Title: A THIN VENEER version 1.5
Primary author: Albert Green Jr.
Co-Authors: Ed Becerra, and Major Diarrhia.
Associate and Contributing authors: Ash's Boomstick, Renato S, Matt S, and LightningCount.
I say bless them all.
Recorder of Deeds and Librarian Supreme: Kclcmdr, who keeps everything straight and coordinated by some strange miracle and dogged persistence.
Contact: "Albert", "Ash's Boomstick" "E Becerra"
Summary: Captain James T. Kirk and Chancellor Gorkon rescue a group of Human refugees from the far side of the galaxy. That simple act of kindness will be the spark for a war that rages across the galaxy and reveal the thinness of the veil that separates civilization from barbarianism.
NOTICE: THIS STORY MAY BE DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE BUT MUST NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM.
"Star Trek", "Star Trek: The Next Generation", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", and "Star Trek: Voyager" and "Star trek: Enterprise" and all related Star Trek related material, its characters and certain technological devices and/or references to such, from the television shows and movies, may be or are registered trademarks of, and may be or are copyrighted by Paramount Studios and whatever Corporation it may or may not be owned by.
"Babylon Five", its characters, certain technological devices and/or references to such, from the television show, past present of near future, may be or are registered trademarks of, Babylon 5, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Time Warner Entertainment Co., LP.
Only certain characters and technologies are mine and these are the creation of the author who is solely responsible for them as such. Neither Studio is responsible for the content of this story.
THIS STATEMENT MUST ACCOMPANY THE STORY 'A THIN VENEER' IF DISTRIBUTED. THIS STORY IS FREE OF CHARGE AND MAY NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM. THIS DEDICATION MUST ACCOMPANY ANY DISTRUBUTION OF THIS STORY.
First of all, to my wife who allowed me to keep hiding in our basement and write in relative peace, even though punishment will come later. I keep saying that and it still applies.
Albert Green Jr. quick note: This story started when I read Col Crackpot's story idea some months ago. Intrigued, I asked him if I could do my own take. He agreed, and I and MD went for it. For CC, thanks and I promise to make mine different.
"A Thin Veneer"
The end of the Alpha quadrant-Dominion war
Founder's homeworld-the Great Link:
"I must return to my people, now," Odo had told her. "It is what I've long for, for so long. It is where I am meant to be."
Kira Nerys' heart was breaking. She wanted him to stay, but she knew he could not. She was a Bajoran, a solid. He was a Changeling, a metamorph, one of the Founders of the Dominion, an organization originating from the gamma quadrant; the leaders whose forces had almost defeated the combined forces of the United Federation of Planets, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Star Empire. Despite the power of such a combined force, the Dominion had almost won the war.
The Dominion itself was larger than the Federation of Planets, controlling hundreds of words, for over a millennium, all kept in line by the feared Jem'hadar foot soldiers. Although the Founders had rarely been seen, their influence was absolute. They were creatures of Order and the Federation and its local neighbors were chaos personified. It was no wonder the Dominion didn't look on the Federation with kindness.
The hostilities erupted when Bajoran settlers, traders and explorers from different species, entered the Gamma quadrant via the Bajoran wormhole. It was said that the presence of those ships and people constituted a violation of Dominion territory. What wasn't known at the time was that that excuse would be turn into a prelude to war.
Odo smiled and
the shape-shifter's clothing changed into the form of a Terran
tuxedo. Kira's smiled through her tears as someone she loved
descended into the golden ocean-like waves of the Great Link. The
natural state of the Founders was liquid and Odo slowly began to
dissolve, joining his people and leaving her, perhaps forever. Before
he disappeared, he looked up, shocked.
"I didn't know," he whispered. "Our people are a people of order. They were encouraged to pursue this war by the Vorlons. Tell the Federation."
Kira froze, shocked by the revelation. Captain Sisko needed to know about this as soon as possible.
Deep Space Nine:
Commodore's log, Benjamin Sisko commanding: "The report by Major Nerys is unsettling to say the least. Starfleet's response was to send the Enterprise to Deep Space Nine. Captain Picard, Commander Riker and Doctor Crusher, joined myself, Lieutenant Commander Worf and Doctor Bashir in classified talks.
The rumors had been true. In twenty-three sixty four, Starfleet Command had been effectively taken over by a parasitic species we now know as the Ciona Imperixe. Picard and Riker were able to stop the complete takeover by those parasites but were unable to save any of the creatures or the Officers they inhabited. The only captured Imperixe apparently committed suicide and its corpse broke down despite all attempts to preserve it. However the message, or beacon, sent by the mother creature was directed suspiciously close to Vorlon space. We had no proof at that time, but with the Intel we've received recently, it is now believed that the Vorlons are using surrogates to attack and weaken the Federation-Klingon alliance.
It is believed that this is their second attempt to destabilize and destroy the major powers of the Alpha quadrant.
The Romulans are furious as the Imperixe almost destroyed the High Council. however they know nothing of Vorlon interference. If they find out that the Vorlons may have been involved, then they may push for war at a time when we are not prepared to battle against such a dangerous enemy. One thing is clear however; the Vorlons have are still angry over the events that happened ninety years ago. Their persistence in this vendetta will lead to another war, one than may cost billions of lives on both sides. We've just fought one war and barely survived. The last thing we need is another, especially with the Borg waiting in the wings.
I hope that it does not come to this, but as Commodore in command of Deep Space Nine, I will do everything within my power to keep them from gaining a foothold via the Bajoran wormhole. The passageways have been denied to them, but that won't stop such an ancient species if they decide to come. We do know that they will try to use the wormhole to get here. There are other ways for them to get into the Alpha quadrant, however my responsibility is here and I will do my duty. We know that they are coming.
The question is when?
Chapter One "The Undiscovered Ones"
Captain James Tiberius Kirk was fuming. No, that word could not by any means depict what the man was feeling. Anger, hostility, disbelief, and a profound sense of betrayal by his best friend came close to describing what he was experiencing right now.
Admiral Cartwright, a tall black man with impeccable attitude walked slowly past the fuming Captain, stopped, then whispered to the Captain, "I don't know whether to congratulate you, or not." He continued on his way, just as disgusted with the situation as Kirk was.
Doctor McCoy standing next to him knew the answer to that question. "I wouldn't." Then, he too left.
Who cared if the Klingons had fifty years of life left to their planet? They were the ones who poisoned it in the first place. If they hadn't blown up their own moon they wouldn't have this problem. And it wouldn't have been dumped in his lap by his friend-Spock-whose neck he could wring right about now. How dare he presume to volunteer his ex-Captain and best friend to be the tip of the spear of a peace treaty with the Klingons?
The Klingons killed his son. They did it for the fun of it. They did it and let him listen to the death of his son. It was a sound that replayed itself in his dreams over and over and would continue so until the day he died. They made him face Carol, made him explain to her that their son David had died and that he couldn't do anything to stop it. She never said anything, but he knew that she blamed him for his son's death. Logically he knew that there was nothing he could have done. But he felt responsible and to hell with logic. The Klingons caused misery, death and destruction in everything they touched. Their Empire was a study in self-destructive orgy all played out in the name of honor. They didn't know the meaning of the word. And now the fact that their planet was about to lose its ozone layer because of their own mistakes was an irony he could appreciate.
Admiral Cartwright had the right idea; this was the perfect time to bring them to their knees. It would be asking for trouble allowing the Klingons, an aggressive species, safe haven within the Federation border.
The room emptied itself leaving only Captains' Kirk and Spock. No one, not the Admirals, the Captains, or other personnel wanted to witness what was about to occur between the two officers.
Ramrod straight, James's hazel eyes locked onto his friend. "We volunteered?" he asked, seething with barely contained rage.
"There is an old Vulcan proverb," Spock replied. "Only Nixon could go to China," which was translated to mean that if Captain Kirk, the Klingons' greatest adversary, were to extend the olive branch then it would be appreciated as the significant gesture that it was.
"How could you vouch for me?" Kirk snapped, ignoring the reference. He hated those aliens. "That's arrogant presumption."
Spock understood that only logic would have a chance to break through his friend's mood right now. "My father," he explained, "requested that I open negotiations…" before he could continue he was cut off.
"I know your father is the Vulcan ambassador, for heaven sake. But you know how I feel about them," Kirk hissed. The Klingons were worse than ever. What would possess them to concentrate all of those hazardous, explosive materials next to their home planet without regard to their own safety? "They're animals."
Logic wasn't working as well as Spock hoped but he had to try. "Jim, there is an historic opportunity here."
"Don't believe them," he insisted. "Don't trust them."
"They are dying," Spock intoned.
"Let them die."
Stunned by that statement, Spock looked at him, allowing his emotions to express themselves to his friend. It was shock. And it had its desired effect. Kirk momentarily faltered as he understood depth of the hatred within his soul.
But he was never one to give up so he tried another approach. "Has it occurred to you that this crew is due to stand down in three months? We've done our bit to King and country. You should have trusted me."
'I do trust you, Jim,' Spock thought. 'Emotions aside, you will do the right thing because you must. It is only logical and 'ogic is the beginning of wisdom. But now is not the time to explain it to you'.
Spock's response was to say nothing.
Captain's log Stardate 9522.6: I've never trusted Klingons and never will. I'll never forgive them for the death of my boy. It seems to me that our mission to escort the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit is problematic at best. Spock says that this could be a historic occasion and I'd like to believe him. But how on earth can history get past people like me?
The log entry would have continued, but duty called. They were at the rendezvous point and Qo'noS One, the Klingon vessel carrying the diplomatic envoys was fast approaching. The presence of the Enterprise ensured that no one would harass them on their way to Earth.
Communications were established, light conversation made and the Klingons were in invited to dinner. Personally, Kirk could barely contain himself. Neither could the crew.
Out of respect, the Captain chose to have Klingon delicacies served. Klingon food tasted and looked like it smelled--nasty. And Kirk couldn't help but jibe his First-in-command, a vegetarian, since he would be partaking of feast as well. "I hope you're happy," he whispered as he walked by.
Spock said nothing.
Dinner was interesting. Klingons chose to eat only their food, no Federation plates were added to the menu. They liked the forks and they liked the knives even if they were dulled. Napkins were used but the Klingons had to wait until they understood their purpose. And cups and saucers were alien things to be ignored and they did so since they had no idea what they were used for in the first place.
The dinner started off well enough. The conversation was strained but pleasant at first. Chancellor Gorkon, Brigadier Kerla, and the Chancellor's daughter Azetbur, were most polite and seemed to be enjoying the gathering. But as time continued on and the highly illegal Romulan ale began to take affect, things grew tense and the differences between the Klingon Empire and the Federation became apparent as the dinner progressed. The Klingons aggravated the situation when they dared to claim that Hamlet originated from Klingon prose.
'To be or not to be' –as in trying to kill one another-, indeed was the question. Kirk wasn't impressed by the food and it didn't help as General Chang, the Head of State, kept baiting him. Then Spock kept answering for Kirk, which the Captain didn't like at all. The General clearly wanted to start a fight then and there, diplomatically stated of course. He and Kirk were enemies in all but name, and everyone felt it. Underneath all the banter was one pervading, raw emotion.
Kirk watched Chancellor Gorkon sigh and he agreed with the sentiment expressed. They all had a long way to go. The only good thing that came out of the entire incident was that they hadn't gone hand-to-hand over the dinner table.
As Commander Scott Montgomery said, "Thank God." Klingons and Romulan Ale did not mix and it made for one screwed-up dinner.
Deborah Salti, Captain of the civilian transport Springfield, gritted her teeth and held on to her chair until her knuckles turned white. The swirling image of hyperspace, something she was intimately familiar with, now twisted, fractured and reformed itself in ways she had never imagined. Her crew was uncharacteristically quiet as they maintained their systems and stared out at the windows at the whirlwind-like energies they were trapped in. She was proud of her crew. Even in the face of certain death, they had maintained their courage.
Her passengers however, were another story. Every bump, every twist caused them to scream in terror. Since there was no gravity those people not strapped down were subjected to a multitude of injuries. There was vomit floating everywhere and privacy was non-existent. The smell of Human desperation permeated the ship, the air scrubbers being overtaxed by the overflow. The Springfield was packed to the rafters with hungry, desperate, terrified refugees, the last survivors of a small Earth Alliance colony that was attacked by two Minbari Tinashi-class frigates.
The Springfield, Rutledge, and Dandridge had managed to retrieve all of the civilians of the eighth colony located sixteen light-years from Earth. It was a small colony whose population was barely numbered eight thousand and had only been in existence for two years, before the war started. As with most wars, it was a single incident that started a conflict that would end in genocide.
Nearly two years ago, a group of EarthForce ships, lead by the Captain Michael Jankowski. The Captain of the Prometheus, had been sent out to scout the Minbari boarder, with explicit orders not to make first contact with this unknown species A man considered a loose cannon by many of his associates, the Captain foolishly decided to take the initiative in the face of his orders and lead the fleet closer to the Minbari border. He was ambitious and this particular mission would have been a sure bet for him to receive the promotion and notoriety he so desperately wanted.
To his great dismay he got what he wished for and more. Neither side knew the other's language, making communications between the two impossible at the time. The Minbari sensors, being so powerful, overwhelmed the comparatively primitive EarthForce sensors, nearly blinding them. Then, a critical error occurred.
As a matter of honor the Minbari gun ports opened and the Captain's fears, fed by his XO, took over. Never one to think things through, he assumed the worst. The Captain, unable to come up with any possible reason for the series of events other than some sort of preemptive attack on the Minbari's part, ordered his ships to open fire on the lead Minbari vessel, the War Cruiser Valen'tha. His conclusions initiated a fatal string of events. Unknown to him, the Valen'tha carried the entire governing body of the Minbari which called themselves the Grey Council. The Earth Alliance attack was swift and deadly, causing terrible damage to the Valen'tha, killing the head of the Grey Council, DukhatUnder the cover of confusion, the Earth Alliance task force retreated while they could, under a hail of retaliatory fire.
So distraught and confused by the attack, the Minbari did not follow immediately. The Grey Council was split and could not decide on what action to take. The final vote came down to Delenn, youngest and newest member of the Grey Council. Dukhat was her mentor and friend for years and in a fit of rage she made the decision she would come to regret.
"He was the best of us!" she screamed. They struck without provocation, there was no reason! Animals! Brutal! They deserve no mercy! Strike them down! Follow them to their base and ... and kill them, all of them! All of them! No mercy!"
In her pain she screamed for revenge and her people were as one agreed. And so it was that they followed the alien fleet to their base and the Earth-Minbari War began. It was not just a cultural misunderstanding, but a series of tragically absentminded mistakes on the part of a single Captain of EarthForce. The bloodlust of the Minbari continued past any reasonable length of time.
Their leader dead, the Minbari screamed for vengeance and set out upon a campaign of slaughter. Swarming the Earth Alliance colonies they swiftly destroyed all military assets, strangely leaving unarmed and unescorted installations and ships alone at first. Earth's fleets fought valiantly against the enemy, but this wasn't the Dilgar; these were Minbari, a race that had walked the stars more than a thousand years before man. It was like fighting a hurricane with wet mud; useless, deadly, and messy.
Mankind's best weapons were impotent as they couldn't lock on to Minbari ships using their active stealth systems. At best their scanners could only retrieve a distorted silhouette image. And what little signals they did receive were skewed by several degrees. Earth weapons would completely miss their targets even at what was considered point blank range. Their inability to lock on reduced Earth Alliance to blind carpet bombing to achieve any type of success against the superior enemy. Minbari armor was susceptible to Earth weaponry, but rarely did they actually achieve a hit against the enemy. Suicide runs and saturation fire occasionally worked against the Minbari warships but even the odds were against those who tried. The horrific Minbari weapons sliced through Humanity's most powerful ships as if they were made of the thinnest metal. The only thing that Humanity could do was to fight and die with the faint hope that their personal sacrifices would give others Humans some sort of fighting chance. The Minbari did not negotiate and did not spare. If you were armed, you were dead.
Civilian ships under military escort were considered legitimate targets. Only later did EarthGov realize this fact but it became clear that the Minbari had plans to exterminate mankind. They were concentrating on military targets first. The civilians were lower priority targets, but targets nonetheless. They would simply kill and would continue to do so until Humankind became a memory.
"And they were supposed to be an honorable people," she murmured. She didn't even bother concealing the bitterness in her voice to her crew.
Memories flooded back.
The Minbari waited until the ships had completed the evacuation before they attacked. It was a game to them, an exercise in efficiency. They came at the transports just as they powered up their jump engines. The two EA heavy cruisers rained hell upon the ten Minbari Nial fighters with their plasma cannons. The weapons fire never made contact with their targets. Twelve Star furies launched in seconds, guns blazing, shaking their craft with crunching screams of plasmatic power. They rained an orgy of doom upon the ten Minbari Nial fighters but to no avail. They never even touched them as targeting systems failed to lock on at the great range they were fighting.
The Tinashi-class War Frigates swept the Star Furies from space with the slightest touch of their fearsome particle beams. The Minbari had now closed on the Hyperions, promptly slicing one into two, spilling its now incinerated and now vaporizing crew into space.
The transports had created a jump point into a swirling compressed spatial dimensional plane referred to as jump space. Inside that dimension lay the prospect of freedom and life. Salti gasped as salvation rushed forward to greet her ship. But that elation turned to horror as the Dandridge was cleaved in two. The Rutledge was next, castrated of its engines Minbari weapons fired and sent it spinning impotently on a forsaken course of doom. Hitting the opening, the Dandridge slowly tore itself apart from internal explosions and centrifugal forces. The collapsing jump point finished the job as it crushed the command section like an egg. By some miracle, her ship had survived as did the Hyperion ship Farlin to pass through the jump point. They were safe for now but they knew that it wouldn't last for long.
The Minbari warships opened a jump point of their own and quickly followed. In desperation, both Earth ships took what evasive maneuvers they could to avoid their pursuers. Then, the unthinkable; a hyperspace distortion unlike anything seen before snapped into existence, dragging the EA ships into itself with currents too strong to break out from and pulled speeds unimagined by any of Earth's scientists. In their unwillingness to give up their prey, the Minbari followed. Realizing the danger, the Minbari established jump space beacons-transmitters to help with their return journey. It took them twenty minutes before they were ready to continue the chase.
That was twenty-seven days ago. The Captain didn't know how much longer they could survive. Life support was overtaxed and nearly at the point of failure. The passengers were at the edge of mutiny and all hope seemed lost. There was nothing she could do but pray.
"Oh, God," the navigator yelled from behind. "It's over."
Salti strained in disbelief. The hyperspace passageway faded into non-existence and the normalcy of jump space assaulted her senses.
"Power up the engines," she yelled. "We're exiting to normal space now!"
"We have no idea where we are," the navigator insisted even as his hands prepped the jump engines. "We could be too close to a star. We could burn up or slam into a planet."
"Anything is better than this. Time to jump?"
"On my mark…jump."
Both Earth ships entered normal space at full velocity. There was little time to waste as the Minbari were less that twenty minutes behind them. The passageway had stressed both Earth ships to the breaking point and both ships were in no condition to jump again. They had to flee before the Minbari caught up and slaughtered them.