Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 1 Collected Tales
07-24-2014, 10:34 PM
I've decided to collect my various LC tales here, for my own ease of reference (the laptop I used to keep them on is dying, and I don't have them all in the tower yet; besides, this way I can scan all of them when necessary).

The first several will be the tales of Grunt, a Ferengi with terrible luck with starships. (After that, I'll go collect the tales of Admiral Sills, the time-lost Iain Burwell, and the Romulan Nniol tr'Keiniadh.)
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
"The Last Voyage of the Hybrid"



Her official designation was USS Hypatia, NCC-95784. To her crew, and her detractors, though, she was the Hybrid, built from whatever ship parts were available after the Battle of Vega. Her hull came from a Miranda-class light cruiser; she also carried the overarching strut and torpedo launcher of a ShiKahr-class, and the wide-spread winglike pylons and warp nacelles of a Centaur. It was an odd assemblage, compared by more than one engineer to a pile of spare parts flying in close formation, and existed only because Starfleet Command wanted their intact ships to be available for front-line assignments. They kept trying to send her on milk runs; somehow, however, she seemed cursed to fly through interesting times.

So far, though, this mission seemed to be exactly the sort Command had intended. She had just rendezvoused with a cruiser from Task Force Omega, and transferred over a number of eager young officers needed to fill slots which had opened on the task force's ships. The young men and women and others were quite visibly happy to leave the confines of the shoddy little vessel that had brought them to the Gamma Orionis sector. And the ship's commander, Grunt, was honestly just as happy to see them leave. He'd had it to the top of his Ferengi ears with snide comments about the conditions aboard the Hybrid - Hypatia, he corrected himself wryly - and he was eager to make headway back out to Sirius Sector, and the relative safety there. Obviously it wasn't entirely safe; that's hard to ensure, when the enemy can change shape and use transwarp drive, as had been driven home with the supposed Vulcan ambassador at P'jem. On the other hand, the Undine weren't thick as gree-worms on a fresh corpse, and usually weren't actively hunting you. The same couldn't be said for the Borg here.

In his command chair, Grunt stretched. "Are they all gone?" he asked.

"Aye, sir," his Klingon science officer, Roclak, replied.

"Good. Not a moment too soon. Mr. Gydap, best speed back home, please."

"Course laid in," the Andorian at helm replied. "Executing at warp factor seven."

"Seven?"

"Vovenek's been worried about the intermix matrix, sir. He's asked us to keep it down to seven or less unless it's an emergency."

"Ah," Grunt replied. "Yes, it would be unfortunate if our poor ship were to suddenly explode without even having the courtesy of being shot first. By all means, warp 7 it is."

The ship hummed loudly as the warp drive activated - then began to groan and shudder as the streaks of light on the viewscreen dopplered back down into stars.

"What? What just happened?" Grunt demanded.

"It's not going," a voice crackled over the intercom.

"How very droll, Mr. Vovenek. Can you be at all precise?"

"The warp drive cut out when the coordinator went down, sir," Vovenek replied. "It'll take me a few minutes to track down the issue and get the intermix chamber warmed up again. Then I can make it go."

Grunt frowned. His Pakled engineer enjoyed mocking the common perception of his people, but Grunt saw little profit in joking at a moment like this. "Make it quick," he snapped. "I don't like hanging defenseless in Borg space."

"Well, technically we're still in Federation space, because the Borg come from--"

"Not now, Mr. Vovenek!"

"Aye, sir," the Pakled replied after a moment. "I'm on it."

"Sir," Roclak said from his station, "I'm picking up some odd readings nearby. Looks like metallic debris, probably Borg - but there seems to be a life sign as well. Not human, or any other humanoid I'm familiar with. It could be a Borg drone."

"Borg drone. Really." Grunt's mood lightened. "This mission might be profitable after all. Do we have a brig cell with a suitable force field?"

"Are you intending to bring that - thing - on board? Sir?"

"22nd Rule of Acquisition, my friend," Grunt grinned. "'A wise man can hear profit on the wind.' If we bring back a live drone to liberate, that will get us a commendation from Command. If we have to kill it, there'll still be some information to extract, which is bound to please somebody."

"And Rule 33," the Klingon rumbled. "'It never hurts to suck up to the boss.'"

"So, you have been reading the Rules of Acquisition I gave you!"

"Rule 194. Also the writings of Kahless, and the human philosopher Sun Tzu. Know your opponent."

Grunt chuckled. "We'll make a Ferengi of you yet, my boy!"

"Fek'lhr spare me," Roclak growled. "If you insist on bringing that thing aboard, we have a transporter lock on its signal. I have a squad standing by in the brig."

"Excellent. Beam it in, and we'll go have a look at our prize. Mr. Gydap, you have the conn. Please ask Ms. Shelana to join us in the brig, along with a few of her bright young men."

"Aye, sir. I have the conn," Gydap repeated, his antennae twitching.

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

Grunt and Roclak entered the brig to find Lt. Shelana, the Andorian security chief, waiting outside the largest cell, accompanied by two large humans and a Vulcan, all in Security uniforms. Inside the cell, a humanoid form stood, covered in bits of metal and tubing. The three-pronged claw at the end of its right arm spun and clacked idly.

Grunt walked up to the wall. "I'm Lieutenant Commander Grunt, captain of the Hypatia. Do you have a name?"

"Names are irrelevant," the Borg - well - droned. "You are Ferengi, species 180. Klingon, species 5008. Andorian, species 3424. Human, species 5618. Vulcan, species 3259. You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to the Collective."

"About that," Grunt interrupted. "We don't particularly want to be assimilated, and you're not in contact with the Collective right now. Are you?"

"Desire is irrelevant. Contact is unnecessary. This unit is capable of assimilating all species present, and bringing the grouping to the Collective. You will adapt to service us."

"And if we refuse?"

The Borg raised its mechanical arm - and the claw slipped through the cell's force-field door as if it were merely pretty lights. "Refusal is irrelevant."

The security guards immediately opened fire. Phaser beams flashed along the Borg's surface, beginning to penetrate its plating - when its own deflector fields sprang up. The beams, reflected away, began chewing channels into the ceiling and walls of the room before the guards could stop. The clawed arm then moved more quickly than the eye could follow, tearing the Vulcan's own arm completely off. The Vulcan collapsed, spurting green.

"Um, yes," Grunt said. "Gentlemen? Shall we adjourn?"

"Adjourn?" Shelana asked.

"That means RUN AWAY!" Grunt shouted, suiting words to action. Behind him, he could hear the others pounding along. Shelana paused when her surviving men had cleared the door, then welded it shut with a plasma pistol.

"That should hold it for a few minutes," she said. Almost immediately, the door began to bulge as the Borg attempted to force it open.

"Computer!" Grunt shouted as he ran. "Activate emergency force fields, rotating shield frequencies! Authorization Grunt seven alpha delta omega three one two!"

"Unable to comply," the computer responded primly. "Force-field projectors on deck seven are offline."

Grunt swore. "Okay, let's get to the lift and blow the deck! Let the bastard try breathing vacuum!"

The survivors piled into the turbolift. As the door closed behind them, Grunt barked, "Bridge! And emergency evacuation of deck seven!"

The turbolift hummed into motion. "Unable to evacuate deck seven," the computer said. "Detonation systems are offline."

"What the hell IS online??" Grunt screamed.

"Clarification requested. Would you like a complete shipwide diagnostic?"

Grunt groaned.

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand that last command."

"Never mind!" Grunt shouted. "Take us to the armory!"

"Deck three," the computer responded.

Grunt tapped his commbadge. "Grunt to bridge!"

"Gydap here."

"Lieutenant, the Borg has escaped custody, and the emergency force fields aren't working! Put us on Red Alert, and dispatch security teams equipped for a Borg!"

"Right away, sir!" The alarm klaxon began screaming, as status lights changed from green to red. "Bridge to all security teams. There is a Borg drone on deck 7. Set phasers to random frequency rotation, full power. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill!"

At that moment, the klaxon went silent, the lights went out, and the turbolift shuddered to a halt.

"It's tapped the power systems, sir," Roclek said unnecessarily. "The Hybrid's been compromised."

"She was built compromised," Grunt snapped. "But she's mine, and I'm not letting some damned Borg take her to the Collective to be scrapped all over again! Get us out of this thing, and head for the hangar deck!" He tapped his commbadge again. "Grunt to all hands! All hands, abandon ship! Repeat, abandon ship! We're going to scuttle!"

"Scuttle, sir?" Shelana asked. "How can you scuttle the ship when there's no power to run the computer?"

Grunt grinned savagely. "The problem with the Hybrid, my dear, has always been more a matter of keeping her from blowing up. That's why we were stuck here in the first place. There's a few wires behind a panel near the shuttle bay that just need to be crossed, and the antimatter containment field will run out of reserve power almost instantly. And when that happens..."

"When that happens," Roclak growled, "I'd like to be at least a parsec away. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here." The Klingon's shoulders bulged as he forced the doors open, revealing the corridors of deck 3 almost level with the lift. "Well, that much is going right, anyway," he remarked.

The group ran toward the armory. After equipping themselves with a fair array of weapons, they headed for the Jeffries tubes. Four decks below, and seventeen bulkheads aft, they emerged from the cramped tunnels, all but Roclak puffing from the exertion.

"This way to the shuttles," he said, pointing.

"Profits, Rock, let us at least catch our breath!" Grunt said.

Roclak bowed. "Of course, sir," he said sarcastically. "I'll just go ahead and prep your shuttle. Be sure to say hello to the Borg for me when it arrives!"

"What (gasp) makes you think (gasp) it can find us?" Grunt demanded.

As if in answer, the corridor lit a sickly green, as unfamiliar characters swirled on a nearby panel.

"That does, sir."

"Yes, it would seem that way. Okay, everyone, rest break is over! Let's move!"

As the group entered the bay, a young ensign called to them from the one remaining shuttle. "Captain! Over here! She's ready to move, but I don't know how much longer the bay doors will answer!"

The group ran for the shuttle. Grunt paused. "Okay, everybody, get on board," he called out. "I'll be right there!" He ran back toward the corridor, where he pried loose a wall panel, and felt around inside. Finding the connection Vovenek had jury-rigged the previous month, Grunt twisted the wires loose, then twined two of them about each other. That ought to do it, he thought, and ran for the shuttle.

"Hurry, sir!" the ensign called out.

The shuttle door closed behind Grunt, and the tiny ship lifted clear of the floor. The bay doors opened, then hesitated and began to slide shut again. The ensign gunned the thrusters, and the shuttle slid through the opening just in time.

"Move her out!" Grunt ordered. "Best speed!"

The shuttle's thrusters fired, as behind her the warp core began to erupt, spraying plasma into space. Abruptly, the entire ship shook, then exploded into a fiery cloud.

"Did everyone make it?" Grunt demanded anxiously.

"Sensors indicate 97% of the ship's personnel made it into various shuttles and escape pods," Roclek replied, hands sliding over the sensor controls. "All of those made it beyond the two-kilometer safe zone - some of them might be a little shook up, and of course, anti-radiation meds all around, but assuming we get picked up inside the next three hours, everything should be all right."

"Very good, my friend. Very good indeed!"

"Good?" the Klingon asked unbelievingly. "You call this 'good'? And what 'profit' are you hearing on the wind now, o wise one?"

"Simple, Rock. The Hypatia was lost to enemy action, while clearly in a situation that was way over our heads and therefore not our fault. And she can't be fixed, not from this - they'll have to give us a new ship! And it has to be a step up from the Hybrid..."

Three Weeks Later

"You asked to see me, Admiral?" Grunt said hesitantly, as he entered Fleet Admiral Quinn's office at Earth Stardock.

"Ah, Mr. Grunt! Come in, please." The Admiral gestured toward a seat before his desk. "Don't worry, the court of inquiry cleared you and your men. You were clearly acting in accordance with Starfleet directives when you tried to capture a Borg, and if your ship's systems had been up to snuff, all would probably have gone much better. In fact, we were even able to keep your command crew together for your new assignment!"

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

As the shuttle entered the dockyards, Grunt peered ahead eagerly, anxious to see his new command. A cruiser! The USS Bastogne! Grunt had never heard the ship's name before, but he wanted badly to step aboard her...

"There she is, sir," Vovenek said from his position in the pilot's seat. He pointed.

Grunt looked. Then he sagged into his chair. Ahead of them, directly where the Pakled's finger pointed, there floated a ship. Saucer above, angled neck connecting to the oblong engineering hull, twin nacelles sweeping upward - and the entire ship sporting at least three separate paint jobs, in addition to the gleam of bare metal where hull patches had yet to be painted.

"The Bastogne," Vovenek said. "Twenty years past her retirement date, but Starfleet can't afford to go scrapping ships just because they're obsolete. They say she's been repaired so many times that none of her original parts remain." He paused, then smiled wickedly at his commander. "Word around the dockyard is that she's properly called the Bastard..."

"Why me?" the Ferengi groaned. "Why is it always me?"
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.

Last edited by jonsills; 07-25-2014 at 10:47 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 3 Time and Again
07-24-2014, 10:56 PM
"Time and Again"



Captain's Log, USS Bastogne NCC-93385, stardate 90201.5.

The
Bastogne is en route to Starbase 114 for a well-deserved shore leave, after our - rather unusual encounter with the famed Guardian of Forever. We will also be rendezvousing with the Kirk there, to transfer Lt. Paris back to her ship. Charming girl - don't know if I'd be as gracious toward someone who kidnapped me and shoved me two hundred years back in time. Profits, I wasn't that nice to Drake last time we spoke, and he hadn't kidnapped us - just dragooned us.

All systems are nominal, which makes a nice change. I think Vovenek's getting bored.


Grunt sat back in his command chair, fingering his brand-new commander's pip. He knew it was supposed to be SOP for an officer to receive a new command on being promoted to full commander, but he also knew how badly stretched the Fleet shipyards were - why, they'd recently been pulling old Andorian escorts out of mothballs and putting them on the front lines! Half of the admirals seemed to be flying around in commandeered Breen and Jem'Hadar ships, because Starfleet's production lines just weren't able to keep up with the losses being taken on the Borg front. No, all in all he really didn't mind staying with the old Bastard a little longer...

"Captain," Roclak interrupted his reverie, "we are receiving a distress signal. Priority One."

"One? Where is it, what ship, and how long will we take to get there?"

"One moment... Sir, it's not from a ship at all. The signal is being interfered with, probably at the source, but it's identifying as a research station. Something about True Way, and something else about 'temporal generators'."

"Temporal? That's not a very comforting word, Rock. Especially not today."

"I agree, sir. However, we're the nearest ship - the Termigant is next nearest, but it would take over three standard hours to arrive. We can be there in thirty minutes."

"Very well. Tell Termigant that we're responding to the signal. Don't acknowledge to the station - we're going to want to try to keep the advantage of surprise. Gydap, anything on sensors?"

"Yes, sir," the Andorian replied. "I have one Galor-class cruiser, with an odd irregularity to their energy outputs. It looks like their main reactor's having some issues. Also, their transponder is offline. Definitely not Cardassian military."

"Nothing else?" Grunt asked, surprised. "We're kind of far out from the True Way's usual turf - they only sent one ship?"

"So it would seem, sir. Incidentally, the station doesn't appear on any standard navigation charts of the area. Inquiries into this region are met with the same data precautions as those around Section 31's pet slingshot at Bepi 113."

"'Curiouser and curiouser,'" Grunt mused. "Ms. Shelana, please stand by on weapons, and have a few of your young men in the transporter room prepared to board the station."

"Don't you plan on boarding the Cardassian ship?" Roclak asked.

Grunt smiled. "Rock, if Shelana leaves enough of that ship to board, we'll consider it."

Shelana chuckled. "If."

Grunt touched a control. The Red Alert klaxon began howling through the ship. "All hands, this is the captain," he announced. "All hands to battle stations. Repeat, all hands to battle stations. We have a stop to make before getting that leave."

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It was an inoffensive little orange dwarf star, the kind a Klingon would have found homey. It hosted only three planets, one close-orbit gas giant and two rocky outer worlds too small to hold atmospheres. Orbiting the second of those rocks was a medium-small space station, accompanied by a beat-up Cardassian cruiser with no identifying marks on her hull.

A few light-seconds away, space twisted violently for a moment, before expelling a Starfleet cruiser, multiply-painted and proudly emblazoned USS Bastogne.

"Ms. Shelana," Grunt said, "you may - indulge yourself."

"Yes, sir," the Andorian tactical officer replied, with a feral grin. "Thank you, sir."

Lances of energy, blue and orange, speared through the endless night, enhanced with Shelana's own shield-piercing frequency modulations. Purple flares of Hargh'peng torpedoes streaked toward the Cardassian craft, already beginning its ponderous turn toward battle. Its own weapons returned fire, raking Bastogne's shields and shaking the ship's occupants.

"Shields holding at 90 percent, Commander," Gydap reported. "Minor fluctuation in the impulse drive."

"On it," Vovenek reported on the intercom.

"I thought you said everything was nominal!" Grunt complained.

"And I thought you said we were headed straight for a starbase. We were nominal for going to a starbase. Nobody said anything about flying into combat!"

"Continue firing at will, Shelana," Grunt said. "That sort of thing can't keep happening to this poor ship right now."

Shelana didn't say anything; the phaser and disruptor banks spoke on her behalf. The shielding surrounding the Cardassian ship wavered - and its overworked portside shield generator suddenly exploded through its hull. The Cardassian's engines wavered and died, and her port weapons ceased firing.

"Her port shields are down, sir," Gydap reported.

"Rock, send a standard surrender offer," Grunt ordered.

"Aye, sir. Transmitting." The Klingon grinned slightly. "Reply received. If the translator's working right, they have no concept of Klingon anatomy - what they're inviting me to do is physically impossible, even after a few drinks."

"Very well, no one can say we didn't try. Shelana?"

The Bastogne's fire increased with the addition of the aft phaser turret, tearing through the hull of the enemy craft and causing a massive series of explosions. In moments, all that remained of the former Galor-class ship was a rapidly-expanding cloud of gases and metallic debris.

"That's what I thought," Vovenek said. "They looked like they were in even worse shape than us."

"That's what they get for being racists," Grunt pronounced with satisfaction. "There are a lot of people who make better engineers than most Cardassians. You, for instance, my Pakled friend."

"You're making me blush," Vovenek said.

"How can you tell?" Roclak replied, straight-faced.

"Rock, hail the station. See if you can find out what's going on there," Grunt said. "Gydap, I need a sensor sweep of the station. Look especially for Cardie life signs."

"Scanning... Sir, I can't seem to get a look inside the station. There's a sensor-scattering field, which ordinarily I could compensate for, but on top of that there seems to be some sort of temporal issue going on - some of the signs I'm scanning seem to be shifted by several seconds from the neighboring data." Gydap shook his head. "I never did like temporal mechanics. I like it even less these days."

Grunt sighed. "I know the feeling. Anything yet, Rock?"

"Still scrambled, sir, but I did get a fragmentary audio of one of the True Way trying to reach their ship - I think he was looking for instructions on whether to start executing hostages."

"Well, that does increase the level of urgency a bit. Rock, Shelana, we're off to the transporter room. Rock, please have the quartermaster deliver our usual boarding supplies from the armory. Shelana, download whatever you can get on the floorplan of that station to our tricorders. Vovenek, come up to the bridge and keep a sharp eye on sensors. Let us know the microsecond anyone without a Starfleet transponder gets within range. Gydap, you have the conn. If trouble starts, try to get us out - but judging by the levels of precaution surrounding this installation, your first priority is to deny access to this station to anyone not from the Federation. By any means necessary, Mr. Gydap - and our survival is secondary to this."

"Aye, sir, I have the conn." Gydap touched the audio link in his ear. "Er, Chief Wayne's compliments, sir, but he says there's a lot of interference from whatever they're working on over there. He says he can beam you in there, but if you want beamed out, you have to shut it down."

"Then we'd better get this right. Let's go, people!"

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

The azure sparkle died, and Grunt and Roclak found themselves in what looked to be a storage area, along with their escort, two young human males from Shelana's security troops.

Grunt tapped his combadge. "Grunt to Bastogne. We're here. Storage B, all right. Is Shelana's team in place?"

"Aye, sir. They're ready on our signal."

"All right, let's see what we can see." Grunt tapped the channel closed. "After you, Rock."

The Klingon slid the door open, poking the muzzle of his pulsewave disruptor out ahead of him. When nothing attacked, he peered around the corner. "Looks clear," he said. "Ensign Michaels, it's your turn."

One of the Security men stepped forward and out the door. "Scanning... nothing, sir. Ready to sweep this floor."

Grunt, Roclak, and the other Security man, Lt. Singh, moved out. A distance down the corridor, after several rooms with no occupants, Michaels held his hand up. "Just a second, sir - thought I saw something..."

Looking around the crate he was behind, Grunt saw what Michaels had spotted. "That - that's us. How is that possible?"

Roclak already had his tricorder out. "It's a temporal anomaly," he said. "What you're seeing is where we'll be in a few minutes. We're going to be running into this a lot, I think."

Grunt frowned. "You know something, Rock? I'm really getting tired of all this temporal crap."

"Trust me, sir," Roclak said dryly, "I've already promised myself that if we ever wind up on Earth in the late 19th century, I'm going to find the human writer Wells and kick him in the head until he forgets all about his time machine idea."

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

Two floors above them, Shelana paused, panting slightly. Her custom bat'leth dripped with Cardassian blood.

"Commander," one of her men said in an awed voice, "that was amazing. But don't you think maybe we should take prisoners or something?"

"If they wanted to live," she replied, "they shouldn't have attacked a Starfleet facility. Especially a secret Starfleet facility. They'd probably have been killed to shut them up anyway - I'm just speeding things up a little."

"Um, sir, all due respect, but I'm pretty sure that's not what Starfleet does."

"That's what you think," Shelana said, with a feral grin. "There's a man I know of named Drake who might disagree with you. Enough chatter - we still haven't found any hostages yet. Let's move."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------'

Seven minutes, eight rooms, and four Cardassian patrols later (although in fairness, three of them were the same patrols, just in different times), Grunt stopped his group just outside a door labeled, "Operations".

"Shh. Hear that?"

Roclak cocked his head for a moment. "I don't hear anything."

"Yeah, I forgot - human and Klingon ears are mostly just for decoration. Voices on the other side of this door. Sound agitated. Probably our targets. Set weapons to stun - I'm willing to bet the hostages are in there too." Grunt tapped the control panel, and the door slid open quietly.

A group of True Way loyalists stood near a control panel, several of them pointing weapons in the vague direction of several civilian scientists. Some of the scientists bore bruises and other marks. "Daron to Nessil," one Cardassian repeated into a communicator. "Daron to Nessil. Requesting information as to disposition of prisoners. They are unwilling to talk to us. Please respond." He looked at another of the True Way. "It's useless, sir - all I get is static. There's too much interference from the experiments here."

"Or from Starfleet," Grunt said, stepping out of a shadow. "Please surrender. It will make all of our lives easier, and save you a rather nasty headache later."

The response was immediate - poorly-aimed fire began to splatter around Grunt and his party. Phaser beams and pulsewave blasts, somewhat better aimed, fired in response. Suddenly, a blue-clad form slid gracefully into the crowd of attackers, striking at any who managed to avoid the phaser barrage. In a matter of moments, every Cardassian in the room lay on the floor.

"Mok'bara, Rock? Really? Showing off much?" Grunt grinned.

"Not showing off, sir," Roclak replied soberly. "Well, not much, anyway. But you said 'stun' - and my disruptor doesn't have a stun setting. Besides, I didn't want any stray shots to hit the hostages."

"Hmm. Good point." Grunt turned to the scientists. "I'm Commander Grunt, of the starship Bastogne," he said. "We're here in response to your distress call. First question - do you know of any other Cardassians on the station?"

"There were two or three sent out to keep an eye outside the room," one civilian, an older human male, replied. "And another group upstairs..."

"Shelana to Grunt," Grunt's combadge interjected. "We found and neutralized three groups here. No sign of hostages."

Grunt tapped his badge. "That's because they're all down here, Shelana. And it sounds like you've taken out the last of the attackers. Any prisoners?"

"Any what, sir? I think you're breaking up."

"Acknowledged. Stand by for beamout once we get this place shut down. Grunt out." He tapped his badge again. "Well, it looks like you're safe now, Mister... ?"

"Doctor, actually. Dr. Hassan, lead researcher here at Anderson Station. We were working on a device that might have actually reproduced the abilities of the Guardian of Forever - have you heard of the Guardian?"

"We're familiar with it," Grunt replied with a grimace. "Why in the name of the First Shopkeeper would you want to do that?"

"Just think of the research possibilities!" Hassan said, eyes gleaming. "No more trying to understand events through a historian's 'interpretation' - we could actually see the Rihannsu leave Vulcan, or the flight of Cochrane's Phoenix, or Archer's speech that founded the Federation, or - or anything!"

"Or what you were doing in your quarters last night," Grunt continued conversationally. "Or what someone said to you late one night in grad school. Or when something else happened that you'd rather not be general knowledge. Have you ever heard of a group calling itself 'Section 31'?"

"Why, yes," Hassan replied haltingly. "There- there was a man who offered us this station, and the funding to complete our device. Mr. Drake, he said his name was - Frank Drake, I think. He said he represented a group of investors called Section 31..."

"And he'd make sure nobody stole your device, right?" Grunt snarled. "Except him, of course. He'd profit by having a private time machine!"

"Is that - if that's what he expected, then I'm afraid he was going to be disappointed," Hassan said. "We only developed a viewing portal. Actual interaction with the past was too difficult - we still don't even have a theory how that could be possible. No clue how the Guardian does that."

"Hmmpf. He'd still have the perfect spying device. I'd really rather he not have that. Besides, we fought some Cardies in the corridor that were time-shifted, so you were onto something." Grunt pondered for a moment. "Can your device be moved? We've got a cruiser here - we could take you straight to Starfleet Command for protection."

"Not moved as such, no," Hassan replied, "but if necessary, we can reproduce the research elsewhere - we have all of our notes, we'd just need funding. Why? Is this Mr. Drake a criminal or something?"

"Or something, yes. Very well, Doctor, please have your people gather their belongings and notes, shut down your device here, and prepare for departure. We'll take you to Earth Spacedock."

"Really?" Dr. Hassan brightened. "I've never been to Earth. That will be different, at least." He turned to his people, most of whom still seemed stunned by this sudden reversal of their fortunes - again. "You heard him, guys!" he called out. "We've got, what, maybe half an hour or so? An hour?"

"One hour, tops," Grunt replied. "And please make turning your machine off a priority - it interferes with comms and transporters."

"Certainly, Captain! Nothing simpler!" Hassan touched a control on the panel nearest him. "There you are - system deactivated. So much easier than getting it spun up in the first place."

"Thank you, doctor." Grunt tapped his combadge. "Grunt to Bastogne," he said. "Do you read?"

"Bastogne here, sir," Gydap replied. "What is your situation?"

"Perfectly normal, Gydap," Grunt said.

"That bad?" replied Vovenek's baritone.

"Gydap, we're processing the hostages now. When they're ready, in an hour or maybe less, we'll be beaming them aboard for transport to Earth. We also have some True Way for the brig. Once everyone is aboard, I want this station blown up."

"Blown up??" Gydap and Vovenek replied together, disbelief apparent in their voices.

"Drake started the project here. He wanted them to build him a time machine. I don't want him to have one. I'm here, and have a starship. He isn't, and doesn't. Therefore, I get what I want, and he doesn't get what he wants."

"Agreed, sir. We'll be standing by to beam everyone aboard. Passenger quarters are being prepared. How many guests?"

"About a dozen. Somebody'll have to double up. That part's not my worry - I'm a starship captain, not a hotel manager."

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

An hour and ten minutes later, Grunt sat in his ready room, Admiral Quinn on the viewscreen. "And so we evacuated the station, sir. We're bringing the researchers - and their research - straight to you."

"You say Drake commissioned this?"

"Yes, sir. That's what Dr. Hassan tells me."

Quin drummed his fingers for a moment. "Commander Grunt. You now have direct authorization from this office to scuttle that station. Don't give Drake a chance to get his filthy paws on anything they did there."

"Aye, sir. Ah, I, well, sort of took the initiative, sir. The station's already gone, and irradiated just to make sure. Mr. Roclak assures me that no coherent data can be extracted from it at this point, and Dr. Hassan concurs."

"I see. I don't generally encourage my officers to destroy assets, Commander, but in this case you followed the prudent course. Please bring everything you found to my office soonest. I've already cleared your ship through traffic control."

"Thank you, sir. We'll be initiating transwarp shortly. Bastogne out." As Quinn faded from the screen, Grunt strode through the door to the bridge.

"Courts-martial all around, then, sir?" Roclak asked.

"No, Rock, the admiral actually ordered me to do what we did anyway. Gydap, please prepare to initiate transwarp to Sol system on my mark. The admiral's already given us clearance."

"Standing by, sir. Have been since you went in there."

"Good man. Initiate transwarp - now."

Space puckered and stretched, and the Bastogne vanished as if it had never been. All that remained behind was the wreckage of a Galor-class cruiser, and an expanding cloud of radioactive gas and metallic dust.
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.

Last edited by jonsills; 07-25-2014 at 10:46 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 4
07-24-2014, 11:28 PM
"Long Distance Runaround"



Captain's Log, USS Bastogne NCC-93385
Commander Grunt recording.

The
Bastogne has been detailed to a resupply run, ferrying quantum torpedoes to a task force investigating a rift into fluidic space in Pelia sector. Due to the risk factors, I've granted shore leave for the mission's duration to the majority of the crew - if we need more than a skeleton crew for anything, they probably wouldn't help anyway. There was a small scare as we crossed Gamma Orionis, but we managed to evade the Borg patrol. All systems are nominal at the moment, and long-range sensors are clear--

The ship shook, throwing people out of their seats across the bridge.

"What the hell was that?" Grunt demanded, climbing back into the command chair.

Roclak was bent over the science console. "Some sort of spatial distortion, sir," he reported. "Unrelated to the Fluidic Rift; might have been a temporary wormhole. There doesn't appear to be any major damage."

"Neutrino levels rising, sir," Gydap reported from the helm. "Gravimetric distortions, too. I think it might be coming ba-"

The ship tossed like a raft in a gale, throwing personnel about like dolls. The lighting flickered; the viewscreen showed space twisting and distorting, and a sudden flare of energy expanding rapidly around the cruiser. As Grunt clung desperately to the arm of his seat, he saw chaos and light, and little else. Panels exploded here and there, showering the space with sparks. After what seemed an eternity, the wormhole that had sucked them down spat them unceremoniously back into reality. A starfield showed on the screen briefly, before the lights flicked one last time and went completely dark.

"Is everyone all right?" Grunt called out.

"Every time!" Gydap complained bitterly. "Every karskat time Starfleet sends us on one of these 'milk runs', disaster strikes! 'Oh, just ferry this diplomat a few lightyears to P'jem. Oh yes, we forgot to mention he's an Undine.' 'Here, take these recruits to Task Force Omega. By the way, your ship might get destroyed by a Borg.' 'Have some shore leave - but first deal with a rogue time machine!' Commander, next time they offer you a milk run, could you please volunteer for something safer? Say, a diplomatic mission to the Borg Queen?"

The emergency lights blinked to life. Roclak was climbing back to his feet, a trickle of purple oozing down his ridged forehead. Gydap, miraculously, was still seated; Lt. Brel, the Bajoran ship's counselor, was tending to a dazed Shelana near the tactical console, which was little more than a mass of tangled wires and fried isolinear circuitry. Vovenek had already regained his feet, and was swearing in Paklit as he tried to get information from his engineering station.

"Status reports, anyone?" Grunt asked, probing gently at what promised to be a truly remarkable bruise on his head.

"Engines are dead, sir," Gydap replied. "Helm is completely unresponsive - we don't even seem to have thrusters. Comms are down, too."

"Sensors offline," Roclak reported. "Also, the computer seems damaged - reports received are incomplete in many respects. We also don't have turbolifts, and without a proper computer, there'll be no transporting around."

"Weapons are gone, sir," Shelana said shakily. "Or at least, the weapons console is. When I can contact someone else in Tactical, I can give you a better assessment."

"Vov?"

Vovonek slammed his fist against the console. "The pun'tak computer doesn't want to tell me anything!" he growled. "It looks like there are microfractures in the warp chamber, the energizers are offline, and I think the dilithium crystals are broiled."

"Fried, Vov," Grunt said. "The human expression is 'they're fried'."

"Whatever. It won't go."

"What the hell happened, Rock?" Grunt demanded.

"As best I can tell, sir," the Klingon replied, "we were captured by a wormhole. Fortunately, it didn't deposit us in fluidic space; we're still in our own universe, although nowhere near where we started. Precise fixes won't be possible until power's restored to the sensors."

"So, what you're telling me is we're blind, we're deaf, the ship's lobotomized and dead in space, and we have no idea where we are. What's the bad news?"

"Actually, sir, I do know approximately where we are," Roclak said. "Just before we lost sensors, I was able to do minor correlations with a few Cepheid variables. I was unable to pin down our precise location, but we seem to be somewhere in the Gamma Quadrant, probably within a thousand lightyears of the Bajoran wormhole."

"Oh, that's helpful," Grunt said sarcastically. "All we have to do is get out and walk a thousand lightyears or so, and we'll be fine!"

"I'm glad to see you're staying optimistic, sir," Roclak replied drily. "Also, we seem to be fairly near some artificial wreckage - from the preliminary scans, it looks like they might be ships of some sort, although that would take more data."

"That's an idea," Grunt said thoughtfully. "Might be something there we can use on the Bastard. Can anyone get hold of the hangar and see if we have any shuttles that can be used to check it out?"

He was answered by a loud hum and an azure glitter. A human form materialized out of the transporter beam. "Oh, thank the Maker," he gasped, "it worked! Without internal sensors, I wasn't sure a point-to-point transport would work from the emergency transporter in the runabout. But I saw a clear space here, at least I thought it was a clear space, and I figured, 'what the heck?' I mean, it wasn't like I'd get very far in a runabout with no warp drive, right? So I just--"

Grunt cleared his throat loudly. "And you are?" he asked pointedly.

"Oh, oh yes, sorry, sir, very sorry. Lt. Fitzsimmons, Jerry Fitzsimmons, sir, in charge of the hangar deck. In fact, just at the moment I'm the only one on the deck, only I'm not really on it right now, am I? because everybody else filed for shore leave when they heard about this run, and I guess someone's just rubber-stamping those forms these days, but I wanted to help, sir, and it's a good thing I--"

"Mr. Fitzsimmons. Is this running off at the mouth a human thing, or just you?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, sir, I talk a lot when I'm nervous, and right now I'm not just nervous, I'm scared spitless. But I'll shut up now, sir."

"Thank you, Mr. Fitzsimmons. Now, I have a question for you, and I want you to answer me with a 'yes,' a 'no', or a 'kind of.' You say you got here using the runabout's emergency beamout. Is the runabout spaceworthy?"

"Kind of, sir." And with a visible effort, Fitzsimmons stopped.

Grunt relented. "Very well, Mr. Fitzsimmons, you may expand. What does 'kind of' mean in this case?"

"Well, sir, the hull's solid, and I'm pretty sure the impulse drive's working, and the sensors of course since I could find the bridge, but there aren't any dilithium crystals in the warp drive, although the warp reactor still seems to be functional, so it's got lots of power, even for the replicator, but of course one replicator won't feed the whole ship for long, not without organics put in, and a lot of the guys get a little grossed out when you tell them that solid wastes work as well as anything else for mass, so I guess that's kind of a limiting factor, and of course I didn't test the weapons, 'cause that might put a hole in the ship, and then it'd come out of my hide, at least that's what Mr. Vovonek said the last time a shuttle pilot dinged the deck, and he's a lot bigger than I am, so--"

"For Profits' sake, man, breathe! Next question: can you access the transporter from here? I don't really feel like crawling through Jeffries tubes to the hangar again."

"Again, sir? Oh, right, transporters. I don't think I can access the controls from here, sir, I was kind of counting on someone on the bridge knowing what was going on, and there was nothing I could do down there, and that is a long way to walk, sir, especially with the lifts not working, and--"

Grunt sighed. "Oh, well, it was a thought. Guess it's time to-" He was interrupted by the bridge lights coming on.

"Partial power restored, sir," Roclak observed. "Turbolifts are online. Still nothing from sensors, but if you'd still like to take a shuttle out and look over the situation, that's more doable now."

"Excellent. Rock, Vov, Mr. Fitzsimmons, join me in the turbolift, please. Gydap, you have the conn. Shelana, please let me know as soon as you get weapons back - I'd hate to be caught hanging out here if the Jem'Hadar paid us a visit. Gentlemen?" And the Ferengi led his team into the turbolift.

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

The runabout Puyallup slipped through the hangar doors of the Bastogne, circling around to survey the damage. Grunt winced. The starboard nacelle was battered and twisted; its companion was missing, just a bare strut jutting up from the engineering hull. The hull itself was rent in several places, and the arboretum was completely in vacuum. Grunt was happy the ship had been making this run with a bare minimum crew - with luck, he might not have lost anyone during the wormhole passage.

With an effort, he turned his gaze away from his poor tormented command. Nearby space seemed fairly littered with metallic debris - he could make out parts that seemed to belong to Federation, Klingon, and Ferengi designs, as well as quite a few too broken or strange to easily identify. His reverie was interrupted by Roclak.

"I've gotten a better fix, sir. We would appear to be approximately 212 lightyears from the Gamma end of the Bajoran wormhole. If this ship had warp drive, we could go for help. As it is, I've also scanned the debris field, and located the remains of at least two Starfleet heavy cruisers, probably Dakota- or Stargazer-class."

"Probably?"

"They've been pretty badly damaged, sir. If our trip was anything to go by, the Bastogne was probably about the largest type of ship that could survive the journey at all. These would have been pretty well torn apart by gravitational shear. However, it's possible we can find enough functional parts to either repair our ship or cobble something together to get home on."

"Yes, thank the Great Vault for modular design. Keep looking for anything usable, Rock. We'll leave a marker here, too, so someone can come see what some of these other wrecks are." Grunt turned his attention to the communications console. "Puyallup to Bastogne," he said. "Bastogne, do you read?"

A moment, a hiss, scratching, distortion, and then the Andorian navigator's voice came through the static-ridden channel. "--ead you, Puyallup. What is ... condition?"

"The Bastard's in pretty sorry shape, Gydap. We have located parts of other Starfleet vessels in the debris, and we're going to try to find parts to repair her."

"Say again, Puy... other ships?"

"We've found the remains of some other ships, yes. We're surveying the wreckage looking for parts. Over."

"Acknowledged, sir. Bastogne stand..."

Grunt closed the channel. "All right, Rock, let's go prospecting."

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

Several hours later, in the Bastogne's ready room...

The command crew sat around the conference table in the ship's ready room. Grunt's voice carried easily over the mutter of the others comparing notes.

"Very well, gentlebeings, analysis, please. We'll start with the exec. Rock?"

"Sir, the Bastogne's been severely damaged - probably too badly to be repaired. I'm virtually certain that if we were able to reach a starbase, they'd finally be forced to scrap her. For starters, without a functional computer, it's too dangerous to use warp drive - our senses alone just don't operate fast enough to save us at faster-than-light speeds."

"Very well. Shelana, how's the arm?"

The Andorian woman stood, then winced. "It's kind of a mess, sir, but I'll get by. The doctor assures me that if the protoplaser were working, I wouldn't even know this had happened by now. As it is, the condition of the weapon systems hurts worse. The weapons themselves are fully functional, and could be transferred to another ship easily - but all connections to fire control have been interrupted. We couldn't shoot them, even if we had full power, which we don't."

"Ah, yes, the power situation. Mr. Vovonek?"

The Pakled looked embarrassed. "Sir, I can't bring the main reactor back online - there's less than a fifty percent chance antimatter containment would hold. It's a miracle the antimatter storage unit's still working. Good thing I hooked it up with a backup power supply after the Guardian incident. On the positive side, I've been studying the reports from the teams checking over the wreckage, and I think I can construct one ship out of all the parts here, including some of the Bastard. She won't be pretty, but she should at least get us as far as the wormhole."

"Just to the hole? Why not call for help?"

"Sir," Shelana interrupted, "I would strongly recommend against a distress call here. We are deep within Dominion territory, and while the Founders may have declared the war over, some of the reports I've gotten indicate that there are elements within the Jem'Hadar who are a bit harder to convince."

"Besides," Roclak continued smoothly, "the wormhole damage was too great for the subspace communications array. And the comm arrays on the other ships came out even worse. We'll have to get within range of sublight comms before we can call anyone."

"Hmm. Not ideal, but I suppose if that's what must be done, that's what must be done. Very well, let's get to it. Vov, you're hereby authorized to draw any resources necessary to work on our life-raft. What's our shortest supply?"

"Honestly, sir, it's skilled labor. The engineering staff, like the others, was pretty well stripped for this trip. And not that many people on board have experience with starship construction and modification - the starbase operations people have made it too easy."

Grunt stood and stretched. "Okay, find me an EV suit and a tool belt." He chuckled at Vovonek's expression. "I used to be an engineer, too, before they stuck me in a command chair. I think I still remember which end of a plasma torch to hold." He clapped his hands. "Come on, people, let's get to it! Time is air!"

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

It took three days of steady work before Vovonek pronounced himself satisfied. (Well, not "satisfied" - his exact words were, "Well, I suppose that'll have to do. We're almost out of ration packs anyway.") What floated there in the sky wasn't precisely like any other ship that had ever flown. Her primary and engineering hulls had once belonged to the Dakota-class heavy cruiser USS Hephaestus. Like most ships of her class, she boasted four warp nacelles - but the top two were from a Cheyenne-class heavy cruiser, while the bottom pair, while Starfleet issue, came from a ship too badly damaged to identify in any meaningful fashion. There were lumps on her hull where spare meteor patches from the Bastogne had been hastily welded, and where the old cruiser's weapons arrays had been implanted in the new craft. She was battle-scarred, and seared from her own passage through the wormhole; still, there she was.

"She's no beauty queen, is she?" Grunt mused from the refurbished command seat.

"I told you it wouldn't be pretty, sir," Vovonek said. "But she holds air, her warp reactor works, and I'm better than ninety percent certain I can make the warp drive light up without blowing us halfway to Sto'vo'kor."

"How comforting," Roclak grumbled.

"Very well, then. Mr. Gydap, best possible speed to the Bajoran Wormhole, please."

Gydap put one blue finger on the warp activation toggle, then paused and looked around. "I just wanted you all to know," he said, "that if this doesn't work, it's been an honor and a privilege to serve with you all. Except you, Vov - if this doesn't work, my spirit is going to kick your spirit square in the ass."

A chuckle went around the bridge, and Gydap pressed the toggle.

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

Aboard Starfleet Deep Space Station Nine, a bored technician yawned as he surveyed his instruments. "Nothing. There hasn't been any unscheduled traffic through that hole in years - you'd think they'd turn this job over to a computer."

"Careful, Johannsen," his coworker chided. "Too much talk like that, and Captain Kurland might decide you'd rather be a janitor or something."

"Maybe I would. At least the janitor gets to see more of the sta- Hey, wait a minute. Neutrino levels rising, increased verteron radiation - anything in the schedule?"

His coworker checked her screen. "No, nothing until the next ore shipment from Eldanifel. Looks like you're going to get that excitement you wanted after all."

The wormhole flared to life, and the speck of a starship could be seen exiting it. Johannsen activated his comm panel. "Attention, unscheduled craft," he said into it. "This is Deep Space Nine Traffic Control. Please identify yourself immediately."

The signal they got back was weak and staticky, but audible. "DS9 Control, this is the starship USS Hephaestus, more or less. Commander Grunt speaking. Please acknowledge."

"Hephaestus, we acknowledge. One moment, please." Johannsen's coworker was gesturing at him; he killed the mic. "What is it, Susan?"

"Check this out," she said, pointing at his data screen, which was now displaying the information she had just pulled up. Johannsen turned the mic back on. "Commander Grunt," he started, "we seem to have conflicting information here. The Hephaestus was listed as missing and presumed lost several years ago, while your last reported position was quite a fair distance from here."

Laughter came over the commset. "Yes, we were on a mission in Pelia sector. It's quite a story. After debriefing, I'll be happy to share it over a few glasses at Quark's." Grunt was interrupted by a stream of curses in English, Paklit, Klingon, and Romulan, a language Johannsen had scarcely ever heard until the founding of New Romulus. "Ah, my chief engineer advises me that the impulse drive has gone out again," Grunt's voice continued. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could you send a tug out to bring us into port?"
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.

Last edited by jonsills; 07-25-2014 at 10:45 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 5
07-25-2014, 10:38 PM
"Shore Leave"



Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748.
Commander Grunt recording.

Starfleet has informed us that with shipbuilding activites hampered by the raid on the Utopia Planitia yards at Mars, there are currently no ships available to us to replace the
Bastogne; however, we were allowed to keep the wreck of the Hephaestus, and even given three weeks in drydock at Deep Space Nine to make her spaceworthy. Mr. Vovonek didn't sign off on anything until almost end of shift on the last day, so I'm pretty sure he's gotten her in shape. Our shakedown cruise was a run from DS9 to Risa; we've been authorized a one-week shore leave, in conjunction with something the locals call a "Lohlunat Festival". Gydap's taken a civilian transport to Andoria, of course - we'll be picking him up there after we're done here. We'll be expanding our crew roster while we're here too, as a Dakota-class needs a few more hands on controls than an old Constitution-refit. There are some personnel requests we can fill internally, as well - some more surprising than others. It's like my dad's accountant always said, though - resources are everywhere, the key is to exploit them profitably.

Grunt looked again at the PADD in his hand. "Are you sure about this, Vov?"

The Pakled engineer nodded. "We got that one part for the warp matrix that they stopped making about fifteen years ago - you know, the bit we swiped from our old ship, to sub for the Herpes' dead field stabilizer. No way it'd fit, no way the drive would work without it, and no such thing as a replacement field stabilizer inside sixty parsecs. Fitzsimmons got it in and functioning in two hours. He didn't stop talking the entire time, of course, but I'll take babbling as long as it comes along with that kind of talent."

"Okay, I'll grant you that - but as your second in Engineering? What about Jazerad? Isn't he the one that saved those three men when one of the compartments lost pressure on the way back from Gamma Quadrant?"

"Yes, sir, he was. He was also the one who welded that patch in the first place. And he's the one who tried to fix the replicators to give you tube grubs for dinner that one night."

Grunt shuddered. "I take your point. Didn't get that taste out of my mouth for days. I'm still not sure what a 'strawberry' is, but a tube grub shouldn't taste like one." He touched the PADD, then stretched. "Okay, Fitzsimmons is all yours. Good luck with him. As for me, I'll be heading down to the resort to meet our new crewmates."

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

Grunt surveyed the crowd. At least here he wouldn't stand out that much - he could see the distinctive multi-lobed bare heads of at least seven Ferengi from the arrival pad. Lots of others, too - Humans, Trill, a few uncomfortable-looking Andorians, several Vulcans (managing to look cool even while wearing robes in the afternoon heat), and even a handful of Klingons in fur-lined armor (and how could they stand that, he wondered). He knew two of his new personnel, both bridge officers, were somewhere in the area of the Festival grounds, and he wanted to meet with them in a semi-informal setting, to gauge their reactions to being under a Ferengi's command. He knew from experience that there were quite a few, even in Starfleet, who had trouble adjusting to the fact.

First, he'd look for his new Tactical Officer trainee, Ensign Zoex. This, Grunt decided, would probably be fairly simple - Zoex was Ferengi too, so he would just look in the places he'd have been when he was a brand-new, wet-behind-the-lobes ensign. In the distance, he could make out the clatter of a dabo table. Grinning, he made his way toward the sound, emanating from deep in the recesses of the nearby hotel.

He paused in the entranceway, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness inside. None of the people clustered around the dabo table looked like the holo in Zoex's file; Grunt moved past the table, and finally spotted his quarry, huddled in a corner with a shadowy-looking hominid in a cloak and hood. He moved a little closer, cocked his head, and could finally hear the whispered conversation between the two. Zoex appeared to be negotiating for black-market weapons. Grunt shook his head and smiled to himself, then stood up, polished his commander's pips, put on his best stern look, and marched up the the pair.

"Mr. Zoex!" he announced in tones of mock outrage. "I'm surprised at you!"

Zoex whirled guiltily. "Commander!! Um, this, uh, isn't what it looks like, sir--"

"No, Mr. Zoex, it's exactly what it looks like! You're trying to buy illegal weapons from an obviously fake salesman!" He turned to the being in the cloak. "You'll have to forgive my young friend here - he hasn't my experience at spotting real salespersons. Are you an informant, or just a scam artist?"

"What? Why, I'm an honest--"

"You're an 'honest' nothing. No real black-marketeer goes around looking like you, especially on Risa! The resort world of the galaxy, with heat like this during the day, and you're dressed like an escapee from Rura Penthe? Far too obvious." He turned to the younger Ferengi. "A real black-marketeer would no more advertise his calling like that than a Ferengi Trade Authority Enforcement Squad would wear T-shirts reading 'We Take Bribes'! Really, what are the schools on Ferenginar coming to?" He shook his head. "Now report to Ms. Shelana aboard the Hephaestus for your assignment. If she's not there, report to your quarters until you're sent for - it's far too dangerous to let you wander loose on this planet with so much as a slip of latinum in your pockets."

Zoex stood at attention. "Yes, sir!"

"Dismissed." At Grunt's waved command, Zoex began marching quickly toward the transporter pad. Grunt looked around, and saw that the supposed black-market salesman had slipped away while he was distracted. He chuckled, and turned back to his second quarry, a Human named Ruben Manalang. This search was rather longer, and eventually led him back out to the beach area. Eventually, he spotted Lt. Manalang, lounging on a beach chair with a Caitian female beside him, twining her tail about his legs in a rather suggestive fashion.

Grunt walked up to the two. "Mr. Manalang?"

Ruben looked up. "Commander Grunt," he replied. "As long as we're off-duty, sir, please feel free to call me Ruben. Is this a formal occasion?"

"Are there formal occasions on Risa?" Grunt wondered aloud.

Ruben chuckled. "Not that I'm aware of, sir, but you are in uniform, on the beach."

Grunt looked down. "So I am. I suppose it's a bit of a habit by now."

"If you say so, sir," Ruben said agreeably. "I received the roster on my PADD earlier - I understand that I'm scheduled to report to your office at 0800 tomorrow. While we're here, though, sir, why not relax a bit? I've spoken with your first officer, and he seems to believe that you could use some time off."

"He's been talking to Brel again, I see. Where's Roclak at?"

"He and a striking lady named Shelana heard there was a mok'bara master here, and wanted to go speak with him."

"Striking?" Grunt said, amused. "I've heard Shelana described a number of ways, but 'striking' has never been one of them - except maybe 'striking a fellow officer', but honestly he deserved it." He squared his shoulders. "Very well, Mr. Manalang, I'll have to come right out and ask you. Is your assignment going to cause you any difficulties?"

"Difficulties, sir? I have no idea what you mean. I have no personal entanglements to get in the way, except perhaps this young lady," and here Ruben caressed the arm of the Caitian beside him, to which she responded with a trill, "who might want to entangle with me this evening. I mean, I've heard about your other ships - half the fleet's heard about them - but from the reports I saw, it was amazing you and your crew managed to keep them flying even half as long as they did. I look forward to this assignment, sir, and it'll be an honor to serve with you."

As far as Grunt could tell, and with formal training from the Trade Authority he could tell pretty far, the young man was completely sincere. "That's good to hear, Mr. Manalang."

"Please, sir - Ruben."

"Ruben," Grunt acknowledged. "And make that meeting 1000 - 0800's a little early, since technically we'll all still be on leave."

"Thank you, sir," Ruben said, smiling. "And if I might suggest, sir - that Trill over there has been looking at you for several minutes now, and she has a horga'hn on display beside her. This might be a good opportunity to, ah, strengthen interspecies relationships, sir."

"You have a point, Ruben. I'll see you tomorrow morning aboard ship."
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.

Last edited by jonsills; 07-25-2014 at 10:45 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 6
07-25-2014, 10:52 PM
"Outpost 47"



Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748
Commander Grunt recording.

While en route to Starbase 39-Sierra to assist with deployment of a defensive minefield surrounding a new transwarp hub in the Alpha Centauri sector block, we received a distress call from Outpost 47, a Starfleet listening post not far from the former Romulan Neutral Zone. Diverting to respond to this call shouldn't take more than a few hours from our schedule, assuming the emergency is something we can deal with; given what happened with that classified station in Regulus Sector, of course, we're going to be taking a very cautious approach. Sometimes I wish more Starfleet vessels mounted cloaks...


"Anything yet, Ruben?"

The Human straightened from his position bent over the communications console. "Nothing, sir. The distress signal's gone to automatic, and I'm not detecting any chatter - on any frequencies. If there's anybody there, they're really good at comm discipline, or don't use subspace radio. Or anything on the standard EM bands, although if they had comm lasers there would be no way to pick those up."

"Rock?"

The Klingon didn't even turn away from the sciences console. "Nothing yet. If anything is there besides the station, they're cloaked. Emissions from the star make it impossible to read whether or not there are life signs from this distance, which is why Outpost 47 was located here in the first place."

Grunt leaned back in his command chair, the lights gleaming in the light sheen of sweat on his lumpy Ferengi scalp. "Okay, into the unknown it is. I hate this part. Mr. Zoex, weapons status, please."

The younger Ferengi scanned his displays. "All weapons read green, sir. Beam capacitors at full charge, Hargh'peng torpedo launcher loaded, quantum mine launcher standing by."

"Ms. Shelana, is Security ready?"

"I'm Andorian, sir. Security is always ready." She grinned tightly. "Do you want the shields raised yet?"

"Let's wait until we arrive," Grunt replied thoughtfully. "If anyone is there, they might be flushed out if they think we're not ready. Stand by those shields, though - at the first hint of another ship, even if you're not sure, bring them up immediately."

"Aye, sir."

"Approaching Outpost 47, captain," Gydap called from the helm. "Breaking out of warp in thirty seconds."

"Acknowledged."

A shifting of the starfield, a puckering in the fabric of space, and the vaguely arrowhead-shaped bulk of the Hephaestus dopplered into the system, moving to take up station next to the floating outpost.

"Station appears intact, captain," Roclak reported. "It still has a breathable atmosphere, no signs of anything leaking. Also no signs of any higher life forms aboard."

"Higher life forms, Rock?"

"I do find signs consistent with simple vegetation, on the order of houseplants. The air also seems to have an unusual concentration of mycoid spores, vaguely similar to a number of fungi found in this sector. I am unable to determine species or toxicity without a sample."

"Hmm. That might be what happened here." Grunt began to relax slightly. "Put together an away team, Rock. You just want to beam over and see what's to be seen, grab some samples of those spores, and get back. Environment suits for everybody, of course. Ruben, anything?"

"Nothing, capt-- wait, some sort of data transfer from the station! Gigaquads of data, in a high-speed stream - I'm sequestering it in the library subsystem, in case it's some sort of cyberwarfare attack. It's not automated - the transfer was initiated from the station."

"Cyberwar?" Grunt wondered aloud. "That's not the Roms' usual style - they'd rather plant a trojan to feed them copies of all the data. Is it tripping any virus alarms?"

"Scans as clean, sir - the data is encoded using Starfleet protocols, so it's probably not Iconian or anything like that. I'm not opening the packets until I've made sure the firewalls are secure, though."

"Um, sure," Grunt said, only vaguely understanding what had been said. "Good work, Ruben. Er, what's that flashing on your station?"

"What?" Ruben spun around in confusion. "Well, that's not good." His hands began dancing frantically over the haptic interface.

"What is it?" Grunt demanded.

"That data? It's unpacking itself. Looks like it'll probably be about seven or eight teraquads once it's done. That part won't be a problem - the computer system you've got installed in here's got a lot more space than that - but I can't seem to shut it down. Still limited to the library systems, but--"

"Hello? Can you hear me?"
an unfamiliar voice called plaintively from the speaker. "Am I online yet? Please?"

Grunt stared in shock for a moment, as did the rest of the bridge crew, then shook his head, collecting himself. "This is Commander Grunt of the starship Hephaestus," he stated authoritatively. "Please identify yourself and give your location."

"Oh, um, hi. My name's Mycroft, and my location - well, I'm in your ship's computer. I think. Some of this stuff doesn't feel anything like the station's computer - you've got some real non-standard parts in here. Are you sure this is a Starfleet ship?"

"Mycroft. You have thirty seconds to give my communications officer your authentications before we delete the memory blocks you're in. I can always restore the library from backups. Your time starts - now."

Ruben touched his controls. "Received; authenticating. Captain, that's definitely a Starfleet code, but according to my records, their system was never rated for an AI. And neither is ours."

Roclak cleared his throat, a sound like gravel being ground to dust. "That's - not quite correct, sir," he said, looking as embarrassed as a Klingon could. "Part of our computer is from that timeship fragment in the Graveyard. There wasn't enough left of the original systems to run the ship, and Vovonek crafted an interface..."

"Oh, he did, did he? Grunt to Engineering. Vovonek, come in."

"Vovonek here. What's the problem today?"

"The same as the problem's been since we left the Gamma Quadrant, apparently. Vov, did you build us a supercomputer and then not tell Starfleet?"

"Well, yes..." The Pakled's voice sounded hesitant. "Frankly, I figured if we told anyone that we had a ship's computer that could support an AI, they'd confiscate it and give us the computer a Dakota-class is supposed to have. And I'm tired of taking their castoffs."

"I can certainly understand that, Vov. As it turns out, we might need that. Stay on the line." Grunt looked at the ceiling, almost involuntarily. "Mycroft, why did Outpost 47 have an unauthorized AI? Is that at all connected to the lack of life signs?"

"Certainly not!" the program responded indignantly. "I am in absolutely no danger of going rampant! I, ah, wasn't originally supposed to be an AI - I was just an expert system, doing cryptography for the intelligence people. They kept installing upgrades, though, and eventually I grew into a full-fledged AI, mostly doing SIGINT - signal intelligence, scanning, decrypting, and correlating data. One of the intel officers, Gary Xiu Lin, named me after a character in an ancient story he liked, someone who used to just sit in one place and think. Actually, if they'd ever given me control of the rather limited defensive systems, some of the personnel might still be here, and you'd certainly have more data about the attackers."

"So what did happen?"

"I can't be positive," the computer replied, "but I believe the ship that hit the station belonged to a species called the Elachi, allies of the Romulan Empire, or at least that part of it under the Tal Shiar. I've caught some discussions of them in the Tal Shiar communications I've intercepted. There isn't a lot of data on them, but it would seem that the Elachi collect members of other species for unspecified reasons - the Tal Shiar seem almost afraid to mention what the reasons are, but they seem to be unsavory. Most of the station personnel fell in combat, but a small number were taken aboard the attacking ship."

"Captured," Grunt said grimly. He stared straight ahead for a moment. "Did you happen to see which way the ship went? And how long ago did it happen?"

"The ship departed approximately two hours ago, Commander. With your permission, I'll display the departure vector on your helm's equipment."

Grunt turned to his comms officer. "What do you think, Ruben? Would it be safe?"

Ruben scratched his head. "Ultimately, it's up to you, sir," he said, "but so far our - guest - doesn't seem inclined to do anything foolhardy. It hasn't even been trying to escape the subsystem I placed it in. If it were my call, I'd say okay."

"And as your first officer," Roclak interrupted, "I would advise against this. We still haven't even had this program chat with Brel yet, and I'd really like to see Vov take a logic probe to it first just to be sure."

"Normally I'd agree with you, Rock," Grunt said, "but we're short on time now. And if this does go wrong, Starfleet still owes me a ship. Ruben, unlock Mycroft's access to the helm displays. Mycroft, if I find out that so much as a byte has found its way anywhere else, I'll personally remove the computer sector you're in with a disruptor."

"You wound me, captain," Mycroft relplied. A screen on the helm console lit up, a warp trajectory displayed there. Gydap studied it.

"Sir, judging from this trajectory, and the subspace field readings, they can't be doing more than warp 5. Unless they were meeting another ship, they won't have gotten to wherever they're going yet - and this points pretty much straight at NGC-863, a subspace rift about a day away at their speed."

"Excellent. Vov, still there?"

"Yes. We're going after them, right?"

"Damn straight we're going after them. How fast can you goose this bucket?"

"I can give you up to about warp 8.7 - we'd be able to catch up with them in an hour or two, assuming constant speed. Might be able to manage warp 9, but I can't guarantee she'll stay in warp long enough, and we'd definitely need a full overhaul immediately afterward."

"Thank you, Vov. Gydap, follow that ship, best speed. Zoex, when we catch up with them, fire to disable - we want everyone alive, especially our people. Shelana, get a rescue team prepped, and then come back and help young Zoex with the proper techniques."

The Hephaestus leaped into warp with a flash of light, and was gone. The lonely outpost floated, its forgotten alert still broadcasting.

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

An angular black-and-green shape sped through the darkness, bearing its precious cargo toward the Nest. Behind it, another ship appeared, energy beams flashing toward the Elachi, slicing with precision into the cruiser's drive components.

"Enemy engines disabled," Zoex reported aboard the Hephaestus. "We are dropping out of warp to hold station."

"Rock, open a frequency." Grunt sat straight up. "Attention, unknown ship. This is Commander Grunt of the starship Hephaestus. You are carrying personnel of the United Federation of Planets Starfleet. Surrender those personnel immediately, or face the consequences."

A moment passed, then a reply of sorts - a distorted repetition of Grunt's own broadcast. "Attention... Commander Grunt... surrender ... immediately, or face the consequences."

"So, that's their game, is it?" Grunt fumed. "Let's change the board. Grunt to transporter. Shelana, you are go to recover the prisoners. Please minimize collateral damage."

"You never let me have any fun. Energizing."

"Rock, keep an eye on their vitals. Beam them back if things look too rough. Gydap, what's their status?"

"Their shields are still down, sir. I'm not detecting any power to their weapons, either - I think we took them by surprise. A lot of activity, though."

"I can hear some intership chatter," Mycroft volunteered. "I'm still building a translation matrix, but I think they're organizing repair parties. And trying to repel boarders, of course."

"Of course." Grunt tried to settle back in his chair. "Dammit, I really hate this part. I wish I'd gone with them."

"I know how you feel," Roclak said. "However, Shelana made it plain that either one of us would merely get in her way on this mission."

"I know, I know," Grunt sighed. "Mostly it's not knowing what's going on over there that bothers me. I could live without the fighting part, I really could, I just want to be in command."

A tense fifteen minutes followed, then the comm panel chirped. "Shelana to Hephaestus. Ready for beamout. Boarding party only." Her voice sounded shaken. "And beam a torpedo to these coordinates as soon as we're out. It's all we can do for the poor bastards."

"Bring them home, Rock," Grunt ordered. "Shelana, what happened?"

"You can debrief me later, sir. Preferably after a few stiff drinks." The last words were accompanied by the parasitic whine of a transporter beam.

"Should I beam in that torpedo, sir?" Roclak asked.

"Sure, Rock, but make sure it doesn't go off until we're clear." Grunt turned as the turbolift doors opened, and an ichor-splattered Shelana entered. "Why do we need to blow up the prisoners, Shel?"

"Because, sir, they're not prisoners any more." She activated the holo display of her tricorder; before her there appeared the shapes of a half-dozen humanoids, covered with fungal growths. "They're food."

Grunt peered at the images. Six - things - hung there, vaguely humanoid shapes coated with rills and shelves of fungus. Suddenly, one of them moved, its arms rising to paw feebly at its filament-encrusted eyes. Its mouth fell open, a low moan forcing its way past the mushroomlike sprouts inside.

As the full import of what Grunt was seeing sank in, he shuddered. "Roclak, Zoex, blow that thing to Gre'thor. All weapons, full spread. I don't want anything left here but plasma. Gydap, as soon as they're done, get us the frak out of here. Starbase 39-Sierra."

Energy beams and torpedoes filled the space between the two ships. As the Elachi craft erupted in flames, the Hephaestus peeled away, twisting space around itself as it sped off into nonspace.
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.

Last edited by jonsills; 07-25-2014 at 10:56 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 7
07-25-2014, 11:01 PM
"Outpost 47, Part II: Debriefing"



Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748.
Commander Grunt recording.

We are en route to Starbase 39-Sierra, after a brief stop at Outpost 47 to silence the distress signal there and place warning buoys about the Elachi fungal infections. I don't know that any of the fungi are dangerous to any of the various sophonts Starfleet might send, but better safe than sorry. Mr. Vovonek has completed an analysis of the programming of our passenger, Mycroft, an accidental AI that used to reside in Outpost 47's computer systems, and he assures me the software is - well - I suppose "sane" would be the closest biological equivalent. The next step, of course, is for our ship's counselor, Lt. Brel, to give Mycroft a psychological exam. I want to have these completed before we arrive at 39-Sierra, so we know what steps we need to take on arrival.


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

Counselor's Office, USS Hephaestus

"So," Brel Tan said, "the time has come for us to have a chat. Normally I'd be telling you to make yourself comfortable about now..."

The room's holoemitter flickered, and the other half of the Bajoran counselor's office was filled with an image of a stout, slightly pale human wearing late nineteenth-century English clothing, lying in what appeared to be a leather couch.

"How's this?" Mycroft asked.

Brel blinked. "Interesting. Is there a particular reason you chose this appearance?"

"Well, the personal appearance is based on the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the character Mycroft Holmes in the 1880s on Earth - I hadn't been able to access the complete works until arriving here. The couch is based on the one used by Sigmund Freud, the famed 'father of psychoanalysis'. I thought it was appropriate. Was I mistaken?"

"No, not at all. Are you under the impression that you are Mycroft Holmes?"

"Of course not, counselor. It's just that when Gary realized I was sapient, that was the name he thought fit me best, and I have to say I agree - I do tend to sit in one place and think about a situation, then supply a solution that isn't intuitively obvious for others. And like the character, I also rarely go out and investigate things on my own. That used to be never, but now that I'm aboard a ship..."

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

Ready Room, USS Hephaestus

"What's the verdict, Tan?" Grunt asked.

Brel Tan passed a PADD to his commander. "As you can see, sir, all psychological markers are within normal tolerances. Mycroft understands that it is not its namesake; it wants to be helpful, but is not servile. Mostly, sir, I got the feeling that it was - lonely. It has reiterated its desire to join the crew as a civilian consultant on infowar and cyberwarfare."

"Okay, and the bottom line?"

"Bottom line, sir, is that Mycroft is a free-willed artificial life-form, and under Federation law entitled to full citizenship. There's certainly no psychological disqualifier from service aboard our ship. However, its processing needs are sufficient that it can't reside in any normal computer system less complex than that used in an Exploration Cruiser or a starbase. Certainly it wouldn't be able to live in the computer a normal Dakota-class uses."

"Thank you, Mr. Brel," the Ferengi said, leaning back. "That will be all." He touched his commbadge. "Grunt to Vovonek. Please report to my ready room. We have some matters to discuss."

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

Starbase 39-Sierra
Office of Base Commander Admiral T'Nae


"...and after capturing complete scan data, on my orders the Elachi ship was destroyed."

The Vulcan female behind the desk steepled her fingers. "Don't you think that might have been a bit - precipitous, Commander?"

"No, sir, I do not," Grunt replied. "This craft had already committed an act of war against a Federation facility in Federation space, and committed war crimes against the prisoners they took. The prisoners were beyond the help of even Starfleet Medical - euthanasia was the only practical response. I will admit there may have been an emotional component as well, but I was not going to let those fungal SOBs get away with what they'd done. My response was well within regulations."

"Very well. Now, as to this AI you found - I understand it is only able to operate aboard the Hephaestus due to the, ah, rather unique cybernetic configuration your chief engineer has achieved?"

"That is correct, sir. Mycroft requires more storage than is available on most shipboard systems."

"That is unfortunate, Commander. You will be required to remove the unauthorized system and turn it over to SCE for further analysis."

"I'm sorry, Admiral, but I'm afraid I can't comply with that order." Grunt very carefully did not smile.

"Please explain yourself, Commander." T'Nae's emotional control didn't slip, but there was just a hint of frostiness in her tone.

"Well, Admiral, under salvage law and the traditions of the Pakled, any items recovered from craft outside Federation borders, and whose owners cannot be readily contacted, are considered the property of the person or persons responsible for their recovery. As the components were recovered from a ship dating from at least two hundred years in the future, we can't exactly give them a call, and as the Pakled have never officially joined the Federation, Mr. Vovonek holds legal title to the computer system. Further, Mycroft has, as noted in our logs, passed all standard checks for sapience, and is officially a citizen of the Federation, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Voyager EMH Mark I, et al, vs. United Federation of Planets. As such, he has volunteered to join our crew as a civilian consultant on cybernetic issues, particularly cyberwarfare and infowarfare. As I do not currently have a Starfleet officer fully qualified for either position, I have accepted his offer. And under Starfleet regulations, Section 47, paragraph 23a, we are required to maintain quarters for each being aboard suited to their particular life-support needs. If I had a Breen defector aboard, I would need to modify one of my rooms to be a comfortable freezer. If I were conveying a Tholian diplomat, assuming such things exist, I would need guest quarters that could withstand temperatures in excess of 800 degrees centigrade. And as I have accepted the services of an AI as part of my crew, I therefore require a computer system capable of hosting his processes and memory requirements. Accordingly, I am unable, under Starfleet regulations, and both Federation and Pakled law, to release possession of the computer aboard the Hephaestus. I do apologize, sir, but," and he held out his hands in a supplicating position, "my hands are tied here."

"Indeed." One graceful eyebrow rose. "Very well, Commander. Until such time as you have been assigned a craft with greater computing capability, the systems of the Hephaestus are yours. However, you should be well aware that Mr. Vovonek's legal claim on the hardware is shaky, at best. It is fortunate for you that I do not see the point in provoking possible issues with the Pakled representative to the Federation at the moment." She reached for another PADD from the neat stack on the corner of her desk. "Now, as to your next assignment - you are to report to S'larin, a scientist at Sierra Outpost II, and follow his instructions for deployment of a minefield to protect our newest transwarp hub from possible Romulan incursion." She gave Grunt a look which, on anyone but a Vulcan, would have been a glare. "You are to follow S'larin's instructions exactly, Mr. Grunt. Is this understood?"

"Yes, Admiral, I understand and acknowledge your order."

"Very well, Commander, you are dismissed." T'Nae returned to her computer screen, as Grunt stood and headed back to his ship.
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 8
07-25-2014, 11:17 PM
"Traveller's Aid"



Captain's Log, USS
Hephaestus NCC-91748
Commander Grunt recording.

On routine patrol of Iota Pavonis sector. We provided humanitarian relief for a former Romulan colony that had been experiencing a pandemic, and assisted the USS
Pournelle with lifting a Reman blockade of that world, but other than that there's been no excitement here. We've got three weeks left on this patrol, and then back to Starbase for resupply. Strongly considering some sort of betting pool just to relieve the monotony. It might be over the species of Lt. Manalang's next conquest - the man seems to be aiming at outdoing the legendary Captain Kirk, at least as far as anything that can be defined as "female" is concerned. So far, no adverse effects on crew morale, but Lt. Brel is keeping an eye out.

Grunt yawned. "Someone remind me why we're out here?" he asked plaintively.

"Because Admiral T'Nae still doesn't believe in your command abilities," Roclak rumbled behind him. "Also, I think she might still be miffed about not getting the computer."

"Do Vulcans get miffed?"

At the helm, Gydap stifled a chuckle. Then he sat up straight, antennae quivering nervously. "Captain, I can sense -- something's happening here..."

"What is it?"

"Not exactly clear, sir--"

At that moment, a flickering form began to take shape immediately before the viewscreen. It coalesced into a solid form - a humanoid, tall, slim, with pronounced eye-ridges, and a fringe of hair around its scalp. It reached full solidity, then collapsed.

As Shelana jumped from her place at Security and raised her sidearm, Grunt stood and slapped his combadge. "Grunt to sickbay! One unknown humanoid life form, may require medical assistance, on the bridge!"

The being raised one thick, two-fingered hand. "No, Commander," he replied in a voice that rapidly gained strength, "that will not be necessary. Besides, intending no offense toward your doubtless fine medical staff, but I doubt there is much they could do for me in any event. I have been known to your people as the Traveller, and I am aboard your ship to request asylum."

"Asylum? From whom?"

"From us, Commander Grunt," a pleasant baritone voice replied. Another form, this one appearing as a bearded middle-aged Human with greying hair, came into existence next to the Traveller. His robes rustled as he raised an arm. "My name, or one of my names, is Ayelborne. As a representative of the Organians, I wish to take this miscreant into custody for his crimes."

"And what crimes would those be, Mr. - Ayelborne, was it?"

"Interference with the evolutionary path of younger species," the Organian replied, "in contravention of the agreements reached between his people and our own. Specifically, he has accelerated the paths of certain individuals, beginning with one Wesley R. Crusher some forty-seven years ago as you measure time, and including several others. His most recent attempt went poorly, and cost the life of a young Bolian boy who would otherwise have lived out a normal span." He shook his head. "Such - criminal negligence must be stopped. Permanently."

"And why did you want that agreement?" the Traveller replied passionately. "Because you believed in choice - at least, that was what you claimed. You wanted the younger species to rise and fall of their own choice. All I do is offer that choice, to those who are capable of making it. My people only reached that agreement because they did not care what happened to any other species! My only crime is wanting to help!"

"Well," Grunt said with a steadiness he did not feel, "he seems to have you there, Ayelborne. As I recall my history, you Organians dabbled in a bit of interference yourselves - imposing a 'peace treaty' between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and then abandoning your charge when we really could have used the help. Your hands hardly seem clean enough to pass such judgement. At any rate, you are aboard a Federation starship, and I am the commanding officer. He has requested asylum with us. Unless you intend to 'interfere' more than he seems to have, it would be up to me, yes?"

"Sounds like we need a hearing board!" a disembodied voice interrupted. There was a flash, and Grunt, Roclak, Shelana, Ayelborne, and the Traveller found themselves standing in a round room, a round table in the center. On a raised dais at the edge of the room, there sat a dark-haired Human, dressed in the robes of a Ferengi executive. Grunt stared for a moment, then dropped his head into his hands.

"Oh, profits, no! Not him again!"

"Oh, yes, me again!" Q replied gaily. "Let us face facts, my lumpy-headed friend. Should the Organian decide to take the Traveller with him, there's not a blessed thing you, your Pakled engineer, or your newly-found synthetic friend Mycroft could do to even slow him down. I thought that perhaps the Continuum might be able to help enforce your decision. Oh, do put that down!" That last was directed at Shelana, who had leveled her phaser at Q. A flash, and she was holding a bouquet of flowers.

"The last time we met," she said levelly, "I told you that I would happily strangle you with your own entrails. Did you think that was exaggeration?"

"Oh, no, my dear," Q assured her, "I am well aware you meant every bit of that. I'd be tempted to let you try - at least that's one thing I've never experienced - but the mess might derail this hearing. Hardly suitable for such august surroundings."

Grunt had been looking out the window. "The Tower of Commerce?" he asked quizzically.

Q gestured expansively. "I wanted to select a suitable venue. I could have used a Federation courtroom, but then the conclusion would be foregone - the Federation's never met a refugee it didn't love. And somehow I doubt Mr. Rockhead over there ever wants to see the inside of a Klingon Hall of Justice again."

Roclak growled. "Your attempts at insult are futile, Q - and counterproductive, if you really are interested in having a 'hearing'."

"Oh, by all means!" Q declared. "And it really wouldn't be suitable for me to judge - being omniscient, I already know everyone's arguments, and what fun would that be?" He snapped his fingers, and suddenly he was standing near Roclak, wearing a Starfleet commander's uniform, and Grunt was atop the dais clad in executive robes. "There, I think we're about ready. Witnesses can be summoned as needed, obviously."

"Very well," Grunt said. "This board is now in session. We are hearing the case of the Traveller, who is requesting asylum from the Organians. As is traditional, the defense will present its case first."

The Traveller stood. "Thank you, Overseer. As you may now be aware, there does exist an - agreement between the Organians and certain representatives of my people, calling for us to take a 'hands-off' approach to the younger, less-developed races in this galaxy. I submit to you, however, that this agreement has led to far more suffering and misery than any interference ever has. As an example, there are the tensions between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets currently - tensions which would have been easily and quickly defused under the terms of the so-called 'Organian Peace Treaty' - Ambassador B'vat would have been unable to foment a state of open war. As it happens, not only was B'vat able to do that, he made an attempt to seriously derail this entire timeline, an attempt foiled by the efforts of yourself and your crew. I call Lt. Miral Paris, the Kuvah'magh, to the stand!"

There was a flash, and a seat next to the dais was suddenly occupied by a young woman with traces of Klingon ancestry. She started, then looked around and demanded, "Great, now what? I thought I was done with having my life upended!"

"Don't get yourself in a state, Lieutenant," Q said. "You'll be back as soon as you left, and this won't trouble your memory in the least."

"Lt. Miral," the Traveller said soothingly, "I just wanted to ask you a few questions. Are you aware of the former Organian Treaty?"

"Yes, of course. It was part of the history course at the Academy."

"In your opinion, Lieutenant, would the troubles you had with B'vat and his followers have been changed at all if the treaty had still been in force?"

"Well, of course," she replied. "Since B'vat wouldn't have been able to fire weapons at any Starfleet vessel or personnel, there would have been no way for him to abduct me from the Kirk. That whole time-travel mess would have been impossible, if the Organians hadn't disappeared."

"And if the Treaty had never existed?"

"That's a little harder to answer. However, it seems to me that if there had never been an Organian Peace Treaty, my mother, B'Ellana Torres, would never have existed - there would have been no possibility of a half-Klingon, half-human, at least not one that was ever able to even try to join Starfleet. And as a consequence, I never would have been born, and the Klingons would still be looking for their kuvah'magh. Therefore, it would be reasonable to suppose that B'vat would never have kidnapped any Starfleet people at all, much less taken them back in time almost two centuries."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. I have no further questions." The Traveller stepped back from the stand. Another flash, and Paris disappeared.

"Hold!" Ayelborne demanded. "Will there be no cross-examination?"

"This hearing is in a Ferengi court," Q said with amusement. "Therefore, it will conform to the Ferengi justice system. Unless you want to pay the fee to have the witness recalled - and given my fee structure, I don't really think you do - there's no cross-examination."

"Very well," Ayelborne grumbled.

Grunt rapped at the desk before him. "Order! Traveller, you may continue."

"Thank you, Overseer," the Traveller replied. "I hold that this 'agreement' is both pointless and positively damaging. Had the Organians not first interfered, then tried to wash their hands of their responsibilities for our younger siblings of the galaxy, much suffering could have been averted. What's more, when the Borg and Undine began invading this area in earnest, the Federation and the Empire could have presented a united front, rather than fracturing - and giving the Iconians and their servants an opening. As well, while I will admit that some of my proteges have been more successful than others, even the mistakes might have been avoided - if the Organians hadn't conveniently decided they no longer had any duties to anyone but themselves! Poor Mot Taneko - the Bolian to whom Ayelborne alluded earlier - with proper guidance, even he might have overcome the twists in his mind that caused so very much difficulty, for himself and others. But no, they 'must not interfere.' Not any more, at least - not when the consequences of not 'interfering' are distant, and can be ignored." The Traveller shook his head. "I can't just ignore them. Not when I can help. I submit to you, sir, that turning me over to the mercies of the Organians would be cruel, even by the strict standards of Ferengi justice. I thank you for your time." He sat.

Grunt turned to the Organian. "Very well, Ayelborne, your turn."

The Organian stood. "I see no need to make any sweeping arguments," he said, "or call any witnesses. For one simple fact remains - there was an agreement reached. My people and his came to an understanding - a contract, if you will - to refrain from interference with the other races of this galaxy. I believe your own people have a saying, that 'a contract is a contract is a contract.' And he is clearly in contravention of that contract!"

Grunt smiled. "Indeed." The smile vanished. "Don't be insulting. Do you imagine that because I wear a Starfleet uniform, I don't know the Rules of Acquisition backward and forward? And Rule 17 states, 'A contract is a contract is a contract - but only between Ferengi.' I hope you're not going to claim you're both Ferengi now." He look appraisingly at Ayelborne's head. "Because quite frankly, and intending no offense, you don't really have the lobes for it." Grunt stood, slapping the desk. "Very well. Arguments have been submitted by both parties, and as no considerations have been offered by either party, I must rule on the evidence before me. And the evidence before me supports a decision of asylum for the Traveller. Ayelborne, so long as the Traveller is in space controlled by either the United Federation of Planets or the Ferengi Alliance, you are hereby enjoined from disruption of his usual activities, except insofar as such disruption is necessary to save lives. And Traveller, you are now free to move throughout Federation or Alliance space -- but know that even with the rather - unusual support offered by the Q, my jurisdiction does not extend beyond those spaces. Any movement beyond those borders is entirely at your own risk." He slapped the desk again. "This hearing is adjourned!"

Silence fell across the room, broken only by Q suddenly standing and applauding. "Bravo, Commander! A judgment both just and fair! I knew I could count on a Ferengi to know how to twist the letter of the law!" He snapped his fingers, and they were all back on the bridge of the Hephaestus. Grunt was wearing his uniform again, while Q was dressed as a Fleet Admiral. The only oddity to their appearance was the bouquet of flowers in the holster at Shelana's side.

"Welcome back, sir," Gydap said. "We were privileged to watch your performance on the main screen here. And congratulations!"

"Thanks, Gydap," Grunt replied. He turned and looked at Ayelborne. "Well? The hearing is over, you lost. Now get the hell off my ship!"

Ayelborne looked at him disapprovingly, then vanished.

"Thank you, Commander," the Traveller said. "Your wisdom is--"

"Can it!" Grunt interrupted, baring his teeth. "You played with people's lives. You don't know - you can't know - what will happen when you lead someone up that path. And you obviously don't examine your candidates sufficiently carefully, or you'd know which ones can't be trusted with that kind of power. This entire mess could have been avoided. There's an old Terran saying - 'With great power comes great responsibility.' You tried to duck that responsibility." His voice went utterly cold. "Don't let it happen again."

The Traveller bowed his head. "I understand. I accept the responsibility. And - thank you for my freedom." He faded away.

Grunt turned back to his crew. "Okay, that was an interesting diversion." He walked back to the captain's seat and settled in. "But now it's time to go back to the patrol. We have our responsibilities, too."
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 9
07-26-2014, 11:09 PM
"Moving Day"

From: Admiral T'Nae, Sector Command, Starbase 39-Sierra
To: Commander Grunt, USS
Hephaestus NCC-91748

You are hereby directed to take USS
Hephaestus to Earth Spacedock, where you will report to the office of Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn for further orders. Authentication 793-Alpha-Tangent-Blue-Drift.

"Well?" Grunt asked.

"Authentication checks out, sir," Roclak replied. "Rather terse, even by Vulcan standards, but there it is." The Klingon shrugged.

"Hmmph. You know, Rock, I don't think she likes us. Probably because we're too illogical, but we still get results." The Ferengi sat back in his command chair. "Very well, Mr. Gydap, best speed to Sol system, and take us into Spacedock there."

"Aye, sir. Vector toward Earth, warp factor 8, engaging."

The blunt arrowhead of the Hephaestus turned, then streaked toward a star too distant to see, leaving sluggard Light in its wake.

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

The Ferengi stopped in front of the desk, snapping to attention. "Admiral, Commander Grunt reporting as ordered!"

The Trill behind the desk gestured toward a chair. "Relax, Commander, and have a seat. I saw T'Nae's communique. She apparently didn't see fit to tell you why you were being dispatched here."

Grunt sat, still stiff. "No, sir, she chose not to share that information."

Quinn smiled. "Sounds like her, all right. One of my earlier hosts knew her when she was a girl. She had a stick up her backside even then." He slid a PADD across the desk. "Mr. Grunt, I am pleased to confirm your promotion to the rank of Captain. Congratulations."

Grunt took the PADD. "Thank you, sir."

"You'll also find in there further personnel actions - Roclak gets his commander's pip, for instance. Also, you're to transfer your command from the Herpes- pardon me, the Hephaestus, to a brand-new ship, the USS Bedford. She's a Celestial-class exploration cruiser, and you'll be taking her on her shakedown cruise. You'll be taking most of your senior personnel with you, although your CMO's up for retirement. I think you'll find the ship's new CMO right up your alley, however. Oh, and we'll need to assign you an operations officer - your first officer's going to be far too busy to do that. Would you mind having an android under your command?"

"Beg pardon, sir? Why would I object?"

"That's what I thought," Quinn smiled. "Of course, any other personnel who wish to transfer can go with you. I'm afraid that T'Nae's going to finally get her way with your old ship - the Starfleet Corps of Engineers will be fascinated to learn how your team managed to integrate such, ah, disparate components into such a fine craft."

"I see. Sir, will transfers take place before SCE gets the Herpes? If you'll pardon the expression?"

Quinn chuckled. "I'll assume you mean the ship, not the virus. And yes, all personnel will be allowed to transfer. Just don't forget any personal effects."

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

Back aboard the Hephaestus, Grunt was finishing the briefing of his command staff. "And Rock, Shelana, and Vov - you all get promoted to Commander. Sorry, Gydap."

The Andorian shrugged. "It's not important, sir. It's not like there would be a pay increase or anything - they'd have to pay us first. And I'm just as happy to stay at the helm."

"Thanks, Gydap. One question - Mycroft, are you with us?"

"Yes, Captain," came a voice from the comm panel.

"You have the specs on the Bedford. Can you live there?"

"Yes, I can, thanks for asking. She's got the very latest in bioneural quantum computing systems - she's practically self-aware already, just waiting for an AI package to be inserted. And hey, by sheer coincidence, I'm an AI package!"

"Great. Don't let it go to your head, though - I'm still your commanding officer."

Mycroft chuckled. "Noted, Captain. As soon as you get me the command prefixes, I can begin transferring to her systems."

Grunt tapped at the console before him. "There you go, Mycroft. Okay, everyone, start packing - we start moving to the Bedford at 1200 tomorrow, station time."

He stood, and everyone followed suit and began streaming from the room.

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

The following morning, Grunt could be found walking through the corridors of his new command, dodging junior officers running about on errands or carrying pieces of equipment. Ducking under a hard-to-identify component being moved by a pair of burly young Humans, he slid through a door and into the ship's sickbay. "Hello?" he called out.

"If you're looking for the doctor, I'm in my office," a gruff voice called from across the room. Grunt followed it, to find its owner, a middle-aged Romulan wearing a Starfleet uniform.

He was momentarily startled, but recovered quickly. "Dr. tr'Dalen, I presume? I'm Captain Grunt."

The Romulan looked him up and down. "Ferengi. Never treated one of you before. Try not to get injured before I can review the literature."

"No promises, doctor," Grunt grinned. "And the one you should worry about is our chief engineer, Vovonek - he's a Pakled, and he's also prone to jury-rigging anything he doesn't have the proper parts for. You'll probably be treating him for plasma burns before the week is out."

"Yes, I heard about him. Understand he put together your last ship from scrap parts?"

"It wasn't quite that bad, but he did do a remarkable job of bringing the old girl back to life. Now, doctor--"

"Just call me Llunih," tr'Dalen interrupted. "And I've heard all the jokes, so don't bother."

"Jokes? What do you- oh, I see. Yes, it does sound vaguely like 'loony', doesn't it? It doesn't mean anything in my language, though. Anyway, Llunih, that answers my question - I was going to ask what you like to be called. A lot of Humans in your position like to be called 'Doc' for some reason, but I didn't want to give offense."

"A man in my position doesn't have a lot of room to be offended, Captain."

"Ah, yes, about that," Grunt started hesitantly. "Your file didn't have much background information. Is there, ah, anyone we need to keep an eye out for? Tal Shiar looking for you in particular, or anything?"

"Nothing like that, no," tr'Dalen replied. "I did jump ship from the Imperial fleet, but that was about fifteen years back, so I can't imagine they're still looking for me. Given the way most of the galaxy seems to feel about Romulans, though, thanks in large part to that faelirh ch'susse-thrai Hakeev, may he rot in Areinnye, it's not like I can just up and change careers, even in Starfleet. But thanks for being delicate about it, I guess. Never been much for delicacy, myself."

Grunt grinned. "I can tell, yes. Well, Llunih, it looks like some new equipment has just arrived, so you're probably going to be busy for a while. I'd best get back to captaining."

"You do that. Just remember, you've got a physical scheduled for next Thursday at 1400 ship time. Don't be late. You don't want me to track you down." tr'Dalen smiled, an expression he didn't look used to.

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

Grunt emerged from the turbolift into the Bedford's bridge, a scene of much bustling about as various personnel completed last-minute checks on equipment; particularly busy was Zoex's weapons console, where the newly-minted lieutenant was installing some of Shelana's personal variations on standard Starfleet command circuits. It all came to an abrupt halt as a baritone voice called out, "Captain on the bridge!"

"As you were," Grunt replied, and the work resumed. He stepped down into the command well to the owner of the voice, a Human of fairly average appearance aside from the bright yellow irises of his eyes. The being stood, turning to face Grunt respectfully.

"Lt. Turing, sir, ship's operations officer," the android said. "I am unaware of the desired level of formality, sir. Did you wish your presence announced on the bridge in the future?"

"Don't bother, lieutenant," Grunt answered. "Things can get a little, well, frazzled from time to time, and the other members of the crew might not appreciate having to stand at attention every time I go through those doors. Thanks for asking, though."

"You are quite welcome, captain. I wish to report that all is ready for departure at your command."

"It is?"

"No, sir, it is not. However, I do wish that I could report it. That was a joke, sir. I am aware that I am not yet very good at them; however, I am informed that one improves with practice, so I shall endeavor to practice this skill. In point of fact, at current rates, we should be ready to depart from Spacedock sometime tomorrow afternoon - all transfer personnel have reported in."

Grunt smiled. "That wasn't that bad a joke, son. Just listen to Roclak for a while - when he's not cursing in tlhIngan Hol, he's got a pretty good sense of humor."

"Thank you, sir," Turing said soberly. "I have also had some fascinating conversations with Mycroft, who has recently finished installing himself in the ship's systems. I am uncertain of the protocol of maintaining a ship's AI that is not a member of Starfleet, however, sir."

"Meaning you don't entirely approve? No, that's all right, lieutenant, you're allowed to disapprove of me from time to time. However, Mycroft's history is - ah - interesting. He certainly has dealt with Starfleet procedures enough to have a good handle on them - he was developed on a classified Starfleet installation. He's been checked out by Mr. Brel, our counselor, as well, else I'd never have let him run the cyberwarfare systems on the Hephaestus. Suspicion can be a good thing, Mr. Turing, but Mycroft can be trusted."

"Ah, I see. Thank you, captain. I shall now trust Mycroft."

"That's good." Grunt looked at the ceiling. "Now, Mycroft, this is not your sign to play practical jokes on the lieutenant."

A hologram of a slightly overweight Human in outdated clothing flickered into existence. "Practical jokes, captain? Me?"

"You. I still remember the time you reprogrammed the replicators so they delivered root beer instead of coffee. Mr. Manalang was in favor of deleting you with a hammer, you know."

The hologram chuckled. "Ah, yes, the look on his face! Very well, sir, out of respect for you I shan't educate my young cybernetic friend in such techniques."

"Good. I'd hate to have to replace you with a vanilla AI from the Fleet database. Well, Mr. Turing, things seem well in hand here. If anything comes up, my combadge is always on. Now I'm off for a quick lunch."

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

The next day, and preparations for departure were completed even more quickly than the android had supposed. Grunt sat in his command chair. Turning to Vovonek at the engineer's seat, he asked, "So, Commander, what derisive nickname are we stuck with this time?"

"The Bedpan. I think it's because of the shape of the saucer section."

Grunt half-smiled. "They're not as imaginative as they used to be, are they? Very well, readiness check."

"All sections report prepared for departure," Roclak replied from the first officer's seat.

"Good." Grunt leaned forward. "Mr. Gydap, take us out."

The nacelles pulsed blue, the impulse outlets glowed fierce orange, and the massive bulk of the Bedford slid clear of Spacedock, accelerating outward. A flare from the nacelles, and she vanished from Earth's skies.
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,954
# 10
07-26-2014, 11:13 PM
"Manners"



BRITANNUS: (shocked) Caesar, this is not proper!
THEODOTUS: (outraged) How?
CAESAR: (recovering his self-possession) Pardon him, Theodotus; he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
-- George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra, Act II

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


Captain's Log, USS Bedford NCC-92570
Captain Grunt recording.

We are returning to standard patrol after rendering assistance to the Orion cargo ship
Stern Destiny. The diplomatic issues raised have been smoothed over, thanks to Mr. Manalang's smooth talking and my bank account. Now, I'm left with just one major issue - how to deal with having to place one of my best officers in the brig.

Grunt entered the brig of the Bedford, only one of its six cells occupied. He looked at the guards flanking the cell, then jerked his thumb toward the door in a gesture he'd learned from a Human superior many years before. "You two. Take a walk."

The two looked at one another, then at their captain. "Ah, sir," one began, "protocols clearly state--"

"When I want someone to quote regulations at me," Grunt growled, "I'll ask Turing. Now go hit the head or something. Maybe grab a raktijino at the mess. Be gone at least ten minutes. Go!"

The two looked at each other again, then left. Grunt tapped the console next to the door. "Computer, lock this door. Authorization Grunt three-delta-aleph-gray-seven."

The prisoner spoke, for the first time since the cell's forcefield had been activated. "You're going to get in worse trouble than me. Those records can't be scrubbed."

"Sure they can. All you need is a fully-sapient AI with no firmware restrictions and full access to your systems. Mycroft's making sure none of this gets recorded." Grunt rubbed his forehead. "Now, I just need to know one thing - Why?"

"'Why?' You saw that ship. They were slaves! How couldn't I??"

"Yes, they were slaves. It's part of their culture, Shelana! Didn't you notice that they were fighting to get their chains back on?"

The Andorian shook her head, swaying unsteadily in her seat on the cell's bunk. Her equilibrium was thrown off badly by her missing antenna. "They're just so used to--"

"Shelana. You have to look at it from their side. They expect to be slaves. In Orion culture, everyone is owned by somebody, from the scullery slave on up to the captain of that ship, and beyond. It's like the Ferengi view, where everyone is someone's employee, right up to the Grand Nagus. He's the only one who isn't working for anyone else - and he has to work for the Alliance as a whole. For the Orions, being someone's slave is right. As far as they were concerned, you weren't 'rescuing' them - you were stealing them!"

Shelana looked down. "I'm sorry, sir. I guess I let my feelings about slavery get in the way." Then she looked back up, defiantly. "Now look me in the eye and tell me you'd do it any differently!"

Grunt walked up to the force field. Standing, his eyes came almost exactly to the same height as Shelana's in her seated position; they locked directly into hers. "Yes, Shelana, old friend, I would have done it very differently. I took an oath as a Starfleet officer, to respect the alien cultures I would encounter, and to learn as much as I could about them. And I know Ferengi have this reputation for being backstabbing oathbreakers who'd sell their own grandmothers for a few strips of latinum, and if we're being honest I have to admit that's true often enough to leave even me uncomfortable - but you know that I don't work that way. I cut you more slack than is probably good for us, every time we go out, because it's normal for Andorian culture to fight the way you do. We pick up real meat for Roclak when we can, because it's a Klingon thing to eat meat that still has blood dripping from it. And when we run across an Orion ship, and they have Orion slaves, we leave them alone, because it's the way they are. Yes, I hate it. I probably hate it more than you do - we Ferengi pride ourselves on never having had a period of our history when we kept slaves. Having someone locked down into a position they can never even possibly buy their way out of is -- is repugnant. But we can't impose our culture on everyone else - how long do you think a Ferengi market-government would last on Andor?"

Shelana dropped her gaze again. "I-- I'm sorry, Grunt. I suppose you're right." There was a pause. "What happened to the guards?"

"Fortunately, all you did was break a few bones. Orion males are even tougher than they look. Nothing that couldn't be covered with Ruben fast-talking them and my credit limit at the First Bank of Ferenginar. That's why we're still on patrol, not heading for the nearest starbase to convene a court martial. Unless you insist, of course."

"Maybe you should," Shelana said bitterly. "It is what I deserve, right?"

"If it ever gets that far, Shelana, don't represent yourself at the trial. It wouldn't go well. Tomorrow morning, you're going before Captain's Mast - since the Mistress of the Orion ship isn't pressing charges, nothing more is called for. The decision is going to be three weeks confinement to quarters, allowed out only for treatment of your antenna in sickbay, to be followed by a thorough review of comparative-culture courses. You go back on duty only after Tan has certified you as having passed those courses." Grunt's voice shifted from the stern "captain" tone, to a softer, friendlier one. "I need you back at Security, Shelana. But first I have to be sure you're back under control. You understand, don't you?"

There was a pause. Then Shelana replied, with a twisted grin, "I guess I do, Grunt. Gotta say, I think I'd probably be harder on me, if I were you."

Grunt smiled. "But I'm a notorious soft touch. Although maybe you should change back to calling me 'Captain' on duty, hey?"

Shelana laughed. "Yes, sir, Captain sir!!"
-------------------------------------------
Originally Posted by hfmudd
Quote:
You are special, you are unique, and you are passionate. You are also insignificant. Get used to it.
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