Author: Brendan Chris
‘Nisus’ concept by Jean Lorrah
Ensign Trish Yanick could barely restrain herself from bouncing up and down in her seat like a little kid.
Seated in the cockpit of the runabout Asessippi, Yanick was running the small craft through its pre-flight tests, preparing it for a lengthy trip and waiting for her boyfriend, Chief of Security T’Parief, to arrive. Looking out the window she could see the rather large form of the reptilian officer lumbering across the shuttlebay, suitcases hanging from his arms and claws with packages stacked higher than his head. Wobbling slightly, he continued towards the runabout.
Finishing off the pre-flight check, Yanick ran back to the aft cabin of the runabout and started opening storage compartments, clearing space for the walking mountain of luggage approaching. Once she’d opened compartments beneath the seats, beneath the replicator, above the replicator, below the windows, under the table and next to the door, she realized that 5 minutes had passed and T’Parief still wasn’t in the runabout.
Yanick looked around, trying to find the source of the sound. Had part of the runabout fallen off? Had Silverado hit a bump? Maybe Silverado was under attack! The Captain would need her at the helm!
Standing outside the runabout hatch, T’Parief’s arms were quickly getting tired. In addition to his own large suitcase, he was carrying what felt like every object in Trish’s quarters. He hadn’t taken into account though that the runabout hatch, unlike the doors on the ship, did not open automatically when somebody approached. (Otherwise any unfortunate person walking past the exit during a flight would find himself sucked out into space.) With his hands full, he was unable to hit either the ‘OPEN’ plate or his comm-badge. Looking around quickly at the empty bay, he twisted his back end and slammed his tail against the side of the runabout. Sent off balance by the motion he wobbled, shifting his weight and fighting to remain on his feet.
Just as T’Parief was recovering his balance, the runabout hatch snapped open and Trish Yanick ran out at full speed, tripping over T’Parief’s outstretched tail, her hand barely snagging the strap of one suitcase as she tumbled over, dragging T’Parief and the entire mountain of luggage onto the floor.
“Hi, honey,” T’Parief grunted from beneath the pile of luggage.
“Pari!” Yanick pulled herself to her feet, “What the heck are you doing?”
“Being knocked off my feet, apparently,” T’Parief smiled slowly, ignoring the use of the extremely annoying nickname as he pulled Yanick back down to the floor and giving her a quick kiss.
“Oh, you tease!” Yanick giggled, kissed him right back, then jumped to her feat, “Let’s get this stuff loaded! Ooohhh! I can hardly wait!”
“It’s not that big a deal,” T’Parief muttered, grabbing two of the bags and following Yanick into the runabout, “It’s been less than two years since I saw them last.”
“Two years is long enough!” Yanick declared, “I’m a firm believer that close family ties are key to our society!”
“Your society, maybe,” T’Parief muttered, “Mine’s a little different!”
“Which one?” Yanick asked.
T’Parief was silent.
“I just happen to know that Andorians have a very closely knit family structure. Well, as close as you can have with multiple parental pairs anyway. And Klingons…geez…‘The House of Whatever’! Sounds like a restaurant. But y’know, they’re all worried about honor and stuff, and family, and all that. So don’t try pulling any of that cultural stuff on me, cuz I know better!”
“Gorn parents take no part in the raising of their spawn once they are finished teething,” T’Parief said with a slight smirk.
“That’s only one out of three!” Yanick snapped.
“Look, does it matter? We are going to visit them anyway. You get to meet my parents, brothers and cousins.”
Yanick was quiet for a minute.
“No sisters?” she said finally.
“Then who am I gonna girl-talk with!?”
T’Parief rolled his eyes.
“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” he said, moving closer to her.
“I don’t know,” Yanick smiled, “I’ll be awfully bored. How will I keep busy?”
“I have some ideas,” T’Parief bent to kiss her.
“PUT ME DOWN YOU OVERGROWN FUR-BALL!”
Popping her head out the hatch, Yanick could see Ensign Dar-ugal, the big, furry, headless security officer stalking towards the runabout, somebody thrown over his shoulder.
“Darg! What are you doing?” T’Parief demanded.
“I SAID PUT ME DOWN!” wailed Dar’ugal’s passenger. Dar’ugal obediently let go, dropping San Jall to the deck in a heap.
“What is HE doing here?” T’Parief snapped. Dar’ugal just gestured to Jall.
“The Captain decided the hanger deck needed to be mopped, so he send the fuzz-ball down here,” Jall snarled, “Anybody see a really big mop pail anywhere?”
Dar’ugal stepped menacingly towards Jall.
“OK, OK! Turns out there’s some kind of Starfleet Operations convention on Nisus, so Stafford decided I should go!”
“You’re coming with us?” Yanick asked, perking up, “Yay! Girl-talk!”
“No!” T’Parief snapped, “This is my vacation! I will not have this…this…THING with us!”
“Hey, I’m not happy about this either!” Jall said, picking himself up off the deck. Dar’ugal handed him a bag, presumably his luggage, “But we don’t have much of a choice now do we?”
“We’ll see!” T’Parief vowed as he hit his comm-badge, “T’Parief to Stafford-“
“NO! Stafford out!”
There was a click as the channel was cut.
“T’Parief to Noonan-“
“Sorry, Commander. Noonan out.”
Clenching his teeth, T’Parief turned and stepped into the runabout, Yanick and Jall following him.
“He’s really not going to be happy about this,” Stafford said with a smile as he, Jeffery and Noonan sat gathered in Unbalanced Equations, watching through the big windows as the runabout flew off into space.
“Aye,” Jeffery agreed, “I think it’s safe to say that ye’ve pissed off a two-meter tall, hundred and fourty kilogram lizard.”
“With teeth that could crush duranium,” Noonan added.
“And claws that could rip ye apart like a Christmas turkey,” Jeffery finished.
“He’s very obedient,” he said, “It’s one of the things that makes him such a great officer.”
“You are just pleased to be rid of Jall for two weeks.” Noonan grinned.
“Hell yeah! Aren’t you?”
“It is going to be very quiet here without him,” Noonan admitted, “Or not,” he amended, looking towards the lounge doors.
“Hmmm?” Stafford turned to look, “Aw, crap.”
Dr. Noel Wowryk was striding towards them.
“Hi honey,” Jeffery smiled as she approached their table. She extended one slender hand, which Jeffery eagerly kissed.
“Hello Simon,” she said, taking a seat, “Please get me something to drink.”
“Ye got it!” Jeffery was off in a flash.
“Don’t you ever get tired of bossing him around?” Stafford asked.
“You two order everybody on this ship around,” she said, “I hardly think you’re one to lecture me on the topic.
Stafford and Noonan exchanged glances.
“But we’re nice about it!” Stafford finally objected.
“Really?” Wowryk raised an eyebrow, “Shall we comm Mr. T’Parief and ask his opinion on the subject?”
“Touché,” Noonan conceded.
“But c’mon,” Stafford pressed, leaning over the table, “What possible reason could you have for ordering him around? How hard would it have been for you to grab your own drink on the way by?”
“I don’t need to discuss my private life with you, Captain,” Noel sniffed.
“Jeffery’s my friend,” Stafford returned, “And if you’re going to treat him like dirt, it’s my business! Isn’t a relationship supposed to be built on love and respect?”
“He loves and respects me,”
Stafford gripped the table, a vein in his forehead throbbing slightly. His mouth opened twice, but no sound emerged.
Sighing, Noonan interpreted.
“It’s supposed to work both ways,” he said.
“He seems perfectly happy with our relationship,” she said.
Further argument was halted as Jeffery returned, a hot cup of tea in one hand.
“Is this Earl Grey?” Wowryk asked.
“Aye,” Jeffery replied.
“Oh,” Wowryk looked slightly downtrodden.
“Oh!” Jeffery slapped his forehead, “Ah forgot! Tuesday is English Breakfast day! Ah’ll be right back!”
Wowryk shot Stafford a look of triumph as Jeffery ran back to the bar.
Personal Log, Ensign Trish Yanick:
“Yippee! We’re finally on out way! Two days of travel, 10 days on Nisus, two days back. I finally get to meet T’Parief’s family! And even better, Jall could come along! Well, big old Pari isn’t too happy about that, but it gives me somebody to talk to, and let’s face it, Pari doesn’t talk enough to keep up with me.”
“So, what’s so special about Nisus?” Jall asked, lounging in one of the rear cockpit seats.
“Yeah,” Yanick added, “You mentioned it, but you’ve never really told me anything about it. Is it pretty?”
“Nisus,” T’Parief grunted, “was colonized over two and a half centuries ago. It is a Class M planet with abundant flora and fauna. Most races find it to be a very beautiful place.”
Jall and Yanick were quiet for a moment.
“AND??” Jall demanded.
“Nisus is the greatest example of multi-cultural cooperation in the Federation,” T’Parief went on, a slight edge in his voice, “It started as a Vulcan science colony and attracted contingents of Human and Andorian scientists. There are also Tellarite, Lemnorian, Bajoran, Bolian, Klingon, Horta and Gorn contingents on the planet.
“Like Canada!” Yanick said happily.
T’Parief and Jall looked at her.
“I’ve never heard of that planet,” T’Parief admitted.
“Me neither,” added Jall.
Yanick crossed her arms.
“Canada isn’t a planet! It was a country on Earth!”
Jall and T’Parief stared at her blankly.
“We went there when we were thrown back in time!”
“That was Toronto,” Jall said, “Wasn’t it?”
“Toronto was IN Canada!” Yanick snapped, “Canada was a multicultural nation. People immigrated there from all over the world, living in relative harmony with one another!”
“Oh, so you mean America,” T’Parief nodded, “That I’ve heard of.”
“No,” Yanick retorted, “I mean Canada! It was a bit like America. Only different.”
“What about the Canadians?” Jall asked, “What happened to them?”
“Um, I don’t know,” Trish admitted, biting her lip.
“Nisus is similar,” T’Parief grunted, “It was a very successful experiment, and is a monument to all that the Federation stands for.”
“Aww,” Jall said with a smile, “Somebody’s proud of his home!”
“Yeah,” Yanick giggled, “Isn’t it cute?”
“I,” T’Parief said flatly, “am not ‘cute’.”
As the conversation degenerated into pointless ‘girl-talk’; discussion about clothing fashions, shoes and gossip about various crewmembers (rumor had it that Crewman Shwaluk was cheating on Nurse Kerry) T’Parief left the cockpit and ducked into the aft cabin.
T’Parief hated traveling by runabout. For one thing, the low ceilings meant he constantly had to duck. Also, none of the chairs could accommodate his tail. He either had to squash it behind him, or lie on his stomach. Ignoring the too-small bunk, he stretched out on the floor.
Any romantic ideas he’d had about the trip had been thrown completely out the window the minute Jall had been tossed into the shuttlebay. The bottles of massage oil in his bag, one for human skin, the other for Gorn scales, would likely remain unused.
His relationship with Trish Yanick was, on an emotional level, very satisfying. She was friendly, generous, enthusiastic, and energetic and had such a happy, outgoing personality that T’Parief couldn’t help but fall in love with her. She was nice to Jall even! And yet…
Well, he wasn’t sure how he was going to explain her to his parents, for starters. How do you explain to a Gorn and a Klingon/Andorian hybrid that you’re in love with a soft, weak human? There would be questions, comments and snide remarks. His brothers especially were likely to be obnoxious. Of course, he could always beat them into submission. The last time Glexnar had teased T’Parief on account of his size, T’Parief had broken both his legs. Neither of his parents said much; they considered it light roughhousing, but after he bit the head off another student’s pet bird the school principal had wanted him to undergo two weeks of psychiatric assessment. His mother had just shrugged and said ‘boys will be boys!’ His father had said nothing, turning back to his news and tasting the air with his tongue.
At least Jall would be too busy with his stupid conference to butt in. Strangely, the thought saddened T’Parief. Watching Jall being beaten to within an inch of his life by Glexnar and Padtute would have made his day.
Families. Had to love them. No matter how messed up they were.
T’Parief recalled the last family reunion he had attended. His Klingon grandparents had told stories and sang songs of glorious battle, his Andorian grand-hive had erupted into a massive fight, killing three hive members and destroying any chance of getting the damage deposit back. His Gorn grandparents hadn’t bothered to show up.
Growing up with such a range of cultural options, it was no wonder T’Parief found himself a bit confused from time to time.
T’Parief’s musings were interrupted by the hiss of the compartment hatch.
“Comfy?” Trish asked with a grin.
“Very,” T’Parief replied, “although the floor would be better suited for a Klingon warrior if the carpet were removed.”
“You’re not a Klingon,” Yanick shrugged.
“No,” T’Parief sighed, “I’m not.”
Sensing his discomfort, Trish knelt down on the floor beside him.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
“Do you ever feel,” T’Parief started, “that sometimes you’ve done something to give somebody a false impression?”
“Not really,” Yanick shrugged, “Do you?”
“Did anybody think to pack some munchies?” Jall’s voice intruded, “I’m starving.”
“We are trying to talk,” T’Parief snapped.
“Really? What about?”
“None of your business!”
“Pari,” Trish sighed reprovingly, “Be nice!”
“Be gone!” T’Parief directed this remark to Jall.
“In a minute,” Jall tapped at the replicator, ordering up a batch of Bajoran deviled grubs, “Want anything?”
“You to leave. I believe the forward egress hatch is unlocked.”
“That’s not nice!” Yanick objected, “T’Parief, Jall, we’re going to be together for a few days on this trip! Play nicely!”
“If you say so,” Jall shrugged, carrying his bowl of grubs to the cockpit.
“Was that really called for?” Trish turned to T’Parief.
“I dislike him,” T’Parief shrugged.
“You could at least be civil,”
“I don’t want to be.”
“Well,” Yanick huffed, getting her her feet, “When you change your mind, we’ll be up front!” She stalked out, leaving T’Parief alone with his thoughts…again.
Stafford swung into Main Engineering as Alpha shift was drawing to a close. After the beating his ship had taken at Matria the entire engine room had undergone extensive repairs. Now every surface gleamed like new, light reflecting from the gently pulsating warp core stretching up both levels of the room and disappearing into the upper decks of the engineering section. Noticing a small smudge on one panel, Stafford bunched up a corner of his uniform tunic and wiped the panel clean.
“Warp core ejection system initiated,” Sylvia intoned, “Ejection in thirty seconds,”
“Oh, crap!” Stafford cursed. He ran his eyes over the panel, hunting for a button labeled ‘Cancel’, ‘Abort’, ‘Stop’, ANYTHING! Finally locating a small red button with a promising label, he pressed his thumb down on it.
“Warp core ejection cancelled,” Sylvia stated.
“Let’s just keep this to ourselves,” Stafford muttered to the ceiling. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he heard a soft chuckle.
“Whatcha doin’?” Jeffery asked, swaggering into the compartment, Frit and Frek Naketh right behind him carrying a load of tools and components.
Stepping carefully around Jeffery’s midget-like engineers, Stafford followed Jeffery to his office.
“Just spending a bit of alone time with my best gal,” Stafford gulped.
Jeffery looked at him.
“Dude, ye need a girlfriend,” he said with a grin.
“Thanks,” Stafford replied dryly, “I never would have figured that one out. Um, about that-“
“Look at the time,” Jeffery interrupted, “Shift’s over! We finished installing the holo-emitters in Sickbay and Shuttlebay One today.”
“Great, can we-“
“Ah’m heading off. See you later!”
“Wait!” Stafford snapped, “What are you doing about Wowryk?!?”
“What about her?” Jeffery shrugged.
“Well, nothing, if you don’t mind BEING HER BITCH!”
“Ah don’t know what yer talking about,” Jeffery looked away.
“Oh come on! Just a few months ago, you were talking about dumping her lightly frosted ass, now you’re bowing and scraping like she’s the queen of the universe! Again!”
“It’s none of your business,” Jeffery replied.
“None of my business?” Stafford was speechless, “Simon, what’s wrong with you? You told me everything about your last girlfriend! I could tell you her favorite colour, day of the week, clothing store, position-“
“Noel is different!” Jeffery cut in, “She makes me feel…I don’t know.”
“Like dirt?” Stafford ventured.
“Like I’m doing something special,” Jeffery replied.
“WHY?” Stafford exploded, jumping out of his chair and stalking to the other side of the room, “Simon, she walks all over you! She says jump and you ask how high, facing what direction and whether you should use one foot or two! I have never in my life seen a woman treat a man like such crap. You need to stop this. Now!”
“Oh yeah?” Jeffery shot back, “Or what?”
“See? That’s what I’m talking about!” Stafford spun around, stepping closer to Jeffery, “Fight back! Show her that you’re a man, not a pet!”
“And what if I don’t?”
“Then I hope you like cooking and cleaning. Cuz if you think this is gonna stop with bringing her drinks, you’ve got another think coming!”
Jeffery sat quietly in his office for a moment.
“He sounded very concerned,” Sylvia spoke up.
“Aye,” Jeffery acknowledged.
“I told you he was going to start acting like this.”
“Why don’t you just tell him the truth?” A monitor on Jeffery’s wall changed to display a giant, pulsating question mark.
“Cuz the last thing Ah need is his pity, his help or his concern,” Jeffery stated, rising from his chair and heading for the door.
Jeffery nodded at Lieutenant Sage as the latter reported for his shift.
“How’s our best girl doing tonight?” Sage asked, tapping his code into the computer shift tracker.
“She’s doin’ fine, nothing to report,” Jeffery replied.
Sage gave him a skeptical look.
Chuckling, Jeffery handed him a padd with a long list of glitches and malfunctions.
“Replicators on Deck 8, gravity fluctuations on Deck 25, temperature variations in the number four RCS thruster,” Sage frowned, “Display monitors in section six showing ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ reruns?”
“Ah don’t make them up, Ah’m just reportin’ them,” Jeffery called on his way out the door, “Don’t let her give you any lip!”
“Right,” Sage watched as Jeffery strolled down the corridor, “Must be his boss calling,” Sage muttered, “Ok, Sylvia, where do you want to start?”
Jeffery exited the turbolift and walked straight for Science Lab 4. One of the smaller labs, Lab 4 consisted of a central specimen column reaching from floor to ceiling, surrounded by a ring of consoles. Closing and locking the door behind him, he turned to the consoles.
“OK, Sylvia, fire her up,”
The small holo-emitter Jeffery had mounted in the lab ceiling came to life, projecting a figure in the central column. The figure was female in gender and Orion in race; her green skin shining in the light, her dark hair falling sensuously over her shoulders. Her biceps were solid, but still slender enough to retain their femininity. Her ruby red lips were parted ever so slightly, giving her face the appearance of a mild pout.
“I really don’t see why you need to go to all this trouble,” Sylvia fussed, “The robo-trainer is perfectly adequate-“
“Ah don’t just want to get in shape, Sylvia,” Jeffery called out, tapping on the console, “That’s just not what Ah need.”
“You do remember that your last attempt at holo-engineering turned our science officer into a duck, right?”
“No, Ah forgot,” Jeffery replied, sarcasm dripping from every word, “Thank ye so much for reminding me!”
“Perhaps you should get Lieutenant Fifebee to help you out,” Sylia said thoughtfully, “I’m sure she has much expertise in holo-engineering.”
“Uh-huh,” Jeffery muttered, “Like being a human makes me an expert in biology?”
“Point taken. What exactly do you need this hologram for?”
“Be all I can be,” he muttered.
Yanick and Jall had crowded into the cockpit of the runabout Asessippi as it started its descent to the Nisus Colonial Spaceport. Two days locked in a runabout had had little impact on Yanick’s attitude, she and Jall were still giggling about how much a nearby asteroid had looked like a pair of buttocks when the Asessippi dropped out of warp. T’Parief, on the other hand, was grumpy. Very, grumpy. How grumpy, you ask? Very grumpy. Who could be the cause of this grumpiness? Who, I ask you? WHO?
“AAHHH!!!” T’Parief cried out in pain.
“Oh, sorry,” Jall apologized as he lifted his foot off T’Parief’s tail, “Didn’t see that there!”
“Why you little-“
“Nisus Control to incoming runabout,” a crisp, male voice came over the comm, “Please state your identity and-.”
“-look, I said I was sorry!”
“Claws in! Claws in!” Yanick cried, “Don’t hurt him!”
“I’ll do more than hurt him!”
“NISUS CONTROL TO INCOMING RUNABOU!” the male voice snapped, “Stop fighting and come to 124 mark 3!”
Yanick dove to the helm console to make the course adjustment, narrowly avoiding a large mountain that had appeared in their way.
After dodging the scenery, Yanick guided the runabout to the assigned landing pad, shutting down the engines and putting everything into ‘standby’ mode.
Stepping out of the airlock, T’Parief took a deep breath of the fresh, Nisus air. Slightly damp, but in a clean and pleasant way. Kinda like the fresh air after a good rainfall. North of the spaceport the buildings of the city formed an impressive skyline, nestled in and beyond a broad valley. A few miles up the valley a broad dam held back a sparkling blue lake, a small river running from a spillway and winding through the city.
There was just something about the air of his home planet. T’Parief had to fight his Gorn instincts to flick out his tongue, settling instead for another deep breath through the scent receptors inherited from his mammalian parents.
“What kind of idiot puts a city right underneath a dam?”
T’Parief brew out his deeply held breath in a loud snort of contempt.
“It says here,” Yanick piped in, “That a hundred years ago there was a major flood. Ice got lodged upstream in the mountains, blocking off the river. When the ice dam let go, the dam down here couldn’t hold back the water and the city was flooded. Right in the middle of an epidemic.” Yanick had pulled up several documents on the planet Nisus and had downloaded them into her padd.
“Idiots,” Jall muttered again.
“Mr. Jall,” T’Parief said carefully, working hard to hold his temper, “As we have now arrived, I suggest you proceed to your conference. I do believe accommodations have been arranged for you at the Starfleet Hospitality Center.”
“Aww,” Yanick pouted, “Y’know, maybe he could-“
“No. He would die at my place,”
“And I’m against that!” Jall piped in, “Gimmi a shout later,” he gave Yanick a quick hug then departed, chasing after a passing hover-taxi.
“You didn’t have to be so rude…again!” Yanick complained.
“We already have to deal with my family. Do we really need more distractions around?” he replied to her, feeling better the further away Jall’s figure receded.
“Well, when you put it that way…” Yanick flicked her eyes back to the runabout, “Think your parents can wait for another hour?”
T’Parief was already keying open the hatch.
Finally, after chasing after it halfway to the edge of the spaceport, the hover-taxi slowed.
“Thanks,” Jall snapped at the auto-pilot, jumping in the front seat, “Starfleet Hospitality Center, and make it snappy.”
“Y’know, since I’m being nice enough to share my cab, you could check with me before ordering it around.”
“Huh?” Jall twisted around to look behind him, where a bearded man in a Starfleet Operations uniform sat sprawled across the back seat, “Sorry.”
“Doesn’t matter, I’m going there anyway,” Reaching forward, he offered Jall his hand, “Craig Porter, Starbase Waystation.”
“San Jall. U.S.S Silver-“
“Silverado,” Porter chuckled, “What a surprise. Seems like we’re running into you people everywhere.”
“Hey, we only visited your station twice,” Jall objected, “Actually, Starfleet sent us there twice.”
“Relax, buddy, I’m bugging you,” Porter chuckled, “So, you’re here for the conference?”
“Yeah. I guess my Captain figures I might learn something.”
People usually fell into three categories in Jall’s world: ‘People That Annoy Me’, ‘People I Like To Annoy’, and ‘People I Don’t Care About’. T’Parief was a ‘Person I Like To Annoy’. Yanick was an exception, fitting into none of the above and as such deserving of what was in Jall’s mind, special treatment. Although his idea of special treatment matched most being’s ideas of common courtesy. It was people like her who actually saw that underneath his sarcastic exterior, Jall was really a very intelligent guy. Porter was so far still in the ‘People I Don’t Care About’ state, leaving Jall to stick with a simple, polite response rather than coming up with a witty comeback. Whether Porter should have felt honored for the good treatment or insulted by fact that Jall didn’t consider him worth the effort of a good insult was the only question.
“Likewise,” Porter replied, not realizing just how unusually pain-free his interaction with the Silverado officer had been.
The hover-cab pulled up to the Starfleet Hospitality Center. The two men checked in and parted ways, Porter heading for the south wing of the building, Jall for a suite in the east wing.
Yanick and T’Parief had taken a high-speed slidewalk from the spaceport to the core of the capitol city of Nisus. T’Parief’s family lived at the very edge of downtown, where towering skyscrapers gave way to the smaller but still palatial homes of the ‘wealthy’. Currency in the Federation might be dead (or nearly so) but possession was still a factor. One could not simply own a huge home in a city, one had to obtain it, one common method being inheritance. T’Parief’s Andorian ancestors had lived on Nisus since the colony had been founded and had obtained property near the city core back when the area was the still the outskirts. The old home had been demolished and a new one designed, T’Parief had explained on the trip in from the spaceport.
“Wow,” Yanick said happily as they disembarked from the tram, “It’s pretty!”
Pretty was as good a word as any. Nisus was a very ecologically friendly city. Trees grew in profusion along the sidewalks and small open spaces could be seen dotting the street. Looking up at an immense tower, Yanick could see no fewer than five public terraces jutting from the building’s sides, greenery overflowing from each one. The multicultural spirit of Nisus was clearly visible in its architecture: Some buildings were topped by sharp spires that could be either Terran Gothic or Andorian Conservative, while others had soft, ovoid shapes reminiscent of Bolarus. T’Parief pointed out the Klingon Cultural Center, with its predictably sharp corners and triangular shapes, as well as the Tellarite Embassy, resembling nothing more than a stack of children’s blocks. The only common element was the inclusion of large outdoor terraces or patios, along with flora native to whatever homeworld the building came from.
It was a little odd seeing Klingon architecture sitting right next a bright green park rather than a desolate wasteland.
“This is such an awesome place!” Yanick exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to try gagh! Could I get some gagh?” Gagh was a Klingon dish: live worms in blood sauce.
“Uh, if you really want to,” T’Parief shrugged, “But you don’t have to do it to impress-“
“There’s a place!” she latched onto his arm and led him to ‘Granthar’s Gaghorium’. Looking up at the menu choices, she frowned.
“I didn’t think Klingons put ketchup on their food,” she commented.
“ARE YOU QUESTIONING MY CUISINE?” snarled the burly Klingon behind the counter, presumably Granthar.
“Um, no,” Yanick squeaked, “Uh, two plates of your Heavenly Gagh with Gravy,”
Glaring at her, Granthar started preparing their meals.
“Most of the merchants here try to cater to a broad range of species,” T’Parief murmured softly, “It would be wise to appreciate the gesture,”
“I didn’t mean it in a bad way!” Yanick whispered back, “It’s great that-“
“Your food,” Granthar snapped, slamming two iron plates of steaming, crawling worms on the counter, “Do you plan to eat like a warrior, or would you prefer a knife and fork?”
T’Parief felt his heckles rise.
“Are you implying that I am not a warrior?” he snarled.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” Granthar bowed, “I did not mean to hurt your delicate feelings!”
“P’TACK!” T’Parief snarled, punching Granthar across the face. Recovering quickly, Granthar leapt over the counter, knocking T’Parief to the floor. The two wrestled around while Trish looked on in confusion. Granthar punched T’Parief in the face twice. Roaring in rage, the larger reptile flipped Granthar over his head, slamming him to the floor. Both jumped to their feet, eying each other warily. T’Parief made the first move, delivering a kick aimed at Granthar’s knees. Granthar blocked the blow, sending T’Parief stumbling off balance and onto the floor. Granthar was on him in an instant, his ceremonial blade at T’Parief’s throat. Trish screamed, but T’Parief merely nodded. Smiling, Granthar jumped off and pulled the officer to his feet.
“Let me add a pint of blood wine,” he laughed, “on the house!”
As he left, Yanick turned to her slightly bruised boyfriend.
“What the hell was that?”
“He…challenged me…” T’Parief forced out between gasps, “I lost.”
“But he’s giving you free booze?”
“It is all good natured,” T’Parief replied, wincing as he sat back down, “Just the way Klingons do things,”
“I see,” Yanick shrugged as Granthar set the blood wine in front of T’Parief and a cup of coffee in front of Yanick. Grabbing him by the ears, she slammed Granthar’s face into the plate of gagh.
“I don’t know what he got so upset about,” Yanick complained as she and T’Parief walked down the street, gagh hanging from them, “I was just trying to join in! I didn’t think he was going to throw us out!”
“Slamming somebody’s face into food isn’t a challenge,” T’Parief sighed, “It’s an insult.”
Sitting on a bench to rest for a moment, Trish took a look at the other pedestrians walking the street. Slowly, it began to dawn on her that something was subtly…different…about most of the people.
“Pari,” she spoke up, “I don’t recognize most of these races! What are these people?”
“That,” he pointed at a mostly human looking man. His hair was very fine, almost like fur, and jet black. His skin had a greenish tinge, like he’d ridden the roller-coaster just a few times too many, “Is a Human/Orion hybrid.”
“Really?” Yanick looked again, “Wow!”
“And he,” T’Parief pointed at another male, this one with short brown fur and pointed ears, “is a cross between a Tellarite and a Vulcan. Or possibly a Romulan,” he amended, “That blue guy with the fangs is part Nausican and part Bolian, and she, “ T’Parief frowned as he eyed an orange woman with insectoid eyes, drooping ears and spikes protruding from her back, “I have no idea what she is.”
“And her?” Trish asked, pointed at a green, leafy-looking thing.
“That is a bush, my beloved.”
“You told me it was big,” Yanick said, “But you didn’t say it was HUGE!”
‘It’ was the home of T’Parief’s parents. What were you thinking? Pervert!
Primary built from blocks of granite with heavy bands of metal framing it, the house was as much a blend of cultures as T’Parief was. Gorn and Andorians loved using stone and metal in their constructions, while the sharp angles of the roof fit better with Klingon standards.
Walking up to the heavy doors, T’Parief lifted a huge knocker, letting it drop with a bone-rattling THUMP.
After a moment, the door started to creak slowly open. It took nearly ten seconds for the huge door, half a meter thick, to swing back on it’s hinges, revealing a tall, grim faced woman.
That her ancestry was mixed was obvious even to Yanick. Her skin was a grayish hue, Klingon cranial ridges dominating her forehead, but disappearing under a mop of steel grey hair. Two stunted antennae could be seen, twisting slowly. Her manner was regal as she stepped towards T’Parief.
“My son,” she said.
“Mother,” T’Parief bowed his head. Yanick, remembering her encounter at Granthar’s, stood back from the scene and didn’t get involved.
T’Parief’s mother walked slowly down the steps to where her son waited, his Starfleet duffel bag in hand. Winding up, she punched him hard across the jaw.
“Dishonorable filth!” she screamed.
“Yes, Mother,” T’Parief replied. Yanick frowned.
“Crawling into Starfleet like some cowardly human!”
“Hey!” Yanick objected, protocol forgotten, “Who do you think you-“
“Stay out of this, off-worlder!” T’Parief’s mother snapped. Yanick took a step back, fighting tears.
“You bring this Human into our home! You defy the wishes of your Klingon grandparents and reject your Klingon heritage! You defy your Andorian hive-parents by rejecting your Andorian heritage!”
“Yes, Mother,” T’Parief repeated.
She crossed her arms, her stony façade cracking as one corner of her mouth twitched upward.
“And good for you, I say!”
T’Parief chuckled softly.
“Well, now that that bulls**t is out of the way,” his mother’s face broke into a full smile as she spoke, “Welcome home, my son!”
“Mother, I introduce to you Ensign Trish Yanick,” T’Parief intoned, “Trish, this is-“
“Klexish,” Klexish cut in, “And can the formalities, Pari, I’ve had quite enough of that already!”
“You call him ‘Pari’ too?” she asked.
“I’ve called him that since he was five years old,” Klexish smiled, “It drives him up the wall!”
“I know!” Trish replied, the two women laughing together as ‘Pari’ looked on.
Taking Yanick by the arm, Klexish guided her gently into the house.
“You’ve really got to go see ‘Kiss me, Turtlehead’ while you’re in town,” she declared when Trish asked what there was to do on Nisus, “The Nisus Guild of Entertainers has been giving it rave reviews! Sekmon and Ethor call it ‘Best Klingon/Terran romance ever written’.”
“Sounds like fun,” Yanick replied.
“I’ll have tickets sent over,”
“Oh, you don’t have to go to any trouble-“
“Nonsense,” Klexish waved the comment away, “You’re the first girl Pari’s ever brought home. I intend to see to it that you both have a good time!”
“The first?” Yanick looked back at T’Parief.
“I did not have time to date,” he grumbled.
“That’s his story,” Klexish said, smiling at Yanick, “I think the girls were just too afraid of him. A pity too; such a handsome young man-“
“Mother-“ T’Parief groaned.
“Well you are! Maybe if you’d spent a little less time at the gym, and martial arts classes, and with the Starfleet Scouts you would have actually had time to meet a nice girl!” Klexish smiled at Yanick, “Although I suppose he has you, so everything worked out in the end! When can I be expecting grandchildren?”
Yanick and T’Parief exchanged uneasy glances.
“We haven’t exactly figured that part out yet,” T’Parief said quietly.
“Oh, I understand,” Klexish said, “It took almost five years for the geneticists here to figure out to help your father and I have a child. But that was still five years of incredible sex in the meantime,” she added wistfully.
“We haven’t really figured that part out yet, either,” Yanick said uneasily. T’Parief groaned. There was a sudden beeping from another room.
“Be right back!” Klexish moved swiftly towards the source of the noise.
“I sure like her,” Yanick said softly, “I don’t know what you were so worried-“
“You are home,”
Yanick and T’Parief turned to the source of the voice: A Gorn male had stepped softly into the foyer. His scales were a full deep green rather than the greenish-brown of T’Parief’s. His lizard snout was far more pronounced, a slender tongue snapping out occasionally to taste the air. His stature was impressive, but he wasn’t as muscular as his son. In true Gorn style, he wore a simple sleeveless leather tunic and pants.
“Father,” T’Parief shifted uneasily.
“Spawn,” the Gorn nodded.
“Trish, this is Slezar,” T’Parief stated formally, “Father, this is-“
“I heard,” Slezar, turning away from Yanick as though dismissing her from his attention, “How many of your enemies have you slaughtered?”
T’Parief snorted. Even Yanick, with her blond outlook on life, could sense that T’Parief had gone through this routine with his father several times.
“Three Matrian soldiers, four Matrian starships-“
“Details, please,” Slezar cut him off.
“I electrocuted two Matrian soldiers and crushed a third’s head against the deck…”
Yanick’s stomach turned as T’Parief recalled every death he’d caused as Silverado’s Tactical Officer, from the Matrians to the Hometians right up to fatalities on the Orion ship that had attacked them a few months earlier.
When T’Parief finished, Slezar waited expectantly. Klixish re-entered the room, but moved to stand silently next to Yanick.
“That is it?” he finally said, “You have not killed more?”
T’Parief was silent.
“Um, he killed half a dozen of my fish, and squashed a crewmate’s hamster,” Yanick said, her voice shaking.
“Pets are irrelevant,” Slezar waved the comment away.
“He ate your fish?” Klixish whispered to Yanick, “Thought they were appetizers, huh?”
“Yup,” Yanick whispered back.
Klixish laughed quietly to herself.
“I suppose in an organization as weak-stomached as Starfleet I cannot expect a proper death count,” Slezar was saying, shaking his head, “Mark your kills.”
“But Father,” T’Parief objected, “I am-“
“You are never too old to track your kills!” Slezar snarled, “NOW MARK THEM!”
T’Parief walked over to a large screen, probably used to entertain anybody waiting in the foyer. As he tapped at the panel, three columns appeared. Each had a name at the top: T’Parief, Glexnar and Padtute. In each column was an array of symbols that looked they’d come from a cave painting. Humanoids, canines, birds, large animals and even starships, all done in the same stick-figure style. As T’Parief tapped away, several new humanoid icons appeared under his name, along with several ships. Yanick could see that T’Parief’s tally was much larger than either of his brothers, but it didn’t look like their father really cared about that.
“I expect better when you next return,” T’Parief’s father said curtly. T’Parief only nodded.
With a nod to his wife, Slezar left the room.
“It’s getting late,” Klixish said uneasily, “Let me show you to your rooms.”
San Jall was awakened by the chirp of his door chime.
“Lieutenant Jall!” cried Lieutenant Commander Porter, “Wake up!”
Deciding that Porter was definitely taking a step towards the ‘People I Don’t Like’ category, Jall climbed out of bed and padded to the door.
“What the f**k do you want?” he growled drowsily. Porter was already fully dressed, showered, groomed and holding two cups of coffee in his outstretched hands.
Frowning at Jall’s tiger stripe shorts, Porter handed him one cup of coffee.
“You’re going to be late for the first session,” Porter advised him, “You might want to hurry up.”
“Right, right” Jall mumbled, chugging the coffee and walking into the bathroom. He stepped back out shortly after, showered and reasonably groomed, the caffeine having woken him up.
“Lead on,” Jall gestured.
They left the Starfleet Hospitality Center and turned towards the Nisus Convention Center. To his surprise, Jall found Porter to be a surprisingly interesting person to talk to; they compared their jobs, how the Operations department on Waystation compared to its counterpart on Silverado and how running a large space station compared to a medium-large starship.
As they entered the center, a figure caught Jall’s eye; solid build, dark hair, dark complexion and pushing a laundry cart.
“Something wrong?” Porter asked.
“No, I just thought I saw somebody familiar,” Jall replied.
After making their way to the auditorium, which was awash in officers bearing the telltale yellow of Operations, Porter and Jall found themselves waiting.
“And here you were worried about being late,” Jall remarked.
“I have,” he said, “on very rare occasion, been known to make mistakes.
Finally, an officer wearing command red took the podium and gestured for everybody’s attention.
“I apologize for the delay,” he started, “but an unfortunate event has come to my attention, and will, I’m afraid, have a definite damper on this convention.”
“Last night, Ensign Poleck and Lieutenant Brisbane were abducted from their quarters at approximately 0200h. Both men were severely beaten. Ensign Poleck, sadly, has succumbed to his injuries. Until we have identified the culprit, this conference is on hold. Return to your rooms and be on alert. Thank you.”
As the crowd broke out in questions and confusion, Porter turned to Jall.
“Looks like you got out of bed for nothing,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Jall frowned.
“I can’t help you,” the half Tellarite, half Klingon officer on the screen stated.
“Look, I want to help you!” Jall snapped, “All I need is some information!”
“All information on the incident has been sent to the proper authorities; they will handle it.”
The line was cut off.
“Maybe you should call your Security Chief friend,” Porter advised.
“Naw,” Jall grumbled, “I don’t think he’s going to be much help. Forget it, he’s right, it’s their job, not mine. Wanna grab a drink?”
“It’s pretty early for drinking, isn’t it?”
“Somebody just died. It’s our duty to get drunk.”
“So what was the most terrifying situation you’ve been in?” Jall asked, sipping on some fruit-filled syntheholic concoction. The two had found a lounge near the convention center, the terrace of the lounge patio looking over the river.
Porter thought for a moment.
“That’s hard to answer,” he said finally, “I mean, there was this time an insane Admiral locked us all up in a subspace bubble, we’ve had mind controlling aliens try to attack the station, and I wish I could forget the time I discovered the Happy Universe.”
“You discovered a happy universe?” Jall asked, “What’s so wrong with that?”
“You don’t want to know,” he said ominously, “What about you?”
“The first time I was trapped in Dr. Wowryk’s dream-reality,” Jall replied without hesitation, “Those bitches killed me thirteen times!”
“Nasty!” Porter chuckled.
“Oh yeah!” Jall replied, sipping his drink, “I was incinerated, electrocuted, decapitated, eviscerated-“
“Stop!” Porter cried, “Enough!”
“So tell me,” he said, “What’s so bad about a Happy Universe.”
Porter shuddered again.
“Imagine,” he said, looking down at the river, “That you’re happy. REALLY happy. But you don’t really want to be happy. You’re just happy because somebody used a bizarre energy beam on your brain that makes you THINK you want to be happy.”
“I’m confused,” Jall admitted.
“It’s a parallel universe,” Porter explained, “One where Captain Rydell wasn’t captain of the Secondprize. Without him this alien race tried to use a brain-altering ray on the Federation to make us all their friends. But the Secondprize’s Counselor, Claire Webber, got her hands on the beam and used it to make the entire Federation happy. She declared herself Empress, created the United Federation of Fun and plunged that universe into total chaos.”
“Crazy women,” Jall muttered. Realization dawned on him, “That’s why you Waystation people freak out at the sight of a smiley face!”
“Remember?” Jall leaned over the table, “It was about a year ago. We stopped off at Waystation right before a lunatic Klingon bombed the place! Her ship-“
“-had a happy face painted on the front,” Porter finished with a grim smile, “Yup, I remember now. And yeah, we thought the ship was from-“
“The Happyverse,” Jall finished for him.
“Right. Can we talk about something a little less depressing now?”
Yanick knocked on T’Parief’s door, her small fists barely making any sound on the thick wood.
A moment later, the door creaked open.
“Yes?” T’Parief asked.
“Hi hon,” Yanick smiled, “How ya doin?”
“Obviously not as well as you are,” T’Parief grumbled.
“Oh, your mother and I just went for a walk,” Yanick went on, pushing her way into T’Parief’s room. The bed was huge, predictably, and was cleverly constructed with one side of the bed having a slot for T’Parief’s tail; he could sleep on his back with his tail in the slot, or roll over to the other side and sleep on his side or stomach. Posters of Gorn punk bands were affixed to the walls, and a model of an Excelsior class starship sat on the desk. Judging from the uneven paint job and the fact that one nacelle was crooked, T’Parief had likely built the model himself.
“I’m pleased you are getting along with my Mother,” T’Parief stated.
“Ohh,” Yanick whined, “Stop being so formal! Relax! Take that two meter pole out of your-“
“PARI!” hollered Klixish, “YOUR BROTHERS ARE HERE! COME DOWN AT ONCE!”
“Oh, goody!” Yanick said happily, “Are your brothers as handsome as you are?”
“I wouldn’t know,” T’Parief grumbled.
“Don’t be such a poo,” Yanick said, giving him a nudge, “Your mom’s great, I’m sure your brothers are nice too!”
“Was cold hearted as I’ve ever seen. But hey, my family tried to shoot you. Nobody’s perfect.”
T’Parief’s brothers, in Yanick’s opinion, were definitely NOT as handsome as T’Parief.
Sure, a two meter tall lizard won’t win any beauty contests, but his features had a certain…she didn’t know what. The smooth scales weren’t that much different from skin, just dryer and harder. His snout, while not exactly human, was still smooth and sleek, and the red eyes, well, he closed them when they were kissing anyway. And his body more than made up for any oddities it may contain, although they hadn’t really figured out how they were going to..well, never mind.
His brothers on the other hand, were ugly. Very ugly.
T’Parief obviously took after his father. The other two took after their mother, with frightening results.
Their skin was a disturbing grayish green, something like the colour of mold. They had a more Klingon face, with more pronounced cranial ridges and no snouts, but their teeth were too large for their faces, their eyes a burnt orange. Klixish made the introductions.
“Nice to meet you,” Yanick smiled, putting her best foot forward.
“Nice tits,” commented Glexar.
T’Parief said nothing, his arm simply flew out, slamming into the side of this brother’s head and sending him sprawling to the floor.
“Nice shot,” chuckled Klixish.
T’Parief spent the rest of the day showing Yanick around Nisus. The shopping district, where a fair amount of latinum was spent, his favorite park up along the valley wall and looking down on the Klingon Embassy and the IDIC Memorial. He finished off the evening with dinner at Antoneese’s Italian/Lemnorian Family Restaurant. After she finished stuffing her face with grelengor alfredo, he took her for a walk along the river.
His actions had been perfect, she couldn’t deny that, but his mood was even darker than usual. It didn’t really take a genius to figure out why, but Yanick was determined to make him feel better.
“I’m so glad I came with you,” she purred.
“You are welcome.”
“Ohh! That’s IT!” Yanick snapped, “Your dad sucks, but that’s no reason for you to be in such a grumpy mood! Who cares what that old crank thinks?”
“I do,” T’Parief admitted.
“Care about this,” Yanick jumped up and kissed him hard on the mouth. T’Parief stumbled back onto the grass, Yanick landing on his chest and knocking his wind out. He quickly recovered and kissed her back.
Just as their passion was about to escalate to higher levels again, T’Parief froze.
Yanick tried in vain to keep him going, but as usual, failed. It happened every time: they would kiss, they would cuddle, but anytime she tried to do anything else, T’Parief froze like a deer in headlights. He had actually surprised her by explaining the problem to her: with three different sets of mating instincts running around in his head (or other parts), his body just locked up like a computer stuck in a loop. Wowryk would be thrilled to hear about such a condition, but Yanick wasn’t going to give her the pleasure. And, for the moment, T’Parief wouldn’t be giving Yanick much pleasure either. At least the kissing and cuddling was fun.
T’Parief sat up, looking around for a moment.
“Where am I?” he asked.
“Up s**t creek without a paddle,” Yanick sighed.
The next morning, Jall and Porter were in the Hospitality Center cafeteria, watching pedestrians go by out the large windows. Both were bored out of their minds. With the postponement of the conference, there was little to do. Starfleet Security was keeping an eye on all the conference participants, but so far they hadn’t dragged anybody in for interrogations. That alone hinted to Jall that they knew more about the attack then they were willing to share with him. And why should they? Security wasn’t his job.
“She’s got a nice rack,” Porter said dully, pointed out a passing Andorian.
“Blue skin just doesn’t do it for me,” Jall replied dryly.
“Don’t knock it till you try it,” Porter replied back.
“We should do…something,” Jall said said, “I’m stuck here until Trish and her dear ‘Pari’ are finished with their wonderful romantic vacation, and you’re-“
“Stuck until the Wayward picks me up,” Porter finished, “Do you think security would mind if we left the center?’
“Do you care?”
“Hmm,” Porter sipped his tea, “I could sit here and die of complete boredom, or I could go out and see a new planet while pissing off some overgrown gorilla.”
“What do ya wanna do?” Jall asked.
“I dunno. What do you wanna do?”
Both men looked at each other for a moment, then sighed.
“That Orion out there has to be at least a D-cup,” Jall nodded towards the window.
“Oh yeah,” Porter smiled, “Sweet!”
Stafford sat in his ready room, twiddling his thumbs. At least, he’d like to be.
Actually, he was partway through building a model of Silverado, but he’d just smeared glue all over his fingers and glued them firmly to a polymer warp nacelle. Every captain Stafford had ever met or served with had a model of a ship in his or her office. Captain Beck had had some Excelsior-class ship sitting in hers, his old captain on the Exeter had a model of a Miranda-class ship. Most captains just replicated models, resulting in perfect, well, replicas, right down to the last hull plate. Stafford had, in a fit of insanity, decided he’d rather assemble his himself.
“It’s sweet that you’re going to all this trouble,” Sylvia said cautiously, “But shouldn’t I ask Dr. Wowryk to come up here?”
“No,” Stafford said firmly, “She’d enjoy this far too much.”
‘What are you going to do? Sit around until your weak human skin exfoliates and sheds the glue?”
“Who is it?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” replied the computer, “I thought you were asking Jeffery. Who is, by the way, on the other side of the door.”
“I’m not here,” Stafford said quickly.
“Too late, I told him you were here ninety seconds ago.”
“S**t”, Stafford hid his hands below the level of his desk, “Come,”
“Captain, Ah want some time off.” Jeffery said without preamble.
Stafford squirmed, trying to separate his fingers.
“Ah’ve been puttin’ in lots of overtime lately,” Jeffery said, “Ah need some time for me. Just a couple of days.
“Does this have something to do with Noel?” Stafford asked, wincing in pain from his fingers, which had somehow gotten stuck to a patch of wet glue on his armrest “Is she going to be up here next? I’m running out of senior staff!”
“Nay,” Jeffery swallowed, “She doesn’t know about it.”
“Finally getting a backbone?”
“Can Ah have the time off or what?” Jeffery frowned, “And what are ye doing under there?”
“Nothing!” Stafford pulled his hand off the armrest, eyes tearing from the pain, “Ok, Fine! Take some time off. You deserve it, I guess. Now go away.”
“Didn’t think ye’d be so sad about it,” Jeffery shrugged, “And ye know, if you’re going to do that kind of thing, ye should go back to your quarters first.” He walked out the door.
Stafford gave a sigh of frustration as he rested his forehead on the glue-splattered desk.
“Glexar! Get the door!” snarled Klixish.
Obediently enough, Glexar left the large living room where the family had gathered to watch ‘Win Or Else!’, Krinokor’s number one game show. Klexish was seated in a large wing-backed chair while T’Parief and Yanick cuddled on the love seat. Padtute was out on a date, although who could date somebody who looked like a walking pile of mold with teeth was beyond Yanick.
Glexar heaved, straining to pull the massive door open, then stepping around it.
“Hi,” Jall said politely, “we’re looking for-OH MY GOD!”
“Uuggghhhh….” Porter sounded like his lunch was ready to make a repeat appearance.
“Do you have a problem?” the hideous figure, AKA Glaxar, snapped.
“Um, no,” Jall said, shaking his head, “No problem at all!”
“What do you want?” demanded Glexar.
“Um, looking for T’Parief and Yanick?” Jall asked.
“Follow me,” Glexar grunted.
“Mom, we’ve got more Starfleeters here to make pains of themselves.”
“Oh no,” T’Parief groaned as Jall and Porter were led into the room.
“Who’s you friend?” Yanick asked, winking at Jall.
“This is Craig Porter, from Waystation,” Jall said, “And he’s not that kind of ‘friend’!”
“Huh?” Craig frowned.
“Oh,” Yanick looked slightly disappointed, “Oh well! This is Pari, um T’Parief, and his mother…”
Yanick went on, doing all the introductions as T’Parief’s family, or at least the two members who were present, nodded back politely.
“So this is the young man you’ve told me so much about,” Klexish said, walking over to Jall, “The filthy scum-bag. Has no respect for anybody. Insulting, argumentative, arrogant-“
“Nice to know you cared enough to mention me,” Jall cracked.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Klexish smiled.
“Thanks,” Jall shook her hand, “Um, could you tell me where the can is?”
“Washroom,” Porter elaborated.
“Down the hall, second door on the right,” Klexish pointed. Jall left as Porter uneasily shifted his weight.
“So how come you guys are over here?” Yanick asked.
“Yes,” T’Parief growled, “Why?”
“Two officers were kidnapped and beaten, so they cancelled the conference,” Porter explained the situation with the officer that had died.
Both T’Parief and his mother frowned.
“That’s unheard of on Nisus,” they said together.
Jall walked down the hall, admiring the oversized architecture of the place. He easily found the washroom and availed himself of the facilities, glad to see that they were compatible with human anatomy. After he finished, he was about to return to the living room to annoy T’Parief when he heard a voice. Curious, he quietly snuck down the hall in the opposite direction, peeking through a doorway that led into what was obviously a large den. Three Gorn were seated across from each other.
“These latest numbers confirm it,” the one said, “it’s a complete failure.”
“Hardly,” another replied, “They’re less than we anticipated, but the prototype unit-“
“Functions well enough,” finished the first, “But not well enough to consider additional investment!”
“Do you not understand the power of the weapon I am offering you?” snarled the first softly, “With some additional research, we could-“
“We are no longer interested in this venture,” the third cut him off. Immediately both others were silent. Obviously this third Gorn held some kind of power, “The final funds will be transferred to you, as you have met your end of the bargain. But ‘Project Triad’ is finished.”
Jall eased away, tiptoeing back to the living room. Whatever they were going on about, it sounded like business. Boring business.
“Porter, hurry up!” Jall called, banging on the door the next afternoon, “Trish is meeting us for coffee, and she gets grumpy when I’m late!”
“C’mon!” Jall whined, “I crawled out of bed to go to some stupid conference, but you won’t do the same to have coffee with a pretty girl? Even if she does have a boyfriend? You could steal her, just grow scales and some fangs…”
Frowning, Jall tapped at the door, bypassing the security lock.
Porter’s suite was a disaster. Furniture was overturned, a crystal ornament smashed to pieces. The drapes billowed in, disturbed by the breeze from the broken window.
“Uh-oh,” Jall muttered.
There was a soft scuffle behind him, then everything went dark.
“Does your father even still live here?” Yanick asked as she and T’Parief left the family home on their way to the theatre, “I haven’t seen him for the past two days!”
“It is his way,” T’Parief grumbled, “Show up, give criticism, then leave!”
“I’m sure deep down he loves you,” Trish said, reaching far up to put a hand on his shoulder.
“He is Gorn. The only part of the mating process he cares about is the sex. What results from that is irrelevant.”
“So you’re a momma’s boy,” Yanick shrugged, “Big deal! Your mom’s great!”
T’Parief was silent.
“At least Jall’s gone,” Yanick said, still trying to cheer him up, “I don’t know why he didn’t show up for coffee today, but at least you didn’t have to deal with him!”
“True,” T’Parief smiled, “There is a bright spot after all.”
“Uh-oh,” Yanick’s gaze had been trapped by a public news terminal, where a newscaster was speaking, an artificially concerned look on her face.
“And in other news, two more Starfleet officers have gone missing from the now cancelled Starfleet Operations Convention. Officials haven’t yet released any details on the case, aside from the names of the missing officers. Officials have declined to comment on this new development, but confirm that two days ago two other officers were seriously beaten, one of whom did not recover from his injuries,” she looked off screen for a moment, “I have been informed that we’ve pulled up images of the missing men from Starfleet records.
Yanick gasped; the images were unmistakably Craig Porter and San Jall.
“YES!” T’Parief cried out.
To be continued…