USS Adelphi


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Post 5 - Backpost - The First Attempt, Part Two

Posted on Mon Sep 28th, 2020 @ 8:54pm by Lieutenant Commander Karim MD & Captain Björn Kodak

Mission: Episode 2 - The Next Phage
Location: Holodeck One - USS Adelphi
Timeline: Immediately following "The First Attempt"

The continuation of Karim's Bridge Officer Test...

“What the hell are the Klingons doing out in the Delta Quadrant?” This from Ensign Talbot, who was manning the Engineering console. Thus far she’d been quiet in the discourse but it seemed Klingons showing up was enough to bring her voice into the mix. “I say we show them exactly who they’re dealing with out here,” she cooed darkly.

Karim quirked an eyebrow. Unexpected, Commander Kodak, he thought to himself, genuinely surprised - as much as he was able to be - by the intriguing turn of events his Chameloid sponsor had programmed. Kodak clearly had an inspired manner of thinking, which Karim certainly approved of. He would consider whether it was worth admitting this to him or not later.

"Hail the Klingon ship immediately, defensive systems still primed," he commanded the bridge crew. "Query the reasoning behind their assault on the Vidiian ship; they appear defeated and we can currently identify no purpose as to their sustained attack. We are a humanitarian organisation; we will not permit even allies to mercilessly murder the defeated unnecessarily, without logical purpose."

To complicate matters, the counsellor recognised, the Klingons - if they declared they had been the victims of the Vidiians, particularly - were honour-bound and worshipped glorious death, even for their enemies. Were this a real scenario, it would not be the first time the Khitomer Accords had been stretched.

"And a status report on the Ocampan vessel," Karim added, still conscious of the secondary situation still developing in the background.

“Aye, sir,” Chabon nodded at Tactical. “Opening hailing frequencies and sending the requested inquiry.”

From the fore of the Bridge, Ooteen suddenly looked back from the Ops console, where he’d been handling text-based communication with the back-burnered Ocampans. “Their shields are not strong enough to block the nebula’s radiation. Even with maneuvering thrusters still working, they report they’re unable to move far enough away to safety. The radiation has already begun to affect their people,” the Benzite reported, taking another puff of his breathing apparatus.

“The Klingons are responding to our hail, sir,” announced Chabon, trailing Ooteen’s report. There was surprise in his voice, as if he did not think the Klingons would actually resort to talking. “On screen now,” the tactical officer nodded, transferring the communication to the view screen.

“Federation vessel! This is Captain Grish, of the IKS Ch’qoq!” An imposing figure of a Klingon warrior filled the screen, a mouth full of artificially sharpened teeth bared wide. “These petaQ killed two of my crew on a nearby planet we were… scouting,” his eyes went wide, the word oddly emphasized. “They’ve dishonored their bodies by removing some of their organs. And now,” a wild look filled Grish’s eyes, “now I shall remove their heads. A fitting end for would-be defilers! Will you join us in the meting out of justice, ally?!”

“Oh, so now we’re allies,” Ensign Talbot’s rolling eyes were starkly reflected in her tone of voice. “Funny how that term only comes up when it suits their purpose,” the engineer clucked. “Where were our Klingon ‘allies’ when we were trying to save the Romulans from their supernova?!”

“You dare insult us?!” Grish hurled the question across subspace like mighty Zeus throwing a lightning bolt.

"Ensign Talbot," Karim started, appropriately raising his voice to reprimand the holographic junior officer. "Your opinion was not requested and you will refrain from raising further commentary unless specifically requested. If you are unable to do so, you will be relieved from duty." His eyes flicked back to the imposing Klingon captain, carefully considering the situation, even though he was aware of the time constraints.

Bravo, Commander, he chimed internally, noting the precarious position Kodak had put him in for the scenario. As predicted, the Klingons were bound to pursue their cultural honour, demanding blood as retribution. It would be almost impossible to navigate this matter with all parties satisfied and well - including the Ocampans.

"I am Lieutenant Commander Karim, in command of the USS Adelphi," he explained to the Klingon, rising from his seat to present a respectful facade. "I apologise for the brash nature of my officer; her blood runs 'hot', and we are keen to apprehend these Vidiians. You see, we have been hunting this vessel for several days. We have also experienced barbaric losses and vivisection at the hands of these beings. I wish to ask you to discontinue your assault, so that we may scour their vessel for the organs seized and to claim our own retribution. We will present any apprehended parties responsible for the attack on your people after the matter."

He did not look to the gathered bridge crew, trusting that they would work with his deception. There was an ages-old adage that Vulcans did not lie. That, Karim had concluded long ago, was a falsehood perpetuated by his ancestors to their supposed allies. To always speak truthfully, especially in the realms of politics and warfare was, quite simply, illogical.

"However, there is a nearby vessel, nominally friendly to the Federation, that has suffered damage from a plasma storm," the counsellor continued, not yet providing Captain Grish with the opportunity to reply. "If you would permit my crew their opportunity to seek penance from our mutual foes, we would be additionally grateful if you could render assistance to that vessel. We cannot achieve both alone. Together, Klingon and Federation can once again prove their ability that victory and honour are achieved when we operate in tandem, Captain. The Delta Quadrant is a sparse realm; we must fight together, but time opposes us."

Talbot, for her part, looked more than a little taken aback at Karim's rebuke. With the air of someone scrambling to cover for their mistakes and save face, the Ensign mumbled a quick "My apologies, sir," to her Captain and then activated the holographic interface on her console. Her reddened cheeks were lost amongst the glowing yellow wire-frame model of the Adelphi. Mouth firmly closed, she retorted no further, nor did she challenge the falsehood the Captain had chosen to weave.

Meanwhile, Grish -- glaringly larger than life on the viewscreen -- leaned closer into frame, his maw of pointed teeth forming into a sneer. "You would have us present you a targ wounded in our hunt to make the killing blow?" The idea clearly offended the grizzled Klingon, who cleared the phlegm from his throat into the holding area of his mouth. With a mighty spit over his shoulder, the old warrior let his distaste for the idea be clearly known. "We will not hasten to attend mewling babes while the fruits of our hunt sit before us! You may carve out gloried retribution at our side," his glowering gaze darkened, "or lift the hems of your skirts and run to coddle your children. You have two minutes to decide!" Suddenly, the screen blanked out and returned to a view of the B'Rel class Bird of Prey.

Chabon, from Tactical, suddenly spoke up. "Receiving another hail, sir. It's the Vidiians. Putting them onscreen," the Andorian nodded, antennae wriggling as he worked his console.

"Federation vessel," slithered a cool voice from the grotesque face now on screen. The man had clearly gone quite some time since his last skin graft, his visage resembling the bubbled, burned cheese one might find on an overcooked Italian pie; bits of skin and old wounds covered the surface like the oven-crisped edges of meaty toppings and sauce. "You must help us! These Klingots or whatever they are called are provocateurs! They destroyed the hospital ship we were escorting, which carried thousands. We fled as fast as we could but, after gleaning the ship's remains for high-grade bio-materials, they came after us, too. We've done nothing wrong!"

"Sir, the Klingons appear to be scanning our shields, possibly assessing their strength?" Oo'teen questioned with concern from Ops. Not wanting to interrupt the communication with the Vidiians, the Benzite left unsaid the question of whether the Klingons would fire on the Adelphi if they refused their offer.

"Standby, Vidiian vessel," Karim replied, gesturing for the communication to be cut off. He was partly frustrated by Chabon processing the communication without his say-so, but he elected to leave that unspoken, still mindful of his observer. Instead, he examined the readout on his armest, which confirmed the Vidiian vessel was firmly disabled. He also brought up the recent examination of the B'rel Bird-of-Prey.

Assuming that Commander Kodak had not made any further alterations to the usual configurations of the Klingon starship, he was satisfied that the updated twenty-fifth-century iteration of the Ambassador-class vessel would be more than capable of outmatching the foolhardy barbarians that now confronted them. Once again, he was impressed by Kodak's twisting and turning.

"Had I more opportunity, I would consult with you all regarding an appropriate course of conduct. However, the situation demands a rapid response and there is little time for debate," he addressed the bridge crew. He looked to the tactical officer. "Mister Chabon, have two away teams prepared, including engineers and medical. One will take a runabout to the Ocampan vessel to render assistance as possible. The other team will remain on standby in the transporter room to enter the Vidiian vessel." He looked forward to the flight control station. "Position us so to provide cover for the runabout from the Klingons. Once the vessel is clear, target the Klingons' tactical systems with a view to disabling them. We will not even allow allies to target those that are nominally innocent."

Even as he provided the orders to his photonic crew, Karim wondered at the next twist Kodak will have programmed. Another Bird-of-Prey? Assimilated Ocampans? A feedback loop in the Klingon vessel post-attack, dooming our allies' to certain holographic death?

The faces of the Bridge crew turned toward Karim as he spoke, rapt and trained on the Counselor as if engaged in a tractor beam. Were an empath present, they might advise the would-be Captain on the crew's anxiety and apprehension but, without one, it was up to Karim himself to read and understand their feelings. And it seemed the half-Vulcan was, indeed, taking those emotions into account as he took a few moments to explain his plan rather than simply issue orders. Helping the crew to see the bigger picture seemed to be doing much to ease their fears.

"Understood, sir," Chabon nodded quickly. "I've got teams assembling as we speak. I'm also letting the Klingons know that, should they fire on the Vidiian ship again, we will disable or, if it comes to it, destroy them, allies or no." Without waiting for a command from Karim to send such a message, the Lieutenant began entering the necessary commands into his console, quickly composing a text-only warning. "Perhaps it will get their attention..."

Ooteen, meanwhile, puffed from his breather before reporting, "The Ocampan ship thanks us for promising to send help. They're standing by, sir," the Lieutenant turned to nod to Karim.

"Adjusting our position," Ensign Lethler announced. And indeed, on the viewscreen played out the moving of stars and ships as the Adelphi took up its new position between the Vidiian vessel and the bird-of-prey.

"The Klingons are responding, Captain," Chabon spoke up. "Guess my message got their attention? On screen," he nodded, transferring the incoming hail to the viewscreen.

"You would assault us, your ally?!" roared Grish, his teeth flashing as if he were about to tear into the side of bloody beast. "You've allowed your subordinates to disrespect our honor," his eyes flicked to Talbot before moving to Chabon, "and threaten our destruction by text? Perhaps it is YOU who are the mewling babes," the Klingon glared now at Karim, his chin tilted up as an obvious challenge to the Counselor. "You who would allow your subordinates to speak on your behalf! You dishonor yourself," Grish spit over his shoulder again. "What kind of Commander is this one?" he asked, turning to address his bridge crew. "He is like a scared little tika mouse," he guffawed, his crew rousing to raucous laughter behind him, "too afraid to threaten me himself." Facing Karim once again, Grish's mouth widened into a dangerous spread of wolfish teeth. "Tell me, tika mouse. Where is your honor?"

"Honour is a child's concept and a fool's prize," Karim retorted evenly, and then motioned with a line across his throat to end the communication abruptly. He waited for confirmation that the shuttle he had dispatched was clear. Positioning himself firmly in the captain's chair, hands on either armrest, he spoke once more. "Red alert. Open fire on the Klingon vessel, attack pattern omega-two."

Grish looked incensed, opening his hateful mouth to respond but blinking out before he could do so. Instead -- edged by the slowly pulsing, crimson glow of the activated Red Alert -- the viewscreen now showed the Klingon vessel before them, the funneling of energy within its own maw coalescing. Released, the blast suddenly sailed across space to slam into the Adelphi's shields, rocking the vessel even as it fired back. Glowing lances of fiery energy stabbed at the Bird of Prey, pecking at its defenses in an effort to pummel them down.

The battle continued for several minutes, both ships trading volleys until -- finally -- the Ch’qoq's shield bubble collapsed in on itself, dying in a sparkling flurry of fading energy motes. The vessel continued to fire back but it was now vulnerable, susceptible to physical damage now that its cloak of protection had been torn away.

With the thundering of its torpedo launchers, the Adelphi stood resolute in its attempt to protect the Vidiians from further harm. The glowing energy blobs flung themselves across the distance between the Federation and Klingon vessels, visibly battering the smaller Bird of Prey and knocking it off keel. Listing even as its engine glows sputtered into darkness, a voice came over the comm once again.

"We will not stop coming for the defilers, Starfleet. I shall wipe these Vidiians from the face of the galaxy. And then...then I shall come for you," Grish's snarled promise was apoplectic over the loudspeakers. "You have begun something today. Destroy us now, or you will find an icy D'k tahg thrust into your back when least expected."

"Orders sir?" came the worried tone of Lieutenant Chabon, who'd put the Klingon's message on speaker but had yet to activate outbound communications in response. "They are disabled. We can end this now before it goes any further, sir." The Andorian's sky-blue fingers hovered over his control board, ready to effect the destruction of the IKS-Ch’qoq.

Lieutenant Ooten spoke up from Ops then, having received an update on the Ocampan situation. "Our runabout crew reports that they have the Ocampan vessel in tow, sir. They are pulling them out of danger and will then begin to assist with repairs and medical treatment." The Benzite was visibly smiling as he reported this, obviously relieved that they'd been able to help both the Vidiians and the Ocampans.

It seemed the scenario Commander Kodak had dreamt up was drawing to a close. However, before the program ended and Karim's performance evaluated, one final decision remained. What would the Counselor-who-would-be-Bridge-Officer do about the Klingons? He could destroy them outright, ending the immediate threat but perhaps throwing two great powers into greater conflict. Or the Counselor could leave the Klingons listless in space while the Adelphi safely saw the Vidiians to their destination, knowing Grish intended to later wipe all Vidiian life from existence. Would Karim allow the birth of potential Vidiian genocide? The time to decide had come.

As those options ran through the part-Vulcan's mind, being dissected and reassembled frequently and assessed in different manners, Karim thought on a recent proverb he had studied, in anticipation of the Adelphi's mission to the Delta Quadrant.

"When the road before you splits in two, take the third path," he said, partly-aloud, to the assembled bridge crew. Of course, the solution he was considering was not quite as clearly separate as that saying would indicate, but it was nevertheless a means to try managing one of the frustrating variables Kodak had introduced to this assessment: Klingon 'honour'.

"Transport the Klingon captain directly into a holding cell and inform his crew that he will face singular combat to determine the fate of the Vidiians - at a time of my choosing, as the victor of our recent conflict," he ordered his faux officers. It was a gambit, and one that might not prove fruitful overall, but it gave him more control over the immediate circumstances. In explanation to the others, he added, "It is not our duty nor right to determine the long-term relationships between other species, for they are entitled to elect their own policies towards the wider galaxy and how to impact it. However, Starfleet does not abide ignoring requests for help, or the wanton display of aggression even by allies against those seemingly unable to defend themselves." He looked about at them all. "The ends, where the Federation is concerned, do not justify the means. Any other belief is reductive and cynical - and a betrayal of our core precepts. We have a duty, as free-thinking and moral individuals, to be true to ourselves and retain clarity, even when tactical options may appear easier or, as the case may be, seemingly more logical."

Regardless of the response he received from the characters Kodak had programmed, Karim now looked forward to the viewscreen, in anticipation of seeing the display change to reflect his chosen course of conduct. "Once we have the captain, prepare to assist the Vidiian vessel. Proceed."

"Freeze program," came a warm voice from nowhere. Appearing, it seemed, out of thin air, Commander Kodak stepped forward from his hiding place near the aft communications station. "Counselor," he nodded his head towards Karim, his eyes then sweeping the Bridge as his thoughts cogitated. After a few long moments, the Chameloid was looking towards Karim once again. "I'm afraid I set you a rather difficult test here. You did not disappoint me in rising to the challenge, however," Kodak noted, a smirk firmly in place. "Interesting idea, beaming Grish into the brig in anticipation of personal combat. Had you won such a challenge, his men would likely turn on him, perhaps even losing interest in Grish's proposed scourge of the Vidiians in the process. But what if Grish had won, I wonder?"

"He would not have won," Karim replied tersely.

With the arrival of Kodak, the counsellor had immediately ceased interest in the artificial environment and task and risen from the simulated captain's chair, clasping his hands behind his back and looking directly at his Chameloid superior. There was now no need to verbally express his thought patterns to the air around him, which he took satisfaction from, his verbose manner of dealing with the crisis having largely been a display for the benefit of his reviewer.

Whilst it was left unsaid, Karim internally trusted that Kodak would have made an appropriate assumption from his statement regarding Grish; the part-Vulcan, whilst well-versed in combat techniques and passably capable with a lirpa, would have ensured he had the advantage against the Klingon.

As he told the programmed Klingon hologram: honour is a fool's prize, especially when one considered the conceited and puerile nature of the Klingon interpretation. That was not a world to hold up as a symbol of purity or self-awareness.

"My compliments to your ingenuity and resourcefulness in preparing the program, Commander," Karim then added, before Kodak made his reply. "The developments were... unexpected."

Though Karim's confidence in his prospects of winning single combat was slightly concerning, Kodak let it pass without comment. This was, after all, only a simulation -- which would no doubt bolster someone's confidence in their own abilities. "I am glad to hear you found the scenario's developments surprising, Counselor. It's not easy to keep someone of your caliber guessing," the Commander's smirk widened. "But I was suitably satisfied with your response to the events I threw your way. Which is why," Kodak nodded, his tone growing more formal, "I am hereby approving you for Bridge duty."

Kodak let the weight of his approval hang in the air for a few moments before adding on. "Let's start with one or two night shifts a week and see how things go. We'll of course keep an eye on your performance and encourage...adjustments," his eyebrows lifted, "as necessary. Congratulations Counsellor," he reached out in expectation of shaking the half-Vulcan's hand. "Try not to embroil us in moral dilemmas with the Vidiians if you can though, hmm?" he chuckled, the Commander's smirk returning.

"I assure you, Commander," Karim replied with a slight inclination of his head, having accepted the human gesture with ease, "I shall leave the moral quandaries in your capable hands."

A backpost by

Commander Bjorn Kodak
Commanding Officer
USS Adelphi


Lieutenant Commander Karim
Ship's Counsellor
USS Adelphi


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