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Join Date: Jul 2012
09-21-2013, 05:15 PM
"We approach the target system," K'Gan reports.
"Excellent." We have made good time - especially considering our circuitous path through Federation space. "Drop out of warp. Are our diplomatic credentials still in order?"
"Broadcasting our ambassadorial status on all channels," Ch'gren reports from the ops console Like K'Gan, he is Klingon - possibly too Klingon, sometimes. It is clear he is nervous about having no more protection than a diplomatic status code. If the truth be told, I am a little concerned myself.
Truth.... "Tell me," I say. "Suppose you were part of a gathering, and you had guilty knowledge of something that others did not. Would you speak at this gathering, or remain silent?"
K'Gan frowns. "Guilty knowledge of what?"
"It is not important. I ask for your... general... feeling."
K'Gan's frown deepens. "An honest man speaks freely, from the heart," he says, eventually. "If I were guilty of something, dishonour would seal my lips."
"Those who conceal something in their hearts would fear to let it slip," Ch'gren agrees.
"So, the honest man would speak, and the dishonest would keep silent. I see. Interesting."
They are Klingons, honest, and plain soldiers. I exchange glances with Sano, the science officer, an Orion woman like myself. We both know the conclusion that inevitably follows; that the man who wishes to
innocent will speak freely. So, how am I to judge between the honest speakers and the dissemblers?
A problem for another time. "I have a sensor contact," Sano announces. "Correction. Multiple contacts. But, I think, only one that matters."
"Several low-powered vessels in orbit around the planet - my judgment is, they are civilian craft associated with a relief effort. But one is moving, and that one reads high in mass and energy.
high...." A frown of puzzlement crosses her face. "It does not appear to be a Starfleet configuration...."
"Well," I say, "we ourselves would appear to be the despicable Fek'lhri, at first glance. Cross-reference with all available data files - and, Ch'gren, try the obvious; see if you can get a transponder code."
"More contacts," Sano says. "Scattered, at various points throughout the outer system... low mass, now moving at very high speed."
"Ah," I say, "that will simplify your search. The large ship is clearly a carrier, and it has dispersed its fighters to search for traces of the
. See if the configuration of the fighters yields any clues."
Sano bites her lip. "This is.... Sir, the fighters are Romulan Scorpions, of that I have no doubt. But the carrier... the closest match is a Tholian Recluse, but the screen frequencies and the power distribution curves are wrong."
"I have it!" Ch'gren exclaims. "It is a Starfleet vessel, whatever the Orion says." Should I be offended, or gratified, that he apparently does not consider his commander an Orion? Or just amused? "Code is for the USS
"What is known of this vessel?"
"Retrieving intelligence digests," says K'Gan. A pause, and then he laughs. "You are
right," he says. "The
is a Tholian carrier modified and converted by Starfleet's Experimental Engineering division. Known to be using shields and weapons derived from technology exchanges with the Romulans and Remans...." His smile fades away. "Participated in the action at Gimel Vessaris, when Starfleet recaptured that system from the Nausicaans. Data readouts from there give it a high threat level. Commanding officer of record is an Andorian, Tylha Shohl, Starfleet Vice Admiral. Sir, combat with this vessel would bring much honour and glory, but it might also significantly impede our overall mission."
Which is as close as he can come to saying
don't pick a fight with this one
. "I do not anticipate combat," I say. "This is a Starfleet ship; this Shohl will doubtless recognize our diplomatic status."
"Should we not deploy fighters, in case of hostility?" K'Gan suggests.
"No. S'kul fighters are... not diplomatic."
"I have a transmission from the carrier on Starfleet frequencies," Ch'gren says.
"Then let us be diplomatic. On screen."
The image forms on the viewscreen; a Tholian bridge, with Starfleet additions. The woman - I think a
, the Andorian intermediate-female sex - in the centre seat is tall and spare, with a severe-looking blue face, too severe to be attractive even if one discounted the curving scar on her right cheek. "Klingon vessel," she says, with that faint whine Andorians have, when they try to sound aggressive. "You are trespassing in Federation territory. Identify yourselves."
"Vice Admiral Shohl? You should by now have received our diplomatic status codes." I make a show of examining the opalescent film on my fingernails. "We are here on a mission from the High Council, and I suspect it... dovetails... with your own. Forgive me," I smile sweetly at the screen, hoping to get her antennae in a knot. "This is the IKS
, and I am Lieutenant General Shalo."
She narrows her eyes. She is about to speak, when another voice sounds from behind her. "