Star Trek: Bounty - 6 - "He Feedeth Among the Lilies"


Red Shirt
Hello! :)

Don't say I didn't warn you. :confused: More Bounty stories were indeed just around the corner. So far we've had rogue Jem'Hadar, vengeful Ferengi, honourless Klingons, hippie Vulcans, merciless Orions and gun-slinging Nimbosians, and this time we have a special guest role for a character from one of the least memorable episodes of the whole Star Trek franchise. So, there's that to look forward to.

I'll link the previous stories in this post as ever for completeness, but I'm doing my best to try and offer any 'required' Bounty-based continuity in the story itself (there's nothing major in this one, I don't think). Because we're getting to the point where reading everything from start to finish is becoming a serious undertaking. If anything doesn't make sense (aside from just the plot of the story, which never makes sense), please let me know.

I'm also trying to work on hosting the previous stories somewhere else as well to try and make them easier to read, though I don't know what the rules are on sharing other sites.

Either way, once again, thanks in advance for reading. And I hope you (continue to) enjoy these tales. :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
"He Feedeth Among the Lilies"


The rash on Sister Lyca’s arm was getting worse.

She walked over to the gaggle of villagers gathered around the campfire, resisting the urge to frantically scratch at the ugly red welts that peppered her from elbow to wrist, knowing that would only bring temporary relief from the burning discomfort.

As she approached the fire, she was sure that she could see the face of the Beast of the Great Hereafter dancing in the flames. That it was preparing to take her from this place for good.

A steaming pot of takarti root soup gently bubbled away in a huge bronze pot over the fire, sending great billowing clouds of spicy, aromatic steam out across the wide open expanse of the village’s central square.

The meal, fit for the entire village, was being tended to by three of her fellow Sisters, and the smell of the rich purple-tinged dish distracted her from the rash, and the tricks of the flames. It reminded her of simpler times, when she had watched her own mother preparing the same meal.

The fire itself served as the heart of the community, with every Makalite that lived inside the village walls responsible for keeping it burning every day from first light until the small hours of the morning as soon as they were old enough to forage for wood.

As such, it served not only as a place for cooking. It was also a place to meet others, to tell stories, and, inevitably, to gossip. Sister Lyca felt increasingly certain she had already been the subject of the latter this morning.

As she approached, the trio of pale blue skinned figures gathered around the pot looked up from their work, and appeared somewhat wary to see her.

Yes, she realised, they must have heard.

Despite that setback, she fixed a friendly smile onto her face as she arrived at the fire.

“Sister Lyca,” the eldest of the women, a village elder called Sister Hyla, nodded, “Good wishes to you this morning.”

“And to you, Sisters. Good wishes to you all on this new day.”

She stood tentatively in front of them, fighting the continual desire to itch her rash, and keeping that part of her arm covered with the sleeve of her dress for the time being.

“You need not trouble yourself,” Sister Hyla continued, “We need no help preparing first meal.”

Lyca glanced around the square nervously. This was the focal point of the whole settlement, like all of the villages in this province. All around the square, huts and other structures fanned out in roughly concentric rings.

Most of them were built from simple wood and stone, but in the bright sunlight of the morning, Sister Lyca saw the reflection of the new additions. The shiny glint of the new metal supports and struts that had been used to help strengthen the huts against the elements.

All courtesy of The Seer’s kindly benevolence.

The glinting pieces of metal reminded her how much had changed in their small village recently, and made her more determined that she had to talk to her sisters at the campfire.

“I come here to speak about--”

“We know,” Sister Hyla responded quickly, her tone measured yet stern, “We hear that you caused quite a scene in Brother Anker’s hut while The Seer was there yesterday. And we are not interested in hearing more words that go against the prophecy.”

“What you have been saying is blasphemous!” one of the younger women, Sister Ryna, added, her voice considerably less measured than Sister Hyla’s.

Sister Hyla calmed her by gently gesturing with one arm, while the other arm reached for the wooden spoon to stir the pot of fragrant soup. As she reached, the sleeve of her own dress rode up, revealing a string of telltale red welts.

“But you have it too!” Sister Lyca pressed, pointing to the uncovered rash and revealing her own pock-marked arm, “We are all sick now, the entire village! And we’re getting sicker!”

She watched as Sister Hyla quickly pulled her sleeve back down to cover her sickness, and all three women looked down to the ground. Their faces seemed to betray clear uncertainty, and she decided to seize on it.

“We are not getting better, nothing is helping,” she continued earnestly, “The Seer brought this disease to us. I am sure of it.”

Sister Ryna’s head shot back up to stare at her, defiance clear in her young eyes.

“We three all keep faith with The Seer. You would be minded to do the same, Sister.”

“Look at her skin!” Sister Lyca persisted, gesturing intently to Sister Hyla’s arm, “And it gets worse with every new dawn, you can all see it! Brother Anker is now too sick to leave his hut, even after The Seer’s visit. Sister Prya’s youngest grows weaker by the hour. The Beast of the Great Hereafter calls out for us all! Why can you not admit what is clear to your own eyes--!”

“Sister Lyca. You seem distressed?”

The familiar voice silenced her on the spot. She turned around.

The other three women retreated back over to the soup, which was now threatening to boil over directly onto the campfire.

He stood across from them near the edge of the square, his arms open wide and his green robes gently billowing behind him in the morning breeze. It was a peaceable vision that was only slightly undermined by the two somewhat menacing Brothers that flanked him on either side.

Unlike the rest of the villagers, he wasn’t blue-skinned. He was considerably paler and more lightly hued. His forehead was also missing the ridge of raised bone which all the Makalites that Sister Lyca had ever met before had.

The Seer had explained to the villagers that he had travelled here from a distant land. And that he was here to listen. Slowly but surely, any fears or mistrust that the villagers might have had gave way to acceptance. And then, as disease had come to the village, to something stronger.

Blind faith in what The Seer was promising them in his prophecy.

“Good wishes to you, Seer,” Sister Hyla called out as she tended to the soup.

She and the other two women at the fire bowed in deference. The Seer offered them a nod, but his focus remained fixed on Sister Lyca.

For her part, she tried to ignore the fear that she felt inside, along with the itching sensation on her arm. She kept her back straight and unbowed and her expression defiant.

“It really does pain me to see a member of my flock looking so troubled,” he continued, a gently lilting tone to his voice.

“We should all be troubled,” she muttered back.

The Seer’s benevolent expression barely changed, though she could see that his face had tightened slightly, as if he was irritated by her.

“Well,” he continued after a moment, “I do hope you’ve all remembered to make your donations this morning at the temple?”

He gestured to a large and entirely metal hut at the side of the square. It was the newest construction in the whole village, specifically requested by The Seer, and it had become the most revered place for all of the villagers. A place to pay respects to The Seer’s benevolence.

“Yes, Seer,” Sister Hyla nodded deferentially, “We have all paid our respects.”

“And what about you, Sister Lyca? After your unfortunate little outburst in Brother Anker’s hut yesterday, I do hope you’ve found it in yourself to pay special respects. To properly repent on this brand new day.”

The Seer’s features were still calm, but there was an accusatory tone to his voice. She could tell that he was challenging her. She ignored the fear inside and took a step forward.

“I repent nothing,” she said as strongly as she could manage.

She heard gasps from the Sisters around the pot. But The Seer himself remained serene, with the look of a man who knew he was still in control.

“Well,” he nodded, “That’s your decision, of course--”

“I stand by it all! Everything I said! The prophecy is a lie!”

She shouted loud enough for her voice to carry across the entire square, and out into nearby streets and huts. Several villagers emerged into the square to take in the spectacle, and the growing audience emboldened her further.

“How long have we been paying respects, Brothers and Sisters? How long have we been listening to The Seer’s proclamations? And the sickness just gets worse.”

The Seer shook his head and turned to the growing crowd, holding his arms out even wider and bringing his showmanship to bear on them.

“Poor Sister Lyca, her words are so cruel,” he mourned for the crowd’s benefit, “But I ask you, has The Seer ever let you down before? When you needed your crops to flourish, or the rains to come, did I not forecast it? And I assure you, the prophecy is real, if you keep the faith, and pay your respects, then The Seer will always take care of his flock--”

“We’re dying!”

Sister Lyca spat out the words, and held up her arm for all around to see.

This seemed to trigger a flicker of anger on The Seer’s face, just for a moment, before he regained his composure.

“Please!” she called out around the square, “You must all see! The salvation that The Seer has promised is not coming for any of us!”

“Alas,” The Seer bellowed even louder, whirling his cloak around with a flourish and gesturing to the two Brothers in his entourage, “Sister Lyca appears to have entirely lost her faith. Perhaps a few more days in the Bastille will help her to find some clarity of thought…”

The Brothers moved over and grabbed her arms. She winced as one of them clasped her reddened forearm. She tried to writhe and squirm to break free, but it was useless.

“If we keep hope in our hearts,” The Seer continued, “In time, your Sister may be ready to rejoin us.”

“No!” she cried out in frantic desperation, even as the Brothers started to haul her away, “Don’t listen to him! Please!”

She was interrupted by a sudden unearthly roar, enough to shake the very ground on which they all stood, and causing the vast cooking pot to topple clean over, ruining this morning’s helping of takarti root soup.

The villagers in the square, Sister Lyca included, all began to panic. Other villagers came rushing out of their huts in confusion, with trusty stones and slingshots in their hands to fend off whatever was threatening the peace of the village.

Then, above their heads, something flashed into view. Sister Hyla gasped out loud.

It was a curiously large object, with two stocky and short wings. There was a faint wisp of smoke trailing from it as it jagged across the sky.

Everyone watched on, pointing at the mysterious object above them.

Some thought it might be a great angry bird, sent to punish them for their past misdeeds. Others feared it was a symbol from the dead souls of their ancestors. Sister Lyca heard one of the Brothers restraining her mutter a long-abandoned Makalite incantation in the direction of the object.

Only The Seer remained calm. Because only The Seer knew what it really was.

He threw his hands aloft dramatically, turning his theatrics all the way up to eleven for the benefit of his terrified audience.

“My flock! Here it is! My prophecy is coming true, exactly as I foresaw!”

He shot Sister Lyca a knowing look as he continued. She didn’t call out again, as stunned into silence as the rest of the villagers were.

“Please, I beg you all, take this chance to double your donations in the temple! Whatever you can spare! Because now our salvation will come to pass!”

He gestured to the object in the sky, as it descended further.

“The spotted man with the skyship is here to take us from this place!”

Hearing his words, the villagers erupted in cheers of adulation. Many of them raced back to their huts for further treasures to take to the temple.

Sister Lyca stared up into the sky, dumbfounded by what she was seeing. As she looked back down, The Seer fixed her gaze with a cruel smile.

High above their heads, the Bounty prepared to land.
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Part One

“This was not my fault.”

Sunek, the Bounty’s wiry Vulcan pilot, leaned back on one of the Ju’Day-type raider’s landing struts, his arms folded in front of him in a clear show of defiance. A defiance that was backed up by his latest loud Hawaiian shirt, which he had taken a liking to wearing recently.

In front of him, three other members of the Bounty’s small ragtag crew, all considerably more soberly attired in plain grey and brown tunic tops and trousers, regarded him with a trio of looks that suggested that they didn’t quite believe his tale of innocence.

“What?” Sunek persisted as he saw the three unimpressed glares being aimed at him, “It really wasn’t my fault!”

“And yet you were the one in the pilot’s seat at the time,” Klath, the Bounty’s fierce Klingon tactical chief, growled at him.

“That’s true,” Sunek conceded with a nod.

“And, while in said pilot’s seat, you did ask us to - and I quote - ‘check this out’,” Jirel, the unjoined Trill captain of the ship, added.

“Can’t say I didn’t.”

“And then something exploded, and the power went out,” Natasha Kinsen, the ship’s former Starfleet doctor, piped up, completing the details of the Bounty’s recent bout of misfortune.

“Yeah, well, when you all put it like that…”

Natasha smiled and shook her head, as the Vulcan in front of her pouted slightly sheepishly. Even though she had been with the Bounty for several months now, and had met plenty of emotional Vulcans of one kind or another, she was still getting fully used to being in the company of a former follower of the V’tosh ka’tur. The Vulcans without logic.

“All I’m saying is,” Sunek went on, continuing to fight his corner, “I’ve pulled off that little comet slingshot trick a thousand times, and that’s never happened before. Therefore, it wasn’t my fault, it was the stupid ship.”

“Hey!” Denella, the Bounty’s Orion engineer snapped, as she walked over to join the group, “Don’t call my ship stupid.”

Dressed in her usual oversized overalls, her face was already streaked with grease and grime as she checked over the Bounty with a small tricorder. But she took a moment to reach over and gently pat the Bounty’s landing strut as she chided the pilot.

“Yikes,” Jirel grinned, “Sleep with one eye open tonight, Sunek.”

“Whatever,” the Vulcan sighed, kicking the ground under his feet and feeling increasingly like the rest of them were ganging up on him, “The point is, I’m not taking the blame here. That manoeuvre was completely, one hundred and ten percent sound.”

“And yet,” Klath grunted, gesturing around them, “Here we are.”

The Bounty had made an impromptu and mostly emergency landing on the edge of a lush forest on the planet’s northern continent. The Class M world had been the only habitable planet within range when Sunek’s little trick had gone so badly wrong.

On the other side of the parked ship was a range of hills and snow-capped mountains, while the oddly green-tinged sky was completely clear save for a few wispy streaks of cloud.

It wasn’t an ideal location for a stopover, and the slightly higher gravity would make any heavy lifting needed during the repairs that bit more difficult. But given the sudden catastrophe that had broken out, they were lucky to find something this habitable this near to where they were.

As ports in a storm went, things could have been an awful lot worse.

“What’s the damage?” Jirel asked his engineer, electing to steer the conversation away from the job of apportioning blame for the time being, and back to more practical issues.

“Not as bad as it could have been,” she shrugged, checking over the tricorder readings, “But the starboard impulse casing’s got a crack in it the size of my arm. It’s those cheap crappy deuterium sheets we picked up last month.”

“Hah!” Sunek chirped up, pointing victoriously at the others in turn, “So it was the ship’s fault! In your faces! In all of your stupid faces!”

“It’s not like we could have swung for anything better,” Jirel pointed out, as the Vulcan began an impromptu victory dance underneath the ship’s hull, “And it’s gonna be like that for a while, now we’re gonna miss our rendezvous.”

Denella nodded in tacit frustration. Their recent cash flow issues were not going to be helped now they were absolutely certain to be late with a delivery of baffle plates destined for a Bolian freighter in the next sector.

“Fair point,” she conceded, “Still, from what I can tell, it shouldn’t be too big a job to get her patched up and ready to go.”

“From what you can tell?” Klath asked, with an edge of caution.

Denella waved the tricorder at the Klingon and shrugged again.

“No big deal, there’s just some weird plasma radiation around this whole area. It’s messing up any wide range scans I’ve tried, and I’m not sure how bad it’s screwing up the short-range stuff. Probably gonna have to do a visual inspection of the hull to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”

Natasha’s medical instincts kicked in immediately. She moved over to Denella and checked the tricorder readings over her shoulder.

“Hrm, not sure I like the look of that,” she mused, “We’ll probably be fine for as long as the repairs’ll take, but I’ll fix us up with a shot of something just to make sure.”

“Nice,” Jirel tutted, “Picked a great place for a vacation.”

She ignored the Trill’s comment and walked back up the Bounty’s rear loading ramp to retrieve her medkit from the ship’s small medical bay. Meanwhile, Denella turned her attention back to the damage to the ship.

“So, I should be good to get us patched up enough to take off in a few hours, but I might need a willing volunteer to help with the heavy lifting.”

“Psh,” Sunek smirked, “Good luck with that--”

“Congratulations, Sunek,” Jirel stepped in, jabbing a finger at him with a grin, “For bringing us to this delightful, irradiated wilderness, you just became Denella’s lackey for the day.”

“Wh--? Lackey? Hey, come on, you can’t make your second-in-command someone’s lackey!”

“My what?” he snorted, before he saw the surprisingly serious look on the Vulcan’s face, “Oh, crap, do you really think you’re second-in-command?”

“What the hell is that supposed to--?”

“You know what? Let’s not get into all that now. But you are helping Denella. Think of it as your big prize for pulling off that comet slingshot."

Sunek went to fire back another comment, but he stopped himself at the last second and quelled the brief flash of annoyance with a deep, soothing breath.

He had been working hard to quell his anger issues ever since they spilled over during a fight with a marauding outlaw on a recent trip to Nimbus III. Where, after his frustrations had built up and up, Sunek had lost all control and beat the man with such ferocity that he had nearly killed him.

Since then, thanks in part to some secret meditation sessions with Denella in the Bounty’s cargo bay, and a lot of focused breathing, he was finally putting that emotional issue to one side.

He was still sure they were connected to a series of forced mind melds he had been subjected to by a former V’tosh ka’tur colleague some months ago, but he had stopped worrying about it too much at this point. He was in control of the storm inside of him.

And that was, in fact, the reason he’d tried the slingshot. The return of his dominant easy-going side had given him the desire to keep everyone entertained on their otherwise mundane delivery run. Even if it hadn’t quite worked out for the best this time, he’d still had fun doing it.

So, instead of succumbing to a momentary flash of anger, as he might have done before, Sunek controlled himself, and settled for sticking his tongue out at Jirel instead.

Natasha hurried back down the ramp with a hypospray in hand, and went around gently pressing it into each of their necks in turn.

“Hyronalin compound,” she explained as she worked, “Should make sure none of us grow any ears on our backs while we’re down here.”

“Come on then, flyboy,” Denella clicked her tongue in Sunek’s direction and gestured back up the Bounty’s ramp, “You’ve got some duranium sheets to carry.”

The Orion woman bounded up the ramp, followed with significantly less enthusiasm by the Vulcan, who dragged his feet like a sulky teenager.

“Wasn’t my fault…” he muttered as he disappeared inside the ship.

Jirel and Klath shared an amused glance, as Natasha finished her work with the hypospray and turned her attention to the surrounding area. Specifically, the lush forest to the east.

“Look at the colours along the treeline,” she mused wistfully, “We could go out and collect some samples, see if we can cut through the radiation to scan for signs of--”

“Hey, Nat,” Jirel motioned, “We’re just here to fix the ship. This isn’t a field trip.”

She looked back at the Trill and the Klingon, neither looking especially excited about being here, and reminded herself that she wasn’t with a Starfleet landing party right now. Still, despite the lack of enthusiasm, she elected to stick to her guns.

“I just think we could take a look around. While they’re completing the repairs.”

Klath stared out at the forest, taking in the diverse and unique landscape that lay in front of them.

“Why?” he offered simply.

“To explore?” Natasha sighed, gesturing out at the trees, “To see what’s out there? To search this little corner of an unexplored planet while we have some time on our hands?”

A pause. The hulking Klingon scanned the forest again.

“Why?” the gruff response inevitably came.

Jirel couldn’t help but smirk, even as Natasha persisted with her sales pitch to the unconvinced member of her fledgling away team.

“Because who knows what’s out there? A valley filled with jewels the size of rocks? A tree made out of dilithium crystals? A river of pure latinum flowing just behind the tree line?”

Klath considered each of these points for a moment as he conducted another visual scan, before decisively responding with a shake of his head.


“Come on Klath,” Jirel offered by way of appeasement, “You know how it goes, right? You can take the girl out of Starfleet, but you can’t take--”

“Don’t do that. Are we gonna have a look around or not?”

She glared at Jirel, and the Trill found himself reluctantly conceding to himself that, not for the first time since they had rescued her from involuntary exile in the Kesmet sector, the newest member of the Bounty’s crew was going to twist his arm with some ease.

And so, he decided that if he was going to end up going along with her plan eventually anyway, he may as well go along with it now, and save everyone some time. He then wasted a few further seconds trying to figure out if that piece of internal logic actually made any sense.

Then, he turned to Klath and held his hands up in casual submission.

“Ok, come on, why don’t we spend a couple of hours going boldly, hmm?”

Klath grunted slightly, still entirely unenthused by the idea.

“Besides,” Jirel added, “You’d kick yourself if she was right about that river of latinum.”
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Part One (Cont'd)

Sister Lyca had no idea of the significance of the name of the Bastille. None of the Makalites could possibly have known about that. All she really knew was she really didn’t like being here.

It was a newer construction in the village, one of several that had been built since The Seer had arrived, and it stood away from the ordered concentric structure of the rest of the villages, on the very fringes of the settlement.

The walls were mostly built from the shining metal sheets that The Seer had brought back to the village from his forays beyond the forest, though the supports were all wooden and the roof was a traditional weave of branches and sticks of the kind used around the rest of the village.

The Makalites had not seen such a volume of metal before, save for a few glinting nuggets that foraging parties occasionally discovered. But it had quickly proved to be a revolutionary building material, not just in new buildings, but in supplementing the existing huts around the village.

The Bastille itself was a squat rectangular construct, with just one entrance that was lockable from the outside by a thick wooden block placed across the doorway.

Inside, Sister Lyca sat on the floor, restrained by ropes to one of the central wooden columns. There was little else inside in the way of comfort for The Bastille’s sole unfortunate inhabitant, and she still felt the gnawing itching pain from the rash on her arm behind her back.

She had been locked away more and more often as she had taken an increasingly fervent stance against The Seer and his prophecy, driven by the sickness that she saw everywhere inside the village, and her unshakable distrust in the man that the rest of the villagers had taken as their spiritual leader.

But now, as she sat on the grassy floor of the Bastille, she found herself with cause to question her own beliefs for a change.

Because she had seen it with her own eyes, out in the square. The skyship had appeared above their heads. Just as The Seer had claimed it would.

Part of her was still sure she was right. That The Seer was the cause of their woes, not the solution to them. After all, the sickness had only shown up after he had arrived. But another part of her was now conflicted. If The Seer had been right about the skyship, maybe he had also been right about their salvation. And maybe she had been wrong.

She was still fighting her internal conflict when the door opened, and the man himself entered.

There were no windows in the Bastille, but she could just about make him out through the minimal light that was seeping in through the weaves of the roof.

“Sister Lyca,” he sighed slowly, tutting thoughtfully as he paced over to her, “What am I going to do with you…”

She felt instinctively fearful given her entirely immobile state, but there was no trace of menace in his voice. Though he did sound different to his usual bombastic self. Quieter, more guarded, but still to Sister Lyca’s ears, entirely untrustworthy.

“See,” he continued, gesturing to her uncomfortably restrained form, “All this. This really isn’t me, you’ve got to understand. I’m a nice guy. Really, I am.”

Not for the first time since she had met him, Sister Lyca found herself doubting The Seer’s words.

“But the thing is,” he continued, now pointing back to the outside world, “I have an image to maintain out there, you know? And, if you don’t mind me saying so, your constant meddling around is becoming just a little bit annoying.”

She remained silent, staring back at the strange man as he paced around the room, and remaining conflicted between the falseness of his words, and the start of the apparent fulfilment of his prophecy that the village had just witnessed.

The Seer paused and looked around the slightly grim interior of the building, shaking his head.

“I mean, look at this place. I only built it as a deterrent, Sister Lyca. Did you know that? Big scary prison to help keep the peace among the flock. Even the name's a bit of a joke. And apart from that one guy who stole a harvest of kava fruit, you’re the only one who’s ever been in here!”

She couldn’t help but feel an odd flash of pride at that comment. Especially given how irritated he clearly was by her.

“So,” he signed, turning back to her, “To reiterate, I’m a nice guy. You’re stuck here again. And I’m ready to listen. You’ve seen what we all saw out there. My prophecy was correct. So just tell me, what is it gonna take to get you to fall in line and stop ruining everything for me, hmm?”

She considered her options, felt the rough twine keeping her hands in place. But she was also now increasingly sure of her original belief, that The Seer was not the great oracle he claimed to be. He seemed almost worried as he stood in front of her.

“I have nothing to say to you,” she replied, her voice sounding small despite her best efforts as it echoed around the empty room.

“Fine, you don't need to say anything to me,” The Seer tutted, toying with the end of one of the long billowing sleeves of his robes with clear irritation, “As a matter of fact, after listening to you for the last few days, I welcome the silence. But it would really help me out if you would go out there to your Brothers and Sisters and repent. Not for me, but for the good of the flock. Ok?”

She scrunched up her face in determination and shook her head, taking further succour from the grimace this elicited from him.

“I know what it is that I believe,” she replied, “And I will never stop trying to help my Brothers and Sisters to see the truth as well.”

“Unbelievable,” The Seer scoffed, shaking his head, “Even when you’ve seen the magical skyship with your own eyes? Even as the rest of the village believes that their salvation is here? You’re still going to try and undermine me?”

Sister Lyca thought about the skyship again, the great shining object that had soared down from the heavens, and tried to dismiss her conflicting fears.

“I may be just a simple gatherer, and I may not be able to explain all of what I have seen. But I am certain that you are the cause of our suffering, and I will never be a part of your flock!”

“Ugh,” he muttered unhappily, “You really are very irritating, you know that?”

Sister Lyca summoned up a little more courage and kept her eyes locked on his through the darkness.

“Whatever’s the matter, Seer? Did you not foresee that I would be like this?”

His eyes narrowed at this, the good humour on his face vanishing entirely for a moment.

“Very funny,” he tutted, before he peered around the side of the pillar and saw the tell-tale signs of the rash on her arm, “You know, some of your Brothers and Sisters think that sickness is a punishment. For those who aren’t loyal enough to The Seer and his prophecy.”

“If that’s true,” she countered, feeding off her growing confidence, “Then why is the sickness affecting all of the village? All of your flock? And perhaps even you, Seer?”

He visibly bristled at this, and stepped forward with an angry look before he stopped himself and regained his composure.

“Ok, you know what? Fine,” he replied, readjusting his robes, “I’ve tried to be nice. But if you’re going to keep trying to get in the way of my plans, then…goodbye, Sister Lyca. I won’t be back.”

With that, he turned and made for the door. As she saw him leaving her alone again, her confidence faltered. She pictured the skyship, and that part of her that now doubted her continued resistance to the prophecy wanted to call out, even to repent.

But she resisted those inner doubts. She remained proud and defiant in her protest against The Seer, as he walked out the door and it closed again. She kept up her resistance even as she heard the heavy wooden block being placed back across the exit on the outside.

And then, when she was completely alone, she slumped back against the pillar behind her, and began to sob.


“Keep her in there,” The Seer muttered dismissively at the two Makalite Brothers that stood watch either side of the door of the Bastille.

They nodded back unquestioningly, even as The Seer stalked away, his robes fanning out behind him and his usually serene face now like thunder.

He was thoroughly sick of this village.

He was thoroughly sick of the Makalites.

And he was definitely thoroughly sick of Sister Lyca.

As he walked on, he suppressed a wince. He glanced around to see if any Makalites were near, and ducked behind the side of a nearby hut.

Satisfied he was alone and out of sight, he pulled back the billowing sleeve of his robe to reveal his own forearm. A series of ugly red welts stared back at him.

He took a moment to internalise the pain, and admitted that this was the worst part of it all.

He was thoroughly sick of being sick.
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Part One (Cont'd)

Natasha picked her way through the undergrowth of the mysterious forest, doing her best to scan through the radiation with the ancient tricorder she had picked out from the Bounty’s rather underwhelming manifest.

As they walked, she tried not to think too much about how, the last time she had been in a forest with Jirel and Klath, they had run into a pack of rogue Jem’Hadar soldiers. This was going to be a much better field trip than that one, she told herself.

So, instead, she pictured her late father, the archaeologist, boldly stepping through the overgrown ruins of an ancient civilisation, or searching for a clue to some long-forgotten interstellar treasure. Even if she didn’t hold out much hope of finding either of those things on this particular planet.

Klath and Jirel followed in her wake. The Klingon had his trusty bat’leth slung behind his back, but aside from that, they hadn’t seen the need to arm themselves.

They mostly walked in silence, save for an occasional growl of annoyance from the Klingon every time Natasha stopped for a closer inspection of a particular instance of the local plant life. It was something that was happening far too often for his liking.

“Wait,” she exclaimed out of nowhere, as if to underline Klath’s unspoken point, “I wanna get a closer look at this one.”

Jirel diligently stopped and smiled as she carefully stepped over to the foot of a tree to their right, tricorder raised in preparation. His walking companion at his side found the scene significantly less endearing.

“This is insufferable,” the Klingon growled.

“No,” Natasha replied with a patient smile, “This is lunch.”

She reached under one of the leaves of the plant that she had been scanning and snapped off three pieces of fruit, handing her companions one each. They eyed it dubiously.

It was a small cylindrical object, deep blue in colour, with asymmetrical semi-circular lumps running along the outer skin. All things considered, it wasn’t winning any prizes for its looks.

“Ok, granted, it doesn’t look like much,” Natasha conceded, “But the tricorder says it’s perfectly safe.”

“The tricorder that’s not working properly cos of all that yummy radiation?” Jirel asked, “Also, cos it’s one of our tricorders?”

She shook her head and gestured to the readings she had been able to gather.

“Like Denella said, short-range scans seem to be mostly fine. It’s just the wider stuff that’s affected. And it says it’s perfectly safe to eat. So, let’s enjoy this little slice of an unexplored world.”

She smiled in satisfaction, then took a healthy bite from the fruit in her hands. Klath and Jirel followed suit.

During his misspent youth with his adoptive parents on Earth, Jirel had once been challenged by a friend to eat a portion of B’kaazi reklor. A dish from the B’kaazi people which involved fermenting the meat of one of their most common farm animals under the sun for six days straight, completely unprotected from the elements, save for a simple wrap of aromatic plant leaves.

The resulting meal is considered a particularly choice delicacy by the B’kaazi, but to every other species in the Alpha Quadrant, the reklor’s offensive smell and even more offensive taste renders it virtually inedible.

It remained the most disgusting thing that Jirel had ever eaten. Until now.

“Oh. God. No,” he managed to splutter, before he spat out the entire mouthful of fruit onto the forest floor and hurled the rest of the offending foodstuff away.

He looked over to see Natasha hastily retreating behind the tree they were standing next to, and promptly vomiting loudly.

“Good find, doc,” he coughed, “Your tricorder picking up any delicious natural springs of flesh-eating acid to wash that down with?”

After taking a moment to compose herself, she staggered back over with as much dignity as she could muster, waving an accusing hand at the tricorder.

“It can tell if it’s edible. Not what it tastes like.”

The pair of them turned to see Klath still merrily munching on his own piece of fruit. After a second, he looked up, slightly puzzled by his sudden fascinated audience.

“Delicious,” he stated simply, “This may have been a worthy mission after all, doctor.”

He reached down with a hulking arm and snapped off two more of the pieces of fruit, devouring the first one whole. Natasha felt a fresh wave of nausea rising in her body.

“Well,” Jirel said weakly, “At least Klath’s lunch is sorted.”

Just as the Klingon tore into the other piece of fruit, he suddenly froze in position. His warrior instincts kicked in as he sensed something moving in the undergrowth.

“What’s the matter?” Jirel whispered. He was familiar with that look from his tactical chief. It usually meant trouble.

Klath dropped the second piece of fruit to the ground and reached for his bat’leth, as he scanned the undergrowth for signs of danger. He didn’t offer an answer.

But Natasha did. Or at least, her tricorder did.

“Um,” she said, in shock, “I’m picking up lifesigns. Close by. Heading this way.”

The former Starfleet officer realised in horror that they had landed on an inhabited planet. Potentially a pre-industrial planet. One of the biggest galactic violations it was possible to commit. She was equally horrified to see that Jirel seemed entirely unaffected by this news.

“Oh, is that all?” he replied, tapping Klath on the arm, “Hey, Klath, put the big scary bat’leth away, ok? The natives might be friendly.”

“Why the hell are there natives here in the first place?” Natasha hissed as the Klingon reluctantly lowered his weapon, “Why didn’t we check that before we landed?”

“Because, if you remember, we were kinda busy at the time. With the whole ‘big explosion, lots of shaking about, oh crap we’re going to die’ thing we had going on.”

“But,” she shot back, “If this is a pre-warp civilisation, then we’re potentially contaminating--”

“Relax, ok?” Jirel sighed, “We do this sort of thing all the time.”

The stare he got from Natasha as he made that statement was sharp enough to cut him. He realised his mistake immediately, and managed an awkward cough.

“Did I say ‘all the time’? I meant to say that we’ve never previously done anything like this before. Ever. So, um, lifesigns, you say?”

Natasha’s stare got even more intense, as she felt a sudden urge to wrap the vintage tricorder in her hand around the Trill’s head. But before she had a chance to do that, or to query his first answer any further, the impromptu away team found themselves surrounded. On all sides, light blue faces emerged from the undergrowth.

There were at least a dozen of them. They all wore simple cotton-like clothing and looked roughly humanoid in appearance, albeit with thin bony ridges running around the top of their head and disappearing underneath their hairline.

And they were clearly from a pre-warp civilisation. By some considerable distance.

Natasha was principally worried about two things. Her primary concern was the fact that they were committing a fairly substantial act of cultural contamination just by being here. A human, a Klingon and a Trill marching through the backyard of a pre-industrial civilisation who were likely yet to fully comprehend the concept of their own planet, never mind anyone else’s.

And her secondary concern was tangentially connected to that. If these people really had never seen a human, a Klingon or a Trill before, then why were they all smiling?

One of the aliens stepped forward as the others watched on. She looked around at them, and gave the scowling Klath a slightly wide berth, but she clearly wasn’t afraid of them. Instead, she stepped straight up to Jirel and smiled even wider.

“Um,” the Trill offered with an uncomfortable shrug, “We come in peace?”

“Oh, for the love of…” Natasha muttered under her breath, accompanied by a roll of her eyes.

The alien ignored the comment, and instead gently reached out her hand and ran her fingers down the spots on the side of Jirel’s face, before turning back to her colleagues in excitement.

“It is him! The spotted man! He has come to us!”

Klath and Natasha shot confused looks at Jirel, who looked as perplexed as they were about the whole situation.

“I swear,” he managed, “I’ve never seen her before.”

All of a sudden, the rest of the blue-skinned figures came rushing out of the undergrowth towards him. But while Klath instinctively brought his bat’leth to bear on the potentially hostile hoard, he felt faintly ludicrous for doing so moments later.

The aliens surrounded Jirel and hugged him warmly, before they took careful hold of him and hoisted him up into the air, onto the shoulders of two of the stouter male figures.

“Brothers, Sisters,” the original alien continued, “The prophecy really is coming true! We must celebrate! All of us!”

Cheers of joy sounded out from the entire crowd of aliens, which echoed through the forest and bounced off the trees all around them.

Natasha watched on with mounting horror as they began to carry the increasingly confused Trill off into the undergrowth.

As they walked off, Klath reached out and grabbed one of the aliens by their arm. The female alien looked up at the larger Klingon, a little wary, but not scared by the situation.

“You…know him?” Klath asked, gesturing at Jirel with a jerk of his head.

“Of course we know him,” the alien replied, a little offended that she had to be asked, “We’ve been waiting for him. Waiting for our saviour!”

Klath didn’t know what to do with that. Nor, despite her Starfleet training, did Natasha.

“Seriously,” Jirel shouted out to them, as he disappeared into the trees, “Never seen them before in my life!”
A zedless civilization? Evidently not a Yank...

“We’ve been waiting for him. Waiting for our saviour!”
Star Fleet training should be very memorable for such situations. If a bunch of aliens think you're their long-awaited, prophesied savior: Run. Run very far and very fast. And spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder.

Thanks!! rbs
Part One (Cont'd)


Denella didn’t reply, focusing instead on her efforts to seal the duranium sheet in front of her in place over the Bounty’s starboard impulse casing using the laser welder in her hand.


She sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow. As expected, the slightly higher gravity and the warming midday sun overhead was turning a theoretically simple repair job into more of a sweat-inducing grind. She could already tell that she was going to medically require a sonic shower by the time she was done.



She finally snapped at the Vulcan standing next to her on the small anti-grav platform, as it hovered a few feet off the ground next to the ship’s starboard impulse engine.

The extent of her unwillingly appointed lackey’s role in the repair at this point was simply to hold the sheet in place while she securely welded it down. But even with a task as simple as that, Sunek had still decided to make his feelings on the situation very clear indeed.

“Could you just, please, be quiet?” she asked in exasperation.

The Vulcan seemed largely unperturbed by her angry, sweaty glare, and pouted back at her.

“But I’m--”

“Bored. Yes. You’ve made that very clear. But, could you just let me work in peace.”

His pout didn’t show any signs of leaving his face any time soon, but he nodded reluctantly and allowed silence to descend on the scene. Denella suppressed a sigh of relief and returned to her work, carefully running the welder along the edge of the dark grey metal sheet.

Suddenly, she heard a distinctive tap-tapping sound, and her engineer’s ear cocked up in concern. She stopped her welding work and grabbed her tricorder from her belt, running the device across the engine itself.

“Crap. If that’s coming from inside the plasma conduit, we’re gonna need to replace the entire--”

It was then that she saw that Sunek was now staring off into the distance, idly tapping his fingers on the side of the Bounty’s hull with his free hand as he did so.


He paused in the middle of his tapping and looked over to her, a picture of innocence.


Summoning the deepest reserves of her strength of will, Denella resisted the increasingly strong temptation to introduce the laser welder in her hands to any number of Sunek’s body parts, and instead powered down the small device for a moment.

“Ok, new plan,” she said, as calmly as she could manage, “I’m gonna finish off the work up here. On my own. And you can…go fix some lunch? I’ve had to power everything down while we’re working, so you’ll need to see what we’ve got in storage.”

Sunek raised an eyebrow. A universal symbol consistent across all Vulcans, from the most stoic Kolinahr graduate to the most emotionally fragile member of the V’tosh ka’tur, that indicated that the owner of the eyebrow was distinctly unimpressed.

“Lunch? I’m a pilot, not a caterer.”

Keeping her strength of will as fully charged as possible, Denella disguised her irritation with the friendliest smile she could muster under the warmth of the sun.

“Please? I’m starving. Besides, it’ll be a hell of a lot less like hard work.”

Sunek considered this for a moment. He didn’t much like the idea of fixing lunch. But he equally didn’t like the idea of staying out working in these conditions. His laziness and his apathy had a brief tug of war inside his mind, before he nodded and started towards the edge of the anti-grav unit. Just as he was about to clamber down, he paused and looked back at the Orion woman.

“Wait. You’re not--? To be clear, this isn’t an order. I mean, you’re not my boss.”

Denella paused in the middle of powering the laser cutter back up and sighed again, looking over at the Vulcan with her best ‘go and fix lunch’ glare.

“It’s just,” Sunek continued, “What Jirel said before about--I just wanna be clear that I’m fixing lunch entirely of my own volition. Not cos you're, y’know, in charge of me or anything.”

“Ok,” she replied in exasperation, “Noted.”


With a look of satisfaction now that was settled, Sunek jumped over the railing at the edge of the anti-grav unit and dropped to the ground a few feet below, before slowly plodding back inside the Bounty via the ramp.

Denella took a moment to appreciate the bliss of the sudden burst of peace and quiet now being afforded to her, before she powered the welder on fully and picked up where she left off.

Just as the tool made contact with the metal again, her communicator chirped out.

Her first response was to utter an untranslatable old phrase in her native Orion tongue, which the quadrant’s foremost linguists had termed ‘the most succinctly offensive curse in history’, due to its ability to crudely question the integrity of three generations of your family while graphically associating them with four different types of livestock in just six short syllables.

Her second response was to reluctantly flick the welder off again and grab the chirping device from her belt, before she had a chance to fully calm down.

“What the hell is it now?” she snapped.


Despite everything that was happening around her, Natasha was still taken aback by the Orion’s growled response over the comms link. She’d always seen the engineer as the calmest and most level-leaded of the Bounty’s usually impulsive crew.

“Denella?” she managed to reply.

“I’m afraid Denella’s busy right now. You’re through to the Orion goddess of pissed off engineers,” the snippy response came back.

Natasha glanced at Klath where he stood next to her, the Klingon looking equally confused by their colleague’s tone, before she tentatively continued.

“Um, ok? Are the repairs done? Cos we might have a bit of a problem over here.”

A short pause. An odd clanging sound came back, which neither party on this end of the comms link could quite place, but a more discerning ear might have recognised as the sound of an old-style laser welder making heavy contact with a sheet of duranium.

“What sort of a problem?” Denella replied eventually.

“We’ve, um, accidentally encountered some of the natives of this planet,” Natasha explained with a sigh, “And they’re…”

She paused and looked around.

She and Klath stood to one side of the central square of the village they had been brought to, and although they were trying not to draw attention to the chunky communicator in her hand, in truth they were mostly being ignored by the villagers. Their attention was entirely on the ‘spotted man’.

Jirel had been carried all the way to the centre of the square, and was now sitting on a wooden chair in the centre of a long, elaborately decorated table, looking unduly pleased with himself.

Villagers - Makalites, as Natasha had learned they called themselves - scurried around the table, laying out a number of clay jugs filled with drinks, woven decorations and other items in front of the Trill that they had inexplicably proclaimed as their saviour.

To one side of the green, a small band had started up, playing a quirky folk-style tune on a series of strange woodwind-style instruments. Some of the Makalites nearby had started performing a loosely choreographed dance, apparently also entirely for Jirel’s benefit.

As the music, the dancing, the drinking and the merriment continued, Natasha tried to convey the scene as accurately as possible over the comms link.

“They’re…having a party.”

There was a particularly long pause before Denella’s reply came.

“Ok, I’m gonna hang up now--”

“No, Denella, wait,” Natasha jumped in quickly, “Something really strange is going on. This is a pre-warp society, pre-industrial even. And yet they’re totally fine with us being here, and they’re even calling Jirel their…saviour!”

“...Our Jirel?”


“He claims to have never met them before,” Klath added helpfully from Natasha’s side.

Another pause, as the Orion took this unlikely information in.

“Well, clearly,” she replied eventually, “But, what’s your endgame here, doc? Cos I’m right in the middle of these repairs.”

Natasha suppressed her mounting frustrations at the reactions she was getting from the Bounty’s crew regarding the huge faux pas they were in the middle of committing with the Makalites, and tried to block out the sound of the seemingly tuneless woodwind melody coming from on the other side of the square.

I’m not in Starfleet any more, she reminded herself.

“Well, we obviously need to get out of here asap,” she concluded eventually, “Once the Bounty’s ready to go, we’ll find a quiet corner of the village, and you can beam us out. With any luck this’ll all just be remembered as a…mass hallucination or something.”

It wasn’t exactly the greatest solution, she knew. But given the resources they had, there wasn’t much more they could do.

“Yeah, can’t do that,” Denella countered, “All that radiation. Wouldn’t wanna try beaming you through that on our old transporter. If you wanna get out of there, then you’re gonna have to walk.”

Natasha grimaced, realising that the Orion woman was right.

“Fine,” she sighed, “I guess we’ll try to make our excuses and…”

She paused, distracted by a new group of Makalites carrying enormous platters of colourful foods from one of the nearby huts and setting them down on the table in front of Jirel.

“Oh my god,” she whispered in horror, “There’s a buffet.”

Her palpable concern for the situation was interrupted by the sound of the comms link being terminated, as Denella finally hung up.
‘the most succinctly offensive curse in history’, due to its ability to crudely question the integrity of three generations of your family while graphically associating them with four different types of livestock in just six short syllables.

Totally loving the etymology!

“Oh my god,” she whispered in horror, “There’s a buffet.”

And that is a classic line that totally belongs in a horror movie.

Thanks!! rbs
Part One (Cont'd)

Despite the occasional evidence to the contrary, Jirel had never really considered himself to be a particularly vain man.

From his troubled upbringing as an orphan on Earth, to his failed attempt to join Starfleet Academy and follow in his adoptive father’s footsteps, to his time flitting around the galaxy from odd job to odd job, and culminating in his time in charge of the Bounty, there wasn’t a lot to be vain about.

He had a big enough ego, obviously. And was more than happy to depict himself as a swashbuckling space captain if there was a crowd to show off in front of, or a woman to try to impress.

But he was the first to admit that said ego wasn’t rooted in vanity, and had entirely been constructed as a defence mechanism, an act designed to cover for the fact that throughout most of his life flying through space by the seat of his pants, he had no idea what the hell he was doing.

Still, despite claiming an absence of vanity in his character, it turned out that being suddenly hailed as the saviour of an entire group of people was a pretty solid method for kindling that particular feeling inside.

He watched as the Makalite villagers danced, sang and played music in his honour, as he ate and drank from the wide selection of delicacies that had been willingly provided to him. He had been offered gifts of elaborate cloth and small jewels, and had lost count of the number of blue-skinned aliens that had approached to give him thanks or praise.

All things considered, the green shoots of vanity that were fomenting inside of him decided that he could definitely get used to all this.

Just as he settled back in his chair to watch the climax of the latest curious dancing display in the middle of the square, he was approached by the same alien that had led the group of Makalites back in the forest, the one that he had learned was called Sister Ryna.

“Oh, spotted man,” she said wistfully, an adage that the Makalites seemed entirely unwilling to drop despite Jirel having told them his actual name several times, “Is there anything more that you desire, great and merciful saviour?”

Jirel resisted the temptation to ask if the Makalites had gotten far enough into their evolutionary cycle to have invented a half-decent brandy, and tried to indulge his curiosity instead.

“Um, well, I guess you could--I mean, I’m obviously your great and merciful saviour. And that’s really, totally cool. Could not be more excited about that. But…just refresh my memory about, y’know, what that actually entails...?”

Sister Ryna was slightly perturbed by this question. He should already know that kind of thing as far as she could see. But she didn’t let her confusion show. After all, whatever the case, she was still in the presence of the spotted man.

“It is just as The Seer has told us,” she explained, “That you would come down from the stars, on your mighty skyship, and save us all.”

The Trill mulled this over as he chewed on a piece of juicy fruit, significantly tastier than whatever Natasha had inflicted on them back in the forest.

He didn’t mean for it to happen, but Sister Ryna’s words were definitely feeding his vestigial sense of vanity. This led to him unlocking his pre-existing ego, and deciding that, given the circumstances, a bit of Jirel Vincent, space adventurer, wouldn't go amiss.

“Well,” he said, pulling his best swashbuckling captain smile, “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve saved the day, let me tell you--”

His ego was interrupted by the sound of a distinctly unhappy cough. He and Sister Ryna swivelled around to see Natasha and Klath glaring down at them where they sat.

Jirel felt his swashbuckling captain smile trying to make a run for it.

“Oh. Um. Hi, guys,” he managed, “Just, y’know, making friends with the natives?”

He grabbed his smile before it evacuated his face entirely and rearranged it into one more in keeping with an apologetic teenager who had just been caught breaking curfew by his parents.

“Cute,” Natasha replied, without a trace of amusement.

“Aren’t I?” Jirel shot back, his grin gaining in strength as he chomped down on another piece of fruit and accepted a top-up of green-tinged liquid from a clay jug wielded by Sister Ryna.

“You should be careful,” Klath cautioned, eyeing the Makalite woman with distrust, “The food could be poisoned.”

Sister Ryna tilted her head at the Klingon with a look of innocent confusion.

“Why would we wish to poison our saviour?”

“Yeah, Klath,” Jirel retorted, taking a generous gulp of the sweet liquid, “Why would they want to do a stupid thing like that? Now will you two relax? You’re the one who wanted to take a look around, remember, Nat? And here we are. Looking around. Trust me, this is not a problem.”

Klath grunted unhappily, as Natasha rolled her eyes. She was becoming increasingly concerned by the way that the Trill seemed to be starting to ease into the role that the Makalites had created for him.

“Tell me, spotted man,” Sister Ryna continued, as she replenished his drink again, “Where is this great and mighty skyship of yours?”

Jirel took the question in his stride, wondering if that was the first time either of those words had been used to describe the Bounty, even as Natasha’s glare darkened a little more.

“Oh, right,” he nodded, gesturing back towards the forest they had come from, “It’s, um, y’know, just over…yonder.”

Klath’s face scrunched up in confusion.


“I dunno,” Jirel shrugged back at the Klingon, “I’m just trying to fit in.”

Natasha suppressed another sigh and turned back to Sister Ryna, who seemed to be thoroughly elated by the news about the proximity of the skyship, regardless of the exact phrasing that had been used.

Cultural contamination or not, she decided it was time to get some answers.

“Excuse me,” she said with a friendly tone, “What exactly is it that you need from the spotted man and his skyship?”

Sister Ryna looked confused again, wondering why both the spotted man, and his acolytes, seemed so unfamiliar with their roles in what was unfolding.

“The Seer’s prophecy was clear,” she explained, fixing Jirel with a doting look, “The spotted man will come in his skyship, and take us all to our utopia.”

She broke eye contact with Jirel for a moment, and looked up towards the heavens, gesturing with her outstretched hands and smiling widely.

“Way up there.”

Natasha stared open-mouthed at the cheery Makalite. Jirel choked on the piece of fruit he had been in the middle of eating. Even Klath looked a little taken aback.

The Trill turned and offered an altogether weaker smile at his colleagues than before, his vanity well and truly fleeing the scene of the crime entirely.

“Ok,” he admitted, “This might be a teeny, tiny bit of a problem.”


While the party continued in the square, The Seer watched on from the temple.

Behind him, dominating the expanse of the single room inside the metal structure, was a simple wooden table, virtually groaning under the weight of the many and various offerings to him that had come from the villagers.

Jewels, gems and precious stones of all shapes and sizes had been added there over time, anything that the Makalites could find to pay their respects. Just as he had instructed. And, with the ‘skyship’ having now arrived, The Seer had decided to forego the party, such that it was, in order to collect the riches the villagers had availed him with.

And then, just as he had been assessing some of the larger objects on the table, he had thought to pop his head outside to check that everything was progressing according to his plans.

It didn’t take long for him to spot the newcomers. They didn’t exactly blend in with the blue-skinned villagers after all. And when he saw them, his mood had instantly darkened.

He summoned up his most calming and serene expression and turned to the other two figures in the temple with arms outstretched in peaceful warmth.

Brother Falor and Brother Makan stood beside the groaning table, awaiting his words.

The two Makalites had quickly become known as The Seer’s most loyal followers ever since he had arrived in the village, endlessly eager and willing to carry out the wishes of the man that was promising them so much.

They had no issues with the donated items in the temple. It was clearly important for everyone to each show their thanks for all that The Seer was doing for them.

They had never questioned The Seer whenever he had asked them to lock Sister Lyca away in the Bastille. After all, she was a heretic, one that stood against the words of his great prophecy.

And they didn’t mind being kept from the celebrations outside, even though the spotted man and the skyship was now amongst them. Especially given that The Seer had promised they would both have prime seats in the skyship for their ascent to the heavens.

They didn’t even care about the rashes on their arms. Because salvation was now at hand.

And so, they remained loyal to their all-seeing master, and they dutifully awaited whatever tasks he might have for them before they reached their utopia.

“Brother Falor, Brother Makan,” The Seer said to them in his becalmed voice, “Your Seer must, I’m afraid, furnish you with a task on this joyous day.”

“Of course, Seer,” Brother Falor replied eagerly, backed up by an enthusiastic nod from his fellow Brother, “We are happy to serve you.”

The Seer bowed his head slightly at them in respectful thanks, before shooting a glance back towards the doorway of the temple.

“I need you to…keep a close eye on our guests for me. Can you do that?”

“But, oh Seer,” Brother Makan said with a note of worry, “For what purpose? This is all as your prophecy foretold.”

“Of course it is,” The Seer replied quickly, keeping his tone benign, “But you are both well aware that, on occasion, my prophecies can work in mysterious ways. And that I have always asked you to ensure that you both keep your faith, for the, um, good of the flock.”

The Brothers shared a look of confusion. It was true that, for as long as they had followed him, The Seer’s prophecies often did play out in somewhat contradictory ways.

Such as his forecast that their crops would prosper, only for the rains to fall and wash away their entire harvest. The Seer had pointed out that ground was now clear and fertile, ready for a bountiful crop to prosper next season.

Or when he had claimed that all would be well with Sister Toya’s father, days before the elder had succumbed to sleeping sickness. The Seer had clarified that all indeed was well, and that he was safely in the next realm.

So, even though The Seer now appeared to be asking them to spy on the very people that he had claimed were here to deliver them from the disease that was blighting the village, it made sense to both Brother Falor and Brother Makan that if this seemed wrong, it was only because they didn’t fully understand the prophecy itself.

And that was clearly their problem, not the fault of The Seer. After all, he had never guided them wrong before. Especially when he had appeared to have guided them wrong.

It was flawless critical thinking like that which had made Brother Falor and Brother Makan such excellent followers in the first place.

So, instead of questioning his request, they both simply nodded back.

“Such loyalty to the flock,” The Seer smiled with benevolence, “And, if any of our guests go against the ways of the prophecy, you know what to do.”

They nodded again, and scurried out of the temple, leaving The Seer to return his attention to watching the celebrations for the arrival of the spotted man from afar.

He saw the trio of newcomers to the village once again, and he felt his mood darkening afresh. He wasn’t sure how it had happened, but what had happened was clear to him.

Someone had sent him the wrong Trill.

End of Part One
Part Two

“What the hell is that?”

Denella shot out her comment just as Sunek ambled up the steps and entered the room, slapping a dusty ration pack down on top of the engineering console where she worked.

“Um, lunch, your majesty,” the Vulcan shot back, “Like you said, the replicator’s off until you power the ship back up again, so I had to go and dig these old things out of storage. They’re still good to eat.”

He paused and tentatively sniffed the dirty brown nutrient bar sticking out of the torn wrapping of his own ration pack and wrinkled his nose slightly.

“I think.”

Denella sighed patiently and gestured to the readouts on the console in front of her.

“Not that. This.”

The Vulcan idly wandered around to take a look at what she was pointing at, taking a bite out of the corner of his ration bar as he did so.

Denella had nearly finished patching up the damage to the ship, and had specifically come back to the cockpit in order to make preparations to restart main power before heading back to the Bounty’s warp core to finish the job.

But while she was here, curiosity had gotten the best of her, and she’d decided to use some of the scant emergency power being used to keep the Bounty’s vital systems running in order to take a closer look at the radiation that was affecting both sensor scans and transporter operation.

It was partly curiosity, and also partly a slight sense of guilt about how she’d snapped at Natasha over the comms link earlier. Her frustrations had dissipated now, and she had decided to see if there was anything she could do about the transporter.

But what she’d found was more perplexing than she’d been expecting.

“What’s all this?” Sunek asked as he glanced over the readings and chewed on his ration bar, not doing a particularly good job of making it sound like he cared.

“Jirel and the others are up to their necks in natives, apparently. So I thought I’d look for a way to beam them out.”

“What is it with us and natives, anyway?”

She ignored the question and tapped at the controls to bring up a full set of readings that she’d been able to pull together.

“Now, I’m not getting much, because of all the interference. But what I am getting makes no sense at all. Look.”

Sunek continued to idly chew away as he looked over the readings. Eventually, he shrugged and looked over at her.

“Yeah. Cool. Weird radiation.”

Denella sighed again. She’d known the Bounty’s thoroughly unorthodox Vulcan for long enough to know that underneath several layers of bad jokes, constant sarcasm, garish clothing and intense laziness, there still lurked a substantial Vulcan intellect.

It was just that, most of the time, it took a gentle nudge in the right direction to get him to actually bother using it.

“It’s more than just ‘weird radiation’ though,” she mused, “There’s something off about it, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…”

She carefully framed her comment to leave the door wide open for Sunek to sweep in and fill in the blanks in her understanding. Alongside her, he sighed in frustration. By the sounds of it, he’d already figured it out.

He swallowed his chunk of ration bar and reluctantly looked down at the console. A fresh conflict stirred up inside him, cannily jolted into action by Denella’s words, between his egotistical need to prove how clever he was and his equally strong desire not to do any work.

Eventually, his ego won the battle.

“I mean,” he shrugged off-handedly, “It’s pretty obvious what’s off about it. It’s not naturally occurring. Look at the way the intensity curve changes over distance. If it was a natural planetary phenomenon, it’d be way more uniform.”

“Which means?” she pressed, tipping his ego fully over the edge.

He sighed again, took another bite from his ration bar and started to quickly tap the controls with his free hand.

“Which means it’s a dispersal pattern,” he went on, finishing his work with the controls and tapping the screen that now displayed a zoomed map of the surrounding area, and an associated radiation pattern, “See? There’s your source. Other side of those hills we’re parked next to. Whatever’s over there is what’s causing all this radiation.”

Denella looked down at the screen with a nod of satisfaction, then back over at the scruffy Vulcan by her side.

“See, why don’t you do stuff like this more often?”

“Cos it’s boring,” he shrugged as he swallowed his final mouthful of nutrient bar, tossing the empty ration pack wrapper straight onto the deck of the cockpit and earning an irritated tut from the Orion for his actions.

“Hrm,” she added as she studied the details on the screen, “You know, this seems like a pretty short hike.”

Sunek’s face dropped instantly.

“Naw. Come on, Denellla--!”

“I’m serious,” she insisted, “We’ve got plenty of time now the repairs are done, so let’s go do a bit of sightseeing. Shouldn’t take long to get over there and take a look. If we can figure out what it is, we might be able to solve our transporter problems.”

The Vulcan emitted a further annoyed whine, as Denella grabbed her tricorder and the other ration bar from on top of the panel and walked over to the cockpit steps, pointing at the discarded wrapper on the deck as she passed it.

“Also, pick that up.”

She paused for a second at the top of the steps and looked back at the Vulcan with a smile.

“And just in case you’re still worried about who’s in charge, don’t think of any of this as me giving you orders. Think of them more as strong recommendations.”

With that, she disappeared down the steps, leaving Sunek to grumpily look down at the silvery wrapper from the ration pack.

“See,” he called after her, “I go figure everything out, and this is how you thank me. That’s why I don’t do stuff like this more often!”

Getting no response, he continued to grumble to himself as he followed her down the steps, leaving the wrapper where it was.

He hated hikes.


Natasha stared down at her tricorder and shook it in frustration.

It wasn’t the first time that she’d taken quite such an agricultural approach to a piece of kit she had sourced from the Bounty. Quite often, she had come to find that it was the only way to get any of it to work. But this time, she knew that it wasn’t the tricorder’s fault. This time, it wasn’t working properly because of the radiation all around them.

Still, it felt satisfying to shake it.


She looked up to see Klath approaching her, the Klingon looking around guardedly.

Having heard Sister Ryna’s somewhat shocking explanation for the exact purpose of their supposed saviour’s arrival, they had left the ‘spotted man’ to enjoy the rest of the banquet, while they did some digging.

They had walked a short distance away from the main square, stepping into the well-trodden dirt streets that fanned out into the village itself.

With the entire population of the settlement seemingly busy attending the festivities, the streets themselves were deserted, save for the odd Makalite flitting here and there, who tended to be more worried about missing the party than they were the sight of the human and the Klingon.

That aspect of their arrival was still troubling her. Not that she wanted to be seen as a terrifying visitor from another world in a way that would permanently scar the Makalite culture, but the way that they were so entirely accepting of them was unquestionably perturbing.

She forced herself to focus on their most immediate issue, and shook her head in response to the Klingon’s question.

“Not really,” she admitted, gesturing to the tricorder, “The radiation is even more intense around here than it was back out in the forest. What have you got?”

She had suggested that they split up to gather as much information as possible. Klath had never struck her as a particularly keen anthropologist, and she had braced herself for more grumbled complaints like back in the forest, but she found to her surprise and satisfaction that he had readily accepted the plan.

Unfortunately, as he delivered his report, she realised that perhaps she should have been a bit more clear on what sort of information he was supposed to have been gathering.

“I have completed a full tactical assessment of the area,” he began, “The perimeter line is poorly defended, and their weaponry is primitive. Slingshots and stone projectiles. I do not believe that they pose us a serious threat.”

Natasha stared back at the entirely serious face of the Klingon, as a stray villager scurried past carrying a particularly unthreatening tray of fruit, underlining his analysis.

“Klath,” she sighed, “I meant information about the people, the culture, the--We’re not planning an invasion here!”

“You asked me to see what I could find out," he offered back, "That is what I have been able to find out.”

She sighed in exasperation and gave the tricorder in her hand an extra shake for good measure.

“I meant, y’know, ask around. Find out who these people are, and why they seem to have been expecting us. Who’s this ‘Seer’ that Sister Ryna mentioned, and what’s going on with this prophecy of his that Jirel seems to be involved in. That sort of thing. Not a breakdown of their weaponry!”

Klath considered these points for a solemn moment.

“I do not see how that information will aid our attempts to leave.”

Natasha was certain that she felt her cheek involuntarily twitch at that comment, and made a mental note to run a quick medical scan on herself when she got back to the Bounty for signs of stress-related issues.

“Ok,” she replied calmly, “But we’re not leaving just yet. I mean, you heard everything back there. Why the hell do these Makalites expect us to transport them somewhere? And why are they so accepting of the idea of starships and alien visitors?”

Another solemn pause, as Klath considered those points as well.

“I see,” he nodded eventually, “Perhaps that has something to do with their disease.”

He offered that information in an entirely offhand manner, as if it was entirely unimportant compared to the details about the village’s defensive capabilities. Which, as far as he was concerned, it was.

But that wasn’t an opinion shared by the curious ex-Starfleet doctor.

“What disease?”

“Most of these…individuals have some sort of disease,” he explained with a slightly reluctant grimace, “One of the males mentioned it to me, as I was enquiring about the existence of any armed outposts in the surrounding hillside.”

She felt another involuntary twitch as she tried to work out why he thought none of this would be important, and idly wondered whether or not she was going to be the first person on record to suffer a tactical report-induced seizure.

“Ok,” she said eventually, summoning up the patience to continue, “I need to take a look at that for myself. That might give us an idea of what we’re dealing with here. In the meantime, you go back and get Jirel. We need to be ready to leave once we’ve figured all this out.”

“Understood,” Klath nodded, “I will continue my tactical assessment on the way.”

“Ugh,” she groaned, “For the last time, we don’t need to worry about the Makalites and their wooden huts--”

“Metal,” Klath pointed out, “The huts are wood and metal.”

Natasha paused and looked around, taking in the glistening pieces of metal that were distributed all over the village for the first time.

Inwardly, she cursed herself for missing such a simple piece of information in her own investigations. She’d been so wrapped up in trying to interpret the frustratingly patchy tricorder data that she hadn’t really properly looked around at what she was trying to scan.

Must be getting rusty, she mused wryly.

“Do not worry, doctor,” Klath added to his observation, “They do not appear to have begun using such materials in their weaponry at this stage.”

She wasn’t really listening at this stage. Instead, she walked over to a nearby hut and started to examine the metal supports on either side of the doorway. They looked incongruous compared to the wooden construction of the building.

She checked the tricorder data, but it was just as useless as any of her other scans, so she resorted to a visual inspection, and became intrigued.

“Hey, check this out,” she motioned to Klath, who stepped over to her, “This metal. It’s been machined and tooled. And this isn’t just a naturally occurring element. It looks like some sort of compound alloy.”

Klath wasn’t especially interested in those findings. But he had been working hard on his ability to swap small talk with the rest of the crew, given how much it seemed to inexplicably matter to them. So he knew she was expecting a response.


He was satisfied that was enough for the time being, and mentally congratulated himself on another fine piece of small talk in his growing repertoire.

“But,” Natasha continued, her focus still on the metal, “There’s no way a civilisation at this stage of development should be able to make something like this…”


As far as Klath was concerned, he was acing this particular conversation.

Natasha ran the tricorder across the metal sheet and tutted in frustration at the lack of a result. Even if she had been expecting it.

“Ugh. If only we could reconfigure our scans. Cut through the radiation pattern somehow.”

Klath considered whether he should chance a third ‘interesting’ in a row. It seemed especially hypocritical when he was struggling to think of a topic he found less interesting than Makalite building construction. But in the end, he decided to focus back on more important matters.

“Perhaps…I should locate Jirel, as you suggested?”

This snapped her back into the here and now, as she clipped the mostly useless tricorder back onto her belt and stopped her investigation into the metal sheet.

“Right,” she nodded, “And in the meantime, I’ll see if I can find out anything about this disease. At the very least, the last thing we want is to catch something while we're down here.”

They set off in different directions, with Klath heading back to the town square and Natasha heading deeper into the streets of the village. Neither of them noticed as Brother Falor and Brother Makan emerged from behind a nearby hut and started to follow her.
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They have to put it together... Strange radiation, strange metal tooled by another culture, classic radiation poisoning wounds and symptoms...

Nice slow buildup of clues... Thanks!! rbs
Part Two (Cont'd)


Jirel grimaced at the unexpected force of the hands being pushed into his exposed back. He felt the impact hit him in between his shoulder blades and radiate out, the hands spreading across his back and crushing him as they went.

The Trill was now deeply regretting taking up Sister Ryna’s entirely innocent sounding offer of a traditional Makalite massage.

He hadn’t really fully thought through what such a treatment might entail on this planet as she had gleefully led him to a nearby hut and suggested that the spotted man should make himself comfortable on the large wooden table in the centre of the main room inside.

Specifically, he hadn’t really factored in the effect that the slightly higher gravity of the Makalite planet might have on their concept of a delicate touch.

And so, he was in pain. Lots of pain.


He squealed as the Makalite woman enthusiastically slammed the knuckles of her hands deep in between his shoulder blades.

“I have been trained in this practice by one of our healers,” she explained with a merry innocence that belied the fact that Jirel was pretty sure she was about to dislocate his left shoulder, “It brings me such joy to be able to treat you, oh saviour!”

As she slammed her hands down again and again, Jirel tried to respond as best he could without hurting her ever-cheerful feelings.

“That’s great, Sister Ryna. Really - Aack! - Really great. But is there any chance you - Gngh! - You could go just a tiny bit softer?”

Sister Ryna looked a little taken aback at this. After all, she had worked hard and studied for many hours to learn the ways of a true Makalite massage.

“Am I hurting you, oh saviour?” she asked as she thumped the Trill’s exposed back again.

“Not so much ‘hurting’ as - Agh! - Just, y’know, maybe a bit less…brute force?”

“But this is exactly how the healer--”


“--Taught me that it should be performed.”

Just as Jirel was certain he had felt a vertebrae pop somewhere down his spine, the hut was treated to an extra display of brute force, as the door swung open with enough violence to nearly break it from its flimsy hinges. It was the fourth hut that Klath had walked into in his efforts to locate Jirel, and by this point he was allowing his frustrations to show.

The shock of the entrance caused Sister Ryna to jump back in shock, as Jirel awkwardly scrambled down off the wooden table, grabbing his tunic top where he had left it and holding it up to cover his chest in a curious display of instinctive modesty.

“Klath! Learn how to knock, maybe?”

The unimpressed Klingon glanced from the deeply embarrassed Trill to the mildly perturbed Makalite and back again. Jirel did his best to maintain a semblance of dignity as he pulled his top back on.

“Um,” he managed, “Sister Ryna was just showing me--That is to say she was, um--”

“I was just trying to give pleasure to our saviour!” the Makalite blurted out before Jirel could get any further towards forming a coherent sentence.

He stifled a wince, as Klath folded his arms in front of him, now doubly unimpressed.

“That’s--She’s made that sound a whole lot worse than it really is.”

Sister Ryna took a step towards the Klingon, still only slightly wary around him. She offered a smile and gestured towards the table.

“Perhaps, as you travel with the spotted man, I could--?”

“Perhaps not,” Klath interjected before she could get any further with her suggestion.

“Hey,” Jirel mustered, “You might actually like it. Hell of a lot of pain involved. I know you’re into that sort of thing.”

As Jirel tentatively swung his shoulders around, checking for broken bones, the Klingon shot him his best withering look, and gestured back out the door with a jab of his thumb.

“We are leaving.”

At this, Sister Ryna looked genuinely scared for the first time since she had met them.

“But…not without us, surely? The spotted man is here to save us!”

“Yeah, Klath, we can’t just--”

“We are leaving,” he reiterated, “Now.”

The insistent tone of the companion of the spotted man gave Sister Ryna cause for concern, as she stepped over towards the exit herself.

“If we are all leaving,” she persisted, “Then we must all prepare. We need to pack, and to--”

She stopped in the middle of her train of thought, shocked into silence by the sight of another visitor to the increasingly crowded hut. Jirel and Klath both turned and tensed slightly when they saw the newcomer. A tall man, his face partially obscured by the hood of the flowing green robes he was wearing.

“Sister Ryna,” The Seer said calmly, “Perhaps you can help your Brothers and Sisters to clear up after the festivities this afternoon. While I convene with our guests.”

Klath and Jirel shared a withering glance at the oddly pompous air of his speech. Jirel found himself wondering if this was a piece of amateur dramatics, to go along with all the music and dancing that the Makalites had put on for him earlier. But Sister Ryna showed no signs that she was participating in whatever passed for improv theatre on the Makalite planet. In fact, she still looked downright scared.

“And then,” The Seer continued, “Make sure to give some extra thanks in the temple on this joyous day, won’t you?”

“Yes, Seer,” she nodded, bowing down in deference before scurrying off out of the hut.

After she had left, The Seer turned back to Klath and Jirel.

“Sweet robes,” the Trill offered with an edge of sarcasm, “They come in any size, or just ‘stupidly large hotel bathrobe’?”

The robed figure didn’t immediately reply, though he did reach up and pull back his hood.

“What the hell?” Jirel offered, a sentiment that Klath silently agreed with.

The figure under the hood looked entirely unlike any of the other blue-skinned Makalites they had met so far. No bony ridges around his head, and his skin was more olive-toned than blue. If anything, he looked like a regular human.

Now they were alone, he also immediately appeared a lot less peaceful and serene. The benevolent mystic act had been well and truly tossed by the wayside, and replaced by a significantly less patient one.

“Don’t joke around with me,” he snapped at the perplexed Jirel, “Where’s Marel? And what the hell are you people playing at?”

He gestured dismissively at the equally perplexed Klath as he paced around the hut.

“I mean, a Klingon? You brought a Klingon with you? I was very specific about what I needed when I contacted your boss. Really, very specific indeed. The whole point was that you were supposed to be subtle!”

“Right,” Jirel managed, trying to maintain his best poker face while he figured out what was going on, “Sorry about that?”

If The Seer saw through his bluff, he didn’t show it.

“It’s bad enough that you’re a week late, and now you do this? You have no idea how much work I’ve had to do to explain…him!”

He pointed at Klath again, who, while being as confused as Jirel was, was also definitely starting to take offence.

After a few more moments of frustrated pacing up and down, The Seer paused and looked back at the pair of entirely baffled faces on the other side of the hut.

He shook his head as the penny dropped.

“Hang on,” he chuckled wryly, “You two have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

Jirel’s poker face, such that it was, remained in place. Klath’s didn’t.

“We do not,” the Klingon stated simply.

The Seer clicked his tongue a few times as he mulled this development over, then shrugged.

“Well, any port in a storm, I guess. I suppose you’ll have to do.”

“We’ll have to do?” Jirel asked, his own poker face now collapsing under the weight of the unfolding situation, “Do what? Who the hell are you?”

The Seer extended his arms out on a peaceable gesture.

“My name, gentlemen, is Martus Mazur. And I’m afraid I need a lift.”


“It’s just gonna be some weird rocks.”

It was the fourth time that Sunek had offered this opinion about the mysterious source of the radiation since they had started the climb, and Denella still wasn’t buying it.

The Orion engineer sighed in exertion and set off up the next rocky incline of the hills near to where the Bounty had landed, as she and the ever-complaining Vulcan continued to ascend.

“It’s always weird rocks,” Sunek continued, wheezing slightly as he followed her up a natural stone pathway that seemed to wind its way up to the top of the hill.

He had barely stopped whining since they had finished the last of their repairs and set off in the direction of the strange readings that Sunek had pinpointed earlier, but Denella was happy to ignore the complaints and enjoy the workout, which was combining steep inclines with heavier gravity.

Even though Sunek was probably right. It was probably just some weird rocks.

“I ever tell you about my Great Grand Uncle Rovik?” Sunek panted, “Served in the Vulcan Science Ministry his whole life. All two incredibly boring centuries of it. Spent all that time on science vessels, chasing every kooky radiation surge or energy reading they picked up, seeking some fascinating new discovery or breakthrough. And it was always just a bunch of weird rocks.”

Denella paused to get her breath as they reached a more level section of the climb. Sunek stopped alongside her and surveyed the valley below them.

“I spy, with my little eye,” he sighed, “A bunch of stuff that sucks.”

“I think it’s nice,” she countered, “Fresh air, a decent bit of exercise. We don’t do this enough. You need to work out more, you know.”

Sunek tutted and pointed across the hillside to a gentler path to the top a little way along.

“Why didn’t we go up that way?” he whined, “That looks way easier than this!”

“Cos there’s a forest there,” Denella replied, pointing out the thick tree line that covered a section of the shallower incline, “I don’t do forests.”

Without feeling the need to clarify her comment any further, she turned and pressed on, seeing that they were now in sight of the summit. After a moment, Sunek scrambled up behind her, and switched the topic of conversation in a way she wasn’t expecting.

“Hey, while we’re still alone,” he sighed, “You know that whole dumb meditation thing we’re doing? I mean, you haven’t told anyone about that, right?”

She was surprised to hear this. Not so much him describing their calming exercises as ‘dumb’, but more the fact that he’d brought them up now. She shook her head in amusement, assuming he was joking around.

“Actually, I’ve rigged up some secret cameras in the cargo bay. Transmit every session to everyone’s cabin. And to any passing ship in range.”

“Funny,” Sunek griped back, “Hey, how about we stick to our lanes, hmm? I’ll do the jokes, and you do the whole ‘Aw, my poor shippy-wip got a boo-boo on her warpy-drive’ act.”

“Do I really sound like that?”

“It’s just…I’ve got a reputation to maintain onboard. Y’know, as second-in-command--”

She couldn’t help but let out an audibly amused snort, which riled Sunek.

“Ok, seriously, what is so hard to believe about that?” he persisted, as they clambered on.

“Nothing,” she said, off-handedly, “It’s just, Jirel told me how he sees our little pecking order a while back. And, after all, I’m the one that keeps the Bounty in one piece.”

“Really? You?” Sunek snorted, “Ugh, fine, whatever. Maybe you are second-in-command. But then it’s me, right? Not Klath.”

She glanced behind her and shot him a knowing glance, which made him bristle more.

“Oh, come on!” he scoffed, allowing himself to get more wound up as they climbed on, “So, what? I only get to boss Princess Starfleet around? She’s only been onboard five minutes!”

Denella paused just shy of the summit.

“Actually,” she said with a slightly wicked smile, “Pretty sure Jirel promoted her ahead of you last week.”

Sunek bristled further, then noted how close they were to the summit and allowed a knowing smile of his own to cross his face.

“Hang on,” he said, wagging a finger at her, “You’re just winding me up with all this, right? So I’d stop complaining and get to the top of the stupid hill faster?”

Denella paused for a second. While she hadn’t entirely made up Jirel’s thoughts on the Bounty’s pecking order, she had also been exaggerating it for precisely that reason. It was usually a lot easier to get Sunek to do hard work when he was suitably distracted.

But she had also done it because after putting up with Sunek’s constant complaining for so long, she was eager for a little payback. And she decided she wasn’t quite finished yet.

“Ok,” she shrugged, entirely innocently, “Let’s say that’s what I was doing.”

With that, she began the final ascent, as Sunek scoffed and called out to her.

“Nice. Really nice. You know, that’s a pretty crappy thing to do to someone you’re helping get over a bunch of residual anger issues!”

She paused and looked back, a little concerned.

“I thought we’d made progress with the meditating? You said you were over it?”

“Oh, yeah,” Sunek nodded with an overly casual snort, “I’m totally over all that, y’know? It’s just…my point is that I don’t want the others to know--”

“Sunek,” she smiled, “Trust me. Your reputation, such that it is, is safe with me.”

He let that latest jibe go, and smiled back, as the two of them came perilously close to the rarest of galactic events: Sunek saying thank you.

In the end, he simply nodded in satisfaction, then gestured back up at the final stretch between them and the top of the hill.

“Come on then, we doing this, or what?”

They set off again as he continued to ramble on.

“Hey, you reckon we’re the first people to ever climb this thing? Do we get a medal or an award or something?”

Denella went to reply, then stopped and stared.

They had reached the top of the hill, and now had an unfettered view of the valley on the other side, where the radiation pattern had been coming from. And there was no doubt to either of them that they had found the source.

“Huh,” Sunek managed, “Not just some weird rocks then.”

In the valley below them was the unmistakable form of a crashed starship.
Several questions answered at once. What I'm really enjoying is the long term character arcs - particularly with Sunek - that travel from story to story, linking the entire series into something more than a series of adventures.

Thanks!! rbs
What I'm really enjoying is the long term character arcs - particularly with Sunek - that travel from story to story, linking the entire series into something more than a series of adventures.

Thanks. :) I’m trying to strike a balance that allows anyone to read a random single ‘episode’ as its own thing without necessarily needing to plough through everything that came before it, while also rewarding anyone actually committed enough to read the whole thing with those sorts of world-building character arcs and plots that will hopefully pay off one day. It’s not easy, and there’s a story I’m planning at the moment that has a big ‘reveal’ which hinges entirely on something very specific that happened many adventures ago that probably nobody will remember or care about, which I’m struggling to make land for anyone other than myself as the writer. But I’ll stick at it.

There is an overall story arc planned out for the characters and series as a whole. It’s just a question of whether or not I get to write it all out before I lose interest/motivation/my mind. But hopefully, so far, every story has been contained enough to allow it to stand or fall down on its own merits, even if the larger plot threads about these five idiots in a spaceship are destined to never be fully realised. :lol:
Part Two (Cont'd)

“I can see you haven’t been fortunate enough to have heard of me.”

Martus Mazur, the artist formerly known as The Seer, was still smiling, seemingly revelling in the situation despite the lack of recognition on the faces in front of him.

Except, as Jirel started to put everything in order, he realised he did recognise the name.

“Huh. Actually, I have heard of you,” he said, with a slight smirk of his own, “El-Aurian, right? And a great big galactic con artist.”

The man in the green robes feigned a look of shock at this comment.

“Really? That’s what you’ve heard? I’m hurt. Really, I am.”

“You know him?” Klath asked his colleague in confusion.

“Sort of, although I’ve never actually met him,” Jirel clarified, “Remember I told you about that scam I got caught up in before I got the Bounty? Me and a bunch of stragglers fell for this plan to buy an old Vulcan supply ship. We were all gonna share the profits the thing made on a route to Ferenginar and back.”

“Sounds like a profitable venture,” the El-Aurian replied.

“Doesn’t it just,” Jirel continued with a glare, “Except, as soon as we’d all transferred the latinum, the guy who was supposed to be making the purchase mysteriously disappeared.”

He jabbed his finger in Mazur’s direction. Klath nodded in tacit understanding. He may not have known Mazur himself, but he knew the type.

“Hmm,” Mazur offered, “That doesn’t sound like me--”

“It was you,” Jirel replied firmly.

“Ugh. Fine. If you must know, that was all a simple misunderstanding. When I went to make the purchase, it turned out that the Romulans had attacked the shipyards, and--”

“Yeah, I’m sure they did,” Jirel scoffed, “Still, I always thought that was as far as you went for a con. Turning over little scams on colonies here and there. This is on another level. All this…”

He gestured to the elaborate robes, and then looked a little more confused.

“Actually, what the hell are you doing?”

Mazur shot the Trill a withering look as he smoothed down his robes.

“Improvising,” he replied curtly, “Which I’ve been doing for the last two months!”

“Why?” Klath asked, which seemed like a perfectly valid question.

“Because the transport ship that was taking me to Ventriss IV suffered a warp core imbalance in this system and crash landed on this godforsaken backwards hell of a planet,” Mazur sighed, as if it should have been obvious, “I was the only survivor.”

“How fortunate,” Jirel replied, without mirth.

“Not really. The ship was a write-off. All I could do was use an emergency comms unit to get a message out to one of my contacts to pick me up. His pilot happens to be a Trill, a guy by the name of Marel Jan. You know him?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jirel deadpanned, “We all know each other.”

If Mazur felt sheepish for his comment, he hid it well, as Jirel continued to quiz him.

“So, what? You decided to get a little grift going while you were down here, almighty Seer?”

Mazur waved his hand dismissively, the sleeve of his robe flapping about as he did so.

“Ugh,” he scoffed regarding his get-up, “I wish I could claim this was something so elaborate. Truth is, I needed food and shelter, and this was the first settlement I found. As for the…character I’ve put on, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t exactly fit in around here. So I had to come up with a backstory. I’m a traveller from the Southern continent.”

“Does this planet even have a Southern continent?”

“Who cares?” Mazur shrugged, gesturing back out in the direction of the Makalites, “They don’t know, do they?”

Jirel and Klath glanced at each other and shrugged. He had a point.

“So, yes, I presented myself as a traveller, cooked up a backstory, and it turns out these Makalites love a good prophecy. So here we are. I’m…The Seer.”

Jirel shook his head, still trying to piece everything together.

“Ok, but, why give them this big story about taking them off to utopia? Why make me--I mean, whatever Trill you were expecting, some sort of saviour?”

Mazur rubbed the bridge of his nose, fending off a stress headache. He stepped over and peered out of the door of the hut, making doubly sure there were no Makalites in earshot, before turning back.

“Because of this stupid disease they’ve all got!” he hissed, “Obviously their Seer didn’t see that one coming! And when you’re as backwards as this lot are, and some invisible threat starts killing your grandparents, the first thing you do is blame the newcomer. So I had to…”

“Improvise,” Klath grunted on his behalf.

“Glad you’re getting the picture. Not as stupid as you look.”

Klath felt a sudden desire to reach for the bat’leth holstered on his back and introduce the El-Aurian to the sharpest edge. But he held back for the moment.

“Um,” Jirel managed, “About this disease--”

“Oh, don’t worry. It only seems to affect the locals,” Mazur lied quickly, hoping that would stop any follow-up questions, “But I introduced the ‘spotted man’ to keep them off my back and hold out for their…saviour. Best lies are based on truth, and all that. Trust me, I have no intention of actually bringing these people with me.”

“With you?” Klath asked.

“Well, my contact seems to have sold me out on this one, but I’m assuming you have a ship?”

Jirel and Klath slowly nodded, eliciting a relieved smile from Mazur.

“In which case,” he said, “I’d very much appreciate it if you got me the hell out of here.”


Natasha looked over the red welts on the Makalite woman’s arm with the practised eye of a medic, despite lacking her usual array of contemporary medical tools.

“You are a healer, then?”

The Makalite woman who owned the arm watched on a little fearfully as the newcomer to the village checked her rash. She was one of the younger women in the village, who had introduced herself as Sister Tula. And she was the first of the blue-skinned aliens that had allowed Natasha to examine her.

“That’s right,” Natasha said with her best reassuring smile, “Don’t worry, I’m trying to help.”

Sister Tula nodded, though she still seemed wary. But Natasha was used to that in patients from time to time, even from more enlightened species.

“You say this all started several weeks ago?”

“Yes,” Sister Tula nodded, “Brother Yoran was stricken first, but it spread quickly. But The Seer tells us that the spotted man will rescue us all.”

“So I’ve heard,” Natasha said, wryly.

The more she had heard about The Seer, the less she trusted him. But before she could press on with her questions, Sister Tula had one of her own.

“Is it true that the spotted man’s skyship can travel into the heavens themselves?”

Natasha’s gut constricted at the reminder of exactly how many of the rules she had held so dear as a Starfleet officer she was breaking now, accidentally or otherwise.

“I wouldn’t worry about that,” she managed to reply.

“Oh, I’m not worried,” Sister Tula insisted, “I’m glad. More than any of the others in the village, my family provided the most offerings to bring him here.”

“Offerings?” Natasha asked curiously, as she peered closer at the rash.

“At the temple. My family gave extra, every day, even when The Seer did not ask. All to bring the spotted man here to spare us from the sickness.”

Natasha concluded that she didn’t like the sound of any of that. And despite her lack of specialist medical equipment, she also concluded that she didn’t like the verdict she had come to about the most likely cause of the welts on Sister Tula’s arm.

They were a clear symptom of radiation sickness.

Which was good news for her and the other Bounty crew members, thanks to the hyronalin shot she’d thought to administer. But it was bad news for the Makalites. Because it meant they were all dying.

“Sister Tula, what is all this?”

The two women turned to see an older Makalite woman approaching them from further down the dirt street, regarding Natasha with clear mistrust.

“Oh, Sister Hyla,” Sister Tula replied, “She is a healer. She came with the spotted man and she is looking at my sickness.”

“For what purpose?” Sister Hyla immediately shot back, “You know the words of the prophecy. Our sickness will be cured by the spotted man when we leave for our utopia.”

To underline her point, she stepped up and forcefully lifted Natasha’s hand from Sister Tula’s arm.

“We do not need anything from you. That is not the word of the prophecy.”

Natasha forced herself to keep her irritation under wraps, and mustered a smile in the direction of the older Makalite.

“Listen, I’m just trying to help. And I think I know what’s wrong with you all--”

“Sister Tula,” Sister Hyla said sternly, ignoring Natasha entirely, “Perhaps you should return to your family, and prepare for our ascent to utopia. That would please The Seer, I'm sure.”

The younger Makalite nodded her head and smiled excitedly, before scurrying off down one of the side streets.

“You know,” Natasha tutted, “Where I’m from, it’s rude to burst into the middle of a consultation like that.”

“And where is it that you are from?” Hyla asked, her eyes narrowing with distrust.

Natasha bit her tongue again before she blurted out something she regretted. Instead of going down the adversarial route, she tried to placate this new Makalite.

“Maybe I could examine your…sickness, instead?”

She gestured down to Sister Hyla’s partially exposed forearm, redness visible across it. Ashamed, Sister Hyla pulled her sleeve down quickly.

“I have seen many healers about my sickness already. And I know that only The Seer’s prophecy can save me. I keep the faith.”

“Trust me,” Natasha smiled, “I’m not like those other healers.”

A flicker of something passed across Sister Hyla’s face. A hint of desperation underneath her proud stare that betrayed to Natasha that she might not fully trust in whoever this Seer was. But it was only there for a brief second.

“You cannot tempt me from The Seer’s path. I trust only in him, and the spotted man.”

“But I’m with the spotted man…!”

Before Natasha could argue that point any further, Sister Hyla spun on her heels and walked off. She tutted again and returned her attention to her mostly useless tricorder, running what scans she could as she walked on down the street. There was at least enough information to tell her that the radiation levels were higher inside the village than they had been in the forest.

As she rounded a corner in the road and clipped the tricorder to her belt, she looked up and noticed a curious building on the edge of the village. One made almost entirely of metal.

She had no way of knowing that this was the building the villagers knew as the Bastille.

Equally, she had no way of predicting the sudden blow she felt to the back of her head, which sent her tumbling to the ground.

She was already unconscious by the time Brother Falor and Brother Makan, who had decided she was definitely stepping too far outside the will of the prophecy, began to drag her away.
Part Two (Cont'd)

“I didn’t scream!”

“Sure you didn’t, Sunek.”

Denella suppressed a knowing smile as they walked on down the trashed remains of the corridor on the crashed ship. Behind her, Sunek stalked on, continuing his vocal denials.

“It was just a surprise, that’s all. We’d just walked a hell of a long way, I was really tired, and the last thing you expect when you open up some random ship’s airlock is for a gross hexapedal monster’s corpse to fall on you like that!”



“Three legs, three arms. Edosians are tripedal. Not hexapedal.”

“Great. Let me just file that away under ‘Things I’ll never, ever care about’.”

Denella smirked again, as Sunek grunted in irritation. He didn’t like being corrected, especially when he had definitely been wrong.

Still, ever since the Vulcan’s uncomfortable introduction in the airlock, it had been clear that the crashed vessel was Edosian. And it was proving tricky to navigate. Partly because of the damage from the crash landing, which had collapsed corridors and bulkheads all over the place, but also because it had understandably been primarily designed for crew members with more appendages than either the Orion or the Vulcan possessed.

“What a mess,” Denella mused to herself as they carried on walking down the corridor made out of a silvery metal.

Along with the crash damage, there were signs of further decay. Greenish grass and other local plant life was already encroaching through the gaps and gouges in the hull, making it clear that the wreck had been here for some time.

As they had hiked back down into the valley and got up close, she had started to appreciate just how large it was. When it had been spaceworthy, it would have been over two hundred metres in length, and almost as wide.

It had an almost square design for a main hull, with evidence on the outside that two pylon-mounted nacelles had sprung out from the rear, though both appeared to have been wrenched off during the violence of the landing.

“Looks like it was some sort of transport vessel,” she continued as they walked, “It’s big enough, and it's clearly not any sort of warship.”

“So,” Sunek offered by way of reply, as her tricorder chirped out another warning, “Exactly how close to the big bunch of super deadly radiation are we planning on getting?”

She glanced at the garbled readings on the tricorder and shrugged.

“We should be ok, given what Natasha gave us. Let’s see if we can find main engineering. Or whatever’s left of it.”

They walked on, past two more lifeless Edosian bodies. All of them they had seen so far had been dressed in a sandy-coloured uniform. One neither of them could identify.

“Maybe some sort of civilian company?” she said as she gestured to the clothing.

“Had no idea Edosian pleasure cruises involved so many crash landings,” Sunek replied, “What do you think they do in the second week? Warp core breach or Borg assimilation?”

They continued past an access conduit that was still gently smoking despite the length of time since the crash, and turned a corner to see a large set of double doors, partially opened, with another body strewn close by.

“This is it,” Denella nodded grimly, squeezing in between the half-open and powerless doors with no small amount of difficulty.

Sunek followed her through, and they found themselves in a vast engineering section, where the vertical and long-dead warp core dominated the room. The core itself was surrounded by various panels and consoles, all equally powered down.

There was a huge twisted gash in the far wall, through which Denella spotted a myriad of other broken vital systems. It wasn’t clear what had caused such a tear in the thick metal plating of that particular bulkhead, but she suspected that might well have been the cause of the crash.

She scanned around with her tricorder as best she could, and zeroed in on one of the control panels on the side wall of the room.

“Hopefully there’s still some trace of emergency power left on this thing,” she muttered, tapping at the console to try and will some life into it.

Mercifully, after a moment, it powered up. Albeit with a flickering and fading display that showed what little was left of the once mighty ship’s power reserves.

“Ok, I’m getting a fix on the source of the radiation,” she reported, “Looks like there’s a leak in one of the microfusion reactors. Must’ve been damaged in the landing.”

Sunek stepped over to a console on the other side of the room and tapped it, powering it up.

“Can you fix it?” he asked as he did so.

“I think so,” she nodded, “Just give me a minute.”

She tapped the controls again, then moved across to an exposed wall panel and grabbed a small engineering tool from the pocket of her overalls, getting to work.

Meanwhile, Sunek tapped idly at his own computer display, not entirely sure what he was looking for. He spotted a curious headset next to the panel which was clearly designed for Edosian physiology, but he gamely placed it onto his own head and grinned.

“Hey, check this out. Looks like this is what they used for a comms link.”

“Sunek, don’t touch anything,” Denella warned, as she continued to work.

“I’m just messing around,” he tutted, “Besides, it’s not like I can break anything any more than it already is.”

She gestured behind him with her free hand, not taking her eyes off the panel she was working on.

“The main antimatter storage pod is just on the other side of that wall behind you. You break that, and this planet becomes part of another star system.”

Sunek instinctively glanced behind him, though all he saw was the silvery metal wall.

“I’m being careful,” he muttered unhappily.

“If you really want to do something, try checking the database, see what the hell this ship is supposed to be.”

Sunek glared at the Orion woman’s back for a moment, a little suspicious of her latest comment which sounded worryingly like another attempted order. But eventually, he started to tap at the console. To stave off the boredom, if nothing else.

After a moment, Denella ran her laser sealer back over the wiring inside the panel, and then walked back over to the wall console she had been using earlier.

“Ok,” she nodded in satisfaction, “That’s the worst of the leak dealt with. The seal's back in place for now, and it looks like radiation levels are already starting to drop, so we can--”

She was interrupted by an urgent chirping sound from the console that Sunek was working on. The Vulcan stepped back slightly as she fired an exasperated look across the expanse of the broken engineering section.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing, I swear! That wasn’t me!”

“Then what is it?”

He cautiously stepped back up to the console, as Denella rushed over to him.

“Um,” he managed, “I think it’s an incoming transmission.”

“Ok, before you answer it, let’s just--”

“I’ve answered it,” Sunek grinned as he tapped a button on his headset, eliciting an even more exasperated look from his colleague.

“Why the hell did you--?”

He held his finger up to silence her, and gestured to the headset with his other hand.

“Hey,” he said over the comms line, “This is Sunek.”

A pause. Denella waited impatiently as the inaudible response came back over the headset, and started to wonder how much chatter there was from the other end of the link, and how much Sunek was exaggerating to irritate her.

“Uh huh,” he nodded eventually, “Uh huh, yep. Ok, I’ll…just ask.”

He looked back at Denella, looking more than a little surprised.

“So, it’s Edosian Internal Security,” he explained.


“And they wanna know what we’re doing with their prison transport.”

End of Part Two