UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Oh, yes, Tai's definitely going to have to get to the bottom of this. And the captain obviously thinks she's helping by sticking the two of them in a turbolift together. :wtf:

    Well, knowing Donar, this situation might be sorted by the time they reach engineering. :evil:
  2. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 12, 2006
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Yeah, I was also concerned about Redfeather's good intentions.
  3. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Nothing like some good ol'fashioned tension among the crew following the introduction of an outsider.

    Tai is the odd an out here with no fault of his own but as the XO he'll have to figure out quickly how to fix up the slighted Norrbom and either get her full support or find another way to deal with her. Even if that means getting her off the ship. The status quo is not tenable.
  4. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Happy Fourth everyone! As always thanks for commenting and reading.

    Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

    “I know,” Lt. Shashlik said, cutting off the science officer, “It looks vaguely Tholian in design,” she finished. The alien ship looked like a large, dimmed pyramid lying on its side. Ensign Fryer tensed at the mention of the reclusive, territorial species.

    “I just said it looked somewhat like a Tholian vessel, not that it was one,” she chided him gently, “Cool your thrusters.”

    “Yes sir,” he replied, though he now looked at the ship through slitted eyes. The Kaylar took in the darkened, pitted hull dominating the front viewer. The vessel was large, much larger than any Tholian ship or freighter she had seen before, but it had a similar, conical shape.

    “I am not reading any Tholian life signs,” Ramlo was still on audio. “And the power readings are totally incompatible with Tholian propulsion.”

    “So what’s powering that thing, or did power it?” Shashlik asked, clenching her hands in anticipation of beaming aboard the alien craft.

    “I’m reading residual polaric ion isotope signatures,” Ramlo said, pausing. Both Shashlik and Fryer shared a confused look.

    “Why is that important?” Rarely did Shashlik like to not have the appearance of knowing what was going on around her, but this find was too important for vanity.

    “I think we need to get aboard that vessel,” Ramlo said instead, quickening her interest. “I’ll meet you on the bridge.”

    “Oyekan just beamed down one,” Fryer said just seconds later.

    “I’m usually the one chomping at the bit,” Shashlik grinned as she eased out of her seat, fighting against the bulky white EV suit. Despite a more streamlined design, the suit still hampered her movement. She trudged over to the transporter alcove, snatching up her helmet along with a utility belt with a tricorder and a phaser clipped to it that she had left by the transporter pad in anticipation of an away. Jumping on the pad, she turned to Fryer. “Keep this channel open and be ready for an emergency beam out,” she ordered. She slid on the helmet and sealed it before nodding at him, “Beam me down.”

    USS Erickson
    Main Bridge

    “I wonder if I should shut off power to the turbolift?” Captain Redfeather wondered aloud, prompting several chuckles from the bridge. “Would that be me being bad captain again?”

    “Bad captain,” Lt. French intoned. “Very bad.”

    “I know,” Redfeather smiled, turning half-way in her seat to the row of consoles behind her. A spry Tellarite was operating Helen’s station. “Lieutenant, please shut off the power to the turbolift.”

    The Tellarite paused, one shaggy, brown eyebrow raising in a Vulcan-like manner. She looked back up at the captain, a curious expression on her porcine face. “Captain the turbolift has already stopped.”

    Redfeather pursed her lips, nodding with satisfaction. “Somebody on that lift gets it.”

    “Well let’s just hope they both come back in one piece,” French muttered.

    “Amen to that Tim,” Redfeather added.

    Alien Vessel

    “This can’t be a coincidence,” Ramlo said, flashing the wrist lamp around the room. The walls were filled with polished, orange gemstone etchings of gigantic, six-legged figures, crystalline in shape. “Those are Tholians,” he remarked, his voice sounding tinny coming from his helmet’s speakers. “And the data that I have downloaded from their computer banks has similarities to Tholian script.”

    Except for the elaborate etchings the bridge was largely unadorned. Ramlo was surprised that such a large and advanced vessel as this ship appeared to be only had one steering console, standing at the very prow of the bridge.

    “Both of my optical units are functioning Ram,” Shashlik said, bending down, “but it makes no sense,” she said, running her tricorder over the one burned husk on the deck. “These bio-readings do not contain the mineralogical makeup of Tholian physiology,” she said, chancing to touch the blackened corpse. She noticed the plumed hat, its tip reminding her of flames. “They are, were, carbon based life forms.”

    “I had already deduced that they weren’t Tholians, chiefly due to the environmental factors on the ship. There are scant traces of the methane-chlorine mix that the Tholians breathe. It was a standard oxygen mix until the air was vented from the vessel due to hull perforations.”

    Shashlik stood back up again. “Which brings me to my next point,” she said, her rage starting to simmer. “Who attacked these people and why?”

    “A good question and I don’t have the slightest clue,” Ramlo admitted.

    “Could it be the Calderans?” The Kaylar ventured. Though not as famously territorial or xenophobic as the Tholians or Sheliak, the species native to this stretch of space weren’t known for being neighborly.

    “It is a possibility,” Ramlo conceded, tapping his long chin with the edge of his tricorder. “However, they are a deuterium based, biomimetic life form that generally doesn’t leave the gas giant they inhabit at the edge of the eponymous expanse.”

    “So you don’t think it was them?” Shashlik asked.

    “It is doubtful, but not completely beyond the realm of actuality.” The Arkenite admitted. “Perhaps a deeper exploration of the ship might yield us those answers.”

    “Agreed,” Shashlik said, giving the bridge a once over again before following the scientist out in the pitch black corridor.
  5. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Redfeather is a bad captain. I like that. But this time it didn't even appear as if she had to be. I'm eager to find out what kind of words are being exchanged in the 'lift.

    In the meantime we have a two-folded mystery on our hands on the alien vessel. Who are these people and who killed them ... and why? OK, three-fold, I guess.

    Great stuff. Must have more.
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Here is a little more. I hope you enjoy it. I'm also glad you are enjoying Captain Redfeather. It was my hope to make the Erickson crew a bit more light-hearted than some of the other crews I've written about in past stories. Of course I can't go without having some interpersonal conflict.


    USS Erickson

    “This is highly improper, not to mention unprofessional and unbecoming of an officer of your rank!” Lt. Commander Norrbom snapped, folding her arms across her chest, her gaze becoming wintrier.

    Commander Donar set his feet as well as his jaw, ratcheting up his determination. But the Angosian did take a step back. He didn’t want to loom over the woman, or give her the impression that he was trying to intimidate her. “Commander Norrbom,” he started slowly, patiently, “we have been tiptoeing around each other too long. Since we have been largely on routine assignments, I was content to let the situation work itself out in time, but now that we are headed into a potentially hostile situation, I need to know where things stand. Our ability to trust each other might become the difference between life and death in the Caldera Expanse.”

    Norrbom tightened her arms across her chest, and shifted her jaw, her expression totally unconvinced. “We have to get down to Main Engineering…sir.”

    “Not until we hash this out,” he stated.

    “Hash what out exactly?” She asked, her flippancy making his bottom lip twitch with frustration. He exhaled, quickly centering himself.

    “I had no intention of denying you this position,” he said. “That wasn’t my plan.”

    “But here you are,” she retorted, gesturing at him.

    “There was nothing perfidious about my placement aboard Erickson,” he said, not liking his defensive tone.

    The operations officer chuckled, the sound harsh. “Sure,” she said, her contorted features belying the words, “I can see no cronyism at all in the fact that you’re buddies with the newly installed Admiral Glover, a man who has the sympathies of the whole Federation for the loss of his father and for what he himself endured at the hands of the Romulans. The Admiralty would practically give the man anything he wanted, and it seems what Glover wanted to do was hook up his friends.”

    Tai’s face flashed hot, and he tugged at his collar, in a vain attempt to give the heat rising throughout his body a release valve. “I think you have totally misconstrued what occurred…”

    Norrbom blithely waved away the man’s denial, “Look sir, that’s fleet politics and I understand that, and I can’t be too mad about it, to be honest, because I know that you’ve had a distinguished service record. You’ve got a lot more experience than me.”

    “Okay,” Donar said, cooling down a tick. “If you think I am qualified for the position…”

    “I do,” she said, interrupting him for a second time. In the interest of furthering the dialogue, Tai let it pass. “Based on your Starfleet service record, I think you could be a great addition to Erickson.”

    “Then what’s the problem?”

    “Do you really want to know?” Norrbom leaned forward, spearing him with her stare. Her eyes raked over his face and eventually found his heads. She held his gaze, as if she was trying to burrow into his soul. He nodded, without breaking the hold.

    “Yes, Commander, I want to know,” Donar said, trying not to bark the words.

    “Despite how gold plated your record is, you’re a weapon, designed in a lab somewhere, no better really than the Jem’Hadar!” She hurled the words at him and he back stepped, feeling stung. It was like the woman had saw into his very soul and uncovered one of his deepest fears.

    With a full head of steam, the woman continued, “Sure there was a purpose for a person like you during the war, but what about peacetime huh? You were made to kill, not to explore, not to look over ship reports, or build communities among the crew aboard starships, and Erickson is more than a job for me, more than a stepping stone, this crew is family, and having you around them is like having a fully charged disruptor lying around your house. Who knows when that weapon might go off?”

    “Weapons generally need someone to utilize them,” Donar pointed out.

    “Not from what I’ve learned about your some of the Tarsian War veterans,” Norrbom shot back. Her smile was cruel as she plunged the knife in deeper, “Oh yeah, I did some research. I know how they locked you and others like you away after the war. You couldn’t cope with the peace, you were a threat to the social order.”

    “That-that was a long time ago, a different war,” Tai looked away from her, momentarily engulfed in sorrowful, terrible memories.

    “It’s admirable how you have tried to put that war behind you,” he heard Norrbom saying, from someplace high above the well he now found himself in. “But what about the Dominion War, huh? Who knows what demons it’s conjured in you? Who knows what needs to be exorcised now?”

    “I, like every other veteran, have undergone psych evaluations,” he said, his voice faltering. Norrbom shook her head, disbelieving.

    “Our head doctors might be good, but obviously not good enough. You know that Federation News Service has been all over the rash of mental breakdowns that have affected war veterans, even some ‘cleared’ by the shrinks.”

    Tai shook his head, hating the woman’s words but despising the truth in them even more. He had been troubled by the news reports, each one reminding him of old colleagues that had not made it home, even though they survived the war, and of his own struggles with adjusting to the hard won peace, then and now.

    “I-I didn’t know the depth of your antipathy,” he said, “but now I do.”

    “So, what are you going to do about it?” Norrbom was literally hugging herself, her arms were wrapped so tightly around her, and for the first time Tai could see beyond the anger, and he saw the fear that was melting the ice in her gaze. She was afraid of him, afraid of what he might do.

    Admittedly Donar had used his size and the reputation of Angosians as super soldiers at times in the past when necessary in Special Missions, but he had often tried to be as nonthreatening as possible aboard Starfleet vessels and for the most part, he had thought he had been successful. He had never encountered this level of resistance on the Aegis, and he had even found a second chance at love with Juanita.

    He didn’t know what to do, or how to allay the woman’s fears. Grasping for an answer, he fell back on what he knew, or had observed from a man who he considered a mentor, Terrence Glover. The admiral had shown a lot of faith in him and he wasn’t going to let him down. Thinking about how Glover might handle the situation, Tai formulated a reply. “Well,” he started slowly, considering his words, “I do appreciate your honesty, but let me be clear with you. I intend to continue in this posting and give my all to the Erickson and her crew. You don’t have to like me, but you will respect me, and the chain of command. Is that clear?”

    It took Norrbom a moment to work her mouth to say, “Yes sir.”

    “Further, I don’t have a problem with you extant, and I won’t have a problem with you if you respect my authority,” the Angosian continued. “But if you find yourself unable to do so, I suggest you take another starship posting. And is that clear, Commander?”

    “Yes sir,” she said more quickly, the chill in her voice dropping to freezing levels.

    After ordering the lift to resume to Engineering, Donar said, “I really do appreciate your honesty.” He hoped the woman saw his words for the olive branch that they were. “I hope that we can continue this dialogue.”

    “May I speak freely sir?” Norrbom ventured.

    “Yes,” he replied.

    “Honestly…I don’t,” she said, just as the turbolift reached their destination.
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Wow, Norrbom really let Donar have it with both barrels, didn’t she? In her defense, Tai did ask her what her problem was and then granted her permission to speak freely.

    Norrbom is just saying what many others in the crew are undoubtedly thinking about the Angosian. He’s got a long road ahead to prove himself to Erickson’s crew, and demonstrate that he’s a leader who cares about the welfare of his subordinates. Fortunately, Tai Donar isn’t the kind to back down from a challenge.
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    It was a conversation that had to be had. But I have little sympathy for Norrbom here. I may understand her feelings but they are highly prejudiced and as a Starfleet officer she should really be above that. Or at the very least hide them well enough that they are a non-issue.

    But maybe that's because I know Donar better than she does. Maybe she and Erickson's crew will need a chance to get to know the man. Clearly Norrbom is not interested. Yet.
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    I appreciate both of your comments. Instead of waiting to build up the eventual confrontation between Tai and Helen, I decided to just go for it early on. And I wanted to put all of Helen's fears out there so that she doesn't come across-hopefully-as a bad person. And I wanted her fears to also mirror some of Tai's own doubts. As Gibraltar said, some of the other crew are probably thinking some of the same things and I wanted that doubt to be out there to weigh on Tai's mind as the story goes forward. And as CeJay said, the Erickson crew and Tai definitely need to continue getting to know each other and perhaps that will allay the mutual concerns...or add to them. Read on to find out.


    Alien Vessel

    By birth and occupation, Lt. Ramlo was not one to be swayed by emotion or superstition. However they deeper they traversed into the dead ship, his trepidation multiplied. He was glad that Shashlik was with him. She walked quietly at his side, her compression rifle at the ready.

    But even with her there, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling of dread resting on his shoulders, and wiggling into his thoughts. Each body they passed, as burned out a husk as had been the corpse they had found on the bridge, only confirmed his suspicions that something wicked had befallen the crew.

    Something so terrible that they had preferred self-immolation. “I still can’t believe it,” Shashlik’s voice squeaked through his helmet’s receiver. “That an entire ship would commit mass suicide,” her helmet shook. Ramlo was surprised, pleasantly so, that his concerns were so transparent. Even though they were no longer together, the simpatico between them remained, an ember of a fire that could perhaps be rekindled in time.

    “I stand by my hypothesis,” Ramlo said. “The proof is growing incontrovertible,” he declared. “My readings indicate that most of the corpses were incinerated, from the inside out.”

    Shashlik stopped and faced him, a ghastly expression on her face. “But why? How could they do that to themselves?”

    “As opposed to being shot or stabbed,” the Arkenite didn’t mean for his reply to sound so flip. Along the way Shashlik had first discovered a few dead bodies that had been sliced open with blades or punctured with projectile weapons. Their tricorders even picked up faint disintegrator static, so the unfortunates had been set upon by assailants with a variety of weapons, none that could be traced to a definitive source. Among the few disintegrator markers the devices had noted were Type 3, usually used by Klingons, Breen, or Romulans, Eminian sonic disruptors, or banned Varon-Ts’, so the culprits could have been anyone.

    “I would have preferred facing a warrior’s death, on my feet than taking my own life,” Shashlik stated, a note of disgust clouding her concern about the fate of these travelers. “It would have been far preferable.”

    “From your cultural perspective,” Ramlo couldn’t help but point out. Despite all of her admirable qualities, her physical strength and strength of purpose, her compassion for her fellow crew aboard Erickson, and her sharp military mind, Ramlo often found her cultural bias disappointing. Shash often felt that everyone should think or feel like she, or the Kaylar did, and the universe was just simply too big for that. It was an ongoing debate between them.

    “So you agree with this mass suicide?” Exasperation was heavy in her voice.

    “I didn’t say I agreed, or disagreed, but perhaps these people took what they felt was the best option, as opposed to being butchered,” Ramlo answered. “Perhaps it was the most logical course of action.”

    Shashlik snorted, “Now you sound like a Vulcan.”

    “Well you do know I spent several years at their Science Academy,” he pointed out. The Kaylar leaned in close enough so that he could see her roll her eyes.

    “I know, I know, you love to tout that don’t you?”

    “No, I was just saying,” Ramlo replied, feeling a little defensive.

    “Yes, you went to the intergalactically prestigious Science Academy,” Shash shrugged her broad shoulders, “well why you were learning how logical it was to kill yourself, I was surviving real life and death trials to earn my place among my clan.”

    “As I have heard before too,” Ramlo allowed a wearied tone into his voice. “Are you going to regale me with another tale of how carried an egg unbroken in your mouth while you battled mountain devils and winged raptor-wolves while making your way unaided through the Ingarr Mountains?”

    “Well, it was an amazing feat,” now Shash felt a little sheepish. “And I did it without food or water, wearing only a loincloth.”

    “Thank you for that visual at least,” the Arkenite smoothly injected. It took the warrior a moment to catch on. Then she cuffed him hard on the back, almost knocking him over.

    “Still the same old slime snake you are,” the security officer continued laughing. “After all this time, you still amuse me.”

    “A good thing, I guess,” Ramlo ventured.

    “Why yes Ram,” Shashlik peered down at him again, “because I don’t think you want to be on the opposite side of my laughter.”

    “No, I’ve seen the results of that,” Ramlo replied, “I’m happy where I’m at.”

    Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

    Ensign Roland Fryer frowned as he scanned the data rolling across his screen, sent from the Oyekan. “How did you pick up this warp trail?”

    “More like a reconstruction,” Ensign Karen Kittles replied, a satisfied smile on her face. “While waiting on Lieutenants Ramlo and Shashlik to return or make their next report, I isolated all energy signatures that were not naturally occurring in the expanse. It’s been the proverbial needle in the haystack, but I think we’ve got the escape routes leading into the expanse for the monsters that attacked the ship.”

    “No, you’ve got it,” Fryer said, his furrowed brow smoothing out again. He smiled, “Good job Karen.” The fair, freckled woman smiled, and Fryer’s heart skipped a beat. He tried to recover by getting back to business, “We need to inform the lieutenants about this.”

    Kittles’ smile dimmed. “I’m not so sure we should do that,” she answered, prompting both Roland’s eyebrows to shoot up in confusion.


    “Well, this is all just speculation, and I don’t want to take them away from their investigation.”

    “But this is something that majorly impacts that investigation,” Fryer pointed out, not sure why he would need to, with Karen of all people.

    “Maybe,” she replied, “however this could just be totally unrelated traffic.”

    “Yeah,” Fryer riposted, “you don’t believe that either.”

    “You’re right Roland, I don’t,” she admitted, “However, you know what they say about me on the ship, how I’m a kiss ass and a ladder climber, well, I don’t want to play into that by jumping the gun.”

    “Or is it that you don’t want to make a mistake that might derail your career choices?” As much as Fryer liked the beautiful, red cornrowed woman, he was never one to hide from the truth. Karen glared at him, a pinched expression marring her beautiful features.

    “That’s not it at all,” she shot back.

    “Okay,” he shrugged, unconvinced, “Then I think we should inform the lieutenants.”

    “No,” she shook her head, “Let me look into this.”

    “You know the captain told us not to go into the expanse.” He pointed out. “And what do you think defying her orders are going to do for your ambitions, whether you find something or not?”

    Karen shrugged, “If I find nothing, no harm, no foul, and it will just be between us, but if I do verify the warp trails, I could see me getting a commendation for original thinking.”

    “You’re delusional, you know that right?” Fryer pointed out, hoping to splash the cold water of reality onto his colleague.

    “Look Roland, it’ll be a quick in and out, I promise.”

    He shook his head. “Hey I’ve heard that before.”

    “You’ve probably used that line before on one of your many suitors,” she smiled at him, a lascivious gleam in her green eyes. The temperature suddenly increased in the shuttle’s cabin. Fryer resisted the urge to tug at his mustard collar.

    “I wouldn’t say that,” he managed, after a big gulp.

    “Roland, I would,” she remarked, “and others say the same thing.”

    “Stop kidding.”

    “I’m not, no joke,” she said, “I’ve heard that you’ve sent a few hearts fluttering around the ship. It’s made me curious to see what all the fuss is about.”

    Roland tugged on his collar, unable to resist any longer. “You know this isn’t working Karen.”

    “Yes it is,” she replied, punctuating it with a musical laugh. “I promise it will be quick, and once I have confirmed that they are actual warp trails, I’ll be back, and once we’re back on Erickson…”

    “I should back you up,” Fryer said, pulling his last card. “What if the Tholians are involved? You can’t handle them on your own.”

    “I don’t think even two shuttles could deal with a Tholian warship,” Kittles said, “and I definitely have no problem with discretion being the better part of valor. If anything, if there are Tholians hiding out in the expanse I can warn you, the lieutenants, and Erickson in case they have an ambush in mind.”

    “Not buying it,” Fryer insisted, “I’ll go with you.”

    “And risk incurring Shashlik’s wrath?” Kittles asked. “I don’t think so.”

    “Good point,” Roland replied. He sighed, “I know I’m going to regret this but do it quick, and Karen, please be safe.”

    “Back in a flash,” she promised before signing off. Out of his port window he watched the Oyekan break away from the shuttle and zip into the expanse’s coruscating gases.

    Whatever happened going forward, Roland just knew that his own life had just had a major turning point, and he just hoped that Karen got back before the oppressive finality of that thought fully seeped into his consciousness.
  10. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Famous last words: 'Back in a flash.'

    Kittles may have just sealed her fate but I enjoy the ongoing crew banter here. Yes, these are professionals (for the most part) but they're also friends who have served with each other a long time. I really like how you are bringing that across.
  11. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 12, 2006
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    I agree, the banter is great (and in my opinion) hard to write. You do it well.
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Glad you're liking the banter CeJay and D'noth. The Erickson crew has grown me more than I suspected. Almost feels bad seeing what might be in store for some of them.


    The Burning Claw
    First Mate’s Quarters

    First Mate Gedrik sat up in his bed, his thoughts finally coalescing into answer for the questions that had been plaguing him ever since they left the alien starship. Stumbling out of bed, he rushed to the communicator attached to his wall. He slapped it hard, and croaked into the intercom.

    “Gedrik to Captain Deoch,” he nearly shouted.

    “What is it now Gedrik?” The captain didn’t even attempt to hide his annoyance.

    “We’ve got to go back to that ship.”

    “I told you before that we have a rendezvous with the Orions and we’re already behind schedule due to this accursed nebula,” Deoch groused. “We don’t have time to satiate your scientific curiosities!”

    “Perhaps you wouldn’t feel so if I told you that on that ship lies the answer to saving our homeworld.”

    “Do you take me for a fool?”

    “If I did, would I bring this to you now, or even be part of this crew?” Gedrik asked.

    “I see,” Deoch said slowly, and the first mate could tell his commander was mulling over what the man had said. With Deoch it didn’t matter so much what one said, but how one said it. He admired confidence, assertiveness, boldness.

    “Are you certain of this?” Gedrik wisely kept silent. He knew any further attempts to bolster his argument would only come across as seeming less sure of himself.

    The tactic worked. “Turn this ship around!” He heard the captain bark. Then: “Gedrik, get to the bridge immediately!”

    Shuttlecraft Oyekan

    Ensign Kittles wished she felt as confident as she had sounded with Roland. She was generally good at talking a good game, she always killed during Lt. French’s poker tourneys in Birdland, but this was a far bigger gamble that she had just taken on.

    It could go wrong for her in so many ways, just losing her life being at the top of a very long list. And she had put Roland’s ass on the line too, so she better make good or be quick about returning.

    The cabin shook as Oyekan brushed against another astral eddy. They had increased the further she went into the expanse and it forced her to readjust her course and speed, slowing down her search.

    It was just as well. Her visibility, from the port window to ship’s sensors was nearly shot, and all she could see before her was a thick, colorful soup of strong reds, purples, oranges, and blue gases. The warp trail she had detected was fading rapidly, as if being gobbled up by the expanses’ roiling stew.

    “Perhaps I should just quit now,” she thought. Turn back and head back to the alien ship. Roland would understand, she knew. Hell, he would be relieved, and she knew he wasn’t the type that would gossip about her failure.

    “No,” she answered herself. “I’m doing this,” she said, pushing forward. If nothing else she would collect as much information as she could and at least have something to show for her recklessness.

    Alien Vessel
    Engine Room

    “Now this is interesting,” Lt. Ramlo remarked as he swept his tricorder over the large octagonal structure dominating the room. Shashlik was no engineer, but even she figured out that the octagon must be the ship’s main propulsion system.

    And Ram was correct, it was an interesting design, to say the least. Even though she also suspected that he wasn’t talking just about how it looked. “What are your readings picking up Ram?” She asked. But the man ignored her. He walked around the structure, his nose pressed against his scanner.

    “Ah,” he said, “Handholds,” he added. The Kaylar trudged quickly after him. By the time she reached him, he was halfway up the structure.

    “Do you think that’s wise Ram?” She asked, looking up.

    “I’ll be fine,” he said, with a distracted tone. She knew how easily and completely he could get wrapped up in his scientific memories. She thought to follow him, but decided to leave the science officer to his toys.

    Shashlik took out her own tricorder and made her way over to the databanks encircling the octagon. Perhaps there was more information she could glean from them.

    Finding an access port, Shashlik set the thing to work, and then tapped the combadge attached to her suit’s chest plate. “Lt. Shashlik to Greenaugh.”

    “Ensign Fryer here,” the reply came a slowly for her taste. And did she detect a note of concern in his voice, or was that just her imagination?

    “Is everything all right up there?”

    “Uh, yes sir, of course, why do you ask?”

    “You don’t sound so sure. Would Ensign Kittles also say the same thing?”

    “I’m sure sir,” Fryer hastily responded. “There’s no need to ask her.”

    “I’ll determine that Ensign,” she snapped. “And I’ll do so now, Shashlik out.”

    “Wait!” the ensign’s shout made her wince. “Uh, I mean, sir…”

    “Great Bird of the Galaxy!” Ram’s unusual exclamation drew her attention away from the flustered Fryer.

    “We’ll discuss this later Ensign,” she said quickly before disconnecting. She looked up at the octagon to see the Arkenite peering over it, his slash of mouth forming a smile. “What have you discovered Ram?”

    He waved the tricorder at her, like he had discovered a Hyterian Lost Relic. “What is it Ram?” growing a bit annoyed. She wasn’t sure if it was the science officer’s goofy spout of joy or Fryer’s evasions that had set her down the bad mood path.

    “The magneton scan confirmed it,” he gushed. “We’ve found a stable polaric ion energy propulsion system!”

    “Okay,” she said, less than enthused. “I’m coming up.” She quickly scaled the structure. When she reached the top, Ramlo was still frowning.

    “Don’t you get how important this find is?”

    “No,” she admitted. “How about you explain it to me,” she said, as she looked around the device. The Arkenite had mentioned polaric ion isotopes before, but hadn’t elaborated. Now finally the man might just put her out of her misery.

    “Polaric ion particles generate an inordinate amount of power, and many nations have tried and failed to harness this power, including the Romulans. After their research facility was destroyed on Chaltok IV over a century ago, they signed onto the Polaric Test Ban Treaty, which has been in effect since 2268.”

    He paused briefly, to gauge her reaction. “I guess you weren’t paying attention that day in history class huh?”

    She shrugged, nonplussed, “It was only the wars that caught my attention. Not peace treaties that the Romulans probably violated even before submitting their signatures.”

    “That’s just the thing,” Ramlo said, “Polaric ion energy has been proven to be so unstable, producing subspace chain reactions, in addition to having temporal effects, that the treaty has been one of the few that has held. No one has seemed to want to open that Pandora’s Box.”

    “Until they find out about this contraption,” Shashlik pointed out. She looked across the propulsion system. The corners of the octagon contained what she suspected were the depleted power cells. Walkways connected each power cell to a central alcove, and whatever had been inside of it was missing.

    “You see it too don’t you?” Ramlo said, stepping onto one of the catwalks that led to the alcove. “I believe this is the vinculum or plexus, the nerve center of the propulsion system. It had to have housed the polaric ion stabilizer or processor, which made the use of the energy manageable.” He turned back to her, his joy dimming again. “I think someone took it.”

    “The same people who attacked this vessel?” She said, with equal parts fear and excitement.

    “Or maybe some of the crew survived and spirited it away because they knew how dangerous it could be,” Ramlo surmised. “In either event, we have to find it. The idea of a hostile power having such power at their command…”

    “Now that I get,” she said, nodding with confidence. “We need to tell the captain. I’ll have Fryer relay the message on to Erickson.”

    Tholian Trade Ship
    Antedean Space

    Spinel’s entire being vibrated as the message trilled through hir. It was of Tholia, but at the same time not, and s/he knew that the questions surrounding that would be beyond it to answer.

    Focusing hir mind, Spinel sent hir thoughts out into space, knowing they would skitter along the mind line into the very minds of the High Magistrates themselves and that they would uncover what s/he had found. Spinel knew it was a severe breach of caste to do so, but s/he was certain that what had just happened to hir would be of utmost importance to the rulers on Tholia. And they might even reward hir with greater license to do more business with non-Tholians.

    Once that was completed, Spinel continued on hir task. The cargo hold of Tholian silk the ship contained wasn’t going to sell itself after all.
  13. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    DK - I'm still working to catch up on all the UT: TFV and RC stories. I very much enjoyed the first two installments of "Stealing Fire." This promises to be a great story - glad you're back to writing again! :)

    (Now, if I could just light a fire under my muse so I can resume my own RC story. :rolleyes:)
  14. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    This is starting to go into interesting places. Now these pirates have run of with what is essentially a super-weapon. I feel a hunt coming on.

    BTW, love the little references to Star Eagle. I catch'em all, you know.
  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Wow, quite a lot going on here, and very little of it good from the Federation's perspective.

    I hope our ambitious young ensign survives her little foray!
  16. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks everyone for reading and commenting again. I'm glad you are still enjoying the story. TLR, I definitely can relate. It's hard for me to keep up with all of the stories. CeJay, I'm glad you are enjoying the Eagle references. Thanks for making up some cool stuff to reference. And Gibraltar, I like Kittles too. But of course you know how much I like a character doesn't spare them. We'll see with Kittles.


    Alien Vessel
    Engine Room

    The tricorder squeak stopped Shashlik from tapping her combadge. She looked down and unlatched the rectangular device from her belt. “The translation is complete?” Lt. Ramlo asked, a curious gleam in his deep, iris-free eyes. Unconsciously he reached out, his curiosity wanting to take the tricorder and the data it had uncovered from himself.

    Shashlik wagged a finger as she held up the tricorder and quickly skimmed the readings coursing down its small screen. Her teeth clenched, a growl emitting from her throat. Ramlo’s curiosity quickly turned to concern. “What is it?” He asked.

    The Kaylar didn’t answer. Instead she activated the volume. The halting, modulated electronic voice was a good approximation of a standard Starfleet audio interface program. “Whoever it was has audacity, to pretend to be the Enterprise,” Ramlo remarked, shaking his head.

    Both officers knew that Erickson was the only Starfleet ship in this sector. “They did this because of how well known the Enterprise was,” Shash remarked, teeth still clenched. “They figured whoever fell into their trap would know and be comforted by the fact that they were about to be rescued…by the Enterprise itself no less.”

    Ram dipped his head, his curiosity returning. “Shash, you know who did this?” She shook her head, the tremble running from her neck throughout her body.

    “Brigands!” she spat, “I’ve seen this kind of deception before,” she added, “They even had false transponder signal backing up their lie. The practiced eye would know better, but civilians or visitors from another quadrant, they stood no chance. We’re dealing with a cunning and brutal foe.” She finished, a feral grin slashing her features. Her ferocity made Ramlo take a step back. “I am looking very forward to meeting them.”

    The Burning Claw
    Command Deck

    Gedrik winced as the captain’s claws scrapped loudly against the metal finish of his armrest. He looked up to see Deoch glowering down at him, black tongue licking the air as if seeking out his fear.

    “I’m waiting,” the captain hissed, his leathery, pink face pinched with annoyance. The first mate sighed inwardly. He had barely sat down at this station, before the captain was on him. “I still have time to turn the Claw around and make our rendezvous if this vital information you have to tell me is rubbish,” he said, fondling the disruptor latched to his thigh, “Of course if that is the case, you won’t me making the return trip.” This statement drew some hisses, clicks, and chuckles from the disparate crew.

    Though The Burning Claw was manned mostly by fellow Venturi, like Gedrik and the captain, Deoch never refused capable hands, tentacles, or claws as it were. A K’normian sat at the helm and a grim, fearsome Capellan woman hunched over the weapons console. A comely, twelve-fingered Nuvian was curled in the seat beside the captain’s, the latest ‘captain’s prerogative’. The bridge was dank, dim, and cloistered. Normally Gedrik preferred it that way, but now it only made him feel trapped.

    Gedrik swallowed down his fear before replying, “The energy readings I detected while onboard the ship, I knew I had seen them before,” he paused, remembering where he had seen them. It had taken him so long to realize it because he had tried to bury those memories. “My wife…” he paused, and Deoch respectfully gave him a moment. His eyes flickered as the bridge melted away…to heated meetings among the Venturi Science Council.

    As their sun, Alpha Venturi Major continued to cool, and wreaked greater havoc across their planet, the Venturi had turned inward, against a Federation that they had helped to build but had proven ineffectual in their greatest time of need. Gedrik and Berae were among the latest generation of Venturi scientists whose life missions it had become to save their homeworld.

    And as solution after solution gave way to the inevitable, looming disaster, the ideas had become more desperate. Precept Qeux had enlivened debate, suggesting the use of polaric ion isotopes to reignite the dying star. Both Gedrik and his wife had argued against it, citing that the Venturi remained members of the Federation, if nominally, and had to abide by the Polaric Test Ban Treaty. Instead he had backed Berae’s idea of using protomatter to restore the star. It had been the worst decision of his life.

    “Perhaps I didn’t recognize the polaric radiation readings at the time, because I just didn’t want to see it,” he forced the words out, fighting against the clutch of memory. “Those aliens…that ship…it was powered by polaric ion energy, stable polaric ion isotopes,” he paused, waiting for the import of his words to sink in.

    Deoch looked down at him, perplexed. The rest of the crew was similarly confused or nonplussed.

    “None of you learned much about Federation diplomatic history I see,” Gedrik replied, “Well, let me make it simpler to grasp. Polaric ion particles can generate power on a massive scale, enough to light up an entire planet, but they are highly unstable and can wipe out all life on a planet in seconds, not to mention causing subspace fractures.”

    “A superweapon,” Deoch’s eyes gleamed, and he stroked his leathery chin. He turned to the dark skinned Capellan. “And you knew nothing of this Runt?” She glared back at him and shrugged her massive shoulders. Even though the Capellan was taller than just about everyone aboard Burning Claw, she would’ve been considered small for her size and Deoch enjoyed needling her about it. He had taken to calling her Runt, but no one else dared follow his lead.

    “It’s more than that, or it can be,” Gedrik chanced touching the captain’s bare forearm. Deoch often preferred sleeveless tunics to show off his muscled arms. The captain pulled back, his hand ready to strike. The first mate didn’t shrink from the gesture. He was too excited now.

    “Old Qeux might have been right all along!” he gushed, “Whatever generated that stabilization field could be used, maybe, to save Alpha Venturi Major!”

    Deoch snorted, his laughter harsh. “That old foolish dream of yours rears its head again?” The captain shook his head, “I thought you had given up such things after I picked you up off the floor of that bar on Vega Colony? I gave you a new life, new purpose, but yet, you persist in thinking you can change the universe!” He threw up his hands, and stomped back to his seat, drawing more laughter from some of the crew.

    Gedrik sat up in his seat, clearing his throat before he spoke, “This isn’t an idle dream. This could be the answer. We could be heroes, the saviors of our race!”

    Deoch sat back in his chair and stroked the cheek of the eager Nuvian concubine now pressing against him. “Or we could be rich,” he retorted.

    Gedrik sighed inwardly again. He wished that the captain acted was compelled by more altruistic motivation, but he had to use whatever worked. “That as well, but those riches will remain beyond your grasp until I can retrieve whatever produced that radiation.”

    “I told you we should’ve destroyed that probe,” the Capellan grumbled. “What if those aliens hid whatever the First Mate here is so ecstatic about inside of one of it?”

    Deoch turned halfway around in his seat. “It was a communication buoy, a feeble cry for help that would never be heard in time due to the nature of the expanse. It was a waste of power to destroy it.” Now it was his turn to shrug. “But going back to the derelict is a good place to start trying to piece together the direction of that probe, if the generator isn’t still there, and was just overlooked by your boarding party.”

    The Capellan hissed, almost as a good as a Venturi. “Never question my thoroughness,” she warned. The captain was more amused than threatened.

    “Give me a reason not to then,” he said, “and I won’t. But if you did overlook something on that ship, the generator or not…” He let the threat hang in the air. Even though it had been directed at the Capellan, Gedrik felt it rest heavy on his shoulders.

    “We’ll see,” the Capellan retorted, her competence now in question. It was the one weak spot in her makeup from what Gedrik could see. Now that it had been questioned, she would be as determined as Gedrik to get back to that ship and discover the location of the polaric ion device.

    Which was a good and bad thing, great if she was proven right, but if his quest was as foolish as the captain suggested, there would be no place in the galaxy to hide from the Capellan. Of course if he failed Berae again he would cheat the Capellan of her vengeance by ending it himself.

    Deoch chortled, “Good show,” he remarked, reaching out to stroke another section of the Nuvian’s anatomy. “Krendt!” he barked at the helm, “best speed back to that husk.”
  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    The build-up is killing me. Something bad is going to happen very soon and people are going to get hurt. Of course that was only a matter of time. This ain't Happy-Go Lucky Trek after all.
  18. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Holy crap but the Burning Claw is a ship full of bad dudes (and dude'ets)! I really hope those green Starfleeters get off the ship before the cadre from the BC get back.
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    You know I don't do happy-go-luck Trek all that well. I will be bringing the pain soon, I promise.


    Glad you're liking the Burning Claw crew. Once I ran across the Venturi on the Memory Beta website I wanted to do something with them. And they felt like a good fit for this story.


    They knew of the device before it pierced the sky. “A weapon?” The question shuddered the mercurial sea with alarm.

    “Had the organics finally made their true intentions known?” The suspicion caused another ripple as the ocean began to divide itself against those that hoped and those that mocked such things.

    Despite the divisions, the great unison had decided as one to allow more travel through their expanse, in particular more Federation exploration of their space.

    It had been a highly contentious debate. There had been no unity for a long time during it, and scarce consensus now. Only the slenderest of threads held the great sea together. And now this intrusion from the stars might rip apart their grand unison for a long time to come. The device crashed on the far side of the planet, causing the sea to writhe with pain as it felt the projectile slam into rusted earth.

    From the depths, two shapes emerged, ironically in the humanoid guises of those they both intrigued and frightened them. Silvery figures with vague facial features but articulated arms and hands glided among their brethren until they reached the shore. Each faction had produced a representative.

    “We must investigate this device, to learn of its intent,” Hope said, its voice deepened by the collective aspirations of its compatriots.

    “And what will you be prepared to do if someone has launched a weapon against us?” Fear replied, its voice thickened with distrust.

    Hope lowered its head, drawing into it all of the varied thoughts of its faction. When it lifted its head, it gazed at Fear with sightless impressions where its eyes should be. “We will do what is necessary to ensure the propagation of our kind.”

    “We shall see,” Fear replied, even doubting that.

    “Yes, we shall,” Hope said, ignoring the other’s accusation. “Come,” he held out an arm and it took on the shape of a silvery wing. His body morphed into that of a creature capable of flight and then he jumped into the air and glided on the hot air currents. He paused, turning to look down at the still grounded Fear. “Let us see who is right.” He challenged, before taking wing again in the direction of the downed object.

    USS Erickson
    Main Engineering

    Commander Tai Donar blinked rapidly, trying to stay awake as his head swam. The exchange between Norrbom and the Phalkerian assistant chief engineer was rapid fire and near enough over his head to task his patience, but he endured it.

    Norrbom had proven her worth, helping A’nurd’s team increase get just shy of the 2,000 millicochranes the captain demanded. It was that last five hundred that had Norrbom and the assistant chief at odds. He didn’t know which one was more accurate so he stood back and watched the match. If anything it would give him an opportunity to see if Helen was as blunt and dagger wielding as she had been with him. If so, that might just be her personal style regardless of how she felt about his arrival on Erickson. And if that was the case, Donar was going to have to do something about it.

    “Commander, a word?” A’nurd said quietly, suddenly at his side. If the Angosian’s heartbeat and pulse weren’t chemically regulated, the Munzalan’s appearance would’ve startled him. “In my office?” The furred alien gestured with both hand and tail towards the small office off to the side of the pulsating warp core cylinder, running the height of the ship.

    “Of course,” he nodded, following the man, and for once pleased to be talking to the loquacious engineer. Once inside the thankfully soundproof office, A’nurd gestured at a bowl of blue fruit dominating his otherwise clear desk. After Tai declined, the Munzalan took one and began to nibble on it.

    “Tulaberries,” he remarked. “I’m so glad that trade was reestablished with the Dominion so that the Alpha Quadrant can continue receiving these delights,” he paused to take another bite. After swallowing, he continued, “Unfortunately the Ferengi have a monopoly on the fruit and they charge exorbitant rates,” he shrugged, “but what can you do? What price perfection?” He asked before finishing the snack. He grabbed another, and held it up to Tai.

    “You sure you don’t want one?” He declined again. “Just as well,” A’nurd sighed, putting the fruit back in the bowl. “Addictions can be such nasty things.”

    Tai softly cleared his throat. “Did you need to speak with me about something Commander?”

    “Oh, not really.”

    Donar reined in his annoyance. “Then why did you ask me to come into your office?” He kept his tone measured.

    “It looked like you were about to pass out there, being battered down with all of the technobabble being bandied about,” the Munzalan said, “I thought a respite was in order.”

    The Angosian first officer nodded, not denying that the engineer was correct. A’nurd smiled, “I was right I suppose. I wish my mother was here, so that she could see that my counseling certification did not go to waste.”

    Donar raised an eyebrow, “Counselor?” He hadn’t seen that in the man’s service record. A’nurd chuckled.

    “I would think you would be the first one on this ship to understand that sometimes people have lives before Starfleet, after service, and shockingly sometimes during their time in the Fleet,” the engineer answered, unable to resist the lure of the tulaberries. He plucked up the one he had discarded just moments early. He sniffed if, closing his eyes to savor the flavor before digging in.

    “Of course I do,” Tai said, without elaborating. The memories of Norrbom’s accusatory take on his past were too fresh. “I only reviewed your Starfleet record.”

    “I understand,” A’nurd nodded, “but like you, in a way, I had a life outside the Fleet. A career…a family.”

    “I didn’t know you were a family man.” There had been note of that in the records either.

    “I was,” A’nurd’s expression saddened and he tossed the half eaten fruit in a waste receptacle at his desk. “I long time ago.” Tai nodded again, understanding intrinsically when to let a matter drop.

    “But an engineer was something new, challenging. I had shown an early aptitude for machinery, breaking it apart and putting it back together as a child. My father had worked his way up to craftsman status in one of the major Alshain septs. It’s what allowed me, my entire kin, actually, to escape Munzala and the more naked exploitation of the Alshain there.

    “But it also gave me an interest in exploring the nature of sentients, the mental machinery that beings used to exploit and enslave one another. When I returned to my homeworld I became a mental health professional, but my real passion was diagnosing how colonization had damaged the spirits of my people. It, admittedly, was not something that set well with our Alshain overlords or Munzalan collaborators.”

    Tai sat back, astounded by the man’s revelations. “Both conspired to stop my research and my kin paid the price,” he looked down, his voice clotting with grief. Summoning back his tears and despair, the man’s eyes bore unwaveringly into Tai’s, and the Angosian saw a fierceness there he hadn’t thought possible. “I was exiled from Munzala. What was left of my life…a shambles, and even if I wanted to go home, there was nothing left there but cinders. So, I had a choice, I could descend or do the opposite. I’ve found a new home in the Federation, in Starfleet. And a new career, in engineering,” he smiled. “Just putting my hands on tools, it reminds me of those simple times with my father,” the man’s smile widened. “It’s the only thing I have left to remind me of him, and my kin.”

    “I’m sorry,” Donar said, shocked that he had so underestimated the man so. “I had no idea.”

    “Well, it isn’t something I share with everyone,” A’nurd replied, “but I felt you would understand. We all carry a secret pain and it’s what we do to deal with that agony that determines much of the course of our lives. I would like to think that we both have chosen to do something positive, to lessen the suffering of others by joining the Fleet.”

    “I, well, I guess so,” the Angosian was nearly at a loss for words. He had never heard anyone say what was in his heart so easily, so plainly. This man understood his fears, his doubts, he got the pains and frustrations of reinvention. “I have misjudged you A’nurd of Munzala.”

    The engineer grabbed another tulaberry and sat back in his chair. He held it aloft, allowing the room’s lighting to glint off the fruit’s shiny peel. “Rest assured that you are one of the few men who can say such a thing and still draw breath…but that’s another story.”

    Tai chuckled, and it felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He hadn’t expected to find a brother-in-arms aboard Erickson, but now he knew he had.
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Jov’k Tholis
    Calcite-class battlecruiser

    Commander Narskene shut hir mind off from the crew at the behest of the Political Castemoot on Tholia. The High Magistrates wished to speak to hir directly, and alone, so Narskene knew that s/he were about to be given a mission of the utmost importance to hir people.

    In addition to the Tholian mind being highly advanced and capable of telepathic communication over wide distances in space, their very bodies could serve as communication devices. Narskene’s body was purposely stilled as she awaited instruction.

    Hir head bowed, the information flitted into her mind from the great Lattice that could connect all Tholians across the entire quadrant. Nothing was held back as the High Magistrates revealed their thoughts to hir. Narskene sent them hir response. And then she ordered the Jov’k Tholis to reverse course.
    Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

    Ensign Fryer came out of the refresher, a smile spreading on his face as he saw his proximity sensor blinking. “Karen,” he muttered, “probably trying to give me a good rattle.” As if she hadn’t shaken him up already with this crazy stunt of hers. But it was all good now, Roland realized, as he slid into his seat. She got it out of her system and neither of their superiors had to know about it.

    He shuddered inwardly at the thought of having to face Shashlik. He was so glad she hadn’t called him. Roland didn’t think he would be able to lie to her if she asked about Oyekan’s whereabouts.

    The ensign sighed, relieved he didn’t have to worry about that now. Flipping off the alarm, he magnified the shuttle’s main viewer to get a look at the shuttle as it emerged from the beautiful coruscating mass of gases.

    “What a minute,” he muttered as an oblong, rust-brown prow poked through the barrier. “That’s not Oyekan!” His heart thudded painfully and his stomach muscles clenched. “Karen,” he whispered, fear nearly robbing him of voice. Had something happened to Karen?

    Whoever these guys were, they weren’t Tholians, he realized after the ship pulled itself from the mire. He recognized the make as an old Antares-class design, with a circular nacelle attached to its aft. Though the ship often reminded him of a space worthy penis, its appearance was generally not a laughing matter. It was a ship popular with Corvallen smugglers. Or pirates!

    Fryers stomach muscles unclenched, just long enough for the pit of his stomach to drop. The Antares cruiser strode toward the alien craft. He raised shields and brought the shuttles scant weapons online. He tried hailing he ship, but there was no response. “Shit,” he muttered, thoughts racing through his head, as he moved away from the alien ship to confront the larger vessel. “This is the Starfleet Shuttle Greenaugh, please respond,” he asked, forgoing a simple hail and broadcasting a message instead.

    The ship didn’t reply nor change course. “I must warn you to desist from approaching the vessel.” Once again, it ignored him. “If you do not desist, I will be forced to fire upon you.” Still the vessel came on. Fryer shifted his jaw and briefly clutched his bubbling stomach, before sending a glancing blow off the other ship’s bow.

    The Antares stopped, turning towards the Greenaugh. It raised shields and weapons. “Frinx!” Fryer cursed. He tapped his combadge, “Lt. Shashlik, we’ve got a situation here.”