Thanks for reading and commenting. If you continue to read, I hope you enjoy the rest of the story.
Author's Note: I switched out the Everest for the USS Empress, a ship created by fellow United Trek colleague Galen4. In the finished product of this story, all mentions of the Everest will be replaced with Empress.
“I would appreciate it if you would kindly stop doing that sir,” Chief Engineer Silane said, which naturally prompted another poke, this time harder, from the leader of pack of Klingons that had accosted him and Dr. Xylia. His containment sac could withstand the poking, but the constant jabbing was disconcerting…not to mention rude.
“And what are you going to do if I don’t?” The Klingon challenged. Wiry, yet muscled arms sprouted from his rusted metallic vest. His dirty blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Surprisingly the man sported no facial hair. His sagittal ridge was also less impressive than his compatriots. The muscle bound heckler with the heaviest forehead ridge had thick metal rings hanging from each ridge in addition to his ears. The third man was heavyset, with his thick hair just as unkempt as his slovenly dress.
None of the men wore Defense Force uniforms, to which Silane was both pleased and slightly alarmed. He was glad that the Defense Force hadn’t stooped so low in their recruiting program, but disquieted by the fact that the Medusan couldn’t fall back on using the shared wartime experience to deflect their anger.
“He’s just going to float away Joqala,” the disheveled one brayed, drawing laughter from the other two.
“B’zeq might be right,” chortled the pierced one, “Or if you poke a hole in that suit, he might just deflate.” The man added, with a dangerously curious gleam in his eye at the thought.
“And in the process drive you and almost everyone else within eyesight insane,” Dr. Xylia said, seemingly unfazed by their sudden admirers.
“Who said you could speak Romulan!” Joqala, the blond, snarled. “My grandparents died on Narendra III!”
“My apologies for your loss,” Xylia said coolly.
“You don’t sound sorry,” B’zeq, the thickset one, lumbered forward. “She doesn’t sound sorry one bit, does she Ch’taak?”
“No,” the ringed man shook his head, causing the metal rings to jingle. “But I got something that might make her feel sorry,” he grinned, and made a show for reaching for the large serrated blade at his side.
“What are you doing with that?” Silane asked, floating closer to Xylia. “You were supposed to hand over all weapons upon entry onto this starbase.”
“And what are you going to do about it?” Laughed Ch’taak. “Report me? You’ll be dead before you touch your combadge.”
“And so would you,” a new, familiar and welcome voice entered the fray. The Klingons turned to see Lt. Loto standing behind them. Lieutenants Ryse and Rojas were bringing up the rear. Silane pulsed with relief. Xylia merely arched one eyebrow.
Loto stood calmly, his arms folded across his muscled chest. His expression was impassive, his voice level. “I would recommend that you gentlemen proceed on your way.”
“No one calls me a gentleman!” Joqala said, pushing past his compatriots to square off against the Arbazan. He glared down at Loto, his nostrils flaring, his lips pulled back in a snarl. “What do you mean by that? Do you think we are soft, like humans?” He gave Juanita a quick glare before returning his gaze to Loto.
The other Klingons moved to flank the stoic Arbazan. Ryse moved to engage them, but Loto held up one hand, and she stopped in her tracks. Lt. Rojas also stood at the ready, both hands curling and uncurling, her body language taut and anticipating violence.
Joqala placed one thick finger in the center of Loto’s chest. “I asked you a question,” he said. “Do you think we are soft?” He repeated, before pressing an indentation into the Arbazan’s chest.
“Grishnar cat got your tongue?” B’zeq asked, and Ch’taak guffawed.
“Perhaps this Arbazan is intimidated by real men,” Ch’taak offered.
“Well, he is wearing a child’s garments after all,” B’zeq declared.
“I heard their kind don’t like seloh,” Ch’taak added.
“Is that right?” Joqala asked Loto, his face contorting in disgust. “Just what manner of ‘man’ are you?”
“One that is about to kick your asses,” Ryse couldn’t help herself.
“What are you doing here Farian?” B’zeq’s fat head turned toward her and looked her up and down. “I didn’t know Federation starbases had pleasure mazes.” All three men laughed at that, and Ryse’s face turned a shade of crimson he had never seen before.
Almost too fast for Silane’s optic receptors to capture, Loto grabbed Joqala’s pointed finger, twisted it until it popped. Joqala squealed in pain before a thrust to the throat silenced him and a chop to the back of his head felled him.
Loto, not slowing down, moved on to a still smirking Ch’taak. The jeweled Klingon was slow on the uptake. Unfortunately for him, Loto was not. Two kicks, one low, the other high, and Ch’taak joined Joqala.
Next, the methodical Arbazan turned toward B’zeq. The hefty Klingon backed away, stopping when he bumped into Ryse. He threw back an elbow, to knock the woman out of his way. The Farian ducked beneath it, and drove her own elbow into his side.
The man crumbled, protecting his side, and left everything else exposed. Ryse made nearly as quick work of B’zeq as Loto had of his comrades.
Once B’zeq had joined them on the ground, all three grumbling an admixture of moans and curses, Loto nodded with satisfaction and Ryse grinned. Loto casually walked over to Ch’taak and extricated his blade. “I’ll be confiscating this. If you want it back, file a report.”
Silane glanced at Xylia. The Romulan’s eyebrow was nearly to the roof, and Lt. Rojas was looking just as stunned. The two Nimbus security officers had taken down the Klingon toughs within seconds, before the station’s security could respond, or even be made aware of a potential hostile situation. Ryse was completely nonplussed. “Now, that we got that little warm up in,” the Farian said, “I’m ready for that holoprogram.”
“Did I catch you at a bad time Captain?” Captain Banti Awokou asked his counterpart, not attempting to hide his curiosity.
The holoprojector displayed a head-to-toe image of Captain Tan Erasia, of the Starship Empress. A medical apron was draped over the woman’s uniform. “No,” she said, her voice strained, “I have a few minutes before surgery.”
“Excuse me?” Awokou hoped he hadn’t balked, “Did you say surgery?”
“Yes,” the Efrosian nodded, “I was a doctor before pursuing the command track. We lost our chief medical officer during the battle with the Kothlis’Ka Armada. While we still have some talented medical technicians and a functional EMH, I like to pitch in when I can.” The woman leaned close, lowering her voice, more so from habit than necessity, “Besides, I really don’t trust those medical holograms. Too cold and antiseptic.”
“I see,” Awokou nodded, more so to move the conversation along than because he agreed with her. “I wanted to provide you an update on our progress,” he said.
“Could you just send it through subspace?” Erasia asked. “It might take a little while to get here but it’ll arrive certainly before you do.”
“One can hope,” Awokou said. He was hoping to develop a rapport with his counterpart, similar to what he had done with the other IG-4 captains. Banti knew that establishing a relationship with Erasia might be tougher due to Nimbus replacing Empress as the lead taskforce ship. In the first IG-4 iteration, Erasia had been in charge of the taskforce.
Not only had that group been decimated, with Empress incurring casualties and massive damage, but Erasia had been eclipsed by him and the bigger, shinier Sovereign-class Nimbus. Banti hoped that there wouldn’t be any hard feelings, though he couldn’t put it past her if there were.
In any event, he was hoping to clear the air before they arrived in the Delta Quadrant and begun working together. “So, how are things going?” Banti found himself asking. Inwardly he winced. In time’s past he had been more direct.
Erasia looked befuddled. “You didn’t receive our latest report?”
“No, oh no, I’ve read that one and all the ones you’ve sent,” Awokou rushed to clarify. “I meant, how are things…with…well…” He paused, gathering himself, but unable to stop his cheeks from warming, “you and me?”
“I wasn’t aware that we were going steady,” the Efrosian quipped.
“Oh no, not that, I wasn’t asking you…” Awokou grew flustered. Finally he managed, “I’m a married man, a happily married man.”
“Cool your thrusters sir,” Erasia chuckled, “I was just joshing, as my XO is fond of saying; trying to ease some of the tension.”
“I see,” Awokou said, feeling a great burden lifting off his shoulders. He would hate to have to explain this portion of the conversation to Command or his wife. Rozi definitely put more fear into him any admirals.
“I really don’t have much time,” Erasia said, “but I want you to know that I am fine with you taking command. I’m not going to say it was an easy thing to accept…at first, but right now, I have more important things to patch up than a wounded ego. It definitely keeps things in perspective.”
Thinking of his own injuries, Banti nodded in understanding. “It certainly does.”
Erasia smiled, “Well, I guess this is the start of a beautiful relationship.”
“I certainly hope so,” Awokou matched her smile.
“Well then, I guess the only thing left to say is that I can’t wait to see you in the DQ,” the Efrosian said. “Now, permission to go deliver a baby sir?”
“Permission granted,” Awokou laughed.