Re: Star Trek: The Expanse
Star Trek: 2392
Episode 1: Treachery
The star of the Ancetti system had begun to peak around Ancetti IV, illuminating the round structures attached to the sides of Starbase 162. Tiny worker ships buzzed around the exterior of the space station, repairing minor damage and patrolling the area. There was only one Federation starship stationed at the starbase, the U.S.S. Purity. The three warp nacelles adorning the back of the hull were powered down as it hovered within a drydock.
Inside, on deck 4, sat a young human in her late 20s on a large, soft bed. Her long brown hair was a tattered wreck, her dark green eyes still half closed. She yawned and stretched, then pushed herself off of the bed, walking over to a replicator that was built into the wall. "A glass of Blackmoore Brew, on the rocks." she said, yawning again.
An ornate glass filled with ice and a dark brown, slightly bubbly liquid materialized in front of her.
"Good." she said, grabbing the glass and sipping from it. "Someone finally programmed what 'on the rocks' means!" She walked over to the bed in the corner of the spacious room, sitting under the large window. Above her could be seen the bright lights of Starbase 162's drydocks, glowing against the black emptiness of space. She placed the glass of Blackmoore Brew onto the table next to the bed and sighed.
A beep emitted from the combadge that was sitting next to her drink. "Sir." a rough, haggard male voice said.
"Blackmoore here. What is it, Commander?" she asked, running her fingers through her hair.
"We've just received a subspace message from Deep Space Nine. It's Admiral Dax."
"Alright... forward it to my quarters here." she replied. She turned around towards the large viewscreen on the wall next to the door. "Acknowledge." she said, causing the screen to turn on.
"Good morning, Ameena. You look... lovely." the female Trill on the screen said, commenting on her unruly hair.
"Mornin', Admiral." Ameena said with an enthusiastic salute.
"I told you not to worry about the formalities..." Admiral Dax said. "How's the ship been?"
"It's been a few boring months, but she's held up to what we've thrown at her." Ameena replied. "Starfleet's built quite the vessel... it's a shame we haven't gotten to use it for anything interesting."
"I have good news for you, then. You'll be going on your first official diplomatic mission as part of the Purity's shakedown." Dax replied.
Ameena held her hand to her chin in thought. "Diplomacy?"
"Sort of. Our new neighbors, the Sabellians, are having trouble tracking down their new ambassador to Bajor. They fear he's been either been assassinated or kidnapped and some in the Sabellian government are beginning to point fingers."
"Doesn't the Prime Directive state that we should stay out of internal affairs?" Ameena asked, puzzled.
"It does, but they're ready to accuse the Bajorans of misconduct."
Ameena nodded. "I see... so it does involve us. What are my orders?"
"Report to Sabell I. Launch an investigation into the ambassador's disappearance and find him. If you can't, at least find out who's responsible for his disappearance."
"Understood. I'll get right on it. Blackmoore out." she said as the screen faded to the United Federation of Planets logo. She grabbed the combadge off of the table and then tapped on it. "Blackmoore to Ronae. We've had a change of plans, I'll be on the bridge momentarily."
"Oh, and before I forget... we do have the new passengers on board, right?"
"Yes, the civil corps personnel arrived last night."
"Good. Blackmoore out." Ameena walked over to the door as it swooshed open, then stopped in her tracks, shaking her head. She walked back into the room and stood in front of a mirror hanging on the wall on the other side of the door. After adjusting her hair, she grabbed a navy blue jacket, then buttoned it over her white undershirt. She swiped her rank pips off of the table, attaching the three bars to her right chest pocket, and then pinned the combadge to her left pocket. Giving herself a final quick look in the mirror, she walked out into the hallways of the U.S.S. Purity.
- - - - -
On the bridge of the U.S.S. Purity, There was a diverse crew manning the stations, scanning the surrounding areas, navigating the flight controls and operating critical systems aboard the ship. Members from nearly every corner of the Federation's expansive territory, as well as those from beyond, worked in synchronous harmony together. Near the center of the tan-carpeted and mechanically noisy bridge sat a Betazoid with long yet receding grey hair. He leaned forward, crossing his hands and resting his chin on them. "Take us out, nice and slowly Ensign. Then, take us on full impulse towards the edge of the system." he said with a raspy, gruff voice.
"Yes, Commander!" a younger Betazoid with stylized, well groomed brown hair stated. His blackened eyes scanned the screen in front of him as he tapped on it. With a beep of confirmation, the ship jolted to life, slowly pulling out of the drydock.
Behind them, a door in the center of the back end of the bridge slid open. In stepped Commander Ameena Blackmoore, the ship's commanding officer. She nodded and quietly said good morning to each of the crew as she passed on her way to the captain's chair. She nodded at the Betazoid next to her, then took a seat.
"Good morning, Commander." a young woman with spots lining the side of her face and neck said.
"You too, Alice." Ameena replied. "And to all of you, as well."
The Betazoid turned his attention towards Ameena. "What are our orders, sir?" he asked.
"We've got our first official mission, Malix." she said with excitement. "There's a missing diplomat to Bajor, and Starfleet Command needs someone to find him. That someone is us."
Commander Malix crossed his bulky, muscular arms and sat upright in his chair. "Sounds perfect for such an advanced ship..." he said with sarcasm. "Where are we going?"
"The Sabell system."
A blonde man with large, broad shoulders near the back of the bridge perked up upon hearing the location. "Sabell? Seriously?" he asked.
Ameena nodded. "Yes, Ralis."
Lieutenant Ralis could barely contain his excitement, smiling widely and laughing. His sky blue eyes widened with joy. "Home... I haven't been there for nearly eight years..."
"Tavik, set a course for the Sabell system. Warp 9."
The younger Betazoid at the navigational console clicked away at the screen in front of him. "Course set, sir. It will take us approximately two hours and twenty minutes."
Ameena leaned forward in her seat. "Let's get to the bottom of this. The alliance between the Sabellians and the Bajorans and their inclusion as a member of the Federation could be at stake here. Are we going to give it our best?"
"Aye, sir!" the crew shouted in unison.
"Good. Let's move."
As Tavik executed the order, the warp nacelles on the exterior of the ship began to glow with an intense blue. The ship began to stretch, then disappeared into the distance in an instant, leaving behind a bright flash of energy.
- - - - -
Nearly two and a half hours had passed. The U.S.S. Purity basked in the warm glow of the seemingly small, yet intensely bright orange star of the Sabell system. As the ship approached the system, a Sabellian freighter ship passed by, on a course to the colony world established on the second and final planet of the system.
"Establishing standard orbit of Sabell I, sir." Tavik said.
"We've arrived, Commander." Lieutenant Commander Alice said. "Bringing it up onscreen."
The main screen turned on to reveal a bright orange and green planet, dotted with oceans and lakes. The planet was striped much like Jupiter; a vast, barren belt of orange desert wrapped around the equatorial region. On either side was a large, dense forest with pockets of desert and mountains nestled within. The polar regions were covered in more barren and rocky, mountainous desert.
"It's beautiful..." Ameena said.
"You should see it from the upper atmosphere." Ralis chimed in. "But I wouldn't recommend it..."
Ameena nodded. "I keep hearing that from people who've visited..."
Near the back of the bridge, a Vulcan was staring at the screen in front of him. "Alice, are you seeing another ship on your scanners?"
Alice leaned forward, typing away at her screen. "I do now, Syrik. A Cardassian Galor. It's in orbit of the western hemisphere, slowing moving towards our position."
Ameena and Malix looked towards each other. "Cardassians?" she asked.
"I recommend we go to yellow alert... The Cardassians have been rough with the Federation these past few years." Malix said with his arms crossed.
Ameena sat in thought. "Hmm... agreed." she said, tapping onto the small screen built into the arm of her chair. Yellow lights began to glow and blink along the bridge. "Hail them, Ralis."
After a moment, Ralis replied. "They're not responding. Cycling frequencies... Got 'em! Opening a channel."
The main screen changed to display the drab and dirty interior of the Cardassian ship. A Cardassian in the center of the screen stood up and said, "Starfleet, out here? What a pleasant surprise."
"This is Commander Blackmoore of the U.S.S. Purity. Who might you be, and what's your business here?"
The Cardassian looked aside, towards one of his crew. "I am Gul Marketh..." he said. "I'm a member of the Detapa Council. I am afraid that I can not divulge any more information."
"Fair enough..." she said, turning towards Malix. "Your thoughts?"
"I don't like it... But my opinion may be a little bit biased."
"Unable to read him?" she asked.
Malix crossed his arms and eyed Ameena angrily.
Gul Marketh intervened. "I do assure your first officer that, while my people have done horrible things during the Dominion War, we have grown past that."
Marketh's first officer aggressively added. "Now, we've told you why we're here! What business does the Federation have here?"
"You didn't, actually..." Ameena said. "But we're here on a diplomatic mission. The ambassador has gone missing, and we're going to find him."
Gul Marketh looked at his first officer condescendingly, then back towards the viewscreen. "Ah yes, the missing ambassador... It's certainly troubling... I was sent to offer assistance, but the people of this planet do not trust my government very much. I would pool our resources together, but that may not be a wise thing to do."
"It's a shame." she responded, with a tone of disappointment in her voice. "Well, if my crew finds anything, we'll be sure to alert you. Blackmoore out."
As the viewscreen faded back to a view of the Galor-class in orbit of Sabell I, Ralis stepped forward. "I don't like it, Commander..."
Ameena turned her attention towards him. "Don't like what?"
"How do they know the ambassador is missing? I really doubt the Prime Designate would tell that to the Cardassians... My people do not trust them at all."
Ameena nodded. "I understand your concern, but it's not as if his disappearance is a big secret. We've heard mumblings of it from the Tal Shiar and even the Klingon Defense Force, according to Admiral Dax's briefing. I know most of you do not trust the Cardassians much... neither do I. But we're not out here to pick fights and we should try to work with them first before we take their heads off." she said, tapping on her communicator. "Lieutenant Edumes. The away team will be mobilizing. Report to transporter room 1."
"Yes sir." a female voice said.
"Syrik, Alice, Ralis, you're with me. Let's head to the transporter room."
Upon hearing that, Malix sighed. "Off to have some fun again, I see. Need I remind you that Starfleet protocol discourages commanding officers from field work?"
"Discourages, not forbids. This is my call. You have the bridge until I'm back." she shot back sharply. She turned her attention to her away team. "Follow me."
As the away team entered the turbolift at the back of the bridge, Malix shook his head and sighed, taking a seat on the captain's chair. "One of these days, her inexperience is going to get her killed."
- - - - -
The away team was walking down the halls of deck 3 towards the transporter room. The group stopped at a supply room next to the transporter room, stepping inside. The walls were lined with racks and shelves, holding a variety of phaser weapons, medical supplies and toolkits. The group began to grab the supplies, strapping them to their uniforms for easy access.
"Ameena, do you mind if I ask what that was all about?" Alice asked, slinging a Type-3 phaser rifle over her shoulder. "You know, with Commander Ronae."
Ameena strapped a utility belt around her hips, saying, "Don't worry about it too much, he's just doing his job. Him and I aren't supposed to be best friends."
"I wish you guys would argue less." she replied.
"Yeah... me too... but he knows when to back down." she said, turning to Ralis. "Tell us a little about your homeworld, Ralis. What should we expect?"
Ralis was adjusting the Sabellian Stamina Harness that he had slipped over himself. "I hope you like warm weather." he said, pushing a button on the harness, causing it to click and squeeze down on his torso. "It's a lot like Earth's rain forests where most of the population centers are, or at least the one where the ambassador lived."
"Oh great, I just love warm weather." Ameena said sarcastically.
"Then you'll love the equator, if we visit it." he jokingly replied while holstering a phaser pistol at his side. "I'm only joking of course, those temperatures would be fatal to you."
"How about you guys? If the ambassador has been taken hostage, would his kidnappers be able to keep him alive there?" she asked, grabbing a rifle off of a rack next to a door on the side wall.
"If he was taken there, I don't think there's a chance he'd be alive after this long."
Ameena nodded. "Noted. Ready when you are, crew." she said, walking through the door into the transporter room.
The transporter chief saluted as Ameena entered the room, followed by the rest of the away team. Upon seeing the various weapons and gadgets the away team was carrying, he remarked, "I thought this was a diplomatic mission, Commander."
"It is!" she said.
"You could have me fooled. It looks like heads are about to roll."
"One can never be too careful, chief." Syrik said.
"He has a point. Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans... even the remnants of the Jem'Hadar could show up and we'd have a bad day on our hands. It's best to be prepared." Alice added.
Ralis folded his arms over his chest. "Not to mention some of the wildlife down there..."
The door opened and a female Bajoran wearing a gold operations uniform walked into the room. "Sorry I'm late... the turbolift was quite busy! I think we had a stop at every deck between here and Main Engineering..."
"Ah, Lieutenant Edumes. Are you ready?"
Edumes patted the two phaser pistols at her hips and nodded. "Yes sir!" she said, stepping onto the transporter pad.
"Alright. Let's roll." Ameena said, motioning towards the transporter chief.
"Energizing. Good luck." the transporter chief said, tapping on some buttons.
"Oh, by the way, prepare for the higher gravity." Ralis said.
"Gravity?" Alice asked before the group began to phase out.
- - - - -
The away team rematerialized in a shower of blue, sparkly flashes. The change in gravity caught Alice by surprise as she collapsed to the ground with an audible grunt. The stark, red wood of the massively tall trees that they had rematerialized under offered little shade from the warm sun. A sharp wind blew through the forest clearing, carrying an alluring aroma out of the city into the wilderness.
Ralis laughed as Alice pushed herself back to her feet. "I did warn you..." he said, looking around. "Home... home sweet home... It's good to be back." Taking a few steps forward, he took in a deep breath. "Smell that?!" he said with excitement. "Mmm... freshly cut shelldrake fruit..." Snapping out of his trance, he turned around. "Follow me, the governor's office is down the road."
Ameena loosened the top two buttons on her uniform and began to fan herself with her hand. "You weren't joking about the weather!"
"It's not that bad..." Alice said, dusting herself off.
"My ancestors are Scottish, you have no idea..." she said, following Ralis down the road, further into the bustling city of Wyckmirr.
The smooth, high-tech looking buildings offered much needed shade to the various market stalls that lined the road. A variety of fish, vegetables and fruits were being sold by merchants, as well as other Sabellian cultural items. The citizens warmly welcomed the Starfleet personnel, alluding to their friendly nature as a society.
Ralis led the group to a pyramid-shaped building, separated into three distinct sections, each smaller than the last, surrounded by a balcony built onto the roof of the section below it. Atop the building was a large communications array, blinking with bright green lights. Mossy vines creeped alongside the sloped walls, reaching towards the gardens surrounding the building. A large sign with "Governor's Estate" written in Sabellian script adorned the glass doors, decorated with ornate, bronze designs, which lead into the building.
Walking inside, Ralis rang the bell on top of the reception desk. A small female Sabellian walked in from another room, pushing her glasses closer to her eyes. "Ooh, I'd recognize those uniforms anywhere! You must be the Starfleet representatives!" she said excitedly. "And you must be Ralis... I've heard a lot about you!" she said, grabbing his hand and kissing it.
"Umm... yes, that's me. I'm afraid I'm all business today, ma'am. Is the governor here?" he asked.
"Yes..." she said, grabbing the radio strapped to her drab, olive green uniform's shoulder and speaking into it. "Governor Bentia, your Starfleet guests have arrived."
A muffled, distorted voice spoke back, "Send them in."
"Governor Bentia's office is to your right, at the end of the hall." the receptionist said, pointing. She turned her attention to Ralis once more, tilting her head to the side. "And if you have a little free time later, perhaps we could share a drink?"
"We'll see." he said, turning around to follow the rest of his crew. "Weirdo..." he muttered to himself.
Syrik remarked on the exchange between the two. "Is it just her who has no control over her emotions, or your entire society?"
"It's not just her." Ralis said. "Romance is overbearingly important to my people... Well, most of them. So let's try to steer clear of the ladies."
"Agreed. We can't waste too much time." Ameena added.
The group entered the office of the governor, an aged and wise looking man who was typing away at a holographic keyboard. He noticed their presence and looked up at them, standing up and saluting. "Welcome, welcome!" he said. Extending his hand towards Ameena, he continued, "You must be Captain Blackmoore. Admiral Dax told me you'd be arriving today."
"Commander Blackmoore, actually..." she said, shaking his hand.
He walked around his desk and grappled Ralis into a forceful bear hug. "Ralis, my boy... it's wonderful to see you again. It feels like just last month that your parents saw you off to Earth."
"Time flies." Ralis said in response. "And we don't have a lot of that to spend, so we should get onto the investigation as soon as possible."
"Yes, yes... some of the Prime Designates advisors grow more and more uneasy with every passing moment." he said, motioning for the bench in front of his desk. "Please, have a seat, I will tell you what we know of the situation so far. What do you wish to know?" He asked as he sat down.
"Everything, but let's start with recent history." Ameena said, sitting down on the bench built into the wall. "Are there any rogue factions or terrorist groups here on Sabelle that would seek to disrupt the ambassador's duties?"
"There are those who would like to relive the 'glory days', our violent past. They call themselves the New Progeny, but they've been silent for months... planning, plotting. They are very vocal about any attacks they commit, and I doubt they're even aware of Lenken's appointment as ambassador."
"The New Progeny... I remember them rising up just before I left for Starfleet Academy, but they were crushed pretty brutally. They don't seem like a threat to me." Ralis replied.
"I agree, but the door is always open for them to be violent, I'm afraid." Bentia added.
Ameena nodded. "They may be worth investigating, if we run out of leads. Next question, did the ambassador have a different career before he was appointed, or was he always in politics?"
"As far as I know, Lenken has worked in the political realm for about a year. He's pushed the Prime Designate for quite a few unpopular changes and reached out to other civilizations. One of his most controversial issues was building relations with the Cardassians."
"I can certainly see why, considering the disaster that was our first contact..." Ralis remarked.
"Did he have any dangerous hobbies, or connection to criminal individuals?" Alice asked.
"I do not know much about his personal life, but I do know that he's an easy going person. I doubt it."
Syrik placed his finger to his chin in thought. "Perhaps word of his appointment as ambassador has leaked to other regional powers in this sector."
"Yeah... maybe the Cardassians or the Jem'Hadar heard about it and decided to stir up some trouble." Ameena said.
Bentia raised his bushy, white eyebrow. "His appointment was very secretive, due to the importance of his position. So secret, in fact, that I did not even know until he disappeared. The only people that knew were the Prime Designate and his advisors, his family and a select few in the Bajoran government." He leaned forward on the desk, his head balanced on his crossed hands. "We are a very honorable people and we hold the truth with higher regard than anything else. If anyone has sold this information, it would be the Bajorans." he said, looking towards Edumes. "No offense meant to you personally, ma'am."
Edumes tilted her head forward with a sneer on her face. "Of course..."
"I'd like to make an independent verification of that." Ameena said. "Where is the planet's government located?"
"Danmirr province, about... 60 miles north of here?" Ralis interjected.
She turned back to Governor Bentia. "Do you mind if I send my chief medical officer to perform a brainwave scan while your leader's advisors are questioned again?" she asked.
"Do what you must if it will bring Lenken home. I can only hope they'll agree to it."
"In the meantime, we should investigate his residence, if there are no more questions." Ralis said. "No?" After the crew shook their heads, he continued. "It was lovely to see you again, old friend. I'll lead the way to Lenken's manor... he still lives on the hill a few miles down, right?"
Bentia nodded. "Yes."
As the group stood up to take their leave, Alice stumbled to the floor again due to the gravity.
"Your friend with the spots... is she alright?" Bentia asked.
Alice stood back up, dusting herself off again. "Yes... the high gravity... I'm not used to it. That's all."
"You'll get used to it soon." Ralis said. "Well then, we're off!"
"Ah, before you go!" Bentia exclaimed. "You mentioned a... Jem'Hodder?"
"Jem'Hadar. They're a species from the Gamma Quadrant... fearless and ruthless, big, mean, ugly... There aren't many here in the Alpha Quadrant these days, but they are still a threat around this sector."
"Jem'Hadar... I will alert my superiors to them, if they do not already know." he said, typing into his holographic keyboard again. "Farewell! Please, send me a message sometime, Ralis!"
- - - - -
Aboard the bridge of the U.S.S. Purity, Malix was seated on the captain's chair, staring blankly at the viewscreen that showed the Galor-class cruiser still in orbit of Sabell I. "Come on, just make a move..." he grumbled to himself. "Just try me..."
"Sir, are you alright?" a Klingon behind him asked.
"Yes, D'Hok..." Malix replied. "But I have a bad feeling about them. And not just because of what they did to my homeworld during the Dominion War."
"I agree." D'Hok replied. "If they were truly here for diplomatic reasons and they were denied, they would have left by now."
With his vision still fixed on the viewscreen and his hands crossed, he said, "That's what bothers me the most." He turned around in the chair to look at D'Hok. "You are not a senior officer, but you are intelligent, D'Hok... I need to do something, and since the captain took Alice and Syrik with him, you'll be the ranking officer. You have the bridge until I return." he said, standing up and walking over to the ready room.
"Dare I ask what you're doing?" D'Hok asked.
Malix stopped in his tracks and turned around. "While the captain is down there doing her investigation, I'll be up here doing my own. Contact me if anything arises."
"Aye, sir." the Klingon said, continuing to monitor the communications console.
The door to the ready room slid open and Malix stepped inside. He took a seat at the desk and clicked some buttons on the screen that was built into it. "Computer... open the Starfleet Intelligence database on the Cardassian Union."
"Database opened. Please specify further inquiry." the computer said in a digitized, feminine voice.
"I need information on Gul Marketh."
"Gul Marketh: Age of 78 years. Height of 6 foot--"
"I don't care about all of that. Tell me about his history, what he does for a living."
"Gul Marketh was a high ranking member of the Obsidian Order during the occupation of Bajor, serving as a mentor for Legate Dukat of the Cardassian Union and Legate Nkebor of the True Way. He went on to serve as a leader during the Dominion Occupation of Deep Space 9. Prior to the reestablishment of the Detapa Council at the end of the Dominion War, Marketh was sentenced to life imprisonment for his actions. He was later pardoned and asked to serve as a member of the Detapa Council in 2386, a position he accepted."
Malix folded his arms and leaned onto the desk. "Why was he pardoned?"
"Information is currently unavailable on that subject."
Malix grunted with frustration. "Does he still have any connections to the True Way movement or any other terrorist groups in this sector?"
"Information is currently unavailable on that subject."
He sighed. "Is he still a member of the Detapa Council?"
"Current intelligence records indicate that Gul Marketh is a member of the Detapa Council."
"Forget it." he said, slapping at the air with frustration.
There was a beep over the intercom. "D'Hok to Commander Malix."
"The sensors have picked up a masked energy signature, and the Cardassian ship's shields went offline for a few seconds."
"That sounds like a transport sequence to me."
"Sensor analysis that is just coming in would agree with that."
"I'll be back on the bridge." Malix stood up and ran over to the door, then out onto the bridge. "Open a channel, D'Hok." Malix said, staring angrily at the viewscreen.
D'Hok continued to press buttons. "They are not responding."
"Keep trying." he said, tapping on his communicator. "Captain!"
Back on the ground, just outside of the luxurious estate belonging to Ambassador Lenken, Ameena was adjusting one of the pouches on her belt when Malix's voice startled her. She tapped on her communicator to respond, "I'm here, what's wrong?"
"The Cardassians either just transported someone down to the planet or they took someone aboard. Their shields went offline for a few seconds and the sensors picked up a strange energy signature."
"I don't like the sound of that." she said, grabbing her phaser rifle and looking around nervously.
"They're still here, which leads me to believe they transported someone down. I'll question them."
"No, that's a bad idea." Ameena said. "If they're up to no good, we can't let them know we're onto them."
"Good point." he said, turning around to D'Hok and making a swiping motion across his neck. "Just find him, quick."
"We're doing what we can, Commander. Is that all?"
"Yes. Good luck. Ronae out."
"I had a feeling..." Ralis said, grabbing his phaser pistol. "But we still don't know their motives."
"We still don't know if they're involved." Ameena said as she pushed up against the outside wall of the estate, peering in through the glass window that surrounded the door. Spotting nothing out of the ordinary, she nodded to her away team. "Keep your guard up. Ralis, Edumes? Be our eyes and ears while Syrik, Alice and I hunt for evidence."
"Yes sir!" Edumes said, grabbing one of the phaser pistols from her left holster.
Ameena grabbed the handle of the door and twisted it, pushing it open. She stepped inside with her weapon drawn, aiming up the stairs first and then down the hall to the side. "Looks all clear. Let's move." she whispered.
The away team sweeped the house in an orderly fashion. The only person inside the estate was an oddly silent Sabellian man, who led them to the bedroom that Ambassador Lenken used. Syrik, Alice and Ameena began to search for evidence as Ralis and Edumes stood vigilantly at both entrances into the room.
Ameena searched the table next to the bed, pushing aside several loose papers in a frantic effort to find anything useful to the investigation. Looking down, she noticed a small, metallic emblem laying on the floor half obscured by the table, which she recognized as the insignia of the Bajoran Militia. "I think I found something." she said.
Alice, who had been flipping through a diary written in a language she couldn't understand, walked over. She knelt down to pick it up, then pulled her tricorder out of her skirt pocket and placed it over the emblem. "This being here doesn't help the Bajorans' case." she said as the tricorder began to display metaphysical data about the emblem. "Thoughts, Edumes?"
"I don't know much about the Militia, regretfully. My parents never talked about their job." she said, looking out into the hallway. "I'm afraid I know even less about their equipment."
Alice skimmed through the information displayed on her tricorder's screen. "I don't think this is a standard issue combadge, sir." she said, handing it over to Ameena. "This combadge is made of a different alloy than the Bajoran Militia uses. This is made of a tritanium, gold and tin alloy. All Bajoran-issued combadges are made of a different alloy composed of silicon, pyrite and tin."
"So it's fake." Ralis said.
"Looks like it." Alice said, stumbling back to her feet. "There's a fingerprint on it as well, but I can't get much information from it... It doesn't look like any of ours, or even Bajoran in nature."
"Noted..." Ameena said as she searched through the rest of the room. As she looked up and down the walls, she noticed a red stain that was barely visible on the door frame next to Ralis. "Found something else!" she said.
Syrik walked over, scanning over the patch of red on the door with his tricorder. "This blood sample appears to be from a Bajoran, sir." he said. "I can not determine who it is from with any success from here." he said. He tapped on his combadge to open communication with the ship. "Syrik to sickbay."
"Nurse Kudite here. Dr. Amorise is currently away on assignment, how can I help you?" a feminine voice replied.
"I will be sending a blood sample to you. Please let me know when you have determined who it may have come from." he said. "Syrik out."
"I can do that for ya." the voice answered. "Kudite out."
"It will be a few hours, sir. We should continue with the investigation in the meantime." he said.
Minutes turned into hours as the crew continued to search through the estate like a well oiled machine. The kitchen was empty. The library appeared to be in order. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the guest rooms. It appeared as if no other evidence into the ambassador's disappearance could be found.
With the estate thoroughly searched, Ameena led her crew out into the courtyard behind the luxurious mansion. She looked up into the sky, shielding her eyes from the bright, relentless sun. "That didn't help a whole lot..." she said. "A fake combadge and a bloodstain isn't much to go on."
"Agreed. Maybe we can look into that... what was it called..." Alice said, lowering her head in thought. "New Progeny, was it?"
"Before we do, I want to get an update on our other leads." Ameena said, tapping on her combadge. "Blackmoore to Ronae."
"Yes?" Malix responded.
"Have our guests departed the system yet?"
"No... and they haven't said anything to us or made any moves since their shields dropped momentarily."
"Got it. Has Dr. Amorise returned, yet?"
"Yes, he just did a few minutes ago. His brainwave scan of the governments advisors came up empty. None of them appear to be responsible or had any part in the ambassador's disappearance."
"Good..." Ameena replied with a look of relief on her face. "Has Nurse Kudite finished her analysis of the blood sample we sent to her?"
"I haven't heard if she has."
"I'll ask, then. Blackmoore out." she said, tapping on her combadge again. "Blackmoore to sickbay."
"Dr. Amorise here, sir. I assume you're asking about Kudite's analysis, correct?"
"The analysis is nearly complete, and complete enough to reach a plausible conclusion. All of the possible matches lead to Bajorans who have been deceased for over four years. The closest match appears to be a poorly constructed replication of Berin Joral's DNA, a crewmember of a freighter that was attacked by Cardassians five years ago."
"Great work, that helps pin another thing down on the Cardassians." Ameena said. "Blackmoore out."
"Sounds pretty damning." Alice said. "No scheduled diplomatic visits, a transport sequence, a fake combadge and a fake blood sample. Perhaps we should confront the Cardassians now."
Ameena rubbed her face as she thought. "I still don't think that's the best idea. Syrik, would the ship's scanners be able to pinpoint where the Cardassians transported to or from?"
"If the energy signature was masked, I do not believe so. However, it is likely that it was from a local area due to the level of Cardassian transportation technology."
"There's a small cavern system located about half of a mile outside of the city limits. If I were to avoid detection, that's where I'd go." Ralis said.
"Lead the way, then. I'll have Malix try to pinpoint other likely locations while we're investigating."
- - - - -
The away team had reached the entrance to the Wyckmirr Caverns, nestled deeply within the thick, shady forest. The jagged, rocky entrance to the cavern unnerved Alice and Edumes, who were unsure if it was wise to attempt to cross into the cavern. With Ralis leading the team, he showed them a safe way to enter the cave. Inside, the cave was damp and musty, covered in moss, tree roots and silky spiderweb-like constructions.
"Stick close. There's some pretty big bugs in these caves, sometimes." Ralis warned.
"Well that's what I want to hear..." Ameena replied.
As Ralis lead the group deeper into the cave, they passed several, stagnant pools of a thick, syrup-like substance. The pools glowed faintly, yet brightly enough to light the way through the cavern. A muffled voice caught the attention of the team, who quickly assumed stealthy positions amongst the walls. "Stick tight." he whispered as he crept forward through the darkness to investigate. He poked his head around a corner to see a small area hidden behind a thin, amber forcefield. Studying closer, he saw four Cardassians patrolling the area and another two sitting at a table, preoccupied. Behind them was a crudely constructed cage of wood and rope, containing a sleeping, plump Sabellian man. He motioned for the group to come forward slowly. "Six hostiles. The ambassador is in the cage in the back." he whispered.
"Time to put your tactical training to the test, Ralis." Ameena said, pressing a button on her phaser rifle. "Set your phasers to stun, I don't want anyone dying in there."
As the crew remodulated their weapons, Ralis looked along the surface of the forcefield, spotting a small mechanical device attached to the ceiling. "Here's what we're going to do. On the captain's orders, Edumes will take out the forcefield generator up on the ceiling. I'll toss a flash grenade in, and we storm in after it's gone off. We can't give them any time to react, or they might kill the ambassador."
Edumes nodded. "Understood."
"Alice and I will take out the patrols on the left side. Syrik and Ameena, I need you to hit the right side." Ralis ordered.
Syrik, Alice and Ameena nodded.
After a moment of mental preparation, Ameena issued the order. "Let's roll. Take out the forcefield generator."
Edumes took careful aim at the emitter of the forcefield generator, opening fire on it. A beam of orange energy erupted from her phaser pistol as the generator began to let loose a shower of sparks and short circuit. The forcefield faded from existence with silence.
With the forcefield down, Ralis tossed his flash grenade into the small room. With a bright, violent flash and a sizable sonic boom, the grenade went off, taking the six Cardassians by complete surprise.
"Starfleet!" one of the Cardassians sitting at the desk yelled before being blasted with an orange beam and incapacitated.
The away team stormed into the small room, taking advantage of the element of surprise. "I've got the rear patrol!" Ameena shouted as she took aim and fired a compressed bolt of energy directly into the chest of the stunned Cardassian, knocking him over.
"Likewise!" Ralis yelled as he lined his target up. With a clear shot, he fired a beam of orange energy into the neck of the Cardassian patrol.
Syrik and Alice took aim at the remaining patrols, quickly incapacitating them with bursts of phaser fire.
The remaining Cardassian had regained his sight and scrambled for the table in front of him. As he took cover under it, he flipped a switch on the underside of the desk and shouted. "Marketh, get us out of here, now!"
Ralis demonstrated his species' enhanced physical strength by leaping deftly over to the table and overturning it with little effort. Towering over the cowering Cardassian, he picked him up with one hand and said, "Do you surrender?"
The frightened Cardassian nodded before being dropped to the floor.
"Keep an eye on him." Ralis said as he ran over to the cage. "Ambassador! Are you alright?"
The ambassador weakly stirred in his crude, wooden cage. "Who... who is that?" he asked in a raspy, parched voice.
Ameena walked over and kneeled down. "We've been sent by Starfleet to find you. You're safe now."
"Star... Starfleet... wonderful..." the ambassador replied weakly, lowering his head.
"We've gotta get him out of there..." Ralis said, grabbing at the corners of the cage. With a firm yank, the wooden beams creating the top of the crude structure shattered into splinters with the rest of the cage falling to pieces. "Let's get him to sickbay. He's probably dehydrated and malnourished."
Ameena tapped on her combadge. "Blackmoore to Ronae. We've found him."
"Excellent work, sir!" Malix's ragged voice responded. "I don't think the Cardassians will be back, they jumped to warp about a minute ago."
"Figures..." Ameena said. "I'll be back on the bridge shortly for a full debriefing. Blackmoore out." she said as she walked over to the two remaining Cardassians. "Looks like your superiors left you. You're coming with us."
The Cardassian sunk his head in disappointment. "That traitorous dog..."
"Well done, everyone." Ameena said as she tapped on her combadge again. "Blackmoore to the Purity. Twelve to beam up."
The away team, ambassador and their six prisoners began to fade in a swirl of blue sparkles.
- - - - -
"Captain's Log, stardate 69032.1.
The first official mission of the U.S.S. Purity has been a remarkable success. The ambassador has been located and nursed back to health. My crew handled themselves professionally during all parts of the mission and I could not be happier with the outcome or my choice of senior officers. The Sabellian government has been notified of the situation and are deeply grateful for our assistance.
During our investigation, we have determined that Gul Marketh may no longer be a part of the Cardassian Detapa Council as he claims. This information has been sent to Starfleet Intelligence who will determine if this is the case and who he's working for if he isn't."
- - - - -
Ameena was walking down the halls of deck 7, being greeted by civilian personnel and junior officers. She stopped at a large pair of doors that sat under a sign which read 'Deck 7: Crew Lounge'. As she stepped up to the doors, they whooshed open. Inside were about three dozen Starfleet personnel, socializing throughout the room.
A tall, green skinned woman with dark brown hair approached Ameena as she entered. "Evening, sir." she said with a bow. "Care to order anything?"
Ameena eyed the Orion bartender with suspicion, scanning her up and down cautiously. "Uh, yeah... get me a glass of Blackmoore Brew." she said, snapping back to reality. "Sorry, you must be one of the new civilians we brought on board last night."
"Uh huh!" the Orion nodded. "I'll have your order shortly. You..." she said, bouncing her index finger off of Ameena's nose lightly, "...have a seat in the meantime."
Ameena shook her head in disbelief as she approached a table that Malix, Syrik, Ralis and ambassador Lenken were sitting at. She pulled up a chair from another table and sat down amongst them.
"Now there's the girl I owe my life to!" ambassador Lenken boisterously proclaimed. "Thank you, thank you, I can not say it enough!"
"My crew was a big help, so I can't hog all the glory. You're welcome." Ameena said as the Orion barmaid walked over and placed her drink in front of her. "Thank you." As the barmaid walked away to serve another table, she remarked, "I think this is the first time I've seen a sensibly dressed Orion... Seems strange having one aboard, doesn't it?"
Malix nodded. "It certainly does." he said, grabbing the glass that sat in front of him. "But let's forget that for now. Time to celebrate!"
"Yes, the perfect end to our first assignment." Syrik said with an uncharacteristic smile on his face as he raised his glass in a toast.
Ambassador Lenken raised his glass as well. "Now that's something I can drink to!" he said, followed by uproarious laughter.
"Indeed." Ameena said, raising her own glass as well. "Well done, crew!" As if they were in synchronization, the entire table clanked their drinks together with a cheer.
Re: Star Trek: The Expanse
Star Trek: 2392
Episode 2: Reliving the Past
Malix was crouching down, hiding behind a large metallic crate as purple beams of energy cut through the air around him. Breathing heavily and with adrenaline coursing through him, he turned to a woman next to him, looking deep into her dark eyes. He studied the primitive bladed weapon in her hands, unsure if she could properly defend herself with it. "We're going to get out of this. Trust me." he said, firmly grasping his phaser pistol. After a deep breath, he stood up and exposed himself to the hail of polaron weaponry that was assaulting his hiding spot. He took aim, firing again and again, defeating several bluish-white, scaly humanoids before taking cover again.
"Malix!" the young woman shouted as she raised her blade and pointed. "They're coming from the left!"
"Stay behind me!" he said as he moved to cover her.
As Malix took aim at the next group of humanoids to advance on their position, another appeared seemingly from thin air behind him and the young woman. The creature raised a bladed pole arm, swinging it down wildly at the young woman but missing. With its weapon firmly stuck in the ground, it was no match for Malix, who lunged forward, tackling the creature. He raised his phaser pistol and dispatched it with a single compressed bolt of energy to the head.
The creatures advanced quickly on the two from all sides. They roared and shouted as they mercilessly fired on the entrenched area. Time seemed to slow down as the adrenaline pumped through Malix' veins. His reaction time doubled as the situation became more unmanageable. Malix raised from his position, charging fearlessly at a group of the creatures, leaving his companion behind. One by one, the creatures fell to his quick aim until he was blind sided by another group. His vision went dark as he was knocked to the ground.
The young woman made a valiant attempt to escape the creatures but was quickly cornered. With the blade in her hand, she lunged forward, plunging it into the chest of one of the creatures. She quickly yanked the blade out, swiveling around, slashing the throat of another before she was restrained. "Malix!" she shouted in desperation as the creatures wrestled her to the ground and began to brutally beat her into submission.
Malix awoke a moment later to see the creatures standing over the battered, bruised and bloody body of the young woman. He lost himself in a rage, pushing himself up and charging at the lead creature. "I'll kill you!" he shouted.
The creature easily dodged out of the way as Malix stumbled to the ground, still feeling the effects of being knocked unconscious. It walked up to him and stood over him triumphantly. "Training session is terminating." The creature vanished from view, followed by the surrounding landscape of burning buildings and panic. A black cube shaped room covered in a yellow grid faded into existence.
Malix rolled over and weakly sat up. "Damn..." he said. "Computer, how many targets did I eliminate?"
"Seventeen targets were incapacitated during the program. Eleven suffered wounds that would be fatal to a Jem'Hadar." a feminine voice said over the room's loudspeaker.
He placed his hand on his head and felt a tiny amount of blood beginning to run down his left temple. "I did better than last time, at least..." he said as he looked at the blood that was smeared on his fingers. "Computer, increase the safety protocol for all subsequent runs of this program."
"Confirmed. Risk of injury is now set to minimal."
Malix sighed. "I let you down again, Kimara..." he said, resting his head on his knees, leaning up against the wall of the holodeck.
- - - - -
In sickbay, Dr. Amorise was sitting in his office looking over a collection of test tubes filled with a bright green gelatin-like substance. He administered a small drop of liquid from the end of a small needle to one of the test tubes, causing the substance inside to bubble violently and overflow onto the table. "That can't be right..." The sickbay door opened and Ameena walked in. He looked up as she approached his office.
"Good morning, doctor..." she said while rubbing the back of her head. "This headache has come back again, and..." she paused, wincing from the pain. "It's pretty bad this time."
"Another headache?" he asked. "You're the only person on this ship who seems to suffer them."
Ameena nodded. "I'm not surprised by that."
Dr. Amorise turned his chair around to a cupboard under his desk. He opened the second drawer from the bottom, pulling out two small devices. "Oh really? And why is that?" he said, standing up and walking over towards Ameena and motioning for her to turn around.
"Haven't you read my file?"
Dr. Amorise looked to the side in thought. "I do recall... Something about Risa. It's been awhile."
"Some psychotic Lethean attacked me while I was asleep on Risa!"
"Maybe he was just being playful." Dr. Amorise stated, before pressing the device to her neck. "This'll sting a little." he said, pressing a button on the device, causing it to click and make the noise of pressurized air being released. As she turned around again, he offered her the second device. "Twenty CCs of Topirazine just before you go to bed tonight and your headaches should be gone for at least a month."
Ameena took the device and placed it into her pocket. "Thanks. I'm already starting to feel a little better."
Dr. Amorise bowed graciously before turning back to the test tube collection on the table. "I trust you haven't forgotten your next exam scheduled for tomorrow."
"I haven't." she said, walking out of the office. As she headed for the sickbay doors, they opened up and Malix walked in. Ameena noticed the large cut over his left eye and the bloodstain dripping from it. "What happened there?" she asked.
"Nothing, just a holodeck mishap." Malix quickly said, brushing past her.
"Another?" she asked, turning around. "I thought you turned the safety protocols on."
"I must have forgotten. I've made sure to this time."
Ameena's eyes drifted downward in thought. "Uhh... well, see you on the bridge soon, I guess. And be careful."
Malix nodded silently, before walking into Dr. Amorise's office. "Doctor, uhh..."
Dr. Amorise, interrupted further from his experiment, turned around to look at Malix. "Can a doctor ever get some peace and qu--Oh my! What happened?!"
"My, uh, training went a little hairy again." Malix said, rubbing his forehead.
"You don't say..." Dr. Amorise said, opening his cupboard once more. "If I didn't know any better, I'd think you've just come back from a war zone!"
"It was something like that." he said. "I've made sure to reestablish the safety protocols on the holodeck. This won't be happening again."
Dr. Amorise walked over with a small, pen sized device in his hand. He placed the device to the wound and turned it on, shining a bright light on it. "So what exactly is this holodeck simulation you've been running? Why is it so dangerous?"
"It's designed to train me for ground combat."
Dr. Amorise picked up a tricorder and hovered around the wound. "I'd say you still have much to learn."
Malix glared angrily at the doctor, then laughed. "You just might be right." he said, trying to look up. "So, how's it look?"
"It's not as bad as the last injury you came in here with..." he said, placing a bandage over the laceration. "I would advise against visiting the holodeck for awhile. An injury like this often leads to more injuries."
Malix nodded. "Alright. Understood." He turned around and headed for the door.
Dr. Amorise sat back down at his desk, grabbing his tools to begin his experiment again. "Ah, before you go..."
Malix turned around. "Yes?"
"When you get a chance, please remind Lieutenant Katr of his appointment. He missed the one he was scheduled for two days ago."
"I can do that." Malix said, before walking out of the room.
Dr. Amorise placed a droplet into a test tube. It reacted violently with the liquid inside, bubbling over before shattering the test tube with explosive force. "Kudite, your calculations appear to have been wrong again..." he muttered to himself.
- - - - -
Aboard the bridge, Ameena was standing beside Alice, studying the information on her console screen. "Nothing?"
"Nothing of interest so far..." Alice replied. "We have a lot of asteroids to scan, so it's going to take some time."
Ameena placed her hand to her chin in thought. "And what kind of approximation do you have on how long that's going to take?"
Alice tapped on her screen. "We've done detailed scans of about one third of the largest asteroids within this belt... The next task will be the smaller ones. I'd say we have a few hours ahead of us."
"Okay. Keep sending your data to the science teams. If there are any unknown Cardassian bases here, Starfleet needs to be updated." she said, walking over towards Syrik. "Syrik, have you seen any communications originating anywhere in this system?"
"No, sir. However, I am receiving some odd transmissions that do not match anything in the database. Attempts to compensate for or decipher them have not been successful."
"Keep me posted." she said, patting him on the shoulder, then walking over to Ralis. "Now, I know you're not doing anything." she joked.
Ralis tossed his arms up into the air and shrugged. "What can I say? This system is bone dry. We're the only ones out here."
"There's something on my mind, Ralis... but I have a question. Did you take part in the ATT program?"
"Advanced Tactical Training? Yes, I finished my training for it last year." Ralis said.
"Good. I have some more questions, if you don't mind. But not here, in my ready room."
Ralis looked around. "Alright, that's fair enough."
"Alice, you have the bridge until Malix arrives or I come back."
Ameena and Ralis walked over to the ready room off to the side of the bridge. The noise of the bridge immediately ceased as the door slid shut behind them, and all that could be heard was the harmonic hum of the ship's power conduits. Ameena sat down at the desk in the corner, offering Ralis a seat as well. "So, tell me a little about the ATT program."
Ralis eyed the captain curiously, tilting his head. "Interested in participating?" he asked. "Speaking candidly... I don't think you'd be cut out for it."
"I thank you for your... 'high praise'. I'm not interested in that, I want to know what it was like for you."
Ralis sat down, thinking deeply to his experiences with the Advanced Tactical Training program. "There were three parts to it; ship combat, such as helm controls, emergency maneuvers and weaknesses of our common enemies that we could exploit. Another was ground combat, where we learned advanced group tactics, learned all there is to know about mastering aim... that kind of stuff. The third, and probably the hardest one, was learning to make the tough, impossible decisions. A Kobayashi Maru crash course, if you will."
"And you did this all while serving aboard the U.S.S. Constance, correct?"
"Yeah, it was all through holodeck simulations."
"How did it affect your day to day duties aboard the ship?"
Ralis tried to remember his days during that time. "It was a difficult time, but if I remember, it didn't have a large impact on me."
Ameena leaned forward, her chin resting on her hands. "No emotional changes at all?"
"Not that I can remember. In fact, I felt... happier. Proud that I was doing so well in one of Starfleet's most rigorous training programs."
"How about injuries, did you sustain any during your training?"
Ralis held his head up proudly. "None. I was extra cautious, despite the safety failsafe on all simulations. I don't believe I was hit once during all of the ground combat simulations."
"Safety failsafe?" she asked inquisitively.
"If I recall, all parts of the ATT program don't allow for the safety protocols to be changed."
Ameena was visibly troubled. "It's not adding up, then." she blurted out, slumping in her chair.
"Nothing." she said, sitting upright again. "I'm just a little worried about Malix, he seems to be having a much tougher time with the ATT program then you did."
Ralis was perplexed. "That doesn't make any sense. Malix is a much more capable fighter and decision maker than I am."
"I know, that's what bothers me the most..."
- - - - -
Captain's Log, stardate 69036.7.
Our exploration of the Duhan sector is going along as planned. The U.S.S. Purity's advanced scanners and probes have helped to learn a great deal about the seventeen unexplored star systems in the area.
My chief concern at the moment is not our mission, though. This is the second week in a row that Commander Ronae has reported for duty with minor injuries after a holodeck simulation went wrong. I'm beginning to worry about what he's up to and if it will affect his abilities as my first officer and advisor.
He always brushes me off when I ask him what his problem is. He claims that the injuries are a result of his Advanced Tactical Training program and that his negative emotions are tied to it. After speaking with Lieutenant Katr, a graduate of the Advanced Tactical Training program, I'm a little suspicious of his claims.
- - - - -
Alice was seated at a table in her quarters, fiddling with her long, blonde hair as she mused over the hologram chess set sitting in front of her. "Queen... to 6-F." The white queen pushed forward to its new spot, placing the black king in a check position. In response, a black bishop advanced in the direction of the white queen, capturing it.
"The white king is under attack." the computer's voice said.
"Damn it!" she blurted out. "I need to work on my strategy..."
The doorbell chimed.
"Come in." she said, pushing her hands through the pieces with frustration. The pieces distorted and disappeared in a puff of static particles.
The door slid open to show Ameena standing there, half dressed in her uniform. She took a step into the dimly lit room. "Evening."
"Sir, I'm honored by your visit!" Alice said, standing up and warmly greeting her. "Please, have a seat." She slid her fingers across a small panel on the wall behind her, causing the lights to brighten and the ambient sounds of a calm, crashing ocean to fade. "What can I do for you?"
"I'm not sure, but I'm coming to you because you're my best friend aboard this ship." Ameena replied, sitting down across the table from Alice.
Alice laughed. "Putting me in the counselor's shoes again, I see."
"Who else is there?" Ameena shrugged. "I'm kind of worried about Malix."
"What about him?"
"He seems... on edge lately, which I'm sure you've noticed."
"He's always on the edge of snapping, but I see what you're saying."
Ameena took a deep breath. "I know you're not officially the ship's counselor, but I need you to do this for me. Talk to him, see if you can open him up. He's dodged every effort I've made to see what his problem is."
"Stubborn as a Tellarite, eh?" Alice said, nodding. "I can try, but I don't think I'll have much luck either... Malix and I have never been particularly close."
"Now that has me surprised. You're pretty close with everyone these days."
Alice laughed. "I've yet to meet half of the crew!" she said, before adopting a more serious tone. "When do you want me to try?
"As soon as you can." Ameena replied. "I don't want him snapping and going on a rampage."
Alice's eyes widened. "I don't think he'd do that! He's a little rough around the edges, but..."
Ameena sighed, then stood up, nodding lightly. "Just make sure he doesn't. That's all for now."
Alice tipped her head forward. "G'night."
"Night." she said, taking her leave.
Alice sat still, wide-eyed, staring blankly at the table in front of her. "Why did I get myself talked into this..." she muttered to herself. She stood up and walked over to a small closet off to the side of her quarters, opening the door and digging into the pocket of her uniform jacket. She pulled out her combadge and tapped on it. "Prescott to Ronae, are you awake?"
"Yes. What can I help you with?"
"I just wanna talk about some stuff. Is that okay with you?"
After an extended moment of silence, Malix replied. "Sure. I'll be in my quarters. The door will be open, drop by whenever."
"I'll be right over." Alice said, pinning her combadge to her silk nightgown and hurrying out of the room.
- - - - -
Malix was sitting on his bed in his quarters, holding a framed picture of a young Betazoid woman in his hands, the same woman that appeared in the holodeck simulation. He placed his hands over her face, running his trembling finger down her cheek, then returned the frame to the table next to his bed. He stood up just as Alice appeared at the door, who knocked on the wall lightly.
"May I come in, sir?" she asked.
"Please." he said, walking over to the replicator. "Can I get you anything to drink?"
"Some bergamot tea would be lovely."
"Hmmph, two glasses of bergamot tea it is." he said, watching the beverages materialize before his eyes. He grabbed both, handing one over to Alice. "You look lovely tonight."
Alice looked down at her nightgown, then back at Malix. "A compliment, from you?"
"I'm only being honest."
"Well, uh... thank you." Alice said, ruffling her hair with one hand and grabbing the glass of bergamot tea with the other.
"So what did you want to talk about?" Malix asked, walking over to the window and looking out into the dark void of dim starlight. "It's always something important when you 'just want to talk'."
Alice walked over and stood next to him, gazing out into the dark beyond. "You, preferably."
"I've noticed you've been a little... how to put this... stressed."
Malix placed the tea on the window sill. "It's my job to be stressed."
"As much as you are? There has to be more to it."
Malix looked down at Alice, attempting to decipher her motives. Failing, he responded. "I doubt you'd understand."
Alice looked up at him and nudged her shoulder into him playfully. "Try me. I'm not as innocent as I seem."
"Fine." he said, walking over to his bed. "In about a week, it will have been eighteen years since the Dominion attacked Betazed during the Dominion War."
She responded with silence, unsure of how to respond.
"That day when they first started to attack has forever haunted me. I lost my closest companion that day."
Alice sat down next to him. "I'm so sorry to hear that. Who was it?"
"When I was young, my mother had introduced me to a young girl born into a noble family. We quickly became the best of friends... laughing, crying... being there for each other no matter what happened."
"What was her name?" Alice asked.
"Kimara." Malix said. "We did everything together... went everywhere together. Just as I had worked up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage, Starfleet had begun ordering evacuations. Word had gotten out that a Dominion fleet was approaching."
"What happened to her?"
"I never did learn what happened to her. But when I looked back at my homeworld as I was being evacuated, fire, death and destruction was all I saw." He looked at up at Alice, a tear forming in the corner of his eye. "We were supposed to leave together, but we were separated in the confusion. Not only did I fail to keep her by my side, I failed my promise to protect her no matter what happened."
"But is it really your fault? You can't blame yourself for something like that!"
"Yes, I can. I chose to run. I left her behind."
"I'm..." Alice said, stumbling. "But that was so long ago! Surely time would have helped to ease the pain!"
"It did, in a way." he said, grabbing the framed photograph of Kimara off of the table. "When she died, part of me died with her. My kind and caring side."
Alice tilted her head to the side. "You seem pretty friendly right now."
"Consider it a fluke." he said, placing the photo back onto the table. "I've never been the same since."
Alice paced over to the other side of the room, sipping her bergamot tea as she did so. "Ask yourself this. If Kimara were to see you today, how do you think she'd react?"
"What do you mean?" Malix asked.
"When you spent time with Kimara, you were happy, right?"
"And wouldn't Kimara want you to go on with your life, being happy?"
Malix lowered his head in silence, realizing that Alice was right.
Alice walked over to him, kneeling down in front of him and placing her hand on his shoulder. "Look, Malix... She's gone. Being angry, being resentful... none of that is going to bring her back. It's not going to honor her memory. And it's doing a disservice to not only you, but to her as well."
Malix took a deep breath, fighting back his emotions. She was right, but he was afraid to admit it.
"I've been silent about it because I want to give you your space, but... I worry about you sometimes. Ameena worries about you, Syrik, Ralis... Even D'Hok worries about you!"
Malix looked up, remembering D'Hok's proud Klingon heritage and the warrior culture he embraced. "I must be in pretty bad shape if D'Hok is concerned."
"Grief has its place in life, but life isn't about grief." Alice said, pulling him into a hug. "Now c'mon. Cheer up a bit!"
"I'll try." he said, pushing her back. "For Kimara."
"No. For yourself. That is what is important right now."
Malix wiped a tear from his eye and stared at the floor in contemplative silence for a brief moment. "For myself."
Alice stood up, letting go of Malix. "Is that all that's been bothering you lately?"
"Good." Alice said, nodding. "Good night."
He watched silently as she left the room, then turned his attention to the photo of Kimara that stood atop the table next to his bed. In quiet contemplation, he juggled with the idea before finally turning the photo around. "I have to move on..."
- - - - -
First Officer's Personal Log, stardate 69037.0.
Our second officer and the ship's unofficial counselor came to speak to me earlier tonight. I'm not sure why she brought it up, but she seemed very interested in my past and how it is affecting my ability to perform my duties as the first officer of this ship.
I'm afraid to admit it, but she may be right. I'm spending more and more of my off duty hours on holodeck simulations surrounding the events that have taken place in my life. My mind is so wrapped up in my past that I can't think straight anymore. And through it all, I feel anger and resentment building up inside of me. Maybe this is why the ship's captain and I do not get along very well, and why I almost started a fight with the Cardassians over Sabell I awhile ago.
This isn't healthy, and I think I know what I have to do to begin the process of moving on from Kimara. I can only hope that I'm right...
- - - - -
Malix walked through the halls of deck 8, attempting to avoid all social contact with the other members of the crew that walked by. He looked behind him to see if he was being followed, but was unsure of why he was so paranoid. He felt that he was about to do the right thing. His journey stopped at the doors to Holodeck 1. He took a deep breath, entering the holodeck.
"Computer, load the Siege of Betazed program."
The blackened room lit up brightly as large fires erupted from thin air.
Malix walked over to Kimara, standing still, as if frozen in time. He took a deep breath and sighed, remembering the times of his youth that he spent with her. The woman he loved reduced to nothing more than a holographic memory. "Computer... Delete the simulated Jem'Hadar. Put the fires out, too." As the Jem'Hadar faded from existence and the fires flickered away, he looked around at his surroundings. Burnt rubble piles, demolished buildings and a gloomy, cloud filled sky. Despair and anguish was all he saw.
"Delete this whole scene. Give me something a bit more happy to look at."
"Please specify the parameters." the computer's voice said.
"I don't know! Something... bright. The sunny shores of Lake Cataria."
The scene around the frozen hologram and Malix faded to black. Palm trees running along the sandy shoreline of a crisp, clear and calm lake formed in the distance, all illuminated by the bright Betazed sun. Malix looked around, then ran his hand down the Kimara's cheek, resting it on her shoulder. "Enable the enhanced memory simulator routine and begin simulation."
Kimara snapped to life, looking around at her surroundings, then back at Malix. With a squeal of joy, she tackled him into a forceful bear hug. "Malix!"
Malix patted the hologram on the back. "It's good to see you again under better circumstances." He motioned forward and began to walk along the cobblestone pathway leading to the mist covered shores of Lake Cataria.
She started to walk down the path, her arm locked around Malix's. "You look like you have something on your mind. What's bothering you?"
"I suppose you can't read my mind, then."
Kimara shook her head.
"That's fine. You wouldn't want to see what's in there anyways." he said, stopping in his tracks. "Kimara... I just wanted to say that I'm sorry. I've wasted a lot of my life mourning you."
"No, don't be! I'm sure you've led a wonderful life!"
"The more I look at my life, I don't feel like I have."
Kimara studied him, looking him up and down. "But you have! You're a commander in Starfleet! Look at that snappy uniform!"
Malix looked down at himself, inspecting the crisp scarlet jacket of his uniform. He unpinned his rank pips, rustling them around in his fingers. "I guess so... It never really sunk in how far I've come. But through it all, I've been missing one piece of my life, you."
"Malix... Don't be so downtrodden. I meant a lot to you." Kimara said, taking a seat on a large, sand covered rock along the edge of the lake. She grabbed his hand as he sat down next to her and looked deeply into his blackened eyes. "I'm gone now, but don't let that stop you from being who you are!"
Kimara looked into the lake. "When I was young, before I had met you, my mother taught me a human saying. Perhaps you've heard it in your travels." she said, continuing to watch the waves of the lake.
"What is it?"
Kimara spotted a dark red fish swimming closer to the shore. Behind it was another fish, blue in tone, swimming closely as if trying to attract the other's attention. "See those two fish?"
Malix looked into the lake and found them. "Yes, what about them?"
"That red one is you. Swimming alone, oblivious to those around you."
"And who is the other one?"
Kimara shrugged. "I don't know. But, watch closely."
Malix and Kimara watched the two fish swim around in the shallow, clear water. The red fish noticed the blue fish and attempted to swim away at a quicker pace.
He sighed. "All I see are two dumb fish, what does this have to do with anything?"
The blue fish swam as fast as it could, stopping in front of the red fish. The two stared at each other for a moment, before swimming around each other and finally off into the depths of the lake.
"That human saying my mother taught me... 'There are other fish in the sea'." Kimara said, placing her hand on Malix' shoulder. "I never understood what it meant until I met you."
Malix looked down at her hand, then up at her. "I don't understand."
Kimara frowned, then giggled. "You have kept me in your heart for nearly eighteen years, Malix. But, as the saying means, there are other people out there to spend your life with. Find them!"
Malix thought about it. "I think I see..."
"Don't be afraid to move on... I won't be angry."
"That's what I'm going to do." he said with a hint of doubt in his voice and a tear forming in the corner of his eye. "Goodbye, Kimara."
"Goodbye, Malix. Live a happy life for me!"
Malix stood up, looking into the lake. The red fish and the blue fish returned, behind it two smaller fish. The sight brought a smile to his face, a smile he seldom enjoyed throughout his adult life. He took one last look at Kimara before sighing. "Computer... delete the Kimara hologram."
Kimara blew a kiss towards Malix as she disappeared.
"End simulation... and delete the program." he said. The room faded to black and the yellow grid lines began to glow dimly. He walked over towards the archway, looking back into the dim, drab holodeck. The tear rolled down his cheek and splashed onto the floor. "Goodbye..." he struggled to say, before turning around and walking out into the hallways of the U.S.S. Purity.
Re: Star Trek: The Expanse
Star Trek: 2392
Episode 3: Orion's Aggression
In the depths of space within the Duhan sector, a lonely winged probe about seven meters in length floated around, spinning wildly as it narrowly avoided a collision with an asteroid. A bright flash of light burst forth from behind it; the U.S.S. Purity had dropped out of warp. A few moments later, a tractor beam emitted from the deflector dish, drawing in the small object. The object was brought to the shuttle bay situated just between the saucer section of the ship and deflector dish. The monstrous shuttle bay door sluggishly lifted, leaving a thick blue forcefield separating the shuttle bay from the empty vacuum of space.
Inside, an engineering team was ready to recover the probe. Off to the side stood Lieutenant Edumes, watching the probe as it gently floated into the largely vacant room. "Bring it in nice and slowly, Aribelle," she said.
"Engaging internal tractor beams..." said a young woman standing next to a computer terminal towards the back of the room.
The man standing next to her crossed his arms against his chest and sighed deeply. "Whatever happened to using transporters for this kind of thing?"
Aribelle tapped on the screen, causing a green-tinged veil of particles to wrap around the probe as it jolted from the shift in gravity. "Where's the fun in that?" she said, turning her attention to him and smiling.
"Where's the fun in this?" he asked, turning to look at her and motioning wildly towards the probe as it dangled in the air.
Aribelle looked up in thought. "That's a good question..."
As the probe slowly sank to the floor, the door to the shuttle bay slid open. A Bajoran woman in a blue sciences division uniform stormed into the room with a look of fury on her face. "There you are, you slut!" she yelled as she aggressively approached her.
Aribelle turned her attention to the enraged Bajoran. "I'm sorry, what?"
"I heard what you and T'anik were up to last night. He's mine!"
Aribelle was confused about the accusations she was facing. She had spent the night alone in the astrometrics lab. "I don't know what you're talking about!"
The man stepped between the two, looking back and forth at both of them. "Hey, hey, ladies!" he said calmly. "Jera, we're working here. You can figure out your problems when we're done." he said in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Lieutenant Jera grabbed the man by the collar of his uniform and tossed him aside like a toy into a pile of crates. The crates tumbled onto the floor, spilling a various assortment of commodities ranging from spare uniforms to dehydrated antigen packets.
"Edumes to security, get a team to Shuttle bay 1, now!" she said as she watched a fist fight break out between the two women. "Hey, break it up, that's an order!"
The man had returned to his feet and charged forward, attempting to restrain Lieutenant Jera, but was again grabbed and tossed aside. Lieutenant Jera's rage was unchecked as she grabbed Aribelle by the collar of her uniform and pushed her up against a wall.
"Do you think anyone believes your lies?!" she shouted angrily.
The doors to the shuttle bay opened and a security team entered the room. The human leading the group took aim at the two scuffling women and issued a warning. "Let her go or I open fire."
Lieutenant Jera ignored the warning, continuing to hurl insults and false accusations towards Ensign Aribelle.
"Okay, if you want to play that way..." she said as she opened fire with a compressive blast, knocking both to the floor. She looked down at Ensign Pendo who was wiggling around in pain under the crates. "And you?"
"Don't shoot, I yield!" he pleaded.
She motioned for her team to escort the three out of the room. "Get them out of here. To the brig, separate cells." she said, looking up at the probe suspiciously. "What happened here?"
"I don't know, we were pulling in the probe and the science officer came in and started a fight."
She looked at Lieutenant Jera as she was being carried away. "Jera... That's not like her..." she said, looking back up at the probe. "Are you almost done here? No doubt Lieutenant D'Hok will want to know what happened."
"It shouldn't take long..." Edumes replied, guiding an anti-gravity cargo bed to the probe, still captured in the tractor beam. Edumes walked over to the computer terminal, lowering the probe onto the cargo bed. "Good enough for now, I'll get someone else to clean this mess up..." she said as she disengaged the tractor beam. She followed the security officer out of the room and into the hallways.
- - - - -
Captain's Log, stardate 69041.4.
Our exploration of the Duhan sector is going along as planned. The U.S.S. Purity's advanced scanners and probes have helped to learn a great deal about the seventeen unexplored star systems in the area. We are currently en route to the NGC-672 system. We have been unable to contact the probe we sent in that direction, so we'll have to investigate ourselves.
On another note, I was informed today by one of my security officers that a fight had broken out down on deck 12 this morning between Lieutenant Jera, Ensign Pendo and Ensign Aribelle. Lieutenant Jera is still proving to be difficult to work with, so I've had her remain in the brig while Ensign Pendo and Ensign Aribelle are currently confined to their quarters. Nobody seems to know what happened to start that fight, and I refuse to believe it's jealousy or infidelity as my security teams and advisors seem to think.
- - - - -
Ameena was strolling down the halls of deck seven, perusing through some crew evaluations that were written on the PADD she was carrying. As she was walking along unattentively, reading the dossier on Lieutenant Jera, she accidentally bumped into Lieutenant Edumes. She looked up in shock, ready to apologize.
Edumes was livid. "Get out of my way," Edumes said, quickly and angrily brushing past Ameena.
Ameena turned around and looked at her as she continued to zoom down the hall. "Excuse me?" she asked.
Edumes stopped in her tracks and turned around. "Out of my way, sir?" she said sarcastically before continuing to her destination.
Ameena stared at Edumes in disbelief as she turned around a corner. "She must be having a really rough day too..." She continued to walk down the hallway, this time remaining vigilant so that she didn't bump into anyone else as she made her way to the crew lounge. As the doors opened before her, she stepped inside, walked over to the bar and took a seat. She looked around the crew lounge, noticing an atmosphere of tension. The room was eerily silent as everyone stared at each other. A lack of trust and suspicion could be seen on most of the crewmen's faces.
The Orion barmaid entered the room from a small kitchen area behind the bar. Noticing Ameena waiting idly, she walked over with a large grin on her face. "Evening, sir! I haven't seen you in awhile!"
Ameena looked up at the green skinned barmaid and attempted to be as friendly as she could. "I hardly get time to myself anymore. Running this vessel is far too time consuming." she said. "I have a few minutes today, a little relaxation here sounds good. Care to get me a drink?"
The barmaid nodded. "Anything specific, sir?"
"Right away, sir," she said, turning around to input an order into the replicator. "What brings you down here?"
Ameena leaned forward onto the bar. "Everyone seems to be having a bad day, and it's starting to drag me down, too. I figured a relaxed, social setting would help, but..." she said, looking around the crew lounge again. "I guess I was wrong."
"Yeah, I noticed that!" the barmaid said, placing a dark blue liquid in front of Ameena. "I have no idea what's going on... the ladies seem extra aggressive today."
"You seem as cheerful as ever, at least," Ameena said, picking up her glass and taking a big gulp. The liquid produced a burning sensation, tasting incredibly sour and leaving a bitter aftertaste. She wretched with displeasure, almost spitting it out all over the table. "This is utterly repulsive! What is it?!"
"Synthesized Romulan ale, sir."
She sniffed the beverage, repulsed by the overwhelming scent of synthahol and a fruit she couldn't identify. "I can see why the real stuff is outlawed..." she said, pushing the glass towards the barmaid. "Get me something... better."
The Orion swiped the glass off of the table and poured the remaining liquid into a sink. She then placed it back onto the replicator. As she pressed a few buttons on the screen attached to it, a new, pink bubbly liquid materialized within the cup. She picked it up and placed it on the bar in front of Ameena.
Ameena grabbed the glass and took a small sip from it, nodding. The taste was smooth and sweet, like iced strawberries, but seemed a little off. "Better. Much better." she said, placing it back on the bar. "I never caught your name, by the way."
"Phelle is the name," she replied. "Would you like to meet my... companion?"
Ameena saw no harm in it. She had been wanting to become more acquainted with the crew who served aboard her ship, but didn't have the time to. "Introduce me, then."
Phelle dropped the towel she was scrubbing the bar with and said, "I'll go see if he's busy," before disappearing into the kitchen.
Ameena continued to drink her bubbly, pink beverage, looking around the room. The atmosphere was still covered in dead silence. The only thing that could be heard was the soothing hum of the starship's plasma conduits. The tension that had built in what should be the most congenial and relaxed places on the ship had her worried and stressed. As she swiveled around to attempt to get a better view into the kitchen, her combadge beeped.
"McKenna to Commander Blackmoore."
She tapped on it to respond. "Yes?"
"Looks like this morning's fight wasn't an isolated incident. My team just ended another on deck 17. Security Team Delta dealt with another on deck 14."
"Is everything under control?" she asked.
"It looks like it, for now," McKenna responded. After a brief pause, she continued. "Something is definitely wrong here... I'm requesting permission to coordinate with Dr. Amorise to see if there isn't something going on."
"Do whatever you need for your investigations," Ameena sighed. "And, thanks. I'll deal with setting up the questioning sessions with D'Hok later, I guess, I'm not feeling it right now."
"Sir?" McKenna's voice replied. "I can take care of that too, if you need."
"I'm just having a bad day, don't worry about it. Blackmoore out." She sunk her head into the palms of her hands, trying to rub the stress away. "What's going on..." she muttered to herself.
Phelle returned from the small room with a male Orion dressed in a short, ragged jacket and ragged leather pants. "This is my... esteemed affiliate, Mitar."
Mitar extended his burly, muscled arm forward to shake Ameena's hand. "It's a pleasure to serve aboard your ship, ma'am."
Ameena couldn't help but glance up and down at him with a critical eye. "Sometimes I wish civilian personnel had uniforms too..." she said in a dismissive tone, before drinking another gulp.
Mitar retracted his hand, replying, "I've offended you! I apologize, I will wear something different from now on."
"No, I'm sorry," she said, slamming her empty glass down onto the bar with nearly enough force to shatter it. "No offense, but coming here only made me feel worse. See you around." she stood up and took a final look at the crew lounge before sulking away in disgust.
Mitar and Phelle watched Ameena closely as she wandered back into the hallway. Mitar laughed, then whispered to Phelle, "I'm impressed. You even got to the ship's captain."
Phelle smiled widely. "That should make our mission much easier..."
- - - - -
On the bridge, Malix was seated at the captain's chair, overlooking some crew evaluations. He was troubled about the reports of the fights throughout the ship, as some of them just didn't make any sense to him. He knew that Lieutenant Commander Petyev wasn't the fighting type and was surprised to see her listed as an aggressor. "Prescott, would you mind coming over here for a minute?"
"Sure thing," Alice said, swirling her chair around and walking over towards Malix. She took a seat next to him, leaning in closely to study the PADD in his lap. "What's the problem?"
"These damn fights everyone keeps getting into..." he said, passing the PADD to Alice. "I know you've been a bit busy to work on counseling this past week, but have you seen any hints of this coming?"
Alice looked at the information on the PADD. "Lieutenant Jera came to me awhile ago saying she thought the person she loved was being too distant, but that's about it. I don't know what's going on between her and Ensign Aribelle. Why Jera thinks there's an affair going on between her and T'anik is anyone's guess."
"How about Ensign Pendo?"
"We've got a big crew. I haven't talked to him yet."
"And Ensigns Dentra and Marbrik?"
Alice shrugged. "Haven't spoken to them either, but what about them?"
"Another two fights have broken out since this morning. Dentra and Marbrik were arguing near Astrometrics before punches started being thrown. And now Security Team Delta is reporting another fight on deck 14, near the children's classroom."
Alice leaned back in the chair, staring blankly at the floor. "Just what is going on..." A thought came to her as she snapped her fingers. "It seems like all of the crew involved, with the exception of Pendo, are women, sir. That's what I find the weirdest."
"I didn't even think of that," Malix said. "Any ideas?"
Alice shook her head. "Unfortunately no, sir. Maybe it's just a coincidence."
"I'm not sure if I'm ready to believe that," he said, tapping on his combadge. "Commander Ronae to Dr. Amorise."
"Let me guess, another holodeck injury!" he joked.
"No, not that. Have you been keeping up to date with what's been happening today?"
"Yes... A few fights, but nothing major. I have Lieutenant Commander Petyev here with a broken nose that I assume she suffered during one of these fights, but she's proving to be a bit of a handful."
"Give her a full examination. Blood samples, brain waves... hell, check the atmosphere controls if you have to. See if there's anything causing this other than blind jealousy."
In sickbay, Dr. Amorise was going through his supply cabinet, looking for a sedative to calm down Petyev, who was flailing around violently in an attempt to escape the constraints on her bed. "I was just about to on Ensign McKenna's suggestion, sir. She seems to think that the probe we picked up this morning is causing this somehow."
Malix and Alice looked at each other approvingly. "I admire her initiative. Get back to me or Commander Blackmoore if you find anything. Ronae out."
Petyev was struggling against her restraints, snarling into a roar as Dr. Amorise approached her timidly. "Get away from me!" she shouted in anger. "There's nothing wrong with me, let me out of here!"
"Ma'am, if you'd just be so kind as to calm down..." he said, pressing the device to her neck and pressing the button. The whistle of pressurized air escaping was heard as she fell limp on the bed. "Nurse! The patient is ready, bring the osteogenic stimulators and let's make her pretty again!"
- - - - -
An engineering team was inside of the shuttle bay, disassembling the probe and removing the data matrix. The small, plastic-like cube that held all of the data from the probe's exploration slid gently out of the computer core of the probe into the hands of a science officer.
"I'll get this to the astrometrics team right away," the science officer said as he carefully handled the cube.
"Not yet, we have to put it through the decontamination chamber for a few moments first."
The man smiled shyly. "Right. I forgot." he said, bringing the cube over to a small container on the side of the room.
The doors to the shuttle bay opened and Ameena walked inside. The crew inside saluted enthusiastically as she approached. "Hands down, everyone," she abruptly and aggressively said. "What's the status on the probe here?"
"We're just getting started on it now, sir," a Benzite engineer said.
Ameena stared at the Benzite. "Just starting?" she asked. "What do you mean? This was supposed to be done already!"
The crew looked at each other nervously.
"Can I get an answer out of any of you?"
The Benzite stepped forward. "This is a misunderstanding, the fight that broke out in here earlier prevented us from beginning, sir!"
"You can stop calling me 'sir'." she said angrily.
"Yes, s--" he started, stopping himself. "This should not take long. We are all very efficient workers."
Ameena laughed in frustration as she walked over to the sciences division officer. "And you, what are you doing?"
The officer looked at Ameena cautiously, quickly trying to fabricate a lie. "Uhh, scanning the contents into the ship's computer for analysis!"
She smiled. "You know, you're all pieces of work." she said, patting the science officer on the shoulder. "Except you." She turned her ire back to the rest of the crew. "If you were as efficient as you claimed, this would have been started shortly after the fight this morning and finished already."
"It's been a rough day for all of us," The Benzite engineer stepped up to her and put his hands around her shoulder in a peaceful attempt to remove her from the room.
Ameena furiously slapped his hands away from her. "Get your hands off of me, fish boy! I'm your captain!"
"I know that, sir." he stuttered nervously, remembering that he was asked not to call her that. "But that doesn't give you the right to verbally abuse me or my fellow engineers!" he said boldly, standing up to Ameena. "If you don't leave us in peace, I'll have security escort you out."
"Why should I?" she said angrily. "You oafs can't be trusted to work properly."
The Benzite sighed and tapped on his communicator. "Security, please get a team here to Shuttle bay 1 again."
Ameena laughed. "You're just wasting more time."
The door opened and a lone security officer, Ensign McKenna, walked into the room. After quickly analyzing the situation and feeling there was no threat, she asked, "What's the problem here?"
"The captain isn't allowing us to work in peace." the Benzite said. "She has been nothing but verbally abusive since she arrived to inspect our work."
McKenna looked at Ameena in confusion and disbelief.
"If these idiots knew how to do their job properly..."
"Look, you're having a bad day, sir. Nobody is going to blame you for that. But we should just let them get back to work and cool off." she said, placing her hand on Ameena's shoulder.
"You too! Keep your hands off of me!" she said, pushing McKenna away.
McKenna stood back up and brushed off her uniform. "If you want to get rough with me, then I'm going to have to place you under arrest."
"Piss off," she said. She turned to the crew who were watching the shouting match unfold. "What are you all looking at? I don't see any work getting done!"
"I hope I don't get a court martial for this..." McKenna mumbled to herself before aiming her rifle at Ameena's back. The rest of the crew working within the shuttle bay ducked for cover as Ameena turned around. Before Ameena could react, she opened fire with a stun beam.
Ameena fell to the ground. Her attempts to stumble back to her feet were met with failure.
She let out a deep breath. "Sorry, sir..." she said as she tapped on her combadge. "McKenna to Commander Ronae."
"Commander Ronae here. I'd like to commend you for your initiative in figuring out what's going on."
"Thank you, sir, but..."
"But what, Ensign?
After a long pause, she continued. "It looks like you'll be in command of the ship for awhile. The captain was just involved in... it's a long story." she said as she looked down at Ameena who was rolling on the ground in pain.
"Excuse me?" Malix asked in disbelief.
"There's something seriously wrong here. I'm requesting permission to coordinate with D'Hok to lock the ship down until further notice."
Malix looked to the floor in deep thought. He shook his head in disbelief as he said, "Get it done. Find out what's going on. Commander Ronae out." He turned his attention to Ralis who sat at the communications station. "Lieutenant Katr... yellow alert."
"Aye... sir..." Ralis said with suspenseful hesitation. He clicked a button on his screen and the lighting dimmed. Yellow lights flashed along the panels and screens aboard the bridge.
Malix shook his head in disbelief, pacing back and forth. As he did so, he tapped on his combadge, wondering what to say. "To all Starfleet personnel aboard this vessel... this ship is being placed on lock down until further notice. If you are currently on duty, remain at your posts. All civilians and off duty personnel, return to your quarters and remain there. All security personnel, on duty and off duty, report to Lieutenant D'Hok."
There were murmurs of disbelief and fear on the bridge as the yellow lights continued their flashing.
"Effective immediately, I am also taking command of this vessel. Redirect everything that would reach the captain to me until further notice." He turned around to look at his bewildered crew. "I really wish I knew what to say. I don't. I hope you'll work with me to remain calm until we figure out what is happening."
- - - - -
Acting Captain's Log, 69041.8. Commander Malix Ronae.
It's been a tense day aboard the U.S.S. Purity as Commander Blackmoore has no doubt noted in her daily log. The ship has been locked down for nearly eight hours now. I can't even count the number of fights or security breaches we've had. This ship and her crew are falling apart.
Our best lead so far is something Dr. Amorise found. There were traces of a very potent neurotoxin of unknown origin found in Lieutenant Commander Petyev's bloodstream. This same toxin has been found in some of the other officers as well. Unfortunately, he has been unable to determine how this toxin entered them or how to even combat it.
I have one last idea before I give up and call for outside assistance. If it comes to that, I can only hope that there is a Starfleet vessel nearby. With the way the crew is falling apart, I doubt we'll have the manpower to make it back to a starbase alone in one piece.
Commander Blackmoore will be questioned about her day. She was fine until she took a break... there has to be something she can tell us, if she'll cooperate. The others have not been cooperative, so my hopes are not high.
- - - - -
Commander Ronae was pacing about on the bridge, frustrated with the lack of progress in solving the mystery behind the strange behavior. He looked around; dead silence and the confused gaze of the crew greeted him. Even the hum of the electro-plasma systems seemed to fall silent. The intercom beeping finally shattered the silence.
"D'Hok to Commander Ronae. Commander Blackmoore is ready to be questioned." a deep, Klingon voice said.
"Good. Has she calmed down any?" he asked.
"She seems to have forgotten her manners, but I've seen worse! Will you be joining us?"
"I will remain on the bridge." he said, before looking at Alice. "I'll be sending Lieutenant Commander Prescott down in my place. The two are good friends, maybe she can get through."
"Aye. D'Hok out."
As Alice walked towards the turbolift at the back of the bridge, Malix pulled her aside. "Stay safe, and keep an eye on Lieutenant D'Hok. His... questioning methods concern me sometimes."
Alice blinked, shocked at the warning. She wondered what she would be able to do if D'Hok had lost his temper. "I... I'll try." she said and made her way to the turbolift. As she stepped inside, two security officers followed her, making her feel a bit uneasy. She had never been escorted by security before.
- - - - -
D'Hok was staring through the window of the interrogation room at Ameena, seated at a table with a smug yet confused look on her face. "I can't believe it!" he said excitedly.
"Neither can I," McKenna said. "She always seems so calm, even when she's pushed to her limits. There has to be something she can shed some light on."
D'Hok crossed his arms. "And what if she doesn't?"
McKenna silently stared at Ameena, trying to analyze her facial expressions. She pinched her eyebrows in stress and broke the silence. "Malix will have a plan. I don't know what I'd do in this situation, but he will."
The door to the interrogation room opened and Alice stepped inside. The first thing she saw was her best friend restrained within the small, bland room, a heartbreaking sight. She turned to McKenna and D'Hok and asked, "Have you gone in yet?"
"Not yet. Commander Ronae made it clear to wait for you." D'Hok said. "Now that you're here, let's begin."
"I'd like to go in first," Alice said. "I'm her closest friend aboard the ship. She might be more open with me."
D'Hok silently nodded as McKenna offered her support for the idea. "Alright. But we're coming in if you can't get anything out of her."
The door to the small room opened as Alice walked in. She took a seat in front of Ameena and clasped her hands together on the table. "Rough day, huh?"
Ameena sneered. "You have no idea. Everyone's been out to ruin my day, and I'm sick of it."
"I'm not here to do that," Alice replied. "We need to figure out what's going on, can you help with that?"
"I don't see how I can be any help. I'm just having a bad day, alright?"
"You've had bad days before, but when is the last time you've been that abusive towards someone else?"
"High school, I think, Ameena sarcastically remarked. "Besides, every crew needs an iron fist in the face every now and then. Ya know, for motivation. perhaps you'd like to be next."
Alice looked through the small, mirrored window behind her. "I guess I was wrong. Feel free to come in." The door opened and D'Hok and McKenna walked in.
"Oh no. You're bringing in the beast to question me?" she asked.
"Ha! I'm glad you hold me in such high esteem, Commander." D'Hok said. "Now, answer our questions and I'll be nice. And I'm never nice."
"Alice, you might be right. Forgive me." she said, genuinely sorry for the insult. "I never act like this..."
McKenna leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. "What happened since you left the bridge this morning?"
"What does that matter?"
"The crew reported that you were acting normally this morning. Something happened in that half hour. We need to know what."
Ameena's memory of the day was foggy. "I... umm..." she stuttered, then continued to think. "I don't remember much."
McKenna slammed her hands on the table and leaned over Ameena threateningly. "Think! Think, sir! When did this start?"
Ameena rubbed both of her hands over her face in an attempt to calm herself down and think. "I... remember wanting to get a look at the shuttle bay to check on something... and something snapped."
"What exactly happened?"
"I confronted... whatever his name is. That fish boy engineer. I don't even remember what it was about, but it pissed me off."
D'Hok shouted angrily, "This is getting us nowhere!" before he left the room.
Ameena pointed at the door as it closed behind D'Hok. "Now that guy, he has some issues."
"Before you were on deck twelve, where were you?" Alice asked.
"Uhh..." she said, searching her foggy memory. "The crew lounge, was it?" she asked. "I think that's where I was... yeah, the barmaid gave me some Romulan Ale, I remember that very clearly."
McKenna's eyebrow perked up. "Which barmaid? I've never been to the crew lounge, but I imagine there's more than one."
"You really are a loner, aren't you?" Ameena asked. "Barmaid, barmaid... what was her name..." she muttered as she tried to think. "She's an Orion, and an ugly one at that, that's all I remember."
Alice and McKenna looked at each other. "Orion barmaid?"
The Orion barmaid was mentioned by Lieutenant Jera when she was questioned as well. "This is the third time I've heard about her today." McKenna said.
"Sounds like we have something worth investigating," Alice said. "Thank you."
"Figure something out..." Ameena groaned.
The two left the small room, leaving Ameena alone. The two were confronted by D'Hok who had returned from a small walk to calm his nerves.
"Did you find anything useful out of her?" D'Hok asked impatiently.
"The crew lounge... Two of the others mentioned that as well. Specifically, they mentioned the Orion barmaid." McKenna said.
"That Orion!" D'Hok roared. "I knew we could never trust that petaQ!"
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, D'Hok," Alice said. "If you go in roaring and waving your phaser rifle around, things will get ugly."
D'Hok glared at her and wrapped his massive hand around the collar of her uniform. "I will not be told to calm down, not today! This Orion is going to answer for her crimes!"
"Hands off of her," McKenna said, trying to separate the two. "D'Hok, I know you're excited, but please. We don't need your sense of honor clouding your judgement. Alice wants the best outcome for this situation."
D'Hok looked down at McKenna, then back at Alice. "Fine," he said roughly as he let her go. "I do forget that Starfleet does things differently sometimes. I apologize."
Alice looked up at D'Hok as he stormed out of the room, then leaned over to McKenna. "How do you work with him?" she whispered.
"It's just something you have to learn," she replied, following him out of the room and into the corridors of deck seven.
As D'Hok stormed down the empty hallways of deck seven, he tapped on his combadge. "D'Hok to Commander Ronae, we've found something."
"Yes, what is it?" Malix's haggard voice replied.
"It's that treacherous Orion barmaid! The captain and two of our other prisoners have all mentioned her."
"Phelle?" he asked. "I knew something wasn't quite right about her."
"We're at the crew lounge, ready to enter. D'Hok out."
The doors to the crew lounge slid open. The room was completely empty with the exception of an Operations division officer who was sitting down in the corner of the room. His presence in the crew lounge was in violation of the tightened security aboard the U.S.S. Purity, a distraction for the three.
The man looked at the three as they approached him. "Can I help you?"
"You can start by returning to your quarters immediately." D'Hok barked the order at him angrily.
The man took a sip from his drink. "Mmm... I think I'll stay here. It looks like things are about to get very interesting."
"I could send you to sickbay with an injury you'll remember for years to come if you'd prefer," D'Hok said menacingly as he walked towards the man.
The man rose from his seat and began to back away as fast as the menacing Klingon approached him.
McKenna was annoyed at the way that D'Hok was acting. "Sir, forget about him. We're here for the barmaid."
"Phelle?" the man asked. "She's been hiding in the kitchen since I arrived." he said, pointing towards the closed door behind the bar.
D'Hok glared at the disobedient officer, then turned his attention to the door to the kitchen. He approached the kitchen with McKenna following closely behind, taking cover on the wall next to the door. "Prescott, stay low. We wait until backup arrives."
"Yes sir," she said, taking cover in front of the bar and poking her head above to look around.
As the group waited, the door slid open and Mitar charged out. He locked his attention on D'Hok, grabbing him by the collar of his uniform and tossing him over the bar. D'Hok crashed into a table, snapping it in half and knocking the chairs around it over. McKenna was stunned by the surprise attack, reaching for her phaser rifle and aiming it, but was also picked up by Mitar and thrown across the room before she could react. The two Starfleet officers shrugged off the attack as best they could.
The disobedient Operations officer laughed and joined the fight, jumping on top of D'Hok in an attempt to restrain him. D'Hok grabbed him by the arm and slammed him into the broken table, knocking him out. McKenna took aim with her phaser rifle and fired a shot at Mitar. His muscles stiffened and he fell to the floor with an audible thud.
"Bloody hell, I wasn't expecting that!" she said as she rubbed her shoulder in pain. "They're onto us!"
D'Hok pressed his combadge. "Security Team Alpha, hurry up!" he said as he rushed over to the bar and aimed into the kitchen.
The standoff was silent for about half a minute before a compact beam of green energy flew out of the room, burning a hole into the bar. Phelle emerged from her hiding spot and opened fire again before retreating to a new position.
"Cover me," McKenna said as she crawled over to the door. D'Hok fired continuously into the room as she snuck inside. She made her way to the end of the room and began to look between each row of tables and other furniture within. As she looked around a corner, she saw Phelle kneeling down with her attention locked onto D'Hok. She capitalized on the element of surprise by firing a compressed bolt of energy directly into her.
Phelle reeled in pain from the attack and attempted to return fire, but fell to the floor before she could.
"I think I've got her, sir!" she said as she carefully approached the Orion. After kicking her disruptor pistol away, she rolled Phelle onto her back with her foot and pointed the phaser rifle in her face. "It's over."
"No... it's just begun." she struggled to say.
D'Hok leapt over the bar and walked into the kitchen. "Good work, Ensign." he said, smacking her shoulder. "But you have forgotten the most important rule of being a security officer and a warrior: Always wait for backup."
McKenna looked down and took a quick, deep breath. "Got it." she said, her attention turning towards the door as three security officers filed into the room one by one.
"Round these three up," D'Hok said, stepping out into the crew lounge. "To the brig, all of them. I'll begin questioning them shortly."
"Aye, sir!" one of the security officers said with a salute before he and another picked Phelle up off of the floor.
He looked at Alice, then back at the disobedient Operations officer. "Go easy on him. He made a stupid mistake, but he's not an enemy."
Alice approached the two as they walked out into the center of the lounge kitchen. "You make it look so easy..." she said, watching Phelle and Mitar being thrown against the bar and restrained.
"Keeping the peace is never easy, but it's something you get used to." D'Hok said.
She politely nodded in agreement even though she did not agree, tapping on her combadge. "Alice to Commander Ronae. Lieutenant D'Hok, Ensign McKenna and I have taken the bartender and her companion into custody. They're being escorted to the brig now."
Malix' voice came in through her communicator. "Good work you three. It's going to be an awkward recovery for a lot of people, so I want you to help where you can, when you can, Prescott."
"Understood. I'll try. Prescott out." she said, watching as the two Orions and the Operations officer were hauled away.
Phelle eyed Alice and a devious grin widened across her face. She turned to Mitar and said, "Prescott? Mitar! It's the girl we've been looking for! The boss is gonna pay us well!"
Mitar stopped sulking and looked up at Alice, a similar grin coming across his face as well.
McKenna gave Phelle a forceful push with the stock of her phaser rifle. "Shut your mouth and keep moving."
Alice watched as the two three were escorted out of the crew lounge, confused. She looked around at the now empty room, looking at the damage the scuffle had caused. She shook her head and walked over to the bar, taking a seat. She stared at the floor, deep in thought, trying to piece together what Phelle had meant about her.
Re: Star Trek: The Expanse
Star Trek: 2392
Episode 4: Bartering an Alliance
Author's note: This is mostly a diplomatic chapter; don't expect too much action, it is mostly discussion and foreshadowing.
Acting Captain's Log, stardate 69064.3.
It's been a week now that I've been in command of the U.S.S. Purity and I'm already starting to enjoy it. Commander Blackmoore is still feeling the effects of the Orion toxins that poisoned nearly a third of the crew. However, most of the others have recovered by now. Interrogations of the two Orions continue to lead us nowhere. It's like speaking to a brick wall, they haven't said a single word.
While we continue to question the prisoners, Admiral Dax has requested that we rendezvous with the U.S.S. Bariell within the NGC-673 system to negotiate an agreement with the local Ferengi. We're to attempt to broker a trade deal; Technological infrastructure and security for raw materials that the Ferengi may be mining. I must admit I am a bit nervous. I've never handled diplomacy before, but who aboard this vessel has?
- - - - -
"We have arrived in the NGC-673 system, sir." said the young, black haired ensign at the helm controls. "Should I plot a course towards the U.S.S. Bariell?"
"Do it." Commander Ronae said, folding his hands together. "Last I heard from Starfleet, the Ferengi are requesting that we establish an orbit around the moon of the fourth planet. That is where we'll find the Bariell."
"Course plotted and engaging, sir."
Malix looked up at the lights on the ceiling of the bridge and sighed. "Diplomacy."
Syrik broke his vision away from his console screen and turned his attention to Malix. "Sir? Is something troubling you?"
Malix grunted. "Yes. I don't know the first thing about trade negotiations."
"I'm afraid I would be unable to assist. However, I believe Lieutenant Commander Prescott may have some advice or guidance."
Malix turned around to look at Syrik. "Prescott?" he asked. "What would she know about that?"
"You are aware that she is the ship's counselor, correct?" he asked, tilting his head to the side inquisitively.
Malix turned back around again and shook his head. "Not officially..."
"Official or unofficial, I would recommend talking to her if you feel anxious," he said, returning his attention back to his console.
"I don't feel anxious! I just don't believe I am fit for a job like this."
Situated just above at the communications console, Lieutenant Ralis Katr interjected. "I'd hate to interrupt, but we've got an incoming message, Commander," he said, looking up. "Captain Kinday, sir."
The main viewer switched to the inside view of the U.S.S. Bariell's bridge. A youthful but gruff looking Andorian stood up to address Malix. "It's good for you to have finally arrived, Captain Blackmoore."
Malix nodded. "Commander... Blackmoore is feeling under the weather. I am her first officer and this vessel's acting captain, Commander Malix Ronae."
"Pleasure to meet you, Commander," he said with a certain degree of sarcasm in his voice. "I hope putting... Commander Blackmoore to bed isn't the reason you're late, we have work to do."
Malix was shocked at the way Captain Kinday handled himself. "Umm."
Captain Kinday's antennae wiggled as he laughed and measured Malix' worth as a negotiator. "That kind of response doesn't bode well for these negotiations. Regardless, you are what Starfleet has sent, so I'll have to make do." he said. "The Ferengi we're dealing with goes by the name of DaiMon Geth. You'd be wise to introduce yourself to him and talk with him before the negotiations begin."
"That sounds like a plan."
"Open a channel with the communications array, that will patch you through to DaiMon Geth. Good luck." he said as the screen abruptly switched to a view of the Yeager-class U.S.S. Bariell.
"He's a... charming individual." Ralis said, bewildered at the jagged personality he just witnessed.
"I like one thing about him," Malix started. "His work ethic. He's passionate. The rest? It goes without saying."
"I'm ready to open the channel when you are, Commander," Ralis replied.
Malix sat in thought, wondering which course of action to pursue. His brief and rude exchange with Captain Kinday had rocked his already fragile self confidence that he would be able to handle the negotiations properly and decided to take Syrik's advice. "Delay that," he said, standing up and walking towards the transporter in the back. "I have some urgent business to take care of first. Lieutenant Syrik, you have the bridge until I return."
- - - - -
Commander Ronae was standing outside of a small office on deck 6, mulling around whether to approach Alice with his concerns about the negotiations. He appreciated her assistance a few weeks prior, but felt she was often overbearing in her supportive attitude. After some more thought, he took a deep breath and pushed the doorbell on the panel beside the door.
"Who is it?" her voice called from within.
"Commander Ronae," he replied.
After a brief pause, she called out, "Come!" and the door opened. A junior officer was seated on the sofa across from the desk in the office. "What can I help you with?"
"I need some advice," he said, looking at the junior officer. "Pardon me if I'm intruding."
"No, sir, I think we were almost done anyways," the junior officer said, turning to Alice. "Thank you, Lieutenant Commander. I'll follow your advice and let you know if the situation with my wife improves." He stood up and walked out of the room, but not before offering a brief salute to Malix.
Alice followed the junior officer to the door and called out into the hallway to him. "Good luck!" She then turned to Malix. "Commander Ronae, stopping by? This is a pleasant and unbelievable surprise!" she said jokingly. After receiving a curious stare from him, she explained. "You know, you never open up, but I've been seeing your shell crack a little. The fact that you're here instead of wallowing in your own superiority is astonishing."
"Watch your words, this isn't a personal visit. Show respect to your senior officers." he said sharply.
"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir." she replied timidly. She walked back to the desk and sat down. She motioned for the sofa in front of her. "Please, have a seat."
"This will have to be quick. Our partner for this assignment appears to be very impatient." Malix said, preferring to stand.
"Fair enough. What's on your mind?" she asked.
"As you... just made note of, I'm not an easy person to talk to. I never have been since I was young."
"But you are making progress."
"Progress isn't good enough for a mission like this. I need confidence in talking with people, these are going to be sensitive negotiations."
"I can understand your concern, Malix... err, Commander." she said. "Have you had any training in diplomatic relations? We can build from there."
Malix looked at her, then off to the side. "No. I never intended to train for command, where that would be useful. I was trained in security and warfare. Commander Blackmoore was supposed to teach me what she knew, but I suppose she hasn't had the time yet."
"Oh dear..." she said. "If you need, I can be by your side to help with the negotiations. I'm no diplomat myself, but I'm calm and caring. Ameena chose me to advise her in the past, so I imagine I've got some talent."
"I appreciate the offer," he said. "I'm about to meet with DaiMon Geth at the recommendation of Captain Kinday, I would like you to come along."
"That's the spirit!"
- - - - -
A plump Ferengi was sitting on a luxurious fur-lined seat in a dark and dank room, picking at his crooked fanged mouth with a golden spike attached to his finger. In front of him was a computer screen that displayed the shadowy figure of another Ferengi, silhouetted against a red, bright backdrop. "Boss, the Federation representatives are here. I have already met with one of them."
The deep voiced Ferengi on the screen replied. "Already?! I'm not used to punctual clients!"
"One of the starships Starfleet has sent is a Sakala-class vessel!" DaiMon Geth said, spitting at and slurring every s-sound in his speech. "I have heard the rumours of the power one of those starships holds... We have the firepower--"
"Sakala-class?" The light surrounding the mysterious Ferengi reflected against the smile that widened across his face which quickly disappeared. "No! We can not attempt to take it!"
"But boss!" DaiMon Geth hissed. "We have a fleet of ten D'Koras and seven--"
"DaiMon, listen to me. Our numbers are great, as is our power. But we do not have the strength yet to resist Starfleet if we begin attacking their vessels. We need more time."
"And I suppose the Klingons are too weak to retake that starbase you're standing on?" he said, crossing his arms and glaring.
There was a brief moment of silence before the shadowy Ferengi burst out. "DaiMon! You are very bad at listening! This starbase is far away from Klingon space and was constructed during the Dominion War. They will not miss it." More silence followed. "Treat our guests with as much kindness as you can find in your heart. Deny them whatever they have come begging for, but allow them to leave on peaceful terms. If I find out that these negotiations went poorly, you will be present while your family is tortured and executed, and then you will serve out the rest of your pitiful life slaving away in those mines you are overseeing! Am I clear?!"
DaiMon Geth grumbled. "Fine."
"Good." the mysterious Ferengi said before the screen cut to black.
DaiMon Geth brooded in thought about how he would best rip off his guests while still remaining on peaceful terms with them when a burst of static interrupted. "What?!" he shouted, a visible stream of spit flying from his mouth.
"Representatives from the second Starfleet vessel have just contacted us. They will be meeting with us shortly."
"Alert me when they arrive. I have important business to attend to in the meantime."
"Understood. Over and out."
DaiMon Geth wheeled his chair backward and swivelled it to face the cupboard behind him. He opened the door to reveal a triangular stack of lustrous golden bars and picked one out. "Come here, my precious latinum... Daddy needs comfort again..." he said in a zombie-like trance as he rubbed his pointed, bony fingers across the edges of the metal bars.
- - - - -
Inside Cargo Bay 2, Malix was pacing back and forth addressing the various teams that would be on the ground. "First thing is first, crew," he started. "We are here as guests and representatives. Anything we can do to strengthen our ties with the Ferengi Alliance should be done well beyond Starfleet standards." He walked over to a Bajoran science officer. "Lieutenant Jera, I've chosen you to lead our science team while we are on the ground. I want you and your team to get a feeling for this planet's natural resources so that we can factor them into the trade negotiations. I'll expect a report before the negotiations begin."
Lieutenant Jera straightened her posture and looked forward. "Yes sir!" she said aggressively and eagerly.
Malix smiled at her level of discipline. "Dismissed."
As Jera and her team walked over to the large transporter pad in the back of the room, Malix paced over to another Bajoran, this one in a golden engineer's uniform. "Lieutenant Edumes... Elaayi, I mean," he said, stumbling with the opposite naming system the Bajorans use. "Your team will be tasked with examining the equipment the Ferengi are using for their mining operations in this system. Bring them up to standard as best you can. As we assist the Ferengi, they are likely to be more willing to work with us."
"Understood." Edumes said.
"Dismissed." he said, sending Edumes and her team off. He walked over to Ensign McKenna, standing attentively in her red security uniform. "Ensign McKenna, your team will accompany Lieutenant Jera. Keep them safe, the Ferengi aren't known for keeping their workers in line." he said, turning to another security officer. "Ensign Ramirez, you and your team are to accompany Lieutenant Elaayi."
"Yes, sir." they both said together, leading their teams to the transporter pad.
Malix turned to Lieutenant D'Hok. "And you, my menacing Klingon friend."
D'Hok grinned and let out a low and reserved laugh.
"You and your team will be accompanying Lieutenant Commander Prescott and I to the conference hall."
"Ready when you are."
Malix walked over to the transporter pad and stepped on it, followed by his team. "Energise." he said. With that, the crew began to fade into a shower of blue sparkles and disappeared.
- - - - -
DaiMon Geth was seated at his crudely constructed and messy desk in his dark and musty room, rubbing a bar of gold-pressed latinum across his large, lobed forehead. He seemed to derive pleasure from the act, cooing with elation as he slid the precious bar across his sweat-coated forehead. His bizarre ritual was interrupted by a dirt and grime covered human who walked in unexpectedly.
"DaiMon. The representatives from the U.S.S. Purity have arrived and are waiting in the conference hall."
A look of anger crossed DaiMon Geth's face as he slammed the golden ingot onto the desk. "Good. I was wondering when they would show up."
"It appears the commander of the U.S.S. Purity did not come alone. We've received reports of a science team scanning the walls of our mine shafts and a team of engineers is upgrading one of the mining lasers."
"Ah, generosity! I love generosity, unless I am the one being generous..." DaiMon Geth said.
"Should we imprison them? They will fetch a pretty penny if we ransom then."
He sighed. "I would love to, but the trade prince has instructed me to keep Starfleet on our good side for now. Have our men assist them in any way we can, but keep a close eye on them."
"Understood." the man said, taking his leave, acting as if he saw nothing.
DaiMon Geth grabbed the bar of gold-pressed latinum again, then thought briefly before putting it back down. He thought of how to extort his guests in the most profitable way possible while retaining their trust, then grinned wickedly. He struggled to lift his balloon-like frame out of his chair and made his way to the doorway.
As DaiMon Geth waddled through the hallways as fast as his stubby legs would allow, his subordinates offered both respectful and fearful greetings. The organization he represented was vastly diverse ranging from outcast Klingons, enslaved Orions, mercenary Gorn, untrustworthy Nausicaans and Letheans and other species which are seldom seen outside the depths of the Klingon Empire and the farthest reaches of Cardassian influence. Being in control of them all ballooned DaiMon Geth's ego to excessive levels.
The DaiMon hurried into the conference hall, a room as dark and as miserable as his office, to meet with Commander Ronae. He felt threatened by the fact that more than one representative was there, casting a glare and hissing at D'Hok, who's only response was to stare back at him silently. He looked at Malix and Alice who were sitting patiently at the table. "How nice of you to come. Let us get to know each other better so that we may negotiate a bargain that both sides will enjoy."
Malix nodded. "Thank you. I am Commander Ronae. I'll be standing in for Commander Blackmoore for these negotiations, as she is feeling under the weather."
DaiMon Geth looked upwards towards the ceiling, holding his arms out widely. "Aren't we all under the weather?"
A round of laughs erupted throughout the room.
"This is Lieutenant Commander Prescott, she'll be assisting me with the negotiations," he said, motioning towards her. He motioned towards the Klingon who preferred to stand. "And Lieutenant D'Hok has offered to oversee the security of these negotiations."
"Ah, yes. Security." DaiMon Geth bumbled. "I do appreciate your assistance with your engineers and your scientists. It is very rare that we see generosity around here."
"Anything to smooth the negotiations," Malix said.
"You're a businessman at heart. I like that." he said. "I am DaiMon Geth, overseer of what you call NGC-673. I represent a very powerful figure within the Ferengi Alliance."
"What's his name, if I may ask?"
"Uhh, he would, uhhh, prefer not to be named. He has many enemies and they may have spies or listening devices in this very room." he said, casting an untrusting glare at D'Hok. "So tell me. What is it that Starfleet wishes to do here?"
"We'll work out the finer details when Captain Kinday is here later, but we wish to offer assistance in the form of civilian labour, technology to make the mining processes here more efficient, security to protect the workers and medical institutions to assist those who are injured on the job," he said. "In exchange, we will be asking for a modest amount of dilithium, trilithium, eisillium, diburnium... There's a long list of materials we're looking to acquire."
Malix looked at Alice with widened eyes, unsure of a number. "The numbers aren't solid yet."
DaiMon Geth leaned forward with an intimidating look on his face. "How much?!" he barked.
Alice interjected. "How does 30% sound? We can work from there."
"That is too much for what Starfleet is offering!"
"You are getting closer."
"We'll work out a more suitable number when Captain Kinday arrives and when our scientists have finished their surveys, then."
"As for security..." the DaiMon said, taking on a more friendly tone. "I am sure you saw the fleet of ships we have in orbit of the planet. We will handle that! I don't trust Starfleet to provide security when you can scarcely protect your own worlds... Benzar, Earth..." he trailed off, then looked back up at Malix and grinned. "Betazed..."
Malix' eyes narrowed with rage and he slammed the table with both of his hands. "That was different! That was a war! I will not have you insult our capabil--"
"Commander!" Alice snapped.
"Now, if there is nothing further, I would like to get back to work. I have much to do around here!"
Malix contained his rage and looked at Alice, hoping she might point to something else to speak about. After a moment of silence, he started, "Fine. That will do." He watched as Geth sauntered out of the room, once again hissing at D'Hok as he passed by. "I can't..." he started. "...that..."
"Forget about it, sir." D'Hok said. "I doubt he will be as aggressive during the negotiations."
Malix led his group out of the headquarters out into the cold, wintry slums of the mining settlement. "And what if he is? You've known me since we were in the Academy, D'Hok, you know I'm unable to deal with this kind of situation."
"I'd say you did fine, Commander." Alice chimed in. "He's rough around the edges, but I think you can handle him with Captain Kinday's support."
Malix looked out into the slums, observing the myriad varieties of workers under DaiMon Geth's employment. "No. Not me. I'm not trained for this."
"Who else is there?" she asked?
"I know who to ask." he said, tapping on his combadge. "Commander Ronae to the U.S.S. Purity, three to beam up."
"If you don't mind, I'd like to see how the science team is doing." Alice said, pointing to a tent that was set up across the courtyard of the slums. "They're right over there."
"Suit yourself, but be careful. Two to beam up."
- - - - -
Ameena was seated at the desk in her quarters, looking over a report regarding an injury that occurred in the botany lab earlier that day when the alarm on her door went off. "Who is it?" she called.
"Ah, come in," she said, standing up to greet him as he walked in. "What can I do for you?"
Malix sighed. "How are you feeling?"
Ameena shrugged. "My foggy memory has cleared up for the most part. I think that toxin I got hit with last week has finally worked its way out of my system." she said, returning to her desk. "Thank the stars, too, I'd never be able to get through these reports otherwise."
"How do you feel about returning to command?" he asked.
She put the PADD she was reading from down and studied him. "I think I could..." she said. "Why, though? You're always eager to challenge my authority."
"It's this Ferengi we're supposed to negotiate with, DaiMon Geth... he's impossible!"
"A Ferengi?" she asked. "I can see why you're afraid to deal with this, then." She stood up and walked over to the other side of the room. "I've dealt with a couple of Ferengi before. One I was able to smooth talk into giving us assistance while I was on the U.S.S. Sandstorm, and another... Let's just say I'm lucky I left with my head."
"Dare I ask?"
"It's not a very interesting story," she said. "Let me change into my uniform and I'll take over from here."
"Thank you," he said, turning around to leave.
"Oh, Malix!" she started. "You've been doing a good job! Our crew's efficiency is up by 38%, how do you do it?"
"You ever notice how I'm not best friends with everyone like you are?" he asked before abruptly leaving.
"Huh... maybe he's got a point." she said before opening her closet and digging for her uniform.
- - - - -
Captain's Log, stardate 69064.3
It's been a rough week, but I'm ready to resume command of the U.S.S. Purity. I've been brought up to speed on all that has happened regarding our mission in the NGC-673 system. Trade negotiations with the Ferengi have always been a wild ride but I think with a few empty promises of profit, DaiMon Geth will be singing of our trade agreement tonight.
However, I can't help but be concerned about who we've been partnered with for this mission. I met Captain Kinday back when I was a cadet at the Academy. He was loud, boisterous and rude on every occasion I saw him, a real hot shot. Considering he was like that in his final year at the academy, I do not have much hope that he has improved, but I've been surprised before. Maybe the responsibility of command has fixed his flaws.
- - - - -
Ameena was pacing back and forth in the muddy snow outside of the large headquarters that DaiMon Geth operated the mines from, waiting patiently to hear from the science team and the engineers who were helping to maintain the mining equipment. She walked over to the railing that separated the balcony from the courtyard, trying to get a feel for what dealing with this planet would be like for the Federation. Spotting many individuals from rival species and factions, she became a bit nervous about the negotiations, but tried her best to put it out of mind. She saw Alice, Lieutenant Jera and Ensign McKenna approach the stairway leading up to her position and waved.
"Commander! I didn't think I'd see you here." Lieutenant Jera said. "Finally feeling better?"
"I am, yes." Ameena said, nodding. "Do you have anything to report?"
Lieutenant Jera handed over a tricorder to Ameena. "Look at that."
Ameena's eyes bulged in shock as she studied the tricorder. "This has to be a joke. 60% of the bedrock in this area alone is made up of traker deposits?"
"Aye. I'd say we are standing on the most valuable planet we've seen so far. Imagine how much dilithium is alongside those traker deposits!"
"High concentrations of diburnium as well as other materials used for monotanium and neutronium alloys were found just outside the town here."
"That explains the fleet of ships the Ferengi have guarding this place..." McKenna said.
The exchange of findings was interrupted by a shower over blue sparks behind them. The figure of a young Andorian male formed into being, the only person to beam down. He took a quick look at his surroundings and smiled, feeling right at home in the cold weather. Upon further inspection, he noticed his fellow Starfleet officers and approached. "You're not Commander Ronae!" he said.
"Oh, were you expecting him? I'm sorry." she replied. She saluted her superior officer. "Commander Blackmoore, at your service."
Captain Kinday shook his head as his antennae drooped as if disappointed. "You and your first officer need to sort things out. First he tell me you're unable to participate in the negotiations, and here you are. I don't know if I can trust the judgement of either of you!"
"I was just going over some data my crew found, regarding the mineral deposits here. We're sitting on a proverbial gold mine!" Ameena said.
Kinday crossed his arms and smiled. "Ah, good. Let's get these negotiations underway then! This planet is as good as ours."
Kinday's blind confidence and aggressive personality troubled Ameena, confirming her previous suspicions about how he hadn't changed from his days at the Academy. "I still haven't heard from my engineers yet, I'd prefer to get all of the facts before going into those negotiations..." she said, looking at McKenna. "And how about you, Ensign, have you found anything? What's the security situation like here?" she asked, turning to McKenna.
"It's alarming, I'll say that much. Most of the workers don't seem to trust us. If we do get these negotiations locked down, I'd like to recommend bringing in extra security forces."
Captain Kinday huffed. "What do you mean if? This is going to happen."
"Don't be so sure, sir." Alice said.
"I am sure. The key to winning any alliance with a Ferengi is to be fast, aggressive and to make lots of empty promises. Don't let them think. Establish a hard line in the sand and don't budge. These egg headed pack rats can't resist even the slightest allure of profit, especially if it means less work for them."
The large doors leading into the Ferengi headquarters swung open and a giant reptilian Gorn emerged. "SSSStarfleet representativesss... DaiMon Geth isss awaiting your in the conference hall. Pleasssse follow me."
"Do you need me to come with you?" Alice asked.
"That's not needed. Give Lieutenant Jera a hand with parsing the data her team has collected." she said, looking up at Captain Kinday. "I think we can handle things from here."
Alice, Jera, McKenna and the rest of the science team who had gathered tapped on their combadges and disappeared in a cloud of blue sparks as Ameena and Kinday followed the burly Gorn into the crudely fashioned headquarters. Technology seemed to be non-existent; The halls were lit with pungent candles and the surveillance systems standard to most Ferengi outposts was absent. This relieved Ameena, but also put her on edge, feeling that if something bad were to happen to her, there would be no proof of it ever occurring.
The Gorn led the two captains into the conference hall. DaiMon Geth was seated on his throne-like chair, waiting impatiently for the two to take a seat. Having led the two into the room, the Gorn walked away without question when DaiMon Geth made a peculiar hand gesture.
"I don't recognize you." he said, pointing to Ameena. "Where is Commander Ronae? He and I got along very well."
"He decided that it would be best if I took his place. I am Commander Blackmoore, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Purity." Ameena responded.
"Ah. That is a shame." he replied. "Let us get down to business. Commander Blackmoore, I thank you for your assistance with your teams of specialists. If only your blue partner here offered to help as well..."
Ameena looked over at Kinday and smiled wryly.
"Tell me, what have they found?"
"I have yet to hear back from my engineers, DaiMon. However, I have heard from my science team and my security officers. I'll start with security concerns." she said, grabbing the PADD she brought in with her. "I won't tell you how to run your mines here. They are yours to do as you see fit, instead I will only offer advice. There was a disturbance centered around my science team. Apparently one of your workers, a Suliban male, attempted to steal some of our survey equipment. Other security concerns involve resentment in your workforce amongst each other."
"I do work my men hard, but they are well rewarded for their efforts. Perhaps not enough." the DaiMon said. "What else?"
Ameena juggled between telling DaiMon Geth the truth about the value of the planet's mineral resources. She felt that honesty was the best policy and attempts to swindle the Ferengi out of his share of the materials would be discovered. "My scientists found that the area right under this town is one of the richest traker deposits the Federation has ever found. Over 60% of the bedrock contains these deposits, which means... unheard of amounts of pure dilithium!"
DaiMon Geth erupted into a devious grin. "Good, good. That should fetch a pretty penny! Has any latinum been found?" the Ferengi said, a childlike look of glee passing over his face as he mentioned the precious metal.
"Ummm..." Ameena said, looking through the report. "Several cave like structures indicative of latinum deposits were found, yes, but there are no further details listed here."
"These are good details to work with," DaiMon Geth said. "Let's get down to business and talk numbers."
Captain Kinday seized the opportunity to take the negotiations by the horns. "I'm going to assume that you knew nothing about this planet's geostructure before today. Instead, you probably landed on the planet and started digging."
"Uhh, that is, uhhh, not true." he bumbled. "We have learned a lot more today, but we would not start digging without any knowledge. That's wasted money!"
"So you do admit that we have helped to boost the potential profit of this mining expedition?" Kinday asked.
"You have. Considerably."
"Then I think we should sweeten the bargain for the Federation."
"Hold on, Captain." Ameena interjected. "Let's not spoil the agreement before we even get a chance. I sent our teams down to assist because it's expected of us, in case you've forgotten. Even if we receive nothing in return for offering our help, we have done our job as explorers, the main purpose of Starfleet's mission throughout the galaxy."
"Don't be naive, Commander! Just because we're doing our job doesn't mean we shouldn't get something out of helping the Ferengi!" Kinday returned his focus to DaiMon Geth. "Starfleet's offer is 60% of the minerals and resources from this planet."
DaiMon Geth burst out into uproarious laughter. "60%?! Tell me you are joking, I love jokers!"
"In return, we will station a fleet in this system. You've seen what Starfleet was capable of during the Dominion War, I assume. I doubt your personal ships could do the same."
"The only thing Starfleet was capable of during the Dominion War was being defeated left and right, pushed further and further back!"
"Who won the war?" he asked.
"Those... Bajoran prophets did! I've heard the stories."
Kinday growled and bared his teeth at the response. "In addition to our fleet, we'll bring in qualified teams to supplement your workers. I doubt your rag tag bunch of misfits is as efficient as you'd like them to be."
"A fair point, they are not." he responded. "But, uhhh... your demands seem to be undermining my ownership of this planet. You'll provide your own security, provide your own workers... I'll be doing nothing. And you expect me to believe you won't just wiggle your way into power?"
"Yes, I do. Starfleet is about honour and integrity, we always follow our promises and we always pay our debts."
"Ha!" he barked. "You, Blackmoore! Feel free to assist your partner."
Ameena cleared her throat. "DaiMon Geth is right. 60% is an outrageous number and honestly, I'm shocked alongside him. 25% is a more reasonable number. The same amount of security, the same amount of workers." she said. "Considering the amount of material we're talking about, we'll be supplied for our dilithium needs for years on this planet alone at only 25%, and that leaves a considerable amount of profit for DaiMon Geth."
"Yes, profit! That is what this is about, Andorian. This is not a charity, but I am not happy with 25%."
"You're right, this isn't a charity. 50%." Kinday responded.
"That's a little low, DaiMon." Ameena said.
"I could go for 5% if you want."
"Fine, let's work around 10%." she replied.
"10% is not going to happen!" Kinday said.
"It will if you take your fleet and shove it where the stars don't shine. We don't need your security. We only need workers to increase efficiency."
Kinday tried to contain his laughter. "Those ships of yours in orbit? Your 'security'? They'd be over run by an Orion freighter! You need Starfleet's backing if you're going to keep this planet safe!"
"You do not know what those vessels are capable of! Perhaps I should demonstrate by blowing your precious starship up!"
"How dare you?!"
Ameena watched as the negotiations broke down with Kinday and Geth hurling insults and challenges back and forth. She tried to intervene, but she was drowned out by the yelling. "Gentlemen!" she finally shouted. "Enough!" Her outburst caught the attention of both of the two. "Captain, you're destroying these negotiations with your temper and your unreasonable requests! We weren't sent here to insult people!"
The Gorn who escorted them in earlier burst into the room and stared the two Starfleet officers down.
"Siizlak, escort that blue beast out of the room by force!"
The Gorn charged with surprising speed, tackling Captain Kinday and restraining him with his massive, muscular arms. "Come peacefully unlesssss you want breathing problemssss, Andorian!"
Ameena's heart rate jumped as she tried to analyse the situation, watching Captain Kinday being removed from the room kicking and screaming. She cast a studious glare at DaiMon Geth, attempting to read his next move.
The DaiMon let out a long and exasperated sigh. "This is what Starfleet sends to me?!" he said, making a motion to the door.
"I apologise for his behaviour," she replied. "If I knew--"
"Save it," the Ferengi said, leaning forward. "You are kind, even in the face of hostility. Maybe it's a positive trait, maybe it's a fault. But I do appreciate how moderate you have been." he said, waiting for a response but receiving none. "I would continue negotiating, but that imp has completely destroyed the Federation's chances."
"No, not yet."
"It is non-negotiable. I want you to recall your crew to your ship. You have thirty minutes; anyone who remains on my planet will become my property. Now leave, before I change my mind."
Ameena sighed, standing up and turning around to walk out the door. As she did so, she tapped on her combadge. "Edumes, are you there?"
Edumes' voice came through. "Yes. We're just finishing upgrading this mining laser. How can I help you?"
"I need the engineering team to return to the U.S.S. Purity. The negotiations broke down and we're no longer welcome here."
There was a brief silence before Edumes asked, "Already? What happened?!"
"Captain Kinday happened. I'll explain later. Blackmoore out." She continued out of the building, out into the snowy balcony overlooking the courtyard of the slum. She kept replaying the exchange between Captain Kinday and DaiMon Geth in her head. "That son of a bitch..." she muttered.
"Ah, you're the Starfleet officer they've been talking about, correct?" a voice said from behind her.
Ameena looked around to see a dirt covered Romulan leaning against the wall beside the door.
He pushed himself away from the wall and approached her. "That Andorian must have done something wrong to be carried away like that," he said. "And yet, here you are, unescorted and unscathed. You seem like the right person to talk to regarding a... problem."
"I can't stay and chat..." she said.
"Then I'll come with you. I tire of my oppressive bonds on this planet." he said, leaning in to whisper to her. "And I have information you might want."
Ameena stepped back, studying the Romulan's rock hard facial expression. "Information about what?"
"That fat ball of misery and hatred in there isn't the one who's really in charge."
"He did mention he represented someone... Look, get to the point."
The Romulan looked back and forth to make sure no one was listening. "Trade Prince Vok. I will say nothing more until I am granted refuge aboard your vessel."
Ameena leaned up against the railing in thought. "Should I take him with us, or is he not who he seems?" she wondered. After some more thought, she tapped on her combadge. "Blackmoore to the Purity. Two to beam up."
"Thank you for this opportunity. You will not regret it."
- - - - -
Captain's Log, stardate 69064.6
What an unmitigated disaster. What was supposed to be a simple negotiation turned ugly thanks to the actions of Captain Kinday. I tried my best to be the voice of reason in the negotiations, but I failed in my duty. We are not welcome in the NGC-673 system any longer. Worst off, DaiMon Geth now knows the true value of the planet he sits on and it's all my fault.
Regardless, this mission is not over yet. Trade Prince Vok is a name that's come up today, and searches through the Starfleet Intelligence databases have come up dry. It's a long shot, but I've brought one of DaiMon Geth's workers who says he has information about this shadowy figure. I felt I had little choice, but I broke the Starfleet code of conduct and I will fully accept the consequences of my actions when this mission report is filed.
- - - - -
"Computer, begin recording; Captain's personal file, stardate 69064.7," she said. "Greetings, to Admiral Dax and to whomever else receives this recording. If you're listening to this, you're aware of the fact that we were unable to reach an agreement with DaiMon Geth. Now, with me is a Romulan named Theonn that I've brought aboard the U.S.S. Purity. In exchange for asylum within the Federation, he offers details about the Ferengi who truely runs the mining operation centered in the NGC-673 system." Turning her attention to the Romulan, she continued. "Alright. Tell me what you know about Trade Prince Vok."
"Trade Prince Vok... I'm not surprised if the name is foreign to whoever listens to this." he said. "Trade Prince Vok is a dangerous man. I met him nearly thirty years ago in the Rator system... he was just an upstart in the Ferengi Alliance then, but he knew how to get what he wanted."
"What did he want?"
"Power, money. Muscle. He said he was searching the reaches of the galaxy for hard workers, for smart people to assist him in the creation of a trade organization. He called it 'Vok's Galactic Commerce Authority'."
"Commerce Authority? I do remember hearing about something called the 'Trade Prince's Commerce Authority' while I was stationed on Deep Space 9. Could they be related?"
"I'm sure they are. I'm sure Starfleet is aware of this group funneling weapons and supplies to the Dominion after they had taken Deep Space 9. Which brings me to why Vok is a dangerous individual."
"Trade Prince Vok has been operating in secrecy for the past thirty years, growing in influence. I have heard stories of how he is closely involved with the Klingons, the Cardassians, the Gorn, the Orions... the list goes on. He has established a criminal empire across much of the known galaxy."
"What is his end goal, do you think?"
"I have no idea. All I know is that the materials we are mining in the star system we just left are being sold to weapons manufacturers and arms dealers. Vok appears to be stockpiling his supplies, forging new alliances and destroying his enemies with brute force."
"Are you aware of any dealings with the Romulan Empire?"
"There are none. Crossing the border into Romulan space is impossible as far as I know." he said.
"Yeah... I was just curious." she replied. "What else do you know about him?"
"How far away are we from that star system?"
"Why does that matter?" she asked, genuinely curious.
"The further you take me away from Vok's influence, the more I will say. If I may be excused?"
"Ummm... that's fine. We'll have plenty of time to talk." she tapped on her combadge. "Ameena to D'H..." she said, pausing. "I assume you don't want to be escorted to a guest room by a Klingon."
"You assume correctly." Theonn replied.
"Ameena to Ensign McKenna."
"I'm here, sir, what can I do for you?"
"Find a private room for our guest. He'll be waiting outside of the conference room on Deck 7."
"Can do, sir."
Ameena extended her hand towards the Romulan in a friendly manner. "Welcome aboard."
The Romulan was unaware of human customs and declined to shake her hand. "Thank you. I'll be leaving now." he said, exiting the conference room.
After the door closed, she swirled her chair back to face the table and rubbed her forehead. After a deep breath, she said, "Computer, open up a subspace channel with Deep Space 9. Send personal file stardate 69064.7 as well." The screen in front of her turned on, revealing an image of Deep Space 9. After another moment, the screen shifted to show Admiral Dax in the operations office of the station.
"Good evening, Ameena! I was just about to return to my quarters and I see you calling."
"Evening, Mira," she said.
Ameena's facial expression and silence intrigued Admiral Dax. "What's wrong? Are the negotiations not going well?"
"No. I think the negotiations are over, too."
Admiral Dax gasped. "Over? Already? How?!"
Ameena sighed, looking off to the side. "Permission to speak freely?"
"You always have it with me."
"I don't want to question my superiors, but... Captain Kinday... Couldn't Starfleet have sent someone a bit less hostile? He took the negotiations by the horns and he was absolutely vicious in his demands."
Admiral Dax was shocked. "Captain Kinday... he was my recommendation..." she said. "I went over his file, his record was almost spotless since his promotion. I never expected such... such..." she trailed off, struggling to find the right word.
"Yes, that..." After a moment's pause, she continued. "And you did everything you could to stabilise the negotiations?"
Ameena leaned forward. "Well... I doubt the severity of DaiMon Geth's threat, but he said that he was allowing us to leave alive because I was so 'polite'."
Admiral Dax' eyes widened. "Oh no... I have never seen a Ferengi who is as difficult to speak with as this Geth sounds to be, and I've been dealing with Quark lately."
"After what I've been told about his superior, I'm not surprised," Ameena said. "One of DaiMon Geth's workers approached me with some information about a Trade Prince named Vok who apparently runs the whole operation at the NGC-673 system."
"What kind of information?"
"I've sent a recording from the worker to you. Give it a listen in the morning."
Admiral Dax leaned in to inspect her screen. "Recording?"
"The worker is aboard the ship right now, seeking asylum. I would have contacted Starfleet Command about how to handle it, but given the circumstances of our departure and our current relationship with these Ferengi..."
Admiral Dax swept her hands across her face in frustration. "Ok, that was probably a bad decision. Umm... drop him off at the next starbase you visit. I'm sure he'll have more information for us."
"No. Good night."
"Over and out."
As the screen faded black and disappeared into the table, Ameena leaned back in her chair and folded her hands, staring at the floor. She wondered if there was anything else she could have done to salvage the failed negotiations. The turning point in the negotiations played out in her head over and over, taunting her. It was her first real defeat as a commanding officer in Starfleet, something that she would remember for many years to come.