Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…
“The Bain of Our Existence”
By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler
Across the bar, a cry for yet another round burst forth from the table of Orions carousing after another victory over some poor sap or other.
“Damn do-gooders,” Thot Phul muttered as he swirled the dregs around the bottom of glass. He wondered what the Orions had been on about this time. Save the space buffalo. Protect the Acid Swamps of Andor. Horta are people too, or some such nonsense.
Why couldn’t the Orions just go back to being pirates? At least then they had some respectability.
Not that Thot Phul had much himself at the moment. After the Regularity debacle of several months ago and then another defeat at the hands of Reginald Bain just recently, Phul couldn’t bring himself to return to Breen space, instead choosing to hide out in the hinterlands at this oh-so-wonderful establishment.
Phul looked around the room again. Orions, Cardassians, Klingons, Epsians, Kollin. Talk about dregs.
An environment like this called for another drink…fast.
“Bartender,” Phul said, his voice sounding raspy and distant through the universal translator. “Another! And don’t forget the straw this time!”
The diminutive Moglodin behind the bar grunted something in acknowledgment, then, muttering under her breath, moved off to make Phul another Mind Sifter. Just once, Phul wanted to meet a cheerful Moglodin. The whole planet seemed to be perpetually pissed off.
Thot Phul idly pushed another pretzel stick through the slit in his mask and started to munch. It’s a little known fact outside of the bartending community that, in a wonderful example of galactic convergence, the pretzel developed almost simultaneously on 737 separate planets in the Milky Way alone. This has led some particularly intoxicated philosophers to postulate that pretzels are either
A) The physical manifestation of a divine presence in the cosmos
B) Sentient beings in their own right that truly rule the universe.
In response, more sober philosophers have retorted that pretzels are just really good with beer, which simultaneously developed on a whopping 1,426 separate planets. The galaxy is still waiting for many of these worlds to cross the snack food barrier and develop pretzel technology.
A completely unrelated little known fact is that Breen actually have slits in the front of their helmets that they can open as needed for the intake of food or beverages. Needless to say, pretzel sticks and straws developed fairly early on in Breen history. No one seems to know when the helmets developed, but ancient cave paintings have shown modern Breen scholars that the helmets looked surprisingly snappy when worn with animal skins.
“You Phul?” the bartender asked as she slammed a drink down on the counter in front of the Breen.
“Not quite. Let me get a few more pretzels,” Thot Phul said distractedly.
“Thot Phul, not full, you moron! Is there an actual head inside of that helmet because it sure seems empty from here?” the Moglodin snapped.
“I am Thot Phul,” Phul replied with a sigh. “Has someone recognized me and come to make me even more miserable?”
“Frankly, I don’t give a damn who you are, but this came for you,” the bartender said, slapping a small silver disk, approximately eight centimeters in diameter, down beside his drink.
“A coaster?” Phul asked.
“Got me. I just work here,” the Moglodin said, throwing up her hands and quickly moving off to help another customer.
Forgetting his freshly-made Mind Sifter for the moment, Thot Phul picked up the disk, turning it over in his hands to examine it.
Then he began to dematerialize.
“Hey! My DRINK!” he screamed reaching futilely for his glass as he vanished into a torrent of particles.
The Breen captain reformed a split-second later in a room…at least he assumed it was a room. Nearby, a table sat under a bright white light that seemed to be emitted from nowhere. All around the table the light quickly gave way to pitch blackness.
Without much scenery to look at, Phul turned his attention to the beings seated at the table. Five humanoids. A middle-aged Romulan woman with sharp features and piercing eyes. Two typically dense-looking Pakled males (They were either identical twins or Phul just couldn’t differentiate between Pakleds. He wasn’t sure which) who’d obviously been around a while. A twitchy Ferengi female who just couldn’t seem to sit still as her deeply-disturbing eyes darted around the room. And an older trim Dyonian male seated stiffly in his perfectly starched and heavily-medaled cherry red uniform of the Dyonian Legion.
Phul’s first instinct was to suspect that his life was in danger; however, considering the fact that none of the beings seated at the table were holding anything resembling weapons, that did not seem likely. Not that Phul was sober enough to really care anyway. As far as he was concerned, they could kill him and end his misery at the hands of…
“Reginald Bain,” the Romulan woman said, prompting Phul to reflexively cringe.
“You have seen my pain,” Phul said. “The pain in my brain by the name of BAIN!!!”
Everyone at the table nodded sympathetically. “You are among friends, Thot Phul,” the Dyonian said. “Join us.” He gestured to the empty seat at the table.
“Where is this place?” Thot Phul asked, attempting to peer into the surrounding blackness.
“It does not matter,” the Dyonian replied. “Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk, at your service,” he added with a curt nod.
“How did I get here?”
“We have things that make you beam,” the Pakled twins said in unison.
“Gridloo and Pridloo are in the independent transport business,” Delk explained.
Phul nodded in understanding. “Ah…smugglers.”
“We sell things,” the twins said.
“Doctor Lenik,” the Romulan woman said, interrupting the Pakleds before they could continue their pathetic excuse for a sale pitch. “And that…,” she gestured somewhat disdainfully toward the wild-eyed Ferengi rocking back and forth in her chair. “… is Damm.”
“And you already know me obviously,” Phul said, taking a seat somewhat hesitantly. But the alcohol seemed to be running his mouth for him. “So how about one of you tell me what in the name of stylish evening helmets I’m doing here?”
“We share a common bond,” Delk said. “We have each had our hopes and dreams dashed by that infuriating Terran!”
“Bain!” Dr. Lenik spat, slamming her fist down on the table.
“We don’t like Bain. He does things to make us sad,” the Pakleds added.
Damm, meanwhile, was muttering under her breath. “Reggie Reggie vo veggie, give that Bain a big wedgie.”
“Precisely,” Delk continued. “Therefore, we have come together to form FOBBER…
“FOBBER?” Phul asked incredulously.
“Foes Of Bain Bearing Eternal Rage. It’s a forum where we may share our Bain-related catastrophes in a safe, supportive atmosphere.”
“And we plan things to make Bain hurt,” the Pakleds said.
“That too,” Delk said.
“The Breen news service covered your recent defeats at the hands of Captain Bain quite thoroughly,” Dr. Lenik said.
“Bunch of helmet-scavenging bloodsuckers,” Phul muttered.
“And, of course, the Betazed tabloids had their usual incisive reporting.”
“Damn telepaths,” Phul muttered.
“You are not alone,” Delk said, placing a reassuring hand on Phul’s shoulder. “And you must persevere! Only then can you defeat the specter of Bain haunting your very existence. We should know.”
“So what’d he do to you all?”
Delk sighed. “Our tales are all different, yet they have the same, inevitable ending.”
“Then talk to the helmet.”
“Very well. Who wants to start this week?”
The Pakleds raised their hands eagerly. “We want to tell about Bain.”
“Go ahead, gentlemen.”
The Pakleds took a deep, simultaneous breath, then launched into their tale. “A long time ago, we were going to sell stuff…”
Pakleds really don’t have a concept of luck. Good things happen, or bad things happen. Beyond that, they’re too busy pursuing basic desires to consider whether or not the universe is helping them or out to get them on a particular day.
On this particular day, Gridloo and Pridloo were pursuing their usual desire of profit (Although, if questioned, they really couldn’t explain why they wanted financial gain. All you’d hear is, “We want things to make us rich.” Basically, they’d heard about the concept of wealth in their childhood and decided that it sounded good), but things were bad, definitely very very bad. Bad enough that most species would be cursing their luck and feeling positive that the universe was out to get them. Gridloo and Pridloo, however, were responding far more rationally.
“This is bad,” they said, peering down at the damage readout on the well-worn console of their freighter, a cobbled-together craft they had eloquently dubbed, Ship.
Currently, Ship was venting plasma due to a collision with an asteroid a short time earlier. Of course, they would not have had to veer Ship into the path of the asteroid if it hadn’t been for that melee between the Klingons and the Dyonians they’d run across. Of course, they wouldn’t have had to take that route if it hadn’t been for that supernova. It was just one bad event after another.
And to prove that point, the sensors suddenly started to beep, causing Gridloo and Pridloo to quickly lope over to that console.
“This is bad,” the pair repeated as a ship dropped out of warp alongside their limping freighter. Ship’s computer, after several labored seconds, spat out an ID on the craft. Federation. Shogun class.
“Starfleet,” the Pakleds whined. “They will see our cargo and say we are bad!”
On cue, Ship’s comm system began blinking, indicating an incoming hail. Gridloo and Pridloo looked at each other nervously.
“We must talk to them,” Gridloo said. Pridloo nodded and opened the channel.
On the viewscreen, a Bajoran woman in a crisp Starfleet uniform stood in the center of a pristine bridge.
“This is Captain Wer Cillan of the Federation Starship Abu Simbel. May we offer assistance?”
Gridloo and Pridloo exchanged another quick glance before replying. “We are good. Ship is good.”
“My engineer says you’re venting plasma and building to a possible warp core breach. That doesn’t sound good to me.”
“We could blow up?” Pridloo said frightened.
“We’re not going to let that happen,” Captain Wer replied. “I have a team assembled and ready to transport aboard your vessel.”
“They will fix us,” Pridloo prodded as Gridloo gnawed on his lower lip, trying to figure out what to do.
“You can come over,” Gridloo said. “Thank you for doing things to make us go.”
“Anytime…gentlemen,” Wer replied. “Abu Simbel out.”
“Does anyone else have a weird feeling about those two?” Captain Wer asked as the comm channel closed.
“Poor blighters looked scared out of their wits,” Lieutenant Commander Reginald Bain, the Abu Simbel’s 34-year-old Tactical Officer replied from his post.
“Well, they are about to blow up, Reg,” Lieutenant Ilami, the Deltan helm officer, said.
“That’s just it,” Captain Wer said thoughtfully. “They seemed scared before I told them about the core breach.”
“You believe there’s some mischief afoot, Captain?” Bain asked.
Wer nodded. “It’s not unlikely. I want you on that away team, Commander. Take a look around, but be subtle about it. This is not a raid.”
“They’ll hardly know I’m there,” Bain said, heading toward the turbolift.
Bain materialized in the Pakled freighter’s engine room a few minutes later along with three engineers from the Abu Simbel, including Chief Engineer Harry Davis.
“What a sh**hole,” Davis muttered into Bain’s ear so the other officers couldn’t hear. No sense in setting a bad example.
“Nothing a few tri-cobalts couldn’t tidy,” Bain replied.
Davis chuckled. “Go play detective, Reg. We’ll stay here and do the REAL work.”
“Good man,” Bain said, clapping Davis on the shoulder, then heading off down the corridor.
If the Pakleds were guilty of anything, they were definitely playing it cool…or dumb. With the Pakleds, you were never sure. In any case, they hadn’t come running to stop Bain from wandering the halls of their ship unescorted. That went a long way toward easing any suspicions he might have had.
Checking again to make sure that he was alone, Bain slipped on his quadcorder headset and flipped the eyepiece into position. His scans from the Abu Simbel had not indicated any unusual energy sources or weapons caches, but it never hurt to do an on-site sweep.
A minute or so later, Bain had confirmed that the Pakled craft was your basic run-down freighter with one hell of a queer odor in the air. He’d also noticed that the two Pakleds who made up the sole crew of this ship were making a beeline for his position.
“Why are you not doing things to make us go?” the two Pakleds asked as soon as they rounded the corner and approached Bain.
“I’m afraid I’m not much of an engineer,” Bain replied. “Lieutenant Commander Reginald Bain. I am simply surveying your ship for any other problems.”
“We do not have other problems,” Gridloo and Pridloo said, their eyes darting occasionally to a nearby door. “We need Ship to go.”
Bain smiled cordially. “Some of the best blokes in the quadrant are taking care of that. But for now, I need to continue my survey.”
“We can guide you.” Gridloo and Pridloo placed themselves directly in his path.
“Not necessary,” Bain said. He made a sudden feint to the right, then, just as suddenly, dodged left and darted through the door the Pakleds had been eying.
“Oh my LORD!” Bain cried, grabbing his nose reflexively as he ran into a cluttered cargo bay. “What is rotting in here?”
“Nothing,” the Pakleds said, shuffling their feet quickly. Ignoring them, Bain threw open the lid of one of the cargo containers. A fresh wave of the odor slammed into him, sending Bain staggering back.
“What is this?” Bain demanded, looking down at the barrel of reddish powder.
“Dirt. We use dirt to make things grow,” Gridloo and Pridloo said stiffly.
“Right. Well I suppose that’s that then.” Bain tried to brush off a bit of the powder that had settled on his uniform as he strolled out of the cargo bay.
Meanwhile, Gridloo and Pridloo breathed a sigh of relief that Bain had not recognized their “dirt” for what it really was. Several pounds of high grade chikigo, an extremely addictive, very powerful, and quite smelly narcotic favored by some segments of Cardassian society.
Bain headed back to the engineering section and found Lieutenant Davis. “I’m going to nip back to the ship for a second. Be back in a jiff.”
“We’ll try to carry on without your leadership,” Davis replied with a smirk as Bain tapped his commbadge.
Gridloo and Pridloo didn’t hear much out of their Starfleet guests for the next hour until Lieutenant Davis walked out onto Ship’s bridge. “We’re all done here, fellas. Have a safe trip.”
“Thank you for making us go,” Gridloo and Pridloo replied.
“Just doing our jobs.” Davis tapped his commbadge. “Energize.”
A few moments later, everything was good again. Ship was fixed. Starfleet was gone. And now the Pakleds could continue on their course for Cardassia to sell their illicit wares.
Just before Gridloo could pull Ship away from the Abu Simbel, Pridloo noticed the comm system flashing again.
“We must talk to them again,” Pridloo said as his brother nodded in agreement. Pridloo opened the channel, causing the image on their viewscreen to shift from the stars ahead of Ship to the bridge of the Abu Simbel. Captain Wer rose from her seat as Bain manned the tactical console behind her.
“Is everything in order over there?” Wer asked.
“We thank you for making us go,” Gridloo and Pridloo said, hoping this would be over soon, so they could actually go.
“Of course. Lieutenant Commander Bain did want to say one thing before you headed out.”
“Glad to see everything is ship-shape again,” Bain said. “And I’ve left you a bit of a present. That dirt you were using was absolutely unacceptable for growing a happy plant. I chucked the lot and filled your barrel with some quality soil from my personal stock.”
“What is chucked?” Gridloo and Pridloo asked nervously.
“Destroyed it. Beamed the whole kit and kaboodle out into space. Good riddance to bad rubbish and all. Take the new soil with my compliments. Abu Simbel out.”
The channel closed, leaving Gridloo and Pridloo in stunned silence as the Abu Simbel veered away then leapt into warp.
“This is bad. That Bain is very very bad,” Gridloo and Pridloo said sullenly.
“Bain made our lives bad,” Gridloo and Pridloo finished, tears welling in their eyes. “We had to sell Ship and get jobs as lung fry cooks at McBaughb’s until we could save up to by New Ship.”
“So you’re back in business,” Thot Phul said. “At least some good came of it.”
“Yes, but Bain is very bad. We want to do things to make him hurt.”
“Deep hurting! DEEP HURTING!” Damm the Ferengi cried. “Bain gave me DEEEEEP HURTING!!!”
“All right. Let’s hear it,” Phul said, leaning back in his seat to get comfortable. “Is there anything to drink around here?”
Damm sat at the front of the meeting room practically vibrating in her chair as she watched the parade of beings filing in for her “seminar.” Unconsciously, she grabbed one of her lobes and began to knead it rhythmically through her fingers.
This was the Big Deal. The one that would make her a legend in the annals of Ferengi history. Her pitch was perfect, and she definitely knew how to close this particular deal.
The entrance of a particularly loud and boisterous human drew her out of her thoughts for a moment.
“…bloody ridiculous,” he was saying as he walked in with woman. Both were in Starfleet uniforms. Damm turned her better ear in their direction to listen in just in case the duo was there on some kind of official business.
“Calm yourself, Reginald,” the woman, who’s uniform sported Admiral’s bars, said. “You are the one who wanted to find something special for Rosalyn.”
“Yes, but this isn’t what I had in mind, Krissers.”
Damm relaxed a bit…well, not really. She had no intention of relaxing until the glorious moment when her presentation had ended and each and everyone of these pathetic fools lay in slowly spreading puddles of their own BLOOD!
Oops. Did she think that out loud?
Her eyes darted nervously around the room.
Okay. Everyone looked the same as they had earlier. Obviously, she wasn’t thinking too loudly.
Damm pulled herself together just in time for the human to stride over to her. “Are you in charge of this?” he asked.
“We’ll be starting in a moment,” Damm replied as flatly as possible.
“See here, Miss…”
“I say! That’s right unprofessional.”
For a split second, Damm visualized herself leaping forward and biting off this human’s nose. She struggled to get that impulse under control as she replied. “My NAME is DAMM.”
“Right. Sorry about that, old girl. Captain Reginald Bain. USS Maladventure. I just want to be sure this is on the up and up.”
“I assure you that no one will leave here unsatisfied,” Damm replied. In fact, no one will be leaving here at all. Oops.
“I’m holding you to that.”
And I’ll be holding your spleen soon, Damm thought. But she said. “You do that. But if you’ll excuse me, I need to start the presentation.” Damm rose from her seat and slipped over to the podium while Bain made his way back to his seat next to the admiral.
For a split second, Damm reconsidered this whole scheme. Sure mass murder sounded like fun, but a lot of people got really mad when you eviscerated Starfleet Officers.
Oh well. She’d just have to press on. Otherwise, she’d shelled out perfectly good latinum to reserve this meeting room at the Rigel Inn for nothing.
“Good afternoon,” Damm said, slipping into sales mode, a skill her teachers back in Early Merchant School had praised oh-so-highly. They smiled so and patted her on the head and SHE WANTED TO SLICE THEM UP INTO TINY BITS AND FRY THEM UP INTO FESTIVE APPETIZERS!!!
Damm continued. “Thank you for joining me today here at the lovely Rigel Inn. I know your time is valuable, as is mine, but by the end of this, I’m sure you’ll agree that I’ve presented you with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Last in a lifetime, too, she thought to herself. She couldn’t help but let out a quick giggle.
“See how exciting this offer is,” she said quickly, covering for her faux pas. She paused for a second, looking out of the crowd and what was about to be the culmination of years of frustration.
Night after night in her dreams, Damm had seen herself ending the miserable lives of many, many people. The thought kept her going through her days as a junior analyst for the Dillon Consortium. But she never knew how to pull it off. How could she kill so many, yet give each and every one the personal attention they deserved.
Then it hit her.
An idea so simple, yet so brilliant.
“Each and every one of you deserve the kind rest and relaxation that only a premium resort planet like Caspia can offer, but maybe you want something a bit more personal than a stay in one of their many hotels,” Damm continued. “Maybe you want to be able to go when you want for as long as you want to a place you can call your own. And that’s why I’m here, ladies and gentlemen. Right now, the Damm-Nation Construction Group is proud to offer, for the first time anywhere, the Caspia Regency Condominiums. Actually, I guess you could call them Con-Damm- iniums.”
She chuckled at her joke and tapped a button on the podium, causing a holographic representation of a cluster of pastel blue buildings nestled in a palm tree grove alongside a beach of pure white sand to shimmer into existence.
“So, Reginald?” Admiral Kristen Larkin whispered into his ear. “Do you see why I brought you here?”
“Rosie does so love the ocean,” Bain admitted.
“Precisely. And wouldn’t she like something more tropical than the Isle of Man or Brighton?”
“It is striking.”
Back at the podium, Damm watched with sinister satisfaction as her soon-to-be-victims gazed in awe at her holographic tropical paradise, a place that existed solely in holograms. Damm-Nation Construction Group indeed. People could be so gullible.
Now Damm was about to move in for the kill…literally.
“‘But I can’t afford a condo,’ I hear you cry. That’s the beauty of our offer. Through the magic of time shares, you can enjoy the benefits of condo ownership on gorgeous Caspia without the financial burden.” Her hand moved to the specially-rigged padd she’d stashed in the podium. One touch, and the seats she’d also rigged especially for this occasion would send a powerful stun blast through each of the attendees, knocking them into unconsciousness and giving Damm the time to dispose of each and every one of them at her leisure. Or at least until 4:00 when the hotel wanted the room back.
A few rows of seats away, Bain mulled over his potential purchase. “Do you think I should comm her first?” Bain whispered back to Larkin as he reached for his insignia badge, then, realizing his mistake, moved to his commpip. He still hadn’t quite gotten the hang of the new technology. Slapping a badge seemed so much easier than pinching one little pip.
“That would spoil the surprise,” Larkin observed.
“You have a point,” Bain said, moving his hand away. His finger brushed the pip, knocking it off of his collar and sending it plummeting to the carpet.
“Blast,” Bain grumbled. He subtly slid out of his chair and down to the rug just as Damm closed the deal, as it were.
“And you can have it all for the small price of YOUR DEATHS!” Her finger slammed down on the control.
All around Bain, the sales seminar attendees shot up ramrod straight in their chair as a stream of energy coursed through their bodies. A split second later, it was over.
“Got it!” Bain cried triumphantly, climbing back into his chair. He suddenly noticed that he had a much better view of the podium, mainly because the huge Naausicaan couple that had been sitting in front of him was now slumped over…as was everyone else except Damm at the podium and Larkin beside him.
“Did we accidentally end up in a meeting of Narcoleptics Anonymous?” Bain asked confused.
Larkin’s head, meanwhile, jerked spastically. “I…think…I am…injured.”
“AHHHH!” Damm screamed suddenly, charging over to Bain and Larkin as her eyes blazed madly. “Why aren’t you out?”
Bain tried to smooth over the situation; although, for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out what the situation was. “There seems to have been a slight misunderstanding, Ms. Damm. Admiral Larkin and I are just here about the condos.”
“DIEEEEEEEE!!!!” Damm leapt at Larkin, her pointy teeth attacking the admiral’s face. “OW!” she cried a split second later jumping back after her teeth hit metal.
“What the devil to you think you’re doing?” Bain demanded. “Biting an android is no way to behave. You’re just going to hurt yourself and…”
“ARRRRGGGHHH!” Damm leapt again, this time wrenching Larkin’s head right off of her body.
“Good lord!” Bain exclaimed as the psychotic Ferengi turned on him, her mouth literally foaming and one hand clenching Larkin’s head by the hair. He quickly tried to regain his composure.
“That’s a nice lady. Why don’t you put my friend’s head down?”
Damm let out another feral growl and flung Larkin’s head at Bain, catching him right in the gut and knocking the wind right out of him.
“There…old girl,” Bain gasped, gingerly setting Larkin’s head in the lap of an unconscious Bolian.
“Die die die die die die DIE!” Damm growled, stalking forward toward Bain.
“Easy now, my dear. Don’t force me to do something we’re both going to regret.”
In a flash, Damm dove at him, hitting the captain with a quick burst of lefts and rights, then jumping back out again beyond his reach as he staggered back.
“That…was…most uncalled for,” Bain said, shaking his head dazed. “I loathe the prospect of hitting a woman, but if you…”
Damm’s foot suddenly connected with his jaw, completely interrupting Bain’s train of thought and dropping him to the floor.
“Be wary, my dear,” Bain said slowly as he picked himself up. “I am not a man to be trifled with.”
A chair smashed into the back of his head.
“Unnnh. Now that was not cricket.”
PUNCH. PUNCH. CLAW.
“My patience is wearing thin.”
KICK. KICK. KICK. BASH.
“Really! I can only stand so much!”
“THEN JUST DIE!” Damm cried, diving in at Bain. In a blur of movement, Bain’s hand lashed out, catching the incoming Ferengi by the collar. Damm’s eyes widened in irate surprise.
“I feel just dreadful about this…goes completely against my sense of chivalry…but you’ve left me no choice,” she heard Bain say, just before his brawny fist filled her vision.
“He sent me away!” Damm cried angrily, standing on top of the table, spittle bouncing off of Thot Phul’s helmet. “To an institution. I barely escaped with my insanity!”
“Sorry to hear that,” Phul said nervously as the mad Ferengi loomed over him.
“And now you want to kill Bain,” Dr. Lenik said tiredly. “Because you didn’t get to kill all those other people. Blah blah blah.”
“That’s all you wanted to do, too,” Damm shot back, turning her glare on the Romulan.
“I was performing a service for the Empire!”
“Cue the next story,” Phul muttered, leaning back in his chair to get comfortable as Rear Admiral Delk pulled Damm off of the table and back to her seat (suffering a couple of bites in the process) to allow the indignant Romulan to tell her tale.
“I belong to a proud family,” Lenik began. “My grandfather was Senator Icepak. As a child, I sat on the knee of the Praetor himself. I have heard the stories of the Empire’s true days of glory, when all other powers feared us. Times have changed. And we have accepted our alliance with the Federation. But that alliance has brought us even closer to an insidious force that threatens to destroy our very culture…”
Vulcans. The very word made Dr. Lenik’s blood boil as she moved about her lab. Without lifting a damn finger, they’d managed to rip out the heart and soul of Romulan society. It’d started over a century ago with the so-called “Unification Movement.” But now the youth of Romulus had decided that, rather than unify, they actually wanted to become Vulcans!
Years ago, when her grandfather was still alive and the previous Praetor was in charge, this sort of behavior would have been abolished, persecuted, and otherwise crushed. But in this “kinder, gentler” Empire, such dangerous notions were tolerated. These “RommaVulcs” paraded about the streets of Romulus, wearing their prissy Vulcan robes and babbling their little catch phrases.
Live long and prosper.
Peace and long life.
That is most illogical.
It was enough to drive true Romulan patriots like herself to the very edge.
And that was exactly where Lenik had come.
Here, on the edge of Romulan space, far away from the RommaVulcs and those who would stand in the way of her efforts, Lenik had established a small laboratory, deep in the jungles of Ogakuchakor Three.
This secluded world was the perfect place to plot the destruction of the Vulcans. Actually, she done more than plot. Before she’d left Romulus, she’d been the Empire’s foremost geneticist. Now she was putting her skills to work on a project far more practical than simple research.
Simply put, her goal was nothing less than the complete and total eradication of the Vulcan species.
The trick was to do it in such a way as to make it seem like a natural process.
The other problem was creating a bioweapon that would affect Vulcans, but not Romulans. Other than the forehead ridge that most Romulans had developed through genetic manipulation approximately two-hundred years ago in an effort to differentiate themselves from Vulcans, the species were still almost genetically identical.
Narrowing down a weapon that would kill one and leave the other unharmed had taken years and years of research.
Through the decades that had passed, the alliance between the Federation and the Romulans had grown even stronger while more and more of Romulus’ sons and daughters had chosen to become RommaVulcs.
But finally, Lenik had found the path. It had started with an accident. But that accident had led to enlightenment.
Now Lenik paced impatiently in front of the compound synthesizer, waiting for the aging device to produce a small vial of liquid. This small sample, no more than a milliliter, was the first soft ringing of the Vulcans’ death knell.
At last, the synthesizer beeped the end of its cycle. Lenik threw open the hatch where her prize waited. A moment later, clutching the vial of pale pink liquid, she began to laugh. Quietly at first, then louder and louder as the realization that she had triumphed after years of labor.
She would destroy the Vulcans.
She would return the youth of Romulus to the correct path.
She would save the Empire!
Unfortunately, due to her elated laughter, she didn’t hear the gradually growing noise outside until it was far far too late.
At last, a whining squeal broke through her gales of giddiness.
Lenik managed to get out a “What the…?” before the world exploded around her.
CRASH! SMASH! BASH!
And with that, her lab was trashed, but Lenik herself was too unconscious at the time to notice.
She came to several minutes later, laying flat on her back, and found herself looking up into the eyes of a smiling and slightly battered human male.
“Captain Reginald Bain, at your service. Dreadfully sorry to drop in uninvited like this. Horrible breach of etiquette, but I’m afraid it couldn’t be helped,” he said brightly.
“Unnh,” Lenik moaned, attempting to sit up.
“Easy, my dear,” Bain said, placing a hand on her shoulder to keep her in place. “You’ve had a rough go of it.”
That was when Lenik realized that she was now outside and laying on the jungle floor.
“What…what happened?” she asked weakly.
“Just one of those cosmic coincidences,” Bain replied. “Our raceabout ran into a bit of an ion storm on the way back to our ship. Knocked out the engines, life support…I won’t bore you with the messy details. The storm carried us for a while, then lobbed us at your little patch of real estate here. Crashed straight into your house, I’m afraid. What are the odds?”
“Did anything survive?” Lenik asked, dreading the answer.
“Nope. Went up like a bloody inferno. I was lucky to get you out alive. But there’s no need to thank me, my dear. Starfleet stands by its allies in times of crisis. Well, I’m starved. I’ll just run along and kill us some dinner. How’s that sound?”
“My lab,” Lenik squeaked.
“Sorry. If there was food in there, it’s rather crispy now. But keep a stiff upper lip, and I’ll get you home. Reginald Bain is here!”
Yes, Reginald Bain was there. And he stayed there…for two weeks. The other two officers in the runabout had died on impact, but Bain had been practically unharmed.
And now, while he waited for Starfleet to come rescue him, he did nothing but torment Lenik day in and day out under the guise of nursing her back to health.
The man was insidious.
Each and every move he made seemed to add to Lenik’s misery.
The evening after his arrival, Bain returned to the makeshift camp he’d constructed, carrying a dead carcass of a boar-like creature over his shoulder and generally looking pleased with himself. Actually, Lenik had to admit that the camp was fairly nice. Bain had managed to salvage enough material from the wreckage of his raceabout and her lab to build a serviceable hut.
“Dinner is served!” Bain exclaimed happily as Lenik sat hunched on a log near the fire. “Or it will be once I get this bugger skinned and properly seasoned. I took a look about and found some sort of native flora that looks damn close to a potato.” As evidence, Bain pulled one of the veggies in question out of the pocket of his uniform. “You give me an hour, and we’ll have ourselves a decent meal of sausage and mash!”
TWO HOURS LATER…
“I can tell you how sorry about this, old girl,” Bain said as Lenik lay still clutching her spasming stomach. “Who would have guessed sausage and mash was poisonous to Romulans? But on the upside, it’s a damn good thing I salvaged that medkit. I wonder what it was. The potato? Maybe the meat? Well, I suppose we’re just going to have to forge ahead because you can’t very well not eat.”
Lenik just groaned and tried to roll away from the man of her nightmares.
And then there were his stories. Oh the stories that went on and on and never seemed to end.
“…and so there we were, up to our armpits in pigmy Jem’Hadar when all of a sudden Jenkins has a rip-snorter of an idea…”
“…but the Bolians on the crew all wound up with these horrific sunburns that turned them this deep shade of purple. Looked like a bunch of bloomin’ eggplants…”
“…so when he passes out, we get the idea to put that Klingon windbag into a pink leotard and tutu, then dump him off outside of the Great Hall. Greatest Warrior in the History of the Universe, indeed. That knocked him down a peg or two. And showed the right bastard that no one drinks Reginald Bain under a table.”
“…then the horta says to the rabbi…”
As her strength returned, Dr. Lenik seriously considered killing Bain in his sleep. All she’d have to do is grab his homemade knife and jam it right into the human’s rib cage. Unfortunately, he was also the one providing the food, so killing him was probably a bad idea.
But after two weeks of all Bain, all the time, Lenik had reached her breaking point. The captain was in the middle of some idiotic babble about a battle with the Breen when Lenik felt her hand slowly wrapping around the knife.
Then, just as abruptly as he arrived, Bain vanished in the cascade of a Starfleet transporter. Lenik tossed the knife aside and looked up into the sky.
“THANK YOU!!!! I’M FINALLY FREE!!!!!!!”
But her reprieve did not last long. A split second later, Lenik found herself standing on the transporter pad of a Starfleet vessel. Bain was standing a few feet away, smiling.
“The cavalry has arrived, my dear Doctor Lenik,” Bain said happily. “We’d be happy to give you a lift back to Romulus, which will give us a few more days to enjoy each other’s company.”
That was it.
The final straw.
Bain had destroyed her home, her work, her life’s ambition, and now he had single-handedly crushed her spirit. Lenik collapsed to the deck, weeping openly.
“There there, old girl,” Bain said, wrapping his arms around her shuddering form. “I know you’re overwhelmed by our rescue, but I told you we’d get out of it or my name wasn’t Reginald Bain.”
“And his name is most definitely Reginald Bain,” Dr. Lenik said, visibly drained from recounting her ordeal. “I hear it in my dreams, and I see his face, that forever-smiling face. It’s been ten years, and he just won’t shut up!”
Thot Phul shuddered. “I think I’m now glad I never had to spend much time with the man.”
“As well you should be,” Lenik spat.
“Accidents,” Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk muttered.
Lenik glared at him. “What was that?”
“I said ‘accidents,’” Delk said more forcefully. “Each and every one of you encountered Bain by accident. He blew into your lives, wreaked his havoc, then left. But it’s different for Thot Phul and I. We understand each other.”
“We do?” Phul said confused.
Delk continued unfazed. “Bain has tormented us time and time again, as though it’s his personal mission in life to break us down and destroy us!”
“I wouldn’t go that far…”
Delk turned on Phul angrily. “Well, I WOULD!!! You have no idea what he’s done to me over the years! NO IDEA!”
“But I’m about to get one,” Phul said with a sigh.
“You’re damn right you are!”
TWENTY YEARS AGO…
Captain Lorgander Delk stood on the bridge of the Dyonian Legion Cutter Paladin, his eyes locked determinedly on the small world hovering on the viewscreen in front of him. At this very moment, Dyonian forces were preparing to charge across the “border” of the space claimed by the United Federation of Planets.
Two kinds of space existed in the universe. Dyonian space and space that would one day be Dyonian space. It was time for the Federation to make way for the rightful owners of the cosmos.
The Paladin, while not a part of the main fleet, had its role to play in the coming conquest. The capture of Asindor.
The world of Asindor actually was the reason that the so-called-border existed in the first place. Dyonian scouts first visited the planet ten years earlier and informed the government of Asindor that they could expect their rightful rulers, the Dyonians, to be showing up sometime soon. In the meantime, as per standard protocol, one of the scouts remained on Asindor as an ambassador to ease the transfer of power.
The Asindori, acting in a completely childish manner, imprisoned the ambassador as soon as the scout ship left and went running to the Federation. To the Federation’s credit, they had the ambassador released and returned to a Dyonian ship. But then the Federation declared Asindor to be a Federation protectorate, drew the border, and began regular patrols.
The final straw for the Dyonians had just occurred recently when Asindor was actually admitted to the Federation. Such impudence was intolerable, and it was high time that the Dyonian legion put the Federation in its place.
But beyond that, Captain Delk craved the opportunity to show his tactical legerdemain against a Starfleet vessel. And he was about to get his chance, for at this very moment around Asindor, a tri-nacelled Starfleet vessel orbited.
“Status of the fleet,” Delk snapped crisply.
“Standing by. Once Asindor falls, they will strike,” his subordinate at tactical replied.
Delk smiled with pride. Yes, the Paladin had its role to play. The key role, in fact. The Dyonians were firm believers in symbolic acts, and the fall of Asindor was just such an act. The defeat of this one small world would symbolize the greater victory of the Dyonian way of life over the lesser of the universe. Without this action, the Dyonian fleet’s conquest of Federation space would just seem like any old act of aggression.
Asindor was vital!
And so the Admiralty had put its subjugation in the hands of their brightest star: Captain Lorgander Delk.
“Captain, we’re being hailed by the Starfleet vessel,” his tactical officer, Chief Gunner Fossbee, reported.
“They detected our approach already?” Delk asked surprised. “Impressive. Their sensors must be better than we had been led to believe. Very well. Let’s have a look at our Federation adversaries.
The image on the Paladin’s viewscreen shifted to give Delk his first look at the bridge of a Federation starship. He was not impressed. The place was so austere. No wood trim. No golden highlights. Not even one of those little bridge gnome statues Delk was so fond of (he had four placed around his bridge, including one in the center of the small relaxation fountain near the exit to the elelifterator). But the Starfleet bridge, aside from having a nice shade of burgundy for the carpet, was blandly upholstered leather chairs and consoles. How boring.
The man in the center of the screen was quite obviously the ship’s captain. Delk would have known it instantly even if he hadn’t been standing in front of the command chair. He had a certain presence about him. Besides that, though, the human (or Terran. Delk was never sure of the species’ proper name) was a fairly imposing physical specimen. Solidly built with burly arms that looked quite capable of doing a fair amount of damage in close quarters. Fortunately for Delk’s thin frame, the Dyonian had no intention of going anywhere near the human brute. This battle would be one of the mind, tactician to tactician, a field of endeavor where this human would find himself sorely outclassed.
“Captain Reginald Bain. USS Maladventure,” the human captain stated. “I must ask that you state your intentions.”
“I am Captain Lorgander Delk,” Delk replied with a slight bow, showing his opponent proper courtesy. And now for the part he’d waited years for. “By order of the Dyonian Legion, the world of Asindor is hereby and forever claimed as our sovereign territory. Any and all claims to the contrary are hereby declared invalid. If you value your ship and your life, Captain Bain, I recommend that you leave this area immediately.”
And then Reginald Bain did something that absolutely astounded Captain Delk. In fact, the image of it would haunt Delk for years to come.
He started laughing.
“You really had me going there for a moment,” Bain said after he managed to regain something of his composure. “Claim indeed. Why are you really here?”
“I’m quite serious, Captain,” Delk said. “As soon as our business here is concluded, Dyonian forces will be moving in to lay claim to the space that is rightfully ours.”
Delk heard the officer manning the post behind Bain’s chair mention that the Paladin’s weapons were armed and shields raised. The smile quickly vanished from Bain’s face. He turned back to Delk, all business.
“This is a dangerous course of action, Captain Delk,” Bain said. “I can assure you that if you come any closer to this world, the Maladventure is going to give you a good what for!”
“I sincerely doubt that, Captain Bain, but I look forward to facing you in this starry void of battle. Delk out.” Delk signaled for his tactical officer to close the channel, then turned to his helmsman. “Ahead three-quarters. Prepare to engage the enemy.”
“Captain,” Chief Gunner Fossbee said suddenly. “He coming right at us! Very fast!”
“Why would he do something like that?”
“He’s showing battle ready.”
“Now what kind of fool just goes charging in madly. This man has no sense of classical battle tactics. This just isn’t done!”
“He’s almost here!” Fossbee said urgently.
“Very well. Lock all weapons and…”
BOOOM! BA BA BOOOM! BOOM!
The Paladin literally rolled over in space under the vicious assault of the Maladventure’s weapons, sending the crew and a good portion of the decor, tumbling about violently.
“What…what did he hit us with?” Delk gasped, trying to mat back down his skewed hair.
“Everything, I think,” Fossbee said after pulling himself back to his console. “Shields are down. Space fold drive is down. Weapons are down. Pulse drive is at twelve percent. Life support is on backup.”
The ship suddenly lurched backwards.
“What was that?” Delk demanded.
“The Federation ship has locked a tractor beam onto us. They’re towing us back toward Dyonian space.”
“All space is Dyonian space,” Delk corrected.
“Well, they’re towing us back to their border then,” Fossbee said irritated.
And that’s exactly what Bain did. He towed the Paladin to the border, then disengaged the tractor beam, effectively using the Dyonian ship’s momentum to toss the crippled vessel back into its own space.
“We will meet again, Reginald Bain,” Delk said darkly. “And the next time, you will not be so lucky.”
FOURTEEN YEARS AGO…
In the long years since his ignominious defeat at the hands of Captain Reginald Bain, Lorgander Delk had seen his stock in the Dyonian Legion plummet. Only through five more years of grit and determination had he been able to move up in rank from Captain to Junior Admiral, a rank he should have received right after the invasion of the Federation.
But there had been no invasion. With the symbolic conquest of Asindor incomplete, there really wasn’t any point in going ahead with the rest of the plan. Meanwhile, the Federation continued to expand, now bordering Dyonian space on two sides.
Of course, all space was Dyonian space, though. Some of it they just hadn’t claimed yet. While they would never admit it to the public, the Chief Royal Prime Ministers of the Dyonian Legion realized that they had a bit of a problem. The Federation was quickly moving to surround them on a third side. The Dyonians had to act quickly to prevent that from happened, and the best way to accomplish that was to conquer outlying areas of space before the Federation got to them.
With that goal in mind, the Dyonians began a space grab of unprecedented proportions, sending waves of ships out into the uncharted space beyond their non-existent borders to claim worlds.
And the vessel they sent the farthest out was the Paladin under the command of Junior Admiral Delk. Confidentially, they really didn’t care if he was destroyed by some mysterious anomaly or other. At least he was out of their hair with his constant sucking up.
So for close to a year the Paladin traveled far away from the space its crew found familiar, searching for worlds to inform that they were now controlled by the Dyonian Legion. At least Delk had a crew he was comfortable with. To be honest, after the Asindor debacle, none of his crew had been able to get postings anywhere else.
“Entering System HY-87,” Chief Helm Officer Vinsk reported. “Four planets. The second one from the star is inhabited.”
“I am detecting spacecraft orbiting that world,” Fossbee added from tactical. “Unknown configuration except for…oh no.”
“What?” Delk asked.
“It can’t be.”
“We should leave now.”
“Stop babbling and tell me what’s happening!” Delk ordered.
Fossbee gulped, then spoke hesitantly. “It’s the Federation, sir. They’re here. And it’s the Maladventure.”
A slow smile spread across Delk’s face. “Ah, Reginald Bain, my old adversary. Fate has brought us together once again. Take us in and hail Bain!”
“Junior Admiral, are you sure…”
“At once!” Delk exclaimed.
“Yes, sir,” Fossbee said unhappily as he followed Delk’s orders. “The Maladventure is responding.”
The viewscreen image shifted to show the bridge Delk had seen in his dreams for the last six years, the bridge where Reginald Bain had laughed in his face then crippled his ship. This time, Bain was lounging in his command chair, a cup of some steaming liquid in his hand.
“Captain Reginald Bain. USS Maladventure,” Bain said. “Who are you then?”
“Don’t play coy with me, Captain,” Delk replied haughtily. “It’s discourteous for men in our position.”
Bain looked to the Klingon male seated in the chair to his right, presumably his first officer. “Do we know this bloke?”
“The vessel is Dyonian,” another officer reported.
Bain seemed to be searching his memory. “Dyonian. Dyonian. It’s not ringing a bell.”
“You must be joking,” Delk said, growing angry. “I’m Lorgander Delk! You practically blew up my ship!”
“I’m afraid that doesn’t narrow it down all that much,” Bain said. “I do that sort of thing quite a bit.”
“Then perhaps this will refresh your memory, Bain! Charge the Maladventure! Fire at will!”
Bain scoffed. “Is this bloke serious?” he asked his first officer.
“He seems to be,” the Klingon replied unconcerned.
“Right then. Break orbit. Shields up. Weapons ready.” Bain stood up from his command chair, took three steps forward, and placed a hand on his helm officer’s shoulder. “You know what to do, Lieutenant.”
The Andorian female at the helm smiled a smile that made Delk want to run and hide. He stood his ground, however. “Close the channel and bring up the tactical view,” he ordered. The image shifted to a grid displaying the star system with symbols representing each ship. He watched confidently as the Paladin closed on the Maladventure.
Now Bain would pay for his transgression back at Asindor.
The Paladin charged in closer. Chief Gunner Fossbee’s hand hovered over the firing control as the ship passed by a moon on its way to Bain.
Then, without warning, the Maladventure jumped forward, veered to port, looped around the moon, and was behind the Paladin before Delk could so much as gasp.
BOOOM! BA BA BOOOM! BOOM!
The Paladin tilted forward, sending all of its officers flying away from their posts as consoles exploded and lights flickered. Suddenly, Bain’s voice could be heard over the speakers.
“Hate to dash, but we’re due elsewhere. I hope this teaches you a lesson about threatening Reginald Bain! Maladventure out.”
Delk’s eyes were almost filled with tears of impotent rage. “Helm!” Suddenly, he deflated. What could the helm do? They were battered beyond recognition. “Take us home,” he said weakly.
After pulling himself to his feet, Delk straightened his uniform, and with an air of dignity he didn’t feel, strolled off the bridge. He would meet Bain again. And next time, he would be ready.
FOUR YEARS AGO…
Without the space fold drive, which had been obliterated in the Maladventure’s assault on the Paladin, the trip back to Dyonia had taken six long years. Even though Delk had been able to contact the Admiralty much sooner, his superiors had felt it best that he return home without assistance. They claimed it was to foster resourcefulness, but Delk knew the truth.
It was his penance for losing to Bain…again.
But during that trip, Delk had come up with a plan, a grand plan that would destroy Bain, defeat Starfleet, and place the Dyonian Legion in its proper position as Master of the Universe!
At least that’s what he told the Admiralty. In reality, this plan was solely about Bain. But he told the Admiralty all about how the Federation Flagship Maladventure, under the command of Starfleet’s finest warrior, carried on board the great Amulet of Power, their symbol of leadership. In effect, whoever held the amulet, ruled the Federation. So all the Dyonians had to do is capture the Maladventure and get the amulet.
Okay. It was a huge lie, but it was exactly the sort of huge lie Delk’s superiors wanted to hear. They absolutely ate it up and ordered construction of the most powerful vessel in Dyonian history, the Paladin II, to be commanded by the man who’d discovered how to bring down the Federation, Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk.
Constructing the ship had taken another four years, but now, ten years after his second defeat at the hands of Reginald Bain, Delk was ready to return the favor, plus interest.
The first trick was to lure Bain and the Maladventure to Dyonian space, but this turned out to be no trick at all. When contacted, Starfleet was more than willing to send the requested vessel in the name of improving diplomatic relations. The Admiralty took this as a sign that the Federation was overconfident. Delk just took it as a sign that maybe the universe was finally going his way.
Rendevous coordinates and a meeting date were agreed upon (Delk insisted that the date be the ten year anniversary of the incident in System HY-87), and so the Paladin II, a truly enormous crimson red starship (the same red as the Dyonian uniforms) absolutely bristling with weapons ports and shield generators, slowly hung in empty space waiting for the Maladventure. This time there would be no moons for Bain to dodge around. This time there would be no surprise charges. This time there would only be Delk’s inevitable victory.
“We’re approaching the specified coordinates,” Ensign Tovar reported from the Maladventure’s tac/ops console.
“Time?” Bain asked, rising from his command chair.
“Five minutes ahead of schedule.”
Bain smiled. “Capital. Right then. Let’s see what the Dyonian blighters have to say for themselves.”
“Hmmm…” Tovar said. Years raising his adopted son instantly told Bain that this was not a positive sound.
“They have most definitely arrived,” Tovar said, bringing up an image of the mammoth Dyonian vessel on the viewscreen, putting a small picture of the Maladventure in to give a sense of scale.
“And it looks like we came underdressed, eh lad?” Bain said.
“This may be a trap,” Tovar said. “Your past history with the Dyonians is not exactly exemplary, and they did request you by name.”
Bain thought for a moment. “I have a past history with them?”
“Two encounters, both of which resulted in you crippling their vessels. The most recent was ten years ago…exactly ten years ago today.”
The captain grinned proudly. “I see you’ve done your homework.” As Bain expected, Tovar was shaping up to be a fine officer. “But before we start with the fireworks, let’s see what they want.”
“A wise idea, considering they are hailing us,” Tovar replied as he activated the comm channel. The image of a thin man, about Bain’s age, in a heavily-medaled uniform appeared.
“Captain Bain, my old, dear adversary. It is such a pleasure to see you again,” the Dyonian said smugly.
“Who the devil are you?” Bain said. The Dyonian’s face blanched.
On the bridge of the Paladin II, Rear Admiral Delk tried not to let his shock show. This could not be happening again. He studied Bain’s face, searching for some hint of recognition, but the human honestly didn’t seem to have a clue who he was. “Lorgander Delk!!!” the rear admiral bellowed furiously. “For the THIRD TIME, my name is LORGANDER DELK!”
“You just said it twice,” Bain said confused.
“So it’s the fourth time then!”
“How did you get four out of two?” Bain said.
“I’m not listening to this, Bain!”
“Then how are we having this conversation?”
Bain’s eyes narrowed. “Now see here, we’ve come a long way for what’s supposed to be a diplomatic meeting. If all you intend to do is stand over there and shout at me, we’ll be taking our leave. Tovar…”
“Stop!” Delk practically screamed. “You aren’t going anywhere Bain. You’ve made my life miserable for the last sixteen years, and I am here for vengeance!”
Now Bain looked thoroughly confused. “Sixteen years?”
“Shut up! Just shut up! You are going to beam yourself over here now! I don’t care about your ship. It can go wherever it wants, but you’re mine!”
Bain and the officer he called Tovar exchanged glances.
“You intend to kill me then?” Bain asked.
“YES!!!! But only after you’ve suffered for a good long time!”
“Right. Just wanted to make sure we were clear. But I suppose if that’s what it has to be, that’s what it has to be. I’m ready to beam aboard…you…”
“You forgot my name already, didn’t you?” Delk said.
“I didn’t say that.”
“No, but you didn’t say my name either,” Delk said with a sigh. “You are going to remember it before you die, Bain. I can promise you that. Lorgander Delk will be the last words you croak before your life expires. All right. We’re lowering our shields so you can beam aboard, but if your ship moves, we’re blowing it up.”
“Understood,” Bain said. “Tovar…”
For a split second, Delk was rather confused. He saw Tovar’s hands moving across his console, but Bain didn’t seem to be going anywhere.
BOOOM! BA BA BOOOM! BOOM!
The bridge only jolted slightly, but from the sparking consoles and flickering lights, Delk knew that whatever happened must have been pretty serious.
“What happened now?” he asked, the fight seeping from his body along with his will to live.
Fossbee, long suffering Fossbee, checked his console. “The Starfleet vessel beamed several explosive devices on board. The energy signature suggests tri-cobalts. They took out engineering, the space fold drive, the main and backup computer cores, and several key power junctions. We’re dead in space.”
On the flickering viewscreen, Bain smiled. “I have a feeling you’ll be remembering my name now, old boy. Maladventure out.”
“I already knew your name!” Delk snapped, shaking his fist impotently at the now blank viewscreen. He took another look around his smoldering bridge, collapsed to the deck, and began to sob.
“It will be okay, Admiral,” Fossbee said consolingly.
“No!” Delk said, peering up at his Chief Gunner with tear-filled eyes. “It will never be okay as long as there is Bain!”
“And it’s still not okay!” Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk said furiously, pacing around the table as he finished his tale. “Twenty years and that infuriating man can’t even have the common decency to remember my name!”
“Hmm…I wonder if he knows mine,” Thot Phul said.
“Who cares?!?” Delk snapped.
“Obviously you do,” Phul said, rising from his chair. “Well thanks for the entertainment, but I left a very expensive drink back in that bar that I’d really like to get back to.”
“You don’t want to join us?” the Pakled twins asked hurt.
“Join you in what?” Phul asked. “Sitting here commiserating about how much pain Bain has caused you. I can do that alone with that drink. And even that won’t last forever. Why mope here when you should be doing something about Bain?”
“I am doing something about Bain,” Dr. Lenik replied.
“You’ve been saying that for years,” Delk said impatiently.
“And Bain is still not dead dead DEAD!” Damm added.
“What are you doing about him?” Thot Phul asked, ignoring the others. If this Romulan had a plan, he wanted in on it.
“I can’t divulge the details at the moment, but suffice to say this plan has been in motion for almost ten years now. Soon, very soon, my trap will spring, and when it does, each and every one of you will have your chance for revenge.”
Thot Phul returned to his seat. Suddenly this had become a group he had every intention of sticking with until the day he could return to Breen carrying Reginald Bain’s cold, dead heart as a trophy!