((Bridge – USS Narendra)
The little diversion planned by intel had gone smoothly. Just a routine stop, a transfer. No one would look twice until far after the value of such a transfer had been proven. Meanwhile a bunch of fresh officers and enlisted got a chance to stretch their legs on the Narendra before getting into a true battle. Stops on shakedown cruises were common – why waste a trip when you could get some errands done and give your newbies some experience in the process?
Sal didn’t think Tatash had been on the Narendra yet. This vessel had quite the history, both before it fell to the command of Sal Taybrim and after. She was a scrappy fighter, a holdover from the days where no one took for granted that the galaxy was a dangerous place, a ship with a design that mingled war and peace, defense and exploration. A perfect ship for the missions to come. And now it held one more key player in the drama, a Gorn, very familiar with the Klingons, capable of tremendous subtlety and very decisive action.
And now all that was left was to head back to StarBase 118.
Taybrim: Commander ::he turned towards Alora:: Plot a course back to StarBase 118. Routine cruising speed. ::and to both:: Join me in the ready room and we can speak of what is brewing in the Trinity sector.
He gestured broadly towards the door to the left of the bridge.
Tatash: Don’t suppose you brought uh..
Dark eyes sparkled.
Taybrim: ::With a grin:: Of course there are pasties…
He had originally requested pastries – the sweet flaky kinds that he liked. Then he remembered that this was Tatash and the Gorn preferred savory meat. So one quick slip of the tongue later and a delicious array of savory baked and filled pockets were waiting for them in the ready room.
And a few sweet ones. Because, well, Sal did have a sweet tooth and he suspected he was not the only one.
Taybrim: Come in, sit down, enjoy some lunch.
This was a theme for meetings. No one should have to talk deep and terrifying politics on an empty stomach.
DeVeau: Thank you.
Sal Settled himself and while his jovial attitude still hung on, his expression grew sober. There was a switch to him at times that no matter how much he enjoyed company and conversation he knew that some subjects required focus and sobriety.
This was certainly one of them.
Taybrim: Major, how much were you briefed on the affairs surrounding the Klingon Empire and the Hegemony?
Tatash: My briefing was fairly sparse on some details, but thick on others. What I know for sure is the Gorn are taking this threat very seriously. They have a Ihgomas-class cruiser with troops on standby to commit to our operation if anything is required beyond Starfleets mandate but they are… reluctant to be too blatant about it in case it’s seen as a provocation. Plus, they are Gorn, calling them in would be like dropping a sledgehammer on an egg.
Sal nodded gently. He was neither surprised nor incensed to hear this. Upset perhaps, but he understood the Gorn point of view – it was fully within their best interest to take this threat seriously. It was serious. And they would be fools not to protect themselves.
And Tatash was right, it would be arrogant and near impossible for Starfleet to try to stop them. At least by a mandate. That’s where he and his crew came in – they had to try to stop this internally. From within the Klingon Empire itself.
Tatash: From an Intelligence perspective, Starfleet want’s this resolved rapidly with finality. Any conflict that erupts between the Klingon and Gorn would be extremely violent, costly in lives and has unlimited potential to spill out of control and hit neutral worlds, which will likely result in uproar in the Federation and may end up dragging it into the fray in a self-proclaimed peacekeeping manner under the pressure of popular opinion. Neither the Gorn or Klingons would stand for Federation ‘peacekeeping’, likely viewing it as interfering for one side or the other, so there is the risk of a three way conflict.
Taybrim: In this case I have to agree with the Gorn. It is our fight, but not our place to demand that one side stop defending itself from the other side.
Despite being a diplomat, Sal was an empath and could see the points of view from the other side. And that meant that all too often he found the Federation point of view overly simplified and arrogant. Keeping the peace was a fine goal, but not always possible. And it was pure egoism to assume that everyone else would stand down and let Starfleet protect them.
DeVeau: How can we help?
Tatash: My only requirements would be to have access to a unit as needed to support any ground operations. Charlie company is ideal and Intel has earmarked them. They are used to operating in small teams, clandestine operations, watchful waiting. However, big catch, any intelligence gathered is to be shared verbatim with the Gorn -and- the Klingons as a vector for de-escalation.
Sal gave a slow, even nod.
Taybrim: Charlie company is at your disposal and you are named the CO of it for the foreseeable future. Captain Luthas will be stepping back to specialty work and Lieutenant Meeks will be stepping up as the Marine CO within the next week. I just have to get the paperwork through. I’ll introduce you to him. That should settle the 292nd. Now intel… there is quite a bit to share.
Mountains to share. Tangled threads and unending plots that stretched through major powers like a system of roots under the ground one never saw unless one started digging.
DeVeau: I admit, I’m not as up to speed as some about what’s been happening. I’ve read about fairly recent events, the Cult of Molor. I’ve been given a bit more information this morning. ::She inclined her head to her captain.:: I’m assuming from what has been said that things are only escalating and conflict is imminent.
Sal stood and hit some buttons on his desk. The whole ready room washed over with a security grid.
Taybrim: To say that there is more to this is an understatement. To say that we – the crew of StarBase 118 – are connected to it is like saying we had a small dip in the pool when we are up to our necks in water. Needless to say, this next conversation is confidential, but I will approve pertinent details to be shared with the Hegemony.
Sal settled back, taking a sip of his cider and collecting his thoughts.
Taybrim: So the Gorn are not wrong. Not at all. The Klingons have been making threatening advances into the territory between the Hegemony and the Klingon Empire. Most notably several cloaked warbirds attempted an attack against the Gorn colony of Ishnag. That was thwarted by some advanced intelligence and some help that wasn’t supposed to be there.
Sal nodded, not looking sorry in the last to be creeping around the trinity sector being a back alley underhanded do-gooder. That was, perhaps, his favorite thing to do.
Taybrim: Yes, we did thwart them. That might have been us. Off the record. ::dark eyes twinkled for a moment:: So let me give you an overview. We were originally contacted by Councilor Dempok about large amounts of a suspicious chemical being smuggled into the Klingon Empire. Silicone Platinochloride, it’s street name is ‘Death Fog’ – easily aerosolized, this stuff will destroy lung tissue on most any humanoid species within days of exposure. Except for Klingons. While it’s horrible stuff to everyone else, it’s especially deadly to Klingons – killing them in a matter of minutes, tops. Hence Dempok’s concern. We joined him on his family’s targ hunting grounds and the information was passed to us off the grid. Since then Dempok himself has been very quiet – he has to be. He understands the threat going on is internal and they are fully willing to destroy any Klingon that might threaten them.
Taybrim: Yes. We found that the Death Fog was being amassed, along with multiple caches of weapons by the Cult of Molor – insane followers of the Tyrant Molor, defeated by Kahless the Unforgettable. The Cult of Molor wants to plunge the Klingon empire into war with the Gorn so they can use the division of focus to stage a coup and take over the High Council, reshaping the Empire in the name of their dishonorable figurehead. And Klingons, being Klinsgons are too damn stubborn to see the Cult as a threat.
Sal nodded grimly.
Taybrim: Of course there is more. And you won’t like it. The Cult of Molor has been around for over eight hundred years, always a crazy splinter sect that crops up, is quickly quelled and then fades away. So why do they now have several dozen old B’Rel class cruisers, multiple bases hidden in the Azure Nebula and a stockpile of weapons? They’re being bankrolled by our old friends… the Orion Syndicate.
DeVeau: Sounds like we’ve got some preparations to make.
Taybrim: That we do. About five months ago we fought a decisive battle against the Cult of Molor around Vankoth II, where a lot of secrets were uncovered, not the least of which was that General Krala of House Kravzo'ch was a traitor to the cult. This has caused massive ripples in the politics of the Empire that we need to address.
Fleet Captain Sal Taybrim
StarBase 118 Ops