The Chimes at Midnight

Epis­ode Num­ber: 3×13

Writ­ten by: The authors of the Shack­leton Expanse Cam­paign Guide

Dir­ec­ted by: Jon Crew

Trans­mis­sion: 16th Decem­ber 2023

Guest Stars:

  • Com­mand­er K’ri­gosh: Akul’s first officer, broadly sup­port­ive of Gowron’s policies.
  • Lieu­ten­ant D’relk: Hulk­ing chief engin­eer aboard the Mup­wI’.
  • Lieu­ten­ant Rusk­erg: Tac­tic­al chief aboard the Mup­wI’, pos­sess­ing an air of Vul­can-like calm.

After two months of tedi­ous cata­loguing of sub­space anom­alies near the Setu sec­tor, we have received a recall to Nar­en­dra Sta­tion. While the crew talk eagerly of the chance to get some shore leave, the urgency of the sum­mons leads me to believe some­thing more ser­i­ous is imminent.

Cap­tain’s Log: Stard­ate, 49660.2

Plot: As ten­sions with the Klin­gons rise to break­ing point, Cap­tain Akul invites Kon­in to take part in a ritu­al to cement the bond between their crews.

The ‘A’ Plot: Lex­ing­ton returns to Nar­en­dra Sta­tion, so that Cap­tain Kon­in can meet with Vice Admir­al Hebert, recently returned from sev­er­al months of stra­tegic plan­ning on Earth.

After the meet­ing, Kon­in and his group step out onto the sta­tion’s oper­a­tions deck, just in time for Gen­er­al Kar­gan to make a pub­lic announce­ment. Read­ing from a writ­ten state­ment, he informs them that the Klin­gon High Coun­cil has decided that it can no longer tol­er­ate Fed­er­a­tion inter­fer­ence in Klin­gon affairs. Chan­cel­lor Gowron has issued an ulti­mat­um demand­ing that the Fed­er­a­tion with­draw from the Arch­anis Sec­tor with­in 10 days, or the Empire will declare war.

While Ops itself remains rel­at­ively calm, albeit with Star­fleet and Klin­gon per­son­nel watch­ing each oth­er care­fully, the gal­ler­ia deck below quickly dis­solves into uproar. Off-duty Klin­gon war­ri­ors begin occupy­ing bars and cafés, driv­ing the oth­er pat­rons out. When Star­fleet Secur­ity officers show up to dis­perse them, their Klin­gon coun­ter­parts block them. Fights break out in sev­er­al areas, con­fused melées between Star­fleet per­son­nel, Klin­gon war­ri­ors and assor­ted civil­ians. Many shop-own­ers begin shut­ting up their premises, not want­ing to risk col­lat­er­al damage.

As he picks his way through the chaos, Kon­in con­tacts his daugh­ter to arrange a meet­ing, but finds she is com­mand­ing a repair team out at one of the dry­docks. As he ends the call, he runs into Cap­tain Akul, who seems pleased to see him and invites him for a rak­tajino. The Klin­gon clears sev­er­al war­ri­ors out of a café, using his fists when they don’t move fast enough, and they sit down to dis­cuss the immin­ent con­filct. Akul stresses that, while he does not believe that the com­ing war is neces­sary, he will fight for his empire, but he believes that hon­our­able sol­diers like them­selves can fight with respect.

To this end, he pro­poses that the seni­or officers of their two ships should par­ti­cip­ate in a ritu­al called the tlh­Ing’on QaH. He explains that its pur­pose is to build respect and a com­mit­ment to hon­our between two sides in an immin­ent con­flict. Kon­in agrees to his sug­ges­tion, and Akul asks him to select four officers to under­take the ritu­al with him.

Kon­in returns to Lex­ing­ton, where he gives a speech to the crew, bring­ing them up to date with the situ­ation and reas­sur­ing them of his faith in their abilities.

Two days later Kon­in, along with Quinn, Azon­an, Raynor and Zepht, meets Akul at a large holo­suite on the accom­mod­a­tion level. The Klin­gon cap­tain is accom­pan­ied by his first officer, Com­mand­er K’ri­gosh, and Lieu­ten­ants D’relk, Rusk­erg, and D’g­hov. The holo­suite pro­gram is already run­ning, and they walk into a clear­ing in a lush jungle. The air is hot and humid, so it’s not pleas­ant for the Lex­ing­ton crew, espe­cially Azonan.

The ritu­al begins with sev­er­al hours of silent med­it­a­tion on the con­cepts of hon­our­able com­bat, then the two crews begin a series of com­pet­i­tions, sev­er­al of them already feel­ing drained by the heat.

The first test, to be under­taken by teams of three, is to move large stone blocks from one end of the clear­ing to the oth­er and build a wall. While Akul dir­ects D’g­hov and Rusk­erg in haul­ing the stones by hand, Azon­an puts a dif­fer­ent sug­ges­tion to Kon­in and Raynor: they agree, and work­ing with char­ac­ter­ist­ic speed, he assembles a lift­ing mech­an­ism to make the job easi­er. Although this delays their work, the rig quickly helps them catch up.

The remain­ing par­ti­cipants com­pete in a marks­man­ship con­test, with Quinn and Zepht facing off against K’ri­gosh and D’relk. Zepht demon­strates excel­lent tech­nique, and the Lex­ing­ton team are soon ahead in points.

The ‘B’ Plots: Upon Lex­ing­ton’s arrival at the sta­tion, Kon­in, Zohir and Raynor head straight to the oper­a­tions deck to con­fer with Hebert. They are wel­comed at the trans­port­er gal­lery by the newly-pro­moted Cap­tain Murphy. Kon­in offers his con­grat­u­la­tions as they walk to the admir­al’s office.

Hebert explains that ten­sions with the Klin­gons are worsen­ing, with a num­ber of “acci­dent­al” exhanges of fire tak­ing place, and that Star­fleet Intel­li­gence believes the Empire is pre­par­ing for war. In par­tic­u­lar, there have been fleet buildups near Arch­anis and Donatu, and the High Coun­cil has activ­ated the Deep Space Fleet, ostens­ibly to sup­port oper­a­tions in the Car­das­si­an Union.

The dis­cus­sion mostly centres on strategy, not­ably regard­ing pri­or­it­ies in the event of a Klin­gon assault on the sta­tion. Hebert tells them that while the sta­tion is stra­tegic­ally import­ant, lying on the nar­row con­nec­tion between two Fed­er­a­tion exclaves, she is pre­pared to des­troy it rather than let it fall into Klin­gon hands. Her pri­or­ity has to be pro­tect­ing the civil­ian colon­ies and main­tain­ing sup­ply lines from the core worlds, so she can­’t afford to lose ships defend­ing a weak spot. Evac­u­ation pre­par­a­tions, for civil­ians, Star­fleet per­son­nel, and the Dia­mond Hedge mater­i­als, are already underway.

Kon­in sug­gests, on the basis that the Romu­lans are more likely to sit things out until there’s a likely win­ner, that it would be worth secur­ing a sup­ply route around the core­ward side of the Romu­lan Star Empire to Deep Space 6 near the Zak­dorn sys­tem. Hebert agrees to look into this pos­sib­il­ity, and then requests that Lex­ing­ton be refit­ted with a tac­tic­al pod as she is likely to be in battle in the near future. Kon­in, after con­sult­ing with his crew, agrees to this.

Mean­while, Zepht, Quinn and Azon­an vis­it Dr Tali­afi­erro to present their latest data. They find her sur­roun­ded by PADDs and holo­graph­ic data pro­jec­tions, as she tries to cross-ref­er­ence a num­ber of data sets. The group presents the latest data, and they dis­cuss the mes­sages received while Lex­ing­ton was at Setu. Zepht sug­gests that the appar­ent tar­gets of the mes­sages may be sig­ni­fic­ant, as Setu seems to pos­sess a Tilikaal ruin beneath its ocean, and the doc­tor agrees that this would be a worth­while investigation.

They notice that she seems very driv­en and dis­trac­ted, but once she turns her focus on the vis­it­ors, they get her full atten­tion. Zepht com­ments that she may be over­work­ing, and threatens to order a med­ic­al exam­in­a­tion, but she reminds him that, as a civil­ian con­sult­ant, she is not sub­ject to Star­fleet orders. Quinn notices that her eyes seem very bright, and later com­ments that she may be on stim­u­lants of some kind. After they have left, Zepht informs the sta­tion’s med­ic­al team of their con­cerns, but they are very busy set­ting up emer­gency cas­u­alty sta­tions. Return­ing to the ship, he com­plains about always being the low­est priority.

Obser­va­tions: The tlh­Ing’on QaH ritu­al is per­formed by the war­ri­ors of Klin­gon houses about to go to war against each oth­er, as a remind­er that an hon­our­able war­ri­or does not hate his oppon­ents. It con­sists of med­it­a­tion, endur­ance tests, sym­bol­ic com­bat and feast­ing, and serves to rein­force respect and hon­our towards one’s enemies. It is rarely under­taken with non-Klingons.

Dia­logue: Kon­in’s speech to the crew: “Atten­tion crew of the Lex­ing­ton, this is the cap­tain. You have all heard the announce­ment of Gen­er­al Kar­gan. So the out­break of hos­til­it­ies is immin­ent. If it comes to the worst, let me assure you: you are part of the finest group of people Star­fleet has to offer. Have trust in your train­ing, in your officers and in your­self. And if you are unsure of your­self, let me tell you I have seen you doing the impossible in the last few months. You have the neces­sary tools and mind­set to come through this crisis. I am fully con­fid­ent in your cap­ab­il­it­ies, in your ded­ic­a­tion and in your cour­age. Do your best and we will get through. Kon­in out.”

Ref­er­ences: Gowron’s ulti­mat­um regard­ing the Arch­anis Sec­tor is announced in the epis­ode “Broken Link” (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).