Star Trek: Bounty - 8 - "A Klingon, a Vulcan and a Slave Girl Walk into a Bar"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by BountyTrek, Mar 6, 2023.

  1. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Hello! :)

    It’s been a while since my last visit to these shores. But sadly that has to end, because I'm afraid the Bounty’s crew are back for another (mis)adventure. Significantly less metaphysical than the last one, hopefully. But probably no less silly.

    As always, thanks in advance for reading. I hope you enjoy it! :D


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

    The story so far:
    Star Trek: Bounty - 1 - "Where Neither Moth nor Rust Destroys"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 2 - "Be All My Sins Forgiven"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 3 - "The Other Kind of Vulcan Hello"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 4 - "It’s Not Easy Being Green"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 5 - "Once Upon a Time in the Beta Quadrant"
    Star Trek: Bounty - 6 - "He Feedeth Among the Lilies”
    Star Trek: Bounty - 7 - “One Character in Search of an Exit”


    Star Trek: Bounty
    "A Klingon, a Vulcan and a Slave Girl Walk into a Bar"


    It was always raining on Varris IV. At least, that was how the old Ktarian saying went.

    Actually, as the more well-read and considerably less interesting people at dinner parties across Ktarian space would explain, given half the chance, the planet only experienced a slightly higher annual rainfall level than the average Class M planet with similar climatic conditions and orbital periodicity. It certainly wasn’t always raining by any reasonable definition of the word ‘always’.

    But what Varris IV did have was a doozy of a rainy season.

    The planet’s curious geography saw it divided almost completely in two at the equator. The southern hemisphere contained one single unbroken landmass, while the northern hemisphere was a vast saline ocean. And once a year, when the ocean hemisphere had spent long enough tilted towards the heat of the system’s star, rain clouds the size of continents formed and descended across the land.

    And stayed there for weeks on end.

    Right now, it was a particularly inclement evening in the main settlement of Varris IV, with heavy drops of rain thundering down from above and surface water cascading off the sloping streets and into the extensive drainage system that criss-crossed the entire settlement and groaned under the strain of another deluge.

    Anyone remotely sensible had sought shelter indoors, or was getting to wherever they needed to go in the relative warmth and comfort of an atmospheric shuttle.

    Only three individuals seemed to lack the common sense to do either of those things. A trio of figures walked down the main street of the settlement, protecting themselves from the endless downpour with thick cloaks pulled over their heads.

    The weather was one explanation for the cloaks, at least. The other was that these particular visitors to Varris IV didn’t want to be seen for the time being.

    They kept a good pace through the rain, splashing through puddles of water in heavy waterproof boots. They clearly had a specific destination in mind.

    The colony on Varris IV had once been a proud emblem of Ktarian society, one of the first mining colonies set up by the Ktarian central government after they had discovered the immense potential of faster than light travel.

    Initially, it was a shining beacon out in the cosmos that represented a pioneering moment of heroic exploration. A noble symbol of what a truly united Ktarian people were capable of.

    But further discoveries had revealed the true extent of the teeming galaxy to the Ktarian people, and first contact with the Federation had revolutionised their society in ways the first settlers on Varris IV couldn’t possibly have imagined.

    Now, as fledgling Federation members, Ktarians could travel the length and breadth of the Alpha Quadrant in the blink of an eye, visiting all manner of exotic new star systems, lush new worlds and wonders that had to be seen to be believed.

    And compared to those significantly more impressive options, Varris IV suddenly became less of a shining beacon and more of a pointless irrelevance. A silly childhood doodle that had once evoked a sense of pride in the artist, but now looked more than a little embarrassing alongside the galaxy’s existing collection of masterpieces.

    When you could jump aboard a transport ship and be whisked off to Risa, or Betazed, or the Suspended Gardens of Callias Prime, why would anyone want to come to an old mining colony in Ktaris’s own backyard?

    Especially when it rained all the time.

    So now, Varris IV was a forgotten footnote. Most of the more reputable colonists had moved on, and all that was left were a few hardy mining operations extracting the last dregs of useful material from beneath the surface and a scant few crumbling settlements. And an awful lot of crime.

    Illicit activities had thrived on a place like Varris IV, with what remained of the weary and understaffed security force mostly powerless to challenge them.

    And that was why nobody either indoors or in a passing shuttle was really paying the three cloaked individuals too much attention as they hurried through the endless rainstorm.

    Chances were that they were up to no good.



    The gleeful tone of his opponent’s voice made Tegras Pel grind his teeth with audible force. The angry sound cut through the quiet conversations around the bar, and the patter of rainfall on the windows, and made most of the other players around the table wince.

    Across the table from him, Palmor Fot smiled greedily and gestured for Tegras to reveal his cards.

    They were sitting with four other Ktarians around a Tongo board in the corner of a downtrodden bar of the main settlement called the Ktarian Moonrise.

    Most of the other patrons that had braved the weather that night had already headed home, and the long-suffering grey-haired bartender was hoping to close up on time for once. But this particular game had been carrying on for most of the evening, and was showing no sign of ending any time soon.

    “Come on Tegras,” the woman to his right, a grime-streaked miner called Evina Jix, groaned, “Just show him your hand and we can move on to another round.”

    On the other side of the table, Palmor’s greedy smile showed no sign of waning from behind his stack of winnings.

    “Oh, I’m sorry Evina,” he offered, without a trace of sincerity, “Are we not enjoying ourselves?”

    Palmor’s eyes, deep yellow in colour with a horizontal slit like all Ktarians, had a twinkle that betrayed just how much he was enjoying his winning streak.

    As far as Tegras Pel was concerned, Palmor Fot was the worst person in the entire galaxy. A wealthy mining boss with a stake in just about every remaining operation on Varris IV, from the mostly legal to the entirely illegal.

    His more shady dealings were an open secret, at least in the bars of the main settlement, but Palmor had cultivated a standing, and paid enough latinum to the right people, to ensure that none of it was provable. At least by the scant remaining security forces on the colony.

    And his obvious successes made Tegras’s own failing business, a single exhausted magnesite mine further inland on the continent, all the more difficult for him to take.

    Unfortunately, both men were also keen gamblers, and it was a small colony. Which meant that they crossed paths far more often than Tegras would have liked.

    Palmor glared at him from across the table and continued to mock the older Ktarian, who had a line of thinning grey hair along the distinctive curved forehead of their species.

    “Come on, old man,” he persisted, gesturing to Tegras’s game area on the board, “No more Evade tokens to play, nowhere to hide, now show me your hand. Confront!”

    Tegras grimaced and reluctantly lowered the set of circular cards in his hand down to the table.

    He hadn’t been playing this game for long, and was still struggling with some of the intricacies of the rules and strategies, but he knew enough to suspect that a Flushed Market wasn’t an especially competitive hand given the current board situation.

    “Pah!” his adversary cackled, confirming his suspicions, “Is that all you’ve got?”

    He revealed his own hand with an unadulterated flourish, spreading the cards out to reveal the telltale pattern of a Full Consortium.

    A chorus of groans rang out from all sides of the table. Tegras’s teeth grinding reached new levels of intensity, as his frustrations reached boiling point.

    “Guess I win again,” Palmor added unnecessarily, as he grabbed the healthy pile of latinum from the centre of the table.

    “I’m bored of this game,” Tegras snapped, “Why are we playing this Ferengi nonsense anyway? It’s all we seem to do any more!”

    “Sounds like someone’s a sore loser,” Palmor replied off-handedly, deftly stoking the anger of his adversary with practised skill as he carefully stacked his winnings.

    Tegras felt his hackles rise further, just as Palmor had intended.

    All night long, the younger Ktarian had won almost every hand. And while Tegras was still a novice at the game, it seemed extremely unlikely to him that one player could have a run like that. There were too many elements of chance for that to be realistically possible.

    But, much like the Varris IV security forces couldn’t prove anything about Palmor’s illicit business practices, he couldn’t prove any outright cheating. And he knew that accusing him without evidence really would mark him down as a sore loser. So he settled for another round of teeth-grinding.

    To his side, Evina leaned over and muttered to him.

    “Calm yourself, Tegras. Don’t give him the satisfaction of seeing you like this.”

    It was friendly advice from one of the more agreeable regulars in the Ktarian Moonrise. But it was also advice that he largely chose to ignore.

    “I’m only losing because I’m not used to this stupid game,” he persisted, jabbing a finger at his gleeful opponent, “How about we break out the old Mak-To board, hmm? Then we’ll see if your luck holds out.”

    The weary bartender ambled over to the table upon hearing this, shaking his head.

    “No, no, no. It’s late, you’re not starting any new games now. Haven’t you people got homes to go to?”

    Shaken out of their tunnel vision, the players looked around as the persistent rain hammered on the windows and noted just how empty the bar had become, with only five other customers scattered around the room, finishing their drinks.

    “Ah, well,” Palmor smiled, as he began to diligently pocket his winnings, “There’s always tomorrow night. Same time?”

    Tegras nodded defiantly, as a couple of the other players stood and stretched their hunched backs.

    “And this time,” he affirmed, “We’ll play a proper game!”

    “Bring whichever game you like. I’m sure the result will be much the same as--”

    Palmor paused and looked up. The others followed his gaze to see that, even at this late hour, the Ktarian Moonrise had three new patrons.

    The newcomers stood dripping wet in the entrance to the bar, as the door slowly slid shut behind them with a gentle hiss.

    “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” one of the figures called out with a little too much gusto, “Sorry to interrupt your evenings, but we’re gonna need your attention for a few moments.”

    The trio removed their heavy, soaked cloaks in one swift motion, revealing themselves to the rest of the room. It was a startling enough sight to cause a few gasps of shock.

    There was nothing unusual about a group of stragglers in damp overalls making it to the bar this late. Plenty of Ktarians worked long hours in the mines, and would often rush to the bars of the main settlement to thirstily grab a drink before closing.

    But on a forgotten, crumbling, crime-ridden Ktarian mining colony in a dead sector of space, it was most unusual for the group of stragglers in damp overalls to consist of a Klingon, a Vulcan, and what looked to everyone present like an Orion Slave Girl.

    The bartender took an uncertain step forward, looking at the three exotic newcomers with clear confusion.

    “What the hell is this? Some sort of joke?”

    This time, everyone gasped in unison, as the trio pulled disruptors from their belts and aimed them around the room.

    The Vulcan took a step forwards, fixing the bartender with a surprisingly determined stare, accompanied by an even more surprising grin.

    “Sorry pal,” said Sunek, “Guess again.”
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  2. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Shiny! Let's be bad guys....

    Welcome back - glad to see Bounty's crew in for another round. Quite the auspicious beginning...

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  3. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One

    The patrons of the Ktarian Moonrise went through several phases of emotions as they processed what was happening to them at the end of an otherwise unremarkable rainy evening.

    Firstly, there had been shock. Not only at the identities of the strangers, but at the sight of the weapons they had produced.

    That had immediately given way to panic. A couple of the customers had screamed. Tegras himself had found himself reciting an old Ktarian good luck chant, even though the very same chant had failed to provide any of what it promised during the Tongo game.

    The bartender’s own rush of panic had seen him instinctively race over to try and retrieve his faithful plasma rifle that he kept behind the bar, but he only managed to get as far as straining a despairing arm across the polished wooden surface before the burly Klingon yanked him back.

    There then followed a brief phase of bargaining. Specifically from Palmor, who had attempted to use his winnings from the Tongo game to secure his freedom, and his freedom alone. An attempt that fell on deaf ears.

    Eventually, even if it hadn’t been the smoothest of entrances, the armed newcomers had managed to get a grip on the situation. The dozen unfortunate Ktarians that had been present for last orders in the Ktarian Moonrise had been successfully corralled into one corner of the room, where they were now being watched over closely.

    It was dawning on them that this wasn’t a simple robbery, or a random act of violence. This was a hostage situation. And as this realisation set in across the group, several of them wondered whether it was appropriate to return to their earlier state of panic.

    The sight of the Vulcan, who hadn’t stopped grinning since he had removed his cloak, seemed to add further weight to that proposed course of action.

    “Thanks for being so cooperative, folks,” Sunek, the Bounty’s emotional Vulcan pilot said as he paced in front of the group, idly waving his disruptor around, “Trust me, if you keep on behaving, this’ll all be over really soon.”

    On the other side of the bar, Denella, the Bounty’s Orion engineer, set a small disc-shaped device onto an empty table and tapped a sequence into the glowing buttons along the side.

    “Ok,” she nodded to her colleagues, in a tone bereft of her usual warmth, “Transport inhibitor’s set. We should be free from any interruptions.”

    Over by the hostages, Klath, the Klingon weapons chief of the Bounty, nodded back, before turning to the hostages themselves.

    “L--Look,” the bartender stammered, “This is an honest business, ok? We don’t want any trouble--”

    “Good,” Klath boomed back at him, ending that moment of attempted negotiation before it could go any further.

    Sunek took it upon himself to fill the resulting silence as he continued to pace back and forth. Even by the Vulcan’s own standards, there was an extra layer of pomposity to his voice.

    “Yeah, see, we really don’t want to hurt anyone. Me and my friends really aren’t that sort of people, you know? We’re just here to run a little errand for an…associate of ours. Nice and simple, if you catch my drift--”

    “Are you ever going to shut up?” Denella cut in as she rejoined the group, without the layer of playful banter the Bounty’s crew normally worked with.

    “What?” Sunek replied with lofty innocence, “I’ve gotta commit myself to the role. And you should know that old Trelok here is a bit of a talker.”

    Denella paused for a moment and stared at the Vulcan.


    “Oh, yeah, that’s my cover name,” Sunek nodded eagerly, “I’m Trelok. A gritty, hard-nosed vigilante from the Cerris Nebula. Men fear him, women love him. Sometimes multiple women at the same time--”

    “Ok, gonna put a stop to that there. What the hell are you doing?”

    Sunek looked at Denella, then over at Klath. Neither seemed to be appreciating the effort he’d put into developing Trelok’s character in his head on their walk to the bar.

    “Um, guys, we need cover names, yeah? That’s the least we can do. Everyone in here’s seen our faces now. There’s probably recording equipment all over the bar. And it’s not like we don’t stand out around here as it is. With my ears, and your skin, and his…everything.”

    The hostages glanced from one of their captors to the next, silently agreeing with Trelok’s point.

    “So,” Sunek continued, “Given that what we’re doing down here is a teeny tiny bit not entirely legal, I thought it might be an idea to…”

    He tailed off and looked at his two colleagues again, who still seemed perplexed.

    “Wait, you’re telling me you were just gonna use your real names? In front of the hostages?”

    “I wasn’t planning on being around long enough to get on first name terms,” Denella countered, entirely reasonably.

    From within the gaggle of fearful Ktarians, Tegras managed to find his voice, speaking out with as much authority as he could manage.

    “If we really are hostages, what is it that you want from us--?”

    “Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to that,” the Vulcan grouched, dismissively waving his arm at the Ktarian and keeping his focus on his crewmates, “Guys, seriously, cover names.”

    “I’m not doing that--” Denella began.

    “Palmor Fot,” Klath grunted.

    This blunt statement elicited looks of confusion from most of the hostages. Mainly because they all knew that particular name was taken.

    But this wasn’t Klath’s pitch for his own character. His focus was entirely back on the hostages themselves.

    “We are here for Palmor Fot,” he clarified.

    “Hey,” Sunek persisted, “Cover names first, then we--”

    “We do not have time,” Klath replied curtly, “Let us complete our mission.”

    In the middle of the gaggle of hostages, Palmor himself remained mute.

    If he had been a more popular character on Varris IV, his tactic to avoid detection by the gaggle of disruptor-toting hostage takers might have had a slim chance of succeeding. Perhaps one or two of his fellow hostages could have even played along, feigning ignorance, or suggesting that the man they wanted was in a different bar on the other side of the settlement.

    But Palmor was not a popular character. And as soon as the scowling Klingon announced that he was who they were here for, just about every other one of the dozen hostages turned and looked straight at him.

    “That’s our guy,” Denella nodded, pointing to the man at the centre of all the attention.

    Klath stepped over to where Palmor was sitting, the Ktarian immediately switching tactics as he saw the menacing Klingon approaching.

    “Who do you people think you are?” he cried out, “This sort of thing won’t be tolerated, you know. Varris IV is a Ktarian world, a colony of a Federation member, and I have plenty of friends in high places who can--”

    “You are Palmor Fot?” Klath asked as he reached the rambling individual.

    “I don’t have to tell you anything--!”

    “He is,” Tegras answered on his behalf, quietly enjoying the sight of the worst person in the entire galaxy now squirming in terror.

    “Wh--? Psh! No, he’s--I’m not--I’ve never even heard of--!”

    Before Palmor Fot could offer any further denials about being Palmor Fot, Klath grabbed him by his shoulder and forced him to his feet, virtually dragging the Ktarian back over to where Denella and Sunek were waiting.

    “Well, well,” Tegras called out with no small amount of glee, “What have you got yourself into, Palmor?”

    To his side, Evina gave him a worried nudge, still keenly aware of their precarious situation. But it wasn’t enough to stop his gloating.

    “I don’t know who these people are,” Palmor protested, entirely truthfully, “I swear!”

    “I’ll bet you don’t,” Tegras scoffed, “What is it this time? Gambling debts? Drugs? Weapons? I warned you, it was only a matter of time before you crossed the wrong people.”

    Sunek glanced at Denella and shrugged, as Palmor continued to squirm in Klath’s grasp, despite the disruptor pointed at his side.

    “Sounds like our guy.”

    “Yep,” the Orion nodded back grimly, “Guess it’s time for us to call in…”
  4. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Bounty bounty hunters... Quite enjoying the world building - Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  5. Bynar0110

    Bynar0110 Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 25, 2022
    Ohio Valley, USA
    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy at the Ktarian Moonrise
    BountyTrek likes this.
  6. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)

    “How is this my fault?”

    “How is this not your fault? He’s your friend!”

    “Ah, no, he’s an acquaintance. I was very clear about that. Plus, he’s never done this before.”

    “Really? He’s never done this specific thing before?”

    The argument rattled around the confines of the Bounty’s cargo bay with no sign of stopping, as the Ju’Day-type raider hung in high orbit of Varris IV.

    Since she had joined the ship's ramshackle crew, having officially resigned her commission from Starfleet, Natasha Kinsen had found herself in plenty of uncomfortable situations.

    In the past few months, she had battled rogue Jem’Hadar for a precious lost treasure, fought a gang of Vulcan psychopaths hell-bent on a vengeful quest to destroy their homeworld, been kidnapped by the Orion Syndicate’s most terrifying slave trader, fended off gun-toting outlaws on Nimbus III and nearly died after being infected by a psychoactive plant venom on a pre-industrial world.

    She did wonder whether Admiral Jenner, the Starfleet officer who had asked to be kept informed of the Bounty’s movements as a personal favour, was starting to think she was making it all up.

    Either way, it hadn’t taken her long to come to terms with the fact that, when you were a part of this crew, uncomfortable situations were par for the course. But even then, this particular uncomfortable situation was taking the biscuit.

    She and Jirel, the unjoined Trill who served as the Bounty’s de facto captain, as well as being Admiral Jenner’s mostly estranged adopted son, were sharing this situation together.

    They were both sitting on the deck plates in the middle of the cargo bay with their backs to each other. Their hands were cuffed together, linking them around a large metal cylinder.

    And they were both dressed only in their underwear.

    Yes, Natasha thought to herself, as she shivered slightly from the cold deck below her, this is probably a new low.

    “No, actually, he’s never done…this specific thing before,” Jirel fired back from behind her, gamely keeping his side of the never-ending argument going, “So how was I supposed to know--”

    “Nope,” she butted in, shaking her head, “Oh, no, no, no, don’t even think of trying to get out of any responsibility like that. This guy was your friend--”


    “--You’re the one that convinced us to take on this job he was pitching. And thanks to all of that, and specifically thanks to you, I’ve now been drugged, shackled to a naked idiot and left trussed up next to a cabrodine bomb!”

    Jirel paused for a second, realising that his defence was on slightly shaky ground.

    “Still not entirely convinced it’s a bomb,” he offered instead.

    “You really wanna test that theory?”

    Another pause.

    “Not right now,” the Trill replied, in an altogether less confident voice.

    The metal cylinder in between them had initially been brought onboard as the sole item of cargo for their trip to Varris IV. Supposedly nothing more than a container filled with electrical equipment for one of the remaining mining operations on the surface.

    However, it had since been revealed to be something quite different. A bomb, designed to detonate at the whim of a trigger finger, should the Bounty’s crew not do as they were told.

    Like Jirel, Natasha also had some doubts as to the validity of the claim. For a start, she wasn’t sure why such a simple explosive device needed to be quite so large. But equally, she also wasn’t eager to test that theory either.

    “Look,” she sighed deeply, “Can we please just focus on getting the hell out of this?”

    She backed up her request by starting to struggle against her end of the bulky metal handcuffs around her wrists.

    “Oh, yeah, ok, I’ll get right on that,” Jirel shot back, “Because, little known fact about unjoined Trills, although we don’t get the belly slug, or the sixteen lifetimes of memories, we do at least have the ability to melt steel.”

    Natasha stopped struggling, silently acknowledging the futility of her efforts. She shivered again and suppressed a deep sigh.

    “This is still your fault,” she muttered.

    “It’s not my--”

    Before the circular argument could get rolling again, they heard two sets of footsteps approaching the cargo bay down the main corridor of the ship. They both turned around to see their captors entering the bay.

    Natasha once again found herself noting how different the two Ktarians were. They really were the unlikeliest of criminal couples.

    The shorter of the two was Jirel’s friend/acquaintance. A Ktarian called Devan Gol who the Trill had worked with at the Tyran Scrapyards before he had acquired the Bounty. He carried himself with a slightly passive stoop, accompanied by a nervous tendency to wring his hands together.

    Jirel had originally been delighted when he had got in touch with him out of the blue, and had not only been keen to meet up with his former colleague, but had also promised them a lucrative supply run to Varris IV as well.

    Initially, Devan had seemed harmless enough to Natasha. He was friendly, if a little shy and unsure of himself. Compared to the fake bravado that Jirel’s wannabe space adventurer personality tended to give off, she struggled to reconcile the two as friends.

    And speaking of polar opposites, next to Devan strode the second Ktarian. A significantly taller man called Mizar Bal.

    When the two of them had beamed aboard with the cargo, Mizar had been introduced as a senior representative of the mining company that the electrical equipment was destined for. And nobody onboard had thought to question this statement.

    Which now seemed like an oversight, after he had actually turned out to be a criminal, and Mizar and Devan had seized control of the Bounty and her crew thanks to a rogue canister of anesthizine gas slipped into the air supply.

    Natasha tried not to focus too much attention on the taller Ktarian as he strode into the bay. He was broad-shouldered and impeccably dressed, not to mention dashingly handsome, with an elegant head of dark brown hair and a not entirely dissimilar air of self-confidence to the one that Jirel often tried to project. Except in Mizar’s case, it was entirely justified.

    And she had been taken in by pretty much all of those qualities of the Bounty’s new passenger on the journey to Varris IV. Back when she thought she was dealing with a senior representative of a mining company.

    Which, as she sat tied up in an undignified half-naked heap next to an explosive device, she grimly conceded had been another oversight.

    “Well now,” Mizar smiled at the two ungainly figures, “I know this has been a very stressful day for all of us. But you’ll be pleased to hear myself and my colleague are about to leave you in peace. Relatively speaking, at least. There’ll still be a great big bomb here.”

    Jirel ignored the sneering attempt at humour, and kept his attention on his former colleague.

    “Hey, Devan,” he said, “Listen, whatever the hell you’re trying to do, we can help, if you--”

    “That’s enough out of you, Captain Nobody,” Mizar interrupted, glancing back at the nervous Devan at the same time, “Let’s not let ourselves get distracted, hmm? It’s time to get to the shuttle.”

    “What shuttle?” Jirel pressed, earning a smug smile from the Ktarian.

    “You think we planned this without alternative means to get away from this dreadful little colony? It's your crew running riot down there, and this is the ship they'll be traced back to. Besides, once we’re out of harm’s way, it’ll be a lot easier to detonate that thing if your friends don’t do as they’re told.”

    He gestured at the device in between Jirel and Natasha, as the Trill bristled from his impotent position on the floor of the cargo bay.

    “S--Sorry, Jirel,” Devan managed to get out in a quiet voice, “I know you won’t understand, b--but I had to do this.”

    “This?” Jirel offered back incredulously, doing his best to gesture at the mildly farcical scene he was a part of, “You had to do this?”

    Devan didn’t find a response for that, and instead began pacing back and forth down the length of the bay, chewing on his fingernails.

    Mizar, meanwhile, had idly stepped around to Natasha’s side. She continued to try and keep her focus elsewhere, silently hoping that the handsome man she had so regrettably been taken in by wasn’t about to add any extra discomfort to her latest uncomfortable situation.

    “Listen,” he offered with a winning smile, “It really is important to me that you understand this isn’t how I normally like to treat a lady.”

    Natasha suppressed the fresh pang of regret, as she tried her best to find her own right knee a fascinating enough object to deserve her full attention.

    “Especially the morning after a night like we had.”

    She closed her eyes and sighed. Discomfort levels were now at critical mass.

    “I’m sorry, what?” the inevitable sound of Jirel’s voice came from the other side of the bomb.

    “Jirel,” she growled, “Don’t even think about making this a thing.”

    She already knew it was too late. The Trill’s jealousy tanks were primed and full, despite the attempt he made to disguise it.

    “I’m not making--Who’s making this a thing?” he replied.

    A pause.

    “Making what a thing, anyway? I mean, I’m not making it a thing, as we’ve already clarified, but, um, what exactly is it that I’m not making a thing, just so we’re all on the same page?”

    Natasha groaned slightly and leaned back, resting her head on the metal cylinder behind her. For his part, Mizar’s face creased into a superior smile as he stepped back over to Jirel and offered him a knowing shrug.

    “Hey, a gentleman never kisses and tells.”

    “Ok, so there was kissing--?”


    “Not making it a thing.”

    Before Jirel could not make a thing out of it any further, and just as Natasha began to wonder if the fiery devastation of a cabrodine bomb explosion might be preferable to spending the next few hours shackled to the Trill’s jealous streak, the communicator on Mizar’s belt chirped out.

    The taller Ktarian glanced over at his colleague, who rushed over. Both of them were very much back in business mode.

    “What is it?” Mizar barked into the device.

    A reassuringly familiar voice replied. Albeit one that seemed to be affecting an even more pompous and belligerent tone than usual.

    “Hey there, team leader. This is Trelok, head of strike team alpha, checking in from the target location.”

    Even over the slightly patchy comms link, everyone in the cargo bay picked up on the sound of an annoyed Klingon growl in the background. The two Ktarians shared a confused glance.

    “Who?” Mizar asked eventually.

    “Ugh,” Sunek tutted, “You know, Trelok! The gritty, hard-nosed vigilante from the Cerris nebula! Men fear me, women love--”

    The impromptu character bio was interrupted by a sudden scratching sound, indicating that a short battle had broken out for control of the communicator. Seconds later, Denella’s voice came over the link, positively spitting her words back at the Bounty’s new commanders.

    “Alright, listen to me, we’ve done what you said. We’re at the bar, and we’ve found this Palmor Fot. What the hell do we do now?”

    Jirel managed to take a break from thinking about how best to continue not making it a thing to spot a flicker of something cross Devan’s face when he heard Denella say that particular name. A flicker of familiarity, mixed with something darker.

    “Th--They’ve got him,” he whispered to Mizar, “We need to--”

    “Not yet,” the bigger Ktarian chided, “One thing at a time.”

    Devan backed off immediately. Jirel couldn’t help but notice how much more meek and passive his old acquaintance now was compared to back at the scrapyards, even as the more confident Ktarian continued to bark orders into the communicator.

    “Now, listen carefully,” Mizar explained, “I want you to talk to Mr Fot, and get him to take you down to the basement of the bar. I’m sure with a bit of gentle persuasion, he’ll give you what I’m after.”

    “What exactly are you after?” Denella queried.

    Unseen by the Orion, the Ktarian’s face twisted into a greedy smile. One that gave away the answer to her question a split second before he verbalised it.

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  7. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Total squirm fest. This will definitely get Jirel's juices flowing.
    Maybe I could have put that more artfully...

    Keep the fun coming! Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  8. Bynar0110

    Bynar0110 Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 25, 2022
    Ohio Valley, USA
    I enjoyed reading it a lot.

    BountyTrek likes this.
  9. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)


    Tegras’s voice echoed around the confines of the Ktarian Moonrise as he continued to mock Palmor despite his own hostage status.

    “Of course,” he continued, “It always comes back to latinum with you--”

    “Be quiet.”

    Klath didn’t deliver the comment with any particular menace or threat, but the grunted remark from the towering Klingon was more than enough to silence Tegras’s gloating. As he shrank back in his seat amongst the other hostages, Evina subtly leaned over and hissed at him.

    “Why do you keep doing that?”

    “Because I’ve waited years for the day that Palmor Fot finally got what’s coming to him.”

    “We all have,” she pointed out, keeping her voice low and her focus on the Klingon that was guarding them, “But you’re going to get yourself killed if you’re not careful.”

    Tegras shook his head as he regarded the unlikely trio of criminals that had barged their way into their evening.

    “I don’t know, Evina,” he muttered, “Don’t you think there’s something a little unusual about these people?”

    Before she could point out precisely how ludicrous a question that was, he pressed on.

    “You know what I mean. They clearly just want Palmor. Not us. And these people don’t strike me as the hostage-taking type.”

    Evina paused to take in the Klingon, the Vulcan and the Orion. And this time, she had to silently concede that there may be some truth to his last point.

    While they continued their surreptitious debate, Palmor himself was engaged in a substantially louder conversation as he wriggled uncomfortably under the gaze of their captors.

    “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on here, but there’s clearly been some sort of a misunderstanding. I don’t--”

    “He has a safe,” Mizar’s calm voice came back over the comms link, “In the basement of that fleapit of a bar. It’s where he stashes his winnings at the end of every night. Whatever he tries to say, trust me. It’s down there.”

    “That true?” Denella motioned at the quivering Palmor.

    “I--I mean, it’s not as simple as--”

    “It’s true.”

    The voice came from the bartender, silencing the defeated Palmor once again. It seemed that there was no end to the number of people in the room willing to sell him out at this point. The Orion shrugged in satisfaction at this second-hand confirmation. She wasn’t entirely sure why everyone was so keen to rat this particular Ktarian out, but it was definitely making their job a lot easier.

    “Alright,” she nodded at her colleagues, “I’ll take our friend here down to the basement. You two keep an eye on the others.”

    “But--!” Palmor began.

    “Save it,” she grunted with a wave of her disruptor.

    With his latest protestations silenced, she grabbed him by the arm and marched him away.

    Klath returned his focus to the remaining hostages, fixing them with enough of a glower to suggest to every Ktarian present that he would prefer it if they waited in silence, aside from the sound of the rain hammering down outside.

    Sunek didn’t get the same message, and instead returned to what he was increasingly convinced was an award-winning performance as Trelok, the Vulcan vigilante. And, seeing as he was enjoying role-playing so much, he decided to help his gruff colleague out with a clever cover story of his own.

    “So, ladies and gentlemen, while we wait, I should introduce you to my friend here. This is Korgan, Son of Bretath, a fearless warrior from the depths of the Empire. And the first thing you should know is that, while we don’t have a formal rank structure, I’m kinda his boss…”

    Klath began to grumble under his breath, as Sunek’s latest insufferable monologue continued.


    “Listen, I’m telling you, you don’t need to do this.”

    Denella ignored the latest protest from Palmor as she roughly shoved him in the back to force him further down the metal steps into the basement.

    The Ktarian reacted to the shove by picking up the pace. Both of his steps and his protests.

    “Ok, you’re working for someone, right? Whoever that was on the comms link back there. Well, whatever he’s paying you, I can double--No, no, I can triple it!”

    “Sorry friend,” Denella replied, “Really not that kind of situation.”

    “S--So, what sort of situation is it? Who are you working for? A Ferengi consortium? Karemman traders? The Orion Syndicate--?”

    “Definitely not them,” she fired back with a grimace.

    “Then who?”

    She didn’t bother to reply, even as they reached the bottom of the steps, surmising that there was little point trying to explain the situation now.

    The basement itself was a gloomy rectangular room directly underneath the bar itself, with dirty stone walls and a drab metal floor. Various crates and other supplies were piled around the room, and the air smelt unmistakably musty.

    “Come on then,” Denella motioned, “Where’s this safe of yours?”

    “I’m telling you, there’s nothing down here!”

    She prodded him in the back with her disruptor, and the Ktarian slowly and reluctantly walked over to the far side of the room.

    “Ok,” he continued, trying a different tactic, “You don’t want money, then what? Hmm? Supplies? Weapons? Drugs? I can get you anything you need!”

    “All I need is that safe of yours.”

    They reached the far wall, as Palmor turned back to his captor.

    “Yes, well, you see, the thing with the safe is that--”

    “Look, Mr Fot, I’m sorry this is happening to you. It sucks that we’re here, and we’re holding you hostage, and we’re gonna take all of your latinum. But trust me when I say that there’s nothing you’re gonna be able to say or do that will stop any of this from happening. So…the safe?”

    The Ktarian stared into the Orion’s determined eyes, and then looked down at the disruptor in her hands, and admitted defeat. He reluctantly gestured over to a particularly dark corner of the basement with a nod of his head.

    Denella impatiently dragged him over there, and they were soon standing in front of a metal door recessed into the wall, with a shiny black touchscreen access panel embedded next to it. For a moment, Palmor made no attempt to do anything, his brain still running at warp speed trying to think of another angle to talk his way out of what was happening.

    “Come on,” Denella motioned eventually, “Open sesame, already.”

    “L--Look, before I do that, I just want to say--”

    “No time for that.”

    “But, after I open it, what’s to stop you from--”

    “I give you my word, I didn’t come down here to kill anyone, ok? I’m just here to do a job. So, please, just open the goddamn safe and let me do it.”

    Despite the pacifist angle to her comment, Denella accompanied her latest request by jabbing the disruptor pistol firmly into the small of the Ktarian’s back.

    After a final glance around the confines of the basement, looking for some form of salvation to present itself from amongst the scattered crates, Palmor finally crouched down and tapped a sequence of commands into the touchscreen panel.

    Feeling the pistol muzzle at his back, he held his breath as he completed the process, and the door to the safe opened with a telltale hiss. Behind him, Denella looked over the Ktarian’s shoulder expectantly. And gasped in shock.

    Palmor’s shoulders sagged in resignation.

    “I did say there was nothing down here.”



    Mizar’s frustrated voice filled the confines of the Bounty’s cargo bay as he hissed into the communicator in his hand.

    Next to him, Devan instinctively flinched at the harshness of his tone, and began to wring his hands in front of him to try to sooth his rising worries.

    “Ha!” Jirel called out with gusto from the other side of the bay, “Not such a great plan now, is it?”

    “We’re still tied to a bomb, Jirel,” Natasha calmly reminded him, accompanying her comment with a sharp tug on her end of the cuffs.

    “You might want to listen to her,” Mizar grunted, “And we can still beam out of here and detonate that thing whether I get my latinum or not.”

    Jirel struggled for any sort of retort to that, eventually opting for a weak shrug of his shoulders.

    “Still not entirely convinced it’s a bomb,” he managed, in a substantially less confident tone of voice.

    Mizar returned his attention to the communicator in his hand, barking out further instructions to try and smooth out this unexpected wrinkle in his plan.

    “He must be hiding it,” he grunted, “He has to be.”

    To his side, Devan stepped forwards, still rubbing his hands together with worry.

    “Mizar. I--If they’ve got Fot, then we sh-should beam them up. It’s not about the latinum--”

    “It is to me,” Mizar snapped back instantly, “Why else do you think I’ve been helping you? Out of the goodness of my heart?”

    The shorter Ktarian shrank back, his brief attempt at an assertive action abandoned. Jirel watched on with intrigue from across the bay, trying to pick up on any clues as to what had led his former crewmate from the scrapyards down this unhinged path.

    “I want you to find that latinum, ok?” Mizar continued into the communicator, trying to keep a lid on his rising sense of frustration, “Search that place from floor to ceiling. And if it’s not there, I want you to get Mr Fot to tell you where it is, and for you to go get it. Understood?”

    There was a short pause over the static-filled comms link before Denella’s equally frustrated voice returned.

    “And how exactly do you expect us to ‘go get it’, hmm? You told us to come down here and take hostages. We’re not exactly a mobile operation any more!”

    As Mizar searched for a solution to that obvious issue, Devan’s rudimentary assertive streak found a minor second wind.

    “If we b--beam them up now, we could get Fot to--”

    “Shut up!” Mizar snapped as his frustration boiled over, causing Devan to jump in shock, “You know as well as I do that if we keep using that transporter, we’re gonna get the security forces on our backs for sure!”

    That barrage was enough for Devan’s assertive side to flee the scene completely, as he meekly returned to his role as the literal silent partner in their criminal enterprise.

    Across the bay, Jirel slowly shook his own head, struggling to fully marry up his memory of working with Devan Gol at the Tyran Scrapyards with the Ktarian he saw now.

    He had always been a quiet individual, content to stay out of trouble. Jirel had always been the more outgoing and talkative one. Usually overconfidently talking them both into trouble before Devan’s more reserved and diplomatic side talked them back out of it. But now, something had clearly changed. The Ktarian’s quiet side was no longer a result of him simply being calm and reserved. Now he was more fearful and timid.

    On their journey to Varris IV, Jirel had expected to spend most of the trip catching up with him over as many of the random bottles of alcohol lying around the Bounty as they could get through. After all, it had been the best part of a decade since their time together at the scrapyards.

    But instead, Devan had been withdrawn as soon as he had beamed aboard, and had spent most of the trip holed up in the spare cabin, or otherwise in furtive conversation with Mizar. It hadn’t exactly been the reunion that Jirel had been expecting.

    And the more that this unfortunate situation continued to unfold, the more Jirel wondered exactly what had happened to his old acquaintance.

    While the Trill was worrying, Mizar had been pacing, and he now began to reiterate the bones of his revised plan to the rest of the Bounty’s crew over the comms link.

    “Ok, listen to me,” he sighed, dialling back his frustrations and allowing his old charming tone to return to the surface, “I really don’t want to be that guy, but you’re not getting back onboard this ship without that latinum. Alright? So I don’t care what you have to do, where you have to go, or who you have to kill down there, you need to find it. Got it?”

    There was a long pause on the other end of the comms link. Long enough for him to opt to continue when no immediate response was forthcoming.

    “Or do you want me and my colleague to transport over to our shuttle, and then set off the little present we’ve given you in your cargo bay--?”

    “No,” Denella’s curt response came quickly, “You don’t need to do that. We’ll find the latinum.”

    Mizar’s face creased into a self-satisfied smile at this, his broad shoulders fully relaxing.

    “Thank you for your cooperation,” he offered, with just about the least amount of warmth it was possible to bestow on those words.

    Without waiting for any further response from the other end, he clicked off the comms link and shot a look at the still-cowering Devan.

    “I swear, if those idiots down there mess this up--”

    “Hey!” Jirel called out, “Don’t call my crew idiots! That’s my job!”

    The Trill felt the need to call out for a few reasons. Partly in honest defence of his absent shipmates, partly out of his continued jealous thoughts towards the handsome Ktarian, partly out of the intense feeling of shame that accompanied those thoughts, and also partly to take the heat off Devan.

    Let’s give him someone else to get angry with, he thought to himself.

    Mizar glanced over at Jirel, who did his best to look as imposing as he possibly could while still sitting chained up in his underwear.

    It wasn’t a look that threatened to come close to troubling Mizar from his position of superiority, but the mild farce of the sight at least seemed to cause him to call off his latest rant in Devan’s direction. Which Jirel silently decided to take as a win.

    Instead, Mizar merely glanced back at the other Ktarian and jerked his head to the exit.

    “Come on then,” he offered, “We might be stuck onboard here for a bit longer. But we can still get ready.”

    The two of them walked off, leaving Jirel and Natasha to continue their futile efforts to free themselves from their cuffs.

    Neither of them tried to spend too much time thinking about what exactly they were getting ready for.
    Robert Bruce Scott likes this.
  10. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Yeah this is about to go sideways in some weird direction. There are plenty of more reliable sources of latinum. Mizar doesn't just want latinum - he wants Palmer Fot's latinum... Desperation makes strange bedfellows...

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  11. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part One (Cont'd)

    Denella heard the comms link go dead and let out a deep, tired sigh over the ever-present sound of the patter of rainfall against the windows of the Ktarian Moonrise. She turned back to survey the situation inside the bar and tried to figure out what the hell they were going to do next.

    To one side of the room, eleven hostages remained gathered together. Sunek and Klath had joined her in the middle of the bar while she had checked in with Mizar.

    Next to them, Palmor was slumped in a chair, having gathered from the conversation he had just overheard that his predicament was far from over. Even if it wasn’t quite clear exactly which way it was now going to go.

    “Well,” Sunek tutted eventually, idly spinning his disruptor around in his hand, “This trip has turned into a hell of a pile of suck. What now?”

    “We should return to my original plan,” Klath boomed out, “Make our way to a transporter pad, return to the ship ourselves, and take it back by force.”

    “You’re forgetting the part about the bomb in the cargo bay again,” Denella countered.

    The Klingon defiantly shrugged his burly shoulders.

    “I am still not entirely convinced it is a bomb.”

    “Besides,” Sunek pointed out, “Surely those two geniuses up there won’t go and blow up our ship while they’re still onboard?”

    Denella considered this for a moment, but shook her head.

    “I’m not sure what they’re capable of doing. But I know that’s too much of a risk. Besides, as soon as we leave this place, we’ve now got a dozen witnesses who’ll raise the alarm before we even get to a transporter.”

    Sunek and Klath looked over at the hostages. The Vulcan shrugged.

    “We could always--”

    “We’re not gonna hurt them,” Denella countered quickly.

    “I wasn’t gonna say that, obviously!”

    Before the Vulcan could offer a full explanation of exactly what he had been proposing, Denella turned back to Palmor.

    “Ok, Mr Fot,” she sighed, “Let’s try this the easy way. Where’s the latinum?”

    “I already offered you my winnings!” the Ktarian whined, gesturing over at the abandoned Tongo game on the other side of the bar.

    “We need a hell of a lot more than that, I'm afraid. Where’s the latinum from your safe?”

    Palmor wrung his hands together nervously. But despite the weapons all around him, he elected to remain mute in response to this question.

    Because, while he wasn’t exactly a brave man, preferring to stay a suitably safe distance from all of his more nefarious business dealings on Varris IV and allow his subordinates to accept the risks instead, he was also a gambling man.

    And right now, he was gambling that he could keep hold of his latinum after all.

    Like all committed gamblers, he had weighed up the odds of success before deciding to embark on such a high risk strategy. And he had decided that those odds were in his favour.

    Based on what he had seen and heard of their captors so far, he didn’t get a sense that they were the type to shoot him any time soon. In fact, none of the strangers had so much as fired a warning shot from their disruptors since they had arrived.

    Then there was the way the Orion had conducted herself while they had been in the basement. She had been determined and forceful, and hadn’t bought any of his efforts to talk his way out of it. But there had still been an undertone of kindness to her tone. A hint of compassion in her eyes.

    And then there was the ongoing discussions over the comms link, which suggested to Palmor that their captors were not the ones that were set to profit from this particular operation. They were just here to do the legwork. And from his own dubious experiences on Varris IV, he knew that people were always less willing to be ruthless if it was all for someone else’s benefit.

    So he decided to roll the dice. To twist. To hold onto his Evade card for a later turn. And not to tell them anything.

    It was a strategy that might have worked, but for one thing. He hadn’t factored in the other players at the table. Not the captors themselves, but the other hostages. The ones with no qualms about selling the least popular man on Varris IV down the river.

    “He’ll have moved it somewhere,” Tegras piped up, standing up from his position amongst the gaggle of hostages.

    Palmor jerked his head around to where Tegras stood, shooting daggers at him from across the room. For his part, Tegras stared back at his old enemy with a satisfied smile.

    Buoyed by her colleague’s showing, Evina stood up next to Tegras and nodded her head.

    “He’s right,” she nodded, “He must have another secure location.”

    To Palmor’s side, the three hostage takers glanced at each other. None of them looked overly delighted with this somewhat scant offering of information.

    “Well,” Sunek offered eventually with a healthy portion of sarcasm, “Duh-doy.”

    The two Ktarians suddenly looked a little less satisfied with their actions, and glanced at each other with considerably more concern. Then, just as they began to regret making themselves stand out in the crowd quite so much, the bartender chimed in.

    “Whenever the safe gets full, he arranges a transfer. Atmospheric shuttle comes and takes the latinum away. If it’s empty, that’s where it’s gone--”

    “Stop that!” Palmor snapped impotently as he was slowly and methodically sold out, “If you try to take me down, I’ll take every single one of you down with me--!”

    “Quiet,” Klath grunted with fresh annoyance, silencing the fearful Palmor once again.

    “Last shuttle pick-up was two days ago,” the bartender added, more concerned by the disruptors than by Palmor’s threats, “But I’m afraid I can’t tell you where they take it.”

    Denella nodded, then turned back to Palmor, determined to tug on this particular thread some more.

    “So, Mr Fot. Where do they take it?”

    In his mind, Palmor began to run the odds again. It didn’t take him long to decide on a new course of action. Double or nothing.

    “It goes off-world,” he muttered, “By secure transport.”

    His answer was enough to elicit a loud growl of frustration from Klath, with enough intensity to cause Palmor, and most of the other hostages, to flinch.

    “This is insufferable!” the Klingon spat, “We have been sent on a fool’s errand!”

    “Habit of a lifetime,” Sunek chipped in, as Klath kicked a bar stool clean across the room to punctuate his frustrations.

    Denella allowed the Klingon’s outburst to subside naturally, and got her own mind into gear. She paced over to the bar area and tapped a series of commands into the computer console located behind it.

    “Hey,” Sunek called over, gesturing at the bottles of alcohol behind her, “While you’re there, Trelok would love a--”

    “Shut up, Trelok.”

    As Denella continued to work, Sunek glanced over at the hostages and managed an awkward smile.

    “That’s just, y’know, a bit of banter. Actually, technically, I’m her boss as well--”

    “He’s lying,” the Orion engineer called out.

    “Well, don’t tell them that!”

    “No, not--Him!” she sighed, pointing an accusing finger at the squirming Palmor, “He’s lying. He’s got to be.”

    “How can you be so sure?” Klath asked.

    “Because,” Denella said, gesturing down at the screen, “The barman said the last pick-up from the safe was two days ago. The only ships that have left orbit since then have been two ore freighters and a prison transport. None of which, I’m assuming, do much in the way of latinum transportation.”

    “Meaning?” Sunek offered.

    “Meaning that wherever the latinum was transported to, it’s still on the planet somewhere,” she continued, gesturing over to Evina, “So she was right. He must have a lockup or a holding area somewhere. That right, Mr Fot?”

    She glared at Palmor, who appeared to be suddenly finding his shoes endlessly fascinating. Seeing a chance to work off some of his mounting frustrations, Klath stepped back over to where the Ktarian sat and lifted him out of his chair by his collar.

    “My colleague asked you a question.”

    “Ok, ok!” he babbled, as Klath dropped him back down into the chair, “I have a secure facility, over on the other side of the settlement! The next orbital pick-up isn’t until tomorrow!”

    Denella smiled in satisfaction. Sunek grinned broadly. Klath nodded, but couldn’t help but look a little disappointed that he hadn’t had to use any more force to get the information.

    “There,” Denella said, “Was that so hard?”

    Palmor folded his arms in angry defeat, as the Orion considered their next step.

    “Ok, I guess we’ll have to restrain the rest of our friends over there somehow. Then we should have enough time before the alarm gets raised to get to--”

    She stopped herself as she spotted something unsettling on the computer interface she had been working on. Something that suggested that the alarm had already been raised. Away from the main part of the screen where she had called up the public transport logs, she saw a small flashing light. She tapped the screen for more information, and didn’t like what she found.

    “Um, guys…we might have a problem.”

    Sunek walked over and peered over the rim of the bar at the screen itself. Even though it was upside down, he could see the tell-tale signs that an alert of some description had been activated.

    It wasn’t clear how it had been activated. Presumably during the initial melee after they had made their entrance, one of the Ktarians had reached out and triggered it. But however it had happened, it was clearly a problem.

    A sound from outside, louder than the permanent rainfall, seemed to add further confirmation to the existence of a problem. It was a sound that distinctly sounded like several small vessels landing on the hard ground outside.

    Klath sidled over to a window and carefully peered out.

    He saw several small vessels landing on the hard ground outside.

    Each one clearly belonged to the local security force on Varris IV. The doors of the shuttles opened, and several figures clad in dark brown uniforms scurried out and took up strategic positions behind nearby cover. All of them carried phaser-type weapons.

    Within moments, they had surrounded the entire front of the Ktarian Moonrise. And while he had no way of knowing for sure, Klath was certain that a similar scene was taking place at the rear of the building.

    They were surrounded.

    “Yes,” he nodded, turning back to Denella and Sunek, “I believe we have a problem.”

    End of Part One
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2023
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  12. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Nope. They have another problem...

    Loving the cascading cliff-hangers! Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  13. Bynar0110

    Bynar0110 Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 25, 2022
    Ohio Valley, USA
    Nice Cliffhanger to end the chapter.
  14. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two

    “It’s gonna be 1-2-3-4. I’m telling you.”

    Natasha sighed and shook her head.

    The two figures that were so uncomfortably positioned on the floor of the Bounty’s cargo bay had made a modicum of progress in their efforts to free themselves. From blindly feeling around, Jirel had managed to locate a small set of controls on one set of cuffs, designed to input a code to release the lock, and he had managed to contort his right hand in such a way that he could just about tap at the controls with his index finger.

    But, as Natasha had repeatedly tried to tell the excited Trill, this wasn’t quite the significant step forward that he seemed to be treating it as.

    The telltale buzz of the latest incorrect guess rang out into the cargo bay, and the cuffs remained resolutely in place around their wrists. Much as they had with every other blind guess Jirel had made so far, from 0-0-0-0 to 9-9-9-9.

    “My hero,” Natasha couldn’t help but fire out, with levels of sarcasm that Sunek would have been proud of.

    “Whatever. I’ve got plenty more plans, ok?”

    “Like what?”

    There was a telling pause before the Trill’s weak response came back.


    Natasha groaned gently in frustration, shivering from the cold deck below her exposed legs as Jirel’s master plan continued to resolutely get them precisely nowhere. Aside from the bomb behind her going off, she absently noted that there was only one way the situation could get any worse.

    And Jirel managed to guess that one right away.

    “So,” he offered into the silence that had descended, “You know--I mean, earlier, when Mizar was talking about you. And him. Him and you.”

    Natasha groaned again. She really didn’t have the patience to be reminded about her latest terrible choice of sexual partner. Especially by one of her previous terrible choices.

    Not for the first time, she cursed her flawed thought process on her first night onboard the Bounty, after she had been rescued from her unplanned exile on a barren planet in the Kesmet sector following the destruction of the USS Navajo.

    When, after six months without any form of company or companionship, she had dispassionately used a process of elimination to decide what she was going to do to avoid spending another night alone with her thoughts, which had been dominated by memories of the Navajo’s final moments, and the face of a dying ensign she had left behind.

    And for one night, she ended up in Jirel’s cabin.

    Had she known at the time that she would end up joining the Bounty’s crew, that Jirel would read significantly more into what happened than a simple one night stand, and that the Trill, for all of his outward bravado, possessed a somewhat pathetic jealous streak the length of the Alpha Quadrant, she would definitely have opted to spend another night elsewhere. Thoughts or no thoughts. But she hadn’t been privy to that information at the time, so here she was.

    She had already suffered through Jirel’s jealous streak on one occasion, just before she had resigned her commission on Starbase 216, when they had run into her ex-husband, Cameron Kinsen. And she hadn’t had much time for it then.

    And now, given that she was already feeling bad enough to have allowed herself to be taken in by Mizar Bal’s physical charms, coupled with the fact that she was still shackled to an explosive device, she definitely didn’t have time for it.

    Not that Jirel seemed to have picked up on any of that.

    “I mean,” he continued from the other side of the metal cylinder between them, “It’s cool. Y’know, it’s not that it’s not cool--”

    “Good. Glad we could settle that. Because it’s really, truly none of your business, Jirel. And I thought you said you weren’t going to make a thing out of it.”

    “Yep, right, I know. I’m not.”

    A pause. For a blessed moment, Natasha wondered if it was all over.

    “But…I mean, when he said ‘after a night like we had’, does that really mean you two really--?”


    Of all the responses Jirel had been expecting, and if he was being honest with himself, he wasn’t sure which response he wanted to hear, that had definitely not been one of them.

    “Excuse me?”

    “On the cuffs,” she sighed, “If you really want to keep trying to guess the code, try 7-1-3-9.”

    Another pause. Natasha breathed a silent sigh of relief that this appeared to have been enough of a non sequitur to throw Jirel several light years away from his previous topic of conversation.


    “Because I once read about a mathematical study which found that, across all known species that use a structured numbering system, if you ask a large enough sample size to name a random four-digit number, a statistically significant percentage always choose 7-1-3-9. It’s the most random number in the galaxy.”

    Jirel considered this response for a moment, before shrugging his bare shoulders as best he could while still being tied up.

    “That doesn’t make any sense.”

    “I know. That’s exactly what the people running the study said. But given that nothing you’re trying to do right now makes any sense, I thought I’d at least suggest it.”

    “You…want me to try 7-1-3-9?”

    “Might work?” she offered, allowing herself to actually believe what she was saying for the briefest of moments.

    “It won’t work,” Jirel retorted, as he diligently tapped the interface.

    A familiar buzz rang out through the bay.

    “It didn’t work,” the Trill added, unnecessarily.

    “Great. What now?” Natasha signed again, “And before you answer that, bear in mind that if the next words out of your mouth are concerning me, Mizar Bal, or what may or may not have happened in my cabin last night, know that once we’re out of these cuffs, I will use my encyclopaedic knowledge of Trill anatomy and my favourite laser scalpel to make sure you will never need to worry about sharing your cabin with anyone else ever again.”

    Jirel instinctively crossed his legs on the cold floor of the bay and focused on the bigger picture.

    “We could try toppling it over?”

    “Toppling it over,” Natasha scoffed, “Toppling over the big bomb?”

    “Still not entirely convinced it’s a bomb.”

    “Ok, well, we’ll file that one under Plan B, ok? Anything else?”

    Jirel chewed his lip thoughtfully, doing his best to make sure his thoughts didn’t drift back to questions about Mizar Bal.

    “If I can get Devan by himself, I still feel like I can get through to him,” he said eventually, “Get him to stop all this.”

    “What makes you think that?” Natasha asked, genuinely curious to hear his answer, given how little she still knew about a lot of her new crew’s old lives.

    “Well, y’know, that time together hanging out back at the scrapyards had to count for something, right?”

    “Depends if he was a friend or an acquaintance,” she replied knowingly.

    Jirel’s shoulders slumped slightly, the Trill a little reluctant to divulge too much about his past, even to the only person onboard who knew most of it already. All the way down to his illustrious Starfleet admiral father.

    “Ok, so,” he began to explain eventually, “Back at the Tyran Scrapyards…not a lot of people liked me.”

    “Is this the part where I act surprised?”

    Jirel stifled a wry smile, reassured that there was still room in their conversation for the usual level of barbs, despite their situation.

    “Yeah, and I totally deserved it. Rolled up there cocky as all hell just cos I’d spent a few years wandering around the quadrant and hadn’t gotten myself killed yet, crossed all the wrong people on my first day on the job, and thought all the work sent my way was beneath me.”

    “I know you can’t see, but I’m really trying hard to act surprised.”

    “Yeah, well, by the time I’d started to grow up, it was too late. I was a social pariah. And the Tyran Scrapyards weren’t the sort of place where you wanted to be that. I was bullied, beaten up, given the worst jobs, whatever indignity the other workers could send my way, they did. Where else do you think I learned how to fight so well?”

    “Huh,” Natasha offered, a little more understandingly, “I had no idea.”

    “Yep. Pretty much everyone there had it in for me. Except for Devan Gol. He was always happy to hang out with Spotty--”

    He stopped himself as soon as he said the word, but it was too late. He winced, having not intended to share quite that much with his current company.


    Jirel sighed and nodded his head, even though the woman on the other side of the bomb couldn’t see him.

    “Yeah. That, um, that was one of the nicknames the other workers had for me.”

    He paused, wondering what else he could add. Eventually, he settled on something.

    “Y’know. Cos of the spots.”

    He wasn’t particularly happy with what he had settled on.

    “Huh,” Natasha muttered thoughtfully, “Spotty.”

    She didn’t know exactly why it happened. Whether it was a burst of mild delirium brought on by spending this long lying half-naked on the cold deck of the ship. Whether it was her mind’s way of working off some of her excess frustrations about the situation she was in. Or even whether it was a genuine subconscious desire to take out those frustrations on the Trill as punishment for his earlier round of profoundly irritating jealousy.

    Regardless of why it happened, she couldn’t help but let out an amused snort. One that was more than loud enough to be picked up on by her colleague.

    “Are you laughing?”

    “No!” she replied, a little too quickly, “No. That was just--I’m not--”

    Another snort escaped her mouth before she could stop it. Followed by a stifled chuckle.

    “You are laughing!” Jirel persisted, with a hint of indignation, “Stop that! This is serious!”

    “I know! I’m sorry! I--!”

    Another uncontrollable chuckle burst forth, The more she tried to stop herself from laughing, the greater the urge swelled inside of her. The effort of holding in the belly laugh that was growing inside of her became so great that tears began to roll down her cheeks.

    On the other side of the metal cylinder, Jirel listened to the stifled snorts, and despite still feeling a little hurt at her reaction, something about the sound of her choking back laughter caused a similar wave to rise up inside him.

    “I mean,” he snorted, “I guess--it is pretty funny--”

    Natasha couldn’t hold it in any longer. She burst out laughing. Jirel followed suit.

    The two figures sat, still chained up to a cabrodine bomb, and the cargo bay filled with helpless laughter.


    At the other end of the Bounty, in the Ju’Day-type raider’s cockpit, the two Ktarians looked up from their work and tilted their heads in curiosity at the distant sound echoing down the length of the ship’s corridor.

    “What the hell’s so funny?” Mizar grunted at Devan, not expecting an answer.

    The smaller Ktarian didn’t offer one, aside from an anxious shrug.

    Unlike their prisoners, they had little to laugh about themselves. They had just been informed of the latest unhappy developments down in the Ktarian Moonrise on the planet below, as their seemingly straightforward plan hit another hitch. It had done little to improve Mizar’s already darkening mood.

    “I thought you said this guy’s crew would do the job?” he grouched, “Two hours they’ve been down there, and now Ktarian security are all over the place!”

    Devan flinched slightly under the latest barrage directed at him, and resumed wringing his hands together with renewed vigour.

    “W--We should beam them up now,” he managed in an altogether quieter voice than Mizar’s own rich baritone, “While we still can.”

    Mizar leaned back in the seat of the Bounty’s tactical console and looked over at the mild-mannered Ktarian standing next to the centre seat.

    “We can’t do that now, can we?” he replied with irritation, “As soon as they turn off the transport inhibitor, the security teams will get to them!”

    Devan shrank back behind the centre seat in the face of this latest verbal assault, and increased the intensity of his hand-wringing.

    He knew it had been a stupid suggestion. The inhibitor not only prevented transporters from beaming through it, but it also prevented any attempt to establish any sort of transporter lock on anyone inside it to prevent a swift beam out.

    “S--So,” he managed to mutter, “What now?”

    Mizar Bal sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, mulling over the situation in front of them in silence. Eventually, he opened his eyes again and leaned forwards in his seat.

    “We’ll stick to the plan,” he replied with a nod, “Get our stuff, get the hell off this ship and get over to the shuttle.”

    Devan’s eyes widened slightly at this, as he grew slightly more concerned by the dark look on his colleague’s face.

    “B--But, shouldn’t we--?”

    “We should keep ourselves as far away from this as possible right now. If it all goes to crap down there and the security forces trace those idiots back to this ship, I don’t want to be anywhere near it.”

    “W--What about Fot?”

    “We’ll still have the comms link. If they get away with Fot - and, more importantly, if they get my latinum - then we’ll know about it.”

    Before Devan was able to counter any further, Mizar stood up from the tactical console and pointed back out in the direction of the Bounty’s cargo bay.

    “Now,” he added, “How about you go make sure our cargo is primed for long-range, remote detonation, ok?”

    Devan’s eyes widened even further, as he felt the sensation of his carefully planned idea spiralling further out of control.

    “B--But, we’re not actually going to--?”

    “What’s the point of bringing a threat if you’re not willing to use it?” Mizar interjected, “Besides, nothing like a bomb threat to keep those fools down on the planet in line, just in case they decide to hand themselves in…”

    Devan Gol couldn’t muster a counterpoint to this. So he absently started to bite his nails, even though most of them were already eroded down to the quick.

    It wasn’t supposed to have been like this, he told himself. And once again, he found himself cursing ever recruiting the help of Mizar Bal. Even though he knew that he wouldn’t have been able to get this far without his help.

    Devan had been planning how he was going to find Palmor Fot for months. But it had quickly become apparent to him that, while he could figure out the theory, he was never going to be able to carry the whole thing out by himself in practice. So he had started to sniff around in the Ktarian underworld as best he could, throughout several other old colonies in a similar state to Varris IV, and he had eventually struck up an uncomfortable working relationship with Mizar.

    The plan had initially seemed simple. Devan had the plan, and Mizar was there to provide the leadership that was needed. He would help Devan succeed in his aims, and in return, he would get the latinum that Palmor Fot had to his name.

    Except, Devan had already succeeded in his aims, in as much as the Bounty’s crew down on the colony had found Palmor. Now it was Mizar’s stake in the game that had proved to be the issue, and now meant that his carefully laid plans were unravelling.

    Devan took a second to compose himself, resting his hand on the arm of the centre chair in the cockpit and trying not to focus too much on the guilt he felt upon touching the seat where Jirel usually found himself. He tried to summon up memories of happier times, before Palmor Fot, to get him focused back on the task at hand. But those memories seemed further away than ever.

    “Is there a problem?”

    Devan took a deep breath and looked over at Mizar, who seemed as entirely unconcerned by the meeker Ktarian’s moment of crisis as he always was.

    “N--No,” he managed to stammer, “I’ll go and deal with the detonator.”

    Mizar’s eyes narrowed slightly, displaying more than a modicum of distrust. Then he nodded. Devan took that chance to walk back down the rear steps of the Bounty’s cockpit as quickly as his shaking legs could carry him.

    He walked on down the ship’s main corridor. All the while wondering how everything could have gone so wrong.
    Robert Bruce Scott and Bynar0110 like this.
  15. Bynar0110

    Bynar0110 Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 25, 2022
    Ohio Valley, USA
    Nice Spaceballs reference. I enjoyed reading this.
    BountyTrek likes this.
  16. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Love the laughter sequence - much needed break for those characters. So... Devan wants Palmer Fot and Mizar wants latinum - hence, Palmer Fot's latinum. Pretty much any latinum would suffice for Mizar, so Devan has a way out. Very sticky thicket you've created here...

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  17. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    Security Chief Tylor Ral surveyed the scene in front of him, gritting his teeth with a mixture of annoyance and regret.

    He was getting too old for this kind of crap.

    The rain continued to lash down from above, the peaked rim of the cap on his head and the thick waterproof jacket over his shoulders doing little to protect him from getting thoroughly soaked.

    In front of him, the gaudy blinking neon sign of the Ktarian Moonrise continued to flash on and off, illuminating the puddles around his feet and serving to contribute to an ever-developing stress headache that was building in his weathered temples.

    Tylor had worked in the Ktarian security force since he was old enough to get a job, back before his people had even heard of the Federation, or the Alpha Quadrant.

    He had developed a reputation as a solid, no-nonsense investigator back on the homeworld, and was once talked about as a future Head of Ktarian Security. After Ktaris had officially joined the Federation, he had even been offered a chance to lead a delegation of officers to liaise with Federation Security and help draft a new planetary defence program.

    But instead, much to the surprise of most, he had turned down those sorts of opportunities. And as he had neared retirement, he had instead volunteered for the post of security chief on the Varris IV colony.

    It was by no means a plum assignment for a man of his pedigree. In fact, given the state of the colony these days, it was pretty much as grim and thankless as they came.

    But Tylor was an old school operator. Too much so for Ktaris’s forthcoming enlightened future inside the cosy ranks of the Federation. He knew he would operate on a need to accumulate wealth until his dying day, and with his retirement on the horizon, and the overly generous salary available for as uninspiring a post as this, the decision to come here had been an easy one.

    Varris IV had been, in a strange way, the perfect way to wind down his career and make sure that he and his wife had a big enough nest egg to spend their golden years in comfort somewhere in the cosmos. Plus, with the central Ktarian government having all but given up on the place, there was no real pressure for him to deal with the crime levels to any serious extent.

    Or at least, there had been no pressure. Before his new second in command had arrived.

    “All strike teams are in position, Chief. All units report ready. Comms are clear.”

    The soaked security chief turned to regard the younger uniformed Ktarian woman standing next to him behind the cover of one of the atmospheric shuttles they had arrived in.

    Deputy Jalon Sep had, like Tylor himself, volunteered for assignment on Varris IV. But she hadn’t come here to escape responsibility and secure a final payday before retirement. She had come here to make a name for herself.

    Determined to work her way up the long ladder of the Ktarian Security Force, she had found her career losing momentum once she had risen as high as regional section head. And so she had jumped at the chance to take up the deputy role on Varris IV. Where else could she truly prove herself to her superiors on Ktaris than by taking on and beating the runaway criminal elements across their least impressive colony.

    And ever since she had arrived, she had done her best to get her new boss back up to scratch as well, much to Tylor’s continued frustration.

    “We’re waiting on your orders,” she added to the grizzled chief, as the rain hammered down on the hull of the shuttle.

    “Good work, Deputy,” Tylor replied with a grim nod, before turning his attention back to the Ktarian Moonrise itself.

    For a moment, only the sound of the relentless downpour filled the air. But Tylor could sense his deputy still standing rigidly next to him, wanting more from her superior.

    “What…are your orders, Chief?” she persisted eventually, “For the record, I would recommend a frontal assault, keeping the guards at the rear in position to cover those exits.”

    Tylor took a moment to wonder whether the neon sign or his own deputy was now contributing more to the growing stress headache, then shook his head.

    “No assaults. Not until we know what we’re assaulting.”

    The level one alert back at the Varris IV Security Headquarters had come as a shock. While many businesses across the main settlement still had their emergency alert systems up and running, most were barely used these days.

    Bar brawls and robberies were so common, and the usual security response so slow and ineffective, that there was usually very little point in raising any sort of alarm. Indeed, when the alert first showed up, Tylor’s first instinct had been to ignore it. After all, the bartender could have just leaned on it by mistake. That had happened before.

    But his new deputy had insisted that they follow official procedure when a level one alert was reported by a business on a Ktarian colony. As she insisted that they follow official procedure for everything.

    And so, strike teams had been assembled, shuttles had been prepped, and here they were. Standing in the rain, in front of an apparent hostage crisis.

    And now Tylor was supposed to do something about it.

    “With all due respect, Chief,” Jalon continued, “We know enough. The intelligence drone has already conducted a primary scan of the building.”

    She handed him a small padd. And although the results were on screen for him to browse, she also felt the need to vocalise the report, much to the dissatisfaction of Tylor’s aching head.

    “Eleven Ktarian hostages confirmed, located near the front of the premises. Three, possibly four hostiles located away from the main group. And we have confirmed energy signatures for three disruptor weapons. One Type-J Klingon design, one Ferengi D’Tak pistol--”

    “Wait, wait, wait,” Tylor replied, only half-listening and gesturing to the padd, “What the hell are these life form readings all about?”

    Jalon looked confused by this, having deemed such information to be irrelevant to procedure during a hostage incident.

    “All lifesigns are stable. No casualties have been detected--”

    “No, not lifesigns, Deputy. Life forms. Who the hell are these people? A Vulcan? An Orion? A…Klingon? On Varris IV?”

    Jalon paused for a moment, contemplating this as the rain dripped off the peak of her own cap.

    “I didn’t consider that information relevant, Chief,” she admitted eventually, “When dealing with a level one emergency alert, and a potential hostage situation, regulations are to secure the perimeter of the building and isolate hostile targets. Regardless of the shape of their ears.”

    In an almost Vulcan-like manner, she raised an eyebrow to emphasise her final point. Despite her continued regurgitation of regulations, Tylor couldn’t help but stifle an amused grunt at that.

    “You know, Deputy,” he replied, waving the padd at her, “Regulations are all well and good, but they’ll only get you so far. You’re missing something.”

    Jalon’s second eyebrow joined her first as she reacted to this comment. Tylor didn’t wait for her next query before he continued.

    “You need instincts in this job, as well. And right now, my instincts are telling me something’s up with this whole situation. This isn’t just a bunch of junkies looking to lift some latinum for their next score. This is…something else.”

    “Then what do you advise, Chief?”

    Tylor stared back over at the bar, migraine-inducing neon sign and all, and grimaced.

    In truth, part of him just wanted to go with her plan. To allow procedure to be followed and to send the strike teams in, phasers loaded. Whatever happened after that, at least it’d all be over quickly, and his deputy could handle the paperwork.

    But somewhere in the back of his tired mind, his old detective brain was kicking into gear. The one that had made him such a renowned security officer back in the day. And there was more than enough of a mystery in front of him for that part of his brain to take over.

    “Get me a comms unit,” he said eventually, gesturing to the bar, “And patch me in there. Let’s see who we’re actually dealing with.”

    Deputy Jalon Sep nodded and hurried away to carry out his request. He managed a slight smile that her diligent belief in rules and chains of command meant that she was always willing to follow his orders. Regardless of whether she agreed with them.

    After a moment of contemplation, he returned his full attention to the bar, squinting slightly against the fresh thud of pain in his head from the blinking sign.

    He could tell it was going to be a long night.


    “What the hell do we do now?”

    It wasn’t the first time that Denella had asked that particular question since the three Bounty crew members inside the Ktarian Moonrise had realised they were surrounded.

    But it was the first time she had asked it since the gruff voice had come out of the comms unit built into the console behind the bar. Which was an unsettling new development in their escalating predicament.

    “I say again,” the voice cracked over the comms link, “This is Security Chief Tylor Ral of the Varris IV Security Division. We have you surrounded. But nobody out here wants to get hurt tonight, and I’ll bet nobody in there does either. So I’d really appreciate it if we could talk this through.”

    The Orion engineer glanced across the burnished metal bar area to where Klath and Sunek had joined her.

    For the time being, they had returned Palmor to the rest of the hostages on the other side of the room, and while they had left them alone to join Denella, both the Klingon and the Vulcan kept their disruptors raised and the majority of their focus on the Ktarians.

    “Based on what I could see,” the Klingon reported, “There are approximately twenty guards setting up in front of our location. I would presume there to be a similar number at the rear of the building as well.”

    “Great,” Sunek tutted with predictable fatalism, “So we’re screwed.”

    “Perhaps not. With the right tactics, I believe we will be able to attempt a glorious--”

    “Ok,” Denella sighed, stopping the Klingon with a raised hand, “We’re not attempting a glorious anything. I’m not gonna start shooting innocent security guards down here.”

    “They will likely shoot us if we do not act first,” Klath countered with all seriousness, gesturing to the gaggle of fearful Ktarians on the other side of the bar, “We have taken several hostages.”

    Denella fixed him with a withering look and shook her head.

    “I’d also very much like to get out of this without being shot, killed or arrested. If that’s not too much to ask.”

    Klath considered these additional restrictions to his battle plan with a thoughtful expression, as the comms unit flared into life again.

    “Come on now, folks. I’m sure we can work this all out, ok?”

    “In which case,” Klath said, having completed his fresh considerations, “I believe that one of us should talk to him.”

    Sunek’s face brightened up immediately as he reached out for the controls, preparing his most authentic Trelok voice to date. Before he could actually say anything, however, Klath shot out a burly hand and grabbed Sunek’s wiry arm, keeping his eyes on Denella.

    “And I do not believe it should be the Vulcan.”

    “Naw,” Sunek griped.

    Denella sighed deeply as she saw the implication in the rarely-talkative Klingon’s expression. He had also clearly excluded himself from an active role in this particular plan as well.

    “Fine,” she grumbled.

    She reluctantly tapped the controls in front of her and cleared her throat, mentally trying to work out the best way of approaching a hostage situation that she didn’t want to be involved in.

    “Um, hi, Chief,” she began, “We’re, um, we can talk this out. I guess.”

    There was a pause. She idly wondered whether or not she should have gone for a more assertive tone of voice.

    “Well, I’m glad to hear it,” the voice of Chief Ral came back eventually, a trace of relief evident in the tone of the Ktarian, “Now, I’ve told you who I am, and you can call me Tylor. So, who exactly am I speaking with?”

    “This is Denella,” said Denella.

    On the other side of the bar, Sunek threw his hands up into the air and paced back over towards the hostages, waving his disruptor around in frustration.

    “Ugh! Come on, people! Cover names!”

    Denella ignored the amateur dramatics of her colleague in favour of focusing on Chief Ral. She licked her lips and continued.

    “And I’m with you, Tylor. I don’t think anyone wants to get hurt today.”

    “Glad to hear it,” the Ktarian replied, “So, now we’re on first name terms, how about we go one step further, hmm? How about you lower that transporter inhibitor and then I’ll beam myself in. Unarmed. We can talk face to face.”

    Denella met Klath’s stern look and nodded grimly. They weren’t falling for that one.

    “Sorry, can’t do that.”

    A pause. Even if Tylor had been expecting that response to his somewhat transparent opening gambit, his next step wasn’t immediate.

    “Fair enough,” he conceded eventually, “How about we try something different then. It’s pretty clear what I want out of this. I want those people in there with you to come out, safe and sound. So, how about you explain to me what you want out of all this.”

    Now it was Denella’s turn to pause. Like it or not, she was definitely in the middle of a hostage negotiation.

    The question was, how far could she push it.


    On the other side of the room, nestled amongst the fearful hostages, Tegras shook his head.

    “I don’t get it,” he muttered quietly to Evina where she sat to his right, “They don’t act like criminals at all…”

    On his other side, Palmor mustered an audible tut, his self-confidence making a fleeting return now he had been thrown back in with the rest of them.

    “What the hell are you talking about?”

    “No, he’s right,” Evina nodded, “There’s something strange about all this. And they haven’t been violent at all.”

    “Pah!” Palmor hissed angrily, “Since they showed up, I’ve been threatened, manhandled, marched down to that basement on the end of a disruptor--”

    “They haven’t been violent to anyone who hasn’t deserved it,” Tegras chipped in with a grin, earning a further annoyed tut from Palmor.

    The older Ktarian kept his focus on their captors. The Orion and the Klingon remained next to the comms unit, engaged in barely audible negotiations, while the scruffy Vulcan was now pacing around the room, whistling to himself. He couldn’t help but remain intrigued.

    While Tegras kept his attention on the newcomers, Palmor’s focus had drifted over to the exit, having now seen that two of their captors were engaged with the comms unit, and the third appeared to be entirely distracted, having paused his whistling to investigate some dirt under one of his fingernails.

    He didn’t waste time trying to coordinate any sort of escape plan with his fellow Ktarians. He was entirely operating in self-preservation mode, as was his way.

    Slowly, but surely, before any of the others could ask what he was doing, he silently stood up and took a tentative step towards safety.


    Palmor’s head jerked up in fright, as he saw that the previously distracted Vulcan now had his weapon trained squarely at him.

    “Come on,” Sunek continued with a raised eyebrow, “How dumb do you think I am?”

    He immediately held his free hand up to silence any response from his two colleagues, who had now looked up from the comms unit to see what the fuss was about.

    “Don’t answer that for him.”

    Palmor stared at the disruptor pointing at him, then gulped and sat back down, earning a satisfied nod from the tousle-haired Vulcan.

    “There. That’s a good hostage.”

    His rudimentary escape plan now thwarted, Palmor glanced back over at Tegras and Evina with a dark grimace.

    “Huh,” he muttered, “They seem to act like criminals to me. Believe me, I know enough of them.”

    But Tegras ignored him, and kept his focus on their captors and their increasingly hard to read actions. Still no nearer understanding them.


    Over at the bar, negotiations had reached something of an impasse.

    In truth, Denella knew it had been a bit of a long shot before she had even suggested it. Still, as a novice in the enterprise of hostage negotiations, she hadn’t seen much point in being anything other than completely open about what they were after.

    “Well, I’m sorry, Denella,” Tylor’s voice came back, “I’m afraid the Varris IV Security Division doesn’t have quite that much latinum available to us.”

    The Orion looked over at Klath, and Sunek behind him, and shrugged.

    “Worth a try. Anyone else got any bright ideas?”

    Klath remained silent. Sunek, inevitably, didn’t.

    “Hold up,” the Vulcan pointed out, “We don’t need latinum from them. We’ve already got the latinum from matey boy over there.”

    He gestured over at the unhappy Palmor with a dismissive wave of his disruptor. Denella remained visibly unconvinced.

    “Well, we don’t actually have that latinum, do we? That’s really the fundamental problem we’re dealing with right now.”

    “Ok, whatever, but we know where it is. Or he knows where it is, at least. So that part’s all fine, right?”

    “So, what?” Denella pressed, “You’re saying I should ask those nice people outside for a lift?”

    “Sort of,” Sunek replied with an enigmatic grin.

    This time, before Klath could stop him, the Vulcan stepped over and quickly jabbed his finger down on the comms unit.

    “Attention, Varris IV security guy. You still there?”

    “Still here,” Tylor’s response came, “And who might you be?”

    “Trelok’s the name,” Sunek said with a beaming smile, even as Denella, Klath and several of the hostages themselves rolled their eyes, “I’m a gritty, hard-nosed vigilante from the--”

    He paused under the weight of the scowls of his colleagues, and sighed.

    “Ugh, fine. We can skip that. But just know that I have an awesome backstory. With fighting, and explosions, and girls, and everything. Ok?”

    A long pause.


    “You wanna get to your point?” Denella muttered at the Vulcan without a trace of humour.

    “Yeah,” Sunek nodded, “So, listen, we’re willing to do a deal here.”

    “I’m listening,” Tylor’s reply came.

    “We’re willing to give up…almost all the hostages. Right here, right now.”

    “Well,” the security chief said with palpable relief, “I’m glad to hear that, Trelok.”

    The Vulcan winked at the confused Denella as he jabbed his finger down on the comms panel again to complete his attempt at negotiation.

    “In exchange for a shuttle.”
  18. Robert Bruce Scott

    Robert Bruce Scott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 18, 2021
    Sunek has an idea...

    Really liking the round description of the new characters - Tylor and Jalon. Both have a very real feel to them. Great sense of place and culture.

    Thanks!! rbs
    BountyTrek likes this.
  19. Bynar0110

    Bynar0110 Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 25, 2022
    Ohio Valley, USA
    Excellent Chapter I enjoyed it.
    BountyTrek likes this.
  20. BountyTrek

    BountyTrek Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 23, 2021
    Part Two (Cont'd)

    “...So, that one ended fairly acrimoniously, as you’d expect. Then there was Lieutenant Paul Guthrie, an engineer from the USS Heracles who came onboard the Tripoli as part of a big crew exchange program…”

    “Natasha,” Jirel sighed, for what felt like the thirtieth time since she had started talking.

    For the thirtieth time, she ignored him.

    “...I mean, he was…cute? Yeah, really cute. Had one of those bodies that was right in that sweet spot, y’know? Nicely toned, but not so big and muscly that you’re worried he’s gonna spend more time in the gym than he is with you…”

    Jirel sighed again and leaned back, gently banging his head on the metal cylinder behind him, part of him not caring if he accidentally set the detonator off.


    “...Oh, and then, I mean, this barely counts. But I had a bit of a fling with an Orvadian ambassador during a two-week layover at Starbase 312. Took me most of the time just to work out how to say its name. What was it again…?”

    “Natasha, could you just--?”

    “...Ah, yep, Cr’xx-ala’rhyrrpo’o’jahn. That was it. Emphasise the second ‘x’ and roll the ‘r’s. Otherwise you’re saying the Orvadian word for a sort of ceremonial belt. Honestly, I just ended up calling it Crxxy for short. Didn’t seem to mind…”

    Jirel closed his eyes and sighed even more deeply.

    “...Ah, and how could I forget S’stalath? Now he was the sexiest Gorn commander I ever met--”

    “What the--?” Jirel called out, having located his final straw, “You slept with a Gorn?!”

    On the other side of the cylinder, Natasha’s mouth curled into a satisfied smile, enjoying the ease with which she was able to wind up the Trill, despite the peril of their wider situation.

    “You do realise I’ve made most of this list up, right? I’ve been naming names for ten minutes now. What sort of girl do you think I am?”

    A rush of emotions hit Jirel all at once, all competing for his attention. After a hard-fought scuffle, shame defeated the combined strength of relief and annoyance by TKO.

    “Oh, yeah,” he managed, “I got that.”

    “Serves you right, anyway,” she scoffed, “I felt sorry for you, after you’d just coughed up that embarrassing nickname story. So I give you a free hit in return, ask me about anything from my past and I’ll tell you the truth. And you pick my sex life?”

    “Hey, I just wanted to know--”

    “Something that was none of your business. As usual. Just as me and Mizar Bal are none of your business.”

    “Hey, it was a perfectly valid question. And it deserved a bit more than some dumb made-up story about jumping into bed with a Gorn.”

    “Who said I made that bit up?” she replied, a fresh smile dancing across her face as she prepared the Trill for some more well deserved torment, “You know, I think it was the eyes that first drew me to Commander S’stalath…”

    Just as Jirel’s own eyes began to boggle, they were interrupted by the sight of Devan entering the cargo bay and shuffling over to a tool cupboard recessed into the wall.

    “Hey! Devan’s here!” Jirel called out with exaggerated gusto, eager for any sort of conversation other than the one he had trapped himself in.

    But there was no answer as the nervous Ktarian rummaged inside the cupboard, searching through the various tools and equipment inside.

    “You know,” Jirel persisted, “Denella really doesn’t like people going through her stuff.”

    Still no response, aside from Devan muttering a barely-audible string of words under his breath as he finally selected a specific tool and walked over to where Jirel and Natasha were still shackled, before he began to tinker with the metal cylinder itself.

    “Listen,” Jirel continued, now with a more serious tone, “I meant what I said before. We can help you. Whatever the hell is going on here, we can help. Whatever you’re doing. Um, what exactly are you doing?”

    The top of the cylinder opened with a gentle hiss, as Devan kept his focus on his work.

    “I’m recalibrating the bomb,” he replied as calmly as he could manage, “For long-distance remote detonation.”

    Jirel considered this for a moment, then shrugged.

    “I mean, I’d rather help you do something else--”

    “Jirel, please,” Devan managed, blinking fiercely from the stress, “D--Don’t try all that. The jokes, and the small talk. I--I can’t do all that. I’m sorry.”

    “Ok, fine. No jokes. But please, Devan, just talk to me? You’ve barely said anything since you came onboard, and now all this? Help me understand what’s going on here.”

    “There’s no point,” the Ktarian replied in a quiet voice, “No point in any more talking. T--That’s all I’ve been doing. With counsellors, or friends, or whoever, and it never--Believe me, Jirel. If there was any other way, I’d have done it.”

    As Devan talked, he deliberately avoided making eye contact with his former colleague. Instead, he kept his focus on running the small ODN recoupler in his hand over the internals of the device in front of him. After a few seconds, he stopped working entirely and took several deep breaths, staving off the encroaching sense of dread as best he could.

    “I have some anti-anxiety shots in the medical bay,” Natasha chimed in with her best kindly doctor tone, “They might help.”

    “I’m fine,” Devan gasped, as he forced himself to stand back up straight, “I don’t need another medical opinion.”

    “I’m sure you don’t. But I’m more speaking as someone who’s currently tied up to the explosive device you’re working on. A shot might calm your shaking.”

    No response. Devan shook his head to clear his thoughts and focus on the task at hand, knowing it was likely that Mizar was growing ever more impatient.

    “Hey, I get it,” Jirel said, refusing to give up in his efforts to reconnect with his acquaintance, “You need latinum. Hell, we all do, right? And you thought this sort of crazy scheme wasn’t gonna fly with me, so you thought you had to go to this kind of extreme--”

    “I already told you,” Devan interjected, “I--It’s not about the latinum.”

    “Then what?”

    Jirel refused to ease up on his pressing, now that he had Devan on his own, away from the more overbearing presence of Mizar. For her part, Natasha was on exactly the same wavelength, as she joined in the questioning again.

    “You mentioned someone called Palmor Fot,” she offered, “Who is that?”

    Devan felt another rush of anguish rush through him. He steadied himself on the side of the cylinder, then gripped the recoupler a little more tightly and finished his work on the final relay. With that, everything was ready.

    “I--I can’t say,” he replied eventually, as he stepped back and started over to return the coupler to the cupboard, “It’s between me and him.”

    “Huh,” Jirel nodded, “Revenge, then. For what?”

    Devan didn’t turn around. He kept his focus on returning the tool to the cupboard. But Jirel had found a thread, and he gave it a few gentle tugs.

    “For what, Devan? If not latinum? A business deal? A woman?”

    There was a sudden clattering sound as Devan’s legs buckled for a moment, forcing him to grab onto the shelves of the cupboard for support. It was the first time he’d thought about her for a while, and he hadn’t expected the rush of emotion to hit him quite so strongly.

    Back on the other side of the bay, Jirel craned his neck around to see the sight of his old friend struggling to keep a lid on his emotions. It seemed like he had his answer.

    “A woman,” he nodded quietly.

    Devan turned back to him, his face racked with emotion. Jirel saw the same face he’d known back on the Tyran Scrapyards. But also different somehow. Darker.

    “I’m sorry,” he managed to get out, “I--I don’t want to--”

    “Hey,” Jirel offered with a half-smile, persisting with his gentle charm offensive on his estranged friend, “Remember back at the yards? What was that big Nausicaan’s name?”

    Devan looked confused by this sudden change in the Trill’s line of questioning. On the other side of the bomb, Natasha listened on, silently. Though while she was glued to the conversation, she also saw something out of the corner of her eye which caused her some amount of interest.

    “I don’t think I remember him having a name,” Devan admitted eventually.

    “Me neither,” Jirel chuckled, “What is it with Nausicaans? Either way, I remember when we crossed him.”

    “You crossed him, Jirel.”

    “Sounds familiar,” Natasha muttered from behind the Trill.

    “Ok, semantics,” he shrugged, “Point is, someone - possibly me - stole a big scrap project from his docking bay. And when he found out who it was, he swore he was gonna have his revenge. So we spent weeks hiding out in other sections of the yards, avoiding him, ducking the fight.”

    Devan nodded unhappily at the memory as Jirel continued with a knowing smile.

    “Until you convinced me that we couldn’t keep running forever. We had to look after ourselves. You told me that together, we could stand up to that Nausicaan.”

    “I did,” Devan nodded, “And then--”

    “Yeah, and then he beat us so badly we ended up spending two weeks in the medical bay,” Jirel acknowledged, imagining Natasha’s eye-roll in his mind even if he couldn’t see it, “But the point is that we got through it, together. And I promise you we can do the same with whatever’s going on here. Just tell me why you’re doing this."

    Devan stared back at the ungainly sight of the underwear-clad Jirel strapped to the bomb, and found himself replying. For a second, Jirel saw a flicker of something play across his friend’s face.

    “My wife,” he said quietly, “Palmor Fot stole my wife from me.”

    “Ok,” Jirel nodded back in understanding, “I get it. So if you untie us, I promise you that me and my crew will help you get her back without the need for hostages, or bombs, or--”

    “No!” Devan snapped suddenly, turning back for the exit of the cargo bay, “I’m sorry, Jirel. But I can’t make you any more of a part of this.”

    Jirel grimaced in exasperation as Devan disappeared back into the main corridor of the Bounty. He called out in frustration.

    “I’m already part of this! A very big, strapped-to-a-bomb part of--Ow!”

    He yelped in pain at the sudden, unexpected sensation of Natasha yanking on the cuffs to get his attention.

    “What the hell was that for--?”

    “Ssh,” she muttered, “Look over there.”

    Given their relative positions on either side of the bomb, it took Jirel a few moments to figure out exactly where ‘over there’ was. But as soon as he saw it, he knew that was what she was talking about.

    Next to the supply cupboard Devan had been working in, just within reach of one of their outstretched legs, lay a small engineering tool. One that must have fallen out of the cupboard when Devan had staggered into it.

    A small engineering tool with a number of uses.

    Including cutting through metal.
    tax1234 and Robert Bruce Scott like this.