"Clerks: In the great hall."
Security's original slackers
Both men were bored off their asses leaning against walls and watching the party develop.
"Is this next guy going to babble on about passage rights again?" Randall asked. "If he is I'm gonna just shoot him."
"Yeah, you get to tell Commander Elaiithin why you SHOT an ambassador."
"He'd understand trust me."
Dante just sighed and looked over the delegates.
Randall looked over again, "Are you going to mope about Catelyn all night?"
"We were a great couple."
"She cheated on you."
"It was high school."
"So? She still cheated.
"Yeah, I mean aside from the cheating, we were a great couple. I mean that's what high school was about, algebra, bad lunch, and infidelity."
"Your powers never cease to amaze me."
"Your power to rationalize any fault away. She cheated it was high school, a hooker steals your watch it was a bad watch..."
"The hooker was YOUR date."
“Klingon Warrior My Eye”
By Lieutenant James Lionel Corgan
Chief of Security, USS Galaxy
And the Sons of Romak
Time: 18:00 hours, day three
Location: “The House of Payne” Adult Nightclub (or ‘Titty Bar’ for the politically incorrect), in the middle of Ianjep’s slum.
Soundtrack: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” By George Thoroughgood and the Destroyers. (A drink, anyone?) “Fell In Love With a Girl” By The White Stripes. (“Damn, that’s hot.”) “When Worlds Collide” By Powerman 5000 (The Fight Scene)
The House of Payne was starting its first evening shift when the party of Corgan, Mika and Ordos stepped through its doors. There was a change in the demeanor of the bartender, as he let the threesome in without any incident, while other regulars were forcibly shoved into cramped lines.
When they walked in, it was the same old House of Payne that greeted them on the first day of the conference. There were still the battle oak wooden tables, scratched and pitted from years of being stabbed, slashed, and slammed. The floor was covered with sawdust and the shells of alien nuts. There was the odor of vile insemination and cheap liquors in the air, thickening the atmosphere as it blended in with the throbbing noises of imported Terran rock and roll (it’s the latest fad in the Klingon Empire, thanks to Corgan Media). The noise and the smell combined with hellish red neon lights. Klingon strippers gyrated in a celebration of fetid perversion and dreamy lust.
Corgan’s conscience was guilty for bringing Ordos and Mika into the House of Payne. It seemed ungentlemanly to take her to a seedy strip joint and bloodwine house. But the situation was beyond his control. Ambassador Solna was specific about the meeting place. Public, well known by both parties, and great for ‘negotiations’. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have the luxury to suggest someplace else. He wanted some excuse, any excuse, to outright anger Sub-Ambassador Mika. Her infatuation with him was grating, driving him to think of other, more indecent thoughts.
He had to admire the woman. Her soft attitude and elven figure hid a commanding presence and assertiveness that he found attractive. There were other traits hidden under servitude and her Andorian silk kimono, but he couldn’t figure out what. It was the buried third layer of her personality. Her goals, her feelings, her motivation were kept aside to play the role of a servant. All he could tell was she was a servant that wanted more.
~”What else does she do? What is she really like?”~ James found himself wondering. He shut off his thoughts through feelings of guilt. Admiring the woman was borderline crush, and he didn’t want to break the unspoken promises made to Electra Reece. Such conflicting ideas and feelings were like the wars he avoided in his head all the time, only worse… and more serious.
“Lieutenant,” She asked stately. Corgan guessed that she was Andorian aristocracy, or a family member of one of the lucrative Merchant’s Guilds. Or at the least, she had been around Ordos for so long that she had to act royal. “If I may make an observation?”
”I’m not going to stop you. Shoot.” His reply was crude and in a rougher commoner tongue than most. He was a spacer, the opposite of refined. The spacer side of him was tough, pragmatic, and no nonsense.
“I doubt that the Judari are going to talk peace with us. One discussion with them won’t stop them from trying to attack the Ambassador. Why are we doing this?”
“Good question. And as much as I would like this all to end,” James peered in the crowds for the Judari. There were no other aliens, much less Judarian delegates, “I doubt it will. Might as well find out if they want anything from us. Maybe that will get the Ambassdor out of trouble. If it’s within reason… you know, not compromising any ethics, I might consider it.”
“And if it compromises ethics?”
“I’d still consider it.” James joked, cracking a smile from Mika, “But most likely it won’t come to that. Knowing the Judari, they’ll want something unreasonable. We’ll say no. Between all that, they’ll slip up and tell us something we can use, and then… we nail their scaly asses to the wall.”
“Interesting plan.” Her smile was content and warm, hiding some slyness and amusement, “But if they attack us?”
“Weapons are checked here… I think.”
”Relax. We survived one night here. We can survive another. And don’t worry…” He tried to weakly re-assure her. It was his other side, the anti-spacer/rogue side of him that was being kind and noble, “I’ll protect you.”
She was amused by his answer, “Ok… if that’s what you want. But what about Ordos?”
Ordos looked happy enough. He was observing the local eye candy like a child at a sweets shop. Their swaying hips and bountiful curves caught his eyes. ~”Good.”~ James thought, ~”He’ll keep busy. The less he talks, the better.”~
“He’ll be fine.” He watched Ordos pay the strippers in latinum to provocatively serve three pitchers of bloodwine from a large cask.
“Good… are we going to our usual table?” Mika joked, losing most of the humor in the nervousness of her voice. James couldn’t blame the Sub Ambassador for feeling this way. Local bars were tough joints to visit, much less a Klingon strip joint where any day was a good day to die. It was almost uncharacteristic for Mika to be nervous. She was usually levelheaded, cool, and even unnaturally calm. And sometimes, when she let her guard down, she could match tempers with a Klingon (though it was observed only once). But it was a Klingon strip joint. One of the most dangerous places in the universe, a place that made an ancient Turkish prison look like a Risean pleasure hut. James couldn’t blame her for being somewhat pragmatic about their predicament.
“Sure.” James saw that the table in the far corner was unoccupied, “Right this way.”
The Ambassador was kind enough to bring over pitchers of bloodwine. James wagged his finger and looked at the Ambassador sternly. He didn’t approve of the alcohol. It was more trouble than he cared to admit. “Ambassador, this isn’t a good time to drink.”
“Nonsense, boy!” Ambassador Ordos shoved goblets of wine towards James and Mika, “You’re in a Klingon Bar. It’s considered an insult to honor not to have a drink.”
“You’re still not drinking.” Lieutenant Corgan stopped Ordos’ cup from reaching his lips. Mika politely pushed her chalice aside, as Corgan led Ordos’ hand to placing the bloodwine on the table, “We’re going to be here for a few minutes. Go in, try to straighten this all out with the Judari, and get the hell out. Until then, you’re not getting drunk. Neither are you, Mika.”
”I agree. I would rather not drink right now.” Her dim recollection of the night on the town haunted her, influencing her judgment a lot more sternly than a drink influenced foolishness.
“I’m the Ambassador here… and I know a thing or two about Klingons. Now, we drink.” Ambassador Ordos nodded his head towards the bartender. The surly looking Klingon with ragged black hair was shaving his stubble with the edge of his dk’targ. “Or he will threaten to tear our hearts out through our urethra’s. Except Mika. He would just try to claim her in a…”
“No more!” James silenced the Ambassador, “That’s quite enough. Ok… we sip, but if you two get drunk again…”
”Right right…” Ordos grumbled, “I’ve been in politics for years. I know when to control myself.”
”Which explains why you put yourself in this mess…” Corgan said from under his breath.
“What was that?!”
Commotion was heard from the entrance of the nightclub, but it wasn’t the type that demanded the attention of everyone that came by. It was the type that was first stopped by the bouncer, then let in after a minute and a half of coarse, guttural complaining in the Klingon language. Then it was the type of entrance that didn’t stop people in mid sip of their drinks. It didn’t stop the crackling speakers of the sound system from playing cheap Klingon porno music. It didn’t stop strippers from making their money. It didn’t stop people from singing drinking songs, serving bloodwine, fighting, cursing, living and loving. As a matter of fact, this type of entrance was void of any fear and charisma at all.
Such was the fallen Romak brothers. The fall from grace hit them hard on the ass on the way out of House of Payne. On day one, they were on top of the world. Princes, among the thugs and bullies of the slums. The gang owned Ianjep’s title for the baddest and the strongest. Then James Corgan, the universal sign of bad luck and misfortune, covered them all in his velvety dark curse. Through a series of misadventures and trials, the Sons of Romak were revealed for what they truly were; a bunch of p*ssies who couldn’t rough up a decadent Starfleet Officer and two pathetic Andorians.
Fate, it seemed, was the cruelest on the eldest son, Ketor. No longer did he look like a mammoth of a man. While his brothers were bandaged in various places after the arbiter beating, Ketor’s nose was flattened and crooked. His arms were bruised. Even the forehead ridges on his face seemed less craggy, and James swore a good foot of height was taken off of him. Then it dawned on him, he was tall but before he was intimidated. Now, Ketor was a regular dumb thug.
And that regular dumb thug and his band of not so merry idiots were heading to his table.
“Ketor… pleased to meet you!” James greeted sarcastically, “Please, I would like you to meet my friend, Ambassador Ordos and Sub-Ambassador Mika. Mika, Ordos… Ketor!”
Ketor didn’t look like he was in the mood to joke around. He bellowed out, “SILENCE!”, into the crowd, but it all fell on ignoring ears. The music still didn’t stop. “You… Corgan… deserve to die.”
”No argument there, but I’m still standing. What are you doing here?” James groaned, looking over Ketor’s shoulder for any indication of the Judari.
Very peeved at the lack of attention he was getting from the Andorians (Ordos was trying to seduce a waitress, while Mika was casually filing her nails) and from James, (who still couldn’t find a Judari in the house), Ketor yelled louder, “SILENCE! Lieutenant Corgan, my employer sent us here to deliver a message to you.”
”Yeah.. sure… now have you seen any Judari? You know, greenish black skin, sort of cobblestone texture to them…” He gave the Klingon gang no respect. ~”Surely, they can’t be it? Geez… the Judari can do better than that!”~
Ketor’s anger was rising like an intolerable, but impotent, volcano. “SILENCE!” He demanded the crowd once again, and still he was greeted with music, cheers and singing that wasn’t meant for his ears! “I was sent by the Judari to tell you… we have no deal.”
“Well yeah… dumbass. We haven’t made one yet. You’re new to this, aren’t you?” James filled Ketor in on some missed details, “Look what I did was contact the Judari. He was supposed to make a deal where Ordos is not bothered, in exchange for say… not having the Judari’s ass thrown in a penal colony. And if I didn’t like his deal, I’d tell you what our deal was, then you would tell him like the good monkey man you are. Understand?”
The Klingon warrior leader’s honor was insulted more than ever by Corgan’s insolent tongue. In his absentminded rage, Ketor couldn’t take anymore. He was being insulted by a human and ignored by his brethren. Even his brothers were distracted by other things. It was then that he reached his breaking point.
In a fit of rage, Ketor stomped in a huff over to the nearest bloodwine vat. With muscles larger than his brain, he lifted up the vat, ignoring the fact that he was being drenched in crimson spirits. Then, he threw the barrel at a reflective mirror. Wine, glass and the barrel showered across the floor.
Mika stopped filing her nails. She paid attention, and was visibly worried. Ordos was locked on to Ketor, fearing how his massive biceps could easily choke him out. And for a second, Corgan believed that Ketor was a serious threat.
“Are you sure you should be kidding around?” Mika asked.
James turned to Mika, “No offense to him, but he disappointed me during our last few encounters. Besides, my dad always said that bullies were all talk and no fight. I’m sure he’s no different.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing?”
”Sure… as long as you plan on watching my back.”
Her antennae pricked up provocatively, “In Andorian custom, that’s as good as asking someone out on a date.”
He sighed, “What is with you warrior races and being turned on by fights?”
“I don’t know.” She retorted merrily, “What’s with human males and always trying to save women… no matter what race?”
”Dunno… like you said, its what I do…”
“And what is with humans and not being choosy about race? Most races consider it a taboo. You humans just… do it.”
“Hey, as long as the bits and pieces are all the same, and they make great pillow conversation, what’s the difference?”
“SILENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!” Ketor screamed loud enough to blind out the music. The activities stopped momentarily. Since it was no different than any other warrior’s hissy fits after losing a bet, they continued partying. Seeing that his tirade did the opposite of attract everyone’s attention, Ketor screamed, “My message is… you and the Andorians are going to die!”
The growls of the Sons of Romak indicated that they were ready for a fight. Ordos, seeing the Romak brothers balling their fists, ducked behind two Klingon strippers in order to avoid the fight. Mika was already out of her seat, her left hand held behind her head in a scorpion tail like poise, while the other was partially extended and open palmed at the Klingon gang. Two of the Romak brothers were in crude Mok’bara stances, indicating their knowledge in the Klingon martial arts was crude at best. Ketor didn’t bother with getting ready. He was too busy turning a deep crimson red in his face.
All help by Lieutenant Corgan. What appeared to be him sitting calmly while tensions mounted, he in reality decided then was a good time to throw a mug full of bloodwine into Ketor’s face!
And then according to James later accounts, that was when he had to leave sanity out the window. His first plan was to push two of the Sons of Romak into the oncoming crowd of REAL warriors, cause a brawl between the two parties, hope that Mika does the same for the other two, leaving Ketor to find that he’s outnumbered two to one after he wipes the stinging alcohol out of his eyes.
But in the heat of the moment, not everything goes according to plan. Ketor was wiping the alcohol off his face faster than expected, and the alcohol didn’t bother his eyes as much as he thought. That left one choice, leading into some dangerous tunnel vision centered around Ketor. James got out of his seat, and used the chair as a weapon. The wooden furniture splintered off of Ketor’s chest, spraying wood fragments in all directions. Ketor staggered back, reeling into the bar counter.
“Hey…” It dawned on James, “You’re not that tough! Well I’ll be f**ked!”
Lieutenant Corgan wasn’t going to let up on the eldest Son of Romak He was on a roll, and intent on giving that bothersome Ketor a thorough ass kicking before the night was over. He deplored hired thugs and bullies, hating them over everything except the Borg. Ketor, like so many others that pissed him off, was going to have to suffer like everyone else through a humiliating thrashing.
As an afterthought, he noticed that the other Romak brothers were not assaulting him. He looked around quickly, and found nothing. He heard fights breaking out in the bar, spreading from their table like a lit gasoline leak, but nothing else. He prayed that Mika would be ok in the melee, but knew what he had to do to finish his troubles.
The eldest Romak brother shook off the stars in his head, only to see more come in courtesy of Corgan’s speeding fist. As Ketor slammed back into a barstool, he felt his head being grabbed by his neck and his scalp, two smaller human hands manipulating his head against his will. The pain in his now broken (again) nose was not as bad as the pulling of his hair, but it renewed in pain as his nose contacted the flat, dust covered surface of the bar counter. Then again, and again, and again it repeated, his head slamming into polished wood in a consistent beat. He was then lifted up. Corgan’s hand clutched his throat, and the other aimed a fist to his dazed face.
“Where do I find the Judari?” James asked politely.
Ketor replied, “Uuuuhhhhnnnnnnnnn…..”
”Wrong answer. Here’s some motivation.”
James grabbed for the nearest bottle, a bottle of vintage 2233 bloodwine. It easily broke free as he clubbed Ketor in the head just before the eldest Romak brother could finish punching back. The glass broke free, spraying Corgan and Ketor in bloodwine. Being hit on the forehead ridges, it did nothing more than cause Ketor to be more woozy.
“The Judari…. Now.” James asked again, more sternly.
=/\=”Go feast on a targ’s nutsack.”=/\= Ketor cursed in Klingon.
“Oh please… don’t make me hurt you some more.”
Ketor was anticipating the moment when James would attack again. Not seeing James attack, Ketor tried a clumsy knee to the gut, but James foot was as fast as a lash viper. His boot caught Ketor’s knee, and as he yelped in pain, James grabbed Ketor’s arm and shoulder threw him on top of a table. Ketor’s weight collapsed the wooden bar table as if it was made of brittle wraithbone. Then, Corgan’s foot was on Ketor’s jaw while he still held the arm, pinning Ketor to the remains of the table and the floor.
”Judari. Don’t make me kick your ass to find out.” He warned one last time.
“Alright! Alright!” Ketor begged for an end to the hostilities. For the moment, James and Ketor were alone in the sea of chaos. Ordos was being fawned over by two strippers who were arguing over who was going to protect their ‘big blue love missile machine’. Mika was nowhere to be seen. Though James worried, he couldn’t let Ketor go. The Klingon rewarded his patience soon enough, “They are staying with us! At the House of Romak. On 8th street and 9th avenue. Just… stop the pain! I’ve had enough beatings these past few days! F**k the Judari, just make it stop!”
“Ohh… ok. THANKS!” James let go of his arm. As Ketor lifted himself up, James gave him a swift kick in the ass to encourage him to run faster. It worked better than anticipated. Ketor ran out to the nearest exit, tripping over and leaving one of his fallen brothers behind.
The strange problem was, the younger brother was unconscious and on the floor, with bruises all over his face, and his left arm broken in three different places. The arm too the quality of a bent up piece of wire. It was sickening to look at. ~”What caused this?”~ James pondered to guess, but was cut off by a loud and shrill yell of pain.
He felt a gust of wind fly past him, as the Klingon body of another Son of Romak barreled into the bar counter back first. To James’ surprise, he found out what happened to the remaining Sons of Romak, and why they were not bothering James while he gave Ketor a sound thrashing.
Mika was at the middle of the barroom floor, in a fighting stance that was menacing and gracefully beautiful at the same time. Her feet glided on the floor like hovering electromagnetic pods, with no noise or shuffling under her kimono, which was now slit to reveal one slim, swan like leg of light blue. Her opponents were a foot taller than the small Andorian female, and yet with their strength and numbers advantage the Sons of Romak couldn’t land a blow on Mika Somora. One kicked straight out, the other punched at her jaw, but with one movement and a flutter of silken robes she moved out of the way of both blows. Her fist hit the two Romak brothers, twice, and her sandaled foot brought one brother down to one knee. Her first counter assault wasn’t enough to stop the brothers from trying. They tried once more to attack with fists. She spin kicked one fist out of the way while deftly dodging the other, and clipped a brother in the jaw. And for a third time, the two brothers tried the futile practice of hitting what couldn’t be hit. Before they could hit, one brother was struck by a half dozen rapid fist and feet blows. Then, Mika turned to the last thug, who was still down on one knee, and turned into a calculated blue typhoon of attacks, finishing off many hard strikes with the quickest roundhouse kick Corgan ever saw. The Romak brother fell unconscious, with blood and teeth flying out of his mouth.
She ended in a Andorian sand scorpion fighting pose, her hand held back and curled like a tail, the other outstretched like a claw, and feet ready to spring into action. Her movements were fluid and even seductive, and yet deadly to the moths who circle her flame.
Nobody dared to go near Mika. The fight was well over. Nobody wanted to mess with the surprisingly deadly Andorian fighter. What surprised Corgan more was that Mika was such an adept fighter. Her speed and strength seemed impossible with a body as small and as seemingly fragile as hers. To see her as a whirlwind of destruction was almost comical.
Though nobody wanted to say it, they were all afraid of Mika. James jaw was halfway to the floor.
”What… the… hell?” He sputtered.
“Didn’t you know?” Mika snorted as if stating the obvious, “Andorians assistants also serve as body guards.”
”Oh…” He understood, “That’s… a surprise. Damn… that was hot.”
She shrugged as if beating up four Klingon warriors was not a big deal, “So, find anything out?”
“Yeah… we’re supposed to visit House Romak. HEY ORDOS!” He yelled to the Ambassador, “Are you ready to go?!?!”
The Ambassador was far from being ready. The Klingon strippers were enjoying fawning over him like a mewling infant. They were petting, cooing and whispering sweet nothings into his ear. Though helpless and normally unattractive to Klingon women, his vow to protect the strippers at all cost was enough to win over the affections. “Excuse me, ladies, but I must go to… save the Empire on behalf of my government. Good day to you all, and my room is the Ambassador’s suite on the USS Galaxy.”
”We’ll see you soon.” The first stripper said in a strangely deep voice. The other stripper growled, giving Ordos a playful snap of her teeth.
“That we will ladies… lets go Lieutenant Corgan! I won’t be able to solve this case with your delays! Move!”
And so, the two Andorians and the terran Starfleet Officer left the House of Payne, hopefully for one last time. They were leaving it in a worse state that before, if that was possible for a seedy joint like this. There were fights sporadically breaking out in the bar. Strippers still danced. People still drank. The music was playing. And the fist blows were everywhere.
Just like any other Klingon bar. Then again, they might have left it in a better state by Klingon standards.
"Jay and Silent Bob strike back"
Jay and Silent Bob
Two figures stood at an entrance. Well one did and the other seemed to jump around like a ferret with attention deficit disorder.
Bob was used to his partner's activities. But Jay seemd to be in his own litle world, "... drinkin beers smokin' weed doin coke lots of coke smokin blunts..."
Astrid Salt saw the action and shook her head, those damned stoners were going to be up shit creek sans paddle if they weren't careful.
Of course Jay was the first to respond as she walked over, "So baby, when are you gonna let me give you a horsy ride?"
"Shut up Jay." Astrid responded naturally, "You're a sick little twitch, Bob how can you handle this sick littel shit."
Bob shrugged as if to way, whatcha gonna do?
"Ok Crewman Steve Irwin hasn't checked in yet, he was off doing a documentary of the Klingon Wolf Targ or something and he's been missing for 15 hours."
"SO baby you want us to go search for her, then come back to your place for a little rodeo sex."
Astrid cocked her head, "Rodeo sex?"
Jay grinned leaned in and whispered somethign in to her ear, Astrid's face got red then she smacked him, "You are a sick little bastard Jay. Get going." With that she stormed off.
Jay grinned, "damn that woman digs me."
Bob just rolled his eyes...
“The Fallen House”
By Lieutenant James Lionel Corgan
Chief of Operations, USS Galaxy
Sub-Ambassador Mika Somora
Location: Romak Estates (?), Ianjep.
=/\=TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT=/\=
=/\=AND TORTURED AGAIN=/\=
So was the warning message of the Romak Estates, situated like a fortress in the sprawling Ianjep slum. It was a Imperial post gothic House fortress, with scowling statues of warriors perched on each roof corner, their stone eyes literally watching the mansion grounds with their internal scanners. The blackened metal rafters, girders and protective shields were sullied by tarnish. The sandstone walls were chipped and weathered. Vines and trees were left un-pruned and growing unabashed up the walls and all over the compound. The surrounding fence was rusted and broken in key areas; some of the bars were cut out by thieves long ago. And at the front gate, hanging from a rusted chain, was the warning sign, describing in the Klingon language what would happen to any intruders.
Torture. Beating. Drawn and Quartered. More torture. Stay out or else all will happen.
Pretty straight forward.
“What are we doing here?” Ambassador Ordos whined, sitting down on the street corner to take off his shoes and rub his purplish feet, “My feet are sore! Mika! Footrub!” He ordered his assistant. Unhesitant (she was good at hiding her feelings at key times), she rubbed Ordos’ feet, “I don’t see why we couldn’t take some sort of transportation. Would have saved us much trouble.”
“Ianjep’s poor quarter doesn’t have public transit.” James explained for the hundredth time, “And we are here because this is the House of Romak… literally. Didn’t you want to come in the first place?”
“And I care because…” Ordos droned. An audible pop was heard in Ordos’ foot, “Ohhhh… that’s much better, my dear Mika. You’re getting better at this.”
“Because if we’re going to find the Judari, we have to look here. I told you this before, sir. I’m not going to say it again.” He sighed with impatience.
Ordos indignantly snorted, “I’m sure we can just approach the Judari at the conference. I see no reason to trapeze all the way through Ianjep’s slum to talk to a fallen House’s lord just because his thugs came from there. It would be much easier to wait at the conference.”
“And for the last time, the conference is over today!” Corgan yelled, “We have to find the Judari now. If we don’t find them here, we’ll find them at the conference.”
”Well I would rather we waited until tomorrow.”
“And I’d rather be getting screwed by the Austrailian Pleasure Twins, but that’s not going to happen. Sit tight. I’m going in.”
James rattled the gate, but it was held firm by the rusted chain that held the warning sign, and locked by a thick iron padlock. His cricket phaser would only attract more attention if he shot through the chain and parted the gates. He thought of alternative ways of getting in, but without knowing how many of the statue monitors were actually working, he couldn’t find another way.
His shoulders shrugged in pragmatic agreement. There was no point in waiting. They had to get into the Mansion now. James withdrew his phaser from its ankle holster, aimed carefully at the lock, and fired. He sustained the beam for a full three seconds. The padlock glowed bright red. Globules of superheated metal spit and hissed on the ground. Seconds later, the lock and most of the chain were turned into melted slag. The whine of the phaser stopped as soon as James cut through the chain.
Confidently, he holstered his phaser, and parted the iron gates open. He stepped into the overgrown courtyard, and smiled.
“Pas de problem.” He bowed in a ‘ladies first’ gesture, “Who wants to go in?”
The Ambassador flushed his face. He pushed himself back. “No thank you, Lieutenant. I am… far too… tired.”
“You mean important.” James interrupted.
“Yes… I guess I’m too important to go in. If they were to get a hold of me in the Mansion and kill me, that would do us no good at the conference, wouldn’t it?”
“No…” James rolled his eyes and huffed, “It wouldn’t.” ~”F**king p*ssy.”~
Mika intervened, showing a great concern for both James and her master, “Lieutenant, I would like to join you, but I have to stay behind with the Ambassador. If something were to happen to him…”
”It would be on her pretty little head!” Ordos snapped, “Besides, I don’t like how the locals look at me. Any one of those dirty slummers could mug me.”
~”Perhaps if you didn’t wear Andorian silks and order people around like a head of state, they wouldn’t mistake you for someone that has money.”~ James kept to his private thoughts. Speaking his mind would only complicate matters further, “Alright then… I’ll go first.”
“Oh… good.” Ordos breathed a sigh of relief.
Mika was still concerned about the Lieutenant’s safety. It wouldn’t serve her right if the Lieutenant fell to great danger inside the House of Romak. He was their contact in the Federation and the man who made a solemn promise to help protect the Ambassador from harm. Good intentions were not worth being shot at and killed for. It made her ill to think that Lieutenant Corgan was going in alone, but her job as an Assistant kept her constantly chained to the Ambassador.
She wanted to go more than anything, but all she could do was say, “Good luck, James.”
Surprised to hear his first name, Lieutenant Corgan replied, “Sure thing, Mika. Take care.”
He walked a vast distance towards the spooky, almost haunted mansion entrance. As soon as he made it to the entrance, he gave the door a vigorous knock, and waited for an answer. Mika helplessly watched, hoping above all things that this wasn’t going to be the last time she saw James Corgan.
“Mika! Did I tell you to stop?” Ordos gave her a light rap on the head with his finger. While she was thinking, she was unaware that the pace of her foot massage was getting too slow for the Ambassador’s liking. She pressed on, quickening the soothing motions of her hands on Ordos’ sore feet.
~”Please come back soon.”~ Mika thought as her antennae sunk down like wilted flowers.
Corgan’s knock on the door was mostly unheard by the inhabitants of the House of Romak. Ketor, the eldest and most hazard struck of the brothers, stood at ramrod attention in front of Ambassador Kotar Solna. Romak was equally at attention, though more hostile than his son because the Ambassador occupied the head seat at the banquet table. His banquet table. At his house. If Solna wasn’t an employer, he would have had the dishonorable pig tortured, beaten, drawn, quartered, and then tortured again.
And if they themselves had more honor, there wouldn’t have been a problem, but that wasn’t the case. Kotar Solna was stuck on their chair, and he looked very angry.
Kotar stared at each family member of Romak. He hated their mongrel, battered faces. Each brother was sporting one major injury or another. Rumor was a small Andorian female beat them all up, while Ketor was beaten up from one end of the bar to the other by a Starfleet officer. There wasn’t much evidence to refute the rumors. One brother had his arm broken in three places. The other hunched over with a sore back. Ketor’s nose was being covered by a messy, blood coated cloth.
“This is great. You know, by the vow of my allegences… this is most interesting indeed. Do you all agree?” Kotar reached in his robe, catching the breath of his Klingon associates. It was fun to see them all squirm. He commanded cold and calculated fear and respect, and he fed on nothing else. What the Klingons thought was a weapon turned out to be a thick Hariana cigar. He removed the wrapping and tore off one tip. He grabbed another item from his dark red robes. This time, it was a Judarian ion pistol. The Klingons held their breath, but the Judari calmly tapped out a few settings. A blue light only an inch long emitted from the barrel of the weapon. And like a high tech butane lighter, Kotar lit his cigar.
He blew puffs of smoke at the frightened Klingons, “You know, I’ve helped you all so much. When nobody else would help your house rebuild, I was there. I WAS THERE!” His enraged, pistol holding fist slammed the table, “I was the only one who could help you out!”
“Ambassador, I can explain…” Ketor spoke up, muffled by the bloody rag.
Kotar’s angry voice cut Ketor off, “I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT! You all disappointed me… AGAIN! And you all know by now that I don’t… like… disappointments! I’ve had enough these past few days, and you know what? This is the final disappointment. I’ve had enough. We’re going to stop f**king up and we’re going to stop f**king up right now!”
“Hold on this minute!” Romak stepped forward, growling with the authority he thought was long lost, “I am Romak, lord of this house! I will not be talked down to by some off worlder scum like yourself! We may be a fallen house, but we still have our honor! We will not let it be ruined by your corruption anymore!”
Kotar rose out of the head seat, a look of amusement apparent on his face, through all the cigar smoke. He was enjoying the whole show, which was better than most political speeches. The fallen house was starting to show some backbone. Ketor and his brothers stood beside their proud father, shooting glances of hatred at the Judari. In response, Ambassador Solna carelessly swaggered, clapping his cigar and his ion pistol together, “Good for you! Finally going to show some honor now, are we? Don’t be stupid! You need me more than you realize. You’re too corrupt now. Without your corruption, you would have all been tossed out of here. A family without a house. A family without honor… like that was any improvement. Don’t disappoint me again. You need me. Settle down… relax. Stand down, and everything will be all right. Don’t be brave on me.”
Romak waved his hand for the brothers to stand back. They each walked backwards, lowering their fists and uncurling their tongues. They were all so brave before, but the bravery was fleeting at best. Now they lost the will to stand up to the Judarian Ambassador.
“Stand down, my sons. We fight another day.” Romak sadly ordered.
“BRAVO!” Kotar clapped, “That’s more to my liking! Servile and ready to do as I ask, and not because they want to… but because they have to! Don’t you love it?”
”Forgive me…” Romak bowed down, “We are desperate, and we sometimes lose ourselves in the blood lust. Forgive us… we will not disappoint you ever again.”
Kotar took a drag from his cigar, letting the smoke linger in his lungs before expelling it into the Romak family’s face. Then, an evil thought creeped up in his head. The idea was a final solution to one of his many problems. It was so simple. Sadly, the universe was a cruel place and whoever had to suffer wouldn’t be missed, “You’re right.” Kotar nodded, pacing at the opposite end of the table as the Romak family. He sensed the fear in their eyes, “I know what you’re getting at. You don’t want to disappoint me.” He looked up to the ceiling as if he was speaking to God, “They don’t want me to be disappointed! They’re right! There is no way they can possibly disappoint me anymore! And you know why?!?!?!”
Kotar dropped the cigar to the floor. His hand flew over the settings of his ion pistol, resetting the improvised cigar lighter into a more lethal variant. The power level was set, and the finger closed down on the trigger.
A bright flash.
Then the searing pain of charged ions slamming full force into Romak’s chest.
“Because I won’t give you the opportunity to disappoint me EVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!”
The brothers were too slow to react. Surreally, Kotar Solna let loose more bolts of charged ions at the Sons of Romak. He cruelly cut down two of Ketor’s brothers, as two ran away. Ketor showed more bravery than he did before, running to his dying father while the energy fire resounded through the hall.
Kotar was like a demon possessed, blood thirsty murderer. He laughed merrily as he shot his Forth Romakian Klingon as he fled for the door. The other remaining brother was much smarter. He was drawing out his disruptor. With a howling war cry, the wulfen Klingon warrior fired wildly at the Ambassador. Solna ducked under the table to avoid the green disruptor bursts. He shot nimbus blue beams of ion back, catching the warrior in the throat. He went down with a gurgle, his neck smoking out billows of charred flesh.
Romak held onto the last scrap of life he had left; his son. Ketor held his father in his arms, feeling the anguish and pain of losing his family to the cackling Judari butcher. His brothers, raised in the very house they were now being uncaringly slaughtered, were dead on the floor. The lord of the house was gasping, sputtering for breath, keeping the smoke from escaping through the hole in his chest. The noise was unbearable, if not loud. Laughing of a sadistic madman, ion fire, the dead being ionized. It was enough to drive a warrior mad.
“Ketor… run…” Romak gasped his final words, keeping the strength to leave his eyes open, to face his death head on.
So tragic was the death that Ketor vowed on the graves of his dead family that the Judari butcher would die, and he would restore honor to their house.
Kotar wittingly cracked a smile, and said, “Do you believe in Sto’vo’kor?”
”Yess…” Ketor growled.
But he didn’t have time to answer, much less snap into bloodlust. He was greeting Gre’kor through the barrel of an ion pistol, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Surprisingly, the light was blindingly blue for a brief second…
James heard the sounds of disruptor and ion fire inside the Romak mansion. They were dull noises that sounded like they came from deep in the house, but they were there all right, and there was lots of it. Yelling, screaming and bellowing of Klingon warriors was heard from the area, and then the voices of the Klingons were silent. The disruptor fire died out, leaving only ion fire to fill the air. There were a dozen more shots, and sizzling score marks to follow. The violence stopped moments later. No screams of the dying. No yelling. Nothing but eerie silence.
“Get out of here!” James yelled to Mika and Ordos. He brought out his phaser again, and kicked down the mansion’s door. He smelled the musty air from inside as he plunged himself into the unknown.
He carefully jumped from corner to corner, watching for any survivors of the gunfight to come out and start firing. Deeper into the building, he saw nobody else, except the history of the fallen house. Painting of warriors past laid misshapen and dusty. Artifacts from the past were forgotten in the heat of the moment. The mansion was dark and spooky, made more menacing by the lack of lights and the neglect.
Footsteps were heard from deep in the house’s interior. “Yes… I took care of the problem…...” He heard a voice speak from inside the house, unmistakably the Judari, “…we’re done here. They won’t bother us again………. Then we’ll take care of the Andorians ourselves! Hold on…. Something’s coming. Beam me out of here.”
James sprinted to the area where he heard the voice, finding himself inside the middle of a great banquet hall. A shining chandelier hung over the dusty wood table and warrior sized chairs. Pennants and warrior weapons were hung on the walls. The smell of death, charred flesh and flowing blood, was thick in the air. From the corner of Corgan’s injured eye, he saw a blur of a transporter beam lift away the silhouette of an unmistakably Judarian body.
What he saw in front of him was a sickening scene of wanton carnage. Six Klingons were laying dead on the floor, their faces distorted in anger and fear from the last emotion they felt before they died. Ketor was dead from a shot through the cranial plate. He was sprawled on the floor, holding on to an elderly Klingon who was shot in both hearts.
He heard a gasp from behind. He spun around, his phaser aiming at a shocked Mika and a frightened Ambassador Ordos. Mika was saddened by the sight of the massacre. A tear streaked down her cheek and a sob wracked her throat.
“I told you two to stay behind.” James hissed.
“We heard the phaser fire.” Ordos argued, “We wanted to come in and help you.”
“Oh my…” Mika pitied the dead, “Who did this?”
“The same guys who want to do the same to Ordos.” Was all James could supply for an answer.
Fishing for Answers Part 1
Lieutenant Adrian An’quinsos
Zerhi An’quinsos (NPC)
Co-Ten Forward Manager
**Lanjep: The Great Hall**
After her conversation with the Chandran delegation ended, her attention was turned to the podium, for the Cardassian delegation to speak. Looking over at her husband, his posturing seemed to be a man of profound tranquility… with something on his mind. Her attention then turned to the Podium below.
~“You’re not cheating on me are you?”~ She telepathically sent to him in their native language, with a strong note of humor. ~“Because if you are, I shall have to hunt down this bimbo, and put her out her misery!”~
The El-Aurian male picked upon this and almost laughed aloud. ~“My most precious and powerful wife, I can assure you, without and hesitant doubt, that I am, will, and always be forever faithful to you. Besides, I haven’t had time to flirt with anyone, except maybe my own wife.”~
~“In that case,”~ Her tone turned deadly serious. ~“What in the nine rings do you have those shields up?”~
~“Because… I can.”~ He stated flatly.
Her eyes visibly narrowed into twin points of emerald lasers. ~“You… You… Grr! Don’t lie to me!”~
~“Look, I have too. You could say I’ve been sworn to secrecy. And any word form me could prove fatal for someone else. Do you read me?”~
She looked up a moment as mused the idea in her head. ‘It would have to be pretty important to keep locked away…’
~“Yep,”~ Came Adrian’s reply as he heard the contemplation as clear as day ~“You damn Skippy it’s pretty important! And the result could either end up being good or disastrous; depending on which side, you are on.” ~
~“And so you left me out?”~ Her tone indicated a mixture of curiosity and wry amusement.
He looked over at her and did a discreet somatic gesture. He arose from his seat, and silently exited the Coliseum-like area. He was followed by a woman in beautiful green robes. Exiting the stairway, they proceeded into the ‘lobby’ and had a seat at the far corner. Back on the Commodore, his wife had discovered a loved for crime solving, after her interaction in various Holo-simulations such as Sherlock Holms, Hardy Boys, Crime Scene Investigations, and various other fan-fiction. ‘It could be worse’ He once mused. ‘She could have a fixation for light sabers!’
They whispered discreetly in Federation Standard, and then nodded.
[“Um, because sweetie if anyone finds out this ‘said’ information has slipped through the proper channels, I will be SEVERELY,] He stressed . ["Reamed with a phaser rifle shoved uncomfortably where the sun don’t ever shine.”]
They had switched to the oldest and most rare El-Aurian dialect known, or unknown as was the case. To ensure more safety, a bit of languages from the Delta Quadrant were mixed into it, giving an eve’s dropper a confusing mixture of a complexity coupled with the illogical. All was spoken in a barely audible whisper.
[“Well, don’t seem to have gotten very far, and I’m positive that the Galaxy can make use of my skills as a Listener-”]
[“Oh no!”] He said in a slightly louder tone. [“Absolutely not! Under no circumstances will I have my wife, the mother of my child, putting her life in danger, on a crazy black ops operation to track down a kid-”] He stopped dead in his tracks before another word slipped out. That was the one thing he hated about marriage, he could never keep a secret from his precious Zerhi. [“It would be very foolish of me to say that you lack the necessary training. So, I won’t bother. What I will say is this, if you go out there and put your life in danger, who’s going to protect you? What if I don’t get there in time, and… why are we having this conversation to begin with again?”]
[“Kidnapped.”] Her emerald eyes bore twin holes into his azure ones. Her somewhat emotionless face tensed into a frowning mixture of disdain and annoyance [“Who was kidnapped? An Admiral? Ambassador? Perhaps Captain Price himself? Who?”]
If it were in his power to pass out, he would have been down for the count for the next twelve hours. Worst of all, his wife knew it! Her eyes grew into twin jewels, radiating an amalgamation of fear, shock, and excitement. The first thing that came to the El-Aurian’s mind was how quick they were going to make his death...
by Captain Robert Edward Lee Price
Captain Price was pacing in his cell. Since he'd been captured by the Breen that were holding him hostage he wasn't sure how much time had past. After eating the slop that was given him, Lee had fell asleep for a time. When he woke up he was hoping the whole thing had been a bad dream, but opening his eyes he saw the same saw-tooth pattern of the grating that lined the ceiling and walls of this vessel.
Lee stepped over to the shimmering green force field that sealed him in the cell. The energy from the blockade of energy cast an ominous glow upon the Captain's face and neck. The General could feel the hairs on his neck tingle because of the proximity to the powerful field. Glancing through the opening, Lee couldn't see anything very interesting beyond the entrance which the energy field blocked. A stretch of corridor that disappeared around a bend, and another cell a few meters down the hall that looked to be unoccupied. The Captain was surprised that there were no guards posted to keep an eye on him.
Stretching a hand outward, Lee tentatively touched the force field, testing it's resolve. He was rewarded with a sizable shock that caused his arm and elbow to involuntarily retract from the shock.
"Damn!" Lee called out as he made a fist several times and tried to shake off the shock. His arm and fingers were tingling from the charge and his muscles were sore from his muscles reaction to the jolt of electricity. After a moment of manipulations the Captain realized why they hadn't bothered placing a guard outside his cell. Dejected, the Captain returned to his pacing.
Lee couldn't understand what the Breen hoped to accomplish by kidnapping him? Surely they had to know that Starfleet wasn't going to make any concessions because of his captivity. And even if the Federation did agree to speak out against the opening of this trade route, that really wouldn't stop the Klingons from opening it. All it would really do is sour relations between the Federation and Klingon Empire for opposing a vital route the
Empire desperately needs opened. Lee thought a moment and wondered if that was what the Breen's purpose was? To get the Klingons upset with the Federation?
While pondering this, Lee's thoughts momentarily drifted to Jamie, his deceased girlfriend that was murdered before his eyes. He wasn't sure what the true motives were for these Breen kidnappers, but he was pretty sure that even if they got everything they wanted that he wasn't likely to be let go alive. Never one to be highly spiritual, the General wondered for a fleeting moment if he'd see Jamie again, waiting for him on the other side.
The Captain was jostled out of his inward thoughts when he heard the sounds of someone approaching. Stopping his pacing, Lee stood near the entrance and could see three Breen walking around the corridor, talking.
"They are not going for it. We should cut our losses and move on while we still can." one of the Breen, Rorii, stated in an antsy tone.
"It is too early to say. Once the Federation takes the floor, then we will know." Stonch, the other, grumpier male Breen responded.
"And if they don't oppose the trade route as they were told?" Rorii asked.
"Then we will execute the Starfleet officer and move on." Stonch said flatly.
"Quiet you two, the prisoner can hear you." the high voiced female, Udla, stated while looking at the Captain's cell.
Lee took a step back, but it was too late, the Breen had seen he was eavesdropping. A moment later the female walked up to his cell carrying another tray of food.
"Go to the end of your bunk and sit facing the wall." she ordered while fingering a weapon in her right hand while holding the tray with her left.
The Captain complied. For a brief moment he considered trying to overpower the Breen when she dropped the force field. She had a slight build and Lee figured, unless she was a highly trained combatant, that he could probably get the weapon away without getting killed. Unfortunately with the other Breen near by, he didn't like his odds of doing that and surviving. Maybe later if the opportunity affords itself without three to one odds Lee thought. Moving to the far end of his bunk, the General sat down facing the wall as instructed.
Udla lowered the force field and stepped inside the cell. Lee could hear her put the tray down, and gather the old tray.
"So you enjoyed your Jhloepa?" the Breen woman asked.
Lee supposed it was what the mashed food was called. He was surprised that his captor was even talking to him. "It was quite filling." the Captain managed. He saw no real purpose in stating that it tasted like avocado and paste. "Some more water would be nice however."
"There is food and drink here. I hope it is to your liking." Udla stated. After a pause she added, "You should not touch the force field like you did earlier. Extended contact and exposure to the field will kill you."
Lee turned slightly at hearing this, gazing back at his Breen captor. "How did you know that I tried 'mate?"
The Breen woman pointed towards the ceiling. "Surveillance. Do not be fooled by the lack of a posted guard outside your cell Captain Price. You are being watched constantly."
Lee bit his lip, silently cursing himself for not realizing that the rounded protrusions in the ceiling grate were not decor but surveillance nodules. He would have to keep that in mind if he does get a chance to try and bust out of the cell by overpowering one of his captors. Even if they are alone, he can't be sure that someone isn't watching that could sound an alarm.
"I see. Why are you doing this? You must know that the Federation will never give in to any demands that you make of them on account of my capture?" Lee asked. He figured as long as this woman was here and talking to him, he might as well take advantage of it.
"Perhaps not the Federation. But I believe you underestimate the esteem your colleagues hold for you Captain Price. To save your life they would lie to their own mothers if they had to." the Breen woman responded.
Lee was silent a moment. He supposed that she had a point. The Captain's 'mates were a special lot. They were in many ways like his own family. And when one of your family members is in trouble, rules and regulations are the last things that get in the way of your doing something to help them out of a jam. Lord knows, the General had bent or broken his fair share of Starfleet regulations in missions past. How could he expect his crew to be any different?
"You may be right 'mate. But that doesn't answer my question of why you are doing this?"
"It's rather complicated. Suffice it to say this trade route would be too disruptive for us right now. With the recent loss in the Dominion war, having this trade route opened along our boarders is the last thing we want to have happen. Unless you failed to notice Captain, the Breen didn't make many friends during the war. Having every pissed off species in the galaxy have free passage to our door step via this free trade route is not something my government wants or needs right now."
Lee thought about what the Breen woman had said. It sort of made sense and she seemed sincere when she spoke. Still, something didn't quite add up. It bothered Lee enough to comment on it, though on hind sight he might have been better off if he hadn't.
"I see. But tell me 'mate, I expect none of the governments in the quadrant are more upset with the Breen's decision in the war then the Klingons. Even if this trade route didn't open as you want, you'd still have a formidable enemy right on your door step."
"One enemy on one boarder, another on the other Captain. The Breen can deal with the Klingons and Romulans. We just don't want to deal with anyone more then that. This trade route will allow others access to the threshold of our territories that before they simply did not have. While we are not on the best of terms with our neighbors Captain, they do serve an important purpose in that their respective closed empires keep the rest of the riff-raft away from our doorsteps. If this route is opened up, my people will have to deal with even more hostile governments." Udla explained flatly.
"I'm sure things would 'ave be quite different if you'd have sided with the Federation in the war 'mate."
Udla grew even colder then her refrigeration suit was undoubtedly keeping her. "Enjoy your meal Captain." she bit back in an obviously pissed off tone. The General's comment had cut her to the quick.
Lee watched as the woman exited the cell and reactivated the green force field before stomping off down the corridor with a lot of attitude.
Moving over to the tray, the Captain saw more of the mashed food the Breen called Jhloepa, and another glass of water. Taking a couple fingers, Lee started eating his food and wondering what his 'mates were doing to get him out of this mess. Things weren't looking good for the General at the moment, he felt his days were numbered if something didn't happen soon.
“By the Brother’s Blood”
By Lieutenant James Lionel Corgan
Chief of Operations, USS Galaxy
Location: Romak Mansion, Ianjep
Time: 19:00 hours, day three.
The Romak Mansion was now swarming with Ianjepi Arbitors. The Mansion was cordoned off by armored warriors with shock mauls and concussive shield units, pouring out of armored hover wagons and filtering in like volcano ants on bloodworms. The detectives, scowling individuals walking into the crime scene like black cloaked specters of death. They swept the compound for the smallest piece of evidence, using microvacuums and criminological tricorders to sweep the areas clean. The Mansion was turned into an Arbitor compound. Nobody could get in or out unless they deemed the person worthy.
Corgan, Mika, and Ordos were not one of these people. As much as they all wanted to leave the grisly murder scene, Arbitor/Lieutenant Tem’stra was holding them back. She was the shining white paladin in the group of black knights and foot soldiers. Her gleaming white cape, brilliantly polished golden Arbitor badge was an indication to her station, and the helmet and shield strapped to her back and the shock maul and disruptors at her side showed a cockiness becoming of a leader, as if she was daring somebody to try something, because there were many others who were ready to come to her aid if her fast reflexes were not enough.
She was pretty by Klingon standards. Dressed sharply and kept clean, she would have been the envy of other more unkept warriors of her race. But such was not the case. Her surly, serious, and obsessive nature when it came to solving crime chased most people away. Respect was also hard for her to find, because she irritated most people.
Such as James, Mika and Ordos. Arbitor/Lieutenant Tem’stra shared no love for the troublesome threesome. She thought she had the Sons of Romak for good, until an anonymous business partner came up with the credits to set them free. What did she do to deserve this? Risk life and limb to catch the Sons of Romak, using the Starfleet Officer and the Andorians to do so, and then end up being shot in the head with a stun blast from Commander K’temmery’s disruptor, and all because the foolish Starfleet officer wanted to help her out by tripping Ketor, who by sheer dumb misfortune, was in front of Tem’stra.
He head still ached from that disruptor blast. Klingon disruptors were not kind with their stun settings.
But to make matters worse, the Sons of Romak were now dead, killed by an unknown Judari assailant. The murder scene made her gut sick. All the brothers were dead by ion blasts. Some ran and did not make it. One of the brothers shot back, but was a terrible marksman. He was gunned down before any of his shots could be effective. And then Ketor, who died doing the most noble deed of his miserable life; trying to save his father.
What could do this to an entire family? Tem’stra didn’t want to know. It welled up sadness in her chest each time she thought of them.
There was hope for the fallen house, that much she could see. The only witnesses to the crime were in her presence. The federation citizens who came seconds too late to change events. She hated them. They were the Romak family’s only hope, and they failed.
“Is that all you have to say about the crime?” Officer Tem’stra could barely contain her rage. Two things she hated, Lieutenant Corgan and a crime she could have prevented, were in the same room.
“Yes, that is all. I told you about seeing the Judari. I told you what I heard. But that’s all I know.” James answered for the seventh time, “I can’t tell you any more about what happened, only that it did, and I swear it is the Judari who did it.”
“Yes… we have seen the monitors and the tricorders detected charged ions in the air reminiscent to Judari ion weapons, but you have yet to tell me why you were here in the first place. Or more specifically… why we have crossed paths again!” Tem’stra impatiently interrogated.
Not eager to reveal the nature of their business, James shot a hostile glance at Ordos as he spilled the beans, “We were trying to find the Judari, young woman! Official business. It is none of your concern.”
”Shut up…” James warned.
Tem’stra looked up from her criminological tricorder. She bared her teeth. Restraint and discipline were slowly unraveling, “It is my business because a whole family was killed on my watch, and as far as I know you pe’taqs are responsible! Why were you trying to contact the Judari here?!?!”
“We’ll tell you when we feel like it!” Ordos shot back.
“You will tell me now!”
”I will not be ordered around by a little girl like yourself!”
Tempers were starting to flare up faster than Mika could wash them out. Ordos was being restrained by her. He was flustered at the face, his mouth scowling, his antennae bent like devil’s horns. Tem’stra was growling through her teeth. Her hand was inches away from the stir fry setting on her painstick.
“WHOA! Stop it right now!” James jumped in between the Arbitor and the Ambassador, “Ordos, stop trying to piss off the Arbitor! She has to find out everything about the crime, or else the Judari won’t be caught. And Tem’stra! What the hell are you doing? What’s gotten into you? You’re a lot more irritable than before. Why are so pissed off now?”
Tem’stra recoiled back, her anger subsiding into something else. It was hard to register what was going on in the Arbiter’s mind. She was hurt emotionally, but what was hurting her was kept away from the eyewitnesses.
She broke down in a Klingon-esque expression of sorrow, admitting, “This is my family. I used to belong to the House of Romak.”
The revelation stunned more than the eyewitnesses. The other Arbiters nearby turned around, their jaws dropping straight to Gre’kor. The family resemblance wasn’t there. For a Klingon, Tem’stra was average in size, not hulkingly huge like her brothers. She was fair haired and fair skinned, not scarred or dark skinned like her brothers. But undeniably, she was the Romak sister, the only living member of the House of Romak left. What was the greater surprise was how she, the most ardent Arbiter on the planet, was affiliated with the most corrupt family on Ianjep.
Her answer took the hint of sorrow in her voice, “I disowned my family due to their corruption and dishonor. They were increasingly becoming poor. They did almost anything to keep the House alive, even if it meant risking dishonor and destruction. I couldn’t allow myself to be part of their activities, so I became an Arbiter to prove I was not part of their dishonor.”
The Klingons in the group had mixed reactions to Tem’stra’s testimony. Some though she was running away from her family. Others though her idea of redeeming herself was noble. She continued, “I tried to stop my family. Arrest my brothers whenever they committed crimes. Kept the family under watch. Anything to prevent their dishonor from destroying them. But I failed them…. The Judari killed them and I should have stopped it!!”
James felt sorry for the determined officer. She kneeled down beside the body of her father, and stroked his gray and white locks, “They may be dishonorable, but they are still my family. I want revenge. The Judari will die for this act!”
She removed the house pin from the elder Romak’s shoulder sash. It was a battleship gray bade, with a triangle center and three golden arrows, one at each point. The badge removed with a click, and came onto her sash in the same way. She placed it below her Arbitor badge.
“I vow… by my brother’s blood… the Judari jackal who murdered my family will die.” Her hand drew out the dk’targ on her belt. She closed her hand around the blade, and pulled it out like her hand was a scabbard. Blood dribbled from the dagger wound. She performed the most serious of all the vows; the blood oath.
“Are you nuts, Officer Tem’stra?” James seriously questioned her, “Do you know what Judari you’re looking for? Or where he could be? And who’s going to help you?”
“I do not need anyone’s help.” Tem’stra picked up on what James was talking about, “I don’t need your help, or anybody’s help. This is a family affair, and I will find the Judari soon enough.”
”Not without our help.” Mika stepped in insistently, “We have a stake in this as well. The Judari want Ambassador Ordos dead. I can’t allow that to happen.”
”MIKA! Don’t tell them anything!” Ordos barked.
“Sir, with all due respect, she is going to need our help and we’re going to need hers, so we better be open with her or else the Judari will be breathing down our necks for the rest of our lives. Sir, please…” She begged, “We have to stop this now, before the Judari kills again.”
Logic won out over bullheadedness. Ordos conceded, “You are right, my dear Mika. We should co-operate before the Judari kill me. You hear that, woman?!” Ordos pointed hostily at Tem’stra, “You have to work with us if you want to avenge your family.”
“I will never do such a thing!” A grieving Tem’stra waved her knife dangerously at Ordos.
“STOP!” James hollered, catching everyone in the dining hall with his booming voice. Everyone stopped speaking, moving, and some even forgot to catch their breath. Then, James said, “She deserves to know what we know. Tem’stra, it was Ambassador Solna of the Judari delegation. My eyesight is terrible on the right side, but I saw enough to know it was him. We were coming over here to try to stop Solna from killing Ambassador Ordos. A couple of hours before, the Sons of Romak were sent to try to kill the Ambassador, but we stopped them. They came back here before we did. Ambassador Solna must not have been pleased.”
Ordos stood still, his clenched fists pointing downward and shaking from the pressure. Mika positioned herself between Tem’stra, Corgan and the Ambassdor, playing the role of the peacekeeper.
Tem’stra stopped to listen to Corgan, “And you saw the Ambassador transport out?”
“Well, my vision was blurred, but it was him all right. He transported out… and it wasn’t a Klingon transporter beam.” James forced himself to recall the Ambassador transporting out, “It was more like a… gray swirling pattern, not green like your transporters, and it wasn’t blue like ours. I’m not sure what transporter does that.”
“Judari….” Ordos muttered.
“Excuse me?” James asked.
Ordos answered, “The Judari. Their transporters use a triaxelating co-variant signal. It is also powered using a charged ion generator. Different power sources and transporter focusing crystals influence the different colors of the transporter beam. That gives it the gray coloration.”
”Did you need to be so descriptive about it?”
“Face it, without me you would all be stuck. I’m the only one keeping this group together.” Ordos harrumphed matter-of-factly.
James dropped the conversation, “Whatever you say, sir.”
“What does that matter anyways? You saw a Judarian transporter signal. There are only two places where a Judari would have a Judarian transporter. The first one would be the Embassy on Quo’nos. Since we are not on Quo’nos… there is one other place… Lieutenant, Officer… is there a Judari cruiser in orbit?” Ordos asked.
“There is.” Lieutenant Corgan filled in the gap, “It was there during the beginning. They were part of the big race to Lanjep. Don’t know what class the ship is, or its designation.”
”Judari Imperial Naval Xenovessel. JINX. The J.I.N.X. Gantribal. Purchased from the Orions a year ago. Supposed to be Ambassador Solna’s best vessel. If there is a Judari ship, it would be the Gantribal. I have been on the ship before. I can get you all in and out.”
Surprisingly, James liked the idea of having Ordos along for the next trip. The ability to break into another ship was useful to have around. Ordos’ experience with the Judari was starting to pay off. Close to balancing the threat they had to their lives, but not close enough.
“Tem’stra, we need a warrant to go on board the Judari ship. Can you do that for us?” Lieutenant Corgan asked.
“It will be difficult. We have intergalactic search treaties to abide by…” She fluttered up excuses, “…but, we Klingons have not made any with the Judari. We can seize and search their vessels whenever we want.”
“Excellent.” James clapped his hands together, “Mika and Ordos will come with me to the Galaxy. Tem’stra can get the excuse. We’re going to try to find a way into the ship from the Galaxy. As soon as you’re done with the warrant, come with us Arbitor. You’ll get your revenge just yet…”
“The Listener and the Businessmen”
Lieutenant Adrian An’quinsos
Lieutenant j/g Curtis Geluf
With Ferengi Ambassadors:
**The Conference Hall**
Order had been restored, and the music and chaos that was silenced by the Captain Najh’tok’s voice had been restored, and the merriment continued as though it has never stopped. Only this time, people acted civil. No one complained, after all what was the point? No harm, no foul.
Adrian spotted the Ferengi delegates whom seemed a little draped in the food that was launched earlier and approached them in a calm, smooth pace. As he neared, the El-Aurian noticed that they weren’t as draped as he thought, though they did need a good bath and a change of clothes would be best. They didn’t look very happy, and who could blame them! He only hoped that they were in the mood for a light conversation with what looked like to them was a boy at best…
“The nerve of some races.” Grunted Nyuk as he tried futilely to remove food from himself.
“Yes, how utterly barbaric.” Agreed Krel, who was also trying to clean himself up a bit.
“I thought it was kind of funny.” snickered Noob.
Nyuk and Krel just stared at him.
The Ferengi were so caught up in their self-cleaning ritual that they didn't even notice the figure that walked up to them.
“Hello,” Adrian began. “Do you need some help in cleaning that off?” Might as well start it off light he thought.
The three Ferengi looked up, a bit startled.
"We will thank you to keep your hands to yourself!" grunted Nyuk.
“Aw, don't be so mean Nyuk.” said Noob, “Please… join us.”
Krel and Nyuk proceeded to glare daggers, pins, and other sharp objects at Noob as Adrian took a seat beside him.
"What exactly do you want?" asked Krel.
“Just to talk of course.” A light, harmless smile slowly flashed crept upon his face. “The proceedings today got off on a very interesting start. Ambassador Palus gave some very interesting, if not plausible reasons for the mIth nItIhral trade route to be abandoned. Though I must say, that many would disagree that such a thing should be stopped.”
"My thoughts exactly!" said Krel, who had found the man's response to his liking. "To us, this trade route is simply another step toward universal free trade and peace between all races. After all, let us not forget my favorite rule of acquisition, 'Peace is good for business'."
"Indeed, why should anyone oppose it?" chimed in Nyuk. "After all, it IS the Klingon's right to open this route and why should anyone stand in the way of such a generous gesture? Think of the possible cultural exchange!"
It was very obvious both Ferengi had gone into full-ambassador suck-up mode. After all, it never hurts to suck up, especially since as far as the Ferengi knew, Adrian was some high-ranking official. The charade was not lost to Adrian.
“Indeed, I have found that peace does promote business growth as well as excellent trade between many races.” He agreed. “Moreover, if these negations prove to be beneficial, and the sector opened up for trade, it would break down so many cultural barriers that have been set in place for so long. You have excellent points to consider and that should be addressed during the conference. And as for other groups who do not wish for this trade route…” He trailed off, searching for the right words. “Perhaps you can enlighten them, give them and give them the answers that they seek?”
Krel and Nyuk liked this guy already.
”You seem to have a very good diplomatic, as well as economic eye. If I couldn't see you now, I'd say you were Ferengi!” said Krel. “Tell me, do you have any idea why people would be opposed to this wonderful route? Other than those rock-beasts of course. Noise. Nonsense.”
“Being a race of a crystalline form, the increased communications would probably damage their physiology in unforeseeable ways.” He stopped glance at the merriment that continued. “However, aside from the Tholians, there are some races, I won’t name names but you know who they are, that are Xenophobic, and find that having a route even remotely near their borders would threaten their isolationistic tendencies. Some, have the paranoia gene as the dominant trait and feel that they could be infiltrated by perhaps as little as having their subspace communications ‘tapped’ in order to extract information.” He stopped to catch his breath before continuing. “Others are just afraid to try and even promote new ideas. And then of course there are those who would wish not to see this route opened for the sole purpose of wishing not to see this route opened.”
"Well, in any case, this trade route should certainly be opened. The pros definitely outweigh the cons.” said Krel.
"Quite right." said Nyuk. "We must secure rights to trade on this route!"
“Of course,” Adrian replied subtly. “However, you may have a little trouble.”
“Yes, so we have seen already.” grumbled Krel.
“This route is absolutely essential, somehow, we must gain trading rights.” said Nyuk
“Well, it stands to reason that if you wish to secure the rights to this route, that there may be others as well wishing to do so.”
“Of course, of course.” said Krel. “That doesn't bother us. In fact, we welcome anyone who wishes this trade route opened.”
“Well, in procuring the rights to the trade route, it may become a touch challenging, considering the prospect that others may try to as well.” He looked towards several of the ambassadorial parties within the room with considerable thought. “I imagine you may have found considerable competition leaning in that respect by some of the delegates.”
“Yes, quite a bit I'm, afraid.” said Krel. “But a lot depends on this route, we must see it opened!”
“Indeed.” Adrian said. A curious expression slipped onto his face. “I was wondering if perhaps there was competition in view of securing the trade route?”
“Well…” Krel trailed off.
“There is the Pakled Delegation trying to get their hands on it.”
The other two shot him a dirty look.
“Well, it’s true, they’ll do anything to get it.” He continued, ignoring their expressions.
He smiled sincerely. “Ah, if they are all that stand between you and your goal, than no risk is too great I suppose.”
“As long as there is a profit, then I suppose no risk is too great.” Krel spoke up.
The El-Aurian nodded and then arose. “Well gentleman, it has been a pleasure talking with you. I trust we can do this again, perhaps under less stressful circumstances?”
“Yes, and perhaps we can engage in a business transaction or two.” Nyuk suggested with a toothy grin.
“It would be my pleasure! I’m always looking for the occasional odd and end, and I have always found that the Ferengi are some of the best ways to go by getting it.”
He shook their hands, motioned over to the Captain of the Honor Guard, who nodded, and proceeded to the office and got the fishing. Tapping his comm. badge, he was beamed up, and then headed over to office of Lieutenant Commander Elaithin Jii. Seeing no one there, he left the hat on his desk and the pole by it. Before the El-Aurian left, he wrote a clean, clear message to the Chief of Security:
To: Lieutenant Commander Elaithin Jii, Chief of Security From: Lieutenant Adrian An’quinsos, Counselor
I came to your office and found you gone. One of the security officers allowed me access to this room, with understanding that I would not touch anything.
In my stead, I have left you a hat and a fishing pole. They may be of interest, as I have ‘understood’ that at least the hat may belong to the Captain. If you have need of me, and I’m not accessible, contact either my wife, Zerhi An’quinsos or Commander Dallas. They can put you in direct contact with me.
Good luck in finding our beloved Captain
All my hopes,
Lieutenant Adrian An’quinsos
The blue-eyed El-Aurian left the room and headed for his quarters to prepare his findings to Commander Dallas.
“Heroes Out of the Unlikely, Part 1”
By Lieutenant James Lionel Corgan
Chief of Operations, USS Galaxy
Sub Ambassador Mika
Commander K’temmery of the Honor Guard
And Arbiter/Lieutenant Tem’stra, Daughter of Romak.
And Ambassador Kotar Solna.
Location: J.I.N.X. Gantribal, Main Bridge
Kotar Solna was feeling good. Very good. Not just very good, but satisfied deep down inside. He felt like he accomplished something today, something big and burdensome that he had to get off his chest. And finishing the job felt better than good.
It felt fine!
His ‘disappointments’ turned into relief at the pull of a trigger. In the timespan of a few moments, he was able to take out an entire family of Klingon warriors on his own. Dirty, corrupt scum who all deserved to die for failing him time and time again. It was a relief to kill the entire Romak family. They were so useless that they had their deaths coming. And in the most dishonorable way. An outworlder giving them a coward’s death. Gre’kor would be pleased.
And if that wasn’t enough, he was going to get away with it scott free. He left the mansion before the Andorians reached him, beamed straight to his personal ship. His escape vehicle and sanctuary for the time being.
And yet, he was troubled once he thought about how he would escape. Here he was, in the middle of the Ianjep sector, with the most powerful vessel in the Judari fleet. Once the simple simps of the Arbiter force found out it was him, he would have to leave the sector for Judarian space.
If he was fortunate, he could leave now, forget the conference, and allow his sub-ambassador to take over, and he would be on Judari Prime, relaxing under it’s orange sun.
He surveyed the bridge crew of the Gantribal. They were the elite of the Judari Merchant Space Force. Stern faced and battle hardened from years of service in the merchant fleets, the crew of the Gantribal were not impeded by thoughts of fear and anticipation. For them, escaping from planets before trouble started was business as usual. Many of their diplomats got themselves into trouble. And if they were forced to fight the Klingons, their experience raiding vessels would come in handy.
Kotar was no fool. The ship was new, but at least twenty five years behind in technology to the Klingons, and thirty plus years behind the Federation vessel drifting nearby in high orbit. He held no disillusions about Judari might and the superiority of Judari ships. If they went into combat with even a Cardassian Galor, they would be destroyed in seconds.
“Helm… set a course for Judari Prime, maximum warp.” Kotar Solna ordered.
The chief helmsman set course for Judari Prime. The ship turned in a graceful arc to port. The view screen showed the glittering blue and green planet of Ianjep from a thousand kilometers away. Like a green emerald with blue diamonds, the planet shone its beauty for a brief second. Kotar regretted having to do what he did to the Romak family. As much as they deserved to die for their incompetence, he was debating whether it was worth it to kill them. If he was caught, he would have to be moved to another post, and he would miss out on Ianjep’s great vacation spots.
The best resort planet in the area, and he had to sacrifice it to relieve himself of a pack of incompetent boobs. Hard to say if it was worth the effort.
“Sir!” The operations officer’s console beeped, “Incoming message!”
“Patch it through.” He waved the officer off. He was in no mood to be interrupted.
The message played on audio only, =/\=”This is the IKS Vor’cha to the JINX Gantribal. You have not been given clearance to leave the sector. Explain your actions.”=/\=
Kotar sighed frustratingly. “Won’t they ever let me leave?” He muttered under his breath. It always happened to him when he was in a hurry. Whenever he wanted to leave for some place, or get out of a situation which endangered his career, he had to put up with some sort of delay by the local authorities. He had places to go, people to kill. He was too busy to put up with the local authorities.
But the law was the law, and as much as he tried to avoid following it, sometimes he had to in order to save his neck. “Helm. Delay order. Let’s co-operate with the Klingons.”
=/\=”Gantribal… respond!”=/\= The voice on the other end of the line was getting very impatient.
“Well well… guess we should give them an answer… Ops, open a comm.-channel, audio only.” He ordered. The Ops officer opened the comm.-channel. The chirp gave Kotar the go ahead to speak, “This is the JINX Gantribal. How may we help you?”
Like at the beginning of every dangerous mission, emotions were running on a supercharged high. The danger, the extreme unknown, everything that could go possibly wrong. Instead of dwelling on them, James pulled a complete reversal, and feed on the emotions that brought his anxiety. He used them to fuel his fires, to bring eagerness for an explorer of the depths were a regular person would turn away.
The same couldn’t be said about Mika and Ordos. Out of nowhere, Mika was as frosty as a Breen winter. She was all business, dressed in her Ambassador’s attire. Her business looked like she was ready for negotiations. For all they knew, they were going to negotiate with the Judari. Or it was going to be a brutal fight. It mattered little what happened. James had confidence in Mika. She proved herself well at the House of Payne.
Ordos, on the other hand, would have been excess baggage if it wasn’t for his intimate knowledge of the ship. Being a former guest of the Judari, he knew about their technological secrets that would have Starfleet Intelligence salivating at the mere thought (that is, until they knew that the Judari’s technology was behind, and it wasn’t much to look at). He was useless in a fight; preferring to cower behind or ‘protect their backsides’ as they protected his. And there was the feeling James got whenever he bumped into Ordos, like he was willing to sell them out for a slip of gold pressed latinum and a good hooker.
He was needed. A shame really. James could do without him if he didn’t have access to the Judari ship.
Currently, Mika waited patiently on the transporter pad. James slapped a type two phaser on his waist, and handed Mika the same type of firearm. He also tossed her a communicator pin, and did the same for Ordos. The Ambassador’s hand eye was not as good as his assistant. His pin bounced off his hand and onto the floor. He bent over to pick it up, and slapped the pin on his chest.
“Ready?” Lieutenant Corgan gave the final check.
“Ready, Lieutenant.” Mika fiddled with the settings on her phaser.
“And you, Ambassador?” James checked on the fat, elderly leader of the group.
"Hmmm…..” Ordos and Ensign Rory Davis were hunched over the transporter console, “If you set the frequency to point 45 microns and time it within a half second of the Judari’s internal sensor cycle, you will be able to get us into the lower decks without their internal sensors being the wiser.”
”Aye sir, I know.” The young, impressionable Rory Davis responded, “I’ve done something similar to this during the Decilian Incident.”
“Ambassador Ordos…” James asked more urgently, “Are you ready?”
Of course I’m ready!” The Ambassador fussed, “I was once an Ambassador’s assistant and bodyguard myself. I can handle myself in a combat situation like any other Andorian. We are warriors! What kind of stupid question is ‘are you ready?’”
“Sir, I must point out that it has been years since you have done this, and you are not in as fit of shape as you used to be.” Mika warned.
Ordos guffawed away her cautious message, “Pish, young woman! I’m as fit as I was when I was a young lad! All I did was add a few pounds!” He jovially slapped his stomach, “I’m ready. Now where’s my phaser?”
Rory, Corgan, and Mika all looked at each other with equal measures of dread. “Ohhhhh…..” Corgan was the first to speak after a moment of silence, each person silently gesturing, ‘what do we tell him?’, “Sir, I think it would be safe if you do not have one.”
Ambassador Ordos looked absolutely insulted, “You… won’t give ME a phaser? My assistant has one, and I am more than qualified to carry one. My phaser. NOW!”
“You’re not getting a phaser, sir.” James stood his ground, “That’s final.”
“And why not, may I ask, and by may I ask I mean TELL ME NOW!!!!”
The Starfleet officers and the Andorian assistant all sighed. Judging by Ordos’ bullheadedness, this argument could take a long time to resolve. Mika stepped back, allowing Corgan to do the arguing and Ordos to be insulted. She would step in, in case one of them needed help.
She hoped to anyone that was listening that she could aid Corgan. She felt much safer when Ordos didn’t have a firearm.
“You WHAT?!?!?!?” Ambassador Solna slammed his fist into the captain’s chair. The Klingons were known for their grindingly slow beurocracy, but enough was enough. There were only so many limits that Ambassador Solna could endure before his head exploded like a piñata with a firecracker shoved up its ass.
What was their latest excuse? Wait and see…
=/\=”We regret to inform you, Ambassador Solna, but your vessel has been halted for inspection purposes. Lower your shields and power down your weapons systems, and prepare to undergo a full spectrum scan.”=/\= Commander K’temmery of the Klingon Honor guard said rather politely for a Klingon. It took five minutes of pompt and introduction to bring out a name from Commander K’temmery, much more time was spent on the purpose of his mission. He was an Honor Guard of the house of K’rok, and an apparent zealot for anything having to do with Ianjep’s breach of security. For a reason logical only to a Klingon, he was inspecting their vessel.
The urge to kill was rising faster than Semian Quicksilver in a plasma boiler. Killing the House of Romak wasn’t enough. He had to sweep away the Klingon vessel, and right this instant! But better judgment won the battle. Killing a Vor’cha class cruiser was beyond the abilities of a Gantribal class medium cruiser. K’temmery deserved to die… but not before he safely made it to the border.
A defective torpedo might do the trick.
Yeah… that would do it. And while he was at it, the Andorian would die via a poison rigged replicator.
He snapped out of his train of thought, concentrating on the problem at hand.
“Why do you need to scan this vessel?” Ambassador Solna asked.
=/\=”We have reason to believe that you have violated code 19123sa00099943adGAMMA. The unintentional but illegal removal of a native Ianjepi species to be taken to another planet. We have strict codes for this.”=/\= K’temmery replied.
“And what, praytell… am I smuggling? Which I am not, I might add! This is ridiculous!”
=/\=“We are not in the business of being ridiculous! It is believed that you have brought in Ianjepi Amoebae from the lower third continent. Our maintenance stations confirmed that your transporter biofilters are not equipped to deal with the Ianjepi Amoeba.”=/\=
“You must be joking. You’re stopping me because I have primitive Amoebae on my shoes?!?!?!”
=/\=”That is correct, Ambassador Solna. Therefore, your ship has to undergo an external bioscan to detect these amoeba. If you will wait momentarily, we shall start the scans. Then, you will be on your way.”=/\=
“Oh… that is great. Scan away!”
=/\=”And since these scans take anywhere from ten to twenty minutes for a thorough examination… perhaps you will explain to us why you are leaving Ianjep so soon, and with the conference incomplete.”=/\=
~”Awwwwwwwwww…. Slime devils…. How much more do I have to take?”~ Kotar Solna grumped. He sank back into his captain’s chair, spinning off the greatest excuse he could come up with at the moment, “Well… you see…. We….. have…. Important business to attend to back at home. You understand.”
=/\=”No. I do not. Please explain.”=/\=K’temmery insisted. The growl in his voice suggested that Solna tell the truth and nothing but the truth, lest he wanted his atoms scattered across the cosmos in the name of the great Kahless.
Kotar impatiently stroked his chin, ~”Dammit…”
Lt. Commander James Mitchell
Outgoing Chief Science Officer, USS Galaxy
James left Shinta in sickbay to his great dismay. He felt terrible guilt for what was happening to her and somewhat helpless to stop it. He could not suppress her suffering. He could only hope Doctor's Quevvenson and Grogan will give her with the relief he could not.
He rushed to the closest transporter room, anger churning in his gut at the prospect that a Cardassian was causing this ripping apart of her mind. He had to find out.
"Beam me as close to the Cardassian delegation as possible, Chief." He jumped on the metallic pad as they lit up under him awaiting his step on the pressure plate. Chief Rogeson nodded and ran his fingers along the activation circuit to initiate beamdown.
The room crumbled away in a myriad of colour, to last only a few moments. Almost immediately, James re-materialized on another transporter pad. He blinked as a Klingon Honor Guard phaser drawn, awaited him two steps below. This was not the Cardassian delegation. This was the same type of pad he beamed down on the first time. He could see past the bulkhead and into the Promenade beyond.
"We intercepted your transporter beam, 'Commander." The Klingon beckoned him off the pad with the disruptor as he recognized the rank pips on James' shoulder. He stood back as the Bajoran stepped down, eying him warily. "What was the purpose of your attempt to bypass our security grid?!" The Science Officer gingerly stepped off the duranium riser plating as ordered so. He raised his hands, palm up, very, very slowly. He was carrying no weapons.
"I have urgent business with the Federation delegation. My presence was required immediately." If the Klingons were involved with the disappearance of the Captain, he didn't want them to get itchy trigger fingers and kill him if they thought the Federation had broken the rules of the deadly game that was being played with them.
Another pair of Klingons entered the room from the Promenade, disruptors drawn. One of them carried a portable scanner. The original Klingon stepped to James' left, another to the right. The one carrying the scanner stood in front of the Starfleet Officer, after holstering his disruptor.
"Raise your hands, Bajoran. Now!" The Klingon growled down at him. He stood a full 15 centimeters taller than James. Almost 7 feet tall. Huge even for a Klingon. He obeyed. He had no beef with the Klingons. He only wanted answers from the Cardassians. The Klingon scanned him, the others held the disruptors mere inches from his head.
"He's clean!" The 7 footer stood to his full height and sneered at the Science Officer. "What is this urgent business? You carry no papers, no weapons, no documentation of any kind?" The word, 'papers' struck James as kind of odd. The paper used to issue the demands was to be found on Qon'oS in plentiful quantity, but Klingon military don't use it. Unless their version of Intelligence did. No one knew if a Klingon Intelligence existed, or couldn't prove one existed. It was hard to say. He made a mental note to look into it.
"There has been an emergency situation on the ship that requires the presence of one of its members." He had to make something up quick. He was working on the fly here.
"And you could not contact this member directly?" The Klingon stepped back and drew his own disruptor.
"The delegate is on the floor. The situation is a delicate one. It requires discretion." He leaned forward to whisper in the Klingon's ear, hands still raised where they could be seen. The other two reacted quickly and tensed their grip on their disruptors held high against his head. He heard their leather creak as he felt the cold steel of the barrel against his scalp.
"It involves our bartender, Leo Streely, a jar of lubricant, a goat, and a pair of stilletto boots owned by one of the delegates..." He smiled as the Klingon stiffened up. Then he laughed wholeheartedly grasping his chest as he guffawed mightily.
"I can see the embarrassing aspect of that nature, Starfleet! How the Federation lasted this long is impossible to imagine! Very well. Go announce your embarrassment." He waved his arm as he stood aside and holstered his weapon. The others lowered their weapons as well, curious as to what the Bajoran whispered in their fellow Klingon's ear.
James smiled wanly as he dipped his head in acknowledgement and turned out onto the Promenade in search of the Cardassian delegation. All he heard was the roar of laughter as he dipped and weaved through the plethora of beings on his way to the banquet hall where he knew the Cardassians were last known to inhabit.
"Meeting The Opposition"
Commander Karyn Dallas, RN
Chief Counselor/Second Officer
Feeling much renewed after her talk with Kent despite the drastic measures taken, Karyn beamed back down to the diplomatic facilities on lanjep and decided with twenty minutes left before the start of the next session, she should go ahead and make "first contact" with half the opposition, namely the Breen Ambassador, Palus.
Thus far, the only evidence linking the Breen to the kidnapping was the ink used in the letter delivered by the Yiridian Ambassador Iglom, but like every other piece of physical evidence they had, which admittedly wasn't much, they had to follow whatever leads they presented.
Karyn hoped the Ambassador would be only too eager to chat. As the first, and longest, diplomat to speak against the opening of the mlch nltlhral trade route, he no doubt would have much to argue. Somehow in the midst of their discussions she was going to have to assess how much he really knew regarding the captain's whereabouts, and miracle of all miracles, she was going to do so without letting her own bias color her perceptions.
There was no love lost between the Federation and Breen, especially in the aftermath of the Dominion War, and although she loathe to admit it given her own unusual appearance with her grav-chair, the refrigeration suits the Breen delegates wore only made the appear more intimidating. Smiling wryly as she approached Palus and the two other members of his delegation, Karyn was reminded of the dry monotone in which he'd delivered his delegation's objections. Perhaps for the Breen, he was rather passionate, but after over six hours of discourse, listening to him was like listening to her Engineering 101 professor at the Academy.
Centering her thoughts so that she would not appear disrespectful, she moved toward him, careful not to stare too harshly at the refrigeration suit up close. What a picture they made!
"Ambassador Palus, I'm Karyn Dallas of the USS Galaxy, I'm from the Federation delegation. Though you and I are on opposite sides of this issue, I was quite impressed with the thourougness and passion of your presentation."
Palus turned to face the Counselor fully. Though hard to tell because of his refrigeration suit, it appeared the Ambassador was looking Karyn over, with particular attention to her hoverchair. Palus then straightened and gave a slight nod of his head. "Ambassador. I was told by some that Breen thoroughness was not particularly appreciated. What was it that the Andorian delegate said about my presentation Bodey?" Palus turned and asked over his shoulder to another Breen delegate.
"I believe Ambassador Ordos said, 'bored to tears' sir." Bodey answered.
"Ah yes. 'bored to tears'. This is an expression that is unfamiliar to us. However the Ambassadors' tone lead me to believe it was a negative remark." Palus explained. "It is kind of you to take a more appreciative regard for Breen thoroughness Karyn Dallas."
It was the mark of a true counselor that Karyn remained straight faced through the exchange. Quite honestly, it was difficult to sit through hours of Breen opposition, though she supposed in a way she was grateful for the diversion. Of course durung the Breen's oratory, Karyn did not yet know of Lee's kidnapping, though in hindsight, every minute counted, and the longer they could avoid the podium, the better.
"No problem at all, Ambassador. I admire anyone who is willing to stand up and boldly express his opinions with such clear and thorough candor, without the need for verbal jousting or cloak and dagger behavior. Any person can claim to guide his people in their best interests and then force them to bend to his will, but a true and just leader does not resort to such strong arm tactics, wouldn't you agree?"
Karyn hoped her commentary was subtle enough so as not to draw too much attention, but bold enough to get some sense of the Breen's involvement, or lack thereof. Flattery was always the best way to start.
"Yes Karyn Dallas, I would agree with you. However the Klingons do not share the same view. Chancellor Martok has made it clear that the opening of the mIch nItlhral is going to happen regardless of the protests of the Breen and Romulans. The Chancellor speaks of a new era of cooperation and free trade, but isn't he simply forcing the Breen and Romulan empires to bend to his will and accept a trade route running through our own backyard?" Palus questioned, pausing just long enough for Counselor Dallas to react to the point he'd made. Not giving the Federation Ambassador time to formulate a verbal response, Palus leaned down a bit, quietly asking, "tell me Karyn Dallas, where does the Federation stand on this trade route the Chancellor is strong arming upon its closest neighbors?"
Inwardly, Karyn took a huge breath. A mere few hours ago she wouldn't have hesitated to change positions publicly if it meant saving Lee's life, but now looking at the Ambassador, she felt a chill go down her spine. Was she really going to give into the terrorists who had taken Lee? If the Breen were responsible, was she going let them intimidate her into betraying her Federation?
Truth to tell, Karyn felt no true loyalty to Starfleet, not like the die hard veterans. Yes, Starfleet had given her a home and a purpose, but Karyn did not feel obligated to follow the Fleet's views simply because she felt indebted to them. She was a woman capable of making up her own mind, and she was willing to take sole responsibility for her actions. No one was infallible. And then she thought of Lee. However she may have felt personally, no one valued teamwork more than Lee Price, and she did feel loyal to him. Ultimately, it was his wishes she felt compelled to honor.
Squaring her shoulders, she focused on the Ambassador. She had been asked directly, and she would not waver. "The Federation is in favor of this trade route, Ambassador. As key suppliers of goods and raw materials to the Klingons, the Federation would like to ensure these supplies will reach those in need with greater efficiency. The current routes do not allow our ships to deliver supplies close enough, leaving the Klingons at the mercy of their own internal shipping routes and the corruption which often follows. I believe you will also come to benefit from trade with the Klingons if you give this new route a chance. The Klingons will certainly not forget your generousity."
With limbs tingling, Karyn searched the Ambassador for any hint of a reaction. Was he angry she had defied him? Did he care at all? She felt a a bit dizzy, but fought to stay focused. Gods help her, she may have just sentenced Lee to death... *What have I done?*
It was difficult reading the Ambassador because of his Breen environmental suit. Palus straightened somewhat at Karyn's remarks, but didn't otherwise give any outwardly signs to help the Counselor determine his immediate reaction. What she wouldn't have given to be able to see the Breen Ambassador without the protection of his refer suit -- then maybe she could get some hints from his facial expression. Assuming Breen have faces...
"Yes, well that is as we expect. I'm sure the Breen would be for the opening of a trade route were it along the Federations boarders and not our own. It is easy to see benefits from such a thing when you don't have it right near your own boarders and it isn't your territories that will be violated or destroyed if things should go terribly wrong." Palus stated.
Ambassador Palus answer revealed more then his body language. He didn't seem at all surprised to hear the Federation was for the opening of the trade route, but he was certainly upset about it's opening in the Breen's backyard so to speak.
Stepping forward the Ambassador's assistant, Bodey, interrupted. In his hands he was holding several tablets of paper and a few writing utensils. When he leaned near the Ambassador to speak to him, Karyn could see that the parchment was covered in very neat calligraphy, most likely Breen writing from the looks of it.
"Forgive me Ambassador, but we should be getting situated before the day three talks begin." Bodey stated, "I have your notes here from the first two days, it would be ashamed to miss any vital information this morning if we are not prepared to begin when the conference does."
Palus glanced at his aide and nodded. "Yes, yes of course. we will be along momentarily." The Breen Ambassador turned back to the Chief Counselor and asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you Karyn Dallas?"
Karyn couldn't help but notice the myriad of things in both hands of the one called 'Bodey.' It seemed the Breen delegation was much more than a bunch of talking heads as it were, apparently the Breen Ambassador was almost compulsive in his notetaking. At least the man wanted to appear as interested in listening to the others' arguments as much as they wanted to speak of their own. In keeping with her assessment, the writing instruments, old fashioned quills offset by distinctly modern ink well cartridges that loaded inside the quills, were tucked neatly inside a sturdy clear case, reminding her of the stylus cases she would carry with her in grade school.
Her breath caught in her throat as she prepared herself to move away from the Ambassador, suddenly expecting an anvil to come crashing upon her. In Bodey's other hand, in plain sight no less and as out of place as Leo in his leisure suit, was a tablet of real paper, filled covered with black ink...precise, even characters. *Jesus.... could he be that stupid? Stupid?* her mind quipped, *No. Arrogant, on the other hand...*
She was acting before she could fully comprehend it. Managing to look sheepish, she blushed, "Actually Ambassador, do you think I could have your autograph? Forgive me, but I'm sort of a sucker for tradition, and I couldn't help but notice your old fashioned implements and paper there. It's quite a rarity these days in the Federation, so many of us willing to sacrifice personal touches in favor of convenience these days... You obviously take great pride in your handiwork."
Palus straightened somewhat and turned to face Bodey, as if silently questioning him about Karyn's request. Being Breen and attending the Klingon conference with so many different cultures, it was only expected that some customs and expressions would be foreign to the delegates... like Ambassador Ordos "bored to tears" comment.
"Are you one of those... how do you say?... groupies?" Palus asked. It appeared as if Karyn was blushing. In truth she was flustered at seeing what looked like the exact writing materials that the original ransom note were crafted out of.
Ambassador Palus must have misread Karyn's body language, because he immediately apologized. "I'm sorry Karyn Dallas. Of course you may have my autograph. Bodey, give me a quill please."
The Breen assistant's body language gave the impression he was rather annoyed at the request. Fumbling around, he handed Palus a pad of paper and one of the quills. Palus took the pad and rolled the top page over to expose a fresh new page. He spoke out loud while he wrote.
"To Ambassador Karyn Dallas of the United Federation of Planets. It was a pleasure meeting you and exchanging views over the mIch nItlhral on lanjep. Be well. Ambassador Palus, Breen delegation."
Palus then carefully tore the page from the pad, examining the cleanliness of the top most edge to see that it passed his satisfaction. Carefully he handed the written page to Karyn, holding it by the edges only. "You must be careful to give the ink time to dry Karyn Dallas. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes. This is a fine ink, it set permanently in a very short time."
Karyn took the "autograph" from Palus and gave an appreciative nod and smile. "Thank you Ambassador. You really do have excellent penmanship." He fit the profile of a perfectionist, that was for sure.
"Years of practice. I hope that this autograph gives you pleasure. If there is nothing more, I believe my assistant and I should get set up for the start of the day's talks." Palus reminded.
"Of course Ambassador. Thank you for your time." Karyn replied, ready to speed to her own delegation and offer news.
Ambassador Palus and his assistant, Bodey both bowed their helmeted heads slightly, and then turned to enter the vaS rol. Karyn watched them walk away and glanced at the sample of writing she'd managed to get from Ambassador Palus. She'd need it analyzed and compared to the ransom note to see if it matched.
"The Game Begins"
Written from the Cardassian Perspective, by
Lt. Commander James Mitchell,
Outgoing Chief Science Officer, USS Galaxy
Sim: USS Galaxy
Location: On the surface of lanjep, shortly before the next delegation to present their case, and after the Cardassian presentation.
Cenna and Takar occupied a table in an isolated corner, away from the chattering delegates. After the fiasco of the Enabran and the disgusting behaviour he portrayed on the podium floor, the two military escorts had decided to stay out of the public eye for the time being.
"Takar, I must say, you should've been in the Obsidian Order. You planned this moment perfectly! How did you know?" Cenna tossed her head back in rapture as she drank down her flute of Kanar. Her skin flushed with the intended effect the synthol replaced in its more effective alcoholic counterpart. She endured the fire as it poured down her throat, coating the walls of her esophagus on its way down like warm syrup.
Takar sipped at his concoction, taking in the scene about him with stealthy pride. His eyes drifted about the room seemingly without goal, but in actuality, he was staking out the Breen. He had taken a seat that allowed him direct focus on the cold-blooded bastions of hell that had rained firey hatred on his homeworld, devastating it without virtue, turning it into a dry weatherbed of heat and glass. Where once stood tall, proud structures dedicated to the finer arts of sculpture and theatre now bore the black scorches of death and destruction. Never to return.
He didn't care about this trade route. It would do nothing for him. His life was the military, of war, and he would bring back glory to his people, and himself a hero. With Cenna at his side. He peered at her through his peripheral vision. She was in season, and his opportunity lay at hand. Neither one of them had taken a mate through their lives, only used others who had been marked for grisly experimentation.
Her hair had been drawn back into a tight bun in the back, and curled upwards in a spiral manner, held together by dark braids of Gracka hair, a rare commodity now that there are none left. The Breen wiped out 90% of all life on the planet as well. They were being regrown in cloning chambers currently, but they will not be released until farming methods have returned the soil to its rich fertility. That will take at least two generations currently to get even a headstart on reclaiming the tortured land.
Her skin glistened in the lights of the hall, even though the temperature was slight. Cardassians mostly prefer hot, humid climates, but most of the delegates did not. So a mean temperature had been met. Only their quarters had been customized.
Her ridges were more pronounced today, Takar thought, and she is as beautiful now as she was on Bajor where he first met her. Her forehead ridge, usually painted a sedate colour of soft green, was instead bright blue. She had not shown any outward interest in him as yet, but they had not served together often, as she was in Research and Development, and he an Overseer.
"If you would watch, Cenna, maybe you will learn someday! I would think after all these years, you'd know something about intelligence. I see I may have over-estimated your own intelligence level." He made his move, outwardly showing his irritability by whispering harshly at her while sipping his Kanar. He kept his gaze loosely on Ambassador Palus. He would have his head on a platter before this conference was over.
"Takar, you disappoint me. I would've thought you could do better than that. Perhaps I can find someone else that can offer a better challenge than yourself." Before Takar could say a word in response, she abruptly got up and left the table, to mingle among the other delegates. The Gul watched her with a cautious eye, caught off guard by her rejection to him, until she was cornered by another Federation type. He appeared angry with her, gesturing madly, but not so much to garner the attention of others. They made off to another area together.
As he waited, with everyone else gathered in the room for the next session to begin and the delegates to present their case for vote, his eyes caught the glint of something metallic hovering through the throng. This piqued his interest and made him forget his consternation with Cenna momentarily as he tried to gain insight into the direction the Federation delegate was taking. Straight to the Breen.
He'd have to watch this one closely. He sipped his Kanar, and smiled. He loved it when a plan came together.
"Fixing the Hurts"
by Ens. Elisa Dickerson
Lieutenant Autumn Quevvenson , CMO
Elisa lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Her wrist hurt. She couldn't sleep, it hurt so bad. Ebby lay on the bed next to her, occasionallylifting her head and giving Elisa's bare arm a swipe with her tongue, as if reassuring Elisa that she was still there.
Heaving a sigh, she threw back the covers. Kicking them off with her feet, they fell to the floor. She swung her legs out of bed and sat up, rubbing at her eyes. She took her hair down out of the ponytail that it was in, pulling it back again, straightening out all of the bumps.
Ebby looked up at her quizzically, yipping slightly to get her attention. She reached down to pat her on the head. "It's okay, I just have to go to sickbay for a moment. Stay here." Ebby yipped again, then settled down onto her pillow.
Elisa went to the edge of bed and threw the covers back over, smoothing them out until the bed was made again. She went to her closet and grabbed a silk robe, which she slipped on over her pajamas - even though the pajamas didn't reveal anything in the slightest; in fact, her uniform was probably more revealing then this, except for her arms. She exited her quarters and went to the end of the hall, to a turbolift.
Elisa walked into the sickbay during what was the middle of her night. It wasn't that was for the rest of the ship, however. She got a couple of strange looks for walking around in her nightclothes, but most understood that she was probably night shift, and they understood.
Thos that continues to stare, she returned their stare with a frosty look of her own, and they quickly lost interest in her, turning back to continue with whatever it was they were doing.
Elisa walked inside sick bay, the doors moving aside quickly for her. She stood in the doorway, watching the movement in front of her, waiting for someone in blue to notice her.
Autumn finished with her current patient and looked around as the young security officer walked away. She spotted a young woman standing in the doorway. Calmly she walked over to the young woman. "Hello, can I help you with anything?" She asked with a welcoming smile.
Elisa looked at the doctor standing before her. She looked to be slightly pregnant, enough of a bulge to notice, but not so it was obvious.
"Yes, I think I sprained my wrist. It is definitely swollen, and it hurts," Elisa replied, holding out her wrist. She still had it supported in her other hand.
Following the doctor, she entered all the way into sickbay, and was motioned to one of the beds.
"Up you hop" Autumn said as she gathered a tricorder and a dermal regenerator. Once Elisa was sitting on the bio bed Autumn gently and carefully took her Wrist in her hand and scanned it. "Yup, sprained. How on Earth did you do this?"
Elisa looked at the doctor. One eyebrow lifted, and she said coolly, "Doctor, I honestly don't see how it is any of your business."
Autumn gave Elisa a strange look, and looked like she was was going to saw something, then changed her mind. Instead, she replied, "What is it with people and hurting their appendages of late? You are the second person with something like this."
"Oh?" Elisa replied, not very interested.
Autumn noted the tone. "A person hurt their nose some how earlier... and yesterday a person broke their hand. Almost killed me when I suggested I do their annual physical at the same time."
"Hmm," she replied, remembering something about a physical that she was supposed to undergo also. She thought she remember seeing some sort of memo about it, but also that vaguely that it had been deleted as soon as she red it. Either that or she just ignored it.
Elisa was very good at ignoring things like that.
"Are we about finished here?" she asked, looking at the doctor.
"Almost. Do not tell me ensign that you have a hot date you are missing, because if you are then I suggest you put it on hold." A nurse handed her a PADD. She glanced at it. "You haven't had your annual physical yet. And you need it before you can return to duty."
Elisa sighed. "Doctor, I don't expect you to know this, but I work the Delta shift. Which means that I have been trying to sleep for about three hours now. That also would be like someone coming to you at midnight, asking you to undergo pokes and prods, and running, and all that stuff that physical entails, when all you want to do is go to sleep. So, if we are finished here, then I will be going back to my quarters?" she finished, standing up from the bio bed.
Autumn sighed and mentally cursed. "Let's put it this way Ensign, You HAVE to take the Physical. If you wish to go sleep now and come back later for it that's fine. But if you do not show before your shift I shall inform Lieutenant Corgan that you have not been cleared for Duty, Capiche?"
"I will come back, I can guarantee that. But I refuse to go through any sort of a physical anything right now. Now, on that note, thank you for fixing me. I should be able to sleep now. Have a good night - or day, as the case may be." With a stiff nod, Elisa turned on her heel to exit Sickbay and go back to Ebby. She had gotten two steps when she seemed to remember something, and so turned around quickly.
"By the way, congratulations, and you have my wishes for a safe and healthy delivery." And on that, she turned and left sick bay.
"The Smoking Gun"
Commander Karyn Dallas, RN
Chief Counselor/Second Officer
***Main Auditorium, The Morning Of Day Three, lanjep***
Never could she remember wanting to be able to run more than in that moment. The moment which had her holding what she perceived to be the "smoking gun" in the kidnapping of her captain and friend, Lee Price, was also a moment that had the potential to destroy any hope of a peaceful relationship between the Federation, the Klingon Empire, and any of those races invited here today. The Klingons - Chancellor Martok - had taken a risk in opening this conference to all those who would be affected by this trade route, adversely or otherwise, so that they might have a chance to express their views.
Unfortunately that expression came in the form of a crafty kidnapping of a Starfleet captain and a desperate attempt to force the Federation to change their views in order to shift the balance of influence, and Karyn sensed the Breen were behind it all. Looking at the solicited 'autograph' in wonder, careful not to smudge Ambassador Palus' diliberate script, as she practically warped to the Federation box, Karyn couldn't believe she'd never seen the forest for the trees. Everything she'd observed of Palus seemed to fit their profile of the kidnapper. He was a perfectionist, very intelligent and assured of his position, though not so arrogant as to be aloof or xenophobic.
Handwriting was still very much like a fingerprint in the twenty-fourth century as it had been in the twenty-first, and it only took a second for her to see the remarkable similarities between the sample she held now and the original ransom note. It fit what she knew of Palus. Whether he was directly responsible or following orders from some higher up, he would never think of having someone other than himself write the note, most likely being of the belief that if he wanted something done correctly, he would have to attend to it himself because no other subordinate was capable of handling it. Karyn thought of her early flattery and his long winded speech, it was probably one of the few times Palus had himself been given any sort of true responsibility.
Reaching the Federation box and not paying a lot of attention to where she was headed, Karyn practically rammed into Brian's chair, right next to the empty space that had served as her parking space for the duration of the conference. She was breathless and flushed, something that immediately concerned those nearest her.
"Karyn? Are you all right? Did the Yiridian make another pass?" She saw he was about ready to go give the lecherous old man something to think about, but she waved the idea away, pleased to see she had everyone's attention.
"I spoke to the Breen Ambassador Palus," there was collectively eyerolling. It was no wonder she was gone so long, "I think he wrote our ransom note. I'd like Science to compare this," she gingerly pulled the piece of paper from her lap, "to the note we received to see if there's a match." Eyes widened as people caught a glimpse of the careful and diliberate script on the crisp parchment.
Lt. Commander James Mitchell was just beyond Brian and he was about to stand and gently take the the note from her, when both were startled by the gavel that sounded more like a wrecking ball hitting steel. Normally Karyn prepared herself for the sound by looking for the warrior with the gavel and bracing herself, but here she was caught completely off guard. Karyn jerked back into her chair, promptly losing her grip on the only piece of evidence which could possibly lead to Lee's whereabouts.
Things seemed to move in slow motion as Karyn helplessly watched the still wet note lazily tumble. She was sure her heart had stopped, the only indication it hadn't was the ringing in her ears. Then, like a great bird swooping in to catch his prey, James intercepted the falling wisp, his finger mere centimenters from smudging the ink.
The relief on her face must have been palpable because James grinned from ear to ear even as Karyn muttered, "Son of a b-"
"Perhaps the Federation is finally ready to share its views?" It was Princess DevnoH and if she'd heard the partial expletive, she did nothing to indicate it. Her voice was pleasant, but authoritative. Karyn felt like the pupil caught passing a love note instead of listening to the day's lecture, which in some ways was exactly what was going on. Her face lost all blood, becoming pallid as quickly as it flushed. She didn't have to be facing forward to know all eyes were on her, waiting expectantly.
The hum of her grav-chair was the only sound in the entire auditorium that could be heard, as she righted herself to face the woman she desperately did not want to look in the eye, but now, faced with no other choice, that was exactly what she did. Her stomach sank to her toes. "I regret that we're still not ready, Princess. We have a few more preparations to make before we will be ready to present our case as thouroughly as my fellow Ambassadors." She chanced a look over toward the Breen balcony, envisioning what it would be like for them to feel as cornered as she did now, as Lee felt.
Seeing the tension in Karyn's jaw and the rigid, regal posture she had adopted with chin outthrust, the woman knew better in that moment to question. "I see." Her eyes lingered a moment longer, almost as though she knew something was amiss. "Very well."
And with that, her gaze shifted, taking that of the audience with her. "Who cares to be next?"
Karyn nearly fainted in relief.
"Third Recovery is the Charm."
By Lt.Cmdr Lysander VanderPuls-Hawksley, Chief Tactical Officer
Unauthorized appearance by Doctor V.Malgin.
Doctor Malgin and Doctor Grinch, the semi-retired Mk I EMH were playing chess in the wee hours of Delta Shift. It was some thing they did, sometimes, to while away the hours. Malgin identified with the brusque manner of the EMH. He didn't know that many of the crew considered himself, only slightly more congenial than the famed EMH.
Of course, they were speaking in Russian .
"I'm telling you, this coma of his, is purely because he is Tactical Officer, and is designed to prevent me from getting a vacation." Malgin griped, as he moved his bishop on the attack.
The Grinch frowned (more so, it's his usual expression) and considered the board.
Bearing a striking resemblance to the other Mk. I EMH personalities, but without all the 'frippery' of the personality subroutines that those mamby-pamby Holograms, like The Doctor on Voyager seemed to be burdened with, The Grinch was cheerfully rude, condescending, and a damn fine EMH.
"His assignment is irrelevant. We should be concentrating on the cause, and not treating the symptoms. Of course, since our esteemed Superior decided that I was not to treat him, he's relapsed. Typical of some of our so-called collegues, not to recognize my usefulness, simply because she's a Holo-bigot. Did you really think I would fall for the Putin gambit there?" The Grinch moved a pawn out of threat from the Bishop.
"Nyet! Every time I am ready for vacation, it is Tactical officers who seem to pop up with varied problems! I am ready for vacation, one is cutting his hand. Boo Hoo, no vacation. I am ready to play chess in leisure time, one Tactical Officer is in coma. I am ready to go camping in mountains on planet? One Tactical Officer is sick. Always with the Tactical. Never Engineers or others. Even when I am running game program on Holodeck, it is with two Tactical Officers bothering me by knowing all questions and a handful of others sitting there and saying nothing." Malgin absently captured another pawn with a Knight.
"Don't be so melodramatic. I see plenty of others coming in here. Mind you, they're usually crying over something minor. Or demanding that Doctor Martin see them. How inane you Fleshies are. Going to her because she has a name. I've forgotten more than she was ever programmed with." The Grinch took one of Vladimir's Rooks.
"Apperatchik!" Malgin declared, before taking the offending Rook with one of his own. "There. I swear, by picture of my sainted Grandmother, the Tactical Officers are looking to see when I am working, before they are trying to be hurting themselves."
"You took my Rook!" declared the Grinch in shock. Then he advanced a pawn.
Malgin took the pawn as well, continuing his complaint. "And this one? The Head Tactical Officer? Whose shift does he come in on? I tell you, it is with purpose. And the first day, before I can ask for vacation? It is with purpose. I tell you this. And this coma? The cause? What is? Is big secret. Nyet to be telling me! This practicing of medicine by treating symptoms and nyet to be looking at causes is worrisome."
"His problem is Grinch's Syndrome. A neural inhibition combined with a physiological deformity of the Associative Cerebellum Functions. I've written a paper already. Check." The Grinch declared.
"Nyet good. A paper so soon? Mistake, I am thinking. This 'dead knot' of brain matter that Esteemed Colleugue Doctor Queversonn has identified? It is nyet Physiological. I am thinking it is more like someone has made this. Very much like bad old days in beloved Russia. People washing others minds." Malgin moved his King out of Check.
"Who would do such a thing?" The Grinch asked, advancing another pawn.
"I am nyet having clearance to be looking. I get the message, and Doctor Queversonn is to be saying "Nyet touching, is mine patient." I am thinking Starfleet Intelligence, for something as bad as this washing of minds. Even tiny minds of Tactical Officers. Check." Malgin said, capturing a Knight in the process with his queen as he set the check up.
"And she basically regailed me to bored oblivion as well. Oh well. More time to work on other projects, and let the never seen Doctor Martin do whatever she does."
"Da. I am thinking the same."
It was the beeping of the Neural Monitor on Lysnader's bed unit, that made them both bolt upright. Malgin hurried out of the office towards the ICU beds, while the Grinch craftily moved his Queen to Check Mate in three moves, before joining him.
"Smeg. . . where. . . what. . . The Saint Louis? No. . . The Pond? Where the smeg am I?" Lysander was, frankly, babbling.
"USS Galaxy. How many fingers am I to be holding up?" Malgin demanded crossly.
"None. Get that Hologram away from me." Lysander replied.
"The pleasure is all mine. Your reputation precedes you. Don't marry me." retorted the Grinch.
"None is to be right! Be calling of Esteemed Collegue Doctor Superior Queversonn! Telling her that Tactical patient of long name is awake, and I am wanting to go camping this week now." Malgin ordered imperiously.
"Tactical Weenies! Twelve years of medical school programming, the experience of fifty doctors and the databases of the Federation at my fingertips, and I'm running messages for Fleshies, because of Tactical Weenies!" The Grinch glowered, before complying.
"You are nyet supposed to be of operating! By the nail upon which hangs portrait of Sainted My Grandmother in town hall! It is to be NouevaSiberski that she will be sending us, if finding she is that I am activating you for purpose of Chess and talk!"
"Errr...does that mean that. . ." Lysander began again.
"Say nothing!" urged the Grinch. "If you replapse again, I'm sure it'll be my fault! She will probally reprogram me into a Lactating Aardvark in Paedratrics, or something!" begged the Grinch.
"Errr..." began Lysnader.
"No, don't thank me. Rest. Oh, and would you mind if I published a paper about your case?" the Grinch interjected.
"Errr. . .?" began Lysander again.
"Whatever you do, don't mention you-know-what" the Grinch told Malgin.
"Sto? What is What-I-am-Knowing? I am knowing of something but not mentioning? What is this riddle you give me?" Malgin asked.
"YOU KNOW" the Grinch hissed.
"Nyet. Nothing, I hear, Nothing I see, Nothing I am knowing of this you speak of." Malgin insisted.
"The ip-shay ith-way the ame-nay!" The Grinch tried in Pig Latin.
"Standard. Do be trying to speaking in! Am I only Officer who knows how to be speaking well? By the name of my Grandmother and. . . " Malgin snapped.
"The ship with the name." Lysander supplied.
"OH! Da! I am remembering now! We were nyet to mention the name 'USS CITY OF SAINT LOUIS' near patient so he could be hearing; or patient Tactical Officer would be relapsing into coma, and Doctor Queverrsonn would upset be getting!" Malgin crowed.
"Yes! And she'd turn me off, and probally demote you and. . . "
"Demoting of me? I am Doctor Malgin. Oops, I was just saying of name."
"You did? You said CITY OF SAINT LOUIS around him? Why?"
"Errr.... Guys? Smeg."
"Shhh! Nyet to be talking. Saying name of ship was mistake."
"Yes, you be quiet now. Patients should be seen and not heard. Are you sure you said it?"
"Da. And you just did as well."
Two real and two Hologram eyes stared in each other in horror for a long minute, and then turned to Lysander.
"Errr...can I watch Holo-Soaps in here, and will someone take those damn Fuzzy Blue Bunny Slippers out and burn them. Please? OH! And do we have any red-headed nurses working around here, since Kathy Sierra is dead and all?" he asked, plumping a pillow behind him.
"Maybe . . . it would be better if he did relapse into a coma." mused the Grinch.
"Da." echoed Doctor Malgin.