Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…
“Wagon Train to Qo’nos”
By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler
Commander Prosak stared at herself in the mirror in her quarters, a room that was once Captain Bain’s ready room. She’d called up an outfit from the historical database that she thought would be appropriate for her impending trip with Doctor Nooney; however, she did have some reservations about some of the accessories.
When she stepped out of her quarters and onto the bridge, her doubts were redoubled when the skeleton crew managing the Anomaly’s bridge broke out into unrestrained guffaws.
“Look at the cowgirl!” Ensign Yonk cried, pounding the helm with glee.
Prosak looked down at her wide-legged chaps and plaid shirt, topped by a tall hat with a large rim that bent upward. “I was not aware the intent was to resemble a cow.”
“That’s just an expression, Commander,” Yonk said. “A hew-mon expression, to be sure, but one that translates across cultures.”
After some consternation and concentration, Prosak worked one eyebrow upwards. “Please explain.”
“Well, each of our planets, at one time or another, had to deal with early colonization efforts of frontier lands, right?”
“The ‘early colonization’ was, in fact, from Vulcan to Romulus.”
“Whatever. Anyway, some folks had to hunt large animals for food, and wrestle them down. On Earth they were something called ‘cows.’ On Ferenginar, my people hunted ‘greks’.”
“Whatever the case, they were in fact…livestock?”
“More or less. So a woman who hunted cows was called a ‘cowgirl.’”
“Are you sure you’re telling this story correctly?”
“Hey, I’m no historian.”
“But I am,” came a voice from behind Prosak. She turned to see Lieutenant Jamie Torgerson, the Anomaly’s Chief Anthropologist, Costume Expert and Historian.
“I am pleased you could accompany us on this expedition, Lieutenant Torgerson,” Prosak said, gladly turning away from Yonk. “Your advice should be invaluable.”
“I wouldn’t mind having a good time, either.”
“Will you be wearing a ‘cowboy’ outfit as well?”
“My ensemble is almost ready. Meanwhile, I’m wearing this nifty number.”
Prosak nodded at Torgerson’s one-piece black and gold jumpsuit. “I was about to ask…”
“It’s a Starfleet uniform.”
“No!” Prosak gasped at Torgerson’s tight black jumpsuit with gold shoulders. “It’s atrocious. It does not hide your…” She glanced behind herself and sighed. “Standard-issue equipment.”
“It was a revealing phase in Starfleet uniform history. Circa 2364 to be exact. You should see the variation uniform. It’s a dress.”
Prosak rubbed her chin. “What did the men wear?”
“You know, I believe it is time for us to depart on our trip. Shall we, Lieutenant?”
Prosak headed off into the turbolift and Torgerson hurried gleefully behind. “I hope we meet a real cowboy.”
“You have the bridge, Ensign Yonk, in spite of the fact that we’re in spacedock,” Prosak said as she and Torgerson stepped into the lift. “Shuttlebay,” Prosak said.
After several awkward moments, Prosak broke the silence. “I have a question. If we are so interested in ‘cowboy life,’ then why do we not go to Earth? We are already here.”
“Quite simple, Commander,” Torgerson replied. “We are in a position to not only understand human cultural development, but also to see it mimicked by another race.”
“Do Klingons have cows?” Prosak asked innocently.
“Don’t you know anything about Klingon civilization?” Torgerson asked Prosak curiously.
“Well, after Romulus absorbed the Klingon empire, we pretty much imposed our culture on them.”
“It might have been nice to at least explore your differences with the Klingons before wiping those differences out entirely.”
“Here comes another Terran lecture,” Prosak sighed. “Listen, I wasn’t the Romulan who got the big idea 20 years ago to take over the Klingons when their empire collapsed. All I heard about them is what my Father would tell me and my mother over dinner, up to and including the day two years ago he told me they’d be breaking off to form a sovereign power again. All I could think was ‘good for them.’”
“Weren’t you even the least bit curious about the Klingons?”
“No. They’re not an especially logical people,” Prosak said. “But RommaVulcs firmly believe in Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, which is one of the reasons I’d like to explore Klingon life on this journey. Immerse myself in the culture my people so rudely suppressed during the eighteen years they were part of our empire.”
“But this ranch we’re going to–it’s essentially human culture,” Torgerson broke in.
Prosak stared at the ceiling. “Perhaps I simply want to have fun.”
“Hardly sounds logical to me.”
Prosak extended her two middle fingers, parted in a V- shape. The classic RommaVulc kiss-off. “Stuff it.”
“I wish you would change your mind, Natalia,” Cabral said, his voice sounding oddly parental as Doctor Natalia Kasyov skirted about Science Lab Four, adjusting controls and checking readings. Most of Cabral’s functions were autonomous or automatic, so all of that really was not necessary, but Cabral knew it was all just nervous movement.
“Cabral, we’ve been over this a dozen times. I want to spend this time off with you. We were separated a long time over in Andromeda, and I want to catch up with you. You have no idea how much I missed you.”
“I missed you as well,” Cabral said “Still, I’d like you to reconsider.”
“Why?” Kasyov asked, sitting on her customary stool beside Cabral.
“Because it’s important you get out and play with the other humanoids. Your species doesn’t cover as much space as mine does…at least not when the anti-sing is off-line. You’re not used to being away from your home galaxy for such a long period of time.”
“How do you figure?”
“I’ve been studying counseling records. You and the others have an intense need to do some sightseeing. To look about the quadrant and make sure everything is where you left it.”
Kasyov blew a stray tassel of hair out of her face. “That is ridiculous.”
“The trip to Qo’nos fascinates you. Admit it.”
“I admit nothing.”
“You told me one evening, when we were headed back here from Andromeda, that you’d always wanted to see Qo’nos. Here’s your chance!”
“Yes, but you had such a rough time in Andromeda…I want to be here for YOU.”
“Your selflessness would warm my heart if I had one, Natalia. Be that as it may, I must say that I think a trip off the Anomaly would do you good. Once we resume our mission, you will be spending a lot of time on this ship, and a great deal of time with me. I want you to be able to enjoy that time, having come back from a much needed…and much deserved vacation.”
Kasyov thought about that for a long moment, then finally reached out a hand to caress Cabral’s sphere. “Cabral, how do you see right into my mind? Are you telepathic and you just never told me?”
“I assure you, I would have told you if I were. Just promise me one thing, if you go.”
“Take plenty of pictures. I’m a bit curious about this Qo’nos place myself.”
Kasyov stood, exasperated. “Fine, Cabral! I’ll go. I’ll create a wonderful presentation to bring back to you.”
“You’re so kind, Natalia.”
“Just promise to keep busy and stay out of trouble.”
“How do you suggest I do that?”
“Well…I could have you shipped to my lab for a few days. You might enjoy communing with a bunch of…other…brains….” Kasyov’s voice trailed off and the lab was filled with eerie silence. “Then again maybe that’s not such a good idea.”
“Yes…I’ve ‘been there, done that,’ as it were,” Cabral agreed.
“I’ll just be on my way,” Kasyov said, dashing for the door. “Lots of packing to do!”
“Bring me back a souvenir!” Cabral called after her.
Nooney stood with a large padd at the entrance portal to the raceabout Titicaca as Commander Prosak and Lieutenant Torgerson dragged their luggage in and headed off to the rear compartments.
“Prosak…check. Torgerson…check.” Nooney grinned as he surveyed his padd, on which the entire trip itinerary had been planned. “You guys are the first two vacationers to show up. Welcome!” He jogged over to the officers as they put away their gear and tossed brightly-colored necklaces of flowers about their necks. “Aloha and welcome aboard. You’re about to be whisked away to–”
“Time out. Wait just one second!” Lt. Torgerson said, holding up her hands. “This is not right at all. Leis? On a dude ranch trip?”
“What do you mean? Leis are ancient Earth vacation attire.”
“In Hawaii. That republic didn’t HAVE cowboys.”
“Not even a few?” Nooney said with a frown.
“No. Try cowboy hats, sheriff insignias or pretend handguns.”
“PRETEND handguns,” Prosak reiterated as she took a seat on the long couch lining the passenger area.
“But these are so festive,” Nooney said as he reluctantly took the leis from Prosak and Torgerson and headed off to the forward compartment. “I guess I know to contact you first before I try to dress anyone. I’ll just see what I can find for you folks!”
“Who else are you expecting?” Prosak called after him.
“Well, as I said, you are the first three to arrive. That leaves the next…well…one. Lieutenant Gworos.”
“Figures,” Torgerson said with a grin. “I’ll bet it’s been forever since he’s seen his home planet. I expect he’ll be excited to- -“
That’s when the wiry Gworos burst in and shouted. “Doctor Nooney…incapacitate me now, before I rip a hole in this blasted vessel!”
Nooney checked Gworos off on his padd and scurried up to the Klingon with a pinkie-sized hypo in hand. “Here you go, Lieutenant. I have one all ready for you.” He pressed the device into Gworos neck and the Klingon dropped to the deck like a sack of Klingon potatoes.
“I take it Gworos doesn’t like to travel?” inquired Torgerson.
“Poor fella. He’s terribly claustrophobic. The bunks on this raceabout would have driven him crazy.”
“Shouldn’t you have let him lie down before you hypoed him?” asked Prosak.
“Oh, I won’t be putting him in any of the bunks. If he were to wake up…well, he might snap into a berserker rage and kill us all. No, we’ll just have to leave him here in the common area.” Nooney stuck his padd under his arm and slung his arms under Gworos’ armpits. He dragged the security officer into a chair. “There. He looks kinda serene sitting there, don’t you think?”
“We should be taking off, I believe,” Prosak said.
“Of course.” Nooney reached a hand out to activate the raceabout hatch, when he heard a voice and the mad clapping of shoes on the shuttlebay deck.
“Wait for me! Last-minute addition!”
Nooney’s hand rested by the airlock switch as Doctor Kasyov huffed and puffed her way up to the hatch, dragging her Starfleet-issue duffel.
“Doctor Kasyov, I didn’t expect to see you here. Let me check the list.” Nooney checked his padd.
“I told you I was a last-minute addition!”
“Nope, don’t see you on the list,” Nooney said. “Did you register with me or Nurse Ih’vik?”
“I’m registering right now. I just decided to go.”
Nooney clicked his tongue. “Last-minute decisions are a cause of stress. You shouldn’t live like that. Terribly unhealthy.”
“Yvot,” Kasyov cursed in Russian. “I am a doctor, Doctor. I am aware of the impact of stress on my health, and am also aware that at our level of medical technology, I could fall face-first from forty meters, landing on solid rock, and still play a tennis match the next day.”
“None of that will get you on my list any quicker, Missie,” Nooney said hotly.
“Add her to the list,” Prosak ordered, nodding curtly at Kasyov. “We shouldn’t turn away anyone interested in immersing themselves in Klingon culture.”
“I just want to have a good time,” Kasyov said with a smile, ducking into the inner compartment of the Titicaca.
Prosak raised an eyebrow. “Of course. That is only logical.”
It was a fairly quiet trip as the Titicaca sailed toward Klingon space. Prosak was intently studying a padd Torgerson had given her to read about Klingon culture since the Romulan pull-out. It was interesting reading. Apparently the Klingons had had a tough time of it. Some of them hung around those few worlds left on their outer boundaries that were still Romulan protectorates. Some, like the motley bunch Prosak had run into months earlier, had tried to emulate the Vulcans for some sense of identity.
Others, apparently, started a dude ranch.
“Watcha reading?” Doctor Nooney asked, leaning over the arm of Prosak’s chair.
“I’m reading about the Klingons.”
“Oooh! About Klingon cowboys?”
Prosak glanced at Nooney with a raised eyebrow. “The Klingons did not have cowboys.”
“Did they have targboys?”
“No,” Jamie Torgerson said curtly, sitting across from Nooney. “They had the Bej’tok. A lethal cadre of hunters that scoured Qo’nos four centuries ago, obliterating animal life of all sorts throughout the most ghastly of Klingon swamps.”
Nooney’s nose crinkled. “I hope we won’t be visiting those places. I want to see the ranch. I want to hogtie something. I want to be a cowboy-oy-oy-oy-oy!” As he said “cowboy” he cupped his hands to his mouth to make a “wahwahwah” sound effect.
Prosak stared at Nooney. “What was that?”
“Something I saw on a vidclip.”
“Indeed.” Prosak resumed reading her padd.
“I’m going to go up and check on Gworos,” said Nooney. “See how long we’ve got till we get to the Nuq’neh Corral.”
“Kasyov to Torgerson.”
Torgerson glanced at the ceiling. “Go ahead.”
“Could you come back here? I need help with my chaps.”
“Ooh! I’ll help!” Nooney exclaimed.
“I’ll be right there…ALONE,” Torgerson said, shooting a glare at Nooney. “Just watch the spurs!”
“I’ll be right back,” Torgerson said, rising from her chair and heading to the back compartment as Nooney walked toward the cockpit.
“That’s fine,” replied Prosak. “I’m just going to…” Prosak glanced around the traveling compartment, seeing that she was alone. “I’m going to talk to myself.”
It was nearly sundown when Prosak, Nooney, Kasyov, Torgerson and Gworos beamed down to the Nuq’Neh Corral.
The “corral” was a small dusty town on the outskirts of the Capital City of Qo’nos, complete with bars, houses of ill repute, a general store, stockade, and a little ranch of targs and other assorted scary looking animals.
The away team materialized on the main thoroughfare of the tiny town, just as a tumbleweed blew by.
“Hmm. I specifically requested for a welcoming party to meet us here. There was going to be a pretend holdup and everything,” Nooney pouted, checking his large padd. “Oh well, I believe the Visitors’ Center is right this way.”
“I want to know when the Combat Competitions are,” Gworos spoke up.
“I don’t remember seeing that on the itinerary,” Nooney said, checking his padd. “Nope, no Combat Competitions.”
“But that is what warriors do. We combat.”
“I’m sure there will be plenty of that,” Prosak said encouragingly. “Maybe it’s just not scheduled. It may be more, well, spontaneous.”
“Spontaneous combat. Excellent. I have brought many weapons.”
“Well, I for one vote that we go have a drink,” Kasyov suggested.
“That’s not anywhere on the itinerary,” Nooney said worriedly.
“Check again, meanwhile, we are going to the bar,” Prosak said. “Lieutenant Torgerson, I hope you read Klingon.”
“Yup. As well as Breen and Ferengi. The bar is right over there, where that one fellow is throwing up in a feeding trough.”
“Delightful,” Prosak said, and the trio of women headed toward the bar.
“I want blood wine,” Gworos said, taking off after them, leaving Nooney alone.
“Well, now, I guess one minor alteration can be made to the plan. But after this we stick to the itinerary! I have all sorts of exciting things scheduled for us!” he said, jogging after the group.
When Prosak stepped into the bar, which Torgerson had identified as “Lumbok’s,” she had the distinct impression that every single Klingon in the bar (for that species seemed to be the sole occupant of the bar) had stopped what he or she was doing and focused their gaze intently on the Anomaly group.
Or, perhaps, on Prosak in particular.
“Maybe we should–” Kasyov began quietly.
“Vulcan or Romulan?” asked the burly Klingon at the bar.
“Pardon?” Prosak asked.
“VULCAN OR ROMULAN!” came a chorus of angry- sounding voices from the crowd.
“Romma-“ Prosak began, but Torgerson slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Vulcan!” Torgerson said. “She’s Vulcan. She’s just in the middle of pon farr, so she’s a bit testy, okay?”
As if someone pressed “play” on a holovid, the bar returned to normal, Klingons drinking and laughing, playing some kind of odd game of throwing spikes at a pillow and conversing, growling, and slamming their heads together.
Prosak glared at Torgerson. “Why did you do that?”
“You’re not the most observant person in the galaxy. I saw about twenty hands reaching for disruptors.”
“Are you suggesting they would have shot me?” Prosak whispered.
“That was my distinct impression. They may not be over that whole occupation thing yet. You’re just lucky this isn’t a century ago. You would have had that protruding forehead thing going, and they would have pegged you for a Romulan instantly.”
“The forehead was very un-Vulcan. Adding it to our genetic makeup was illogical and distasteful. Fortunately our former Praetor took steps to remove…”
“Stop talking about it, or one of these folks is liable to overhear you and put two and two together,” Torgerson said.
“Perhaps this was a bad idea,” Prosak said, turning for the door. “I’ll just go back to the raceabout…”
“No, no,” Kasyov said. “You’ve got a cover story now. Let’s have a drink and check out the scene. You may find yourself having fun.”
“But if they discover…”
“What’s the worst they can do? Kill us?” Kasyov chuckled, but no one else did, as Gworos jogged over to clear them all off a table.
A Klingon waiter wearing a dingy apron was there in moments with a padd. “I am Bonjar. Nuq’neh!”
“Pardon?” asked Prosak.
“What do you want?” the Klingon bellowed.
“Romu–” she said, and Torgerson slammed her knee into Prosak’s leg. “I’ll just have an Altair Water.”
Bonjar grunted and turned to Gworos. “You?”
“Spritzer or on tap?” asked Bonjar.
Gworos blinked. “Spritzer?”
“Yeah. You’ll have to go in the city if you want one of those fancy Bloodslides.”
“Tap is fine,” sighed Gworos.
Torgerson was glancing up at the menu that hung over the bar. “Hmm. I think I’ll have a watermelon bloodwine cooler.”
“Excellent choices. Qua’pla!” bellowed the waiter as he trudged off to the bar.
“Well, the salutation was correct,” Gworos said, pursing his lips as Nooney sat down beside him.
“Something bothering you?” Prosak asked Gworos.
“Watermelon bloodwine cooler,” Gworos said.
“Yes, it is a bit out of character for the Klingons,” Torgerson admitted. “But a nice change of pace. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.”
“Quite,” said Prosak. “The combinations seem to be plentiful here.”
“We are pandering to tourists. It is not honorable!” said Gworos.
“We ARE tourists,” Kasyov reminded him.
“Not me. This is my homeland.”
“I thought you grew up in Rura Penthe Meadows,” said Prosak.
“It may have been the suburbs, but it was still within the Klingon empire!”
“There is no empire anymore,” Torgerson said flatly. “Don’t you realize that?”
“What drivel are you speaking?” Gworos demanded, leaning forward, breathing nastily in Torgerson’s face.
Nooney gently pushed Gworos back into his chair. “He’s in a bit of what we in the counseling profession like to call denial.”
“I thought you were a doctor,” said Torgerson.
“I’m also a counselor.”
“Lucky for us,” said Kasyov as Bonjar returned with everyone’s drinks. Everyone’s that is except for Nooney.
“Sir, I’d like to order now,” said Nooney.
“I already took orders,” replied Bonjar.
“Well I just got here.”
Bonjar sighed, retrieving a padd from his apron. “Very well. Nuq’neh?”
“What will you be having?” Bonjar asked from between clenched teeth.
“Oh. Hmmm.” Nooney rapped his fingers on the table indecisively. “What’s good here?”
“Everything is good.”
“Hmm. That’s not helping. How’s your coffee?”
“We have raktajino.”
“Hmm. With or without cream and sugar?”
“Black. And boiling.”
“Mmm that doesn’t sound good at all. What about your mixed drinks?”
“Try the blood wine cooler,” Torgerson suggested.
“Hmm. I’m not much for blood.”
Bonjar’s eyes grew increasingly large and angry as Nooney waffled over what to drink.
“How about a pina colada?”
“We don’t have that!” snapped the waiter.
“Captain and coke?”
“Silence! I will bring you bloodwine, and you will drink it and not complain, do you understand me!”
“Now look here, I’m a paying customer just like everyone else and “
“AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRR!” howled Bonjar, grabbing Nooney by the front of his plaid cowboy shirt and tossing him bodily through the swinging doors of the bar.
Prosak and Gworos were both immediately on their feet. Kasyov and Torgerson pretended to look elsewhere.
“That will dramatically affect your tip!” Prosak said sternly.
The waiter turned on a heel and trudged back toward the bar as though Prosak had said nothing.
Suddenly a wiry Klingon, more the small build of Gworos, scurried over to Prosak’s table.
“I’m sorry. My name is Lumbok. I’m the proprietor of Lumbok’s. Please let me pay for this round.”
“Thank you,” Prosak said, sitting down.
“I’d better go check on Doctor Nooney,” Kasyov said, heading out of the bar.
“Some of our employees haven’t quite gotten the hang of the new Qo’nos,” said Lumbok.
“And what exactly is the new Qo’nos?” asked Torgerson.
“Simply put, we want to be people pleasers.”
“By the toe of Kahless, that is not honorable!” cried Gworos.
Lumbok ignored Gworos, focusing solely on Prosak and Torgerson. “Bonjar there came in from the boroughs of Praxis. He’s still a bit sketchy on the idea of customer service.”
“He is a true Klingon,” spat Gworos.
“Not a true new Klingon,” countered Lumbok, glaring at Gworos. “I hope you all enjoy your stay at the Nuq’neh Corral.”
“Interesting,” Torgerson said as Lumbok left. “I get the distinct impression that the Klingons have lost their way as a people.”
“That is a correct assumption,” Gworos huffed.
“I had not noticed,” Prosak said, as Kasyov carried a limping Nooney back into the bar.
“That was NOT on my agenda!” Nooney cried as Kasyov set him down.
“Calm down, Doctor. Are you okay?”
“Bruised buttocks,” Nooney mumbled. “Would you like to see them?”
“No!” Prosak said quickly, downing her drink. “I think it’s time we check into our hotel rooms.”
The group around the table one by one downed their respective drinks, except Nooney, who had no drink. He simply held a cocktail napkin over a gash on his forehead.
Once the group had finished their drinks, they rose from their chairs and filed toward the exit.
One Klingon in particular watched them go with intense interest, and got up to follow them.
Prosak woke up the next morning in her hotel room and sighed. She glanced to her left to see that Lieutenant Torgerson had shoved her all the way toward the side of the bed.
Doctor Nooney had neglected to mention that the hotel rate he’d gotten was triple occupancy. Prosak’s only consolation was the fact that Nooney was, at that very moment, sharing a hotel room with Lieutenant Gworos and a very drunken Tellarite.
Prosak sat up and rubbed her eyes, as Kasyov stepped out of the bathroom rubbing a towel in her hair.
“You should both be warned. Klingon showers have only two settings. Cold and scalding.”
“What did you opt for?” Torgerson questioned.
“Scalding,” Kasyov sighed. “It was a nice shower though.”
“I am sure you needed it after your extended calisthenics routine,” Prosak muttered.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did that wake you up?” Kasyov asked impishly as she rifled through her bag for some clothes.
“Jumping jacks are an archaic practice,” Jamie Torgerson muttered, pulling covers up over her head. “There are many alternatives that give you a better workout.”
“But they’re probably not as much fun. Anyway, I want to be in tip-top shape for the rodeo contest today.”
“You’re actually going to ride a wild targ, are you?” Prosak asked.
“I sure am,” replied Kasyov. “I told Cabral I would get the full experience, and I’m planning on doing just that.”
“Sounds like fun to me,” Torgerson said, sitting up in bed as Prosak walked over to look out the window at the bustling Klingon Main Street below. It reminded her of one of the bad neighborhoods on Romulus. “Actually,” Torgerson continued. “It probably won’t be a wild targ. It’ll probably be one of the larger animals. A gorag, maybe, or a narg.”
“Exciting!” Kasyov said, wriggling into her pants. “Are you sure cowboys wore these…what did you call them?”
“They’re not very comfortable.”
“They’ll stretch after a while,” Torgerson said. “Trust me, I designed them myself. The boot cut of the legs is very flattering. I’m sure you’re going to get asked out by every man at the ranch.”
“I don’t know that I’m looking to meet a Klingon man, or anyone else that would come here,” Kasyov said. After everything that happened with Balpar…and her resulting realization of how much Cabral meant to her…the last thing she was in the market for was a relationship.
“I agree with Doctor Kasyov,” said Prosak. “To look for romance on this trip is fairly short-sighted. There is much to be done.”
“Suit yourselves,” Torgerson said, slogging off into the bathroom. “I’m going to take a scalding shower and put on my chaps.”
“This will be a good day,” Prosak said to no one in particular.
Once they were all showered and dressed, Prosak, Torgerson, and Kasyov walked down to the restaurant for a free breakfast buffet.
Nooney and Gworos were already seated and stuffing their mouths with something grey and fluffy.
“The gagh omelettes are absolutely fabulous!” Nooney tittered.
“The food is bland, flavorless, and does not writhe sufficiently on my tongue,” Gworos muttered.
Prosak adjusted her cowboy hat atop her head, pulling it down slightly over her ears. She nodded in Nooney’s direction as Torgerson and Kasyov went off in search of food. “How did you sleep?”
“Not much. We spent much of the time talking to Droo here.”
The fat, belching Tellarite, who’d had his head down on the table up until that moment, stared up at Prosak and grunted something that sounded like “morning.”
“Droo is a fascinating fellow,” Nooney continued as he sucked a wriggling worm up into his mouth. “Did you know he was in the Tellarite/Gorn war several years back? He’s spent the last few years on disability, drifting from one alien resort to another.”
“What is your disability, Mister Droo?” Prosak inquired.
“My reproductive organs were crushed by a falling support strut,” Droo said and put his head down again.
“I see.” Prosak walked over to the buffet to see what there was to eat.
“Fascinating, just fascinating,” Nooney cooed.
“So, what’s on tap for today?” Torgerson asked as she and Kasyov came back with healthy stacks of blood pancakes doused in blood syrup.
Nooney retrieved his large padd and studied it. “Obviously, there’s the rodeo later today. I thought we would check out the local shops after breakfast. There’s also a lesson on targ-tying that should be fascinating for after lunch. Then, this evening there is an old fashioned hoedown!”
“Hoe…down?” Gworos asked, glaring in Nooney’s direction.
“Yes. A dance of some sort.”
“A contest, to see who’s the best dancer,” Torgerson piped up as she stabbed at her pancakes. They were somewhat…tough. “People pair off into couples and see who’s the best dancer. There’s a lot of twirling. It’s quite fun.”
“It does not sound honorable. Nothing you’ve mentioned has even the slightest thing to do with combat.”
“I’d say combat is not good for the Klingon economy,” Torgerson said. “The Klingons are obviously trying to increase their tourism industry. Not a bad idea, since they’re just now recovering from being occupied by the Romulans.”
“Economic recovery is not honorable.”
“Well, all the honor in the world won’t save a crippled economy, Mister Gworos,” said Torgerson.
“She’s right,” said Nooney. “Besides, if the Klingon economy wasn’t crippled, we wouldn’t have this great opportunity to wrestle targs and nargs and whatever else they throw at us!”
“I, for one, am thrilled,” Kasyov chimed in.
“I am not,” Gworos muttered and returned, shoulders slumped, for seconds.
When the Anomaly group plus Droo, who was on his way to the liquor store, got out onto the street, they were struck by the sad reality that, even during the day, it was dark and nasty on Qo’nos.
“You’d think they’d find a way to do away with all that cloud cover,” Nooney said. “It’s not very conducive to having a good time.”
“And it certainly won’t have any positive effects on the tourism industry,” Torgerson added.
“Well, I am going to check out the General Store,” Prosak said. “Maybe there will be a withered old Klingon in there who will tell me anecdotes about the ancient days.”
“I could have done as much and saved us this miserable trip,” Gworos said moodily.
As Prosak moved to cross the street, she saw a huge Klingon woman, a head taller than her and built solid and muscularly, coming toward her. The woman’s skin was of a bit darker hue than the regular Klingons, almost grayish, and her hair was combed high, a good ten inches above her head, with white streaks. She wore bulky Klingon armor and an ornamental black sash, making her an intimidating presence to say the least.
Prosak tried to sidestep out of the Klingon woman’s way, but the woman matched her step for step. She collided with the well-built woman and fell to the ground, her buttocks slamming into the dirt.
She stared plaintively up at the Klingon woman. “My apologies.”
The woman reached a hand down to help Prosak up. Prosak took the hand gratefully. Once Prosak was back on her feet, the Klingon woman roughly shoved Prosak down to the ground, laughing with a great, ominous bellow.
“Leave now, offworlder. Qo’nos is no place for tourists,” the woman called over her shoulder.
Prosak hopped to her feet, staring in abject disbelief. Such treatment was totally uncalled for.
“That woman was amazing,” Gworos said with a low whistle.
“Not a typical Klingon,” said Torgerson.
“That was Chynok,” Droo said in a voice of fear and reverence. “You don’t want to get on her bad side.”
“Well, perhaps she does not want to get on my bad side either,” Prosak said, rubbing dirt off her backside. “That was SUCH an illogical way to act.”
“Chynok is a reactionary. She’s pushing for the Klingons to return to the old ways,” Droo muttered, stumbling off to the bloodwine dispensery. “Do your best to stay out of her way. She’s killed folks based on hairstyle alone.”
“Thanks for the warning,” Kasyov called after Droo. She put a hand on Prosak’s shoulder. “Don’t think of doing anything stupid. We’re here to have fun, not go to war with a battle-hungry Klingon.”
“I could not agree more,” Prosak lied, staring at Chynok as she ducked into Lumbok’s.
Prosak was distracted as she, Torgerson, Nooney and Gworos perused some of the shops along mainstreet. “Hastily-assembled” was the first descriptive term that came to Prosak as she walked along the wooden planks and looked through the windows and the storefronts of the establishments they passed. Nooney stopped at a candy store and purchased some disgusting little pieces of hard-rock type candy that seemed to have live bugs trapped inside. Kasyov and Torgerson disappeared into a clothier for quite some time, and Gworos attempted to do battle with a street vendor selling children’s toys.
“I know you,” a voice said from behind Prosak. The RommaVulc whirled around to see a weathered Klingon male of approximately middle age standing before her. He nodded solemnly. “I see that I am indeed correct.”
“You seem to have me at a loss, Mister “
“Krard. I am not surprised that you do not remember me; however, you may remember my former associate Pang.”
“Pang.” Prosak searched her memory. “Ah yes. The leader of the so-called KlingaVulc group our vessel encountered several months ago. You were among their number.”
“I was indeed,” Krard said solemnly which was fitting, considering in his time with Pang he was known as Krard the Solemn.
“You said former associate. Has something happened to Pang?”
“You happened to Pang,” Krard said, a slight tinge of anger filling his voice. “You and your RommaVulcs convinced him to abandon the path of logic when you told him Klingons and Vulcans are too different for unification.”
Prosak sighed. “At the time, it seemed logical.”
The RommaVulcs mind turned to Chynok. If she were to learn from Krard that Prosak was a Romulan the results would most likely be most unfortunate.
“I have a proposal,” Krard said, seeming to read Prosak’s mind. “As I am sure you have gathered, Romulans are not exactly welcome on Qo’nos.”
“That does appear to be the case,” Prosak acknowledged.
“Therefore, what I propose is this. I will keep the secret of your true heritage if you will speak to me of the Vulcan way.”
“You wish for me to teach you?” Prosak said, feeling somewhere between alarmed and flattered.
“Most logical of you. I will contact you shortly. In the meantime, I hope that you find the remainder of your stay on Qo’nos to be pleasant. Live long and prosper.” Krard raised his hand in the Vulcan salute.
“I have no doubt it will be,” Prosak lied as she returned the salute. “Peace and long life.”
Krard moved off down the street as Prosak tried to decide how she would go about teaching Krard in the ways of logic. But she could not keep her mind off Chynok, and that warning: “Qo’nos is no place for tourists.” Did this Chynok woman already know Prosak was Romulan? And if so, did that put the away team…er, tour group, in jeopardy? Prosak had resolved of late to become a woman of action. More to the point, a woman of “logical action,” and as such, vacation or not, she was determined to protect the people that served under her. If this Chynok woman was a threat, well, Prosak would have to dispense with it.
As Nooney, Gworos, Kasyov and Torgerson headed off to the targ-tying lessons, Prosak excused herself and headed to Lumbok’s saloon, where she hoped she’d find this Chynok woman. Certainly she would subject herself to some kind of logical debate.
Yes, that was the answer.
“You want to…WHAT?” the large Klingon woman bellowed, staring down into Prosak’s eyes, which made the RommaVulc feel very small.
“I wish to debate you. I want to explain that nothing is to be gained from isolating yourself from off-worlders.”
Chynok threw hear head back and laughed, a large guffaw that sent hair cascading about her shoulders. Prosak had never seen hair that rose up into a stiff beehive then cascaded down like that. Even the woman’s hair was intimidating.
Chynok stabbed a finger into Prosak’s chest, sending the RommaVulc stumbling backwards against the bar. “You’re joking, Vulcan. I want no part of you or your kind. Get off this world.” Chynok then stopped smiling and dragged Prosak up to eye-level with her, letting the RommaVulc’s feet dangle.
“Do not hurt the Vulcan!” a voice from the crowd shouted.
Chynok turned angrily, searching the Klingon faces for the source of the comment to no avail. “All right. How many of you spineless yargs want me to spare your beloved Vulcan?”
The other Klingons in the saloon sheepishly raised their hands.
Chynok spat with such force that a nearby blood margarita toppled over. “You do not deserve to breathe the air of this, the homeworld of Kahless. You revere these speechifying pacifists above the souls of our glorious ancestors in Sto’Vo’Kor!”
The huge Klingon glared at Prosak, her frightening teeth mere inches from the Romulan’s nose. “Get off this world by sundown, or I’ll get you off it myself.”
She let Prosak drop to the ground and turned back to her drink, obviously considering the matter closed.
Prosak didn’t consider the matter closed. She tapped Chynok on the shoulder. “I demand satisfaction, ma’am. If you will not debate me according to logical Vulcan custom, then I must abide by your own culture’s rules. I wish to engage you in honorable combat.”
Chortles and laughter filled the saloon.
“Klingons don’t have honorable combat anymore!” Lumbok called out. “Where have you been for the last 20 years! The Romulans turned us into cowering babies!”
Chynok let out a gravelly sigh and slammed her grovitz chips down. She rose to her full, intimidating height again and turned on Prosak.
“You’ll have your satisfaction. I’m probably the only Klingon that would accept such a challenge. And I swear, by Kahless’ belly button that you will regret the day you faced me in the street of battle. You’ll find today is a SUPER day to die! Meet me outside Lumbok’s at sundown. Come alone, and come prepared to experience extreme pain, little thing!”
Prosak felt a sudden sinking feeling in her stomach at the realization of what she was getting herself into, coupled with a sudden sliding feeling as Chynok grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, slammed her onto one end of the bar and slid her all the way to the other end. Prosak toppled end-over-end off of the edge and landed in a heap behind said bar.
This Klingon obviously had some grudges to take out on all species of the pointed-ear variety, but Prosak saw all this as a learning experience. Not only would she be a woman of logical action, but she’d also learn a little bit about the Klingon culture while she was at it.
Then again, she thought as she lay there, maybe she’d learned enough.
When Prosak hobbled over to join Nooney and the others at the ranch, she came to find Kasyov straddled atop a bucking targ, slinging chains around its hind legs and crooking an arm around his neck.
“Where did you get off to, Commander?” she asked with a grunt as she flung herself backwards, rolled the targ over her and pinned it to the ground.
“Twenty seconds,” came the deep, basso voice of a nearby Klingon referee. “Excellent.” He glanced with derision at Nooney, who was on the ground with the targ licking him all over his face. “You, on the other hand, sir, will never go to the place of the honored dead.”
“That’s fine by me as long as I get to take this cute little guy with me!” Nooney exclaimed.
Prosak found Torgerson looking on with detached interest. “Where DID you go, anyway?” Torgerson asked.
“I had business to settle in town.”
“Looks like it was painful business,” Torgerson said, pointing at the green bruise on Prosak’s cheek.
“It was indeed,” Prosak said, giving Torgerson a look like she didn’t want to go into it further.
“So what are the plans for tonight?” Nooney asked, tugging his targ along behind him by a chain leash as Kasyov took a small achievement plaque from the Klingon referee. Apparently, Nooney had been allowed to keep his targ, since he’d managed to completely domesticate it in just under a minute.
“I thought you had a detailed itinerary,” Torgerson pointed out.
“Oh, who the hell cares about the itinerary! I’m just into having fun!”
“Well, there is this restaurant–” Torgerson began, but Nooney cut her off.
“Just kidding!! I have everything planned for the rodeo. I think you’ll be great at that, Natalia!”
Kasyov grinned, staring at her plaque. “You may be right.”
“What about me?” asked Torgerson.
“Please!” Nooney laughed impishly.
“What are your plans, Commander?” Torgerson asked Prosak.
“I have a…private matter to attend to tonight,” Prosak said.
“What?” Nooney exclaimed. “You’ll miss the hoedown!”
“She met a man!” Kasyov bursted.
“You are nearly correct,” Prosak said with a wry grin. Then her face went straight again. “It is no matter. You will all go to the rodeo and enjoy it. Do not worry about me.”
“Why would we worry?” asked Nooney.
“Who said the word worry?” asked Kasyov.
“Never mind.” Then Prosak glanced about the group. “One moment. Where is Gworos?”
“You’ve got me,” said Nooney. “He wandered off about half an hour ago.”
At that very moment, the group turned their collective heads in the direction of a loud battle cry. They saw Gworos holding a huge, black, shaggy-haired animal with multitudinous horns above his head. Gworos was stripped all the way down to a passable loincloth and held a knife in his mouth. His eyes bulged nearly out of his head as he spat the knife to the ground and called out:
“I have killed many beasts this day! Let us drink to my accomplishments and sing many great songs!”
“Oh, get over it. That’s so twenty years ago,” a passing Klingon woman muttered, prompting Gworos to sigh and throw the beast to the ground.
“A loincloth!” Nooney exclaimed. “Now THAT would have been much more comfortable…although, I really do like these chaps.”
“I take it THAT is a narg?” Prosak asked Torgerson to change the subject.
“No, but you’re close. It’s a gorag. Nargs are amphibious and about twice that size.”
“Fascinating,” muttered Prosak. She glanced at the horizon, noting the sun was on its way down behind the mountaintops to the east. “I must be off to an appointment. Enjoy your, er, rodeo.”
“Sure we can’t convince you to come with us?” asked Kasyov.
“I wish you could,” Prosak muttered, and trudged off into town.
Prosak tapped her foot nervously as she waited in front of Lumbok’s. Chynok would show any minute, and she wasn’t afraid to admit to herself that she was terrified. She also realized that she’d have to rely on her RommaVulc fighting skills, since she had tried many times unsuccessfully to use the nerve pinch.
Luckily, bat’leths were much like Vulcan lirpa. Prosak hoped that they would be wielded and used in a similar way. At least she assumed that was what she’d be fighting with.
Prosak was so wound up she nearly jumped two meters when someone tapped her on the shoulder.
She spun, hands at the ready in the ancient Vulcan stance of Bun’forr, which, roughly translated, meant “get outta my face.”
“Bun’forr!” Prosak cried, then dropped her hands and blinked when she realized she was facing Gworos. “You should not sneak up on a person like that, Lieutenant,” Prosak said. “What are you doing here?”
“I overheard two townspeople talking. I understand that you have challenged Chynok to honorable combat. I must warn you, I have found that she is most probably the most daunting warrior in this town. Not that that is much of an accomplishment, judging by this town’s other inhabitants.” Gworos went on to mutter something about “weak-willed, dishonorable pitakh…” but she cut him off.
“I appreciate your concern, Lieutenant, but this is a fight I intend to carry out on my own.”
“You will be killed,” Gworos said matter-of-factly.
“In that case, I hope we get a refund on our vacation.”
“You will not.”
Prosak folded her arms. “Did you come here to dissuade me from fighting?”
“No. Merely to make a suggestion. Klingon women are extremely ticklish behind their elbows. Use that to your advantage, and you will win this day.”
“Is that honorable?”
“Are you honorable?”
Prosak shrugged. “I guess.”
“PLEASE!” Gworos exclaimed. “I’m going to get a drink. I’ll be out later to check on your progress.” Gworos quickly ducked into the tavern, passing Krard, who was on his way out.
“I learned that you challenged Chynok to honorable combat,” the KlingaVulc said. “Such a course of action is not logical.”
“I do not see another way to change Chynok’s view of off- worlders,” Prosak replied.
“Does the concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations not also include those who do not wish to have diversity thrust upon them?”
“Hmmm an intriguing question. Does a philosophy that teaches tolerance also tolerate the intolerant? I’m afraid I do not have an answer for that.”
“A real Vulcan would,” Krard said.
“Thank you. That is most enlightening,” Krard said with a slight bow. “I sincerely hope that after your combat with Chynok that there is enough of you left to live long and prosper. And in the words of my people, qua’pla!” The KlingaVulc moved off down the street.
And that’s when Prosak turned to see that several townspeople, including Droo and Lumbok himself, had gathered outside the main street to witness the combat. Ostensibly, not a lot of battle happened on Qo’nos anymore. When it did happen, Prosak assumed that was quite the big event.
Speaking of big, Chynok suddenly ducked out from the building marked with a three-pronged star that Torgerson had pointed out as the Sheriff’s Office.
Prosak cocked her head at the Klingon woman as she approached.
“You’re the chief law enforcer here?” Prosak asked, confused.
“Indeed. You have a problem with that?” Chynok bellowed.
“I just find it odd that someone charged with enforcing the law would act in such a weak-willed and ungallant manner.”
“You know so little about Klingons, Romulan!”
Prosak felt the blood drain from her face. She heard boos and mutters in the crowd.
“That’s right,” Chynok said, glancing around at the others in the crowd as Prosak observed Krard slipping out of the same building Chynok had just emerged from. Where was the logic in revealing her true identity to Chynok? The large Klingon bellowed on. “This woman among us who protests to be Vulcan is actually a Romulan. A member of the species who brought us to our knees, who made us a second rate society.”
“Rip her ears off!” someone cried from within the crowd.
“I will do more than that,” Chynok said, reaching both hands behind her broad back. She withdrew two blades that were shaped in an X-pattern, featuring four large sharp ends and jagged sharp ridges all around. She tossed one at Prosak. “Here is your lop’leth. Use it with caution!”
Prosak held the new and frightening weapon up, pondering that, if she should slip, she might very well disembowel herself with her own weapon.
“I implore you once more to seek a logical solution,” Prosak said, as she and Chynok moved to the center of the street.
“You must be joking, Romulan,” Chynok spat. “Stop with the ‘logic’ charade. We know what you are. A lying, scheming…”
Chynok blinked. “What is that?”
“A Romulan who seeks to emulate Vulcan ways.”
Once again, Chynok chortled. It made Prosak’s stomach hurt. “She’s not only a Romulan, she is a crazy one!”
“Slit her down the middle, Chynok!” came a voice in the crowd. Prosak was chagrined to see it was Droo. Just when you were getting to like a person….
Prosak sighed as she brought her lop’leth up to bear on Chynok. “I am ready to fight.”
“No you’re not, but it’s just as well!” Chynok said, slapping her weapon against Prosak’s, sending her stumbling backwards. “Fight like a man, Romulan woman! The battle is on!”
Prosak ducked as Chynok bum-rushed her, allowing the lumbering Klingon woman to stumble past her. In a swift motion, Prosak slung her lop’leth at Chynok’s head, narrowly missing her beehive.
“You dare try to dishonor my hair!” Chynok cried, spinning around and barreling after Prosak, whipping her weapon around like a deadly-dangerous rotor.
Prosak ducked again, bringing her lop’leth up to slam into Chynok’s back. Chynok spun and slammed the side of her lop’leth into the side of Prosak’s head, sending her slamming into the ground. In short, there was a whole lot of slamming going on.
Prosak lay there, glancing to the side to see Gworos perched beside her, munching on a piece of bloodpie. “The elbow, Prosak! The ELBOW!”
Prosak sighed and hopped to her feet, swinging her lop’leth back and forth. She dashed at Chynok, who planted her feet, standing ready.
About a half-inch before she reached Chynok, Prosak threw her blade down and jabbed her fingers into the crooks of Chynok’s elbows, tickling with all her might.
Chynok laughed giddily, letting her blade drop to the ground. The giant Klingon woman tumbled to the ground, giggling in ecstasy, slamming right down on top of Prosak. It was then that Prosak totally lost consciousness.
“Whooo! Whooo! Stay down, baby! Whoa baby! Stay with me!” Nooney cheered, gripping with all his might, squeezing with his legs as the giant, lumbering nard lumbered about in the dingy Klingon swamp as Klingons and tourists alike cheered on all sides.
Kasyov stood, fuming, next to Torgerson as Nooney held fast. “He’s beaten my time by thirty seconds already and shows no sign of letting go,” she muttered.
“He is far more athletic than he has any right to be,” Torgerson commented.
“Makes one wonder what else we don’t know about him,” Kasyov said thoughtfully, as the struggling nard gave one last buck, sending Nooney flying end over end into the swamp just in front of she and Torgerson.
“MY that was fun!”
“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to go back to the hotel,” Torgerson muttered.
Nooney climbed to his feet, rubbing mud out of his eyes. “What fun! And to think this is just the beginning!”
“THIS IS THE END!” came a bellowing voice over the rodeo loudspeaker. The crowd went silent. “ALL TOURISTS REPORT BACK TO YOUR SHIPS. THE NUQ’NEH CORRAL IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. I REPEAT, THE CORRAL IS CLOSED!”
Nooney pouted. “Well, that’s not fair! I want my hoedown!”
Commander Prosak woke up in the most unlikely of places.
In a toupe-colored, muted, completely characterless sickbay, with a Vulcan doctor looking over her.
The room was beautiful; the doctor was a gorgeous Vulcan male with an absolutely adorable expressionless face.
“You suffered a mild concussion and several bruised ribs. You will survive,” he said, and walked away.
The next face that looked down over Prosak was vaguely familiar.
“Do you remember me?” he asked, and Prosak nodded.
“You are Sh’rak. The PR coordinator from Vulcan, who hosted Lieutenant Marsden and the KlingaVulcs several months ago.”
“You are correct about my name, but I am no longer PR coordinator.”
“What are you, then? And why are you here? And where is Chynok?”
“One question at a time,” Sh’rak said calmly. “The Klingon female you were battling has left the star system in something of a hurry. As for what my current position is with the Vulcan leadership, and why we are here now…that is a…somewhat interesting story,” Sh’rak said.
“Perhaps I may explain it,” another voice said. Krard stepped forward into Prosak’s field of view.
“Of course,” Sh’rak said with a nod.
“I found our discussions most enlightening,” Krard said.
“I was unaware that we had discussions,” Prosak replied. “We probably exchanged a total of forty sentences.”
“True, but it was enough to open my eyes. I went to the Nuq’neh Corral in hopes of showing the most downtrodden of my people the path to salvation through logic. At first, your arrival seemed like a sign from Surak himself. Here was another follower of Vulcan ways to help me in my quest. But then you made me realize one crucial truth: the only way to really understand the Vulcan way is to follow a Vulcan, so I called them and begged them to help our planet.”
Sh’rak almost sighed. “While we find begging most illogical, we could not deny the logic of his plea. The Klingons lack directions. They need guidance. They have asked for our leadership, so we have done the only logical thing, which is to come to their aid.”
“Your leadership?” Prosak asked. “As in leading the whole planet?”
“Yes,” Sh’rak said. “What remains of the High Council found Krard’s proposal most logical.”
Prosak was quickly losing all semblance of emotional control. “So first you secede from the Federation…”
“With all due respect,” Sh’rak cut in. “It was your Lieutenant Marsden who pointed out that the Federation was of no use to Vulcan. The Federation’s form of government is inefficient. It is managed, or should I say mis-managed, largely by humans, and has been for centuries.”
“That is certainly a matter of opinion.”
“It is not,” Sh’rak said simply.
“I must agree with High Chancellor Sh’rak,” Krard said.
“Who asked you?” Prosak snapped.
“Such a display is unnecessary, Commander Prosak,” Sh’rak said. “Unification is at hand. You are witnessing an historic moment. I expect you will remember this as one of your more interesting vacations.”
“You might say that,” Prosak said, and slid off the biobed.
“What a ripoff,” Nooney muttered, sitting next to Prosak in the forward seats aboard the Raceabout Titicaca as it, well, raced back to the Federation. Kasyov and Torgerson stared out the side windows while Gworos sulked in the back compartment.
“We got a refund,” Torgerson pointed out.
“And the Klingons got re-assimilated,” Kasyov said. “By one pointy-eared race as opposed to another.” She quickly glanced at Prosak, who glared back at her. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Prosak lied. “I do share a measure of concern about the future of the Klingons under Vulcan control. Nothing in my studies has led me to believe that ruling another race is logical or desirable for the Vulcan people.”
“Well, it is now,” said Torgerson. “Whatever becomes of this new behavior on the part of the Vulcans, it is sure to be…fascinating.”
“Indeed,” said Prosak. “Indeed.”
“Guess who?” Kasyov poked her head into Cabral’s darkened lab.
“Natalia!” Cabral’s voice echoed within the dim lab. “When did you arrive?”
“Just now. I know it’s nightwatch, but I also know you don’t sleep.”
“How was your vacation?” Cabral asked as Kasyov touched a panel raising the lights halfway after she sat on her customary stool beside the black sphere encasing Cabral’s brain.
“It was fantastic! I won a targ-tying contest, and came close to winning a rodeo, if it wasn’t for Doctor Nooney.”
“Nooney, really! I can’t wait to see the holopics!”
Kasyov covered her mouth. “Oh, no.”
“I, um, forgot to take any holopics. We were only there for a day and a half, but it was still enough time to snap a few. I just…just plain forgot.”
“Could it be you were just having too much fun?”
Kasyov nodded. “Yeah, I guess it was.”
“Then that is better than any holopic you could have shown me.”
Prosak stood in her quarters, staring out the oblong oval viewport that looked out upon the spider arms of the spacedock that surrounded the Anomaly as final repairs were being completed. The extended action the new vessel saw in the Andromeda galaxy necessitated a lot of small repairs that were driving Marsden crazy.
Prosak hadn’t even unpacked yet. Her dufflebag was still on the bed, which was still unmade from her swift departure just three days earlier.
She didn’t turn to face the door as the signal bleeped someone’s arrival. She did, however, say, “come.”
“Deja vu, Commander,” Captain Bain said in his rich English accent.
“Pardon?” Prosak asked, turning to face him.
“Well, it wasn’t four months ago that you were in this very room, when it was my ready room, telling me some disturbing information about the Vulcans. And now…”
“And now they seem to be building an empire. Joining with…of all races…the Klingons.”
“Starfleet has a few questions for Lieutenant Marsden, since she was the one who talked the Vulcans into seceding the first place.”
“That will be an interesting conversation,” Prosak said thoughtfully.
“Lieutenant Gworos tells me you got into a bit of a scuffle on the planet.”
“He was supposed to keep that to himself.”
“I’m your captain. I should know these things. Especially if it means there are a few Klingons who won’t take as kindly to Vulcan unification as the KlingaVulcs will.”
“There are,” Prosak said, thinking of Chynok. “I assure you.”
“At any rate, there’s nothing Starfleet can do about it. Not a whole heck of a lot we can do about it, either, except monitor the situation. Meanwhile, we have a new mission beginning next week, and I intend to complete my vacation with Rosalyn and Tovar.”
“Very well. I think I will remain aboard the Anomaly and assist with the repair work.” “You’re sure I can’t interest you in a couple days in London? Some cultural immersion, eh?”
“No,” Prosak said, turning back to face the window. “I think I’ve had more than enough cultural immersion for now.”