Sorry for the delay, everyone. My internet has been sporadic lately. ***** CHAPTER 4 Supplemental USS Kitzingen, Ready Room Arbazan System The Arbazan Prime Minister looked at Musgrave with panicked eyes. She said, “Oh thank the Maker you are here, Issac.” Prime Minister Ujani was a pleasant enough woman to look at. She wore her hair up and permed. It was a light brown. Like all of her species, she had forehead ridges, but they were much less pronounced than Klingons’. The captain seemed uneasy when she addressed him in the familiar. “Prime Minister, we are in your star system and approaching the unknown vessel as we speak.” “Wonderful,” she rejoined, “if anyone can figure out what it wants, it’s you.” He stiffened up and prepared himself for the conversation ahead, “Prime Minister, there were several other Starfleet ships closer to your planet than the Kitzingen. You must stop requesting me personally when you deal with Starfleet. Know I understand we have a history, but using your pull as Prime Minister…” “But Issac,” she interrupted, “You’re the only Starfleet captain I trust.” Musgrave bit his lip, since had a course retort on his tongue. He settled on, “It is inappropriate.” He leaned in and added in a conspirial tone, “And people may begin to talk. Someone in your position may…” She said despondently, “I understand. Trust me, I understand.” Ujani perked up a bit and continued, “But you’re here now and my people need your help. Arbaz has no defense grid and our own ships are outdated.” Musgrave was glad to be discussing the mission again, “Has the ship tried to contact you?” “No, there’s been no response to our hails. It’s just sitting in orbit, for now.” He nodded, “Alright, we’ll find out what we can for you.” She smiled, “Thank you so much, Issac.” The smile wasn’t returned. He silently acknowledged her and closed the channel. Stardate: Unknown Location: Unknown …“Computer, target their aft shields.” “Target locked.” He began to see the yacht’s nacelles light up and the ship disappeared into subspace. Bin Nadal had a choice to make: let them go, or go after them. For a fraction of a second, he entertained the idea of activating his escape transporter and beaming back to the Independence. He had done his bit for the day. On the other hand, Collins and Section 31 had to answer for their transgressions. A 31 plant, Nicole Chase, had used and seduced him on the previous Independence. Chase had attempted to kill their whole crew in an effort to eliminate them and get an Interceptor class ship for their shadow fleet. It would have worked had it not been for the efforts of the late chief engineer, Lieutenant Jinal. Before that, Collins had attempted to kill him, Admiral Uhura, and Norah Satie. The only thing that saved his neck that time was the timely intervention of Commander Ivan Cherenkov. As he recalled these instances, his choice became clear. He had to try - for Jinal and all the others who died. Bin Nadal didn’t fancy the idea of confronting Collins and the android. One was challenge enough. He’d have to get the jump on them or this wouldn’t work. He set a pursuit course and engaged the warp drive. Immediately, the computer warned him, “Micro-fractures are expanding. Explosive decompression in 9 seconds.” Karim had caught up with the yacht in short order. He launched several volleys of micro-photons. Two hit. Their aft shields were down. It was now or never… …Karim woke with a start. There was some sort of alarm going off in his cell. It was so loud and irritating; he felt the need to cover his ears. His captors had never done this before. Something new was happening. In truth, he was glad in an odd sort of way. It was better than just wasting away in here, doing nothing. Though, he could do without the ear piercing noise. Thankfully, it stopped shortly after he stood. Immediately, he felt the pull of a transporter beam engulfing him. The Persian found himself in a sonic shower, minus his clothes. They hadn’t re-materialized with him. The hum of the shower started. He had to admit, it felt wonderful. The sensation didn’t last. A few moments later, he was back in his cell, still naked. There were clean clothes on the bench, however. There was a pair of simple, white pants and a matching shirt. He was less ashamed and more annoyed. He deliberately avoided the clothing. It was the only act of resistance he could do. “What do you want with me?” he called out as he had dozens of times before. There was no answer. The sudden excitement faded quickly. It just him, alone in his cage…again.