Star Trek: Bounty - 11 - "Love, but With More Aggressive Overtones"


Red Shirt
Hello. Time for another Bounty story, I’m afraid. :)

This one follows directly on from the previous 'episode' posted last month and serves to wrap up a plot thread left dangling in that episode’s epilogue (:klingon:) along with telling its own story. It also references a few of the other Bounty eps at points, but I think it’s all still contextualised enough as we go on to work as a standalone episode. Though if you feel like reading the others, that’s always welcome (and good luck! :lol:).

As ever, hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t, that’s cool too! :D

Star Trek: Bounty is a slightly off-kilter series set in the Trek universe that focuses on the adventures of the ragtag crew of a small civilian ship, who do what they can to get by in the Alpha Quadrant. They're not exactly Starfleet spec, but they try to keep on the right side of the moral line where they can.

The story so far:
Star Trek: Bounty - 1 - "Where Neither Moth nor Rust Destroys"
Star Trek: Bounty - 2 - "Be All My Sins Forgiven"
Star Trek: Bounty - 3 - "The Other Kind of Vulcan Hello"
Star Trek: Bounty - 4 - "It’s Not Easy Being Green"
Star Trek: Bounty - 5 - "Once Upon a Time in the Beta Quadrant"
Star Trek: Bounty - 6 - "He Feedeth Among the Lilies”
Star Trek: Bounty - 7 - “One Character in Search of an Exit”
Star Trek: Bounty - 8 - "A Klingon, a Vulcan and a Slave Girl Walk into a Bar"
Star Trek: Bounty - 9 - "But One Man of Her Crew Alive"
Star Trek: Bounty - 10 - "Take Arms Against a Sea of Tribbles"


Star Trek: Bounty
“Love, but With More Aggressive Overtones”


The soothing tones of the Bajoran folk ballad filled the air inside the cockpit of the Ferengi shuttle Kendra as it warped on through space. The gentle strings and delicate flutes layered over each other in what most experts felt was the most relaxing musical genre in the whole galaxy.

Without warning, the calming melody transformed into a violently harsh and discordant crackle, before the cockpit was plunged into an unerring silence. For a moment, at least, before a distinctly irked voice filled the void.

“Computer, you have got to be freaking kidding me.”

“Please restate the request,” a clipped male voice replied, a distinct audio crackle accompanying the words of the computer as well.

“Ugh. Just…resume playback!”

There was a brief flurry of clicks and chirps from the Kendra’s computer, indicating that the system was valiantly attempting to carry out that deceptively simple request. But the strings and flutes showed no sign of returning.

“Unable to comply. Corruption of audio files in primary databank.”

This dispassionate announcement was greeted with a deeply frustrated scream, a response that the computer also failed to recognise as a legitimate request.

Juna Erami dragged herself out from underneath the main console of the shuttle, her face streaked with dirt from the repairs she had been in the middle of attempting to complete.

“The whole lot?” she groaned, “Tell me the file backups are recoverable, at least. If I’ve lost all my music, you’re gonna have one pissed-off pilot on your hands.”

“Secondary databank is online,” the computer affirmed.

“Well, that’s something, I guess.”

The Bajoran woman ran a hand through her matted hair and took a deep calming breath. Looking around the worn-down interior of the Kendra, she had to admit that she’d made better impulse buys.

At the time, she thought she was getting a good deal. She had needed transportation and had plenty to barter with, and she had gotten herself more than just a ride. She’d gotten a whole ship. But, as soon as she’d actually started to push the Kendra out in space, the problems began. And any attempt to correct one malfunction seemed to lead to three more developing, like the whole vessel had been cursed by the Pah-wraiths. It was starting to get to her.

With another sigh, she accepted that she was going to be working in silence and crouched back down to return to the more pressing issue of bypassing the shuttle’s broken aft deflector grid.

“You know,” she tutted into the ether as she worked, “It’s a good job you’re here. Otherwise I’d end up talking to myself.”

“Please restate the request.”

“Ugh. I really need to meet some new people--”

She was cut off by a sudden shower of sparks that belched out from the panel she was working on, causing her to stumble back in shock.

“Agh! Crap! Crapping crapping crap!” she cursed as she hopped around, shaking her hand where the sparks had stung her palm.

And then, as always happened with the Kendra, one problem begot another one.

“Warning,” the computer calmly sounded out, “Power overload in warp coil. Emergency deceleration is imminent.”

Erami braced herself as best she could as the Kendra suddenly and violently slowed, pushing the inertial dampeners of the tiny vessel to their limits.

“Thanks for the warning,” she grimaced.

“Warp drive offline,” the computer confirmed, without any apparent concern for her well-being.

After making sure she was still in one piece, she flopped down into the tattered pilot’s chair and tapped the controls with renewed urgency.

“Please say we made it into the system before all that. Cos I am really not in the mood to spend the next three months coasting in on impulse, talking to you.”

The computer didn’t respond, but she was relieved to see that they had indeed arrived at the Kervala system before the failure. Kervala Prime, and the spaceport she had been aiming for, was a short journey away.

“Well,” she smiled as she laid in a course, “Nice to have a bit of luck for once.”

“Warning. Corruption of audio files in secondary databank.”

Her mood darkened all over again as the Kendra limped on.


Juna Erami strode down the steps at the side of her shuttle and took in the view.

She had landed on one of the outer pads at the main port on Kervala Prime, some distance away from the bulbous main structure. It made the journey there a little more of a trek, but the parking costs were cheaper this far out, and she needed to save latinum for the repairs themselves. Usually, landing pads this far out tended to be deserted. But today, she found that she was in the company of some fellow cheapskates.

On the other side of the rectangular landing area stood a battered Ju’Day-type raider.

She ambled over, intrigued by the ship itself, and also by the figure that she could see was working on it. A green-skinned woman in oversized overalls. She looked both the ship and the engineer over and smiled.

“Nice ship.”

As soon as she opened her mouth, the Orion spun around, caught off-guard. In an act of instinctive self-defence, she brought the object in her hand to bear on the stranger.

Erami looked down at the small engineering tool she was being threatened with and scrunched her wrinkled nose up in amusement.

“Is that…an isodyne coupler?”

The green-skinned woman sheepishly looked at the somewhat inoffensive object, then at the disarmingly friendly face of the Bajoran, with her straggly mass of black hair and dusty brown tunic and trousers, and struggled for an answer.

“Well,” Erami continued with a grin, holding her hands up in mock surrender, “Take whatever you want, but please don’t couple my isodynes.”

The Orion lowered the engineering tool and shrugged apologetically.

“Sorry. I just don’t like--I didn’t hear you come over.”

“Hey, no, I get it. My fault. I know what it’s like, working on your own at a port like this. Still…all I said was ‘nice ship’.”

The other woman cast a glance up at her ship, the hodgepodge of different shades and colours of metal panels indicating the constant running repairs it had been through in over thirty years of long-suffering service. As far as she was concerned, it was the most magnificent ship in the galaxy. But she was entirely used to being in a minority of one on that particular subject.

“Yep,” the Bajoran continued, as she glanced over the ship’s hull, “She’s a beauty.”

“Um,” the Orion managed, “Thanks? I guess we’re not used to getting compliments.”

“Ah, I don’t believe that for a second.”

She accompanied her comment with a warm enough smile, but the taller woman immediately flinched, and her grip on the isodyne coupler tightened. Erami noted the telltale signs that she was laying it on a little strong, and turned her attention back to the ship, walking around the port wing of the raider with continued admiration.

“Ju’Day-type, right?” she continued, “Yeah, used to do a bit of work with the Maquis, as it happens. They swore by the things. Maybe a bit old, a little underpowered, but they were scrappy and resilient as hell. One guy told me that, out in the Badlands, two of these working together could take out a Galor-class warship.”

“Can't say we've ever tried that,” the Orion replied, pocketing her tool and wiping her hands on her overalls, more relaxed now the conversation had switched back to the ship, “But we do ok.”

Erami nodded, then paused at the rear of the ship and gestured upwards.

“I don’t remember the thruster vents looking like that, though.”

The other woman stepped over, conflicting looks of embarrassment and pride fighting a pitched battle for control of her face.

“Ah. Yeah, that’s, um, my design. Stupid things were always overheating in atmospheric flight, so I widened the cooling slats and added a few extra vents along the dorsal side.”

Erami stared back at her with a look of mild incredulity.

“You redesigned your ship’s thruster vents?”

“I mean,” the Orion replied with a shrug, gesturing to the ageing ship above them, “It’s not like she’s still under warranty or anything.”

Erami smiled wider and shook her head, before gesturing back to her own vessel.

“Well, I could use some of that ingenuity right now. Behold, the mighty Kendra. Sixteen previous owners, about 15,000 light years on the clock, impulse drive as slow as a Lurian transport sled, and for the life of me I cannot get the pilot’s seat to tilt back the way I like it.”

“Na’Far-class,” the Orion noted, “I worked on one of those a while back, with my father.”

She paused and flinched again. It was a reaction that Erami knew all too well, the look of a painful memory being dredged up from the back of one’s mind. Of someone freshly mourning an old loss.

“Um,” the engineer continued, regaining some composure, “I remember we had a hell of a time trying to get the plasma injectors to stop overloading the warp coil.”

“Three guesses what I’m here to fix,” Erami smiled knowingly.

The Orion woman mustered a smile back, and the ever-resourceful Erami spied an opportunity to get a little closer to her new friend.

“Hey, crazy thought, but if you could see your way to giving me some pointers with those plasma injectors, I’d really appreciate it. I’ve tried everything with the damn things.”

“Ah, I dunno. I’ve got a full repair schedule to work through--”

“Woah,” the Bajoran cut in with a disarming gesture, “I’m not trying to take advantage of you. We can work something out. If you give me a hand with the Kendra, I can help you with…?”

She let her words tail off, gesturing for the still-reluctant Orion to complete the sentence.

“Well,” the other woman sighed eventually, “I…guess I could use a hand rewiring our secondary deflector array.”

“Ah, perfect. It’s a deal!”

She smiled even wider and held out her hand in front of her. The Orion woman wiped her own dirty hand again, and tentatively accepted the handshake.

“Juna Erami,” the Bajoran woman said, by way of a formal introduction.

“Denella,” replied Denella.


A short while later, the two slightly incongruous figures walked down the main promenade area of Kervala Prime’s main spaceport.

All around them were bustling shops, bars and restaurants offering all manner of ways for a lonely traveller to part with their latinum. Each venue was a cultural melting pot of disparate species. But even given the dizzying mixture of faces up and down the promenade, Denella couldn’t help but feel like she and her Bajoran companion were attracting more than their fair share of stares.

She tried to dismiss her concerns. After all, attracting a lot of stares was a depressingly familiar part of her life a lot of the time. So she did what she always did, and focused on the job.

“There’s a salvage yard just down here,” she explained to Erami, “Cheaper than trying to source new parts. Hopefully they’ll have some compatible injectors for you, and a lot of spare wiring for me.”

“Wow,” the Bajoran grinned back, “You’re all business, aren’t you? We’re not even gonna stop for a quick raktajino?”

She gestured to one side of the promenade, as they passed a gaudy Ferengi coffee chain outlet with a huge snaking line leading up to an understaffed counter, where a trio of underpaid workers slaved away under a large board advertising their new range of I'danian spiced lattes.

“Got coffee back at the ship,” Denella pointed out.

“Huh,” Erami griped, “This is gonna be no fun at all.”

They walked on in silence for a moment, before Erami looked over quizzically at her new companion.

“By the way, I was meaning to ask. How come your secondary deflector array needs rewiring?”

Denella looked back at her and shrugged.


Erami studied the completely sincere face of the Orion woman for a moment, then threw her head back and laughed heartily.

“Ok, I was totally wrong,” she managed eventually, “This is gonna be a hell of a lot of fun.”


Back at the bustling Ferengi coffee shop, two figures sat perched at a tall table on the edge of the establishment, staring out at the Bajoran woman walking alongside the Orion from behind two enormous I'danian spiced lattes in replicated takeaway cups.

Both women were too absorbed in their conversation to notice. Denella might have picked up on the unwelcome attention, but it was just a couple of stares amongst the dozens that they were getting, so the two figures were free to focus entirely on the Bajoran.

The shorter of the two Pakleds turned to his colleague with excitement at having finally tracked down their quarry.

“It is her,” he whispered, “She came here after all!”

The taller Pakled took a slow sip of what had turned out to be an incredibly underwhelming drink for how much it had cost, and nodded darkly.

“Yes,” he grunted back, “She is not smart…”
Trouble with Pakleds... seems to be a theme around here. Guess since I didn't include them in STH, I should consider adding some to SBA (now in production.)

Thanks!! rbs
Trouble with Pakleds... seems to be a theme around here.

I didn’t realise they’d become a trope! :lol: There’s only so many Trek-based antagonists the Bounty can cross without them being too unrealistically overpowered (hence why they’re not going to be fighting the Borg any time soon!), so I guess they were bound to show up at some point.

Good Start. I caught up what I have missed in the other bounty episodes. I enjoyed reading those as well.

Thanks for reading, and for catching up! There’s a hell of a lot of Bounty to get through at this point, so you’re a braver reader than most. :)
Part One

Klath stood and stared out of the window at the view of the spaceport outside.

It wasn’t an especially interesting view, consisting of little more than a nondescript and mostly empty street branching off from the main shopping area. But that didn’t really matter, because he wasn’t really taking in the view. Instead, he was lost in thought.

It had been two days since the Bounty had arrived on Kervala Prime for some much needed repairs to the damage caused by the infestation of tribbles they had picked up on their mission inside the borders of the Klingon Empire.

Since then, while Denella had focused on the repairs, and the rest of the Bounty’s crew had availed themselves of the dubious pleasures of the port itself, the Bounty’s Klingon weapons chief had found himself caught up with another issue entirely. Something so powerful that there was no direct translation of the Klingon word for it.


For simplicity’s sake, most universal translators simply took it to be the Klingon word for love, and left it there. But from what Klath had seen about the concept of love in other cultures, he considered that particular mistranslation to be a gross slander against the Klingon people.

A few months ago, in order to quell the boredom during a particularly quiet long-haul delivery, he had resorted to reading through a few chapters of one of Sunek’s collection of trashy romance novels that cluttered up a not insignificant portion of the Bounty’s onboard database.

And while he had admittedly been intrigued by some of the basic practicalities of the story, which had concerned a love triangle between a human, a Deltan and a type of touch-telepathic sentient moss that the other two characters had found growing on the wall of their holiday home on Betazed, he found little to dissuade his opinion that love was a somewhat spurious, fleeting and mostly trifling concept. Something that other humanoids - and, apparently, certain mosses - seemed capable of falling into and out of at a moment’s notice throughout their lives.

And so, he was certain that par’Mach most certainly wasn’t love. It went far, far beyond that.

It was a feeling that, when one was consumed by it, seemed to affect every atom of your body. A scaldingly intense combination of passion, devotion, admiration and lust which one particularly florid ancient Klingon poet had claimed ‘burned in the depths of the cauldron of the soul’.

Klath would be the first to admit that he didn’t have anything like that sort of way with words. But based on how he was feeling, he was also certain that the gist of the metaphor was accurate.

Throughout his life, Klath had felt the blood lust of the battlefield and the searing rage of combat. He had led warriors to war, commanded a crew through countless firefights, and felt the combined pain of dozens of weapons tearing into his flesh.

But he had never felt anything like the tumult that currently consumed him. It felt like his soul was roasting above the flames of Gre’thor itself, and not even the strength of a thousand rampaging sarks could pull him away from it.

He was in par’Mach. Big time.

“You look troubled.”

He turned from the window as she emerged from the small sleeping area of the lodgings that she had found at the port, adjusting her tunic top as she finished dressing.

Klath was usually, as the rest of the Bounty’s crew would readily attest, a rather stoic and grumpy individual. But as soon as he saw her face, his own features contorted into a scowling smile.

K’Veth, daughter of B’Eleya, approached him and matched his expression.

They had first met on Mentok colony, where the Bounty had answered a call to help deal with a tribble infestation. There, he had become an unwitting pawn in a scheme by K’Veth’s father to discredit a member of the High Council using a plague of said tribbles. A scheme that K’Veth herself had been an unwilling participant in.

But Klath had discovered the truth in the nick of time. And then, with the help of K’Veth and the blessing of Toran, the council member in question, they had personally dealt with the infestation by slaying every last tribble on the premises. A shared experience that had served to further kindle their growing passion for each other.

Ever since they had first consummated their desires onboard the Bounty on their way to Kervala Prime, they had barely been apart. They had spent most of the journey in Klath’s cabin, and had now transferred their passions to the modest accommodation K’Veth had found at the port.

And with every minute they spent together, the yearning feelings of par’Mach continued to spread and consume him, like an army marching through enemy territory. And he was sure that she was going through the same internal battle.

She joined him at the window and idly ran a finger across a deep scratch on his left cheek, left behind by one of her sturdy nails, a remnant of one of the more violent passages of their most recent attempt to sate their desires for each other.

“You should find a dermal regenerator,” she offered, “Otherwise this will become permanent.”

“Perhaps that is what I want,” he countered, “For it to remain there forever, as a mark of our shared passion.”

K’Veth studied his deadly serious expression with a trace of amusement.

“On top of everything else, it seems you have a way with words, Klath, son of Morad. I did not realise that about you.”

“I did not realise that about myself,” he conceded, “It may be something that being with you has…brought out of me.”

Suddenly feeling a little self-conscious, and silently cursing his par’Mach for making him speak so openly and frankly with this particular Klingon, he elected to change the subject.

“What are your plans now? My ship will not remain here forever.”

K’Veth stepped away from him and considered the question, taking in the modest confines of her current accommodation with a hint of sadness. It was a question she had spent plenty of time considering over the past few days, when she hadn’t been otherwise occupied with Klath. And it wasn’t one she had found much of an answer for.

“I do not know,” she admitted, “Not exactly. I know that I cannot return to my father now. So I will remain here while I can, and look for passage elsewhere. I hope to find a…suitable colony elsewhere to live out my exile.”

“We can provide you with transport. If you wish.”

“You and your crew have already done enough for me. At some point, I must find my own path.”

Klath paused for a moment, doing his best to keep a lid on the fire that was burning with fresh intensity inside his soul as he looked at her. And he also considered his own exile, and the miserable time he had endured trying to find his place in the universe, and how empty his life had felt. How he had drifted without direction, from one colony to the next. And from one fight to the next. A dishonoured exile to his people, and an unwanted outsider to everyone else.

Until he had found the Bounty.

“If that is what you wish,” he replied eventually, “But…perhaps you have already found your path.”

“I do not require your pity, Klath,” she replied curtly, sizing him up with a sudden edge of distrust, “I know that I am dishonoured, so do not waste your time with empty words.”

Klath shook his head firmly and stepped back towards her. He didn’t know if he was being driven by the par’Mach itself, but he had become increasingly certain during his contemplative staring out of the window what the right path was.

“I am not offering pity.”

“Then what?”

He stiffened slightly. And at the critical moment, his earlier way with words seemed to let him down, and he reverted to a less passionate angle.

“Given what has happened, it would be for the best if we were…joined.”

K’Veth’s expression cycled through several expressions. She covered shock, incredulity and amusement in double quick time, before settling on simmering defiance. None of which were really what Klath had been hoping for.

“You want to take me as your wife?” she scoffed.

“That is my wish,” Klath affirmed, despite her tone, “But the decision is yours.”

She stared back at him and shook her head.

“So, what? You would have us find a Celebrant at this port? Light the candles, recite the vows? And, before all that, you and your crewmates would perform all six trials of the Kal'Hyah ritual, I assume? Yes, son of Morad, I have been taught all about this part of our culture. Even in exile.”

Klath picked up on the mocking edge to her words, but he remained deadly serious, powered by the fire inside him.

“I am willing to…forgo some of the ceremonies,” he conceded, “But it is the right thing to do. As I have tried to tell you ever since we first met, it is important that Klingons maintain their ways and traditions. Even two Klingons like us.”

“I think our mating has blinded you, son of Morad.”

Klath shook his head, more aggressively this time. He felt his mood beginning to sour.

“My eyes are open.”

She stared back at him, searching for a trace of a sign on his face that he was anything other than serious. But she saw nothing. She glanced at the wound on his cheek and realised that she was going to have to hurt him even more this time.

“In which case,” she sighed, with a hint of reluctance, “As per our people’s…proud traditions, I decline your request.”

Klath’s chest imploded. He felt a sudden, uncontrollable urge to collapse to the ground under the weight of the loss he felt. When experiencing par’Mach, the times of loss hit home just as hard as the times of joy.

But whatever he was feeling inside, he was still a proud Klingon. So he internalised all of that, and digested all of his swirling, conflicted feelings down into a simple nod, accompanied by a slightly displeased grunt.

“That is your right.”

With that, he turned on his heels and made for the door without another word.

“You do not need to--”

She didn’t get any further before he walked silently out of the door, and kept on walking. With each step he felt the aching sensation of his par’Mach-infused heart inside his chest. Which now felt more like a disease infecting his every fibre rather than a proud army marching onwards.

And K’Veth could do nothing but watch the door slowly close behind him.
Part One (Cont'd)

“It’s not a date.”

For the fifth or sixth time since Denella had returned to the Bounty, she found herself saying those exact words, as well as wishing that she hadn’t said anything to her colleague about her plans for the evening.

As she stalked around her cabin, cleaning herself up after a long day of repairs on both the Bounty and the Kendra, the object of her frustrations sat at the small desk in the corner of the room, looking back at her excitedly.

“Sure, right,” Natasha Kinsen, the ex-Starfleet human doctor of the Bounty, nodded knowingly, “It’s not a date. You’re just meeting up with this Bajoran. Tonight. For dinner. Just the two of you. At a fancy restaurant.”

Denella stopped and stared at her, sighing with frustration.

“I don’t think it’s all that fancy--Ok, it’s just that we need to discuss tomorrow’s repair schedule, and we’re both hungry. So Erami suggested we grab something to eat. That’s all.”

“Uh huh,” Natasha nodded again, her knowing look ratcheting up another notch, “Except…if you just wanted a bite to eat, we’ve got a perfectly good replicator right here?”

Denella went to counter this latest point from the increasingly irritating woman sitting at her desk, but couldn’t quite find a salient retort. In the end, she fell back on an old favourite.

“It’s not a date.”

For the sixth or seventh time, that did little to convince Natasha, who stood up and paced across the room towards Denella’s closet.

“Well, agree to disagree,” she shrugged, “Either way, you still need to get ready for tonight. And I know it’s kinda super lame from an enlightened 24th century perspective, but I always used to love a bit of pre-date girly time.”

Denella couldn’t have offered a more nonplussed expression if she had tried.

“‘Girly time’?”

“Yeah,” Natasha nodded, as she reached the closet, “Back at the Academy, me and my friends used to have this whole pre-gaming ritual we’d go through whenever one of us had a hot date--”

“It’s not a date.”

“--We’d all meet up a couple of hours beforehand, then we’d replicate a few cocktails, paint her nails, do her hair, and help her pick out her best--”

She stopped herself as she swung open the closet door.


Staring back at her from inside the modest confines of the closet were a dozen or so identical sets of oversized engineering overalls, each one a slightly different hue or colour.

Entirely unabashed by her limited wardrobe, Denella called out as she grabbed a towel and made for the washbasin in her bathroom.

“Dark blue ones’ll do if you wanna grab them for me. Got them on rotation.”

Natasha gently closed the doors and suppressed a frustrated sigh before turning back around to the Orion, refusing to let her pursuit of the memory of her heady, youthful days at the Academy be thwarted. In the bathroom, she heard water running into the sink.

“Ok, new plan,” she persisted, “I was out shopping on the promenade earlier, and I grabbed a replicator pattern for this really cute dress. So how about we load that up and see if we can--”

“Make me look pretty?” Denella called back, stepping back out of the bathroom and towelling her face off.

Natasha felt the floor immediately give way underneath her feet, as everything about Denella’s actions, and her choice of wardrobe, made immediate sense to her. All of her awkwardness and uncertainty about what was happening wasn’t just the sort of giddy naivety of someone getting ready for a first date with an Academy classmate, or a grumpy reaction from a workaholic engineer too tied up in her repair schedule to be able to unwind. It was something far less innocent than all that.

She looked back at the woman on the other side of the cabin, with her tousled hair pulled back behind her head and her dark grey baggy overalls on, and realised the horrible faux pas that she had made.

“Oh god,” she managed to gulp out as she squirmed under the sudden rush of guilt that enveloped her, “Denella, I--”

“Yeah, I spent a hell of a lot of my life dressing up for other people. And I didn't like it all that much. So, these days, I like to dress for myself. And I don't do dates. Sorry if that ruins…girly time.”

Natasha internally cringed at the sudden childishness of that phrase, grasping for an appropriate response as she now realised quite how big a hole she’d been obliviously digging for herself over the last few minutes.

She had never asked for any details about Denella’s past life in the Orion Syndicate, after she had been taken from the Orion Free Traders colony on Orpheus IV when barely an adult. And, understandably given what she had heard about life inside the Syndicate, Denella had never been forthcoming with any details either.

But she and the rest of the crew had run afoul of her former owner some months back, a cruel and ruthless Orion slaver called Rilen Dar. And while Denella had managed to rescue them before things had gotten too bad, and save her childhood friend in the process, even that glimpse had been enough for Natasha to realise the horrible mistake she had made.

“I am so, so, sorry,” she managed, “I really, honestly, didn’t mean to--”

“I know you didn’t,” the Orion replied with a hint of sadness, “It’s fine.”

“It’s not fine. It’s--I’m an idiot. Ok? I guess it’s just been so long since I’ve had a nice…dinner with someone, that I started trying to live vicariously through you. Because--”

“You’re an idiot?”

She looked over at the now-smiling face of the Orion engineer, and accepted the charges with a humble nod.

“Ok,” she added with a hint of optimism, “Tell me to go throw myself into the warp core if you want, but…how about a do-over?”

“A do-over?”

Natasha nodded, then walked back over to the closet.

“Yeah, let’s start this whole thing all over again. So: It’s not a date, we’ll skip over the whole hair and nails thing, and…”

She reached into the closet and extracted a specific pair of overalls, before turning back and handing them over.

“...the dark blue ones’ll be perfect.”

Denella nodded thankfully and accepted the overalls. Then, she decided to offer an olive branch in return.

“Tell you what, I’ll take one of those cocktails, if you’re making them.”

Natasha smiled wider and nodded excitedly, before rushing off in the direction of the replicator in the Bounty’s dining area. As she exited Denella’s cabin, she paused for a second, wondering what the racket was that was coming from Klath’s own cabin. But she elected not to worry too much about that. Truth be told, she didn’t much care what the boys were up to right now.

Because girly time was back on.


Jirel Vincent, the unjoined Trill captain of the Bounty, considered himself a fairly tolerant man.

It was one of the traits you needed in abundance when you had a job like his, endlessly travelling around the cosmos looking for deliveries and odd jobs to drum up some latinum. Not to mention when dealing with the sort of unsavoury individuals that were willing to offer him those jobs.

But even Jirel’s tolerance had a limit. And as the speakers in Klath’s cabin began to thunder out the main aria of Act II of Kretath and Fa’vora, he realised that he’d reached that limit.

The Trill stomped over to the computer terminal on the cabin’s desk and silenced the playback, earning himself an angry glare from the Klingon, where he sat on his bare metal slab of a bed, and a look of relief from Sunek, the Bounty’s wiry and emotional Vulcan pilot.

“I was listening to that,” Klath pointed out with a growl.

“Yeah, you know who else was?” Sunek chimed in, rubbing his pointed ears with irritation, “My parents. Back on Vulcan. Eleventy bajillion light years away.”

Klath shot the Vulcan an even darker scowl, before he leaned back on the wall behind his bed and took another long slug from the bottle of bloodwine he was working his way through.

He hadn’t offered his two guests any. Mainly because he hadn’t asked them to come here. They had shown up entirely unannounced, as far as he was concerned. Firstly to complain about the volume of his music, even after he had tried to get them to see how important sound levels were to truly appreciate Klingon opera. And then, in that irritating way that the rest of the crew tended to do when he wanted to be alone, they had stuck around in the misguided belief that he needed help.

Even though, as he had repeatedly made clear to them, he was fine.

“Ok,” Jirel sighed, glad of the respite from another wave of Klingon mezzo-soprano, “Just…help me to understand all this, buddy. So, the nice Klingon lady you’ve been seeing for, what, five days? You proposed to her?”

Klath growled with irritation. He felt as though he had spent far too much of his time recently trying to explain the intricacies of Klingon culture.

“I did not…propose,” he countered, “I merely suggested to K’Veth that, given the manner in which our circumstances had progressed together, it would only be appropriate for us to be joined. As is the tradition of our people.”

Jirel considered this response and shrugged.

“Ok, so you kinda proposed…Klath-style. Light on the romance, heavy on the practicality.”

“Some girls like that,” Sunek offered from the other side of the cabin.

“So, what?” Jirel persisted, ignoring the Vulcan, “You’re gonna get married, and stay here on Kervala Prime? Get a job at the port? Have yourself some little baby Klaths? Or are you planning on knocking through to the spare cabin and making this your marital home?”

Klath didn’t reply immediately. Because he didn’t really have any answers. Despite Jirel’s earlier jibe about his practical nature, par’Mach had meant that he had rushed headlong into this particular plan without thinking anywhere near that far ahead.

“Well, great,” Jirel continued, correctly taking Klath’s silence for what it implied, “Sounds like you’ve really got this all figured out.”

“Also,” Sunek added, gesturing to the still-present wound on his cheek, “What the hell happened to your face?”

“That is none of your concern,” Klath responded quickly.

“Huh,” Sunek nodded, immediately putting two and two together, “You Klingons don’t even do hickeys by halves, do you?”

Klath growled quietly to himself, resisting the sudden urge he had to leap across the cabin, grab Sunek where he was slouching against the wall and tear his head clean off his shoulders.

He put that urge down to the par’Mach as well.

“Whatever I said to her is irrelevant,” he said to Jirel, eager to end the discussion that he had not asked to happen, “She declined my offer. The matter is settled.”

“And you’re fine with that?” Jirel asked with a pointed look.


The Trill sighed and gestured to the clearly sulking Klingon where he sat, holding what was clearly the latest of several bottles of bloodwine he had worked his way through so far this evening.

“Ok. Right. You’re fine with it. Even though, after she turned you down, you came back here, locked yourself in your cabin, drank three bottles of bloodwine and started playing Klingon opera loud enough to wake someone from cryosleep?”

Klath remained defiant, sitting up a little straighter on his bare metal bed.

“Yes,” he repeated, “I am fine.”

Jirel whirled away in exasperation at his friend’s continued stubbornness, and despite his better judgement, gestured over to Sunek.

“I give up. I’m tagging you in.”

The tousle-haired Vulcan in the unnecessarily loud Hawaiian shirt shrugged and stepped closer to where the Klingon lay, entirely unaware of the ongoing potential threat to his current head/shoulder arrangement.

“Ok, Klath, brace yourself, cos what I’m about to say might shock you. I have also, on occasion, been dumped.”

Sunek paused to allow that bombshell of a statement to sink in, and was a little bit hurt when neither of his colleagues expressed any visible signs of surprise. Still, he kept his focus on trying to help the morose Klingon in front of him.

“So, yeah, I know how much it can hurt. And believe me when I say that I am here for you. Whatever you wanna do to get over this. You wanna get blackout drunk? I am buying the first round. You wanna pick up a friendly local on the rebound? I will be the best goddamn wingman you’ve ever seen. You wanna eat your bodyweight in frozen dessert? Just point me to that replicator and hand me a spoon! So, come on, pal. Name it. What do you want to do, right now?”

To the surprise of both Sunek and Jirel, Klath suddenly looked thoughtful, as he considered the Vulcan’s offer and tried to accurately translate the writhing tumult of par-Mach-based feelings inside him into a concrete list of real-world needs.

“I want to…hunt a wild meK’lar beast, with my bare hands. And then feast on its flesh. Then, I want to recreate the ancient, four-day battle between Karg the Unyielding and Korath the Merciless. With live painstiks.”

The Vulcan responsible for the genesis of this plan suddenly looked a lot less sure of himself, as he heard what he seemed to have let himself in for.

“Ok,” he managed eventually, “Or, counterproposal: This spaceport has holosuites. We could go see if they’ve got any nude-y lady programmes--?”

“Right, I’m tagging you back out,” Jirel jumped in quickly, “Klath, come on, I know you’re just saying all that to try and get us to leave you alone. But can you please just…talk to us? What do you really want?”

Klath knew what he really wanted. Or more specifically, who he wanted. Who every atom of his being was currently yearning for. But he knew he would never be able to explain that to the Trill and the Vulcan. All they knew was love. They knew nothing of par’Mach.

So, instead, he took a long swig from his bloodwine, and gestured at the door of his cabin.

“I want to be left alone.”

Jirel looked over from Klath to Sunek, the Vulcan shrugging in acceptance that they weren’t going to get anything more out of their colleague.

“Ok,” the Trill sighed, “If that’s really what you--”

“That is what I want.”

Jirel cast one more concerned look at his troubled friend, before he and Sunek walked back out of the cabin.

“What the hell is a meK’lar beast?“ Sunek asked, as the door closed behind them.

Seconds later, the unmistakable sound of the main aria of Act II of Kretath and Fa’vora being played at full volume thundered out from behind the door.
Part One (Cont'd)

This is a date, Denella thought to herself.

At the very least, that certainly seemed to be what her dining partner thought it was. And it had become impossible for the Orion to even deny it to herself. Whatever it was they were doing tonight, they weren’t just grabbing a quick bite to eat and discussing tomorrow’s repair schedule.

They sat at a table for two next to one of the large panoramic windows that covered the walls of the fanciest restaurant Denella had ever been in. Small padds in front of them displayed an extensive list of fittingly expensive cuisine.

Around the rest of the restaurant, the tables were filled with impeccably dressed patrons enjoying their own meals. Next to the sea of tailored suits and elegant dresses, she found herself feeling thoroughly out of place in her shabby dark blue overalls. Even if it had been their turn on rotation.

Opposite her, Juna Erami was having a lot less trouble fitting in. Denella had arrived at the restaurant the Bajoran had chosen for them to find that she was already seated, and had found the time to slip into a long, flowing black dress, complete with a polished silver necklace and a subtle perfume that hung in the air around the table.

Even though this didn’t seem like the short of place the pilot of the shuttle Kendra would often frequent, Erami had somehow made herself look as though she had been born to dine here.

Since Denella had escaped from the Syndicate, she was used to brushing off any overtly romantic overtures towards her. They were such a tiresome occurrence as soon as anyone saw the green skin that she had developed the confidence to deal with them. But in this situation, something was different. And she couldn't put her finger on what. It seemed like everything, from the chic surroundings, to Erami’s look, to her own attire, was making her feel incredibly awkward and unsure of herself.

Not to mention the fact that this was clearly, definitely, a date.

“Um,” she managed, as she looked around at the other diners, “I was kinda expecting to go somewhere more…casual.”

As usual, she felt as though she was attracting a lot of stares from around the room. Though this time, most of them felt entirely disdainful.

In contrast, Erami seemed completely at ease with her dining companion’s choice of attire.

“Hey, don’t worry,” she smiled, leaning forwards and subtly gesturing around the restaurant, “You know how many women in this place are jealous about how comfortable you look right now?”

Denella noted a Denobulan woman in a satin evening dress giving her an especially sour look from a nearby table, and knew that regardless of how comfortable her clothing might look, she couldn’t have felt more uncomfortable if she had tried.

“But, I mean,” she muttered, gesturing back at Erami’s getup for the evening, “You look…”

“Psh, this old thing--? No, you know what? Not gonna bother with the false modesty bit. Took me two hours to get ready. I look amazing.”

She smiled back warmly, but the Orion didn’t relax one iota. A brief, awkward silence descended before Erami patiently continued.

“So…like I said when I suggested we meet up tonight, I thought this might give us a chance to, y’know, talk?”

Denella relaxed slightly at this, seeing a chance to return to familiar territory.

“Right,” she nodded, “That’s actually a really good idea. Cos I was thinking that, tomorrow morning, instead of starting with the Bounty, first we should finish reassembling your warp coil and make sure we get the alignment of the--”

“Woah, woah,” Erami jumped in, stifling a laugh, “We can talk shop tomorrow. Was kinda hoping for a bit less of an engineering debrief and a bit more, y’know, friendly conversation?”

Denella stifled the latest of what felt like a never-ending spree of grimaces and managed a nod of understanding.

“Yeah, I know. It’s just--I’m not…great. With new people. Like this.”

The Bajoran nodded sympathetically and took a sip from one of the glasses of water on the otherwise empty table.

“Ok,” she smiled, “How about I go first, then. What do you wanna know?”

Denella even struggled for a response to that, so Erami continued for her.

“So, I was born on Bajor. Rakantha Province. Grew up in a labour camp with my family. After the liberation, I got the hell out of there. Worked on a Bajoran freighter for a while making shuttle runs to Tellar Prime. Then, eventually saved up enough to get my own ship and set out on my own.”

“The Kendra?” Denella asked, putting her discomfort aside for long enough to ask the question, feeling a little more relaxed now Erami was leading the conversation.

She noted the slightest of flinches on the Bajoran’s face before she replied.

“Let’s just say I’ve been through a fair few ships since then,” she offered, before breezily changing the subject again, “Let’s see, what else. I’m a big fan of old Bajoran folk music, which is totally dorky but you don’t ever get to say that to my face. My favourite food is Kava root stew, but only the way my mother used to make it. And I once flew a sublight raider into a white dwarf star’s atmosphere for a bet and spent six weeks in a medical unit getting treated for radiation burns. Son of a katterpod farmer that made the bet with me didn’t even pay up.”

She took a breath and another sip of water at the end of her flowing monologue, and gestured back across the table with another warm smile.

“See? How easy was that? Right, your turn.”

Denella breathed out slowly and nervously looked around again. She seemed to be getting less stares now, though she was wondering why the waiting staff seemed to be ignoring them. After a moment, she turned her attention back to Erami’s expectant face.

It’s just a nice meal, in a nice restaurant, with a nice person, she told herself.

“I grew up on Orpheus IV,” she began, her throat suddenly feeling as dry as sandpaper, “An Orion colony. Free Traders.”

“You don’t say?” Erami murmured, seemingly entranced with this most basic of facts, “You know, there’s a trader with a stall right here on Kervala Prime that gets a shipment from the Orpheus system once a month. But I’ve never been. Nice place?”

Denella felt her insides constrict slightly. She looked down at the table, sadly.

“It was,” she replied quietly, “Before…”

She tailed off immediately and reached for her own glass of water, taking a long gulp that seemed to do nothing to help her dry throat. Erami winced in understanding.

“Sorry, that’s probably a bad place for us to start, hmm?”

“No, no,” Denella lied quickly, “It’s just--I don’t usually talk about that part of my life. With anyone, really. I don’t know why I…”

“I get it,” Erami nodded sadly, “You probably noticed that I kinda glossed over the ‘labour camp’ part of my bio. But we can talk about anything else, honestly. Whatever makes you comfortable.”

Denella took another glug of water, then shrugged.

“You wanna hear about how I recalibrated the Bounty’s impulse drive last month to improve her reaction control times in orbital flight?”

“Kinda walked into that one, didn’t I?” Erami smiled back with a slight shake of her head.

“I’m sorry,” Denella sighed, glancing at a passing waiter who once again completely ignored their empty table, “I’m not usually like this. Or…maybe I am, I dunno. I don't usually do this kind of--I’m just--I’m better around people I know. You know?”

“Fair enough,” Erami nodded, “So, how does someone become one of those people?”

She offered another disarming smile, but Denella felt her discomfort levels rising again. Whether the Bajoran had meant it or not, there was something behind her smile. An obvious edge of attraction that she’d seen in smiles sent her way too many times over the years.

Another waiter sauntered past the table, carrying a steaming plate of fragrant stew to another group of patrons.

“Maybe I just need to order something,” she managed, “I’m starving.”

Erami’s face dropped.

“Oh,” she said awkwardly, “You haven’t ordered yet?”

“How could I?” Denella asked, looking around in confusion, “The staff are all walking past. Nobody’s come over to take our--”

She turned back around to see a slender member of the waiting staff in an impeccably replicated white shirt placing three small plates of aromatic food in front of Erami, before immediately turning and walking off again.

“Crap,” the Bajoran sighed, “I thought you knew. It’s a Lumerian restaurant. All the staff are low level empaths.”

“Wh--?” Denella gasped, glancing worriedly at a passing waiter, “They’re all reading our--?”

“Really not as weird as it sounds. Everything on the menu is designed to elicit a very subtle and specific emotional reaction, which the staff are trained to filter out specifically. To order, you just look through the menu, and concentrate on the dishes you want.”

She paused thoughtfully for a moment, then shrugged.

“Ok, It’s kinda exactly as weird as it sounds. But, y’know, these fancy places need a gimmick to stand out these days. You know there’s a Tellarite restaurant on Kovar IV where you’re encouraged to burst into the kitchen and verbally abuse the chef in lieu of a tip?”

Flustered, Denella looked down at the menu and tried to make sense of the dizzying array of options listed on the padd.

“B--But, all I’m feeling now is embarrassed! What happens then? They bring me a plate of leftovers and tip it over my head?”

Erami stifled a giggle, just as the same waiter brought over three more small plates and set them down in front of her.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “I ordered way too much anyway. We can just share.”

But her soothing words didn’t seem to have an impact on the flustered woman in the scruffy overalls on the other side of the table, who on top of everything else was now convinced that the Denobulan woman in the satin dress was staring at her again.

“I just--I don’t know what any of this is! Crap, is this the dessert menu?”

As she continued to fret, Erami reached out her hand and placed it gently on top of Denella’s own hand that was resting on the table. It was meant as a calming measure, but as soon as their hands made contact, the Orion woman pulled her hand away so fast, it was as if she’d just touched a live plasma circuit. In an instant, she realised that she didn’t want to be here any more.

Erami realised her mistake immediately, but it was too late.

“Ah,” she managed, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to--”

“No, it’s fine,” Denella said as she dropped the padd, “It’s not your--I just--I think I need to go.”

She stood up so quickly that she ended up knocking the glasses of water over, soaking the pristine tablecloth in the process and earning herself a fresh round of stares from the other patrons.

“Denella--” Erami began.

But before she could get any further, Denella had taken off for the exit.

Erami sighed in frustration and looked down at the selection of untouched food in front of her, idly wondering exactly what the protocol was to extricate herself from an empathic restaurant.

In the end she decided: To hell with protocol.

“Hey!” she called out to the nearest waiter, “Can I get this to go?”

A short distance away, the Denobulan woman in the satin dress found a new target to stare at.
Part One (Cont'd)

“She was definitely checking me out.”

“She was definitely not doing that.”

The debate hadn’t really progressed beyond each side’s opening remarks in the ten minutes they had been at the table, but it was at least killing some time.

Jirel did his best to ignore the continued bickering as he idly toyed with his glass of Andorian brandy and checked the time again. His attention was still focused on Klath, and specifically with the person they were here to meet, who appeared to be running late.

The bar itself was a particularly cheesy theme bar located on the main promenade of Kervala Prime’s spaceport. The sort of establishment that drew you in despite the best efforts of your dignity with the promise of copious cheap drinks and a raucous atmosphere.

It was called the Treaty of Organia, a reference that only Natasha got. And the theme, from what any of them could gather, was mid-23rd century Starfleet. The walls of the two-storey establishment were decorated by facsimiles of information panels and control circuits, covered in dozens of individual blinking lights and buttons, and the waitresses that meandered through the seated areas of the bar were all dressed in crudely-rendered blue, red or yellow mini dresses, noting down orders with stylus pens on enormous electronic clipboards.

If you wanted to browse the drinks menu, each table had a curious viewing device as a centrepiece, which appeared to have been fashioned out of an old-school tricorder, designed to present information on the tiny viewing screen, and also to call a waitress over.

All in all, it was a gaudy and kitsch sort of a place. But it was also cheap and easy to find. And, as Jirel’s drinking companions were demonstrating, a decent place for a robust debate.

“I’m telling you,” Sunek insisted, “That Caitian at the bar was checking me out.”

“And I’m telling you,” Natasha countered, “She definitely wasn’t.”

“Was too--”

“Guys,” Jirel sighed, “Can we please try to focus a little bit? I can’t believe you’re not more worried about Klath.”

Natasha conceded for the moment with a nod, but Sunek seemed less keen on going along with the real reason Jirel had brought them all here.

“Why would we be worried about him? It’s just Klath. You know how he is.”

“Actually, I’m not sure I do,” the Trill sighed, “You saw him in his cabin. He’s like a lovelorn teenager. I can’t believe how hard this is hitting him.”

“Maybe I should have a word with him,” Natasha mused as she sipped her own cocktail, “After all, as someone who has actually been married, I’m always willing to let other people know just how much of a terrible mistake it is.”

Jirel ignored the residual pang of jealousy that still annoyingly fired off inside him at the mention of Cameron Kinsen, her ex-husband, who at this point was many thousands of light years away on a survey mission in the Gamma Quadrant.

“Might call that Plan B,” he offered back with a shrug, before gesturing to Sunek, “Take it you’ve not got any pearls of marriage wisdom to give him either?”

Now it was the Vulcan’s turn to internalise a pang of something. His own marriage had been one of convenience, many years ago, to a fellow V’tosh ka’tur member called T’Len. After the ceremony, he hadn’t seen her until a few months ago, when she had dragged him into a dark revenge plot by several former members of the Vulcans without Logic movement. An experience that had plagued his emotional state for some time.

Still, he was sure he was over all that now. She he suppressed the pain, and affixed a far more Sunek-ian grin to his face.

“Sure,” he shrugged, “Always make sure you consummate things first before you decide not to see each other for the best part of 30 years.”

Jirel met this with a withering glance, but before he could offer a retort, he spotted a familiar face walking through the crowd towards them.

K’Veth sat awkwardly down in the empty seat at their table and nodded at the three of them, before glancing around at the gaudy surroundings, and a passing waitress in a cheap red mini dress, with a thoroughly disgusted glower.

“Don’t worry,” Jirel offered with a friendly smile, “They stock bloodwine.”

“I will not be staying,” the Klingon woman grunted back to him, “But I received your message, and I still owe you and your crew for getting me here from Brexis II. So, I am here.”

With that, she folded her arms in front of her in a manner that rather underlined to Jirel that there wasn’t much point attempting any further pleasantries.

“Fair enough,” he nodded, “Truth is, I wanted to talk to you about--”

“Klath, yes,” she replied curtly, “We mated.”

Jirel was a little taken aback by her candour, to the point that he had to take a sip of brandy. An action which gave Sunek enough time to jump in.

“We know,” the Vulcan smirked, “The whole ship knows you mated. Thin walls on those cabins, you know? Hey, by the way, did you see if there was a Caitian standing at the bar when you came in? Kinda average height, short skirt, looked like she had a thing for ruggedly handsome Vulcans--?”

“Shut up, Sunek,” Natasha muttered on everyone’s behalf.

“I was more talking about the whole…proposal thing,” Jirel persisted to K’Veth.

“Ah, yes, I see,” the Klingon nodded back, “He suggested that we be joined. And I declined. What more is there for you to know?”

“Is that really all that happened?” he pressed, “Because he’s entirely messed up about all this, and I feel like I’m missing something. I just wanna help him.”

K’Veth paused for a moment, looking a little uncertain. While she had no issue candidly discussing her mating habits, she was more circumspect about other factors that were at play here.

“I…apologise if I caused him pain.”

“Nah,” Sunek chipped in, “I think he liked that part.”

“I fear,” K’Veth continued, having learned to ignore the Vulcan, “Klath may have allowed himself to see more in me than there really is. I am dishonoured. An exile.”

“Um,” Natasha offered, feeling she was stating the obvious, “So is Klath?”

K’Veth shook her head, suppressing the irritation she was starting to feel about having to talk about these matters with people she barely knew. The details of her family’s history, of her grandfather’s part in the Khitomer conspiracy, had all come out back on Brexis II. But still, she didn’t want to delve too personally into her own shame.

“It is not the same. Klath has dealt with his dishonour. And he continues to deal with it well. But I have not. Especially after my part in my father’s attempted treachery on Brexis II, on top of our house’s past crimes. I cannot inflict that on Klath. And, deep down, he knows this to be true.”

“But--” Jirel began. She cut him off immediately.

“He will recover, in time. He will find peace with his emotions. But I cannot drag him down with me. I cannot be his wife. And that is how it must be.”

With that, she stood from the table and walked back out of the Treaty of Organia, pushing her way past a waitress in a blue mini dress without so much as an apology. Jirel watched her leave with a sad sigh, feeling no nearer to being able to help his friend.

“So,” Natasha offered, after a moment of contemplative silence had consumed the table, “What are we gonna do now?”

Jirel didn’t really have an answer. Sunek, inevitably, did.

“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m gonna go see if that Caitian’s still around…”


“Hey, wait!”

Denella reluctantly paused in her hurried retreat just as she reached the outer landing pad where the Bounty was parked.

She turned to see Erami racing across the pad from the covered walkway that led all the way back to the main dome of the base. Even though night had fallen around the spaceport, great striplights all around the pad made it almost feel like high noon.

“Wow,” the Bajoran managed as she caught up and caught her breath, “You can really move when you want to, can’t you?”

Denella stifled a sigh. She felt a curious mix of shame and anger. Shame at herself for what she knew had been a completely over the top reaction back in the restaurant. But also anger at everything in her life that had led to this being so difficult for her.

“Ok, I’m sorry for leaving. But I--”

“Hey, say no more,” Erami countered quickly, “I get it. And it was my fault for going so over the top for a friendly night out. I mean, empathic waiters? What was I thinking?”

She laughed, and Denella found that she couldn’t help but join in. The Bajoran seemed to have that sort of effect on her.

Besides, it was also clear to her that whatever Erami might have been trying to cultivate between them, it was at least based on good intentions. Which was not something that she was used to dealing with.

“Yeah,” she managed in reply, “Although, given the sort of emotions I was giving off as I left, I feel like I should go back and apologise to them.”

“I wouldn’t,” Erami grinned, “I did a runner.”

Denella’s expression hardened for a moment, even as Erami’s features creased into another grin.


The Orion found that she wasn’t quite sure if she believed her.

Erami gestured for them to continue walking, as they headed over to where their respective ships were parked up on the landing pad.

“Anyway,” she continued, “That was all dumb of me. The whole evening. And I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. So…friends?”

She held out her hand for a handshake, and Denella accepted it. A far more well-telegraphed form of contact than the Bajoran’s unexpected hand across the table in the restaurant.

“Friends,” she nodded back, “But I really do need to go get some rest. Like I said, first thing tomorrow, we should--”

She stopped with a gasp of shock as she saw the state of the Kendra.

“Holy crap.”

Erami looked over to what she was referring to and immediately grimaced. The Kendra’s side door was wide open, and various items from inside had been left strewn around the landing pad next to the ship itself. It was immediately clear that the small shuttle had been thoroughly ransacked.

The two women approached the mess with some caution, but there were no sounds apparent from inside. Erami poked her head inside to make sure, as Denella surveyed the situation.

“Nobody there,” the Bajoran reported, turning back and shrugging, “It’s fine.”

“It’s fine?” Denella scoffed, “Erami, someone’s broken into your--”

“I said it’s fine,” she replied, a little too quickly, “Nothing’s taken. Must’ve just been bandits looking for latinum. Guess I forgot to lock her down.”

The Orion looked back at the Bajoran with mild incredulity, not believing a word that she was telling her. Erami, for her part, started to idly pick up the detritus strewn across the pad and toss it back through the open door of the Kendra.

“What the hell is going on?” Denella pressed.

Erami glanced back at her and forced her most convincing smile onto her face.

“Nothing,” she lied, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you in the morning.”

With that, she picked up the final few bits, climbed up the step next to the shuttle’s doorway and disappeared inside. The door closed behind her, leaving the Orion woman alone on the pad.

And despite Erami’s suggestion, she found that she was very worried indeed.

End of Part One
Really nice character development with Denial and Erami. I totally love both establishments - great sense of place. Particularly nice word painting of the Treaty of Organia. Thanks!! rbs
Part Two

Denella was still worried about Erami the following morning, even as she pored over her repair schedule for the day in the Bounty’s dining area as she finished breakfast.

She tried to keep her attention on the scuffed padd in front of her, detailing the remaining tasks to be completed on the Kendra’s warp coil, as well as the rest of the work she still had to do with the Bounty to fix the damage the tribble infestation had caused.

But she couldn’t help but worry about the Bajoran in the Ferengi shuttle on the other side of the landing pad, wondering exactly what was going on with her. Why someone had ransacked her ship, and why she had been so casually certain that nothing had been taken.

As her attention drifted away from the padd and the remains of her half-eaten breakfast once again, and she began to daydream her way through her other problems, the door opened and Jirel stepped into the room, shaking her back to the present.

“Hey,” the Trill nodded as he walked to the replicator and ordered himself a jumja tea, “You seen Klath around?”

“Should I have?”

Jirel walked over to the table and sipped his tea.

“Not especially,” he shrugged affably, “But I just checked, and he’s not in his cabin. And you know it’s not like him to get up this early. Especially given how much bloodwine he was putting away last night.”

Denella stood up and carried her leftovers to the replicator to dispose of them, finding herself still focused on her own issues, rather than Klath’s.

“I dunno. Maybe he’s gone over to the port. Buy his lady friend something nice?”

“They split up.”

This was enough for her to pause as she grabbed the padd from the table.

“Oh,” she offered, “Really?”

He nodded, as they walked over to the door together and stepped back out into the Bounty’s main corridor, heading for the rear cargo bay and the ramp down to the landing pad.

“Apparently, he asked her to become his wife. Because they’d been…y’know. And she declined, because she didn’t feel honourable enough to accept it. You know, Klingon crap.”

“Got it,” Denella nodded back as they entered the deserted cargo bay and she tapped the controls to lower the ramp.

“And ever since then, he’s been moping around, and I can’t get through to the guy. And now he’s vanished.”

Denella forced her own issues to the back of her mind for a moment in order to focus on what Jirel was saying, and paused at the top of the ramp as the metal structure made contact with the landing pad below with a gentle thud.

“Hey,” the Trill continued after a sip of tea, “You’re closer to the big idiot than I am.”

“You think so?”

“I know so. And I’m fine with it. Honestly. So, with all the weapons training and Klingon studies you’ve been getting up to with him, have you got any idea what I’m missing here?”

She considered the question for a moment, then nodded.



“No,” she smiled patiently as they started to descend the ramp, “It’s what Klingons have instead of love.”

Jirel paused halfway down the ramp and looked back at her with a hint of amusement.

“Klath talked to you about love? Why was I not invited to that conversation?”

“You think he talked to me about it? The galaxy’s most repressed man? No, it came up in something else I was reading. And, as you might expect with Klingons, it sounds pretty intense.”

“How intense?”

“The way it was described in what I read was that it was part love, part lust, part passion, part anger, part hunger, part yearning, part extreme violence. All wrapped up in a physical longing that can consume even the hardiest of warriors.”

“Huh,” Jirel mused, taking another sip of tea.

“There was a case study of a human anthropologist asking a Klingon colleague to explain how it made them feel, and she demonstrated by strangling all three heads of an Aldebaran serpent, then skinning it with the nails of her fingers. And, while the anthropologist suggested that his colleague might have been exaggerating for dramatic effect, the point is that if he’s experiencing par’Mach, this is gonna be hitting him a lot harder than one of your moments of pining.”

Jirel paused mid-sip and stared back at her.

“Um, what is that supposed to mean?”

Denella gave him a knowing look before she resumed her descent down the ramp. Jirel quickly followed her.

“You know what I mean,” she sighed, “The little looks you give our friendly local doctor every now and again. You’re not great at disguising it.”

“Psh,” Jirel retorted, a little too quickly, “Wh--? I mean--That’s stupid. You’re stupid. Do you have any idea how stupid you’re being right now--?”

“All really strong denials. Either way, if that is really how Klath feels for K’Veth, then it’s gonna take him a while to get over it. So, if you are gonna try and help, make sure you’re at least a little bit tactful, hmm?”

“Hey, I’m always tactful.”

Denella offered him a raised eyebrow as they reached the foot of the ramp, just in time to see Erami making her way over from the Kendra. Without even thinking about it, her face lit up into a broad smile as she saw the Bajoran. A reaction that she immediately told herself was due to the fact that she was simply glad to see that she was ok after last night’s issues, rather than anything else.

“Hey,” Erami smiled back, “Reporting for duty. All set for another day of hard graft. Ready to go?”

“Absolutely,” she nodded back, before gesturing to the Trill next to her, “Um, this is Jirel. Jirel, this is Juna Erami.”

Erami extended her hand and Jirel accepted the handshake.

“Nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you,” he replied with a cheeky grin, “So, tell me, what are your intentions towards my engineer?”

Erami suppressed a smirk at this impish comment, as Denella fixed the Trill with a significantly less happy look.

“Maybe work a bit harder on that tact.”


The promenade was just as busy as it had been the previous day.

But this time, even though she was still sensing a lot of stares being fired off at them, Denella found that she cared a lot less about all that. She definitely felt more comfortable. She was still some way from actually being comfortable, but still, she was sure that she was decidedly less uncomfortable than she had been. Which she was taking as progress.

They were on their way to the same salvage yard as yesterday, located some way past the promenade and in the less glamorous sections of the port. One final trip was needed for some additional spare parts for the Bounty’s ongoing repairs.

“You know,” Erami offered from her side, “We definitely have time to stop for a coffee today. We’re way ahead of schedule.”

That much was true. Back at the landing pad, the Kendra was now back up and running, which just left a few remaining tasks on the Bounty on her repair schedule. Still, Denella was entirely focused on the work, and so they kept walking. Leaving Erami to glance frustratedly at the queue for I'danian spiced lattes as they hurried past.

They eventually reached the far end of the gaudy main strip of shops and bars and entered the significantly less fancy and utilitarian confines of the port’s supply and repair area.

Here, near to the central core of the port’s structure, the corridors were more like that of an orbital station or starship, narrower and gunmetal grey. The walls showed signs of wear and tear, a revealing blemish that hinted at just how long Kervala Prime’s spaceport had sat here, servicing passing ships of all shapes and sizes.

This was where the salvage yards, the scrap heaps and the vast stores of spare parts and raw materials were stored. And where the two women were hoping to find the final parts for their repairs to the Bounty.

The conversation had been flowing between them all day so far, despite the awkwardness of the previous evening. But it had only really covered surface level topics. Their schedule for the day, Erami’s long list of favourite Bajoran folk artists, and other such frivolities.

But now, away from the hullabaloo of the promenade, Denella decided to shift the conversation onto slightly more serious matters.

“So,” she said, as Erami finished casually listing her top five uses for leftover hasperat, “Wanna talk about what happened last night?”

The Bajoran paused. She’d been expecting that question to come at some point, but she also knew that there wasn’t really an answer she could give that would keep her happy. At least, not one that involved the truth. So, instead, she did what she normally did whenever people started to ask her difficult questions, and she tried to style the whole thing out.

“About the bandits? Yeah, had a word with port security and they’re gonna check the sensor records, see what they can pull up--”

“Come on,” Denella sighed, stopping in the middle of the corridor that they were walking down and turning to her.

“I know, I told them the same thing. They really need to boost security on those outer landing pads if they want people to keep parking up out there.”

Denella shook her head and folded her arms in front of her, indicating that Erami was going to need to style things out a lot better than that.

“Just tell me what the hell’s going on. Are you in trouble? Whoever it was that trashed your ship last night was clearly looking for something. Something specific.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because when you looked inside the ship to see if anything had been taken, you barely took five seconds before you said nothing was missing. Which means that either you knew exactly what they were looking for, and it was still there. Or you knew it wasn’t even there in the first place.”

Erami couldn’t help but muster a sideways smile and a shake of her head, even as Denella maintained her entirely serious stance.

“You sure you’re an engineer, not a detective?” the Bajoran replied.

“What I am is someone waiting for an answer.”

“It’s really not that interesting.”

“It’s interesting enough for someone to break into your shuttle.”

Erami scrutinised the Orion’s unflinching face for a moment, then sighed and walked on down the corridor, with Denella falling into step alongside her.

“Tell you what,” the Bajoran offered as she walked, “With everything that happened last night, the stupid empathic restaurant, the bandits, everything else, how about we just…start again, hmm? Pretend all that never happened?”

“A do-over?” Denella snorted, echoing Natasha’s phrase from earlier.

“A what?”

“Whatever, fine, we can start again. And we can start with the truth.”

“I told you, it’s really not that--”

“And, just so you’re aware, you are being a huge hypocrite right now.”

Erami snorted at this, as they rounded another intersection in the corridor, her mood darkening as the debate continued in an orderly direction towards becoming a full-on argument.

“How am I being a hypocrite?”

“Because you spent last night - hell, all of yesterday - trying to get me to talk about myself, and my past. And now, the second I want to know something about you that isn’t your favourite type of stew, or some boring fact about folk music, you’re just gonna clam up?”

“Hey,” the Bajoran snapped, “Careful what you say about my music. And this is completely different, Denella!”

“How is it any different?”

Erami growled in frustration and set off down the corridor with a faster pace, trying in vain to somehow outpace the argument she was involved in.

“Look, let’s just go get these stupid parts, finish the repairs on your ship, and then I’ll be more than happy to get the hell out of your hair, ok? Cos I am telling you for the last time that this is none of your concern!”

“Ugh,” Denella sighed, rushing to keep up, “I didn’t mean--!”

Both women, and their argument, stopped dead just around the next corner of the corridor.

Ahead of them, from either side of a branching junction a few paces away, a Pakled emerged. Each wore a dirty brown uniform, and each held a stubby grey disruptor pistol. Both weapons were levelled straight at them.

“Put up your hands,” the Pakled on the left grunted.

With no immediate alternative course of action available, both women complied, raising their hands to the ceiling of the corridor.

“You owe us,” the Pakled on the right nodded, directing his comment at Erami.

Denella kept her hands diligently raised, but looked over at the Bajoran, with a singularly unimpressed glare.

“Kinda feels like this is becoming my concern.”
the stew of unresolved emotions from the various love-lorn and love-lost and walled-off members of Bounty's crew

The Bounty is becoming a perfect cautionary tale as to why 24th century society decided it was a good idea for ships to have onboard therapists. :lol: This has definitely turned out to be quite a soap opera-ish episode as it has evolved. Though hopefully with a bit more action towards the end. :D
Part Two (Cont'd)

The door opened after the third insistent ring of the buzzer. K’Veth stood in the doorway and stared out at Klath, with a look that suggested that she was not entirely happy to see him.

“You,” she grunted at him, underlining that suggestion.

For his part, Klath paused for a moment before responding. Because he still wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to say.

He had left the Bounty early in the morning, before any of the others had stirred, still nursing something of a mild to moderate bloodwine-induced hangover. And since then, he had spent his entire time indulging in a mild to moderate amount of meandering. And trying to figure out what he wanted to say.

He had meandered down the promenade, but found little there amongst the boisterous early morning crowds to inspire him, and certainly nothing to ease his headache.

He had meandered through the quieter streets of the settlement that surrounded the port complex itself, one of the larger urban areas on Kervala Prime. But even though he had walked down the endless narrow streets for long enough to have to reluctantly stop and ask for directions from a passing Kervalan resident, he hadn’t gotten any closer to finding the right words.

He had even meandered back to the spaceport’s bank of holosuites, and parted with a few slips of latinum in order to take a bracing meander within a meander, all the way to the peak of Kang’s Summit back on Qo’noS during the annual autumn storms, hoping that the thunder and the raging winds would provide the spark he needed.

But nothing had helped. He was feeling par’Mach stronger than ever, and yet he was still bereft of the right words. So, in the end, he had meandered all the way back here. Hoping inspiration might strike upon seeing her once again.

“Yes,” he said eventually, “Me.”

Inspiration was clearly still escaping him.

“I have not changed my mind,” she replied guardedly, still standing in the doorway and tacitly avoiding inviting him in, “I do not want to be joined with you.”

He ignored the stab of anguish her words caused inside him, like a d'k tahg blade to the stomach, and merely nodded back.

“I understand,” he managed, “I merely…wish to speak with you.”

It felt like an entirely reasonable request to him, even if he still didn’t know what he was actually going to say. K’Veth studied his face in silence for a moment.

“You have not removed the scar,” she pointed out, gesturing to the wound on his cheek.

“No, I have not.”

After another short burst of awkward silence, she stepped back slightly reluctantly and allowed him back into her limited lodgings. Klath strode in and took in the familiar surroundings, hoping that the recent memories of the two of them together in this place would bring the words to him and put an end to his entirely stilted comments so far.

“I have booked passage away from here,” she offered eventually, in the absence of any attempt at conversation from him, “There is a transport departing for the Brakka system tomorrow.”

Externally, Klath greeted this news with a curt nod. Internally, he felt the sharpened blade of a second d'k tahg joining the first.

“The Brakka system? Why?”

“I understand there is a colony there. With a small group of exiled Klingons amongst their number. I felt it would be somewhere for me to head. If I throw myself at their mercy, perhaps they will allow me to join them. Either way, I cannot stay caged up here.”

Klath mentally extracted the blades from his stomach and fronted up to her. He still didn’t know what he was going to say, but he now realised that he was running out of time to say it.

“K'Veth,” he started, “It is…not easy for me to discuss these matters. But I believe that I have not been clear with you. About my feelings--”

“You have been perfectly clear,” she said with a hint of a smile, “In your actions, if not in your words.”

She gestured again to his cheek to underline her point, before she continued.

“But there is nothing you can say to make me change my mind. I must set out on my own. And, perhaps in time, I can rediscover some honour. As you have in your life.”

A light went off in Klath’s head at this comment, as he got a clearer idea of why she was rejecting him so entirely. He recalled his own sense of humiliation when he had been exiled, and how hard it had been for him to restore a sense of pride.

“So,” he nodded in understanding, “That is what troubles you.”

“It is not all that troubles me,” she countered, “But it is what troubles me the most.”

Klath stepped towards her instinctively, recalling the way they had fought side-by-side against the infestation of tribbles on Brexis II. Back when he had first talked to her about the need for her to reclaim her own personal sense of honour.

“But,” he pointed out, “We have already fought for your honour, when we--”

“Pah,” she growled with a sudden burst of anger, “Do not insult me by trying to claim that slaughter was a true battle.”

“K’Veth, it was a glorious--”

“It was pest control!” she spat, “You can try to pretend otherwise, but everyone knows the truth. In all of my years as a Klingon, I have still never tasted a true battle.”

Through his par’Mach-addled brain, the penny fully dropped with Klath. He now realised the full extent of what she was craving.

After all, when he was sent into exile, he had still served a long and noble career in the Klingon Defence Force. He had commanded a ship in battle many times over, and slain many a warrior with his blade. And although all of that meant that his discommendation had hit all the more hard, at least he always had that sense of honour and history to fall back on. To keep him going.

In contrast, she had nothing. She had been born into exile, lived her entire life there. And now, thanks to her part in her father’s plot, she would surely die there as well.

“I see,” he nodded, taking another step towards her, “That is what you crave. You seek a real battle, one worthy of a Klingon.”

She didn’t answer him, but her silence spoke enough. Riding a wave of emotion, he took a final step up close to her and grabbed her arm with a burly hand, feeling the words now coming to him.

“Then we will go, together, out into the stars!” he barked out, “We will fight battle after battle, until the ground beneath our feet is drenched with the blood of our enemies, and you have found the true honour of a warrior, even in exile!”

He even impressed himself with the poetry of his words. But they didn’t seem to have the same effect on K’Veth, who wrenched her arm free of his grasp and spun away.

“You are a fool! And I have already told you: I do not want your pity!”

“This is not pity!”

“No,” she snarled, “This is just your latest plot to make me your wife. That is your only goal in all of this, is it not? To merely satisfy your own feelings.”

Klath went to deny her claim, but stopped himself. The words suddenly deserted him again. She jumped on that reaction immediately, swinging her arm at him with all of her might with a growl of anguish.

His own reactions kicked in the second she began to move. He shot out a hand and grabbed her arm before she made contact, snarling at her as he did so.

She snarled back. And all of a sudden, both of them felt a familiar sensation running through their veins as they stared at each other, both of them fiercely baring their teeth.

Without saying another word, she grabbed for his other arm, and sniffed at his wrist. Klath immediately reciprocated, as the mating ritual began in earnest.

And a few seconds later, par’Mach consumed them both entirely once more. Their altercations and arguments all forgotten for the moment.

And they were right back where they had started.
Part Two (Cont'd)

The two Pakleds led their hostages quickly into a side room off from the main corridor.

The floor space of the small storage area was mostly empty, with the perimeter of the room lined instead with rows and rows of shelves, all groaning under the weight of various crates and containers. Which meant that, while the room wasn’t exactly vast, there was enough room for the Pakleds to keep a safe distance away from the two women.

Both of their disruptors were still raised. And both Denella and Erami still had their hands raised above their heads as a result.

“So,” Denella offered, directing her words at Erami as much as at the Pakleds in front of her, “Now we’re all alone, does anyone wanna get me up to speed on what’s going on?”

Erami kept her mouth shut, but the Pakleds seemed more amenable to replying.

“She owes us for what she took,” the slightly taller of their assailants grunted, “And we have found her now.”

“We are smart,” the shorter one affirmed with a definitive tone.

The taller one nodded in agreement, and took a half step closer to Erami.

“Grumtrag knows that you come here. Kervala Prime base. You come here a lot, to make your ship go. And we waited for you.”

“It was all Grumtrag’s idea,” the other Pakled added, gesturing to his colleague with deference, “He is the smartest of all.”

“Great,” Erami replied with heavy sarcasm, “Maybe you’re not as dumb as you look. I’d congratulate you, but I’m afraid I’m fresh out of cookies.”

Both of the Pakleds looked her up and down, apparently considering whether or not to conduct a quick pat down to confirm or deny the report of her lack of cookies. In the end, they opted to maintain their distance.

“I take it that means these are the guys that trashed your shuttle,” Denella chimed in.

“Wow,” Erami sighed, sarcasm still in place, “I am just surrounded by geniuses right now, aren’t I?”

“She took our prize!” the Pakled that had identified himself as Grumtrag spat out, “We looked for it in her ship. It was not there.”

Denella shook her head, remaining calm in the face of the disruptors being pointed at her. This sort of thing was all part of a day’s work onboard the Bounty, after all.

“This is really just a big misunderstanding,” Erami insisted, despite the mounting evidence.

“Really?” the Orion snorted.

“What?” she persisted, “You’re telling me there’s nobody out there that you and your crew have a few misunderstandings with?”

Denella paused for a moment, silently conceding to herself with a slightly rueful grimace that the Bajoran had a point there.

“Ok,” she said eventually, changing tack, “What’s the issue here? What’s this prize all about? Latinum?”

Grumtrag shook his balding head at this, keeping his disruptor pointed at them even as he took another menacing half-step forwards.

“No latinum. But our prize is worth much of that.”

He narrowed his eyes as he focused on Erami. Denella noted that, with all of the half-steps he had been taking, the weapon in his hand was now within striking range.

“You owe us our prize,” he continued, “And if you no longer have it, then that will make Grumtrag very angry…”

As the Pakled’s face twisted into an approximation of a sneer, Denella managed to catch Erami’s eye for a split second.

She tried her best to convey her intentions with that single split-second look. It was the sort of thing that she would be confident of being able to do with Klath, or even Jirel. Someone that she knew she could trust, and who was on the same wavelength. A shared intuition they had honed by being caught up in far too many similar scrapes over the years.

But she didn’t have that intuition with Erami. And by this point, given what had happened to them, she certainly wasn’t sure she could trust her. Still, given their predicament, she was more prepared to trust her than she was the two armed Pakleds. So she put her faith in the power of her look. One that had conveyed a single word across the storage room.


Without waiting any longer, she sprung into action, whipping her hand out to grab Grumtrag’s hand that clasped his disruptor and wrenching it backwards with immediate force. The shock of the action caused the taller Pakled to cry out in pain and drop the weapon to the ground with a sharp clatter.

While Denella grappled with one of their captors, the silent message had mercifully been received by Erami. At almost the same time that the Orion had pounced, the Bajoran had braced herself and charged the shorter Pakled.

He had managed to get a reactive shot off from his disruptor, but in the sudden chaos the shot did little more than leave a smoking hole in a crate of self-sealing stem bolts on one of the shelves. Erami flew into her target’s midriff and sent them both crashing to the ground in a heap.

Denella remained on her feet, even as Grumtrag broke away from her grip and turned to face her. She adopted a defensive pose, but took the opportunity to grab her trusty Orion dagger from her belt, hefting it in her hand with purpose.

She didn’t really want to use deadly force against this particular adversary, given that she still wasn’t sure she was on the right side of the fight. But she did want to get out of here, and she was hoping that the presence of a bladed weapon might convince the now-unarmed Pakled to beat a hasty retreat.

In the periphery of her vision, she could see that Erami and the other Pakled were still frantically grappling on the ground, but she couldn’t worry about that for now. She kept her focus on her own opponent. The Pakled’s eyes widened as he saw the blade. But either through a surprising amount of bravery or a less surprising amount of stupidity, he didn’t back off, or run away. Instead, he made a break for the disruptor where he had dropped it onto the ground moments earlier.

Denella pounced, reaching Grumtrag before he was able to get a stubby hand on the weapon and taking down the off-balance Pakled with a sharp elbow to the ribs.

He fell back to the ground on his front, and the Orion deftly ended his brief attempt at resistance by spinning her dagger around and driving the handle of the weapon down onto the back of Grumtrag’s substantial skull, knocking him clean out with a satisfying thud.

Without pausing for breath, she jumped back to her feet and spun around, aware that there was another fight going on.

On the other side of the room, Erami and Grumtrag’s subordinate were back on their feet. The fearful Pakled charged towards her gamely, but like his superior, his technique in this sort of close combat left a lot to be desired.

Erami was able to evade his swinging arm and grab his other arm in an elegant pirouette, using the momentum of her spin to swing the hapless, lumbering Pakled around her centre of gravity until he impacted with some force into the shelves behind her.

The defeated Pakled collapsed to the ground with an ungainly thump, knocked unconscious. He was followed by a box of duranium screws, which toppled off the shelves and landed next to him, sending its contents skittering across the floor.

Erami turned back to the begrudgingly impressed Orion and smiled.

“Not just a pretty face, huh?” she shrugged, “Five years in the Bajoran Resistance teaches you a thing or two about handing yourself. Not to mention another few years as a solo shuttle pilot in spaceports like this.”

Denella nodded in understanding, as Erami wiped the sweat from her brow and paced over to one of the discarded disruptors, checking the power levels.

“I guess it’s time for us to make ourselves scarce,” the Orion added as she looked at the forms of the two unconscious Pakleds, “We can always send port security a tip-off about these two once we’re safely back at the landing pad.”

Erami nodded, then idly gestured over to the other disruptor where it lay discarded on the ground and gave her a warm smile.

“Wanna grab that, just in case?”

Denella holstered her dagger, then turned and stepped over to the other weapon.

She instantly realised her mistake.

Because, while she and Erami had made a good team when they were fighting the Pakleds, she still had some serious doubts about her. Especially given her continued evasion when it came to the reasons that the two armed Pakleds had been interested in her in the first place, and what exactly this ‘prize’ was that they were after. But, in a rare lapse of concentration, possibly brought on by the warm smile the Bajoran had given her, she had let her guard down and turned her back on her.

Her fears about how much of a mistake this was didn’t have long to fully coalesce, as a fraction of a second after they had first popped up in her mind, she felt the unmistakable sensation of the butt of a disruptor pistol impacting on the back of her skull.

She barely had time to silently chide herself for making such an elementary tactical blunder before she slumped down to the ground, joining the two Pakleds in a state of entirely involuntary unconsciousness.

Erami sighed as she looked down at the Orion’s unmoving form.

“Sorry about that,” she muttered with a slight grimace, “But I guess this is how it’s got to be.”

With another grimace, she stepped towards Denella’s prone form.
Part Two (Cont'd)

“Are you even listening to me?”

Jirel looked across the table at Sunek, who seemed to be otherwise distracted by something over at the bar area. After a second, the Trill’s glare finally got through to the Vulcan, who reluctantly switched his attention back to his drinking companion.

“Would it really hurt your feelings if I said no?”

Jirel sighed and shook his head, taking a sip of his drink.

If anything, the Treaty of Organia was even more busy tonight. They had just about managed to find a table, but the entire bar was swarming with a multitude of patrons, along with several tired waitresses in cheap mini-dresses being rushed off their high heels. Still, the drinks prices were as cheap as ever, so there had been very little time wasted by either of them with the idea that they should try somewhere else. Truth be told, Jirel had just wanted somewhere to sit and stew on his problems for a while.

Not that his distracted drinking buddy was helping him out with any of those.

“I was just saying,” he persisted, toying with his half-finished Andorian brandy, “What Denella said this morning…that’s not what everyone thinks, is it? About me, and Natasha, and the…looks?”

Sunek’s attention had partially drifted back over to the bar area, but he forced himself to at least glance back at the Trill, even if he looked entirely uninterested in what he was saying.

“Yeah,” he shrugged.


“Or…no? I dunno, Jirel, what do you want me to say?”

Jirel sighed in frustration as Sunek’s attention was once again diverted back to the bar, the Vulcan craning his neck to look through the crowds with fresh intrigue.

“I want you to at least try to pay attention to--What are you looking at, anyway?”

At this, the Vulcan immediately perked up and turned back to him, his attention now entirely on their discussion.

“The Caitian. She’s back!”

“Really?” Jirel replied, failing to catch his withering eye roll before it was already in progress, “You’re still on that?”

“Heh,” the Vulcan grinned with a glint in his eye, “Not yet, but--”

“Ok, really bad choice of words. But Natasha was right. There’s no way she’s interested in you, so can we please focus on something more important?”

“Like you pining over our doctor?”

“Like,” Jirel grimaced, “What we’re gonna do about Klath. I still have no idea where he is. I sent him a message telling him where we were going, but…nothing.”

Sunek made a valiant effort to feign interest in what his colleague was saying, but in truth it was clear that his focus was still elsewhere.

“Tell you what’ll make you feel better,” he said eventually, downing the rest of his drink, “Another round. My treat.”

His entirely surprising offer coincided with Natasha, who they had left behind back on the promenade to do some more shopping, slipping into one of the vacant seats at the table with a look of surprise.

“Sunek offering to buy a round?” she smiled, “Have we fallen through an anomaly into another dimension?”

“Funny,” the Vulcan retorted, “You want a drink or not?”

Jirel leaned over to Natasha to clarify things, making extra sure not to do anything that anyone could misinterpret as a ‘look’ as he did so.

“Our Caitian friend is back.”

“Ah,” Natasha sighed patiently at the Bounty’s pilot, “You have to understand that she’s really not into you, right?”

Even as she embarked on another round of gentle ribbing, she felt a little bit of trepidation about pushing things too far with Sunek on this particular subject, given what the Vulcan knew about her own past.

Specifically, an incident some years ago on Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet when she had been on shore leave as a junior ensign. An incident involving her, a handsome Betazoid civilian negotiator, a bed with a predictive ergonomic mattress, and her best friend from the USS Tripoli, Ensign T’Vess. And an incident that Sunek knew in lurid detail, thanks to a sequence of shared memories via a desperate mind meld to try and contact her after she had been incapacitated by a psychoactive plant venom some months ago*.

After the crisis was over, the Vulcan had sworn himself to secrecy when it came to everything he had inadvertently seen of her past, and had even offered up an acutely embarrassing story from his own past to ensure that he couldn’t blackmail her. Which had reassured her slightly.

Still, when it came to dealing with the Bounty’s laughing Vulcan, she struggled to feel entirely certain that his complicated emotional state wouldn’t prevent him from slipping up at some point. Especially if she insisted on goading him on the subject of Caitians.

Still, at least right now she had some backup, from a Trill that was entirely oblivious to that incident in her past.

“Yeah,” Jirel chimed in on cue, “I don’t know what to tell you, Sunek. But she is definitely not checking you out.”

“You don’t think I can get a date with her?”

“No,” Jirel added with a shake of his head, “I know you can’t get a date with her.”

“Yep,” Natasha added, “She’s at a bar, by herself, in the middle of a huge spaceport. You’re just gonna be one of dozens of creepy spacefaring weirdos who’ve tried it on with her tonight. Knowing Caitians, she’ll probably just claw your eyes out.”

“Huh,” Jirel mused thoughtfully at this new information, “You know, I’m suddenly entirely onboard with this little experiment.”

Despite the double attack on his carefully cultivated charming personality from the two grinning co-conspirators at the table in front of him, Sunek remained cockily defiant. He stood up, smoothed his unruly mop of hair down as best he could, wiggled his eyebrows knowingly, and fixed his best seductive smile onto his face. Which, both Natasha and Jirel noted, was some way short of what a seductive smile was supposed to look like.

“Think what you like,” the Vulcan in full flirtation mode offered back, “But I can be very charming when I want to be.”

“I find that…basically impossible to believe,” Natasha replied flatly.

“Yeah, well, you know what? You can buy your own round. Cos I’m gonna go over there, I’m gonna say hello, and then me and her are going to hit it off. Guaranteed.”

He took a moment to adjust his lurid, slightly creased Hawaiian shirt, then nodded in satisfaction.

“Don’t wait up…”

With that, he walked off confidently in the direction of the bar. Natasha turned to Jirel.

“Think he’ll do it?”

“I think it’ll be a miracle if he comes back here with his ears intact. But, knowing Sunek, he’s probably gonna get turned down, then spend a couple of hours hiding somewhere so he can pretend that he actually did hit it off with her.”

They shared a laugh, before a slightly awkward silence descended over proceedings.

“So,” Jirel managed eventually, “Then there were two, I guess. Here’s to those of us with nothing better to do tonight.”

He raised his glass in a toast and then downed the rest of his brandy, earning an amused smile from Natasha as she began to browse the drinks menu on the curious old tricorder arrangement in the middle of the table.

“You know, it’s kinda cute,” she mused as she browsed, “Denella’s off with her new friend, Klath’s trying his best to get married, Sunek’s…doing what he’s doing.”

“You jealous?” Jirel couldn’t help but ask, once again making sure he wasn’t doing anything that might be misconstrued as a ‘look’.

She snorted and shook her head, then offered a more noncommittal shrug.

“I mean, I guess I was thinking when I was talking to Denella yesterday. It has been a while since someone took me out for dinner.”

“What about our old friend Mizar Bal?” Jirel asked somewhat candidly, referring to a handsome Ktarian that she had indulged in a liaison with recently. A handsome Ktarian who had then gone on to tie the pair of them to a bomb in the Bounty’s cargo bay while he had forced the others to undertake a complicated latinum heist on the surface of a Ktarian colony†.

“Well,” she offered back, “He didn’t take me out for dinner. That was just good, old-fashioned, hot, sweaty--”

“Ok. Good to hear.”

Jirel sank back in his chair as Natasha stifled a smile, recalling how much he had annoyed her during that whole Ktarian incident, as his jealous streak had made an unwelcome appearance.

Regardless of how often she had reiterated that their night together immediately after the Bounty had first rescued her had just been a one night thing, a need for companionship after three months marooned on a hostile planet following the destruction of the USS Navajo, that jealous streak had never entirely gone away. Even though, as she had put it at the time, she had just been scratching an itch. There was no deeper feeling there, certainly from her side. She was sure of that.

She continued to idly browse the drinks list, and reiterated to herself that she was definitely sure of that. No feelings at all.

“Well,” Jirel managed eventually, “I’m not gonna take you out for dinner, but I think I can stretch to a round of drinks. Deal?”

She looked up at him and smiled, the same smile that had caused Jirel’s insides to start doing backflips the first time he’d seen it. But he wasn’t about to spend any time thinking about that right now. And he definitely wasn’t about to give her any sort of ‘look’.

As the Trill started to look around for a passing waitress, Natasha leaned back in her chair and studied him for a moment. She had to admit that, when he wasn’t with the others, or he wasn’t trying to impress someone with his wannabe space captain routine, he was surprisingly good company. Not that she’d be telling him that any time soon.

Before she realised she was doing it, she also considered how, of all the unhappy romantic encounters she had had in her life to date, that one night in his cabin might have been the least unhappy of them all.

She certainly wouldn’t be telling him that.

Still, she thought, as Jirel finally and slightly clumsily caught the eye of a waitress, there were definitely worse ways to scratch an itch.

“So,” Jirel said with a grin, turning back to her and gesturing to the waitress who stood poised with an electronic clipboard, “What should we get?”

She wasn’t sure exactly what made her say it. Whether it was a subconscious reaction to everything she was feeling. Whether it was a moment of thoughtless desperation. Or whether it was just a straightforward desire to be substantially less sober than she currently was. Either way, she said it.


Jirel looked a little bit confused at this suggestion.

“Shots?” he echoed.

Having said it, she elected not to put too much effort into overthinking why she said it. After all, they were just two friends. Having a few drinks.

“Shots,” she nodded back, with certainty.

Just two lonely people. Having a few drinks.

Jirel shrugged and looked back up at the waitress with the clipboard.

“Shots,” he confirmed.

Natasha leaned back in her chair, and patiently waited for her first drink of the night.

This was fine.


Denella slowly came to, her vision coalescing back into a definable view. At first, her surroundings seemed entirely alien. She certainly wasn’t in the storage area in the port anymore.

Then, she realised. She was in the rear section of a Ferengi Na’Far-class shuttle. She was onboard the Kendra.

She forced herself to sit up, even as her dazed head cried out for more rest. She was lying on a simple single bed in what passed for the onboard accommodation of the small shuttle. There was little else in the room save for a small single table and chair, and a two-person sofa-style seat pushed up against the far wall.

The walls themselves were a dirty orange hue, much like the exterior of the vessel, and the air smelt vaguely musty, indicating that amongst her many other faults, the Kendra was also due a service of her filtration systems. The engineer’s sense in her also immediately picked up on the tell-tale hum of the shuttle’s warp core. A faint noise on such a small vessel, but still detectable. Which meant that the Kendra was back up and running at full power.

She checked herself over and was relieved to find that, aside from a sore head where she had been struck, she seemed otherwise unhurt. Although, having been as stupid as to turn her back on someone she had no reason to trust, her ego had taken a serious beating. She wondered what Klath would have had to say about that particular tactic of hers.

She forced herself off the bed and onto her feet and took in her wider situation. She was surprised to find that she still had her dagger on her belt.

Seconds later, she drew it with a single deft movement, as a figure entered the room.

“Morning,” Erami smiled, gesturing to the glinting blade of the dagger, “Hey, no need for all that.”

She appeared to be completely unarmed, and her manner was entirely casual, but nevertheless Denella kept the weapon drawn, not wanting to underestimate the Bajoran again. No matter how unthreatening she seemed to be.

“You hungry?” Erami continued, “The replicator on this crate isn’t the best, but I think I can rustle up something edible.”

Denella’s aching head swam with further confusion. Specifically as to why the Bajoran was reacting like nothing untoward had happened earlier.

“What the hell did you do to me?” she replied sharply, “And why did you bring me back here?”

Erami saw that the dagger was going nowhere and sighed, holding her hands up in a show of good-natured surrender.

“Hey, I’m sorry, ok? I didn’t want to hit you like that. But we really needed to get away from those Pakleds, and I didn’t have time to explain.”

“Get away from the unconscious Pakleds? Pretty sure you had time to explain.”

“There might have been more of them on the way, I had no idea,” Erami insisted, not entirely convincingly, “So I…had to do something.”

She tried an even warmer smile, a similar one to the smile that had so disarmed Denella earlier and caused her to make a tactical error. This time, the Orion kept her weapon raised, and her focus entirely on the other woman.

“You had to knock me out? And bring me back here? Really?”

Erami’s smile faltered slightly, as she gestured to the dagger again.

“Come on, you’re making me nervous now. Put that away.”

Denella shook her head.

“Not after what just happened,” she replied, “And I’m getting out of here now. Back to the Bounty. Alone.”

Erami watched her carefully manoeuvre her way to the exit, keeping herself facing towards the Bajoran at all times.

“Um,” she managed, “That might be a bit tricky right now…”

Denella looked confused at this comment. Then, her engineering senses picked up on something else as she stood on the deck plates of the Kendra. Not only was there the tell-tale hum from the reactivated warp core, there was something else there, another unmistakable sensation.

They were moving.

She turned and rushed the short distance to the Kendra’s cockpit, dagger still in her hand, hoping that she wasn’t making another crucial tactical mistake by turning her back on the seemingly unarmed Erami for a second time.

And she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the view through the cockpit window.

She wasn’t on Kervala Prime any more. They were in space. At warp.

Not only had she allowed herself to be taken by surprise by Erami back in the storage area, it seemed that she had also allowed herself to be kidnapped.

Behind her, Erami stepped into the cockpit and peered over her shoulder.

“Like I said, we really needed to get away from those Pakleds…”

End of Part Two

* - See Star Trek: Bounty - 7 - “One Character in Search of an Exit” for more lurid details.
† - See Star Trek: Bounty - 8 - "A Klingon, a Vulcan and a Slave Girl Walk into a Bar" for even more lurid details.
Really liking the dance between Jirel and Natasha - and the far deadlier dance between Denella and Erami. And the possibly even deadlier dance between Sunek and a far too obviously alone caitain...

Thanks!! rbs
Part Three

Natasha groaned as she slowly stirred from her deep slumber.

She recognised the tell-tale split second moment of cognisance in her mind. One that she had felt plenty of times before throughout her life, and one that was immediately familiar to anyone who had the pleasure of indulging in the dubious delights of real alcohol.

It was the barely perceptible instant between waking up and being hit with the full force of the hangover. The tiniest of liminal moments between one state and another, which always seemed like your brain’s way of telling you to brace yourself for the misery that was about to be unleashed.

And then, an instant later and right on schedule, the sledgehammer hit home. The intense pounding headache, the sudden rush of nausea, the myriad aches and pains throughout her body. Plus an unerring and unshakable sense of shame.

It seemed that, despite what she had been telling herself at the time, shots had been a bad idea.

“Ugh,” she managed to grunt to herself as she shifted around in her bed.

The cabin was otherwise silent, save for the gentle chirping sound coming from Spotty, the infertile tribble that she had adopted on their last adventure. As it always did every morning, Spotty sat patiently trilling in its cage on her desk, waiting for its morning meal.

As she shifted around and and started to force herself to open her eyes, she felt a growing sense of something else, alongside the barrage of unwanted sensations that her hangover was punishing her with.

She got the distinct feeling that she wasn’t alone.

“Ugh,” a second voice said.

She forced her eyes fully open with a few painful blinks, then looked over to her side.

“We’ve really got to stop doing this, you know,” Jirel managed, forcing a grin onto his face despite the fact that he was undergoing a similar internal trauma to what she was going through as the hangover fully coalesced. Alcohol’s effect on humanoids was almost a galactic constant.

Natasha didn’t return the grin. Instead, she pulled the bed sheet up over her head and groaned again, more deeply and painfully than before. She forced herself to try to remember what had happened after her fateful drinks order in the Treaty of Organia. Piecing together fragments of half memories to try and figure out how she had chosen to end up, for the second time in her life, spending the night with the Trill.

“What the hell happened last night?” she miserably muttered, her voice sounding slightly muffled by the sheet.

Jirel did his best not to take too much offence from this particular reaction from someone who had discovered themselves in bed with him, and forced himself to sit up as he tried to deal with his own pounding headache by rubbing his hands on his temples.

“Um,” he managed eventually, tasting the post-alcohol fuzz on his tongue, “I remember shots. Lots and lots of shots.”

“Ugh,” she grunted, “Yep. Remember those.”

“Then I remember we walked all the way back here. Except halfway back you said your feet were hurting and you insisted I carried you the rest of the way on my back.”

She stifled the latest in a long series of unhappy grimaces and nodded under the sheet. That had been one of her trademark methods of rudimentary drunken flirtation in her Academy days.

“Um,” he continued, “Then I think we went for the liquor cabinet when we got back here. And we definitely drank some Scotch whisky, Saurian brandy, and something we figured out was probably an old bottle of Kanar that had gone bad.”

“This ship has way too much booze on it.”

“And then…oh god,” he winced, “Then I’m pretty sure we started singing.”

Another, more prolonged grimace took shape underneath the bed sheet.

“Yep,” she sighed, “I remember the singing.”

“And then, after all that, you…came on to me.”

In a split second, she snapped the sheet down from her face and glared up at the Trill.

“Um, excuse me?” she scoffed, “I did no such--You came on to me!”

“Nope,” he insisted with a definitive shake of his head, “I was halfway through a pitch perfect rendition of an old Klingon drinking ballad that Klath once taught me when you just…launched yourself at me from across the room.”

“Wh--? Ok, that’s not what happened. I think you’ll find that I was just getting to the end of my Academy karaoke playlist when you made your move. You took advantage of me!”

“Hey, no. I didn’t--If anyone took advantage of anyone last night, it was you taking advantage of me!”

She went to retort again, but the growing fog that was covering her brain was stifling her usual power for rational debate. Instead, she just lifted the sheet back over her head and screamed into it.

“Look, I get it,” Jirel continued, his grin making a return to the discussion, “It’s hard for most women to resist me at the best of times--”

“Don’t, Jirel. Don’t joke about it. Don’t do that stupid little grin of yours. Don’t try to make me breakfast. Just--Get dressed and get out!”

Jirel tried his best not to take further offence from that tirade. Especially the reference to the elaborate breakfast feast he had cooked up the morning after their previous liaison. One that she had casually declined in humiliating fashion after explaining that it had just been a one night thing.

“Really? You’re gonna kick me out? Just like that?”

“Just like that,” she affirmed from under the sheet, “And do it quickly. I need to get up, feed Spotty, and then work on some way of erasing my short term memory.”

Jirel sighed and shook his head, then swung his legs out of the bed and reached for his clothes.

“Fine,” he said as he got dressed, “I can go. But don’t tell me this doesn’t mean--”

“And don’t do that,” she snapped, pulling the sheet back down to emphasise her point with the firmest of glares, “This didn’t mean anything, so don’t go pretending that it did. Please.”

“Come on, Nat. A one night stand is one thing. But twice? Plus, you’re the one that suggested we do shots. You’re the one that was flirting with me on the walk back. You sure this was a mistake?”

“After this conversation? Definitely.”

The Trill shook his head as he slipped his boots on.

“Fine. Be like that.”

“Oh no,” she shook her head, pointing at him with an accusing finger, “Don’t do that either.”

“What now?”

“That thing where I’m telling you it was a mistake, and it’s obvious that it was a mistake, but you still think it wasn’t a mistake. Because it was. A mistake.”

“You done?”

She went to add something more, but concluded that nothing more needed to be said.

“Ok then,” Jirel continued, “You win. It was a mistake.”

She eyed him up warily as he stood up, ready to leave.

“You mean that?”

“Yep. You’re absolutely right about everything. We got horrifically drunk, we weren’t thinking straight, and whoever came on to who, it was all a mistake.”

She continued to eye him up warily, as he offered back an entirely credulous poker face.

“Ok, good,” she nodded eventually, “I’m…glad we agree.”

“Cool. So, if there’s nothing else you wanna talk about, I’m gonna go find some breakfast. A light breakfast. For one. Just for me.”



With their conversation having reached an apparently agreeable conclusion, Jirel turned and exited her cabin. As he walked out the door, she was unable to see the slight trace of a grin that crossed his face as he did so.

Because he knew there was no way this had just been a mistake.

As the door closed behind him, Natasha flopped back down onto the pillow with a frustrated groan. The cabin was now silent, save for the now distinctly insistent chirping of a tribble still awaiting its morning meal.

As she lay back and stared up at the ceiling, she tried to organise her terribly jumbled, confused and hungover thoughts into some sort of coherence. And as she did so, one particularly nagging and annoying thought refused to go away.

A thought that was as surprising to her as it was unwelcome.

What if it hadn’t been a mistake?