Tales of the Border Service: "Dragon's Slayd"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheLoneRedshirt, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    I've been working on a few vignettes and longer stories involving different cutters and crews within the Border Service. One that I'm enjoying writing involves the Griffin-class deep-space cutter, USS Dragonfire and her crew. Commanded by Captain Artemis Slayd, the Dragonfire patrols the Outland expanse, a sector of Frontier worlds near the Ferengi and Tzenkethi borders. Based with the 2nd Border Service Squadron at Star Station Bravo, the Dragonfire spends most of its time on patrol, having greater range and endurance than the older Albacore - class ships.

    "Dragon's Slayd" is lighter in tone than the "Bluefin" tales. Captain Slayd is something of an eccentric, though a fine C.O. in his own right. He operates by his own set of rules and occasionally makes deals with known devils if it can help out a colony in need. I've posted the prologue and first chapter and would appreciate your comments.


    Tales of the Border Service: “Dragon’s Slayd”


    Stardate 54012.4 (5 January 2377)
    Nuncutt Settlement, Kirvo’s Planet
    A back room in Joovin’s Cantina

    The cluster of Border Dogs and Ferengi smugglers eyed each other warily as Captain Artemus Slayd conducted negotiations with DaiMon Gog. The two captains sat opposite each other at a battered and stained table. A solitary glow panel provided scant illumination to the scene as the Ferengi DaiMon (or so he called himself) picked at his teeth with a fingernail while Slayd waited patiently for the old smuggler to give his answer.

    “Tell me, Cap-ton Slayd,” began Gog in a gravelly voice, “why not simply replicate these medical supplies? Surely your vaunted Federation could produce these drugs easily.”

    Slayd favored “DaiMon” Gog with a tight smile, his dark eyes peering intently at the Ferengi. “My dear DaiMon, you know very well we’re a long way from the Federation core worlds. Most of the Outland planets scarcely have running water, much less replicators. My own ship’s replicators are limited in the amounts they can produce and, given the outbreak of Nibo flu on Vagabond VI, I would count it a great personal favor if we could finish our transaction so we can be on our way.”

    Gog made a wheezing noise that Slayd supposed was laughter. The old Ferengi sneered, revealing rows of sharp gray teeth.

    “Most certainly, Cap-ton Slayd. However, the price for the medical supplies just increased to 500 bars of gold-pressed latinum. Supply and demand - you know how it is.”

    As if to punctuate his enhanced bargaining position, the Ferengi contingent produced an assortment of weapons and trained them on the four Border Service personnel.

    Slayd shook his head. “Predictable,” he sighed, “I was hoping we could conclude this without any unpleasantness. However, I’m still quite willing to provide 50 cases of Romulan ale for the medicine as we originally agreed. Otherwise . . .”

    The Captain’s voice trailed off and he spread his hands in an ambivalent manner.

    DaiMon Gog’s toothy grin faltered. A veteran swindler, Gog suddenly sensed that the balance of terms had not swung completely his way. He glanced at the Border Dogs who stood in the background. A dark-skinned human officer leaned against the wall appearing perfectly at ease, if slightly bored. Near him, a tall Capellan non-com loomed with arms folded and a trace of a smile on his face. Only the medical officer, a gaunt, silver-haired human, appeared ill at ease.

    “May I contact my ship?” asked Slayd, pleasantly. Several disruptors tracked toward the Captain as his hand moved toward his combadge.

    Gog’s smile evaporated completely, replaced by a suspicious scowl. “Why? So they can beam you out of here? Don’t take me for a fool, Slayd!”

    “Actually, I was hoping to prevent the destruction of your ship.”

    An ugly sneer returned to Gog’s wrinkled face. “You’re bluffing, hew-mon.”

    Captain Slayd shrugged. “Fine. Contact your own ship, then. But you’re wasting time Gog – I would estimate your crew has two minutes, perhaps less. It would be a pity for you to lose your ship over a minor hitch in negotiations.”

    As if on cue, the Ferengi’s communicator began to squawk for attention. Gog angrily pulled the device from his cloak.

    “You were told not to interrupt . . .” he growled.

    “DaiMon! The Border Service vessel has locked weapons on our ship! We have broken orbit to escape them, but . . .”

    A loud squeal of static erupted from the Ferengi’s communicator, the noise so shrill that it affected all of the Ferengi’s sensitive ears. Unbeknownst to Gog, the Border Service cutter had unleashed two Mark-22 torpedoes on Gog's ship. The torpedoes weren’t intended to destroy the Ferengi ship, but the massive EMP burst rendered the vessel’s weapons, shields and engines inoperative while overloading the comm system. The distraction gave Slayd's cohorts the opening for which they had waited.

    With preternatural speed, Chief Anaak cast his Capellan kligat at the nearest Ferengi. The tri-bladed weapon whistled shrilly until it found its mark, burying deeply into the hapless henchman’s neck with a wet chok.

    Lt. Commander Marcus Banton produced his own weapon - a flexible carbon rod which appeared magically from his sleeve, striking the gun-hand of the second Ferengi, disarming him. Banton quickly dropped as a disruptor bolt burned past him, leaving the sharp tang of ozone in the air. The Jamaican tactical officer scooped up the phaser dropped by his first target and he quickly squeezed off several shots of his own, forcing the other Ferengis to seek cover.

    Captain Slayd drove forward, flipping the table over onto the old Ferengi who emitted a startled squawk. The Captain quickly administered two sharp blows to Gog’s earlobes. Gog screamed in pain and indignation from the attack to his highly sensitive regions.

    Slayd rolled quickly as the remaining Ferengi squeezed off a round from his disruptor, the bolt sending fragments of duracrete against Slayd’s back. Anaak quickly dropped the last Ferengi with another kligat. Captain Slayd pulled himself to his feet and began to brush the gray dust and fragments from his uniform.

    “Are you alright, Captain?” queried CPO Anaak.

    “Yes, quite, thank you Anaak. Marcus?”

    “Fine, Skipper,” replied Lt. Commander Banton. The tactical officer’s grin faded and a look of startled apprehension crossed his face. “Doc!” he exclaimed.

    Slayd and Anaak whirled to follow Banton’s gaze. Slumped against a wall was the still form of Dr. Guaraldi, a gaping wound smoldering in his chest, his eyes still wide with shock.

    The Captain moved quickly to the mortally wounded physician’s side and felt at Guaraldi’s neck for a pulse. Banton tapped his combadge.

    “Banton to Dragonfire – medical emergency! Four to beam directly to sickbay.”

    * * *

    Four months later

    Chapter One

    Stardate 54359.5 (12 May 2377)
    Star Station Bravo – Docking Ring Two

    Ensign Brian West, M.D. stepped through the gangway airlock and onto Star Station Bravo. For a moment, the young surgeon was at a loss as to which way to turn as the teeming throng of beings from numerous worlds disembarked from transports or queued up to board ships bound for the core worlds.

    Part of his disorientation was due to fatigue. He had spent nearly four days on a Border Service Stallion which was sorely lacking in amenities – no sleeping quarters and only one shared head for the dozen passengers. He had sat next to an unusually talkative Bolian lieutenant who smelled vaguely of cheese. West had slept poorly in the narrow seat and dreamt of being suffocated by Limburger.

    Now, more than a little bewildered and greatly in need of a shower, he looked around and wondered what he should do next. Perhaps finding directions to his new billet was in order.

    Shouldering his clamshell case and his great-grandfather’s medical bag, he picked a heading and strode off purposefully . . . in the wrong direction.

    Two non-coms on an upper-level walkway observed as the young doctor attempted to move against the tide of people. One, a middle-aged human female, was amused. The other, a Tellarite male, merely shook his head in resignation.

    “I think that’s him, Senior,” remarked Chief Corpsman Tork.

    Senior Chief Paula Burke checked her PADD and compared the image with the struggling young officer. She chucked. “Yeah, that’s him alright.”

    “Should we go get him?” asked Tork. Clearly he didn't relish the idea.

    “He’s going to be your boss – do what you want. I’m going to grab a beer then head back. See you on the ship, Tork.”

    Tork shook his head in resignation. “Might as well go get him now. Otherwise, he might wander around here for days.” The morose Tellarite corpsman moved toward a set of stairs while Burke gave the floundering physician one more look before turning toward a nearby tavern.

    “Where do they get these kids?” she muttered, “He doesn’t look old enough to shave.”

    * * *

    Stardate 54359.5 (12 May 2377)
    USS Dragonfire
    Star Station Bravo – Docking Ring Two, Berth Ten

    Captain Slayd stepped onto the bridge of the Dragonfire from his ready room, carrying a gray striped cat. He looked around the bridge, fixing his gaze on the Executive Officer, Commander Katari Nor Huren, a stunning female Rigellian.

    “Katari, why are we still docked to this over-priced monstrosity of a station and not on our way to the Lancaster system?”

    “Still waiting on our new CMO, Artie,” she replied, her curly brass-colored hair bobbing as she glanced up from the environmental station.

    “Ah yes, the good Dr. West. What the devil is keeping him?”

    A small smile formed on her face, adding another layer of beauty to her iridescent bronze skin and golden eyes. “His stallion only arrived thirty minutes ago. He probably got off-course trying to make sense of the station’s semi-functional direction signs. I sent Burke and Tork out to find him.”

    Slayd absently rubbed the cat’s ears, eliciting a rumbling purr from the feline. “Yes, but who’s going to fetch the Senior Chief and our Chief Corpsman?” He turned back to the ready room. “Come on, Oracle – time to feed the goldfish. Carry on, Number One.”

    With a bemused expression, Commander Nor Huren continued her diagnostic check of the air handlers. “Don’t I always?” she murmured.

    * * *

    Stardate 54359.6 (12 May 2377)
    Star Station Bravo – Docking Ring Two

    West glanced to his right and sighed in frustration. Somehow he had made a complete circuit of the docking ring and was now back where he started. The directional signs had been a total waste of time, providing seemingly contradictory instructions in Standard, Ferengi and Cait.

    “Doctor? Doctor West! Hold up!”

    The young physician turned quickly at the sound of his name. A rather stocky Tellarite was moving in his direction gesturing to him. The non-com seemed rather out of breath.

    “Deities!” wheezed Tork as he finally caught up with West. “I’ve been trying to catch you for almost an hour. How can you move so fast carrying all that stuff?”

    “Ah, sorry – I’m just trying to find my ship and I’m running late. Are you from the Dragonfire?”

    “Where else?” the Tellarite replied, testily. “I’m Tork – Chief Corpsman.”

    “Oh, hello! Glad to meet you Chief,” West stuck out his hand in greeting. Tork looked at West’s hand suspiciously, as if someone was handing him an armed photon grenade.

    Realization dawned and West withdrew his hand. “Oh – sorry, I didn’t realize Tellarite’s didn’t shake hands.”

    Tork fixed West with a baleful stare. “What? No – I just have a thing about germs.”

    West digested this piece of information as the Chief Corpsman tapped his combadge.

    “Tork to Dragon-lady.”

    “Dammit, Tork – I’ve told you to stop calling me that!”

    “Sorry, Senior Chief. I’ve got the Doc – where the frak are you?”

    “Back on the ship – hang on a sec . . .”

    West was puzzling over the strange dialogue when a hum filled his ears and the station suddenly faded away to be replaced with the view from a transporter dais. He stumbled, caught off-guard by the unexpected transport.

    Three other figures stood in the transporter room. Two NCOs – a human female with close-cropped dark hair stood alongside a large Capellan at the transporter controls. Closer to the transporter pad stood a dark-skinned officer who nodded and tapped his combadge.

    “Banton to bridge.” West thought he detected a distinct Caribbean accent from the officer.

    “Bridge – go ahead.”

    “We’ve got the doctor on board.”

    “Thanks, Marcus – Artie will be thrilled.”

    “I’m sure there will be an extra ration of rum for the crew tonight. Banton, out.” He grinned at the confused young surgeon.

    “I’m Lt. Commander Banton – second officer. Welcome aboard the Dragonfire, Dr. West.”

    * * *
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2009
  2. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 3, 2005
    I like, more please.

    It's nice to see what the other Border cutters get up to while Akinola is saving the galaxy's bacon.
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    I concur. You've selected an interesting corner of the universe for this tale, and an equally fascinating cast of characters. I very much like how Captain Slayd handles the delicate art of negotiations. :lol: I'm looking forward to more.
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    I like this as well. The crew seems most fascinating and by starting this off with a hostile negotiation gone awry there might be some interesting psychological consequences to consider. That is, if Captain Slayd is prone to those.

    We haven't seen much of this crew yet but I'm reallly curious to find out more.
  5. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

    Dec 13, 2003
    I like this--it's got a wild west feel. Looking forward to more.
  6. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    A very interesting start. The setting has a lot of potential, and there is some good descriptive prose. The lines "He had sat next to an unusually talkative Bolian lieutenant who smelled vaguely of cheese. West had slept poorly in the narrow seat and dreamt of being suffocated by Limburger." are the sort of details I like, little embellishments that make it all seem a bit more real.

    As an aside, I was a little perplexed by West being an Ensign. I'd always thought that MD's in the Fleet automatically graduated with the rank of Lieutenant. But maybe I got that wrong.

    Anyway, consider this another vote for 'more please!'.
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Originally, I had West as a Lt. (j.g.). However, with the shortage of qualified officers, especially medical officers, following the Dominion War and the revocation of the stop-loss orders, Starfleet was forced to place physicians much earlier and with less experience. (Note the Dragonfire waited four months for a new CMO following the death of Dr. Guaraldi. Thus, Dr. West is a very green CMO having just completed his surgical residency and graduating from the accelerated Academy program. West's inexperience and naivety will be an integral part of the story.

    Thanks for the kind comments everyone - I'm at work on the next two chapters, so more is coming soon. :)
  8. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    Loving this already with just this one bit of a snippet. A less than orthodox crew and tactics in dealing with Ferengi and getting errant MDs onboard. Hee hee. Maybe I just like the more oddball crews.

    And as commented, the descriptions and lines are snappy and funny. Looking forward to more. Lots more.
  9. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Your Kestrel crew provided inspiration for the characters on the Dragonfire, though Slayd is merely eccentric - definitely not in Captain McGregor's league. :lol:
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Chapter Two

    Stardate 54359.6 (12 May 2377)
    USS Dragonfire
    Star Station Bravo – Docking Ring Two, Berth Ten

    Brian West stood unsteadily on the transporter dais, still dazed by the sudden, unexpected transport from the station to the ship. The Second Officer and trio of non-coms looked at West expectantly. It dawned on him that he was supposed to say something.

    “Um, permission to come aboard sir?”

    Lt. Commander Banton nodded and produced a tolerant smile, as if to encourage an exceptionally slow learner. “Granted. Doctor, please accompany me. The Captain would like to meet with you before you get settled in. Chief Tork, please see that Dr. West’s belongings are delivered to his quarters.

    The Tellarite CPO fixed West with a baleful look, as if the young doctor was the central source of all that was wrong with the universe.

    “Aye, sir, my pleasure,” Tork replied with carefully restrained sarcasm. West quickly followed the Jamaican officer out of the transporter room.

    “Cute kid,” remarked Senior Chief Burke. Chief Anaak frowned.

    “It is not appropriate to refer to an officer as ‘cute,’” The Capellan noted somberly.

    “Lighten up, Anaak. And give Tork a hand with the doc’s gear – he looks all-in from chasing the youngster around the station.

    Tork responded with an extended middle digit.

    * * *

    An antique wall clock struck the hour as Artemus Slayd scrolled through a PADD listing supplies bound for the Lancaster settlements. A fire crackled in the ready room’s fireplace, providing a cheerful, albeit holographic, warm glow. Golden oak paneling festooned the walls while old books and antique bric-a-brac competed for space on heavy bookcases. Atop a massive roll-top desk, Oracle the cat languidly flicked his tail as he gazed at the goldfish that flitted around in its bowl.

    As Slayd affixed his thumbprint to the PADD, the door enunciator chimed. He set aside the PADD and bone china cup of tea.


    The door slid open to admit Lt. Commander Banton and a very young looking officer. West glanced around the ready room in obvious surprise and interest.

    The Captain rose and extended a hand in greeting. “Ah, Dr. West, so glad to meet you! I’m Artemus Slayd”

    West stepped forward to grasp the Captain’s hand. Slayd was of average build and height for a middle-aged human. His wavy hair was dark and his face open and friendly. His dark eyes shone with an intensity that hinted at a keen intellect and perceptiveness. West felt that those eyes were sizing him up carefully.

    “Thank you, sir. It’s good to finally be here.”

    “Marcus, could you give us a few minutes to chat? I’ll release the Doctor into your capable hands shortly. Oh, and please ask Number One to request departure clearance, I’d like to be underway within the hour.”

    “Aye sir, just let me know when you’re finished and I’ll take Dr. West by sickbay and to his quarters.”

    “Good man! Thank you, Marcus.” The door slid shut and Slayd turned his attention back to West.

    “Have a seat Doctor West.” Slayd gestured to a pair of leather wing-back chairs that bracketed the hearth.

    West settled into one of the comfortable chairs, staring around at the myriad items. “This is amazing – are those real antiques or reproductions?”

    Slayd settled in to his own chair and smiled. “Oh, they’re all quite authentic – each has its own unique story. All are of Terran origin, some dating back to Earth’s 18th century. The roll-top desk over there,” Slayd gestured to the large oak piece, “originally belonged to a newspaper editor in Cleveland. I acquired it about four years ago from a Ferengi trader who found it on Rigel IV.”

    “It’s all very nice, sir,”

    “Yes, well, it allows me to pursue two of my hobbies – antiques and holography,” Slayd gestured at the fireplace. “It’s a fairly simple program but I find a nice fire gives a room a friendly ambiance, don’t you agree?”

    “Yes sir.”

    Slayd chuckled. “Good answer, lad! Never argue with the C.O. – unless it’s really important that is.” The Captain settled back in his chair steepling his fingers, a pensive expression settling over his face.

    “I understand you completed the two-year accelerated program at the Academy and finished your residency requirements last month, correct?”

    West nodded. “Yessir – two residency programs to be exact, one in surgery, the other in trauma / triage.”

    “Good, good – those specialties should serve you well out here.” Slayd paused. “Doctor, I’m very glad that you’re here – we’ve been over four months without a CMO. We’ve managed quite well with our EMH and Chief Tork, who is an exceptional corpsman. The other corpsmen are capable as well.”

    “That’s good to know, sir.”

    “That being said, I feel like it is unfair to thrust someone as young and inexperienced as yourself into the role of CMO. Granted, Dragonfire is not a large ship – currently we have just under 200 on board, but our mission parameters are broad and our patrol area vast. A young man such as you, fresh from the Academy and medical school, would usually serve for several years under a veteran CMO to get acclimated to life on a ship and dealing with the practice of medicine under trying conditions. Unfortunately, these are not normal times.”

    West knew that all too well. With the Dominion War casualties and the recent retirements and resignations of numerous officers after the stop-loss order was rescinded, experienced officers were in short supply – particularly medical officers.

    “No sir, I suppose not.”

    “What I mean to say is that you won’t enjoy the luxury of time and tutelage. You are in charge of our medical staff and services. As one of the few cutters in the Outland expanse, we not only care for our own crew but we also provide medical care to a number of colonies and settlements. Like it or not, it will be sink or swim time for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of Chief Tork – he may be a crusty bastard, but he has years of experience with combat medicine and the like. Our EMH is an older Mark I, but he’s likewise capable. And, I’ve made a few tweaks to his program myself.”

    Slayd saw the concerned expression of West’s face and chucked. “Not to worry! I did nothing to his medical programming – just gave him a bit of self-initiative is all.”

    “I see, sir,” though West was not at all sure he did.

    Slayd stood, signaling the end of the meeting. “Glad we had a chance to meet, Dr. West, and I’m sincere when I say I’m glad you’re here.”

    “Thank you. I’ll do my best sir.”

    “Well said, lad! Oh, I nearly forgot – The First Officer and I are hosting a little dinner party this evening for our new officers – both of you. I do hope you can attend – my quarters, deck four starboard, at 1900 hours.”

    West knew this wasn’t an optional event. He also wondered as to the other new officer.

    “Certainly sir – I look forward to it.”

    “Splendid! Best be on your way, then. Mr. Banton will show you to your quarters."

    * * *

    Stardate 54359.8 (12 May 2377)
    USS Dragonfire
    En route to the Lancaster system – warp 3

    The Dragonfire enjoyed an uneventful departure from Star Station Bravo as it began its journey toward its first destination – the Lancaster settlements. Captain Slayd felt an internal weight lift the moment the cutter detached from the station. He disliked the infrequent layovers at the Bravo Station, always fearful that some incompetent dock-worker would muck up something vital to the ship’s operation. Their chief engineer, Lt. Dmitri Korolev, might be something of an anti-social hermit, but the Russian engineer knew how to keep Dragonfire operating at peak performance. Slayd could overlook Korolev’s reclusive nature as long as he got the job done.

    “Holding steady at warp 3, bearing 116 mark 4, ETA to Lancaster system 42 hours, seventeen minutes,” announced Lt Yvessa, the Deltan helm officer.

    “Thank you, Yvessa. Mr. Xevok – any traffic along our heading?”

    The Vulcan operations officer straightened and turned. “The ore-carrier, Odessa, is fourteen hours, sixteen minutes and eleven seconds ahead of us along our current course. No other vessels within scanning range.”

    “The Odessa? What good luck! Captain Askimopoulis is holding a case of Aqmarian caviar for me.”

    Commander Katari Nor Huren, seated next to Slayd, grimaced. “Gods, Artie! I can’t believe you actually eat that foul stuff.”

    “It’s considered a delicacy by those of us with refined palates,” countered Slayd. “Alas, it’s not for me – I need it as part of a trade for a book I found on Cait – a nearly mint copy of London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, by Winston Churchill. Do you have any idea what a rare find that is?”

    “None whatsoever,” replied Katari with a smirk. “I don’t see why you’re so interested in collecting old stuff – why not simply read the book on the computer?”

    Slayd placed a hand over his heart with dramatic flair. “You wound me, Katari! ‘Old stuff,’ indeed! These are timeless relics of a bygone era.”

    She turned and shook her head. “Old. stuff. Seriously, Artie – why all the interest in English books and antiques. You’ve never even been to England!”

    “Have you no appreciation of heritage, Katari? Granted, I’ve never actually been to England, but I grew up on Aqmara – New Suffolk to be precise, which was first established by English settlers in the early 22nd century. The rich blood of Brittania flows through my veins!”

    “You’re one-quarter Betazoid,” Nor Huren pointed out.

    “Which does nothing to negate my point, Number One – my father’s line can be traced back for centuries!

    “Yes – back to North Africa.”

    “Just because an errant ancestor decided to set up shop in Morocco and take on a local name . . .” Slayd paused and cocked his head. “Exactly what are we arguing about?”

    Katari smiled – “Nothing, really – I just enjoy seeing you flustered.”

    The Captain folded his arms indignantly. “I most certainly am not flustered!”

    “Of course not,” replied Nor Huren sweetly. “By the way, what time is dinner with the ‘nuggets’?”

    The Captain glanced at the ship’s chronometer. “Twenty minutes – I suppose we should prepare to receive our guests. Mr. Xevok, the bridge is yours.”

    * * *

    Dr. West stepped quickly off the turbo-lift and onto deck four. He had spent the past several hours getting acclimated to the new sickbay and had let time slip on him. It would not be good to show up late for the Captain’s dinner party.

    Fortunately, the directional signs on the ship were far more accurate than those on Bravo Station. He found the door to Captain Slayd’s office with three minutes to spare and pressed the enunciator.

    The door slid open and West was surprised to see a tall man in resplendent butler’s attire, complete with waist-coat and white gloves. A starched white collar was partially obscured by an impressive set of mutton-chop whiskers.

    “I’m Dr. West . . . here for the Captain’s dinner?”

    “Very good sir,” replied the well-dressed man, “Won’t you please come in?”

    “Who is it, James?” came the voice of Captain Slayd from within.

    James stood aside to allow West to enter. “Dr. Brian West, arriving sir.”

    “Excellent! Do come in, Doctor – would you care for something to drink before dinner?"

    “That would be great, sir – Sparkling Antarean water, if you have it.”

    “James, fix the Doctor his drink. Let me introduce you to our First Officer and our other new Ensign.”

    Captain Slayd led West into a spacious sitting room. A striking Rigellian woman was talking with a pretty and petite Asian woman who did not look older than West.

    “Dr. Brian West, meet our first officer, Commander Katari Nor Huren of Rigel VII.”

    “Welcome aboard the Dragonfire, Doctor,” said Nor Huren with a smile. She was holding a fluted glass of an electric blue liquid. The first officer was rather tall, standing several centimeters over West.

    “And this is Ensign Cyndi Kwan, our newest operations and tactical officer. Ensign Kwan hails from Los Angeles on Earth – I suppose that practically makes her a next door neighbor!”

    West hardly considered Boston to be “next door” to Los Angeles, but he supposed from a galactic perspective the Captain had a point.

    Kwan smiled rather shyly and nodded. “Doctor,” she said in a very pleasant voice. West thought her to be rather attractive.

    “Please, call me Brian.” West winced internally – Good God, that sounded lame.

    James returned with West’s drink, providing a welcome distraction from his awkward moment. In fact, the butler materialized out of this air, holding a tray with a fluted glass.

    West blinked in surprise before taking the glass from the man-servant. “Uh, thank you James.”

    “My pleasure, young sir,” he replied before shimmering out of existence once more.

    “Isn’t he grand?” beamed Captain Slayd. “Took me over a year to get the personality matrix just right. The key is to balance the right degree of haughtiness with impeccable manners. Still needs a bit of work – he lacks the subtle sarcasm of a real English butler.

    “You programmed him?” West quickly regretted the incredulous tone in his voice.

    Slayd wasn’t offended. “As I said, it’s a hobby of mine. James was far more of a challenge than the fireplace and the cat, I must say.”

    West recalled the gray cat in Slayd’s ready room. “I didn’t even consider that the cat wasn’t real.”

    The Captain looked please. “Very kind of you to say so. I love cats but I’m highly allergic – this seemed a good compromise.”

    “Of course, we’ve had to fit the entire ship with holo-emitters,” remarked Nor Huren with a pointed glance at Slayd.

    “That will come in handy if we ever needed the EMH outside of sickbay,” noted West.

    Slayd nodded and winked at Nor Huren. “My very thought, Doctor! But enough about holograms – I’m famished. Doctor, I’m afraid our replicators haven’t been updated with your food preferences just yet. You do like lobster, don’t you?”

    The four officers sat at a well appointed table with linen napkins, fine china and exquisite crystal. The food was excellent and West enjoyed the conversation, though his eyes tended to drift toward Cyndi Kwan. The other ensign was mostly quiet through dinner, generally speaking only in response to direct questions.

    As James the butler began serving dessert, the Captain’s combadge chirped. Slayd frowned and stood.

    “Excuse me, please,” he said and stepped into the next room. West noticed that Commander Nor Huren wore a slight frown.

    “Commander, is something wrong?” West asked.

    “I’m not sure – Captain Slayd has standing orders that these dinners not be interrupted unless it’s very important.”

    Momentarily, Slayd returned and retook his seat. “That was Xevok. He just picked up an automated distress call from a Caitian transport. The ship isn’t responding to our hails, so I’ve ordered us to alter course and investigate.”

    The first officer wore a sympathetic expression. “You’ll miss the rendezvous with the Odessa.”

    “Can’t be helped, Number One. Duty calls.” He glanced at the two junior officers. “I’m sorry to break up our dinner before dessert, but I need to return to the bridge. Doctor, I suggest you prepare sickbay to receive casualties.”

    West felt his pulse-rate increase. “Yes sir – you said it’s a Caitian ship?”

    “That’s right. Doctor, Ensign – thank you for coming this evening - most enjoyable. Perhaps we can make up dessert at a later date. Number One, you’re with me.”

    Slayd and Nor Huren quickly exited the Captain’s quarters. West turned toward Ensign Kwan.

    “What about you, Ms. Kwan? Do you have anywhere you need to be?”

    She shrugged. “Lt. Xenok is at ops this shift, so that leaves me on stand-by if we go to alert. I guess I’ll go back to my quarters.”

    West hesitated, then spoke quickly. “Look – I’ve got to get things ready in sickbay, but, well . . . Chief Tork isn’t the greatest conversationalist and . . . talking to someone actually helps me think and work better. Would you mind?”

    “You want me to come with you to sickbay?”

    He winced inwardly. “Sorry – it was a dumb idea, I . . .”

    “Sure,” she smiled, “I could do that . . . talk, I mean.”

    “Well, okay . . . great! Let’s get moving.”

    As the two young officers left Slayd’s cabin, the Dragonfire accelerated to warp 9, their heading taking them dangerously close to Tzehkethi space.

    * * *
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2009
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    This was a delightful introduction to the crew, most especially Captain Slayd’s dinner party, replete with holographic fire, cat, and stiff-upper-lip English butler. Dr. West is endearing, in a green-as-grass, young Julian Bashir kind of way. ;)

    And now… a transport in distress in the vicinity of the Tzenkethi. That could go oh-so-very badly for the poor Caitians, as their hyper-thyroidal cousins don’t share Slayd’s immaculate sense of propriety.

    Great chapter! :bolian:
  12. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 3, 2005
    Almost makes me think of Lady Penelope and her butler/driver from Thunderbirds, but not quite as pink.

    I'm looking forward to more, and I'm guessing the Griffin-class starship has enough firepower to singe the fur off a Tzenkethi at a hundred kilometres??
  13. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Dec 11, 2008
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    This is very enjoyable and marvellously written. I'm intrigued as to what will happen next.
  14. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    Woah! Well thank you very much.:alienblush: I think though it must be the border patrol service and air has a knack for throwing up some interesting personalities.

    I see what you mean about Slayd. He is quite eccentric - but an immensely charming and loveable way - just look at how he puts his skills and hobbies to work creating a holographic butler and cat [despite being allergic :lol:]! The captain has a unique manner and approach to affairs. [He is almost treating his patrol duties as an antique hunt jaunt] I almost can imagine with the upcoming situation that he'll be sitting in his captain's chair with a cup of tea in one hand, a real antique book in the other, with his cat on his lap. What's not to love here?

    I also liked how we are getting to see the ship and crew from the perspective of the new and relatively inexperienced Dr. West. Poor lad is almost like a lamb to the slaughter. And with a Mark I EMH to act as a mentor and assistant to boot, I can imagine a lot of brusque comments. Oh delicious anticipation.

    I've a feeling that McGregor and Akinola might not approve of Slayd proportioning so much power and resources to maintaining a holographic matrix throughout the ship - but then both would be adamant that their own ships are run their own way too.

    Loving the style and wit of this tale and eagerly looking forward to more. Especially with a potentially explosive situation - particularly with you at the helm, liable to throw a few surprises at us. Fab stuff.
  15. Sovereign_One

    Sovereign_One Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 14, 2009
    Neither Here Nor There
    Loving this! Waiting for more! :D
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    I love Slayd already. A starship captain with a romantic fondness for Old England and a hobby holographic programmer to boot. This guy is a riot.

    But the real measure of a starship captain usually comes to light during emergency situations and combat. Looks like we're going to find out what kind of stuff he's made off very soon.

    The rest of the crew is equally likable, especially the young doctor who looks as if he despreatley wants to prove himself. And not just to his new captain.

    Terrific stuff.
  17. trampledamage

    trampledamage Clone Admiral

    Sep 11, 2005
    hitching a ride to Erebor
    Wonderful start to a new series (memo to self, must catch up on the Bluefin stories). Any chance of a prologue to the prologue? I was interested in Dr Guaraldi from his first appearance, and was horrified when he was killed scant seconds later! I want to know more about him :)
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    TLR-once again, you create memorable characters. The background on Slayd's family alone is amazing. You keep writing, we'll keep reading!
  19. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Here and now.
    Chapter Three

    Stardate 54359.9 (12 May 2377)
    USS Dragonfire
    Responding to a distress signal – Warp 9


    Captain Slayd and Commander Nor Huren stepped off the turbo-lift onto the oval-shaped bridge. Lt. Xevok stood from the command chair and turned to face Slayd.

    “Status, Mr. Xevok?”

    “Still no response to our hails from the Caitian vessel. The automated distress signal identifies her as the Ch’Hruu - a fifteen thousand ton transport. Typically, such vessels carry anywhere from 50 to 100 passengers. We’re attempting to contact the transport’s owners to determine the crew and passenger manifest.”

    “Are you picking up any other vessels?” Slayd settled into the command chair and focused on the streaking starfield of the main viewer.

    “Negative. If they were attacked, the other vessel or vessels have departed and are out of our scanning range.”

    “Nonetheless, we will take precautions. Marcus, arm phasers and load a volley of quantum torpedoes. Xevok, what is our ETA?”

    “At our current speed, twenty three minutes, eighteen seconds.”

    Slayd frowned. “Not good enough.” He tapped his communicator. “Slayd to engineering.

    There was a momentary pause before he heard the thickly accented reply. “Korolev here, Keptin.”

    “Dmitri, I need you to stoke the fires and get us up to Warp 9.5. We’re responding to a distress signal and need all the speed you can spare.”

    “A tall order, Keptin, but we will do our best.”

    A tight smile formed on Slayd’s face. “I’m sure you will. Thanks, old man. Slayd, out.”

    Momentarily the pitch of the engines began to increase. Lt. Yvessa glanced at her console.

    “Warp 9.1 . . . point 3 . . . point 4 . . . holding steady at Warp 9.52, sir.”

    “Excellent! Revised ETA Mr. Xevok?”

    “Thirteen minutes, fifty-four seconds.”

    “Much better. Sound yellow alert. Number One, have boarding parties standing by.”

    * * *


    Cyndi Kwan perched on a stool as Brian West and Chief Tork prepared sickbay for triage. She could tell that Tork wasn’t particularly happy to have an interloper in his domain, but he managed to keep his mutterings civil, at least by Tellarite standards.

    She had to admit she was pleased that West invited her along. In her two weeks on the Dragonfire, she had not really made any friends. Not that the other officers had been unkind in any way, but she keenly felt the difference in age and experience. She was by far the youngest and most junior in grade of all the officers, at least until Dr. West had boarded. The non-coms had shown polite tolerance, but she was under no illusions that they considered her a person of any import. Her own shy nature probably didn’t help in that regard.

    “Dr. West, exactly what is it you’re doing?” she asked, as she watched him frowning over a PADD.

    “Call me Brian. Since the ship we’re heading for is Caitian, I’m preparing the medical replicators to synthesize units of Caitian blood as well as anti-shock and pain-killing compounds. It will make our job easier to have them ready to go. There! That should do it!”

    “Have you ever dealt with anything like this?” she asked.

    West shook his head. “Not the real thing – no. I’ve been through dozens of holo-simulations, but in those cases a mistake just meant getting marked down a grade. Now . . .” His voice trailed off.

    “I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

    West forced a smile. “Always a first time for everything, right?” He glanced over at Tork. “Is that everything, Chief?”

    Tork grunted. “Blood, plasma, meds, dermal regenerators, osteo-knitters, bio-scanners . . . everything is set up.”

    “Good, let’s check the . . .” West’s combadge chirped. He gave it a tap. “West, go ahead.”

    “Doctor West, it’s Commander Nor Huren. Report to transporter room two and bring Chief Tork along. We’ll be beaming over a boarding party when we rendezvous with the transport, and I’ll need you to check on casualties.”

    West swallowed. “Yes ma’am, understood. How much time do we have?”

    “About five minutes, so I suggest you get moving. Nor Huren, out.”

    West looked at Tork. “You heard the Commander. Grab your med-kit and let’s go.”

    Tork nodded. “Just one think left to do before we go.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Standard procedure when both of us leave the ship.” A distasteful expression crossed Tork's face. “Computer, activate EMH.”

    Instantly a familiar figure shimmered into existence. West was surprised to see the bald-headed Mark I EMH decked out in golf attire, holding a driver in mid-swing. The EMH lowered the club and glared at the Chief Corpsman.”

    “Dammit Tork! I was up by three!”

    “Dr. West," sighed Tork, "meet Dr. Zimmerman, our EMH who hates making house-calls.”

    Dr. West?” sniffed The EMH. “You don’t look old enough to have a high-school diploma, much less an M.D.”

    West frowned. “I’m the new Chief Medical Officer, ‘Doctor.’ We’re responding to a ship in distress and need you to mind sickbay while we beam over.”

    The EMH shimmered slightly and his appearance changed. The golf togs were gone, replaced by a white lab coat, gray wool slacks and a striped button-down shirt with a loosely knit tie. An ancient stethoscope was draped carelessly around his neck. A yellow smiley-face button was pinned to the lapel of the lab coat.

    “Fine, fine – you two run along. It will give me a chance to make sure things are set up properly.” By his tone, it was obvious that the holographic doctor had little confidence in West.

    “We’re already set up to receive Caitian casualties,” replied West, testily. He didn’t care for the superior attitude of this EMH.

    The EMH picked up a medical PADD and began to peruse it. “Yes, well let me be the judge of that.”

    West felt Tork tugging at his arm. “Let’s go, Doc. We don’t want to miss the party.”

    Ensign Kwan trailed after West and Tork. “Be careful,” she said as they stepped on the turbo-lift. West gave her a weak grin. “Thanks, Cyndi! And thanks for the company.”

    The turbo-lift door slid shut before she could reply.

    * * *


    “Dropping out of warp, shields at maximum,” announced the helm officer.

    “Increase screen magnification to maximum,” ordered Captain Slayd.

    On the main viewer, the image of a copper-colored space ship appeared. It tumbled slowly enveloped in a cloud of frozen gas and debris. Dark scars from weapon’s fire marked the hull like claw marks from a savage beast.

    “Get a tractor beam on that ship,” ordered Slayd quietly, “get her stabilized. Mr. Xevok, report.”

    “Energy readings at very low-levels, consistent with emergency power output. Hull breaches in numerous outer compartments, though I show a breathable atmosphere in the ship’s interior sections. I am picking up a few life-signs, but they are weak . . .” he turned to face Slayd. “And fading.”

    Slayd tapped his combadge. “Number One, you may beam over with your rescue party. I suggest all due haste.”

    “Acknowledged. Beaming over now.”

    “Marcus, stand down weapons. Whoever did this is long gone. Mr. Xevok – I want to know who did this, and where they’ve headed.” Slayd’s voice was quiet, but the undercurrent of anger was apparent.

    Lt. Commander Banton walked over to the Captain and spoke in measured tones. “Looks like another Tzenkethi hit and run.”

    Slayd nodded. “Very likely you are right. But if so, this is their deepest probe yet. Bloody saber-tooths are getting bolder.”

    “Damn shame we can’t retaliate.”

    “No argument there, Commander. However, the rules of engagement are very strict – we can’t fire unless fired upon, and we can’t chase them beyond their borders. They can send over their unmarked ships, wreak havoc and slip back home while their government denies any knowledge or culpability.”

    “If only we could bloody their noses – maybe they would think twice about these raids,” mused Banton.

    A cold smile formed on the Captain’s face. “As it happens, I’ve been giving the matter some thought . . .”

    * * *

    It took West’s eyes a moment to adjust to the murkiness following their beam-in to the Caitian ship. Yellow emergency lights provided only faint illumination in the thick, smoky atmosphere.

    Commander Nor Huren and two security officers activated their lights, driving back the gloom fractionally.

    “Dr. West, you and T’Lin are with me. Tork, you and Avanglier head aft and check the engineering spaces. Sing out if you find any survivors.”

    Lt. T’Lin led the way, aiming her light down the central corridor. They didn’t go far before they found the first body – A Caitian female with an obvious phaser wound to her back. West knelt and ran the bio-scanner over the body and shook his head.

    “She’s been dead for at least six hours,” he announced, forcing himself to remain stoic. Inwardly, he was shaking – not so much with fear but with sorrow. This wasn’t a hologram – this was an intelligent being, or had been. He wondered if she had a mate or children, and who would mourn her when news of her death reached Cait.

    “Doctor.” Nor Huren’s gentle voice broke West’s reverie.

    “Yes . . . sorry.”

    “We need to keep moving. The life-sign readings are ahead.”

    They passed several more bodies, some scarred with phaser blasts, others disemboweled by means West did not wish to fathom, until they came to a sealed hatchway.

    West checked his bio-scanner. “I’m reading two felinoid life-forms inside.”

    “Caitian or Tzenkethi?” asked Nor Huren.

    "I . . . can’t say for sure. The signatures are very similar.”

    “Stand back, Doctor.” Nor Huren and Lt. T’Lin readied their phasers and T’Lin pressed the opening mechanism. The door creaked open a few centimeters, then stopped.

    T’Lin raised an eyebrow and replaced her phaser at her waist. Gaining a firm hold, she began to pull on the door. Slowly, her Vulcan strength overcame the recalcitrant door and it slid open with an audible protest.

    Nor Huren held the light over the phaser and swept the room. At first, the room appeared to only contain storage containers marked in the strange glyphs of the Caitian language. The Commander and the Lieutenant stepped into the room – the Vulcan security officer listening intently. She cocked her head, then signaled to a far corner of the room.

    The First Officer went left while T’Lin moved right, both holding their phasers at the ready. West stood just outside of the doorway, feeling somewhat useless.

    T’Lin stepped suddenly around a container and aimed her phaser at the deck. She quickly relaxed and called, “Doctor!”

    West moved quickly to T’Lin’s side and looked down where her light shone.

    On the deck was a Cait cub, perhaps a few years old. The child was trembling as she stared up at the Border Service officers. Green eyes glowed in the near-darkness.

    Nor Huren joined West and T’Lin. “There’s another one over there – a Caitian female – she’s tore up pretty bad. Better see to her first.”

    West left T’Lin and Nor Huren to comfort the terrified child while he moved to the opposite side of the room.

    Curled in the fetal position was the Caitian female - an adult of indeterminate age. A pool of congealing blood glistened darkly under West’s light. He knelt quickly and activated the bio-scanner. The readings caused him to grimace. He tapped his combadge.

    “West to Dragonfire.

    “Dragonfire, go ahead Doctor,” came the calm voice of Lt. Xevok.

    “I have a gravely injured Caitian female. Please lock onto her and beam her directly to sickbay.”

    “Acknowledged. Stand by.”

    West stepped back and watched as the transporter effect engulfed the Caitian and she faded from view. He tapped his combadge again.

    “West to EMH.”

    “I prefer Dr. Zimmerman,” came the acerbic response.

    “Whatever,” he answered, crossly, “you should be receiving a seriously wounded adult Caitian female. See if you can get her stabilized while I check out a Caitian child. There may be other survivors – I’ll let you know.”

    “If I can’t get her stabilized, no one can,” the EMH boasted. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a patient to attend to.” The channel closed.

    “That arrogant, rude son-of-a . . .” West growled through clenched teeth as he moved back to check on the child. He found the small Caitian clinging to an obviously surprised and uncomfortable T’Lin. Commander Nor Huren was smiling.

    “It seems the Lieutenant has made a friend,” The first officer said. West knelt and took out a Feinberger scanner. The sudden whirring noise made the child cower and bury her face into T’Lin’s leg.

    “It’s okay,” West said in a soothing voice. “We’re here to help. Can you tell us your name?”

    The child did not reply, but began to emit a faint mewling noise. T’Lin looked startled.

    “She’s uninjured,” said West, with relief, “just scared. I guess we better get her back to the ship and give her a thorough check.” He thought about the EMH and frowned. “Um, Lieutenant? Would you mind accompanying her? She seems to feel safe with you and I’m afraid she might find our EMH . . . unsettling.”

    Nor Huren nodded in understanding. “I concur. Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

    Still looking uncomfortable, T’Lin gave a brief nod. “Very well.” She tapped her combadge. “T’Lin to Dragonfire. Two to beam aboard.”

    West and Nor Huren watched as the Caitian child and her Vulcan advocate disappeared. The Commander turned to the CMO.

    “Let’s keep moving, Doctor – we may get lucky and find more survivors.”

    * * *
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2009
  20. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    Oh very interesting ... loved the interactions and West's visiting the Caitian ship. The EMH - sorry Dr. Zimmerman - is just the icing on the cake to this story and crew. And you're as like to add in a few more fab characters. We have a sneaky suspicion the russian engineer is going to be another. Love the fact that he shows up mid golf game in full golf attire. His medical garb is no less eccentric for the little touches. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

    Now as to the Captain's giving the Tzenthi actions some thought, I have terrible ideas about this. Can't wait to see what they are! Hee hee.