Lexington (TOS era): Meet The Lady

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DavidFalkayn, Feb 17, 2018.

  1. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    My Lexington series takes place during the TOS era and is a sister series of the Sutherland series and is also part of the United Trek continuity. Here we meet Liz Shelby's maternal grandparents: Commodore Robert Wesley and Ensign Aliz Bathory. We also meet a young Lieutenant Morgan Bateson, later on in the series, along with what I hope people will think are some very fun characters. One of the more difficult issues to resolve was dealing with the sexism of the period during which the old series aired in which you did not see female captains. The easy way would be to just ignore it and go ahead and put in female captains from the beginning on Constitution class starships. But I wanted to try something different. I went under the assumption that shortly after the Four Years War (I'm not including Discovery in my canon at this time), a cabal of extremely conservative admirals coming mostly from worlds and colonies that were strongly male dominated managed to get effective control over who got promoted to ship commands and as a result, women captains were rare during this brief, really twenty year or so period, and when they captain ships, they were relegated to destroyers and smaller ships. It wasn't until TheLoneRedshirt's character, Grace McAfee before women were able to break that iron ceiling. After that, the floodgates open as captains such as Marietta DeVeers and, eventually, Cilla Oudekirk, whom you'll meet here as a lieutenant, rise to the captaincy of major starships. The first story in the series is called Meet the Lady after the nickname the commodore and crew give the Lexington. I hope everyone enjoys this series and a little return to the days of the old TOS.
  2. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    MEET THE LADY: Part 1

    February 2265
    Stardate -57869.5

    Striding off the transporter pad at McKinley Station, Captain Robert Wesley of the USS Ajax put on his most professional demeanor as he immediately recognized the silver haired man standing next to a rather nervous looking transporter crewman. The man was immaculately clad in standard gold shirt with black pants and boots, the wide gold stripe with narrow gold stripe above it on both his sleeves declaring to all that the wearer was an admiral. Can’t blame the crewman for looking like he’s about to deliver a litter of kittens. Bob chuckled inwardly, must be hell having any admiral watching your every move—much less this admiral.

    Knowing that the admiral was a stickler for regulations, Wesley came to attention before reporting aboard according to form, “Admiral Komack…permission to come aboard, sir?”

    “Permission granted, Captain Wesley and welcome to McKinley Station.” The admiral responded with equal formality, and then, motioning towards the door, requested, “If you would accompany me, Captain.”

    “Aye, sir.” Wesley acknowledged as he fell in beside and slightly behind the admiral. Crewmen and junior officers scrambled to clear the way for the prickly admiral and the ruggedly handsome captain walking beside him as the station intercom issued calls for various officers to contact others or to contact any of the numerous departments within the busy construction and maintenance facility. After several minutes of walking, the pair reached an office door that slid open.

    “Come in…” Komack said, motioning for Wesley to precede him. “Have a seat…” the admiral further urged as he moved towards a counter holding a bottle with two glasses. Pouring the amber fluid into the glasses, Komack brought a glass to the captain before taking his seat behind a large mahogany desk. “Draylaxian whiskey…” the admiral explained, “…take it easy…a little of that stuff goes a long way.”

    Raising his eyebrows in surprise as he sniffed the fragrant aroma before taking a slight, tentative sip, letting the precious fluid coat his tongue, Wesley commented, “Not easy to get either, sir…”

    “But appropriate for this occasion.” Komack replied as he took a data slate, handing it to the captain. “Go ahead…read it.”

    As Robert read the slate, his eyes widened in surprise, glancing up, he took in the amused twinkle in the admiral’s eyes before setting the padd down on the desk. Sitting in stunned silence, Wesley barely heard the admiral’s next words.

    “Congratulations…Commodore.” The admiral grinned. “Now…” he said, standing up, “…finish that whiskey, because I want to show you something special.”

    Entering McKinley Station’s large Observation Deck, the two senior officers paused for a moment silently observing the hustle and bustle taking place all around them. Civilians from all over the Federation, mostly humans, but also Vulcans, Deltans, Tellarites, Andorians and others, gathered together at the central information kiosk, bombarding the yeomen manning the booth with a multitude of questions. Others, both civilians and Starfleet personnel, either sat or stood next to the transparent aluminum windows, watching and waving hello or goodbye as ships came and went. The Shikoku, one of the earliest of the new Miranda class vessels, moved in for docking as the destroyer Scipio, a Saladin class starship like the Ajax, slipped away from its moorings to begin yet another mission. Marietta’s ship… Bob thought, his lips turning up in a warm smile as he recalled the destroyer’s daring, sometimes to the point of recklessness captain, Marietta DeVeers, a relative rarity within the current Starfleet—a female ship captain. She’s probably patrolling the Klingon or Romulan borders, Wesley thought as his attention was quickly drawn to the majestic vessel sitting in a dock all to itself…very much the queen of her domain.

    A Constitution class starship! The newly minted commodore noted with admiration as he took in the vessel’s pure, graceful lines…her twin nacelles housing the most powerful engines currently available to Starfleet…the saucer section melding seamlessly with the main hull. A ship of true grace and power, just to serve on one of these vessels was considered by many in Starfleet to be the high point of their careers. To command one of them was a dream beyond attainment for all but a select few. Only the best of the best could ever hope to sit in the center chair of a beauty such as this.

    “Beautiful…isn’t she?” Admiral Komack remarked with an appreciative grin. “She just finished her refit and is almost ready to depart.”

    “Yes, sir…she certainly is.” Robert enthusiastically agreed as he noted the ship’s registry number, NCC-1709. That’s the Lexington…Commodore Nogura’s ship, isn’t it?”

    “Not anymore,” Komack answered back with a shake of his head, “Heihachiro just got his admiral’s stripe. He’s being booted up to Command.” Flashing a sly grin, the admiral stated in as emotionless a tone as he could muster, “The Lexington is yours…that is if you want it.”

    Watching his subordinate in amused silence for several moments as the news slowly sunk in, Admiral Komack cleared his throat and then spoke in a clear command voice, “Well Commodore…do you want the ship or not…I don’t have all day!”

    “Yes sir…Of course I want it.” Wesley replied, a wide grin on his face that quickly disappeared as his eyes met those of the stern admiral. “When do I take command?”

    “The change of command ceremony will be in 72 hours.” The admiral replied in his usual stern tone.

    “Seventy-two hours?” Robert echoed, more than a little surprised at the quick turnaround time. “That’s awful short notice, Admiral. I’d have thought I’d have more time to get acquainted with the ship…”

    “I know, Bob…” Komack interrupted with a sympathetic look on his face. “I wish we could give you more time to get to know her and to spend more time with your family.” Shaking his head sadly, he continued, “But the truth is…we need the Lexington out there.” Pausing for a moment to take a breath, the admiral explained, “There’s something going on in the Typhon Sector…we’re not sure what. We just know that we’ve lost contact with one of our scout craft, the Voltaire.”

    “What do we have in that area?” Wesley queried as his eyes took in the form of the Constitution class ship.

    “Right now, it’s a lot like the Old West.” Admiral Komack answered with a slight smile. Starbase 31 has just been activated and will eventually be the command and control hub for the sector, but at this time it’s more like a frontier outpost. The Scipio and a couple other destroyers will be assigned to that area on a more or less permanent basis and we’re planning on sticking a Miranda class there in the near future, but for now, we need Lexington to act as the territorial marshal.”

    “I see…” Robert vocalized, weighing his options as his eyes once again gazed lovingly on the elegant lady sitting majestically in her berth. On the one hand, he knew that Constitution class commands didn’t come around very often. Wesley understood full well that this might be the only chance he’d get to sit in the center chair of a Connie—that the odds of Komack giving him another opportunity should he spurn this one would be slim at best. In fact, he would be lucky to get another ship command at all. Knowing the stern admiral beside him as well as he did, Bob realized that, should he refuse this command, like as not he’d be pigeonholed in command of a minor star base…or even worse, they’d shove him off to one of the ‘K’ Class Deep Space Stations to be forgotten…to become just another data slate-pushing bureaucrat.

    On the other hand, he’d be able to spend more time with Virginia and Katie and he’d be able to take them with him to whatever Starbase or Deep Space Station he’d be assigned. But…he then considered…would his wife and child be happy there—out on a starbase away from friends. Virginia would have to give up her position at the University of North Carolina; Katie would have to uproot her life…say goodbye to all her friends. Would it fair for him to ask them to give up what they have here? Either way this was a rough call, the former Academy boxing champ realized.

    “You still want the job, Bob?” Admiral Komack’s stern voice, now tinged with a rare grandfatherly tone, asked as he regarded the newly minted commodore.

    Seeing the admiral’s appraising gaze, Wesley made his decision, “Yes, sir…” He said definitively, “I do.”

    “Good. We need you out there.” The admiral remarked with a single nod of the head and then flashing a warm smile, advised, “Go on home and spend some time with Ginny and Katie and then take care of any business you need to on the Ajax.” Pausing for a moment, Komack asked, “Do you have any more questions?”

    “No sir…” Commodore Wesley responded in a low voice as his eyes once again found the Lexington.

    His lips turning up into yet another grandfatherly smile, Admiral Komack quipped before turning away, “Well…I’ll leave the two of you alone to get acquainted. See you later, Bob.”

    As the door slid shut behind the stern faced admiral, Bob Wesley turned his gaze back towards the Lexington. His lips turning up into a warm smile, Bob remarked in quiet voice, “Hello, Lady Lex…”


    As soon as the turbolift doors slid open, Lieutenant Cilla Oudekirk, the alpha shift communications officer, her blonde hair done up in the current fashionable beehive and wearing the new Standard female uniform for her position, a red minidress, the left breast bearing the Lexington’s insignia, the same embroidered sunburst used by Fleet Command, stomped out of the turbolift towards the only other female currently on the bridge, a tall, statuesque Andorian woman still wearing the old uniform, blue blouse bearing the rank insignia of Lieutenant Commander, along with black pants and boots.

    “Like the new look, Cilla!” The helmsman, Lieutenant Terrence Lawford jibed, his lips turned up into a boyish grin as he swiveled his chair around to get a better look at the Dutch communications officer.

    Studiously ignoring the impudent helmsman, Cilla glared at the Andorian woman, “Well?”

    “Well what, Lieutenant?” The Andorian, chief science officer Talana Zha’Thara asked, her lips turned up in a playful grin.

    “Well…this!” Lt. Oudekirk exclaimed, pointing at her minidress. “I want to know who the genius dirty old man was who came up with this…this…uniform!”

    “I don’t know about you…” Talana smirked, her antennae twitching in amusement as Lawford tried vainly to stifle his laughter, “…but I kind of like the new look.”

    “Well I don’t see you wearing yours!” Cilla pointed out, a triumphant grin on her face.

    Shrugging her shoulders, the Andorian replied, “I just haven’t had time to change as yet.” Looking thoughtful for a moment, she quickly added, “I’m afraid the light blue color they’ve decided on for the sciences might not match my skin though…what do you think, Cilla?”

    “Oooohhhh…” The Dutch lieutenant cried out in frustration as she quickly turned about, going back the way she came, sparing yet another harsh glare for the English helmsman as she took her station.

    Addressing the Andorian science officer, Terrence deadpanned, his Public School English accent giving an extra layer of dryness to his understatement, “I think she’s angry, Commander.”

    Smiling in amusement, Talana responded, “She’ll get over it. Right, Cilla?” Ignoring the glare sent her way by the temperamental communications officer, Talana’s smile vanished as she warned Lawford, “You better get back to work, Terrence. If Commander Kuznetsov comes through those doors and finds you goofing off…”

    “I know…I know…” Lawford acknowledged, his smile vanishing as he returned to his console, “The Bear will have me cleaning out the Jeffries tubes with a toothbrush for an entire month.”


    As Commander Alexei Kuznetsov, the Lexington’s first officer, made his rounds on the Constitution class starship, a young woman, attractive with red hair and wearing the new red minidress struggled to keep up with his long strides. “Yeoman…” Kuznetsov called out, his deep, rumbling voice one more reason for his nickname, the Bear. “Take this down. I want the crew in the new uniforms by the next alpha shift.” He stated as he noted several crewmen wearing the older uniform. “There will be no excuse for anyone wearing obsolete dress.”

    “Aye, sir.” The yeoman dutifully recorded.

    “Also…” The Russian dictated, “I want status reports from all section heads no later than 1600 tomorrow. There will be a ship-wide inspection 0800 the next day. The new captain will be taking command in seventy two hours and I want everything spotless when he arrives.” Kuznetsov’s alert eyes spotting a pair of crewmen wearing the loose fitting red jumpsuits of support services standing and laughing next to an opened access panel, he growled as he approached the pair. “Crewmen! What are you doing here?”

    “Commander G’arv …” One of the enlisted ratings, replied, referring to the Tellarite chief engineer, “…wanted us to check the power transfer grid in this section, sir. We just completed our diagnostic on this circuit and we were just getting ready to close up and go on to the next.”

    “Then I would suggest that you do so instead of standing around acting like a pair of fools!” Kuznetsov spat out to the two crewmen as the yeoman gave them a sympathetic look. “Or I’ll make sure that Lieutenant Commander G’arv finds some other type work more suited for you…such as cleaning out the waste recycling units.”

    Observing as the hapless crewmen practically jumped to their task, the first officer, nodding his head in satisfaction, turned his attention back to his yeoman as he resumed his rounds. “Where were we, Yeoman? Ah…yes…the new crewmembers…they should be beaming aboard soon. Accompany me to Transporter Room One, if you please.” Flashing an amused grin, he remarked, “Let’s see what the new Academy class is made of, shall we?”

    “Aye, sir…” The yeoman responded, her lips also turning up into a wicked grin as she pictured the fresh faced ensigns about to beam aboard getting their first introduction to real starship duty from the giant Russian.

    Waiting until they were sure that the burly first officer had completely disappeared out of earshot, the first crewman turned to his companion, “Damn! Is he always like this?”

    The second crewman, his lips turned up into a sardonic grin, quipped in response, “You should see him when he’s really pissed.”


    After beaming down at Starfleet Command in San Francisco, Robert, now sporting the new gold uniform top, its sleeve proudly displaying the single broad embroidered stripe of a commodore looked on appreciatively at the Golden Gate Bridge. A world treasure, it had survived the long years of warfare which marked the twenty-first century with over half its structure amazingly almost intact, even though the city itself was devastated thanks to a terrorist nuke. They really did do a good job. From this distance…the commodore thought as he cupped his chin, you can’t tell where the real bridge ends and the reconstruction begins.

    As he gazed upon the monument, Wesley shook his head sadly as his mind went back to his early Academy history classes. The rebuilding of monuments such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Vatican as well as the cities that hosted them, along with the cleaning up of the radiation and other toxic residue left by the wars, was the culmination of years of hard work on the part of humanity and its new allies, the Vulcans. The reconstruction work took the later years of the disastrous twenty-first century all the way through the middle of the twenty second to complete. But even with all that hard work, so much was lost. Much of the Middle East was devastated with very little remaining from the pre-war years—many of its cities—Mecca, Jerusalem, Teheran, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Damascus, and so many others—nothing more than glass craters. No amount of reconstruction could rebuild those cities in their original locations.

    Europe also suffered grievously as civil war wracked the continent. On all continents, artwork, monuments, and buildings were smashed. The Sistine Chapel, Notre Dame, St. Sophia’s, the Kaaba, the Wailing Wall, the Mosque of Omar, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Sphinx, the Lincoln Memorial, St. Basil’s, and many other treasures of humanity were completely destroyed with virtually nothing of the original structure or work intact. Libraries and museums—and their precious collections—were ruined in the chaos. Entire ethnic populations of humanity were very nearly rendered extinct in the global bloodletting as the human population had dropped from its pre-war high of over seven billion to a post war number of just under three billion souls. Humanity very nearly played out its string…Wesley morosely thought until his reverie was disrupted by a lyrical female voice.


    “Huh?” Turning towards the origin of the voice, Robert saw a young dark skinned woman wearing the new red minidress approaching. “What is it, Yeoman?” He asked somewhat testily, irritated at having his contemplation disturbed.

    “I’m sorry, sir…” The yeoman apologized, “But I thought you should know that your shuttle’s ready.”

    “Oh…” Wesley exclaimed and then gave the pretty crewman a friendly smile, “Thank you.”

    “Your welcome, sir.” The yeoman replied as her lips also turned up in a smile. “The pilot says that you should arrive in Charlotte in a couple of hours, sir.”

    “Excellent!” The commodore replied cheerily. “That should work out just about right.” Great! Wesley’s mind raced as he made his plans, That’ll give me enough time to pick up some flowers and make it home in time for us to go out for dinner at The Pit. I can’t wait to see the look on Ginny’s face! Addressing the yeoman once again, Robert grinned as he motioned with his hand, “Lead the way.”
  3. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 2

    “So…what do you think it’ll be like…serving on a starship?” Ensign Jennifer Watley, now wearing the pale blue minidress of a science specialist instead of the black and yellow Academy togs that she’d worn for four long years asked as she brushed back a strand of dark hair that had slipped out of place.

    “It’s an assignment.” The auburn haired Ensign Aliz Bathory, wearing command gold, answered in her rich Magyar accent. “Nothing more…”

    “Come on now…” The olive skinned Watley replied, refusing to let her companion’s phlegmatic outlook ruin her enthusiasm. “This is the USS Lexington we’re talking about…a Constitution class starship. You know there aren’t a whole lot of them in the fleet right now.” Cracking an evil grin, she teased, “Would you rather be serving on a Ptolemy class tug or something like that?”

    “All right…all right…” Aliz sighed in resignation as her lips turned up into a smile as she fingered the medallion around her neck. “Yes…I am glad to have gotten the Lexington and I am looking forward to sitting at the helm.” Her smile growing wider, she said, “And I have to admit to a certain…anticipation…at piloting her.”

    “I knew it!” Jennifer cried out triumphantly and then, pointing at the pendant her Hungarian companion was holding in her hands, asked curiously, “You’ve worn that ever since I’ve met you and never take it off—even when you’re showering or taking a bath. What’s the story behind it? I know you told me it’s a family heirloom, but why don’t you ever take it off?”

    As Aliz stared down at the silver figure of a young beautiful woman, she answered in a low voice, “I think I told you it dates back from the seventeenth century. There’s a history behind it. You know how we Hungarians are about our family curses and legends and all that? Well…the Bathory family is old Hungarian nobility with a very bad reputation. It seems one of my ancestors, Countess Elizaveta Bathory, was one of the worst serial killers in world history.”

    “What?” Aliz’s friend exclaimed, “You never told me that.”

    Aliz’s lips turned up in a sardonic grin, “Would you want to brag about how an ancestor of yours was a notorious serial killer who apparently killed hundreds of young women and girls and bathed in their blood before they finally caught her?” Seeing the shocked look on her friend’s face, Aliz laughed, “I didn’t think so. Anyway, they found Elizaveta guilty, but because they were afraid it would piss off the nobility, they refused to execute her. Instead, they walled her up in her castle, only leaving a slit in the wall so that she could breath and to get food in and out. Well, ultimately, she died, and someone had this amulet made. It gets passed on to the first born female in our family once she reaches puberty.” She then flashed a slight smile, “It’s supposed to keep the demon away.”

    “Oh…ok…but…” Jennifer replied and then warned lowering her voice in a conspiratorial tone, “…if you want to keep on wearing it, you better make sure it stays under your dress. From what I hear the first officer on the Lexington is a real a—hole.”

    “I’ve heard the same.” Aliz acknowledged morosely as she slipped the medallion back under her dress. She then remarked with a smirk, “But what else can you expect…he’s a Russian.”


    As the two women materialized in the Lexington’s transporter room, along with four other new transfers, they found that their earlier suspicions about the starship’s executive officer were indeed correct. The moment they had reported aboard, Commander Kuznetsov had them standing at attention in line. Following a blistering speech in which The Bear had made it quite clear to the new additions what his expectations were; he walked down the line, inspecting each transferee, noting the slightest flaw in dress or carriage. Reaching Aliz, he spotted the slender chain around the ensign’s neck.

    “What is that, Ensign?” He demanded, his face inches from the young woman’s.

    “Family heirloom, sir.” Aliz promptly replied. “Acceptable under Starfleet Uniform Regulation 44B: Neck jewelry is permitted provided it is unobtrusive and lockets or pendants are covered by clothing.” She recited with a slightly defiant and triumphant tone to her voice.

    “I know what the regulations state, Ms. Bathory!” The Commander spat out. “Just be sure you do…I’ll be keeping my eye on you.”

    You have no idea how the thought of that makes me feel tingly all over…the Hungarian ensign thought sarcastically as the first officer moved on to his next victim.

    Upon finishing his inspection, Kuznetsov dismissed the new arrivals. Making a smart left face, the fresh faced former cadets exited the transporter room and the frowning first officer. However, as Ensign Bathory exited, the dour Russian’s lips turned up into a slight smile.

    “Made an impression on you, didn’t she, Alexei?”

    The New England twang of Lexington’s Chief Medical Officer, Lieutenant Commander Charles Vincent, attracting his attention, Kuznetsov grunted. “She has potential…”

    “She stood up to you well enough.” Vincent rejoined, running a hand though his thinning sandy blond hair.

    “Da…she did.” The Russian agreed and then cupping his chin, noted sagaciously, “The question is though…does she have the wisdom to know how to pick and choose her fights?”

    “That, my friend…” The doctor replied with a laugh as he placed a hand on the shoulder of the larger man, “…is something you only learn after getting knocked on your ass a time or two.”

    “Problem is tovarisch…” Alexei answered back as the pair walked out the transporter room together, “…in our business you often only get one chance.”


    As Robert climbed up the steps to the front porch door of the Charlotte, North Carolina home that he and his wife, Virginia, and their young daughter Katie shared, he smiled. It almost seemed to the long absent husband and father that the place hadn’t changed that much since he’d left with the Ajax over three years ago. His fishing rods were just where he left them leaning against the wall; Virginia’s plants were blooming in their pots, African violets, aloe vera, tulips…all doing well. Virginia always did have a green thumb. Wesley thought fondly as an image of his wife working in her garden, her hands dirty, but with a big smile on her face as she went from plant to plant, trimming here…watering there. It was all far too complicated a process for a man who lived and breathed starships and space exploration.

    He also smiled as he saw the Schmidt-Cassegrain optical telescope on the porch. While a professor of literature at the University of North Carolina by day, his wife was very much an avid amateur astronomer who preferred observing through the antiquated optical telescope rather than using newer, more precise instruments. Smiling with affection, he remembered her once telling him that she wasn’t interested in the numbers…it was the soul of the heavens that she wanted to explore. She would have made a perfect Starfleet officer, he thought as he continued his reverie.

    However, something was missing. It took the absentee father a few minutes to place exactly what it was, but when he did stumble upon the answer, he shook his head sadly. The dolls that Katie used to play with on the porch were gone now. Things had changed. He’d missed three years of his daughter’s life. Katie wasn’t the ten year old girl she was when he’d left. She was now three years older—a thirteen year old girl beginning her adolescence. The protective father coming to the fore, Robert realized that it wouldn’t be long until his daughter started dating. And Virginia…his lovely Virginia…so patient and understanding…how would she take the news that in seventy two hours he would be going out into space again—this time on a five year tour with every probability that he wouldn’t be returning to Earth again for at least a year. Although he would never admit it to anyone else—not even Jim Kirk, one of his best friends—Wesley knew that Virginia wasn’t happy with the current state of affairs and, as his hand hovered over the door control, he couldn’t help but ask himself whether the news he was about to spring on his wife would end up being the proverbial straw that would break the back of the camel that was their marriage.

    Squaring his shoulders, Robert opened the door. Entering his house, he called out, “Ginny? You home?”

    “Robert?” A voice tinged with excitement answered back. “Is that you?”

    “Ginny!” Wesley responded with a wide grin as he turned to face his wife. “You’re looking beautiful, today.” He complimented, sincerely meaning his words as he gazed on the lovely form of his wife.

    “Heh…” Virginia snorted, “...only if you’re into dirt and sweat. I’m a filthy mess. I’ve been in the garden out back all morning…”

    “You’re still the prettiest sight I’ve seen.” Robert declared as he hugged his wife close to him.

    “It’s been too long, Robert.” Virginia declared as the pair reluctantly broke from their embrace. Giving her husband an appraising look, the chestnut haired woman remarked, “You’re looking as fit as ever.”

    Cracking a wicked grin, Bob playfully flicked off a speck of dirt from his wife’s nose, “Nothing like zero-g calisthenics to get the blood flowing.”

    Laughing, Virginia noticed the broad gold embroidered stripe on her husband’s sleeve. “You’ve been promoted!” The long-suffering wife exclaimed enthusiastically. “Does this mean what I think it means? That you’re going to be assigned to Command?”

    Shaking his head, Bob almost winced at the crestfallen look his wife gave him as he imparted his news to her, “I’m sorry, dear. I’ve been given command of the Lexington.”

    “Oh…” Virginia responded, trying in vain to hide her discontent. Feigning enthusiasm, she inquired, “Isn’t that Heihachiro’s ship?”

    “Yeah.” Bob replied, “He’s been booted up to the Admiralty and Komack personally gave me the news.”

    “They must have really wanted you there if Wild Bill himself gave you those orders.” Ginny noted.

    “I guess so.” Robert agreed. Looking deep into his wife’s eyes, he said in a low voice, “Ginny…it’s not too late…I can still turn down the command.”

    “You’ll do no such thing!” Virginia retorted, her eyes momentarily blazing. “This is what you’ve wanted all your life…” Her fury abating as quickly as it flared, she added in a quiet, almost mournful tone, “…we both know that you can’t turn this down.” Putting on a brave face, she then asked, “So…how much time do you have before you have to report aboard?”

    “Seventy two hours.” Bob replied.

    “Well then…” Ginny responded with a forced grin, “…we’ll just have to make the most of it. What do you want do?”

    “Well…” Bob replied with an equally forced smile, “I was thinking about waiting until Katie gets home and then we would all go to The Pit for some Bar-B-Que.”

    “Sounds good to me!” The forlorn wife answered back as she gave her husband a quick peck on the cheek. “I’ll get showered and dressed. Katie should be back from school soon.”

    “Ok, dear.” Bob replied, watching his wife’s retreating form. Shaking his head, the rugged commodore sighed. Although neither spouse said it in so many words, they both knew that what had just happened was an important event. Turning about, Robert sat down on the comfortable recliner that he’d claimed many years ago as his chair. Picking up a data slate, the future captain of the Lexington read over the crew bios of his senior staff and the particulars of his new command. He had much to do and only seventy two hours to do it in. “Time…” Bob muttered morosely, “…there’s never enough time.”
  4. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 3

    As the two pugilists carefully circled each other, Alexei smiled inwardly as he spotted the slight opening his opponent had left him. Dropped your guard, Tovarisch! The burly Russian thought as he launched a powerful right cross at the chin of his sparring partner, only to come up empty as his opponent, easily dodging the blow, launched a right hook of his own. Staggering under the impact of the gloved fist on the side of his jaw, the Lexington’s executive officer shook his head as his opponent retreated to the opposite corner. Taking off his gloves, Alexei worked his jaw with his left hand as the other man tossed him a towel. “Good feint.” Kuznetsov remarked, a big grin on his face as he wiped the sweat off. “I thought I had you there. I can see now why you won the Academy boxing tournament.”

    “As I recall, you didn’t do so badly yourself,” His opponent, Commodore Robert Wesley, complimented as he removed his gloves and headgear. “Seeing as you finished in the final four in your class tournament.”

    Shrugging his shoulders, the big Russian wiped some blood off his chin. “Da. But I lost in the semi-finals.”

    “Nothing to be ashamed of, losing to Dodge.” Bob exclaimed, referring to the current captain of the USS Hood, as he slapped his first officer on the back. “He still packs a mean punch,” the commodore quipped as the pair, after slipping out between the ropes of the tiny boxing ring, began to walk through the ship’s gymnasium. Noting with approval the large number of crew availing themselves of the starship’s exercise facilities, Wesley remarked, “Busy place. I like it this way.”

    “Commodore…excuse me, I meant Admiral…Nogura’s standing orders were that all members of the ship’s crew—senior command staff included—had to spend a minimum of ten hours per week in the gym.” Alexei explained and then added pointedly, “There were no exceptions.”

    “I see no reason to alter those orders…” Bob replied, drawing an even wider grin from his executive officer. Then, noticing a petite auburn haired woman wearing gymnast’s togs on a balance beam carrying out a near perfect routine, the commodore nodded his head in appreciation as the youthful officer moved smoothly from a handstand and then executed a flawless back-flip.

    “Not bad…” Wesley remarked, clapping his hands appreciatively as the gymnast executed a near flawless dismount. “Not bad at all…” As the young woman draped a towel around her shoulders before walking away, Bob inquired of his first officer, “Who is she?”

    “Ensign Aliz Bathory.” The burly Russian replied with a grunt. “Helmsman. One of the new transferees from the Academy.”

    “Must be pretty sharp…” The commodore noted as the two officers walked towards the exit, “…to get this ship as her first assignment.”

    “Da.” Kuznetsov nodded his head. “Very high marks from her instructors. But…” The executive officer noted, “...she also possesses a very stubborn and willful streak that got her into trouble with more than one of her instructors.”

    “Insubordination?” The commodore asked with a note of concern in his voice. “I don’t mind my officers expressing their opinions…” Bob declared, his eyes taking on a steely look, “…but once I’ve settled on a course and have issued orders—I expect them to be obeyed promptly and without static.”

    “She was never insubordinate.” Alexei answered back, somewhat alleviating the commodore’s concerns. “It’s just that she was very…forward…in expressing her views in class and very…very stubborn as regards maintaining her position.” Laughing, the Russian executive officer recalled, “After she got my attention when she reported aboard, I checked with her instructors at the Academy. I don’t like loose cannons, they get people killed and ships destroyed needlessly.” The Bear explained before continuing his narrative. “Her instructors all say the same thing—that she’s bright, independent, and incredibly stubborn when she thinks she’s right or when she’s encountered with a difficult problem. Her tactics instructor, Commander Reynolds, told me that she insisted on repeating the Kobayashi Maru test over and over again for three days straight. She kept on insisting that her solution was the right one.”

    Chuckling wryly, Bob quipped, “Wasn’t she told that there was no correct solution that would save both the merchant ship and her vessel—that the whole point of the exercise was that it was a test of character?” Shaking his head, Wesley grinned, “Jim Kirk’s the only one who ever beat that test—and he cheated!”

    Shaking his head as well, Alexei answered back. “Da…Elliot told her after she spent twenty four hours in the simulator that there was no solution—but she wouldn’t accept it. She argued and argued that there had to be a way to solve the situation.” Laughing, the Russian first officer recounted, “After three days, she finally accepted that there was no good solution, but not before trying every possible tactic—standard and crazy.”

    “Doesn’t like to give up, eh?” Bob remarked nodding his head sagely.

    “No.” The Bear replied. “As I said, she’s very…very…stubborn and willful.”

    Laughing as the door to the gym slid open, Bob remarked, “Some of the best officers I’ve known could be described as stubborn and willful. One of them at least…” he quipped, “…commands a starship of his own. I like an officer with fire in the belly.”

    “Fire in the belly is good.” The Russian responded, adding sagely, “But so is a clear head.”

    “Agreed.” The commodore conceded, “We should know soon enough whether she has that or not.” As the pair reached the turbolift, Wesley pointed at the cut on his first officer’s chin, advising, “You might want to let the doc have a look at that, Alexei, before you report to the bridge.”

    “Aye, sir.” Kuznetsov acknowledged as the turbolift door whooshed open, “I’ll see to it after I shower. Speaking of which, sir…” The Bear ribbed, flashing a toothy grin, “…you might want to see about a shower yourself before you report to the bridge.”

    Laughing as he gripped the elevator control, ordering it to take the pair to deck five where the senior officer’s quarters were located, Wesley riposted, “I’ll take that under advisement, Commander. After all, we can’t have a biohazard alert go off on the bridge now, can we?”


    “Hey, roomie!” Ensign Jennifer Watley called out to her roommate, Ensign Aliz Bathory, as the door to their quarters whooshed open, revealing the petite Hungarian helmsman, still wearing her gymnast’s togs. “Have a good workout?”

    “Not bad.” Aliz replied in her rich Magyar accent as she stepped out of her sweaty leotard. “Had the commodore and the Bear as an audience while I did my balance beam routine.”

    “Oh?” Jennifer teased as, sitting down before the vanity mirror, the olive skinned ensign beginning the process of brushing and rolling in order to fix her lovely brown hair into a bouffant style. “So…what was their reaction?”

    “They applauded, of course.” Aliz chuckled as she stepped into the tiny sonic shower. “They know a good thing when they see it.” Calling out from the shower, the Hungarian pilot, changing the subject, asked, “So…how was your day?”

    “Eh…so-so…” Jennifer responded as she took out a set of large rollers from the vanity drawer. “Talana…my section chief…she’s a blast! She’s funny and loves to joke around. But…” the naturally bubbly science specialist qualified, “…it’s not all laughs. She had me and another new ensign—Frank Carstairs—working on a nasty xeno-microbiology problem.” Sighing, Jennifer continued, “I didn’t think we’d ever solve it.”

    “But you did solve it—right?” Aliz inquired as she stepped out of the shower.

    “Yeah.” Jennifer chuckled, “The answer was so obvious too—it was literally staring us in the face the whole while.”

    “Well…” Aliz laughed as she slipped on her gold minidress and then fixed her shorter hair, “…sometimes that’s what happens. Other times…it’s hidden so deep that it feels like it’ll take forever to pry it out.”

    “Tell me about it!” Jennifer exclaimed with another sigh and then added with a sly wink. “At least one good thing came out of the experience. I got a date with Frank for movie night tomorrow.”

    Shaking her head, Aliz quipped as she made her way towards the door. “You and your men! Sometimes I wonder how you finished as high in our class standings as you did the way you got around!”

    “You know what they say…” Jennifer riposted, returning her roommate’s good natured banter, “If you’ve got it…strumpet with a trumpet!”

    Laughing as the door whooshed open, Aliz called back over her shoulder as she left, “Just don’t play that trumpet too loud! Our neighbors might not appreciate it!”


    “Hold the lift!” Lieutenant Terrence Lawford called out to the sole occupant of the elevator, Cilla Oudekirk.

    “Hurry up, then!” The Dutch communications officer shouted back as Lawford dashed towards the turbolift moments before the doors shut. “I’m not going to be late for my shift…” Cilla groused, “…because you can’t tear yourself away from that yeoman.”

    “Jealous, Cilla?” Terrence jibed as he darted into the elevator moments before the door slid shut.

    “About what?” Cilla fired back before twisting the lift control and giving the verbal command to go to the bridge.

    Laughing, Terrence teased, “About the fact that I’ve got stuff going and you…don’t.”

    “Yeah. Right.” Cilla snorted derisively as the turbolift transitioned from a vertical motion to a horizontal one. “As if I’d ever have anything to do with a hormonal Neanderthal like you.”

    Before Terrence could utter another, this time much more biting, retort, the lift door opened. Stepping on to the bridge, the two officers immediately felt the gaze of the Lexington’s executive officer sitting in the center seat. “I’m glad the two of you decided to join us. Take your stations—Now.” The Bear growled as the two lieutenants sheepishly took their positions.

    “You cut it awful close.” Talana, sporting the new minidress, quipped, her antennae twitching in amusement as she whispered into Cilla’s ear from her position over the Dutch woman’s shoulder.

    “The idiot held me up at the elevator.” Cilla whispered back.

    “You didn’t have to wait for him.” Talana teased as a rumbling sound that she recognized as Commander Kuznetsov clearing his throat gained her attention. “Yes, sir?” She inquired with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

    “Lieutenant Commander…” The Bear grumbled, “Don’t you have more important things to do than gossiping with the crew?”

    Mock pouting, the Andorian science officer walked over to the command chair and held out a data slate, “Already done. Here’s the report the commodore wanted.” As Kuznetsov reached out to grasp the slate, Talana bent down to whisper in his ear, “You know you can’t scare me like you can the junior officers with that bear routine, Alexei…” she purred, “I know you’re really just a big old…”

    Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on the point of view of the individual involved in the current conversation, Talana was unable to complete her jab though as the door slid open, revealing Commodore Wesley. Reacting immediately on seeing the Lexington’s new commanding officer, the lieutenant commander snapped to attention, “Commodore on the bridge!” She called out, all traces of humor gone from her voice.

    Nodding his head with approval as the bridge staff snapped to attention, Robert responded in a crisp voice, “As you were.” Striding towards the high backed center chair, Wesley relieved his executive officer. “Status, Commander?”

    “We are on course towards the last known location of the Voltaire following the same course that it had sent to Starbase 31 before communications ceased.” Kuznetsov promptly replied.

    Taking the data slate that his first officer had given him, the commodore perused it for several moments before turning his attention to the Lexington’s science officer, “Ms. Zha’Thara?” Wesley called out, immediately gaining the attention of the Andorian officer, her antennae pointing towards him as he spoke, “What’s your take on that nebula that the Voltaire reported seeing just before communications were lost?”

    “Hmmm…” Talana vocalized as she carefully considered her answer. “The Voltaire reported an unusually high number of tachyon emissions coming from its core. Its captain went in to investigate and shortly after their last transmission, communications were lost.”

    “I see…” Turning his attention back to his first officer, Wesley inquired, “This sector is pretty close to Klingon space—isn’t it?”

    “Aye, sir.” Kuznetsov rumbled, “The Klingons actually claim a fair portion of it—including the region where the Voltaire had disappeared.”

    “So…” Bob prompted, “…you think it was the Klingons?”

    “Da.” The Russian replied simply. “Who else could it be?”

    “It’s a possibility,” Talana reluctantly agreed, “The nebula emissions could very well have screened the presence of a Klingon ship waiting in ambush from the Voltaire’s scanners. It doesn’t take a Vulcan to see the logic in that.” She concluded, her lips turning up into a crooked grin as she delivered a barb at the recent Starfleet trend of relying on Vulcan science officers.

    Exhaling, Commodore Wesley passed the data slate to the yeoman standing next to his chair. “Very well, then. Helm…” He ordered, addressing the two young officers sitting at their stations in front of the viewscreen, “Make for the last known location of the Voltaire, warp factor five.”

    “Course laid in, sir.” Terrence Lawford responded, punching in a series of buttons on his panel.

    “Engaging, sir. Warp factor five.” Aliz Bathory chimed in as the majestic Constitution class cruiser’s warp engines began to hum, the rounded fronts of the twin nacelles turning and glowing as the Lexington launched into warp space in a blur of lights and colors.


    “What you doing in here G’arv?” Charles Vincent, the Lexington’s Chief Medical Officer called out, a note of amusement in his usual New England twang. “Finally bust an artery from yellin’ at your people?”

    “Hah! If they were any good, I wouldn’t have to yell at them!” The Tellarite Chief Engineer bit back, the toothy grin on his face revealing his enjoyment as the two officers renewed their traditional bickering. “Commodore Wesley’s had us going at a steady warp five for several days now…”

    “Don’t tell me your engines aren’t up to the job.” Vincent smirked, knowing that the touchy Tellarite was especially sensitive concerning his engines.

    “My engines are just fine!” G’arv fired back, “They’re doing better than your patients I’ll bet!”

    “So…what’s the problem, G’arv?” Charles asked, finally getting down to business.

    “When I woke up this morning…” The Tellarite grumbled, pointing at his abdomen, “I felt—bloated.” I ignored it, thinking it would go away, but the pain got worse and worse until I finally decided enough was enough.”

    “I see…” Vincent vocalized as he ran a medical tricorder over the engineer’s body. “Hmmm…Ok, G’arv…have you been eating enough roughage like I told you?” Seeing the guilty look on his friend’s face, Charles shook his head. “What have I told you, G’arv? Due to the nature of the Tellarite digestive tract, it’s even more important than for most other races that you have enough cellulose in your diet.” Taking a hypospray, the doctor injected his patient’s arm. “That was a laxative. I’d suggest that you locate the nearest head as soon as possible.” Laughing, he called out as the engineer rushed out of sickbay, “Remember this next time you decide to pass on those greens!”

    Unfortunately, Charles could not make out his friend’s caustic rejoinder as the hall lighting changed from its normal white light to an amber color as Cilla Oudekirk’s voice rang out on the intercom, “Yellow Alert…Yellow Alert…all decks go to Yellow Alert.” Almost immediately, the crewmembers first sauntering down the corridor, laughing and talking grew silent. Now, the corridor in front of sickbay was filled with crewmen and women moving with disciplined alacrity and purpose to their assigned stations. Muttering a soft, “Dammit,” Charles turned his attention back to sickbay and his staff. “All right, people. You know what to do.”
  5. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet The Lady: Part 4

    “All decks at Yellow Alert.” Cilla crisply reported from her communications station. “Damage control parties are ready. Phaser fire control reports ready…photon torpedo room checks in ready as well. Engineering reports all systems working nominally. Sickbay reports it is prepared as well.”

    “Raise shields, Sir?” Kuznetsov prompted turning towards Commodore Wesley.

    “Not quite yet.” The Commodore replied, shaking his head. “Let’s see what we’ve got first. But…” Wesley qualified, “Have emergency power routed to the shields. I want to be able to raise and reinforce them immediately if we have to.”

    “Aye, Sir.” Alexei acknowledged, nodding his head approvingly as Cilla passed the commodore’s instruction on to G’arv in engineering.

    His digestive problem suddenly forgotten, the Tellarite engineer immediately responded, his guttural voice coming through clear on the intercom. “Shields are ready when you need them.”

    His lips turning up into a slight smile of approval at the professionalism of his crew, Commodore Wesley stared at the viewscreen, taking in the vista of the nebula ahead, blue and pink tendrils snaking out from a white core. Addressing his science officer who, at that moment, was hunched down over her scanning visor, the commodore inquired, “What are your scanners picking up, Ms. Zha’Thara?”

    “Heavy tachyon emissions emanating from the core, sir,” the Andorian science officer replied, “Just as the Voltaire had reported. Hmmm…that’s interesting…” Talana vocalized as her antennae twitched.

    “What, Lieutenant Commander?” Wesley asked, his ears pricking up at the change in his science officer’s tone.

    “The tachyon readings picked up drastically shortly after I began my scans.” Talana replied.

    “Any idea as to why?” The commodore asked, not really expecting a positive response.

    “No, sir.” Talana answered back, “Not at this time.”

    “Well…keep at it…” Robert drawled before addressing not just his science officer, but also his entire bridge crew, “And keep sharp, everyone. I don’t want any sudden surprises.”

    Her head momentarily jerking up from the scanning visor, Talana announced with just a note of tension in her voice, “Unknown ship approaching on intercept vector.” Bending her head down once again, the science officer spoke, now with a grim tone, “It’s Klingon.”

    “I have it on the screen.” Ensign Bathory declared as a faint speck appeared moving amongst the stars.

    “Magnify.” Wesley ordered as he inched towards the edge of his seat.

    Following the commodore’s instructions, Aliz manipulated the viewscreen’s magnification controls, bringing the speck into sharper and sharper focus until the dot finally became an identifiable form. A shark cruising amongst the stars, the bulbous front connected by a long boom with a winged stern which housed the craft’s engines and many of its weapons immediately identified the intruder for what it was.

    “A D-7 battlecruiser.” Alexei observed in a quiet monotone voice. “And it appears to be making an attack run.”

    “Red Alert.” Commodore Wesley immediately ordered, “Raise shields and sound General Quarters.” As the ship’s internal lights turned red, the alarm klaxons blared, and the phaser targeting scanner next to Ensign Bathory slowly rose up to near eye level of the petite Hungarian helmsman, the commodore gritted his teeth as the Klingon warship grew larger and larger in the viewscreen, “It looks like we’re about to earn our pay.”


    “Shields!” The commodore called out, and then addressing his communications officer, he ordered, “Cilla…open hailing frequencies. Let’s see if we can get him to talk…” Before he could finish his sentence, twin green disruptor bolts lanced out from the wing struts of the Klingon cruiser, impacting harmlessly on the Lexington’s shields.

    The bridge shaking mildly under the impact of the energy beams as the ship’s shields firmed up, Cilla quipped in a dry voice, “The Klingons have just answered our hail, Sir.”

    “I see they have.” Wesley riposted in an equally deadpan tone. “Let’s return the favor.” His voice now crisp and clear, the commodore ordered, “Phasers—fire.”

    “Firing phasers!” Ensign Bathory acknowledged with just the slightest hint of excitement as she pressed the firing button on her console. Twin orange beams sliced out from the tiny bubble at the bottom of the saucer, hitting the rear section of the Klingon vessel as it passed under the Lexington.

    “Come about to 300 degrees…negative Z-axis…10 minutes of arc.” Wesley commanded. Aliz’s hands flying over the keyboard, the graceful starship pivoted about, its saucer section dipping as the Lexington turned on its attacker. “Prepare to fire phasers on my order…” the commodore instructed as the Klingon ship began its pivot. “Fire!”

    Once again, the Lady Lex’s beams launched out, only this time to strike just a glancing blow at the D-7’s forward shields as the Klingon battlecruiser completing its pivot, launched another attack run.

    “He’s feinting…” Alexei remarked coolly as the Klingon appeared to repeat his earlier attack.

    “Setting us up for a right hook…” Robert agreed with a sly grin as he watched the enemy warship draw closer. “Ms. Bathory…” the commodore remarked as he leaned forward in his chair, “Now we get to see if your reflexes are as good as your record says they are. Be ready…you’ll only have a few seconds…”

    “Aye, sir.” The Hungarian ensign replied confidently as the Klingon vessel drawing nearer, suddenly dropped its nose, yawing to the left.

    “Now, Ensign!”

    Her fingers pressing down on the controls, Aliz felt as if she were actually pushing the giant starship down as she attempted to counter the Klingon maneuver. The Klingon vessel now beneath the Lexington, the youthful ensign barely heard the commodore’s order to fire. “Firing.” She automatically replied as her finger once again hit the fire button, phaser beams striking the D-7’s top shields as it passed beneath.

    “The Klingon’s shields are down twenty percent, sir.” Talana called out from her science station.

    The Klingon commander, however, had a few tricks up his sleeve as well, as Wesley soon found out. Turning quickly on his opponent, green disruptor beams once again came from the D-7’s wings, their impact shaking the Lexington violently, knocking crew off their feet and seats and on to the deck.

    “What the hell!” Dr. Vincent called out from sickbay as he grasped on to the edge of an examination slab. Seeing a crewman wearing the red of security bringing in a young science branch junior lieutenant, the Lexington’s chief medical officer patted the top of the examination table that had just so recently rescued him. “Put her here.” He directed as he took out his medical tricorder. Running a quick scan of his patient, he flashed an assuring smile as he injected her with a hypospray, “Don’t worry, Ms. You’ve got a mild concussion. This should take care of it, but I still want you to stay here for now.” Turning his attention back to his staff, the doctor growled, “What are you people doing standing around with your thumbs up your asses? Get to your posts—if this keeps up we’re going to have a lot more people coming here soon

    “Damage report?” Wesley called out.

    “Shields down ten percent.” Cilla replied, “Minor injuries: a couple of concussions, but mostly bumps and bruises reported.”

    “That’s good.” Wesley sighed in relief and then remarked to himself, “We’re not getting anywhere going around in circles like this.” Spying the nebula’s tendrils in the main viewer, a sly grin crossed the commodore’s face as he addressed his English navigator, “Mr. Lawford, plot us a course for that nebula.”

    “Done, Sir.” Terrence replied as he pressed a button on his console.

    “Ms. Bathory…” Robert now instructed, “Take us there...maximum warp”

    “Aye, Sir.” The Hungarian officer acknowledged turning the starship towards the gaseous body.

    “The Klingon’s pursuing…” Talana reported as the main viewer, now showing a rear aspect under the commodore’s orders, showed the Klingon battlecruiser in pursuit.

    “Just as I thought he would...” Wesley replied, the grin still on his face. Addressing his science officer, the commodore inquired, “What readings are you getting from the nebula now?”

    Her antennae twitching, reflecting both her excitement and her curiosity, the Andorian science officer replied, “Tachyon emissions have picked up markedly since the battle started.”

    “Interesting…” Wesley drawled as Aliz reported that the Lexington was about to enter the nebula. “Reduce speed to one quarter impulse.” The commodore ordered as his eyes tried vainly to make out features within the pink and blue gaseous cloud that now obscured the viewscreen. “What are you getting now, Ms. Zha’Thara?”

    “Tachyon emissions have just increased by one hundred and fifty percent.” The Andorian replied, her voice betraying her astonishment at the rapidly increasing readings.

    “Ten thousand kilometers.” Lieutenant Lawford interjected, “The Klingon has also entered the nebula.

    “Pivot…Now!” Wesley ordered his helmsman, the tiny woman piloting the ship once again willing the giant vessel to turn as she operated the controls on her console. As the Lexington spun around, Robert’s sharp eyes picked out his target, its silhouette barely visible in the clouds. “Fire!”

    As Aliz’s finger pressed the firing button, the Lexington’s bridge lighting suddenly dimmed once…twice…and then went out completely.

    “Emergency power…” The commodore ordered. The ship’s lighting flickering back to life, Talana’s voice rang out, this time, this time, her voice one of alarm. “Tachyon emissions two hundred…strike…three hundred…” The bridge now bathed in brilliant, blinding white light, officers and crew slumped down into unconsciousness as both the Lexington and the Klingon vessel facing it were both englobed within that dazzling light for just a fraction of a second. And then, as suddenly as it appeared, the light vanished.


    The steady beeping from Talana’s scanner providing the only noise on the bridge, Commander Kuznetsov struggled to consciousness. Staggering out of his chair, he helped up the yeoman, who had fallen to the deck. Nodding his head at her muttered thanks, the first officer, taking visual stock of his personnel on the bridge, noticed immediately that two people were missing. Activating the ship’s intercom, Kuznetsov called out, “Commodore Wesley…Ensign Bathory…respond immediately.” After several moments of no response, the commodore repeated his request, once again receiving no answer. Addressing Cilla Oudekirk, Alexei ordered, “I want an immediate count of ship’s personnel. I want to know how many people are missing and who.”

    “Aye, Sir.” The blonde communications officer responded as the bridge lights flickered back on again.

    “Mr. Lawford…” The commander called out, “What’s our current position?”

    “Still within the nebula, Sir.” The English navigator replied, “But we’re drifting…”

    “Correct for drift.” The Bear ordered as he stared into the main viewer. “What’s our Klingon friend doing?”

    “Drifting as we are, Sir.” The English lieutenant answered back as an ensign rushed to the empty helmsman’s chair. “Our weapons and shields are still offline though,” He added ruefully.

    “But so are the Klingons.” Talana added with a note of relief.

    “I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere fighting our way out of this anyway.” Alexei mused as his thoughts were disrupted by Lieutenant Oudekirk’s voice.

    “Sir…we have a count on those missing.” She reported, “We have a total number of five missing: The commodore and Ensign Bathory, Ensign Watley, Crewman Reynolds, and Crewman Malik.

    “Thank you, Lieutenant.” The first officer acknowledged as he cupped his chin. Turning towards his science officer, Alexei asked, “Ms. Zha’Thara? What do you make of what just happened to us? What was that light? And do you have any ideas as to what might have happened to our people?”

    “I’m not sure, Sir.” The Andorian replied apologetically, “But if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say it’d have to do with that massive tachyon buildup my scanners picked up before the lights went out.”

    “Make that your top priority…” The Bear growled, “I want answers.” Turning toward Cilla, the burly Russian ordered, “Try the Klingons again—maybe this time they’ll be willing to talk.”

    “Aye, Sir.” The Dutch communications officer replied as she replaced her earpiece which had slipped from her ear. “Hailing frequencies open…they’re responding.”

    “Good.” Kuznetsov acknowledged. “Main viewer.”

    The image of the cloudy nebula faded away to be replaced by an image, fuzzy at first, that gradually resolved itself into the form of a Klingon male, his swarthy skin, jet black hair, neatly trimmed goatee and smooth forehead marking him as one of those Klingons with human augment DNA.

    This is both good and bad…Kuznetsov thought as he gazed intently at his opposite number. The good news is that augments aren’t physically as strong and react a bit more like humans than ridgies. The bad news, however, is that augments do act more like humans—on the whole they’re much more cunning and patient. Taking a deep breath, Alexei spoke, “This is Commander Alexei Kuznetsov, temporarily in command of the Federation Starship Lexington…”

    “I am Commander Kalas, first officer of the IKS K’Mar.” The Klingon declared, baring his teeth in anger as he cut the Russian first officer off in mid-sentence. “You have committed acts of war against the Klingon Empire. You have attacked our shipping and have kidnapped our captain and several members of our crew! I demand that you release them immediately.”

    “For a Klingon…” Alexei responded, laughing as he simultaneously matched his Klingon counterpart glare for glare, “…you have an almost Russian sense of humor!” His laughter vanishing, Kuznetsov went on the offensive, “It is you that have committed acts of war against the Federation. You have attacked our scoutship, attacked this vessel without provocation, and have kidnapped our captain and crew.”

    “I know nothing about your captain!” The Klingon retorted, “And it is you who are the aggressors, while we have acted in self defense! You destroyed one of our patrol vessels in our space—we retaliated.”

    Interesting…Alexei thought as he digested that little piece of news from the Klingon first officer. Taking a conciliatory posture, Kuznetsov replied, “Commander…perhaps neither one of us is at fault here…” Disregarding the derisive snort from his counterpart, the Bear continued to make his case. “Think about it…both of us losing ships in this same region…don’t you think it’s possible that there might be something else going on here? This is neutral space…” Alexei began only to be cut off once again by the angry Klingon.

    “This space clearly belongs to the Klingon Empire!” Kalas declared with a smug grin.

    “And you are a lying sardelka!” Kuznetsov swore in an act of calculated bluster as Cilla barely repressed a snicker at the insult that had just been delivered to the Klingon. “You and I both know that this is unclaimed space.” Then, just as suddenly as he exploded, the Bear resumed his earlier peace-making pose, “But…why don’t we let the diplomats figure that out. Right now, we’re both missing our captains and crewmembers and there’s a high probability that whoever did it is still out there. Wouldn’t it make sense for us to work together to get our people back?”

    Pausing for a moment, the Klingon appeared deep in thought, “I do not trust you, Earther…but…at the same time…what you say is plausible.” Kuznetsov then saw the Klingon officer turn his head to speak to one of his subordinates. After several moments of conversation, the swarthy Klingon faced the screen once again, speaking in a guarded tone, “So, what do you propose?”

    “For now…” The Bear proffered, “A truce…” Seeing the skeptical look on the Klingon’s face, the Russian quickly added, “A temporary truce. Only until we find out what’s going on and our captains and crews have been recovered. After that…it will depend on what they wish to do.”

    “Agreed.” The Klingon replied, “We have a truce…for now. But be warned, I will be on guard for Starfleet treachery.”

    “And I’ll have my eye on you, Commander,” Kuznetsov answered back as he gestured to Cilla to cut off communications.

    As the screen went blank, the Dutch communications officer asked, “Do you think he’ll try something, Commander?”

    “Da…” Alexei replied in a grim voice, “I’m sure of it.” Turning towards Talana, the Russian first officer ordered, “Get to work on those tachyon emissions. I don’t want our temporary friends out there to get the jump on us.” Nodding his head at Talana’s prompt acknowledgement of his orders, Alexei watched as she exited the bridge. Turning once again to Cilla, the first officer commanded, “Take us to Yellow Alert, Ms. Oudekirk.”

    “Aye, Sir.” The tall blonde responded as the internal lighting changed from red to normal; the alert light shifting now from the brightly flashing red indicating General Quarters to a flashing amber color. “Yellow Alert, Sir.”

    Nodding his head in satisfaction, Alexei pressed the intercom button on the arm of the center chair in which he sat. “Lieutenant Mtolo?”

    “Aye, Sir?” The obsidian-skinned security chief responded from his post in Security.

    “We have a temporary truce with the Klingons…” Alexei advised, “…but I want you and your people to stay on guard. I don’t trust those xuebratija Klinks as far as I can throw them.”

    “Right, Commander.” The Zulu lieutenant promptly responded flashing a toothy grin. “If they try anything, we’ll be ready.”

    Terminating the connection, Alexei cupped his chin thoughtfully. What did happen to the Commodore? The burly Russian pondered as he stared at the main viewer, And how do I get him and the others back?
  6. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 5

    “Where are we?” Ensign Watley asked as her eyes scanned the clearing that she, Commodore Wesley, her roommate, Ensign Bathory, and two other Lexington crewmen, both wearing the red shirts of the Support branch had suddenly found themselves in. “I was at my duty station when all of a sudden…”

    “I was on the bridge…” Aliz began, only to be interrupted by the commodore.

    “I remember Lieutenant Commander Talana reporting a massive buildup of tachyon emissions coming from the center of the nebula…”

    “And then everything went blank…” Aliz finished.

    “So…how did we get here?” One of the security crewmen, an attractive younger human with sandy blond hair asked.

    “That’s a good question…” The commodore replied, taking immediate and decisive control over the situation, “…and one that we’re going to have to address, but for right now, we need to know what we’re dealing with here.” Turning towards the olive-skinned science officer standing next to his helmsman, Robert inquired, “Ensign…”

    “Watley.” Jennifer promptly responded, coming to attention, “Ensign Jennifer Watley, Sir.”

    “Stand at ease, Ensign.” Robert replied, giving his subordinate an avuncular grin. “This isn’t a parade ground.” Coming over to the recent Academy graduate, the commodore asked, “What’s your specialty, Ensign Watley?”

    “Life Sciences, Sir.” Jennifer answered back, “Xeno-biology.”

    “Excellent!” Wesley exclaimed encouragingly, “Just the person we need in a spot like this. So, Ensign…” Robert inquired, “What do you make of this environment.”

    “Well, Sir…” Jennifer began hesitatingly, “I don’t have my tricorder…”

    “You don’t need any scanning instruments to give me a general layout…” Robert interjected, now taking on the role of an instructor, “What does your knowledge and your senses tell you?”

    “Well, Sir…” The science specialist began, “I’d say from the vegetation that we’re dealing with what would be the Earth equivalent of a late Cretaceous-early Paleocene environment. A lot of the trees I’m seeing here…” She remarked, pointing at a nearby tree, “…are angiosperms. If we were dealing with an earlier epoch, we’d be seeing a lot more ferns and cycads.”

    “What about animal life?” Aliz asked as the security guards automatically assumed a defensive posture, their eyes continually scanning the perimeter, as well as the sky for any possible signs of movement.

    “Depends…” Jennifer replied, “If you’re asking whether there are any dinosaurs or not…I don’t think so. For one thing…” She chuckled, “…if there were, we probably would have either seen one by now or seen some evidence of one. The larger ones aren’t exactly inconspicuous, you know.”

    “Point taken.” Robert laughed, joining in the momentary good humor. “So…what might we see?”

    “Well…I’m not sure…” The youthful ensign responded, “Just because it looks like a late Cretaceous-early Paleocene environment here, doesn’t mean that life will evolve in a similar manner as it did on Earth.” Pausing for a moment to take a breath, Jennifer continued, “For instance, this planet probably didn’t have to deal with the K-T extinction event that marked the end of the Cretaceous on Earth…” However, before she could continue, she was interrupted by Commodore Wesley’s urgent orders as a large shadow of a winged creature appeared on the ground.

    “Cover! Now!” The commodore yelled as he waved his crew to nearby tree line. Running alongside her roommate, Jennifer heard a high pitched whine growing louder and louder and then the beating of wings and a scream as a gust of wind knocked her off her feet. Looking up, she saw the blond security guard snatched up into the air by the talons of a large creature that looked, to the frightened young woman’s eyes, to be a cross between a bird and a reptile. Clutching tightly to its prey, the blue scaled predator let out a loud call as it winged its way skyward, its opened mouth revealing row after row of sharp white teeth. Feeling something moist falling on her hair, Jennifer touched it. As she brought her fingers to her face, the young ensign immediately recognized the crimson fluid that was now beginning to spot her formerly immaculate blue dress. Waves of nausea growing within her, Jennifer, bending over, gagged as she disgorged the contents of her last meal on the ground as Aliz knelt beside her, her eyes watching the skies as she stayed with her friend.

    Turning about as soon as he heard the scream from his crewman, Robert, grabbing the tiny phaser one from his belt, pushed the firing button, but to no avail as nothing happened. Cursing, the commodore saw Jennifer, crying, bent over heaving, Ensign Bathory by her side. Keeping a constant watch on the sky, Wesley made his way to the distraught officer and her companion, kneeling on the opposite side of the heaving woman. “I know you’re scared Ensign…” The commodore said sympathetically, “But we need to get moving. That thing—or one of its friends—might come back.” Seeing that the dark-haired ensign had finished her heaving, Robert helped her to her feet. “Let’s go, Jennifer…” He encouraged, deliberately using Watley’s first name as he, along with Aliz, urged the terrified young woman to safety, staying by her side every step of the way until they had reached the safety of the forest.

    Turning Jennifer over to her roommate, Wesley spoke to Aliz in a low voice, “See to Ensign Watley. I have a feeling we’re going to need her knowledge and expertise if we’re going to get back home ok.” Hearing the Hungarian helmsman’s whispered acknowledgement, Robert turned his attention to the sole remaining security officer, standing watch at the tree line. “Crewman…”

    “Malik.” The swarthy skinned enlisted rating answered promptly, “Crewman Nassir Malik, Sir.”

    “All right, Crewman Malik,” Wesley directed as his eyes took in the tree branches and scattered small rocks lying on the ground. “Since our phasers don’t seem to work here, we’re going to have to improvise.” Picking up a sturdy wooden stick approximately his height and a sharp-edged stone, Robert grinned, “We should be able to make ourselves some makeshift spears out of these.”

    “Aye, Sir.” The Moroccan crewman quickly acknowledged with a toothy grin. His smile vanishing, the security specialist pointed towards the setting sun. “Sir? We should also probably see about building a fire—in case we’ve got nocturnal predators too.”

    “Good idea.” The commodore affirmed. Turning his attention to his helmsman who had just wiped the spattered blood off her roommate’s face, Wesley asked, “How’s your friend doing?”

    “I’ll be ok, Sir.” Jennifer responded in a low voice, answering in the place of Aliz. “I was just…”

    “It’s all right, Ensign.” Bob replied in a fatherly tone as he put his hand on the science officer’s shoulder. Kneeling down in front of the olive-skinned biologist, Wesley advised, “I know this isn’t probably how you pictured your first away mission to be like, Jennifer, but we’re all going to have to rely on each other if we’re going to survive. It’s ok to feel fear—I’d worry about you if you didn’t.” He said, eliciting a shaky grin from the young woman, “But you don’t want to let that fear take you over.” His voice now taking on a more soothing tone, Robert concluded, “You’ll get through this just fine if you remember your training and stay on your toes—right?”

    “Right, Sir.” Jennifer replied, managing a shaky grin. “Thank you.”

    “Don’t mention it!” The commodore exclaimed as he stood back up, a glint of sunlight reflected off of something in the distance suddenly catching his attention.

    “Sir? What is it?” Fighting down the fear growing within the pit of her stomach, Aliz repeated her question, “What did you see?”

    Barely making out the form of a metallic spire rising towards the cerulean sky, a grin slowly appeared on the commodore’s face. “Well, Ensign…” He said as he pointed towards the spire, “If we’re lucky, we might be able to get some answers to our questions over there.” Quickly deciding on a course of action, Wesley issued his orders, “First thing we do—we build a fire. Then…we see to weapons and finding something to eat. Lastly, we set up a watch schedule and get some sleep—we’re going to have a long day tomorrow.”


    “Gitan was overconfident.” A tall, lithe augment-descended Klingon warrior wearing an honor sash declared as he speared a piece of cooked meat on the point of his d’k tahq. “And he was too slow.” The Klingon added as he admonished the three warriors gathered around the fire. “So…” He said as he chewed the piece of meat taken from the slain avian creature roasting above the fire, “…instead of bringing back prey, he became prey.” Flashing a toothy grin, the captain concluded his lecture, “Let that be a lesson to you all. Never underestimate your opponent.”

    “Hunh…” One of the Klingons grunted, “Gitan’s ambition always did exceed his wisdom.”

    “True…” Another Klingon agreed, nodding his head as he speared a piece of meat, “But he died in battle, right Captain K’Tan?”

    “Correct, M’Kal.” The Klingon captain replied, “He died as a Klingon.”

    Looking up from his meal, the third Klingon warrior, this one younger than the others, inquired of his commanding officer, “Captain K’Tan? How was the Federation starship able to transport us to this place?”

    “I don’t know, K’Temoc,” The captain answered truthfully, “But I intend to find out.”

    “So…” The first Klingon asked after letting out a satisfying belch, “How do we start?”

    Spying the metallic spire lit up by the setting sun, now a deep red as it sank on the horizon, the captain replied smiling as he pointed with his knife at the spire, “See that, D’Kell? I will start there.” Turning towards his men, K’Tan commanded, “Eat your fill. M’Kal, you have the first watch…then K’Temoc followed by M’Kal. I will stand the last watch. Sleep well tonight—you will need your strength for tomorrow.”

    IKS K’Mar

    “What are your intentions Commander?” The Klingon third officer asked from his station at the weapons console. “Do you truly intend to cooperate with that Federation Pet’aQ?”

    “Of course not, D’Kor!” Kalas replied laughing. “It was merely a ruse intended to put him off guard. I have a plan…” The K’Mar’s first officer grinned, “But…” he cautioned, “…it will require patience. Pick twenty of our best warriors…men trained in combat in zero gravity.”

    Nodding his head once in acknowledgement, D’Kor immediately responded, “I will see to it at once.”

    As his third officer departed the bridge, Kalas gazed into the viewscreen trying to make out the faint outlines of the Federation starship amongst the whirls and vortices of the nebula, “Soon…my arrogant friend…” Kalas muttered softly, “...soon we will meet. And when we do…I will look forward to personally introducing you to our mind-scanner.”


    Sitting on the ground, Robert leaned back against a thick conifer as he looked up at the clear, starlit night sky. As he relaxed, images of Virginia and Katie appeared in his mind. Virginia, as she looked the day they said goodbye, her face radiant as always, but something was different. Her smile was the same; she held her head up in the same manner she had always done. But, something was wrong. It was her eyes. When the couple was first married, they shined like tiny stars, illuminating the way home for him. But, as he stood at the transporter pad that would beam him up to the Lexington, her eyes bore a more somber…distant…cast. As if they were drawing their light away from him. And Katie…little Katie wasn’t little anymore. After the initial rush of welcoming that came with her first recognizing that her father was home had subsided, father and daughter quickly discovered that they had nothing to talk about. She was now a teenager—interested in boys and hanging out with friends and all the other things thirteen-year-old girls wanted to do. After three years apart, her father had become little more than a stranger to her. Three days…Robert mused mournfully as he gazed upwards, “…cannot make up for three years. Wesley continued in his melancholic reverie until the Magyar accent of his youthful helmsman broke his concentration.

    “It’s beautiful…”

    Turning his head towards the young ensign, Commodore Wesley replied, dispelling his earlier dark mood through sheer force of will, “It might be beautiful, but it also tells me something else…”

    “That we’re not anywhere near the nebula.” Aliz finished as she handed the commodore a hollowed out gourd containing water. “It’s ok—it’s from that stream to the north…we boiled it so any germs should have been killed.”

    “Not like we have much choice in the matter,” Robert quipped, patting the ground near where he sat. “Have a seat, Ensign.”

    “Thank you, Sir.” The petite Hungarian smiled as she sat down opposite the commodore, the light from the nearby fire giving the pugilist’s craggy features a warm quality that gave him a certain rugged handsomeness the youthful ensign thought. Taking a deep breath as she tried to dispel that particular thought regarding her superior officer from her mind, Aliz asked, stammering slightly, “So…what do we do if we don’t find a way back?”

    “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, Ensign.” Wesley replied in a confident tone as he smiled warmly at the younger woman, “It’s a little early to give up hope now, Aliz—we’ve just got started.”

    “Thank you, Sir.” Aliz responded; flashing a smile of her own as she took the gourd from the commodore’s hands and took a sip of the cool water. Looking up at the stars, the auburn-haired helmsman asked, “I wonder where we are…I can’t place any of the constellations…”

    “I don’t think we’re too far off from where we started.” Bob replied as he pointed at a faint smudge near the zenith. “See that?” As Aliz nodded her head, Robert continued, “Five’ll get you ten that’s our nebula.”

    Shaking her head, the Hungarian ensign asked, “How can you be so sure, Sir?”

    Laughing gently, the commodore responded, “I can’t. But it’s just as likely to be our nebula than not and I’d rather be working towards a goal rather than just slogging along.” His face now taking on a serious look, the former Academy boxing champ counseled, “Never underestimate the power of hope, Ensign. It can keep you—and your people—going when you’ve got nothing else.”

    “Yes, Sir. I’ll remember that.” The young officer replied in a soft voice as she stood up. “Ummm…Sir…” The young ensign stammered, “Don’t you think you should get some sleep now?”

    “Yeah.” The older officer smiled as he leaned back against the tree, “I’ll just go ahead and sleep here—it’s a pretty nice spot.

    “Good night, Sir.” Aliz said softly as she turned away, her eyes involuntarily drifting to the figure of the commodore in repose before she forced herself to walk away. Easy, Aliz. The Hungarian woman thought as she made her way back to the fire. Not only is he your superior officer, he’s a good twenty years older than you are and he’s married with a child. Reaching the fire, she took a quick drink of water. Closing her eyes, the petite ensign fingered her medallion before drifting off to sleep, the last image in her mind that of the commodore resting peacefully underneath the tree.
  7. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 6

    “All right, everyone! Up and at ‘em!” Commodore Wesley called out as he roused his fellow castaways. “Here you go.” He grinned, handing Ensign Watley a gourd filled with water. “Have a drink, Jennifer…then go get some breakfast. We’ve got plenty of berries and the snares we set out nabbed us some small game.” Laughing, the commodore, after he was sure that the youthful ensign had fully awakened, went from crew member to crew member, repeating his performance.

    “You’re certainly in a good mood this morning.” Aliz grumbled as she cleared the sleep from her eyes.

    “Remember what I said last night, Aliz…” Robert grinned as he handed the young Hungarian helmsman a piece of meat skewered on a stick, “Never underestimate the power of hope.”

    “Yes, Sir.” Ensign Bathory replied as she fingered the medallion hanging around her neck. Her mouth watering at the taste of the meat, Aliz asked, “What is it?”

    “What does it matter?” Wesley quipped with a shrug, “It’s edible and it’ll keep us alive—and that’s what’s most important.” Grinning, he handed the young officer a water gourd, “Now drink up and get ready…we’ve got a good day’s march ahead of us.”

    Swigging the water from the gourd, Aliz smiled back, “Aye, Sir.” Walking over to where her roommate sat picking at red and black berries, Aliz asked, her voice edged with concern as she noticed the dry blood on her friend’s sky blue mini-dress, “How’re you holding up, Jennifer?”

    “Better.” The dark haired exobiologist replied, managing a shaky grin. “It all happened so…”

    “I know.” Aliz responded sympathetically as she took one of the black berries, popping it into her mouth. ‘Not bad.” She remarked as she took another.

    “You should try the red ones.” Jennifer said as she took a bite of the meat. “They’re just a little tart—but not too bad.

    “Hmmm…” Aliz vocalized as she tried one of the red berries, making a face as she bit into the berry. “A little too tart for me. I think I’ll stick to the black ones.”

    “Sirs?” Crewman Malik interjected, coughing discreetly. Seeing that he had the two junior officers’ attention, the security rating handed each of them two sticks with points and another stick, this one crudely notched. “Spears…and an atlatl.” He said, explaining, “After sharpening the points, I put them in the fire for a while—that hardens them. These…” He instructed, holing out his atlatl, “Will give you a bit more range and power. You put the end of the spear here…” He coached, “…and throw it like this…” The Moroccan demonstrated, launching his spear smoothly towards its target, a nearby tree. “Now…” he smiled, “You give it a try.”

    Both women, imitating the security specialist’s actions, after several fumbling attempts, finally succeeded in launching their spears, Ensign Watley’s attempt falling far short of the mark; while her roommate, Ensign Bathory, using her gymnastics training, enjoyed a bit more success, almost reaching the tree.

    “Not bad, ladies!” Commodore Wesley praised, clapping his hands. “Take some more time to practice while I break camp. I expect both of you to be able to hit that tree by the time I’m done.” His voice taking on a more serious tone, the commodore explained, “I don’t expect either one of you to become experts, but you do need to know how to use these. Your life…or the lives of those around you…might very well depend on you striking your mark on the first attempt.”

    “Aye, Sir!” Both officers promptly acknowledged as they each reloaded their atlatls with fresh spears, repeating the exercise again and again until finally, several attempts later, both officers struck the tree trunk, Aliz’s spear actually penetrating the bark.

    “Good job, Sirs!” Crewman Malik praised as the commodore approached.

    “Better…” Wesley chimed in, nodding his head approvingly. “We should be ready now. Go and pick up your spears…” He ordered as he handed each of his people two empty gourds. “First stop is the stream to fill these up. And then we make our way for that structure—whatever it is—and see if we can get some answers.”


    Far behind the rest of his companions cutting their way through the thick underbrush, K’Temoc, in his position of rear guard moved slowly, carefully following the path blazed by his compatriots. Hearing the sound of a twig snapping ahead of him, the young Klingon warrior, his black beard freshly grown, paused for a moment. Engaging all his senses, he sniffed the air while his eyes scanned the forest, missing nothing as his ears picked up on the slightest sound. Hearing the faint snapping of another twig, the youthful hunter smirked as he picked up a scent. Hefting his d’k tahq in his hand, K’Temoc hunted.

    Further up the trail, K’Tan, the captain of the battlecruiser, K’Mar, heard the snapping of a twig as well. Flashing a feral grin, the Klingon warrior motioned with his hand, his men fanning out on either side of him as K’Tan turned about, dodging just in time the swipe from sharp claws. His eyes seeing a bipedal creature approximately the size of a fully grown Klingon with a long, narrow neck, feathered crest and blue-green scales, its open mouth revealing rows of sharp teeth and fangs, the Klingon warrior smiled, his own feral grin nearly matching that of the creature.

    Lunging as he dodged, K’Tan’s knife struck into flesh, the resulting howl of pain bringing a triumphant, “Maj!” from the captain as he withdrew his knife. Their captain having drawn first blood, as was his right, M’Kal and D’Kell leaped from their flanking positions, their knives punching through the creature’s sharp hide as its claws swiped again, this time raking D’Kell’s chest, cutting through the armored mesh of his shirt into flesh.

    Hearing the sounds of battle as he drew closer, the youthful warrior, resisting the calling of his blood to leap into the fight, spotted a movement in the woods, circling around the struggle. Smirking triumphantly, K’Temoc stalked the stalker as it crept around the three Klingons battling its mate.

    Howling his rage, D’Kell forced the pain out of his mind as his knife struck again, slashing into the scales of the monster under one of its armpits, twisting his knife, the burly Klingon barely dodged the sharp teeth of the creature as his companions struck again and again with their knives until finally, after making one last swipe of its claws at its tormentors, the creature died.

    “Yaj!” K’Tarn called out, soon to be joined by M’Kal and the injured D’Kell, “Yaj!”

    Creeping up, K’Temoc hearing his captain’s jubilant victory cry as well as the death howl the creature he had slain, watched as the predator he had been stalking, having witnessed its mate being killed, tensed its muscles to lunge at the back of the Klingon captain who was at that moment celebrating his triumph. K’Temoc, striking before the dead creature’s mate could pounce, stabbed it with his knife, piercing the back of the animal’s neck. Leaving his d’k tahq embedded within the creature, the young Klingon grappled its neck just below the head with both his hands. Planting his feet firmly on the ground, K’Temoc jerked on the reptile’s neck, sending it flying back towards a large tree.

    Roaring its anger as it impacted on the tree, the reptilian creature staggered to its feet as K’Temoc, taking advantage of the animal’s stunned condition, leaped on it, forcing it to the ground. Taking his knife out of his prey’s neck, the young Klingon struck again, this time burying his knife through the lower jaw of the creature, piercing all the way through into the mouth. As the animal tried to close its mouth, it howled in pain as its upper jaw closed on the blade protruding from its lower jaw.

    Hearing the sound of the battle behind them, K’Tan and the other warriors turned to watch as K’Temoc, withdrawing his knife, struck again, this time driving the blade into the creature’s braincase, killing it as its body twitched one last time.

    “MajQa’!” K’Tan cried out, a broad grin on his face as he approached the young warrior. Taking a badge from his honor sash, the Klingon captain stood before the youth. “You are no longer a mere soldier…” The captain proclaimed as the young man before him smiled triumphantly. Pinning the badge on to the young warrior’s chest, K’Tan announced, “You are now ‘utlh…an officer. Wear this on your honor sash when we return to the K’Mar!” Taking a step back, the captain grasped the younger Klingon’s shoulders with his hands, “Qapla!”


    “Do you have news, Ms. Zha’Thara?” Commander Alexei Kuznetsov asked, swiveling his seat around as the Lexington’s Andorian science officer strode on to the bridge.

    Her antennae bending towards the burly Russian, Talana smirked, “Am I good or what?”

    “I take it you have something for me then, Lieutenant Commander?” Alexei somewhat impatiently responded, “Do please…” He added, a faint note of sarcasm in his voice, “…enlighten us?”

    “You’re no fun, Alexei…” The Andorian woman riposted with a half grin. Her smile fading as she took her station, Talana, activating the main viewer, made her report. “I was right about our answer lying in that massive tachyon surge that took place before the commodore and the others disappeared. Essentially, what happened was that the Lexington and the Klingons were enveloped in a spatial displacement field…” She said, the viewscreen displaying a schematic of the two ships being first surrounded by the field and then disappearing into the opaque field.

    “I don’t understand…” Alexei replied, his voice reflecting his confusion, “…the field is gone, but we’re still here.”

    “We’re here…now!” Talana corrected, “But…for a brief period of time…mere microseconds in fact, we weren’t. We were…for lack of a better way of putting it…out of phase.”

    “Out of phase?” The Bear repeated, “What do you mean, Lieutenant Commander?”

    “I’m not sure yet, Sir.” Talana replied truthfully, her voice filled with awe at the technology of whoever possessed the capability to accomplish this task, “I just don’t have enough to go on.”

    “I thought you had good news, Ms. Zha’Thara…” Alexei remarked sourly.

    “I do, Sir.” The Andorian smiled back. “While I can’t tell you exactly where we went or how it was done, I can tell you that whoever did this left us a trail to follow.”

    “The tachyon emissions?” Kuznetsov ventured, his lips now turning up into a smile.

    “The tachyon emissions.” Talana reiterated, her initial smile fading, “But we don’t have much time to act before the tachyons dissipate and the trail disappears.”

    “What do we need to do?” Alexei quickly asked as he leaned forward in the chair.

    “We can’t do this alone…” The science officer replied, “For this to work…we’re going to need the Klingons’ help.”

    Sighing deeply, The Russian first officer answered back in a dubious tone, “Are you sure there’s no choice?

    Talana explained, “We need two ships. The power requirements are just too great for one ship alone to pull it off. The Klingons will have to reconfigure their disruptor arrays to emit steady neutrino streams that will ‘paint’ the tachyons while we will have to reconfigure our scanners to read them.”

    “I see.” The Bear replied, cupping his chin, “How extensive will the sensor reconfigurations have to be?”

    “Very.” The Andorian science officer answered back, her antennae drooping slightly, “It’ll leave us completely blinded to everything but the tachyon emissions.”

    “Leaving us in the same situation as a horse with blinders on.” The Bear concluded grimly. “Meaning we won’t be able to pick up on any possible moves the Klingons might make.”

    Nodding her head, the science officer answered back, “Right. But at the same time…” She smirked, “It’ll leave the Klingons without their disruptors.” Frowning, Talana cautioned, “Alexei…if we’re going to follow the trail, we have to move quickly and both ships will need to put all their resources into it.”

    “Mmmm…” Alexei murmured as he considered the situation, “There might be a way for us to follow the trail and ensure that the Klingons can’t blindside us.” Activating the intercom, the first officer spoke, “Lieutenant Commander G’arv and Lieutenant Mtolo report to the bridge at once.”

    Her lips turning up into a sly grin as her antennae once again bent towards the burly Russian, Talana quipped, “You look like you’ve got something up your sleeve, Alexei?”

    “Da, Ms. Zha’Thara, I do” The Bear replied, “It’s an old Russian saying…”

    “So…” Talana teased, “Which one is it this time?”

    Smirking, Alexei quoted, “Trust in God but lock your doors.”
  8. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 7

    Taking point, Commodore Wesley cut carefully through the brush, the rest of his group following close behind, the calls of the different animals creating a symphony that kept the Starfleet party constantly on its toes. One call, however, soon came to dominate the others. A high-pitched call, it sounded for several seconds before ceasing, only to pick up again several seconds later at a slightly different pitch. Several seconds later, the call sounded yet again. Ensign Jennifer Watley raised her hand as she spoke out in a carefully modulated tone. “Stop. Wait a moment.”

    “What is it, Ensign?” The commodore asked as he came to an immediate halt, crouching low.

    “I’m not sure, Sir.” The olive skinned xenobiologist replied, “But those might be calls from a hunting pack.”

    “Would they be stalking us?” Aliz asked with a worried expression.

    “Not necessarily.” Watley replied. “They could be going after other prey, or it could be mating calls, or…”

    “So, we’re not really sure of what we’re dealing with.” Robert finished, “Still…we don’t want to take chances.” Hefting his makeshift spear in hand, the commodore cautioned, “Stay alert.”


    “Are we actually going to go along with this dogh scheme?” D’Kor asked as he gazed into the eyes of his acting commanding officer, the first officer of the K’Mar.

    “Is that a challenge, D’Kor?” Kalas growled menacingly as his hand went to the d’k tahq at his waist.

    “No, Sir.” The second officer quickly replied, shaking his head vigorously. “I was merely curious.”

    Relaxing visibly now that his dominance had been acknowledged, a broad smile appeared on the first officer’s face, “Don’t worry, D’Kor. I know why you are concerned—that the Federation starship will attack us once our disruptors have been taken off line.” Seeing his subordinate nodding his head, Kalas’ broad smile became an evil grin as he explained his plan, “Remember, old friend, that they must recalibrate all of their sensors in order to pick up the emissions given off when the tachyons are bombarded by the neutrinos fired by our retuned disruptors. That means they will be totally blind…” Gazing intently into the eyes of his subordinate, the Klingon acting captain inquired, “Have you gathered the twenty warriors I told you to?”

    With a single nod of his head, D’Kor promptly responded, “Yes, Sir. All well versed in zero gravity combat.”

    “Excellent.” Kalas grinned. “When I give the order, those men, with you as their leader, will take a shuttle. Using just maneuvering thrusters you will draw close enough to the saucer section of the Lexington to where you can exit the shuttle, walk on the Federation starship itself, and cut your way directly into their bridge.”

    Smiling broadly at the chance for glory that he had just been given, D’Kor exclaimed in a loud, enthusiastic voice, “It will be a glorious battle.”


    As the high-pitched calls grew louder and more insistent, nerves began to fray amongst the tiny party. “Where the hell are they?” Malik grumbled; his spear at the ready. “I wish they’d do something!”

    “Easy, Crewman…” Wesley counseled as he motioned for the group to halt. Pointing, he whispered, “Clearing ahead. Ensign Watley?” Gesturing with his hand for the young xenobiologist to come forward, the commodore, once again taking on the role of instructor, inquired as the calls picked up even louder in volume. “Assuming you’re one of the pack that’s stalking us, what would you do here?”

    “That clearing would be where I’d make the ambush.” Jennifer promptly responded. “The pack will try to cut one of us out. While some of the pack would drive the rest of us apart from their target, the others would try to bring their victim down.”

    “Very good, Ensign.” Wesley praised, smiling approvingly as he continued to test his new officer. “Now…we have to cross that clearing to get to where we have to go. How would you recommend we do that?”

    “We don’t have much time, Sir…” Watley pondered, carefully considering her answer, “From the sound of those calls, I’d say they’re getting ready to…” Before she could finish her sentence, a shout of alarm followed very quickly by a yelp of pain came from behind her as Crewman Malik threw his makeshift spear at one of the predators, a wolf sized cross between a bird and reptile with a dark blue crest on its head and sharp fangs lining the jaw of its beak. Screaming in pain as the first creature’s mate tore a gash into Malik’s leg with its fangs, the Moroccan struck down with his second spear, its point breaking off inside the body of the animal.

    “Break for the clearing!” Wesley ordered, “And whatever you do…stay together! Don’t let those things separate us!” Stepping out into the clearing first, the commodore shepherded his people out into the open, Aliz supporting the injured Malik as the friends of the creatures that had attacked them earlier struck from both sides.

    “They’re going for Malik!” Jennifer yelled as she launched her spear at one of the pack members, missing it.

    “Stay together!” Robert cried out as the group ran, stumbling for the other side. Watching with alarm as Malik began to fall behind, the commodore and Aliz launched their spears, both striking one of the animals which, at that moment, was lunging towards the security trooper. Bringing the snarling animal down with his spear, Wesley gestured wildly with his free hand, calling out to the women, “Go! Make for the tree line! I’ll get Malik.”

    “Hurry, Sir!” Jennifer called out as she and Aliz threw fresh spears at the howling pack which was trying to separate out the humans into two groups, “We’ll try to draw them off!”

    Grabbing the injured Malik by one arm, Wesley and the security trooper staggered towards the others, lunging at the growling pack while at the same time trying to avoid their slashing teeth. Wincing in pain as one of the creatures slashed at his leg, scratching the skin as it tore through cloth, Robert lunged down yet again with his spear; piercing flesh as the pair finally reached the tree line. Driving the remaining members of the pack back with the last of their spears, the commodore sighed in relief. “Good work, everyone.” He praised as he made his way to Crewman Malik. Examining the security trooper’s wounds, Robert took one of the gourds containing fresh water. Pouring water over the wound, the commodore cleaned it as Jennifer ripped the collar off her minidress.

    “Here, Sir.” The ensign said as she handed the dark material to Wesley who then used it as a makeshift bandage for the injured crewman. Hearing yet again the sound of material being torn, Robert turned his head to see that Aliz had just ripped part of her dress off at the hemline.

    “Sit down, Sir.” The ensign requested in her thick Hungarian accent.

    “I’m fine.” The commodore replied, fighting down the desire to wince in pain.

    “I’m sure you are, Sir.” Ensign Bathory retorted as she reiterated her earlier appeal, adding, before the commodore could overrule her, “I just want to make sure you stay that way.” Cracking a sly grin, the youthful ensign quipped in a low voice that only the two of them could hear, “Remember what you said about hope, Sir? Well…we need you to stay strong to lead us. If your wounds should get infected…”

    Sighing in resignation, the former pugilist cracked a wry grin as he sat down, extending his leg. “All right…all right, Ensign…you win.”

    Smiling as she cleaned and bandaged the commodore’s wounds, Aliz chuckled, “I almost always do, Sir.”


    “Are we ready?” Commander Kuznetsov asked the Lexington’s Andorian science officer, inching forward in his chair as he addressed her.

    “The sensors are recalibrated.” Talana promptly replied from her science station.

    “Ms. Oudekirk…” Kuznetsov then ordered, addressing the blonde-haired communications officer, “Inform the K’Mar that they can fire when ready.”

    “Aye, Sir.” The Dutch comm specialist acknowledged.

    Toggling the intercom switch on the chair arm, the Lexington’s first officer spoke, “Misters G’arv and Mtolo…are you prepared.”

    “Yes, Sir.” The Tellarite engineer responded. “Just give the word.”

    “If the Klingons try anything…” the Zulu security chief promised, “…we’ll be ready for them.”

    “Very good. Mr. G’arv…” Alexei smirked, “…you may release our watchdogs.”

    “Watchdogs away.” G’arv exclaimed as he pushed a button on his console, releasing two of the small buoys that normally contained the ships’ logs and were usually ejected in the event of the possible destruction of the ship. The chief engineer had, however, modified these buoys. Instead of containing log entries, these markers were loaded with passive sensors and one other modification: once they had drifted far enough away from the Lexington, each of them shot out a line with a magnetic attachment that affixed itself to the ship’s hull.

    “A trick from old Earth naval warfare.” Alexei had explained earlier to both G’arv and Lieutenant Mtolo when he had outlined his plan. “Naval vessels would tow sonar and other sensors behind them. By doing so they both extended their detection radius and prevented having their own ships detected by the opposition’s detection devices.” Lieutenant Mtolo and his people provided the second part of the Bear’s scheme, “Mr. Mtolo…” The burly Russian boxer explained, “The buoys are my guard…you and your people will be my left jab and right cross. If Kalas tries something—I’m counting on you to deliver the knockout punch.”


    As the sun began to set, Wesley smiled as the object of his party’s trek grew larger, now taking on the shape of an obelisk. Leaning on the large stave that now served as a walking stick, the commodore grinned, “Take a look, people! We’re almost there.”

    “What do you think it is?” Aliz asked; squinting her eyes as she tried to make out details in the distance.

    “I’m not sure.” Robert replied with a chuckle as he placed a hand on the young ensign’s shoulder, “But we’ll all find out together, tomorrow.” Scanning the terrain, the sharp-eyed commodore spotted a clearing located on a slight rise, “We’ll camp out tonight over there…” he pointed, “It’s the highest ground in the immediate area, making it a good defensible position.”

    “It’s probably pretty close to water too, Sir.” Jennifer noted as she helped Crewman Malik to the ground. “I’ll bet there’s a pond or a stream or something similar over in that direction…” She remarked, pointing towards the west. “I spotted what looked like the local equivalent of water fowl setting down for the night.” The xenobiologist then cautioned, “But we better be careful—we don’t want to run into this planet’s version of crocodiles either.”

    “Good point.” Wesley agreed. “All right, then. We’ll take five and rest up and then hike on over to that hillock and make our camp for the night. Get plenty of rest…” he admonished as he pointed at the obelisk, “…I have a feeling tomorrow’s going to be an even bigger day than today.”


    “Our goal is within reach!” K’Tan called out triumphantly as he spied the obelisk. Taking note of the rushing water and rocky terrain, the Klingon captain smiled. “This is a good place to rest for the night. We build our fire here…” he commanded, pointing at a clearing. As he and K’Temoc set down the butchered meat from their earlier kills, the Klingon warrior grinned, “Tonight we feast!”


    “Fire!” Kalas ordered as pale green beams lanced out from the Klingon battlecruiser’s wing struts.

    “It’s working!” Talana cried out as she peered into her sensor viewer.

    “Transfer to main screen.” Alexei commanded. The viewscreen shimmered for a moment to reveal a pale blue path through the starry field. “There’s our tachyon trail.” The Russian first officer declared, slapping the arm of the center chair he currently occupied. “Inform the Klingons and set course to follow that trail at maximum impulse.” Kuznetsov ordered, smiling in satisfaction. “And monitor the watchdogs…I don’t want any surprises now.”

    “Look!” K’Mar’s weapons officer called out, pointing at the main viewscreen.

    “I see…” Kalas grinned as the tachyon trail appeared on the viewer. “Maintain firing rate and match the Federation ship’s course and speed.” Nodding his head as both the weapons and helm officers acknowledged his commands, the Klingon acting captain toggled his intercom, “D’Kor…stand ready, but do not move until I give the order.” Flashing an evil grin, the ambitious first officer concluded, “I want to see where this trail leads us first.”
  9. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

    Dec 13, 2003
    Meet the Lady: Part 8

    “We’re almost there!” Wesley called out, encouraging his tired and bedraggled party as they scampered up the ridge line. Climbing to the top, the commodore pointed towards the object of their trek, “There it is!” He exclaimed, pointing towards a large black obelisk standing all by itself on an empty plain separated from the group by a wide chasm, a flimsy rope footbridge the only apparent way across.

    “How tall is it?” Ensign Aliz Bathory asked as she tilted her head back in awe at the huge structure jutting heavenward.

    “It must be a good fifty meters or more in height.” Jennifer Watley chimed in as she helped the injured security crewman, Malik, up to the top. Looking up, the olive-skinned ensign exclaimed in an awe inspired voice, “I wonder who built it.”

    “That’s one of the questions I’m hoping we’ll find the answer to.” Wesley replied with a grin.

    “Before we do that, Sir…” Ensign Bathory interjected, her eyes glancing down to the makeshift bandage tied around the commodore’s leg, “I want to take a look at that.”

    Chuckling, Robert shook his head, “It’s ok, Ms. Bathory.”

    “Are we going to go through this again, Sir?” Aliz grinned, “Now…do we do this the easy way—or the hard way? See…” She added, pointing at Jennifer who was already inspecting Crewman Malik’s wound, “…Malik’s being a good boy…”

    “All right…all right!” The commodore exclaimed, throwing up his arms in mock resignation as he sat down, “You win!” Shaking his head, Robert remarked in a joking tone, “You must be a holy terror at home.”

    “I am, Sir.” Aliz rejoined as she knelt down next to the ruggedly handsome older man. Removing her makeshift bandage, the young Hungarian nodded her head approvingly as she poured water from one of the gourds tied around her waist. “It’s cleaned up nicely. No sign of infection. Those poultices Jennifer made from those herbs that she found seem to have done the trick.”

    “This does seem to be a resource rich world.” Wesley noted as his self-appointed nurse placed another poultice on the wound, “Hopefully we’ll be able to find its location once we get back to the ship. Although it has its dangers, it looks to be a prime world for colonization.”

    “Maybe, Sir.” Aliz agreed and then joked as she tore off another piece of her hemline and tied it around the older man’s wound, “But for now, I’m just hoping we find a way back to the ship before I end up naked.”

    Chuckling, Wesley struggled to his feet, politely refusing Aliz’s offer of assistance, “I’ve got it, Ensign.”

    Laughing out loud, Aliz shook her head, “How does your wife put up with you, Sir?”

    His smile vanishing, the commodore looked down as he mumbled, almost inaudibly, “That’s what I keep asking myself…”

    Seeing the pained look on the older man’s face, the young Hungarian placed a tentative hand on his shoulder, “I’m sorry, Sir…I didn’t mean…I was out of line.”

    “You didn’t say anything wrong, Aliz…don’t worry about it.” Bob answered back, a warm smile returning to his face as he regarded the auburn-haired woman standing before him.

    Flashing a slight smile of her own as she looked up into the craggy face of her commanding officer, Ensign Bathory replied in a soft voice, “Thank you, Sir.” Then, as her eyes appraised the flimsy looking bridge crossing the chasm separating them from the obelisk, the former Academy gymnast asked as she tilted her head towards the security trooper sitting next to Ensign Watley, “What about Crewman Malik? Can he make it across with his injury?” Gazing down into the chasm, she dropped a pebble. Counting down the seconds before hearing a barely audible splashing sound, she remarked, “That’s a long way down, Sir.”

    Cupping his chin, Robert flashed a grin, “We’ll get across Ensign…”

    “I know, Sir, I know…” Aliz joked, flashing an amused grin, “Don’t give up hope…”

    “You’re learning.” Wesley jibed back before turning his attention towards the other male in his party, “How’re you holding up, Crewman?”

    “I’m fine, Sir.” The Moroccan security trooper replied confidently as, with Ensign Watley’s help, he struggled to his feet. “You all go on without me. Don’t worry about me…I’ll be all right here.”

    “I don’t want to hear that talk, Crewman.” Wesley answered back, his voice tone leaving no room for disagreement. “We all stay or go together!” Dashing towards a nearby tree line, Wesley pulled down a vine. “Help me out here…” He called out as he pulled down yet another long, thick vine. “We can use these as ropes…”

    “Tying us all together.” Jennifer exclaimed as she and Aliz helped pull down more of the thick, long vines. Hefting one in her hand, the exobiologist observed, “They seem to be strong enough to support one of us should we slip and fall off, but I’d like to be sure…”

    “One of those rocks over there?” Aliz asked, pointing at the ridge line they had just crested. “I’m sure one of them would weigh about as much as one of us.

    “Good thinking, ensigns.” Wesley remarked approvingly as he pulled down yet another vine. “We’ll use this as our test line. Now…” he smiled as he began to walk towards the rocks, “Let’s see whether our makeshift ropes can do the job or not.”


    “Well…” The commodore grinned as he and Malik pulled the rock up, “…we know now that the rope’ll hold.” Tying a rope around his waist, Wesley instructed, “We’ll tie ourselves together, that way, if one of us slips, the rest of us will be able to pull whoever it is up.” As the others tied the vines around their waists, Wesley further ordered, “Ok…Malik, tie the loose end of this rope to the vine around your waist and Jennifer’ll tie the other around hers, that’ll connect us all together. Aliz, since you’re a gymnast, you probably have the best balance of all of us, so you’ll lead. Crewman Malik will follow you, then Ensign Watley, and I’ll anchor us. Ready?” Seeing everyone nodding their heads in reply, Robert’s smile returned, “All right…we’ve got a bridge to cross. Let’s do it.”

    Moving slowly, Aliz grasped both sides of the rope bridge as she carefully placed one foot in front of the other on the slender board that served as bridge. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly until she heard a yelp coming from Crewman Malik behind her and then the bridge began to sway violently from side to side, the young gymnast struggled mightily, pressing down with her arms to stop the violent motion.

    Watching with alarm as he saw Malik stumble, Commodore Wesley matched the motions of his Hungarian helmsman in the lead, adding his strength to hers in an effort to stabilize the bridge as Ensign Watley struggled to help the Moroccan security officer regain his footing. Sighing in relief as the security officer recovered, the commodore called out, “Everything ok up there?”

    “We’re fine, Sir!” Jennifer called back, “Malik just slipped.”

    “Ok but try to be a little more careful. Take your time; we don’t have to rush it.”

    Feeling the breeze beginning to pick up, Aliz looked up in the air. Noticing the darkening clouds, the young Hungarian shouted back, “Sir…we might want to pick up the pace a bit. If that wind picks up too much…”

    “Right, Aliz!” Robert answered back. “You set the pace. Everyone else, watch your footing.” The wind growing more violent, the tiny party struggled to retain their footing as the swaying of the bridge grew ever more violent.

    Drops of water now stinging against her face as she made out their goal just a few meters away, Aliz gritted her teeth as an especially violent gust of wind struck, accompanied by the crack of thunder and a brilliant bolt of lighting snapped the flimsy rope bridge, “Hold on!” She shouted, as she and the others held on for dear life. Grunting as she slammed on to the cliff face, Ensign Bathory, holding on tightly, called out as she glanced down. “How is everyone?”

    “I’m ok!” Jennifer called back, her voice hoarse as she tried to make herself heard over the whistling wind.

    “I’m fine!” Commodore Wesley responded, “Just a few bumps and bruises.”

    Hearing nothing from the Moroccan security officer, Aliz called out again, “Malik?”

    Looking up, Jennifer cried as she saw the redshirted crewman plastered against the rock face, a jagged rock jutting from his chest. Her tears indistinguishable from the falling rain, the young science officer shouted, “He’s dead.”

    Watching the horrible tableau from below, Commodore Wesley called out, “Jennifer…Aliz…we’ll grieve for him later. Right now we have to make it up this cliff before the other end of the bridge decides to snap.

    “Yes, Sir!” Aliz called back as, using the rope bridge, she began to make her way up the rock face, the others following. Robert, stopping at Malik’s body, said a silent prayer as he gently closed the young Moroccan’s eyes. Resuming his climb, he made rapid progress, nearly catching up to the stumbling Jennifer. Catching her as she lost her footing, the commodore smiled encouragingly.

    “We’re almost there, Jennifer. Just a little bit more. You can do it!”

    Scampering to the top, Aliz, ignoring the rain and wind, held her hand out to her roommate. Grabbing her friend’s hand, Jennifer pulled herself up to the top, soon followed by the commodore. As the trio paused to catch their breaths, Jennifer asked in a somber tone, “Does anyone know if Malik had any family?”

    Shrugging her shoulders, Aliz replied somberly, “I don’t know. I didn’t know him before we all got pulled here.” Turning to the commodore, she asked, “Do you know, Sir?”

    “No.” Robert admitted, shaking his head in shame, “Lieutenant Mtolo—his immediate supervisor would know. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to get to know the details on more than a few people yet.” His eyes now reflecting his determination, he added as he struggled to his feet, “But I intend to when we get back.”

    “Sir…” Aliz cautiously ventured, “There’s no way you could have known what was about to happen…”

    “Aliz is right.” Jennifer chimed in, “What happened to Malik could have happened to any of us. You shouldn’t blame yourself.”

    “I know…” Bob conceded, a sad smile on his face, “I’ve seen more than a few young men and women…friends…shipmates…crew…die, and I’ve sent more than a few off to die—that’s one of the decisions that comes with captain’s stripes. Still…” he admonished as he once again took on the role of teacher, “…the decision to send someone off on what is likely to be a fatal mission or the loss of a crewman in an accident or in the line of duty should never become something you see as routine. One of the most important possessions a starship captain has is his…or her…” he emphasized as he gazed into the eyes of the two women before him, “…humanity.”

    “Yes, Sir.” Aliz and Jennifer responded softly, taking in the commodore’s words as he struggled to his feet. Holding out his hand, he helped both young ensigns up as he turned his gaze to the obsidian obelisk standing before them.

    The rain slacking off, Robert’s voice took on an enthusiastic tone. “Why don’t we see what this thing is?”