Star Traks: Boldly Gone... was created by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler. It's based on Star Traks, which in turn is based on Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is owned by CBS, Paramount and Viacom. If you're offended by mildly disturbing language, situations, and the utter disregard of some of Star Trek's greatest premises, not to mention a huge jump 120 years into Star Trek's future, better hit the 'Back' button on your browser right now. If not, welcome aboard!

Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
Copyright: 2003

STAR TRAKS: BOLDLY GONE…

“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors - Part Two”

By Alan Decker and Anthony Butler



Lieutenant Shelly Marsden’s body convulsed as a shock wave of energy jolted through it. Hadn’t the knife been enough? Did it have to be electrified as well?

Her head was yanked roughly to the side. She felt two lips brush close to her ears. “Like that?” a harsh voice whispered. The blade was suddenly yanked out of her back, drawing a pained gasp from the weakened chief engineer. Marsden just wanted to collapse to the floor.

Again her head was turned, this time to face her attacker. Marsden’s eyes widened in horror.

COLE!

Seeing her expression, Cole Anfibon laughed, then plunged the knife into Marsden’s stomach. After enjoying her agonized expression for several seconds as the searing pain of the blade struck her, Cole activated the knife’s energy field and let Marsden go.

She fell back to the deck, knife still embedded in her abdomen, her pained body jolting uncontrollably from the shocks blasting through her.

“It’s been a joy,” Cole said, “but you’ve officially outlived your usefulness, Michelle.”

“It’s…Shelly,” Marsden gasped, unable to move otherwise.

“Defiant to the end. You really are a true pain in the ass and have been since the unfortunate moment I met you. It’s a wonder I didn’t snap and kill you long before now. I was tempted to let those Associates do the job for me, but you had a larger purpose to serve. And serve it you did.”

“Why?” Marsden said weakly.

“That,” Cole said with an evil smile, “is no longer your problem. Ciao.” Cole stepped over his fallen victim and strolled casually out into the Anomaly’s corridors to retrieve his true prize.


Boarding party. Boarding party! How the hell had things gotten this out of hand? Lieutenant Commander Tovar stood paralyzed at tac-ops, frantically trying to decide what to do. Oh, this had been so much easier when the Interloping Lifeforce had been present in his mind. It had Starfleet experience. One of its lives had been a captain. Now it and the Anomaly’s actual captain were missing.

At the front of the Anomaly’s bridge, Ensign Hector Arroyo paced wildly, ranting about how he should have stayed on Earth.

Bain. Tovar had to find Captain Bain. But when he’d attempted to find Bain, all he’d managed to do was beam the captain’s commpips to the bridge. If Reginald Bain was still on the Anomaly, Tovar was going to have to find him another way.

He quickly hailed the Romulan warhawk hovering a short distance away from the Anomaly. Commander Potluk quickly responded, his already severe mood apparently having worsened.

“Do you accept my demands?” Potluk said with a growl.

“I assure you, Commander, there is no transmetaquantaprotophasic radiation on board this ship,” Tovar replied, knowing full well what the Romulan’s answer would be.

“Then you will have no objection to our search.”

“Of course not,” Tovar said. “But are you prepared for a team from my ship to inspect your vessel as well?”

“What? That’s outrageous!”

“If you are not responsible for the transmetaquantaprotophasic blast, what reason could you have to deny us?”

“Fine. We will have an exchange,” Potluk assented, clearly displeased.

“Would twenty minutes be sufficient to prepare your team?” Tovar asked.

“Acceptable. We will contact you in twenty of your minutes. Potluk out,” the Romulan said curtly, then cut the channel.

“Tovar!” Arroyo exclaimed. “You did it!”

“I bought us time. That’s all,” Tovar replied. “Right now our first priority is to locate Captain Bain. Bridge to sickbay.”

“Nooney on duty!” the Anomaly’s chief medical officer replied cheerily. “Can you hold please?”

“No, Doctor. I cannot,” Tovar said firmly.

“I’m really busy trying to help poor piddle Prosak with her mean old headaches.”

“And you may continue doing so, but I require your genetic profile for Captain Bain.”

“Is there a problem, Tovar?” Commander Prosak’s voice cut in. She sounded a bit shaky, most likely from the stress of the severe headaches that had been ravaging her recently.

“The captain is missing, and we can expect to be boarded by the Romulans in less than twenty minutes.”

“I’ll be right there,” Prosak’s last statement sounded strained, as though she was in pain while saying it.

“You will not, young lady!” Nooney scolded. “I’m sending the records now, Mister Tovar. Please handle this without troubling my patient.”

“We shall do our best,” Tovar replied. “Bridge out.”

“What are you doing with the Captain’s DNA profile?” Arroyo asked confused.

“Attempting to find him. The internal sensors are sensitive enough to scan for his DNA.”

“If he’s still on the ship,” Arroyo said.

“And just where would he go?” Tovar asked, feeding the DNA profile into the internal sensors. “There. Computer, locate Captain Bain.”

“Working,” the computer said flatly, which it did for several moments, making Tovar and Arroyo more and more tense. Finally, it spoke again. “Captain Bain is in Biolab Three and Corridor 7-B5.”

“AND?” Arroyo exclaimed.

“That is confusing,” Tovar admitted. “Maybe he lost a hair there or something. I thought that I specified a human-sized concentration of DNA.”

“If it was just a hair or something, wouldn’t it have mentioned his quarters too?”

“True. Let’s try it again. Computer, where is Captain Bain?”

“Working.” Several more seconds passed. “Captain Bain is in Biolab Three and Corridor 7-B8.”

“Well, part of him is moving,” Arroyo observed.

“It’s a simple glitch with the sensors. Corridor 7-B8 is just outside Biolab Three. Perhaps there is some sensor overlap occurring.” Tovar made a few more adjustments. “Computer, where is Captain Bain?”

“Captain Bain is not on the Anomaly.”

“What about Biolab Three?”

“Captain Bain is NOT on the Anomaly,” the computer replied.

“Fine. You don’t have to get testy about it,” Tovar said.

“We lost him again!” Arroyo shouted in disbelief.

“If I said yes, would you calm down?”

“NO!”

“I thought not,” Tovar said with a sigh.


“What do you think you’re doing?” Dr. Lenik demanded as Cole Anfibon jogged off of the Pakled freighter’s transporter pad where an unconscious Captain Reginald Bain, still suffering the effects of the massive blow to the head Cole had leveled him with in the Anomaly’s science lab, lay.

“Getting the hell out of there,” Cole replied, going toe to toe with Lenik while Gridloo and Pridloo, the freighter’s Pakled owners, picked Bain up. Meanwhile Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk and Thot-Phul restrained the psychotic Ferengi Damm from pouncing the insensate Starfleet captain.

“The plan was for you to incapacitate the Romulan first officer, allow Bain to engage the Romulan Warhawk in battle, then get take him in the ensuing chaos.”

“And do you have any idea how stupid of a plan that is?”

“Don’t you talk to me like that?” Dr. Lenik said threateningly.

Cole dug in his heels. “What if the Anomaly’s shields went up and didn’t come back down? What if Bain won the battle? What if he avoided a fight all together somehow? I wasn’t about to take that risk. I saw my opportunity, so I leapt at it.”

“Fine! What about the Anomaly’s chief engineer? That Marsden woman,” Lenik said.

“Disposed of.”

“Wait a second,” Phul said, letting go of Damm and charging up to Cole. “I know you! You were a prisoner on my ship!”

“That’s correct,” Dr. Lenik said. “And you very nearly ruined Cole’s infiltration of the Anomaly by trying to kill him and his target.”

“But I thought Bain was our target. And this happened before I even joined FOBBER!”

Lenik rolled her eyes disgustedly. “Cole needed a way to get close to Bain, so we monitored Starfleet comm channels looking for an opportunity. When the Hermes prototype computer core was located on that backwater world, we took the chance that the Anomaly’s designer would be sent in. Cole had a false identity in place already, and went in to get close to Marsden. Things were going wonderfully until YOU tried to kill them! I had to let you into FOBBER to keep tabs on you; otherwise, you were liable to ruin everything in one of your bungled attempts on Bain!”

“Let me in?” Phul snapped.

“Kill Bain!” Damm shouted suddenly, breaking free of Rear Admiral Delk’s grip and charging at Gridloo and Pridloo, who promptly dropped the captain to the deck in fear. “Kill KILL!”

“QUIET!” Lenik screamed, whipping a disruptor out of her lab coat and firing it at Damm. The blast slammed into the Ferengi’s back, disintegrating her instantly. The room instantly fell silent.

“Now then,” Lenik said, turning her weapon on Thot-Phul. “I wish to remind all of you that we have Bain in our hands because of me. Cole works for ME. We all have grudges against Reginald Bain, but make no mistake. You are here at MY indulgence. Is that clear?”

“Oh yes. Definitely,” Phul said, nodding his helmet quickly and backing up toward Delk.

“Anyone else having a problem with that?” Lenik asked.

Delk, Gridloo, and Pridloo all shook their heads.

“Good. I’m glad we’re all on the same wavelength.”

“Lenik, we should get underway,” Cole said.

“I would love to, but we can’t. Since somebody didn’t follow the plan, we have to stick around to make sure that the Anomaly is destroyed. Otherwise, they’re liable to piece together what happened!”

Cole glared daggers at the Romulan geneticist, but held his tongue.

“Um…Doctor Lenik?” Gridloo said.

“WHAT?” Lenik shouted, turning on her heel toward the Pakled.

Gridloo pointed down at Bain. “He’s waking up.”

A smile quickly spread across Lenik’s face. “Much better. Get him to the lab!”

“We don’t have a lab.”

“The room I put the chair in, you nitwits!”

“You say things we don’t understand.”

“Take Bain and put him in the chair that I brought with me!”

The Pakleds smiled and nodded, finally getting it. “You make things clearer now.” They scooped up Bain and dragged him from the transporter room.

“I swear those two are the next to die,” Lenik grumbled, following the pair out of the room.

Delk and Phul exchanged a worried glance. Next?

“After you, gentlemen,” Cole said with an evil grin.

The Dyonian and the Breen warily left the transporter room as Cole brought up the rear. On this whole, this revenge thing wasn’t turning out to be nearly as satisfying as Thot-Phul had hoped. Sure he was going to get to kill Bain.

But then could he save himself?


On the surface of Dulcolax Three, Doctor Natalia Kasyov and Cabral’s hovercam stared nervously down the barrels of several Romulan disruptor rifles.

“Is there anything in particular we should be doing, Natalia?” Cabral’s voice asked over the comm unit of Kasyov’s EVA suit.

“I’m going to be raising my hands very very slowly. And you’re going to remain still.”

“I can do that…assuming my neural link to the hovercam doesn’t blink out again.”

The pair watched the Romulans for several more tense moments as the Romulans conferred among themselves over their comm units. Finally, the team’s evident leader, a lanky woman with a permanent scowl etched across her angular Romulan features, turned on Kasyov and activated a broad channel comm signal.

“Do you read me, Terran?”

“I do,” Kasyov replied in measured tones. “I am Doctor Natalia Kasyov of the USS Anomaly. I am here on a scientific investigation.”

“Into the effects of your weapons test, no doubt,” the woman replied curtly.

“Our weapons test?” Kasyov said. “The Federation had nothing to do with this. It’s a Romulan weapon.”

“Ha! The Empire would never use transmetaquantaprotophasic radiation so blatantly. By order of the Praetor, you are to be detained and interrogated.”

“Hang on, Centurion,” Kasyov said.

“That’s Subcommander Sorbet to you,” the Romulan spat. “And I have no interest in listening to more of your lies.”

“No. You seem far more intent on ignoring the truth,” Kasyov said. “Do your own scans. Unless Starfleet has taken to using nordalium, this was a Romulan-constructed weapon.”

“Impossible,” Sorbet said.

“And I say it’s equally impossible that the Federation built it. Think about this. Who would test a weapon in the Neutral Zone? The whole point of it is to keep our governments away from each other!”

Sorbet thought for a moment. “What if there were a secret organization inside the Federation operating with complete impunity to do whatever it wanted to whomever it wanted? A group so secret that even your Starfleet Intelligence didn’t know about them. Maybe they’d want to end our alliance by creating this crisis.”

“A bunch of men in black running around in the shadows messing with Federation affairs? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Fine. Then you did it. You’re coming with us.” Sorbet looked at Cabral’s hovering camera. “And we’re taking this thing, too. Centurion Pikalok, take the hovering device into custody. I want it dismantled and analyzed immediately.”

“Yes, Subcommander,” Centurion Pikalok replied crisply. He took two steps toward Cabral’s hovercam, then stopped, his gaze focusing on the crater ridge in the distance.

“What is it, Pikalok?” Sorbet demanded.

“I see movement.” The Centurion activated the magnification function within his helmet. “Yes. There is a person in a Starfleet EVA suit crouched up there.”

“Observing us, no doubt.”

“Actually, he’s looking the other way.”

“Bring him here!”

Three of the Centurions raced up the crater wall toward Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell’s position at the top of the ridge.

“Remain still, Natalia,” Cabral’s voice said over Kasyov’s comm unit. “I will inform Mister Brazzell of his incoming guests.” Kasyov nodded slightly as Cabral opened a channel to Brazzell. “Lieutenant?”

“I’m not done scrubbing here yet,” Brazzell replied testily. “And I have a whole lot of rocks to go.”

“The Romulans may want you to stop where you are.”

“What Romulans?” Brazzell demanded.

“The ones running up behind you.”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”


Lieutenant Commander Tovar stole another glance at the chronometer on his console. In less than ten minutes, Potluk would be comming expecting to send his inspectors to the Anomaly. Tovar really had no intention of letting that happen. If somehow the Romulans had grabbed Bain, the last thing he was going to do was let an entire team of them onto his ship.

Somehow he had to stall Potluk and ascertain the whereabouts of Captain Bain. Surely there was something he could say to tip the Romulan Commander’s hand.

The turbolift doors opened, allowing a weakened Prosak to step shakily out onto the bridge.

“Commander,” Arroyo said, rushing to help her. Prosak held up her hand for him to stop, wincing as she did so.

“If you are still suffering from this pain, why did Doctor Nooney release you?” Tovar asked as Prosak headed to the command chair.

“He didn’t,” Prosak replied. “I sort of…um…neck pinched him.”

“And it worked?” Tovar asked genuinely surprised.

“Well…no. Not really. To be honest, I think it tickled. He fell to the floor giggling, so I took the opportunity to escape. AUUUGHH!” Prosak curled up as another wave of pain assaulted her.

“Maybe you should get back to sickbay,” Arroyo said.

“The captain is missing,” she replied in a growl. She looked up at Arroyo, eyes blazing. “I AM IN COMMAND!”

“Oookay,” Arroyo said, stepping quickly back to tac-ops. He leaned over the console to Tovar and whispered, “Is this such a good idea?”

“I don’t think we’re any worse off than we were before.”

“Oh yeah. How do you figure that?”

“On the one hand, she’s obviously in great pain and a bit unstable at the moment. Those are bad things.”

“I’d say so.”

“However, she is a Romulan, which should work in our favor in dealing with other Romulans.”

“Unless she starts screaming at them.”

“Better her than me,” Tovar observed.

“If you two are done gossiping about me, could we see about this warhawk out there?” Prosak said, barely controlling the edge in her voice. “Tovar, contact Lieutenant Marsden and tell her to prepare for the worst.”

“The worst?” Arroyo gulped, quickly returning to the helm.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that, but we must be prepared,” Prosak said more calmly.

“Bridge to Lieutenant Marsden,” Tovar said.

All he got in reply with a bizarre series of grunts a wet gurgles.

“Are we having comm problems?” Prosak asked.

“I don’t think so,” Tovar said. “Bridge to Lieutenant Marsden.”

More of the same.

“Computer, where is Lieutenant Marsden?”

“Lieutenant Marsden is in her quarters,” the computer replied flatly.

“At least we aren’t reading two of them this time like we were with the captain,” Arroyo said.

“True,” Tovar said. “Bridge to Lieutenant Marsden.”

More grunts and gurgles. Tovar was just about to close the channel, when he made out a softly whispered word among it all.

“Help.”

Prosak’s head whipped around toward him. She’d heard it to. “Go,” she ordered quickly.

Tovar was already halfway into the turbolift. “Tovar to Doctor Nooney. We have a medical emergency in Lieutenant Marsden’s quarters.”

“Okey-dokey. I’ll be there. You haven’t seen the Romulan I lost have you?” Nooney’s voice replied.

“Um…no,” Tovar said, looking back at Prosak as the turbolift doors closed.

Tovar ran up to Marsden’s door less than two minutes later. He could see Nooney and his Andorian nurse, Ih’vik, running toward his position. “Computer, open Lieutenant Marsden’s quarters.”

“They are already unlocked,” the computer replied.

Tovar made a mental note to have the computer’s “smart-ass” algorithm erased, then charged inside Marsden’s quarters. The Anomaly’s Chief Engineer lay on the floor on her back, convulsing erratically. The handle of a knife stuck out of her stomach in the midst of a vast blood patch, much of which was pooling on the carpet around her.

“Great gosh-o-golly!” Nooney cried, freezing in the doorway upon spotting Marsden. “The HORROR!” Ih’vik shoved him roughly from behind, almost causing the doctor to fall on top of the injured Marsden. To Nooney’s credit, he recovered quickly and set to work on the wound.

“Tovar to bridge,” Tovar said, crouching down beside Marsden. The engineer’s eyes were open and locked on Tovar pleadingly. “Lieutenant Marsden has been stabbed by an unknown assailant.”

“Shelly!” Arroyo’s voice shouted in response. “Who did it?” he demanded.

“Did you miss the ‘unknown assailant’ part?” Tovar replied impatiently.

“Will she live?” Prosak asked.

Tovar looked to Nooney, who gave him a big grin and a thumbs-up. Ih’vik, meanwhile, had removed the knife and was looking it over appreciatively. “Doctor Nooney believes so.”

“Good. Find out what you can then return to the bridge. Prosak out.”

Tovar turned his attention back to Marsden. “Everything will be fine, Lieutenant,” he said attempting to be encouraging. “But I need to know who did this. Did you see your attacker?” Marsden’s head nodded almost imperceptibly.

“Cole,” she whispered softly.

“We need to get her to sickbay,” Nooney said. “It’s operating time!”

Tovar patted Marsden gently on the shoulder and stood up as Nooney called for a transport to sickbay. Marsden, the doctor, and Ih’vik dematerialized a second later, leaving Tovar to consider the situation.

Why had Cole attacked Marsden? Did that mean Cole had also taken Captain Bain? Was Cole actually even responsible? Where the hell was Cole anyway? That last question would lead to the answers to all of the others.

“Tovar to security,” he said as he headed out the door toward the nearest turbolift. “Find and arrest Cole Anfibon. I repeat. Find and arrest Cole Anfibon.”


Unfortunately, in order for security to carry out Tovar’s orders, security would have had to look on a cloaked Pakled freighter that no one on the Anomaly was even aware existed.

At that moment, Cole Anfibon was standing on the bridge of the Pakled freighter along with the members of FOBBER watching the viewscreen, which was currently displaying a video feed from the “lab” on the ship, where Captain Reginald Bain sat strapped in a metal chair. Bain was gradually regaining consciousness, his head lolling from side to side as he struggled to focus his faculties on his current situation.

“I would much rather be in there with him,” Rear Admiral Delk pouted, crossing his arms over his flashy red uniform. “This is just theatrics.”

“The correct term is psychological warfare,” Dr. Lenik replied. “Bain is too much of a warrior to be intimidated by the sight of us. We have to work on his mind first, weaken his resolve.”

“Where the devil am I?” Bain demanded on the viewscreen as he looked around the dim lab. He tugged on the metal bands holding him to the chair. “Show yourself!”

Lenik activated a commlink to the lab and began to speak. In the lab, her voice was distorted into an ominous deep robotic bellow. “Reginald Bain, welcome to the last room you will ever see.” Gridloo and Pridloo began to grin and chortle, but Lenik silenced them with a harsh glare before turning back to the comm. “In this room you will suffer. You will wail. You will scream for mercy. And then you will DIE!”

Lenik closed the channel and stood back to watch the effect of her words on her victim. Bain was silent for a moment, taking it all in. Then, in a move none of FOBBER expected, he started laughing, and this wasn’t a laugh faking bravery. Bain was in an all-out belly laugh.

“That’s rich! That’s really rich,” Bain said finally, still smiling. “But let’s dispense with the funhouse scare tactics, shall we? You want to torture me? Fine. I guarantee I’ve had worse. But scream for mercy? Reginald Bain? HA! Come and get me, you wankers!”


They were going to touch him. Those rampaging Romulans who’d been into who knew what were actually going to touch him. Well, actually, they were going to touch his EVA suit, but to Lieutenant Bre’zan Brazzell, the difference was minimal. He’d spent hours cleaning and disinfecting this suit, and it already had dust on it from Dulcolax Three.

If the Romulans were going to touch him, which seemed inevitable at this point, he was at least going to make sure they were clean.

“Stand still!” he shouted into his comm as he whipped the extra strength cleansing spray out of his ever-present supply belt. This was his heavy duty sprayer, capable of nailing a speck of grime at twenty meters.

Brazzell mashed his finger down on the sprayer, sending a stream streaking toward the closest of the three Romulans charging toward him. For their part, the Romulans froze in their tracks for a split second, then scattered.

“It’s an ambush!” they shouted, leveling their rifles at Brazzell. Brazzell screamed and dove for cover just before three disruptor blasts converged on his previous position.

“How dare you ambush us!” Subcommander Sorbet snapped, turning angrily on Doctor Kasyov.

“You knew he was there and your people were charging at him. How in the hell is that an ambush?” Kasyov retorted.

“Don’t argue semantics with me, Terran.”

“Obviously common sense is a taboo subject as well.”

Sorbet aimed her rifle at Kasyov. “I have more than enough cause to kill you right now.”

Brazzell’s voice broke in, blaring over Kasyov’s helmet speaker. “I’m being shot at! Shot at!”

“I know that, Brazzell. You can shoot back, you know. On stun.”

“See!” Sorbet shouted accusingly. “Now you’re encouraging him to attack us.”

“He’s using stun,” Kasyov replied, pointing up at the ridge where Brazzell was now using the phasers mounted in the wrists of his EVA suit to return fire.

“I’m not,” Sorbet said menacingly, aiming her rifle at Kasyov again.

“Natalia, run!” Cabral shouted suddenly, darting forward toward the very surprised Romulan officer. Not waiting around to see the outcome, Kasyov darted toward an outcropping while the Centurion remaining with Sorbet rushed to get his weapon in position.

Cabral, meanwhile, having knocked Sorbet off-balance turned toward the other Centurion, powering up the phaser mounted in his hovercam.

“Be careful, Cabral!” Kasyov said urgently as she set her own EVA suit phaser to stun.

“Everything is under control,” Cabral commed back. His hovercam arced up into the air, preparing to make an attack run on the Romulans…

…then plummeted to the ground, its power completely shut down.


“Natalia!” Cabral cried, his consciousness firmly back in his sphere on the Anomaly as his neural link with the hovercam was abruptly severed. He reached out with his mind, which was really all he had to reach out with considering he was a disembodied brain and all, trying desperately to regain contact with his hovercam on Dulcolax Three.

No success.

What was happening?

Using his link to the ship’s systems, Cabral activated the sensors, looking for the source of the problem. Had the Anomaly moved out of range? No. What about the transmetaquantaprotophasic radiation? No. That shouldn’t be doing it. Nothing outside the ship seemed to be the problem.

Cabral turned his attention to the internal sensors and immediately found the problem.

“Cabral to bridge.”

“Now is not the best time, Cabral,” Commander Prosak’s voice replied tensely.

“Has something happened?” Cabral inquired.


“Captain Bain is missing, Lieutenant Marsden has been attacked by Cole Anfibon, and we’re about to be boarded by Romulans. Is that enough for you?” Prosak snapped, responding to Cabral’s question as she sat in the Anomaly’s command chair. The Romulan winced again, fighting down the urge to scream as another wave of pain struck her.

“I’ve lost contact with my hovercam due to neural interference. Neural interference that seems to be coming from the bridge,” Cabral said. “The away team was under attack when I left. I need to get back to Natalia.”

Tovar grabbed a quadcorder out of the supply panel in his console and headed toward Prosak.

“What are you doing?” she demanded as Tovar slid the device over his head.

“Logically, the source of the neural interference would be the person having mental attacks, don’t you think?” Tovar replied.

“No fair! You can’t pull logic out on me now,” Prosak protested. “This pain has made it so I can barely think period, much less behave like a proper RommaVulc.”

Tovar looked at the scan readout in the quadcorder’s eyepiece. “Hmm…”

“What is it?” Prosak said.

Tovar turned around, watching the readouts as he went. Finally, he headed straight toward the former ready room which now served as Prosak’s quarters.

“What are you doing?” Prosak called after him as Tovar entered her quarters. “Tovar. TOVAR!”

The Yynsian tac-ops officer reentered the bridge several moments later holding a small, half-sphere in his hand, which was pulsating slowly. Suddenly, it began to pulse quickly. Prosak screamed, collapsing to the deck in agony.

“I thought as much,” Tovar said.

“AARRGGGH!” Prosak leapt at Tovar, tackling him and wrenching the device out of his hand. She tossed it aside, then grabbed his arm, extending his wrist phaser and firing it at the device. It vaporized instantly.

Coincidentally enough, Prosak felt instantly better.

“My connection is back!” Cabral’s voice shouted.

“Do what you can to help the away team,” Prosak ordered, giving Tovar a slightly embarrassed glance as she climbed off of him. “We will try to beam you up as soon as the stand-off with the warhawk is settled. I have some questions that need to be answered first.”

“Don’t worry,” Cabral said. “Everything will now be under control.” He closed the comm channel as Prosak turned on Tovar.

“What was that thing?”

“Some sort of neural interference generator,” Tovar replied, stating the obvious. “I found it under the top of your desk.”

“Put there by Cole, I bet,” Arroyo said. “He did go into your quarters. Confused my ass. He knew exactly what he was doing when he went in there.”

“Tovar, how long to we have until the boarding deadline?”

“Four minutes.”

“It’s enough. Pull up everything we have on Cole Anfibon,” Prosak said, returning to the command chair. “Where did this man come from?”

Tovar returned to tac-ops and accessed the information, pulling data from the Federation’s central citizenry database. “There’s very little, but I’m sending it to the viewscreen.”

The name “COLE ANFIBON” displayed at the top of the screen. But below it was practically nothing. No birthdate. No address. Just registry data for his ship and a listing of his occupation as “Independent Acquisitions Specialist.” Additionally, the ship had only been registered a year ago.

“That’s all of it?” Arroyo said.

“Everything available.”

“Where did this guy come from?”

“It’s appearing likely that he is a spy,” Tovar said, wondering to himself if Section 31 had placed Cole in Marsden’s life to keep tabs on Tovar. But that wouldn’t explain the attack on the chief engineer or Bain’s disappearance. Perhaps another government wished to destabilize…

His thoughts were interrupted as Prosak gasped.

“What is it?” Arroyo said alarmed.

Prosak rushed over to tac-ops, practically shoving Tovar aside as she typed furiously on his console. “The letters! Look at the letters!”

Tovar frowned. “I fail to see…” He trailed off as Prosak’s typing appeared on the viewscreen just below Cole’s name.


COLE ANFIBON


“Good lord,” Tovar said softly, looking at Prosak’s unscrambled words.


CLONE OF BAIN


Tovar shook his head in disbelief. “The double sensor readings. It was Cole.”

“Exactly,” Prosak said.

“Wha…what does that mean?” Arroyo stammered.

“It means that there’s something going on here that goes well beyond a simple dispute with the Romulans,” Tovar said. “Someone else is pulling the strings.”

“Now we just have to convince the Romulans of that,” Prosak said grimly.


There was a term from Earth history that Dr. Kasyov had heard at some point in her life. Mexican Standoff. She had no idea if this qualified, but the Anomaly away team and the Romulans certainly seemed to be at that point. Both groups had taken position behind various bits of cover and were firing wildly at the other group without hitting a damn thing.

Meanwhile, Cabral’s hovercam lay in the dirt, immobile. Kasyov activated her suit’s comm unit again, hoping that maybe she’d get through to the Anomaly this time. Static. The Romulans were still jamming her. She’d have to remember to mention something to Tovar about adding that little jamming function to Federation EVA suits. Or even better, an anti-jamming function.

She glanced up the crater toward Brazzell, who was actually managing to hold his own against the three Romulans assaulting his position. He’d tossed a heavy duty deodorizing fogger their way, completely covering the region in a thick cloud of cleanser. If he was smart, he took the opportunity to run as far away as he could, Kasyov thought. Of course, that didn’t help her any. What she needed was a rescue.

Cabral’s hovercam suddenly launched up into the air, firing madly and drawing surprised screams from Sorbet and her centurion. The hovercam quickly detected Kasyov and rushed to join her behind the outcropping she was using as cover.

“Welcome back,” she said.

“Sorry about that. Problems on the ship.”

“I hope everything’s worked out now. We could really stand to be beamed out about now.”

“Unfortunately that may not be happening for a bit. Cole Anfibon has attacked Lieutenant Marsden and run off with the captain.”

Kasyov gasped. “Is Shelly all right?”

“I did not take the time to ask, and Commander Prosak presently has other problems. The Romulans are evidently threatening to board the Anomaly in a very few minutes. We seem to be teetering on the edge of all-out conflict.”

A disruptor blast seared over Kasyov’s head. “Funny. I thought we were already there.”

“You know what I mean, Natalia.”

“Yes I do. And I also know we’d better hold our own here and hope to whatever you want to hope to that Prosak finds a way out of this mess. I just can’t believe Cole was working for the Romulans.”

“Tovar doesn’t think he was,” Cabral replied. “This goes deep, Natalia. Other agents are at work.”

“You’re just full of good news today,” Kasyov replied, firing off a few shots toward Sorbet’s position.


Watching Bain laugh on the viewscreen, Dr. Lenik was almost shaking with fury as she dug her fingernails into the palms of her clenched fists.

“Wasn’t the reaction you were expecting?” Cole asked grinning.

“Shut up, you. You’re as bad as he is,” Lenik snapped.

“I thought that was the point.”

“True,” Lenik said. “But you do realize that now you have officially outlived your usefulness to me.” She aimed her disruptor at Cole.

“Hang on. Don’t you want to have me around when you parade your victory in front of Bain?” Cole said hiding any anxiety he may have been feeling.

“Hmmm…you do have a point there.”

“Lenik,” Rear Admiral Delk said as he peered down at the Pakled freighter’s sensor console. “We’re detecting weapons’ fire on the planet’s surface. Phasers and disruptors.”

“Wonderful!” Lenik exclaimed, rushing over to the tactical console. “Now how about those ships? Damn! Not a shot fired. What are they doing?”

“It’s the Federation,” Thot-Phul grumbled. “They’re being diplomatic. That’s all they ever do.”

“When they aren’t blowing up your ships, you mean,” Delk said.

“Or yours,” Phul shot back.

“Can I disintegrate those two yet?” Cole said annoyed.

“We have other issues,” Lenik said. “Such as speeding things along for the Anomaly.”

“What are you going to do?” Phul demanded. “You’ll reveal our presence here.”

“Relax, Breen,” Lenik said. “I had already planned for this eventuality. You see, neither the Anomaly nor the warhawk can raise their shields because it would be viewed by the other vessel as a sign of aggression. That gives us the perfect opportunity.”

“For what?”

“To send them both a little present,” Lenik said, typing commands into her console.


Despite their centuries of separation, Romulans and Vulcans still shared a propensity for promptness. As soon as the twenty minutes ticked away, the Anomaly received a hail from Potluk’s warhawk.

Commander Potluk was obviously surprised to see one of his species in the command chair when Prosak responded to his hair.

“Greetings, Commander,” Prosak said with a respectful bow of her head. “I am Commander Prosak, first officer of the Anomaly.”

“Where is your captain?” Potluk demanded.

“That is an issue we need to discuss. We have both been led into a trap.”

“Trap? There’s no trap here. My ship is free to leave, which we will do as soon as we have inspected your vessel…and when that hothead first officer of mine finishes rampaging across Dulcolax Three. I swear she can’t get through a single mission without shooting at someone. No matter. Prepare to receive our inspection team. We are ready for yours.”

“You have not listened to me,” Prosak said calmly.

“Wait a moment. You’re one of those RommaVulcs, aren’t you?” Potluk said in disgust.

“My personal lifestyle is none of your affair.”

“Logic-monger.”

“That was uncalled for!”

“What? Aren’t you going to call me ‘fascinating’ or something?”

“Commander Potluk! We have a much bigger problem here!” Prosak shouted, rising from her chair.

“Oooh. Some emotion. Kinky.”

Prosak clenched her fists. “Please listen to…”

BOOOOM!

The warhawk’s bridge jerked violently as consoles exploded behind Commander Potluk. The Romulan Commander dove for cover, narrowly avoiding a support beam plummeting to the deck.

“Tovar, what happened?” Prosak snapped, spinning toward her tac-ops officer.

“Explosion in the warhawk’s engine room.”

“Cause?”

“Unknown…wait. I’m detecting a transporter signature.”

“You attacked us!” Potluk shouted with a mix of fury and disbelief.

“It wasn’t us!” Prosak protested. “Look. We haven’t even raised our…” Tovar’s words echoed in her head. Transporter.

“Tovar, beam everyone out of engineering and get shields around the primary systems. Now!”

“Energizing and activating,” Tovar reported.

BOOOOM!

The Anomaly lurched hard to port, tossing the bridge crew violently aside. Arroyo tumbled into the wall, then scrambled to his feet and back to the helm to stabilize the ship.

“Explosion in engineering,” Tovar reported after returning to tac-ops. “A device was beamed into the engine room. We acted in time, though.”

“You see, Potluk,” Prosak said, turning back to the viewscreen. “We’re both victims here.”

Potluk didn’t speak. He seemed to be considering his options.

“Commander,” Tovar said. “I strongly suggest that we raise our shields. The attacker may transport another device aboard.”

“Raise your shields, Potluk. We’re doing the same. This is not to attack you. Are you listening to me?”

“I do not think they have shields remaining,” Tovar said. “The damage to their ship was far more extensive than ours.”

“Raise our shields and extend them around the warhawk.”

“If they fire…”

“I know that, Tovar. Just do it.”

“Extending shields,” Tovar said. His hands had just touched his console when another explosion ripped through the warhawk. The comm channel abruptly closed, returning the viewscreen image to the exterior of the ship. Power flickered across the vessel, then went out all together as the Romulan ship began to drift.

“We’re next,” Prosak said.

“Raising shields.”

“Belay that,” she said. “Watch the internal sensors. As soon as the next device comes aboard, surround it in a level ten force field. Let it explode, then cut our power. Fake a build up to a core breach if you can.”

“I’m contacting Lieutenant Polnuc now,” Tovar said as he sent instructions to the Anomaly’s Assistant Chief Engineer, who he’d beamed to auxiliary control. Perhaps it was time to reevaluate his estimation of the Anomaly’s first officer. Prosak had shown herself to be surprisingly capable and level-headed in this situation. It was an admirable performance. He didn’t have long to continue his train of thought as a transporter beam was detected in engineering. Their attackers were certainly persistent.

Another explosion rocked the ship.

“Add to that jolt, Mister Arroyo,” Prosak said calmly.

“Hang on,” Arroyo said as he caused the Anomaly to buck wildly. Suddenly, bridge power flickered as Polnuc set the next part of the plan in motion from auxiliary control.


“You’re an artist,” Thot-Phul said appreciatively as he and the other members of FOBBER watched the warhawk and the Anomaly drift across the viewscreens. Both vessels were dead in space.

“The Anomaly’s building to a core breach!” Delk shouted. “Twenty seconds!”

“We must go!” Gridloo and Pridloo said urgently as they rushed to the helm console, bumping into each other in their desperation to get to the controls.

“No reason to stay,” Lenik said smugly. “It seems the party’s over.”

“The first party anyway,” Cole said.

“We go,” Gridloo said, activating the warp drive and sending the freighter streaking away from Dulcolax Three.


“Twenty seconds,” Tovar said, watching the simulated core breach countdown on his console. “Nineteen.”

“Arm neutron torpedoes. When we hit one, power up, get the shields up around us and the warhawk, then fire a tight spread set to detonate a safe distance away.

Arroyo looked back at Prosak quizzically.

“We have to explode, don’t we?” she said with a cock of her eyebrow.

“Of course, this will only work if our attacker has indeed fled the scene,” Tovar said. “If they have not…”

“If they haven’t we’ll fight them for real this time,” Prosak said.

“I would have preferred to do that originally,” Tovar said.

“Did you see them anywhere?”

“No.”

“And are you prepared to fight them and protect the warhawk?” Prosak pressed.

“You don’t have to be cocky about it. But I have to admit wondering where you suddenly gained all of this strategic ability.”

Prosak smiled slightly. “Spock’s autobiography. You can say what you want about his hologram, but that James T. Kirk was a damn good starship captain.”


Rear Admiral Delk watched the Pakled’s sensors, continuing the countdown. “Three…two…one…and we have a very lovely explosion ladies and gentlemen.”

“Their ship went boom,” Gridloo and Pridloo said.

“Ships,” Lenik corrected. “The effect of a core breach was more than enough to take out that crippled warhawk. If the people on the planet were lucky, the blast was wide enough to get them too. Otherwise, they’ll be spending a very long time alone there.”

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you,” Thot-Phul said, “but I’m feeling much better now.”

“Then let’s go visit Captain Bain, shall we?” Lenik said, heading toward the bridge door.

“Splendid idea,” Delk said. “Can I tell him his ship is destroyed?”

“Hey!” Phul said. “I want to do it!”


“Quiet!” Lenik snapped.

“Maybe we could all do it together,” Delk suggested.

“I could still shoot them,” Cole whispered to Lenik.

“Just a little bit longer, Cole,” Lenik replied, patting his arm. “Then this whole business will finally be over.”

Lenik lead the group into the makeshift lab where Captain Bain sat strapped to a chair. His eyes narrowed as he watched the group enter the room, then focused on Cole.

“It appears I misjudged you, lad,” Bain said darkly. “Taken up with the enemy, eh?”

“I was always with the enemy, Reginald,” Cole replied.

“But I can’t blame you for feeling a connection to him, Bain,” Lenik said, stepping forward. “You do share the same genetic code.”

“Wait a moment,” Bain said, peering at Lenik. “I know you. You’re that Romulan gal I ran into on Ogakuchakor Three all those years ago. Shuttle crash, if I remember. We were stranded for a good while.”

“Ran into is right,” Lenik said angrily. “You destroyed my lab. My life’s work! Since that day, I’ve had a new life’s work: destroying you! All it took was a lone hair you shed during our time together to create Cole here. So in the ultimate of revenges, you will in effect be responsible for your own demise! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Seems like an awful lot of bother,” Bain observed.

“It wasn’t bother. It’s irony! Irony! You get it!”

“You cloned me, accelerated the clone’s aging, gave him a new identity, then sent him to seduce my chief engineer just to get to me. That, my dear Romulan, is bother!”

“He’s got a point,” Cole said.

“Oh, shut up. You Bains are all the same.”

“If you’re quite finished, I’d like to taunt Captain Bain a bit,” Rear Admiral Delk said, stepping forward. “We have a long history together.”

“Who the devil are you?” Bain snapped.

Delk blanched. “Who?” he stammered in disbelief. “Who? Who am I? After all of these years! After all of the times you’ve blasted my ships to rubble, you have no idea WHO I AM! Are you really expecting me to believe that the name REAR ADMIRAL LORGANDER DELK means nothing to you!”

“Afraid not, old boy. I’ve blown up a lot of people in my day. Don’t take it personally, though.”

“I’m taking it really damn personally! Why do you think I’ve joined a group dedicated to eradicating you from the universe!”

“Buck up and take your defeats like a man!” Bain said irritated. “This shallow whining is unbecoming of a starship captain.”

“AUGGGHHHHHHH!” Delk ripped a few clumps of hair out, then stormed over to the corner of the lab to sulk.

“Right then,” Bain said, looking over at the Pakleds. “What’s your beef with me?”

“You did things to make us poor,” Gridloo and Pridloo said in unison.

Bain stared at them a second, his mind rummaging through his various memories. “Half a tic. I remember you lot. You chaps had a bit of engine trouble back when I was on the Abu Simbel. I gave you some dirt.”

“Hang on!” Delk cried. “You can remember every stupid detail of one single run-in with them forty years ago, and you can’t remember me!”

“Pipe down,” Bain said firmly. “I’ve had quite enough of you, Rear Admiral…whatever your name was.”

“Delk. DELK! D! E! L! K! DELLLLLK!!!!”

“Right.” Bain turned back to the Pakleds. “So what’s the problem, gents?”

“That dirt you emptied from us was not dirt,” Gridloo said.

“You took our chikigo. It was going to make us rich.”

“Now hang on a bit. You want to kill me because you lied to me about what you had. You told me that was potting soil. I was trying to help you out by giving you some better material. I can’t help it if you were trying to hide an illegal narcotic.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Gridloo and Pridloo said, looking at each other confused. “Did WE do things to make us poor?”

“I’d have to say yes,” Bain said.

“We’re not smart,” Gridloo said. He and Pridloo headed toward the door.

“Where are you going?” Dr. Lenik demanded.

“We did things to make us poor. Captain Bain tried to help us. We’re not smart, so we don’t need to kill him. Bye bye.”

“Party poopers!” Lenik shouted after them as the Pakleds headed back toward the bridge.

“Right. Who’s next?” Bain said. He looked over at the Breen standing across the room.

“Thot-Phul. What a surprise?”

“AHHHHHH!” Delk screamed. “He’s a Breen! A damn Breen! How can you tell them apart with those damn helmets?”

“It’s Thot-Phul. I know the man when I see him,” Bain retorted.

“That’s it! I’m killing him now!”

“Oh, piss off, Welk.”

“IT IS DELK!”

“SHUT UP!” Thot-Phul screamed, turning on the Dyonian. “It is my turn!” Delk sulked back to his corner as Phul turned furiously on Bain. “At last. At long last, I have the man responsible for blowing up my ship…TWICE!”

Bain frowned. “I hate to be the one to break this to you, old boy, but I’ve never blown up any of your ships.”

“Lying to save your miserable life, eh? Pathetic.”

“Now see here, Phul, if I’d blown up one of your ships, I’d damn well say so. I take responsibility for my actions, but I am not the one you want. Commander Prosak was on the bridge both times we’ve taken you on.”

Phul raised his fist for a bit of righteous indignation, then froze. It wasn’t Bain. IT WASN’T BAIN. “Where were you?” Phul demanded.

“Off duty,” Bain said. “You can’t expect me to be on the bridge all of the time.”

“Hunnh,” Phul whimpered, sinking down into a chair.

“Sorry, old boy. And to be honest, I slept through one of those scraps.”

“Slept?” Phul said weakly. “It was Prosak.”

“Yes indeed. But if you try to go after her, you’ll find that you have to come through me.”

“At least that has already been taken care of,” Lenik said, stepping up to retake the offensive. “You’re right here in our power.”

“But that’s not the best part,” Cole said, leaning down to Bain, a cruel smile covering his face.

“That’s true,” Lenik said. “We’ve destroyed the Anomaly.”

“No, you haven’t,” Bain said reflexively.

“Yes, we have.”

“No, you haven’t.”

“YES, we have! We watched the explosion.”

Bain’s fists tightened. If Tovar and the rest were truly dead, it was up to him to avenge them. Bain’s eyes locked on Lenik, the obvious ringleader here. “You had better kill me now, Lenik.”

“Why would I want to do that? I have so much suffering planned for you.”

“Then I can assure you that you will have no satisfaction from me. And if even the smallest opportunity should present itself, every single person on this ship will find himself dead.”

“Awww. Even me?” Cole said condescendingly, his face close to Bain’s. Bain jerked his head forward, head-butting his clone hard in the nose. Cole screamed, clenching his hand to his face as blood began to flow.

“Especially you,” Bain said. He looked around at his four antagonists, each of whom was frozen in place, unwilling to go near the Anomaly’s captain. “So who’s first?”


The Anomaly’s bridge was silent as Prosak, Tovar, and Arroyo waited nervously for an attack. After several minutes, it became obvious that it wasn’t going to come.

“Looks like they bought it,” Arroyo said.

“What’s our status?” Prosak asked, turning back to Tovar.

“Minor damage to engineering from the explosions. Lieutenant Polnuc and his staff are returning there now to begin repairs. He does not recommend moving the ship until diagnostics have been run.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Prosak said. “Hail the warhawk. Let’s see if we can’t straighten things out enough to beam our people up from the planet.”

“I’m sure Doctor Kasyov would be relieved to hear that,” Tovar said, activating the comm system. “Commander Potluk is replying. Audio only.”

“This is Commander Prosak. Do you require assistance?”

“YES!” Potluk’s voice screamed back almost buried in static. “Qu…ingularity destabilizing. We can’t…much longer. Engines and trans…offline.”

“We understand, Commander. I hope you’ve now realized that we didn’t do any of this. The Federation doesn’t.”

“Could…shut up and…us before we blow…?” Potluk demanded.

“I don’t think he wants to hear our sales pitch now,” Arroyo observed.

Potluk’s voice again crackled over the comm. “We detect…oaked vessel…sending course…cloak frequency.”

“What was that about?” Prosak asked confused.

“The warhawk detected a phase cloak signature leaving the area as we faked the core breach. Potluk just sent us the cloak frequency and last known course of the ship,” Tovar explained impatiently.

“Then let’s go!” Arroyo exclaimed, jumping up from his chair. “The Navigator can…”

“Hold on, Ensign,” Prosak said.

“But we’ve got to rescue Captain Bain.”

“The only place you’re going is the command chair,” Prosak said.

“What?” Arroyo asked confused.

“You have the conn, Ensign. Help the warhawk and retrieve our away team. Tovar and I will be back as soon as we can.” Prosak and Tovar headed into the turbolift as a stunned Arroyo plopped into the command chair and set to work calling in back-up crew and making contact with the Romulans.

“Something wrong?” Prosak asked as she and Tovar descended toward the hanger bay where the Anomaly’s Lincoln-Class companion ship, the USS Navigator, was stored.

“Why do you ask?” Tovar replied.

“You’re looking at me strangely.”

“Am I?”

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was almost admiration,” Prosak replied, summoning her RommaVulc control to suppress a grin.

“You have surprised me,” Tovar admitted.

“Thank you. And you know, for a Yynsian, you make a halfway decent Vulcan.”

“Old habits die hard, as humans say.”

“And what do Yynsians say?” Prosak asked.

“This life may be clean and new, but your past lives still eat cookies in bed.”

“Um…no offense, but the human phrase is catchier.”

“I agree.”


A few minutes later, having quickly run-through the pre-flight checklist, Commander Prosak settled in at the helm of the USS Navigator. “Tovar?”

“All tactical systems are ready,” he reported from the bridge’s small tac-ops board.

“Very good. Opening shuttlebay doors.” Prosak pressed the control on her console. Nothing happened. “Hmmm…that’s odd.”

“I believe I may have an explanation,” Tovar said. “I’m detecting a transport in progress.”

A cold spike of fear shot down Prosak’s spine. If the cloaked ship had returned…

The transporter beam coalesced on the Navigator’s bridge a few feet away from Prosak and quickly revealed a humanoid figure. Moments later, a weary-looking Shelly Marsden stood before them.

“Leaving without me?” she said softly. Without waiting for permission, Marsden made her way to the command chair and gingerly sat down.

“You should be in sickbay,” Prosak said disapprovingly.

“And we should be chasing down Cole and Captain Bain,” Marsden said. “Let’s get moving.”

“I find it hard to believe that Doctor Nooney has approved your release.”

“Did he approve yours?” Tovar asked.

Prosak frowned. Clearly, she’d been out maneuvered. “Shall we go?” she asked.

“I’m unlocking the doors now,” Marsden said, typing commands into the armrest. The shuttlebay doors slid open moments later, revealing the stars beyond.

Prosak smoothly piloted the Navigator out into space, quickly setting the craft on a pursuit course and jumping into warp. “There is one thing I want to make clear,” she said, facing Marsden as the stars streaked by. “I am in command of this mission.”

“That’s fine by me,” Marsden replied, settling back into the command chair. “As long as I get my hands on Cole Anfibon you can do whatever the hell else you want.”


“Holy sh**!” Dr. Kasyov cried as a huge explosion illuminated the sky above the barren world of Dulcolax Three. For a moment, the Romulans across the crater from her stopped firing her way and looked up at the blast. “What the hell was that?”

“Not the Anomaly,” Cabral reported. “I can say that for certain.”

Before Kasyov could pursue the issue any farther, she was interrupted by a panicked scream over her helmet’s comm speaker. “Help me!” Lieutenant Brazzell’s voice cried.

Kasyov and Cabral whipped around and looked up toward the top of the crater. “I can’t see you, Brazzell,” Kasyov said. “What’s going on?”

“They’re almost on me!”

“Um…we…” Kasyov looked around uncertainly. What were they supposed to do?

“Get on,” Cabral said suddenly, lowering his hovercam beside Kasyov.

“Cabral, I don’t think I…”

“I’m going whether you’re coming or not.”

“Since you put it that way,” Kasyov said unhappily, wrapping herself around the hovercam as best she could.

“Now hold on tight,” Cabral said, rising quickly up into the air.

“That won’t be a problem.” Kasyov said, slamming her eyes shut as Cabral went into a dive. His hovercam strafed Subcommander Sorbet and her Centurion, sending them diving for cover as Cabral adjusted course and sped up the side of the crater.

The three Romulans on the edge of the crater knew the Starfleet officer they were pursuing had to be close. The barrage of various sprays and foggers had died down allowing them a clear view of the terrain. There just wasn’t much cover around, so unless the Starfleeter had beamed away, he was hiding behind one of the few nearby rocks large enough to conceal a person. Of course, all of this would have been a lot easier if the warhawk was sending them sensor reports, but all communications with their ship had abruptly ceased minutes earlier.

Brazzell, meanwhile, checked the power level on the phaser mounted on his EVA suit. Heavy stun should get through the Romulans’ suits, which would mean an average power consumption of…

His calculations fell by the wayside as his heads-up quadcorder display showed the three Romulans closing in on him. He wasn’t about to let those germ-covered Romulans touch him without a fight.

The three Centurions crept closer to the next large boulder, weapons at the ready. Closer. Closer.

A phaser blast suddenly seared past them, slamming into the boulder in front of them. The Romulans spun around as a strange melding of person and machine rose up from out of the crater, weapons blazing.

Detecting the disturbance, Brazzell leapt up from his hiding place and rounded the boulder, ready to fire.

“STOP!!!!!” a voice screamed in his head. From the suddenly movement of the Romulans, they’d heard it too. The entire assembly looked around and saw two people, one human and one Romulan, running their way.

“Subcommander Nordik!” one of the Romulans broadcast in surprise.

“Lieutenant Randall?” Brazzell asked surprised as he recognized Lieutenant Lara Randall, one of the Anomaly’s security officers.

“Ensign Arroyo sent us down. War’s over,” Randall said.

“That is true,” Subcommander Nordik, the Romulan accompanying Randall, said. “We have been tricked by a hidden enemy. The Federation vessel is currently assisting us with repairs to our warhawk.”

“Kill…them…ALL!” Subcommander Sorbet panted, climbing over the crater ridge.

“WAIT!” everyone screamed as Sorbet aimed her weapon.

“No! It’s all lies. You all die!”

A phaser blast slammed into Sorbet’s chest, the energy quickly enveloping her EVA suit. She collapsed to the ground a split second later.

“That’s all I’m doing,” Lieutenant Brazzell said, lowering his arm. He shuddered. “You have to pick her up yourselves.”


“What are we supposed to do now?” Thot-Phul asked exasperatedly as the members of FOBBER stood outside of the lab trying to regroup. After Bain’s pronouncement, Lenik and the others had been struck silent, unsure how to proceed now that their intended victim had made such a firm stand. Beyond that, the Pakleds had backed out and Phul himself was now vacillating. “He’s not the one!”

“I still want to kill him,” Rear Admiral Delk said firmly.

“Just for not remembering you?” Phul said. “Come on! Do you know what happens to us if Starfleet catches wind of this?”

“And you’re worried about that now?” Cole snapped. “Where was this concern when we were blowing up the Anomaly in the first place?”

“I wasn’t thinking clearly. Now I am, and I’m not so sure that I’m ready to go head to helmet with the Butcher of Breen.”

“The human is tied up. He can’t touch us,” Dr. Lenik said irritated. “Now are we going to go in there and torture him horribly or what?”

“Are you going to shoot me if I don’t?” Phul asked.

“No.”

“That’s a relief.”

Cole slid up beside him. “Actually, what she means is that she’ll allow me to peel you like an onion and eject you bit by bit into space.”

“Xinklenatter,” the Breen cursed. “All right. Let’s get this over with.”

“Come on, Phul,” Cole said, wrapping his arm around Thot-Phul’s shoulders. “Try and have some fun with this.”

“Something’s going to go wrong. I just know something’s going to go wrong,” Phul muttered as the group re-entered the lab.

“Finished quaking in your collective boots, have you?” Bain said confidently as he sat stiffly in the chair that imprisoned him.

“You put up a brave front for a man who’s just had his ship destroyed and crew killed,” Cole said.

“I could say the same about you considering you’re about to have your spleen forcibly removed. How’s your nose, by the way?”

Cole growled and raised his fist, but was stopped as the comm system crackled to life. “Doctor Lenik?” Gridloo’s voice (or maybe it was Pridloo. Who could tell?) said.

“What is it?” the Romulan replied impatiently.

“Um…we’re being chased, and they want us to stop. Should we stop?” the Pakled asked.

“Chased? How? We’re cloaked!”

“They can see us.”

“Who? Who’s they?”

“She said they were the Navigator. She is Prosak. She threatens to do things to make us explode.”

“Ha!” Bain exclaimed. “Now you’re in the stew!”

“Prosak!” Phul cried. “She’s the one! She’s the one who blew up my ships!”

The freighter lurched suddenly, power flickering, as a blast from the Navigator’s weapons slammed into the cloaked ship.


“The phase frequency supplied by the Romulans appears to have been correct,” Tovar said with satisfaction as his phaser fire impacted against a seemingly-empty section of space. Almost instantly, a blocky vessel wavered into view.

“They have no shields to speak of. Their engines are down,” he continued. “Tractor beams locked on.”

“Are we ready?” Prosak said, rising from her seat at the helm and checking the phaser mounted on each wrist.

Lieutenant Marsden nodded as she stood up slowly from the command chair. “Let’s get moving.”

“Are you sure that you are in any physical condition to handle this?” Prosak asked concerned. “If Cole were to hit you again…”

Marsden smiled slightly. “I don’t repeat my mistakes.”

“Very well. Computer, lock on to the Captain Bain’s DNA signature and beam us to that location.”

“There are two Captain Bain’s present,” the computer replied flatly.

“Are they in the same room?” Marsden asked impatiently. Finding out that the man she’d been involved with was a clone of Reginald Bain had been enough of a shock. She had no desire to dwell on it any more than she had to.

“Affirmative,” the computer said.

“Then what’s the problem? Energize.”


“STARFLEET!” Thot-Phul shouted as three figures materialized in the lab. Prosak, Tovar, and Marsden had their wrist phasers at the ready as their transporter sequence completed.

Lenik, Cole, and Rear Admiral Delk quickly drew weapons of their own to confront the unwelcome newcomers. Spotting Marsden, Cole’s eyes widened in a mixture of shock and alarm.

“Hey, honey,” Marsden said darkly. With the memories of the agony caused by Cole’s energy knife fresh in her mind, it took all she had not to fire her phasers immediately.

Prosak quickly stepped in, attempting to take control of the situation. “Stand down,” the RommaVulc said firmly. “You are all under arrest.” She moved toward Bain, her arms raised toward the FOBBER members as she did so.

“Get away from him,” Lenik warned. “He’s mine! I’ve worked too hard to get him to let him go now! Bain must pay for what he did to me!”

“She’s a bit broken up about a lab of hers I crashed into a few years ago,” Bain explained.

“It wasn’t just a lab!” Lenik cried. “I had created a virus capable of wiping out those insufferable Vulcans once and for all!”

“WHAT?” Prosak shouted, any show of being emotionless slipping away. “How dare you?”

“RommaVulc?” Lenik asked looking over her shoulder at Cole.

“Yes. I thought I mentioned that to you in my report.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Are you sure?”

“Fairly sure.”

“Quiet!” Prosak snapped. “Now all of you drop your weapons and get down on the floor.”

“AYYYYYYYIIIIIIIIIII!!!” Delk screamed in a battlecry, firing his weapon wildly. He missed every single person in the room.

“Oops,” Delk said weakly, then ran out the door in a panic.

Thot-Phul looked between the door and Prosak for a split second, then ran out himself.

“Bloody cowards,” Cole said angrily as he and Lenik found themselves outnumbered. “We can take them ourselves, right Doctor? Doctor?” Cole looked around. Lenik was nowhere to be found. He laughed weakly. “Well…it seems that…bye!” Cole charged out the door, a blast from Marsden’s wrist phaser narrowly missing him.

Prosak quickly freed Bain from the chair as Tovar tossed the captain a spare wrist phaser. “How’s the Anomaly?” Bain asked, strapping the weapon on.

“Intact and mostly unharmed,” Prosak reported.

“Commander Prosak did an excellent job of keeping us together,” Tovar said. “And Doctor Nooney was able to repair the damage done to Lieutenant Marsden by Mister Anfibon’s knife.”

“Did you know he’s my clone?” Bain asked. “Damn near knocked my knickers off when Doctor Lenik told me.”

“We figured it out, sir,” Prosak said proudly. “Cole Anfibon.”

“I don’t follow.”

“It’s ‘Clone of Bain’ scrambled up.”

“I see! Good show, Prosak. Damn clever of them.”

“Rather stupid if you ask me,” Tovar said. “But perhaps our time would be better spent in more productive ways.”

“Quite right. Shall we see about mopping up?”

“Cole’s mine,” Marsden said, sliding on a quadcorder.

“I will secure the bridge,” Tovar said.

“And I will see to the Romulan,” Prosak said as she slid on a quadcorder of her own. She was clearly still miffed that Lenik had planned to kill all Vulcans.

“Right. I suppose I’ll see to whoever’s left,” Bain said. “Move out.” The Anomaly officers raced out of the lab into the corridor beyond, weapons blazing.

No one was there.

“Hmm…” Bain said. “I was expecting a bit more of a fight there.”

The others ignored him, charging off in different directions after their quarries. Bain, however, following years of instinct, remained in the corridor to wait. Someone would come to him. He just knew it.


On the Pakled’s bridge, Gridloo and Pridloo paced nervously, their bulky frames brushing past each other as they frantically tried to figure out what to do next. They didn’t want to kill Bain anymore, but now Starfleet was on their ship. Should they fight back? Should they surrender and beg for mercy? Should they…

Their thoughts were interrupted as the bridge doors opened, and Tovar leapt into the room.

“You are strong,” the Pakleds said, raising their arms quickly in the air. “We are weak. Please do not…”

ZAP. ZAP.

Gridloo and Pridloo hit the ground unconscious, landing on top of each other in a blobby heap.

“That was a bit unnecessary,” Toflay, the chef past-life said inside Tovar’s mind.

“Perhaps, but it was entertaining,” Tovar replied.

“Well, yes. I can’t argue with that. Do they have a kitchen around here?”

“Not one that we’re going to be visiting,” Tovar thought, sitting down in the Pakled’s command chair.

“You’re oppressing my culinary art.”

“You wound me to the core.”

“Now you’re just being sarcastic,” Toflay snapped.

“How nice of you to notice.”


The rapidly retreating footsteps clanging along the deck had suddenly gone silent, giving Commander Prosak pause before she rounded the next corner. She cautiously peered her head around the corner, then rapidly yanked it back before a disruptor blast seared in her direction.

“Get away!” Dr. Lenik shouted defiantly.

“I cannot do that,” Prosak called back. “You are under arrest.”

“We’re in the Neutral Zone. You have no authority here!”

“Actually, your vessel crossed back into Federation space twenty minutes ago.”

“Damn those Pakleds,” Lenik spat.

“Whatever the reason, you are in Federation space. I must insist that you surrender yourself to me.”

“I’ll die first!”

Prosak heard the opening and closing of doors. She peered around the corner again, then, seeing it empty, followed Lenik through the only apparent doors. Prosak found herself in the freighter’s run-down engineering section.

Another disruptor blast flared past her, uncomfortably close as she felt the heat through her uniform. Prosak fired a warning shot back, positive that she wouldn’t hit anything. At the very least it would distract Lenik long enough for Prosak to find cover.

“This behavior is most illogical,” Prosak said. “Your plan has failed, but that does not mean you must die.”

“Stop talking like one of them!” Lenik said furiously.

“I do not know what you mean.”

“Vulcans! So damn logical all of the time! Do you even know what it really means to be a Romulan? To have the joy of tricking someone into his death?”

“I fail to see how that is a requirement of being a ‘real’ Romulan.”

“Is that what you want? A debate?” Lenik said.

“That would be acceptable,” Prosak replied calmly.

“Fine. No weapons. We’ll just talk.”

“Agreed,” Prosak said.

Lenik smiled as she heard the sound of a wrist phaser locking back into standby mode. She put her own disruptor behind her back and strolled out into the open where Prosak waited, her arms folded across her chest.

Prosak turned slightly, her side pointing toward Lenik. In a flash, a phaser blast lanced out of the RommaVulc’s cocked weapon, slamming into Lenik.

“But…you,” Lenik gasped as the stun beam overwhelmed her.

“Tricked you. It was a logical trick, though,” Prosak said, revealing that she was wearing two wrist phasers and had only retracted one. “This is no time for a debate.”

Instead it was sleepy time for Lenik as she collapsed to the deck in engineering.


“Here! Take it!” Thot-Phul said urgently, handing a disruptor to Rear Admiral Lorgander Delk and keeping one for himself as they raided the Pakleds’ small weapons store.

“Excellent,” Delk said, examining his weapon. “Now we go get Bain.”

“I don’t know anymore,” Phul replied.

“What’s to know?”

“But Bain wasn’t the one. And now Prosak is here. So do I go kill her? Should I still kill Bain? Should I just leave? I don’t know!”

“Get a hold of yourself, Breen. We’ll make it simple and kill them all!”

“I don’t remember you being this bloodthirsty before.”

“Bain can do that to a man,” Delk replied. “Let’s move.” He charged out of the storeroom, followed by Thot-Phul, who still wasn’t all that sure that this is what he wanted to be doing.

The pair made their way back toward the front of the freighter, jogging through empty corridors until they rounded the turn toward the lab.

Bain was there, a broad grin crossing his face as he aimed his wrist phaser. “Just like I said. Waiting pays off,” the human said.

“AHHHHHHHHHH!” Phul screamed in terror, backpedaling furiously.

“Where are you going?” Delk demanded as Phul went into a full retreat.

“Just delaying the inevitable,” Bain said. “Now you need to put that disruptor down before something unpleasant occurs.”

“Oh something very unpleasant is going to occur…to you. Put your wrist phaser down.”

“Why would I do something like that?” Bain asked. “I’m not even sure what you expect to gain out of this.”

Delk’s eyes widened. “For the Legion’s sake! How dense are you? I want you dead!”

“Not going to happen…old boy.”

“You still don’t remember my name, do you?”

“Of course I do, Melk.”

“No.”

“Swelk?”

“Not even close.”

“Wait. I’ve got it. Salamander Grelk!”

Delk sighed heavily and looked up to the skies. “All I wanted was for him to get it right once. Just once. Is that so much?”

“AHHHHHHH!” Bain’s battle cry caught Delk completely off-guard as the human barreled into him with all of his might. “End of the road, Delk!” Bain exclaimed.

“YES! Finally!” Delk shouted happily. He didn’t even mind so much that for the next several minutes Bain busied himself pummeling Delk into unconsciousness.

“Captain!” Commander Prosak’s voice cried, interrupting Bain in the midst of giving the long-since-oblivious Rear Admiral Lorgander a good what for. Bain looked up at his first officer, who had just run around the corner, then down at the insensate Delk.

“Right. Well…I suppose he’s had enough,” Bain said, climbing off of the Dyonian. “How are things on your end?”

“Doctor Lenik is unconscious in engineering. I suggest that we…”

A figure suddenly stepped around the corner behind Prosak.

KONK!

Thot-Phul head-butted Prosak with his helmet, sending the Romulan collapsing to the deck. She rolled over painfully, forcing herself to focus on the figure now looming above her.

“That’s right. Look at me before I kill you once and for all,” Phul said menacingly as he aimed his disruptor at Prosak.


“COLE!” Marsden screamed at the man fleeing down the corridor from her. She fired her wrist phaser into the ceiling above Cole’s head, sending a shower of sparks down on him. “NEXT TIME WON’T BE A WARNING!”

Cole stopped and slowly turned to face the angry engineer charging toward him. He held up his hands and smiled charmingly.

“Just relax, Shelly. It’s all okay now.”

“Okay? OKAY! You jabbed a knife into me…twice!”

“I know this is hard to understand, Shelly, but I had to do it. I didn’t want to, but I had to. If I hadn’t…Doctor Lenik would have destroyed the Anomaly outright. I did my best to make sure you’d survive, though.”

Marsden’s face softened. Cole pressed his advantage, lowering his hands and stepping closer to her.

“These last few months have been incredible for me. From the time she created me, Lenik filled me with nothing but hate and deceit, then I met you. I saw life could be different. I saw a future where I could love and be loved.”

“But those things you said when you stabbed me…”

“Lenik was listening. I had to put on a good show. Please, Shelly. You have to believe me. I love you too much to have it all destroyed by Lenik’s insatiable desire for revenge.”

Marsden lowered her arm and the weapon with it, drawing a soft smile from Cole. “Thank you, Shelly. I knew you could feel it too.”

He approached her as she considered his words, his hands subtly pulling another blade out of a hidden sheath on his belt. “Lenik will be gone now. We can be together. Just you and I. We’ll go away like you always wanted.”

Cole wrapped his arms around Marsden, pulling her in closer, then maneuvered his blade to strike.

A sudden movement as Marsden’s arm shot upward.

ZAPOW!

Cole gasped, his whole body crumpling inward as the stun blast fired by Marsden at point-blank range slammed into his gut. The knife fell from his paralyzed hand, falling to the deck and clattering away.

ZAPOW! ZAPOW!

Marsden fired again and again, her eyes never looking away from his. Cole Anfibon fell backwards, landing on the deck with a thud where he lay immobile.

She stood over him for several seconds, her hand hovering over the power control on her wrist phaser. A couple of taps and one shot was all it would take. Cole Anfibon would cease to exist.

Shaking her head slowly, she retracted the weapon and turned, striding off down the corridor away from the man who deserved every second of the long years of confinement heading his way.


Bain took a step forward, his wrist phaser trained on the Breen currently threatening a very dazed Commander Prosak. “We don’t need to do this, Phul,” he warned.

“Stay out of it, Bain. I’ve wasted enough of my life on you.”

“If you pull that trigger, you life is over. You shoot her; I shoot you. Game over.”

“You’d be doing me a favor. Do you know what life is like on Breen for a Thot who’s had two ships destroyed in the space of a year? I’m a laughing stock. Lenik gave me a glimmer of hope. I could get revenge on you. Then I find out you aren’t even the one! I couldn’t at least have the dignity of being defeated by the Butcher of Breen. No. I lost to this Romulan. She’s practically a child.”

“You didn’t lose to her,” Bain said.

“What?”

“I did it. I lied to you.”

“But what you said…what she said…”

“I gave the orders. I developed the plans. It’s me you want,” Bain said. “Let’s settle this between us.”

Phul looked from Prosak to Bain. “You could be lying now.”

“Why would I lie now about a truth I told then? Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to tell the truth now about the lie I told then?”

“What if you lied both times? You could have lied then to save yourself, and now you’re lying now to save her.”

“If I was lying then and now, where’s the truth. Someone had to destroy you, so why not believe that I was lying then and telling the truth now?” Bain said.

“Why don’t I believe you were lying both times and kill you both?” Phul said firmly.

“Why don’t you just SHUT UP!” Prosak said suddenly. Phul looked down at her just in time to see her two wrist phasers cock into place. She fired upward with both weapons, hitting Phul with enough force to actually launch him into the air. He sailed toward the ceiling, bounced off roughly, then plummeted back to the deck just as Lieutenant Marsden rounded the corner.

“Have you seen to Mister Anfibon?” Bain asked.

“Oh yeah.”

“Then it appears we’ve cleaned house,” Bain said satisfied.

“Tovar to Prosak,” Prosak’s commpips barked suddenly.

“Go ahead,” she said as Bain helped her to her feet.

“I am reading an energy build-up from engineering. This ship will explode in the next thirty seconds.”

“It appears that Doctor Lenik recovered a bit faster than I would have suspected,” Prosak said, clearly displeased.

“Don’t torture yourself about it,” Bain said, wrapping a fatherly arm around his first officer. “Tovar, my boy, beam us all back to the Navigator post haste.”


Doctor Lenik tapped a control on her belt, activating the signal masker. She’d seen to it that the freighter would explode. Now she had one final bit of business to attend to. No sensor would detect her and no transporter could grab her except for the one on the freighter which she’d already specifically programmed to compensate for her masker.

“Computer, beam me directly to Reginald Bain,” she said, extending the range of her masker a bit. Once she was near Bain, he would also effectively disappear from sensors. Then she would strike before his officers could rescue him.

“Beaming you to the place you want to go,” the Pakled computer said slowly as Lenik dematerialized.


“Good show,” Bain said after materializing back on the Navigator’s bridge. He slid into the command chair as Tovar quickly moved back to tac-ops, Prosak took the helm, and Marsden gingerly sat down at the engineering console. “Everyone accounted for.”

“A Breen, a Dyonian, and two Pakleds are in the brig,” Tovar reported. “No sign of Doctor Lenik or Cole Anfibon.”

“Blast!”

“Precisely. There’s about to be a very big one,” Tovar said.

“Get us out of here, Prosak!” Bain ordered as Prosak deactivated the tractor beams and sent the Navigator shooting into warp.


Lenik looked down at the figure next to her. This was not Reginald Bain. “Computer!” But then she realized what had happened. DNA. The damn DNA. The computer had scanned for Bain’s DNA, found Cole, then sent Lenik to him.

Cole Anfibon looked up at her weakly, his eyes glazed. “You…sucked…as a mom,” he said softly.

Dr. Lenik raised her fists to the heavens and screamed at the top of her lungs.

“I HATE IRONY!!!”

Then the freighter went boom.


“Captain’s Log. Stardate 177536.8. We’ve returned to the Anomaly to find the ship none the worse for wear. Lieutenant Polnuc and the engineering staff did a smashing job repairing the minor damage done to the Anomaly by the explosives Lenik beamed aboard. They also were able to get the Romulan warhawk back in working order. The Romulan ship has left the Neutral Zone on its way to the nearest Romulan repair outpost. I gave their Commander Potluk as complete a description of events as I could. Somehow I gather that since one of their own was responsible for this whole mess, the Praetor will be quite anxious to forget it ever happened.

“I, however, have no desire to forget. I have nothing but praise for my crew’s actions over the last couple of days, and can state with absolute certainty that we all owe Commander Prosak our lives. That said, I sincerely hope this is the last of any speculation from The Powers That Be that she is anything less than a top-flight, extremely loyal, Starfleet Officer.

“At Lieutenant Marsden’s insistence, I’ve requested to put the Anomaly in for some time in spacedock. As much as she trusts Polnuc, the Anomaly is her baby, and she wants the chance to go over her from stem to stern in case one of the bombs did a bit more damage than we realized. On a deeper level, though, I get the feeling she wants to bury herself in work for a while. Can’t say that I blame her.”


Captain Bain entered the holo-lounge and took a deep breath of the smoke-filled air. It was like coming home again. The lounge, which had been set in the style of a 19th century British pub since the Anomaly’s launch, was practically empty of Anomaly crewpersons. Instead, the holographic bartender stood wiping mugs as a couple of rough-looking blokes played snooker in the corner.

Bain headed to the bar, taking a seat next to one of the few Starfleet people in the room. “I didn’t know you spent time here.”

“First time,” Lieutenant Shelly Marsden replied, staring at the empty beer mug in front of her. The bartender took it away, instantly replacing it with a fresh, full glass. “Great service, though.”

“The best,” Bain said as the bartender placed a dark lager in front of him. “We got a response from Command about your spacedock request. They want us to come back to McKinley Station.”

“Earth?” Marsden said surprised.

“Problem?”

“No. I’ll definitely take it.”

“It might be a good time for some shore leave,” Bain said after taking a long drink.

“I’ll be busy.”

They sat in silence for several moments. Marsden staring ahead blankly as Bain grew more and more fidgety after finishing his beer.

“Sod it, Marsie,” he exclaimed suddenly, slamming his fist down on the bar. “I feel bloody awful about the way that bloke treated you.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“It was my bloody DNA. He was me, and I know damn well that you don’t go sticking knives in a lady. I don’t much like the idea that a piece of me, however small, almost killed you.”

Marsden turned toward Bain. “Cole was who he was. Lenik created him to be a callous, killing machine. But you…” Marsden smiled and shook her head. “You’re undeniably Reginald Bain.”

“Damn right!” Bain said, slapping the bar. He hopped up off of his stool. “I’m glad we had this chat. Cleared the air.” He headed out of the lounge with his usual confident stride.

Marsden chuckled softly. “And thank the Great Bird there’s only one of him,” she said, raising her glass in a private toast.


THE END



Tags: boldly