Literary Challenge #17 : Mirror-rorriM
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the seventeenth Literary Challenge: Mirror-rorriM
After intense negotiations, you have finally struck a deal with a Ferengi trader for a large requisition of Lobi Crystals. Just as the Ferengi ship warps away from the rendezvous point, you discover that the Crystals are counterfeit. This is not going to end well, especially since you and your crew are members of the Terran Empire. Let us know how you and your crew handle the situation from the Mirror Universe side of things.
This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
Captain's log Stardate 89900.65
ISS Ta-Sardar-Gor Captain De'Liah recording.
Encrypted: Forgotten Fleet of the Valkyrie protocol 22315
I swear, one day I am going to kill Admiral Wilcott. She and her "superior human blood" will be spread across the Bridge of the Mnemosyne as I devour her heart in front of her entire crew. She lords over me constantly, always reminding me of how my people and the Alliance were defeated and were slaves by right of conquest. That I and others of my kind are allowed to serve in the new Starfleet is a courtesy and a privilage. My blood boils at the thought!
The latest insult is our current assignment, a trade negotiation with the Ferengi. Wilcott wants me to obtain a supply of Lobi crystals for some secret purpose she does not deign to reveal to me. The Ferengi have been insufferable. Greedy, unscrupulous, scheming creatures. If I had my way I would have gut the first one that came to the table instead of just putting him in a coma. I was so angry with him that at my daily sparing practice I broke three opponent's arms, two legs, a collar bone, and snapped one spine. I do prefer to deliver discipline directly to my crew instead of relying on agonizers.
The Ferengi, led by a Damon Frazek, were much more cooperative after the incident. Things went smoothly and expediently. We took aboard a moderate supply of Lobi Crystals in exchange for some obsolete equipment and surplus supplies. The Ferengi have only just gone to warp as I make this recording...(The sound of the Comm interrupts the recording)...pause recording.
I will kill every Ferengi I lay eyes on! We were deceived! The Crystals are not Lobi at all, they are worthless, common quartz implanted with frequency resonators to appear as Lobi. (A faint whine is heard followed by a bellow of pain.) AAAHHHHHHhh, nothing like a jolt from an agonizer to get my focus back. We have set course to follow the Ferengi. Their warp signature is quite broad and easy to follow. I have my Elite assault squad ready to take the ship when we find it. I will lead the boarding action myself.
The Ferengi are crafty creatures. They dropped decoy drones to create multiple warp signatures for us to follow, then changed course while one drone continued down their original course. Unfortunately for them my crew are very proficient at tracking enemy ships. We have seen such tactics before used by the newly formed Orion Empire and their Naussican, Gorn, and Klingon allies. My operations officer was able to identify the decoy drone wakes and regain the Ferengi's path without loosing too much time. We are slowly closing on Frazek's ship under cloak.
Our boarding action was swift and efficient, just as I have come to expect from my crew. We decloaked on top of the Frazek's ship and fired a spread of torpedoes to drop them from warp. We tore through their shields easily and were beaming aboard within minutes. The Ferengi put up little resistance as we tore a swath of gore though the Baroque decorations of the corridors. My Bat'leth has not tasted so much blood in a long time. We took what crew we did not slaughter into custody. The interrogations were swift once we realized that telepathic probing was ineffective from both Betazoid and Vulcan methods. They broke quickly after a short time in the agony booth.
Frazek was not interrogated with his crew. I saw to him personally. I stepped out of his cell after an hour of interrogation with the location of enough Lobi Crystals to supply the Admiral's intentions several times over.
Our goal completed we deposited our Ferengi prisoners on the planetoid where we obtained the Lobi along with what was left of their ship after my engineers were finished with it. They will serve as an example of what happens when the Forgotten Fleet is deceived. Frazek remains on board and will be taken before the Mistress Admiral for his crime against us. I may not be able to kill Wilcott yet, but I will take pleasure in what fate she will bring upon him.
End Log. Encrypted: Forgotten Fleet of the Valkyrie protocol 22315
“Captain,” the Cardassian science officer announced as she turned in her chair from the sensor panel. “Ferengi Cargo vessel dead ahead. Your orders, sir?”
The captain shifted in his chair, shadows slashed across his scarred and pox-marked face hiding most of his disfigurement, yet still revealing some of the rigid scar tissue that kept half his face frozen in a grimace of agony even when he smiled, which he did now. “Hail that vessel,” he commanded.
“No response.” Natima replied.
“Disable their engines. Have a boarding party standing by,” The cyclopic captain said.
“Yesss’sssir,” Hoth the Gorn Task Master hissed from behind the Captain.
The view screen flashed with disruptor fire. The Ferengi vessel’s speedy retreat was cut short. It drifted under its own inertia. A tractor beam latched onto the vessel and brought it to a stop.
“They’re hailing us.”
“Now they want to talk,” the Captain said, no longer finding humor in the situation. With cold calculating conviction, he ordered his crew to expose the ship’s docking port and prepare to board the vessel. In response another tractor beam latched onto the vessel and began to pass it from one tractor beam emitter to another. The ship began to rotate. Once the docking port was within view, the Captain ordered the message on screen.
A small-lobed Ferengi male appeared on screen. His expression transformed from justified anger to wide-eyed panic the moment he saw the shadowy figure seated before him. “Please don’t destroy my ship. I didn’t know that it was you. If you had identified yourself sooner, I would have welcomed you aboard and we wouldn’t be having this little misunderstanding.” He laughed nervously. “It’s not too late for a little hospitality, is it?”
The Captain silently shifted in his seat, illuminating the mangled horror he wore upon his visage. He lowered his head, and looked upon the rambling Ferengi from beneath his ridged brow and scowled disapprovingly. The Ferengi recoiled from the repulsive figure as he rose to his feet and approached the view screen.
“Shlep. Shlep. Shlep,” the Captain replied as he shook his head. “Why must we play this game? I’m hurt. I thought we were friends. If you had simply answered our initial hail, all of this could have been avoided.” His hand went to his face; his finger traced the jagged rift of fibrous tissue that bisected his cheek from beneath the eye patch to the corner of his mouth, while he stroked his beard.
Shlep, the frantic Ferengi began to stammer as he tried to come up with a convincing lie. “Korrath, I didn’t know it was you. Please-“
“Enough!” Korrath exclaimed as he looked up to meet Shlep’s gaze. The paralyzed half of his face remained motionless as its better half contorted into a horrible reproduction of irritated amusement. “We found an error in your quarterly expense report. We just wanted to ask you a few questions. However, you failed to answer our hails, requiring us to pursue and detain you until this issue has been resolved. Do you know how much paperwork I’m required to file because of this little incident?” Korrath sighed heavily. “I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do to help you this time, Shlep. Prepare to be boarded.”
The massive Ferengi face on the view screen suddenly seemed smaller. His eyes fell to the ground as he reluctantly ordered his crew to greet our guests at the airlock. The transmission was severed with a wave of Korrath’s hand, and in its place the view screen displayed the Ferengi vessel being drawn closer under the firm grasp of their tractor emitters.
“I want to see his cargo manifest myself. Hoth, you have the bridge,” Korrath commanded as he turned, approached his chair, and picked up his cane. He gripped its aged, leather-wrapped handle tightly as he planted it firmly onto the first step leading away from his command center. Leaning heavily against it, he swung his bad leg onto first step. He banged on the stiff mechanical brace strapped to it with the hopes of loosening it the stiff joint. Using the cane again, he hobbled up the remaining steps to the platform leading back to the turbolift. He quickly crossed the distance with little effort.
Shlep stood at the end of the long cargo-filled hallway with his crew standing ready for inspection. With a heavy sigh, Shlep stepped towards the docking port hatch. He looked at the men under his command as he passed them. He paused in front of a scared clerk. From the looks of him, he only received his second set of lobes just a few years earlier.
“Pull yourself together ensign,” Shlep reassured. “When dealing with an Alliance Tribute Enforcer, like Korrath, it’s better to just do as they say. If you stay calm, we’ll make it out of this in one piece, and hopefully with our cargo intact,” Shlep clasped the ensign’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze before continuing towards the hatch. He hoped that it helped set the ensign’s mind at ease, although, it had done nothing for his own. He was in trouble. If he’s lucky, he may be able to escape this with his life, but it may cost him his cargo.
The locking mechanism on the inner docking port hatch began to whirr. Shlep’s heart began to pound in his chest as he quickly took his position to greet his guests. He ran his hands over his jacket as the hatch began to hiss. It opened its maw and retched out pairs of armed soldiers. They jogged past Shlep and quickly took positions flanking every Ferengi crewman without a word. Wave after wave followed and began searching the ship. Shlep put on his best smile when he saw Korrath emerge from the airlock with his cane in hand. “Korrath! It’s good to see you again.” Korrath stopped in front of the Ferengi cargo hauler and looked down upon him. “May I interest you in a drink or something to eat perhaps?”
Korrath’s only response was to jab the cane into Shlep’s stomach bending him over. “That’s for the error on your quarterly report.” Korrath tapped a small button near his forefinger three times. The cane began to hum as he jammed it into Shlep’s ribs. The Ferengi cried out in pain as an electrical discharge travelled throughout his body, making his ears ring. He dropped to his knees and cowered. “That’s for trying to run and making me chase you.” Korrath tapped the control three more times and the cane began to hum even louder. He adjusted the brace that wrapped around his leg and squatted beside Shlep. He waved the glowing tip of his pain stick in front of Shlep’s face. “This is the agonize setting, a few seconds is all it takes. However, I hear that it can disintegrate a person if held for more than thirty seconds. I’ve always wanted to try it out.”
Shlep began to whimper and cry. “I’ll give you whatever you want. Just don’t hurt me anymore.”
Korrath brought the pain stick closer to Shlep’s face. He turned off the agonizer and laughed. The undamaged portion of his face formed a horrible half smile. “Good. Now, why don’t you show me your cargo manifest?” Korrath used the agonizer to return to his feet.
Relieved that Korrath had turned off the agonizer, Shlep crawled away from Korrath before getting up. “It’s in my office. If you’ll come with me, I’m sure we can arrive at some kind of arrangement.” Korrath slapped Shlep on the back and nearly sent him stumbling to the ground.
Moments later, Korrath was seated in Shlep’s chair, feet on his desk, the agonizer lying across his lap, a drink in one hand, and the cargo manifest in the other. Shlep paced nervously around the office, until Korrath finished his beverage and demanded another. He wiped the leakage that collected in his beard from the lifeless side of his mouth. Taking the beverage from Shlep, he sipped it while examining the records.
“What’s this?” Korrath replied as he set his feet down and sat up. “It’s says that you’ve got 500,000 units of assorted Lobi crystals. I’ve got to see that.” He rose to his feet and came around the desk.
“Ah … About the crystals, Korrath …” Shlep began.
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. Take me to the crystals. Now!”
“Alright,” Shlep replied reluctantly and led Korrath out of the office, across the small Ferengi Bridge, and into the primary cargo bay. They approached a cargo loader with a large container on it. Shlep entered a three digit security code and unlocked the box of lobi crystals. Korrath pushed him aside to see the glimmering, shimmering stones. He reached into scooped a handful and allowed the crystals to slip through his fingers back into the container. Korrath’s hideous half smile returned in all of its horrors, when the turned back to Shlep and said, “You know, I was wrong. There is something I can do for you. And, it’ll just cost you this container of Lobi crystals.”
“Korrath, they’re not—“
“Quiet you miserable wretch. I’m taking this container and that’s the end of it. That is unless you want to find out exactly what the Agonizer setting can do.”
“Fine. Take the crystals. Just get off my ship, so we can deliver the rest of our cargo.”
An expression of demented amusement contorted his face as he laughed. “I find your impertinence amusing. I’m in a much better mood now, and I will forgive you this trespass this time. However, next time I hail, I suggest you have the common courtesy of responding. I may not be as easily amused.”
After the container was loaded onto his ship, Korrath and his security teams left the Ferengi vessel. The hatch sealed behind them. Shlep and his men stood starring at the hatch unsure of what just had occurred. The clerk approached Shlep and asked, “Wasn’t that the container of imitation lobi crystals that we were delivering to the artisan colony on Dramus II?”
Shlep didn’t look at the young clerk. He simply said, “It sure was.” The sound of the tractor beams releasing echoed throughout the ship. He turned around and began barking orders to his crew. “Let’s get out of here before he figures out what he’s got.”
Thanks to Gingie and Soridem for participating this challenge! Great stories, too! Ferengis will always be Ferengis :p
I am going to unsticky this now as I prepare to post #18. If you would still like to make an entry, feel free to!
Her Father's Daughter
ISS Gabriel Bell, NCC 97218-B, Eta Eridani sector...
"Captain's log, supplemental:
The best illusion is the truth, and I met a real illusionist today. I suppose the Admiral's going to want me in the Agonizer booth, but really, what's that? it can't hurt worse than what I'm going through now. The new medicine, at least, allows me to stay sane-enough-to-keep-command...sort of. I think Mouse is going to make a play soon, part of me hopes so-and hopes he's stronger than dad was, because the alternative is that weakling Rivera...
anyway, as I was saying, looks like I met a real sharpie today-Brog's going to have to pay for getting one over on me, but that's only after I find him..."
Captain Elizabeth Tran closed the log without signing it, and leaned heavily in her command chair. "Miss Cu'ong, do you have their trail?" she asked, mock-sweetly, while she slid her hypospray out and administered a fresh dose of Sezzanine-the only narcotic left that could dull the pain of her syndrome.
"Yes, Captain." Lt. Anh Cu'ong was from New Vegas III, like Elizabeth and half the crew, and like her Captain, she was essentially a slave to Starfleet-in particular Starfleet Medical's pharmacology division and the powerful narcotics nearly one sixth of New Vegas III's population relied on in order to function.
It was a simple arrangement, The Terrans provided the drugs that held back the syndrome, and a host of places for Nevvies to go and fight and die-preferably before the symptoms advanced to the untreatable Stage Three and Four levels, and New Vegas provided Starfleet with soldiers, officers, and crewmen that would obey any order, no matter how ridiculous, dangerous, unethical, or immoral.
The Black Squadrons were filled with the fruit of that poisoned colony, the ships assigned were the dross of Starfleet's yards, but the combination had blunted two Alliance thrusts and drove the Cardassian second order all the way back almost to Bajor itself.
"And their destination?" she asked. Not all the crews had the Syndrome, of course-Her father's former First, the Science officer Saul Moskowitz, lacked the key trigger genes as he was from offworld and only came to New Vegas because settlement there-to replenish the genepool and continue the supply of Nevvies for the Black Fleet was a chance at a pardon-at the price of living on a world geared to kill slowly.
"Drozana, Captain...definitely Drozana." Cu'ong stated.
"Good tracking...you're going to want a promotion soon." Elizabeth said.
"Yes Captain." Anh stated. Honest, open, naked ambition-even the willingness to state a desire to kill one's superior, was the key to trust on Elizabeth Tran's ship, and everyone eventually figured it out.
"Keep up work like this, you may get to Commander before you hit your first day at Stage Two." Liz told her.
Anh smiled at the idea. Elizabeth stood up, and paced the bridge. "XO..." she nodded to Moskowitz, "Tell me, if I needed to be retired, are you ready to take over the job?"
Saul looked thoughtful, "Yes, I think I am."
"Good...excellent. Glad to hear it. You have the loyalty of the Security and engineering staff, then?" she fished. He said nothing, but she saw doubt creep into his eyes.
she chuckled, "That's right...you have an obstacle in Security, and one in Engineering...maybe more than one...and of course, you would have to deal with Imperial Intelligence and their Loyalty sweeps."
"Why are you asking?" her Ops and Tactical officer, LTC Cham Phung, asked.
"Fifty six Mils this morning." Elizabeth said, "and I just did another fifty. Either they're shorting us on potency, or I'm reaching saturation threshold...." she turned and smiled at the rest of the bridge crew, "The really GREAT thing about the Syndrome, is that once you hit stage two? they can put you in an agonizer booth set to 'lethal' and it won't hurt worse than you already do without it. It's the reason they segregate us from the rest of the fleet, and why Imperial Intelligence bothers to send Vulcan and Betazoid agents to conduct random loyalty sweeps. I'm mentioning this specifically, because we're overdue for one, and I suspect Mac Calhoun's howling up a storm to get a team of agents into this sector."
several voices-mostly senior, groaned. "Another culling?" Chief Wilson spat.
"Yep." Elizabeth stated, "The Court on Terra's afraid of a coup by the fleet, last one was stopped by units from the Black Fleet, this time, or the rumours say, they're worried about OUR loyalties again."
"uh...but why?" Anh asked.
"Because someone figured out how to cultivate Nepata and Opium on New Vegas, and how to combine the right industrial chemicals to form, then extract, Sezz." Liz told her, "or so the story goes."
"I actually heard it was on New Vegas Four's moon Nova Hanoi, one of the Christian settlements supposedly worked it out." Saul said in a clarifying tone, "Of course, that raises the question of how a bunch of science-denying copbrains could work up the skills to do that...without outside assistance."
"Target detected at extreme sensor range, we should catch up in a few hours." Anh announced.
"Good. Saul, prep tractor beams, Mister Cham, preplot subsystem strikes to their shields and engines, with any luck, we'll have not only OUR goods, but theirs as well-and some nice big-eared bodies to nail up as a warning not to try and cheat the Black Fleet."
Five hours later...
The D'Kora was a more advanced ship than anything the Imperial Starfleet would trust a Black crew with, but that was fine-New Vegas was a hotbed of 'hot rodders' willing to use all sorts of questionable methods to gain an edge.
In this case, the edge was gained in part by stolen Gorn and Alliance tech wired into the bridge systems of the battered-looking Miranda, and questionable, yet effective, modifications to the shield emitters to make those forcefields flexible..and, of course, the weapons and engines-both heavily modified and altered to run far beyond the original specifications.
"Decloak, remember, engines and shields only." Elizabeth ordered.
The Ferengi ship tried to run, at first, then it tried to fight.
Fighting was a mistake.
The modified Miranda mounted Heavy double-cannons in her forward arc, backed by a dual-phaser bank and Quantium torpedoes.
Brog's resistance lasted until the first of Wilson's marines actually boarded the ship and started killing crew.
Elizabeth personally beamed over to 'deal with' Brog.
"hi again. Want to see a trick?" she asked. Brog's sons were with them in the former Daimon's ready-room.
"a...trick?" he asked.
"Watch this...see this stylus?" she drew a simple stylus from her Padd, and placed it, balanced, on the table. "I'm going to make it...disappear." she nodded to a Marine, who released the Ferengi's largest, oldest, and most trusted son, Brekk.
Brekk tried to run-the only course out of the room, was past Elizabeth. In a lightning move, she caught the young ferengi and redirected his momentum, slamming his head onto the desk and driving the stylus through his skull, into the main autonomic nerve cluster of his upper spine.
"it's...gone." she said, "Neat trick, huh? You tried to cheat me, Daimon." she walked up to him, oblivious to the blood-spatter on her clean, pure white, undertunic. "I think you should reconsider that...a few hours ago, before you tried. Unfortunately we can't go backwards in time...so..." she traced a line along the Ferengi's lobes with her fingertip, "How about this-you either have Lobi-like the fine sample you suckered me with, or you don't."
"I-I have some!" he said.
"Where, darling?" she asked.
he pointed to one side of the office, "Hidden safe." he said.
"If you're lying, your next offspring will be hung up on the wall via piercings with centimeter thick self-sealing stem bolts." she said, "alive, while I let Miss Cu'ong and her razors...play with his ears while we negotiate your next attempt to satisfy a customer."
"It's there, I swear!" the Ferengi said.
"Anh, dear, have Ngoc come over and open the safe." Elizabeth said.
Corporal Ngoc Trung arrived a few minutes later. It took him only a few seconds to find the safe, and the sabotage/trap devices protecting it.
A few more minutes and he was draining the nerve gas it contained, before opening it.
"Test the crystals, Anh." she said.
Anh didn't sample, it took her the next eight hours to test each one to verify it's authenticity.
"ssseee? I didn't lie!" Brog said.
"Right...and I won't crucify your son...Gentlemen, space the Ferengi crew and any passengers, this vessel is now Black Fleet property, Mister Moskowitz, gather men you consider loyal, you have a prize to take home and re-commission."
She squatted eye level with Brog and said, "You see, Daimon, I don't have to kill my rivals-not when I can promote them with fine gifts to advance their careers. You get to watch, then you will join your loyal crew on the walk home." she smiled, "and the best part is, nobody gets crucified."
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