Former PWE Community Team Lead
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 9,046
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges!

Today we start the two-week run of the forty-sixth Literary Challenge: Risian Getaway
Write a Captain's Log entry about your experiences on Risa during the Lohlunat Festival. What did you do while you were there? Did you find anything interesting? Maybe met new friends? Let us know! (Just keep it appropriate )
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!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Brandon "BranFlakes" Felczer | Former Community Team Lead for Perfect World Entertainment
Ensign
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 12
# 2 Risa :D
07-09-2013, 10:34 AM
Langofe sighed, glancing over the PADD, placing her head on the rest of the beach chair. The Risian suns were just dipping over the horizon, purple hues wisping themselves across the sky in announcement of night. Laughter and soft chatter filled the air from the locals and occasional Starfleet Officer as they set up fire pits.

Dozing off, the Augmented Captain jumped at the touch of a hand on her shoulder. Pulling her shades off, she smiled at the intruder.

"Do I know you stranger?" She teased, moving her feet so they could sit.

The other looked at her in surprise, "It's me, David?"

She placed her hand on her forehead, pretending to think, "Hmmm, got nothing."

David chuckled, taking a sip from his cocktail, looking over his shoulder at the night sky in slight awe.

"Don't got that space," He murmured.

"Fireworks?"

"Nah, simplicity," He replied, swirling the contents of his drink around in the lute of a glass, contemplating something.

Langofe watched him with a concerned look, personal thoughts about the past week of odd behavior. Both had come to Risa with the rest of their fleet and had enjoyed zooming around the island and late night parties together. After a moment, David jumped up, waking her sehlat who sleep quietly next to her.

"Come on," He demanded, pulling her off the beach chair.

"Where we going?" Langofe asked confusedly, reaching for her PADD.

"Dance Party," He told over his shoulder.

She buried her feet in the sand, "I hate dancing."

A grin appeared on his face, "Come on pointy-ears, you know you dance."

Langofe folded her arms, pointed brow rose in question, "What makes you think that?"

?Neva told me,? David replied with a shrug, grabbing her wrist again, dragging her to the dance platform.

"****," She muttered under her breath, then louder so David could hear, "It was a late night decision, already had a round of Long Island Ice Teas."

David laughed, jumping on the platform, "It's easy."

She shook her head reluctantly, waving off her overly-protective sehlat, "Alright, le's see what ya got."

Last edited by selenelangofe; 07-09-2013 at 10:38 AM. Reason: all the quote marks were turned into ?
Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 48
This was written originally for Priority One Podcast to be feature as a guest blog. Its currently going through their channels to be feature. Its meant to be informative as a wiki and entertaining as holo novel.
Please feel free to message me with any feedback this is my first time writing something for non-academic reasons.

Red name of the accolades required for Master Relaxer(MR)
Yellow is telling how to get the accolade
Green other key parts of Risa and accolades not required for MR


Captain's Personal Log
Stardate: 86516.66

After six months in the Tau Dewa Sector Block helping the Young Romulan Republic secure a new homeworld providing across the board assistance. The Le-Matya was ordered to spend two weeks at Starbase 12 to undergo repairs and maintenance to better outfit our ship to counter the new Elachi threat. At the same time the Le-Matya was to be in dock. We were ordered by Fleet to take a mandatory shore leave with starbase staff responsible for repairs and updates. Not wanting to have disobeyed a lawful order and not be too far from the Le-Matya I chose to go from what I heard from a holoterminal to be the gem of the sector, Risa, advertising the Lohlunat:Festival of the Moon to take my R&R. I took the Mississippi, a runabout assigned to Starbase 12, in cased there was a need for me to handle any emergencies instead of waiting for the Risa Express.

I arrived at Risa with no problems at approximately 1500 Zeta setting down at a Starfleet hanger in the Risan Capital of Nuvia. From there, I made my way through the Federation Embassy to be transported to Suraya Bay. Soon as I transported into the Bay I was greeted warmly by the locals to take part in their festival. As "I walked the boardwalk". I received an accolade from beautiful Risian Woman on my way to the Floater Vendor. I reached the Festival's Coordinator and she gave me a Lohlunat Favor; I assumed that the Lohlunat is a name of the primary moon or its god from Risian Mythology. I will leave that for future conjecture. I took the Lohlunat Favor as advised and used it to start a reputation program that will evenly let me win a Risian Corvette. I was told this could be done by earning Lohlunat Pearl either participating in "Flying High" event with a floater or turning in Lobi Crystals. After hearing this I couldn't help to be "On Looker" of a Trill and Klingon arguing about what couples typically argue over. I made my way to the hotel after I got my floater. After I checked into my room. I went and scouted out the dance floor. On my way I bumped into the coordinator of Horga'hn Hunts. He told me that the Horga'hn Hunts start 15 and 45 after of every hour. He mentioned that tourists occasionally lose these statuettes which the hunt is named after and that if I recover 10 I them I could receive 25 Lohiunat Favors, not counting the favors would I find in the wild, which I could use to purchase souvenirs, outfits, local beverages, and cuisines. I participated wishing to get a high performance floater, little did I know these Horga'hn are symbols of Risian fertility and to display one is to seek Jamaharon. Which is a Risian Fertility Ritual I will leave to the imagination. Which ,needless to say, created few awkward conversations especially when I met up with the dance instructor. In not so many words, we settle on dancing instead of Jamaharon, she taught me how to "Samba". She invited me back later to dance at the top or bottom of the hour when I had time and I could earn up to 25 favors depending how long and how well I moved. I told her I would be at the next dance and after dancing for the full thing I discover how to do the advance samba to become a "Samba Master". After dancing and dinner with a beautiful Risian, she invited me to join her on the piers for the firework show. We followed the crowd to the piers and waited for the show to begin with my fellow "Fireworks Observers". Soon after the night sky was almost turned into day with the brilliant display. After the lights faded, show ended, and the crowd dissipated, we made our way to the dabo table. Picking the numbers 4,11,22 I managed to win 100,000 bars of GPL. With my lucky girl and horga'hn leading the way. We made our way to an "Unauthorized Beach Party" on the east side of the island to live the night away.

The next morning I woke up with both extremes of a good night and I had a cup of Earl Grey and Risian Mai-Tai to pick me up. I decided to spend some of that Latinum buying all the awesome Risian shades. With my new shades and floater, I set off to explore more of the Suraya Bay. Not being much of a bird watcher, I could not help but to follow the beautiful flock of Risan birds around the island stopping at some of the best views and high points of the island making "The Big Year" so small and frivolous. The Horga'hn Hunt coordinator chimed in and asked if I could pick up a few Horga'hn on my way back to the hotel. Trying to get done as soon as possible with the hunt, I took few shortcuts under a couple of arches feeling I had some "Arc Flight Mastery" from following the birds. Then, I made my way up to the top of the old volcano instead of flying around it. There at the highest peak I heard myself say, "Why are you flying over a volcano?" After that, I made my way down to the hotel to turn the Horga'hns I found in for some favors. On my way down, I landed on the roof spotting some "Risa Roofers" hard at work setting up subspace party amplifiers. Finishing the hunt again, I picked another Risian Flower who happen to be ornithologist who raises Risian birds from an egg to adulthood with the assistance of duty officers to be turned in for marks of your choice. She wanted to show me her favorite places to bird watch at the tops of the lighthouses. While flying over the beach, we met a friend named Pavyl who invited us to play a game of exploration to see the places that aren't on brochures and offer accolades as rewards for being more than "Fanny Packers" as we would say on Earth. On our way over to the second lighthouse, we noticed some Klingons were doing some Mok'Bara we tried to join them, but the "Practitioner of Mok'Bara" " Denied Mok'Bara" us or me at least, since I was Starfleet. The puzzling part was Risa is a Federation world. If they have such disdain for us ,why are they here? Not wanting to spoil my Risian Flower's mood we continued onto the second lighthouse. "We lightly landed on a Lighthouse" and soaked in the view of the two suns and two moons as I became the "Master Relaxer".

Now, back aboard the Mississippi. I am refresh and look forward to taking on Elachi, the Unknown, and everything the galaxy as to offer.

Computer End Recording

P.S. Pavyl Accolades are not needed for Master Relaxer

Out of Game Sources:
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Risa
http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Risa
http://sto.gamepedia.com/Risa

Last edited by darthgranic; 07-09-2013 at 08:07 PM. Reason: BB-Code & Spacing
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 994
# 4
07-09-2013, 03:01 PM
Personal Log.


I left the Sentinel at Serenity Station and made my way to Risa for the Laluhanuit festival. That's not what it's really called, but it's as close as I can pronounce it.



As the Evanescence, the runabout I took from Sentinel, arrived in the system, I noticed a blip on the sensors. There is heavy traffic in the system, and I don't think anyone noticed it. However, I decided to investigate it. The Evanescence made her way to the larger moon where I took up a geostationary orbit over the Northern Pole. Sensors picked up very minute gravity distortions which required a closer look.



As the ship closed in on the surface of the moon, there was a sudden shift in position. No light or sensation accompanied it. One moment, I was closing in on the surface, the next, I was over a hundred kilometers above the moons. Sensors put my position..... and this is where it gets weird. Sensors put my position as 'off the map'. They couldn't position me in relation to the rest of the star system.


I attempted to get back to the planet but suddenly everything went blue. Space surrounding me was a monotone blue. I don't know how it happened, but sensors couldn't pick up anything. And by that, I mean the sensors were literally showing nothing. No planet. No moon. No dust particles. Not even a quantumn signature. It was as if I had somehow ended up in a..... a pocket dimension of nothing. I've heard stories of such a place referred to as 'Blue Hell', and requires some kind of cheating to get out of, but I never thought I would experience it myself. However, my fascination was short lived, as I discovered warp drive was offline. The impulse engines would engage, but there was no evidence I was moving. There was no frame of reference to head for.



I'm attempting to link the engines via the subspace comms array to establish a lock on with the transwarp gate at Serenity Station. Hopefully, that will open a transwarp gate that will allow me to get back to normal space. If it does, I intend to bring the Sentinel back here to perform a full analysis of Blue Hell. If it doesn't work.... I need to think of something else.



Well, here goes nothing...
*******************************************

A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'

Last edited by grylak; 07-14-2013 at 01:40 PM.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 34
# 5 Captains Log
07-09-2013, 09:54 PM
Captains Log star date: 81827.1
after 9 months of attacking Klingon outposts i have been relieved of command by my chief medical officer because according to her my judgement is impaired because of the Klingon's killing my Number one i have yet to fill in a replacement but i decided to take a LONG earned break from Fighting and go to risa(it was better than being forced to go to earth and spend life there). When i was there i met Hundreds of new people but then came my Fear of the Gorn again they ate my Parents so after 5 hours of hiding from them i continued on my holiday Pyvel was a rothon person who contuinally made me chase him off according to him he is in love with me so after having him arrested i relaxed again but this time with my Favoret Phaser( i know it was illegal but i did get permission from the head of Security at risa)
i met a old friend there by the name of lt. Monro he was a old friend he was the head to the Hazard team back when voyager was in the Delta Quadrent a was old he tought me all i know he even asked if he could join my Crew and i accepted but atleast the Romulans were on our side because he hated them
computer End the Log
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 14
Captain's Personal Log:

I have been ordered to Risa for relaxation. As much as I appreciate time to myself, I have this nagging feeling that I need to be on the battlefield. It's not exactly unusual for me, but with the Interstellar Concordium advancing its front and the constant violent clashes between the Lyrans and Mirak getting closer and closer to civilian worlds, I'm just not comfortable with this. Maybe I should just go stretch my legs a little. It's been a while since I've been on a jog without people shooting at me. And besides, the crew of the
Patriot can use a little shore leave.

Captain Julia McMillan stepped outside the Risan resort, her grey oval sunglasses protecting her eyes from the binary suns' light. Bending down, she grasped her ankles stretching out her well toned legs. Taking her time as she continued her stretching routine.

"Captain!"

She turned, brushing her hand through her auburn bob, "Commander Dorvala..."

The Vorta woman strutted toward her commanding officer, sporting a near identical set of tank top and running shorts as her captain, "Going out for a jog, Sir?"

A chuckle, "Dorvala, we're on shore leave. You don't have to use formalities."

After stretching her back out a little more, she added, "Ahh, and yes, I am."

Taking a spot in the sand next to McMillan, Dorvala tied her long jet black hair back in a tight ponytail, "Well, Julie, do you have room for one more?"

Lowering her sunglasses, McMillan gave the Vorta a sly smile and said, "Well, it depends. Do you think you can keep up?"

Dorvala bent her head back laughing merrily, "Julie, how long have we trained together, since our time in MACO?"

Looking into McMillan's light green eyes, she gave a toothy grin, "Looking back to then, I think I can do that and more."

Smirking, McMillan brought her sunglasses back up, "Alright then...let's go."

Instantly, the two of them dashed across the Risan beach. Dodging vacationers and natives as they sprinted side by side.

-----------------------------------------------------------

The sun wasn't even setting as they scaled the nearby cliff overlooking the resort. Reaching the edge, the two of them looked at each other, laughing between gasps.

"It's been...quite a while since I've run that hard..." McMillan said.

After regaining her breath, Dorvala replied, "Tell me about it."

They both looked down at the beach. People were talking and laughing amongst themselves. Enjoying the paradise Risa had to offer.

"You know, it's amazing what a little bit of paradise can do to a person."

Dorvala turned to McMillan, her violet eyes twinkling curiously, "What do you mean?"

McMillan smiled, "It kinda makes you forget about forget about everything. Well, everything except how to have a good time."

Chuckling lightly, Dorvala shook her head, "Aw come on, Julie. Don't you enjoy it? You can't be focused on duty forever."

"It took me a little bit," McMillan said with a wide grin, "but yeah, I think I can get used to it."

She walked over to Dorvala, grasping her shoulder, "Come on, let's head back to the resort. I'll even treat you to dinner."

The Vorta grabbed McMillan's hand, letting the captain pull her along, "That sounds like a good time to me."

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Twin moons hung in the night sky over the Risan cafe. The terrace was littered with numerous diners chatting with each other about whatever. Meanwhile, McMillan, dressed in her favorite strapless black satin dress, and Dorvala, in her traditional light blue Vorta robes, sat at the edge of the balcony, looking out to the moonlit beach.

Pouring a glass of spring wine, McMillan said, "Well, it's been good to finally get some personal time with you, Dorvala."

Dorvala rested her chin on her hands, "See, Julie, a little vacation time isn't that bad," she said teasingly.

The captain merely smiled, handing Dorvala her glass, "I do have to admit, you're right."

"Tell me something I don't know."

The two of them laughed, "Okay, fine. I had some fun. Happy?"

Taking a small sip of wine, the Vorta paused to think, "Let's go with...moderately satisfied."

McMillan tipped her glass toward Dorvala, "I'll accept that."

Their glasses tinked as Dorvala tipped hers as well. The two of them chatted some more, talking about numerous topics, ranging from the weather to plans for the next day.

"Well," Dorvala said, "We never really got a chance to join in the dance party today. Maybe we should..."

Her voice trailed off, looking around her. Numerous Starfleet personnel were standing up, hastily leaving the cafe. McMillan seemed to notice the phenomena as well, "What's going..."

Before she could finish her query, her tricorder emitted several shrill beeps.

Dorvala quirked an eyebrow, "Looks like we're about to find out."

"Yeah..." The captain flipped open the device. Her eyes scanning a recently received message, "Directly from Starfleet Command...?"

Dorvala's face creased with worry, "That can't be any good."

She was shushed by raised finger from McMillan. Her eyes darted back and forth across the tricorder's screen, and then she stopped, her eyes growing to the size of saucer plates.

"Oh my God..."

Dorvala stood from her seat, walking over to the human, "Julia?"

McMillan shuddered, you could practically see her mind working looking at her.

The Vorta reached out, placing her hand on McMillan's bare shoulder, "Julia, what is it?"

McMillan stopped, her eye's narrowing, "Get in uniform, shore leave's over."

Dorvala stepped back, her mouth agape, "What?"

"You heard me," her voice was sharp, "get dressed. We're heading back to the Patriot."

"The Patriot? Julia, come on. Can you at least tell me what's going on?"

McMillan nodded, "I'll brief you on the way back to our room."

-------------------------------------------------

Starfleet officers practically formed a river through the Risan resort, the sound of their voices supplementing the torrent.

McMillan marched into the resort, Dorvala barely keeping up with her captain, "Sir, what's going on? Why is everyone all antsy all the sudden?"

"It's just what I thought," She muttered, "right as soon as the best Captains are busy enjoying the distractions of Risa, they strike."

Dorvala stopped, then rushed back to McMillan's side, "Captain, who struck? What are you talking about?!"

Now McMillan stopped, almost causing Dorvala to overshoot.

McMillan looked up into Dorvala's eyes, her own narrowed into daggers, "It's the Interstellar Concordium, they've launched a full scale invasion into the Briar Patch. The first line of defense fell within five minutes and if we don't hurry, so will the rest of the patch."

Time stood still around the two. Despite McMillan's hardened look, Dorvala could detect a quiver in her Captain's voice, "Oh my. You're not...you're not serious, are you?"

Not an inch of McMillan's face moved, and Dorvala shook her head, eyes wide open.

McMillan marched ahead, "We need to hurry. We can't afford to delay any longer."

Gulping, Dorvala nodded, "Yes, Sir!"

Last edited by patchouli19; 07-10-2013 at 03:26 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,510
# 7
07-10-2013, 06:31 PM
- Author's note: H'mL'n's message is provided courtesy of sander233.


Some people stand in the darkness
Afraid to step into the light
Some people need
To help somebody
When the edge of surrender's in sight
Don't you worry
It's gonna be alright

Cause I'm always ready
I won't let you out of my sight


I'll be ready
I'll be ready
Never you fear
No don't you fear
I'll be ready
Forever and always
I'm always here


In us we all have the power
But sometimes it's so hard to see
An instinct is stronger than reason
It's just human nature to me
Don't you worry
It's gonna be alright

Cause I'm always ready
I won't let you out of my sight


I'll be ready
I'll be ready
Never you fear
No don't you fear
I'll be ready
Forever and always
I'm always here


Cause I'm always ready
I won't let you out of my sight
No

I'll be ready
I'll be ready
Never you fear
No don't you fear
I'll be ready
Forever and always
I'm always here
Forever and always
I'm always here


Jimi Jamison - I'm Always Here


Lines in the Sand


From his vantage point on the guard tower, Sam Yates looked out over Suraya bay, his eyes scanning the shoreline for signs of anyone in trouble. Just another day at the beach... Sam thought, his eyes taking in the multitude of tourists enjoying the heat from Risas twin suns. If it was not for the myriad alien faces, he could have been back on Will Rogers Beach in LA, back in 1993, working alongside Mitch, Craig and Cort, but that electrical storm surrounding tower twelve had changed all that.

At least, 'electrical storm' was the way Sam had described what they explained to him had been a 'free floating chronometric cascade'. The people at Starfleet had been as helpful as possible in assisting him with his temporal dislocation, but there was only so much they could do to help someone who's only goal had been to be a lifeguard. He had no higher education beyond his high school diploma -- he had never thought he would need it. He had only basic military training from his national service -- he had only intended to serve by helping others in need, and no other skills which could realistically qualify him for any kind of service aboard a starship. Oh sure, he had a keen eye, the ability to act without hesitation when someone was in danger, and the medical knowledge equivalent to that of a first year medic, but that simply didn't meet Starfleet's requirements, nor did Sam expect to. He was no intellectual slouch -- he had read Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, but he accepted that in the 25th Century, with nearly five hundred years of scientific and cultural advances, since he last sat in a class room, he was quite simply out of his league.

Until one of the counsellors assigned to help his integration mentioned Risa: Sand, sea and surf, those were the things he knew, things which were unchanged. Of course, he could have remained on Earth as a lifeguard, but that was too much a constant reminder that everyone he had ever known and loved was dead, that history recorded him as dead, when the 'electrical storm' had blown up tower twelve, and that he now lived in a world in which he simply could not participate on an equal footing. Risa was something different though, where if he pretended just a little, he could simply be on vacation somewhere exotic, but where the basics remained the same: The sand was the sand, the water was the water, and the suns kept things hot. As back in the nineties, the beach was the great equaliser.

A Human girl in a sky-blue bikini with honey-blonde hair piled high on her head and an incredible figure, walked passed the ramp to his tower and smiled at him. The Vulcan female beside her was smaller busted, but equally toned. She wore a bikini of deep emerald green, and had a swirling tattoo on the side of her ribs which Sam recognised as writing. She dipped her head in acknowledgement, and Sam nodded back to them. Wether they were colleagues, friends, lovers or any permutation therein made no difference on Risa, nor to Sam, who had grown accustomed to the extremely open-minded customs of the locals, almost like working the beach in Rio, where male, female or even shemale made no difference: Beauty was beauty whatever form it wore, and these two young women were most certainly beautiful.

"Ladies," he politely greeted them, before returning his attention to the crashing surf. Just another day at the beach...

******

Captain Amanda Palmer stepped out of the turbolift on deck four, and headed towards transporter room two. From the opposing end of the corridor, she saw Ensign Tilly Campbell-Black and Ensign T'Natra approaching her. Rather than their uniforms, both young women wore skimpy bathing suits, and T'Natra carried a reasonably sized drinks cooler.

"We were just heading down to the surface, Captain," Tilly began to explain. "We didn't want to book into a hotel, just to visit Suraya bay for the day. I didn't think we'd see anyone else in the corridor."

"I didn't think you were heading to the mess hall dressed like that," Palmer quipped, before frowning mildly. "Miss Campbell-Black, I haven't seen you properly since we launched. Let me see..."

Tilly knew exactly what Palmer was referring to, and stepping closer to the Captain, lifted her face slightly toward the taller woman.

Palmer lightly took hold of her chin, gently tilting her head left, then right.

"They've done a good job," she remarked, dropping her hand. "I'd never know your nose had been broken. How is your ankle?"

"Thank you, ma'am," Tilly replied. "That's fine too, thank you for asking. Doctor Kincaid did a great job."

Palmer nodded, before turning to T'Natra.

"And you, Miss T'Natra? How is the dermal regeneration settling?"

"Only minor irritation, thank you, Captain," replied the Vulcan navigator. "I am making every effort not to scratch. Are you also visiting the surface?"

"I am," Palmer replied, gesturing for the two ensigns to precede her into the transporter room. Damn, what an ass... she thought, as Tilly hopped lightly onto the transporter platform. Looking to Chief Petty Officer th'Shaan, who appeared utterly unfazed by the amount of bare flesh in front of him, she said: "Set me down in the middle of Nuvia, and the ensigns at Suraya bay."

"Aye, Captain," the Andorian acknowledged. "Targets locked."

"Energise," Palmer ordered, and moments later, found herself on a bustling sidewalk. Crossing to a yellow-painted landskimmer, she climbed into the passenger compartment and addressed the autopilot. "Take me to the nearest Turkish bath..."

******

Settling herself, Tilly gasped as the heated sand contacted her buttocks. Gradually, she reclined completely, resting her head on a rolled towel, and allowing the heat to seep into her back and limbs.

"Do you have a sufficient view of the tower?" T'Natra enquired, laying down beside her roommate and opening the drinks cooler.

"Oh I think so," Tilly replied, popping the lid of a can of RedTarg, and sipping the chilled beverage as she ogled the muscular lifeguard from behind her aviator-style sunglasses.

***

Sitting at a conference table, Ahd'r I'sH'd watched as S'rR's Kane drummed her fingertips against the smooth surface.

Try as he might, he could not get used to her clawless-fingers, and the clear nails were a morbid fascination he could not look away from, no matter how they unsettled him.

"You're staring again, Ahd'r..." S'rR's observed, not lifting her gaze from her PADD as she correlated files between some strewn across the desk, and another held by Claire, the holographic avatar of the USS Vanguard's AI computer.

"My apologies, Ambassador," he immediately replied. "I'm still getting used to -- it's unsettling to see a Pentaxian without claws..."

While continuing to read from the PADD held before her, S'rR's rested her hand flat on the stack of PADDs.

I'sH'd watched silently as she spread her fingers, then pulled the middle fingers together, and from between the outer fingers, two ten inch long claws sprang into place like organic blades.

"G'ron'sh!" I'sH'd hissed as he shot to his feet in horror, barely retaining control of his bladder and bowel. F**k!

S'rR's looked up, a mixture of amusement and sadness in her eyes. Amusement at I'sH'd's dramatic reaction, sadness at the inevitability of it

"I have claws," she said quietly, relaxing the voluntary muscles and retracting the claws. As the tips retracted back into her hand, the cuts between her fingers immediately healed.

"I apologise, Ambassador. I meant no offence," I'sH'd assured her, lowering himself somewhat unsteadily back into his chair. He was now utterly unable to take his eyes from her hand. It looked just like any Terran woman's hand: Delicate, long slender fingers, absolutely no sign whatsoever of the monstrous bone blades which lay within. They had looked like double-edged ivory knives! Capable of inflicting as much, if not more, damage than the s'ada, his honor blade, sheathed at his waist. "I knew that you could heal injuries, but was not aware that you were-"

"So different? The term you are looking for, Ahd'r, is 'modified'," S'rR's clarified. "I'm just a genetic experiment who was lucky enough to win the Empress' pity and patronage."

I'sH'd shook his head, looking down in shame.

"I incorrectly assumed you were a half-breed resulting from a Human taking one of our females, I did not realise that this was done to you intentionally."

"Well, now you know..." S'rR's replied, using both thumbs now to type rapidly on her PADD. "The Humans have a saying 'to assume makes an ass out of you and me'," her tone was light, indicating she considered the subject was closed.

I'sH'd nodded silently. If I can accept Alyosha as a friend, is this truly any different? He thought, recalling the Russian captain who had really been a Devidian, raised to always wear a Human form. If he could overcome his instincts and behave with decency rather than feasting on his crew, like his ravenous blood-kin would, I can do no differently...

"I'm surprised you didn't want to go down to the surface with Commander Bowen," I'sH'd observed, intentionally trying to lighten the mood.

Raising her gaze from her PADD, S'rR's raised an eyebrow.

"You would have let us go to the beach unaccompanied?" she asked.

"Of course not," I'sH'd replied. "I would have accompanied you to ensure your safety. Given the amount of visiting captains, this is the ideal place for covert operations, and who knows what other debauched scum may lurk there to pray on the unsuspecting."

"Risian custom does not permit the carrying of weapons," S'rR's observed, tapping a quick notation into the screen, before tossing the PADD down and taking another from Claire. "And I know you would have refused to relinquish your sword. No, I think I'll pass on this visit, and let Mel get her jamaharon on by herself. We have a fine view of the planet from here. This is why I insisted on my office and my quarters being on the port side of the ship: I always get to see any planets visited."

"Ambassador," said Claire. "You have an incoming communique. It is from Lieutenant H'mL'n."

"Put it on my PADD, Claire," S'rR's replied with a sigh. "I wonder who's offended her this time..."

Claire pointed her finger at S'rR's' PADD like an old fashioned handgun, tweaked her thumb, and the message filled the screen.

From:
Lt. H'mL'n, senior tactical officer, USS
Hammerhead

Quote:
Salutations, Empress -

By now you will have heard from Ambassador S'rR's of the Battle of Moab in which I took part. I've attached Admiral LaRoca's official After-Action Report which will give you a better idea of the actual casualties the system suffered.

The ship on which I served, the USS Tiburon, was severely damaged in the attack and is now being towed to [REDACTED - XXX - CLASSIFIED] for refitting. The Admiral has temporarily transferred his flag to the USS Hammerhead. Much like our own patrol ships, the Hammerhead is compact and heavily-armed. I am receiving instruction in the tactical systems from Commander th'Ibear, whose species, the Andorians, designed the hull and weapons complement.

I received serious injuries during the battle when the Tiburon was boarded by enemy forces. The ship's surgeon, Doctor Espinoza, proved to be most adept and reasonably knowledgeable concerning our anatomy and was able to treat me. The instruments she replicated for my surgery were somewhat crude, but effective nonetheless. I am now recovered fully.

Commander Traa'cee, the Vulcan I was called in to replace, apparently died a week before the battle, having never woken up from her coma, so Admiral LaRoca has requested that I continue to serve in his Consular Operations Task Force for the duration of my exchange term. I have agreed.

On a personal note, I have discovered thanks to the Admiral that not all Human food is as bland as it first appears. Although the crew is in poor spirits following the losses sustained in the battle, I am making friends and doing my best to uphold and promote Pentaxian culture.

Thank you once again for honoring me with this assignment.

Your humble servant,
- H'mL'n h'lL'r Z'ln'ya


"It would appear our cultural exchange officer is finally settling in," S'rR's mused, forwarding the message to the private server of Empress Ch'K'rr.

***

Palmer entered the white and blue-tiled steam room of the Turkish bath and discretely looked about.

Through the swirling mists, she could see naked women of various ages and races: Mostly Humans, but also, Risians, Bolians, Cardassians, even a handful of Vulcans and Orions. Some were engaging in conversation, reclining around low tables with platters of fruits and various beverages. Others were bathing in the cold pool, some lay on tiled shelves, and others openly made love to each other, making no attempt to hide their carnal behaviour from their fellow bathers. Cries and moans of pleasure echoed lazily from the tiled walls.

When on Risa... Palmer thought, as her lips curled into a predatory smile, the cab had definitely brought her to the right place. Indeed, such a venue was a better way to sate her longings than drooling over pretty ensigns in the corridor... She had learned early in her career that relationships with other officers rarely ended well, and as the captain of a starship, a relationship with any of her crew was out of the question. For Palmer, places like this were the only time she could truly let her hair down and indulge herself. As she padded across the slick tiles to an unoccupied shelf, she could feel the gaze of others upon her. Daily workouts in the ship's gym ensured her slender form remained perfectly toned. For a woman nearing fifty years, she knew she had a good body, and was not ashamed to show it.

She not been sitting for more than a few moments when a slender woman with wavy chestnut hair approached her.

"Are you here for the Lohlunat festival?" she asked, sliding onto the shelf beside Palmer, and extending her hand.

"Among other things," Palmer replied, accepting the offered hand. "I'm Amanda."

"I'm Renata," replied the woman. "I saw your tattoos when you came in, and thought you looked -- interesting... This is a beautiful design..." she brushed her fingers across the black ink chain looping round the middle of Palmer's right forearm above an ornate cameo.

"That one's new..." Palmer admitted as the light touch on the still-sensitive skin sent a shiver up her arm. "It's a representation of a necklace I inherited from my grandmother, but recently lost..."

Renata's gaze rose to the arrowhead-shaped tattoo above Palmer's left breast, where a Starfleet comm badge would be affixed to a jacket. Inside the delta-shaped outline, was the stylised form of a mako shark.

"You don't look like a commando," she observed.

Palmer shook her head.

"Command division," she replied, impressed that Renata recognised the MACO insignia. "I had that done over twenty years ago, after completing advanced tactical training."

"This one must have a very interesting story," Renata murmured, reaching round to let the fingers of her left hand rest at the base of Palmer's spine, where a winged-Cardassian Sentinel blended into the Klingon trefoil. "

"Ahh, that's classified," Palmer replied truthfully, recalling the covert mission beyond the quantum barrier, and feeling a shiver run down her spine which had nothing to do with the other woman's touch.

"That's a shame," Renata sighed, but not removing her hand. "Perhaps you would like to come for a drink in my hotel room? It's just a few minutes walk down the street..."

"That would be perfect," Palmer replied with a smile, still holding Renata's hand and rising from the bench.

***

"We're out of RedTarg," Tilly said, reaching her hand into the drinks cooler and feeling only crushed empties and melted ice.

"Paying local prices would be illogical when we could simply return to the Vanguard and replicate more," T'Natra observed.

Tilly sighed.

"I suppose we ought to be returning to the ship," she replied. "We did tell the captain we were only coming down for the day, and we've both got the early shift tomorrow."

"Indeed we do," T'Natra agreed. "Although we could always return after our shifts finish. Perhaps you should invite the Ahd'r to join us..."

Tilly's mouth dropped open.

"He'd never agree," she insisted as they passed the lifeguard tower. "But what a thought!"

"I hope you had a good day, ladies," Sam said as the Human and Vulcan beauties passed him, to which they nodded and waved. With a content sigh, Sam watched the suns begin to dip toward the horizon. Just another day at the beach...

***

Fin

Last edited by marcusdkane; 07-22-2013 at 04:15 PM. Reason: Formatting and refining...
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 627
# 8
07-11-2013, 04:43 PM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl

Wind whistles over my antennae, dragging my ponytail out like a white banner behind me, as I accelerate over the sea. I flick the controls, and the floater descends, until my bare feet touch the crystal waters, sending up rooster-tails of spray as I speed on. The breeze, and the spray, combine to make me feel, briefly, cool again. I smile.

Risa is lovely... but so damned hot.

The racing-grade floater is an extravagance, an indulgence... I've done so many scheduled events, dancing and hunting for horga'hn statuettes in the jungle... it feels good just to get away, to hurtle over the sea by myself, or take the floater up to its maximum height and gaze down at the caldera of the old volcano, a green jewel in the glittering sea....

The floater beeps politely in my ear. The backpack is down to five per cent charge; time for me to take it back to the resort, unless I want an unscheduled swim. I turn back towards the beach. I'm not really dressed for swimming - I found a pair of white shorts, and a Ferengi entrepreneur's jacket in red, which Klerupiru, the Ferengi traditionalist, says is completely inappropriate for a female. Even on Risa, though, I'm not dressing in traditional Ferengi style.

Beneath my feet, glass-clear shallow water gives way to dazzling white sand. I slow down for a graceful landing on the beach, and pause for a moment, adjusting to the heat. I wiggle my toes in the soft sand. The resort is not a long way off; I decide to walk back. The floater doesn't weigh all that much, and it's a nice day for a walk. Of course, it's always a nice day on Risa.

It's so hot, though. Once the floater's recharged, I will make my next flight at night, I think, under the light of the twin moons. People do that; you can see the white lights of the floaters' propulsors, winking like fireflies deep in the night.

I hum an old Tellarite marching song, quietly, as I walk along the beach.

There is a hooting sound in the air above me; I glance up. Someone is flying overhead, using a standard low-powered rental floater. I give them an amiable wave. The floater swings round, and the flier seems to study me briefly. It's a humanoid female, pink-skinned and dark-haired - I have an impression of Vulcan pointed ears behind her mirrored visor. She waves back, turns, and shoots away.

I don't give it another thought as I walk back to the resort.

---

"Dh'syara tunnel wine," I say.

"What is ours, is yours," the Risian hospitality officer murmurs, but she frowns faintly. "It... will have to be replicated, I'm afraid. We don't have enough... um, enough interest... to keep stock on hand -"

"That's fine," I say. "It's - kind of a specialist taste, I guess."

She smiles and turns away. I look around the bar. It's not busy, at this time of day; most of the resort's guests are out playing games in the jungle, or relaxing on the beach. The bar, though, has the advantage of being air-conditioned.

Still, there are people around - several humans or humanoids, clustered hopefully around a dabo table; a Ferengi looking as though he's calculating how much his drink is costing him; a dark-haired Vulcan woman with her face turned away from me - Is that the woman with the floater, earlier? I wonder, idly, as the hospitality officer comes back with my drink.

Then the Vulcan woman turns her head, and there is a sudden double-click of recognition. The woman from the floater, yes - but not Vulcan.

Romulan.

I take my drink and walk over to her table. "Subcommander T'laihhae?"

She looks up, and favours me with one of her switch-on, switch-off smiles for a millisecond. "Vice Admiral Shohl... I thought I recognized you, on the beach, earlier." She gestures at a chair. "Please, feel free to join me."

"Thank you." I take a seat. She sips her drink - some fruity concoction - and seems to study my face for a moment.

"Incidentally," she says, "I am now a Vice Admiral myself. The Republic navy is expanding rapidly... promotions come quickly. I'm sure I haven't done enough to merit it, but...." She makes a non-committal gesture.

"Congratulations," I say. I take a sip of my own drink. It's fine - I never have understood all this snobbery about non-replicated food, anyway. Despite some lengthy lectures, and demonstrations, from several ship's chefs...

"Is that the infamous tunnel wine?" T'laihhae wrinkles her nose. "Very... Andorian."

"I like it. Are you enjoying Risa?"

"Yes - though briefly. I am here while my new command is refitting."

"I'm doing much the same myself."

"It is a popular choice." T'laihhae seems to be studying my face, in a way which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. Her expression is unreadable.

I decide to be direct. "What's the matter?" I ask.

"I was just considering something," she replies. "I don't see any marks, from your... misadventure, last time we met, on Nimbus III."

I touch my face, self-consciously. "Standard dermal regeneration took care of everything." Last time I saw T'laihhae, a good percentage of my skin was falling off, courtesy of a Tal Shiar bio-weapon.

She nods. "You asked me, once, about mourning tattoos," she says. "The markings we make - or acquire - express things about us. I... was rather expecting to see you had kept some scars, from that experience."

"Why would I do that?" I'm genuinely puzzled.

"Some - warrior cultures - value such things," she says. "And you do retain some old scars - I thought that might be your motivation."

Self-consciously again, I brush my fingertips over the looped marks on my right cheek. "This is, well... the relic of a very old injury. There's not much to be done about it, now."

T'laihhae raises an eyebrow at that. "I would have thought that modern medicine could erase such marks easily."

"Not that easily," I say. "There's a lot of underlying damage, and even a cloned-tissue replacement - well, it would take a series of complex operations to put one in place, and then there's all the nervel connections that would have to be made... I'd be looking at weeks of surgery and months of neural therapy, possibly learning to speak all over again. It's not worth it, just for a - a cosmetic procedure."

"I think I see," says T'laihhae. She gives me another flash of smile, and this time it looks a little wry. "I'm afraid I may have misjudged you," she says. "I thought you might be one of those warriors who wear their scars... proudly and showily...."

"I don't want to send any messages with this." I run my finger over the whorls again. "Except, possibly, that it's not a good idea to get hit in the head by a disruptor bolt."

"Sound advice." Then T'laihhae's eyes narrow, and her gaze darts past me, at something else. I look in that direction.

Three men have come into the bar: Romulans. One is tall and dignified, with hair greying at the temples; one is dark, gaunt-faced, with darting, watchful eyes; the third is merely big and brutal. All three are wearing gaudy uniforms - Romulan Imperial uniforms. T'laihhae's mouth compresses into an ugly line.

"Risa is open to everyone," I say.

"What is theirs, is ours," T'laihhae replies. "Don't worry. I'm not about to start a diplomatic incident."

But she doesn't look the least bit diplomatic.

---

Bulpli Yulan looks completely at home, stretched out on a Risian sun-lounger, her bronze skin turning a deeper shade in the blazing sunlight. She moves her head slightly, raises one hand languidly, and removes her sunglasses, turning her black Betazoid eyes at me.

"All I'm saying is," I say, "I'd be happier if I knew for certain nothing was going on."

My security commander lets out an exasperated sigh. I suppose, after all, she is on leave. "I'm sure we'd know if there were something going on, sir."

"You don't... sense anything, in the air? That sort of thing? Undercurrents?"

"Of course there are undercurrents." Bulpli snorts. "This place is heaving with psychic tension - almost all of it from sexual intrigues of one kind or another. Personally, I have every intention of getting in on some of that." She regards me critically. "And, frankly, sir, a sexual intrigue would do you some good, too. I'm sure there must be two compatible Andorian men and an Andorian woman in the vicinity...."

"That's really not -" I begin.

"Or two Andorian males and a... sufficiently adventurous... humanoid female, even," Bulpli adds. She can, quite clearly, feel my discomfort.

"Can we stay on the subject, here?"

Bulpli sighs again. "Starfleet Intelligence has given Senator Parlok a low significance rating," she says. "His two minders are undoubtedly Tal Shiar... but the mere fact that he's here on Risa suggests that he's not important to the Imperial government. He has no known family, so the Romulan government can't hold them as hostages... so, since he's here with no levers to prevent him defecting, it's obvious the Imperials don't care if they lose him or not. If he's not important enough to warrant protection, it's equally obvious the Republic isn't interested enough to capture him. That, at least, is Intelligence's assessment of the situation."

"You didn't get all that just now," I say.

"I checked up," says Bulpli. "Because I knew you'd worry. Now, sir, please get on with some sort of intrigue. I have something in mind," she adds, "a Caitian, with a cute tail... and long, impressive, tickly whiskers... and a rough, wet tongue...."

"All right." I stand up. "I know when I'm licked." And I make my retreat, before she can find something to throw at me.

---

The three Imperial Romulans keep themselves to themselves, rather. Of course, Senator Parlok is a little too old and dignified to be waving his hands in the air at the dance competitions.... His two aides are always with him, the gaunt one even checking his food as they eat together, at a corner table in the common dining room, away from everyone else.

I watch them idly for a little while, as I finish my own meal. They don't look like they're enjoying themselves, much. The Risian staff seem to get that impression, too, and I can see it bothers them. They hang, nervously, in the background, ready to offer help at a moment's notice. Risians pride themselves on their hospitality; they must feel this situation keenly.

I finish my meal about the same time as Parlok gives up on his; I'm following them out of the dining room when I see T'laihhae coming in... and my antennae twitch. She's giving the Imperials a wide berth, but I go over to speak to her.

"I'm trying to avoid any, ahh, tensions," she says, before I speak.

"Keeping out of their way?"

"As much as is... reasonable. I don't intend to change my own plans just because of them."

"What are your plans? I thought you weren't going to be here all that long."

"I will leave as soon as the Messalina is ready."

"Messalina? You've switched ships from the Octavia, then."

"Oh, yes. I believe, frankly, the Messalina might be a match even for your impressive King Estmere."

"Well," I say, "I'm not anxious to test that." And I mean it. There is a real core of steel to this enigmatic young Romulan.

"I must take my meal," she says. "Excuse me." And she goes to her table, with a cheery little wave, which I return.

Everything she says makes sense, of course. But -

Andorian antennae are sensitive to a number of things, and one of them is ionization in the atmosphere. We can taste energies in the air, and I have tasted many, and grown to recognize some of the flavours. And there is a taste I know in the air right now; faint and elusive, but definitely there. The taste of a high-frequency biochemical sensor beam.

Somebody has been using the active sensor functions of a pretty sophisticated medical scanner or tricorder - recently, and nearby.

I don't know for sure it's T'laihhae, of course. But does it make sense for it to be anyone else?

---

One afternoon, I take a long, luxurious, cool shower in my suite, washing away the feeling of the omnipresent heat. My hair is still damp a little while later, when there's a knock at my door.

"Come in."

T'laihhae enters, flashing a quick smile. "I hope I'm not intruding."

"Not at all. What can I do for you?"

"I was wondering...." Four quick strides take her to the window, looking out onto a curved metallic roof, with the trees beyond. "Yes... I'm in one of those round rooms on the seventh floor. This window, though, might be suitable...."

Oho, I think to myself. "For someone to climb out of?"

"It might prove convenient." T'laihhae looks at me, her expression distinctly thoughtful.

"Let me guess," I say. "This is all part of some harmless game, right? Some merry little Risian romp."

"That... would be a reasonable assumption."

"And so it's nothing to do with Senator Parlok, or those scans you've been running."

That one rocks her; her eyes widen. I grin at her. "Can't fool these antennae."

"Evidently not." T'laihhae bites her lower lip. "I thought I was being discreet... evidently, not discreet enough. And if you spotted me... Veblius and D'Gron might have done likewise."

She must mean Parlok's pair of Tal Shiar minders. "What can I do to help?" I ask.

"I'm not sure. My plans must become... fluid." T'laihhae looks hard at me. "There may be an interruption in the resort's power supplies tonight," she says. "During a brief interval of confusion, you will receive a visitor. It would help if you, ahh, assisted their egress."

"All right," I say.

---

I'm reading peacefully by my bedside when the lights go out. All of a sudden, there is nothing but the faint glow from the PADD and the twin moons shining through the window. After a moment, dull orange emergency lights spring into life along the skirting boards, giving the room a peculiar subterranean quality.

All right, I think to myself. I stand up, go to the door, make sure it's open. I listen carefully, intently. I can hear a few sounds of confused motion, and, far off, a Risian voice saying, "Honoured guests, there has been a malfunction. It is being attended to. Please, remain calm while the difficulty is resolved."

What I don't hear is anyone approaching my room.

I think for a moment. Of course, T'laihhae said her plans had to be fluid. And I can't discount the idea that her whole visit was simply some piece of misdirection, to get the Tal Shiar looking at me while she spirits Parlok away by some other route....

On the other hand, something could have gone very wrong.

Technically, the Federation is not currently at war with the Imperial Romulans, but if something on Risa goes very wrong, that could easily change. In any case, I'm very bad at staying in my room and remaining calm.

I slip out of my room. The corridor is lit by the same floor-level emergency lights, casting distorted shadows from the many trinkets and knick-knacks on display along the walls. My bare feet make no sound on the carpeted floor. T'laihhae said her room was on the seventh floor -

I get as far as the sixth before the lights go out completely. I stand there for a moment in pitch darkness, thinking to myself: well, that shouldn't happen.

Then, I make my way up the stairs to the next floor. There isn't enough light to see by, but I don't necessarily need it. My antennae tingle, sensing air currents, changes in pressure, the few residual flows of energy. I reach the seventh floor corridor. There's a very faint glow; there's some sort of light in one room... and I can hear voices.

Something blocks the light.

I have only a very vague glimpse of an outline, but it's enough to convince me: one of the Romulans. The big one. I take a deep breath, then move forward on silent feet.

The Andorian martial art of th'kara isn't widely known; it's a style very specifically developed for in-fighting in the cramped and lightless environment of the deep tunnels. Some humans who've seen it in action compare it to that game of theirs, anbo-jyutsu. I suppose I can see the similarities. Anbo-jyutsu is very like th'kara, in the same way that a water pistol is like a phaser rifle.

I call my lessons to mind, bringing myself to a total awareness of the presence of my opponent, of his position, of the space he takes up in the darkness....

A th'kara bout begins, always, with light, probing touches, aiming to establish the location of the enemy, and to confuse them about the direction of your attack. Seen in visible light, it looks more than a little ridiculous. But that's the point, it's not meant to be seen.

So, from the Romulan's point of view, someone nearby is touching him, gently, quickly, in the darkness, now on one side of him, now on the other, the touch gone before he can react -

He makes an inarticulate, questioning noise. I have his position, now, fixed as firmly in my head as if I could actually see him. I hit him with a classical double-strike to the neck; flawlessly executed, my instructors would be proud of me. It'd kill an Andorian, but Romulan anatomy is different... still, it's enough to drop him, temporarily paralyzed and unconscious. The raised voices in the lighted room are enough to cover the sound of his fall. I sneak up to the door, reaching out along the way for any sort of weapon - I think I will need an equalizer, of some sort. My hand closes on something rounded and wooden, and I smile in the darkness.

I reach the door of the lighted room.

---

"I have heard enough," a snide voice is saying as I push the door with my fingertips; it's a little ajar, and it swings smoothly and silently at my touch. "You cannot suborn the Tal Shiar, and you are foolish to attempt it."

Three people in the room, the light coming from a portable lantern set on a table. T'laihhae and Parlok are standing facing the door; they both have the good sense not to react as it opens. The thin Tal Shiar officer is facing them, covering them both with a nasty-looking nanite disruptor pistol. His back is to me.

"Your attempt at defection was doomed from the start, Senator," he is saying. "I have deployed Agent Gamma in the lower region of the resort, so you would not survive to leave the planet. And, once transporter functions are restored, my assault group will take both you and your traitorous Republic cohort, here. Centurion T'laihhae, you may look forward to trial and execution under your correct rank. Now, you will move, over there."

He gestures with the gun. Of course, that means the gun's no longer pointed at them, for a moment, but that never bothers the people who make speeches like that one. People like him always gesture with the gun. That's when people like me hit people like him very hard over the head with a horga'hn.

He drops. The Senator blinks. "Much obliged," says T'laihhae dryly. "Where's D'Gron?"

"The big guy? Lying down on the job."

T'laihhae pulls something out of her belt. "Drop that," she tells me. I let the horga'hn fall; she aims some sort of spray at it. "Biolytic compound. It will remove any DNA or other forensic traces." She frowns. "We still have problems...."

"So I gather. Who's Agent Gamma?"

"Not a who. A what." She glances quickly at Parlok. "The Senator's loyalty to the Tal Shiar has been... reinforced... by infecting him with a biological agent. Veblius was here to administer a regular dose of a palliative that holds it in check. Agent Gamma is an airborne substance that will activate and accelerate the bio-toxin."

"It's heavier than air," Parlok says, in a deep, disgruntled tone, "so it won't reach up here... but the damn stuff will be pooling at ground level. Going into the jungle would be suicide for me."

"So that was what all your scanning was about," I say. "Getting a reading for the molecular structure of the palliative?"

"No," says T'laihhae firmly, "for the toxic agent itself. I was alerted today that my science team has formulated a complete cure. We do not use Tal Shiar methods."

"Okay," I say. "So, we transport him out."

"If only," says T'laihhae. "The... fallback option... which damped down the power supply for the emergency lights, also engaged a transport inhibitor. It prevents the Tal Shiar from transporting personnel... but restricts us, as well."

"And, by the time the Risians have figured out the problem and unblocked everything," Parlok adds, "Veblius's people will be ready to deploy in force - and they'll be tracking every transporter signature in and out of the area."

"It's vitally necessary that the Senator's, ahh, departure should be quick and clean," says T'laihhae.

"It was." Parlok sits down heavily on T'laihhae's bed. "I don't see any way out, now."

"I do," I say with a grin. "All we have to do is keep you above ground level, right? T'laihhae, do you have communications with a shuttle?" T'laihhae nods. "Senator, how much do you weigh?"

---

There are still a few fliers out at night, unaware of the power loss at the resort, their floaters' propulsors twinkling in the darkness. And, if one of those lights is twinkling a little brighter, as the propulsors labour under a heavy load... no one will pay attention. I hope.

"Will you hold tighter?" Parlok hisses at me.

"I have to hold the controls," I hiss back. "Keep a grip, damn it! I thought Romulans were meant to be strong...."

"Well, I thought Andorians were meant to be sane!"

We are entwined together, lashed rather insecurely by strips of T'laihhae's bedclothes, Parlok gripping me tightly around the upper body, me holding him as tightly as I can, given that my hands are occupied by the control grips. The floater isn't making any warning noises. Of course, I've seen Gorn using these things, it should hold a Romulan and an Andorian... should.

Below us, the jungle is a vague tangled mass in the moonlight, full of animal noises and heady scents. I just hope that none of those scents is "Agent Gamma"....

A pocket of turbulent air catches us, and we wobble for a worrying moment. "Eneh hwau' kllhwnia na immirrhlhhse!" Parlok yells. I can think of a few choice phrases myself. The control handles seem very slippery in my hands, all of a sudden.

We steady, and start to climb again. Parlok's face is inches from mine, his limbs tightly wrapped around mine. It occurs to me that, in other circumstances, Bulpli Yulan might approve of this. I don't laugh.

"We'll never make it," Parlok moans. "This was... this was stupid. I don't want to die stupidly."

"We'll make it," I tell him, grimly. The tall lighthouse is in sight already, its coppery domed roof gleaming in the moonlight. I steer towards it, grimly, trying not to think about the drop below us.

"The Tal Shiar will pick up the shuttle," Parlok groans at me. "It will all be for nothing, for nothing -"

"They won't spot the shuttle." I spit the words out. "T'laihhae's people are very good at cloaking operations. I've seen them. Or, rather, I haven't."

We are getting close to the lighthouse; I try to angle upwards, towards the domed top. T'laihhae said she'd point her shuttle at the most obvious landmark.... Parlok wails wordlessly and hugs me tighter as we ascend. I just hope the shuttle's there... he is starting to crush the breath out of me. Wind whistles around us as we climb towards the dome.

I keep telling myself I can't hear the floater protesting under the load.

We rise until we're level with the roof of the lighthouse, then above it. The moons' light strikes gleaming highlights from it. The sky is full of stars, and the two moons, and it would be beautiful, if it weren't so empty....

"I don't know how long I can hang on," Parlok croaks.

Then there is a gleam of a different light on the dome below us....

The shuttle's hatch opens, apparently in thin air; T'laihhae's people really are good with battle cloaks. I hit the controls and draw one more spurt of power from the floater, taking us through the doorway. It clangs shut behind me. T'laihhae's hulking science officer is there, taking hold of Parlok as he slumps out of my arms. My muscles ache as though I've been beaten.

"Thank you," says Parlok. I can tell he means it.

The science officer has a hypo in his hand; he applies it to Parlok's neck. "That'll do it," he grunts. "Gonna be a rough few hours, though, while you sweat all that muck outta yourself.... We brought a bucket. You'll need it."

Parlok manages a wan smile. "It will be worth it," he says. He undoes the last of the wrappings that bind us together, steps back, and manages a formal salute. "You have my thanks, Vice Admiral Shohl."

"You're welcome," I say. I look at the science officer. "You don't need me, do you?"

"Nah." He glances towards the pilot, a Romulan tactical officer with a careworn look. "We clear?"

"No scanning beams, cloak is steady," the pilot answers. He touches a control, and the hatch opens behind me.

"That's my cue." I throw a sketchy salute at them. "See you guys around." I step backwards, out of the hatch, into the air.

The hatch closes and vanishes as I fall. I squeeze the control grips, and the floater pushes me hard in the small of the back as its propulsors kick in. I check its charge; still fine, good for some hours yet. There is a faint ripple in the air as the cloaked shuttle moves off. If I wasn't Andorian, I'd never have spotted it.

All of a sudden, I feel immensely relieved.

I spin, slowly, in place, above the lighthouse, drinking in the view of the ghostly landscape in the moonlight, the crystal sea shimmering as it laps at the dark bulk of the island. It really is a beautiful sight....

And if the Tal Shiar come looking... all they will see, now, is me. Out for a night flight by myself. Dancing in the air, by the light of the moons....

---

"Reman terrorists!" Veblius's voice is clearly audible across the resort's hallway. There is a dressing on his head, and his face is pale in the early morning light, but he seems to be making a good recovery. "No one else attacks under cover of darkness, spirits away our people! I tell you, this is the work of Obisek's fanatics!"

"Honoured guest," the senior Risian hospitality officer says, patiently, "there are no Reman visitors currently on our planet, nor have any departed recently. We would honour them if they came, as we do all, but the Remans do not favour us with their presence." I don't think he knows I'm standing close enough to hear him.

"I tell you, the Remans have kidnapped Senator Parlok! There must be immediate action!"

"We do not restrict the arrival or the departure of our guests," the officer murmurs. "The circumstances are... strange, I must with justice concede. But we are sure of one thing, that there have been no Remans here for an indefinite but lengthy time. However -"

"You people are incompetent! There must be a full investigation!"

"However," the officer continues, with as close to asperity as the Risians ever come, "there are issues which must be considered. For instance, the equipment failures at the resort last night - the computer tampering bears hallmarks, I am informed, which strongly suggest a Tal Shiar data-warfare software package."

"Technology stolen by the Remans!"

"Perhaps. But then there was the unexpected advent of your associates." I was still dancing in the air when the transporters came back online and the Tal Shiar troops beamed in. The other guests at the resort have talked of nothing else, all through breakfast. "And, also, there is this -" The officer holds up Veblius's disruptor pistol with every appearance of distaste. "Honoured guest, we know that some cultures attach great significance to personal weapons, and we make accommodation for these beliefs... but we do insist, for the safety of all, that personal arms be properly registered, and borne only in appropriate circumstances. Yet, this weapon is yours, it carries your biometric signature for security - do you deny that?"

"Of course not -"

"And yet it is not registered to you, and was found fully charged and unsafed where you suffered your... mishap. Honoured guest, together with the interference with the resort, this matter reflects poorly on you. We sorrow to rebuke you, but we must. And it is our desire that you convey our sorrows to your government. Transportation has been arranged to make your homewards journey swift, and we beg you to avail yourself of it."

I don't think I've ever heard someone being deported more politely. Veblius looks distinctly ill. Going to Risa with a Senator, and coming back with a diplomatic protest instead, isn't going to do his standing in the Tal Shiar much good. I decide I've seen enough, and sidle discreetly out of the hall, into the sunlight by the beach.

I look out over the sea. It's so bright out there, so hot....

"Shaoi dan." T'laihhae comes to stand beside me. She looks faintly dishevelled, more than faintly tired, but still pleased with herself.

"The Risians seem to be putting most of the blame on Veblius," I say.

"I, ahh, arranged matters so that it seemed plausible he'd met with an accident," she says. "It took a little time to place him and his weapon realistically... but it seems to have worked."

"Won't Risian security get a little suspicious when they find DNA-free blank patches from your biolytic spray?"

"I didn't use it. I covered myself in a dermal sealant so that no traces of me would be left." She shifts, embarrassed. "I've spent half the morning scrubbing it off. I will concede that I was lucky, in that no one encountered me, wandering the corridors in the darkness, wearing nothing but a plastic coating and an unconscious Tal Shiar officer.... There would have been questions."

"Well, maybe not. This is Risa."

T'laihhae's smile flashes on and off. "The notion that this is some Tal Shiar... internal struggle... seems acceptable to the Risians," she says. "I think they expected Veblius to try to implicate me. Fortunately, they didn't insist on questioning under verifier scan or psychotricorder."

"They take the privacy of their guests pretty seriously, here."

"And D'Gron and Veblius have helped, unintentionally, by their baseless accusations against the Remans." She glances sharply at me. "So, you fight in the dark like a Reman. It's useful to know... the capabilities of one's allies."

"Like I said," I say with a grin, "you can't fool these antennae."

"Indeed." T'laihhae sighs. "It's good when a complex intelligence operation runs precisely to plan, without problems. Or so I'm told, at any rate. Someday I may find out for myself."

"At least it worked," I say.

"Quite. Well, I must now return to the Messalina and proceed to Mol'Rihan. I understand I have a passenger, in a somewhat delicate, but steadily improving, condition." She throws me an informal salute. "Until we meet again, Vice Admiral Shohl."

"I'll look forward to it."

"Enjoy the rest of your stay on Risa." And she strolls off, towards the resort's transporter pad.

"I think I will," I say to myself, softly.
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 27
# 9 Vacation Vexations
07-12-2013, 07:25 PM
"I love Risa," said Tepon cheerfully as he stared up at the sky. "It's just so ... relaxing."

His companion nodded, obviously agreeing with his sentiments. Otep was an Andorian of few words, but it was obvious to the vice admiral that his best friend was definitely of the same mind as he; such vigorous nods were signs of great emotion from the chief engineer.

"There's no reason for anyone to pester us," he continued. "Well at least, no legitimate reason. Because I think I saw Drake hanging around the dabo table earlier today, and I'm sure he shouldn't be here."

It had been a long time since the crew of the Oceania had taken any time off; with all the problems involving the Devidians, Klingons and Jem'Hadar, there had never been any opportunities to simply relax. But now, with their escapades over, the crew could finally enjoy their shore leave on Risa and experience all that the Lohlunat Festival had to offer.

"Do you think leaving Rufa in charge of the ship was a good idea?" asked Otep, the chief engineer turning onto his side to look at his captain.

Tepon took off his sunglasses and smiled. "Don't worry, she'll be fine - after all, Sovos is up there helping out."

---

"Food fight!"

Rufa ducked behind an overturned table as what appeared to be chocolate fudge sailed over her head. The ship's cafeteria had been thrown into chaos as half the crew turned against each other in order to achieve dominance in the food fight that she had started by accident.

"The vice admiral is gonna kill me," she said with a shudder, looking to Sovos, who had joined her behind the table.

"He will not," replied the Vulcan doctor. "Also, I would like to address the issue of the currently locked doors to the cafeteria."

The security chief groaned, burying her head in her hands. She was never going to get promoted at this rate.

---

"Well, there'll be a fifty-fifty chance that she'll be okay," added the vice admiral hesitantly. "But anyway, do you know where the others are?"

Otep shook his head, and returned to his previous activity of staring up at the clouds. Risa had always possessed the best beaches, and the sand below him was especially comfortable. He had no idea where his fellow officers were, but he didn't really care - all he wanted to do was relax.

"Oh well," said Tepon with a shrug, putting his sunglasses back on. "Doesn't matter anyway - let's just keep staring at the sky."

---

Corpsa did not like Klingons.

Many of her fellow Starfleet officers agreed, although the reasoning behind their dislike was the war between the Federation and the Empire. But the Oceania's first officer had always disliked them, even before joining Starfleet. To her, the Klingons felt like cheap knock-offs of her own people; for all they said about honour and duty, they lacked passion - all they truly cared about was war.

She did however, enjoy the Klingon version of Hamlet. It was one of the few good things that ever came out of the Empire ("The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo'noS" held a special place in her heart). Of course, Corpsa did consider the Andorian version of the renowned play to be infinitely superior. She really needed to obtain a hardcover version for her library.

However, her current predicament was not related to her lack of hardcover editions of Shakespeare's works; it was in fact related to the presence of a rather familiar adversary in the bar - a captain of the Empire who had opposed the crew of the Oceania many, many times.

"Ah, Commander Corpsa," said Zaylia as she strode over to where the aforementioned Andorian was sitting. "Starfleet still refusing to give you your own command?"

Although lacking a visible forehead ridge, Zaylia claimed that she was a hundred percent Klingon, and would strongly deny any accusations that she was anything but a loyal servant of the Empire. It was impossible to doubt the later, but the first ... was iffy.

"I have no need for a command," replied the Andorian tactical officer, keeping her tone level. "I am satisfied with my current arrangement - the Oceania is a beautiful ship, after all. Do you not agree, Captain?"

Zaylia bristled. In their first encounters, the Klingon considered Tepon to a rival of some sorts, and to be reminded of the fact that the Trill was now a much higher-ranking officer stung - it hurt her pride to see such someone who was once an equal leave her behind.

"Well I suppose we can't be all better than your admiral," she said coolly, taking a seat next to Corpsa. "Although I heard you were, once. At the Academy?"

The captain leaned over the counter, waving the Risian tending the bar to come over. She quickly barked something in Klingon that Corpsa did not understand, and was soon rewarded with a bottle of bloodwine. It was obvious to the Andorian what her unwanted companion was trying to do: stir up any possible feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Not that she would take the bait; it would not help matters.

"My school days are long gone," said Corpsa. "They do not matter now. Although yours do to you, no?"

There was a growl from the Klingon as she placed her bottle back on the counter. Zaylia possessed much less self-control, and was incredibly easy to goad. A few more comments would push her over the brink, and she would no longer be able to stop herself from beating the Andorian into a pulp.

"Insult me one more time and I will make you suffer," she growled, already halfway out of the chair.

"You are very passionate about defending your pride, are you not?" asked the Andorian, the ghost of a smile present on her face.

The tension between the two was growing stronger, and was so thick that not even a Klingon bat'leth would be able to cut through. Other Starfleet and Imperial officers in the bar were already beginning to eye each other, and the Risian bartender had wisely decided to duck behind the counter.

So nobody was surprised when someone lost control of their floater and crashed into the bar, starting one of the greatest brawls in Risian history.

---

"Ambres."

When one thinks of Franklin Drake, the image of a scowling, scarred man in a jet-black and professional uniform comes to mind. One does NOT think of a scowling, scarred man wearing nothing but swimming trunks flying around on a top-end floater and showing off his remarkable (but notably scarred) physique.

Unfortunately for Tepon, however, it was his fate to be interrupted by this sight obscuring his view of the clouds.

"Have I mentioned how disturbing it is to see you like this?" said the Trill, peering over his sunglasses at the head of Section 31.

Well, he assumed that Drake was the head. One was never certain when it came to the secretive and amoral organisation that was Section 31.

"I would say the same," replied the secret agent as he continued to circle over Otep and Tepon. "I am more familiar with your Starfleet uniforms, not these ... monstrous affronts to fashion."

Tepon and Otep shared a glance. Both of them were wearing Hawaiian shirts that were a shockingly bright shade of pink and simple white shorts. Where was the problem?

"You know Drake, sometimes I think I'll never understand you," sighed the vice admiral, shaking his head wistfully. "Zuchiiini bought us these outfits when she took some time off on Earth."

"And there's your problem," said Drake dryly. "But speaking of Zuchiiini ... she's the reason why I am here, hanging over your head and speaking to you."

"What did she do now?"

"I don't know, maybe she and your first officer started a diplomatic incident between the Federation, Klingon Empire, both the Romulan Republic and Empire, the Dominion, Tholians, and several other factions that I can't be bothered to mention."

The vice admiral was already up and running before Drake had even managed to get all the words of out of his mouth. Section 31's head (possible head!) sighed, and looked over at Otep, who was rather unaffected by what had just occurred.

"... Do you want me to chase after him?" asked the Andorian blandly.

"As a superior, I am ordering you to," said Drake bluntly, descending onto the sand. "Do you really think your captain can handle a diplomatic incident by himself?

Otep thought back to one of their earlier missions, when his best friend was still a Lieutenant. Although everything had turned out fine, the actions taken were ... somewhat less than satisfactory.

"No," he admitted. "I shall try and assist him. But sir, there is one thing I wish to ask of you first."

"What is it?"

"Please put a shirt on."

---

When Tepon had arrived at the bar, he expected to find a brawl of epic proportions, and he was not disappointed. Although he could barely make out anything from all the dust and bodies flying everywhere, he knew that there there was a massive fight occurring all around him; one that he hoped that he did not have to participate in.

He ducked as a bottle of ale flew over his head, followed by a limp Hirogen. A hunter, to be exact, but the Trill didn't really care. He was too busy searching for signs of his first officer and the Romulan who may or may not have started this mess. He definitely knew that Zuchiini was involved, though: there was no way such chaos could have occurred without her intervention.

"For honour and glory!"

The vice admiral rolled to the side, dodging a Tholian and wondering how the speaker managed to be heard over all the noise. She sounded familiar too, but he couldn't place where he had heard the voice before. Not that it really mattered right now. He was attempting to prevent a diplomatic incident, not wondering who the speaker was.

A Breen officer slammed into him, sending them both sprawling to the ground. Tepon winced in pain, and pushed the unconscious being off. He really needed to find his first officer and Zuchiini quickly and stop everyone from trying to kill each other. Risa was not a place for fighting, and he wanted to keep it that way.

"This is not how I expected to spend my vacation," he groaned.

"Same," said a familiar voice.

Tepon turned to see his first officer, still dressed in her Starfleet uniform, offering him a hand. It was fortunate to see that she had not been hurt in the brawl, and having her with him would make his attempts to stop the fighting much easier.

"Can you tell me why Franklin Drake is accusing you of starting all this?" asked the vice admiral, getting into a sitting position. "Because I want answers. Like, now."

There was a crash, and the two turned to see a Klingon sprawled over the bar counter.

"Well," he continued. "Yesterday would have been nice too, but explanations. Now."

"I believe I went too far when taunting your rival," said Corpsa sheepishly.

The Trill moved his head forward, letting a piece of wood fly past. "Zaylia's here, huh? Nice to know. But what I actually want to know is how the Romulan Republic's war hero is responsible as well."

Corpsa did not reply, simply nodding in the direction of the brawl. Even from their location, on the outskirts of the fight, the purple coral on Zuchiini's head was clearly visible. The Romulan Republic's most renowned figures appeared to be fighting several other beings at once, and surprisingly, possessed the upper hand. There was an expression of great cheer present on her face, and a smile that grew even larger than physically possible as another being was beaten into the bar's floor.

"I'm not seeing anything here, Commander."

"... She crashed into the bar during a rather tense moment."

Tepon sighed, moving to his feet. He should have known that the brawl had been started over something stupid. All bar brawls were. Fortunately, he had some experience with such things, so it was possible that he could stop the fight without anyone getting seriously injured.

Although there was a possibility that he would be banned from this particular bar for quite some time.

He quickly strode over to the wall, unlocking the glass cover with surprising speed. In most situations, he would have broken the glass, but he was on vacation, and people on vacation did not usually bring along weapons.

With a heave, he roughly pulled down the lever, and the familiar sound of a fire alarm began to ring out across the room. All the occupants of the room instantly stopped, the noise diverting their attention from the fight to the annoyed admiral in a horrendous Hawaiian shirt.

"I am disappointed," he said, giving everyone in the room a heated glare. "This is Risa; a place of relaxation for people of all species and allegiances. It is not a place for fighting. Now, I would like my vacation to progress peacefully, and I assume most of you do as well, so can you all please stop trying to kill each other?"

All of the former combatants simultaneously nodded, or for those who were of species without the capability nod, made a gesture of acknowledgement. It was actually rather surprising how many different species were present in the room: there were Klingons, Romulans, Pakleds, Tholians, Hirogen, and even a Devidian hanging around the back. Everyone seemed to love Risa these days.

Seconds later, the alarms stopped, and a sudden downpour of water splashed all over them.

"At least it isn't a rain of spices this time," sighed the soggy vice admiral as he looked to his equally soggy first officer. "Come on Corpsa, we've done enough here."

The Andorian woman gestured up at the sprinklers, which were still running and showering them in lots and lots of water. "Aren't we going to fix that first?"

"We'll log a report later. Let's just leave before someone blames us."

She didn't need to be told twice.

---

"Looks like the captain did not need my assistance," said Otep calmly as he and Drake made their way to the entrance of the half-flooded bar. "Although ... it would have been better if the bar had not become a swamp."

Drake shook his head and sighed. "There are times when I wonder why I have not recruited your captain into Section 31 - but then I see him do things like this."

"At least we successfully avoided a diplomatic incident," said Tepon cheerily, walking up to the duo. "I did exactly what you wanted me to do."

"You also might have broken the sprinklers," muttered Corpsa, who had taken off her Starfleet jacket in an attempt to wring the water out. "Your diplomatic skills have not improved in the slightest."

"You started it. You can't talk."

There was something about the crew of the Oceania that made them rather charming, decided Franklin Drake. He did not know if it was their carefree personalities or the reckless way they solved problems, but in the end, it did not matter. It his duty to make sure that Starfleet would continue to serve as the carefree peacekeepers of the galaxy, and as a member of Section 31, he would continue to blacken his soul to make sure people like Tepon and his crew still existed among the stars.

"I shall be going then," he said, activating his floater. "I hope all of you will be able to enjoy this vacation ... without any further mishaps."

As he took to the air, the barest hint of a smile appeared on Drake's face. He may have been Section 31, but that would not stop him from enjoying his vacation as well.

---

Sometimes, Tovan Khev wished his captain was more responsible. But that was a wish that would never become reality - not that he wanted it to. They had become friends because of Zuchiini's irresponsibility, and it was one of the few traits of the admiral that had never changed during their service to the Republic.

Of course, it was still frustrating at times.

"Starting a bar fight, really?" he asked.

The alien (they really needed to find out what she actually was) relaxing on the couch shrugged, giving him a smug grin. "Not exactly. I just crashed, yannow? I was like ... the wine that poured onto the fire and helped the flames spread."

Zuchiini had never been good with metaphors.

"Well now that you've gotten all of that out of your system," continued Tovan, giving his friend a glare that would not have been out of place on a father. "Our shore leave is over - we have new orders from the Flotilla."

"Sweet, what is it?" asked the vice admiral, who seemed to be rather unaffected by the lack of vacation time.

"Right then, have you ever heard of the Organians?"

FIN
Idealist.

Last edited by flightofcrimson; 07-13-2013 at 05:06 AM.
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 419
# 10 Fallout
07-13-2013, 09:52 AM
Commander's Log

Stardate 86153.47


We continue our extended visit to the recreation planet Risa as part of our agreements with the Federation. In truth, I must admit that my earlier misgivings about this use of the R'uhuv and her crew may have been premature. There have been several beneficial outcomes I had not anticipated, and only a foolish commander does not consider the effect of morale from such a visit. It is, perhaps, only the unprecedented length of time we are spending away from our other duties that accounts for my unease at being at one of the most beautiful worlds in the galaxy.


Master Healer Kirana, in particular, has appeared to benefit from the assignment. Risa is, of course, her homeworld despite her Romulan heritage, and seeing it again after completing her training on Mol'rihan has lifted much of the isolation I detected between herself and the rest of the crew. I do not know if her family fully supports her enlistment in our Forces, but the young Centurion has already proven her skill and dedication, and if this visit has put to rest some barrier she has carried, I will consider it worthwhile in the extreme.


Centurion L'voss has used the time to, unsurprisingly, 'consult' with a Klingon Master of Mok'Bara who was also visiting the planet as part of the Risan Lohlunat Festival outreach program that brought my own crew here. While I do not believe the injuries to either are noteworthy, I admit to surprise that the Risan monitors allowed the 'discussion' to continue until both fell from the natural stone archway they had elected to hold their meeting upon. Fortunately, the antigrav emitters embedded at ground level functioned normally, and both were transported automatically to the nearest medical facility. I am grateful that the Risan engineers were so dilligent in preparing the Enlisted facilities for the crews of such divergent cultures, but I am not so confident in L'voss' decision to accept the Master's invitation to a Blood Wine celebration. I can only amend a plee to the Five that I will not have to seek a new Troop Commander when we depart.


For myself, this assignment has provided an opportunity to meet several of Starfleet's senior commanders, and the opening of a new Command resort a short distance from Suraya Bay provided me with reason to attend a conference to compile strategies against the ongoing threat of the Borg. Most of all, I was given a chance to speak with Vice Admiral Kelro Verne, returned from the Omega Sector for this occasion. A commander also reluctantly thrust into Command, I admit I had felt a kinship of sorts since I had first read the reports of his activities since leaving his home 'Mirror' universe, and wanted to evaluate him for myself. I found him a serious, dedicated officer who seemed to carry the weight of Lore upon his back, a refreshing change from the idealistic optimism of the other Starfleet at the meeting, and our discussions were quite easy to hold. Perhaps I should not have expected otherwise from a man almost three hundred years past his origin time, but I nonetheless hope to have a chance to accept his invitation to tour the U.S.S. Legacy to expand more both upon my understanding of Galaxy-class starships and a Starfleet Admiral all but exiled from the Federation. His insights may also prove critical to our next mission, of which I have grave concerns.


Master Engineer Xa'Jev has reported his consultations with his Federation counterparts while on-planet have produced the hoped-for improved warp engines for the R'uhuv. By accounts, these were on hand to be fitted to one of the new Risan armed liners and will improve our speed considerably at the cost of increased fuel usage by the impulse engines. The Meguli have never failed the Empire since their submission fifty years ago, and so I have no reason to doubt in Xa'Jev's claims despite how the concept of my ship using Federation engines damages my pride. Still, the needs of the Republic in this matter come, as always, before personal concerns, and Duty will be served only if my ship succeeds.


However, the Master Engineer's transaction on the planet has also resulted in an incident that I must now address personally. While granted authorization to visit the Command resort area for the purposes of finalizing the transfer of the engines, it seems he provided the means for two other members of my crew to also gain access to that area in violation of agreements made with all three visiting Fleets. I have been called to report to the Risan Port Administrator in Nuvia to account for my officers' actions, and will depart as soon as I take appropriate action here. It is distasteful when a Commander must discipline their subordinants for actions expected more of apprentices, but perhaps I may take the advice given by Admiral Verne.


As I conclude this entry, Subcommander Tosik and Centurion Rycho await outside my Ready Room. I have been aware since the day I accepted Rycho from Fleet Intelligence that the Human's ambition matched his physical abilities, and certainly Starfleet's records on the Reliant Incident give ample caution in where that could lead. However, I am confident his hatred of the Tal Shiar and desire for revenge upon them will keep him in line as long as we are aligned in this regard. Diffusing the unconstructive friction between himself and Tosik while also punishing him for his actions on Risa requires...unconventional thinking, and in this I must admit a level of satisfaction that Starfleet has such a history of imaginative solutions to draw upon.


Subcommander Tosik's punishment requires more careful consideration, however.....



_______________________________



The door to the Commander's Ready Room opened and Centurion Rycho walked out in what Tosik could only think of as a dazed state, his eyes barely registering the corridor beyond that led to the Bridge. Stopping in front of Tosik but staring into the distance, Rycho whispered "Magnificent.", but it seemed the Centurion was speaking as one impressed with the manner of his upcoming execution rather than any enjoyment in the outcome of what had passed behind the closed doors.

Still with that detatched expression, he turned his head and stared at Tosik with eyes that seemed to be baffled and just seeing him for the first time. In a dead voice, he said "She has appointed me.....Executive Officer."

Tosik frowned in confusion and disbelief. "Do you mean you have been made First, Centurion? "

"No. Executive...Officer. ", Rycho said, pronouncing the title as though they were alien words. Then he ran a hand through his hair, his mouth working for a moment before he continued. "I am....responsible....for ensuring the...well-being of the crew. For all of the crew. Me. Responsible....to the Commander. There is no First on this ship any longer."

Tosik had only a moment to process this information before the voice of the Commander called from beyond the door. "Subcommander Tosik. Report."




Unable to stop the unease in his gut at the dread still dawning in Rycho's eyes, Tosik stepped past him into the Ready Room, the door closing behind as he walked to stand at attention in front of the Commander's desk. She did not acknowledge his presence as she tapped keys on her PADD, reading the files there as moments passed in silence.

Finally, as Tosik began to wonder if she expected him to announce his presence, she spoke without turning from her task "You violated a restricted area. You deceived a security system with false title to Command, and you caused an incident that has resulted in the Command area being relocated to another island, with the resultant disruption in schedules, local trade, and arranged planning of three interstellar Fleets and the planetary population. I have been called to report to the Planetary authority to explain your actions, and the image of your presenting a Horga'hn to me on the steps of the Fleet Conference has been circulated among both the local information networks and the Republic Fleet subspace channels."

Finally looking up at Tosik, she fixed him with eyes that would have done the Raptor proud as she asked him "Have I forgotten anything, Subcommander?"

Tosik could only continue to stand at attention as sweat began to crawl down his back and upon his brow. With a supreme effort, he said "No, my Commander. That sounds...complete."




Standing, the Commander forced him to meet her gaze as she dropped the PADD to clatter to the desk. "To say I am disappointed in you is an understatement. You, who I took aboard when you wore nothing but rags and only the word of Q, of all beings, to vouch for your value to my ship. I expected you, of all people, to think before you acted."

Tosik did not let his eyes follow her as she stepped around her desk to circle around him, looking him over as though she were inspecting a particularly unappealing piece of equipment. "Perhaps I might think this something an inexperienced Apprentice might do, and just put it down to senseless incaution in the heat of the moment, but you are supposedly an experienced Officer in the Republic's Defense Force. I took it as granted you had the discipline to be my Science Officer, and to be worthy of the trust I and the Republic have placed in you."

Completing her circle, she stood directly in front of him, her eyes cutting into him as though they were plasma beams. "Was I wrong?"

Choking on the humiliation and shame each of her words pounded into him, Tosik shook with the effort not to let his emotions shame him. "My Commander. He is a Human! He dares to think he could take your Command! He dares.....!"

Tosik's voice failed him as he saw his words bouncing off of her as though she were a neutronium statue. In a cool voice she said "I am aware of his racial background, Subcommander. I knew it when I accepted his posting aboard my ship. And I will not reject any asset that serves to protect the Republic and the Rihan'iLu'vorr for such a petty reason. We cannot afford such luxury. We are not the Tal Shiar. We do not have resources to throw aside merely because they are less pure than we like."

Before Tosik could reply, she continued "And I know of Rycho's ambition. How could I not? And why should I fear it? Do you think he is ready to Command? He has much to learn yet about the demands of such a position, as well as how to execute it well. He does not have the loyalty of the crew, and knows it. Further, he is aware that High Command will not accept his appointment without my consent and approval, and that any attempt to seize command without that approval will lead to the Fleet rejecting support, even if the entire crew desired him to sit upon the Judgement Seat."




Walking back behind her desk, the Commander stood and watched him as he visibly sagged. In a lower voice, she said "Subcommander, I could and probably should reduce you some steps in rank for this, but I am not blind to the facts. You were manuevered into a situation where you were expected to show yourself as irresponsible and unworthy of your position. What I find fault in is that you fell into that trap so willingly. I don't expect my Officers to spot every situation they might find themselves in, but I do expect them to meet those situations as Officers of the Republic.

"I trust you will do so in the future."

Tosik could only nod his head in deep agreement as he replied in a subdued voice "Yes, my Commander."

Nodding, the Commander sat and picked up her PADD. Looking down at it once more, she tapped several points on its surface. "Dismissed."

Turning on his heel, Tosik moved to exit the room as quickly as he could without seeming to rush, then stopped before the door opened. Turning back, he asked "Why did you make him Executive Officer?"

Looking up, the Commander gave him an inscrutible look. "Centurion Rycho wishes to command. He will now learn what being responsible for an entire crew means, and answer for any mistakes. I assure you, he is not being rewarded, as I am sure he has realized."

Thinking a moment, Tosik realized the truth of the Commander's words, and how it must be eating at the Human even now. For a brief instant, he felt a measure of satisfaction in all the ways he could work to make the new Executive Officer's task all the more difficult, but then remembered the Commander's words to himself, and knew the blade of Judgement was just as firmly upon his own neck as Rycho's.

With undisguised eagerness, he left the Ready Room, the Officer of the Watch wondering at the sweat Tosik wiped from his forehead as he passed through the Bridge and into the turbolift. When the Science Officer had disappeared behind the closing doors, the Watch Officer merely shrugged and muttered "Guess someone got lucky on Risa."



_________________________

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"I am your leader, I am in command. The fate of all my followers lies in my hands. The burden of what is right or wrong, decisions have to be made. I have to take you all into this burning Gate." - Iron Savior, 'Never Say Die'.

Last edited by danqueller; 07-13-2013 at 03:35 PM.
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