Hello again The fourth story/episode/chapter/volume/whatever of this little pet project is just about ready to see the light of day. I hope. As with the previous story, there's a final few details to iron out towards the end, but I'm gonna kick things off to make sure I have the impetus to push on and finish it. Seemed to work last time, so here we are! This one aims to focus more on the one member of the Bounty's crew that's been largely consigned to supporting roles so far, fleshing out a bit more backstory and hopefully making sure everyone's had a chance to shine across the first four stories. I would probably recommend reading the episodes in order, because there are some overarcing plot points and establishing character elements at play, but I appreciate that's a lot of reading to ask someone to do, so for now I'm trying to make each individual story as episodic as possible to also make it possible to follow along without committing your time to all that. Hopefully, anyway. Once again, thanks in advance for stopping by and reading, and I hope you enjoy it. And if you don't, that's cool too. 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 1.04 "It's Not Easy Being Green" Prologue She danced. Because that was what they wanted. Her appreciative audience sat around stout wooden tables and watched as she glided around a long elevated platform strategically positioned in the middle of the dank, smoke-filled venue. While her stage was spotlighted for all to see, the miserably low lighting around the rest of the venue kept most of her admirers in shadow, as they often preferred to be. But she could make out those at the tables nearest to her. There was a gang of grizzled Orion merchants, sinking row after row of ales on the table in front of them. A sole Ferengi, who was failing to keep the drool from running down his chin as he stared at her. And a couple of Pakleds, who seemed more bemused by their surroundings than anything else. They may have claimed to be visiting the bar for drinks, or food, or simple relaxation. But really, they were all here to see her. The main event. She felt every set of eyes in the room burrowing into her skin, even those she couldn’t see, as she writhed and swayed, clothed in a flimsy outfit consisting of little more than a couple of strategically placed sheer silk scarves. But she had been well trained. She didn’t flinch or try to run. She was here to serve them. She was theirs. Or at least, her body was. Her mind they couldn’t control, or force to do anything. Her mind was elsewhere. **************************** Orpheus IV was a peaceful place, as Orion colonies went. It was an established base for the Orion Free Traders, a collective of businesses and commerce which had been set up to be the antithesis of everything the Syndicate represented. A peaceable, fair and prosperous organisation for all involved. And it was where Rayo had built a home for his family. On the face of it, it wasn’t all that much to look at. A modest residence, set on the fringes of one of the larger towns on the planet’s main continent. But to Rayo, it offered the best of both worlds. It was close enough to the town to give them easy access to all the facilities it provided, and the friends that lived there. But it was far enough out into the surrounding countryside that it gave him plenty of open space for his pet projects, repairing and restoring classic shuttles. His latest project was an especially rare model. A limited edition 23rd century Orion racing shuttle whose sleek lines and compact warp nacelles slung underneath the main body had always been one of Rayo’s favourite designs. It was an old and run-down example, but it was definitely salvageable with a lot of hard work. And once he’d fixed it up, he’d turn a tidy profit as soon as he found the right collector. Although, in truth, the latinum wasn’t all that important to him. The joy of working on such a classic ship was payment enough for Rayo. As he lay on the dusty ground underneath the main hull of the shuttle, finishing the job of replacing the port-side impulse relay, he heard footsteps approaching. “What are you doing, daddy?” He smiled as he crawled out into the evening gloom, his green face flecked with dirt and grime, to see his eight year old daughter standing next to the shuttle, watching him intently. “I thought you were helping with dinner?” he asked as he stood back up. She scrunched her face up and kicked the dust under her feet. “Cooking’s boring,” she whined, “I want to help you.” Rayo sighed patiently and wiped his hands on a cloth hanging from his belt, before crouching down to talk to his daughter on her level. “I don’t think your mother would like that now, do you? Bad enough that she’s already got one filthy engineer to deal with, never mind two.” The Orion girl stomped her feet on the ground and wailed plaintively. She knew exactly how to get her father to change her mind. “But I want to help you!” Rayo winced at seeing his daughter getting upset. He put a hand on her shoulder to calm her as she looked back at him with big, pleading eyes. “Ok, ok,” he replied with a smile, “Tell you what, how’d you like to help me replace the plasma manifold?” She considered this question for a moment, her face contorting into a deadly serious look that her father couldn’t help but be amused by. “What’s a…plasma faminold?” she asked eventually. He took her hand and led the inquisitive girl to the rear of the shuttle. A large access panel was already removed from the hull, revealing a collection of bulky components inside. He pointed to one particular component with a stubby green finger. This visual identification of the shuttle’s plasma manifold didn’t seem to clear the situation up, and merely elicited another round of deeply thoughtful face scrunching from his daughter. “Fair enough,” Rayo nodded, “Let’s work this all out together.” With a patient smile, he turned back to his toolbox and picked up the relevant piece of equipment for the task at hand. He handed her the stocky twin-pronged device, which she looked at with childlike wonder. “Now, this is a coil spanner. And what you’re gonna need to do is run that slowly up and down the seal just here…” He pointed to one side of the plasma manifold. She awkwardly maneuvered the tool over and followed his instructions as best she could. After a moment, she paused and wiped her face, leaving a streak of grime behind on her dark green skin. As dusk drew in on the main continent of Orpheus IV, the father and daughter team continued to work. **************************** She allowed herself a moment of comfort as she recalled that happy scene from her past. All the while, her body had been obediently dancing. As she looked around, she noticed that there were two new customers next to the stage eyeing her up. A burly, angry-looking Klingon sat with a scruffy Trill on one of the tables at the far end of the stage from where she was. The Trill stood up and placed a few slips of latinum on the stage. It was a signal for when a customer wanted some closer attention, usually in one of the side rooms. Anything went in there. Just as she had been trained, she made her way over. Her body was on autopilot as she dropped to all fours and demurely crawled the final few feet across the stage to where he stood. In her mind, she was busy re-aligning the thruster controls of a Denobulan transport pod. As she arrived at the modest pile of latinum, the Trill leaned in and whispered in her ear. “Wanna get out of here?” It was a question she had heard hundreds of times. She no longer had to suppress any revulsion when she heard it. Her training saw to that. She knew what was expected of her. If she hadn’t been so completely running on autopilot, she may have picked up on the fact that, unlike the previous hundreds of occasions, this time the question had been entirely bereft of undertones of lechery or desire. It had, in fact, been nothing more than a simple enquiry asking whether or not she wanted to leave the premises. But she missed all of that entirely. And she responded as her training had told her to always respond, by giving a practiced seductive smile and nodding. The Trill smiled back. Not a smile of lust, but one of relief. “Good.” Before she had time to realise what was happening, he pulled out a small disruptor pistol and fired across the room. The shot impacted on the venue’s main power relay, destroying it in a shower of sparks and plunging the already dingy room into complete darkness. All around, chaos erupted. She felt a hand grab her arm and pull her off the stage. Somewhere next to her, she heard the Trill call out. “Klath, we’re leaving!” An alarm flared up, soaking part of the room in a thin red half-light. All around her she heard confused and angry shouts. Some coming from the other customers, but many more coming from the venue’s staff, all perplexed at having been so unceremoniously blinded. Whoever had a hold of her arm seemed to have an idea of where they were going, at least. She was dragged along in the blackness, through a side door at the edge of the room. Behind her, the dark void of the main bar area of the venue was now occasionally illuminated with the flare of desperate and directionless weapons fire, and angry cries of frustration. But they left all that behind. They entered a corridor, and as her vision adjusted to the darkness she caught the outline of a large bladed weapon being swung gracefully around by the Klingon in front of them. Seconds later, she heard a dull impact sound and a cry of pain. They rounded a corner, and she felt herself being pushed to the ground, moments before everything was illuminated by the deadly glow of dozens of disruptor blasts, coming from the guards that were positioned ahead of them in the corridor. Her would-be rescuers desperately took cover, and the Trill returned fire with his own weapon. But she just crawled backwards into the darkness, trying to melt into the shadows themselves, and shaking from a combination of the cold ground on her skin and the fear that she felt inside. She heard the disruptors getting nearer as the guards closed on their location, then the Klingon let out a guttural roar as he burst forth, weapon raised, and felled two of the guards, as the Trill provided covering fire. From her vantage point in the darkness, she was the only one who saw the bartender as he crept up on the strangers from behind. Both the Trill and the Klingon were still focused on finishing off the guards further off the corridor, and the noise of the disruptor fire meant that even his footsteps on the metal floor below couldn’t tip them off to the danger. She watched in horror as the ugly, scaly-faced alien approached the Trill, holding a dirty blade in his hand. And then she felt herself moving. Moving forwards. She jumped out from the shadows with a furious growl of her own. It wasn’t an entirely instinctive act, more a piece of desperate improvisation, but it came from somewhere deep inside of her. Something that she had been taught, many years ago. Before her training. The bartender turned immediately, his face contorting in disbelief as he saw who had got the better of him. The exotic dancer wrapped in a couple of silk scarves. She thundered into his midriff with all of her might, sending them both tumbling to the floor and causing the bartender to drop the blade. She landed on top of him, knocking the air clean out of his lungs in a strangled cry of pain. She wasn’t even thinking as she reached out and grabbed the weapon from where it had landed. The bartender’s face, one that she was more used to seeing ogling her from afar every night with a chilling leer, was now a picture of terrified shock. Without pausing, she drove the dagger down into his chest. The bartender bucked and twitched for a moment. And then he was still. Before she had time to process what she had done, she felt a familiar hand grab her arm. She looked up to see the Trill smiling at her. “Thanks,” he said, “I owe you one.” She didn’t have time to reply, or react, before the Trill dragged her back to her feet, pointed his disruptor at the end of the now-cleared corridor and fired, obliterating the bulky rear door of the venue. She allowed herself to be led through the gap that was left behind, and into the harsh coldness of the outside air. The Klingon whirled around, scanning the immediate area for more danger, as the Trill grabbed a stocky communicator from his belt with clear urgency. “Ok, we’re clear of the dampening field! Any time you like!” Just as three more guards burst through the gaping hole where the rear door to the venue had once been and brought their weapons to bear, she felt the transporter beam take effect. **************************** She rematerialised in a small, stuffy transporter room on a dishevelled looking ship. The air around her smelled faintly musty, there was rust and dirt on every surface, and one of the panels on the wall was flickering on and off. Even to an entirely untrained eye, it was clear that the vessel had seen better days. To her eye, it looked like the interior of a small raider-class vessel. Possibly Ju’Day-type. Looking around, she saw the Trill and the Klingon standing either side of her, and a smiling Vulcan standing at the transporter controls. “Well, hello there,” the Vulcan said cheerily. Her two companions stepped down from the transporter pad. She followed warily, still not entirely sure which rival Syndicate operation had just sprung her from her previous owner. By the looks of things, not an especially well equipped one. The Trill took off his dusty jacket and wrapped it around her, in an attempt to afford her a modicum of dignity. But the gesture didn’t bring her any relief, or comfort. “Hey,” he said gently, “It’s ok. You’re safe now. What’s your name?” Whatever the state of the operation that now had possession of her, it seemed clear that he was the leader. As such, her training kicked in again. Her body switched back to autopilot. She knew the drill from here. “Yes, master, I do feel safe,” she lied without a second thought, as she ran her nails down his chest, “Now, please, let me thank you…” The Trill jumped back as if he’d been electrocuted. Not the reaction she was expecting. “Woah--Hey, no, ok. I mean, you’re very--But you don’t need to…” Confused, she turned to the burly Klingon and kept up her seductive smile. She took a single step towards him. “That will not be necessary,” he boomed out immediately. She paused again. Behind the transporter controls, the grinning Vulcan shrugged. “I mean, I’m always up for--” “Nope. Back to the cockpit,” the Trill barked, “Get us out of here before anyone down there gets a trace on the transport.” The Vulcan let out a sigh and walked out of the room. She scanned the faces of her kidnappers again, at a loss as to what was happening to her. “I--I don’t understand. You own me now. I must--” “Hey, no, nobody owns anybody, right?” the Trill replied awkwardly, “This isn’t a kidnapping. It’s a rescue.” “It was a proud battle,” the Klingon added, unnecessarily. Her eyes darted around as she mentally processed what she was being told. After a few moments, she smiled. But this was a different smile to her usual one. There was no practiced seduction or trained flirtation to be seen. For the first time since she had left Orpheus IV, this was a genuine smile of happiness. “Denella,” she whispered, “My name…is Denella.” She was free.