Are you a Star Trek addict? If so, you probably know that Star Trek was created by Gene Rodennberry and is owned by Paramount. If you would like a cure for Trek addiction, I suggest Star Traks. It was created by Alan Decker and is far more humorous, with none of the made-for- network-television side effects. Star Traks: Silverado was created by Brendan Chris. Former Trek addict.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2008

Matrian Installation 317


Qu’Eh Invasion +9 Days:


“Trish, are you sure this is such a good idea?” Sylvia was asking. Her voice was coming out of Yanick’s comm-badge, as Fifebee’s holo-relay was currently on one of the upper tower levels, too far away for a holographic projection down to the transit hub.

“I’m sure,” Yanick said, “We’ve got a set of Matrian comm-badges, so we can stay in contact without worrying about that interference thingy,”

“Trish,” Yanick could hear the sigh in Sylvia’s voice, “I’m not going to argue that you and T’Parief need to sort through some things. But from what I understand, this place is huge, unexplored and possibly dangerous!”

“And it’s been empty for a good two hundred years!” Yanick said, “My mind is made up!”

“Are you talking to yourself again? You know that’s a sign of insanity,” Stafford had come up to where Yanick and her pile of bags were waiting for T’Parief.

“She’s talking to me, Chris,” Sylvia said.

“Oh. Hi,”

“Hi!”

“So, um, not exactly travelling light, are you?” Stafford commented, pointing at the pile of bags.

“I need my things,” Yanick shrugged.

“No, you do not,” T’Parief said. He’d come around a corner and onto the transit platform. He wore a heavy Starfleet survival pack on his back and carried another in one meaty hand. He held it out to Yanick.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“Your luggage,” he said flatly.

“Oh, thanks Pari,” Yanick giggled, “but I already packed.”

“We are not taking this,” T’Parief said, pointing at the pile of bags.

“What? But-“

“No!” he growled, his fangs showing just a bit, “I have agreed to this trip, we are going where you want to go, it is now MY turn to make a decision! We are roughing it this trip, and that is that!”

“I’m just gonna…go…” Stafford said, jerking his thumb behind him and edging away.

“Me too,” Sylvia said. There was a chirp as the comm channel closed.

Yanick and T’Parief glared at each other.

“What about my cot?” she asked, “Mr. Snuggles? Those little chocolate things I grabbed before leaving the ship?”

“We don’t need them,” T’Parief said, “You want this to be about the two of us? Then it is going to be JUST the two of us!”

He stepped into the waiting tram.

“Are you coming, or not?” he asked.

“Ohhhhh!!!” Yanick seethed, “Men!”


Jeffery and Stafford watched from a nearby balcony as the small tram picked up speed, darting into a nearby tunnel and shooting off in the direction of the entry hanger and the Matrian Camp.

“Too bad we haven’t figured out how to send that thing to any new destinations yet,” Jeffery mused, “They’ve got a hell of a long walk to where she wants to go…all the way around the cavern!”

“Yeah,” Stafford crossed his arms, “You’re sure the first security teams we sent didn’t find anything out there?”

“Miles of corridors, twelve hangers and about two billion locked doors,” Jeffery confirmed.

“I dunno,” Stafford bit his lip, “I still don’t like this,”

He turned and started heading back towards the command complex.


Many, many, many levels above them, Fifebee and Valtaic were strolling along a dimly lit corridor. They were in the second highest accessible level of the central tower, and it was barely larger than the command complex above.

Fifebee leaned into a door, her head and shoulders vanishing.

“Lounge,” she said, “Make a note, there is a comfortable looking chair that somebody may want to come and get, once you have figured out an easy way to unseal the doors,”

“Are you certain you’ve purged all of Sylvia from your system?” Valtaic asked.

“No,” Fifebee replied, walking to the next set of doors and poking her head in.

“Lavatory,” she reported, “Given the nature of my holoraphic personality database, I suspect it will be some time before all behavioural subroutines related to Sylvia are fully purged. However, our separation was completely successful,”

“Understood,” Valtaic nodded. “Oh!” he said, suddenly remembering humanoid etiquette, “That is…good? To hear!”

“Yes, thank you,” Fifebee said absently, poking her head through another door.

“Hmmm,” Valtaic could hear her say, “That is odd, there appears to be….EEEEEE!!!!!!!!!”

Fifebee had stepped through the door, then let loose an ear-splitting shriek that quickly faded.

As suddenly as she’d vanished, she re-appeared next to Valtaic, looking somewhat shaken.

“What was that?” he demanded.

“Turboshaft,” Fifebee swallowed.

“That concludes this level,” Valtaic said, giving Fifebee’s holo-relay a tug and heading towards the stairs.

“This is going to take us months!” Fifebee sighed.

“Yes, yes it most likely is,” Valtaic agreed.


“WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?”

Stafford spun around so quickly that he had to grab on to the command balcony railing to keep from falling to the floor. His world tilted around him as he stared down at the two-level drop between him and one of the command complex’s lower windows. Gulping, he pulled himself back and turned to face his accuser, Queen Anselia.

“The meaning of what?” he responded, “This funny little squiggly thing on the control panel? I don’t know. I can’t read Matrian,”

“No!” Anselia finished climbing the steps into the circular command deck, “We mean what is the meaning of you reassigning our liaison officer and your chief of security to a vacation without consulting us!”

“It’s not like they were doing anything all that important,” Stafford shrugged.

“Perhaps you have forgotten,” Anselia seethed, “But you are OUR Minister of Planetary Defence! YOU report to US!”

“And maybe you’ve forgotten,” Stafford crossed his arms, the heat rising up his neck, “That I’m a Starfleet officer in a survival situation! By Federation law, that gives me a certain amount of authority!”

“We are not bound by Federation law!” Anselia snapped.

“Hah! Jokes on you! Yes you are!” Stafford shouted, pointing a finger at her face, “And as I recall that’s a big part of the reason why I just LOST MY F**KING SHIP!”

“Your SHIP?” Anselia screamed, “I lost my PLANET!”

She and Stafford stood nose-to-nose for several seconds.

“We are in charge,” Anselia said firmly.

Stafford almost told her where she could go shove it, but a thought suddenly occurred to him:

He really didn’t want to be in charge down here anyway.

Anselia wanted to worry about what they should actually do to pass the time until reinforcements arrived? Let her. He’d lost his ship for a second time now, defending her frickin’ planet. Dozens of his crewmen were now captives of the Qu’Eh, at least until help arrived, and he was stuck sleeping on a cot next to Jeffery. Life sucked.

“Fine,” he said, “You’re in charge. And exactly what do you think we can do to single-handedly free your planet?”

“Rebellion,” Anselia said simply.

“Um, OK. Anything more specific?”

“We must contact our people, let them know that their government is still intact,” Anselia said, “We must encourage them to resist the Qu’Eh however possible! We must be prepared to rise up against the Qu’Eh when your Federation fleet does arrive!”

Stafford had to admit, those were good points.

“You realize,” he said, “that anything you do to communicate with the outside world could bring the Qu’Eh down on this place,”

“We do,” she said, “Which is why I want your people concentrating on activating this facility’s defence systems,”

“Whoah,” Stafford said, “This place has defence systems? Since when?”

“It is an Old Matrian military installation,” Anselia said, “It contains attack ships. It is in a well-defended position underground. It must have defence systems!”

“A defence system powerful enough to fight off the whole Qu’eh fleet?” Stafford said sceptically. He gestured at the holographic display in the center of the room, where they could see Qu’Eh cruisers orbiting the planet, “Wouldn’t that just be too convenient?”

“One step at a time,” Anselia said, “For now, we simply wish to defend those of us who are here,”


Yanick and T’Parief had ridden the tram out to the outer rim of the facility, disembarked and started following one of the seemingly endless corridors that ringed the place. Makeshift signs had been setup at some of the intersections, pointing the way to the Matrian Camp in what had been unilaterally declared Hanger 2, surface access from Hanger 1 or the tram station to the central island. As they passed the turn-off to the Matrian Camp and its corresponding, non-functional tram station, Yanick spoke up.

“I sure wish we could have ridden to the far side,” she said.

“The walk will do us good,” T’Parief said bluntly, adjusting the straps on his pack.

“You maybe,” Yanick grunted, giving a futile tug on one of her straps, “Some of us aren’t built for carrying heavy stuff!”

“Perhaps if you put more effort into your exercise routine, you would be,” T’Parief said.

“Are you calling me fat?”

“No,”

“Cuz it sounds like you are!”

“I am not,”

The walked in silence for a few moments. Moments stretched into minutes, then into over half an hour. The whole time, they saw nothing but the blue and red Matrian corridors, locked doorways and the occasional transit station.

At the third or fourth tram station, T’Parief abruptly turned off the corridor and towards a non-descript looking door.

“Pari, what are you doing?”

“I recognize the marking on this door,” he said, “It is the same as the marking on the stairways in the central hub,”

“Uh, we’re here to spend some quality time together, not to go off exploring!” Yanick objected.

T’Parief turned to her.

“We are walking together. Does it really matter if we walk someplace nobody has been yet?”

With that he fired his phaser, cutting through the door, then stepped into the stairwell.

“Ohhhhh!!!!!” Yanick fumed, following him.


They took the stairway down several levels until they came to a door with more labels on it than any they had found so far. T’Parief had reached for his phaser, only to jump back in surprise when the door actually opened.

“Some doors are unlocked,” Yanick said nervously, “Like that one back in the lab,”

They stepped into another corridor. This one was wider, higher and even more utilitarian than the one they’d left. After a few minutes of walking, still following the curve of the facility’s outer area, Yanick spoke up again.

“Pari, we have problems,” she said.

“Yes,” he agreed. He stepped closer to one of the doors leading off the corridor, only to find it locked.

“And what are we going to do about them?” Yanick demanded.

“We are taking a vacation,” T’Parief said.

“No, I’m trying to take a vacation,” Yanick said, “You’re still working!”

T’Parief stopped, gave a sigh, and turned to Yanick.

“Patricia,” he said, “It is…heart-warming, that you want to spend time together. And I am pleased to call you my mate. But we are in a survival situation on an occupied planet! Our ability to get out of this situation depends on everything we do down here! I cannot take the chance that I might miss some vital clue that could save lives…including yours,”

Yanick managed to look both touched and infuriated.

“So, you’re saying you won’t take the time off to be with me!”

“I am being with you right now,” T’Parief said, heat entering his voice, “And if you truly wanted to be with me, you would be enjoying our time together, instead of being angry that you do not have every iota of my attention!”

Yanick blinked.

“So that’s it, huh?” she demanded.

T’Parief’s head ticked, and for a moment, he thought his brain might explode. What part of what he was saying wasn’t getting through to her? He WANTED to spend this time with her, he wanted them to be alone together…he just wanted to do his duty at the same time! How could she, a commissioned Starfleet officer, not understand that?

Maybe it was time for a different approach. One that involved a bit more action and a bit less reason.

T’Parief abruptly dropped his pack and started tearing off his shirt.

“Hey, what are you….ULP!”

Yanick barely had the chance to protest, then protesting was suddenly the furthest thing from her mind.


“So,” Jeffery, Valtaic and Fifebee were huddled around a makeshift table in one corner of what a nearby sign proclaimed to be Hub Platform 5. Actually, it was written in Matrian, but since a Matrian font doesn’t exist yet translations will just have to do. Plus, of those present only Fifebee could actually read Matrian, rendering the whole topic pretty much irrelevant anyway.

“So,” Jeffery was still saying, “First we were supposed to be cracking into the computers, then we dropped that, and we were supposed to be sending Fifebee to try to map out some of the locked doors. Now, we’re dropping that too and starting to look for some kind of defence system?”

“Precisely,” Fifebee said.

“But the best way to do that would be to crack into the computers!” Jeffery exclaimed, “Or to map the place out and see what we could find!”

“Indeed,” Valtaic agreed. He had some weird contraption in his hands and was fiddling around with it.

“Does anybody else see the problem here?” Jeffery exclaimed, exasperated.

“Your blood pressure?” Fifebee inquired.

Jeffery’s eye twitched.

“Ah need a drink,” he groaned.

“And a bath,” Valtaic said absently, “One can only image the damage our combined odours are doing for moral.”

“Luckily, we are not living in a carpeted area. I doubt we would ever get the smell out,” Fifebee added.

“Look, back to the defence thingy. The Queen wants to start some kind of rebellion against the Qu’Eh, and Chris is just lettin’ her do it. So that leaves us…”

“Opening doors,” Valtaic said. The device in his hands gave a small ‘click’.

Jeffery smacked the thing out of his hands, electing an involuntary jolt from Valtaic’s energy field.

“Quit fiddlin’ with that thing and help us with this problem!” Jeffery snapped.

Valtaic folded his hands and gave Jeffery his full attention.

“But-“ Fifebee started.

“Nay, Fifebee! I don’t want the guy concentrating on somethin’ that has nothing to do with our current problem!”

As the two argued, Valtaic remained silent. He was beginning to understand why television had never become all that popular on his planet: when everybody was upfront and honest and when social irrelevancies were discarded, personal interaction really was extremely dull. These humans and their human-programmed AIs, however…

Fifebee had just quoted some precedence from one of Silverado’s previous mission where somebody had solved a problem by focusing on something completely irrelevant to the task at hand. Jeffery was countering with some business involving exploding toilets.

Quickly becoming bored and desiring an end to the conflict, Valtaic stood and moved towards the locked door set into the wall nearby. Running his hand over the smooth surface, he located the appropriate point and carefully pulsed his field. There was a small ‘click’, identical to the one that had come from the device earlier. He then stood in front of the door, forced his metallic fingernails between the panels and forced the door open.

Jeffery and Fifebee suddenly stopped talking, turned and faced him.

“How’d ye do that?” Jeffery gasped.

“I was trying to tell you,” Fifebee said, “That the device he was holding was the mechanical locking mechanism from the door we blasted open earlier, and that he was attempting to ascertain if he could stimulate the circuit required to open it,”

Jeffery blinked a few times, jaw hanging open.

“I have found a janitor’s closet,” Valtaic said proudly, stepping out of the open door, “Would either of you like a mop? Perhaps some matter-reclamation-unit purifier?”

“So, wait,” Jeffery said, “This means we can open any door in the place now?”

Valtaic nodded.

Jeffery threw back his head and gave a long, slightly insane sounding laugh.

“Screw the defence systems!” he announced loudly, “To the lavatory!”

They started walking quickly in the indicated direction. Every time Valtaic and Fifebee caught up with him, Jeffery started walking faster.

“Do you have to go that badly?” Valtaic asked, “I am becoming fatigued,”

“No, but Ah’m hoping that the thing Ah want more than anything else in the world is close to the head,”

“And that would be?”

“A shower!”


They managed better than a shower.

Two levels above the hub, Fifebee suddenly pulled them off course, announcing that one of the signs in the corridor was pointing towards a fitness facility. Sure enough, once Valtaic had opened the big double doors, (and once Jeffery had located the light switch) they found themselves in a nice reception area, beyond which was a transparent wall looking into a dimly-lit gymnasium. It only took a moment of hunting before Jeffery found the locker rooms.

He and Valtaic immediately jumped under the showers, not even bothering to disrobe. While Jeffery gurgled under the hot water, Valtaic was struggling not to let any energy out into his energy field, lest he zap the poor engineer. On Valtaic’s planet, athletes didn’t bother snapping each-other’s butts with towels in the locker rooms, not when wet floors conducted current so well.

Fifebee however, was holding her tricorder out.

“This water did not come from the lake,” she commented.

“Fifebee, nobody cares!” Jeffery said, “Quick, go back down to the hub and tell everybody about the showers! We need them!”

“But-“

“NOW!”

Sighing and fuming over (yet grateful for, in this case) the humanoid obsession with bodily comfort, she turned and started to retrace her steps.


Yanick and T’Parief were lying in the middle of the corridor, cloths strewn in all directions.

“Hmmm…that was nice,” Yanick purred, snuggling up to T’Parief’s side.

“I am pleased you think so,” T’Parief rumbled.

They lay there for a moment, relaxing in the warm glow that followed really good, romantic sex.

Yanick suddenly sat up.

“HEY!” She snapped, punching T’Parief in the side, “What’s the big idea?”

“Hmm?” T’Parief asked, barely noticing the impact.

“You think that you can just starting making love to me in the middle of an argument and that I’m just going to just let the matter drop?” she demanded.

“That was not-“

“I’m not some kind of sex-starved little floozy that you can just win over with your masculine charms!” Yanick went on, grabbing up bits of her uniform and hurrying to get dressed.

“Trish,” T’Parief started.

“NO!” Yanick snapped, “Don’t you even start! Just…just…arghh!”

She started stalking down the corridor. When she reached an intersection, she spun abruptly back.

“I’ll be back for supper!” she said, then marched off.

The instant she was out of sight, T’Parief slammed one meaty fist into the corridor bulkhead, shattering a section of paneling.

“Women,” he snarled, grabbing his phaser. Yanick wanted some time alone? Fine!

He had doors to open!


Yanick marched down one unfamiliar corridor after another. Stupid T’Parief! Stupid T’Parief and his stupid, stupid doors! What part of ‘vacation’ wasn’t getting through his thick skull?

She continued walking, her tricorder beeping softly from her hip. She wasn’t going in any particular direction, and she knew the auto-mapping function of her tricorder would guide her back to the ‘campsite’. She didn’t care where she went, as long as it was away from HIM!

Frustrated, she broke into a light jog, taking a left turn here, a right turn there. She knew she was getting pretty far from that main corridor they’d found, but she really didn’t care.

A left, a right, a forward…why did all the stupid display screens have to be dark? She really would have liked to see Days of Honour, or As the Starbase Turns. Anything but Xujo Han’zon, the interspecies mating specialist! She did NOT want to think about sex at the moment.

Although, it had been really, really good.

Yanick shook her head and slowed back down to a walk.

Really good.

“D’oh!” she seethed, “That man is so…so…hey, what’s that?”

Something bright and shiny farther down the corridor abruptly captured her attention. Forgetting for the moment about T’Parief, sex and conquered planets, she quickly walked towards it.

Ahead of her, the corridor abruptly opened up into a large, open lounge-type area with high, two-deck ceilings. There were comfortable chairs scattered about, along with tables, interesting-looking light fixtures and even an empty bar. A pair of huge viewscreens hung behind the bar, making Yanick think of one of the sports bars that her brothers had loved so much. (She’d had to haul their drunken asses home more than once!)

Moving towards the far wall, Yanick realized that the dark panels running from floor to ceiling were actually windows. Peering through them, she let out a gasp.

She was looking out into a chamber that was several times larger than the hanger bays they’d found so far. It was definitely some kind of hanger or landing bay, but it was clearly meant for much larger ships. Over a dozen decks below her, she could see heavy cranes, unloading platforms and cargo haulers. The far end of the chamber appeared to be blocked by a wall of sand, or possibly rock. Directly across from her, a web-like scaffolding held what looked (even to Yanick’s blond eye) like a half-finished Matrian cruiser. Not a little scout ship, patrol ship or attack ship, but a full-sized cruiser, the backbone of the Matrian fleet.

“Ohhhh!” she held her fists down at her sides, shoulders hunched and arms trembling with rage, “T’Parief is going to LOVE this! DAMN THAT MAN!”

“You won’t have to tell him,” a voice said behind her.

Yanick spun around, but before she could see who’d spoken she felt something strike her head. Her world spun around, then faded.


Craigan stood over Yanick’s body, a chunk of rock-like Baked Cherry with Prickle-Mouse Dessert clutched in one hand. He wasn’t sure why these people would include foods obviously meant to be used as weapons in their ration-packs, but whatever. Tossing the food-item aside, he contemplated the woman he’d captured.

He suspected she was one of the aliens. Her soft, masculine features, the slender build and her obsession with her relationship just didn’t fit with the image of a Matrian woman. (Of course, Craigan had no idea that most of the races in the galaxy would laugh hysterically upon hearing Yanick described as ‘masculine’.) She was attractive though, he mused as he started tying her to a chair. Something about the softness of her features just kept catching his attention.

Craigan cursed to himself. A real Matrian man wouldn’t be thinking things like that! A real Matrian man would assume she was a lesbian, then wonder if he’d ever meet a strong, handsome woman to spend the rest of his life with. Just another example of the changes the Matrian women had made to his gender! They’d changed his body, his intelligence, hell, even his personality before he’d even been born! He wasn’t a man anymore: he was some strange blend of a man, and what the Matrian women thought a man should be.

Tying Yanick’s bonds with renewed vigour, he quickly finished. Settling into the chair across from her, he waited for her to wake up.


“Cargo storage,” T’Parief mused, looking around the room he’d just broken into. Crates, barrels and canisters, labelled in squiggly Matrian letters, lined the walls. The only door leading into the room was a large over-sized pair leading into the corridor they’d found. Obviously, that corridor was bigger than the others because it was used for cargo transfer.

Pleased with himself, T’Parief moved on to the next set of doors.

He’d already phasered five sets of doors, leaving a trail of blackened, smoking panels in his wake. He’d found cargo storage, a meeting room of some kind, a security monitoring station (he believed) and two rooms full of workstations. Of course, they were all locked down. Still, it was progress!

Moving into a cross corridor and burning through another set of doors he found a small lounge, or possibly a break room. A large screen dominated one wall, a large sofa dominated the other and one wall held several replicators. He wasn’t sure if they’d work, but they were the first Matrian replicators they’d seen in the installation and food was always of concern. Yanick would no doubt want to try out both the replicators and the couch.

Ah yes, Yanick. It had been a couple of hours since she’d stormed off. Perhaps he should return to their lovemaking arena/camp site and see if she’d returned.

Hopefully, she’d be a bit calmer.


“LET ME GO YOU MONSTER!!!” Yanick screamed at the top of her lungs, “WHO THE F**K ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PIECES MY BOYFRIEND IS GOING TO BREAK YOU INTO WHEN HE FINDS OUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”

Craigan winced.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.

“I’M GOING TO F**KING HURT YOU!” Yanick snapped.

Craigan jumped back a bit. Oookay, clearly this woman wasn’t as meek as he’d been expecting.

Yanick started struggling against the ropes that were holding her down. Realizing she wasn’t going anywhere, she took a closer look at her assailant.

He was about 5’10, with a firm, athletic build. She knew this very well, as he was wearing only a tight-fitting pair of Starfleet-issue boxer briefs. His hair was a bright blond, his eyes a light (yet compelling) green. He wasn’t one of the Silverado crewmembers though, and she was pretty sure she’d never seen him before in the Matrian camp.

Oh!

“You’re the Matrian guy we found in stasis!” she exclaimed, “Craggy?”

“Craigan,” the man replied, “And weren’t you just threatening me? Why are you so nice all of a sudden?”

Yanick frowned.

“Oops, I forgot. I’m supposed to be really angry with you,” she looked thoughtful for a moment, the abruptly spit in his face.

“Better?” she asked.

Craigan sneered as he wiped his face with his hands.

“Maybe we should talk about why I’ve taken you prisoner,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Yanick shrugged.

“Yes it does!” Craigan said.

“Not really,” Yanick said, “T’Parief’s gonna escavate…evisnitate…uh, he’s gonna do that thing where he rips you open and all your guts come spilling out, anyway. So it really doesn’t matter why you kidnapped me.”

“Shut up,” Craigan started pacing, looking thoughtful, “Where are we?”

“We’re in an underground installation on Matria Prime,” Yanick said immediately, “It’s locked, we don’t know what it does, and it doesn’t matter anyway cuz you’re gonna die,”

“It does too matter!” Craigan snapped, fists down at his sides, arms trembling with rage and shoulders hunched, doing an uncanny impression of Yanick, “I’m a member of the Male Rebellion and I will not be ignored when I am terrorising somebody!”

“The what?” Yanick asked.

“The Male Rebellion!” Craigan exclaimed, “The men fighting against the oppression of the Matrian Women! Fighting for an equal role in governing the Empire! Fighting against the women who treat us like objects instead of like the individuals we are!”

Yanick looked blankly at him.

“Just how long have you been in the Matrian Empire?” Craigan asked.

“You mean the Matrian Republic?” Yanick asked, “Oh, we got here two years ago. You attacked us, we attacked you, stuff got blown up, all the women woke up and you all decided it was time to be one big happy society,”

Craigan stared at her.

“No!” he snapped, “The Men of Matria will not rest until we’ve overthrown the…” he suddenly trailed off.

“How long was I in stasis?” he demanded.

“Oh, in the tube thingy?” Yanick thought to herself. “I dunno. Fifebee knows that stuff more than I do. This place has been empty for a couple hundred years though, so a long time,”

“A couple…hundred?” Craigan looked at her in shock. Then he abruptly shook his head.

“No,” he said firmly, “I don’t believe you,”

“Oh well,” Yanick shrugged. Well, she tried to shrug, but the ropes prevented that, “Once T’Parief rips your head off, you’re not gonna believe anything, really.”

“Stop saying that!”

“Head-off! Head-off!” Yanick started chanting, “Bouncy-bouncy on the floor! Bouncy-bouncy out the door!”

“SHUT UP!”


Stafford was running down the dim corridors, a sense of elation filling his soul.

They’d found it! One of their biggest desires was being full-filled! He started pulling his uniform tunic off in anticipation, taking a left when he reached one of the small, makeshift ‘street signs’ Jeffery had scattered through several of the corridors above the transit hub. He slipped through a pair of open doors, dodged a reception desk and tried not to skid as he took a hard, hard right turn. He was just about there! He chucked his tunic on the floor and bend forward to untie his boots…

Only to find himself face to…er…not-face with Jeffery.

“AAAAGGGHHHHHH!!!!” Stafford screamed, falling backward.

“Yer late,” Jeffery said, standing buck-naked in the fitness facility locker room, “There’s a line already for the showers,”

“Dammit Jeffery!” Stafford snapped, “Put some cloths on!”

“What, ye mean those filthy things Ah’ve been wearing for close to two weeks?” Jeffery shook his head, “They’re dryin’,”

Grabbing his tunic and boots off the floor, Stafford found his way deeper into the locker room. Sure enough, the shower area was filled with Silverado crewmen enjoying the hot water.

“Water even, not sonics!” Stafford groaned, “Man, I guess being in a planet-side base does have advantages,”

“Here,” Jeffery said, gesturing to a row of sinks and a jug labelled in Matrian, “Ye can wash yer uniform while ye wait, Fifebee found this stuff in one of the janitor’s closets,”

Warily undressing, Stafford crammed his uniform into the sink and turned on the tap, wincing at the rancid smell that immediately engulfed him. Behind him, somebody started teasing Crewman Gibson for dropping the soap. The scruffy crewman rushed out of the showers, his face turning beet-red.

“Man, Ah’m glad Jall’s not here right now,” Jeffery said, “He’d be enjoyin’ this far too much,”

“Hmm,” Stafford grunted non-committally, really not wanting to think about his missing officers.

“But y’know, with him and ye bein’ such good pals and all, Ah guess ye wouldn’t mind,” Jeffery went on.

“Jeffery, if you’re trying to insinuate something between me and Jall, you probably shouldn’t do it while we’re butt-naked,” Stafford sighed, “Unless…wait,”

He took a sudden step further away.

“Are you coming on to me???” he demanded, covering himself with his now soaking wet and sudsy uniform top, “We haven’t been down here THAT long!”

“What? Nay!” Jeffery snapped.

“Oh, good,” Stafford breathed a sigh of relief, “Than what’s with the ‘me-and- Jall-buddy’ talk?”

“Ye don’t seem overly concerned that he’s in enemy hands,” Jeffery said, dropping his subtle attempt at subtlety.

“Jeffery, I’m really getting tired of this whole ‘we’re in trouble, you don’t think I care enough, you give me shit’ routine,” Stafford said.

“Ye don’t think other people are wonderin’?” Jeffery demanded, “We’ve all got…friends, who were on the ship when it was captured.”

“And explain to me then how we’re supposed to track them down without a ship, without a feasible mode of transportation and without bringing the Qu’Eh down on every Starfleet officer and civilian hiding in this place?” Stafford demanded. The line at the showers had dwindled, so Stafford threw his uniform onto a hook, jumped under one of the showerheads and let out a sigh of relief as the hot water hit his body. Of course, he nearly gagged when the water released a cloud of stench, but the hot water was still a relief.

“Ah’ve heard that Queen Anselia wants to start a rebellion,” Jeffery said.

“Why are you in here?” Stafford demanded, “Didn’t you already shower? Go put some cloths on and leave me in a bit of peace!”

“Are ye telling me that after two weeks, ye wouldn’t want more than one?” Jeffery said as he starting lathering up his hair.

“Yeah, whatever,” Stafford grumbled.

There was silence for a few moments.

“Where are the female showers?” Stafford abruptly asked.

“Other side of the reception area,” Jeffery said promptly, “And nay, we don’t have access to the security camera,”

“Damn,”


A short time later, Stafford and Jeffery were walking back to the Starfleet camp; their wet uniforms clinging to them like second skins.

“There was a drying unit next to the showers, you know!” a female Lieutenant called as she passed them, giggling.

“Aye, well, at least we’ll win the wet T-shirt contest!” Jeffery called back.

He turned back to Stafford.

“So look, about the Matrian Rebellion,” he started.

“Look,” Stafford rolled his eyes, “Anselia has this half-baked idea that she can somehow fight the Qu’Eh without giving away our position. I tried to convince her that we’re better off waiting for Starfleet, but she won’t listen. So she can do whatever she wants!”

“But, ye know, if she’s tryin’ to do stuff, we should help her out! Y’know?” Jeffery said, “We might even find a way to rescue our people!”

“Or we could wait for Admiral Tunney’s relief fleet to get here and blow the Qu’Eh right back to hell,” Stafford said, “And aren’t you supposed to be looking for defence systems anyway?”

“Ah can’t believe that ye don’t care enough about Wowryk, or Jall or any of those guys to at least try to go get them!”

“Look, Jeffery,” Stafford quickly looked around at the crewmen passing to and from the showers. He pulled Jeffery down the hall and through the open door to a small office. “Look, you know damned well that I’m worried as hell about them. But in case you’ve forgotten, we’ve got a lot more to worry about. The entire Matrian government is hiding out down here, and if the Qu’Eh get their hands on them, it’s going to make it all the easier for them to establish their foothold here! We have to think of the bigger picture!”

“That’s f**king cold, man!” Jeffery said angrily.

“I…I know.” Stafford said. “But, look. The Qu’Eh were taking prisoners. They want control of Matria; they don’t seem to care about Starfleet all that much. Wowryk and Jall are probably just killing time in some brig somewhere. They’re not going to be happy, but they’ll understand.”

“Like hell,” Jeffery muttered, “Wowryk’s going to kill you.”

“Yes,” Stafford agreed with a sigh, “Yes she is.”


Qu’Eh Invasion +10 Days:


“Rise and shine, ma’am,”

Yanick opened her eyes and blinked, trying to clear her vision. Who would be calling her ma’am first thing in the morning? Was she at a resort or something? Did she fall asleep on the bridge? And why was she so sore?

She became aware of the ropes binding her to the chair in which she sat. Oh. Right. Craigan had taken her hostage, and was now looking down at her with a concerned look on his face.

So Yanick jerked her head forward at full speed, cracking her forehead against Craigan’s face. He gave a yelp of surprise, then fell back onto the carpeted floor.

“Oh yeah!” Yanick said, trying to pump her arms over her head, though the ropes prevented it. “Go Yanick! Go Yanick!”

Shaking his head and spitting blood out of his mouth, Craigan climbed back to his feet.

“What was that for?” he demanded.

“Um, you kidnapped me!” Yanick snapped, “D’uh!”

“Yeah, but I’m being a pretty good hostage-taker, aren’t I?” Craigan demanded. “I haven’t beaten you, or killed you, or cut off body parts, or raped you repeatedly, the way a woman would have!”

“Well yeah, I’ll give you…what?” Yanick frowned, “Women don’t take hostages! And they don’t rape them!”

“Uh-huh,” Craigain said, “I suppose that next you’re gonna tell me that on your planet it’s the men who do the hostage-taking and kidnapping and raping, while the women are just innocent victims?”

“Well, a couple hundred years ago, maybe…” Yanick said thoughtfully, “But we outgrew that!”

“Yeah, whatever,” Craigan said. He reached down to untie her feet, only to get a kick to the head in return. It was a Yanick kick, so it wasn’t very hard, but he still fell over.

“Quit it!” he snapped, “I’m trying to untie you so we can get moving!”

“I know,” Yanick said, kicking at him again, “I’m making it harder for you. It’s what hostages are supposed to do!”

“Oh, you are such a bitch!” Craigan seethed.

“And you are such a queen!” Yanick snapped back.

Craigan looked blankly back at her.

“A what?”

“OOHHHHH!!!!” Yanick seethed.


T’Parief awoke on the floor in the corridor.

Still no sign of Yanick. Not a glimpse, not a sound. Nothing.

OK, he was officially worried. They were in an empty facility with nothing but locked corridors and practically no chance of injury. But she should have been back by now. She must have become lost!

Gathering the camp site and pulling out his tricorder, he started moving out in the direction she had gone. Now, the lack of hygiene was working to his advantage…the stench trail her unwashed body had left would be lingering in the corridors for the next week!

He’d find her, it would only be a matter of time…


“I motion that we bring this meeting to order,”

“Seconder?”

“I second,”

“Very well,” Queen Anselia turned to a nearby woman with a padd and stylus, “You may begin the meeting minutes. Please note that the first meeting of the Matrian Organized Rebellion Against Invasion, Repression, Occupation and Suppression has been called to order,”

“So noted,” the secretary replied.

Anselia turned to regard her ‘War Council’. They’d setup their top-secret resistance meeting in the cargo hold of one of the Matrian scouts that had been parked in the above-ground hanger bay. The fact that the entire installation was buried underground just somehow didn’t seem to make it feel secret enough; she’d wanted the familiarity of one of HER government’s vessels, not some relic from the past. Her council so far consisted of her government cabinet, minus her Minister of Planetary Defence (Stafford).

“First order of business,” she read from her prepared agenda, “Let us define ‘occupation’ as ‘the taking by force of lands, properties and assets from their rightful owners’, wherein the ‘rightful owners’ are defined as those beings who came into possession of such assets legally and without theft, deception or other means that could be viewed as unscrupulous in the eyes of the law,”

“Proposed!” cried the Minister of State, a male from the city of Matronus.

“Seconded!” cried the young, blond Minister of Agriculture.

“Noted,” the Secretary replied.

“Next,” Anselia continued, “Let it be proposed that the occupation of Matria Prime by the Qu’Eh is unlawful, and against the wishes of the duly elected majority government,”

“Under twenty seconds per motion!” one of the ministers whispered happily, “At this rate, the whole meeting will take less than five hours!”

“Proposed!”

“Seconded!”


T’Parief was growing more and more concerned. He’d been tracking Yanick for nearly an hour now, and her trail had led him off the main corridor of their current level and into a maze of side corridors. He wasn’t sure exactly where he was anymore, but judging by what he knew of the installation layout, he was fairly close to the outer walls.

He continued sniffing, took a turn to the right and found himself in a slightly larger corridor. At the far end, he could see that it appeared to lead into a lounge. There were even windows looking out on something…but before he could get close enough to see what was there, he noticed a fork in the scent. Huh. Apparently, Yanick had been in the lounge, then had left. And she hadn’t left alone. There was another scent…this one was….Matrian. Male. Now what would one of the Matrians be doing down here? Nobody had even opened up this level until he’d phasered the stairwell door. So whoever was with Yanick had either followed them down, or had been down here from the start. But why would somebody follow them down, only to chase after Yanick? And if it was one of the Matrians from the Matrian Camp, why was their trail leading deeper into unexplored territory instead of back towards the stairwell?

That settled it. He turned and followed the scent back out towards the main corridor, totally unaware of the shiny shipyard he’d just missed.


“Take a left up ahead,” Craigan ordered.

Yanick, seeing the corridor junction, immediately turned right. Craigan grabbed her by the ropes and yanked her back on course.

“I said left! What’s wrong with you?”

“You still think I’m gonna listen to you?” Yanick giggled, “Silly terrorist!”

“Ugh, you are the WORST hostage EVER!” Craigan snapped.

They walked in silence for a few moments.

“Where are we going, anyway?” Yanick asked.

“Out of here,”

“Um, the exit’s back that way,” Yanick tried to point, but could only incline her head in the appropriate direction.

“I have to throw off your alien-scum boyfriend on the way,” Craigan snapped.

“Hey, I’m an alien too, you know!”

“Probably. But maybe you’re just a Matrian lesbian trying to escape the wrath of the Male Rebellion you know is coming!”

“You are SUCH an idiot!” Yanick giggled.

“Move faster!” Craigan said, pushing Yanick ahead.

“STOP!” he suddenly called.

Yanick intended to keep walking, but Craigan evidently expected that, as he’d already twined his hand into her bindings. He yanked her to a halt next to a display screen mounted on the wall of a corridor junction. He started feeling around the side; there was a soft click as the screen activated.

“This won’t do you any good, they’re all locked,” Yanick said.

“Maybe not on this level,” Craigan said.

But the screen showed only the standard ‘locked’ message.

Craigan looked shrewdly at Yanick. He placed his hand on an unremarkable section of the display. There was a soft chime, then a voice.

“Recognize Craigan, Lt K. Male Rebellion. Access Denied,” came the standardized voice of a Matrian computer, “You are listed as a criminal. Please turn yourself in to the proper authorities.”

“Cool!” Yanick exclaimed, “How’d ya do that?”

“Standard security procedure,” Craigan said, “What I don’t understand is why the system didn’t bring security down on me the first time I tried it. I had such a great trap laid out for them!”

“Uh, cuz this place is deserted?” Yanick ventured.

Craigan grabbed one of Yanick’s hands and unbound it, then slapped it against the same spot.

“Um, I’m not a Matrian,” Yanick said, “I won’t be-“

“Lieutenant Patricia Yanick, Starfleet, United Federation of Planets, Temporary Liason Officer for Minister of Planetary Defence Christopher Stafford,” the computer announced, “Access denied.”

Yanick blinked.

“Sweet!” she said, “That’s cool!”

“And you’re a liar,” Craigan said. He re-tied Yanick’s hands and pushed her back into motion, “If this place has been empty for hundreds of years, just how exactly are you in the computer records?”

“Magic?” Yanick shrugged.

“Uh-huh,”

Despite her outward bravado, Yanick was starting to get worried. Just how long would T’Parief wait before he came to get her? Would he be able to find her? Why the heck hadn’t she left a trail of breadcrumbs or something?

Speaking of which, she was getting pretty hungry.

Craigan led her through a set of doors and up a narrow flight of stairs. The stairs widened into a broad walkway overlooking some sort of public area. The domed ceiling was painted a baby blue and several planters scattered around the place were filled with dirt, along with a few shrivelled remnants of plant life. She wasn’t really sure what it was, nor did she really have time to think about it as Craigan hauled her across the walkway and towards a door in the other side.

“HALT!”

Yanick and Craigan both looked down to see T’Parief standing on the lower level, a good two stories down. He had a phaser pointed up at them, along with both his and Yanick’s packs strapped to his back.

“Let her go, Matrian!” he snarled.

Craigan had already pulled Yanick around, using her as a human shield.

“You want her, alien?” Craigan called, starting to drag Yanick towards the doorway, “Come and get her!”

He had to duck as T’Parief’s phaser beam singed past his head.

“Hey!” Craigan snapped, “I’m using her as a shield! You’re not supposed to shoot at me, or I’ll kill her!”

“Don’t believe him, Pari!” Yanick called, starting to struggle, “He’s a big wuss!”

“Shut up!” Craigan snapped. He kicked Yanick’s feet out from under her and dragged her through the door.

He pulled her quickly down a short hallway, looking frantically to both sides. Suddenly, he seemed to find what he was looking for.

“In here!”

Yanick found herself shoved into the corner of what was probably a cargo area of some kind. She couldn’t identify most of the equipment in the room, but Craigan obviously did. After taking a moment to re-tie her feet, he sprinted for an access ladder and quickly climbed up to a control booth.

“What are you doing, silly?” Yanick asked.

“Preparing a little surprise for your boyfriend,” Craigan said.

“Oh, he likes surprises,” Yanick said, “But not enough to let you live, you…you…you bad person, you!”

“I’ll survive,” Craigan said, his bare skin shining with sweat as he frantically tapped at the console, “Luckily for me, things down here don’t seem to be as tightly secured as they are topside!”

There was a thud as the door shook. Yanick was certain she heard a very T’Parief-sounding grunt.

“Faster than I thought,” Craigan muttered.

The door shook again, one panel popping free of its guides and pushing into the cargo area. The next blow popped the other panel free. The final one sent both doors clattering to the deck, revealing T’Parief, a chunk of support pillar held in his arms like a battering ram.

“Trish!” he called, dropping the pillar.

“Watch out!”

There was a sudden hum, then four pale blue tractor beams speared out of hidden emitters, catching T’Parief on all sides and hoisting him up into the air. The reptile let out a surprised shout of rage and flailed around briefly before realizing the futility of such an action.

“HEY!” Yanick shouted, “What did you do that for?”

“He was going to kill me,” Craigan said, returning to the deck, “What, did you think I was just going to sit back and let him open me up like a Feminists-Day fhrant roast?”

“That’s what his enemies usually do,” Yanick said accusingly, “You let him go right now!”

“No!”

“YES!”

“NO!”

“Excuse me,” T’Parief called from the ceiling. Yanick and Craigan ignored him, continuing to argue.

“RRRAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!”

T’Parief had opened his jaws wide and let out a roar the likes of which were rarely heard outside of a Jurassic Park movie.

“What do you want?” he demanded, once he had Craigan’s attention.

“I want to get out of here so I can rejoin the Male Rebellion,” Craigan said simply, “Your girlfriend is the leverage I need to get out!”

T’Parief looked to Yanick.

“Did you not tell this filth that there is no Male Rebellion, that Matria has been invaded by the Qu’Eh and that outside of this facility he will simply die in the harsh desert?”

“Yeah, I told him, honey,” Yanick said, “He’s not very bright!”

Craigan gave Yanick a dark look.

“You never mentioned the part about the desert!” he accused her.

“Did I forget that?” Yanick asked innocently.

“YES!”

“Oh. Well, there’s this desert, see, and-“

“I’m still not listening to you!” Craigan said. He grabbed Yanick by her bonds and started leading her to the door. He turned and called back to T’Parief.

“By the way, I’ve programmed the tractor beams to rip you apart about five minutes from now,” he said, “I really didn’t want to be around when it happened. Bye!”

“YOU BASTARD!” Yanick shrieked, struggling anew as Craigan hauled her out of the room.

T’Parief hung helplessly from his position near the ceiling.

This was potentially bad.


Stafford climbed the steps to the command deck of the command complex, once again trying very hard not to look at the drop beneath him.

Valtaic and Jeffery were standing by the central display table, a Federation-style viewscreen setup in front of them. The command center had become littered with pieces of Federation technology that had been beamed down from Silverado during the evacuation. Crewman Gibson sat at one of the portable computers that had been setup and over a comm-link they could hear Fifebee’s voice.

“I have reached Level 32 via staircase A,” she reported, “I am again in a hexagonal corridor, however the outer perimeter now consists of windows rather than walls. I suspect the tower has tapered,”

“Tapered tower, huh-huh,” Gibson snickered, “Sort of like my-“

“No, it is NOT like your genitalia!” Fifebee snapped, “Unlike your ‘tower’, this one is extremely large and has never had to report to Sickbay for treatment!”

Jeffery snickered as Gibson turned a very deep red.

“Now, if you are ready to actually get back to work, the first door proceeding in a clockwise direction contains a conference room. The second appears to be a laboratory, possibly involving high-energy physics.”

As Fifebee continued reporting her explorations, Gibson keyed her findings into the terminal. A map of the complex was slowly forming on the display screen.

“What have you learned?” Stafford asked, taking a moment to again luxuriate in the fact that he was warm, dry and CLEAN.

“Offices, lavatories, laboratories, equipment rooms, storage rooms,” Jeffery shrugged, “Lots of locked rooms that really don’t need to be locked,”

“As usual, Mr. Jeffery is taking a very human-centric approach, Valtaic sniffed, “If the Matrians sealed those areas, they probably had a good reason for doing so,”

“Have you learned anything we didn’t already know?” Stafford asked tiredly.

“Oh, check this out!” Jeffery reached down into the guts of the central table. There was a click, then the holographic image of Matria Prime vanished. He grabbed a cable from one of the Federation terminals and plugged it in with another click. He tapped a button, then a hologram of a broad, gray disc hovered in mid air.

“Ah’ve been putting together this map,” he said.

Stafford took a closer look. The disc had twelve entry points evenly spaced along the outer edge…the hangers? A ring of enclosed space with some rooms and corridors stencilled in, then a massive chamber with six tram routes spanning over a dark lake and finally a central island with several towers stretching to a rocky ceiling. Jeffery manipulated the image, tilting the disc on its side and giving a bird’s-eye view of the facility.

“So that’s what this place looks like, huh? It sorta looks like what you get when you slice an orange in half,” Stafford observed. He frowned, “Hey, did you ever figure out where that sensor feed was coming from?”

With another series of clicks, Jeffery re-connected the image of Matria Prime, the Qu’Eh cruisers still hovering menacingly over Matronus.

“Passive sensor feed from Matrian Defence HQ, I think,” Jeffery shrugged, “Possibly a computer linkup, but it must be pretty well-hidden on the other end. I put a data monitor on it, but so far all it’s done is receive sensor data,”

There was a soft beeping from one of the terminals at the far side of the command deck.

“How’s that for timing?” Valtaic observed.

“What is it?”

“It’s encrypted is what it is,” Jeffery said after a few moments of tapping at the controls, “But someone or something in the facility sent a request to Defence HQ, and received a reply.” The terminal beeped again. “Make that two requests and two replies.”

“Would that give away our position?” Stafford asked urgently.

“Did it have anything to do with you connecting and disconnecting the feed?” Valtaic said pointedly.

“Ah doubt it,” Jeffery said quickly, “Ah mean, Ah can’t actually input any data into the network, Ah can just read what it’s doin’,”

“But you just-“

“Connected a signal to a holographic generator,” Jeffery said, “Bein’ able to watch ‘Warrior Guy’ on the big screen doesn’t exactly mean I have computer control.”

“Oh,” Stafford looked disappointed.

“It was possibly an automated system,” Valtiac conceded reluctantly, “A sort of keep-alive signal, or some such,”

“By the way, did ye bring any holo-chips of ‘Warrior Guy’?” Jeffery asked.

“I left them in my office in Matronus,” Stafford shrugged.

“Shit,” Jeffery mused.

“Hey, you guys wanna go see how Anselia’s rebellion plans are coming along?” Stafford asked.

“You believe she would have come up with a useful plan of action already?” Valtaic asked, cocking his head.

“No, not really,” Stafford shook his head, “I just want to see if the mud-slinging has started yet,”

“I believe I will assist Fifebee and Sylvia with their mapping of the facility,” Valtaic sniffed.

“Ah’ll come,” Jeffery said, “Noel once said that Matrian politics were the dullest thing she’d even seen.”

“Um, and that makes you want to see them?”

“Hey, people in the 20th Century went to see the ‘Worlds Biggest Ball of Twine’, didn’t they?


T’Parief hung suspended by the tractor beams, wondering just how he was going to get out of this one.

He’d tried pushing off the ceiling in an effort to break free of the beams, but they just seemed to lock right back onto him again. He could move his limbs relatively freely, for the moment. Until the beams increased in strength and ripped his body apart.

He latched his claws into the ceiling and started pulling himself towards one of the emitters. He was still a meter away when the pull of the other three beams became too strong for him to resist. With a yelp, he was yanked back to his initial position.

Two minutes.

Hanging in mid air, he noticed that the strap on Yanick’s backpack had split during his sideways fall. He yanked it off and was about to drop it to the deck when it passed directly through one of the beams and was pulled out of his hands. It bounced against the emitter, then dropped to the deck with a crash.

Hmmm.

He grabbed his phaser and quickly set it to overload.

And just as quickly shut if off. That was f**king stupid! What was he going to shoot the terrorist with if he didn’t have his phaser? What if he had to burn open another door?

He rummaged around in his own pack, pulling out the cast-duranium skillet he’d packed. With a back-hand swing well practiced in Silverado’s gym, he sent it speeding along the path of the one beam. The skillet smashed into the tractor emitter, which promptly died in a shower of sparks. His hunting knife dispatched the second.

With only thirty seconds left and no more heavy metal objects to throw, T’Parief dug his claws back into the ceiling and started pulling himself towards one of the two remaining emitters. Fighting only one beam, he was able to pull himself within arms reached of the emitter.

Zero seconds.

Both beams strengthened, pulling at his body. The closer beam had latched onto his head, the other onto his tail. The pain was intense as his entire body was stretched out, arms and legs clutching the ceiling.

With a grunt of effort, he stabbed his claws right into the emitter. There was a shower of sparks, then the pull on his head abruptly vanished. T’Parief found himself flying across the room, striking the final emitter butt-first with a loud CRACK! The last emitter sparked and died, dropping him to the floor in a heap.

T’Parief pulled himself painfully to his feet, certain he’d broken at least three bones in his tail. No matter. Yanick had to be saved!

Quickly gathering up his gear, he resumed his mission.


Jeffery and Stafford were just stepping out of the turbolift above the hub when T’Parief’s voice came through their comm-badges.

“T’Parief to all Starfleet personnel. Yanick has been kidnapped by the escaped Matrian. He is attempting to leave the facility.”

“Stafford to T’Parief,” Stafford hit his badge and broke into a jog, “We’re on our way. Where are you? When did this happen?”

“I am five levels below the Matrian hanger, approximately fourty-five degrees around the outer rim,” T’Parief’s voice came back immediately, “Yanick disappeared last night,”

“And you’re only reporting this NOW?”

“At first, I had thought it simply a Yanick temper tantrum,” T’Parief replied, sounding almost conversational, “However, by this morning, I had grown concerned,”

“Then why didn’t you tell us THEN?”

“I had expected to rectify the situation quickly,”

Stafford and Jeffery had reached the transit hub and were navigating towards the nearest tram. Stafford gave Jeffery a confused look.

“Then why are you telling us NOW?”

“Because our kidnapper nearly succeeded in having me torn limb from limb,” T’Parief said calmly, “Now, if you will excuse me, I must catch him and return the favour. T’Parief out.”

As the tram eased away from the platform, Stafford sighed.

“I think we’re going to have to have another discussion about non-fatal security measures,” he said.

“Did the last two dozen conversations help?” Jeffery asked.

“When you put it that way, it sounds so negative!”


“So, how do you even know where the exit is, anyway?” Yanick asked, as Craigan pushed her up the stairs leading to the ‘ground level’, the level that served as the lowest deck for the dozen hanger bays that had been discovered so far.

“I have had over a week to spy on you people,” Craigan said, “I just haven’t been able to get past your guards in the exit bay!”

“You kidnapped me to use me as leverage?” Yanick asked, “Oh, you silly boy! Somebody’s going to kill you!”

“Shut up!”

“It’s probably going to be T’Parief,” Yanick went on as Craigan dragged her back out into the corridor and pushed her into a run towards the exit hanger, “But I think Chris might get pretty pissed if he sees how mean you’re being to me.”

“Nobody’s going to kill me before I kill you!” Craigan snapped.

“Uh-huh,”


Stafford and Jeffery arrived, out of breath, at the exit hanger.

Piles of supplies were still scattered across the lower level and the Matrian shuttles along with the Starfleet shuttles and runabouts were still parked on the platforms. Several security officers had established defensive position near the personnel airlocks, and at least three very nasty looking photon mortars were pointed at the massive hanger door.

“Turn that stuff around!” Stafford called out, running out of breath, “Hostage situation! Yanick! Naked ninja!”

One of the security officers, an incredibly young looking, red-headed ensign ran up to Stafford.

“SIR!” he cried at the top of his lungs, “COMMANDER T’PARIEF HAS INFORMED US OF THE SITUATION! WE ARE READY TO RESPOND TO ORDERS, SIR!”

“Oh, YOU again,” Stafford groaned, trying to clean out his ringing ears with one finger, “Didn’t you used to be one of Jeffery’s engineers? I thought I’d transferred you off the ship a year ago,”

“SIR! I WAS TRANSFERRED BACK, SIR!”

“Can’t imagine why,” Jeffery muttered.

“Look, just make sure he doesn’t get out of here!” Stafford snapped, “And…hey! Is anybody guarding those shuttles?”

“SIR! WE LOCKED THEM UNDER A SECURE PASSWORD, SIR! SOMETHING NOBODY WOULD EVER GUESS, SIR!”

“It’s not ‘Password’, is it?” Jeffery asked.

“Um,” the officer said, suddenly very quiet.

“It’s ‘Password’, isn’t it?” Stafford groaned, “For the love of…get up there and change it to something harder than that!”


“Let us move on to point sixty-three on today’s agenda,” Anselia said, looking around the cargo bay at her inner cabinet, “The creation of an armed force with which to resist the Qu’Eh,”

“Isn’t that what Starfleet is for?” one of her governor’s asked.

“Weren’t you the one saying that we were giving Starfleet too much discretionary power on our home soil?” one of the females shot back at the haughty-looking man.

“Well, yes, but-“

“Starfleet has their own plans for the Qu’Eh,” Anselia cut it, “May I remind the Council that the purpose of this Rebellion is to encourage independent, Matrian action,”

She turned to the Secretary.

“Please log that reminder,”

“Logged, your Highness,”

“Clearly the men are best suited to armed conflict,” one of the women said, “They still have the vestiges of military training from before the Reawakening-“

“Oh, you BITCH, you did NOT just say that!” a blond man cried out.

“Well, I didn’t mean it to be sexist,” the woman tried to say, but the men were already in an uproar.

“Women have the same responsibility!”

“Equal Membership Act for the Matrian Defence Force was passed-“

“You are such a BITCH!”

Anselia sighed. Maybe she should just sic her cabinet on the Qu’Eh?


“Did you want to be cremated or buried?” Yanick was asking.

“Shut up! By the Goddess, I should have taped your mouth shut!” Craigan snapped.

“Silly boy! Then you wouldn’t have had anybody to talk to!” Yanick giggled.

“Exactly!”

Craigan was approaching an upper-level entrance to the exposed docking bay. His plan was to steal one of the ships there, then start blasting people in the docking bay until they opened the hanger door. He was still dragging Yanick along, despite getting very tired of her chattering (and having to constantly yank her in the right direction), to help him get past any guards.

He tapped the control on the corridor door, one of the ones that was actually responding, and slipped into the bay. He pulled Yanick along a walkway and onto the nearest landing platform. A single Matrian scout ship sat on the center of the platform, surrounded by crates and supplies. On the staggered platforms across from theirs they could see a Federation runabout below and a pair of Senousian fighters above. The sounds of shouted orders drifted up from the lowest level. As Craigan dragged her across the deck towards the ship, Yanick peeked over the railing. She could see Stafford and Jeffery snapping orders to T’Parief’s security forces, which were scrambling around like ants.

“HEEEYYY!!!” Yanick screamed, “WE’RE UP HERE!!!!!”

Her voice was cut off as Cragain yanked her back and slapped a hand over her mouth.

“STUPID BITCH!” he cried out, “What the hell did you do that for?”

Yanick, unable to speak, still managed to give him a look that said ‘Well DUH, you kidnapped me, dumbass!’

“Yes, OK, very well. I suppose I should have expected that,” Craigan sighed, releasing her mouth, “Let’s just steal this ship already!”


“YANICK!” Stafford called, spinning around and trying to track down the source of the scream. He could see the staggered half-decks above him, but had no idea which one held his missing crewman. Er, woman.

“Stafford to T’Parief? Are you almost here?”

“Yes.” T’Parief’s voice came from directly behind Stafford, causing him to jump and spin around like he’d been poked.

“He’s got her on one of the upper levels!” Stafford cried, “Go get her!”

T’Parief was already charging towards the doors.


“Can we PLEASE get back to resolution #63?!” Anselia declared, “If we want some kind of armed rebellion, and with the MDF under Qu’Eh control, we must simply approve the creation of an armed force! We can work out the details LATER!”

“Who would lead this force?” the blond Minister of State demanded, “Starfleet has their own plans!”

“Admiral Verithi is the head of our Defence Force,” the Minister of Agriculture reminded them.

“Admiral Verithi stayed behind to help Laurette protect our citizens during this invasion!” the Minister of State snapped.

“Oh. Well, that was right brave of her, wasn’t it?”

There was a sharp bang on the door. Everybody’s heads turned towards the hatch.

“Steward?” Anselia called. Nobody replied.

“STEWARD!”

“Wha?” the young Matrian functionary had dozed off during the proceedings. Suddenly awakening to find the entire War Council glaring at her, she coloured, then went to open the door.

“Yes?” she asked, “There is a council meeting in progress, can you come back- URK!”

She flew back into the cargo hold, helped by a sharp shove from Craigan.

“I’m hijacking this ship!” he declared, pointing his stolen weapon at them, his other arm wrapped around Yanick’s neck.

“Uh, can you hit the hatch close button?” he asked Yanick out of the corner of his mouth.

“Go f**k yourself,” Yanick said pleasantly.

“Fine!” Craigan snapped. He back up against, the wall, trying to hit the door panel with his left butt cheek. After about three tries, the hatch sealed itself.

“Now, I’m hijacking this ship!” he declared loudly, “I want everybody off!”

“You just sealed the door,” King Hector pointed out.

“I…oh,” Craigan sighed, “Who the fenth are you, anyway?”

“I,” Hector said, straightening in his seat, “am Hektor, King of Matrian Republic. This is Queen Anselia, and our War Council of Ministers,”

Craigan looked shocked.

“The Matrian Empire doesn’t have a king!” he snapped.

“Who do you think you are?” the Minister of State asked sassily, pointing his fingers at Craigan.

“I am a member of the Male Rebellion, you traitor!” Craigan snapped.

“The what?”

“He’s the frozen guy we found in the lab,” Yanick explained, “He’s been down here for like two hundred years, he doesn’t believe me when I tell him that there is no Male Rebellion and he, like, wants to escape and rejoin the Male Rebellion, whatever that was,”

“You fought against the women in the Gendar Wars?” the Minister of State asked, looking at Craigan with new interest.

“Gender Wars?” Craigan looked confused, “I’m fighting against female oppression, but it hasn’t turned into a war, yet. But you say there’s a full-out Gender War going on now?”

“THE GENDAR WARS ARE OVER!” the council shouted as one. (At least, Anselia considered, they were agreeing on something this time.)

Craigan wavered.

“We are the leaders of the new Matrian Republic,” Anselia said, rising to her feet, “The days of the Gender Wars and female oppression are over. Our people face a new threat: the Qu’Eh. They have invaded our space, killed our people-“

“They wrecked our ship and kidnapped members of our crew!” Yanick interrupted.

“Yes, that too,”

“She claims to be an alien,” Craigain said, gesturing towards Yanick with his weapon.

“Yes,” Anselia said, “her people-“

“Her people,” the Minister of State said, pointing a finger at Yanick, “Freed the Matrian men from the brainwashing shackles of female oppression!”

“We apologized for that,” one of the female councillors said indignantly.

Craigan was looking unsure of himself.

“I TOLD you so!” Yanick snapped.

There was a CLANG as something (T’Parief) struck the outer hull of the ship.

“Surrender,” Yanick urged him, “You’re trying to fight a battle that ended years ago!”

“Your people still need you,” King Hektor said, “It would be unfortunate if the lizard were to rip you to pieces.”

“And he will!” Yanick said.

There was another CLANG, this time a visible dent appeared in the hatch.

Craigan lowered his weapon.

“Very well” he said.


Outside, T’Parief had seized a solid-looking cargo canister and was slamming it into the side of the Matrian ship. He was just about to swing again when the hatch slid open. Dropping the canister, T’Parief dove into the ship, his eyes seeking then locking on to his target.

“Pari! NO!” Yanick cried.

Her objection registered just in time for T’Parief to retract his claws. The impact, however, still sent Craigan flying into the opposite wall, where he landed in a heap.

T’Parief, his blood still pumping, stood framed by the doorway.

“We had successfully negotiated his surrender,” Anselia said, looking down at the unconscious Matrian.

“Pity,” T’Parief growled, the sight of his bared fangs sending the War Council a good step back, “I am hungry,”


“Captain’s Log, Stardate…well, we’re over two weeks into the Qu’Eh invasion, OK?”


Lieutenant Yanick has been successfully rescued from her captor. I’m happy to say we can bring that little chapter to a close. Craigan has been offered a position with the Matrian Rebellion, which works out well for us because it gets him out of our hair and gives the Matrians another headache to deal with. Personally, from what I hear about the way he handled Yanick’s kidnapping, I really don’t think putting him charge of a fighting force is all that good an idea. But whatever. Anselia can do what she wants.

In related news, we’ve succeeded in turning this place into a pretty decent hiding spot. We’ve got showers, replicators and laundry facilities running, and with Valtaic disabling the mechanical and computerized door locks, we’ve been able to spread out into some proper living quarters. We’re still cut off from all the primary systems, but it’s a start.

Now, if we could just find the defence systems Anselia is convinced this place has, we’d all be happy.


Stafford was seated in a comfortable chair, at a proper table, in a cafeteria that Fifebee had found about ten levels below the command complex. The room was shaped like a crooked L, with the two outer walls being comprised of windows that looked out into the blackness of the cavern. Several round tables were scattered around the room, with a replicator and food preparation center setup in the inner corner of the L. Fifebee had found the room two days ago, and the decision to begin eating the replicated Matrian food had been made the instant it was discovered that the replicators were functioning. And after the medical staff had determined it wouldn’t poison them.

“I have nae idea whot this is,” Jeffery said, eying his plate of purplish meat with some kind of bright pink side dish, “But it really beats ‘Spaghetti and Gagh-balls’,”

“That just sounds SO nasty,” Yanick shuddered, sitting next to him. T’Parief was already digging into his raw Matrian steak, and Valtaic was picking daintily as some sort of stew. Stafford and Sylvia sat down, the former with a tray of food and the latter with a padd.

“You realize,” Valtaic said, “With the condition of the restaurants and replication programs on the surface, we are probably the first people to eat properly prepared, genuine Matrian cuisine in over a century,”

“Wha-ever,” Jeffery muttered through a mouthful of pink stuff.

“So you haven’t been seeing Anselia lately?” Sylvia was asking.

“Nope,” Stafford shrugged, “Ever since they found that Craigan guy, she’s been spending every waking minute with him, going over strategy and asking about life in the Old Matrian Empire.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sweetie,” Sylvia said, patting his hand.

“Whatever,” Stafford shrugged, “Sex with her was getting boring anyway,”

Syliva smacked him. Jeffery laughed, while Yanick kicked him under the table.

“At least,” Fifebee said, “We have the chance to greatly expand our understanding of Matrian culture. That was our original mission, was it not?”

“Yup,” Stafford agreed, “We’re making progress”

“Now we need only rescue our crewmates, and all will be well,” Valtaic said optimistically.

“And overthrow a hostile invasion force,” T’Parief added.

“And figure out whot the Matrians are hidin’ in this place,” Jeffery added.

“And figure out what’s going on with that shipyard out there,” Yanick said.

T’Parief’s head swung around.

“SHIPYARD?”

“Oops,” Yanick said in a small voice.

“There’s a SHIPYARD?” Stafford demanded.

“A resource of that sort of tactical significance and YOU DIDN”T THINK TO TELL ME!” T’Parief roared.

The table immediately broke into accusations, demands, complains and general chaos as this new revelation was debated.

In other words, it was a pretty standard Silverado staff gathering.

Sitting back in her seat, Sylvia smiled. Sure, they were stranded underground and some of their crewmates were missing, but it was good to see that the crew had managed to overcome some of the obstacles that were standing in their way.


Starbase 45: One day after the Qu’Eh invasion of Matria Prime.


Admiral Tunney was sitting in his office, his display screen active.

“I’m sorry,” Fleet Admiral Ra’al was saying, “But the Enterprise simply isn’t available. It’s summer on Dyseth V right now, and if Picard doesn’t get to do his archaeological study on the Dys this season, he’s going to have to wait another year.”

“Fleet Admiral, to hell with the Dys!” Tunney exclaimed, “We have an entire civilization waiting for us to help them!”

“A civilization that never should have been admitted into the Federation in the first place,” Ra’al sniffed.

“Well they were, and that means we have certain obligations!”

“Of course,” Ra’al agreed, “However, I’m sure that with the ships currently under your command, you can assemble a perfectly adequate task force,”

“I don’t have any Sovereign-class ships under my command!” Tunney reminded her.

“You are slated to receive the USS Borden, a Sovereign-class vessel,” Ra’al said.

“Another Operation Salvage ship that won’t be out of Spacedock for another three months!” Tunney objected.

“I’m confident you will come up with something,” Ra’al said coolly, “Fleet HQ out,”

The line went dead.

Tunney blew out a breath. As much as he disliked Stafford, Silverado and all the various headaches they’d caused him, they were still under his command. More importantly, the death of an entire crew would result in far too much paperwork to fill out.

Somehow, he had to get a fleet out to Matria Prime!


Tags: silverado