An inbound fleet from Avenal of roughly 30 ships, many of them quite large, are spotted at the end of the pirate festivities in the last session. Upon contacting this fleet, it is discovered that they are Cardassian Defense Force ships dispatched to facilitate the return of Sonebr from Klingon hands to Cardassian. They are bringing shelter, food, water, medical supplies, and, if necessary, transport for up to 50,000, as per the instructions given (2 sessions ago).
Sonebr IV – Mining colony and minor dilithium supplier. Common ores are abundant and easily mined, contributing to the planets gravity despite its size. While there is little natural life above a microbial level on the planet, there are substantial dilithium deposits here as well. Due to the presence of the valuable crystal, the Cardassians kept a large garrison of troops on Sonebr IV. The Klingons laid siege to the planet and essentially starved the garrison out during their take-over following the Dominion war. Of almost 50,000 Cardassian troops stationed on the planet, less than 5,000 remain alive, and those that do are used in the mines as labor.
• Class – M
• Satellites – 1
• Planetary Gravity – 1.08
• Planetary Size – 64.8% of Sol
• Land Area – 74%
• Planetary Rotation – 20 hours
• Atmospheric Density – Thin, breathing gear required
• General Climate – Arctic
• Mineral Content – Common metals, abundant dilithium.
• Population – 230,000 civilian, 64,000 troops.
Taggrut – Orbiting a red supergiant are 8 Terrestrial planets, 3 belts, 8 gas giants, 8 ice cores occupy this solar system which is one of the largest (in volume) in Cardassian space at 2.3 times the volume of the Sol solar system. Arranged from the star: T, T, B, T, T, T, B, T(M), G, T, G, B, G, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I.
Post mission sensor analysis and data correlation reveal the Klingons have replaced the remaining 5,000 troops, who did not survive to this point, with planetary population to increase mining output. None of the remaining cardassian troops have survived, the planetary population is now under 50,000 (48,362) and those are mostly women and children. All easy to mine resources have been stripped. Specialized equipment that the Klingons don’t have, can’t spare from other sites, or have destroyed is required to access these resources. Without the mines the population is a burden to the Klingons, one that the Cardassians can take care of, thus creating value for the Klingons to keep them alive.
There are no farms or ranches to speak of, animal life has been decimated, and the planet is an ecological disaster – possibly becoming uninhabitable in the next few decades. Serious terraforming will be required to save this biosphere.
The Klingons can concentrate their forces better and defend their territory more easily by giving this planet back to Cardassia. There is less than 5% of prewar infrastructure left on the planet, no buildings above a shack are left and few of those. Anything that can be sold off has been sold off (the Ferengi and pirates in the area made a killing) and the rest destroyed, leaving nothing of value. There remains a mineable planet, but rebuilding the infrastructure, technology, and supplying the personnel to do so will be very expensive to the cardassians. There is a savable biosphere, though it will be very expensive to do so. The population can be saved,, though it will be very expensive to remove them from a toxic environment with no food, shelter, or clean water. In all cases, for strategic, economic, political, and morale reasons, the cardassians will pay the price even though the Klingons have made it as dear as possible.
Cast of Characters –
Envoy General Toyxx (one rank below full ambassador) – Federation representative (Bolian) and expert on Cardassian affairs.
Envoy Ellen Blaylock – Assistant to Toyxx
Legate 2nd Rank (Rear Admiral) Ceres – Cardassian commander in charge of the operation
Legate 3rd Rank (Branch Admiral) Goinn – Cardassian XO to Ceres
Dalin 1st Tier Tathon – Cardassian Governmental Representative, Liaison to Endurance
Klingon Governor – Kaloth
Klingon Fleet Commander – Du’Ralle
Klingon Captain – Captain Kerrogh of IKS Mangghom Bey
Special Guest Star – Alpha Quadrant War Crimes Tribunal (not appearing this episode)
While waiting for the arrival of the cardassian fleet the Endurance took the opportunity to deploy a few more sensor buoys in the Taggrut system with the help of Major Ajime Jackson’s marines and the use of their shuttles (no marines were harmed in the deployment of these buoys). While this was proceeding Envoy General Toyxx (bolian), Envoy Ellen Blaylock (human), and Dalin 1st Tier Tathon (cardassian) huddled in Tathon’s VIP Suite making preparations for the upcoming historic transfer of the possession of Sonebr from Klingon occupation back to cardassian control. Meanwhile, the Science, Engineering, and Tactical departments onboard the Endurance began preparing for the deployment of a special hidden facility in Taggrut space (See Below).
All deployment, planning, and construction efforts were halted as the cardassian fleet arrived at Taggrut. The diplomats launched their plan to remove this upstart captain from a delicate diplomatic situation. Though he had shown some diplomatic talent in the past, he had also been involved in nearly 30 destroyed combatant vessels and numerous questionable engagements in the last 4 months, while accompanying the Claymore in the last 3 weeks – clearly a loose cannon with a shoot first policy. Although the Klingons had specifically requested him, that detail could be worked around. An ‘assignment’ was concocted for the captain to say some commemorative words at the opening ceremonies to be delivered in Klingonese, with perfect pronunciation, inflection, and diction. Something that should keep the captain busy and out of the way for the next 2 days while Endurance and the cardassian fleet traveled to Sonebr.
Upon arrival in Taggrut space Legate 2nd Rank (Rear Admiral) Ceres – Cardassian commander in charge of the operation – contacted the Endurance and requested (in that demanding cardassian way of theirs) that they meet at the Taggrut VIII picket to prepare for the journey to Sonebr and meet and greet. The Federation diplomats, Envoy General Toyxx and Envoy Ellen Blaylock, made sure they were on the bridge for this exchange and immediately butted in, talked over the captain, and did their best to take over the conversation. Captain Gamble displayed patience throughout the conversation and maintained a cool facade until communications were over, at which point he read the diplomats the riot act. He had them removed from the bridge by Starrbon, who did not fail in his duty.
The cardassian admirals, Legate 2nd Rank Ceres and Legate 3rd Rank Goinn, beamed over (announced) as soon as their fleet and the Endurance were both in parking orbit above the Taggrut mining facility along with the CDS defense picket. The Envoys made their move to meet them in the transporter room and brought them to the bridge, but were barred from entry by a force field since the Diplomats were restricted from the bridge. Cpt Gamble relented and allowed the party to enter the bridge, and there was a prep for movement meeting in the Captain’s ready room. Afterwards the Cardassians left, the diplomats returned to their verbal gyrations with Tathon, and the Captain got down to the serious business of learning his speech.
Consulting crew records, he settled on instruction from Major Jackson in the holodeck. After 2 days he could say most of the words and pronounce roughly 50% of them correctly. He gained 5 points in his Klingon Language skill as well due to this intensive training period.
Meanwhile the fleet crossed the Klingon/Cardassian border and were met by Captain Kerrogh of IKS Mangghom Bey with 5 Vor’cha battlecruisers. They escort the Endurance and the Cardassian flotilla to Sonebr. Passing through the Sonebr system, especially as they get closer to Sonebr IV, Klingon battle groups uncloak and arm weapons in the most provocative ways possible, but neither the Endurance nor the Cardassian vessels respond to their threat. By the time of arrival at Sonebr IV there are 25 Klingon combat vessels traveling with them, targets locked, weapons hot.
Long before arrival it’s obvious something is going on. In orbit are 13 Klingon troop ships, 25 large freighters (16 of which belong to known slavers), 3 Breen heavy cruisers, 3 ferengi cruisers guarding 5 ginormous cargoliners, and 47 smaller freighters belonging to various pirate clans along with their escorts. It’s an orbital mess with the smaller ships landing and ascending without coordination of any kind and the larger ships jockeying for position. The cardassians simply plant themselves into a geosynchronous orbit over the main city and make it the other ship’s problem to get the hell out of the way.
The only communication from the Klingons is a set of beam down coordinates. Assuming the coordinates represent a cordial invitation from the Klingons, the Legates, Diplomats, and Captain Gamble agree to change to formal wear and beam down.
With Commander Kor in charge of the Endurance, the Captain, 2nd Officer, Lt Shaw, diplomats, and Tathon beam down to do their duty, along with Captain Aponte and 2nd Officer Souders of the Redan. They arrive at the appointed time, thought it is 12 hours before the planet officially changes hands. On the planet, at the beam down coordinates, they are met by the cardassian Legates.
It is a scene from hell specifically orchestrated by the Klingons for impact and shock value upon the diplomatic party. Without going into graphic detail, it is a scene of brutality including execution style killings, torture on a massive scale, and every kind of violation imaginable. All of this surrounds an empty circle roughly 100’ in diameter, at the center of which is the Klingon commander, Kaloth who sits at an outdoor table, under an umbrella, drinking a red beverage with an umbrella in it, being very obvious as she enjoys the various spectacles.
After the initial shock wore off, most of the party restrained themselves, though barely. Exceptions to this were Legate Goinn, who had to be bodily restrained by Legate Ceres, and Major Jackson who was similarly kept in check by Tathon, warning her that this was a trap, it was the provocation they were looking for to open fire here on the ground and above and add a bit of glory to their exit.
Once Jackson had herself under control again, Tathon took a moment to identify the like leader of the horror show and challenged his honor. He did so formally, and to the letter of Klingon law and form such that there was no way to twist the event into something more than it was,. The Klingon accepted.
Kaloth decided to turn it into a wager with the Captain. If the Klingon champion won, her forces would retain possession of Sonebr for the next 12 hours, rather than the 3 they had remaining to her, to allow them to ‘finish their good works’ among the cardassian population. If Tathon won, all spectacle would end, all torture, killing, looting, etc., all of it. Kaloth accepted and the duel was on. Captain Gamble stood as Tathon’s second.
The two combatants were fairly well matched and used vastly different techniques. For a time they simply feinted and made small probing attacks, testing their opponents. After about 3 minutes of this the fight began in earnest and the two began inflicting serious wounds here and there in an attempt to kill the other. At just over 5 minutes into the duel the Klingon struck a mortal blow to Tathon. Later analysis of the combat would reveal that Tathon created an opening and allowed the strike inside to create an opening for himself. As he was staggering under the Klingon’s assault Tathon inflicted a fatal slice of his own. The two of them slumped together as the surrounding Klingons closed ranks around them to insure no interference in the outcome. When they began to turn away in disgust it was obvious even before it was announced that Tathon had been the last to expire, thus winning the duel. Kaloth shattered her beverage container in her grip, the only reaction she showed. “Very well Captain, you have won. I will see you here in 3 hours.” With that she beamed out and her officers stopped the spectacle of atrocities.
3 hours passed slowly. Tathon had been a point of serious aggravation for all who knew him, but had shown honor and courage in the aid of a shipmate. No one knew quite how to feel about things and simply went about their business.
As the hour approached and the landing party once again headed for the transporter room, where Ustrare Buva, Tathon’s retainer and manservant, and Ustrare Riafe, Buva’s daughter were waiting for them with all of their and Tathon’s belongings packed and ready for transport. The Captain offered to allow them to stay aboard the Endurance until they knew what they wanted to do, but Buva said simply that they wished to get off here, and that they could use their background and training to help.
The Party beamed down at the appointed time to the appointed place and the Captain was rudely guided to the appointed place where he was to stand for the ceremony. It was 12 feet from where Tathon died.
The Captain was brought to stand between Legate Ceres and Governor Kaloth who simply pulled a dagger from a sheath and handed it to Captain Gamble, who took it from her. Rather than simply complete the ceremony by handing it to the Legate, Gamble strode over to the point where Tathon perished and plunged the dagger into the ground. He then, in finest Starfleet tradition, produced a PADD, and read the following to those assembled:
Many of us fought in the war against the Dominion. I was there and saw many from the great houses burn in glory. Some as though a nova star, others as a streaks falling through the night sky – lighting the path forward for all who remained standing in victory.
Today, we complete a part of that great conflict. Let those who went ahead, and those who will follow know that this world has been held by the Klingon Empire in defiance of its previous Dominion Masters. An entire generation knows well the extents to which the Empire will hold the gains of glorious war.
Leave behind the ghosts of one war, and with only what you need as warriors, proceed to your next great calling. Let all your old slaves be cast behind – they should cower in the ruins and tell those who come what your legacy means.
Your old ally who drew blood with you in those old days sees you, knows that in a moment, he could trade with you blows in a clash of steel. Instead he will guard what you have left – leave behind a great testament to the end of that war – Until he meets you again.
While Captain Gamble delivered his speech the diplomats fumed with disapproval and the Legate simply looked a little startled and confused. Governor Kaloth looked mildly amused as Legate Ceres walked over to Gamble and pulled the dagger from the bloodied dirt, rendering her to the status of Former Governor Kaloth. She then beamed out, the last Klingon to leave the planet.
The diplomats beamed back to the Endurance long enough to send a transmission, gather their things, then beam to the Redan to inflict themselves upon Captain Aponte’s hospitality.
The Endurance and the cardassian fleet began beamdown along with shuttle transport of goods, materials, and personnel. Talking heads coordinated and the task of saving as many of the remain population as possible began. The Redan began making preparations to leave for Atbar to take her turn on guard duty, relieving the Azreal for operational duty.
PROPOSAL: Onsite Data Correlation Center
SITUATION: Partially deployed sensor Buoy system in Taggrut has shown itself to be particularly effective at tracking and recording sensor details and video imagery within its scope. Upon arrival in Taggrut, this data was immediately useful to us but could have been much more useful than it was. It took time to correlate and digest into useful information, time which could have cost lives. All of this data was equally as available to the Cardassian forces as to us.
SOLUTION: Establishing an Onsite Data Correlation Center (ODCC). The ODCC unit would be a self sustaining unmanned electronically masked stealth facility to receive site-to-site data transmissions from the network within the system, correlate the data, and pre-digest it for the needs of the ship that accesses it. Our orders to deploy a sensor buoy network need not apply to this facility. It would take advantage of the the network, just as our ships and the cardassians do, but be apart from it. It need not be made known to the cardassians nor any entity not in our direct chain of command, and perhaps not even then.
A small simulated asteroid should be sufficient to house a small computer core, power source, communication, interface terminal and room for maintenance and occasional operation space. Use of the holographic systems embedded into the existing sensor buoy system should provide adequate cover for the work of building the system under the cover of deploying additional buoys to complete the original mission. It should provide concealment for the ODCC as well.
POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS: if the cardassians become aware of the facility they will be unhappy with the Federation for not sharing. The Romulans may see this as a misappropriation of their sensor Buoys. Seran will find some way to make this go badly for us. I could get promoted.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS: Detailed movement records with specific ship details attached. Pattern recognition to suggest likely activities, destinations, and next actions. Potential to decipher, at least partially, affiliations, enemies, and allies of various individuals and groups passing throughout system. Identify precursors to invasion and likely avenues of advance. Detailed ship specifications and signatures, biosignature tagging of personnel in ships, likely attack patterns for success against ships, identify ship weaknesses for weapons targeting.
FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Knowing who to trust in this sector is extremely difficult, even, it seems, among the fleet. I would recommend this be a tightly held secret of the Endurance, performed when the Redan is on Atbar security watch and not bringing other ships into the know for a bit. Captain’s discretion as to when and how to bring others into the knowledge of the ODCC based on the tactical and strategic situation is advised.
LtJG Frae, Isara