Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 1 Claws (story)
04-20-2014, 08:26 AM
The sun was down on the horizon, and the first stars were beginning to gleam in the sky, when Nejje made her way down the hillside, through the fields, to the big farmhouse.

She wove her way between the big khala plants, as tall now as she was herself, and giving off the heady sweet odour that indicated they would soon be ripe. It looked like there would be a bumper crop this year, and Nejje smiled to herself, glancing up at the slowly deepening indigo sky.

Then she stopped. Then she started to run for the farmhouse, at full speed, brushing the plants aside as she ran. She flung herself up the wooden steps, through the intricately carved doorway, and did not stop running until she stood, panting, before Steadholder Sharm as he sat in his chair of state in the main hall. The kindly old man looked at her in astonishment.

"Nejje," he said, "whatever is the matter?"

"Stars," Nejje sobbed.

"Stars?"

"Stars." She found her breath. "There are extra stars in the sky, Steadholder, and they are moving -"

A chuckle came now from Magistrate Challad, who stood as ever by the Steadholder's side. "They are called meteors, or shooting stars, little one," the younger man said. "They are nothing to be frightened of."

"No," said Nejje, desperately, "no, I have seen shooting stars, and these are not like that!"

Challad frowned. "Then what are they like?" he asked.

Nejje gulped. She had a terrible feeling that everyone in the hall was staring at her. She opened her mouth to respond -

And then the doors to the hall crashed open, and the whole building echoed to the tramp of marching feet.

---

They were grim-faced men and women in heavy leather clothing, and they carried devices Nejje had never seen before. But the way in which they marched in left little doubt as to their intentions.

Challad stepped forward, shoving the Steadholder back as he took up his ceremonial blade. The protection of the Steadholder was part of the Magistrate's duties. He raised the blade -

One of the grim-faced men raised a hand in return, and the machine in it spat out a line of dazzling green light. The light touched Challad, and he glowed, glowed a terrible red-gold colour as if he were being consumed with fire. And then he was gone, completely gone, with only a smouldering spot on the floorboards to show where he had stood.

"Who commands here?" One of the newcomers was striding forwards, a bulky grey-haired man in a leather coat which reached to the floor. He was scowling, and he too held a killing device in one fist.

Sharm spread out his hands in a helpless gesture. "I am Steadholder here," he said. "We are a peaceful people - we ask you not to -"

"A peaceful people," the bulky man sneered. "Pitiful. I am Dahar Master Juregh, and this planet is now the property of the Klingon Empire. Defy us at your peril. Serve well, and we may permit you to live." He marched up to Sharm and brandished the killing device. "Steadholder. How far does your authority reach?"

"Ah," said Sharm, faintly. "From - from the river to the west to the topmost hill in the east -"

"Local," snarled Juregh. "I require the leaders of this world to surrender to my authority. Must I travel around every farmhouse on this planet to tell the occupants they are my slaves? Where is your central leadership?"

"We have - we have none - not in the sense you mean -"

"Then in what sense?" Juregh raised his hand and struck Sharm across the face. Nejje gasped as the old man fell back. "Talk, you old fool, or I shall begin by executing a hundred citizens."

"Sir." Another voice, now, a rasping whisper that seemed to cut across every other sound. "I beg leave to remind the Dahar Master of the Chancellor's standing orders regarding the treatment of conquered peoples."

Nejje looked towards the speaker, and stifled a scream. They were not all people - some of them were nightmares. The woman who had spoken wore leather clothing of a different style, and her face was green, the colour of ancient bronze, with silvery glowing eyes, and a strange bony growth on her forehead that held back a mane of green hair flanked by long, twitching ears. Behind her stood two outright monsters, one a giant scaly creature with the head of a lizard, the other man-shaped, but with a leathery demon mask in place of its face.

"Lieutenant General... Blek," Juregh said. "How very kind of you to remind me of my duties. And do you propose to curry favour with the Chancellor by telling him of my indiscretions?"

"S-s-s-s-s," said the woman. "The Chancellor is not to be bought with such small change. To issue a reminder is part of my duty, though."

"And you have discharged it," Juregh said. "You are not Klingon, Blek. You do not understand a warrior's rights, a warrior's needs...." He glanced at Nejje as he said that, and something about his look turned her blood to ice.

Surely, she thought, the sun was down? It had been on the horizon when she saw the moving stars.

"You have discharged your duty, Blek," Juregh repeated. "And you want no part in the coming... entertainments. Very well, you need take no part. Return to your ship."

The green woman looked as though she was about to protest... then she raised her wrist towards her mouth, and said into it, "Bl'k' to Goroke. Three to beam up."

And then she, and the monsters behind her, glowed red and vanished. It was not, Nejje thought, the same sort of vanishing that Challad had suffered... but the three monsters were just as indisputably gone. And, Nejje realized with a flash of despair, the monsters might just have been the only ones here who were on her side....

"Now then," said Juregh. "Let us discuss, Steadholder, how you will entertain your conquerors."

Nejje craned her neck, trying to see past the invaders, to look at the sky. The sun was down - it had to be down - it was down -

Nejje tried desperately to close off her mind to all the things that happened next.

---

In the morning, the people of Sharm's Steadhold took what remained of the ones who had called themselves Klingons, and carried them out of the buildings. Because the Klingons had acted so badly, Sharm's people did not bury the remains, but gave them to the farm animals to eat.

It did not take long. There was very little left.
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,027
# 2
04-20-2014, 08:35 AM
Oh, boy.

This could go a number of ways.

And Bresar's still plotting his revenge...

I hope that everyone's favorite time-displaced ex-Borg will be in this one?
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
PWE: NO to mandatory ARC! At least make it optional!
Captain
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 2,684
# 3
04-20-2014, 08:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
The sun was down on the horizon, and the first stars were beginning to gleam in the sky, when Nejje made her way down the hillside, through the fields, to the big farmhouse.

She wove her way between the big khala plants, as tall now as she was herself, and giving off the heady sweet odour that indicated they would soon be ripe. It looked like there would be a bumper crop this year, and Nejje smiled to herself, glancing up at the slowly deepening indigo sky.

Then she stopped. Then she started to run for the farmhouse, at full speed, brushing the plants aside as she ran. She flung herself up the wooden steps, through the intricately carved doorway, and did not stop running until she stood, panting, before Steadholder Sharm as he sat in his chair of state in the main hall. The kindly old man looked at her in astonishment.

"Nejje," he said, "whatever is the matter?"

"Stars," Nejje sobbed.

"Stars?"

"Stars." She found her breath. "There are extra stars in the sky, Steadholder, and they are moving -"

A chuckle came now from Magistrate Challad, who stood as ever by the Steadholder's side. "They are called meteors, or shooting stars, little one," the younger man said. "They are nothing to be frightened of."

"No," said Nejje, desperately, "no, I have seen shooting stars, and these are not like that!"

Challad frowned. "Then what are they like?" he asked.

Nejje gulped. She had a terrible feeling that everyone in the hall was staring at her. She opened her mouth to respond -

And then the doors to the hall crashed open, and the whole building echoed to the tramp of marching feet.

---

They were grim-faced men and women in heavy leather clothing, and they carried devices Nejje had never seen before. But the way in which they marched in left little doubt as to their intentions.

Challad stepped forward, shoving the Steadholder back as he took up his ceremonial blade. The protection of the Steadholder was part of the Magistrate's duties. He raised the blade -

One of the grim-faced men raised a hand in return, and the machine in it spat out a line of dazzling green light. The light touched Challad, and he glowed, glowed a terrible red-gold colour as if he were being consumed with fire. And then he was gone, completely gone, with only a smouldering spot on the floorboards to show where he had stood.

"Who commands here?" One of the newcomers was striding forwards, a bulky grey-haired man in a leather coat which reached to the floor. He was scowling, and he too held a killing device in one fist.

Sharm spread out his hands in a helpless gesture. "I am Steadholder here," he said. "We are a peaceful people - we ask you not to -"

"A peaceful people," the bulky man sneered. "Pitiful. I am Dahar Master Juregh, and this planet is now the property of the Klingon Empire. Defy us at your peril. Serve well, and we may permit you to live." He marched up to Sharm and brandished the killing device. "Steadholder. How far does your authority reach?"

"Ah," said Sharm, faintly. "From - from the river to the west to the topmost hill in the east -"

"Local," snarled Juregh. "I require the leaders of this world to surrender to my authority. Must I travel around every farmhouse on this planet to tell the occupants they are my slaves? Where is your central leadership?"

"We have - we have none - not in the sense you mean -"

"Then in what sense?" Juregh raised his hand and struck Sharm across the face. Nejje gasped as the old man fell back. "Talk, you old fool, or I shall begin by executing a hundred citizens."

"Sir." Another voice, now, a rasping whisper that seemed to cut across every other sound. "I beg leave to remind the Dahar Master of the Chancellor's standing orders regarding the treatment of conquered peoples."

Nejje looked towards the speaker, and stifled a scream. They were not all people - some of them were nightmares. The woman who had spoken wore leather clothing of a different style, and her face was green, the colour of ancient bronze, with silvery glowing eyes, and a strange bony growth on her forehead that held back a mane of green hair flanked by long, twitching ears. Behind her stood two outright monsters, one a giant scaly creature with the head of a lizard, the other man-shaped, but with a leathery demon mask in place of its face.

"Lieutenant General... Blek," Juregh said. "How very kind of you to remind me of my duties. And do you propose to curry favour with the Chancellor by telling him of my indiscretions?"

"S-s-s-s-s," said the woman. "The Chancellor is not to be bought with such small change. To issue a reminder is part of my duty, though."

"And you have discharged it," Juregh said. "You are not Klingon, Blek. You do not understand a warrior's rights, a warrior's needs...." He glanced at Nejje as he said that, and something about his look turned her blood to ice.

Surely, she thought, the sun was down? It had been on the horizon when she saw the moving stars.

"You have discharged your duty, Blek," Juregh repeated. "And you want no part in the coming... entertainments. Very well, you need take no part. Return to your ship."

The green woman looked as though she was about to protest... then she raised her wrist towards her mouth, and said into it, "Bl'k' to Goroke. Three to beam up."

And then she, and the monsters behind her, glowed red and vanished. It was not, Nejje thought, the same sort of vanishing that Challad had suffered... but the three monsters were just as indisputably gone. And, Nejje realized with a flash of despair, the monsters might just have been the only ones here who were on her side....

"Now then," said Juregh. "Let us discuss, Steadholder, how you will entertain your conquerors."

Nejje craned her neck, trying to see past the invaders, to look at the sky. The sun was down - it had to be down - it was down -

Nejje tried desperately to close off her mind to all the things that happened next.

---

In the morning, the people of Sharm's Steadhold took what remained of the ones who had called themselves Klingons, and carried them out of the buildings. Because the Klingons had acted so badly, Sharm's people did not bury the remains, but gave them to the farm animals to eat.

It did not take long. There was very little left.
OOC: Is this for anybody to come in to, or is it just you and certain people?
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 4
04-20-2014, 08:41 AM
My words: Rrueo-Captain, Rrueo-Thinker, owner and master of the NFV Anar

On Ferasa, names are earned. I started life as a nameless kit, would have stayed nameless had I not fought and thought and tried, always, to be noticed, to be worthy of note. In the end, I succeeded, I reached the point where others had to ask, "Who is the officer who has performed these meritorious acts?" and so a name had to be granted to me. Rrueo. I earned the right to be Rrueo.

But Klingons are born with names... and the judge, as he sits above the trial floor, robed and hooded, is one who has served with valour and distinction in his time. And so the Klingons came to trust his skill and his honour and his knowledge... and they took his name away and made him only a judge.

It is a strange topsy-turvy world these Klingons live in.

They are thronged around the trial floor, a muttering mass below us where we stand in the private viewing gallery. Shalo is beside me, her green Orion face carefully neutral. Behind it, her mind is as it always is, layer upon layer of masks of ice, illuminated from behind by the cold clear light of her self. She examines the coating on her blunt vestigial claws.

Below us, the prosecutor is opening his case. He still has a name, Ch'Gror of the House of Turlan, and he has a loud and hectoring voice.

"We will prove," he is shouting, "how the defendant is so lost to honour that she fled from a system of harmless pacifist farmers! How she destroyed honest Klingon warriors who sought to dispute her cowardly orders! How she has brought shame on the noble name of the KDF! We will prove all this and more, and we demand, in the name of honour, nothing less than her death!"

Held in a spotlight at the centre of the trial floor, my friend R'j Bl'k' says nothing. She is too far away for me to feel her mind, but I know her mind-tone well in any event; it is a bundle of dry sticks, kindling ready to flare at an instant into a blaze of insight - or violence.

"The court will no doubt hear," Ch'Gror continues, "the pathetic attempts of this creature to exculpate herself. We know that true Klingon warriors will pay no heed to her excuses! Yet, in the interests of justice, we must hear her lies, the better to refute them." He gestures dramatically at R'j. "Speak, then, creature. Let us hear what paltry excuses you can muster."

R'j's rasping whisper seems completely unmoved. "Where does the honourable prosecutor wish me to begin?" she asks.

Ch'Gror glowers. "It does not matter, creature."

"Then I will summarize the background for the court's benefit," R'j continues, unruffled. "Dahar Master Juregh and his forces were detailed to garrison Tiaza Zephora, the sole habitable world of the system designated DR-3771. I was assigned to Juregh's command for this mission."

"This is known," snaps Ch'Gror.

"Tiaza Zephora was colonized some three centuries ago by a group of Klingons who rejected the warrior ethos of mainstream Klingon culture," R'j continues, affecting not to notice the prosecutor. "They were left to their own pacifistic devices until military realignments in the Eta Eridani sector gave the system a certain strategic importance. Dahar Master Juregh was therefore assigned to bring these - people - back to their rightful place as citizens of the Empire. Resistance was not anticipated.

"On arrival at the system, we found, as we had expected, that the colonists had regressed to a pre-industrial agrarian society. We were unable to locate any significant population centres from orbit, so Dahar Master Juregh beamed down marine detachments as occupying forces. When those, too, were unable to find a planetary capital, Juregh beamed down himself, with command staff including myself and my officers, selecting the largest significant building we could find as our starting point."

Ch'Gror appears to be waiting for R'j to pause for breath. What he does not realize is that - with her eccentric respiratory system - she does not need to.

"Dahar Master Juregh expressed himself forcefully to the local inhabitants - this was, perhaps, understandable by this time. I felt obliged, nonetheless, to remind him of his duties towards conquered populations. The Dahar Master ordered me to return to my vessel, and of course I complied. Shortly thereafter, contact was lost with all personnel on the ground.

"The Tiazans - as it is convenient to refer to them - have grown slightly divergent from their initial stock, due to genetic drift and environmental influences. It was, therefore, possible to confirm, from orbit, that there were no Klingon life signs on the planet. Nor any of our auxiliary troops - Nausicaans, Gorn, Orions - only the Tiazans themselves. This fact clearly called for urgent explanation."

"But, instead, you fled!" Ch'Gror shouts.

"Not at this stage. In the absence of Dahar Master Juregh, overall command then passed to the next senior officer, General K'Kal of the House of Mordag. He ordered an immediate evaluation of the available data, and reached one conclusion from that - contact was lost with all of our ground forces, but not quite simultaneously. General K'Kal discovered that - whatever had happened - it happened only during the planetary night. None of our ground elements remained in contact past the hour of local sunset. Unfortunately, Dahar Master Juregh had sent most of our forces down on the planetary night side - for sound reasons of psychology. Usually sound, that is."

"You criticise your commanding officer?" Ch'Gror bristled.

"No. He was unaware of factors that turned out to be pertinent. There was no way he could have known. Am I to continue?"

"Proceed, creature. Proceed to the moment of your cowardice."

"I have shown none." For the first time, R'j seems to bristle a little. Beside me, Shalo purses her lips in consideration. "I will describe the subsequent events. K'Kal decided to commit forces to an exploratory mission on the day side of the planet. A decision which seemed eminently reasonable to me, I might add."

"I am sure the General's heirs are glad to hear it," sneers Ch'Gror.

The judge is saying nothing. I am not even convinced he is awake, or alive. He sits there motionless - his mind is of course shielded, and I can read no expression on his face.

"General K'Kal commanded the Vo'Quv class carrier IKS ParbIng. With this vessel and her consort the Wachboch, K'Kal began a low altitude sweep of the planet's northern continent, as soon as local day began in that location. Both carriers launched full wings of To'Duj fighters on approach.

"As each fighter approached within a range of one hundred and twenty kellicams from the planet's surface, though, it was instantly destroyed in a manner consistent with an uncontrolled warp core breach. General K'Kal did not change course in response to this event, and both carriers also reached a distance of one hundred and twenty kellicams, at which point they too exploded. There were no survivors from either ship."

"At which point," Ch'Gror shouts suddenly, "you usurped command!"

"S-s-s-s-s. I was the next most senior officer: I assumed command."

"You are not a regular KDF officer!"

"I was attached to Dahar Master Juregh's force in the normal manner and formed part of his chain of command. In a military context, one has authority or one does not; there is no middle ground. I had authority. I exercised it."

"To flee!" And there is triumph in Ch'Gror's shout. The judge is awake, after all: I see him lean forwards slightly.

"S-s-s-s-s. To retreat. It was clear that we were confronted with an adversary we did not understand. An adversary that had eliminated an entire ground force and a substantial component of our space force without - apparently - even exerting itself. The Empire had to be alerted to this new threat, and there was no merit in sacrificing more lives to it. Anyone with actual military experience -" R'j knows as well as I that Ch'Gror's military commission is purely honorary "- knows that retreat is sometimes a necessary expedient."

"So you claim!"

"I am an Adept of the Seven Greater Dodecagons - I speak no untruths, save in the seven permitted circumstances... of which this trial is not one. We could fight an unknown enemy and be destroyed, or we could withdraw and develop new plans which might lead to victory. I saw the latter course as the wiser."

"It is not the Klingon way!" But I can feel, in the air, the crowd in the galleries is not in sympathy with Ch'Gror's posturing. "What of the destruction of the IKS Dargar? Explain that, creature, if you can!"

"Captain D'Qad of the Dargar refused my order to retreat."

"He behaved as a true Klingon!"

"He refused a direct order. I instructed his first officer to execute him and take command. The first officer also refused." R'j smiles. "If you wish to accuse me of anything... accuse me of undue leniency, in giving the first officer that chance."

"You then opened fire on the Dargar!"

"Discipline must be maintained."

"Discipline?" But Ch'Gror has quite clearly lost the feeling of the crowd. Not that that matters. All that matters, in the final analysis, is the feeling of the judge. "You destroyed the Dargar! You murdered Captain D'Qad!"

"He wanted a meaningless death. I obliged him."

"You had no right!"

"I had command." R'j's whispering voice carries complete conviction.

"Enough." It is the judge who speaks now, and his words are like iron. "I have heard all I need."

---

"This was not handled well," R'j says.

"You were acquitted," I point out.

R'j makes a disgusted noise. But, then, she often makes strange noises. She leans back in Shalo's second-best guest chair, and relaxes a little. "Acquittal was a foregone conclusion," she says. "That was never my concern."

"It would have concerned you if you had been shot," I point out.

"Whether or not I was convicted was not the main problem," R'j says. "The problem is Tiaza Zephora, and that still remains. Moreover, because of this sideshow of a court martial, the Federation now knows it is a problem."

"The trial was held under conditions of strict military security," I say, more for form's sake than anything else.

"S-s-s-s-s," says R'j. "And of course the Feds will not be able to penetrate that. Also, politicians are honest, and there are fairies at the bottom of your garden. Tell me, Rrueo, exactly when did you have your brain replaced with a litre of slurry?"

"Rrueo sees you are feeling well," I say. "So?"

The door of Shalo's quarters hisses open, and Shalo herself comes in. "I brought a bottle of bloodwine," she says, holding it up. "To celebrate."

R'j smiles faintly. "I am... gratified," she says.

"Also," Shalo adds, as she takes a seat, "to help us in our planning session."

"Rrueo would love to know what we are planning," I grumble.

"The higher echelons are unanimous," Shalo says. By which she means, of course, J'mpok has decided. "With the current military situation in Eta Eridani, even though Starfleet has been driven back out of several sectors, they still threaten our trade routes along the Dialosa Corridor." She produces a datapad and draws on it with one elegant green finger. "We need a secure military base to protect our interests in that region. Tiaza Zephora would have been well positioned...."

"It seemed a logical choice," R'j says. "The Tiazan colonists were, I suppose, something of an embarrassment to the Klingons... like a failure in the family. Something to be discreetly ignored."

"But, when the needs of the Empire made their world of renewed interest," Shalo says, "embarrassment was no longer a factor."

"I should have realized, of course," R'j says. "The absence of any significant population concentrations... even an agrarian economy requires centres of trade and exchange. I should have known it was not just an ordinary backwards farming world."

"Dahar Master Juregh should have known," says Shalo firmly. "Lessons should have been learned... from Organia, for example."

"In any case," says R'j, "the Feds now know, or will soon know, that Tiaza Zephora is held by a force capable of destroying a Klingon army, apparently without effort."

"Or a Federation one, presumably," I say.

"The Feds have not yet antagonized... whatever holds Tiaza Zephora." R'j's silvery eyes burn with the light of obsession. I can see sparks flying in the kindling of her mind. "We must know what it is. We must understand this enemy...."

"And defeat it?"

"Or even convert it to our cause," says Shalo. "The situation is fraught with both dangers and potentialities."

"Oh, like so many situations," I say. "So, now we will be in a race with the Feds to unravel this mystery?"

"That is what they will expect," says R'j.

I look at her. "And of course, you always do exactly what people expect."

R'j smiles thinly. "You grasp my meaning."

"What I have suggested," says Shalo, "and what has been approved... is that we co-operate with a Federation investigation. Once this is achieved, we may... ensure... that the investigation proceeds on our terms."

"It is easy enough to present this as a potential threat to Federation interests as well as ours," says R'j.

"Ah," I say. "Rrueo understands. As an Adept of the Seven Greater Dodecagons, you do not lie, but you may adjust the truth....

"I do not lie, save in the seven permitted circumstances," says R'j.

"What are the seven permitted circumstances?" I ask.

"To deceive a sworn enemy," says R'j, "to comfort the sick, the dying or small children; to uphold the honour of a sworn friend; to prepare a pleasant surprise for a loved one; to hearten the fearful; to keep peace within a family; to simplify a complex truth for the slow of understanding."

I mull that one over for a moment. "Perhaps Rrueo is slow of understanding," I say, "but could those seven circumstances not cover, well, virtually anything?"

"Conceivably." R'j sounds almost amused.

"Well, then," I say, "what Starfleet officers can we contact, who are slow of understanding?"

"It is never wise to underestimate Starfleet," says Shalo. "But, if we cannot find foolish opponents, we can, at least, find ones whose capabilities are a known quantity...."
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,524
# 5
04-20-2014, 08:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuntel View Post
OOC: Is this for anybody to come in to, or is it just you and certain people?
Dude. Shevet is telling us a story. Shevet tells good stories. Just buckle in and enjoy the ride.
-------------------------------------------

When I make you breakfast in bed, a simple "thank you" is all I need. Not all this "who are you and how did you get into my house" nonsense.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 6
04-20-2014, 08:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuntel View Post
OOC: Is this for anybody to come in to, or is it just you and certain people?
It's intended as a single ongoing story - as with my previous efforts in this line (Fallout and Heresy).

I like to start these things rolling with a scene-setting flurry, so here comes the next one....
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 7
04-20-2014, 08:52 AM
Personal log: Veronika "Ronnie" Grau, officer commanding USS Falcon NCC-93057
Datarecord: 2/12, 2ndry adjunct unimatrix 07 (pending reassimilation/reclassification)


One of the good things about being buddies with a high-up in Starfleet's Experimental Engineering division is this: if you should happen to get your starship a little bit bent or broken - and it's amazing how often that seems to happen, despite my best intentions - you can get it patched up, not only good as new, but sometimes better than before.

"So OK," I say to the tall, scarred Andorian */*species 4644*/* woman standing beside me on the bridge of the Falcon, "explain what this doohickey does again, will you?"

Tylha Shohl fails to hold back a sigh. "The Nukara particle converter," she says patiently, "interfaces with your EPS grid to buffer your shields and particle generators, and boosts your targeting scanners to improve weapon accuracy. It also ties in to your new weapons systems - the tetryon banks and the web mines - and, with those improved targeting scanners, it can set off secondary tetryon pulses that you can aim at other enemy ships in range -"

"Oh, trick shots? I can get behind that idea."

"I guessed you probably could," says Tylha. "We tried it out first on the Bleak Midwinter - converted Breen cruiser -"

"Hold on. Tholian tech and a Breen ship? Talk about running hot and cold."

Tylha nods. "Luckily, we had a lot of experience with the Jolciot polystable alloys for countering thermal stresses -" She carries on in this vein for some time. Tylha has a couple of Jolciots */*species 17116*/* on her crew, they're squat purple creatures who talk too much. Apparently, they're also very good at engineering, but I really don't need to know the details, so I smile and nod and go to my happy place for a bit while Tylha explains.

*/*assimilation of multiple technologies improves efficiency and creates positive synergistic effects---biological and technological distinctiveness should be added to the collective endeavour*/*

Shove off, Two of Twelve. This is my happy place. Get your own.

"Sorry?" says Tylha.

"Oh, God. Out-loud voice? Two of Twelve was acting up, sorry." Tylha at least sort of understands about the remnants of my Borg self, left over from my assimilation. "Anyway, yeah. Speaking of Borg...?"

"Oh, right," says Tylha. "We've added the omnidirectional cutting beam and some Borg assimilated modular tech... you should get some good results out of those." Since the good results Tylha gets with that cutting beam include disembowelling a Romulan */*species 3783*/* battleship during the defence of Andoria, I'm kind of liking that bit.

"So," I say, "cutting to the chase - how close are we to being done, here?"

Tylha smiles. "Just a bit of clearing up to do, making sure your crew are all checked out on the new - doohickeys - and we're out of here. I'll be glad to get back aboard King Estmere, to be honest."

"Oh, you've finally got that one out of drydock?" Tylha normally flies the King Estmere, a converted Tholian carrier, but that ship's been in spacedock for refits for months, relegating her to the Spirits of Earth, an upgraded Andorian Charal-class... come to think of it, that's not what I'd call relegation, much.

"We've finally got the weapons mix right, I think," Tylha says. "The heavy disruptor cannons were effective, but their firing arc is too narrow - even with the same enhanced RCS arrays we've used on the Falcon, King Estmere only turns at a hair over fifteen degrees per second, so wide-angle beam arrays and banks are a better option. We installed plasma weapons with Romulan Republic tech, but I'm not too sure, still, about some of the synergistic effects of the secondary systems -" Happy Place Time for little Ronnie, again, I think.

Then the bridge doors hiss open and someone comes in, someone I don't recognize - one of Tylha's people, I think, she doesn't look nearly harassed enough to be one of mine. She's a medium-tall Vulcan */*species 3259*/* woman, with dark hair in an elaborate updo, and piercing grey eyes. I wouldn't pay much attention to her, really, except that Commander Saval, my Vulcan science officer with the extravagant side whiskers, narrows his beady little eyes and stands up when she comes in.

"T'Shomep," he says.

"Father," she replies. There's not much in this galaxy surprises me, but I do honestly feel my jaw dropping a bit at that one. I see Tylha's eyes widen, too.

"You are well?" Saval asks.

"Yes," says T'Shomep.

"Hold on, hold on, hold on," I say. "First off, I can't handle all these torrents of Vulcan emotion, the tearful family reunion, it's all so beautiful it makes me want to spit. Second off, seriously?"

Saval and his daughter both blink at me for a second or two. "Lieutenant T'Shomep is my daughter," says Saval. "I assume, sir, that you are being somewhat facetious."

"Well, maybe," I say. "Just maybe. Even so, you've got to admit, it's quite some coincidence."

"It is not entirely a coincidence," says T'Shomep. "Naturally, I have followed my father's career with interest, and accounts of his activities made me aware of the Experimental Engineering group. It seemed a logical sphere of activities in which to employ my talents."

Tylha is still looking bewildered. "Maybe I'm no good at judging Vulcan ages," she says, "but -"

"Oh, Commander Saval was with me on my last trip to the Stygmalian Rift," I say. "We all got time-warped twenty-four years into the future that time. Makes for complications, that sort of thing."

"Adjustments were necessary in our family life," says T'Shomep.

"I'll bet they were," I say. "Could be worse... could be Tallasa having a family reunion instead...." I peer vaguely around the bridge. "Come to think of it, I thought it was quiet. Where is Tallasa?"

My long-suffering exec is nowhere to be seen. Her sister Jhemyl is at the helm station as usual... now I look, the bridge is looking a bit empty and depleted. No Tallasa - and the engineering station is just manned by an ensign I don't know. Leo Madena, whose name I have finally learned to remember, is on comms as usual....

"Commander Tallasa is station-side on a two-day pass," says Saval.

"She's showing Commander Ysrip around Earth Spacedock," Jhemyl adds.

Right, so that accounts for one of my senior engineers.... "Waitaminute," I say. "You mean Tallasa and Ysrip are on a date?"

Jhemyl quirks an eyebrow at me; if it wasn't for the blue skin and antennae, I'd swear she was a Vulcan. "She's just showing him around," she says.

"Yeah, right. All the coordinates, I bet."

Tylha shakes her head. "You humans," she says.

"Humans are weird about relationships," says Jhemyl. "Obsessed. Did you know one of their continental capitals has an entire huge building for having extra-marital affairs in?"

"Oh," says Tylha. "That place in, where is it, Uashintondeesee? I always wondered why it was that shape. Makes sense, now."

"Uh," I say helplessly, "what?"

"They even call it the Pentagon," says Jhemyl.

"Waitaminute." I think this conversation is getting away from me. "The Pentagon? In Washington D.C.? Is that the place you're talking about?"

"Why else would you build a five-sided building?" asks Tylha.

"Humans," says Jhemyl. "They have no shame."

"But it -" I say, "it's - it's not that. It's a, uh, it's a military command centre -"

"Oh, right," says Tylha in tones of deep sarcasm. "Because humans are such a galaxy-famous warrior species."

I look at Tylha, then at Jhemyl, then at Tylha again. It pains me to admit it, I'm still no good at reading Andorian expressions. Both of them have completely straight faces - but their antennae are twitching like anything - but I don't know for sure what that means. I'm about twenty percent suspecting it's a genuine cultural misunderstanding, and eighty percent sure my leg is being pulled so hard it's going to come off at the hip.

I decide it's time to beat a dignified retreat. "I'm going down to main engineering," I announce. "I'm going to see what they're up to down there."

I'm sure I hear Andorian snickering as I march off the bridge.

---

Main Engineering seems pretty quiet, too. A couple of ensigns are moving around doing engineering-type things with doohickeys - possibly new ones, possibly ones I just haven't paid attention to before. Well, there's no point me starting to pay attention to doohickeys at my time of life. I grab a passing ensign and ask, "Where's Ahepkur?"

"Oh," says the ensign. "Um, I think she's with Commander Ada in the engineering office, sir."

Considering my Klingon */*species 5008*/* chief engineer's attitude to her android */*species designation irrelevant*/* assistant, this is not necessarily good news. So I trot along to the engineering office with a few qualms... and I pick up an extra qualm or two when the door fails to slide open at my approach.

I listen out for a moment, and hear faint sounds, like movement and muffled voices. Are they fighting in there? I hesitate for a second, then thumb the door's control panel, overriding the lock with my biometric signature. There is a hiss -

"Shut that damn door!" shrieks Ahepkur's voice.

I have a moment to take in the tangle of bare limbs on the engineer's desk, the two discarded uniforms lying on the floor. Not fighting, then. Physical activity, but definitely not fighting.

"I'll leave you two to it, then," I say with as much composure as I can muster - which isn't much - and I back out.

I lean against the corridor wall for a minute or two and try to marshal my thoughts. While I'm still marshalling, the door opens again, and Ahepkur steps out, wearing a sheepish expression and a uniform that's evidently been put back on in a hurry.

"Sir," she says, and stops dead. "Sir, I -" she tries again. "I have no excuses," she says at last.

"You've changed your attitude towards androids, then," I say, this being the first thing that comes into my head.

"The machine acted with skill, courage and honour in recent events," says Ahepkur. "This makes her a worthy mate."

"Hold on," I say. "If you're... you know... I mean, surely you can't keep on calling her 'the machine' now? Her name's Ada."

Ahepkur bristles visibly at that. "My chosen mate's name is XM-23012 HSM-110478," she says with some asperity. "The 'Ada' designator is only for the convenience of organics."

Well, there's a lot to be said for convenience, I think. My head is spinning. Starfleet's regulations on fraternization, of course, are more a mish-mash of guidelines than anything solid, what with dealing with dozens of different military traditions and species with novel biological imperatives... but surely doing it with your assistant on the office desk must be crossing some line? If nothing else, it must have voided Ada's warranty....

Speaking of which, the door hisses open once more and Ada herself steps out, looking neat and completely composed. "Our apologies, sir," she says primly.

"Right," I say, "right.... Right, I'm not dealing with this. You know what? You two are grown-ups, you work things out for yourselves. I'd suggest, just as a practical matter, that you, y'know, get a room next time. Just a suggestion."

"We would like very much to be assigned joint quarters," says Ada, and Ahepkur looks distinctly pleased by the idea.

"Fine," I say. "Fine. Go. Go now, and my blessings be upon you. I had some reason why I wanted to talk to you, but I've completely forgotten what it was, now. Go get a room before I come to what remains of my senses."

"Thank you, sir," says Ada, and she takes Ahepkur's hand, and they walk off together down the corridor, leaving me blinking in bemusement, or what would be blinking if I had two eyes.

First Saval's family turns up, then Tallasa's off on a date, then Tylha and Jhemyl start jerking me around, and now Ahepkur and Ada are... are.... Unbelievable. I think I need a very large drink and a lie down.

*/*assessing emotional state---
---noting reactions
---searching for appropriate response
---verbalization follows
---you and me both*/*


Unbelievable.

At this point my combadge goes beep. "Shohl to Grau." Tylha sounds serious. "Can you get back to the bridge, please, Ronnie? I think we have a situation."
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 5,027
# 8
04-20-2014, 09:04 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
*/*assessing emotional state---
---noting reactions
---searching for appropriate response
---verbalization follows
---you and me both*/*
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
---you and me both*/*
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
---you and me both*/*
*dies laughing*
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
PWE: NO to mandatory ARC! At least make it optional!
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 9
04-21-2014, 12:50 PM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding USS King Estmere, NCC-92984

Ronnie comes back onto the bridge, and stops dead in the turbolift door, staring at the screen.

"Hello, Ronnie," says Shalo, from the viewscreen. "Or would you prefer Vice Admiral Grau?"

"Ronnie's fine," Ronnie mutters. "Everyone calls me Ronnie."

Shalo smiles. She looks sleek and glossy and supernaturally beautiful, as she always did while we were hunting the Klingon renegade Klur after the massacre at Bercera IV. Of course, during that time, I saw her smiling just as sweetly as she cut a junior officer's head off. Ronnie and I worked with her... I hope that doesn't mean we'd make the mistake of trusting her.

"So to what do we owe the honour?" Ronnie walks over to the command chair and sits down with exaggerated nonchalance.

"Obviously, I need Starfleet's help," says Shalo.

"Obviously," I say, "we have a small problem with that."

"The circumstances are unusual," Shalo says, unperturbed. "They were unusual the last time we cooperated.... This time, we have a chance to contain a rogue officer before they do anything... dramatic. I hope that Starfleet will take that chance."

Ronnie and I exchange glances. "Keep talking," I say.

"Thank you. Some weeks ago, a KDF force attempted to secure a military position on the planet Tiaza Zephora. This was believed to be a primitive agricultural world - we discovered, somewhat too late, that it is under the protection of some powerful entity. I believe there have been similar incidents in Federation space - the case of the Edo springs to mind, for instance."

"Let me guess," says Ronnie. "This didn't end well for your mob?"

"Casualties were inflicted. The surviving ranking officer ordered a retreat. I am transmitting a recording of her subsequent court martial -"

"Il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres," says Ronnie incomprehensibly.

"There seems to be a problem with the universal translator," says Shalo. Ronnie smirks. "In any case, the officer in question - a mercenary commander named R'j Bl'k' - was cleared of the charge of cowardice. As you will see from the recording, though, she has developed something of an obsession with the - presumed entity - at Tiaza Zephora."

"So what's this got to do with us?" I demand.

"R'j Bl'k' has taken her ship across the border into Federation space," Shalo says. "Her objective appears to be the star system Duselva WX in the Eta Eridani sector. I am unsure as to her reasoning - possibly she believes that system to be connected in some way to the entity at Tiaza Zephora. However, she is operating outside the High Council's authorization... and, although we are still at war, no one wants a repetition of the events of Bercera IV. It is best if this officer is... intercepted and neutralized."

"So intercept her," I say.

"We cannot commit sufficient forces to be sure of that without provoking a response from Starfleet. Our commanders are, naturally, not averse to battle - but, in the ensuing confusion, it would be too easy for Bl'k' to slip away and accomplish - whatever she has in mind. Obviously, from our point of view, the best solution would be to arrange for a KDF task force to enter Federation space and proceed unimpeded about the task." Shalo examines her fingernails. "I suspect you might raise some objection to this approach. Hence, this compromise."

"You give us the information, and we take down this - character - for you," I say.

"It is in everyone's interests," Shalo says. "Whatever Bl'k' has planned, it is likely to be an embarrassment for the KDF and a danger to the Federation. We do not wish to be embarrassed."

"How dangerous is this Madame Unpronounceable?" asks Ronnie.

"Oh," says Shalo, "your combined firepower will prove more than a match for her, I can be quite sure of that."

"Why not alert the Federation Council by normal channels?" I demand.

"And concede in public that one of our officers has gone rogue? Far better to arrange things... informally. Of course, you can tell anyone you like about this conversation." Shalo examines her fingernails again. "It will be disavowed, officially, of course, but you can tell whoever you like."

"Duselva WX," Ronnie says thoughtfully. "Don't know it...."

"It will take you some time to reach it, no doubt," says Shalo. "I can only hope that you decide to act - and act in time." She looks at something off the screen. "I must go. I am transmitting an encrypted subspace frequency signature to you - use it to let me know, please, whatever you decide. Shalo out." The screen goes dark.

Ronnie and I exchange glances. "She's up to something," I say.

"Well, yeah, duh," says Ronnie. "Trouble is... this is one of those situations, isn't it? Where you have to take the bait, to find out why you're being baited. Jhemyl, where the hell is Duselva WX, anyway?"

Jhemyl rattles off a burst of galactic coordinates. "Huh," Ronnie says. "Easily a week's cruise in this old bucket...."

"King Estmere could make the trip faster, then," I say.

"Yeah," says Ronnie, "yeah... hold on, though." She starts tapping at her command console, the Borg metal on her fingertips rattling against the panel. "Oh yeah."

"What?"

"Transwarp gateway. Duselva WX is within range of a secondary hub on the network. Forget a week's travel, the Falcon could be there inside six hours."

She sounds enthusiastic, all of a sudden. "Do you think we should?" I ask.

"Shalo can't be expecting us there that fast. We can scope out the lay of the land before Madame Unpronounceable turns up, even. Let's set it up. Tallasa - oh damn. Still on her hot date with Ysrip." I swear she pouts for a moment. "Tylha, would you mind taking the XO slot? It's getting so's I can't think without a pair of reproachful antennae in that seat."

Something tells me Ronnie's made her mind up. "All right," I say, "but let me pass a message on to King Estmere, first."

"Right. Right. Good idea. They can come in and back us up. And maybe bring Tallasa and Ysrip with them. Face-ache, umm, I mean Mr. Madena. Do the business, will you?"

While Ronnie's hapless comms officer is putting through the calls to King Estmere, I settle into the exec's seat and start work on the console. Ronnie's first officer has everything set up neatly, tactical systems, shipboard organization, all the details that a good exec should have at their fingertips. Of course, Ronnie would be bound to have a good exec. Ronnie desperately needs a good exec.

I tie the console in to my earpiece and start work, calling up the automated sequence to hail Spacedock traffic control and get departure clearance. Somewhat to my surprise, a "hold" icon starts flashing on the panel, and then a human male voice speaks in my earpiece. "USS Falcon?"

"Yes," I say.

"Requesting departure clearance?" the voice continues.

"Urgent clearance for a transwarp departure to the Eta Eridani sector, coordinates as transmitted." I check the console - I've got the coordinates right.

"Hold, please," says the voice. "Transferring you to Commander Maxwell."

There is a brief pause, and then another human male voice speaks to me. "USS Falcon? Requesting departure clearance?" Commander Maxwell, presumably. He sounds nervous.

"That's correct, Traffic Control," I say crisply. "What's the hold-up?"

"Ah," says Maxwell. "No... no problem, Falcon. We have you under observation, and we have a departure slot held for you... we always do, it's just.... You're requesting departure clearance."

"Yes," I say, as patiently as I can.

"It's just... you're requesting departure clearance. Is Vice Admiral Grau ill?"

I look at Ronnie, who quirks her one eyebrow at me. I explain. "Oh, right, yeah," she says. "Traffic control. I always take a sort of Jesuit view with departure clearances." She laughs.

"Jesuit view?" I ask.

"Easier to obtain forgiveness than permission. Right. Here we go then. Cast off, single up all lines, splice the mainbrace, all that good stuff." That leaves me to go through all the actual preparations to depart. From the helm, Jhemyl shoots me a sympathetic glance.

Still, it doesn't take long before Ronnie can lean back in her command chair and say, "All righty, then. Punch it."

And we're away.

---

The journey from the transwarp point to Duselva WX, as Ronnie expected, takes only a few hours. Along the way, we have time to sit down in Ronnie's ready room and review the data Shalo transmitted, including the recording of the court martial.

"Oh," I say, as we see the tall green-skinned woman take her place on the trial floor, "that explains the name. She's a Mlkwbrian."

Ronnie pauses the recording and stares at me. "A which-what-how-now?"

"Mlkwbrian. I remember reading about them in my linguistics classes. They have a weird vocal tract, they're an extreme edge case in phonetics terms. Continuous circular breathing through those tubules at the angle of the jaw - they find vowel sounds hard to produce, but they have super complicated tongues and palates, so they can manage a whole range of different complex consonants...."

"Sounds fascinating," says Ronnie in an utterly not-fascinated way. "Do you remember anything else about these Mulk... Mul-uk.... umm, Two of Twelve says they're species 10118, so I'm going to call them that, OK?"

"I'm trying to think." I study the image on the screen. "Those funny silvery eyes, that's because of a polarization-sensitive coating on the cornea. They have independent depth perception in each eye, and can move them individually. See the two weapon holsters?" The Klingons took R'j Bl'k's weapons before putting her on trial - obviously. "For you and me, dual pistols would just be for show - but she can hold two weapons and aim them both."

"Worth bearing in mind," says Ronnie grudgingly. "Anything else?"

"They're darn near impossible to strangle - you can close off all the respiratory tubules in their throats, but it's quicker and easier just to break their necks. Some of them have a limited psychokinetic ability - nothing sophisticated, they can just generate a sort of push. Culturally and galactographically, they're pretty much from the heart of Klingon territory - I think their home system is Phi Leonis in Earth astrography, and they have a highly structured society, ritualistic and militaristic. They assimilated into the Empire pretty seamlessly about three hundred years ago."

"Round about when militarism was getting fashionable in Klingon society," Ronnie comments.

"I thought they'd been warriors since, well, always?"

"They've always had a warrior caste. It got to be fashionable shortly before I was born... trouble is, of course, a warrior caste tends to resist going out of fashion. With guns." Ronnie shakes her head. "Explains a lot, doesn't it? Not so much the politics and the expansionism, but the - the posturing. All that emphasis on death and glory. The leather, the machismo... the relentless, unremitting opera...."

"Let's see how this played out," I say, and Ronnie starts the playback again.

We watch in silence as the grim-faced alien defends herself against the ranting prosecutor. "Now that guy was a poser, all right," says Ronnie, once it ends.

"Ch'Gror?"

"Typical Klingon armchair warrior. The chickenhawk tendency's one of the worst things about Klink politics. I suppose the Federation's got its own equivalent, mind... the hippy-dippy pacifist camp, the guys with the high ideals and no practicality."

"People like my parents?" I comment.

Ronnie looks at me. "Were they hippies? I didn't know Andorians had any."

"They had high ideals. It didn't count for much when the Nausicaans hit us... they had disruptors."

Ronnie nods. "Anyway," she says, "returning to the present... anything strike you about that lot?"

"For a Mlkwbrian, she sounded... pretty reasonable, on the whole."

"Yeah. Made more sense than I do, most days.... What was that Adept of the Seven whatsits bit about, do you know?"

"Oh, these quasi-religious sects run all through Mlkwbrian society... she's probably a member of half a dozen of them. Like I said, they're highly ritualistic."

"Things you kids learn in school these days," Ronnie mutters.

"Well, didn't you take any electives at the Academy?"

"Didn't really have Starfleet Academy in my day, not like it is now.... Anyway." Ronnie scratches at the skin around her Borg targeting implant. "This all seems very iffy to me."

"There has got to be something Shalo isn't telling us," I say. "And I don't know why she's let slip some of the stuff she has told us - the strategic position of Tiaza Zephora, for instance. Or the whole business with the - protecting entity, come to that."

"Yeah," says Ronnie, vaguely. "Yeah, we know this thing's kicked a Klink occupying force off its planet, right? So, logical assumption, we'd want to talk to it, persuade it to do a bit more of that kicking on our behalf. So...." She shakes her head. "There's little stuff that doesn't add up, too. Duselva WX, where the hell does that figure in? And the way the Klink carriers blew up - fifty kellicams is a lot closer than I'd let off an antimatter explosion, if I was protecting whatever was fifty kellicams away."

"Maybe - whatever it is - couldn't manage a longer range," I say.

"Yeah. Maybe. No." Ronnie shakes her head. "Then why didn't it use its other trick? Whatever wiped out the Klink ground troops, with no explosions at all?"

"We don't know enough to say."

"We need more information," says Ronnie. "And, like I said, the only way to get it is to take Shalo's bait. Dammit."

The intercom on Ronnie's desk chimes. "Sir," says Jhemyl's voice, "we have dropped out of warp at the edge of the Duselva WX star system."

"Right," says Ronnie. "Anything on scan yet?"

"Total of eight ships at extreme long range of tactical scan," says Jhemyl. "One energy signature possibly consistent with a Monbosh battleship... the others appear to be Klingon Birds of Prey, and one Nausicaan, possibly a Guramba-class destroyer."

"Anybody shooting at anything? At us? At each other?"

"No weapons activity," says Jhemyl.

"Curiouser and curiouser." Ronnie stands up. "No weapons activity? Well, at least I can fix that."
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,524
# 10
04-22-2014, 12:42 AM
R'j Bl'k... Roj Blake, really?

she seems more like Servalan, or maybe Avon...
"when you're out of Birds of Prey, you're out of ships."
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