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: 2007


“A Hawk in Hand”

By Alan Decker & Anthony Butler

Personal Log, Commander Vioxx:

Stardate 178266. At long last, the drought is over. My crew and I can now put the destruction of our former vessel, the Tyvek, behind us. We have a new ship. We strike out today on the first shakedown cruise of our new ship, so that we can move forward in a brave new direction to serve the Romulan people.

“It’s small,” Selex said, glancing around the cramped bridge as Remax, Nortal, and Zantak took their places at science, tactical, and helm, respectively and began the launch sequence.

“It’s compact,” Vioxx said, raising an eyebrow, trying his best to be optimistic.

“It’s a scout ship,” Remax harrumphed, standing behind the science station and checking his readouts. “The empire gave us a scout ship.”

“Our last ship was a scout ship,” Vioxx said. “So at least it’s a lateral move.”

“Of course, Commander,” Selex said, punching up a shipwide diagnostic on the engineering panel, then added, under his breath. “And as we all know, a lateral move for you is like a quantum leap for any other Romulan. We’re lucky we were given command of such a ship.”

“WE haven’t been given command of anything,” Vioxx said, settling into the command chair as he tried to figure out if what Selex said was a compliment. “I’VE been given command of the Allegra. And it’s about time we launched.”

“We will go out, aboard this tiny ship, and sail the depths of space!” Nortal announced, standing proudly behind tactical. “Let all who oppose us tremble in fear! Beware, be on guard, the Allegra is here!”

Zantak just rolled her eyes.

“Should I tell our…guests?” Selex asked with a grimace.

“Yes. Why don’t you go down and personally tell them. And between here and there, try to put a half smile on. Be diplomatic. You have to work with these people.”

“And thanks to the Allegra, I’ll have the glorious opportunity to work with them a good deal longer,” Selex muttered.

“That’s a boy,” Vioxx said, watching Selex leave.

“Dual-inverter microcosm singularity drive,” Lt. Shelly Marsden said, pushing the hatch to the singularity chamber closed and standing up in the Allegra’s cramped engineering bay. She wiped off her pants and looked around. “It’s a little outdated, but it should get us where we’re going.”

“So the Romulans got a used ship?” Prosak asked, glancing around.

“Refurbished, is what the Romulans called it. And why are you calling them Romulans? Aren’t you Romulan too?”

“I’m a RommaVulc,” Prosak said.

“How could I have forgotten?” Marsden muttered. “Anyway, I suppose this ship will be an adequate replacement for the Navigator.”

“The…other Romulans didn’t seem too thrilled when they saw the ship,” Prosak said.

“I think they were under the impression they’d get a Warhawk and would finally get to leave the Anomaly. I have to admit, I was hoping the same thing.”

“There’s much we can learn from them,” Prosak said. “The joint program with the Romulans is productive, and it generates goodwill between our two peoples. I’m sure that’s why Starfleet and the Romulans agreed to keep Vioxx and the others aboard the Anomaly.”

“Don’t you feel at all threatened by them?” Marsden asked. “Like you should be enough of a Romulan presence on the Anomaly? Like they’re there as a challenge to your authority?”

“I’ve never thought of it that way,” Prosak said, leaning on a console.

“You were demoted so that Vioxx could be First Officer.”

“A fair point.”

“He took your quarters away.”

“It was an office to begin with, he just reverted it back to its prior use.”

“You’re a good person, Prosak,” Marsden said, stepping up and patting the RommaVulc on the back. “I don’t think the Romulans appreciate you enough.”

“They will come around,” Prosak said, turning for the companionway that led out of the engineering bay.

“Excuse me,” Selex said, jogging in with a coil wrench held high. “What are you doing near my engines?”

Marsden stepped protectively in front of Prosak. “First of all, it’s me, not Prosak, who was looking at the engines. And if this ship is going to be housed aboard the Anomaly, I’ll need to see its engine systems. We’ll be responsible for keeping her fueled, and assisting you with maintenance. Unless you felt like purging the coil buffers yourself three times a week.”

“Of course you’ll assist with maintenance,” Selex said haughtily. “But under my supervision. This is not the Anomaly. You’ve no jurisdiction here. Stop acting like it.”

Marsden stepped up to Selex, eye-to-eye. “If you’ve got a complaint with me, Selex, file it. Otherwise, shut up and get the hell out of my way.”

“You’d better be glad you keep that security officer so close by. You may eventually need him,” Selex muttered, lifting the hatch to the singularity chamber and kneeling, looking in.

Marsden didn’t look back at him. “I’m fully capable of kicking your ass all by myself, Selex. Don’t you forget it.”

Prosak just glanced back, wordless, as she followed Marsden down the companionway.

“Show no fear,” Marsden said resolutely.

“Indeed,” said Prosak.

“This wait is interminable,” Remax said, leaning over his compartmentalized tray of Romulan lunch items, in the cramped mess hall aboard the Allegra.

Vioxx wiped his mouth with his napkin and pushed his plate away, leaning back in his chair. “It’s a minor delay while they perform a maintenance check on the hangar doors.”

“I don’t know why we had to come all the way out to the Yatooi sector just to pick up our ship in the first place,” Selex said, sitting down beside Remax with his tray. “It seems beneath us.”

“Because that’s where the ship was,” Vioxx said.

“They couldn’t have at least met us halfway?” Remax asked.

“Ours is not to question why,” Vioxx said.

“But why not?” Selex asked earnestly.

“Caution, Selex, you’re talking to a senior officer,” Remax warned.

“But you’re insubordinate all the time,” Selex said.

“I’m old and wily. I can be insubordinate if I want to,” Remax replied. “Vioxx knows to respect his elders.”

“Indeed,” Vioxx said, glancing up at the chronometer on the wall. “I do wish they would go ahead and clear us to depart. It’s been three hours since we came aboard.”

“Three hours with Prosak and Marsden,” Selex muttered. He looked up and saw Vioxx’s face, a mask of disapproval. “Will be three hours of time well-spent, serving the Romulan Empire.”

“That’s a good boy,” Vioxx said, spearing a few pieces of conadda fruit with his fork and popping it into Selex’s plate. “There you go, son, eat up.”

“You’re an odd leader, sometimes,” Remax observed. He waited a beat, then leaned in. “Selex does make a point, even if he wasn’t bold enough to say it. Prosak and Marsden pose a problem to shipboard morale. They are reminders of the Federation’s perceived superiority. They flaunt their Federation morals and values every chance they get. They’re better off locked in the brig for the duration of the trip, or even better, put out an airlock, if you ask me…”

“Guys, we’re sitting right here,” Marsden said from a few seats down the table, pointing her fork angrily at Remax. “We can hear everything you’re saying.”

“Still, Romulan hearing is superior,” Selex said quietly.

“Your point is?” Remax asked.

“All of you, be silent!” Vioxx said, holding up his hands. “We’re all assigned to the Anomaly. We need to learn to work together.”

“Hear hear,” Prosak said from her seat across from Marsden. “A worthy goal, for all concerned.”

“Oh, don’t you start,” Remax said.

“Enough, both of you,” Vioxx said, turning to his officers. “I want you both to go to the bridge and make sure we’re ready for departure.”

“But we already did that twice. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be,” Selex said.

“Check again,” Vioxx said. “When we’re finally cleared to leave, I want us to be read–”

Suddenly the comm system bleeped. “Allegra crew: This is Vice Admiral Negrek, overriding your internal communication system. You are all cleared to depart now. Which is something you’d have known fifteen minutes ago if you’d stationed anyone on the bridge to receive incoming communications.”

Vioxx stood. “Of course. My apologies, Admiral. We’ll get underway immediately.”

“See that you do. Negrek, out.”

“Lunch is over,” Vioxx said, standing. “And someone find Zantak and Nortal. This is not Youth Camp, it’s a Romulan vessel, and we’re about to start acting like it.”

“This should bode well for us,” Marsden muttered, to which Prosak simply raised an eyebrow.

“Indeed,” she said, and followed the group out of the mess hall.

“You were shirking your duties,” Remax said, following Zantak and Nortal onto the cramped bridge of the Allegra as the other officers poured in and took their stations. Prosak and Marsden, for their part, stood at the back corner of the bridge, trying their best not to get in the way.

“Backgammon is essential!” Nortal erupted, eagerly sliding behind the tactical console. “It strengthens the catlike reflexes. It’s invigorating!”

“Rematch,” Zantak said curtly as she stood behind the piloting station at Vioxx’s left.

“They’re wasting time playing a human game,” Remax seethed, standing next to Vioxx as he moved into the command chair.

“We’ll discuss it later,” Vioxx said calmly.

“A game Lieutenant Marsden showed them. So not only are they learning from human officers how to shirk their duty, but they’re shirking it while playing ridiculous human games!”

“Again, I’m standing right here!” Marsden called out from the back of the bridge.

“Later,” Vioxx said pointedly, and looked toward the viewscreen, at the forward view of the dark gray interior of the Romulan spacedock. “Nortal, signal the dockmaster that we’re ready to launch.”

Remax huffed aloud and stepped over to the science console, which, like most of the stations on the Allegra’s bridge (and other Romulan bridges) was a small, upright pedestal behind which the operator stood. Chairs were for wimps…and ship commanders.

“Cleared,” Zantak said.

“Bring the engines on-line. Clear all moorings. Ahead half- thrusters,” Vioxx ordered, as a loud siren suddenly sounded throughout the bridge.

“Collision alert!” Remax called out, as the bridge crew watched a huge wall of metal sail by. The other ship passed so close, the tiny Allegra shook, nearly knocking some of the officers off their feet. Maybe chairs weren’t such a bad idea after all.

“What WAS that?” Vioxx asked, turning back toward Nortal.

“Hallowed Commander, that was a Hawk of War, shall it please you!” Nortal announced.

“It doesn’t please me,” Vioxx said, looking back at the screen. “And why is a Warhawk cutting us off when it was our turn to disembark? Remax, contact Admiral Negrak and ask him what on the Cliffs of Balfour is going on.”

“Already getting a signal from Admiral Negrak,” Remax said, scanning his screen. “Apparently, that Warhawk wasn’t cleared to depart.

“You might want to tell them that,” Marsden piped up from the back of the bridge. Prosak glared at her. “What? They might.”

“Protcol, Lieutenant, demands that we observe only,” said Prosak.

“These people don’t deserve the politeness you treat them with, Prosak.”

“You dangled a preposition, Lieutenant,” Prosak said cooly.

“Remind me why I’m on your side again?”

“Silence, if you please,” Selex said between clenched teeth, moving past Prosak and Marsden to the engineering console. “There are Romulans conducting business here, after all.”

“Oh, right,” Marsden said. “I hate them more.”

“They’re headed right for the hangar doors,” Remax said. “They’ll reach the doors in nineteen seconds.”

“Any sign that they’re opening the doors?” Vioxx asked.

“None,” Remax said. “And Negrak won’t do it. He’ll let the Warhawk, the hangar bay, and incidentally, us, be destroyed in the resulting collision rather than yield to someone trying to steal his ship.”

“That could’ve been ours,” Selex said under his breath as he reviewed the Allegra’s engineering status.

“But it’s not,” Vioxx said, watching, agape as the Warhawk angled toward the doors. Selex had to remember Romulans had very good hearing, and that saying things under his breath was pretty much pointless. Vioxx, meanwhile, looked back at Remax. “What are they planning?”

“It’s either a suicide run, or…” Remax began, as suddenly the Warhawk blasted the hangar doors open with disruptors, sailing through the resultant hole. “Or they’re going to do that.”

Selex looked up from his panel. “Engines are at optimum capacity, sir. We can pursue…”

“We’ve not been ordered to pursue,” Vioxx said, steepling his fingers. “And the Empire doubtless has superior security forces. We won’t be needed, I imagine.”

“Allegra, this is Vice Admiral Negrek,” the voice of the dock commander boomed on the Allegra’s comm system. “You are to intercept the Zocor at best speed, and prevent it from leaving this system.”

“Admiral, need I remind you that our vessel is one-eighth the size of a Warhawk.”

“You’re the best ship we’ve got, and you have your orders.”

Vioxx grimaced. “Yes, sir. Zantak: Plot an intercept course. Full impulse once we’ve cleared the hangar bay. Execute!”

Zantak nodded and sent the Allegra surging forward, and out of the hangar bay.

“Thoughts?” Vioxx asked calmly as the gray walls of the bay gave way to glittering stars and black space.

“Seceders,” Selex said. “Separatists of some sort.” He glanced at Prosak. “Or Romma-Vulcs.”

Marsden stood in front of Prosak. “You don’t know anything yet. It’s not the Federation way to level accusations without something to back it up!”

“You’re not in the Federation,” Remax snapped. “Nor is this a Federation vessel. Kindly remember that.”

“I’m painfully aware, Sub-Commander,” Marsden broiled.

“We’re closing on the superior foe, at a heroic rate!” Nortal bellowed. “Three minutes to intercept!”

“We’ll be in real trouble if they go to warp,” Selex said. “Their engines are twice as powerful as ours. We won’t be able to keep up with them for long.”

“I’d like to know who we’re dealing with.”

“Klingons,” Remax said.

“No,” Vioxx replied. “It’s a Romulan ship…”

“No, I mean there are Klingon life signs aboard,” Remax said.

“KLINGONS?” Vioxx asked turning. “Furrowed brows, honor, blood feuds and blood pies? Is that what you’re telling me?”

“Yes, sir,” Remax said. “But I was going to do it with far less dramatic flair.”

“It’s a tad surprising,” Vioxx said, his veneer of calm returning.

“And yet, they’re getting away, which is no surprise,” Marsden said from the back of the bridge, prompting another look from Prosak.

“More power to the engines,” Vioxx said, as the aft end of the Warhawk came into view. “All power to forward shields. Hail them.”

“We’re getting a response,” Remax said.

“On screen.”

The viewscreen view switched to that of a muscular Klingon woman, flanked by two disgruntled-looking Klingon males. Her hair was odd…grown into a gravity-defying mound that came to a point a good half- meter above her forehead. She must have used at least four cartridges of hair-stiffener to get it to hold its shape, Vioxx mused.

“Why do you harass us?” the woman growled.

“Don’t look at us,” Vioxx said. “You took our ship.”

“Holy SHAVIX!” Prosak blurted, stepping forward.

“What happened to protocol?” Marsden asked.

“Chynok?!?” Prosak demanded.

“Take your place!” Remax shouted.

“Back off, Remax,” Vioxx said, standing, and then looked from Prosak to the woman on the screen. “You two know each other?”

“Indeed,” the woman said in a basso voice. “We were involved in a battle to the death at a now-defunct Klingon dude ranch. And if it weren’t for Vulcan intervention, I’d have finished the job, and she would be dead now.”

“Ah, that old story,” Marsden said. “I should have figured.”

“How are you, Prosak?” Chynok asked, surprisingly polite.

“Um, just fine, Prosak said. “What are you doing on a Warhawk?”

“A long and uninteresting story. Suffice it to say, though, that it is now our Warhawk, and will remain so for the forseeable future.”

“You can’t just sail off with Romulan property!” Vioxx snapped back, re-entering the conversation.

“Alas, we are,” Chynok said. “You will follow us at your own peril. Nice seeing you again, Prosak. Perhaps we’ll fight to the death again sometime.” And the viewscreen quite suddenly returned to the aft view of the Zocor, just as it shot into warp.

Vioxx stood, blinking a moment. “Well, don’t just sit there,” he finally said. “Follow them. Maximum warp!”

“Her name is Chynok,” Negrek said over the viewscreen, as Vioxx paced the bridge.

“That much we gathered,” Vioxx muttered.

“She’s the leader of a small movement of Klingon upstarts who have been engaging in hit and run attacks along the border of the Yatooi sector for months now.”

“What’s their goal?” Prosak asked.

“You’re not part of this discussion,” Remax snapped.

Vioxx ignored them and turned to the screen. “What IS their goal?”

“Nothing short of rebuilding the Klingon empire,” Negrek said, folding his arms as the Romulans on the bridge, save for Prosak and Zantak, laughed arrogantly.

“The Klingons are a third-rate power and will continue to be for the forseeable future,” Vioxx said.

“Perhaps,” Negrek said. “But many factions of Klingons, incensed by the recent Vulcan occupation, and empowered by the withdrawal that followed after the Romulans beat the Vulcans back…”

“My GOD could you be any more arrogant?” Marsden asked. “The FEDERATION stopped the Vulcans. The Romulans got invaded, and only scraped together enough ships to join the fight at the very end of…”

Selex charged up to Marsden, stepping between her and the viewscreen. “That’s one of our Admirals on the screen. Show some respect, would you?” He grabbed her arm. “How about you spend the rest of this trip belowdecks…”

“Oh, I was so waiting for you to do that,” Marsden snapped, and grabbed Selex’s shoulders, then swiftly kneed him in the crotch, sending him to the deck.

“You have impressive command over your crew,” Negrek said drily. “It’s no wonder you’ve risen to such heights in your career.”

“You command a distant outpost, VICE Admiral,” Vioxx replied. “Now, if you please, let’s get back to the point. How did you and your staff allow Chynok and her followers to take the Zocor?”

“They overpowered their captors while they were being taken aboard the Zocor for transport back to Romulus for trial,” Negrek said, his voice filled with bile. “They fought their way to the bridge and…somehow…managed to disable the bridge crew and beam the Zocor’s admittedly skeleton crew back aboard the station.”

“Despite all that’s happened to them, Klingons still are remarkable warriors,” Prosak said, and glanced at Marsden. “As are humans.”

“Urk,” Selex moaned from the ground.

“They must be stopped,” Negrek said. “Warhawks are being dispatched from Romulus to intercept the Zocor, but they are eighteen hours away. Your vessel is the only one in range with any hope of catching up to the Zocor and stopping it before it leaves Romulan space.”

Vioxx nodded. “And, judging by her heading, that’s exactly where she’s going.”

“Once it crosses into the Neutral Zone, we’ll have difficulty getting it back.” Negrek pursed his lips. “At that point, the Federation will get involved. There will be matters of extradition. Likely, we will no longer be able to kill them.”

“The Federation is rather soft on death,” Remax sneered.

“Silence,” Vioxx said.

Negrek shook his head dismissively. “The stakes are high,” he said. “You understand this, I’m sure, Commander Vioxx. As such, I’ve been authorized to offer you command of the Warhawk, if you get the Zocor back to us in one piece.”

That was enough to silence the whole bridge crew.

Even Selex clawed his way up to a kneeling position and squinted at the viewscreen. “Urk…really?”

Vioxx gave a self-assured grin. “Admiral, we’re already underway. We’ll update you as soon as we have something to report.”

“Good luck,” Negrek said, then under his breath, added, “You’ll need it.”

“Well then,” Vioxx said, as the viewscreen clicked off. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

“Urk…” Selex said as Nortal helped him to his feet.

“Take him to the medical bay and see to his…bruising, Centurion,” Remax said, shaking his head.

“We’re not finished,” Selex moaned, glancing back at Marsden as Nortal led him out of the hatch.

“Your crotch is in my most capable hands!” Nortal exclaimed, as the hatch closed.

“The two of you, in my office,” Vioxx said, glaring at Prosak and Marsden. “Remax, you have the bridge.”

“As you wish,” Remax said, smiling as he took the command chair from Vioxx. “Enjoy your meeting, ladies.”

“Office?” Marsden asked, glancing around as she ducked through a hatch just off the side of the bridge, with Prosak and Vioxx. “More like a closet. There’s barely room for a desk and a chair in here.”

“Be that as it may,” Vioxx said, sidling behind his desk and squeezing into his chair. “We have a problem.”

Prosak and Marsden stood shoulder to shoulder in the tiny office, each butting up against a side wall.

“Whatever could that be?” Marsden asked.

“To begin with, your tone is unacceptable.” He gestured in front of his desk. “Have a seat.”

“No chairs,” Prosak said evenly.

Vioxx squeezed his eyes shut. “Dammit.” He took a moment, rubbing the bridge of his nose, then glanced back up at Prosak and Marsden. “The two of you realize that you won’t win many popularity contests aboard this ship.”

“That’s for sure,” said Marsden. “But I think I have the beauty pageant all wrapped up.”

“We’ll see about that,” Prosak said, then blinked. “Wait, you were just kidding.”

“Yeah,” Marsden said with a smile.

“WHATEVER the case,” Vioxx said, trying to keep his calm. “This ship must and will operate smoothly and efficiently. I’ve got a lot riding on the success of this mission.”

“That being?” Marsden asked.

“Were you not listening?” Vioxx snapped. “If we get that Warhawk back, we get to keep it for ourselves.”

“I was listening, I just didn’t really care,” Marsden said.

“But you’ll care about this,” Vioxx said, restraining himself from adding ‘you insufferable Terran.’ “If we do get command of a Warhawk, you’ll have seen the last of me and my staff. You’ll once again be free to operate the Anomaly as you wish.” He turned to Prosak. “And you, I expect, will be First Officer again.”

“Ambition is illogical,” Prosak said. “But that would be a favorable outcome.”

“Then I think our strategy for success is clear,” Vioxx said, standing…and nearly bumping his head on the ceiling.

“It is?” asked Marsden.

Vioxx’s ears twitched ever so slightly in anguish. “You must work together with my crew. Do not argue, do not bicker.” He glared piercingly at Marsden. “No funny jokes. Leave my people alone, and I’ll inform them that they’re to steer clear of you. We won’t have our petty differences get in the way of a successful mission.”

“Why not?” Marsden asked. “It’s always worked for us in the past.”

“Work with us, Lieutenant,” Vioxx said, gesturing for the door. “Or I’ll be around a good deal longer to make the lives of you and your friends miserable. And, in the more immediate future, I’ll put you and your Romma-Vulc companion in our brig.” At that, Marsden did blanch a bit. “And I’m sure you can imagine what the brig on this ship must look like if this is the commander’s office. Dismissed!”

When Vioxx returned to the bridge at Nortal’s urging, he was pleasantly surprised to see the Zocor once again in range.

“How did Selex do it?” he asked, a pleasant smile spreading on his features.

“After a massive dose of pain relievers, he was able to push the engines beyond design limitations and move us into position to intercept the Zocor,” Remax said.

“I administered a wealth of quality health care to the good engineer!” Nortal announced.

Prosak and Marsden stepped out onto the bridge, looking around. “We heard that they were almost in range?” Marsden asked.

Vioxx nodded, looking at the screen. “Now the only question remains how we can possibly hope to out-gun them.”

“I’ve been working on that,” Marsden said.

“I’ve been watching,” Prosak said.

Remax turned to say something, but Vioxx cut him off. “I’m sure we’re all happy to hear what you’ve come up with, Lieutenant, as our two peoples have been sworn to work together.”

Remax swallowed his words, working his jaw muscles tersely as Marsden stepped to the front of the bridge.

“Prosak, if you will,” Marsden said, as Prosak took up the engineering station and began pushing controls. “I was able to siphon the power overage from the singularity drive directly into the disruptor cannon pathways.”

“That sounds dangerous,” Vioxx said.

“It’s extremely dangerous,” Marsden said. “Luckily I know singularity drives. The power converters can handle it. In theory, the singularity drive can provide unlimited power. That’s why it’s such an effective engine. We bleed extra power off the engines all the times, and usually just disperse it into space. It’s just a question of redirecting that power and regulating the flow.”

“That’s why the singularity drive is a superior design to its Federation counterpart,” Remax said, prompting a glare from Vioxx. “But…I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of your impressive plan.”

“Well,” Marsden said, holding back comment. “It’s going to be hard to aim. The recharge rate will be fairly lengthy between blasts, as we realign the power converters. It’ll be tricky, but not impossible.”

“We’ll be able to disable, not destroy, the ship, right Lieutenant?”

“Correct, Commander,” Prosak said. “Since we have the utmost concern for the lives aboard the Warhawk.”

“Right, the lives,” Vioxx said. “At any rate, good work, both of you. Lieutenant Marsden: aim our weapon and let me know when you’re ready to fire.”

Marsden swung behind the engineering pedestal as the Warhawk grew nearer on the viewscreen, as Prosak stepped aside to make room.

“Two minutes,” Marsden said.

“Which is a relief,” Remax said, “As our warp engines will give out in about seven minutes, at the rate we’re pushing them.”

“Distance from Neutral Zone?”

“Point seven eight parsecs,” Remax said, bending over his sensor scans.

“Weapons range now!” Marsden called out.

Vioxx squeezed his hand into a fist. “Fire!”

A sheath of white energy shot forth from the Allegra’s disruptor banks, slamming into the aft section of the Zocor, sending it winging away, like an off-kilter frisbee.

“Direct hit!” Marsden called out. “Major engine damage. Peripheral damage on several decks.”

“Zantak, move to intercept. Marsden, aim for their weapons. Fire again,” Vioxx said as the Allegra soared in for the kill.

The Zocor, for her part, stopped tumbling and righted itself, then turned toward the Allegra and fired.

The tiny ship was immediately tossed, flailing end over end, shaking the bridge crew against their consoles and bulkhead railings as sparks erupted from panels all over the bridge.

Vioxx stumbled to his feet. “After-action report!”

Remax climbed up his pedestal, wiping away small shards of debris. He looked up at Vioxx. “We were successful in disabling the Zocor’s warp engines. But she’s still moving away at impulse.”

“Do we still have our engines?”

“Affirmative,” Marsden said. “Impulse only. Point seven five capacity.”

“Good enough,” Vioxx said. “Zantak, follow them.”

“Treaty,” Zantak said crisply.

Remax nodded. “She’s right, Commander. Our treaty with the Federation specifically stipulates that we cannot enter the Neutral Zone unless it’s authorized by both goverments, and acted on in accordance with…”

Vioxx held up a hand, silencing Remax. He looked to Prosak and Vioxx. “WE just so happen to have two Federation representatives aboard. Prosak, Marsden. Do you two authorize us to go into the Neutral Zone?”

“I’m sure we’re not qualified,” Marsden said. “You’ll have to call and clear it with…”

“We will!” Prosak blurted, eliciting a glare from Marsden.

“You can’t just…”

“I outrank you,” Prosak said simply. “And it’s the right thing to do.”

“This better not be about Tovar…”

“Ladies!” Vioxx exclaimed. “Perhaps you can continue this after today’s calamitous events. Zantak, take us into the Neutral Zone. Commander Prosak, on behalf of myself, my crew, and the Romulan people, thank you for your assistance.”

“Least I could do,” Prosak said as the Allegra angled into the Neutral Zone.

“Let’s hope this works out,” Marsden said. “Otherwise, Starfleet Command’s gonna kill you.”

“I think I’m safe, for the moment,” Prosak said confidently, looking ahead to the viewscreen.

“Try to hail them,” Vioxx said, stepping toward the crackling viewscreen; just one of the minor damages incurred during the Zocor’s assault.

“We only have shortrange communications at the moment,” Remax said. “And we’re not close enough. The Zocor got a bit of a jump on us after the firefight.”

“Make up the distance, Zantak,” Vioxx said, glancing back at the pilot. “All ahead full.”

Zantak nodded and pushed the Allegra’s engines onward.

“Vioxx to Selex,” the Romulan Commander said, glancing about the bridge.

There was no response.

“Vioxx to Selex.”

“He was alone down in the engine room by himself,” Remax said. “I’ll go check…”

“No,” Prosak said. “You’re needed on the bridge.” She looked to Marsden. “As are you, in case the Warhawk starts shooting at us again.”

“My skill with disruptors is legend! I will help the good Marsden free us all from peril!” Nortal announced, joining Marsden up at the engineering console.

“Very…good,” Vioxx said slowly, and gestured for Prosak to leave. “Find out what happened. And, whatever you do, try not to kick him in the crotch.”

“On that, you have my word, Commander,” Prosak said, and dashed off the bridge.

The engine room was a mess of sparks and debris. The Warhawk had aimed well, and hit them squarely amidships, crippling the warp engines and ensuring that the engine room would need a massive overhaul once all this was over.

But there were more important things to deal with at the moment. Prosak came upon Selex, draped over a power control console, limp.

She felt his neck for a pulse, and to her relief, determined the engineer was still alive.

“Vioxx to Prosak. Any news on our engineer?”

“He’s here, Commander, but unconscious. Please lock on transporter to our coordinates and beam us to the medical bay.”

“I’m afraid the transporters are down.”

“Figures,” Prosak said.

“There’s another thing you should know. Just a minor detail.”

“What’s that, Commander?”

“That compartment is flooding with radiation. It’ll be unliveable in six or seven minutes. I’m about to activate the lockdown sequence.

“We’ve got to get out!” Prosak exclaimed.

“That’s sort of what this call’s about,” Vioxx said. “I’m glad we’re on the same page. Now then, are you well-versed with the ‘fireman’s carry?’”

“This is no time to discuss my personal life, Commander. I’ve got a crewmember to save,” Prosak said earnestly and gripped Selex by his arms, draping him across her back and darting out into the corridor as the evacuation alarm sounded.

Prosak darted down the hall toward the companionway as she saw the door begining to ratchet shut. She quickened her pace, then sucked in her breath, sliding sideways through the closing door and dragging Selex along with her.

She collapsed, breathless, next to the still-unconscious Selex, and sighed. “You’re heavier than you look.”

“Commander Prosak?” Vioxx asked.

“We’re out. You can begin venting the radiation out into space.”

“Good work. I’m sure Selex appreciates it.”

“I’m sure,” Prosak muttered and once again hoisted the engineer. “We’ll be in the medical bay if you need us!”

Personal Log, Commander Vioxx:

Supplemental. For three hours, we’ve navigated the Neutral Zone on impulse, in search of the Zocor. At this point, the mission appears hopeless, and I’m beginning to wonder if we will ever find the Warhawk.

“Found it!” Marsden called out.

Remax glared back at her. “How?”

“Tied in the lateral sensors to the primary array,” Marsden replied. “But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is where.”

“Where?” Vioxx asked, stepping back to Marsden’s console.

“Galornden Core,” Marsden said. “I tracked their gamma emissions.”

Vioxx rubbed his chin. “Galornden Core. That planet’s been abandoned for decades. Why would they possibly go there?”

“Because it’s a dirty, wretched rock, and Klingons like that kind of thing?” Marsden suggested.

“Best speed to Galornden Core,” Vioxx said, looking to Zantak. “Good work, Marsden. I assume they’re cloaked?”

“Unfortunately,” Marsden said. “And don’t look at me. It wasn’t my bright idea to put cloaking devices on Romulan starships.”

“Indeed,” Vioxx nodded. “And would that we had one, it might have given us a tactical edge.”

“Our ship is too small,” Remax said, tapping his finger idly at his station, adding, “In so many ways.”

“One thing at a time, Remax,” Vioxx said.

“Mommy? Who’s out there?”

Prosak glanced up from a padd she was reading in the (you guessed it) cramped medical bay aboard the Allegra. She was perched on a stool beside the biobed that stretched the length of the room, little more than a walk-in closet.

She touched Selex’s arm. “Lieutenant, I’m afraid you took something of a spill.”


“You were unconscious in the engine room when I found you. But I was able, with some effort, to carry you away before the compartment flooded with radiation.”

Selex’s eyes fluttered open. He inched back as he saw Prosak. “Wh-what are you doing to me?”

“Doing?” Prosak asked, blinking. “I treated your mild concussion with a neural tissue regenerator, and administered some pain killers. You might have a bit of a headache for a while, but otherwise, you’re none the worse for wear.”

“My fuxors still hurt,” Selex said, leaning up and rubbing his head.

“Well, that would be the fault of Lieutenant Marsden.”

“She is…aggressive,” Selex said.

“Yes,” Prosak said. “I’ve always found it to be part of her charm.”

“She obviously never kneed you in the fuxors.”

“No, not yet, anyway. Then again, I don’t have fuxors, so that would be quite difficult.”

Selex took a long hard look at Prosak. “Why are you helping me?”

“Because I was the only one on the bridge that could be spared. As you know, we’re a small crew, and everyone else has a job to do.”

“I’ve never been anything but mistrustful and wary of you,” Selex said.

“True,” said Prosak. “But maybe this will demonstrate that we’re all on the same side. Human, Romulan, Romma-Vulc, Brzelalian. All part of one galactic community.”

“You might be right,” Selex said.

Prosak patted his knee. “I know I am.”

“Vioxx to medical bay.”

“Prosak here,” the Romma-Vulc said, glancing up at the ceiling.

“We’ve arrived at Galornden Core, but there’s no sign of the Klingons or the Zocor. There’s a lot of interference down on the planet, so we’re going to beam down and check things out. We’ll leave you and Selex on the ship.”

“Understood. Good luck, Commander.”

“Well, then,” Prosak said, leaning back in her chair. “We’re on our own, it seems. Anything in particular you’d like to do?”

Selex stared at Prosak, then glanced to the left, at the laser scalpel that rested on the medical tray beside her. He quickly looked back at her. “No, nothing comes to mind.”

“In that case, how about a spirited game of chess?”

“What the hell is this place?” Marsden asked, moments after she, Remax, Nortal, Zantak and Vioxx materialized on the charred, storm- ridden surface of Galornden Core.

“A wretched hellhole. Didn’t you notice?” Remax said, hugging his grey survival jacket around him. His bionic arm itched during ionic storms.

“Yeah, a hellhole, that I know,” Marsden said, and then pointed up at the huge, arched sign that hung from a pair of poles above the landing party. “I meant, what’s the sign mean?”

Vioxx glanced at the sign, then shook his head dismissively and charged forward through the archway and along the path into the caves.

Remax took up step next to Marsden as Nortal and Zantak took up the rear. “It was a…them park of sorts, about forty years ago,” he explained. “The sign says…”

“‘Stay away fools’?” Marsden asked with a grin.

Remax scrubbed rain and grime from his face as the pair trudged down the path. “No. What? No…the sign says ‘The Galornden Horror.’ This whole planet was a haunted amusement ride for rich Romulan dignitaries.”

“They’d have to be pretty high up on the ladder to be allowed to cross into the Neutral Zone.”

“It was a political maneuver. Our government established The Galornden Horror to attract Federation dignitaries as well. But for some reason, it didn’t really work.”

“Because this planet is a wretched hellhole?” Marsden asked.

“That’s one theory,” Remax said. “Anyway, it didn’t pan out.”

“That’s a shame.”

“It was, however, a good deal more successful than ‘The Nuptial Zone.’”

“I don’t even want to know,” Marsden said.

“Best that you ask no more questions,” said Remax, and the group ducked into the cave entrance…and nearly fell over the edge of a cliff and into the dark depths below.

Vioxx came to a startled stop at the tip of the ledge, and held up a hand. The group stopped moving so suddenly, they all nearly slammed into the Commander.

“Ledge,” Zantak said, looking up from her tricorder.

“Excellent reflexes, Sub-Lieutenant,” Vioxx muttered, gritting his teeth.

Remax glanced over Zantak’s shoulder at her tricorder and nodded. “The tunnels that lead through the underground caves are dead ahead. The Klingons are likely hiding in one of the passages beneath the surface.”

“My thoughts precisely,” Vioxx said. “Nortal, ready the carabineers. We’ll have to repel down the side of the ledge.”

“I will ready our ropes with pride and purpose!”

“Yes. Excellent,” Vioxx said, still peering warily over the edge of the ledge.

“That was close, Commander,” Marsden said, stepping up next to Vioxx and glancing down at the muddy depths, noting that no bottom was readily in sight. “One wrong step and you could’ve ended up splattered all over the Galornden floor.”

“Must you always joke?” Vioxx asked. “Nevermind, don’t answer that.”

“The ropes are ready for our repelling adventure!” Nortal announced.

“Heights,” Zantak muttered, passing by Marsden.

“My sentiment exactly,” Marsden said, patting Zantak on the shoulder as she attached a cable to her belt and followed the Romulans down the steep cliff ledge.

“Check,” Prosak said, looking up at Selex. “Your queen is surrounded.”

“She’s superior in every way to your bishop and pawn,” Selex said. “She’d prevail in any hand-to-hand combat. So I win.”

Prosak cocked her head. “That’s not how this game works, actually.”

“Then it all seems rather a waste of time, don’t you think?”

“No, well…” Prosak began, scratching your head. “You see, the point is, the strategy…”

Selex yawned. “I’ve grown tiresome of this game. Could you get me something to eat?”

“I suppose,” Prosak said. “I’m not sure what the status of the replicators is, though.”

Selex’s expression brightened. “Maybe you should check, then?”

“Of course,” Prosak said. “I’ll be just a moment.”

“Thank you for showing me this Federation child’s game,” Selex called after Prosak, who paused at the door to the medical bay a moment.

“You’re welcome,” she said, and stepped out.

She bit her lip thoughtfully as she walked down the companionway. “So not logical,” she said to herself, thinking about how impressed she was when she read the books on the great chess masters, lent to her by Captain Bain. At the time, he was only trying to disprove her theory that the books in his Captain’s Lounge were only for show, but instead she actually learned a great deal about human culture.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Once again, Vulcan edicts rang true. Different perspectives were vital to understanding one’s place in the world, and even Selex’s rather skewed perspective was important and meaningful. But how could she show him this? That would become her mission.

Along with finding a working replicator.

These and other thoughts passed through Prosak’s mind as she slammed right into a rather muscular, partially bare, chest.

She glanced up, squinting in the dim corridor, and immediately jumped back at the sight of the towering Klingon woman and her towering hive of hair. “Chynok!”

“There now, that wasn’t so bad,” Vioxx said, hopping to the mushy cave floor, then helping Remax, and then Zantak and Nortal down. He turned to his crew. “Now then, someone try to pull up a sensor image.”

“Thanks, I’m fine, I don’t need any help!” Marsden called from several meters up.

“What’s she waiting for?” Remax asked, sidling up to Vioxx. “An invitation?”

“I do not know,” Vioxx said, and called up to Marsden. “Lieutenant, do you need any assistance?”

“A hovercraft of some kind would be great!” Marsden said. “Or a transporter.”

“A transporter would scramble your molecules if we tried to use it in this ionic interference!” Remax called up to her.

“Yeah. That sounds nice!” Marsden called back, digging into the cave wall with her feet.

“Just ease yourself down,” Vioxx said, and growled to himself. “Curse it, Marsden, we don’t have time for this.”

Marsden worked her jaw a few moments as she glanced down at the Romulans milling in the darkness below her, while Nortal fumbled with her palm beacon and Zantak consulted her tricorder. “This is reminding me more and more of summer vacation when I was seventeen,” she muttered, then finally pushed off the cliff edge and made her final descent….

Right into Vioxx’s arms. He gently lifted her to the ground, and looked at her impassively as she eagerly unhooked her repelling cable. “Are you afraid of heights, Lieutenant?”

“Don’t be silly, Commander. I’m in Starfleet. I fear nothing.”

“Of course,” Vioxx said, and turned to Zantak. “Well, any readings?”

Zantak shook her head.

“Where’s the tunnel out of here?” Remax said, pulling out his palm beacon and pivoting it around, examining the cave walls.

Vioxx glanced around. “There is a tunnel leading out of here, right?”

Suddenly Zantak shrieked rather noticeably (as she seldom said more than one word at a time), and everyone looked around, panicked, as a four-walled cage seemed to rise up around them, to waist height, and then the floor itself seemed to raise and shake.

“This isn’t one of those ‘malfunctioning security system tries to kill away team’ things, is it?” Marsden asked.

“No,” Remax said, looking around as dim lights came on throughout the cave, and the stone wall in front of them suddenly slid open to reveal a long tunnel.

Then they started moving, rumbling along on what felt like somewhat uneven treads beneath the little mining cart that formed around them. . “No,” Remax said again. “I think it’s safe to say we’re on a ride.”

Marsden squeezed her eyes shut as the cart picked up speed. She gripped the metal railing beside her and held on for dear life as she heard screams and death wails coming from all sides of her, and multicolored strobe lights flashed in her face.

She was really wishing she’d have stayed aboard the Allegra.

Selex sat on the medical bed, kicking his feet lazily as he glanced around. “Scalpel would be too messy. Most chemical compounds could be traced.” He stroked his chin. “Hmmm….airlock. Airlock is a definite possibility. But it would be hard to explain.”

This was more than just his duty, Selex thought. The Fates had provided him a sterling opportunity. How many times would he be aboard a ship, alone with Prosak, with no witnesses around? If it was indeed in the Romulan Empire’s best interests to kill Prosak, then wasn’t this the best opportunity to do so?

There will never be a better time, he thought to himself.

Then again, she was rather nice to him.

“No!” Selex told himself. “Stay on task. Don’t get distracted by their politeness. That’s how the Federation tricks you.”

Yes. A trick. That was it. He was being lulled into a false sense of security. Selex steeled himself, marshaling his inner resources.

He knew what he had to do. For the good of the empire, and to return Vioxx and his compatriots to the good graces of the Romulan people, Selex had to do it.

Prosak had to die.

Selex was suddenly stirred from his thoughts by a loud thumping outside, against the bulkheads.

“Hmmm…she’s more cunning than I thought,” Selex said to himself, reaching out and grabbing the laser scalpel. “She’s planning a preemptive strike. And she’s making lots of noise out there just to mess with my head.”


Selex crouched into a defensive stance. That Romma-Vulc didn’t scared him. He’d show her a thing or two about logic. He crept toward the door to the medical bay, and punched the opening control.

“And now….NOW….we’ll have that fight to the death we missed out on last time! Nobody defeats a Klingon by tickling!” Chynok bellowed, hoisting Prosak high by the throat, just as Selex stepped out into the companionway.

Selex’s eyes went wide. He hadn’t seen many Klingons in his lifetime, but Chynok was by far the largest, most muscular one he’d ever seen…although he was pretty sure her beehive hairdo added a good half- meter to her height.

“Selex…” Prosak moaned as Chynok swung her back and forth, first into one bulkhead, then into the other, as a pair of Klingons looked on from behind her. “For…the love of logic…do…SOMETHING!”

“I…” Selex stammered, and then he acted, more on instinct than anything else. He thumbed the activation switch on the laser scapel and flung it at the massive Klingon’s leg.

She screamed, dropping Prosak to the deck and gripping her leg.

Prosak took no time at all to regain her bearings, leaping to her feet, grabbing Selex by the arm, and dragging him along down the companionway at breakneck speed.

“GET THEM!” Chynok thundered, gripping her wounded leg and limping after them, as the other two Klingons dashed ahead.

“And then the storms came….CRASH CRASH went the thunder and ZAP went the lightening…and the Starfleet officers cowered at the sound of it!” a tremulous, ominous voiceover stated as the hellish ride rocketed Vioxx, Remax, Marsden, Zantak, and Nortal through the bowels of Galornden Core.

“What did he just say?” Marsden asked, hooking her arm around the metal railing and dropping to her knees as the rickety cart bucked and winded through the seemingly endless cave.

“The inferior Starfleeters cowered, as the triumphant Romulans exhalted, having defeated their foes once again, and having demonstrated that Romulus is first among all planets.”

“What’s the point of this?” Marsden asked, although she was pretty sure she already knew.

“The Romulans weren’t afraid of the storm on that day,” the voiceover continued. “And you shouldn’t be either. Please be informed that any ride occupants showing actual fear will be arrested by park marshals at the conclusion of this ride, thank you.”

And suddenly, the cart hooked left, headed down a dark passageway, and came to a stop at a dead end.

Nortal glanced around, aiming her palm beacon at the walls as the colorful lights died down. “That was magnificent! Splended! Superb! Can we go again?”

“Never,” Vioxx said groggily, climbing out of the cart. “We’ll walk back.”

“Don’t throw up, Commander, it’s a show of weakness,” Remax mumbled, and crawled out of the cart, with Vioxx’s assistance. Once he was on his feet, he ran over to the corner and vomited explosively against the wall.

Vioxx looked around, gritting his teeth. “This doesn’t get us any closer to the Klingons.”

Zantak consulted her tricorder. “Agreed.”

“‘First among planets’?” Marsden asked. “What was that all about?”

“Just a history lesson,” Vioxx said. “Romulans believe that amusement rides should educate as well as entertain.”

“But anyone who is actually scared by them is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law?”

“It’s pretty standard practice,” Vioxx said, glancing over at Remax. “Are you okay, friend?”

“Leave me here to die!” Remax moaned, squatting and staring at the ground.

“Well, let’s table the debate on whose empire is superior for now,” Marsden said. “And let’s figure out our next move.”

“Our next move is to find a way back to the surface and get back to the ship,” Vioxx said. “Because I’m fairly certain we’ve been had.”

“Wh…what was that thing?” Selex said, knees drawn up, sitting against a wall in a tiny compartment off the main companionway aboard the Allegra.

Prosak paced in front of the door, checking the power levels on her newly acquired disruptor. “That ‘thing’ was Chynok. I’ve faced her once before, at a Klingon dude ranch. For reasons unknown, she wants me dead. I suspect she somewhat dislikes Romulans.”

“‘Dude Ranch?’”

“Do not ask. At any rate, she challenged me to a battle to the death. I complied; however, just before she was able to deliver the killing blow, I started to tickle her. Before she could recover from her laughing fit, I was beamed away by the Vulcans, who made known to me their intentions to take over the former Klingon Empire.”

“So Chynok is mad because you tickled her?”

“Among other things.”

Selex nodded. “Klingons have a way of hating Romulans.”


Selex glanced around. “We’re lucky to have found this maintenance closet.”

“These are my quarters,” Prosak muttered.

“And the disruptor you found under that shelf?”

“Under my bed,” Prosak corrected. “Standard issue. I’ve never understood why Romulan soldiers keep weapons under their beds.”

“Assassination,” Selex said quickly. “Or…to kill rodents. Whichever.”

“Indeed,” Prosak said. “At any rate, thank you for saving me back there. I suppose we’re even.”

Selex thought about that. “Yes. I suppose we are.”

“Although Chynok may make the whole matter a moot point,” Prosak said, and backed up against the door. “Do you hear something?”

Selex’s ears twitched a bit. “Possibly.”

Suddenly the door exploded inward as a fist punched through it, and gripped Prosak’s neck, dragging her out.

“Achhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” Prosak screamed as her disruptor clattered to the floor.

Chynok lifted her off her feet and stared up into her eyes. “Now then: We were having a discussion before I was so rudely interrupted.”

Selex dove for the disruptor as it clattered out into the corridor, but one of the other Klingons grabbed it before he could get to it and pointed it at him.

“Do not move,” the strapping Klingon male snarled.

“Krard, Bonjar…grab the male,” Chynok growled, dragging Prosak down the companionway. “I’ve got Prosak.”

“Krard?” Prosak blinked, glancing at the other Klingon. “Krard the Solemn?”

The elder Klingon shook his head as he lifted Selex to his feet, and as the other Klingon, Bonjar, took Selex’s other arm. “I’m now known as Krard the Ridiculously Vengeful.”

“Why?” Prosak asked blankly.

“Because Klingons will have a position of respect in the Federation once more!” Chynok bellowed, then slung Prosak unceremoniously over her back.

“And who are you?” Selex asked Bonjar.

“I used to be a waiter at a Klingon dude ranch.”

“Now he is Bonjar the Violently Insolent!” Chynok snapped, as she approached the door to the bridge. She elbowed the control and the hatch cranked open.

“Do you have a…title?” Prosak asked, trying to stall and make conversation at the same time.

“I don’t need one. Nobody who faces me will live to remember my name.”

“That’s clever,” Selex noted, as Bonjar stuffed him into a corner, and trained his disruptor on him.

“There are more like us, back in Klingon space,” Chynok said, forcing Prosak into the command chair, then pacing in front of her, looking out at the starscape on the Allegra’s viewscreen. “They are trapped, weak, and weary. They were conquered by the Romulans, then occupied by the Vulcans. They’ve had enough of being the Galaxy’s dogs!”

“Dogs can be fun!” Prosak mentioned, then Chynok reeled back and slapped her.

“Dogs are not fun!” Chynok shouted back, returning to the viewscreen. “That Warhawk will be the first in a fleet that will bring honor back to all our houses. A New Order will be established among the Klingon people. I will restore our values and our pride. Otherworlders will rue the day they ever crossed the Klingon Empi…”

That’s when Prosak leapt from the chair, and slung her arms around Chynok’s neck, digging into the Klingon’s back with her heels in a mad attempt to topple her.

“Get…off…me….you Romulan….p’tak!” Chynok growled, clawing at Prosak.

“You are SO not logical!” Prosak growled through gritted teeth.

Selex took the moment of confusion to swing his arm down on Bonjar’s hand, knocking the disruptor loose. Both of them dove for it, their heads popping together.

“OW!” Selex moaned, grappling on the floor with Bonjar.

“People, behave yourselves!” Krard called out, looking around the bridge. “Do none of you have any sense?”

“Do you really want us to answer that?” Selex called from the ground.

“This is not what the New Order was supposed to be about!” Krard bellowed, and stooped to grab the fallen disruptor..

“This is exactly what it’s supposed to be about!” Chynok snapped as she clawed at Prosak. “Violence! Vengeance! The right to muscular arms!”

Selex rolled over Bonjar, sitting on the kicking Klingon’s face and grabbing his arms. He looked plaintively up at Krard. “Somebody shut her up!”

Krard leveled his disruptor at Chynok. “All due respect, I think this has gotten out of hands. There’s nothing proud, nor honorable, about this.”

“You’d dare betray me?” Chynok asked, hefting Prosak aloft like a barbell.

“Could someone please shoot her?” Prosak asked politely.

“Don’t be a fool, old man!” Bonjar cried out as he pounced on Prosak, and the two clambered to the ground.

“I…I’m not sure what to do.”

Suddenly, the all-call sounded through the bridge, and all heads turned to the viewscreen.

Vioxx appeared there, seated in the command chair of the Zocor. An incredulous Marsden stood beside him.

“Stand down, is what you should do,” Vioxx said calmly from the screen. “Or be blown out of the stars.”

“You wouldn’t blow us up with your people still aboard.”

“Wouldn’t I?” Vioxx asked, raising an eyebrow as Chynok stared at him, breathing heavily. “I care only about the rescue of Romulan property. Your lives, or the lives of my crew, are meaningless to me. The mission, and faithful service to the Praetor, are all I care about.”

“Romulans are not honorable,” Chynok said, gritting her teeth. She hurled Prosak at the viewscreen, unleashing a mouthful of Klingon curses as the dazed Romma-Vulc rolled to the floor.

Vioxx continued to stare placidly at her, the image only shaking for a moment with the force of impact.

“We’re waiting for your answer, Madam.”

“All weapons!” Chynok barked over her shoulder. “Fire on that…”


With three precise shots, the Allegra’s forcefields were down.

Moments later, Chynok, Krard, and Bonjar felt the tingling sensation of a transporter beam taking hold of them.

Ship’s Log, Romulan Scout Ship Allegra,

First Entry, Stardate 178267.4. We’ve returned to our outpost in the Yatooi sector to put in for minor repairs and return the prisoners we captured while we liberated the Zocor from Klingon hands. Romulan interests were keenly observed, there was little harm done to our crew, and, best yet, we’re about to be handed over command of a state-of-the art Warhawk. It’s a good day to be Romulan.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE DON’T GET THE WARHAWK?” Vioxx demanded, stalking the bridge of the Allegra in an uncharacteristic show of insolence as he stared at Vice Admiral Negrek on the viewscreen.

“Exactly that. You’ve done an excellent job. You may now take the Allegra and return to your post aboard the Anomaly.”

“But you promised!”

“I’m a Romulan. My promises are meaningless. We serve the Praetor in all things. We do what is best for the Romulan people. Command does not wish you to have this Warbird, so you shall not have it.”

“Was it something I said?” Vioxx said quietly.

“It is not for me to say; however, you do have the thanks of all Romulan people today for the rescue of stolen Romulan goods, and the recovery of known felons who will be tried in the Romulan courts,” Negrek monotoned. “You should feel a sense of fulfilment. And you should leave.”

“Screen off,” Vioxx muttered, and glared at the screen.

Selex and Remax stood behind him.

“‘But Brutus is an honorable man,’” Remax quoted.

“You’re on your own,” Selex said. “The only way you’re going to get a true command again is through deceit and murder. The Romulan way! You must kill Prosak.”

“How did you do it?” Prosak asked, as she walked down the companionway toward the Allegra’s bridge. “Only you would have found a way to rig Nortal’s tricorder to tap into the transporter beacon of the orbiting Warhawk.”

“That’s the drawback to a cloaking device. You can beam through it, if you know what you’re doing. And if you can find the ship,” Marsden said with a little grin.

“How did you know what to look for?”

“Probably the fact that I’ve been in intimate contact with a half- Romulan engine for three and a half years now.”

“That’s not all you’ve been in intimate contact with.”

Marsden blinked at Prosak. “I thought we were past all that! We were sharing some jovial comaraderie!”

“My apologies. Old habits die hard, as you humans are fond of saying.”

“Harumph,” Marsden said. “I refuse to become known only as Tovar’s girlfriend.”

“You’re his girlfriend?” Prosak asked, and nearly slammed into a bulkhead..

Marsden caught herself laughing as Prosak side-stepped the protruding bulkhead and continued toward the bridge. “Watch your step, there, Prosak.”

The walk went on in silence, until the pair neared the door to the bridge, and Prosak stopped in her tracks, and turned to face Marsden. “Lieutenant, I have one question. Did Vioxx mean what he said about Romulans being dishonorable?”

“You tell me, you’re the Romulan,” Marsden said.

“Vioxx considers himself an honorable man. He believes there is more to the Romulan Empire than meets the eye. I fear, however, that there’s actually less.”

“Maybe you two can meet somewhere in the middle,” Marsden said.

“The point is moot,” Prosak said. “Vioxx and his crew will be transferring aboard the Zocor, and I doubt we’ll cross paths with them again.”

“You won’t see me shed any tears,” Marsden said.

“Me neither, but then again, I strive to subdue all of my emotions,” Prosak said, and ducked onto the bridge.

She found Remax, Selex, and Vioxx standing together. They stared at her in abject silence. Selex’s mouth was open as if he’d been interrupted in mid-sentence.

“By all means, continue,” Marsden said as she moved over to the engineering console and checked the Allegra’s shield status.

“As I was saying,” Selex said, walking over to join Marsden at the console. “All systems are operational and we are ready for departure.”

“Good,” Vioxx said. He looked ahead to the helm console. “Zantak, lay in a course to return to the Anomaly, best speed. Signal the dockmaster and have them clear all moorings, then take us out on thrusters only until we clear the bay.”

Nortal tapped eagerly at the tactical console. “Depart, depart! Yes, we shall depart forthwith!”

“What happened to the Zocor?” asked Prosak.

“The Zocor will remain here for now,” Vioxx said, as he watched the view shift from the inside of the outpost’s hangar deck to the open space door, and the starscape beyond. “And will remain so until the Romulan military authority sees fit to crew it.”

“You guys aren’t leaving us?” Marsden asked.

“Not yet,” Selex said under his breath.

“I for one couldn’t be more pleased,” Prosak said, stepping up next to Vioxx.

“Me neither. Now let’s get the hell out of here,” Vioxx said, and stared ahead at the viewscreen as the Allegra leapt into warp.



Reginald Bain is targeted for revenge, when Thot Phul unleashes a secret weapon on him: A Starfleet Captain almost as smart as Bain is! Will the holographic James T. Kirk stand a chance against Bain’s intellect? Will Prosak survive Romulan scheming? And what is Grad Norm planning for the Anomaly crew? Find out in the Series 8 finale…“Hollow Threats.”

Tags: boldly