Thread: Fallout
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 591
# 30
09-22-2013, 05:34 PM

I turn, astonished. Kluthli has risen from the science console, her eyes wide, her statuesque body almost shuddering with anger.

On the screen, the other Orion woman's eyes suddenly widen in response. "Kluthli?" And she stops examining her nails like some haughty debutante, so that's a mercy at least.

"Shalo," Kluthli spits. "So you've come to this, working for the people who ruined us!"

"At least I remained true to my people!" Shalo screeches. I look rapidly from one to the other. I can't see the family resemblance - both green, and supernaturally good-looking, but that's about it. Evidently they're family, though.

"You sit there wearing a KDF uniform and claim to be true to your people?" Kluthli's voice drips with scorn. Shalo appears to be wearing some cold-weather variant of the Klingon uniform, all white leather and bits of fur. I guess Kluthli's entitled to stretch a point, though. I can almost feel the anger coming off her, in waves.

So can others, it seems. Amiga stands up. "Commander Kluthli," she says, "I fear you may be losing control of your pheromone emissions - it is affecting the organic crew members."

Kluthli blinks. "Oh," she says. "Yes. I'm sorry, sir," she says to me, and draws in a deep breath. She shoots another poisonous glare at the Klingon commander.

"Well," I say, "I hate to break up a family reunion, but I'd like some answers from you... Lieutenant General."

Shalo seems to be regaining control of herself. "Of course, Vice Admiral," she says.

"F'hon," I turn to my comms officer, "do those diplomatic codes of hers check out?" The Bolian nods. "Well, then," I say, turning back to the screen, "it looks like I'll have to wait for you to make a hostile move before I blow you out of space. How long will you make me wait?"

"I am not your enemy," Shalo says, "for today, at least. My instructions are to track down the rogue Captain Klur and... require an explanation from him. I imagine Starfleet is also anxious to hear him account for himself."

"So that's the line the High Council is taking, is it? It won't wash. How much tricobalt do you have aboard your ship?"

Shalo has clearly got herself back under control. "I do not favour the use of tricobalt explosives, myself, although this vessel is designed for them. However, I appreciate your point. Part of my mission, therefore, is to ascertain how Klur acquired his plentiful stock of destructive munitions. Vice Admiral, you must realize that the destruction of this world was not a policy decision of the High Council -"

"Someone decided it," I say.

"This is one of the reasons why Captain Klur must explain himself."

"I think you'll find," I say, "that the Federation is perfectly capable of getting an explanation from Captain Klur."

"And you will find," Shalo replies, "that I can assist you very considerably in the search for him. Vice Admiral, I have all the technical data on Klur's ship - warp signature, emissions profile, transponder codes, everything. With that information, I am in a better position to track him down than you are, sifting through subspace contrails at the fringe of this system."

"So transmit that information," I snap at her, "and we'll take it from there."

She examines her fingernails again. I have the feeling I'm going to lose patience with that trick. "And render myself unnecessary? I think not. But consider, Vice Admiral, that my search will progress much faster if I am accompanied by a Starfleet vessel - and, you will be in a position to see that Captain Klur is properly dealt with."

"By which you mean, taken into custody and submitted to a Federation court for trial, of course."

"We can discuss that when the time comes," Shalo says. Those fingernails must be fascinating. "By way of a gift, and to prove my good intentions, I will provide you with another piece of information. That creature on your bridge is not the only renegade from the House of Sinoom involved in this. Our mutual cousin Tayaira is Captain Klur's First Officer. I mention this for whatever good it may do you."

I shoot a quick look at Kluthli. She looks stunned.

"I'm going to consult with my officers," I say. "You - hold station. If you make any move that I even think is violating your diplomatic status... you'll find out exactly what this ship can do."


"We can't possibly trust her," Kluthli says. She still seems agitated.

"The KDF must have sent her because of the family connection," Anthi says. "With this - Tayaira, I mean. There's no way they could have known we'd have a relative of theirs on board... is there?"

"I don't see how," I say. "Just one of those freaky coincidences, I guess."

"It's not too unlikely," says Kluthli. Her composure is coming back. "The Houses of the Orions... they're not quite like Klingon Great Houses or Andorian clans... they're as much a business enterprise as a, a genetic grouping. When the militarist faction crushed the House of Sinoom, a lot of us had to make choices about what to do next. And no small number chose the Federation." She looks ready to spit. "I would never choose as she did. She threw in her lot with the people who destroyed us!"

I gaze, pensively, at the image of Shalo's ship on my console. The Kar'fi carrier is ugly even by Klingon standards, with its ungainly shape and its many protruding fins. I remember seeing a fish, in the aquarium at Starfleet Academy, a brightly coloured thing the humans called a lionfish. The Kar'fi looks like one of those fishes, except blackened and gaunt and dead. A cooked lionfish.

One of those ships killed Bercera IV. The Klingons no doubt thought it was fitting to send an evenly matched ship to - confront - Klur. But with King Estmere along for the ride, the odds would definitely be on Shalo's side... if it came to a fight.

If it came to a fight with Klur.... I'm reasonably confident we could take one Kar'fi in a straight fight. I'd be a lot less sanguine about two. But what would that accomplish, for the Empire? Taking out my ship wouldn't make a dent in the forces now being marshalled against Klingon space....

"The High Council," I say, "at the very least wants us to think that Klur's gone rogue. So, Shalo is bound to act... in support of that idea. I know, you're right, we can't possibly trust her. But there is just the possibility we may be able to use her."

"Sir," says Kluthli, in bleak tones, "the chances are good that that's exactly what she's saying right now."