Author: Anthony Butler
Stardate 51509.3. We have been stationed in orbit of Sulan for two weeks now. The Aerostar has undergone substantial repairs after her exhausting firefight with the USS Inspiration and is almost ready to return to duty. Likewise, our crew has taken the repair time for some much needed planetside shoreleave. Well, most of our crew, that is.
I have sent Commander Conway, Lt. Commander Richards, and Lt. Tilleran to a planet in the Garibid system to scrounge up some dilithium crystals for Aerostar’s warp core. I’ve heard Garibid is ugly this time of year, but what can you do?
Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last several days in talks with the Sulani, discussing a treaty that will ensure a safe haven for the Aerostar in Sulani space, as long as we look after their interests during our voyage. The treaty also includes a buffet dinner for my crew for each time we destroy a Furachi warship.
Captain Baxter stepped out onto the balcony and looked over the great horizon of Sulan, a gentle breeze catching his hair, and the faint sent of trees wafting up from the expansive gardens below. The planet was one of the most beautiful he had seen in his Starfleet career. The weather was perfect; it reminded him of springtime on Earth.
“Enjoying the view?” Prime Minister Wujan asked, stepping up behind the Captain. He was an elderly, balding, dark skinned man, with an almost grandfatherly attitude.
Baxter wiped a hand over his face. “It’s gorgeous, Wujan. Wonderful. It almost reminds me of Earth.”
Wujan stroked his beard. “I’d like to see this planet Earth. It sounds wonderful.”
Baxter turned around. “Yes, sir, it is. I hope to get back there some day.”
“I’m sure you will. In the mean time, I appreciate you helping us get this miserable quadrant in order. No one seems to remember who the good guys are anymore.”
“I know, Prime Minister, believe me, I know.” Baxter replied, strolling back into the office. It was plushly decorated, quite cozy. Looking down at Wujan’s desk, Baxter examined the padd that he had just thumbed his consent to. “Is the treaty in order, sir?”
“Quite. Soon, the Aerostar can be on her way.”
“That’s wonderful. Assuming my people can get those crystals.”
“Captain, you’ve been working on this treaty with me for days. Why don’t you indulge yourself in a tour of our city? I’m sure you’ll find us a most hospitable people with a rich culture and an even richer… nightlife.”
Baxter smiled, rapping the padd with his finger. “I may just take you up on that, sir. It’s only fair, since my officers have been enjoying this planet for the last few weeks.”
“This planet bites the big one,” Lt. Hartley muttered, sipping from a large, decorative cup. She was seated at a bar that was situated right beside what was supposed to be one of Sulan’s most beautiful beaches. She was not impressed.
“Another one of these…fizzly things, barkeep.” She said, pounding her empty cup on the bar.
“Right away, ma’am,” the tall, chiseled Sulani replied.
Hartley looked the barkeep up and down as he turned around and poured the drink. Not bad. She might have to get in a little trouble before returning to the Aerostar.
“Hey, Megan.” Ensign Zachary Ford said, sitting down at the bar.”We’re getting together a Volleyball game. Care to join us?”
“Volley-what?” Hartley asked.
“You know, the game from Earth, where you bounce the ball over the net?”
“Oh, yeah, that. Count me out. I burn really easily.”
“That’s what sunblock is for, stupid.” Ford laughed.
“I don’t think so.” Hartley said, returning her eyes to the drink…and the bartender.
“You’ll regret it.”
Hartley stared down into her drink and then looked back at Ford. “Somehow I doubt it. Ta-ta.”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t try.” Ford said, padding back off onto the beach.
Nearby, Lt. Larkin emerged from the surf, staring intently at her tricorder.
“Quite fascinating. I have detected over seventeen hundred different species of sea life on this planet in the last hour alone.”
Doctor Browning looked up from the mat she had spread out on the sand and removed the UV blocking goggles that covered her eyes. “Are you going to spend the entire shore leave cataloging species on this planet? Why don’t you take some time to enjoy yourself…maybe you can work on your tan…”
“Doctor, my skin has been set to a standard skin pigmentation and cannot be affected by sunlight,” she stared up at the twin suns that shone down brightly and seemed to consider something. “I could, however, study the effects of binary stars on the average sunbather. I estimate that the chances of skin cancer should be increased by approximately seventeen percent.”
“Jeeze, that’s comforting.” Browning said, lying back down.
Just then, Nurse Luntley ran up, splashing sand in Browning’s face.
Browning spat the sand out and sat up. “What is it, Joan?”
“Me and Stuart found something resembling balls and a net, Doctor.”
“Stuart found something resembling balls?” Browning laughed. “And don’t call me Doctor, we’re on vacation.”
“Right, Ms. Browning.” Luntley said.
“Janice. Now, let’s see if we can get a team together.”
“I’m in!” Ford cried out, running up to join the group. “I used to love Volleyball!”
Larkin looked from Luntley to Ford to Browning. “Volleyball. An Earth sport utilizing a ball, a net, and a…”
“That’s it,” Doctor Browning said, getting up, “and you’re on my team.”
“Hey, that’s not fair!” Ford said. “She’s an android.”
Browning just dragged Larkin by the arm. “And Ensign Luntley’s double jointed. You can have her.”
Ford’s shoulders fell. “Okay, okay, but I get Stuart too!”
“Ooo…I’m shaking with fear.”
“Slow down, Charlie!” Counselor Kelly Peterman cried as she was pulled along the beach by the unceasingly energetic Charlie. He had obviously suffered no long lasting side effects from the poisoning, much to the crew’s chagrin.
“I’m sorry, I’m really really sorry.” Peterman said as the dog led a path over sunbathing Sulani, leaving havoc in his wake.
The dog dragged Peterman over to a bar, finding his target: the lap of Lt. Megan Hartley.
Hartley giggled as Charlie jumped in her face. “Why, hello, Charlie. Keeping busy?”
Peterman dragged herself up to the bar. “I’ll have what she’s having.” Peterman sighed and turned back to Hartley. “No, it’s more like he’s keeping me busy.”
Hartley nodded. “I see. Why aren’t you in the Volleyball game?”
“Volleyball game?” Peterman asked, gratefully taking the drink she was presented with. “What Vol-“
Suddenly, a large, white ball smacked Lieutenant Hartley in the head.
“Oh, that one.”
Hartley got off her stool and picked up the ball. “One moment, Counselor.” she said, through gritted teeth.
“Over here!” Ford said weakly, trying to smile. “I’m serving.”
“No.” Hartley said, approaching the helmsman. “I’m serving.”
She hurled the ball into Ford’s stomach, knocking him to the sand.
“Have a ball,” she grinned, marching back to the bar.
Larkin ducked under the net and examined the helmsman. “Are you all right, Ensign?”
Ford looked up, blinking the sand out of his eyes. “I suppose so.”
“Very well,” Larkin said, picking up the ball. “Then I believe it is my serve.”
The Garibid Planetary Trading center was bustling as usual. Garibid Three was a large planet, with almost no major bodies of water and a warm climate. The Planetary Trading Center was situated in a huge city that was built around an oasis that sat in the center of a vast desert.
Garibid City was densely populated, with huge buildings that reached miles into the cloudy sky. A huge, bright sun filtered through the crowded complex of buildings and the dense atmosphere, making for shady lighting and a unhealthy tanning index.
Four hooded figures pushed through the masses of people, which rivaled Holiday shopping mall crowds.
“Well…?” One of the figures grunted, fussing with the layered, gray, wooley outfit that he was wearing. He looked the most uncomfortable and out of place of the four.
One of them held a tricorder closely to her, scanning carefully. “I can’t find a trace of dilithium anywhere.”
The first figure huffed.”Damn it. I knew that informant had set us up.”
“Wait a minute…” another said, pointing his tricorder in another direction, “I’ve found something.”
“Well, Richards, what the hell is it?” the figure barked, looking around nervously.
“Small dilithium fragments. Just enough to serve our needs, I think, Commander.” the other figure replied.
“Great,” Commander David Conway replied, pulling back his hood. “The sooner we find the dilithium, the sooner I can rip this nose off. It itches like hell.”
“Stop whining,” Lt. Ariel Tilleran said, pulling her hood off, “We’d have a lot more to worry about than itching if we didn’t have these Garibid disguises.”
“Yeah, but they are some ugly people.” Richards said, fingering the large, hooked nose and the pointed chin he wore. In addition to those striking features, the Garibid also had purplish-white mottled skin. They weren’t exactly fit for GQ.
The group moved through the crowded streets and down an alley. “I’ve got it,” Lt. Tilleran said, leading the way.
After squeezing down the tight alleyway, the group finally came upon a door.
“It’s in here.” Tilleran said as she studied the tricorder.
“Well, knock!” Conway demanded, becoming impatient.
Tilleran knocked on the door several times, and it slowly creaked open. A small, wrinkled Garibid answered.
“What do you want?”
“We need some crystals.” Conway grunted, looking the troll-like creature up and down. “Do you have some?”
The little man giggled. “Of course… crystals …yes! This way!”
The group followed the little man through the door.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Tilleran commented to Richards.
The group entered a large, dimly lit room that was filled shouting and loud music.
“Where the hell are we?” Conway whispered.
“If I had to guess,” Tilleran said, looking around. “I would say this is a black market exchange. The people around us are extremely suspicious of each other and even more afraid of capture by the Furachi authorities.”
“Join the club.” Conway muttered.
“Yeah, if we get found out, we’ll be filleted and cooked in a sauce of rich creamery butter.” Richards added.
“Nice imagery. Now let’s get some crystals and hit the road.” Conway replied.
“Here we are. D’jarn will show you everything we have!” the little man tittered, scuttling away.
The three officers were faced with a huge, burly, wart covered Garibid, seated behind a counter that was littered with crystals of all different sizes. Something similar to a cigar protruded from his grungy mouth.
“You want crystals? I got all the crystals you could ever want.”
Conway edged closer to the man and looked from side to side mysteriously. “These are special crystals, they can’t just be found…”
“Right there.” Tilleran pointed, observing the tricorder hidden within the folds of her coat.
“Oh. Those will be fine.” Conway corrected, indicating the crystals.
“You sure? I have some wonderful stuff in the back,” the creature belched, picking the insides of his ear.
“No, no, this will be fine.” Conway said, raking the crystals into a satchel.
The man grabbed Conway and pulled him over the table, jerking him up into the air. “You gotta pay for them, spud.”
“Of-of course we’ll pay. Ahem. Ariel–pay the man.”
Tilleran pulled out a bag of gold pressed latinum. “Here you go. Twenty bars.”
The man shifted Conway under one of his huge arms and examined one of the bars, biting into it. “What the hell is this? This isn’t Furachi currency!”
“It’s better.” Richards said. “It’s a rare…um…metal from far away.”
The huge mound of flesh looked over the bar carefully. “Okay, okay. You’ve convinced me. Just remember I’m doin’ you all a favor.”
“Thank you. Now if you could just-“ Conway squeaked, feeling his ribs being crushed by the huge man’s arm.
Suddenly, the door to the trading complex burst open, and two huge Furachi ducked inside, wielding menacing looking guns.
“Everyone ssssstop what you’re doing!” one of them growled. “Thisss is a busssst!”
“Aw, hell,” Conway muttered, squirming out from underneath the huge man’s arm. “We’ve gotta get out of here.”
Chaos ensued as people squirmed to escape from the room.
“You’re telling me.” Richards said, ducking down a corridor.
The Furachi plowed through the crowd of people, moving toward the huge Garibid’s crystal counter.
“What seems to be the problem here? This is a reputable establishment!” the huge man grumbled.
“Sssshut up, fat boy. Thisss essstablishment is an unregissstered organizzzzzation. The Furachi need their cut.”
The small man that had shown Conway and the others in earlier stepped in front of the counter. “I am the proprietor of this establishment. What do you want?”
“I ssssee. Then we will take our cut from you.” The Furachi warrior picked up the little man and began to twist his head.
“There is a misunderstanding…all our paperwork is in order…I-“ the man whimpered as the Furachi’s grip tightened.
“Joval…” the other Furachi hissed, “I am picking up human lifesigns…”
Joval released the panicking proprietor. “FEDERATIONSSSSS! It mussst be. If we capture them, the rewardsss will be numerousssssss. Follow those readingssss.”
The ship was extremely quiet. Hardly anyone was still on board. Most of the engineering team, and a small bridge staff, led by Lt. J’hana were all that remained.
All, that is, except for a bartender named Mirk.
The Starlight Lounge was quieter than it had ever been, save the short lived “Fiesta Night”, and Mirk had begun to feel extremely lonely. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was being constantly haunted by the memories of his father, and what had occurred on Malox. Worse, his former childhood friend Danel was at that moment rotting in the brig, awaiting extradition by Sulani authorities.
He couldn’t stop thinking about her. How could she have taken part in the crippling of the Aerostar, almost destroying her? Why did it seem like the whole of his people were against him? These powers were not his fault–he didn’t ask for them. And as far as helping the Federations, what else could he have done? The Flarn would have killed and eaten them, and continued to enslave his race. At least this way they had a fighting chance to survive. With or without his help.
Mirk stirred as the doors to the Starlight Lounge whooshed open to reveal Lieutenant J’hana.
“Garnash.” she demanded, taking a seat at the bar.
Mirk silently filled the order and sat the frothy drink before the tactical officer.
“Why are you so quiet tonight, little man?” J’hana grumbled, taking a long drag from the drink.
“I don’t want to get into it.”
“It’s that whole, ‘shunned by your people’ thing, isn’t it?”
Mirk polished the bar. “Maybe.”
“Ha. I know the feeling.”
“You mean, the Andorians do not accept you as one of them…because you are a Starfleet officer?”
J’hana laughed. “No, no, they are fine with it. Some even consider it an honor to be a starfleet officer. I meant, I know what it feels like to be shunned by yourpeople.”
Mirk thought a moment. Was that a joke?
J’hana grunted. “You could at least have laughed politely.”
The bartender just continued to polish the bar, effecting a somewhat forced giggle. “I wasn’t sure there for a moment.”
“I am told my humor is an acquired taste.”
“Funny, I’m told the same thing about my lasagna.”
J’hana wrinkled her nose. “How humans could force themselves to eat such gruel…at any rate, they have strong stomachs.”
“Well, I’m told authentic lasagna doesn’t have bones.”
“No matter, it is a disgusting thing. Tell me, Mirk, have you seen her?”
Mirk stared at a glass nonchalantly, looking for imaginary spots. “Her who?”
“The girl, Danel. Commander Richards said she was a friend of yours.”
“What if she was?”
“I just assumed you would want to see her.”
Mirk put the glass down. “So she could call me a demon and try to kill me?”
“How are you sure that she will react this way?”
“Because she’s one of my people. Why would she not?”
“There is only one way to find out.” J’hana took one last swig from her glass and pounded it down on the bar.
Captain Baxter took in a deep breath as he stepped out of the hovertaxi. He loved the smell of the beach. Even if it wasn’t an Earth beach, it was a close approximation.
Baxter wanted to take advantage of being planetside, since it had been months since he had breathed fresh air and not been attacked. It was actually very relaxing.
As he stepped out onto the hot sand, Baxter noticed a quaint looking outdoors bar that sat right on a grassy dune. He was about to walk up and order a drink when he noticed Counselor Peterman sitting there conversing with Lieutenant Hartley.
He couldn’t explain it exactly, but he hadn’t seen her since they had arrived at Sulan, and in that time he had taken a lot of time to think. Up until she had left for shore leave, he was sure that he was desperately in love with her, and that he might even be able to spend the rest of his life with her. But recently, he had begun to have doubts. Perhaps it would be a good idea to explore these doubts before committing anything to the Counselor.
After all, he cared a great deal for her, and did not want to hurt her. One thing was for sure, she seemed to do a complete three hundred sixty degree turn…or was that one-eighty? In any case, she seemed to truly like him. She held his hand through the entire trip to Sulan. Well, in all truth, they spent much of that trip sleeping off the disease the Maloxians were nice enough to infect them with.
Baxter hid himself behind a surfboard-shaped object that was sticking in the sand and decided to try and discern exactly what Peterman and Hartley were talking about. Perhaps that would influence his decision. Peterman kept patting her chest in a loving manner, batting her eyes lovingly. Hartley was just shaking her head in amazement. They must be discussing him!
“Whatever you do, Megan, stay away from the club sandwich here,” Peterman said, indicating her chest, “it gave me indigestion like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been belching all day.”
“That’s really disgusting.” Hartley admitted, shaking her head.
“If that’s not bad enough, I can’t get this damn bug to stop buzzing around my face,” Peterman added, swatting and batting her eyes as the brightly colored bug orbited her head.
“You think that’s bad, I was stationed at an outpost on a planet near the Cardassian border a couple years back, and I swear, there were bugs at least this big…” Hartley said, indicating the bug’s meter-long size with her hands.
“Oh my god…” Baxter exclaimed, watching Hartley gesture with her hands. He didn’t even want to imagine what kind of social life that girl had. A meter! This was unbelievable.
“Hey, what are you doing?” A voice asked from behind him. It was Ensign Fresca, dressed in a less than ample bathing suit. Evidently, the years of oppression on Bajor had been quite good to her.
“Uh…nothing. Um, looking for sharks,” Baxter said, turning around and folding his arms casually and leaning lightly against the surfboard analogue.
“Then why are you facing the bar and not the water, handsome?” Fresca stepped closer.
“I’m looking for land sharks,” Baxter said nervously, trying to sound sincere. “And that’s Captain Handsome to you.” Baxter cracked a nervous smile.
Fresca laughed. “That’s funny. And why are you standing on a hot beach, in that hot, sweaty, black uniform?” As she said this, she got within inches of him and began ever so gently opening his uniform with one finger.
“I didn’t plan on staying long…” Baxter said. What the hell was going on?
“Well, you should. I think I could find something to keep you occupied.” With that, she pushed him forward and kissed him ravenously, knocking him into the surfboard and tipping it over with them on top of it.
“My God who is Ensign Fresca getting her hands on now?” Hartley asked idly, sipping at her drink and watching the commotion in the distance.
Peterman wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Is it just me or has that girl’s hormones shifted into overdrive? What a little slut. I wonder what shmuck she’s sticking it to this time?”
Baxter tried to avoid Ensign Fresca’s probing tongue, feeling much like a newborn calf being licked clean by its mother.
“Ensign, this is hardly…”
For some odd reason, everything seemed to suddenly grow dark. Was it dusk already?
Baxter looked up to see that, indeed, the suns had not gone down, and that instead, a large, rather well- built Sulani was standing over him, blocking them out.
“That is my board.” he grunted.
Baxter pushed Fresca off him and stood up, brushing himself off.
“I’m very sorry. This has all been a big mis-“
Without ceremony, the huge Sulani’s fist connected roughly with Baxter’s jaw, sending him reeling backward.
Nearby, Peterman stood up and watched the exchange in horror. “That’s…Captain Baxter!”
Hartley just stirred her drink. “You’ve got to be kidding me. It shouldn’t surprise you, though, the guy’s desperate.”
Peterman ignored the transporter chief and marched off through the sand, dog in tow.
She found a huge Sulani man pounding mercilessly on Captain Baxter’s face.
“Excuse me. Me and my friend have to talk.”
The Sulani didn’t look at Peterman when he addressed her. “Wait your turn.”
“No,” Peterman said plainly, pushing the man off Baxter with unbecoming strength.
Shocked, the man tried to pull himself up, but was pounced and slobbered on by the ever-hyperactive Charlie.
“You….” Peterman hissed, jerking Baxter up by the front of his uniform and shaking him. “How could you…”
“Kelly, honey, it’s not what it looks like, honest.” Baxter moaned, wincing as he tried to blink his swelling left eye.
“Yeah, it is what it looks like. I was trying to get in his pants.” Ensign Fresca said flatly, standing up and dusting herself off. “Do you have a problem with that, Miss Peter-none?”
Peterman dropped Baxter and turned to Fresca. “You two bit little…” The two were on the ground and tearing at each other in seconds.
“Hey…” Baxter said, raising a finger. He couldn’t say more, as the angry Sulani returned for round two and brought his fists down on him once more.
“Ouch,” was all Ensign Ford could say as he watched Baxter take the beating of a lifetime.
“Somebody ought to teach that bully a lesson.” Doctor Browning said, spinning the volleyball on her finger.
“Very well,” Lt. Larkin said, walking over to where the scuffle was taking place.
“This will teach you to knock over my board, you human scum!” The Sulani shouted, pounding Baxter into the sand.
Larkin latched a hand onto the man’s beefy shoulder and hoisted him into the air effortlessly. “That is my commanding officer you are assaulting. Perhaps there is a more…intellectual way to settle your differences.”
“Let me down you freak!” was all the man would say.
“As you wish.” Larkin slammed the man down into the sand, head first.
Larkin then helped Captain Baxter up.
“Thanks, Larkin.” The Captain rubbed his sore head and turned around, to see Counselor Peterman and Ensign Fresca rolling around in the sand in a no holds barred, hair pulling, eye gouging, cat fighting extravaganza.
“Shall I stop them?” Larkin asked helpfully.
“No, no. They’re adults, they can sort it out themselves.” Baxter muttered, “Go back to your game.”
By this time, Browning and Ford had joined the scene.
Doctor Browning examined Baxter’s head. “That looks painful. You ought to have that looked at.”
Baxter touched his swollen cheek gingerly. “Yeah, do you know any good doctors?”
“No.” Browning said flatly. “Let’s get back to the game, everybody. There’s nothing more to see here.”
Baxter turned to look at the Sulani that attacked him. His legs wriggled weakly, sticking up out of the sand. “I’m dreadfully sorry about that board of yours. No harm done though. Let’s call it even.”
“Erg,” was all the Sulani could mutter.
With that, Baxter turned and headed back out toward the street to hail a hovertaxi.
Ensign Fresca dragged herself out of the insanely angry Peterman’s grasp and tried to pull herself up.
“Where the hell did Baxter go?”
Peterman blew her hair out of her eyes, looking around. “Freaking jerk. How could he do that to me?”
The two women looked at each other for a long moment.
Peterman finally broke the silence. “So, want a drink?” she said, gesturing to the bar.
Fresca nodded. “Yeah. Are you buying?”
“Hello?” Mirk asked, peering into the dark brig. It was night shift, and their was no security guard on duty. The room had four cells in it, each one was dark on the inside. Only the glow of the perimeter forcefields around each cell lit the room.
Someone shuffled around inside one of the cells. “Mirk, is that you?” a voice called out. It was a sweet voice that Mirk had not heard in a long time.
“Danel!” Mirk said, walking toward the cell.
“Shhh,” she replied, walking up to the edge of the cell, almost touching the forcefield, “Brin is in the other cell.”
“How did this happen, Danel? Why did you attack our ship?”
“We were sent by Ronan. She was ordered by Jum to stop this ship using any means necessary. We poisoned the crew and sabotaged their shields.”
“I know, but why?”
“Because, we need this vessel for the rebellion.”
Mirk leaned up against the panel near the forcefield. “You could have talked to Captain Baxter. He would have helped you.”
“Jum did not seem to think so. There’s also the matter of you. Jum and the Flarn are fighting over you as if you were a prize. Both of them want revenge on you.”
“But he’s my father.”
“I know. I didn’t say I agreed with him.” Mirk could barely see Danel smile in the dim light.
“Well, then why are you helping him?”
“I agree with the rebellion. Our people have been controlled long enough.”
“But you’re going about it the wrong way. We’re not your enemies.”
“That may be. But to Jum, you are an obstacle. You and the Federations.”
“He has to listen to reason. We’re not the enemy. Why don’t you stay with us, help us defeat the Flarn. Convince my father that we can do that together?”
“Because I can’t turn my back on my people. I’m not as strong as you.”
Mirk faced her. “My life has gotten extremely… complicated… lately. I wish things could be like they used to be.”
“I don’t. Well…most things.” Danel smiled again. “Listen, the Sulani authorities will be coming to get me soon. I don’t know when I’ll see you again. But the odds are the next time you see me it will be in a firefight.”
Mirk stepped closer. “I just hope that we’ll be fighting on the same side.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
Mirk stepped even closer, right up to the perimeter of the field.
“This is what the Directors have decided, Mirk. We have to deal with what we’re given.”
“Then deal with this…” Mirk whispered, moving closer and kissing her, causing the field to spark loudly and throw both of them back.
Mirk picked himself up, shaking off the shock that the field had given him. “Wow.”
Danel sat up, smiling in the dim light. “Boy, you sure no how to knock a girl off her feet.”
Suddenly the light in the next cell came on. Brin sat up and rubbed his head. “Who…”
“Go back to sleep, Brin, it’s just a bad dream.” Mirk said, heading for the door.
“Mirk?” Brin asked, confused.
“No, just an evil demon from hell.” Mirk said, leaving.
“Wow, some demon.” Danel added, laying back down on her bed.
Richards, Conway, and Tilleran burst out of the back door of the Garibid trading center.
Lt. Tilleran held up a tricorder as they headed down a dark alleyway. “We’re being followed.”
“No shit.” Conway muttered, leaping over a sleeping Garibid bum. “What do you suggest we do about it?”
Suddenly two beams of light soared over the group’s heads.
“Sssstop right there, Ssssstarfleet Sssscum.” A Flarn yelled.
“Think harder!” Richards cried, following Tilleran and Conway around a corner.
Conway slammed his comm badge, still running. “Conway to Rangar, please respond.”
“They won’t be back for us until next week, Commander. We’re going to have to hold out until then.” Tilleran said, occasionally glancing back at their pursuers. “I have activated our starfleet distress beacon. Someone on board the Aerostar will find the beacon and they’ll come get us.”
“Well, what do we do until then?” Conway asked, starting to become short of breath.
“Find some discreet shelter.” Tilleran responded.
The group came to a stop at a dead end.
“This is hopeless.” Commander Conway wheezed, trying to catch his breath. “We’ll never find a way out of here.”
“Never say never.” Richards said, yanking a tarp off some huge object.
The tarp pulled away to reveal a huge, black, round, featureless shape that appeared to be a vehicle.
“What the hell is that?” Conway asked.
“According to Sulani records, it is something called a Garibid flyer.”
Richards pressed a button on the side of the vehicle, and a door raised open. “Open Sesame!”
“Okay, everybody in.” Conway said, pushing Lt. Tilleran inside after Richards.
Richards sat down in the driver’s seat, with Tilleran beside him and Conway in the back.
“Do you have any idea how to drive one of these, Richards?” Conway asked impatiently, looking over his shoulder.
“S-sure. How hard can it be?” Richards asked, pressing a bunch of buttons at random. With a hum, the vehicle’s engines began to warm up.
“Sssstop!” They heard a Flarn scream, running into the alleyway, another one coming up behind him.
“Here goes nothing!” Richards cried, pulling on a stick that sent the flyer straight up into the air.
The Flarn looked up at the cruiser as it disappeared above the towering skyscrapers of Garibid.
“Curssssssssed Federationsss.” Joval muttered, after firing of a few futile shots at the vehicle. “Prepare our pursuit vehicle, Omad. We will be dining on Federation sssstew tonight.”
“If you ssssay so, Joval.” Omad replied.
Suddenly a large, menacing Garibid in a dark suit came running out of an adjacent building.
“Who the hell took my flyer?”
Joval grunted and stared down at the man. “They are enemies of the Flarn, and no concern of yoursssss.”
“Damn right they are concerns of mine. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Sandozi, the crime czar of Garibid city. You Flarn don’t scare me. I’m in wit the emperor himself.”
“Sssso it may be, but our jurisssssdiction is of prime concern here.”
“Well, I want my flyer back.”
“Then you will help us retrieve our enemiessss. Mobilize your men now.”
“Wit pleasure. No body messes with Sandozi and gets away with it!” The man grunted, disappearing back into his building.
Captain Baxter returned to the sanctity of his hotel room and took a long shower, trying to forget about Fresca, Peterman, and the huge Sulani barbarian as the warm water ran over his bruised face.
The entire six months they had been in the Delta Quadrant had been a living nightmare. A shocking melange of scary places, people, and things. Why couldn’t he have just stayed on the Secondprize and kept his meaningless job? The Directors where right. He wasn’t trying hard enough. If that wasn’t bad enough, he couldn’t stop second guessing himself either. It was time that he grew a spine and took a stand.
With that thought in mind, Baxter collapsed on the bed in his hotel room and switched on the main viewscreen at the front of the room.
“Welcome to the Sulani Infotainment Net. Please select a program for your enjoyment.”
Baxter looked at the menu on the screen and pressed a button on his night table, selecting “A Galactic Affair.”
The Sulani emblem on the screen was replaced with a young Garibid woman sitting at a desk.
“Hello.” She said, “Welcome to ‘A Galactic Affair’. I’m Silva, sitting in for Dreg, who was killed yesterday due to a contract conflict. In Galactic news today, Flarn Emperor Mordrid announced that the planet Brune Three would be destroyed tomorrow night as an example to all other planetary communities that attempt to switch over to democracy. In other news…”
Baxter marveled at the fear in the woman’s eyes. Just off to the side of the screen, he could see the barrel of a weapon, presumably pointed at her by a Flarn soldier. This entire quadrant was a police state! No wonder the Maloxians were rebelling with such zeal. This was like Eastern Europe, without the beer.
“…apologized for inventing a cure for Novan Four’s planetary plague, saying ‘I didn’t know that the Flarn wanted those people dead.’ He is now in stable condition at Flarn General on Flarn Prime. He is expected to die accidentally within the next day or so. Finally, a little excitement here on Garibid today. Three humans from the Alpha Quadrant were found in a bust at a Garibid black market trading complex. Flarn authorities gave chase and have not yet caught the fugitives. One of the security cameras at the complex was able to obtain these pictures. Anyone knowing of the whereabouts of these three citizens is encouraged by threat of death to turn them in. Now for the weather…”
The three disguised humans on the screen where unmistakably Conway, Richards, and Tilleran. That much was for sure.
“J’hana to Baxter.”
Baxter walked over to his dresser and tapped his communicator. “Baxter here.”
“We’ve just received a distress beacon from our team on Garibid. They’re in trouble, sir.”
“I just found that much out on the news. Ready the Aerostar for immediate departure and recall all personnel.”
“Sir, may I remind you that we are dangerously low on dilithium crystals?”
“Hopefully, we’ll find them on Garibid, along with our officers.”
“Yes sir. J’hana out.”
Baxter began to get dressed. He was beginning to feel like he had worn out his welcome on Sulan anyway.
“You have no defense, Larkin!” Ford cried out as he hit the volleyball, trying to put fear into the android. It didn’t seem to work.
Larkin spiked the ball right in Ford’s face, knocking him at least ten feet back.
Ford sat up, shaking his head. “Okay, okay, you win!”
Doctor Browning just laughed. “Kristen, you are in the wrong profession. You should be a professional athlete.”
“Unfortunately, Doctor, that profession is no longer as lucrative as it was at one time. Although I have always been interested in joining a Parrises Squares team. That is an extremely competitive sport, although it lacks the intellectual stimulation that I de-“
Larkin was interrupted as Ford returned her spike, hitting her in the head. She merely turned to face Ford and picked up the ball. “I believe it is our serve. Therefore that is a foul.”
“Sheesh. I just can’t win!” Ford muttered.
“J’hana to Larkin.”
Larkin reached inside her diving suit and retrieved her communicator. “Larkin here. Go ahead.”
“Our team on Garibid is in trouble. Captain Baxter has ordered all teams to return to the ship. We are to prepare for immediate departure.”
“Vacation’s over.” Ford muttered, tossing the volleyball behind him nonchalantly and walking over to pack up his things.
“Well, it was nice while it lasted.” Hartley muttered, paying the bartender for her drinks and slipping in a little extra, giving him a wink.
“Thank you, ma’am.” The bartender replied.
Likewise, Peterman and Fresca paid off their tabs. “I for one will be glad to get back to the ship. I think I’m getting sunsburn,” Peterman said, picking up Charlie’s leash.
“Listen, Counselor,” Fresca began, as they headed back towards the beamout point, “I understand how you feel about Captain Baxter. He’s not that great, anyway. I’ll keep my distance.”
Peterman dragged Charlie along behind her. “Well, it’s not like he’s any Will Riker or anything, but…I don’t know.He’s a sweet guy, and he’s got a great sense of humor…”
“Well, I’ll take a nice butt over a sense of humor any day.” Fresca replied, gathering her stuff together.
“Amen!” Hartley said, slinging her duffle over her shoulder.
Captain Baxter stepped out onto the bridge, breathing in the recycled air once more with pride. He looked out over the bridge. All of the panels and bulk heads had been repaired and the carpet had been shampooed and cleaned. All was well again.
J’hana stood ready at the tactical station, her hands clasped behind her back. “Almost everyone is back aboard, Captain. We should be able to depart within the hour.”
“Wonderful.” Baxter said, sitting down in his command chair. “The Sulani did a wonderful job with her, didn’t they?”
“They are hard workers, sir. I oversaw their work myself. They did quite a good job.”
“She looks as good as new.”
“That she does, sir.”
“Are they gone yet?” Baxter asked, turning back to face J’hana at her station.
“The Sulani? I kicked them off the ship myself, sir.”
“Good. This is and always will be a Starfleet ship.”
“Yes sir. Shall I contact the President and let him know that we are leaving.”
“Put him on screen. I’ll tell him.” Baxter said, turning back around.
“As you wish, Captain.”
Momentarily, the bluish-white planet of Sulan was replaced with the figure of President Wujan, sitting at his desk with his hands clasped.
“Hello, Captain. I understand that there is a situation brewing on Garibid with your people.”
“That’s correct, Wujan. I’m going back to get them.”
“Very well. We could send the Rangar to assist you…”
Baxter thought a moment. “That won’t be necessary. I think we can handle this one on our own. The added phaser banks and increased weapons power your people installed should make us more than capable of getting in and out of Flarn space.”
“In that case, good luck, Captain.”
Baxter shifted in his chair. “Thanks for everything, Mr. President. Aerostar out.”
That done, Baxter ducked into his readyroom to check to make sure his house of cards was still in order.
The Garibid Flyer soared swiftly over the towering buildings of Garibid, barely noticeable against the night sky.
Inside, Conway was ransacking the vehicle’s rear storage compartment. “There has to be something we can use as a weapon in here.”
Richards, for his part, steered the vehicle uneasily. “I hope I’m doing this right.”
Tilleran checked her tricorder and looked at the instrumentation. “You’re doing fine. The controls are similar to a Federation short distance planetary Flyer. What we need to be concerned with now is finding a place to hide out until the Aerostar can find us.”
“If they can find us. We’re pretty deep in Flarn space.” Richards replied.
“They’ll find us. I have faith in our crew.”
Richards smiled as he operated the craft. “Then you don’t know them well enough.”
Baxter spent the better part of a half hour rearranging the readyroom. His things had been haphazardly spread around during the cleaning and remodeling, but he was happy to see that they had worked around his tower of cards per his orders.
Once his readyroom was back in order, Baxter returned to the bridge.
“All teams have reported back to the ship, and our Maloxian prisoners have been taken into custody by Sulani authorities. We are ready to disembark.” J’hana announced from tactical.
As Baxter assumed the command chair, Lt. Larkin and Ensign Ford entered to take over the ops and helm positions.
“Where’s Peterman?” Baxter asked.
J’hana checked her panel. “She is in her quarters. Shall I summon her?”
Baxter waved his hand. “No, no. If that’s how she wants to play it, that’s fine with me. Larkin, alert the dockmaster that we will be leaving orbit, and prepare to leave orbit under full impulse power.”
“Aye, sir.” Larkin replied. “The dockmaster acknowledges we are clear to leave orbit.”
“Very well. Hit it Mr. Ford.”
Ford pressed a few buttons. The Aerostar glided swiftly out of orbit and flew past the other ships docked nearby at full impulse.
“Set course for Garibid, Warp Eight.”
“Course laid in.” Ford replied.
“Let her rip, Mr. Ford.”
Lt. Tilleran looked out her window as the landscape of the planet below flew by at a blinding speed. “So what the heck do we do now?”
Richards looked at a monitor displaying the vehicle’s sensor readouts. “It looks like we’re being followed. We make a pretty easy targets up here. We should probably fly down into the streets.”
“What do you think, Commander?” Tilleran asked, glancing back into the rear section.
Conway had disappeared in the back section for the last few seconds and hadn’t said a word.
He stuck his head between the two front seats. “You guys won’t believe what’s back here. I’ve found enough firearms to take out a starship.”
“You’re kidding,” Tilleran replied, looking over Conway’s shoulder to confirm what he had said.
“No, and that’s not all. I’ve also found what looks like a load of local currency. I wonder who owned this thing.”
“Sounds like the mob.” Richards observed.
“Yeah, right.” Tilleran replied, scrutinizing the readings on the flyer’s sensors. “We are definitely being followed. One of the craft is Flarn in design, and there are five more similar to this one but differing in size.”
“Maybe the former owners of this thing.” Richards said.
“In any case, I think it’s time we made ourselves scarce.” Conway commanded from the rear.
“Agreed. Hold on.” Richards said, pushing some buttons that sent the tiny craft down toward the planet.
“They are heading toward the sssssssurface roads, Joval.” Omad reported from the controls of the Flarn pursuit vehicle.
“Then we sssshall follow them. Change course to purssssue.” Joval grunted from the passenger seat.
“The Ssssandozi’s are following.”
“Tell them to keep their disssstance. Thisss is a Flarn operation.”
“They’re still on our tails and closing!” Tilleran observed.
Richards jerked the vehicle from side to side as it weaved through the tiny streets of Garibid, sending pedestrians scurrying for their lives. “Hey, Commander, why don’t you see if you can use one of those guns they have back there!”
Conway grabbed a weapon that looked somewhat similar to a bazooka. “Okay, open up the sunroof!”
The Commander stuck his head out of the sunroof and tried to steady his aim on the Flarn flyer.”Hold it still, Richards, I can’t aim this thing.”
“One of the humans is pointing a weapon at usssss!” Omad screamed.
“Vaporizzze him, then!” Joval replied.
Before Omad could make a move, Conway thumbed the trigger of the massive gun, sending a missile right into the Flarn ship and sending him reeling back, out of the sunroof and onto the hood of his stolen flyer.
The Flarn vehicle exploded into flames and spun through the air, hitting a building and finally skidding to a stop.
The other flyers flew through the smoke, still in hot pursuit.
Joval heaved himself out of the wreckage. He looked over at Omad, who had been crushed in the wreckage. He would just have to apprehend the federations on his own.
“Get out of the way, Commander, I can’t see!” Richards shouted as Conway hung on to the hood for dear life.
“You think I meant to do this? HELP ME!!!” Conway shouted back.
Richards made no response, just banking the vehicle severely, barely missing a crowd of people.
“We’re still being followed!” Tilleran called out.
“We have bigger problems than that!” Richards noted, looking in front of him. The huge Garibid Planetary Trade Center spread out before them.
The little flyer smashed through the glass at the entrance of the Center and careened through the lobby, completely ruining the decor.
“Follow them in there, you idiot!” Sandozi screamed from the passenger seat of his limo. “They can’t get away wit our stash!”
“But, Sandozi,” the hood that was driving replied, “They’re headed into the Garibid Trade Center!”
“I don’t care…FOLLOW THEM!”
As Sandozi said this, one of his flyers smashed into the building and exploded in a ball of flame.
Meanwhile, Joval had commandeered a young Garibid kid’s speeder bike.
Far exceeding the bike’s weight and size limit, Joval wound his way through the streets of Garibid City trying to catch up to the caravan of destruction that he had been part of.
Suddenly the communicator on his belt chirped.
“Tamja to Joval. What is your ssssstatus?”
“We have found the black market operation and ssssilenced them, Lord Tamja, but in doing sssso we have also discovered a band of Federations. Omad is dead, and I am now in pursssuit.”
“I want those Federations alive, Joval. You must not fail.”
“I won’t disappoint you, Tamja. Joval out.”
Joval revved the speeder bike’s engine, edging it towards the massive Garibid Trade Complex. There was a huge whole in the glass front of the building and people were running around like humans with their head’s cut off. The Federations must have gone in there.
“We are entering the Garibid system, Captain,” Larkin stated from ops, checking the readings on her panel.
“Great.” Baxter said from the command chair. It almost felt weird without Conway or Peterman at his side. Oh well. “Come out of warp and enter orbit around Garibid.”
“Sir, I’m picking up a vessel already orbiting Garibid. Sensors indicate it is a Flarn Destroyer.”
“Great.” Baxter said. “Hail them.”
“Hailing frequencies open.”
“Flarn destroyer, this is Captain Andrew Baxter of the USS Aerostar. Some of my people are on the surface of the planet you are orbiting and we want them back.”
“Aerosssstar, this is Lord Tamja of the Lobrok. We have disssscovered your people and decided to keep them for ourselves. Could we convince you to join them asss our appetiz–I mean guestsssss?”
“Funny. I don’t think so. We’re getting our people.”
“Close the channel,” Baxter muttered. “And go to Red Alert.”
The Red Alert Klaxons began to sound all over the ship as she was readied for battle.
“Captain, sensors indicate that the Flarn destroyer is capable of outmaneuvering us and outgunning us,” Larkin noted from her station.
“Good for them. I want some suggestions on how to get our people off that planet.”
“We still haven’t lost them!” Tilleran said, looking behind her, past the melee of people running for cover, and at the four vehicles chasing them. “The good news is we lost one of them.”
“Great, only four more to go!” Richards replied sarcastically.
“Help me!” Conway barked, starting to lose his grip.
The small flyer made its way up an escalator and into a huge banquet hall.
Within, the CEOs of all major Garibid trading groups were meeting to discuss Flarn cuts into their profits.
That came to a stop as soon as the flyer burst into the room and slid down the table, sending people running for cover.
Commander Conway squealed with fright as plates, food, and the occasional frightened Garibid slammed into him.
Richards pulled the vehicle up, sending it through the ceiling and into what must have been the display room for some of that year’s new Garibid automobile models.
Conway looked up with fear as he saw the stage at the front of the huge showroom loom closer.
“And how is everyone today?” The emcee at the front of the room said with a smile. “Ready to buy buy buy? By the directors!” he screamed as the flyer lunged towards him. The emcee dived off the stage as the flyer disappeared behind the curtains with a whoosh.
Everyone had almost recovered from that shock when four more flyers flew over their heads in pursuit.
“Stuart to bridge.”
Baxter pressed a button on his command chair. “Bridge here. What is it, Ensign? We’re kind of busy right now.”
“I just wanted to remind you that we’re really low on dilithium. If we don’t get some dilithium crystals soon, we’re dead in the water.”
“And we’re as good as goose flambe, yes I understand. Baxter out.” Baxter turned to his tactical officer. “What about those suggestions. J’hana?”
“Well, if we lower our shields long enough for transport, the Flarn are going to come over and pound us.”
Larkin turned around in her chair. “There is, however, another option.”
“I’d sure like to here it.” Baxter said, turning back around.
“In 2368, the transporter chief aboard the Enterprise-D discovered a brief window in a Nebula class starship’s shields. He was able to transport himself through it.”
“Can we apply the same thing with three people?” Baxter asked.
“We will need to have the shields modulated at a slower rate, which will make us more vulnerable to attack. In addition, we will need an extremely adept transporter chief.”
“Saints preserve us.” Baxter moaned, putting his head in his hands.
The Garibid Flyer that contained Tilleran, Conway, and Richards had made it’s way through the innards of the huge trade complex, climbing upwards through twisting cables and piles of storage containers. Richards was steering it toward a light near the top of the cavernous area that he had hoped was an exit.
“Just hold on, Commander, and DON’T MOVE!” Tilleran shouted, poking her head out of the window of the flyer.
“Where the hell do you think I’m going to move to?” Conway replied.
“There they are, right in front of us, Revi!” Sandozi shouted, as his limo climbed upwards. He looked back. Another of his flyers smashed into the wall and clattered down to the floor of the storage room. He now had only one other to aid him.
“Quick, Chochi, hand me your gun, I’ll kill those bastards myself!” Sandozi said to one of his other goons.
“They’re shooting at us!” Tilleran screamed, as bolts of energy hit the flyer, causing parts of it’s rear end to burst into flames.
“That was our engine!” the Betazoid added, looking back at the damaged section. “What the heck are we going to do now?”
Conway held on to the flyer for dear life as it climbed, starting to decelerate, only being pushed forward by its own momentum. “I don’t wanna die! I don’t wanna die!” he moaned.
“Look out!” Richards cried, as Tilleran looked up in horror.
The vehicle came to a perch, at the very top of the trading complex, teetering on the edge of what Tilleran surmised was the loading bay for the showroom.
Conway looked down in utter fright, at the bustling city miles below. “Somebody…do…something!”
Just then the two flyers that were pursuing them came up behind them and overshot them, heading out into open air.
“I’ll take care of this.” Tilleran said, pulling a huge gun out of the back seat. “Hasta la vista!” she cried, pulling the trigger and wounding both limos, causing them to plummet to the ground below.
“Well…” Richards said cautiously. “That solves one of our problems.”
Conway was still looking down, as the flyer teetered precariously at the edge of the loading bay. “Somebody…do…something!”
“Baxter to Transporter Room. Is anyone there?”
Hartley leaned forward and pressed a control. She had just arrived at her post and was annoyed at being bothered already. “Hartley here, what do you want, Captain?”
“Well…are you in a good mood, Lieutenant?”
“I guess so. Why?”
“Well, I’ve got a teeny weeny little favor I need you to do for us, and…”
“Just spit it out!”
“Well…” Just then the ship rocked.
“Are we getting shot at?” Hartley asked with concern.
“Yeah, that’s um…part of our problem. What we need you to do is transport three people up from the planet, through our shields, while we’re moving around trying to avoid being blown up. Are you up to it?”
Hartley thought a moment. “Sure. No problem.”
“Are you sure? We could send Larkin down.”
“I can do it! Listen, I do the same damn thing day in an day out, don’t you think by now I’m used to it?”
“Sure,” Baxter said cautiously, “I just wanted to be sure. I…we have faith in you Lieutenant. Larkin is sending you the coordinates of our people now.”
Hartley closed the channel and collapsed in her chair. “‘No problem.’” she mimicked, “Yeah, right, sure, no freaking problem. They’re all going to die.”
Joval grunted as he pulled himself up the long ladder that led to the landing bay. He could barely make out the flyer perched at the edge of the bay, ready to fall at any moment. He had to capture those three alive.
His thoughts were interrupted by his communicator. “Joval, this is Tamja again. Tell me you’ve captured those three Federations.”
“Almost. Not yet.”
“Well, hurry, their ship is here and we’re trying to destroy it. But if that ship is successful in rescuing their people…”
“I know, I know. Don’t worry. They’re as good as cooked.”
Joval closed the channel and continued to climb.
“Shields down to seventy percent.” J’hana said calmly, holding herself steady against the assault from the Lobrok. “I am returning fire.”
“Mr. Ford, you need to get us out of their line of sight.” Baxter commanded, leaning against Ford’s chair for support.
“What do you suggest, Mr. Know-it-all?” Ford replied, tapping the console madly, banking the huge vessel in a mad attempt to avoid the Lobrok’s fire.
“Take us on the other side of the planet, see if you can put some distance between us.”
“Won’t that make it harder to for Hartley to beam those guys up?”
Baxter thought a moment. “I guess so. Just keep us from getting blown up.”
Ford smirked as he heaved the Aerostar backward into a loop. “Gee, I thought that was your job.”
“Nice day, isn’t it?” Richards remarked as he tried to hold himself still, so as not to tip the flyer over.
“Uh, yeah, beautiful.” Tilleran replied, frozen with fear.
Suddenly there was a massive thud on the rear of the flyer.
“What the hell was that?” Richards asked, looking up. Whatever it was had made its way onto the roof.
As Tilleran pulled her tricorder out and scanned, Richards looked to the hood of the vehicle, just in time to see Conway scream with fright.
Tilleran’s face was a mask of shock. “It’s Flarn.”
“Hartley to Tilleran. Hey, Ariel, how’s it going? I’m going to beam you guys out now!”
“JUST DO IT, MEGAN!!!” Tilleran screamed as she watched beams of energy soar over Conway’s head as Joval shot at him, moving from side to side, causing the vehicle to tip slightly more.
“What’s the hurry? Are you guys in some sort of trouble?”
“JUST ENERGIZE!!!!!” Tilleran and Richards screamed in unison.
At the same time, Joval lunged forward at Conway. “Gotcha!”
Seconds before Joval was able to grab hold of the Commander, all three humans disappeared in a blue swirl of light.
Joval looked over the edge of the hood with fear as the vehicle tipped even more.
“Oh Ssssssssssssssssshit!” was the last thing he said as he and the flyer plunged downward toward the crowded street below.
“Hartley to Bridge. I got ‘em, Captain!”
“You heard her, Ford…PUNCH IT!” Baxter shouted. He was thrown back into his seat as the ship accelerated into warp.
Moments later, Commander Conway stumbled onto the bridge, still in his Garibid costume.
He grabbed Baxter by the front of his uniform and shook him. “Could you have made that ANY CLOSER??”
Baxter pushed him back. “Hey, hey, at ease. Talk to Lieutenant Hartley about that. Anyway, you should be glad we came at all. You owe us all one, especially the young Miss Hartley.”
Conway just huffed and headed back for the turbolift.
“Hope to see you in time for your shift in two hours!” Baxter called out cheerfully.
“Yeah, right!” Conway muttered, heading into the lift.
“Well, I think that went extremely well. I wish all missions could go that smoothly,” Baxter remarked, sitting back down in the command chair.
Supplemental. I’m pleased to report that the new dilithium crystals that Commander Richards installed are working wonderfully, and we were able to retrieve our away team without a hitch. We are now setting course for the perimeter of Flarn space in search of allies to aid us in the fight for freedom. All systems are functioning normally and it looks like the end of an overall productive day.
Baxter smiled as he placed the last card on top of his tower of cards. It was finally complete. It rose to a height of four feet. He was looking for an imager to capture it’s picture for Starfleet’s record books, when his door chime rang.
“Come.” he said calmy, taking a seat at his desk.
Mirk entered his readyroom, looking a little shaken.
“Were you watching the news?” he asked.
“No, why?” Baxter responded.
“A cloaked vessel attacked the Sulani ship that was transporting Danel and Brin. It was described as green and bird-shaped.”
“Romulan,” Baxter muttered. “There was a ruined Romulan Warbird found in the starship graveyard. If your people repaired it…”
“Then they have cloaking ability now, Captain.”
“Not only that, but they have openly attacked a Sulani vessel, furthering the aggression.”
“Yes. It seems we haven’t seen the last of my people, Captain.”
Baxter frowned, standing up, walking over to the side of his desk where Mirk was standing. “Or your friend Danel.”
Mirk nodded. “Does everyone know about her?”
“Romantic lives seldom stay secret aboard a starship. I found that out the hard way.”
Just then, Counselor Peterman stormed in. “We need to talk.”
“Speak of the devil.” Mirk said, heading for the door.
Once Mirk was gone, Baxter sat on the couch, gesturing for the counselor to sit down as well. She refused, deciding instead to stand right in front of him.
“What do you want, Counselor?” Baxter asked, feigning ignorance.
“What do I want? I want some answers! What were you doing with Ensign Fresca today? And what about us? Are we friends? Are we more? Are we less? Do you love me?”
Baxter thought a moment. “Those are a lot of questions. How much time do I have?”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG G GH!!!!” Peterman screamed, stomping her feet and pounding on Baxter’s desk, then storming out of the room.
Baxter sat on his couch a moment in shock. “Not too long, I guess.” He then stared in horror as his house of cards shook slightly, then tumbled down.