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A Broken Clock - Nine Lives


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Flames churned along the deck of the shuttlecraft, sparks leaping from the consoles only to help feed the inferno, as if hell itself was reaching a hand through the deck-plates to snatch at the frail and scorched form trying desperately to bring the engines back online.

The interior of the shuttlecraft appeared to be fairly standard, except for a few minor... oddities. The transporter padd that would normally be in the middle of the craft and lead back to the rear compartment was missing - instead, the entirety of the deck plating was littered with tiny circles, though they were only able to be seen because the fire had melted some of the carpeting. And the interior was perhaps a bit longer, and thinner, than most variations of Starfleet shuttlecraft.

What would have been considered off-putting to any Starfleet officer at the time, however, would have been the modified script and design of the modular consoles - they were the oddly oxidized color of Klingon hull-metal, and the language was mostly Klingon, but there were Federation Standard subscripts as well. It was most certainly a Starfleet shuttlecraft, though, because the familiar Delta symbol was plastered over every console... though slightly modified to include the Klingon trident behind it. A matching combadge was pinned to chest of the slightly barbequed officer sitting at the helm.

The pips on his collar bore the rank of Captain, the uniform itself a heavily modified version of the standard wear from the 2380s: gray padding at the shoulders of the jacket, the crimson of command as the duty shirt underneath. The jacket hung open loosely, partly in fact because the clasp broke, and partly in fact because the wearer was burning up.

The computer chimed several times, but the Captain could not hear the report because the flames were too close. Growling, he pushed himself up from the chair, knocking it over and stalking back towards the rear of the shuttle. A sleeve was pressed against his mouth, trying to block out the smoke, but he still began to cough and his eyes were watering. Luckily, the fire had not spread to the rear compartment so he was now able to hear the computer’s report.

“Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explosion imminent. Recommend emergency evacuation. Warning. Warp engines overloading. Explos--”

Grunting, the Captain slammed the heel of his palm against the console and silenced the computer. He grimaced and shot a look through the doorway back at the inferno he’d left behind... there was no reason to stay, and there was much that needed to be done. Crouching down, he tugged at the panel beneath his feet to reveal the standard emergency equipment. He grabbed as much as he could hold, slapping a phaser and tricorder against his hip before standing up again. His voice was hoarse as he spoke.

“Computer, scan the surface below us and look for an area with little to no traffic. Initiate emergency transport to that area as soon as you find it.”

“Working.”

Although it probably only took around ten seconds for the computer to find a location and begin the transport, to the Captain it felt like an eternity - and the flames had begun to follow him from the front of the shuttle. He could hear the warp engine buried in the body of the ship as it began to overload - the normal pulsing suddenly an intense screaming noise that doubled him over...

And only a moment later he found himself in a dirty back alley, hidden from view of the inhabitants in the street. Wincing and turning his head to look upward, he could almost swear he saw the tiny explosion in the night sky... though considering the distance his shuttle had been from the planet, that was certainly impossible. His gaze shifted from the sky to the enormous clocktower in the middle of the square, just across from where he had beamed in. 21:34 local time on stardate 238806.21.

How could that possibly be right? Frowning and shaking his head, the Captain began setting down the emergency equipment behind a trash bin, trying to keep himself hidden as he began stripping off his uniform. Considering his situation, it wouldn’t do him any good to be spotted by another Starfleet officer... at least, not until he would be able to blend in better. Two and a half decades... that certainly explained the flash of light that had seemed to envelop his shuttle.

His eyebrows rose as realization struck him. The past 25 years.... or, in this case, the future 25 years... that would be plenty of time to prevent the Galactic War. And how fortunate for him he had arrived at the capital city of Kilratha on the Caitian homeworld...

*****

Time: Stardate 238905.29

Location: Governor S’Emral Aveunalliv’s Office, Kilratha, Cait

“Governor... you know how important this is. We’ve been talking about this for months now, and I need you to make a decision.”

The elder Caitian let out a sigh as he leaned back in his chair, running a paw through the fur at his chin. “R’Varr... you’re right, we have been talking about this for months, but as I already told you, I cannot be rushed into this. I have my family to think about.”

R’Varr’s paw slammed down against the front edge of S’Emral’s desk, the ruddy red and black of his fur clashing with the purple robe he wore. “Dammit, S’Emral, we have no time to waste. We must begin this movement before it is too late.” He clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, green eye flashing with danger, a patch covering the other. “And you know this is bigger than your family.”

S’Emral’s fangs stuck out for a moment as his frown flattened. He turned in his chair to gaze out the window, his view overlooking the main square of the city, the clocktower the most prominent building to be seen. Paws folding together before him, he let out another sigh, this one of resignation. “. . . very well. You know what to do.”

R’Varr stood in silence for a moment before nodding and turning on his heel, striding out of the Governor’s office. He couldn’t help but be relieved - he had spent nearly a year building up this false identity, and it was finally beginning to pay off. A paw slid into his pocket and his ear flicked as he pulled the tricorder free. He paused about halfway down the hall before taking one of the side passages and ducking into one of the storage closets, making sure no one was following.

Opening the tricorder, a single claw began ticking down against the buttons until he found the proper command. Tongue running over his maw, he said a small prayer to the Great Bird before initiating the timer.

Back in S’Emral’s office, the Governor had moved away from his desk and crossed to the hidden liquor cabinet beneath the mantle and behind the fireplace. As he poured an amber liquid over ice, the first of the explosions could be heard... just barely. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the base of the clocktower explode outward. Quite calmly, he turned and walked towards the window as the explosions continued, each level of the tower exploding outward before gravity began to take its course.

The final explosion came just as the face of the clock struck the street below. The timing had been chosen very carefully - for the most part the square had been empty, with everyone at work or tucked in at home. There were still some of the city’s inhabitants strolling underneath the tower before the explosion, but they had had time to scatter once the underground explosives had occurred.

It was at that moment, as the comm unit in his desk began to chime over and over again, that he realized just what he had agreed to... and he hoped to heaven it had been the right decision. The Caitian Republic had been born, a revolution inspired by a group of Caitians who were taking exception to the original Vulcan annexation of Caitian space in 2154. It was their belief that Cait had the right to be an absolutely independent world - from the Federation, as much as anything. S’Emral had reluctantly agreed. He personally didn’t believe that Cait needed to secede from the Federation, however he had been swayed by the argument that the Vulcans owed some kind of restitution for what had been done so many years ago.

It had been R’Varr that had begun the movement, and had fully convinced S’Emral to become the figurehead. R’Varr would, of course, be serving as an advisor, but S’Emral was already a respected politician. It made sense. R’Varr had seemed familiar somehow to S’Emral... he couldn’t ever quite put his claw on it, though. That had become much less important once R’Varr had promised him the Ambassadorship for the Caitian Republic. To be able to represent his people in such a way... it had been a personal dream for some time.

After finishing his drink, wincing at the warm burn against the back of his throat, he moved to his desk and began taking calls. Soon enough, he would be forced to step forward as the supposed leader of this new movement... until then, it was time for damage control.

*****

Lt (jg) S'Acul Aveunalliv

HCO

USS Avandar

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