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Plans outlined

Posted on Tue Dec 22nd, 2015 @ 6:43am by Petty Officer 1st Class Vartog & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Trouble on the frontier
Location: Klingon Embassy

OOC: It's been so long since the posts where Haqtaj and Bannister chatted and where Bannister put his proposal to Vartog that I thought a refresher might be appropriate.

Vartog was still unsure about his position in all this. He had meant it when he told Bannister it might be the marine’s arse in a sling but it was Vartog’s which was very much on the line. In the circumstances, only one person could assist him; the one person he trusted above all others.

Madame Haqtaj of House Matlh.

He entered the Klingon Embassy as nonchalantly as possible; as if just carrying out his normal duties. Once inside and away from prying eyes, his demeanour changed. He walked across to Haqtaj’s office and entered without requesting permission.

“Haqtaj of House Matlh,” he said before she could react to his presence. “You have been negotiating with Colonel Bannister. Those negotiations involve myself in actions which some might call questionable. I would like to hear from you – in your own words – exactly what you propose for me.”

Haqtaj was looking over a map on the wall. On it had been marked various pirate activities and broadcast transmission sites. She tore her eyes away and considered Vartog.

Vartog had been assigned to her as a liaison when she had first arrived, but the pair had since shed blood together and fought side by side in a number of glorious battles. There were liberties that Vartog was allowed that would not be permitted of any other person on this station, except perhaps Soraya and her daughter.

"Questionable?" she challenged. "I hope not. I do not intend a mark against to your honour. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Federation has been maligned by a series of propaganda holovids that have been released in this area. I know your family's reputation for creating holographic devices, and your own skills in Holo-programing. I suggested to Banister that you might be able to aide him in creating a holographic schedule of programs to combat the misinformation being trundled out.

"You are familiar with how this works, and what assets are needed, so you can help Wolf identify potential recording and broadcast sites. None of this should reflect badly on your own honour."

Vartog looked over the map. “Some of these sites are within range of the surveillance net that Lieutenant Cashard is currently helping to lay. I think I would like to concentrate on the more outlying ones.”

"Reasonable," Haqtaj agreed, "But you still have reservations."

“This is where it becomes questionable: not in terms of my honour but in terms of Starfleet regulations. I have been considering what Colonel Bannister said. I would like to design some propaganda material of my own. I would like to infiltrate one or two of those outlying stations and download my programs into their systems. They will then broadcast them as part of their regularly scheduled programming. To those who watch it, it will appear to be the pirates’ propaganda but it will be sending a message of Federation humanity.”

"ToH!" Haqtaj exclaimed. "That is better than I had planned for. You have the guile and cunning of a Romulan."

Haqtaj had meant that as a compliment. House Matlh had a long and cordial relationship with the Star Empire that was.

“The pirates will soon know about the net; if they don’t already. It would be better if our false propaganda was transmitted from an outlying station. It will have more credibility. Any of these closer ones....” Vartog pointed at the area on the map where the net was being laid. “....would be open to suspicion and thus would be more easily dismissed by the pirates.”

"Yes, I see," Haqtaj scanned the map. "I would like to add an additional layer though, a second wave of propaganda that is obviously Federation. Anyone seeing the two different broadcasts will write of this dummy propaganda as Federation attempts, but this will give your material more credence again. At least for as long as we can keep it on the air."

“It won’t take them long to pull it at all but that could be to our advantage,” Vartog said. “We can then broadcast that elements within the pirates are trying to tell the truth but their message is being cut off. That, in itself, will provide good propaganda for us.”

"I like every aspect of this plan. I do not think the Federation could protest over what you are suggesting, unless one of their Directives gives them heartburn."

“This is also where it gets questionable. To pull this off, my holovids will have to be as authentic as possible, right down to digital signatures and encryption algorithms. I could make a reasonable approximation from downloaded copies but it wouldn’t be the same. For one thing, each station affixes its own digital watermark. I would have to erase that and no matter how careful I am, that always leaves traces behind. No, it would be better to get hold of an original and work from it. But if Starfleet has one, it will be highly classified. I might need to get in and steal one for myself.”

Now Haqtaj hesitated, "Ah."

She thought for a long time in silence, before asking, "Have you read the Art Of War, Vartog?"

“Sun Tzu? Of course. It is required reading in both the Academy and in training for the KDF. It and von Clausewitz’ ‘On War’ are the only two books common to the two. May I make so bold as to suggest that you operate via the Prussian’s dictum: ‘It is clear that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means’. I, myself, prefer: ‘Given the same amount of intelligence, timidity will do a thousand times more damage than audacity’. It is a way of explaining aspects of Klingon honour to non-Klingons.”

"Not the human one," Haqtaj dismissing it. "The qeS'a'. It is no longer required reading at the academy, and this is a shame. It outlines 10 tenants by which a Klingon can live to their greatest. The fifth tenant states; always show your true face in battle. It is the reason we have not pursued Cloak-and-fire technology. It states that in combat there is no pretense and we show ourselves for who we truly are. I have seen this to be true. It troubles me that we should need to mask ourselves as someone else."

She sighed heavily, "Perhaps this is a bad plan. If we are to loose ourselves to save that which we hold dear, then the cost is already too high. I will not ask you to do this, Vartog. It is a matter of conscience, and you must be who you are. Better to die standing up than to live in chains."

“Madame, would you have me standing as a Klingon or Starfleet? I try to hold true to the heritage of my blood but I also try to embody the principles which Starfleet hold dear. That has caused me more than heartburn over the years. One thing I have learnt though: Starfleet is not above bending and twisting its principles when it sees advantage in doing so. If we are going to refer to old Earth examples then I would cite another: the Byzantine Empire. They held that the ends justify the means. That is something I would ask you to keep in mind. We are fighting an enemy that refuses to show its true face. To do so, we will be forced to act as it does, whether we like it or not. I am prepared to do this because it is, I believe, necessary. If you can not join me, I understand. Go with the fleet attacking the pirate bases and find honour there. However, Madame, I can think of no-one I would prefer to have at my side.”

He lowered his head, his neck exposed, in deference to a woman who was more than his superior: she was so much more than he would ever be.

Haqtaj clasped his shoulder with her hand, speaking a thousand volumes with silence.

"I do not see your balance of two callings as a weakness, Vartog. There will be times when it is an inconsolable conflict. If you need that code for the Federation, then we will retrieve it. I do not believe that Banister will need me on his mission."

"ToH! I suggest we take a Klingon shuttle and head for Palpitus IV. It is close enough for us to reach in time without being within the grid. It is one of the more busy trade ports so we should go un-noticed. We get in and out before they know we have been."


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