buttons are pushed, like when you called her "Commander",-"

"I caught that," said Kadon. "She just flew on."

"Exactly," said Morizan. "If it really bothered her, she didn't let on. She didn't get distracted from her purpose. She also reacted when you challenged her about the Federation, but also moved passed it. She didn't get distracted from her goal, which was to shake up the squadron's power structure."

"That doesn't mean she didn't care about it or won't act on it," said Arikel. "It merely proves that she possesses a disciplined mind, hardly a surprising attribute in a Romulan senior officer."

"Advice?" Kadon asked.

"She's prospered in Romulan politics for a long time," said Morizan. "Many of her supposed allies haven't. This is, however, war and military success is what earned her a military career. She'll take the long view, which means as long as we're assets she will seek to control us, not destroy us. And she's too smart to value the control more than the victory. Her first move will to get the Klingon parts of her crew to talk to ours."

"Kallor?"

"They follow her. If Murugan thought otherwise, he would have killed her by now or let me know in one of many ways. He didn't. He is her captain."

Morizan nodded. "The only thing a crew likes to do more than brag about their captain is complain about their captain. Her Klingons will know about that too. She has a long and glorious record, lovingly documented with only a few huge gaping holes in our computers. She has much less data and she will not allow herself to be at such a disadvantage when she has a remedy so easily at hand. She'll know your nickname is "Thought Captain" by the end of the week."

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:47 am 
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General Havoc wrote:
"This is Vedek Ikesh of Prophet's Landing to all alien vessels approaching our planet. We welcome you, strangers, to Bajoran space. Provided you carry no Borg, you are welcome to pause here on route to Bajor. The Borg have been raiding ships moving between our planet and the homeworld, so you must wait for their patrols to pass before making your run there. Please feel free to enter orbit and prepare to send your leaders down to meet with the colony council."


The bridge was quiet as the message played. It had been a long time since they had come close to a friendly planet not screaming in utter panic. Captain Anderson sat in his bridge chair rubbing the metal of his left forearm.

"Thoughts?" He asked mildly.

"I've not seen so many ships since Vulcan fell." said the helmswoman, a blonde Edo Ensign.

"Mostly civilians. Not of much use expect as ferries and targets." First Officer Tak muttered.

"Anything with a warp core has... uses XO. Remember to think outside the box." Captain Anderson pointed out. Tak visually thought for a moment and nodded slowly. Cerezi turned in her seat looking at the captain with widened eyes.

"Signal Prophet's Rest, rely the following. This is Captain Anderson, commanding. My captains and I will be pleased to meet with the colony council, we request any information they can give us on Borg patrols, as we would not wish to strain their resources any further then necessary." Captain Anderson ordered.

"Second Message to Captain..." He was interrupted by a message chime.

General Havoc wrote:
"To say nothing of the Romulans," concurred Kalpov. "Signal Immortal and ask them what their instructions are. Tell them that if we're stuck here for a couple of days, I'd like to get as many kids off this ship as possible."


"Tell them that's going to depend on the situation on the ground. We'll know after meeting the council but I will inquire."


Marcao wrote:
“Communications, send a message to the Immortal. I would like an opportunity to speak with Captain Anderson after our approach is worked out. I am willing to speak to him in person aboard his ship or through my ready room if that is more convenient.”


"Speak of the devil..." muttered Cerezi having a good idea of who Captain Anderson would have asked to speak to. Captain Anderson looked at her amused.

"You've been watching to many old movies." He teased gently before turning to com.

"Reply to Captain Cretak, I would pleased to speak to him and my ship is ready to host him. Also contact Captain Kadon, send my compliments and I request a word before we head down to the planet. Tell the crew to get a shuttle ready." Captain Anderson ordered.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 2:47 am 
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It was once observed by a human diplomat that Klingons do not grieve as humans do. He believed that instead of sharing their grief as humans do, Klingons bare their teeth at all who would approach them and deal with it alone. He further stated that he thought that the energy from this helped drive their culture. The Klingon response to this argument is telling: they scoff. Klingons do share their grief and are very enthusiastic about doing it. The English word for this sharing is "revenge."

-Michelle Ford, The Fire Among the Stars: Towards an Understanding of the Klingon People

Kadon sat up on his bed. "Please repeat 'Proke."

Communications Officer Aaveroke dutifully obeyed, his cheerful voice filling the captain's cabin. "Captain Anderson sends his regards and wants a word with you as soon as possible."

"Return my compliments to Captain Anderson and send the signal here." He stood and gestured, causing an image of the Starfleet captain to appear in the air. "What do you need, Captain?"

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:22 pm 
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The response from the planet was immediate.

"We will share what we have, Captain, though if the Borg have been evidencing any pattern to their patrols, we have not yet decyphered it. Praises be to the prophets, they have not sought to strike us here in Prophet's Landing. The Prophets have protected us from their ravages, and will continue to do so, as long as we hold to their teachings."

There was no sign of irony to this statement. Nor would anyone have expected there to be in these times. Prayer was all that most entire species had left.

"We await your command staff at the capital, Captain. Please array your ships in orbit around the planet, but do not approach the third moon. It is sacred to the Bajoran people, and must not be profaned by military ships, lest the Prophets withdraw their hand from us, and leave us to be conquered by the Borg."

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:51 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant,
IRW S’harien

Riov Cretak waited patiently for a response after his communication officer send his request to the Immortal. His attention flickered away from the communication console, his left hand moving in order to summon a new set of data screens. His attention focused on the world of Prophet’s Landing beneath them. The world seemed to be full of promise and their goal laid just beyond it. He would have preferred not to disembark on the world, given what had transpired before. The last time that his people had been on a world, the end results had been less than desirable.

It is such a beautiful world though with an actual sky, an actual sun.

His thoughts were dispelled when his communication officer spoke.

“Riov, the Immortal is responding. They are offering an invitation to their ship.”

“Thank you. Tell them that I am on my way.” Riov Cretak said before standing from his command chair and glancing to his left. “The S’harien is yours Hanaj.” His second in command nodded in response as he strode out of the bridge and headed towards the nearest transport hub within the S’harien.

While the S’harien had the capability to transport him to the Immortal from the bridge with little difficult, the transport hubs within the vessel were utilized for situations were safety was paramount. The transport hubs contained pattern enhancers, and a host of other enhancements designed to simplify transport and minimize the possibilities of any disruptions or difficulties. As soon as he crossed the threshold into the transport hub, a male Reman and female Romulan marine saluted as did the Romulan officer in charge of the transport hub itself. He glanced towards them all and nodded, the men and women relaxing as Riov Cretak stepped into a familiar circular pattern located in the middle of the room.

“Riov Cretak, the Immortal responds that all is in readiness. Stand by for transport.” The female Romulan officer said as her fingers deftly glided amongst a series of controls.

Riov Cretak felt the energy field envelop him before the emerald hue manifested around him. He took a deep breath, the familiar smell of the S’harien enjoyed one last time before the emerald field intensified and swallowed him whole.

Alpha Quadrant,
Prophet’s Landing, Colony Control


The control center for Prophet’s landing was composed of a number of men and women that had over time become quite accustomed to their job. The constant trickle of ships on their way to Bajor to what many expected and feared to be the last gasp of resistance in the Alpha quadrant was expected. The terror that that trickle of friendly ships could at any moment turn into a flood of Borg was a fear that every man and woman had accepted. The Bajorans that could do the job effectively leveraged their faith in the prophets, their professionalism, and sought to do their job as best they could.

While the arrival of ships was a constant occurrence, it quickly became apparent that there was something unusual about this particular group of ships. The make up of the majority of the fleet was Federation, but the presence of the Romulan and Klingon ships made the arrival of the task force unusual in some respects. Most of the people in colony control did their jobs as efficiently as they could documenting the arrivals, downloading relevant data about the ships into the colonies data-banks and cross referencing existing data bases for the ships in question. For the majority of the professionals within the control room it was simple procedure. There were others however, that were more aware of the potential treasure trove of information that was available within the room at any given time. Turi Idomo was one such individual.

Immortal. Riskadh. S’harien. Scylla. Gilgamesh. Humboldt. Khanjar…

The names of the ships in question flickered along the surface of her mind as her fingers darted over her console. Turi was not the most senior Bajoran sensor control officer but it was her shift and she knew how the game of survival was played. She understood that information was the new currency of the galaxy. For many months she had tried to do her job to the best of her ability and to simply keep her head down. As time had progressed however, she had noticed that not all of her peers lived the same way. There had been a handful of people that always managed to get more. With the fall of civilization, bartering had become the new normal. The colony provided the essentials to its residents as best as it could but there were shortages everywhere even with the replicators running at capacity. In the end, if you wanted more you had to find something that other people wanted.

Nearly every surviving intelligence agency had assets in Prophet’s landing. The hard part was initially making contact with their representatives. Turi could not have relied on any of the people within her work place as they all were her competitors. Eventually, she had managed to make contact with a Ferengi representative and a Romulan. The Romulan agent paid better but asked for more specific information than the Ferengi did. It was this reason why her attention was naturally drawn to the IRW S’Harien.

There aren’t many Valdores left.

The thought swam to the surface of Turi’s mind before her eyes widened. As the task force moved ever closer to Prophet’s landing information pertaining to the vessels was constantly being expanded. It was the name of the commanding officer of the S’harien that caught her attention.

Riov Galen Cretak.

Her lips parted into a small smile, small white teeth flashed before her fingers glided over the console. The relevant information pertaining to the IRW S’harien and its commanding officer copied and routed through a series of painstakingly crafted protocols before the information was secured onto a small data disk. Turi knew that if she played her cards right, she would be compensated for the information that she held in her hands. The question was who she would offer the information first. The Ferengi or the Romulans themselves?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:09 am 
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Some time before the arrival at Prophet's Landing

The three guests who had gone Kadon's party aboard the Riskdah - khre'Riov Charvanek, Dahar Master Murugan, and batgirl Nerio - sat in Khanjar's main conference room. A lightly built Rihanha man with a scarred face and a sinister countenance had joined them, the ship's intelligence officer Moros Erebos. He was the Tal Diann officer assigned to the Imperatrix Ael t'Rllaillieu to keep an eye on Ishtar Charvanek, the Tal Shiar agent infiltrated in the Tal Diann to keep an eye on Ishar Charvanek, and the House Charvanek retainer hidden in the Tal Shiar to deceive the eyes kept on Ishtar Charvanek. It was a testament to the consummate skill with which he conducted his job that all three had been satisfied with his performance. As for the man's true loyalties, well it had not escaped his notice that when his charge prospered, so did he.

"So Nerio, I did not bring you along just for decoration, do tell me what you think," ordered the older Rihaha woman.

"Um, well their Klingons are a lot like ours?" replied Nerio hesitantly.

"Yes, turns out apocalyptic wars of extinction place negative selection pressure on the other kind," said Ishtar. "Now tell me something a child couldn't."

The girl thought for a moment, "Kadon reminds me of Denkara a little."

"Does he now?" asked Ishtar intrigued.

"Yeah, it's the eyes. There's a thoughtfulness to them, but it's... solid, you know? He's not inside his own head, he's always in there with you, you can't not notice him. Denkara was like that too, but also different. She was, um, hotter I guess? Like a fire, feels warm but you can't get to close. Kadon is like the cold version of it, if that makes any sense."

The khre'Riov glanced at her intelligence officer, who returned her look with a sly grin, "I can see why you keep her around, Daise. It's a good assessment."

He continued, "This Kadon does indeed seem to have a certain presence about him, which suggests good leadership qualities. Then there is his already demonstrated tactical and strategic acumen, and evidently good political instincts. I would say that he seems to be an intellectual and philosophical sort, and judging by the IDIC pin prominently displayed by his Executive, he clearly values that in others. I expect you'll find him to be one who acts quickly but never rashly, and is always in control of himself if nothing else. In all, a very valuable asset to have on our side." A pause. "I do hope you will treat this one with more care than you did the last one, Daise. Warriors of such high calibre are becoming a distressingly rare resource, and I think we would all be best served if you didn't break this one too."

Murugan snorted, "It was the General's own foolishness that destroyed her."

"Leave it to a Klingon to underestimate interpersonal influences upon the psyche" retorted Erebos. "Denkara showed every sign of being functionally stable until she grew close to-"

"Gentlemen," interrupted Charvanek firmly. "If you really must rehash this for the tenth time, then I invite you to do so on the far side of an airlock. In the meantime, we are discussing Kadon zantai Khemera. Murugan, what's your take on him?"

The old Klingon shrugged, "Kallor trusts trusts his judgement implicitly."

"High praise I take it?"

"From a man as sharp as Kallor, the highest."

The khre'Riov nodded, "All right, we've established you all badly want to fellate the man. So, what's he looking looking for?"

"Obviously the same thing as you are, Daise. He needs a friend," said Erebos. "The officers of this task force do have some evident respect for Kadon, enough to make him the second in command, yet it seems that's as far as it goes, and judging from report of the action against the pirates, that's not even all that far. My read is he lacks for allies willing to press his interests, and we are in the same circumstance since we only just arrived. It is fortuitous then that our interests and his thus far seem to align." He stopped for a moment to take a long draught an greenish-amber drink. "And of course there's the matter of Cretak. Oh I'm sure he gets along just fine with your brother-in-law, but he'd be wise to have insurance in case that changes, and thus far he not shown a lack of wisdom."

Charvanek turned to the Dahar Master, "Murugan?"

The Klingon had little to add, so instead of answering the question, he asked one of his own, "How are our repair crews getting along with the others aboard the fleet tender?"

"Ah, that has been most interesting," observed the Tal Diann officer. "It's only been a day you understand, but the interactions in that span have been nonetheless intriguing. Apparently the three parts of our crew have been getting along better than we've appreciated, since it would seem our Rihannsu are too Klingon, our Klingons too Rihan, and the both of them too Havran. It has been slightly bewildering to crews of the S'harien and the Riskda. Still, kind calls to kind, and the personnel of both ships seem glad to no longer be the only ones of their own race within the task force."

"So my crew is simultaneously too boisterous and too withdrawn, too earnest and too shifty, too blunt and too indirect, and too weird yet normal enough," observed the khre'Riov. "I'm so proud."

With that, the meeting quickly wrapped up and Charvanek dismissed the others. Murugan however, stayed behind.

"What is it?" she asked.

"I don't need to tell you that you won't be able to control him," he said quietly.

"No you don't, so what are you going to tell me?"

"That he can be more than just an ally of convenience."

"I'll keep that in mind," she said, then headed to her room to catch some needed sleep.

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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 2:20 am 
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Cynical Cat wrote:
"Return my compliments to Captain Anderson and send the signal here." He stood and gestured, causing an image of the Starfleet captain to appear in the air. "What do you need, Captain?"


"I am heading to the surface to meet the leaders of the planetary government. I would like it if you attended. If you cannot, I would ask you send a representative. I'll be heading down with Captain Cretak. Kadon, they seem to have gone full theocrat on us. I'll be relaying some information to the fleet but I wanted to ask you to try probing for further information about their government and Bajor at the meeting. I will signal when we head down to the capital of their planet." Captain Anderson said. It was always best to get straight to the point with a Klingon, as they hated to waste time. Anderson honestly found that a rather rational attitude to take all things considered.

Immortal to fleet

Attention all ships. We have been cleared to orbit the planet of Prophet's Rest. The planetary government has requested all ships do not approach the third moon. We will comply with this request until further notice.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2018 10:21 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant,
USS Immortal


The emerald fielded which had begun within the IRW S’harien ended aboard the USS Immortal. When the field faded, Riov Galen Cretak stood within the storied Federation warship. His eyes adjusted briefly, the unfamiliar smell of the Federation vessel and its host of species noted before Cretak’s head turned and immediately came to rest on a human wearing the familiar Federation uniform.

“Commander Cretak, please follow me. Captain Anderson is expecting you.” The human officer said politely.

Riov Cretak nodded. “Lead the way.”

The human officer hesitated for only a moment before turning on his heels and striding out of the room. Cretak followed two steps behind him. As he walked down the corridor of the Immortal, he took the opportunity to look around. Every time his eyes caught sight of personnel human and non-human they all wore the same determined faces hinted by a touch of excitement. Prophet’s Landing brought them one step closer to Bajor and whatever promise of a final confrontation with the Borg. He did not dwell on the promise of Bajor and the battles to come. Those battles were beyond his control, he was here to speak with Anderson about his sister’s request and to try to determine how to keep from stepping on any problems on this new world. The last visit to a Federation world had brought with its fair share of disappointments.

It did not take long for him and his escort to arrive on their destination. He had studied Federation warships extensively prior to the fall of the Empire. The Immortal itself did not appear to deviate too much from the ship plans that he had seen previously. His escort paused by the doors leading to a conference room and stopped before entering, his body turning in a smooth and practiced motion before speaking.

“Captain Anderson will be with you shortly Commander.”

Riov Cretak nodded and strode into the conference room.

Alpha Quadrant,
IRW S’Harien

“Message coming in from the Immortal Erei’Riov” the communications officer of the S’harien said.

“Let’s hear it” Erei’Riov Dar said from his command chair. He listened to the message in silence before nodding. His left hand moved, a sequence of glyphs pressed as sensors were accessed. “Helm, put us in this position.”

His words had barely finished when he felt the almost imperceptible shift as the S’harien accelerated and settled on a course that would place the Warbird in orbit over Prophet’s Landing. Erei’Riov Hanaj Dar waited for a moment, his attention focused mostly on the sensor screen which provided him the position of all the ships in their task force relative to the world they sought to orbit.

_________________
The Peddler of Half Truths.
"Not OP, therefore weakest." - Cynical Cat (May 2016)
"A dog doesn’t need to show his teeth as long as his growl’s deep enough, his food bowl is full and he knows where all the bones are buried." - Frank Underwood


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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 12:24 am 
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Prophet's Landing
9 Hours Later

The ship was quiet. Not literally, the humming of the systems and the stirring of the bridge crew was the same that it had ever been, but with half the crew on leave below, it simply "felt" different, in that strange, ephemeral manner that ships often could. Kalpov tried to ignore it. He didn't like having the crew off-vessel for any length of time, but to insist on that with a living planet below would have been the height of stupidity for its own sake.

It would also have been rank hypocrisy, given what he was about to do.

"Status?"

He regretted asking instantly, as he had demanded status reports from the third officer twice already in the last ten minutes. This was a good way to rile up the bridge crew for no reason. Fortunately, the third officer was a Vulcan, and consistently able to deflect such things.

"All systems nominal, Commander. A slight fluctuation in the dorsal deflector array. Chief Joral'Vec is endeavoring to track down the cause."

Kalpov nodded. Ereshal would have included some kind of reminder not to let his nerves show, but Ereshal was with the crew below, chaperoning six hundred civilians and crew as they worked off the stress of the last week as best they could. By the estimates of the colony officials, they wouldn't be able to make the run to Bajor for three more days in any event, so they were all stuck here, and Kalpov would have far preferred to leave, when they left, with a ship that was not packed to Deck 1 with loose children.

A chime on the combadge drew his attention. He tapped it once to silence the alarm, and for a moment, considered resetting it for another hour, as he had done three times already. This time though, he knew he would not. There was no longer even the slightest pretense that the ship needed him here. He was stalling for time, and everyone would know it. And some, like Luther, might begin to ask questions as to what it was that Commander Kalpov was putting off with such alacrity. It would be easy to invent a story of course, but part of surviving this long involved never telling lies you didn't have to.

"Lieutenant," said Kalpov. "Take the bridge. I'll be on the surface for the next bit."

A perfectly timed Vulcan eyebrow-raise. "Commander, this is most unexpected. Shall I prepare a security team to escort - "

"That won't be necessary," said Kalpov. "I can take the air on a planet without needing a minder. Inform Commander Ereshal that I'm on-planet."

"Shall I ask her to return to the ship, sir?"

"I think the ship can survive without us for a few hours," he said, adding just the right touch of weariness to the words. "But I do want you to signal the S'harien for me. Let's see if we can't hash a few things out..."

*--------------------------------------------------------------------------*

Message to the IRW S'harien

"Commander Kalpov requests an audience with Ri'ov Cretak of the IRW S'harien on the surface of Prophet's Landing at his earliest convenience."

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:43 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant,
IRW S’harien, Personal Quarters,
9 hours after arrival

Galen Cretak frowned as his eyes focused on the data pad held on his right hand. With the request from his sister having been taken resolved to his satisfaction, he had returned to the S’harien and rested for a time. For the last hour, he had begun to catch himself up with the information relating the Prophet’s Landing that had been gathered since that time. Sindari N’vek had made initial contact with Tal’shiar elements in the world below and had negotiated access to their files. The information that had been secured presented a host of opportunities and potential pitfalls. The intention of the task force was to try and make it to Bajor as soon as possible.

The estimate was three days.

He hoped that was indeed what transpired. He had little desire to get involved in another planetary problem. Prophet’s Landing was on sounder footing than the previously visited Federation agrarian world that had led to his ship being used as a refugee ship. Most of the people that they had picked up had chosen to stay in the S’harien until their arrival to Bajor proper in interviews within the ship. They were all however planet side at the moment as were a third of the crew of the S’harien proper. The world below them was too big of an opportunity to squander. The majority of the crew of the S’harien went to civilization, the largest city or second largest in order to mingle, socialize, and haggle. Smaller groups of his crew had opted to be deposited away from civilization in smaller groups near bodies of water, forests, and other landmarks of the planet. These men and women wanted little to do but experience a living world around them. They needed time to stand apart and reflect.

I can understand that desire.

Galen entertained the thought for a moment. Some of his most cherished memories had taken place in isolated places within Romulus and other worlds within the Empire. Moments which he had shared with family, friends, and at times precious companions. Galen closed his eyes for a moment and allowed himself to revisit one of those places in his mind. The first memory to come to mind was that of the Apnex Sea, a smile came to his lips as he remembered the trip that his family had taken upon his admission to the Imperial War College. The face of his mother began to come to focus when a familiar sound brought him out of his reverie. The chime lingered for a moment in the quiet of his room, his eyes opening as his left hand moved.

“Yes?” He said.

“Riov, a message from Commander Kalpov. He requests an audience with you in the surface of Prophet’s Landing.” The communication officer spoke softly.

Riov Cretak stood from his favorite chair and considered the request for a moment. “Tell him that I will be providing coordinates momentarily.”
“Riov” His communication officer responded curtly before closing the link.

“What are you up to Kalpov.” Riov Cretak wondered aloud, his attention focusing on the data pad in his hands. It took him less than a minute to make a decision on a good meeting place on the surface of the world. It took a further twenty-two and a half minutes to make arrangements for himself and Kalpov given that he had to work through an intermediary and could not do so directly. Thirty two minutes after the initial request, the IRW S’harien reached out to USS Argonaut.

“Riov Cretak will be honored to meet Commander Kalpov at the following coordinates.” The message simply said.

Alpha Quadrant,
Prophet’s Landing, Borhyas Monastery


Riov Cretak waited patiently within the Bajoran Monastery for his guest to arrive. The Vedek in charge of the monastery had been accommodating for his request of a place where he and his guest could meditate and atone. The Bajoran people were deeply spiritual and while the circumstances in the galaxy had changed dramatically, their inner strength had endured. Cretak washed as a group of monks went about their tasks barely paying attention the Emerald garbed Romulan in their midst. Once Kalpov arrived, it would be a trivial matter to transition to one of the number of semi-covered gardens on the periphery of the monastery. The view would be breath taking and all necessary preparations had already taken place.

_________________
The Peddler of Half Truths.
"Not OP, therefore weakest." - Cynical Cat (May 2016)
"A dog doesn’t need to show his teeth as long as his growl’s deep enough, his food bowl is full and he knows where all the bones are buried." - Frank Underwood


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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 2:33 am 
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Off in the some of the small corners of academia there is heated debate whether or not the Klingons would have achieved warp travel without the Hurq invasion. The argument goes that the Klingons are too warlike and uninterested in science to have created warp technology on their own.

No serious scholar of Klingons believes that. They are the race which swears upon the naked stars, never had religious interference in scientific development, have the technical skill to develop cloaking technology which the Federation has given up on for technical as well as political reasons, and whose pivotal social and political icon references traveling to the stars as part of the destiny of his people.

When the Klingons crossed their oceans they found more people like them. When the Hurq crossed the gulf of space to descend upon Q'onoS, they brought with them war and planetary strip mining. A better question is "what would the Klingons have been if they hadn't been invaded by the Hurq?"


-Michelle Ford, The Fire Among the Stars: Towards an Understanding of the Klingon People


"I'll arrange transport at you convenience Captain Anderson," Kadon replied.

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PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2018 3:45 pm 
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Prophet’s Landing, Borhyas Monastery

The glow of the transporter beam faded slowly, as it always did when he was beaming everywhere, part of the extra "precautions" that Ereshal had inserted into the transporter buffers. If anyone else had ever noticed, no word of it had ever reached Kalpov's ears, which was unsurprising. Ereshal had been plucked from the ship's engineering corps to serve as XO, and knew the Argonaut better than anyone else still alive.

He was alone, for what he was about to discuss would serve no witnesses, not even Ereshal herself, whose trust should not be put through the rigors of what might have to happen in the next day or so. She would know, but she need not be involved, small beer though that distinction might ultimately be. He was unarmed as well, for what purpose was there in carrying a phaser to this sort of a meeting. If Cretak decided to meet him with fifty Reman marines covered head-to-toe in battle armor, sporting disruptors and tachyon lathes, then what use would be a hand-phaser against it? Either he would need no weapons, or he would have to be all the weapon necessary. He expected the former case, the Romulan captain had already met him under stranger circumstances than this before, but with Romulans, hell with anyone, it was good to think of possibilities. He had not checked the coordinates for the meeting beforehand either, beyond having one of the junior officers ensure that he wasn't beaming down into an active volcano or the like. This had nothing to do with security, and more to do with the fact that he wanted the surprise of where, on this living, breathing planet, he would arrive.

It turned out to be a rural monastery, far from any other settled place on the planet, a quiet location free of any sense that it or the galaxy was in the process of being turned inside-out by the Borg. The atrium of the main entrance was richly decorated with local hardwoods and stone frescoes of Emissaries and Kais. Warm winds blew in from the south, where the Monestary's gardens flowed over a large hill and down towards a river valley below. The sight was like something from a holonovel, all the moreso now, in times such as these. Small handfuls of yellow-clad Bajoran monks shuffled about to and fro, without more than a glance for their Starfleet visitor. Only a single Romulan, standing out as only Romulans could in a setting like this, was motionless, as though waiting for something.

Kalpov put on his game face. To do anything else would be insulting, and sighting Cretak, stepped forward. "Ri'ov," he said, "thank you for agreeing to meet. I trust the S'harien is operating well? That she took no substantial damage from the battle in the Badlands?"

Klingons and Vulcans, as a rule, detested small talk, and humans varied in their tolerance for it, but Romulans appreciated the subtle uses of such precursors, the coded references that told them what sort of serious conversation it was to be. Besides, to fail to express concern for a fellow warship would not only also be insulting, but foolish besides. And if there was anything Kalpov could not afford to be seen as now, it was as a fool.

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Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


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