Episode Number: 3×13
Written by: The authors of the Shackleton Expanse Campaign Guide
Directed by: Jon Crew
Transmission: 16th December 2023
- 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 mel
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).