Author: Brendan Chris
‘Nisus’ concept by Jean Lorrah
“I don’t know but I’ve been told,
If I don’t obey, I’ll be sold,
I don’t know but it’s been said,
If I don’t please her, I’ll be dead!”
Jeffery sang out the marching tune as he and fourteen other men marched through the pouring rain. It was his second day now at Internment Camp 12, and he was still exhausted from day one.
After his arrival, he had immediately been issued a uniform consisting of navy blue pants, a white shirt with tie and a navy tunic. The tunic hid all but the collar of the shirt and was, Jeffery knew, based on uniforms used by air forces in the twentieth century, although little else about his experience was in any way similar to anything done by those organizations. He’d been told in no uncertain terms that his uniform was to be kept perfectly spotless at all times. He’d spent half the night trying to remember how to use the antique clothing iron that had been provided and, despite having learned to use the thing back in his Academy days, had succeeded only in burning his fingers.
Jeffery looked straight ahead, trying to stay in step with the rest of his squad as they followed their leader to the mess hall. He winced as a passing vehicle splashed water across his left leg, soaking his pants below the knee.
“Squad, HALT!” cried out the leader, “Right, TURN!”
Gulping, Jeffery obeyed the commands, trying and failing to synchronize his movements with the rest of his squad.
The leader walked from what had been the front rank of the squad, now made the left flank by the turn she had ordered. Taking slow, measured steps she stopped right in front of Jeffery.
Although it was raining very hard and her clothing was soaked, the leader was an imposing figure. Towering over Jeffery, her taught muscles were visible even through her uniform. Her thick, black hair was pulled back in a severe bun. Barely seeming to notice the rain as it dripped down her green skin, she slowly circled Jeffery.
“That almost sounds like you are…uncomfortable,” she said finally.
“Nay,” Jeffery murmured.
“No,” snapped the leader.
“No!” Jeffery corrected himself, forcing back his accent for the one word.
“No, what?” the leader demanded.
“No, I am not uncomfortable,” Jeffery replied.
“No, I am not uncomfortable, MADAM!” the leader shrieked, causing Jeffery to jump. His eyes met hers briefly.
“You will look straight ahead when I address you, worm!” Madam commanded.
“Yes, Madam,” Jeffery replied.
“Twenty pushups,” Madam ordered.
“In this muck?” Jeffery asked.
Madam slapped him across the face.
“How dare you question me!” she snarled, “Fifty pushups!” She knocked Jeffery’s legs out from under him, sending him sprawling to the muddy ground.
First Officer’s Log, Supplemental:
“Our mission to map Sector 317-R is, to this point, quite uneventful. Very uneventful. I can only hope that Ensign Yanick and Lt. Cmdr. T’Parief are having a more interesting vacation.
“I really must admire the Captain’s dedication to duty during this assignment. One might expect that he would take advantage of his Captain’s prerogative to enjoy some time off while things are quiet, but he has been in his ready room for the past day. He has not left to eat or sleep. I wonder what kind of project he is working on.”
Captain Christopher Stafford sat in his ready room, head down on his desk. A string of drool dripped from one corner of his mouth.
“Chris, it’s time to get up,” Sylvia said softly.
Quickly increasing the volume to the ready room speakers, Sylvia tried again.
“Captain, it is time to wake up!”
Stafford grumbled slightly, licking his lips.
“I don’t sleep like this!” Sylvia cried out, annoyed, “Anytime somebody calls me it’s-“
Sylvia pulled up a video on Stafford’s desk where a big blue cartoon genie was complaining to a cartoon human who looked somewhat like Lieutenant Jall:
“POOF! What do you need?”
“POOF! What do you need?”
“POOF! WHAT DO YOU NEED!?”
Stafford didn’t stir.
Turning off the ‘Aladdin’ recording. Sylvia sighed.
“Really, if I kept snoozing every time somebody on this crew wanted my attention, I’d be in for an overhaul before I know what hit me! He must get it from his father.”
Realizing that she was talking to herself, Sylvia sighed again. Time for drastic measures. She increased the volume in the ready room to 120 percent and initiated playback.
“BAAA! BAAA! BAAA! BA-DUM! BA-DUM! BA-DUM! BA-DUUUM! DUM!
The 1812 Overture roared through the room as Stafford’s screen displayed a green cartoon duck being shot at by dozens of cartoon canons.
“HUH! WHAZZA?” Stafford cried as he jerked up, his Starfleet-issue desk pad still stuck firmly to his forehead, “OW!” he reached up to grab the pad, wanting to stop the agonizing pull where the pad was glued firmly to his skin. He cried out in pain again as he felt a similar pull on his hands. Remembering his predicament, he let his head and desk pad fall back to the desk. While constructing a model of his ship, he had become a bit sloppy with the glue. The result was that the fingers on both his hands were glued firmly to a small plastic replica of a warp nacelle and his forehead was glued to the work pad he kept on his desk.
“I think it’s officially time to call Dr. Wowryk,” Sylvia declared.
“No, I don’t think so,” Stafford said stubbornly, his voice muffled by the desk, “I’d never hear the end of it.”
“She’d tell Wowryk,”
“She’d tell Kerry, who’d tell Wowryk!”
“You’ve been stuck like that for over twenty-four hours. You’re starting to smell a bit ripe,” Sylvia observed, “You know, cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
“Has the doctor been tampering with your programming now?” Stafford demanded, “And since when do you have a sense of smell?”
“No, and internal sensors measure particle counts in the atmosphere. I interpret the data as scent. By the way, I estimate you have forty-three hours and twelve minutes remaining before you die of dehydration. Perhaps Commander Noonan can help?”
“No!” Stafford said firmly, “I’m the Captain, I’m going to get myself out of this mess! Without losing any skin!”
“So, how’s Jeffery enjoying his time off?” Stafford asked, trying unsuccessfully to work his fingers free of the plastic model piece they had become attached to without causing huge amounts of pain.
“I don’t know,” Sylvia replied.
“But you must know. I mean, you know everything that happens on this ship!”
“I do,” Sylvia conceded, “And if I may so, it’s not healthy for a male your age to go for so long with sexual release-“
“Back to Jeffery!” Stafford cried.
“I could easily determine what he’s doing. But it’s really none of my business. I have to respect the privacy of the crew sometimes, holodeck time being one of them.”
“Oh. Hey, then how come you know so much about me?”
“You’re rarely on the holodeck,” Sylvia replied primly.
“Well, you might want to exercise some discretion, y’know, OUTSIDE the holodeck!”
“I’m just following Standard Operation Procedures,” Sylvia said. Stafford could almost hear the shrug in her voice.
“Sylvia, YOU are not standard. I think we need to make some exceptions to the rules.”
“Says the Captain with his head glued to the desk,” Sylvia chuckled.
“OK, OK. Stafford to Fifebee.”
“Yes, Captain,” Fifebee replied over the comm.
“Lieutenant, I have need of your services.” Stafford grunted.
“Of course. Any in particular?”
“Um, your ability to handle unusual situation with discretion, professionalism and objectivity,”
“Of course. I’ll be right there.”
“Lots of big words there,” Sylvia chucked. Are you sure she’s the one you want, sweetie? I’m sure that-“
“Butt out. I know what I’m doing.”
The doors opened as Fifebee stepped in.
“How may I assist…” Fifebee trailed off as she surveyed Stafford’s predicament. She then proceeded to burst out laughing.
“So much for professionalism,” Sylvia laughed.
“I’ll get the nail polish remover,” Fifebee giggled.
“You both suck,” Stafford stated.
“Well, it sure is a beautiful day out,” Trish Yanick remarked to her boyfriend as they sat eating breakfast. The terrace they were on extended out from the kitchen of T’Parief’s parents’ home, not far from the downtown core of the capitol city of Nisus. Founded as a science colony, Nisus had attracted scientists of all races from across the Federation and beyond, becoming the single most multicultural planet in the quadrant. It made perfect sense then that such a place would produce a being like T’Parief, who had Klingon, Andorian and Gorn ancestry.
“It is,” T’Parief agreed, reading a news padd and munching on Mousies, the all-natural, all rodent, sugar-free breakfast cereal preferred by four out of five Gorn and containing twelve essential nutrients and no tails, according to the box sitting between them. Yanick had opted for scrambled eggs instead.
“Perfect weather for walking, swimming,” Yanick went on.
“Yup,” T’Parief muttered.
“Or,” Yanick twirled her hair around one finger, “I don’t know…HELPING YOUR KIDNAPPED FRIEND!” She slammed both fists on the table, rattling the cutlery slightly.
“Friend?” T’Parief asked, not meeting her gaze, “I wouldn’t really call Porter a friend. I’ve only met him once.”
“You know I wasn’t talking about Porter!” Yanick snapped, “I’m talking about San! We don’t know what’s happened to him! They could be torturing him right now!”
“One can only hope,” T’Parief muttered under his breath.
“I’M SERIOUS!” Yanick bellowed, causing T’Parief to start, almost dropping his spoon to the floor.
“Trish,” T’Parief explained patiently, “He’s an Operations Officer. He doesn’t know military or command secrets like a Captain would and he doesn’t know any technological secrets that a high-ranking engineer would know. I doubt he could tell them anything they couldn’t find in any Starship User’s Manual.”
“Then how come four Operations Officers have been attacked?”
“Maybe the kidnapper has some bizarre fetish.”
“Then San could be being horribly raped right now!”
“I doubt it,” T’Parief grumbled, “You can’t rape the willing,” he muttered softly.
Yanick fumed for a moment.
“They you’re not going to do anything to help him?” she demanded.
“Nope,” T’Parief replied, turning back to his padd.
“He’s your friend.”
“Hardly. He’s more of a minor irritant. Nisus Security can handle it.”
“He’s your crewmate and a fellow officer!” Yanick snapped, “It’s your duty to find out what happened to him.”
T’Parief’s lips tightened. Damn! She had said the ‘D’ word.
“It is,” he said slowly, the words tasting like week-old blood pie, “my duty.”
“I think you’ll find, Lieutenant Commander, that our own investigators are more than capable of looking into these kidnappings,” Chief Inspector Boosfesh stated, “I appreciate your offer, but this really is a Nisus internal matter-“
“All of the victims have been Starfleet Officers,” T’Parief cut in, “and none of the victims are actually residents of Nisus.”
“The attacks occurred on our soil-“
“To our officers!”
“Nisus has a very unique culture,” Boosfesh said, “I realize that in Starfleet you deal with a variety of aliens, but Nisus is-“
“-different,” T’Parief cut in, “I know. I grew up here.”
“Who’s handling the investigation?” T’Parief asked.
“Inspector Klosek,” Boosfesh sighed.
“I know Klosek,” he said, “He’s an idiot,”
“I don’t think-“ Boosfesh started.
“I will contact him and offer my services.” T’Parief walked out.
“Very masterful,” Yanick said approvingly.
“You are an evil woman sometimes,” T’Parief stated.
“Honey, shut up.”
Had T’Parief been in Jeffery’s shoes, he might have re-thought his opinion of Yanick.
“Faster, you maggot!” screamed the drill sergeant as Jeffery frantically jumped through a series of dark rings, ‘tires’ his bunk-mate had told him they were called. Joey was, of course, barely working up a holographic sweat as he ran his third circuit of the obstacle course. Jeffery was falling apart. He’d torn the back of his shirt crawling under barbed wire; only the holodeck safeties had prevented him from getting a serious cut. Sweat poured down his back; the rain from earlier had ended just before the squad had started physical training, replaced by a bright, hot sun beating down on them.
Stumbling on the last tire, Jeffery found himself flying face-first onto the still-damp ground. One of his squad-mates, a stocky young Bajoran hologram took a second to help heave Jeffery to his feet, the two of them continuing before Madam’s whip could descend.
Madam herself stood in the center of the field, her uniform replaced by a snug but professional shorts and tank top combo. Her emerald-green skin gleamed in the sunlight, the top accentuating her ample chest. In one hand she held a long bull-whip. She watched the struggling squad with an eagle eye, snapping the whip out at any who lagged.
Jeffery cleared the barbed wire for the third time, the drill sergeant telling him the whole time how he was inbred and prone to fits of low intelligence. Gasping for breath, he reached the climbing wall and starting heaving himself up the ropes hanging from the top.
After finishing the course, Jeffery and his squad were permitted a short rest break. Jeffery collapsed on the ground, refusing to move until Joey brought him a bottle of water.
“Thanks,” Jeffery gasped. He drank several gulps, then coughed.
“Man,” Joey said after a few moments, “What did we do to deserve this?”
Nothing, Jeffery thought to himself, You’re a hologram that I programmed.
Out loud, “Ah dunno. Ah suppose she has her reasons for treating us this way.”
“She has her reasons for everything,” Joey scowled, “Doesn’t make it right! She’s a cold-hearted, green-skinned tyrant who enjoys putting us through hell.”
“She hasn’t done anything that bad,” Jeffery said, “Just lots of work. Like someone took the Academy and dialed up to a fourteen or fifteen.”
Joey looked at him incredulously.
“Dude, how can you said that?” he demanded, “She treats you worse than any of us! I don’t know what you did to get sent here, but it’s like she’s out to get you! Pushups in the mud, peeling potatoes, cleaning the dumpsters. How could you possibly defend that?”
Jeffery was quiet.
“Punishment is one thing,” Joey went on, “What she’s doing, it’s just cruelty for the sake of cruelty. We don’t need that, dude!”
“No,” Jeffery said softly, “You’re right. We don’t.”
The conversation ended as the drill sergeant called for the squad to form up.
“Something’s been bothering me,” Trish said as she followed T’Parief along the high-speed slide-walk to the neighborhood in which Inspector Klosek was looking for clues.
“And what is that?” T’Parief asked, watching the passing street signs.
“You said that Klosek was, um,” Yanick scratched her head, “Darn. You called him something. It was rude. It’s on the tip of my tongue…”
“An idiot,” T’Parief stated.
“Yeah!” Yanick brightened, “An idiot!”
“He is. So?”
“Why would they put an idiot in charge of an investigation like this?”
T’Parief blinked. One thing about Yanick: she could sound like a complete ditz one minute, then throw out an intelligent observation without a problem.
“He may be an idiot,” T’Parief answered, “But he is probably the best Nisus Security has.”
“Trish, it’s easy for us to forget, living on a starship and dealing with the unknown, but crime really is all but non-existent on most Federation planets. Planetary security forces for Vulcan, Nisus, Andor or Tellar spend most of their time rescuing kittens, sehlats or voxvims from trees, giving parking tickets and helping elderly citizens across the street. While they are, for the most part, highly intelligent, they are also inexperienced or even inept when it comes to serious crimes, “
Noticing that they were approaching the correct neighborhood, T’Parief guided Yanick as they switched slide-walks, moving from the inner high speed track to slower and slower tracks closer to the sidewalk. As they moved from the slowest track onto the actual street, he continued.
“The Federation has trillions of citizens,” he said, “even so, the number of non-starship security personnel who have actually dealt with a violent crime would be an incredibly tiny percentage.”
“What about, like, Andor,” Yanick asked, “I was there once. It was scary.”
“Andorians have a very different definition of violent crime,” T’Parief said.
“I thought you said you trusted these people to get Jall back!” Yanick accused.
“I do. It would just take them a very long time.”
They had arrived in a suburban neighborhood, primarily Horta from the looks of things. The ‘houses’ where nothing more than decorated blocks of permacrete with various tunnels burned into them by the rock-like aliens’ powerful acids. On Janus V, the Hortas lived deep underground, eating through the rock to make their tunnels.
“I didn’t know there were Hortas living here,” Yanick commented.
“They are miners,” T’Parief replied, “They-“
“Dig for stuff,” Yanick nodded, “Got it. So you think one of them kidnapped Jall?”
“No,” T’Parief shook his head, “Hortas are among the most peaceful beings in the Federation. This is where Inspector Klosek is currently…inspecting. Which is really stupid.”
“I hear he’s an idiot,” Yanick commented.
“Hmmm…” Inspector Klosek mumbled to himself as he ran his tiny brush over a section of tunnel wall . He was average height for a Patrian, a bit taller than human average. He had a slightly snakelight appearance, with scales of a light gold hue and large copper eyes. Pulling out his powder, he proceeded to dust another tunnel section.
“Ah….ah….AH-CHOO!” he sneezed violently, sending a cloud of fingerprinting power up in the air.
“Excuse you.” Grumbled a low voice from directly behind him.
Whirling around, Klosek lost his grip on the power bag, the contents flying out in a thick cloud that engulfed the two Starfleet officers approaching him.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry!” Klosek cried out, “You scared the…Pari?”
“My name is T’Parief,” the reptile grumbled.
“Sure it is,” chuckled Klosek, “and we actually called you that…until about fouth grade!”
“Fourth grade?” Yanick asked.
“I am here to assist you with the disappearance of two Starfleet officers,” T’Parief stated, brushing himself off as Yanick sneezed, raising another cloud of powder, “What are you doing?”
“Dusting for fingerprints!” Klosek said proudly.
“I read it in a detective novel,” Klosek replied, “You can use fingerprints to identify the culprit!”
“Did you check the publishing date on that novel?” T’Parief demanded.
“No, but the characters were using computers, so it must be pretty recent.”
Rolling his eyes, T’Parief pulled out his tricorder and started scanning.
“Is there a particular reason why you are searching for two missing and presumed assaulted people in an unoccupied building in a section of town home to beings that have never been known to knowingly commit a crime?” T’Parief asked sharply, continuing to tap at his tricorder.
“Well-“ Klosek started.
“Have you scanned their quarters and last known location?” the Starfleet officer continued.
“There is nothing here,” T’Parief announced, closing his tricorder, “Come, let us return to the Hospitality Center.”
“Ohhh,” Yanick whined, “I hate riding those slidewalks…my legs get tired!”
“We can take my vehicle,” Klosek offered.
San Jall was rudely awaked by a loud, ear-slitting scream.
Jall attempted to pull himself up from where he lay sprawled on the rough floor, managing only to groan as pain spiked though his head, especially around the back where he had been so rudely clubbed.
Jall focused on the scream, trying to catch his bearings. It was a scream. Human, or humanoid. Male. Sounded more like a scream of terror rather than a scream of pain or sexual ecstasy.
Deciding that Yanick was right and that maybe he really did watch too much bizarre porn, Jall tried again to haul himself to his feet. The room he was in was small and dirty, and looked like it had been carved into concrete. Staggering to the door, he found it unlocked, but a second, barred door was in place right beyond. Squinting through the bars, Jall could see Porter.
The Waystation officer was strapped to a table, reclined back so he could see whatever it was that was in front of him. He was shirtless and sweat ran down his body. He didn’t look hurt to Jall, but he was the source of the screams. Some kind of helmet was attached to his head. Jall’s view was blocked by a wall, he couldn’t see what Porter was looking at.
“Are you ready to talk yet?” A voice snarled. Female, from the sounds of it, Jall decided as another wave of pain ran through his head. Female, and familiar.
“Never!” Porter gasped, “I don’t know what you want, but you won’t get it from me!”
“Oh, don’t be that way,” pouted Porter’s adversary, “I’d hate to play…rough. Actually, I’d love to play rough, but I need you awake and able to talk!”
Porter spit. The spit wad didn’t make it very far, landing on Porter’s lap, but from the reaction of the other party, the thought definitely counted!
“Filth!” she snarled. There was a beep, then lights lit up on the contraption on Porter’s head. He squeezed his eyes shut and screamed again.
The other party stepped into view.
“K’Eleese!” Jall gasped.
“Ohhh!” the Klingon woman squealed with excitement, “My other guest is awake! Goody!” she turned to Porter, “Well sweetie, I guess I can give you some time to reflect on…what you’ve seen. Maybe change your mind, hmmm?” She forced shackles onto Porter’s wrists before unstrapping him and tossing him unceremoniously into another small room.
“Ready to play?” she purred, approaching Jall’s door.
“F**k you!” Jall spat.
K’Eleese opened the door to Jall’s cell. Jall was on her immediately, striking at her head with a right hook. Laughing, K’Eleese blocked his punch and struck him hard in the gut. Jall doubled over, gasping as K’Eleese tossed him into her interrogation room. Within seconds Jall had been strapped down and the bizarre helmet attached to his head.
“Now,” K’Eleese, first, a taste for what’s in store for you if I don’t hear what I want!” She clicked a button.
Pain lanced again through Jall’s head. As he squeezed his eyes shut an image formed in his mind. A Klingon male, chained to a wall, blood streaming down his back. A hand appeared in the view, as though Jall was looking through the eyes of the hand’s owner. He caught a glimpse of bright red fingernails before they lashed out, digging deep into the skin of the victim and drawing even more blood.
The images faded, leaving Jall gasping, his throat raw. From screaming, he realized.
“Cool, huh?” K’Eleese giggled, “Handy gadget, found it at a black market dealer on Acturas. Let’s me broadcast my own memories to somebody else! Of course, it’s not perfect, but I understand the pain causes no…permanent…damage!”
“You sick bitch,” Jall gasped.
“Thank you! Now, tell me about quantum signatures.”
“I want to know about quantum signatures, and transporter resonance patterns!” K’Eleese growled.
“Um,” Jall was so taken aback he forgot to be defiant. Quantum signatures? What the hell was the point in torturing somebody over something you could find in any scientific database in the Federation?”
“So, you’re here to help me with the investigation,” Klosek said, steering his aircar through the dark skies, “Have you ever investigated something like this before?”
“I have been doing a lot of this, lately,” T’Parief admitted. Aside from the Matrian incident he’d also investigated the mystery of two bodies found on Silverado and the transmission of embarrassing footage to the Associated Worlds Network. He’d been busy over the past year and told Klosek as much.
“At least you’re you, this time, “Yanick grumbled.
“Huh?” Klosek asked.
“Nothing,” T’Parief said quickly. He’d been stuck in Yanick’s body during his last two investigations, but the body-switching incident had been classified. He reflexively extended his claws, thinking of how much better it would be now that he was again a fearsome, strong Security officer.
“Well, I’ll admit that I don’t mind the help,” Klosek said, “Pari here might not be the sharpest stake in the garden, but at least he’s got experience with this kinda stuff.”
They landed near the Starfleet Hospitality Center. Checking with the directory, they quickly found the rooms that had been assigned to Porter and Jall. Pulling out his tricorder, T’Parief proceeded to thoroughly scan them.
“I’m detecting traces of Klingon DNA,” he said.
“So?” Yanick asked.
“A Klingon was here recently,” T’Parief stated, “In both rooms. As there are no Klingons on the cleaning staff, we can conclude that the attacker was Klingon.”
“Klexish to Pari,” T’Parief’s comm-badge chirped.
“Mother,” T’Parief sighed, “For the last time-“
“Your father’s gone!” Klexish cried.
Jall gasped as the images faded again. This time he’d been forced to re-live K’Eleese’s attack on Silverado from her point of view. It was actually pretty neat, especially the way the lights on the saucer had flickered and faded after the pulse cannon had shorted out the saucer power conduits.
Of course, the mind-splitting paid had distracted him somewhat from the experience.
“I will ask again,” K’Eleese growled, “How do I alter the quantum signature of the phase transition coils?”
“I don’t know!” Jall cried out, “I didn’t know you could, or why you’d want to!”
“I told you he would be of no help,”
Jall looked around frantically, trying to find the source of the new voice.
“I know,” K’Eleese replied, tossing her control padd to the table, “But he came snooping around Porters quarters after we took him. Besides, he’s reasonably tasty. He could be a pleasant…diversion later.”
“We don’t have time for your ‘diversions’,” the voice snapped, “Starfleet is helping Nisus Security. We cannot stay here any longer.”
“And we will leave,” K’Eleese assured him, “As soon as I get the information I need, we’ll be on our way to a much…happier place!”
“I suggest you stop wasting your time with this one and put Porter back on the rack.”
“I’m in charge here!” K’Eleese bellowed, “I will torture Porter again when I am damned good and ready!”
There was silence for a moment.
“Ok!” she said brightly, “I’m ready now!”
“Good,” grunted her companion, “And I have something that will help. But first…”
Jall caught a flash of green as a green fist slammed into the side of his face.
T’Parief stood in the center of his parents’ home, tricorder in hand.
“I’m not detecting anything unusual,” he shrugged, “Mother, perhaps he has gone drinking or something. It’s not unusual for him to take off without telling us.”
“That’s not true,” Klexish snapped. She was sitting on the couch next to Yanick, “I’ll admit he was always a bit distant with you kids, but he would always be home by 2100 hours to mate thoroughly. Or at least he’d leave a message if he was going to be away.”
“Sweet love every day after decades of marriage?” Yanick asked, “That’s so sweet!”
“Isn’t it,” Klexish sighed.
T’Parief gagged as he tapped at a console for the home computer.
“Interesting,” he frowned.
“I’m not a computer expert,” T’Parief said, “But there has been a large amount of data accessed in the past twenty-four hours. I cannot access Father’s files of course, but I can see that most of them have been copied. Also…” T’Parief trailed off.
“He’s downloaded my kill log?” T’Parief scratched his head, avoiding the sensory nubs behind his cranial ridges, “What could he possibly want with my kill log?”
“What about your brothers’ logs?” Yanick asked.
“One moment,” buttons beeped, “No. They have not been accessed.”
“Are,” Yanick hesitated, “Are any of his things missing?”
“I haven’t checked,” Klexish admitted.
They were. A quick check of the den and master bedroom showed that while none of Slezar’s cloths were missing, several padds and isolinear chips had been taken from the library. T’Parief’s brothers came home halfway through the search, but knew nothing.
“There is no sign of a break-in,” T’Parief reported, “But I did find…this.” He held out a small blue flower.
“He left us,” Klexish muttered to herself.
“Ohhh…” Yanick moved to give the older woman a hug, but Klexish deftly evaded her.
“He has left us,” Klexish said, louder, firmer and with just a hint of anger, “Very well. I take control of this House and all assets owned by this family. I claim the Gorn right of Sliznith. He will return to me on his knees, or we will fight to the death for control of this House,” her shoulders dropped, “And now that we have the ritualistic bulls**t out of the way, I’m going to go get drunk.” She marched out of the room, head held high.
“But,” Yanick cried out, “He could have been kidnapped! Or maybe he just got lost on the way home, or-“
“Trish,” T’Parief grumbled softly, “Don’t.
T’Parief held up the flower.
“So?” Yanick said, “It’s pretty!”
“In Gorn society, a gift of something ‘pretty’ to your spouse is tantamount to serving up divorce papers.”
“WHAT?” Yanick demanded, “Then what if I wanted to give my husband a present!?”
“A dead rat is considered the most romantic, but dead birds are popular too. Some say they represent the crushing of dreams.”
“That’s sick!” Yanick snapped, “How can you be so calm! Your father just left your mother in what sounds like the most humiliating way a woman can be left!”
“It’s not exactly a surprise. It was time for Slezar to find another mate anyway.”
“Gorn do not mate for life,” T’Parief explained.
Yanick looked at him coldly.
“You might have mentioned that BEFORE we started dating!” she snapped, storming out of the room and leaving T’Parief standing in the center of the deserted den.
“I’m not Gorn!” he said to the empty room.
“Porter, are you over there?” Jall called out. His head was throbbing again, but K’Eleese must have gone upstairs with her companion, leaving the two of them alone in their cells.
“Yeah,” Porter groaned, “I’m here. I sort of wish I was on Risa instead, but I’m here.”
“Um,” there was a pause, “Yeah. I’m fine. Good, actually, just tired.”
“Pretty mild as far as torture goes, huh?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Porter gave a dry laugh, “I have this powerful urge to NEVER have that helmet on my head again!”
“Would you rather she had used a neural neutralizer, or maybe plasma whips?”
“So how do we get out of-“
The conversation was interrupted by the creak of a door; K’Eleese and her companion had returned.
“Hello my pretty little Operations man!” K’Eleese said happily, slamming open the door to Porter’s cell, “I’m so sorry we don’t have more time to get to know each other, but we’re sort of in a hurry now.”
Porter lunged at K’Eleese, aiming a fist for her gut. K’Eleese easily blocked the blow, but Porter had anticipated her move and took the chance to dart past her and into the main room. Sliding past the interrogation table, he rushed towards the stairs-
-only to find his way blocked!
A large Gorn was coming down the stairs. With an almost casual gesture he tossed Porter back down the stairs and into K’Eleese’s waiting arms.
“Slezar!” Jall called out, “Thank God! She’s crazy! She’s insane! She’s going to…um, why are you laughing?”
T’Parief’s father was indeed laughing at Jall.
“I know how insane she is,” Slezar chucked, “But she also has very large breasts. And the best opportunity for my work to be properly used!”
“Nevermind that!” K’Eleese snapped, strapping Porter onto the table, “Where’s the hypo?
“What are you doing?” Porter asked, panicked.
“Oh, don’t worry,” K’Eleese smiled, “We really don’t have time to give you the full treatment, so we’re just going to extract what we need as efficiently as possible. One shot of this,” she held up the hypo that Slezar had handed to her, “and you’ll tell me nothing but the absolute truth!”
“Uh-oh,” Porter mumbled.
“So, just out of curiosity,” Jall asked, “Were you planning on helping me when you made your escape?”
“This isn’t really the time, Jall,” Porter gasped, trying to twist away from the hypo coming closer and closer to his neck, “I’m sort of busy!”
“Uggghhhh….” Porter grunted, his head tipping forward.
“This will take a few minutes to take effect,” Slezar said, “Shall we…”
“What, again?’ K’Eleese asked, a huge grin on her face, “You animal!” She ran up the stairs, Slezar in close pursuit.
“Oh, yuck,” Jall moaned. There were a few moments of silence. “Porter?”
“Yeaaaahh?” Porter’s voice was sluggish, drawn out.
“What do you think they gave you?”
“Truth serum,” Porter replied.
Jall scratched his head, “Any way to know for sure?”
“Ask me something you know I’d lie to.”
“Hmm,” Jall thought for a moment, “When’s the last time you had sex?”
“Month or two ago,” Porter said
“Well that doesn’t help,” Jall paced for a moment, then inspiration struck, “Was she hot?”
“Yeah, but she was an absolute lunatic,”
“Warmer,” Jall returned to pacing.
“In fact,” Porter continued dreamily, “All the women that chase after me have been evil, cruel, mean…yet I’d do every one of them again,”
“Close enough,” Jall sighed, “It’s a truth serum.”
T’Parief and Klosek hunted through the Nisus Convention Center, T’Parief with his tricorder and Klosek with a small security scanner. Having found nothing beyond the Klingon DNA in Porter’s quarters, the two had expanded their search. Klosek had objected when T’Parief insisted that they continue their investigation through the night. He had reconsidered after T’Parief pointed out that kidnapping was a very time-sensitive issue.
“So, how’s Starfleet been treating you?” Klosek asked, his golden scales reflecting the dim lights.
“I am Chief of Security on a powerful starship,” T’Parief grunted, “The crew respects me and my enemies fear me.”
“Sounds great,” Klosek stifled a yawn, “But don’t you ever get tired of being the big bad? When we were younger, you were such a cheerful guy! Now you’re about as much fun as a tribble at a Klingon family reunion.
T’Parief chuckled softly.
“I actually brought a tribble to my grandparent’s home on my tenth Day of Honor. They were not amused. The Family was stabbing me with pain sticks for hours.”
“How have things been on Nisus?” he asked.
“What, your parents didn’t fill you in?”
“They have not.”
“Things were a bit dicey during the Dominion War,” he said, “We’re a pretty important research center, so Starfleet always made sure we were protected. Hmnm, we added our first Betelman citizen about six months ago.”
Klosek went on, detailing changes on Nisus while T’Parief had been away. T’Parief really didn’t care about Councelor Vlon’s latest attempt to homogenize the school system, and the last annual Andorian Rampage of Excruciating Pain and Ecstasy was only moderately interesting, but his detailed explanation kept Klosek busy and allowed T’Parief to concentrate.
Finally, he had to interrupt him.
“Klosek,” T’Parief asked, “I have been meaning to ask: why were you looking for clues in that Horta habitat to being with?”
“Oh, that. Somebody called me yesterday to report a short Klingon dragging two big sacks down a sidewalk. I thought it might be useful, but that was before you reminded me that we had to scan these places.”
T’Parief’s hands clenched so tight his talons dug deep into his palms.
Jeffery tossed and turned on his hard bunk, the soft snoring of his holographic companions not quite relaxing enough to help lull him to sleep.
Jeffery’s entire body ached. The marching, the obstacle course, the potato peeling, all had taken a toll on his battered body. Hard work was hardly something new to the engineer; Jeffery spent most of his day working with technology and while a good part of that work was done with panels and circuits, there was enough heavy labor and time spent climbing up shafts and through Jefferies tubes that Jeffery was no slouch. He’d also had to endure Starfleet Academy’s rigorous physical training and survival exercises.
But Jeffery had wanted to go to the Academy, and through every test, every exercise, every back-breaking task he reminded himself that would be a light at the end of the tunnel: his commission.
Here, there was nothing. He was working because Madam said so, doing what Madam told him to and for no reason other than that Madam told him to.
He hated that bitch. Every sweat-slicked, shining green muscle of her. She was as beautiful as Dr. Wowryk and only slightly more demanding. But he loved Noel. Didn’t he? If he really loved her, why wasn’t he spending his time with her, obeying her every whim rather than slaving away to this sadistic hologram of his own design.
Taking a deep breath, Jeffery pulled himself out of his bunk, pulled on his boots and left the barracks.
“Really?” Jall asked in surprise, “Wow, I really thought Captain Beck was younger than that. Plastic surgery?”
“No,” Porter slurred, “She just moisturizes and exfoliates.”
“Wow. Hey, and how about Lieutenant Russel? Did he really have a threesome with two Roznians?”
“Lieutenant Russel couldn’t handle two women if his life depended on it,” Porter gasped out.
“San, I really think you should focus on an escape plan. Once they get back, they’ll get what they want!”
“About that,” Jall said, “What do we know that they could possibly want?”
“Waystation’s weapon schematics, Silverado’s shield modulation, plans for a Tellarite self-stimulator, how should I know?”
“I mean,” Jall said, “She already has detailed info on Waystation. She sabotaged you last year! Starfleet ships change vital information like command codes and shield modulations on a regular basis; there’s no point in going to this much trouble to get them! Operations Officers don’t really have access to any really juicy classified stuff.”
Porter was quiet.
“Unless you know something I don’t,” Jall said, half to himself now, “They went after you first, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time…so there must be something that you know about that she wants.”
Porter bit his lip.
“Is it wearing off?” Jall asked, “Why won’t you tell me?”
“‘There must be something you know about that she wants’ is a statement, not a question. I didn’t think I have to answer truthfully unless you ask a question,” Porter closed his eyes, “Dammit!”
“Do you have any idea what she wants?” Jall asked.
“I have a pretty good idea. And she’s not going to like what she finds out.”
“Time for talkies!” K’Eleese announced, fastening the clasps on her shirt as Slezar followed her down the stairs, puffing on a cigarette, “Is my little Operations man all set to tell me everything I want to know?”
“No! He’s not!” Jall cried out, “You took too long. The truth thing wore off. Better give it another try and come back in an hour.”
Ignoring him, K’Eleese brought her face so close to Porter’s their noses were almost touching.
“Are you going to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you, dog?” K’Eleese gave a giggle, “I heard that on holo-vision somewhere…”
“I am,” Porter slurred, “but I don’t want to.”
“Good,” K’Eleese purred. She pulled out a padd, “Now tell me, Mr. Porty-pie, what is the significance of a quantum phasic variance?”
“A quantum phasic variance describes the vibration patterns of the quantum particles that make up all matter in the universe,” Porter recited.
“Excellent. And what is the quantum phasic variance of matter?”
As Porter started reciting numbers, Jall frowned. Almost unconsciously, he found himself silently repeating the formula with him. He knew it like the back of his hand; it had been drilled thoroughly into his head during his high school Quantum Mechanics class. Could K’Eleese possibly be so inept as to need to torture Porter for something she could find in any library?
“Good boy,” K’Eleese sighed as she patted Porter on the head, “Now, is it possible to change a quantum phasic variance?”
No, Jall thought to himself.
“No,” Porter said, “It’s impossible.”
K’Eleese licked her lips.
“So then, I will never see a phasic variance different from this one?” she held up the padd.
No, Jall thought, Of course not. Unless….oh, s**t!”
“Every universe has it’s own variance,” Porter stated, “Persons or objects from parallel universes will have their own unique phasic variance.”
“Excellent!” K’Eleese cacked, clapping her manicured hands together.
“You do realize you could get all that from any well stocked library, you dumb bitch!” Jall snapped.
“Hurt him,” K’Eleesesaid, waving in Jall’s direction. Slezar walked over, delivered a hard shot to Jall’s gut then returned to his seat.
“Of course I do, fool!” K’Eleese snapped, “But not everything I need can be found so easily!” she turned her attention back to Porter, “Now, my bearded little man, if I wanted to travel to another quantum reality, how would I do so?”
“Any transporter system with a Mark XI or better emitter array can be modified to break through the quantum barrier,” Porter said dreamily, “You just need to use a multi-spectral quantum pulse generator to alter the phasic variance harmonics of the matter stream to match the variance of the destination universe.”
K’Eleese picked up a cylindrical object from her workbench. Jall had no clue what it was, but Porter recognized it at once. He’d used a device just like to rescue Yeoman Jones from a very bad place…
“Porty-pie,” she said, hands trembling slightly, “What is this?”
“It’s a multi-spectral quantum pulse generator.”
“Good, good,” K’Eleese carefully set the device down, “Very good. I killed the Orion who stole it for me, so an exchange or refund was out of the question. Now,” K’Eleese swallowed, sweat glistening on her cranial ridges, “What is the quantum resonance signature of the parallel universe you discovered on stardate 50625.3?”
Porter swallowed, shook his head, then swallowed again.
“TELL ME!” K’Eleese roared, slamming a fist into Porter’s thigh.
“The truth serum is wearing off,” Slezar said calmly, “Allow me.”
Pushing K’Eleese out of the way, Slezar clamped one meaty, clawed fist on each of Porter’s arms, pushing his snout full of sharp teeth right into Porter’s face.
“Tell us,” Slezar growled, “Or I’ll do such things to you that you’ll beg for death,”
Porter said nothing.
“Don’t be silly,” K’Eleese snapped, pushing Slezar away, “If you tear his throat out, there’s no way he’s going to be able to talk.”
“But it would be much fun,” Slezar hissed, “And I was simply going to tear off an arm. Or two.”
“I have a better idea,” K’Eleese said ominously as she lowered her hands towards Porter’s exposed ribs…
And started ticking.
Laughter poured out of Porter, tears started to pour from his eyes. K’Eleese’s fingers ran over his ribs at warp speed.
“I….won’t…tell…you!” Porter gasped out, face red as a freshly boiled lobster.
“Them I won’t stop!” K’Eleese growled, digging her fingers into Porter’s sides.
Jall wasn’t sure how long it went on, half an hour, an hour. By the end, Porter gasped out the number K’Eleese wanted, sweat dripping from every part of his body, cramps seizing his stomach like so many tiny little fists.
“YES! YES! OH HAPPY DAY!” K’Eleese screamed out, “Finally! After all this time! I’m finally going to get there!”
“Goody,” Slezar grunted.
“Shut up!” K’Eleese snapped, “Don’t rain on my parade! I get the minions and soldiers I want, you get to make use of your precious Project Triad. We all win, and we’ll all be happy…very happy!”
Simon Jeffery walked up the stairs to Madam’s home on base, the steady cadence of his steps showing no sign of the butterflies flittering around his stomach. He’d removed his blues and was dressed in his Starfleet uniform, his mustard-yellow collar crisp, not a speck of lint visible on the grey shoulders or black pants. His boots clicked as he walked up the steps, opened the unlocked door and stepped inside.
Madam was seated in a large chair, calmly regarding her fingernails.
“I could you have written up for breaking curfew, you know,” she said evenly, “Or perhaps you would prefer to-“
“Shut up,” Jeffery said quietly.
Anger flashed in Madam’s holographic eyes.
“What?” she demanded.
“SHUT UP!” Jeffery screamed, “YE EVIL, NASTY PERVERTED BITCH!” He took several deep breaths, then continued, “The only reason ye have power over me is because AH GRANTED IT TO YOU! Ah have the freedom to tell ye to go to hell any time Ah want! Ah came here to learn something about myself: Ah came here willingly and willingly put myself under your control! Ah did everything you said, Ah tried to look up to ye, the same way Ah look up to Noel. But ye know what? Ah just didn’t feel it!”
Madam was silent.
“Ah had to know,” Jeffery continued, half to himself, “If it was something special about her, or whether it was something any beautiful woman could do. If Ah was just a slave deep down. Ah had to find out.”
“And what did you learn?” Madam asked coldly.
“Ah don’t need you,” Jeffery said without hesitation, then took a deep, shuddering breath, “Wow!” Jeffery swallowed, “That, that was so easy!”
He walked over to Madam, looking her straight in the eyes.
“Ah don’t need you! Sylvia! End program!”
Jeffery walked out the holodeck doors as Madam, the house, Joey and the entire holographic base vanished.
“Drive faster, you idiot!” T’Parief snarled as Klosek weaved his aircar through heavy traffic, “For Blork’s sake, it is the middle of the night! Where are these people going?”
“There’s a very popular Benzar night club nearby,” Klosek said meekly, “At least it’s a night club now. Used to just be a Benzar stock exchange, but between the respirator mist from the Benzites and the bass beats they use for stock updates, well, these things happen…”
“Shut up!” T’Parief snarled, “If you had told me in the first place that you had received a vital clue-“
“You didn’t ask!” Klosek whined, trying to rub the buzzing out of his ears after T’Parief’s scream, “Besides, you said we had to scan-“
“You had a lead and should have told me! End of story!”
“But, um, even if they are still in the Horta neighborhood, how are we going to find them?”
“With this,” T’Parief held up his tricorder, “How many Humans, Klingons and Human/Trill hybrids do you think are hanging out with the Hortas?”
“Couldn’t you have just scanned for them from orbit?
“Maybe if we had a starship,” T’Parief snapped, tapping at his tricorder as Klosek brought them in for a landing in the center of the Horta neighborhood, “Hmm. The life signs are nowhere near the home you were initially investigating, but I’m reading a Human, a Klingon, a Human/Trill and…a Gorn?”
“Sounds like a party,” Klosek smirked.
T’Parief looked at the Patrian officer.
“You are beginning to remind me of Lieutenant Jall,” he said, “If you wish to remain alive and healthy, that is not a good thing! We must proceed on a bearing of 154 degrees for two hundred meters. Wait, the Klingon and Gorn lifesigns are moving. They are heading towards the city!”
“Who do we go after?”
“You will rescue Jall and Porter,” T’Parief decided, “I am sure I don’t want to. I will pursue the perpetrators.”
Jall stretched his arm through the bars of his cell door, trying to snag the key. K’Eleese, more excited that anybody had any right to be after torturing somebody, had left Porter strapped to the table and had tossed the keys in Jall’s general direction before running up the stairs. Forcing just a bit more of his arm between the bars, Jall snagged the key with the tip of his finger and pulled it in.
“G-good work, San!” Porter gasped, still exhausted from his tickling experience, “now let me go!”
“I dunno,” Jall said coolly, opening his cell door then tossing the now-useless key over his shoulder, “you weren’t really in that big a hurry to let ME go when you had the chance!”
“Don’t be stupid!” Porter objected, “She would have caught me in a second! At least if I got out, I could have gotten help!”
“Uh-huh. In the meantime I could have become K’Eleese’s new ‘Operations Love-Puppet’!”
Both men shuddered.
“What did she want?” Jall asked, “What was all that about?”
“Remember that parallel universe we talked about?” Porter asked, “The one where everybody was insanely happy, and the United Federation of Fun was led by lunatics?”
“Oh yes,” Porter groaned, tugging weakly at the straps still holding him down, “That’s where she’s trying to go!”
Jall spun to find a golden-scaled Patrian officer holding a stun gun on him.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Klosek said, holstering his stun gun, “I’m looking for two kidnapped Starfleeters. I didn’t mean to interrupt your kinky little bondage fantasy,” he turned to Porter, “This is consentual, right?”
Porter rolled his eyes.
“Just untie me!”
T’Parief had his attention divided between driving Klosek’s aircar and tracking the Gorn and Klingon life signs with his tricorder. Klosek’s vehicle, like so many things, just wasn’t designed for a two-meter tall reptile. T’Parief’s knees were up by his elbows, his tail was crammed uncomfortably beneath him and his sensory nodes were jammed against the roof.
Cursing, he stabbed at the controls, sending the vehicle out of the way of a young Dundani on an air-cycle. The teen flipped T’Parief the finger as he swerved in the opposite direction. T’Parief didn’t dare take his eyes off the tricorder; he had left the Horta neighborhood and was in a suburb inhabited primary by Bolians, but the closer he got to the city core the more Nisus’ unique mix of life forms would work against him. From the course they were following so far, the culprits were heading straight for the University of Nisus research complex. Research labs weren’t exactly scarce on the science colony, and the U of N wasn’t even the biggest one. What could they want there?
“Jall to T’Parief,”
T’Parief tapped his comm-badge, “You are alive. How disappointing,”
“Nice to see you too,” Jall replied, “Now shut up and listen! It’s K’Eleese you’re chasing! She’s with your father, they’re probably off to hijack a transporter somewhere.”
T’Parief was quiet for a moment.
“Who is this?” he asked angrily.
Jall let out an exasperated groan.
“Look, you overgrown animal cracker,” Jall said firmly, “Your father is working with K’Eleese, cuz she’s going to help him with something called Project Triad.”
“Project Triad?” T’Parief asked, “That’s impossible. That project ended years ago!”
“Look, I’m just repeating what I heard at your house!” Jall snapped, “Whoever was helping him with it before backed out, K’Eleese going to help him in return for his help! She wants to get to some parallel universe that Porter discovered years ago, and she needs a transporter to do it! The whole reason she kidnapped Porter was because he had the information she needed to get there!”
“Why does she want to get there so badly?” T’Parief asked.
“I don’t know! I’m just-“
“Repeating what you heard. Very well. I will attempt to stop them from reaching a transporter.
K’Eleese and Slezar were racing towards the city core in K’Eleese’s stolen vehicle.
“You do realize,” Slezar commented calmly, “That there are other transporters in easier to access locations. Such as at that transporter repair shop we just passed at the last exit.”
“Civilian transporters,” K’Eleese scoffed, “They don’t have the juice to get me where I want to go! But as you so kindly pointed out, the U of N is testing new transporter technology for Starfleet. And since you just happen to work there…”
“Yes, yes, I get the point,” Slezar growled, “You would do well to show me some respect, wench, before I rip your still-beating heart from your chest!”
“Oh, you’re such a charmer!” K’Eleese sighed, “As soon as we get out of here I’m going to-“
K’Eleese’s dialoge is being temporarily omitted to prevent readers from experiencing nausea, dry heaving, projectile vomiting and an overall feeling of disgust. The Management would like to apologize and to state that K’Eleese was hired before we realized what a nasty little deviant she was. Thank you. And now, back to our story.
T’Parief parked Klosek’s aircar, siren lights flashing, at the main building of the University of Nisus and raced for the doors. Predictably enough, the university was closed for the night. Ignoring the security padd that would likely ignore his Starfleet clearance anyway, T’Parief proceeded to force his claws between the sliding glass doors and to rip the left door out of its track. The door fell to the ground amid the tinkle of broken glass as T’Parief stormed into the main foyer, following his tricorder. K’Eleese and Slezar were on the same level as he was, but they had come to a stop in a chamber less than two hundred meters away.
Sprinting, T’Parief dodged through empty hallways, using a flashlight he’d found in Klosek’s car to light his way. He only stumbled twice; once on a table that had been cleverly hidden around a corner by a sadistic interior designer intent on bruising as many shins as possible, then again after he snagged a talon on a loose carpet thread.
He found himself in front of a room labeled ‘Teleportation Studies, Access Restricted.’ The door had already been forced once; it was a simple matter to wedge his claws into the crumpled metal and to pull the door open again. Inside, a central transporter pad was surrounded by sensors, panels and unlabeled equipment.
“Father!” T’Parief snapped.
Slezar spun from where he and K’Eleese were hunched over a control panel.
“Keep him busy!” K’Eleese snapped.
“Spawn,” Slezar hissed, “This is no concern of yours. Leave.”
“I will not,” T’Parief said firmly, “You have abducted Starfleet Officers-“
“Actually, that was me,” K’Eleese said quickly, flashing T’Parief a big smile, “Hiya, handsome!”
Ignoring her, T’Parief turned back to his father.
“You tortured two men-“
“Me again,” K’Eleese chimed in again.
“I only assisted,” Slezar stated.
“Aided and abetted an escaped criminal,” T’Parief paused, eyes flashing to K’Eleese.
“Sorry, sweetie,” K’Eleese said, “I can’t help you with that one.”
“You are both under arrest,” T’Parief pronounced.
“I think not!” Slezar answered, dropping into a fighting stance.
T’Parief hesitated. He was a fearsome creature, it was true. But his father was a full blooded Gorn. His usual advantages of size and strength, while still present, wouldn’t be as great as they would be had he been fighting a Human or Klingon. Plus, he really didn’t want to fight his father.
Slezar took the choice from him, darting forward. T’Parief blocked the blow, spinning on reflex, trying to throw Slezar off balance. Too skilled to fall for such a simple trick, Slezar used the momentum to throw himself into a roll. Jumping back up to his feet he slashed, claws extended. T’Parief blocked the blow with one arm, the jolt staggering him even as his father’s claws slicked through scales, drawing blood.
Now he was mad.
With a flurry of punches, T’Parief threw Slezar on the defensive. Twisting around, he delivered a roundhouse kick to Slezars left knee, sending him to the ground.
“I see Starfleet hasn’t entirely neutered you after all!” Slezar snapped, climbing back to his feet with a noticeable limp.
“Indeed!” T’Parief snarled, throwing himself at Slezar, knocking both to the ground.
“GOT IT!” K’Eleese cackled, “Come, honey! Our destiny awaits!”
“I am not finished!” Slezar snarled, throwing T’Parief off him and jumping to his feet.
“Stop wasting your time with him! We have work to do!”
With lightening speed, Slezar grabbed a padd from his pocket and hurtled it straight at T’Parief’s head. The security officer dodged, but the diversion bought Slezar and K’Eleese enough time to jump onto the transporter pad.
“You were adequate offspring,” Slezar declared, “My best wishes to you.”
The two dematerialized.
Yanick, Jall, Porter and T’Parief boarded the runabout Asessippi, ready to depart Nisus. The rest of the vacation had been mostly eaten up with security reports and police interviews, explaining just what had happened. With the identification of the culprit behind the kidnapping the Operations Convention had resumed, much to Jall’s disappointment. Klexish had embraced Yanick and given her the recipe to Gorn Spider Souffle, assuring her that it would drive T’Parief wild. Despite Yanick’s concern, the older woman assured her that she would cope with her husband’s departure.
It was only minutes after Yanick finished putting the runabout on autopilot that T’Parief called her into the aft cabin.
“What’s up honey?” she asked. T’Parief was seated as the table, a dented padd in one hand.
“I wanted to talk to…somebody,” T’Parief said softly.
“Oh. OK.” Yanick waited.
After a moment of silence, T’Parief help up the padd.
“My father threw this at me,” he said finally, “I thought it was just a random padd, until I took a look at what was on it.”
“His secret files?” Yanick asked.
“The password to the secret files on our home computer,” T’Parief said.
“They talk a lot about…Project Triad.”
Yanick was quiet.
“And?” she asked.
“Project Triad,” T’Parief explained, “was the name given to the research project that determined how to allow my parents to give birth to me.”
“Oh, cool!” Yanick exclaimed, “but doesn’t that happen all the time on Nisus?”
“It does,” T’Parief agreed, “My conception was particularly difficult because my mother is a mammal and my father a reptile. I had assumed that was the reason for the special project. But if that is the case, why did my father keep those files locked? And why would K’Eleese have any interest in them?”
“San told us that he told her he wanted to finish his work,” Yanick pointed out.
“But it was finished!” T’Parief exclaimed, “Here I am!”
“Maybe there was something he wasn’t telling you,” Yanick suggested.
T’Parief looked blankly at Yanick, fighting the urge to point out that he had just spent the past five minutes trying to imply just that.
“That must be it,” he said instead.
“Well,” Yanick said, “Maybe there is one good thing,”
“If you’ve got the files from the scientists who helped your mom and dad have you, maybe Dr. Wowryk can use them to fix your little…problem.”
“Y’know, the way you lock up like a rusty bolt any time we try to have sex!”
T’Parief flushed dark green.
“We can always hope.”
Captain’s Log, Supplemental:
“Ensign Yanick, Lt. Cmdr. T’Parief and Lt. Jall have returned from their excursion to Nisus, along with an unexpected guest. We’re proceeding to rendezvous with the U.S.S. Wayward which will be transporting Lt. Porter back to Waystation. Dr. Wowryk reports that neither Jall nor Porter show any side effects from their imprisonment, and that the unpleasant memories K’Eleese forced them to experience will fade quickly.”
“As per Starfleet’s orders, we will not be sending anybody after K’Eleese. May seem strange to let a criminally insane lunatic like her go loose, but from what we’ve learned from Porter, it would just be too dangerous to go after her.”
“There was no way I could risk her dragging us back into another Happyverse mess,” Porter said as Stafford and Jall escorted him to the transporter room, “So I lied,”
“I thought she injected you with truth serum,” Stafford asked.
“She did. But her and Slezar were going at it for quite a while. It must have been wearing off.”
“So which universe did she go to?”
“Damned if I know,” Porter shrugged, “She could be in the Crabbyverse for all I know. Or the Universe of Peace and Love. Or the universe without women.”
“You’re making that up,” Stafford said, a pleading tone in his voice, “Please tell me you’re making that up!”
“Of course I am,” Porter chuckled, “If there is a universe without women, I don’t want to know about it!”
They reached the transporter room. Porter’s eye flicked briefly to the ‘Use at Own Risk’ sign hanging near the transporter pads.
“Should I be worried?” he asked.
“Has this crew ever given you any trouble?” Jall asked with a smirk.
“It’s just there for legal reasons,” Stafford assured him, “Pay it no mind. Ship’s in great shape.”
“She’s definitely looking better then she did the last time I saw her.”
“Thanks dear,” Sylvia cut it, causing Porter to jump, “It’s nice of you to say so.”
“Don’t ask,” Stafford sighed, “Mr. Pysternzyks, is the Wayward ready?”
“Yes,” the Andorian officer hissed.
“Oh, sorry to hear about your break-up,” Porter said as he stepped on the pad.
“Breakup?” Stafford asked, eyebrow raised.
“Yeah. But, y’know, your Chief of Security found a nice girl. Maybe you will to.”
Stafford was still too stunned to reply as Porter dematerialized.
“It sure is good to be home,” Yanick said happily, sipping a strawberry milkshake in Unbalanced Equations. T’Parief was on his second mug of blood wine, still brooding over his father’s betrayal, and Noel was seated across the table, immersed in Slezar’s Project Triad files. Steven was experimenting with different atmospheres; he’d used the holo-emitters Jeffery had installed in the lounge for Fifebee to give the illusion that the big windows looking out into space actually looked out at a beautiful river valley.
“Asessippi River,” Steven had said proudly when Yanick had commented, “Y’know, cuz of the runabout and all…”
Yanick turned to see Stafford stomping towards her.
“Don’t you ‘Hiya Captain’ me!” Stafford snapped, “Why does Captain Beck’s Science and Operations Officer think that I was dating your boyfriend?”
“Ohh….” Yanick said softly, “Well, Beck came to see me, well, see you, when I was in your body, and I kinda…sorta…said I was dating T’Parief. She must have thought you were-“”
“SON OF A BITCH!” Stafford snapped, storming back out of the room.
T’Parief and Wowryk stared at Trish.
“It was an accident,” she grumbled.
“It would be very sinful for the Captain and T’Parief to date,” Wowryk said calmly.
“Let’s just not go there,” T’Parief grumbled firmly.
Jeffery approached the table.
“Simon!” Wowryk exclaimed, “Where have you been! Three days go by, I don’t hear a thing, nobody will tell me where you are! What’s gotten into you?”
Simon said nothing.
“Well, no matter,” Wowryk decided, “Now please go get me a cup of tea and some biscuits,” she turned back to her padd.
“No,” Jeffery said.
“I beg your pardon?” Wowryk asked, frowning.
“Ah said get it yerself!” Jeffery gulped, then bolted for the door.
There was a click, then San Jall eased into view from where he had been ducked behind a support pillar.
“Stafford gave me tomorrow off if I caught Wowryk’s face on camera,” he chucked. He turned the holo-imager so everybody could see the preview panel, where Wowryk’s face was frozen in an image of complete shock, “Betcha I can talk him into two days off for-“
He never even saw Wowryk throw the punch that knocked him out cold.
“It’s so nice that everything is getting back to normal,” Yanick said tiredly.