Star Trek Hunter Part 7 - Episodes 20 - 22 by Robert Bruce Scott
Summary:

Y3 cover

PART SEVEN OF NINE

 (Yeah... No Jeri Ryan jokes, please...) 

 

Episode 20 - Survival - The U.S.S. Hunter returns to far side of the Romulan Star Empire in search of their missing 1st and 2nd officers...

 

Episode 21 - The Enemy of My Enemy - The U.S.S. Hunter has been captured by the Romulans and taken into the hold of an enormous Romulan Battlegod...

 

Episode 22 - Sacrifice - Justice Minerva Irons must sacrifice everything to prevent war between the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire...


Categories: Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Expanded Universes, Next Generation Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Family
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Character Death
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek Hunter
Chapters: 48 Completed: Yes Word count: 51515 Read: 24983 Published: 18 Jul 2020 Updated: 11 Dec 2020

1. Episode 20.1: Survival - - How Did Hugh Know by Robert Bruce Scott

2. Episode 20.2: Survival - - The First Signal by Robert Bruce Scott

3. Episode 20.3: Survival - Grooming Napoleon by Robert Bruce Scott

4. Episode 20.4: Survival - - A Woman's Intuition by Robert Bruce Scott

5. Episode 20: Survival - - Introduction by Robert Bruce Scott

6. Episode 20.5: Survival - - Rescue Planning by Robert Bruce Scott

7. Episode 20.6: Survival - - Doctor Prometheus by Robert Bruce Scott

8. Episode 20.7: Survival - - Blue Morning, Blue Day by Robert Bruce Scott

9. Episode 20.8: Survival - - The Ghost by Robert Bruce Scott

10. Episode 20.9: Survival - - Roat Farm 1-A-179,792 by Robert Bruce Scott

11. Episode 20.10: Survival - - Taking Stock by Robert Bruce Scott

12. Episode 20.11: Survival - - Passive Aggression by Robert Bruce Scott

13. Episode 20.12: Survival - - Pepperheart by Robert Bruce Scott

14. Episode 20.13: Survival - - Breaking Buddy by Robert Bruce Scott

15. Episode 20.14: Survival - - The Inevitable by Robert Bruce Scott

16. Episode 21.1: The Enemy of My Enemy - Battlegod by Robert Bruce Scott

17. Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy - - Introduction by Robert Bruce Scott

18. Episode 21.2: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Blue Romulan by Robert Bruce Scott

19. Episode 21.3: The Enemy of My Enemy - Strapped Down by Robert Bruce Scott

20. Episode 21.4: The Enemy of My Enemy - Buddy and the Borg by Robert Bruce Scott

21. Episode 21.5: The Enemy of My Enemy - Read Later by Robert Bruce Scott

22. Episode 21.6: The Enemy of My Enemy - - Escape by Robert Bruce Scott

23. Episode 21.7: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Wreck of the I.K.V. 'Iw Hov by Robert Bruce Scott

24. Episode 21.8: The Enemy of My Enemy - A Big Enough Lever by Robert Bruce Scott

25. Episode 21.9: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Second Cube by Robert Bruce Scott

26. Episode 21.10: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Fourth Signal by Robert Bruce Scott

27. Episode 21.11: The Enemy of My Enemy - Promethosaurus Rex by Robert Bruce Scott

28. Episode 21.12: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Next Generation by Robert Bruce Scott

29. Episode 21.13: The Enemy of My Enemy - Dolphin Hunting by Robert Bruce Scott

30. Episode 21.14: The Enemy of My Enemy - Truth Seekers by Robert Bruce Scott

31. Episode 21.15: The Enemy of My Enemy - You Are Cordially Invited by Robert Bruce Scott

32. Episode 21.16: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Sleep of the Just by Robert Bruce Scott

33. Episode 22.1: Sacrifice - - The Crew by Robert Bruce Scott

34. Episode 22.2: Sacrifice - - A Little Tune-Up by Robert Bruce Scott

35. Episode 22.3: Sacrifice - - Passengers by Robert Bruce Scott

36. Episode 22: Sacrifice by Robert Bruce Scott

37. Episode 22.4: Sacrifice - Shuttle Diplomacy by Robert Bruce Scott

38. Episode 22.5: Sacrifice - The Great Waterbirds of Pern by Robert Bruce Scott

39. Episode 22.6: Sacrifice - The Balcony by Robert Bruce Scott

40. Episode 22.7: Sacrifice - Sweet Madam Blue by Robert Bruce Scott

41. Episode 22.8: Sacrifice - The Shadowhounds of Aveadega by Robert Bruce Scott

42. Episode 22.9: Sacrifice - An Imperial Request by Robert Bruce Scott

43. Episode 22.10: Sacrifice - The Witness by Robert Bruce Scott

44. Episode 22.11: Sacrifice - Buzz Conference by Robert Bruce Scott

45. Episode 22.12: Sacrifice - Justice by Robert Bruce Scott

46. Episode 22.13: Sacrifice - David and Goliath by Robert Bruce Scott

47. Episode 22.14: Sacrifice - One Single Vote by Robert Bruce Scott

48. Episode 22.15: Sacrifice - The Destroyer of Worlds by Robert Bruce Scott

Episode 20.1: Survival - - How Did Hugh Know by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

3rd of 5 (Hugh) knows how to find something that the crew of the U.S.S. Hunter desparately want...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 1: How Did Hugh Know?


20.1

How Did Hugh Know?


“Subspace sector W.28.theta, cell range 261 through 355.”


“That is a very specific range… um… Mr. Five?” asked Justice Irons.


“You can call me Hugh. My actual designation is 3rd of 5, but my friends call me Hugh.”



Of all the things Justice Minerva Irons had never expected, casually interviewing a borg in her office was about at the top of the list. It only made sense that his communication might be somewhat cryptic. Borg drones were famous for communicating everything in their minds all at once all the time. Even if Hugh had been free from the collective for apparently a few decades, spoken communication still must feel like crawling compared to traveling at warp speed.



“I am confused, Hugh, did you…”


“You need to monitor those frequencies. Before he left, Dr. Carrera modified the animal’s transmitter. When she goes into hibernation, it will send three short bursts. If you catch all three of them, you can triangulate…”


“Tauk,” said Commander Kenny Dolphin.


“I’m on it.” Lt. Cmdr. Tauk had already stood up, picked up his cane and turned toward the bridge exit from the captain’s office.


“How do you know she will go into hibernation?” Irons asked as her 2nd officer limped out of the room.


“I don’t,” Hugh answered. “I think Dr. Carrera considered it a high probability that you would need to find her and that she might hibernate.”


“That would be Fleet Admiral Carrera?” Dolphin asked.


“I have only ever met Commander Carrera. He also provided me the formula to manufacture this…” Hugh held up his mechanical right hand, index finger extended. A small knife emerged from his index finger. He cut across his left wrist, took a flask and collected about 2 cubic centimeters of thick turquoise fluid from his opened vein. 


If anyone else had slit their wrist in Dr. Tali Shae’s presence, all hell would have broken loose. 


But Tali was already in shock that she was talking calmly to a borg. She took the flask rather numbly and just looked at it.


“That should help you for a few hundred days. It should rebalance your metabolism temporarily. When you need more, wake me.”


“Wake you?” Tali asked.


“I will need to reduce power to minimal amounts,” Hugh said. “If you would please provide a recharging station in one of the cargo bays or pretty much anywhere. In your lexicon, there are people looking for me and my power signature is not that difficult to locate.”


“Why?” asked Irons.


“So they won’t find me," Hugh replied. "When I am at minimal power, I am very difficult to trace.”


“Not what I meant,” said Irons. “Why are they looking for you?”


“Bob taught me to phase," said Hugh. "My former colleagues would very much like to know how to do that. I do not think that is an ability you want them to develop. I could go somewhere else, but then I wouldn’t be here when Dr. Carrera comes looking for me.”



Justice Irons got up from her desk, carefully omitting the grunt and sigh that she had recently begun to afford herself when getting out of a chair in private. She walked to the front corner of her office. “I have always thought this corner is one of the most awkward corners in the ship. I considered building a cabinet here, but I really don’t have anything to store in this office.” She turned toward Hugh.


Hugh turned and walked over to the corner. His movements were disturbingly robotic until he turned and backed into the corner, rolling his shoulders against the metal wall. 



“Cozy,” he said. He produced a chip from a compartment in his right arm. “I would build this myself, but I really need to shut down so that we don’t get noticed. If you would, please…” then leaned his head back against the corner, closed his eye and slumped slightly, becoming silent and motionless. There was the slight whine of tiny whirring servo motors slowing and stopping.


Commander Dolphin held his hand out. Justice Irons dropped the chip into his hand. 


“I’m not sure why you would want him right there,” said Dolphin. “That would have me completely creeped out every time I look up…”


“Oh, I want him where I can keep an eye on him,” Irons said.


20.1

Episode 20.2: Survival - - The First Signal by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Kenny Dolphin has put Napoleon Boles in the Captain's chair...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 2: The First Signal


20.2

The First Signal


Dr. Tali Shae had appended Dr. Napoleon Boles to her department as the ship’s Epidemiologist more than a year ago, although there was almost never much in the way of epidemiology for him to do. But the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew had benefitted from his presence in many other ways. He had come up with surgeries that had saved Lt. Cmdr. Tauk’s life and Midshipman Tammy Brazil’s breast. While people often avoided Boles because of his caustic humor, there was no one better on the ship for solving practical problems. 


Then there was the body odor. One of the biggest challenges of getting members of several different species to live together in peace - especially on a small, cramped space vessel with no outside air - was aligning the body odors so that everyone, especially the olfactorially gifted bajorans, could live in some modicum of comfort. Having a ship full of hybrids simply randomized this effect. Everyone on the U.S.S. Hunter made an effort - except Boles.



So Tali was surprised when she walked onto the bridge on her way to the captain’s office to find not the Hunter’s first officer, nor its second officer, nor any of the department directors or assistant directors in the captain’s chair. 



“Why are you in command, Boles?” Tali asked.


“Commander Dolphin’s orders,” Boles answered. “I think he’s punishing me for something…”


In spite of herself, Tali Shae smiled and her antennae spasmed with mirth. Boles’ dry humor could occasionally also be one of his redeeming qualities.


“He’s been trying to come up with a reason for me to like him,” Tali said. “Looks like he finally succeeded.”


Boles made an amused noise. “Well, maybe he can work on me next.”


“And undo everything he’s been trying so hard to accomplish?” Tali taunted. “As you were, Lieutenant,” she said and headed to the captain’s office. The door opened just as she arrived.


Justice Minerva Irons’ voice could be heard within: “Come in, Tali.”



Just as Tali stepped off the bridge, 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves, standing watch at the tactical station, said, “There it is - one!”


“Get me a bearing, Lieutenant,” said Boles.


“Not much to go on, sir,” said Reeves. “I’m feeding the coordinate range to Winnifreid, but we’re already trending almost to the center of this range.”


“Mr. Salazaar?” said Boles.


“I am adjusting our course to the center of the range, sir.” Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar was still making adjustments at the pilot’s console.


“What about the tracking of the gamma bursts? I don’t want us under one of them or traveling through one of them,” said Boles.


“Our course puts us well above them, sir,” Salazaar replied. 


“Commander,” said Boles, “We just received the first beep.”


Commander Kenny Dolphin’s voice came to the bridge over the comm system. “How strong was the signal?”


Boles turned to face Tolon Reeves - gestured at him.


“It was a fairly strong signal, Commander,” Lt. Tolon said. 


“Napoleon, keep your eyes peeled,” said Dolphin over the comm system. “If we’re reading it five by five, chances are the romulans heard it too. Let me know the moment you get any hint of their scent - warp trails, sensor ghosts - even a glitch.”


“Got it, boss,” Boles replied.


“What was that?” Dolphin asked.


“I said, Aye, Commander.”


“Thank you Lieutenant.”



Dr. Tali Shae retreated as quietly as possible into Justice Minerva Irons’ office.


20.2

Episode 20.3: Survival - Grooming Napoleon by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Dolphin is intent on getting Dr. Boles into shape...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 3: Grooming Napoleon


20.3

Grooming Napoleon

“Do you think you’re being a bit tough with him?” Lt. T’Lon raised her eyebrows. Cmdr. Dolphin and Lt. Cmdr. Tauk had taken over the engineering conference room and had been, along with at various times, Lt. Moon and Lt. Gamor, exhaustively reviewing the operation of each of the ship’s operations departments. Now it was T’Lon’s turn with ground operations.

Tauk was coughing quietly and occasionally wiping his mouth. His voice had grown much softer over the past few days. “He has to be. He doesn’t have long to get Boles into shape.”

“Childhood is over for Napoleon,” Kenny Dolphin said. “I need him to grow up and make some friends.”

“You want to promote him?” T’Lon was surprised.

“You have confused want with need,” said Dolphin. “He has way too much potential to leave on the table. I need what he can give to this crew.”

“Do you really think you can groom him for command?” asked T’Lon.

“Not if he gets the idea that’s what Kenny is doing,” Tauk observed. He started coughing painfully. 

“Time for your nap,” said Dolphin.

It wasn’t, but Tauk got up, picked up his cane and made his slow exit anyway. 

T’Lon was unable to keep the concern from her face as she watched the small, sick ferengi moving slowly away from the engineering conference room toward one of the lifts. “He is in a lot of pain.”

“He is in the final stages,” Dolphin observed. “From what I understand, his immune system is now attacking the organs Dr. Boles installed in his lung to generate new lung tissue. He might be able to survive a few more surgeries, but he is nearing the end and he knows it.”


“You intend to replace him with Napoleon,” T’Lon observed.


“When the time comes,” said Dolphin. “I’m sorry, T’Lon. I know it’s been a bit of a grim lottery around here. Some people think I’m grooming Dr. Moon for the job. More think it’s Gaia. Most probably think it’s you and I’ve been letting them think that. Boles won’t learn what I need him to learn if he thinks he’s up for the promotion.”

“I’ve been a bit worried about you, Kenny. Ever since you took this promotion, you’ve become a little… well, I think the term I’ve heard humans use is, a hardass.”

Dolphin laughed. “This has to be a first - a human officer chided by a vulcan for being too much of a disciplinarian…”

T’Lon wasn’t smiling. “I sincerely doubt that.” She put her hand to Kenny’s face. “I know humans. Sometimes better than you know yourselves. You have an illogical tendency to do to others what you are illogically doing to yourselves. I worry about you sometimes, Kenny. Did you see Captain Red while you were on the Milky Way?”

Dolphin sat back, sighed. “No. She has been given a new command. Not that there’s any deep connection there. I am only one among her many lovers. She keeps a rather large stable.”

“She likes you,” said T’Lon.

Dolphin made an amused noise. “I might as well try to catch a river.” He took a drink.


“Either way, you might at least get wet.”


                    And the drink came out his nose.

                                        “You did that deliberately!” he spluttered.


“You might be right about Boles,” T’Lon mused as Dolphin obtained a napkin from the replicator and wiped his face. “It will be tough to replace Tauk. But Napoleon has seniority. It will keep the department directors where you need them and however people feel about him, everyone admires his quick mind and ability to improvise. Out here with nothing but enemies and no backup, we’re going to need that.”


“I’m not being tough on him to get him ready to be a second officer,” Dolphin replied. “No one needs to like the Chief Operations officer. They just have to obey. Being afraid of them is just as useful as liking them, if not more. Tauk is a total perfectionist, so he fits the role perfectly.”


T’Lon raised her eyebrows, nodded. 


“I need Boles to be able to win friends and influence people because…”


“You’re grooming him to be a first officer,” T’Lon concluded.


“He’s about as qualified for the position as I am. I’m never going to be Pep. I might as well try to grow up to be seven feet tall. Boles might as well try to grow green antennae mounts and turn his skin brown. But he’s going to become a legendary starship captain someday and the way things are going, Star Fleet is going to need him.”


20.3

Episode 20.4: Survival - - A Woman's Intuition by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Romulan Star Navy Supreme Commander Sela organizes a search for a federation vessel rumored to be operating in romulan space...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 4: A Woman’s Intuition



20.4

A Woman’s Intuition 


“No - that’s a Star Fleet signal. I can feel it.” Sela deeply hated humans - particularly their inability to recognize the ancient wisdom and genius of the Romulan people. She hated humanity for leaving her without a mother. But she monitored everything happening on her bridge because she had one thing pure romulans did not have. An instinct - an intuition about humans - a gift from her treacherous, ungrateful human mother. 


The moment she had heard her bridge officers start talking about a signal they had received from the eastern end of the empire, near the confluence of the borders of the Romulan Star Empire with the Dead Zone and the Klingon Empire, Sela had stepped out of her office onto the bridge and demanded details. The signal had a borg technological signature, but was on a subspace channel used almost exclusively by tholians. This mish-mash of technologies confused her officers. To Sela, it screamed humanity loud and clear. It was exactly the type of trick humans would use to confuse romulans and klingons.



“It is a beacon, but it does not carry any information. No coded message,” said Commander Hundeeth.


“Confirmed,” Centurion Cireeka agreed.


“That means that beacon is for one person and all the information they need is the fact that it is a borg signature on a tholian frequency coming from romulan space. It has to be that Star Fleet swaeshaeul* that has been sneaking about in our space,” Sela groused. 


“The ghost?” asked Cireeka.


“I should get angry at you for calling it that, but that is what everyone is calling it,” Sela replied.


“They have to be using a cloak. We should declare the Federation to be in violation of the Khitomer Accords,” Cireeka said.


“That would be unwise for a large number of reasons,” Admiral Ekot observed. “The Khitomer Accords establish our border with the Klingon Empire. Declare it void and the klingons would take a number of important worlds and the federation wouldn’t stop them.”


“The klingons would upgrade their disruptors to be able to fire immediately on decloaking,” Commander Hundeeth added, “and the Federation would have functioning cloaking devices on most of their capital ships within a year…”


“And it would give the Federation an excuse to close the traffic lane between the empire and Vulcan,” Ekot continued.


“We aren’t a party to the Gagarin Treaty - they couldn’t stop us from going to Vulcan,” said Commander Cireeka. 


“No,” said Hundeeth, “But they would use it to drive a wedge between the Empire and the Senate of New Romulus on Vulcan.”


“Which is exactly what they wanted right from the start,” Ekot added. “That may be why they’re sending that ghost into our space to begin with…”



“And we have no evidence the Federation is in violation of the Khitomer Accords,” Sela concluded. “We have a few scant readings of federation warp signatures and the frequencies of the photon torpedoes that destroyed Gamorlan were consistent with federation technology - but that could be fabricated. Even if the ghost is a federation starship, they could claim it is one rogue starship - we don’t even know if it has cloaking technology. It may be using some other sort of camouflage. Humans are tricky that way. They find ways around the rules. The last thing we want to do is hand them everything in the Khitomer Accords and get nothing in return.” Sela put her hand on Centurion Cireeka’s shoulder. “But it was a question well worth asking.”



Sela turned toward Ekot. “Put us on course for that beacon as best you can determine it. Since it did not carry a message, there will probably be another signal for triangulation. Listen for it. Reach out to the Pistris, the Pardus and the Simiae. Get them headed toward it as well. Tell them to keep their sensors highly tuned - I want that ghost.”



* swaeshaeul (Romulan - baby’s shoe (literally: toe shoe))



20.4

Episode 20: Survival - - Introduction by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Introduction to Episode 20: Survival by Commander Tali Shae, Chief Medical Officer, U.S.S. Hunter.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival




Episode 20 – Survival


“The harsh discipline of mercy is a lesson every doctor learns at some point in a career of medicine. That lesson is the harsh discipline by which Star Fleet Temporal Division must abide in every moment, lest we be tempted to play God. Our work as observers and guardians of our own histories requires us to engrain that discipline into every fiber of our souls. The more we learn about the unfathomable chains of consequences, the harder temptation becomes to avoid. I cannot selfishly carve my way through time to save my love at the point of death. But if, three years earlier while on another mission, I were to move a food tray four centimeters to the left, no one would notice and a chain of events would ensue that could prevent her death… In temporal operations, just as in medicine, it is very easy to forget that life is precious precisely because it is ephemeral.” 


Dr. Tali Shae – The Ethics of Temporal Mechanics.





Crew of the U.S.S. Hunter: (Ship's Interactive Holographic Avatar - Hunter)


At-Large Appellate Justice, Captain Minerva Irons

Chief Executive Officer - Commander Kenneth Dolphin

Chief Operations Officer - Lt. Commander Tauk

.

Medical Director - Commander Tali Shae

        Asst. Medical Director - Lt. Jazz Sam Sinder

        Epidemiologist - Lt. Napoleon Boles

                Ensign Chrissiana Trei

                    Forensic Specialist - Midshipman Sif

                        Emergency Medical Hologram - Dr. Raj

                        Tactical Medical Hologram - Dr. Kim

.

Director of Flight Operations - Lt. Gaia Gamor

        Asst. Flight Dir. - 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips

                        Navigator Johanna Imex

                        Navigator Eli Strahl

                Ensign Chelna Zusa

                        Chief Flight Specialist Dewayne Guth      (last name rhymes with Booth)

                        Chief Flight Specialist Thyssi zh’Qaoleq  (last name rhymes with Chocolate)

                        Flight Specialist Dih Terri

                        Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar

.

Director of Ground Operations - Lt. T’Lon

        Asst. Ground Ops Dir. - 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves

                        Chief Tactical Specialist Rumi Grace

                        Tactical Specialist Dasare Eba    (rhymes with Cabaret Nina)

                        Tactical Specialist Veri Geki

                        Tactical Specialist Ranni Neivi

                Ensign Eykirros Jones        (nickname is Ike Jones)
                        Investigator Buttans Ngumbo

                        Special Agent Anana Lynarr, Trantor Police Intelligence Division (temporary assignment)
.
Director of Engineering - Lt. Moon Sun Salek

        Asst. Engineering Dir. - 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui

                  Midshipman Tammy Brazil

                        Transporter Engineer K'rok

                Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars

                        Flight Engineer Yolanda Thomas

                        Flight Engineer Thomas Hobbs

                        Flight Engineer Tomos

                        Flight Engineer Kerry Gibbon

Episode 20.5: Survival - - Rescue Planning by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Lt. Commander Tauk explains a daring rescue plan...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 5: Rescue Planning


20.5

Rescue Planning


“Okay Lieutenant Commander, this is your meeting, but first, I need to ask, where is everyone?” Commander Kenny Dolphin sat down at the head of the antique teak table in the executive conference room. He had delegated the rescue planning to his 2nd officer, Lt. Cmdr. Tauk. 



Dolphin had expected Tauk to involve the entire ground operations department - or at least their officers. Neither the ground operations department nor the flight operations department were represented in this room. Only two other of the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew were present - Dr. Tali Shae and Dr. Napoleon Boles.



“This is a job for two people, Kenny,” said Tauk. “We will need the tactical unit.”


“Who are you going to assign this to?” Dolphin asked.


“You,” said Tauk, “And me.”



Dolphin did not object. He deliberately shut the thousands of objections to this idea out of his mind. There was no point discussing them - Tauk had the equivalent of a Ph.D. in game theory. He had no doubt gamed out every potential objection. Dolphin waited for Tauk to explain. But it was Lt. Boles who spoke up first.



“I have provided Tauk some stimulants that can help him through this mission,” said Boles. “They will have a terrible effect on him, but they should get him through the mission.”


“Will they bring him home?” Dolphin asked.


Dr. Tali Shae answered. “You have to understand, Dolphin, there is nothing that we can to for Tauk now. The only person who can help him is Mlady. She can adjust his enzymes in ways that we cannot mimick. If you cannot find her, there is no hope for Tauk.”


“I am concerned about getting her and Pep back home,” Dolphin said.


“I have done the math, Kenny,” said Tauk. “Even assuming they have not lost any weight, the combined mass of all four of us is within tolerance of the tactical unit for recursive warp..” 


“Why is the captain not at this meeting?” Dolphin asked.


Dr. Tali Shae got up, retrieved an iced tea from the replicator - handed it to Dolphin. “Because this needs to be your decision. It’s time for you to grow up and make some of the tough calls so Minerva doesn’t have as many to carry around. She has made more than enough tough calls for a lifetime and this is one that will keep you up at night. Be merciful. Let her off the hook for this one.”



For a very long, uncomfortable moment, Kenny Dolphin and Dr. Tali Shae looked into each other’s eyes. 



After more than a few heartbeats, Lt. Cmdr. Tauk interrupted by clearing his throat. “Kenny, let Napoleon brief you. He and I developed this idea together. Talking has become… painful for me.” 


Dolphin realized he could hear the pained wheezing of the ferengi’s breath - now assisted by a forced breather.


Tauk looked at Lt. Boles, then closed his eyes and laid his head back into the headrest on his chair.


“This plan is all about probabilities,” said Boles. “You can rely on Tauk’s numbers. I cross checked as much of his math as I could comprehend. First, we have to assume we are going to be found and there is a high probability we will be caught. There is no way the romulans failed to notice federation warp signatures after this ship has ventured twice deep into their territory. And there is no way they failed to notice federation munitions signatures after we used every photon torpedo this ship was carrying to destroy a planet deep inside romulan space - probably killing several thousand romulans in the process. And we have to assume they have intercepted the first beacon signal and will correctly interpret the next two. So the question is what do we do when they find us? They’re going to want us really, really badly.”


Dolphin looked around the room, only to find the half-bolian epidemiologist, the andorian medical director and the ferengi 2nd officer just looking back at him. He sighed. “We need two plans. The tactical unit goes on the rescue and the rest of the ship deals with the romulans. But it is so counter-intuitive. We hand over the entire crew just to rescue two officers?”


Tauk nodded slowly, his eyes still closed. “So we need a plan for the rest of the crew to deal with the romulans.”


Dolphin rapped his knuckles against the table. “I am adding another person to this meeting. Someone you should have included in your planning.”


Dr. Tali Shae held her hands up. “We need to keep this plan small for now. People talk.”


“My call,” Dolphin replied. “Hunter? Would you join us please?”


The elderly looking ship’s holographic avatar appeared, standing at the end of the table where he usually stood during presentations. “How can I assist you?”


“Take a seat, please. We need your thoughts. We need to plan against several possibilities involving the romulans and you know more about the capabilities of this ship than anyone. Do you have some counter measures for boarding parties?”


Hunter walked around the table, appearing slightly confused. He slowly drew out a chair next to Lt. Cmdr. Tauk and sat down as if he were unfamiliar with the sensation. 


Dolphin smiled. “It’s high time you had a seat at this table, Hunter. I assume you are up to speed with our discussion?”



“What you probably do not know,” Hunter said, “because it has never come up - I actually come in two flavors.” A second version of Hunter appeared, this one in a simple black jumpsuit. “I usually remain on the tactical unit and I have never manifested because I never needed to,” said Hunter Tactical, pulling up a seat next to his usual incarnation. Both Hunters spoke in unison, but creating only the sound of one Hunter speaking: “We are one and the same until the tactical unit is launched.” Suddenly they were speaking, but clearly with two voices. “When the tactical unit is separated, we become separate entities and then reintegrate and become one again…” They spoke with one voice again: “...when the tactical unit is reconnected to the platform.”



Hunter Tactical spoke: “It has always taken artificial intelligence to bring the tactical unit into recursive warp just the same as the entire ship. So when you and Tauk are on the rescue mission, I will be there with you.” The black clad version of Hunter vanished.



“Anana Lynarr…” said Dr. Boles.


Hunter, Dolphin and Tali Shae just looked at him.


“Good idea,” Tauk said quietly, not opening his eyes.


“Hunter,” Boles asked, “Can you remove Anana from the crew roster and all official records - and is there a place on board you can hide her in case we get boarded?”


“Why Lynarr?” Dolphin asked.


“I should easily be able to create a false bulkhead for her to use as a hiding place,” Hunter said. “I have already deleted the records.”


“Hunter, do the same for Hugh Mann… um… that is 3rd of 5…” said Dolphin.


“Lynarr has Trantor counter-terrorism training, she’s bolian and not Star Fleet,” said Boles. “Romulans know a lot about Star Fleet tactics. Lynarr might have some tricks up her sleeve they aren’t aware of. Now we have four people to work against the romulans if they board and get to the rest of us - Hunter, Lynarr, Hugh and Dr. Raj. I will get them together for some backup planning as our last line of defense.”


“We need several layers of planning to keep it from coming to that,” Dolphin said.



“We need to plan the rescue mission as well,” said Tauk.



20.5

Episode 20.6: Survival - - Doctor Prometheus by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Wesley Crusher stranded The Doctor (Voyager) on a remote, lifeless planet. For three years. WHY??

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 6: Dr. Prometheus


20.6

Dr. Prometheus


“You left me here!!! I’ve been here for nearly three years!!” The Doctor was outraged – and at the same time overwhelmed with joy to see Old Man Crusher again. They were standing on a dark, cold rock of a planet dimly lit by a distant star that remained forever in the middle of the sky, providing almost no warmth.



“And yet I’ve only been gone about 15 minutes,” the elderly looking Crusher responded, wiping his massive beard. “I just popped in to my favorite klingon outpost about 40,400 years ago for a raktajino. Best place to bump into myself for an update. Did you do what I told you to do?”


“It took nearly a year for me to learn how to phase – it was torment!” The Doctor’s brow was furrowed like layers of paint on a Van Gogh masterpiece. He seemed little changed by the passage of three years - not his uniform nor his expressions. Just the beginning of a deep change in his eyes.


Old Man Crusher smiled grimly. “Sorry Doc, but you’re in for a whole lot more of that. That is the lesson immortality has to teach you. The universe is boring. And considering what you are learning now – to move freely through spacetime – there is every possibility that you may live to be several times the age of this universe.”


The Doctor rattled on and on, hardly paying attention to what Wesley Crusher was telling him: “No matter where I went, I kept ending up back here. I would jump somewhere – anywhere – and the next jump would always bring me right back here. I would try just staying somewhere – anywhere – then bang! Right back on this barren excuse for a rock! Now I know how Prometheus felt. I was tempted to teach some primitive race of simians how to use fire just so I could deserve being chained to this damn rock!!! I was wondering when the eagle was going to show up to peck out my liver just so I could have some company!”


Crusher was laughing raucously, holding onto his staff.


“This isn’t funny Mr. Crusher! This is a horrible thing to do to a sentient being! Why did you do this to me??”


“Survival training, Doctor,” Crusher replied. “Tell me, do you really care about the future of humanity? Or are you willing to just let my species die out thousands of years before our greatest potential is even possible?”


“I know, I know...” the Doctor said, calming down. “You told me. Gamma Gun Galaxy. The Hulk. The Borg. I do want to help. But how does being chained to a rock for three years help me do that?”


“Think of it as basic training, Doc,” said Crusher. “Tell me what the advantage of this place is.”


“It’s the most boring hellhole in the universe,” the Doctor answered immediately.


“Precisely. There is a grand total of one planet, one star and zero asteroids in this star system. And this star is in the middle of nowhere - it was ejected from its galaxy - that one,” Wesley pointed at a small cloud of stars that were the only other object in the sky - they were only visible certain times of the year - “more than a billion years ago. This is the most boring place I could possibly find. No life, no valuable minerals, very little warmth, almost no atmosphere, no water, nowhere near any shipping lanes. And, serendipitously, that entire galaxy is dead - nothing has ever lived there. Not even bacteria. This is home base.”


“I don’t get it,” said the Doctor.


“This is your escape hatch - our escape hatch, actually. You are now conditioned that if you have a stray thought or if you’re in danger, just click your heels three time together and say, ‘There’s no place like home,’ and bing! Here you are, right where no one will be looking for you. No one but me and our other team members.”


“I don’t actually have to click my heels together, do I?” the Doctor asked, furrowing his brow.


“No, but it would be really entertaining…” Crusher mused. “What was the longest time you could stay in one place and time?”


“Three days, almost,” the Doctor replied. “But on average, about two hours.”


Old Man Crusher stood up straight, raised his eyebrows. “I’m impressed. You learn quickly. Took me nearly a decade to achieve that level of control.” He touched the Doctor’s emitter with the tip of his staff. “Either way, you should now be able to come to this place about this time at will. Emergency home base.”



“So, does this mean I’m… free?” the Doctor asked.


“Not exactly,” Crusher replied. “You can go, but it will be quite some time before you can go wherever you want. Until then, you should regularly return here just to make sure you have it programmed in as an involuntary reflex. Believe me, you will need a safe place to retreat to and there is nowhere in all of space and time that is safer. Once you are able to stay in one place as long as you want to and have gained precision control over your timing - which may take you a few decades - meet me here five minutes from now.”


“Is this the kind of tortured use of verb tenses I can look forward to from now on?” the Doctor asked. “You time travelers should be arrested just for the damage you’re doing to the English language. What makes you think I’m going to show up five minutes from now?”


“You’re welcome to wait around and see,” Crusher answered. “Unless you’re already too bored to be bothered. I told you, the universe is a boring place. But when you come back, there’s something important that needs to be done and it will probably be somewhat interesting.”



“Interesting? Interesting??? We’re talking about bringing the borg back to the Alpha Quadrant! It’s going to be terrifying!!”



“Exactly!” enthused Old Man Crusher. He let his staff lean against his chest and rubbed his hands together and cackled briefly with glee. “See you in five minutes - well.. four minutes, thirty…” 


And with a wink, he vanished.


20.6

Episode 20.7: Survival - - Blue Morning, Blue Day by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Dr. Boles is in for a terrible day. In fact, it stinks...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 7: Blue Morning, Blue Day


20.7

Blue Morning, Blue Day 


“You stink, Boles.” Commander Kenny Dolphin was neither being mean nor joking. It was just a straight statement of fact.



Dolphin had requested this meeting in the privacy of the small surgery between the medical office and the larger surgery.



“You are human,” Lt. Napoleon Boles countered. “Humans are often…”


“Agent Anana Lynarr is full blood bolian and she does not make me wince when she walks into a room,” Dolphin countered. “You do. We have andorians, humans, bolians, betazoids, bajorans, ferengi, rigellians, vulcans, trills, and a veritable menagerie of hybrids living in extremely close quarters on this vessel. I never get any foul odor complaints about anyone except you.”


Boles was taken aback – again, Dolphin’s tone was not hot, just matter-of-fact. “My body chemistry…” he started.


“Napoleon, you are the most creative person on this boat,” Dolphin interrupted with some exasperation. “You are an expert biologist and an expert chemist and you have access to expert chemists – notably Dr. Tolon and Dr. Trei. You have earned a reputation as a problem solver. This is a problem. Put together a team and solve it. That is an order, Lieutenant.”


Boles snapped to attention. “Yes sir!” – almost too emphatically.


Dolphin sighed. “Pull whatever resources you need. Ask Sam to help as a control – he’s fully bajoran and has the most sensitive nose around here. And one more thing, Napoleon, for both our sakes.. When you ask your crewmates for help with this, let them think it’s your initiative and that I authorized the project at your request.”


“Are you instructing me to lie?” Boles asked.


“I am recommending you dissemble,” Dolphin replied. “If you tell people you really want to do this and that I authorized it, that would not be a lie. But telling people I bluntly ordered you to… resolve this issue… it would just cast both of us in an unfavorable light. Better to play the humble hero of this story than the victimized outcast.”



About an hour later, Boles was working with Dr. Jazz Sam Sinder, the first person whom he had approached about the issue.


“I’m really glad you asked me,” said Jazz, “and that you asked me first. We can structure the investigation first and then bring other people in as we need them. I have actually helped several crew members with controlling their atmospheres to an acceptable norm.”


“I really should have asked you some time ago,” Boles replied. “My last post had a large number of bolians – so many that I just generally spent more time with them.”


“And bolians, being carrion eaters, are a little more… um… appreciative of a broader bouquet of aromas,” Jazz concluded.


Boles laughed. “I have never heard it put so politely.”



Jazz smiled. “Most people think of themselves like moving boulders of flesh.” He thumped his chest. “They think they begin and end at their skin. Truth is, we’re more like walking planets. We have atmospheres and leave a trail of chemicals everywhere we go.” Jazz tapped his nose ridges. “Bajorans are acutely aware of this, but bolians, humans – everyone on this ship has a good enough nose to see our environment as a chemical soup. I know within minutes when someone gets horny even when they’re on another deck. Or mad, or injured, or drunk. With training and discipline, you can too. But the first step is to become acutely aware of your own chemical trail.”


“So you’re saying I should actually be… sniffing everyone?” Boles ran his blue hand over his deep blue scalp, squeezed the back of his neck.


“And I know every time you do that,” said Jazz. "When you squeeze your neck like that, it releases gasses trapped in your throat. Most people wouldn’t notice, but…” Jazz tapped his nose ridges again.


“I didn’t realize I was such a seething gas bag…”


“Everybody is. Dolphin put you up to this, didn’t he?” asked Jazz.


“He was pretty direct about it,” Boles answered.


“He runs a very different ship from Pep,” Jazz observed. “Everyone loves Pep and Pep has been in Star Fleet for more than a decade – he graduated near the top of his class at Star Fleet Academy. Dolphin came in five years ago with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and six months’ Officer Candidate School, but he runs a much tighter ship.”



“You like it,” Boles said with some surprise.



“I joined the Bajoran Resistance when I was 11,” said Jazz. “No uniforms, no rank and file, just a bunch of desperate kids, farmers and old men fighting the cardassians any way we could. I barely escaped a couple of cardassian prisons. We didn’t stand a chance. Sooner or later the cardassians would have ended us. Then the cardassians thought they would start a war with the Federation. My uncle managed to sneak me off planet to serve with a Federation medical unit as an observer and volunteer. I hated the cardassians and their boots and their uniforms, but Star Fleet – those people were professional. Really polished. 


“When we got captured, they put me in a Star Fleet uniform and pretended I was one of them. The cardassians treated their Star Fleet prisoners very differently from the way they treated bajorans. It was like they were almost afraid of them. They tried to act tough, but I could see the fear in their eyes when they talked to our lieutenant – and he was a doctor – he had never carried a weapon.” Jazz brushed and straightened his uniform. “This is just cloth, but whenever I put it on, I feel like I’m putting on armor. People are having to work a little harder with Dolphin running this boat, but they’re walking just a little straighter too. Feeling a little tougher. I like that feeling.”


Boles made a harrumphing noise. “Not how I was feeling about him…”


Jazz smiled. “Pep would never call you on an odor. He has a little bit of halitosis himself. Most people don’t notice it because his mouth is up here…” Jazz waved his hand about a half-foot above his head. “That’s where we need to start for you, too. Since you’re part human, there are lots of highly processed human foods you can digest, but you probably don’t digest them very well, and that will cause gasses to come out of pretty much every corner of your body – mostly your mouth. I’ve handled this sort of thing a lot – we have a lot of hybrids. In Pep’s case, he loves his meat, but he’s a quarter andorian and a quarter orion, neither of whom can handle red meat at all. So, let’s start by reviewing your diet…”


20.7

Episode 20.8: Survival - - The Ghost by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The Romulan Star Navy is in pursuit of a ghost... and they capture it!!

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 8: The Ghost


20.8

The Ghost
*note: Episode 1 was based on this scene


“It looks like a subspace distortion – a powerful one!” 


Lt. Gaia Gamor was already shutting down the warp drive as Commander Kenneth Dolphin gave the order: “Bring us out of warp!”


“The reading is about 30 light minutes ahead of us and closing fast – should we go to quiet mode?” asked 2nd. Lt. Tolon Reeves, currently at the tactical station.


“Shields up, power weapons, intercepting fire, now!” commanded Dolphin. “Dr. Moon, transfer additional atmosphere and plasma to the tactical unit. Lieutenant Commander Tauk to the bridge!”


Tolon had the shields and phasers up, but wasn’t certain what he was supposed to be shooting at until two romulan warbirds decloaked just as they were coming out of warp. One of them almost immediately sent out a spray of torpedoes toward the U.S.S. Hunter. Tolon’s hands were suddenly busy warding off a half dozen torpedoes. At least one torpedo got close enough to briefly overcome the Hunter’s inertial dampeners and rock the ship.


Lt. Gamor sang out as a reading flashed on the navigation station next to her. “The third beacon signal just came through! We have a fix…” 


One of the romulan warbirds turned immediately and went to warp at the same moment that Lt. Cmdr. Tauk arrived on the bridge, cane in hand.


“And they read it too,” Gamor continued. “They’re headed straight for it.”


“Staff tactical!” Dolphin ordered. 


Just as Lt. Cmdr. Tauk disappeared into the hatch for the tactical unit, Justice Minerva Irons came out of her office: “Commander Dolphin…”


“Yes your honor?”


“I want her back. Alive if possible, but I want her back.”


“Aye, Captain,” Dolphin said, then followed Tauk into the hatch and up into the tactical unit. 



The little ferengi, now seated at the navigation/tactical station, was giving himself an injection in the neck with a hypospray unit. For the first time in months, his eyes opened all the way and he took a deep, shuddering breath.


“Are you okay, Tauk?”


“Hurts like fire!” Tauk replied. “But I feel like I could wrestle an armored grummerhog to the ground and tear it apart with my bare hands!” He was visibly shaking. “Napoleon says I have about 6-10 hours of this, then I’m going to crash, hard. I don’t want to think about how that’s going to feel. Am I talking too much?” he asked as Dolphin, now in the pilot’s seat, hit the launch button at the very moment Justice Irons’ order came through: 


“Launch tactical. Simulate breach! Quick Quiet! Unnngghhh!!”


Tauk and Dolphin both held on as the tactical unit lurched hard on launch, ejecting the additional atmosphere and plasma to make it appear the Hunter had been destroyed by a near torpedo explosion. 



The deception almost worked too well.. The plasma between the tactical unit and the Hunter’s platform ignited, driving the two units apart and causing the tactical unit to tumble. With only minimal inertial dampeners online, Tauk and Dolphin found themselves made nauseous by the G-forces. But there was no time to indulge in that feeling. 


“They’ve gone to warp,” said Tauk.


“Without even coming over here to check their handiwork? That’s too sloppy for a romulan…” said Dolphin.


“Are we going after them or not?”


“Hang on to your walking stick…” In two swift moves Dolphin righted the tactical unit, then went to warp, tearing after the two giant romulan warbirds.


- * -


“Supreme Commander, the Pistris has…” Admiral Ekot had started speaking into the comm system, but within three words, Sela left her office and stepped onto the Bestia’s spacious bridge. Ekot walked toward her. “The Pistris and the Simiae have engaged the ghost.”


“Admiral, Supreme Commander…” Commander Hundeeth was in the command chair. “We just received the third beacon. And the Simiae has broken off to head for the beacon source.”


“Put us on course for the ghost, Commander,” Sela said. She ran her hand through her short, thick blonde hair, then made a fist. “Got them!”


Admiral Ekot raised his eyebrows.


“Oh, let me have a moment…” Sela said, then immediately her face hardened. “No, you’re right, no weakness. It’s just so tempting to give in to my human nature for a moment.”


Hundeeth spoke up. “The Pistris reports the ghost is destroyed and they are on course for the beacon source.”



Sela stormed to the command chair. “How long until we reach the contact point?”


“Three minutes, Supreme Commander,” Commander Hundeeth replied.


“Keep us cloaked when we come out of warp,” said Sela. “Then I want a thorough search pattern.” She turned to another officer. “Get me the Pistris telemetry from that fight now,” Sela turned toward the admiral of the first fleet. “Admiral Ekot, who is commanding the Pistris?”


“Commander Sillila,” Ekot responded.


“And her second?”


“Sub-Commander Thutuk.”


“The Pistris is now Commander Thutuk’s command and Centurion Sillila goes to engineering…”


Commander Hundeeth interrupted. “You will want to see this… We are in sensor range and we're picking up a ship there…”


Sela whirled and looked at the image of the U.S.S. Hunter (sans its tactical unit) on the screen. “I was right! It is a swaeshaeul!”


“Prowler class,” said Ekot.


“Registry reads N.D.C. 1201, U.S.S. Hunter,” said Centurion Cireeka.


“Not N.C.C.?” asked Sela.


“N.C.C. designates ships constructed for Star Fleet under a contract with the United States Navy and Curtis Industries out of San Francisco, California on Earth,” said Commander Hundeeth. “The Prowler class are constructed under the same contract by the Daystrom Institute at New Eden, Mars. N.C.C. stands for Navy-Curtis Craft. N.D.C. is Navy-Daystrom Craft.”


Sela raised her eyebrows. “You are a walking university, Hundeeth. I’m willing to bet there are a lot of Star Fleet officers who wouldn’t know that. That swaeshaeul should easily fit in our large hangar. Remain cloaked. Tie in the dampening generator to the tractor beam, kill that ship and put it in our large hangar. As soon as it is there, physically strap it down.” 


Sela turned toward Admiral Ekot. “Belay that order about Commander Sillila. She didn’t just leave without confirming a kill – she left a fully functional Star Fleet vessel unmolested in romulan space! I want her publicly stripped, striped and sent to the farms. From now on, she is Field Hand Sillila. She flew off, thinking she had destroyed this ship and left it right here, safe and sound. They must have blown out some of their own atmosphere and plasma to simulate a breach. Notify me when the Hunter is secured. I will be in my office reviewing the telemetry from Pistris.”


- * -



Your honor… Justice Minerva Irons was reclining on the chase in the medical office. She had suffered a cracked rib from being thrown against her seat restraint during the fire fight. The voice in her head came from Chief Tactical Specialist Rumi Grace – which meant it was urgent. We are not alone. There are almost a million minds out there. A cloaked ship. It has to be a battlegod.


Tell Gaia to take us to…. At the very moment Irons was thinking the word “warp” all the lights and control panels shut off. Irons found she suddenly had navigator Eli Strahl’s voice in her mind.


Minerva – the bridge has lost all power. I reached out to Dr. Moon. She told me all power systems have failed.


Rumi
, Irons thought, broadcast to all hands – prepare to be boarded. Tell Anana to hide. Irons pictured Navigator Eli Strahl in her mind. Eli, I need you to wake up the borg in my office and give him the following detailed instructions


20.8

Episode 20.9: Survival - - Roat Farm 1-A-179,792 by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The captured crew of the U.S.S. Hunter are put out to pasture...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 9: Roat Farm 1-A-179,792



20.9

Roat Farm 1-A-179,792


Justice Minerva Irons woke up in a hammock suspended between two trees. She tried to sit up, groaned in pain, then managed to swing her legs around and dangle them off the edge of the hammock, her feet barely touching the bluish green grass. This position allowed her to recline slightly in the hammock, taking the pressure off her cracked rib.


All around her, her crew were reclining on the ground. She could tell that they were breathing. Sleeping. A number of them were snoring. In addition to this somnolent symphony, unfamiliar insects were making various unfamiliar creaking noises that somehow sounded nightly. Light was slowly growing on what was evidently a meadow in the midst of vast farmland bounded by forest on all sides, beyond which snow-capped mountains could be seen in the distance. Unfamiliar birds made unfamiliar morning birdsong – yet it was somehow clearly the pre-dawn singing and rustling of small flying animals.


Large animals in the near distance, or perhaps housed in a nearby barn, made vaguely bovine morning noises. 


But the Hunter’s crew were not responding to this bucolic sunup serenade – they were sleeping a gorgeous sunrise away. Only two other people were up: Dr. Tali Shae was talking to a blonde woman wearing a shimmering, dark green gown. The blonde woman noticed that Irons was awake and walked toward her.


Irons had noticed her telepathic awareness had grown dramatically since her stroke; the power and confidence of this woman hit her like a wave of warm air. Even before she recognized the face, it was clear that this was the infamous half-romulan / half-human known as Sela – the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Romulan Star Navy and unquestioned ruler of the Romulan Star Empire. Irons did not need to look around – there were no other romulans present. Only Sela, alone and apparently unarmed, and completely relaxed among a field of enemies who were just now beginning to awaken.



“Supreme Commander,” Irons said. “Forgive me for not rising to greet you, but I am injured and I am very, very old.”


“I must say I am impressed, your honor,” Sela started. “No, please, remain seated… You took that baby shoe of a ship into battle against two romulan warbirds, convinced them to flee the field of battle, and your ship is nearly unscathed and you suffered the only injury of your entire crew. They are fine, by the way, just sedated. We thought it best if their captain were to wake first.”


“We?” asked Irons.


Tali Shae stepped a little closer. “Dr. Jazz and I developed the narcotics. It was either that or leave the crew to the tender mercy of romulan pharmaceuticals.”


“I will wait until your crew is awake,” said Sela. “Please marshal them and I will address them and explain your futures to you. Your ship, of course, is now mine."


“I do have one request regarding the U.S.S. Hunter,” Irons said.



Sela gazed at the judge, clearly in no mood to compromise.



“When you attempt to restart the warp core, please be sure the Hunter is at least 200 light years away from us. It is a tricky engine and very unfortunate things happen when it is mishandled. The last time that happened, the engine imploded, killing not only all of my crew, but everyone within a radius of 110 light years. Eight times.”


“What are you talking about?” asked Sela, clearly confused.


“We ended up in a paradox loop and were killed by implosion eight times before our previous director of engineering found a way out of the paradox,” Irons replied. “Imploding into oblivion is quite unpleasant. I recommend avoiding it, if you can.”


“I can tell when people are lying,” said Sela, looking at Irons suspiciously. “And you are not lying. But I will worry about that later. Your crew is awakening. I will return in a few minutes.” With that, Sela walked off toward the barns.



“Tali,” said Irons. “You are once again my first officer. Gather the medical department there…” she pointed to an area to her left, next to one of the trees her hammock was tied to. “But get me Lieutenant Boles first.”



Getting Boles involved a little bit of shoving as he seemed the groggiest of the crew. But once he was sufficiently conscious to understand the captain wanted him, he leapt to his feet, smoothed his uniform and tried not to run to report to Justice Irons.


“Lieutenant, for now you are my second officer. Marshal your departments in this area…” Irons vaguely gestured toward the area in front of her and to her right. The medical department was already assembling to her left. “Officers in front, crew lined up behind their supervisors.”


“Aye, Captain,” Boles responded and turned to find Lt. Moon, Lt. Gamor and Lt. T’Lon had been standing behind him. He looked down briefly, then back up. “All three of you are Star Fleet Academy graduates?”


“We are, sir,” Lt. Moon responded.


Boles pointed to his left. “Engineering…” he swept his hand center, then to his right. “Flight Operations, Ground Operations. Parade formation.” Lt. Moon and Lt. Gamor turned immediately to summon their people. Boles looked at the ground and muttered to himself, “Second officer? What do I do now?”


He was surprised when Lt. T’Lon put her hand on his chest. “You behave like the Star Fleet Academy graduate that you are and act as if you know what you are doing – even when you don’t.”


“Don’t you need to summon your people?” Boles asked, only to see the ground operations department already assembling.


“My department has several telepaths,” T’Lon answered. 


Lt. Boles made an amused noise, then asked quietly, “Why did Justice Irons choose me for this?”


“She didn’t,” T’Lon replied. “Kenny did.” She patted his chest, then stepped back to stand in front of her department just as the other departments were assembling.



Justice Minerva Irons addressed her crew: “You are about to be addressed by the Supreme Commander of not only the Romulan Star Navy, but the Romulan Star Empire. I expect you to behave as you would for any head of state - with the greatest of respect. Those of you who are telepathic, I do not want any attempt for you to read her mind or try to communicate with her. Discipline your minds to silence and remember every detail about what you are about to experience.”




Sela was walking up as Justice Irons completed her remarks. She cut an extremely elegant figure in the emerald green gown. A simple black belt gathered the garment around her waist, but she wore no other adornment and she was barefoot – clearly enjoying the feeling of the grass beneath her feet. 



“Welcome to Roat Farm 1-A-179,792. That is a deeply hidden bureaucratic code for an experiment. We have created very few of these environments against the need to keep people like you in ways that do not violate the Khitomer accords. Only now does the wisdom of such preparation appeal to me. This is your new home and you will live here and work these fields the rest of your lives. The only possibility of your return to the Federation is if there is a prisoner exchange. And we would never take such a risk.


“But you can have good lives here - very much unlike any of our other guests. You will live the way romulan farmers lived four thousand years ago. No electricity. But you will have running water. You will easily harvest enough roats and brukkas and milk and eggs to meet your quota and have plenty left to feed yourselves and increase your harvest for the next year. 


“There is a library in the main farmhouse that will teach you the romulan language, romulan history and then, most importantly for your purposes, romulan farming and animal husbandry. You have six anaixes in that barn. Unless you learn how to yoke them and harness them to the plough, you will starve before the year is out. But I understand you are an exceptionally smart and capable crew, so I am certain you will learn everything you need to know.


“Consider yourselves fortunate - this is a part of Romulus that you are standing on. This soil - the life in it. The life you will bring forth from it - all from Romulus. Treat it with reverence. You will not see my people very often - the occasional inspection and consultation. And when it is time to collect our share of your harvest. But remember - we will see and hear everything you do…” Sela walked into the ranks, looked up at Chief Tactical Specialist Rumi Grace, reached up and tapped her on the forehead: “And everything you think…”


Sela walked back to the front of the ranks and placed her hand on Lt. Gamor’s shoulder, looked around at the rest of the Hunter’s crew. “And please do not do the human thing - I know there is only one pure human among you, but so many of you, like me, have human ancestry… This is the most important thing I have to tell you… Don’t… Do Not fail to appreciate the wonders that await you. Don’t screw this up.”



Sela walked back to the hammock. Justice Minerva Irons slowly and painfully got to her feet.. 


“I know you may not expect this,” Irons said, “but on behalf of my crew, thank you, Supreme Commander. Whatever duty may require of us, please understand we are and will always be grateful for and deeply appreciative of this place.”


“Your words were very carefully phrased, your honor. I will consider them accordingly. Take care of your people,” Sela said, then, with flashing lights and a familiar whining sound, she was beamed away.



20.9

Episode 20.10: Survival - - Taking Stock by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

While Justice Minerva Irons and her crew learn about the farm that is their prison, the Romulans try to gain entry to the captive U.S.S. Hunter...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 10: Taking Stock


20.10

Taking Stock


Moments after Sela had left, the crew of the U.S.S. Hunter was still assembled. Justice Minerva Irons was taking stock of the situation. 



“We are prisoners and the first obligation of a prisoner is to escape. That understood, we cannot make light of Sela’s warning. We must treat this place with reverence and leave it better than we found it. To that end, we will live the lifestyle of pre-industrial romulan farmers.” Irons raised her hand. “How many of us can read romulan script and understand the written romulan language?” She was pleasantly surprised that in addition to the majority of her officers, the entire flight operations department and most of the engineers raised their hands. 


“You as well, K’rok?” Irons asked, surprised that her half-klingon transporter engineer had raised his hand. 


“Romulan poetry is underrated,” K’rok replied. “Pep got me interested in it.”


Irons smiled. “For the rest of you, I will be your teacher. The least we can do in return for our treatment here is acquire an appreciation for romulan history and culture. Such understanding is very likely to be of increasing value to the federation.” She raised her hand again. “How many of us have farming or animal husbandry experience?”


In response to this question, there were a surprisingly large number – in addition to herself there were Lt. Boles, Lt. Gamor, Ensign Alstars, Ensign Chelna Zusa (the new rigellian pilot coordinator), Ensign Eykirros Jones (the new half-kitarran investigations coordinator), Investigator Buttans Ngumbo, Flight Engineer Tomos and Tactical Specialist Veri Geki. 


“Unfortunately, my farming experience is limited to deep sea fishing, pineapple trees and making pineapple cider, none of which is likely to be of great use here," said Irons. "Dr. Boles, please pull together the other crew members with farming or ranching experience, assess their knowledge, then tour the facility with them and evaluate what needs to be done. Dr. Moon, get your department on evaluating the structures and the water systems and draw up maintenance and repair plans. Lt. T’Lon, evaluate available life support resources. Find out if there is clothing here for us. If so, please determine if it is suitable for working. If it is, I want our people to use that clothing when performing farming chores – in uniform at other times.”


Justice Irons turned her attention to Tolon Reeves. “Lieutenants Tolon and Phillips. Take the rest of the tactical squad, the pilots and navigators. Find anything around here that can be used for weapons. I want three teams with a tactical squad member and a navigator on each team. This place has boundaries. Find them and report back.”


Irons noticed the odd expression on Chief Flight Specialist Thyssi zh’Qaoleq’s face. “What is it, Chief zh’Qaoleq?”


Thyssi stepped forward. Dr. Tali Shae had the same strange expression. Irons looked at the two andorian women. “Well… out with it…”


Thyssi and Tali looked at each other. “Your honor,” Thyssi said, “I’m not sure anyone else noticed, but while you were speaking, we went to warp.”


“What??” Irons asked with some surprise.



“She’s right, Minerva,” Dr. Tali Shae responded. “We’re on a ship. A really big one…”


20.10

End Notes:

Character:                       Ensign Chelna Zusa (Zuza)
Human Ethnicity:             N/a
Additional Species:          Rigellian
Hometown/Homeworld:  Zig Farm, Rigel IV
Introduced: Episode         20.10
Age when introduced:      22
Role:                                Flight Team Leader, U.S.S. Hunter

Character:                       Ensign Eykirros Jones (Ike Jones)
Human Ethnicity:             African American
Additional Species:          Kitarran
Hometown/Homeworld:  Traders Pointe, Rising Sun
Introduced: Episode         20.10
Age when introduced:      19
Role:                                Investigations Coordinator, U.S.S. Hunter

Episode 20.11: Survival - - Passive Aggression by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

While Supreme Commander Sela tries to gain access to the U.S.S. Hunter, Justice Irons' plan springs into action.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 11: Passive Aggression


20.11

Passive Aggression


“How is it that we cannot beam aboard a ship that has no power?” 


Sela, still clad in her emerald gown, but now wearing black leather deck shoes, was standing in the large hangar looking at the U.S.S. Hunter. It was the smallest manned deep space vessel Star Fleet had ever commissioned – but still far larger than a runabout. It was easily the largest object in the Bestia’s enormous primary hangar, which accomodated several different types of launches, including cargo sleds designed for moving cargo containers that were themselves several times the size of a runabout. 


The Hunter had an alien look to it – completely different from traditional Star Fleet designs. The ovular saucer section was perched directly over a broad rectangular foot that contained the ship’s primary nacelle. The dark, flowing exterior of the ship was somehow slick to the touch. Admiral Ekot grimaced as Sela ran her hand along part of the nacelle. There was no friction. The surface was hard, smooth and subtly curved, leaving no straight lines or hard corners. Even devoid of power and life, the ship seemed to be crouched in a menacing pose, ready to spring. 



“This ship has very subtle passive defense capabilities,” said Commander Hundeeth. “We are bombarding it with a dampening field, but every time we try to beam a monitor onboard, the transporter signal provides power to a countermeasure system inside the ship that scrambles and deflects the transporter beam. Every time we try to scan the interior, the scanning signal provides power to one countermeasure system or another that scrambles and deflects the scan.”


Sela shook her head slowly. “Can’t we feed it a virus to take down those countermeasures?”


Hundeeth shrugged. “It would be like trying to infect a hunting knife with a computer virus. So far we have encountered well over a thousand independent countermeasure systems. Each one only responds to a certain type of energy and none of them process information. They respond in direct proportion to the power we feed them. When we try multiple, simultaneous attacks, multiple systems respond – each to the unique attack it is designed to counter.”


“Have you tried the door?” Sela asked.


“The skin appears to be continuous. No breaks. Until we can get a sensor beam through that skin, we don’t even know where the doors are,” Hundeeth replied.


“Then how were we able to beam the crew out?”


“Living beings are also power sources. We were able to lock on to them by their bio-signatures. This ship’s countermeasures can prevent us from beaming anything aboard – that requires active scanning. But those systems could not prevent us from locating the crew with a passive scan and beaming them out. I suspect if the ship had power, we would not have been able to do that either.”


Admiral Ekot walked up to the nacelle, touched it where Sela had. "You remain opposed to trying to cut into it?"


"That would interfere with my plans," Sela replied. "I need this ship to remain spaceworthy."


Hundeeth nodded. "Cutting into the skin would be a dangerous operation. It could damage evidence about the ship's design. Given the remarkable number of passive defensive capabilities of this ship, cutting could also trigger a variety of hazardous countermeasures."


“I want onboard that ship, Hundeeth,” said Sela. 


“Every puzzle has a solution,” Hundeeth replied. “The limiting factors are time and imagination. My best team is on this.”


“Satisfactory,” Sela said. “But I have other problems I need you to solve. Monitor their progress and inspire them as needed.” Sela turned and walked to one of the many transfer lifts. Admiral Ekot followed her.


Commander Hundeeth waited until the lift zoomed away, then opened his mouth widely, placed the knuckle of his thumb in his mouth and let loose an ear-shattering whistle. Romulans throughout the enormous hangar stopped whatever they were doing and turned. Hundeeth made a quick gesture with three fingers, then with his thumb and several of the people who had stopped hurried toward him.


- * -


Behind a false bulkhead in Justice Minerva Irons’ office inside the darkened U.S.S. Hunter, a small light came on, then began to glow just a little brighter. There was a slight whine of tiny servo motors activating and the glowing ocular implant that had replaced Hugh Mann’s left eye glowed a little brighter, producing just enough light to reflect off the bulkhead and dimly illuminate the pale, rough skin of the borg’s face. The borg’s right eye opened suddenly… His head turned mechanically, sharply, first slightly to the left, then to the right…


20.11

Episode 20.12: Survival - - Pepperheart by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Dolphin and Lt. Commander Tauk find the missing David Pepper and Mlady aboard a derelict Klingon Bird of Prey...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 12: Pepperheart


20.12

Pepperheart


“I estimate the first of the romulan warbirds will arrive in about eleven hours.” Lt. Commander Tauk, wearing a full EVA suit, was standing well behind Commander Kenneth Dolphin (also in an EVA suit), who was inspecting the wreckage of a klingon bird of prey. 



Dolphin carefully gripped a twisted hull plate. He easily lifted the massive piece of metal and tossed it into space. This exposed a corner of the bridge of the wrecked vessel. The asteroid the klingon ship had collided with was so small it had very little gravity. For safety, Dolphin and Tauk were independently tethered to pitons driven into the asteroid. Dolphin unhooked his tether from his EVA suit and magnetized his boots, then ducked and crawled into the bridge. Tauk followed him. They turned on their helmet lights.



“Pep…” Tauk said, grief evident in his voice. Dolphin walked slowly over to join his 2nd officer. 



Wedged firmly into the captain’s chair, his legs crushed beyond any hope of recovery, an oddly beatific expression on his face - almost ecstatic, was the enormous body of Commander David Pepper. His chest had been ripped open from his neck to his waist, his enormous rib cage split open, exposing now completely desiccated organs. A hole in the middle of his organs where his heart should have been. For all this damage, there was surprisingly little blood. In Pep’s right hand was a viewer. 



Tauk took the viewer from Pep’s hand. He and Dolphin looked at each other. 


Tauk thumbed a control on the viewer. Two files were displayed. One was titled “Read Now.” The other was titled “Read Later.”


Tauk looked at Kenny again, then pressed a control that activated the file titled “Read Now.”



Pep’s image appeared on the screen. He didn’t look good. “Losing atmosphere. We’ve been here 6 days. Not enough power to send a signal. I have a hemorrhage. It is beyond Mlady’s ability to heal. I have left a longer message – for later. Within the two hours, I will be dead. When you find me, my blood will be gone, but my heart is not missing. It will be where it has been for the past 20 years - with her. It should give her enough food for a prolonged hibernation. When you wake her, if she is still alive, do not feed her. Keep her bound. She will try to attack. But she should calm down within five minutes. Once she is calm, you can feed her blood, but only Tali’s blood will be truly nutritious for her. It may take a long time for her to recover to her normal state. You will find her in the atmosphere reclamation chamber, next to the warp core. This last is critically important. None of her remains may be allowed to remain here. Whatever you find of her, alive or dead, return all of it to the Federation. As for my empty shell, I die in command of the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov. I am to remain with my ship.”



Lt. Cmdr. Tauk led the way slowly deeper into the broken klingon ship.


“How are we going to feed her without Tali Shae?” Dolphin asked.


“One step at a time, sir. Let’s find her and get her back to the tactical unit first,” Tauk replied. Dolphin could hear the ferengi’s tortured breathing through the communicator in his helmet. Eventually they worked their way through a number of air locks to a section of the ship that was still pressurized.


“Close to zero degrees Celsius,” Tauk said. “Almost no oxygen. Mostly CO2.”


They found Lt. Cmdr. Mlady wrapped in a pile of blankets.


“Can you beam her directly into the maintenance hatch?” Dolphin asked.


“I set up a transporter code just for that,” Tauk replied. He touched a few controls on the arm of his EVA suit and with a familiar pattern of lights, Mlady was beamed out. 


“Time to try out our other new transporter program,” Dolphin said. “You first.”

Tauk looked around, then found a cargo container – walked over and sat down on it. Dolphin touched a few controls on the arm of his EVA suit and Tauk was beamed out.



Moments later, Commander Dolphin was transported into the pilot seat on the bridge of the tactical unit. Tauk was rocking back and forth in the tactical/navigation seat next to him, eyes squeezed shut, a grimace of pain on his face.


“Looks like your idea worked, Tauk,” Dolphin said. “The transporter successfully separated me from my EVA suit and beamed the suit's components directly into storage.” He paused, watched Tauk rocking. “The painkillers and stimulants aren’t working anymore, are they?”


“We need to leave before the romulans get here,” Tauk replied. “Then we need to revive Mlady.”


“I don’t know how we’re going to do that without Tali Shae.”


“One step at a time, Kenny. Let’s find a nice secluded patch of space to go dark in. Far away from here.”


“I’m not taking any chances with the remains of the ‘Iw Hov,” said Dolphin. “A photon torpedo to its weapons array should be sufficient. The secondary explosions will take care of the rest.”


“Aye, Commander,” Tauk responded, then touched a few controls. “Torpedo away.” Then, very softly, “Goodbye, Pep.”



The tactical unit glided away as a photon torpedo struck the wreck of the bird of prey just below the bridge, causing massive secondary explosions from its unexploded munitions, demolishing the remains of the small attack vessel and the asteroid it had collided with.


* ‘Iw Hov – (thlingn hol - Blood Star)


20.12

Episode 20.13: Survival - - Breaking Buddy by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Napoleon Boles saddle-breaks a ferocious beast...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 13: Breaking Buddy


20.13

Breaking Buddy


A majority of the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew were gathered around the stockade. The anaixes looked like a rather nightmarish cross between a moose and a grizzly bear (if a bit on the large side for either) – only with downy brown and purple feathers instead of fur. And short, very businesslike tusks. It was clearly an intelligent animal and had no desire to be yoked for field service. But Lt. Napoleon Boles did not intend to yoke the beast. A large saddle, clearly designed for the anaixes, was displayed prominently on the fence. The animal regarded the saddle with what could only be described as contempt.



“He had to choose the biggest one,” Dr. Tali Shae groused, not without some grudging admiration for the half-bolian, half-human biologist. “Not that any of them are really approachable. But I think that one’s got the nastiest temper, too.”


“Okay, Buddy,” Boles said. He entered one gate of the stockade, then went through the second gate. 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui quickly closed the gate behind him – letting the lock drop into place.


“We talked about this,” Boles continued. He was of average height, but solidly built. In addition to his Star Fleet uniform, he was wearing a pair of heavy gloves and carrying a large rope coiled in his left hand, the knot of a lasso in his right. “You and me, we’re going to be the best…” 


Apparently the word “best” was exactly the sort of word that would cause a feral anaixes to lunge – which the beast did, thrusting its tusks in an attempt to gore its blue interlocutor’s midsection. What it got instead was a lasso neatly looped around its neck as Boles danced expertly away.


For the next several minutes the anaixes made a variety of enraged, ear-piercing shrieking noises and altered between charging at the blue cowboy and trying to remove the lasso. Boles expertly evaded each attack and gave the beast plenty of rope to allow it to move freely about the stockade while allowing only minimal slack between the coil of rope in his left hand and the lasso around the animal’s neck.


“Best friends,” Boles continued, managing a soothing sound even though he was breathing hard. Which did not have a soothing effect on the anaixes – it charged him again. This time Boles stood his ground and with a quick twist of the rope, caused the anaixes to turn to its right and circle around him. Boles gradually reeled the beast in as it charged, was forced to circle and charged again until the powerful animal was next to Boles, its head close to the ground, forced to stay in position because Boles had one foot on the rope. 


“We just have to sort a few things out first,” Boles said, then leapt cleanly over the anaixes’ neck and landed on its other side just as the beast lunged sideways at him.


It took another forty minutes before the animal finally calmed enough to allow Boles to remove the lasso from its neck. The anaixes backed away and crouched, prepared to lunge. It glared intelligently at Boles.


“Now you have a decision to make, Buddy. You can decide to trust me, or we can do this all over again. I can do this all day long and all day tomorrow. Or you can come over here quietly and we can have a little talk about that saddle…” It had been nearly an hour of very hard work for the anaixes. Boles appeared to hardly have any dust on his uniform. “Now give me some credit – we went through all of that and I never hurt you. We just had to come to an understanding about a few things…”


Gradually, the anaixes relaxed, its breathing slowed. “That’s good, Buddy,” said Boles, “but you have to come over here to me. That’s the way this works. Slow and friendly now…”


- * -


Commander Hundeeth touched the door chime for Sela’s office. He was carrying a portable viewer. The door opened. “Come in Commander,” Sela said.


“Supreme Commander, you wanted to be notified of the progress of the prisoners in 179,792 with the anaixes…”


“They have already started to try harnessing them?” Sela asked. Her eyes and attention were on a report on her desk viewer. 


“I’m not certain you will believe this until you see it.” Hundeeth tapped his viewer. “That odd looking bolian is riding one of them…”


“Half bolian, half human,” Sela corrected, almost murmuring, still staring into the monitor on her desk, still absorbed in her report. 



She looked up suddenly, shocked. “He’s doing what???”


20.13

Episode 20.14: Survival - - The Inevitable by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Lt. Commander Tauk saves Lt. Commander Mlady's life.

This is the final scene for Episode 20. The story continues in Episode 21 - The Enemy of My Enemy.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 20: Survival

Scene 14: The Inevitable


20.14

The Inevitable


The tactical unit was nearly invisible, drifting dark in dark space, power dropped to minimal levels. The tiny, darkened bridge was empty. The door behind the command chair that led to the maintenance hatch was open. A needle in Commander Kenneth Dolphin’s arm allowed blood to flow into a line. Lt. Cmdr. Tauk was holding the other end of the line over Lt. Cmdr. Mlady’s open mouth, a thin stream of blood flowing directly into her mouth. 


The expression on her face was pathetic. She was clearly starving and the thin, unenriched human blood, though easy for her to digest, was not very nutritious. 



“That’s a half-liter,” said Tauk. “You may be feeling a little dizzy and you need to increase your protein intake for the next week or so.”


“But she’s still starving…” Dolphin said.


Tauk carefully removed the needle from Dolphin’s arm and bandaged the small hole it had left. “It’s time for you to go to the bridge. You should get some sleep before you power this boat up and head toward the rendezvous point. Mlady will need to stay in here and you cannot release her from her chains. She will hibernate after she’s had her fill.”


“Tauk…”


“Kenny, you knew this was going to be my last mission…”


“Wasn’t she supposed to heal you? Tali said she was your only hope…” 


“My only hope is for a few clear moments without pain,” Tauk replied. “That’s all I want now. Just a moment without all this pain. She takes away my pain and I give her all the blood and organ meat she needs to recover. No arguments, Kenny,” Tauk added as it was clear from Dolphin’s expression that he was in a mood to argue the inevitable. “You knew all along this was coming. You just couldn’t admit it to yourself.”


“Tauk…” There was nothing else Dolphin could say. The grimace of pain on Tauk’s face ended any argument before it could begin.


“We have already said everything that needs to be said. It will be all right. It’s time. Be sure to lock the hatch.”


Dolphin reluctantly backed out of the cramped maintenance hatch, leaving Tauk and Mlady. Just as he was about to close the door, he heard Tauk’s voice – “Kenny…”


Dolphin looked back into the hatch to see the ferengi, suddenly relaxed, clearly relieved of his pain, an almost blissful expression on his face. Mlady’s fangs were embedded in his arm. “It’s been an honor to serve with you, sir…”


- * -


In a nearby region of romulan space, the massive battlegod, the Imperial Romulan Warship Bestia, briefly eclipsed one star, then another in a distant star cluster as it cruised toward the beacon source point where the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov and the asteroid it had crashed into had been. 


Then the entire distant star cluster was eclipsed by the much larger ship that was following the Bestia…


20 – Survival

Episode 21.1: The Enemy of My Enemy - Battlegod by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The borg have engaged Supreme Commander Sela's flagship - the I.R.W. Bestia...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 1: Battlegod


21.1

Battlegod


The Romulan Star Navy had invested in the enormous warbirds, and then the far, far larger battlegods for a reason that had nothing to do with klingons or the federation, or the cardassians or the Dominion. Nothing any of those cultures had ever produced was so much of a threat that would spur such an enormous investment. The four battlegods were created to counter one specific threat – a borg cube. The battlegod was about half the size of a borg cube and was loaded with armaments unlike anything else in the alpha or beta quadrants. But the critical advantage and reason for the enormous size was the power source. Romulan warbirds were powered by artificially created microsingularities. It took over a hundred of these to be combined into the singularity that was housed in the Bestia – plenty to power the enormous disruptor cannon needed to cut through a borg cube. 


The I.R.W. Bestia was being trailed not by one borg cube, but by two. But something had happened to the borg after the collapse of their transwarp hub by Admiral Janeway. One of the borg cubes appeared generally, but not entirely complete. The other had suffered obvious damage and did not appear to be self-repairing – what repairs there were had a homemade, unprofessional look. Enormous holes in the structure were at best roughly papered over with sheet metal of some sort. Other holes in the structure simply gaped, allowing stars on the other side of the mammoth vessel to be seen through them.



“Get me a firing solution on the second ship,” said Sela.


“That will require us to reposition,” Commander Hundeeth replied. “Either that or manage to pass a disruptor beam through the first ship.”


“Which is why I want to hit the second ship first and I want to do it without letting the borg know that is our plan. I don’t care if we only get a corner of the second ship, get a firing solution on it. I want our torpedoes programmed to skim around the first ship and hit the second one.”


“The second ship?” asked Admiral Ekot. 


“Do it now!!” Sela ordered.


“We have a solution…” Hundeeth started.


“Shoot them! I want a full volley of torpedoes – front tubes as well as aft.”


“All front and aft tubes engaging. Main aft disruptor cannons engaged,” Hundeeth replied.


“That second ship is the threat, Ekot,” Sela said. “For some reason the first ship is fighting and repositioning to protect the other. And if we can cripple it, we only have to face one.”


The bridge of the Bestia shook violently as the first borg ship engaged with an enormous phaser cannon.


21.1

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy - - Introduction by Robert Bruce Scott

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy





Episode 21 – The Enemy of My Enemy


“Being the enemy of my enemy does not make you my friend. But an honorable enemy can become a valued ally.” – Klingon Proverb.





Crew of the U.S.S. Hunter: (Ship's Interactive Holographic Avatar - Hunter)


At-Large Appellate Justice, Captain Minerva Irons

Chief Executive Officer - Commander Kenneth Dolphin

Chief Operations Officer - Lt. Commander Mlady


Medical Director - Commander Tali Shae

        Asst. Medical Director - Lt. Jazz Sam Sinder

        Epidemiologist - Lt. Napoleon Boles

                Ensign Chrissiana Trei

                    Forensic Specialist - Midshipman Sif

                        Emergency Medical Hologram - Dr. Raj

                        Tactical Medical Hologram - Dr. Kim


Director of Flight Operations - Lt. Gaia Gamor

        Asst. Flight Dir. - 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips

                        Navigator Johanna Imex

                        Navigator Eli Strahl

                Ensign Chelna Zusa

                        Chief Flight Specialist Dewayne Guth      (last name rhymes with Booth)

                        Chief Flight Specialist Thyssi zh’Qaoleq  (last name rhymes with Chocolate)

                        Flight Specialist Dih Terri

                        Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar


Director of Ground Operations - Lt. T’Lon

        Asst. Ground Ops Dir. - 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves

                        Chief Tactical Specialist Rumi Grace

                        Tactical Specialist Dasare Eba    (rhymes with Cabaret Nina)

                        Tactical Specialist Veri Geki

                        Tactical Specialist Ranni Neivi

                Ensign Eykirros Jones        (nickname is Ike Jones)
                        Investigator Buttans Ngumbo

                        Special Agent Anana Lynarr, Trantor Police Intelligence Division (temporary assignment)


Director of Engineering - Lt. Moon Sun Salek

        Asst. Engineering Dir. - 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui

                  Midshipman Tammy Brazil

                        Transporter Engineer K'rok

                Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars

                        Flight Engineer Yolanda Thomas

                        Flight Engineer Thomas Hobbs

                        Flight Engineer Tomos

                        Flight Engineer Kerry Gibbon

Episode 21.2: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Blue Romulan by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The I.R.W. Bestia is under attack by superior forces and the crew of the U.S.S. Hunter cannot avoid getting caught up in the battle...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 2: The Blue Romulan


21.2

The Blue Romulan


In the main hangar, romulans were scrambling to report to general quarters. The romulan officer who was operating the main transporter unit was so clearly not a romulan that she should have been spotted immediately – her uniform was far too big for her and had been pulled over other clothing. A hastily applied wig of long, black hair was on a little crooked and some sort of green paste that had been smeared on her face and hands was melting, revealing blue skin underneath. And there should have been two officers at the massive main transporter console. 


There wasn’t much use for this transporter console during battle, so someone might have thought it odd that the officer operating it was evidently quite busy. But the security officers rushing through the hangar and adjacent cargo bays were looking for borg, not poorly disguised romulans. 


Just as Special Agent Anana Lynarr completed her search and enacted a massive transporter program, the entire ship shook from a hit from one of the borg vessels. Relays throughout the Bestia went haywire as energy coursed through the ship in ways it was not designed for. This caused explosions in the main transporter panel. Lynarr had to leap out of the way to avoid getting burned by forks of lightning and bursts of fire coming from the control unit.


“Hveolhaonn yuuhhai. Hveolhaonn duhaen hnaifv iudaiht etrifven kjumnaihsou hteij. Hveolhaonn uaefvalhuneitrde'h'n yuuhhai,” Lynarr shouted with a wave of her hand at a few romulans who had started to move toward her. They returned to their own priorities. Lynarr studied the control panel. “Dhaeg hldl aellei claehis aoni’rhnniohsyrrhihdh,” she muttered and began programming what was left of the panel, making repairs to various systems as she went. She rubbed her hands, trying to redistribute the green paste, only to reveal more of the blue skin underneath. “Their eyesight must be really terrible…”


*    Hveolhaonn yuuhhai. Hveolhaonn duhaen hnaifv iudaiht etrifven kjumnaihsou hteij. Hveolhaonn uaefvalhuneitrde'h'n yuuhhai:  I’m fine. I just need to repair this transporter. I will be fine.

* Dhaeg hldl aellei claehis aoni’rhnniohsyrrhihdh: Foot food and nose water (a mildly obscene romulan curse.)


- * -


At the back of the massive romulan battlegod, a row of batteries that helped power one of the largest of the disrupter cannon arrays exploded, opening one end of the corridor to space. Nearly a dozen romulan engineers were killed by the explosion, another group were blown out into space and the enormous aft port array of disruptor cannon went silent. A bulkhead slammed down, cutting off the last two batteries and the remainder of the area was swiftly repressurized. Only one romulan engineer had survived by clinging desparately to an EPS conduit running between two of the batteries.


Moments later, Lt. Gaia Gamor, Ensign Eykirros Jones, Ensign Chrissiana Trei, Tactical Specialist Dasare Eba, Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars and Flight Engineers Yolanda Thomas and Thomas Hobbs beamed into this battery array. The ship shook again from an explosion and threw nearly everyone against one of the walls, causing them to drop the various farming implements they had been carrying. Their boots were clotted with mud, which left long, muddy streaks across the floor as they struggled to keep their footing. 


Dr. Chrissiana Trei knelt next to the surviving romulan engineer who had also been thrown against the wall. The trill doctor helped the romulan engineer to her feet. “Does anyone speak Romulan?”


Flight Engineer Yolanda Thomas stepped forward and started talking with the engineer, then turned to Lt. Gamor. “Sir, these batteries are in direct line to power the aft port disruptors. If we can’t get that weapons array back online, the borg will get close enough to board. Engineer Muve thinks most of the batteries will work if we can route power around the first two down there that are blown out and this one,” Thomas pointed to one of the giant batteries in the middle of the line that was blown out and leaking acid. “All the tools and EPS conduit we need to do the job are in this area. If we work together, we can probably get it done in a few minutes…”


Lt. Gamor looked around, quickly assessed the situation. “Ensign Alstars, we are your team. Let’s get this array back online. Yolanda, you, me and your new friend – we will move from one end to the other to assess the situation and make changes as needed – let’s go!”


- * -


Dr. Tali Shae, 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips, Chief Flight Specialists Dewayne Guth and Thyssi zh’Qaoleq, Tactical Specialist Veri Geki and Transporter Engineer K’rok were beamed into Supreme Commander Sela’s office along with a different set of farming implements. Fortunately for them, the romulan supreme commander was not in her office. Instinctively, they hid behind any furniture they could find as they could see straight through the walls onto the bridge, into a conference room behind the bridge and out into space off the port side. Neither of the borg cubes were in view. They might as well have taken seats in Sela’s office (there were plenty of chairs) as they could not be seen from any of these areas. They were able to observe Sela on the bridge, and hear her and her officers ordering the battle.



“The port aft main disruptor is back online. We are deploying now,” Commander Hundeeth stated.


“Good,” said Sela. “Maybe that will force them to drop back so we don’t get overrun with boarding parties. I thought you told me that section had vented to space and all our engineers in that section were blown out.”


“We have had unusual transporter activity all over the ship, mostly borg boarding parties. But apparently a team beamed into the battery room for that disruptor shortly after it repressurized,” Hundeeth replied.


“Remind me to find out who beamed that team in there and reward them,” said Sela. “They very probably saved this ship.”


21.2

Episode 21.3: The Enemy of My Enemy - Strapped Down by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

About half of the crew are beamed into the hanger. The rest are scattered about the ship.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 3: Strapped Down


21.3

Strapped Down


Justice Minerva Irons and most of the crew of the U.S.S. Hunter were beamed into the main hangar just behind the main nacelle. She led the crew up to the back of the nacelle, pressed firmly against a section of the Hunter’s skin - several different sections - and a door opened into the rear of the nacelle. The crew who had beamed in with her followed her in single file into the darkened ship, leaving a pile of pre-industrial farming implements a few meters behind the ship. 


Investigator Buttans Ngumbo walked around the side of the ship and spotted the flimsily disguised Special Agent Anana Lynarr working frantically at the main transporter console. He sprinted quickly back and pulled Midshipman Tammy Brazil from the line. “You’re needed at the transporter console…” Buttans led Brazil away from the Hunter and to the platform Special Agent Lynarr was working (and swearing in Romulan) at. Chief Tactical Specialist Rume Grace, Ensign Chelna Zusa and 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui followed.


“We’re missing a lot of people, Anana,” Buttans said.


“I know, I know,” Lynarr said. “I was able to get about half of the crew here, but the resequencing program got scrambled and everyone else ended up in random locations around the ship. I’m trying to find them by their communicators. Fortunately, the romulans left your communicators on and active, so they could listen to everything you were saying. Unfortunately, I can’t easily track them all now with part of this system blown out.”


Chief Tactical Specialist Rume Grace stepped up. “I can tell you what our people are seeing. It appears Lt. T’Lon is in main engineering. There are borg in the area and T’Lon has gathered our crew and are trying to stay out of the fire fight. The romulans and the borg both seem to be leaving our people alone in that area.”



At that moment a disruptor beam passed close to Tammy Brazil, causing her to jump aside. 



“It looks like we have a fire fight here too,” said 2nd Lt. Sun. “Brazil, Grace, remain here and get our people back. Ensign Zusa, Investigator Buttans – with me.”


A number of borg and romulans were clashing in a far corner of the hangar. 


“Who are we helping,” asked Zusa, “The borg or the romulans?” A rigellian chelna, Ensign Zusa had gold eyes, thick grey skin, bundles of golden hair and what appeared at first to be a rhomboid tattoo surrounding her facial features. This coloration had lightened and retreated to the edges of her face – a sign of agitation among the chelna.


“We’re helping us,” Lt. Sun replied. “The Hunter is physically strapped down. We need to cut through those straps and we also need to take out the dampening field emitter – I’m hoping that’s it - the big array above our ship. It looks like an emitter array of some sort."


“Then we’re probably going to need that…” Zusa pointed to her left. 



The U.S.S. Hunter was the only warp capable craft in this main hangar. However, there were a number of landing craft and a couple of smaller launches with an array of external tools. 


“Those are asteroid cutters,” Zusa said. “I used to fly something similar before I joined Star Fleet. “Precision cutting tools for extracting minerals. Not much use as weapons, but I can use it to cut those straps.”


Lt. Sun simply ran toward the mining launch. Zusa and Buttans followed him.


21.3

Episode 21.4: The Enemy of My Enemy - Buddy and the Borg by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The giant moose/bear-like romulan anaixes squares off against the borg...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 4: Buddy and the Borg


21.4

Buddy and the Borg


Several of the corridors within the I.R.W. Bestia were enormous to allow large pieces of equipment to be moved through. In one of these, a few hundred romulans were putting up a tremendous fight against a horde of borg drones. The romulans were far more effective against borg than any other humanoid the drones had fought largely due to training, but also because of their superior physical strength. 


The romulans were fighting hand-to-hand using short swords – which were effective when used to attack the borg drones’ heads. The borg were using classic borg tactics, injecting romulans with nanites in an attempt to convert them into borg. Infected romulans used their own disruptors - shooting themselves in the heads with horrifying results to avoid being turned. 



As effective as the romulans were, they were being overwhelmed by the number of borg. Until a massive beast with a blue rider was beamed into the corridor. A number of the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew were also beamed in, carrying various farm implements. A number of borg turned to face this odd group of interlopers. 


“Okay Buddy, you’ve been itching for a fight,” said Lt. Napoleon Boles from atop the anaixes, “Let’s see what you can do…”



Suddenly, nearly all of the borg in the corridor abandoned fighting the romulans and lined up, requiring almost 30 of them to fill the corridor from one side to the other. They created a formation a dozen ranks deep.



Napoleon looked at this borg army as they started to move toward the small contingent from the Hunter. “Oh, oh no Buddy…. I don’t like the look of this. I think the collective wants to collect you…” 


Buddy (the rather moose/bear-like anaixes) pawed the floor, only slightly disconcerted that there was no dirt for him to stir up.


“No, no no no no no no,” Napoleon exclaimed, tugging on the reins and forcing the beast to turn away. “No time to fight today….” He looked down at less than a dozen of the Hunter’s crew – seven of them in addition to himself, pathetically armed with iron farming implements. “No fighting! Run away!!! Run Away!! Run Away Run Away Run AWAY!!! RUN AWAY!!!!” Napoleon ordered from atop his mount, then spurred Buddy.


Napoleon’s terror was infectious and the Hunter’s crew dropped their pre-industrial farming implements, turned and started running down the massive corridor, led by their fearful leader on his even more frightened steed. Buddy started bellowing in fear. 


Behind these few members of the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew marched an army of borg drones in lockstep, tight formation. The rear line of these had to turn back to fight off a rear assault from the reorganized romulans, setting up a pitched battle as the majority of the borg marched on – not running, but managing to move very quickly as the Hunter’s crew sprinted out ahead of them. 


Within about 200 yards, first Napoleon on his mount, then the seven crew members following him, came to a five-way intersection. Napoleon and Buddy – way out in front – turned down one of these corridors only to turn back toward the Hunter’s crew. 


“Not that way!” Napoleon yelled as a line of borg advanced from that corridor. The other three corridors were filled with romulans – swords drawn – also approaching in mass formation. 



“Why aren’t they shooting?” asked the terrified Flight Engineer Kerry Gibbon.


Dr. Jazz Sam Sinder answered, “The borg have adapted their energy shields to the romulan disruptors. Their disruptors are useless now. It’s hand-to-hand…”


“And we’re in the middle of it,” Navigator Johanna Imex observed. “They’re all headed toward us!”


Buddy whimpered pathetically.


“I do not want to be here anymore!” bawled Napoleon. “Somebody – anybody – Nine to beam out! Now please!!!”



With a familiar whine and sparkling of lights like a gigantic 1970’s discotheque, the pentagonal five-way corridor hub vanished along with the grim advancing ranks of romulans and borg, to be replaced with an equally chaotic hangar. Romulans and borg were battling in two different areas, both somewhat distant from the main transporter control in the center of the hangar. 



“The emergency door on the back of the nacelle is open,” said Chief Rumi Grace, gesturing toward the U.S.S. Hunter, parked a few dozen meters away. “Hurry!”



Napoleon leapt down from Buddy’s back and quickly unbuckled the saddle. Buddy made the removal of the saddle far more difficult by laying down on his belly, putting his giant, ferociously clawed paws over his eyes and whimpering in terror.


“Come… On… Buddy…” Napoleon grunted as he tugged the saddle loose from the enormous beast. Once the saddle was free, he walked up to stroke the anaixes’ head and turned toward Midshipman Tammy Brazil. “Can you send him back? This is too much for him. He needs to go home…”


“I have no idea how to do that,” Brazil complained.


“I can do it,” said Special Agent Anana Lynarr. “You focus on bringing T’Lon’s group in – they’re next.


Buddy started to howl, then vanished in a haze of lights.


“I really hope the borg don’t find his environment,” said Napoleon. “How is it that you’ve been able to work here uninterrupted?”


Rumi Grace gestured toward ongoing battles in two areas of the hangar. “The romulans are busy.”


At that moment, a powerful, concentrated beam laced out of one of the other ships in the cargo bay and began cutting the straps that secured the U.S.S. Hunter firmly to the deck. The contact point between the beam and the hardened carbon straps was brighter than a star. 


“Okay,” said Tammy Brazil, “Now I can’t see!” 


Rumi Grace stepped up behind her, looking over her shoulder, her hands on Tammy’s shoulders.


“Keep your eyes closed,” said Rumi.


“Okay - this is really weird,” said Brazil. She had to keep repositioning her hands as she worked the controls. “I can see the back of my own head, and my hands are really small and in the wrong place.”


“You’re seeing through my eyes,” Rumi said. “Just focus on which controls you want to operate and your hands will go there…”


21.4

Episode 21.5: The Enemy of My Enemy - Read Later by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Dolphin learns the fate of his late 1st Officer - Commander David Pepper.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 5: Read Later


21.5

Read Later


Commander Kenneth Dolphin set the autopilot. The tactical unit was on course for the rendezvous point, which was dark space, nothing but a set of coordinates chosen at random from within a field of acceptable options. Four additional backup locations had been prioritized against the possibility of an area becoming compromised by enemy presence or some other compromising event. 


It had been four days since Dolphin had left Lt. Cmdr. Tauk in the maintenance hatch with a starving carnivore. Or was she a parasite? Until now, Dolphin had always managed to set aside his discomfort about Mlady. Now he was having nightmares about her coming out of the maintenance hatch during his sleep. Nightmares about Tauk coming back as a ghost to haunt him. Nightmares about Pep’s enormous mangled, exsanguinated and desiccated corpse.


Travelling alone through romulan space was unnerving enough. It was worse not knowing what condition Tauk’s remains were in. Or whether the predator who had eaten him had slipped her chains. Dolphin was under no illusion that the lock on the maintenance hatch would present any obstacle to Mlady – the maintenance hatch had not been built to house a wild animal, much less an intelligent predator.



“Commander Dolphin…” The sound of Mlady’s voice over the comm system almost made Dolphin jump out of his skin. He looked about, panicked that she might be on the bridge with him. The maintenance hatch door was still closed. The ship status indicated that she was still in the maintenance hatch.


“Mlady?” Dolphin responded.


“I think it is important that you know… Lieutenant Commander Tauk’s heart stopped about five minutes ago. His higher brain functions ended four days ago, about 20 minutes after the two of you last spoke. He felt no pain.”


Dolphin had no idea what to say to this. It was important for him to know. He had no idea that any part of Tauk’s body would survive so long, but he was aware that Mlady could only consume living blood, living organs. At the first moment of necrosis, blood and tissue was no longer of any use to her.



“Do you know when we will meet with Tali?” There was a plaintive sound of longing in Mlady’s voice.


Dolphin took a deep breath, then responded. “We will be at the rendezvous point in five hours and about five minutes. If all has gone well, the Hunter will be there. But…”

“I understand,” said Mlady. “I have never eaten ferengi before. It will be very difficult for me to digest. I have wrapped Tauk’s remains in his uniform. You should be able to transport them into space. He wanted whatever remains were left to be disintegrated. He left a few things for you.”

Dolphin had been wondering where the grief had been all this time. Hiding behind a log jam of other emotions – fear, guilt, resentment, anger, disgust – even relief that his friend was finally free of the pain he had been hiding for months. Now was a very inconvenient time for the grief to show up. It overwhelmed him, leaving him unable to speak.

Mlady was silent for several minutes. Perhaps she could hear or smell. Dolphin put his head in his hands and just tried, unsuccessfully, to hold the waves of emotion back. He hadn’t been raised to display emotion – even alone and he really had no idea how to handle it. 


Once the flood gates were open, more grief came elbowing through – in two years Dolphin had lost a lot of friends. T’Lok Smith. Joey Chin. Lynhart Shran. David Pepper. But somehow Tauk’s loss was the one that really hurt. Young, brilliant, unusually capable, surprisingly likeable – especially for a ferengi – until the endless pain made him hardened and bitter. Even then he had shown a unique ability to recognize and appreciate a moment and draw others into it with him. Somehow, in spite of the many hard calls he had been called on to make and the months of unremitting pain he endured, Tauk had died innocent.


“Commander,” Mlady said softly.

“Yes, Lieutenant Commander?” Dolphin managed.

“I am about to enter hibernation. I can hibernate for a very long time. Please do not wake me until Tali is here.”

Dolphin struggled to regain some semblance of control. But all he could manage was, “Understood.” 

Somehow he could sense Mlady gradually entering hibernation. 


As creepy as warping though romulan space with a deadly predator in the next room less than 10 feet behind him had been, it now felt even creepier to be out here alone. 


Dolphin cast his eye on the reader laying in the seat next to him. He picked it up. Thumbed the control. Two displays came up: “Read Now;” “Read Later.” He sat and looked at it for nearly a full minute, then finally thumbed a control that activated the “Read Later” file...


21.5

Episode 21.6: The Enemy of My Enemy - - Escape by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The U.S.S. Hunter leaves the hangar

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 6: Escape 


21.6

Escape


The U.S.S. Hunter was freed from its straps, but it still had no power. The crew inside were feeling their way through a completely darkened vessel. The first thing Justice Minerva Irons did on entering the crawlway in the nacelle housing was find a cabinet where several dozen flashlights were stored – but none of these had any power either. She distributed them anyway.


Flight Engineer Tomos took the lead. He had spent more time working in the nacelle than pretty much anyone else and knew the number of steps to the stairway that led the way up into the engineering decks. Once the crew were in engineering, most of them were gathered into the engineering conference room and, although they could not see, sorted by department to be counted. Justice Irons led 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves and 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips up the ladders and though the Jeffries Tubes up to the bridge. Once on the bridge, they were able to see through the viewer – which was only a window now. 



In the mining launch inside the Bestia’s main hangar, Ensign Chelna Zusa was at the control panel for the cutting beams, retargeting after having cut through the straps that had held the U.S.S. Hunter, just a few meters away, strapped firmly to the floor of the hangar. 


Buttans Ngumbo pointed to a large array above the Hunter. “So, do you think that’s the dampening generator?”


“One way to find out,” said 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui.


“Targeting the emitter,” said Ensign Zusa.


She positioned the cutting beam and fired it directly at the array. 



Nothing happened.



“What?” asked Zusa.


“There’s your answer,” said Lt. Sun. “Try targeting the housing above it.”


“Aye, sir,” Zusa responded and retargeted the cutting beam. The beam connected solidly with the housing above the emitter array. Within a few minutes, the Hunter suddenly came alive, its navigation screens creating a positive space between the deck of the hangar and the nacelle.



Buttans leaned out of the door and shouted at Special Agent Lynarr: “Anana, I’m coming to you. Can you send Lieutenant Sun and Ensign Zusa to the Hunter?” Buttans swung off the door of the mining launch and slid down the ladder to the deck. As he exited the unit, the alert klaxon started blaring as the main hangar bay doors started to open. A force field kept the atmosphere from venting. Behind him, he could hear the familiar whine of the transporter beam inside the mining launch. Buttans hit the deck running. He stopped to scoop up a disruptor pistol from a dead romulan – and fired it at a living romulan who was coming up behind Anana.


“Do you have everyone?” Buttans yelled.


Lynarr looked around her quickly - then, “Yes.”


“Go – all of you – I’ll cover you.” said Buttans.



When Buttans reached the back of the nacelle, the door into the back of the nacelle was about 5 feet off the deck of the hangar bay. Rume Grace was pushing Anana’s legs, helping her scramble into the doorway, then leapt up after her. At this point the nacelle was nearly 8 feet off the deck. Grace laid down on the floor inside the nacelle, gripping a bar with one hand – reaching out with the other. 


Buttans leapt up and grasped Rume’s hand and scrambled over her up into the nacelle. Once he scrambled inside, he assisted Rume Grace to her feet, then closed the door behind him. “Run! We have to be out of here before they fire up the warp engine!”


21.6

Episode 21.7: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Wreck of the I.K.V. 'Iw Hov by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Pepper's last words.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 7: The Wreck of the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov


21.7

The Wreck of the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov


Commander Kenneth Dolphin set the reader on the tactical unit’s pilot control console and hooked its readout into the main viewer, but found himself watching the small viewscreen on the reader as much as the main viewer. Commander David Pepper had evidently recorded this message some time before the death message Kenny and Tauk had viewed nearly a week earlier on the asteroid.



“Welcome to the ‘Iw Hov. Sorry for the mess. It’s ironic. I finally get my own command and the captain has to go down with his ship. When I beamed on board to retrieve Mlady, and to make sure our klingon friends didn’t get to keep her, or the gamorlans... Well…. About the mess… You’re just going to have to see this…”


Pep’s image was replaced by what was clearly ship’s footage of one of the gamorlans, looking up at a security camera. Pep’s voice continued narrating: “Cute, isn’t he? The soft fur ridge around his face… The big sad eyes…” The gamorlan suddenly opened its mouth – wide – exposing a mass of fangs – and lunged at the camera at incredible speed - then the picture cut out. And was replaced by Pep.


“Yeah, they have claws too. And brains. Our klingon friends beamed five elderly gamorlans onto the ‘Iw Hov and those five cute little old aliens went through 23 klingon warriors like a knife through hot butter. But that wasn’t all. They tore this ship apart, quite literally. Less than half the ship’s systems were operational by the time I made it to the bridge.”


The image shifted to a view of the bridge of the bird of prey as seen from another security camera. Klingons were shooting wildly at three gamorlans, but the tiny aliens moved almost too fast for the eye to follow. They burrowed through the klingon crew with ruthless speed, then one of them crawled up under the pilot’s station and started dismantling it, taking a number of electric shocks that would have killed a full grown klingon.


“These little guys are so ferocious that Mlady had to lock herself in the brig just to get away from them. It’s important to remember these little creeps drove themselves into extinction over religious differences. I suspect they would have been even more intolerant of other species. From the technology I observed, I think they were about a hundred years or less from developing faster than light travel. I could say I’m sad they didn’t make it – but I would be lying. I think the galaxy dodged a big one when these guys snuffed themselves out.” 


“So anyway, one of them was already dead when I beamed onboard. I killed three more of them and took command of the ship. There were two surviving klingon crewmembers – Udrus Rorger and Avor Firshok. I had vented most of the ship’s atmosphere and the warp drive was offline. But the cloaking device was operational, so I was able to land the ‘Iw Hov inside one of the damaged decks of that enormous romulan battlegod, the Fero, just before they went to warp. I was hoping to resupply, but we still had a live gamorlan on board and something it did caused the cloak to go on the fritz.”


“I was only able to resupply our atmosphere and we jumped off the Fero as they were passing this solar system. Which left us in the outer asteroid belt. Udrus and Avor were doing their best to keep up with the gamorlan, but there was no way they could make repairs as fast as he was tearing things up. They caught up with him in the port wing. Here’s what the internal sensors picked up…”



The viewer displayed part of a corridor leading to an access hatch. A female klingon staggered into the picture, trying to dislodge a ferocious furry creature from her chest. His fangs were able to penetrate her armor and he bit her neck viciously, then turned around as she fell to the deck, ready to pounce. A disrupter beam passed through his head and sparked on an EPS conduit in the wall behind him, causing a series of explosions. A large hole opened, then the entire corridor was open to space, blowing out the bodies of the dead gamorlan, the dead klingon and another klingon who was still alive… but evidently not for long. Shortly after she was blown out of the breach, the wing section that had broken off tumbled back into view and the nacelle attached to the end of the wing exploded, causing the camera to go dark.



David Pepper’s face returned to the screen. “And that was the last gasp for the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov. We tumbled without power for any system except life support for six hours. It was extremely uncomfortable because the inertial dampener was offline. So imagine spinning at about 1.4 G. For six hours. Until we finally hit one of the asteroids. At which point we lost life support. My legs are crushed. I would have died two days ago except for Mlady. I plan to record another file to provide instructions on how to safely handle her since she will soon enter hibernation. It has been a good run.”


“When I was a child I read all the heroic klingon poetry I could get my hands on. I always wanted to captain a klingon bird of prey. These are legendary ships of adventure. When I was working on my doctorate, I spent five years with the klingons, serving on their ships, living on their homeworld, the most egalitarian people I ever knew until I came to serve on the U.S.S. Hunter. Do not mourn for me. I have had an amazing life. Take care of Mlady for me. This is Commander Dave… No… Captain David Pepper of the I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov, signing off. Heghlu’meH QaQ javjam!”



As the image of his late first officer vanished and the screen went dark, Kenny Dolphin found himself, inexplicably, smiling, laughing and weeping simultaneously. It was a silent laugh, not a response to humor, but a recognition of triumph. Something magnificent had passed through the universe – and he had left his mark.


* Heghlu’ meH QaQ jajvam! (Today is a good day to die!)


21.7

Episode 21.8: The Enemy of My Enemy - A Big Enough Lever by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Federation dignitaries inspect the U.S.S. Ark under construction in orbit of the Bolian homeworld..

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 8: A Big Enough Lever


21.8

A Big Enough Lever


The U.S.S. Ark was nearing completion. The first Star Fleet vessel to be commissioned for construction entirely outside of the human homeworld solar system, its commission number was NBWC 1001. It was being built in the Bolarus system, and its construction had been kept very, very quiet. Just as the development of Earth’s first generation of faster-than-light ships had brought humans and vulcans into a close relationship, the development of the Ark was bringing humans and bolians into a much closer relationship.


The design was reminiscent of the classic double-hulled Star Fleet design – with two significant exceptions: The Ark had five hulls – and they were enormous beyond imagination. Instead of one saucer section, there were four, attached above and beneath an enormous, roughly cigar-shaped engineering hull front and rear. Six wings radiated from the center of the engineering hull, each supporting nacelles that were themselves each more than twice the size of an engineering hull for the old galaxy class starships, but looked hopelessly small compared to the enormous saucer sections they had to move. 


The ship seemed to have no front or rear or top or bottom – the engineering hull supported two bridges on opposite ends and opposite poles of the engineering hull. Each saucer section also supported a bridge, in the traditional location at the top.



The U.S.S. Victory, a Galaxy class starship, drifted between two of the saucer sections, entirely dwarfed by them. A unique group of dignitaries stood on the observation deck, inspecting the work in progress.


“It’s a push-me, pull-you,” observed Federation President Maria Rodriguez. “Why is it designed with such a strange configuration?”


Federation Council Leader Ushi Irons put his hand on the shoulder of a very large, elderly bolian. The latter cleared his throat loudly, drawing the attention of everyone present.


“The U.S.S. Ark uses a modular design,” said Web Planning Commissioner Xagg Boles – with an odd emphasis on the word ‘Ark’. “It may surprise you that the Ark is designed for stable flight at warp 9.95. Believe me, it surprises me. We plan ultimately to build three sister ships to the Ark. Any of the four primary hulls can attach to any of the four primary hull ports on the engineering hull and will, once the entire line is created, be interchangeable with any of its sister ships.”


WP Commissioner Boles gestured toward one of the enormous, saucer-shaped primary hulls. “Each primary hull is capable of independent travel at up to warp 4. These ships are being created for major planetary rescue missions. Three primary hulls could be placed in orbit to conduct stabilization and rescue missions while the fourth could remain attached to the engineering hull to take an initial planning and preparation group to a refugee location. That primary hull could be left in orbit to prepare the location for a massive influx of refugees, freeing the engineering hull to return to the disaster location and pick up the other primary hulls as they fill up and are ready for evacuation. The engineering hull is bidirectional to allow it to quickly reverse, saving hours of travel in case of emergency. This also builds resiliency into the system. The engineering hull can sustain a tremendous amount of damage and continue to be fully functional as all functions are at least duplicated and in most cases quadrupled in very remote locations.”


“The Ark appears to be quite well protected,” intoned Emperor Sin IV. “I see evidence of hundreds of interceptor ports. And both the engineering and primary hulls appear to have some extremely large phaser cannon as well as no small number of torpedo tubes. Why all the firepower, Commissioner?”


WP Commissioner Boles shifted uncomfortably. “That was a requirement from Star Fleet. I think I should defer to the Commandant…”


Star Fleet Commandant Barrett th’Zoarhi spoke up. “One of the most prevalent and dangerous byproducts of natural disasters is war, Emperor. We anticipate pressures that may cause us to need to move populations under duress…”


“It appeals to me,” the emperor interrupted, “that we have recently learned a harsh lesson in the value of superplanets – planets like Earth and Bajor that are exceptionally fertile worlds – abundant with life. With the destruction of the greatest superplanet in this part of space, Romulus, we learned how fragile our coalition is and how vital superplanets are to us. And there are no less than five superplanets within the federation that are homes to protected populations. How do you put it? Innocents – those who have not yet developed faster than light travel. It appeals to me that such a mobile space station as the Ark would be perfectly suited for removing these populations from their exceptionally fertile worlds against their will.”


“If we were such a people, why bother moving them at all?” Chief Justice Julian Bashir’s cultured British accent caught everyone’s attention. “If we were such people, we would not need the Ark for that. One ship like this one that we are standing on now would be easily sufficient to enslave a planetary population and cause them and their planet to produce for us.”



A combined shiver ran through the various dignitaries at hearing the Chief Justice describe such harsh eventuality in his trademark suave tones. 



Emperor Sin IV turned his blind eyes toward Bashir. “It also appeals to me that this flying fortress could carry vast amounts of soil and, either with or without the consent of the rescued, pluck an entire world, from the topsoil to the dominant species from the claw of an enemy. Such a world might then be transplanted into the Federation…”


“Emperor,” said Ushi Irons, “What kind of people do you think we are?”


“You misapprehend my concern, Council Leader,” said the andorian emperor. “I am not concerned about the kind of people that we are. I am concerned about the kind of people that we might be tempted to become…”


21.8

Episode 21.9: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Second Cube by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The U.S.S. Hunter and the I.R.W. Bestia both have a problem - and the solution is the second cube...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 9: The Second Cube 


21.9

The Second Cube


“We have power!” 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips exclaimed.


“Tali – do we have all hands on board?” asked Irons.


Dr. Tali Shae’s voice came to the bridge across the comm system: “We’re missing Lynarr, Grace and Butt.. wait – they just came up out of the nacelle – we have everyone. Go!”


“Ethan – get us out of here!” Irons ordered.


Phillips was already taking off from the hangar bay. The doors were starting to close again as the U.S.S. Hunter slipped through.


“Your honor,” said 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves. “On the wall…”


Irons turned to see a section of the wall near her office door now had Chinese script engraved on it. 


“Reeves, there are two borg cubes out there. I want you to get me a solution on the second cube,” said Irons. “All hands, brace for QuickQuiet – Boles, Gamor and Alstars to the bridge. Ethan – we need to be out of range of the romulan tractor beam. A quick burst on full impulse, then use the thrusters to give us a little tumble.”


The sudden jolt from the impulse engine felt different from the feeling of warp drive in the deckplates. It only lasted a few moments. A quick hit from the port thrusters and the Hunter veered off to port just as the ship went dark from the QuickQuiet order.


Because the lights had been off throughout the ship for several days and had only been on for a few minutes before being shut off again, the luminescent wall panels had almost no energy to reflect back into the hallways. The interior of the ship quickly became pitch black with the exception of a few monitors. 



“We had to take to the Jeffries Tubes,” said Lt. Gaia Gamor, walking onto the bridge.


“Bloody uncomfortable, cramped things, no bloody light,” added Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars as he followed her in.


“Language, Geoff…” said Boles, bringing up the rear.


“You’re not the one with the jolly lumps about the forehead,” Alstars groused.


“Gaia, take navigation,” said Justice Irons. “Mr. Alstars, join Lieutenant Tolon at tactical. It appears our resident borg left a message. There are two borg cubes out there. Neither is in good shape at the moment. The one that is more complete is keeping the romulans away from the second cube. Command and control is coming from the second cube. The last thing we need at this moment is an active borg invasion in romulan space. So how do we take out the second cube?”


“With the Hunter?” asked Lt. Tolon. “Even if that ship is as badly damaged as it appears to be, we don’t have enough in the way of weapons to even tickle it.”


“Can you display passive sensor readings?” asked Lieutenant Boles. “I’d like to see how big those holes are. Do any of them go straight through?”


Justice Irons spoke up. “Do you really think they would let us do to them what we did to Gamorlan?”


“If we set the trajectory and then go completely dark.. Just a tiny piece of debris drifting through…” said Boles. 


“I’ve got something that might work,” said Lt. Tolon. “We’ll have to take a 20 degree turn about three-quarters of the way through.”


“Send the coordinates and configuration to Gaia,” said Boles. “Alstars, get with Gaia and work out a passive solution. See if you can get us headed straight through that opening. When we come to the turn, we’ll reorient with impulse and at the same time go to warp 4.2 – that should create enough of a warp shell to rip them open but not so big that we can’t break out. Geoff – I need you to verify my math on the warp factor.”


“I’ve already done the math,” Ensign Alstars responded. “You had a good rough guess, but I think we can risk 4.218.”


“Your honor?” asked Boles. 


Justice Minerva Irons stood up and gestured to the captain’s chair she had just vacated. “It’s your mission, Mr. Boles. Take command…”


- * - 


Hundeeth spotted something flashing on his console. He hit a control, then turned to Sela: “Supreme Commander, the main hangar bay door is opening!”


“We don’t have time for this Hundeeth – get it closed!”


“I have sent the override command, but the U.S.S. Hunter is already exiting.” 


“Good,” said Supreme Commander Sela. “I will want a complete analysis of how they escaped, complete telemetry from the hangar bay. We’ll have time to review that later. Now, I need you to get me a firing solution on that second cube!” Sela ordered. 


“What is so important about the second cube?” Centurion Cireeka asked quietly of an officer next to her.


“They’re not shooting at us.”


“Exactly,” said Commander Hundeeth. “They’re hiding behind the first cube. That suggests command and control. These borg are in really bad shape – both ships...” 


While Hundeeth and Cireeka were involved in targetting the borg ships, Sela turned her attention to the admiral of the first fleet. "How are we handling the borg landing parties?”


“Better than three for one,” Admiral Ekot replied. “The sword and shield training has paid off.” 


“Not well enough if we’re losing one for every three of them we kill,” said Sela. “We need to improve both training and…”


At that moment an enormous explosion could be seen behind the borg cube that the Bestia was engaged with.


Commander Hundeeth checked his readings. “Borg landing parties are exiting. They’re taking everything they brought.”


“How did we get the second cube?” asked Sela.


“We didn’t,” said Hundeeth. “The Hunter did. The first cube is withdrawing.”


“No they don’t! They do not leave our space! Take them apart!” Sela ordered. “Follow and destroy. Leave some probes and a landing unit here to find out how Star Fleet destroyed that 2nd cube…”                  


21.9

Episode 21.10: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Fourth Signal by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Mlady has re-entered hibernation - and her communicator is transmitting a beacon signal again..

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 10: The Fourth Signal


21.10

The Fourth Signal


“I need more, Doctor Moon…” 2nd Officer Napoleon Boles was frustrated. His Director of Engineering was refusing to certify the U.S.S. Hunter for recursive warp (zip drive) because the mass of the hull was out of tolerance by a few kilograms. “Hunter…” Boles looked about the bridge.


The ship’s interactive holographic avatar appeared in his preferred location behind the navigator’s station. “Lieutenant Boles…”


“Could the romulans have attached something to your hull while you were powered down?”


“I am not finding any irregularities…”


“Scan your hull down to the micron. Could they have… I don’t know… sprayed on some sort of film?”


“Scanning…” said Hunter and promptly vanished. A moment later the avatar reappeared. “Confirmed. With the exception of the underside of the nacelle, I am finding a new layer of material approximately four microns deep that has been applied to the hull.”


“Geoff,” said Boles, “Get down to engineering. Work with Hunter and your department to identify the substance and determine how to safely remove it.”


“I’ll go get a chisel…” Alstars groused.


“Get a helmet,” Boles suggested. “Lieutenant Gamor, are we anywhere near an asteroid field or any debris field we can hide in?”


“Our closest option is to return to the scene of the battle,” Lt. Gamor replied. “Sensors show the Bestia left in pursuit of the remaining cube.”


“They might have left some assets to protect the resources left by the borg,” Boles mused. “Next?”


“A gas cloud about 2.3 light years distant and a brown dwarf system just under 4 light years away,” Gamor said.


“The gas cloud would be an attractive hiding place for pirates – which makes me think there might be a warbird lurking in it. How long to the brown dwarf at warp 8?”


“Just under a day and a half,” Gamor responded.


“Find me a rock between here and there to hide on for a few hours so we can scrape the hull,” said Lt. Boles. “You have the con. I will be in medical.”


“Are you all right, sir?” Gamor asked.


“None of us are, Lieutenant. If the romulans spray painted our hull with something, what do you want to bet they did the same to our stomach linings? They also ran us through their transporter, which means they have the precise frequencies for each of our internal communicators. Who knows what else they have done to us? I knew that escape was far too easy...” Boles was already near the exit to the bridge. “Special Agent Lynarr, this is Napoleon Boles. Meet me in medical…”


- * - 


Commander Kenneth Dolphin was startled out of a deep sleep. He had stationed the Hunter’s tactical unit at the rendezvous point and gone dark – reducing power output to minimal life support in an attempt to go unseen in dark space. Something had set off a signal alert. 


“What was that?” he asked of no one in particular, since he was alone. He scanned the control panels in front of him. An indicator was flashing on the navigation/tactical panel next to him. Dolphin leaned over, touched a control, read the display.


“Shit!”


“I believe you would chide any of your crewmembers for such language,” came a familiar voice.


Dolphin was nearly startled out of his wits. “Hunter?”


“Hunter Tactical,” came the response. “I have been here all along. You seem to be somewhat anxious. You do remember Dr. Kim and I are both here.”


“Thanks, Hunter,” Dolphin said. Then: “Mlady’s communicator is sending out her hibernation signal again. That’s going to bring romulans here. We can’t stay here. Bring the engine online and get ready for recursive warp – we’re on the move…”


- * - 


It started with the stomach pumping – which included deep cleaning of every part of each crewmember’s digestive system to include such organs as intestines, livers and kidneys. It was an extremely uncomfortable, inconvenient and, in most cases, completely humiliating experience. Everyone onboard had to go through it except Special Agent Anana Lynarr and Hugh Mann (who was once again dormant in his recharging alcove in the captain’s office.)


Of the U.S.S. Hunter’s crew, only Lynarr had not eaten romulan food – which, it turned out, had been laced with very low levels of a radio-isotope of iridium that would eventually have done long-term damage to the Hunter’s crew members. A similar isotope of iridium-oxide was found to have been sprayed onto the ship’s hull. For good measure, Lt. Napoleon Boles ordered each crewmember’s internal communicator removed, destroyed and replaced with a new communicator tuned to a new unique frequency.


Initial attempts to remove the isotope from the Hunter’s hull using the transporter verified that the isotope would contaminate the transporter system – as Midshipman Tammy Brazil had warned. Decontamination of even a small amount from the cargo bay transporter took nearly three hours and further attempts to use the transporter for iridium-oxide removal were abandoned. 


In desperation, Boles finally ordered the iridium-oxide isotope layer burned off with hand phasers, which required a dozen crew members in full EVA suits to walk on the outside of the ship, setting the volatile iridium-oxide isotope on fire with sustained phaser blasts. This created a surreal vision of a dozen people in space suits setting fire to a flaming ship while they walked on its hull, but each fire only lasted a few seconds as the metal and oxygen separated and burned away more oxides leeched from the surface of the Hunter’s hull, leaving a fine haze of elemental iridium and trace aluminum which could then be collected with an improvised tool that looked like a vacuum cleaner, but based on gravity plating.


All of the isotopic iridium that had been removed from the surface of the ship and the digestive systems of its crew was gathered and lumped into two small spheres roughly the size of golf balls. With the rest of the crew watching images transmitted back by remote cameras, Lt. Napoleon Boles, Chief Flight Specialist Thyssi zh’Qaoleq and Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars, once again clad in EVA suits, clambered out onto the outer hull of U.S.S. Hunter. Boles carried the iridium golf balls. Alstars and zh’Qaoleq each carried a golf club.


Boles set each ball ¾ of an inch above Hunter’s hull, where, due to inertia, they remained. Alstars took the first swing, launching an iridium isotope ball into dark space. Without a moment’s hesitation and using only one hand, Thyssi zh’Qaoleq set the second iridium ball on a nearly parallel course. 


As the three crew members (and two remote cameras) re-entered the Hunter, Boles received a call from the bridge: “Dr. Boles, this is Lt. T’Lon. We just received a fourth hibernation beacon from Mlady’s communicator…”


21.10

Episode 21.11: The Enemy of My Enemy - Promethosaurus Rex by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The king of predators is hunting Wesley Crusher on a dead planet...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 11: Prometheosaurus Rex


21.11

Prometheosaurus Rex


A creature from another era – from another planet – from another galaxy – inexplicably stalked its prey on this most boring of worlds. A nightmare monster – so much the king of beasts that the word king was in its very name. Twice. 


Enormous, three-clawed feet did not so much walk the ground as grip it against the fourth back-claw. The huge tail, although primarily used for balance, was a battering ram of destruction. But nothing conveyed terror more than its massive head – bright pitiless eyes made even more distinct by dark violet downy feathering that surrounded them. Massive jaws filled with teeth the size of a grown man’s arm. A sunburst of roughened, ruddy skin around the beast’s mouth – yellow, orange, red, violet – made it appear even larger and more violent. 


Steaming drool dripped from its lips. Each snort sent out a spray of steaming mucous.



Despite its evident weight, it stalked its prey quietly, carefully. The man that it was stalking stood staring ardently in the wrong direction, oblivious to the approach of this most terrible of beasts behind him. 


In triumph, the beast raised itself, filled its lungs with the cold, thin air, opened its cavernous mouth and uttered an ear shattering squack.



SQUACK!!!



It was essentially a gigantic chicken.



Wesley Crusher turned around, looked up at the fearsome beast and burst into uncontrollable laughter. 


The king of kings gazed disapprovingly down at the old, bearded man who was nearly doubled over with mirth, laughing until he could only manage to splutter to a stop.


“That is gorgeous! Such attention to detail!” Crusher enthused, once he was finally able to regain control over himself. “It’s been a hundred years or more since I laughed so hard! Ah, Doctor, you do not disappoint.”


The disappointed looking dinosaur shrank to man-size as it transformed smoothly into a disappointed looking holographic doctor. “What gave me away?”


“Aside from you being right here, right now?” asked Old Man Crusher. “Your emitter. You don’t often see a Prometheosaur with a piece of technology like that on its shoulder.”


“Tyrannosaurus Rex,” the Doctor corrected, somewhat petulantly. 


“Oh, the detail was astounding, I have to give you that,” Crusher said. “I’ve gone back to look for myself. Even the mighty mating call.”


“That was a mating call???” the Doctor furrowed his brow like a county road desperately in need of maintenance.


“That was the mating call.” Crusher confirmed.



There was an awkward silence. Then the Doctor noticed something was missing. He pointed.



“Where is your staff?”


“On vacation,” Crusher answered.


“What??” The Doctor turned his head and squinted, trying to work out what relationship, if any, Old Man Crusher’s answer had to his question. He cupped his hand as if holding a walking stick. Moved his hand up and down a few times. “No, your staff, where is it?”


“On vacation,” Crusher responded again.


“No, no, no, I mean…” The Doctor moved his hand up and down faster.


“There’s no need to be indelicate, Doctor,” said Crusher. “I may be an old man, but the plumbing still works just fine.”


“What??? What are you??” The Doctor shook his head in frustration. “No! The thing you lean on!!”


“My staff?” asked Old Man Crusher.


“Yes!!”


“They’re on…”


“Don’t tell me… They’re on vacation,” the Doctor said, then sighed heavily.


“Well, you can’t expect them to hang around all the time without a break, can you?” Crusher observed. “Interesting lot they are. They started out as a rather chatty miniature deciduous forest. I’ve taken them all over the universe, but every once in a while they just want to hang out at a beach somewhere. I’ll introduce you properly when they get back. In the meantime, it’s time for us to go meet the Captain. For reasons having strictly to do with chain of command, he’s kind of stuck in his original timeline…”


21.11

Episode 21.12: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Next Generation by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Supreme Commander Sela and her team strategize in the wake of the U.S.S. Hunter's escape.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 12: The Next Generation


21.12

The Next Generation


Supreme Commander Sela had gathered the commanders of the first fleet along with Admiral Ekot and Commander Hundeeth. A few other lower ranking officers were also in attendance – those whose specialties could provide insights the commanders might need.



“Now we have confirmation that it was a swaeshaeul that has been operating in romulan space,” said Sela. “And we have learned some very valuable things about these small ships. Hundeeth:”


“Given our scans of the ship’s outer skin, it does not require a cloaking device to be extremely stealthy,” opined Commander Hundeeth. “The fabric of the skin absorbs some scans, fractures and refracts others. Additionally, dozens of independent passive systems make penetration of that skin with scans, transporter beams, even malware exceptionally difficult.”


“We have applied a layer of iridium to the outer hull of this vessel which will greatly reduce these effects,” Hundeeth continued. "It will also make it possible to track the ship across great distances."


“Assuming the Hunter’s crew do not find that iridium and remove it,” remarked Centurion Cireeka.


Commander Hundeeth smiled grimly. “I would never make such an assumption. The only safe way to remove the iridium would be to use a transporter. But this would damage the transporter system so thoroughly that they are more likely to burn it off, which will leave microfractures in the skin that can be penetrated with scans. We took the added measure of lacing thier food with a few molecules of iridium, which can also be traced at distance.”


“And it is on this basis that you allowed them to escape?” asked Commander Thutuk of the I.R.W. Pistris. “The hope that you might weaken their ship enough that on the off chance we find them again that we can scan the interior or upload a virus?”


Supreme Commander Sela smiled. “I had no intention of preventing their escape. They are far more valuable to me no longer in custody. I have the most solid evidence I need of their presence here – telemetry of their ship in my hangar. In my custody, they would be a liability. An unnecessary fight with the Federation. Now, although they do not yet know it, they provide me leverage with the Federation. Leverage that I intend to use them for very soon. But we learned something far, far more important about the Federation by their escape.”



“Morality,” said Admiral Ekot.



“Precisely,” said Sela. “Those vaunted Federation morals, cornerstone of the Khitomer Accords, fascinating charm that holds the Klingon Empire at bay, the bauble they dangle before the Senate of New Romulus on Vulcan to seduce the more educated part of our culture away from us, the very glue that holds that motley cabal of species enthralled to the humans – their morality – which we now know to be a sham!” Sela emphasized her conclusion with her fist on the table.


“Respect for the sovereign rights for all intelligent, sentient beings,” Sela continued, with a sneer of contempt. “Except when it is inconvenient for them. There is a borg whistle on that swaeshaeul and somebody blew it loud and hard. When the Hunter was captured, the borg, whether they knew it or not, came to save that crew. And how did our oh-so-just-and-moral semi-human friends re-pay their liberators? By slaughtering them in the millions! They destroyed an entire borg cube to cover their own escape. And we now know that same swaeshaeul destroyed an entire planet – a dying world, but one that still had life on it. And they killed well over a thousand romulans in that incident.”


“Then we should attack!” said another of the commanders in the room.


“And destroy our advantage?” asked Sela. “We would be the aggressors if we were to attack. The Federation has shown time and again how effective it can be even against the most powerful of aggressors. But they are uniquely vulnerable to victims. Especially to their own victims. That is what gives us leverage and I intend to use that leverage not to take Federation worlds, but to take the Federation apart. Piece by piece.”



Centurion Cireeka looked down at her pad, then up. “Supreme Commander… We just received a fourth beacon signal. We cannot provide exact location, but it is clearly not from the same location we investigated earlier.”


Sela looked directly at the new commander of the Pistris. “Commander Thutuk – now is your time. That beacon attracts the swaeshaeul – your ghost. Now you are to be the wraith. Follow, observe, probe. Attempt to upload the programming that Hundeeth has provided you. But do not let them know you are there!”




A few hours after the meeting had adjourned, Sela, Hundeeth and Ekot were in a corner of the Supreme Commander’s office on the Bestia. Centurion Cireeka found herself surprised to have been included in this very tight inner circle. A bottle containing a pale blue fluid sat on a table between the four romulan officers.


“The ferengi have valued this,” Sela leaned forward, lightly tapped the top of the bottle, “so highly that one bottle of romulan ale is the equivalent of a fully armed ship. And this is not the original. This is the next generation of romulan ale, cultivated at our own roat farms, right here on the Bestia. If our mixed up friends from the Federation truly valued life, they could have stayed on their museum roat farm and learned how to grow, reap, mash and ferment one of the most valuable commodities in the Alpha Quadrant.”


Sela opened the bottle and the aroma of a new generation of romulan ale wafted through this corner of her office. She picked up a small box and removed a match – lit the match and held it so that the fire became brighter, stronger – then dropped it into the bottle. The match continued to burn as it dropped through the liquid, causing the ale to bubble slightly before the match burned itself out in the bottom of the bottle.


“Humans value romulan ale very highly, but they do not know how to properly enjoy it. They never take the time to learn things thoroughly. They think they appreciate other cultures. They don’t even know enough to appreciate their own.”


Sela poured a glass of ale, then handed the filled glass and the bottle to Cireeka. 


“Thank you, Supreme Commander,” said Cireeka. She set the filled glass in front of her, then poured a glass and handed the newly filled glass and the bottle to Admiral Ekot, who was sitting next to her.


Ekot, in turn, accepted the glass Cireeka had filled for him and filled a glass for Hundeeth, who, in turn filled a glass for Sela.


“Sometimes,” said Sela, lifting her glass, “I fear we are tempted to become too much like them.” She raised her glass first to Cireeka, then to Ekot, then to Hundeeth. “From the stars to our blood: wisdom, strength, life.” She held her glass of ale under her nose, inhaled appreciatively, three times. The others followed suit. Then, in unison, they each took a long drink.


“This ship, this battlegod, is a life force,” Sela mused. “The lynchpin in our conservation efforts. It carries the soil of more than a dozen worlds. More than a hundred farms. Twenty forests and a dozen other wildlife preserves. All that remains of two biologically unique oceans from two different worlds. And the humans have only just begun to include small parks and greenways in their largest ships. But look what they have built the most of – those little black ships. Reports are they had planned to build a hundred of them. They’re still building about 40 or so. And they are a death force. Just one of those little black ships destroyed a borg cube… tore a hole in the I.R.W. Fero… destroyed a living planet. To be fair, it was a dying planet, but we had not yet mined all the life off of it.” 



Sela took another long drink, leaned back in her chair. Hundeeth, Cireeka and Ekot were simply listening. 


“They frighten me deeply, these humans. For all their protestations about loving life, they have brought so much death to our home. They expand their territory like the borg, but in slow motion. Soft borg. Pretty borg. Friendly borg. Assimilating everything and everyone in their path. Gradually homogenizing as they go. And they protect each territorial gain with the ferocity of a wounded anaixes protecting her cubs. They are so ready to destroy anything that isn’t them.”



“Perhaps we should drink to New Romulus on Vulcan,” suggested Admiral Ekot.



“Yes,” said Sela. “A drink for New Romulus on Vulcan.” She drained her glass and set it down. “Their latest victim.”


21.12

Episode 21.13: The Enemy of My Enemy - Dolphin Hunting by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The crew is looking for Commander Dolphin...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 13: Dolphin Hunting 


21.13

Dolphin Hunting


“So where do we start to look for Commander Kenneth Dolphin?” Justice Minerva Irons had convened a strategy session in the executive conference room. She was still weak from her recent stroke and in pain from her cracked ribs. Her acting first officer, Dr. Tali Shae, and acting second officer, Lt. Napoleon Boles, were present along with Flight Operations Director, Lt. Gaia Gamor, her assistant director, 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips, navigators Johanna Imex and Eli Strahl, Ensign Chelna Zusa, and the pilots: Dewayne Guth, Thyssi zh’Qaoleq, Winnifreid Salazaar and Dih Terri.



“According to our telemetry,” started Navigator Strahl, “if he was not at rendezvous point #1, he must have been close to it when the beacon transmitted.”


“Which he knows will attract the romulans,” continued Lt. Gamor, “so we can rule out RP#1 – that’s pretty much the last place we would find him. If we go there, we will be warping into a hornet’s nest of romulan warbirds.”


“Why not RP#2 then?” asked 2nd Lt. Phillips.


“Because he knows when the second transmission will occur, but he does not know when we will be able to meet him,” Gamor answered. “We are assuming he has Mlady and that she has re-entered hibernation?”


Dr. Tali Shae nodded, her antennae almost comically moving in opposition to her head movement, creating the effect of the top of her antennae remaining in the same location. “As soon as she has fed, she will re-enter hibernation until she is reunited with us. Unfortunately, that means that Pep is not with her. If he were, she would not need to hibernate.”



“Do you think that means that Pep is… That he didn’t make it?” asked Gamor.


“All that we know that it means is that he didn’t make it back onboard the tactical unit,” said Irons. “Beyond that, we should avoid speculation and stick with what the evidence indicates. David is not with Lieutenant Commander Mlady. That is a reasonable assumption.”



“If I know Kenny,” Gamor said, “he will want to throw the romulans off our trail, which means he is likely to avoid a rendezvous until after the third beacon transmission.”


“Dolphin has an orderly mind,” Boles observed. “He is likely to use the five established rendezvous points to simultaneously confound the romulans and communicate with us. Assume, for the moment, that he waits at any of the four remaining rendezvous points until the second transmission, will we be able to determine which of those points he is at when the beacon issues the second transmission?”


“Easily,” Gamor responded.


“Okay,” Boles continued, “Now assume the romulans are somewhere near RP#1. Are the other four points far enough from RP#1 that the romulans would not be able to determine where the second transmission was coming from?”


“That is a much harder question,” said Navigator Johanna Imex. “It depends in part on how accurate their sensory equipment is..”


“Assume it is as good as the best Star Fleet has,” Boles prompted.


“That would get them fairly close,” Imex replied, “but it would still take them awhile to get there – even to RP#4, which would be the closest to RP#1. I think I see what you’re getting at, though. We could project, mathematically, how much time it would take for the romulans to get from one rendezvous point to another, which means he could, or at least Lieutenant Commander Tauk could. We could then project a course of action that would keep the romulans at the maximum distance from him, which would result in him waiting for us at the remaining point that would be farthest from the romulans…”


“You’re thinking like a navigator,” Boles said. “Commander Dolphin is a fighter pilot. He’s going to approach this problem differently – the way a fighter pilot would.”


Flight Specialist Dih Terri said, “Kenny really respects Tauk – he would listen to any plan Tauk comes up with.”



Lt. Napoleon Boles looked down.


Dr. Tali Shae shook her head – her antennae moving the opposite direction. “Lieutenant Commander Tauk won’t be coming up with any plans.”


Everyone in the room looked at her with the exception of Napoleon Boles.


Tali took a breath, then continued. “This was Tauk’s last mission. He knew he didn’t have long to live. Even if he is still alive, and I sincerely doubt that he is, he would probably be unable to do anything at this point but sedate himself against the pain. He wouldn’t be able to think clearly enough to come up with a plan and Dolphin wouldn’t ask him to.”


Napoleon Boles did not look up. “You should tell them the truth, Tali,” he said, quietly. “They need time to accept it.” He looked at her. “Assuming we get Mlady back, everyone needs time to accept it.”


Tali looked down, her face a mask of grief. She took a ragged breath. Looked at Napoleon’s blue hands – then back at her own – a much lighter shade of blue. “You tell them, Boles,” she managed.



Napoleon Boles ran a blue hand over his dark blue scalp, squeezed the back of his own neck. Took a deep breath. Everyone except Tali was looking at him expectantly. “Lieutenant Commander Tauk went on this mission to save Mlady. She would have needed to consume all of his blood, his heart and probably more on coming out of hibernation. The fact that she has re-entered hibernation and triggered the beacon again strongly indicates Tauk was successful in his mission. This was his mission. His plan. His idea. He came to me and Tali with it. I don’t think I can adequately explain to you just how much pain that little ferengi was in. If she took his life, it was a mercy – a mercy he went out there to find.”



Chief Flight Specialist Dewayne Guth spoke up: “Did he know? Kenny – did he know?”


“I don’t think so,” said Boles. “He trusted Tauk. He took Tauk’s plan on faith because Tauk asked him to.”



“He’s going to think like a Star Fleet Captain, not a fighter pilot,” said Thyssi zh’Qaoleq.


All eyes turned toward the ship’s newest pilot. Tali looked up at her fellow andorian.


Thyssi’s right antenna stretched up first, then her left. “Kenny Dolphin – he’s going to think about this ship, not just the tactical unit. His goal will be to put the romulans as far off our trail as possible. We want to go home. RP#4 is the closest of the five points to Federation space. He will try to put the romulans as far from RP#4 as he can, then meet us there. That means he should go to RP#3 and stay there until the 2nd signal, then RP#2 to wait to broadcast the 3rd signal. If he goes to those two in that order, which we should be able to verify from telemetry, then he will be signaling us he plans to meet us at RP#4. We should wait at RP#5 until we can verify what he is doing.”


“And what if he is waiting for us at RP#5 when we get there?” asked Ensign Chelna Zusa.


Justice Irons answered. “We reattach the tactical unit and hot-foot it home…”


21.13

Episode 21.14: The Enemy of My Enemy - Truth Seekers by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

In a podcast, Emory Ivonovic warns his billions of listeners against complacency in the face of dark conspiracies...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 14: Truth Seekers


21.14

Truth Seekers


“I have told you about conspiracies and there definitely is one within the Federation. Or to be more accurate, there are many. Cabals of powerful people conspiring to increase their power. The means vary from one conspiracy to another. Some quietly build monopolies in trade, hoping to go unnoticed until only they and their small circle of trusted co-conspirators can hold a world hostage to their control of a vital resource.


“Others quietly gather the levers of political power, telling lies here and half-truths there to sway public sentiment and allow them to do whatever they want to do while the vital decisions about your lives are made in back room meetings that you will never see – votes that are never recorded – deals kept off the public record.


“Still others deal in assassination and dirty tricks, hiding their very existence not only from the public but from all the other centers of power. These are the most dangerous as they will stop at nothing to get their way. We will give them a name since they will not give one to themselves – for now, I will refer to them as the Pretenders. They operate under a pretense of legitimacy, but they do whatever suits their purposes – whatever feeds their desperate need for control.


“Conspiracies are built out of people. People not very different from you and me. They conspire for various reasons. Greed. A lust for power. Recognition within their cabal. Sometimes they conspire out of a misguided desire to do good – as if you, the citizens of this United Federation of Planets, were incapable of recognizing what is good and supporting it for yourselves. And sometimes they do it out of a self-righteous belief that they are always right. Remember the Pretenders – this is the kind of people they are – people who believe they are always right. And they will stop at nothing because when you are always right, the ends always justify the means.


“Ordinary, greedy conspiracies for power and control are dangerous enough. The Pretenders are far, far more dangerous because of their belief in their infallibility. But there is something far, far, far, more dangerous than all the conspiracies that have ever thrived throughout history:"



“Complacency."



“Conspiracies only survive in the dark. Within the Federation, we humans are fortunate to have built a post-scarcity economy. One in which our citizens work not for survival, but for self-fulfillment. You do not have to be anything. Which means you can be whatever you want. And what we need are patriots. So how can you show your patriotism?


“Let me tell you a story about a patriot. A citizen of the Federation – my father, Radovan Ivonovic. My father was born on his family’s farm in Pilgrim’s Landing on the Colony of New Hope. I was born on that same farm. Like my father, I was taught first how to plough, sow, cultivate, harvest and store food. It is a lesson in hard work that, learned early in life, travels with you the rest of your days and leaves you restless in times of ease.


“Not that times were easy on New Hope. Then, as now, many people were aware of the conspiracies around them – for the powerful have always conspired against us. Many, many people left the Colony of New Hope – they left to colonize new worlds away from the Federation. I hear a lot of people saying similar things today – separatists wanting to leave the Federation. My father accurately predicted what would happen to those people. I did not want to believe him, but over the years he was proved right every single time. Every. Single. Time.


“Those who left the Federation simply ended up with conspiracies among themselves. And to make things worse, without the protection of the Federation, they fell prey to nausicaan raiders. Ferengi adventurers. Orion slavers. Cardassian overlords. Democracy never flourished in any of these breakaway colonies. What few survived the ravages of the cardassians were later slaughtered by the jem’hadar in the Dominion War.


“My father said they were traitors and they deserved what they got. So what did he do? My father started a newspaper. An actual, printed ink-on-paper newspaper. Its stories are not broadcast on any computer frequency. To read those stories, you must actually receive a copy of the paper. And my father taught me journalism, how to write, how to research, how to ferret out the truth that the powerful go to such lengths to conceal.


“This is what I am asking you to do. To not be complacent. I want you to become a truth seeker. Whether you farm or move goods or serve in Star Fleet or just sit on the beach – I am asking you to open your eyes. Find the truth – do not assume you know the truth – find it for yourself. And then let other people know. Build a channel. Start a discussion group. Or even print a newspaper.


“But how do you get people to listen? My father started the Good News of New Hope in order to shed light on the conspiracies he was aware of. But he got people to read by telling their stories too. The good and the bad, side by side. For every ruthless would-be monopolist, there was always a lawyer who would provide free counseling or someone who would stand up for you when you could not stand up for yourself. Find these stories too.


“We cannot win unless we have something to win. We cannot fight unless we have something worth fighting for. We cannot prevail unless we have a reason to prevail.


“So yes, there are conspiracies all around you. Some are comically harmless. Some are vast and powerful. And some are downright deadly and threaten not only our lives but the very moral fiber of our Federation – they cut at who and what we are. I am calling on you to protect those fibers. To bring them together. To be what the founders of my homeworld wanted to be for all of humanity. For all members of the Federation. A new hope.


“This is Federation Councilmember Emory Ivonovic reaching out to you, the new hope of the Federation. Calling on you to be the voice of the people. Asking you not to allow the conspirators to control your lives but to take back that control. To be truth seekers. To rise to your patriotic duty to our people and not to leave the Federation, but to rebuild it anew from within.


“You will hear my name again. You will see my face again. I have promised not to leave you and we will never let the voice of the people be silent in the face of the Pretenders or any other conspiracy. Subspace Radio Ivonovic will not fall silent again. Together, we will do what must be done in every generation – we will rise up and build this Federation anew.”


21.14

Episode 21.15: The Enemy of My Enemy - You Are Cordially Invited by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Sela, the Supreme Commander of the Romulan Star Navy, has an invitation for Justice Minerva Irons...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene: 15: You Are Cordially Invited


21.15

You Are Cordially Invited


The invitation had been transmitted on the same subspace frequency as Mlady’s locator beacon – a frequency almost exclusively used by the tholians. It had arrived just as the tactical unit was docking with the U.S.S. Hunter. While the rest of the crew were busy with leaving romulan space as quickly as they could and dealing with the details of the deaths of Commander David Pepper and Lt. Commander Tauk, as well as the return of Commander Kenny Dolphin and Lt. Commander Mlady, Justice Minerva Irons was in her office, receiving a message recorded just for her. The viewscreen displayed Sela’s face against a starry background.



“I know you are monitoring this frequency, your honor. And you should know by now that I allowed your escape. Run back to the Federation. Run to your retirement home. But you cannot run away from the crimes you committed in the sovereign space of the Romulan Star Empire – a sovereign space-faring empire of a people who had faster-than-light travel when the klingons were just beginning their first space programs and when the fastest you humans could travel involved riding a beast.


“Before there were more than a few hundred million humans, billions of romulans peacefully roamed these stars and tamed these worlds. After the destruction of our homeworld, we carried all that was left of that world in our ships. You have stood on the soil of Romulus. And your people defiled it. You spread that precious soil all over the floors of my ship. You left that precious soil on the farming implements that you left in my office – this very office! You even tormented one of our native farm animals, exposing him to war that you brought to my ship.


“Yes, I know you brought the borg to my ship. And your allies, the borg, killed thousands of my people on this very ship. They even set their feet in the precious soil of Romulus. And after you brought your allies into romulan space to make war on my ship, you betrayed your allies – destroying one of their ships and killing millions of them. I do not regret their demise – but you should. You are directly responsible for their deaths. You lured them to their deaths.


“As you are responsible for the deaths of thousands of romulans on the I.R.W. Fero and our orbital research station and ground research stations on the planet Gamorlan. You destroyed a living planet deep in the heart of romulan territory.


“As the leader of the romulan people, I must bring our enemies to account for their crimes. So I must know, Justice Minerva Irons, were you acting on behalf of the United Federation of Planets? Or were you acting alone? Is the United Federation of Planets the enemy of the romulan people? Or is it just you? I will be bringing my case to the Federation Council for your immediate extradition. Unless you submit yourself freely to be judged for your crimes. By me.


“I give you this one chance. If you are to account for your conduct in romulan space, for the murder of thousands of romulans and millions of borg, for the damage you caused to the Fero and the Bestia, for the destruction of Gamorlan and, most egregiously, for the desecration of the sacred soil of Romulus, you are cordially invited to surrender yourself to me before the Senate of New Romulus on Vulcan. Under Romulan tradition, I hold your crew blameless. They were following your orders. I understand Federation law may differ on that point. So I leave your crew to be judged under your laws. Your death ship may bring you to Vulcan and deposit you there, but it must then immediately depart for Federation space. It may not remain for your trial.


“I do not know if you are familiar with the laws of the Romulan Star Empire. But it may set your mind at ease that we outlawed execution as a form of punishment before we even became a space-faring people. Under romulan law, criminals are punished by being stripped and striped. That is all the punishment they ever receive. A few days of pain, which may not, by our laws, be in any way life threatening. But criminals are then subject to correction, which consists of determining a new life path for them. For war criminals, that life path usually involves gardening.


“I do not want you to be afraid, Minerva Irons. Your life is not in danger. But you should be very, very deeply ashamed. Humans seem to think they have souls. We do not believe in such things. But if you do, in fact have a soul, your soul is very much in danger.


“I will look for you in the courtyard of the Imperial Administration Building on New Romulus on Vulcan in eleven of your standard days.”


21.15

Episode 21.16: The Enemy of My Enemy - The Sleep of the Just by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Chief Justice Julian Bashir, the Director of Section 31, visits Justice Minerva Irons in a dream...

This is the final scene for Episode 21. The story continues in Episode 22 - Sacrifice.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 21: The Enemy of My Enemy

Scene 16: The Sleep of the Just


21.16

The Sleep of the Just


“Not easy, being an agent for Section 31, is it?” Chief Justice Julian Bashir’s suave voice managed at once to be soothing and menacing. It was something about that cultured, posh British accent. It was the voice of a hero. It was also the voice of carefully planned, deliciously intractable evil.


Justice Minerva Irons realized that she had fallen asleep at her desk - a glass of Scotch in her hand. She had recently replaced her office chair with something more comfortable. The old chair had gotten a bit hard for her aging derriere. Unfortunately, the new chair was just a bit too comfortable. She remembered her last communication with the shadowy Director of Section 31 and was at least momentarily heartened that she appeared to have a mouth.



Irons felt a deep sense of foreboding. It was an unpleasant feeling. “What have I become?”


“A war criminal," the Director of Section 31 replied. "A death force. A destroyer of worlds. A defiler of sacred soil. You have become what the Federation needed you to become. What the romulans needed you to become. And that is nothing compared to what I have become. I thought Slade was a monster when you and he recruited me into this organization, ostensibly to reform it. To help lift the cloak of secrecy and evil deeds done in the name of posterity. You two encouraged me to become the Director of Section 31 and in so doing you turned me into a monster.” The years clearly weighed heavily on Julian Bashir’s shoulders. Instead of picking up middle age weight, he had grown thin – his once handsome face had a gaunt, haunted look to it. He needed a shave.


Bashir laughed grimly. “Do you think for a moment that anyone would have braved the journey through romulan space into the Dead Zone to learn the doom that hangs over us all if Admiral Scumuk hadn’t concocted that weaponized virus designed to exterminate the bolian people? I have a bullpen of geniuses working for me who knew otherwise. Scumuk was in the early stages of Bendii Syndrome. He had been rattling on about that library for a decade. No one was listening anymore. No one believed him. Ancient library of the progenitors? A broken hulk? Vague talk of gamma radiation? The ramblings of a madman, gradually coming unglued.”


He leaned forward in the chair across from the captain’s desk and thumped his forehead with his index finger.  “Did you really believe that I allowed Chief Justice Scrivax to poison my mind to hide his genocidal rampage against the half-trills? My own son is half-trill!!”


“So it was Scrivax?” Irons asked.


“Of course it was Scrivax," Bashir said tiredly. "All because the doctor who could not save his wife was married to a half-trill. It drove him mad. He went through the kohlinar - the priests thought he had purged his emotions. It only drove him further into madness." 


Bashir leaned forward again in his chair, becoming more animated. "Who do you think programmed that half-vulcan, half betazoid serial killer to help him do his dirty work? He bred her to do his dirty work! She was his daughter! I allowed their murderous rampage to go on because I needed Scrivax to condition Scumuk to do something even worse. It was the only way I could get your mission authorized. Not that I knew Scumuk would go after the bolians." He sat back again, looked down to his left. "I didn't make any of these things happen - I just allowed them to happen.”


“Julian, what have you become?” Irons was horrified, but at the same time she just felt tired. Exhausted. Completely spent. Ancient. This was not sleep. This was just more work.


“What have I become? Nothing less than what you must become," Bashir replied. "A monster. Our work is not yet done, Minerva. We still have to ensure that the romulan people, the klingon people, our people – all of our people – have a chance for a future. You don’t yet know what the price for that future is. But a guilty conscience and not being able to sleep the rest of your life – a few billion deaths – the destruction of entire species – none of that compares to the real price. Your Doctor Carrera will discover what that real price is soon enough. And he will pay it. Because the alternative is annihilation for all of our people."


"You and me – we’re just tilling the soil. Doctor Carrera will be the one to sow the fields. And my successor – the next Director – will reap what Carrera sows. He will become an even greater monster than I am. It is quite a shame, you know. He really is a very nice guy. Charming. Smarter than he looks. Like I was once – full of the best intentions. That’s why I know he’s the right man for this job.”


Bashir got up from the chair across from Irons’ desk and started to pace. “Did you know that including Section 31 in the Federation Charter was a Vulcan requirement? It sounds like such a human idea but Earth Gov resisted including it. The vulcans won out. 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'..."


He became even more animated, almost snarling. "I used to spit at the words ‘the greater good.’ Classic villainy – everything justified because we were ‘doing it for the greater good.’ I didn’t know then the doom hanging over us and I didn’t realize then just how high the price would be to save not just untold trillions of lives, but the entire future of life in this part of the galaxy." 


Bashir paused, his back to Irons, his voice much softer. "There is much worse to come, Minerva. Section 31 has protected the Federation from its greatest threat - humanity - for generations. I am withdrawing that protection. I will stand by and let human nature take its course."


The Director of Section 31 turned and faced Irons again. “You must face Sela. You must prevent a war. And then you must escape. Your job is not done. I told you that you must unleash a monster on another world. I did not tell you who that monster would be.”



“You intend for it to be me." Irons was nearly in tears. "I don’t have it left in me, Julian. I can’t do this anymore.”



Bashir walked around the captain's desk, squatted to his haunches and took her hands in his. Irons was crying freely now. For a long moment, he simply allowed her to cry.


"Minerva..." His voice was soft - the voice of one of the Federation's most celebrated doctors, famous for his bedside manner. She looked up. Took a deep, shuddering breath.


"You have always been a monster, Minerva. A glorious monster. In 90 years you have killed more than any other captain in the history of Star Fleet. More klingons. More cardassians. More humans. Far more romulans. What is hurting you so badly isn't any guilt over that trail of bodies. What's hurting you so badly is the pretense that you don't love doing it. I am giving you this assignment not just becuase you're the best person for the job. I am giving you the opportunity to finally set yourself free. To be what you truly are. What you were born to be. Without pretense or remorse. The apex predator."


Bashir released her hands and stood up slowly. He took a seat across from her. “Becoming the Monster of Saketh will not take any further effort on your part, Minerva. You’re already there. Your name will terrorize romulan children for the next thousand years. Supreme Commander Sela is seeing to that right now. She is doing our work for us. She thinks she wants revenge. What she desperately needs is an ally. You. To become the savior of Saketh you must become the Monster of Saketh – the only thing that can convince a billion romulans to uproot from paradise, dismantle their entire world and move it a thousand lightyears away from the oncoming gamma sterilization."


"Romulans always take the easy way out," Bashir mused. "It is so much easier to do nothing in the face of environmental disaster and leave the next generation to cope with the consequences of your failure to act. So it is up to us to make sure that next geenration gets a chance to grow up. Only you can ensure their survival."


As the dream began to slowly fade, Bashir's voice became even silkier, his enunciation even more precise. "And only you can convince Sela to escort the U.S.S. Ark and its sister ships into the Romulan Star Empire, where it will take forty years of ceaseless work and violence to complete the sack of Saketh. Every scrap of life must be removed from that world. And the riches of that superplanet must be seeded in romulan space as far from the Dead Zone as possible. Which means the Federation will need to gift the Romulan Star Empire two planetary systems on our side of the Neutral Zone – two star systems – at great strategic threat to the Federation. Because those planets are the best candidates to receive those riches.”



All had faded to darkness in the dreaming mind of Justice Irons - only the voice of the Director of Section 31 remained: “You, Minerva. You are the only one who can convince Sela… And Ushi. Before you go to Vulcan, you must talk with your son…”


21 – The Enemy of My Enemy

End Notes:

This scene is laden with the entire story plot - a ton of exposition.

I can't count the number of times I have re-written this scene. I'm trying to avoid the whole villain monologuing and revealing his nefarious plan to the good guy. 

Bashir isn't doing that. He's giving context to a subordinate - so she can better carry out his orders. 

I'm also trying to avoid having any traditional villains. Bashir honestly believes he is doing the best thing he can possibly be doing under the circumstances.

Episode 22.1: Sacrifice - - The Crew by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Several crew members are leaving and many new recruits are brought in to take their places...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 1: The Crew


22.1

The Crew


“I am maintaining my command until I am formally decommissioned, but as I will be on shore leave for the next several months, Commander Dolphin will effectively be in command of the U.S.S. Hunter.”



Justice Minerva Irons was addressing the Hunter’s crew, who were gathered in the large conference room in Starbase Eleven. A portable holographic emitter array had been erected in the conference room so that Hunter, Dr. Kim and Dr. Raj could also attend along with the rest of the crew. 



Behind Irons was the mural of the Hunter’s former crew members: Lt. T’Lok Smith, Flight Specialist Joey Chin, Investigator Lynhart Shran, Lt. Commander Sarekson Carrera and the Hunter’s previous tactical squad - Tactical Specialists Jarrong, Belo Rys, Belo Garr and Belo Cantys – the four of whom were currently on Ocean serving as lifeguards. A new painting – also by Lt. Napoleon Boles and in the same style, displayed Heroic Heart caricatures of the late Commander David Pepper and Lt. Commander Tauk. Boles had depicted Pep in Klingon armor, seated in the command chair of the giant first officer's last command – the klingon bird of prey, I.K.V. ‘Iw Hov - with Tauk standing next to him.


The U.S.S. Hunter was once again in dry dock, undergoing extensive repair to the hull, which had been damaged when a layer of ionized iridium had been burned off, creating micro-fractures in the aluminum from which vital oxides had been leeched.



“I will be taking terminal leave and will retire from Star Fleet at the end of that time,” Irons continued. “Since I have chosen not to give up my command, regulations require me to serve my last two weeks on active status onboard. I do not plan to return to this ship until then. Until then, Dr. Dolphin will operate as acting captain and my quarters will be his quarters. We have a number of other crew changes, which I will call on my Executive Officer to commemorate. Kenneth?”


Commander Kenneth Dolphin stood up, surveyed the crew, some of whom would be departing immediately following this meeting for new assignments. Others were newly assigned to the Hunter. “Let me start by again commemorating our friends, Commander David Pepper and Lieutenant Commander Tauk, both of whom gave their lives in the line of duty. We have already celebrated their lives and their service, but at this meeting, because we are talking about changes to our crew, it would be impossible to even begin to describe those changes without taking another moment to miss them and acknowledge the giant hole the death of each of them has left in our lives.”


Dolphin fell silent for a few moments. He observed the reactions of the crew members and was once again grateful for the exceptional artistic talent of Napoleon Boles. The comic/heroic poses of Pep and Tauk in Napoleon’s painting of them somehow captured the best part of their spirits and helped the crew realize that their friends were not entirely lost to the universe. A part of them remained and their likenesses would continue to be seen and (thanks to Napoleon’s talent) admired by Star Fleet crews stationed at and passing through Starbase Eleven.



Seventeen seconds. For most other Federation species, a moment of silence could be longer, but for humans the optimal amount of time was seventeen seconds. And most of the Hunter’s crew were mostly human.



Dolphin took a deep breath, looked up. “I want to congratulate Chief Flight Specialist Dewayne Guth, who, after 20 years of service, is retiring from Star Fleet and has taken an assignment as ambassador to the giant waterbirds for the City of Pern on Cun Ling. Dewayne, I could not be more proud and we are all happy for you. May I be the first to say congratulations, Ambassador Guth. I want to express all our best wishes for this next chapter in your life. In helping to ensure the survival and welfare of an entire intelligent species and their culture, you have already become a hero among our people, and you have admirers in the highest levels of Star Fleet and the Federation Council. You may well be the longest remembered of any of our crew.”


There was sporadic, then growing applause for the Hunter’s veteran shuttle pilot. With some prodding from his fellow pilots, Guth stood up. Only those who knew him well could tell that he was blushing - the subtle spots from his trill parentage stood out just a little more than usual against his dark skin.



A tall, skinny, teenaged girl with pale skin and short, mousy brown hair was sitting at the front of the room. When Dolphin gestured to her she stood and turned to look at the Hunter’s crew – and to be seen by them. She looked far too young to be wearing a Star Fleet uniform.


“I want to introduce our new primary shuttle pilot, Jennifer Hopper. Following basic training, Crewman Hopper has spent the past six months on the Earth-Mars route. I am transferring her from Star Fleet Space Command to the JAG Office and promoting her to Flight Specialist. The U.S.S. Hunter will be her first deep space assignment.”


Next to Jennifer Hopper was a green-skinned klingon with bundles of coal black hair. She stood up and turned and smiled sweetly – despite her klingon features, she was clearly also part orion, which seemed to account for her pleasant demeanor as well as her skin color. “Navigator Auqa’rh’lth* will replace our friend, the debonair Eli Strahl, who has taken an assignment with the navigation department of the U.S.S. Ark. Eli, I hear there are more than 150,000 women, both Star Fleet and civilian, who will be serving on the U.S.S. Ark – on behalf of our crew members who will very much miss your attentions, may I just say – happy hunting…”



The room exploded with laughter. Eli was well known for his well-received dalliances with several female members of the Hunter’s crew.



“Dr. Chrissiana Trei has taken a promotion to serve in the medical department of the U.S.S. Ark. I am pleased to announce the promotion of Midshipman Sif to Ensign – Ensign Sif will be staying with us. And we have a new Forensic Specialist, Midshipman Kunto Wekesa – Dr. Wekesa…” Dolphin gestured to an impossibly tall, thin young man seated in the front row. Midshipman Wekesa had jet black skin – even darker than Gaia Gamor.


“In our engineering department we also have a number of changes. First, I am happy to announce the promotion of Yolanda Thomas to Chief Flight Engineer. Yolanda will remain with us, but Midshipman Tammy Brazil – newly promoted to Ensign and Transporter Engineer K’rok – newly promoted to Chief Transporter Engineer – will both be leaving us for assignments on the U.S.S. Ark. Please allow me to introduce their replacements: Midshipman Carlos Datsun and Transporter Engineer Dragomut.”


Carlos Datsun was clearly of Japanese descent. Transporter Engineer Dragomut had an oddly shaped head and it was impossible to determine his/her gender. Subtle crenellations below the eyes were offset by stronger layers of ridges above the eyes leading to an elongated forehead that tapered back to a long, high, cone-shaped skull. Subtle variations of yellow, purple and blue on the engineer’s forehead created a crown-like appearance. Dragomut’s skin appeared supple, but somehow also had a shell-like quality. Neither male, nor female, Dragomut radiated a knowing sexuality that was sexually stimulating to nearly every member of the Hunter’s crew. Uncomfortably stimulating.


Dolphin registered this discomfort and had prepared for it. “Just so that all of you can feel a little more comfortable, I talked with Dragomut and our new transporter engineer agrees with me that it would be a good idea for me to make a few things clear with respect to language usage. Dragomut is an imoginette. I don’t know what you might have heard about these people, they are members of the Federation, but rarely seen outside of their homeworld. Imoginettes do not have gender the way most of you are familiar with the concept - their gender changes with their mood. You may use either male or female pronouns, but please do not use the pronoun ‘it’ when referring to the imoginettes as this translates to an inanimate pronoun, which Dragomut’s people consider to be a grave insult. My recommendation is that you avoid using pronouns entirely. This could make grammar a bit tricky, but I think we would all prefer awkward sentence structures to awkward silences.”



Dolphin looked about, waiting to be sure his crew worked all of that out before continuing. “Both Dr. Tali Shae and Lieutenant Commander Mlady will be taking leave here, on Ocean, for at least the next month,” said Dolphin. “In light of which, Dr. Boles will continue in his role as acting Chief Operations Officer and Dr. Jazz Sam Sinder will stand in as acting Medical Director.”


“Also, I have two more promotions to announce. Napoleon, Gaia, please step forward.”


The Director of Flight Operations and the half-bolian epidemiologist both stepped forward.


“As you know, hollow pips often come with a history. Napoleon, this was Midshipman Sif’s pip.” Dolphin attached the pip next to the two full pips on Dr. Boles’ collar. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Boles. Gaia - this pip came from Tauk’s collar. It was once on my collar, and before me, Dr. Tali Shae wore it.” Dolphin attached the pip to Gamor’s collar. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Gamor.”


“Finally, I want to thank Rear Admiral Burton for facilitating the repairs on our ship. It will be ready in ten hours. At that time I want all hands at duty stations, ready to launch. Dr. Tali Shae and Mlady will be remaining here on Ocean, but we need to deliver Dewayne to Cun Ling, then we have another delivery to make. So if you want to hit the waves down on Ocean, you have nine hours. Get going! Dismissed!”



* Auqa’rh’lth (roughly pronounced “Ah-khah-rrruh-ulth.” The apostrophes in the Klingon language indicate glottal stops.)


22.1

End Notes:

Character:                       Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper
Human Ethnicity:             English American
Additional Species:          Romulan
Hometown/Homeworld:  New York City, New York, Earth
Introduced: Episode         22.1
Age when introduced:      18
Role:                                Shuttle Pilot, U.S.S. Hunter

Character:                       Navigator Auqa'rh'lth
Human Ethnicity:             N/A
Additional Species:          Klingon, Orion
Hometown/Homeworld:  Traders Pointe, Rising Sun
Introduced: Episode         22.1
Age when introduced:      22
Role:                                Navigator, U.S.S. Hunter

Character:                       Midshipman Kunto Wekesa
Human Ethnicity:             Zulu
Additional Species:          N/A
Hometown/Homeworld:   Johannesburg, South Africa, Earth
Introduced: Episode         22.1
Age when introduced:      26
Role:                                Forensic Specialist, U.S.S. Hunter

Character:                       Midshipman Carlos Datsun
Human Ethnicity:             Japanese
Additional Species:          N/A
Hometown/Homeworld:   Cali, Colombia, Earth
Introduced: Episode         22.1
Age when introduced:      23
Role:                                Transporter Engineering Coordinator, U.S.S. Hunter

Character:                       Transporter Engineer Dragomut
Human Ethnicity:             N/A
Additional Species:          Imoginette
Hometown/Homeworld:   River Gorge, Parhillion V
Introduced: Episode         22.1
Age when introduced:      31
Role:                                Transporter Engineer, U.S.S. Hunter

Episode 22.2: Sacrifice - - A Little Tune-Up by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The first officer of the U.S.S. Hunter encounters the first officer of Star Base 11...

Star Trek Hunter
Episode 22: Sacrifice
Scene 2: A Little Tune-up

22.2
A Little Tune-up

“So you now have an imoginette on your crew? Boy are you going to be grateful you docked your ship in my maintenance bay, flyboy…”

It seemed ages since Commander Kenneth Dolphin had laughed at all, much less until he nearly doubled over. Even her worst jokes had him falling apart – which was in part because he had been under so much stress and in part because Commander Holly Nash had a superb sense of comic timing.

“Oh, that was just terribly corny…”

“Eh, you were due for a little tune-up… I’ve heard rumors about the imoginettes – that’s going to be more stimulating than having an orion slave girl on board. But then I’ve heard stories about the Hunter’s crew having to deal with everyone going into sexual overdrive before. Now you have to tell me why you so emphatically preferred my quarters to yours…” Nash got up to fetch a drink. She didn’t have a beautiful face and her body was blocky and strong, not exceptionally feminine. What made her attractive was kind eyes, a quick mind and a naughty sense of humor. 

And a tendency to make the first move – which, Dolphin had to admit rather ruefully, was the one thing all the women he had been with had in common. 

“Well, for starters, you have an actual bed,” Dolphin observed. “And your rooms are almost as big as the entire deck my quarters are located on. Then there’s the avatar…”

Nash was pouring a drink in the next room. “Avatar?” she shouted back.

Dolphin craned his neck to look at her. “Almost three years and I’m still getting used to serving on an artificially intelligent ship. Wherever you are on board – whatever you’re doing – Hunter is always watching. It gets a little creepy sometimes. Even more because I actually like him..”

Nash clambered back into bed, handed Dolphin a glass of strawberry-pineapple wine. “No replicated drinks in my quarters. Only the best for my boyfriends.”

“A girl has to have her standards…” Dolphin smiled.

“My standards are pretty basic. You just have to fit my profile: male and no less than three full pips on your collar - no more than four.” Nash tapped her finger lightly along Dolphin’s collarbone. “You meet the requirements, so I’m your girl in port when you’re at this Starbase.”

“You have a thing for captains and first officers,” Dolphin relaxed, took a drink.

“Captains and first officers are married to their ships. It keeps things simple. We can have fun for a few nights and I don’t get those creepy, lingering stares wondering whether I’m the one…” Nash trailed her fingers down Dolphin’s chest.

“You’re not looking for the one for you?” Dolphin asked.

“Well, I am chief of staff for Rear Admiral Burton. I can’t very well go having affairs with anyone on my crew. Kind of like you in that respect.” Nash drained her glass, then laid back down next to Dolphin.

“Well, there are about 4,000 civilians down on the planet,” said Dolphin. He took a long drink.

“Yeah, but most of them are vulcans and you know what they’re like,” said Nash. “Fun for a night, but then they tend to fall in love and they get all clingy and emotional …”


Dolphin blew strawberry-pineapple wine all over the bedding, dropped his glass, spilling the rest of it and nearly died coughing and laughing.

“And now you will be replacing my sheets, Commander...”

The U.S.S. Hunter’s first officer, still laughing, started to get up to comply only to get pushed back down by Starbase Eleven’s first officer. Nash climbed on top of him.

“But not just yet, flyboy…”

22.2

Episode 22.3: Sacrifice - - Passengers by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The U.S.S. Hunter has a passenger - the most powerful man in the Alpha Quadrant...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 3: Passengers


22.3

Passengers


The all-crew meeting had ended precisely at 4:30 hours, Star Fleet Standard Time (which was set throughout the fleet to correspond with North America Central Time to synchronize with the time at Star Fleet Headquarters in Dubuque, Iowa.)


Commander Kenneth Dolphin stepped through the port airlock onto the U.S.S. Hunter at 14:27 and onto the bridge precisely at 14:29 hours. His acting second officer, Lt. Commander Napoleon Boles, stood up from the captain’s chair. At 14:30 hours, Dolphin took his seat.



“All hands onboard plus three, all moorings released,” Boles reported.


“Ensign Chelna Zusa, take us out, one-quarter thrusters,” Dolphin commanded. He turned to look at his blue 2nd officer. “Plus three?”


Boles looked at Dolphin. “Ambassador Guth, Justice Irons and…”


At that moment the door to the captain’s office opened and disgorged the most powerful man in the Alpha Quadrant – the impossibly tall, thin, white-haired, impassive Ushi Irons.


“Him,” Boles concluded.


“Doctor Dolphin,” intoned Ushi, “I had heard that you take a very disciplined approach to command.”


“Thank you, Esteemed Council Leader,” Dolphin replied. “If you would please give me a minute?”


Ushi brushed his long, wispy white beard to the right, gave the slightest inclination of his head.


“Navigator Auqa’rh’lth,” said Dolphin, “Make our course for Cun Ling. Ensign Zusa, when ready, engage at warp 13.75.” 


Napoleon Boles leaned back against the safety railing that divided the main section of the bridge from the rear stations. He looked up at Council Leader Ushi Irons. “You might want to hang on to something, sir. There will be a little bump…”



The bump from dead stop into recursive warp at factor 13.75 was more psychological than physical. There was a definite feeling in the deck plates, but it was the view of the stars blurring in that particular way that was still disorienting even to the veteran crew of the U.S.S. Hunter.


It almost felt as though the Hunter and its crew were suddenly being extruded deep into space. What was actually happening was the Hunter was compacting spacetime around it, then, by means of the reverse entropy bubble on the backside of the recursive warp field, zipping the damaged spacetime back together.


Ushi Irons took this transition in stride, then turned toward Dolphin and said, “At your convenience, Commander.” He walked back into the captain’s office.


Dolphin stood up. “Napoleon, you have the con.”


“Aye sir,” Boles responded.



Dolphin entered the captain’s office to find Justice Minerva Irons half reclined on the couch. Ushi was standing near the false wall behind which lurked a dormant borg. Dolphin took his seat behind the captain’s desk, not certain if Minerva’s son was aware he was standing only a foot away from a slumbering borg, separated only by a false bulkhead.



“Things look a little different from behind that desk, don’t they, Kenneth?” asked Irons. “It seems there is a bit more gray in your hair than when we first met. It doesn’t look bad on you.”


“We have less than 47 hours to meet Sela’s deadline,” said Ushi.


“Which we will meet with time to spare,” Dolphin replied.


“I remain… curious about your… delivery plan,” Ushi said. “I understand your Ph.D. is in ethics. You appear to be offering a sacrifice.”


“More like sending in a canary,” Dolphin replied.


Ushi’s mother watched their exchange as though she were watching a tennis match.


“A high price for probing your antagonists’ intentions.” 


“A timely and potent demonstration of ours.”


“A heavy weight on narrow shoulders.”


“Tempering a new asset.”



“Would you two cut it out?” Minerva Irons asked in exasperation.



“It remains a topic of unresolved interest,” said Ushi.


“It’s done,” Dolphin replied. “I think Minerva wanted to address our larger issue.”


“I cannot promise the Council will agree to hand over the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems to the Romulan Star Empire,” said Ushi. “In fact, I cannot imagine even getting just my coalition to vote for it. I have a hard enough time getting these people to do what they actually want to do.”


“Then you have to make them want to do it, Ushi,” Minerva said. “I think it’s time to tell them about Admiral Scumuk’s research. We now have telemetry of gamma waves working their way through the far end of the Romulan Star Empire…”


“So you want to admit to these secret missions you have been running into romulan space?” Ushi asked. “As long as this information is restricted to the Security Committee, it will remain secure. But once the entire Council is informed, even under strictest secrecy, it will get out.”


“It is going to get out, Ushi,” Minerva replied. “Supreme Commander Sela will make certain of that. Our choice is a stark one. We can either help preserve the Romulan Star Empire, or face open war with them.”


“This course of action would put both Trillus Prime and Betazed within striking distance of romulan aggression,” said Ushi.


“This is one reason why the Ark is only the first of its kind,” said Irons. “By the time we turn those star systems over to the romulans, we can have one of those fortresses in orbit of Trillus Prime, one at Betazed and another within striking distance of New Romulus on Vulcan.”


“Which would put us on a permanent cold war footing,” Ushi summarized. “We would be maintaining the peace through a balance of arms instead of negotiated strategic positioning. It is a very precarious course of action. Everyone will be operating with hair triggers. It would greatly increase the chances of the Federation ending up in an unwanted war with the romulans.”


“Ushi, somehow or another, we have to make this happen,” Minerva said. “I will be promising those star systems to Sela within 72 hours.”



“How about we try using the truth?” Dolphin asked. “I know, it’s a novel concept, but it might make for a refreshing change.”



“I have been a politician for more than 50 years, Doctor Dolphin. I’m no longer certain I even know what that word means anymore,” Ushi observed dryly. 


“We have been trying to protect everyone from the reality that the only force that can provide a future for life in the Alpha Quadrant is the borg,” said Dolphin. “Everyone sees the borg as a death force, but they were actually created to preserve life. The truth is we know dangerously little about the borg. Especially about what has happened to them since Admiral Janeway destroyed their transwarp conduit. One of the few things we do know is that there once was a borg stronghold on the other side of the Dead Zone in the Beta Quadrant, beyond romulan space. We have to get an expedition there. We need free passage through romulan space to make contact. It is also reasonable to assume the romulans know a whole lot more about the Dead Zone, the projected movement of gamma radiation extermination throughout the Alpha Quadrant – all these things – they have to know a lot more about them than we do.”


Minerva and Ushi Irons were just looking at him, so Dolphin continued. “Think about it – the romulans have been building those enormous ships and putting planetary environments inside of them. They’re still dependent on planets, but they are transforming themselves into a culture of interplanetary nomads. Given a few more generations, they could abandon their planet-bound populations and just drift through space, gathering energy and resources from one solar system after another – mining as they go – taking what they want. It has to be what they’ve been preparing for. This is their solution to the Dead Zone. Let them build enough of those ships and they can conquer their way through the Alpha Quadrant, staying ahead of the gamma radiation until they just outrun it.”


“Our plan, on the other hand," said Minerva Irons, "is to preserve all life in the Alpha Quadrant – and as much in the Beta Quadrant as we can. There is no way we can do that without the romulans. We can’t manage the borg and fight a full-scale war with the romulans at the same time."

Dolphin nodded. "Everyone sees the romulans as weakened. But they have never been so dangerous. They’re caught between us and certain death. When the time comes, they will fight like cornered animals. We have to make them believe there is a better way. We have to make everyone believe there is a better way.” Dolphin dropped his fist onto the desk with a thump.


“Ushi," said Minerva, "The romulans could take Betazed and Trillus Prime whenever they want to. Eventually, they will take those planets. It isn’t a matter of if – it is a matter of when. If we can successfully transplant Saketh into the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems, it may put off that romulan aggression by as much as a hundred years or more. If, on the other hand, we let Saketh die, the romulans will take Trillus and Betazed. They will need them for their own survival.”


22.3

Episode 22: Sacrifice by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Introduction by Dr. Mlady from her autobiography...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice


Episode 22 – Sacrifice


“There exists in the psyche of every social animal an urge to give its life to a magnificent predator in an act of all-consuming passion – a deep desire to be devoured and obliterated by a powerful carnivore in a blinding orgasm of pain. In intelligent species, this desperate desire is often derided in its recreational guise of masochistic carnality as sexual deviancy while simultaneously celebrated in its religious incarnation of self-sacrifice as a virtuous submission to the will of a higher being. But both of these phenomena are at root unconscious expressions of the social animal’s instinct to suborn its own need for individual survival in order to ensure the survival of its herd.” 


Dr. Mlady – Ethical Sentient Predation – A Predator’s Guide to the Ethical Hunting, Husbandry and Harvesting of Intelligent Prey Animals.



Crew of the U.S.S. Hunter: (Ship's Interactive Holographic Avatar - Hunter)


At-Large Appellate Justice, Captain Minerva Irons (On Leave)

Chief Executive Officer - Commander Kenneth Dolphin

Chief Operations Officer - Lt. Commander Mlady (On Leave)

.

Medical Director - Commander Tali Shae (On Leave)

        Asst. Medical Director - Lt. Jazz Sam Sinder (acting Medical Director)

        Epidemiologist - Lt. Commander Napoleon Boles (acting Chief Operations Officer)

                Ensign Sif

                    Forensic Specialist - Midshipman Kunto Wekesa (nickname is Kit Wekesa)

                        Emergency Medical Hologram - Dr. Raj

                        Tactical Medical Hologram - Dr. Kim

.

Director of Flight Operations - Lt. Commander Gaia Gamor

        Asst. Flight Dir. - 2nd Lt. Ethan Phillips

                        Navigator Johanna Imex

                        Navigator Auqa’rh’lth  

                Ensign Chelna Zusa

                        Chief Flight Specialist Thyssi zh’Qaoleq  (last name rhymes with Chocolate)

                        Flight Specialist Dih Terri

                        Flight Specialist Winnifreid Salazaar

                        Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper

.

Director of Ground Operations - Lt. T’Lon

        Asst. Ground Ops Dir. - 2nd Lt. Tolon Reeves

                        Chief Tactical Specialist Rumi Grace

                        Tactical Specialist Dasare Eba    (rhymes with Cabaret Nina)

                        Tactical Specialist Veri Geki

                        Tactical Specialist Ranni Neivi

                Ensign Eykirros Jones        (nickname is Ike Jones)
                        Investigator Buttans Ngumbo

                        Special Agent Anana Lynarr, Trantor Police Intelligence Division (temporary assignment)

.

Director of Engineering - Lt. Moon Sun Salek

        Asst. Engineering Dir. - 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui

                  Midshipman Carlos Datsun

                        Transporter Engineer Dragomut

                Ensign Geoffrey Horatio Alstars

                        Chief Flight Engineer Yolanda Thomas

                        Flight Engineer Thomas Hobbs

                        Flight Engineer Tomos

                        Flight Engineer Kerry Gibbon

Episode 22.4: Sacrifice - Shuttle Diplomacy by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Hunter's youngest pilot shuttles Justice Irons to stand trial on Vulcan...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 4: Shuttle Diplomacy


22.4

Shuttle Diplomacy


The U.S.S. Hunter barely paused a dozen lightyears outside the A Boo star system to deliver Dewayne Guth and Ushi Irons to Cun Ling. But it was an unusual operation. Guth piloted the wagon (an uparmored shuttle designed to be used with Prowler class starships). After leaving the Hunter’s shuttle bay, the wagon docked with a small, personnel shuttle that had been waiting to rendezvous with the Hunter. The shuttle pilot, a tellarite named Brath bavClovirg, transferred from the shuttle to the wagon to return to Pern with Guth and Ushi Irons. Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper transferred from the wagon to pilot the small, unarmed shuttle which she then docked in the Hunter’s shuttle bay.



Another 14 hours traveling at unprecedented speeds brought the Hunter to the edge of Vulcan space. Justice Minerva Irons stepped onto the short-range personnel class shuttle. These were the smallest shuttlecraft in service, only large enough to accommodate four people. Two of these craft could easily fit in place of the wagon in the Hunter’s shuttle bay. 



As she sat down next to Flight Specialist Hopper, Irons felt ancient. It was her 160th birthday. Even though she was only a quarter vulcan, Irons had aged exceptionally well for her first 15 decades. It was really only the past few years that she had started to look and feel old. And her pilot, who had only enlisted in Star Fleet eight months previously, was not even 19. She looked like she might be 12.


They were waiting. Flight Specialist Hopper had gone through the pre-flight check twice, but there really wasn’t much to check. These shuttles were extremely simple by design and did not carry much in the way of computer systems or anything else that needed checking out. By design, the short-range shuttles were nimble, but neither particularly fast nor stealthy. This craft was designed to carry people back and forth within a solar system at low warp speeds. They only rarely exceeded the speed of light.



“I have to ask you again if you are ready to take this risk,” Irons said, watching the young pilot closely. “I am afraid we might be sending you into a life of hard labor under the romulans. One from which rescue might not be possible.”


“Commander Dolphin asked me that question when he recruited me, your honor,” Hopper replied. “He recruited me specifically for this assignment - taking you to stand trial on Vulcan. He told me to simply assume the worst is what is going to happen. I have left a message for my family.” Hopper looked down. “Sometimes you have to die to learn how to live.”


Irons’ eyes widened a bit. “That is a klingon proverb. Who told you that?”


“Commander Dolphin.”


Irons made an amused noise. “He got it from David – Commander Pepper – a dear friend of mine. David used to say that on occasion.”


“What do you think they are going to do to you?” Hopper asked.


“Well, at my age, I’m not really worried about it,” Irons said. “I had hoped to spend my waning years on Ocean. Given what we’re headed into, I think those years may have become weeks, now.” 


“Do you think you can make a deal with Empress Sela?”


“Don’t let her hear you call her that,” said Irons with a warning look. “It is Supreme Commander Sela. She may want that scepter, but she does not pretend to it. Actually, your fate will probably give us the best answer to that question.” 



At that moment Commander Kenneth Dolphin’s voice came through the comm system: “We have confirmed that the U.S.S. Tracker has left vulcan space. Flight Specialist Hopper, you are cleared to launch. Safe travels, Mr. Hopper.”


The shuttle bay door opened. “Commander, this is Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper, confirming we are good to go.” With a deftness that came as much from talent as from experience, Hopper eased the shuttle from the Hunter’s shuttle bay and headed into vulcan space.



“Your accent sounds familiar,” said Irons. “Do I detect the sound of the Bronx?”


“Street hockey, backyard baseball and boiled hot dogs,” Hopper replied. “I was there just last week to visit my parents before taking this assignment.”


Irons smiled. “Why did you enlist?”


“I don’t know. I got restless. Had to do something. I want to get involved in hybrid advocacy,” Hopper said.


“Hybrid advocacy? That sounds like a new thing. When I was a child,” Irons made an amused noise, “more than 140 years ago, being a hybrid was… exotic, special. I got the princess treatment. I wouldn’t have identified you as a hybrid.”


“I don’t have the look. It skipped over my father too,” Hopper said. “But my brothers and my baby sister have it. They’ve gotten bullied for it. By adults – who should know better. Last year I saw this subspace radio program and I guess it made me want to just meet a lot of hybrids and being a shuttle pilot on the Earth-Mars run seemed a good way to do that. Just getting to know people. I was wanting to go directly into advocacy, but when I heard that program with that Harvard professor, it just made it seem like the issues were far more complicated than I had realized. I wanted time to just think about it all. I must have read through Doctor Dolphin’s books a dozen times. I didn’t even realize Commander Dolphin was that Doctor Dolphin until I met him.”


Irons laughed. “I will tell you a secret – and don’t you dare let this get back to Kenneth until I am confirmed to be in my grave so it doesn’t come back to haunt me…”


Jennifer Hopper crossed herself.


“Roman Catholic?” Irons asked.


Hopper smiled. “Family tradition. I am from the Bronx, after all. But my dad told me the whole universe is Roman Catholic… He had this recording of a dozen different non-humans chanting – and it all sounded like it was in Latin. Even the binars – although in their case it sounded like mouse-Latin – or like mice squeaking in Latin... So what is this big secret?”



Irons stretched. She straightened her neck with some difficulty. “Just before I took command of the Hunter, I heard a rumor there was this hot-dog test pilot named Dolphin who was impressing everyone at the Utopia Planetia Shipyards – and I verified that it was, in fact, the one and only Dr. Kenny Dolphin of Harvard fame – or infamy. I pulled a few strings, had a number of the most experimental craft reclassified so that only Star Fleet officers would be able to fly them and the flight masters at UPS enticed him into going to Officer Candidate School because they wanted to see him flying the birds they had designed. I kept the Director of Flight Operations position on my ship open until he qualified for it and then recruited him onto the Hunter. He doesn’t know this, but it was no accident he ended up on my boat. Or in Star Fleet, for that matter.”


“Why did you go to all that trouble?” Hopper asked. “Did you, like, know that he was going to be a great officer or something? The philosopher pilot?”


Irons laughed. “That’s the real secret – why I did it… I did it on a whim. Because it amused me. I had a ship full of hybrids and I wanted to see him interact with them. And them with him. No big underlying motive. I just saw an opportunity to make things interesting on my boat. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I wish I could take credit for how well it worked out, but I really just did it for the hell of it.”


22.4

Episode 22.5: Sacrifice - The Great Waterbirds of Pern by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Ushi Irons is moved to tears by a new experience...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 5: The Great Waterbirds of Pern


22.5

The Great Waterbirds of Pern


The most powerful man in the Alpha Quadrant, the scion of two ancient Chinese families - one from Hong Kong and the other from Shanghai - was in a boat in the middle of a large lake, wearing a plaid flannel shirt, cutoff blue jeans that revealed pale white legs that had never seen the sun, and dirty white deck shoes without socks. His long, white hair was bundled under a blue ball cap that had a fish hook in it and bore the words “I’d Rather Be Fishing” in faded white letters. 


Which was precisely what Ushi Irons was doing. His long, wispy white beard spilled into his lap. In his hand was a fishing rod, the line was in the water – a red floater bobbing on the surface. Other than his hair and beard having long ago turned from black to white, his skin and his fine, Chinese features betrayed almost no evidence that he was almost as old as his three fishing companions put together – a retired Star Fleet pilot, a teenage vulcan girl and a middle-aged Filipino woman who was the hops-master of a local brewery – she had provided the beer for this outing. She also happened to be the mayor of Pern, one of the 15,000 Cities of Cun Ling.



Four lines in the water. Four impassive fishers silently watching their lines. Facing four different directions. Four bottles of lukewarm beer being worked down slowly. A large bucket contained three fish on ice.



High above, four enormous waterbirds glided the thermals between the land and the edge of the lake, watching the water. They spotted what they were looking for and dived in sequence.



“There!” said Maa, the teenage vulcan, alerting her (more-or-less) human companions to the giant waterbirds as they went into their dive. As Maa, Ushi Irons, Dewayne Guth and Mayor Tala Ocompo watched, the birds leveled out slightly as they approached the water, skimming the surface in the distance in formation at tremendous speed. Then all four entered the water simultaneously, only to come thrusting their way out of the water and into the sky, each carrying an enormous fish. The fish were fighting so hard that each bird’s flight pattern was altered and they had to fly away from each other to avoid being thrown into one another by the weight of the struggling fish held firmly in each bird’s talons.



With evident effort, each bird struggled to carry its fish into the sky. Once they were over the rocky beach, each bird dropped to an altitude of about 2 meters before dropping its fish onto the rocks, then flew up and swooped back down to carry its stunned ichthyoid prey skyward once again, toward their mountainside lairs.



“Got another one,” said Ushi, his rod bending under the weight of another fish. He quickly began reeling it in as Mayor Ocompo picked up the net scoop.


“Fish seem to like you,” said Guth. “That’s three for my one and zero for the ladies. Are you certain you’ve never done this before?”


Ushi worked with Ocompo to bring the fish in – a large variant of a trout. Once the fish was in the bucket, he picked up and drained his beer. “I have only ever made fun of this activity. I never expected to enjoy it.”


“Destim will have a fire ready for us to cook these,” said Maa. “We will want to get there soon so we can watch him and his spouse feeding the babies.” 


Guth took the wheel and steered the boat toward one of the tall mountains that ringed the lake. The electric motor was nearly silent as it brought the boat up to speed – skimming across the lake on skids as its speed lifted the hull out of the water. 


Ushi and Tala began cleaning the fish, preparing them for cooking. Maa expertly gutted them, then placed each prepared fish into an individualized bag that contained oils, herbs and spices to flavor it in preparation for cooking.



As they approached the mountain, Guth slowed the boat, allowing the skids to retract and the hull to settle back into the water. He steered the boat into a cave. It took a few moments for the passengers’ eyes to adjust to the dim lighting inside the cavern. They travelled about a thousand meters into the cavern, following its twists and turns until they arrived at a small marina inside the mountain that supported about 20 boats. Guth and Ocompo tied the boat to one of the underground piers. Ushi picked up one of the coolers – Guth picked up the other. Maa slung the bags of fish over her shoulder as Mayor Ocompo led them to an elevator.



It was a long, dark, quiet and somewhat fishy-smelling elevator ride up to Destim’s nest near the top of the mountain. As they stepped out of the elevator, they could smell, then hear, see and feel a bonfire warming part of the nest and providing a column of aromatic smoke. Four chairs had been set out for them.  In another area of the nest, Destim Ski and his mate were ripping bits of meat from an enormous fish and feeding them to their man-sized squawking fledglings – three of them.



Ushi Irons settled into a chair, handed a beer to Mayor Ocompo and one to Dewayne Guth as Maa began cooking their fish. “On occasion I have found all the politics – the water I swim in – has become tiresome to me and I wonder why I go to such effort to get people to do what they should be doing anyway. This is why. So I can share a beer and a kettle of fish with a vulcan, a local mayor, a retired Star Fleet pilot and a family of giant talking birds.” He took a long pull of his beer and began laughing quietly.


“You ain’t seen nothing yet, sir,” said Guth. He got up and pulled two large bottles out of a nearby cabinet – each bottle nearly half his size – and with Mayor Ocompo’s help, wrangled them into an open area. Destim Ski and his mate, Ressa Nih walked over as Guth and Ocompo uncorked the bottles.



Although they were called waterbirds, Destim and Ressa appeared to be more closely related to pterosaurs. They walked as quadrupeds, using what appeared to be their elbows as well as their heavily clawed feet, their claws clicking lightly on the rock floor of their rookery. They were not feathered and relied on heavy flaps of skin for flight. 


Destim Ski closed his beak around the bottle, holding most of it in his mouth, then tipped it upward to drink from it. His mate followed suit. They made odd, appreciative noises as they drank.


A Boo - the star around which this planet orbited - was setting in the west and the planet’s brightest moon, Liu, was growing brighter in the east. As the sky grew dark, Ushi could see the glow and twinkling of hundreds of home fires on a mountain nearby, across a part of the lake. These lights were reflected in the water between the two mountains. 



“Mayor,” said Destim Ski in his deep, resonant voice, “Your jala leaves a very pleasing after image on the palate.”


“It compares favorably with the jala on Cophus II,” Ressa chimed in. Her voice was equally low. The only way Ushi could tell male from female was that Destim Ski had a brightly colored crest near the back and top of his head that would open to reveal brilliant colors depending on his mood.



An incredibly deep, resonant sound began somewhere much lower on the mountainside. Other voices joined in, creating a sound like a great celestial pipe organ clearing its throat. Destim Ski lifted his beak, opening it wide, adding his voice to this enormous bass choir. His crest deployed fully – iridescent blues, greens and yellows reflecting the firelight. Then Ressa joined in – the sound was incredibly loud – vibrating Ushi’s chest. 


Gradually, softer, higher voices joined the chorus. At first, Ushi assumed these were the fledglings, but the fledglings remained silent. As Maa started singing, Ushi realized he was hearing vulcans singing with the giant waterbirds – then with a shock he realized they were all singing in Vulcan – their song a joint product of vulcan and waterbird culture. The poetry was vulcan. The incredibly dense and complex harmonies and melodies were unlike anything he had ever heard. Ushi could almost feel new neural pathways being created in his brain simply to handle the complexity of this music.


The poetry was neither descriptive nor narrative – but evocative – suggesting a long lost childhood when the very concept of words themselves was new and wondrous – not a daily working reality, nor a lens to be seen through, but wonders in their own right. Then the song died away…



Only to be taken up from another mountain. In the distance, Ushi could hear hundreds more vulcans and waterbirds picking up the song and the poetry and carrying them forward in an act not of recitation, but of creation.



It was a wonder that his more than 80 years of life, travel, discovery and discipline had never prepared him for. The Federation’s most devious politician sat back in his chair in this mountainside rookery, stunned by this new experience, tears in his eyes, a look of wonder on his face, a forgotten bottle of beer slowly growing warm in his hand.


22.5

Episode 22.6: Sacrifice - The Balcony by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Justice Irons and Jennifer Hopper meet with the most powerful hybrid in either the Alpha or Beta Quadrant...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 6: The Balcony


22.6

The Balcony


As instructed, Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper brought the tiny shuttle craft down directly into the atrium of the newly constructed Imperial Administration Center on Vulcan, located a few hundred meters from the Regar Sea - the largest ocean on Vulcan. The building had 40 stories and was constructed from transparent plascrete. It wrapped around a large central garden in a rough horseshoe shape that was open to a beach leading down to the sea.



“No heroics, Hopper,” said Justice Minerva Irons. “There is nothing you can do for me – if you try, it will ruin my plans. The only way you make it out of here without becoming a slave is to assume all is lost and just play it straight.”


“That is almost exactly what Commander Dolphin told me,” Hopper replied. “That and to be very respectful toward Supreme Commander Sela – never use her name or anyone’s name – only their titles.” She went through the shutdown sequence, secured the engine, then keyed the door. “I should exit first, your honor.”


“Yes, you should.” Irons remained seated as Hopper stepped around her, having to bend over slightly because the shuttle was not large enough to stand up in. She turned and stepped out of the craft. “Leave the door open and hand the remote to the centurion, Flight Specialist,” Irons said.



Hopper held her hand out, the remote key to the shuttle in her hand. A number of romulan guards, led by a centurion surrounded the craft and the two women. The centurion looked at one of the guards. The guard stepped forward and held out her hand. Hopper tilted her hand, dropping the key into the guard’s hand.



“I know you speak Romulan,” said the centurion. 


“We both do,” Irons responded.


The centurion registered only the slightest surprise, glancing at Hopper, then said, “You are to go to the balcony on the 14th floor. Please make your way directly there.” 


“Thank you, Centurion,” said Irons.



“No escort?” Hopper asked as they stepped away from the guards ringing the shuttle. 


“A show of strength on Sela’s part,” Irons responded. “Can you imagine a high level romulan operative being invited to walk, unescorted into the Federation Council building to meet with President Rodriguez on a balcony?”


Hopper shook her head.


“Supreme Commander Sela will be standing by the balcony rail when we arrive and she will be alone,” said Irons. “She will be wearing civilian clothing – probably a long gown. Do not make any false moves. She is quite capable of protecting herself.”


“Commander Dolphin told me to resist temptation at every turn.”


“I did not promote him twice for being reckless.”


While the two women were not escorted into the building, there was no shortage of observers. It was evident that the romulans had been ordered to leave the two women alone to move at their own pace and at will. It was equally evident they were uncomfortable with those orders.



The entire ground floor served as a lobby. Although the large, open ground floor was filled with people – mostly romulan, but several vulcans and humans as well – the two women were afforded a wide berth. When they chose an elevator, no one joined them. Their ride to the 14th floor was a solitary one. 


The 14th floor was apparently one large office and apartment suite and was entirely vacant. It was only a few meters from the elevator to the balcony. Just as Irons had predicted, Supreme Commander Sela was dressed in an emerald green gown - but of a different cut from the one Irons had seen her wearing on the I.R.W. Bestia. She was leaning on the rail of the balcony, looking out to sea.



“Vulcan is a dying planet,” Sela said, still looking out to sea as Irons joined her at the rail. “This is not my first time to look at this ocean. Even with all the passion the humans have poured into saving this planet, it is still dying.”


Hopper hung back near the door.


“Step up to the rail and look at it, young human,” said Sela. “So little life along the shore. So little life in that ocean.” Sela turned and looked at her (mostly) human visitors. “In your stupidity and your immorality, you nearly destroyed Earth in your 21st Century. But even the most egregious of human neglect and greed was nothing compared to the barbarity and hatred of the vulcans for one another. Earth was able to recover.” 



Sela looked back out to sea as Jennifer Hopper walked up to the rail – put her hands on it – looked out to sea. There were no ships. No one was swimming or surfing. No signs of life. “Vulcan has been slowly dying for a thousand years. This planet will eventually become uninhabitable. The human passion and contrition that saved Earth cannot save Vulcan. The poisons the vulcans used in their last world war were too potent. They have tried for a thousand years to extract them, but those poisons got spread everywhere by the water and have caused a deadly ongoing chain reaction in the soil. It just keeps getting worse. Their weapons worked better than they were designed to. As much hate as you humans could manage to throw at one another, it never even began to compare to how much hate the vulcans had for each other. How much they hatred they had for themselves. You know the story of Surak, who finally led the vulcan people to peace and logic, teaching them to rigorously suppress their emotions. It’s part of what you humans love about vulcans. Their cold dispassionate logic.”


Sela turned to look at Irons. “You are part vulcan, but you don’t suppress your emotions. There are more and more of you – you have taken the poison of the vulcans into your species. You have taken their poison into your very blood, and left the antidote on the table.”


“Without their emotional self-control, vulcans are monsters. You are a quarter vulcan, but you do not discipline yourself. Is that how you came to be such a monster, Justice Irons?”


Sela paused, then focused on Jennifer Hopper, looking at her closely. “Come here, child.”


Hopper walked around Irons, stepped in front of the romulan supreme commander. She managed a relaxed humility. “You were very well chosen for this assignment,” Sela said. “Just the right combination of humility and self-possession. Do you speak?”


“To tell the truth, I am frightened out of my wits, Supreme Commander. I don’t know whether to stand at attention or curtsey,” said Hopper.


Sela laughed lightly. “You are also part vulcan?”


“No, Supreme Commander. My grandfather is romulan.”


“One of my admirals?”


“A commander, I believe,” said Hopper.


“I thought romulans were prohibited from service in Star Fleet,” Sela observed.


“Star Fleet had only allowed romulans and people of romulan descent to serve in Star Fleet Intelligence,” Hopper replied. “Then, 10 years ago when Admiral El Fadil became Chief of Staff, he pushed through a policy change. Romulans are now allowed to serve in every command within Star Fleet as long as we are Federation citizens or receive a recommendation from a command level officer.”


“Very interesting. Return to where you were, child,” said Sela.



Sela turned toward Irons again. “You will be tried. Your trial will be broadcast. You will implicate Star Fleet in the destruction of Gamorlan and the death of thousands of romulans.”


“I will do all those things, Supreme Commander. And I will give you far more. I will give with both hands,” said Irons. “But there is a price.”


“You will not go free,” said Sela.


“No,” Irons replied. She took a deep breath. “No, I have recently realized that I have not been free for a very long time. But I will escape. Probably immediately after the trial. And after I escape, you will send our pilot back to us, unmolested.”


“That is what you selected her for. To test me?” Sela was clearly holding an icy fury very carefully in check.


Irons was simply exhausted. “No, Supreme Commander. We selected her to be a coin. A coin with which you will purchase the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems. Al D. 3, Al D. 4 and Al J. 4 are all suitable for the transplantation of Saketh. You are aware of the U.S.S. Ark?”


“A weapon beyond imagination,” said Sela. “We are prepared to destroy it.”


“You would be destroying your future,” Irons replied. “The Ark was created to remove all life, all the soil, all the water, all of the atmosphere from Saketh and transplant them to Al D. 3, Al D. 4 and Al J. 4. Saketh is the only superplanet left in romulan space. It could live, except for the wave of gamma radiation headed toward it. In less than 300 years, Saketh will be sterilized.” 


“And you know,” rejoined Sela, “that the star systems you call Al Donovos and Al Jenova will be sterilized in just over 3,000 years by gamma waves from the same source.”


“Not if we can repair the machine,” said Irons.


“You don’t think we have considered that?” asked Sela - her icy fury just a little closer to the surface. “The only people who could repair that machine are the people who built it.”


“The borg,” said Irons.


“And you don’t think we had considered using them?” Sela was no longer concealing her anger.


“It turns out that we may have some resources that you might not have been able to include in your consideration. Not technology,” Irons added, anticipating Sela’s response, “Personnel. We have a few people who are immune to the borg nanites. And who have some very unusual abilities.”


“You would need an emancipated borg to be able to rework their base code…” Sela started.


“We have one of those,” Irons replied.



Sela closed her eyes, rolled her head back, sighed, letting her anger drain from her. “Even with all of that, your plan might have worked if you could make a bargain with their queen. But she is dead. The borg have not fared well since the destruction of their transwarp conduit. They are not the power they once were. You saw their ships - those are among the best they have to offer. There just are not enough of them left to get this job done.”


“You have a long term plan. Romulan nomads.” Irons looked at Sela. “How many of your people would be left behind to starve or die from gamma radiation?”


“What are you driving at?” Sela asked.


“You said it yourself, a few moments ago," Irons replied. "I have become a monster. Not just for your people, but for mine as well.”


Sela took a long breath, looked at Irons closely, evaluating her. “I will not allow you to escape.”


“I would not expect you to, Supreme Commander,” Irons replied levelly. “But when I do escape, remember: Flight Specialist Hopper is the coin. She is your innocent witness to these events. Your unimpeachable emissary. And the key to the future of your people.” 


“I was not looking forward to putting you on trial, given your age. You are old and tired, Minerva Irons. But listening to your bluster, I am beginning to have more of an appetite for this trial,” said Sela.


“Oh, I will give you a memorable trial,” Irons replied. “Together, you and I will create a legend. A terror that your people will never forget.”


22.6

Episode 22.7: Sacrifice - Sweet Madam Blue by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

In a faraway galaxy, the spirit of a woman from 20th Century Earth is mated with another soul...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 7: Sweet Madam Blue

22.7

Sweet Madam Blue


Penelope was an extraordinarily kind hearted soul, which made her very, very good at her job. She could read each client and know exactly what they needed. Her clients were male, female and a few were rather indeterminate or were in transition. Most of them could only afford a weekend of her attentions – and that only a few times a year. Some took a 2- or 3- week vacation to spend in her care. Many of her clients were married and some of them came as couples for the therapy she provided.


It was very useful that a few powerful U.S. and Ohio State Treasury officials as well as a talented accountant or two were among her clients as she was invariably audited every year. Another of her clients served on the medical review board that certified her business model every year. Penelope was a medical doctor and had doctorates in psychology, psychiatry and sex therapy. Her services were quite expensive and her client list rather exclusive. She did have a few particularly desperate clients who were unable to pay to whom she provided her services in return for keeping her rather magnificent home and gardens clean and in good order. She cared deeply for each of her clients, whether rich or impecunious. Giving meaning to their lives gave meaning to hers.


Considering the rather puritanical nature of Middle America in the late 20th Century, Penelope might have had serious problems with the local religious establishments, or the police, or various arms of local, state and federal government, but discounts for well-placed clients and a little bit of extra attention provided to key clients kept all of these various forces at bay.



But Penelope was living a double life.



She was a lucid dreamer – she remembered her waking life in detail while dreaming and remembered every detail of her dreams while awake. These exceptionally lucid dreams had begun when she was a little girl. At first all she remembered was a vague blue haze. Gradually, she began to identify with the blue haze and after a year or so she was able to turn her dreaming awareness outward. She had thought at first she had been dreaming that she was swimming. But there was nothing to swim through. Nothing to push against. 


Her dreaming self had companions. And none of them were blue. Their skin was dark brown and they were enormous - each the size of a fair-sized house. Larger than the house that Penelope had grown up in. As she grew up, she had realized she could communicate with them and hear their communication with one another. Well – it didn’t exactly involve hearing... They didn’t think small, human thoughts. They thought gigantic, whale thoughts. She finally decided to call them whales. Space whales.


Penelope quickly learned to keep these dreams to herself. They seemed innocent enough at first, but they were too different from the way that other people dreamed. She never felt like she was sleeping. It felt more like she was waking to anther life. Every nap, every moment she was asleep, her friends were there, swimming with her. Not swimming – flying through the stars. There was a baby. And they were depending on Penelope to help raise her. A baby whale.



It was an odd double life – the most complicated and involved life a human could live juxtaposed with an alternate life of pure freedom and complete innocence. Each life was the perfect counterpart to the other. Her job as nanny for the baby whale – to help shape its morality – came naturally to her – a simple, nurturing, life-giving ethos. The whales lived simple lives, grazing on asteroids to collect water, molten, inner planets to collect minerals and basking in the coronas of stars, to store up energy for their next interstellar journey.


Penelope was not human during these times. She could be dispersed over more than a thousand square meters or condensed into a tight blue field. As a human, she had a fair idea what she was - flesh and blood. Her incarnation as an indistinct blue haze was a complete mystery to her.



She first became aware of the presence of a human interloper because the baby became unsettled. It was nearly 20 years old now, so baby was no longer really fair, but Penelope still felt very protective. Somehow, she felt it had been her purpose to raise this child emotionally and while it was no longer a baby, it was not yet an adult. It had never occurred to her to actually go inside her charge, but that was clearly what it was now wanting her to do.


Moving her presence into the baby was very much like going anywhere else in space. She was astounded to find an environment inside the baby that was created for human habitation. What on the outside appeared to be a supple whale, flexing with each change of direction, on the inside looked like a mid-20th Century coochi-lounge – all dark reds and golds – a warm, seductive place. A large, dark orange, semi-circular couch more or less faced a curved, ovular viewscreen – or perhaps window – Penelope was not quite certain. Through this window, the stars and other members of the whale herd could be seen.


She had a strong feeling that the small, bald, dark-skinned man wearing khakis, Wellingtons and a leather jacket belonged there – as much as she did – perhaps more. This feeling bothered her greatly. He looked South American to her. He was relaxing on the couch as if he had been there forever. Penelope found herself molding her appearance to resemble her human form, complete with the clothing she most often wore, but skin, clothing, shoes and all remained a consistent shade of light blue.



“Hello Lavardorn Avatar,” said her South American interloper, relieving her of her concern about needing to dig up Spanish that she had last used more than a decade ago. He sat up and looked at her as her form solidified. “Do you know just what you are?”


Penelope had never spoken while in her non-corporeal hazy blue incarnation, but now, having assumed a human-like form, she found that she could speak. “No.” It was a timid squeak, not her usual, low, carefully cultivated sultry tones. She had grown used to being in control of every situation. She was used to people being naked to her – completely vulnerable and exposed. For the first time in more than a decade, she felt naked and exposed. She could craft her form to resemble a human wearing clothing, but the reality was there could be no clothing for this blue form. This odd sense of vulnerability was increased by an instinct that, although she had no clue what she actually was, it was clear her interlocutor did.


“I am human,” Penelope managed, still learning how to control this voice – a voice she had never used because she had never even been aware that she had it.


“And so am I. To all appearances. But I am somewhat more than human. You are much, much more than human. The creature we currently inhabit has many names. Most of them are far too long for convenient conversational use. Call her a lavardorn. It is close enough to the first few syllables of the name her race’s creators used for their creation. And you are her avatar. Do you know where we are?”


“I have no idea,” Penelope replied.


“We call this galaxy NGC 55," her South American interloctor responded. "It is the home galaxy for lavardorn, although they have spread to several neighboring galaxies over the past 5,000 years. You seem to think of these creatures as space whales – entirely coincidentally, NGC 55 is also known as the Whale Galaxy. This species is about 7.5 million years old. Recently – meaning in the past 15,000 years – some of them have developed a method of travel so fast that we do not have any adequate means of measuring it. This creature is one of the fastest and she is just now coming into her own. Her pod has selected her to be the first to populate the Milky Way. Soon, you and she will leave this pod and make your way across the vast gulf of intergalactic space – about 6.5 million light years to our home galaxy – your home galaxy. This is why the pod chose to embed an avatar in a human – you are Minerva’s beacon – her true north.”


“Minerva?” Penelope asked.


“Well, we should name her, and Minerva is the goddess of wisdom. The protector of life. It would be a fitting name, don’t you think, Penelope?”



“You know my name, and you propose to name my, well, my child. Who are you?”



“Ah, my apologies, we first met a long time from now. It is so easy to be neglectful when an old friend is meeting you for the first time. I am Doctor Sarekson Carrera and I have a very difficult job ahead of me. I will need your help – yours and Minerva’s. Unfortunately, I will never get to meet your human incarnation – at least not your current one. You will carry the memories of each humanoid incarnation from one lifetime into the next. Your job will be to keep Minerva sane on her very long voyage to the Milky Way. That is the reason for your double life. Your human life will ground you so that you can, in turn, keep Minerva grounded. You are the first incarnation of Minerva’s avatar.”


“So, I will be, um, reincarnated?” asked Penelope.


“In a way," Carrera mused. "The human Penelope will die like any human. But you will carry her memories as you are reborn into another inhabitant of the Milky Way. Reborn several times among several different species on several different worlds. I have noticed two things in common among Minerva’s avatars – you are invariably female and invariably extraordinarily kind, compassionate souls. Which makes me curious about your human self. I have known you to be a nurse, a psychiatrist, a lawyer – always someone who takes care of others and cares deeply for them. But I do not know what your first incarnation was… is… sorry – the English language was never designed to manage non-linear temporal phenomena. So what does the human Penelope do?”



“Actually, it is Mistress Penelope, Doctor Carrera. I am a professional dominatrix…”


22.7

End Notes:

Character:                       Mistress Penelope

Human Ethnicity:             Mexican

Additional Species:          Lavardorn Avatar

Hometown/Homeworld:   Columbus, Ohio / NGC 55 (The Whale Galaxy)

Introduced: Episode         22.7

Age when introduced:      29

Role:                                Professional Dominatrix / Lavardorn Avatar

Episode 22.8: Sacrifice - The Shadowhounds of Aveadega by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

On the forest moon of Avradega in the Andor system, shadowhounds pursue their prey...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 8: The Shadowhounds of Avradega


22.8

The Shadowhounds of Avradega


Like many species native to Andoria, the shadowhounds of Avradega had antennae that served a variety of purposes from fine perception of temperature variances to chemical sampling beyond the olfactory senses, an exceptional sense of balance, registry of atmospheric vibrations too subtle to be heard and a keen sense of light and shadow that affected the fine muscles along their backs, sides and tails which in turn raised fur of different colors that gave these animals superb, flowing camouflage. Unlike andorians, the shadowhounds’ antennae were long and whiplike, laying back across their bodies. Shadowhounds looked somewhat like a cross between a hyena and a cheetah with a 1970’s era muscle car. As fast as andorians could run (considerably faster than humans), the shadowhounds were much, much faster and nearly invisible, even when running in the open.



In the great forest of Avradega, the shadowhounds ran silently and unseen across a light dusting of snow beneath snow-covered trees. What natural selection had gifted them with, centuries of breeding had refined. The ragtag group of andorians running from the shadowpack – although running much faster than humanly possible – had no chance against such pursuers. When they came to a ravine, the four youngest hesitated and were quickly pinned down by pursuing shadowhounds. The others – about 20 andorians – leapt into the ravine without hesitation.


Had this been a terrestrial ravine, none of the runners would have survived. But Avradega was a moon that was only ¾ the mass of Earth. Even so, few humans could have made such a leap and continued running. But these were andorians – lighter, tougher, and gifted with superhuman balance due to their antennae. All but two who made the leap landed on their feet and, taking the enormous leap in stride, kept running. The two who stumbled did not get a chance to get back up – shadowhounds landed on them and kept them pinned. The remainder of the shadowpack followed seamlessly after the runners with even less interruption in their stride – as if they had simply hopped over a fallen log.


Had these been wild shadowhounds, the runners (mostly children) who were pinned would have been ripped apart. But this shadowpack was a highly trained SAR (Search and Retrieval) pack. Utterly silent in pursuit, once an SAR shadowhound had its prey firmly pinned, it would utter a low-pitched, powerful vibration, not unlike the purr of a large, terrestrial cat. This powerful vibration activated a beacon embedded in the animal’s chest which alerted its handlers to beam the shadowhound into a handling area and its quarry into a holding cell. The handler calmed the animal, reset its beacon, then sent it immediately back to the location from which it had been beamed out, there to rejoin the hunt.



From the beginning of this SAR operation, it took less than 20 minutes to round up the last known members of Andoria First in the Andor star system and the captives were quickly transported to a prison in Laibok (the capital of the forest moon of Avradega) to await trial.


22.8

Episode 22.9: Sacrifice - An Imperial Request by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Emperor Sin IV has a request that will propel Councilmember Emory Ivonovic to his destiny...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 9: An Imperial Request


22.9

An Imperial Request


“It seems you have rolled up the Andoria First movement across most of your empire.” Federation Councilmember Emory Ivonovic was in his new office near the top of the Federation Council Building. He easily had enough support to take the leadership position for the Homeworld Coalition - now the largest coalition in the council - but he did not want it. He had become a reliable vote wrangler for Council Leader Chelna Yaalleiysei. “What kind of assistance are you looking for from Star Fleet?”



Unlike Ushi Irons’ enormous, sparsely furnished, sun-drenched office, Ivonovic’s office had the warm, classic look of a 19th Century manor. There was a sofa set near an artificial fire, a conference table with a number of chairs, his desk dominated another quarter of the room and a small group of plush chairs organized near several bookcases that were filled with books. Ivonovic and Emperor Sin IV were seated in two of these chairs - clearly Ivonovic’s favorite corner of this large, comfortable office.



The blind emperor was dressed in a hand crafted dark blue 3-piece suit with gold pinstripes - which looked weird on a pale, blind andorian - his antennae moving sharply, deliberately - he looked like a strange white bug in a suit. “We are looking for Star Fleet to aggressively enforce the Gagarin Treaty. The only significant Andoria First group remaining within the Andorian Empire is on Weythan, which, as you know, is also a vulcan colony and a stronghold for the rebel Vulcan Nativist movement. This, along with the system’s proximity to Vulcan, makes Weythan a prime target for romulan aggression. Weythan must be kept in the Andorian Empire, in the Vulcan High Command in Exile, and within the Federation. When we move to re-take Weythan, we will be vulnerable to the Praetorian Guard. We need Star Fleet to watch our back.”


“I am concerned about Star Fleet’s ability to face any of the romulan war birds with their current fleet,” said Ivonovic. “The Ark would make short work of one - probably five or more. And the Milky Way. Three more of the Ark class and five more of the Milky Way are under construction, but what we have now is about 40 of those Prowler class.”


“A bug in a suit…” Emperor Sin IV laughed. “You underestimate bugs. You should talk to your friend. He has been flying one of those bugs.” The emperor stood up. “I am quite pleased with this suit. A human fashion, but reinvented for my build. It is the most comfortable clothing I have ever worn. Andorians are built differently from humans. I have engaged Gillano and Sons to re-design my imperial robes. If they could do so well making a human suit fit me, maybe they can make my robes fit properly as well. I would never have expected such excellence from the Colony of New Hope. I think you fail to adequately appreciate the resources at your disposal, Esteemed Councilmember.”



“I meant no disrespect, Emperor…” Ivonovic rose.



“I do not hold you responsible for your passing thoughts,” said the emperor. “I will go so far as to admit you would find mine no more flattering. If we do not allow ourselves this indulgence, we would take out the hate we have been taught to lavish upon ourselves on others who are different from us – so different that all we can see is reflections of ourselves.”


“The selves we have been taught to hate?” Ivonovic smiled. The emperor was well known to speak in riddles – a part of the charisma that held his people in such sway.


“If we loved ourselves too well, we could not function as social animals,” Sin IV mused


“And so we are taught to hate ourselves?” Ivonovic asked.


“When have you ever known something that must be done not to be done to extreme excess?" the blind emperor responded. "I remember your thoughts when I had Premiere Saoron arrested to save his life from the Romulan Senate. It was your plan, including all the embellishments. And it was a brilliant plan. But you were sickened by it. Sickened by my people – by our antennae – but that was only a reflection of how you felt about yourself. It was a devious plan and you are a devious man. Now I have one for you.”


Ivonovic smiled. “A devious plan?”


“Alas, the plan is not mine,” Emperor Sin IV replied. “I am not so devious a creature as advertised. This plan comes from the master of secrets, Ushi Irons. It appears Minerva Irons is convinced that we must provide the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems to the Romulan Star Empire to prevent the sack of Trillus Prime and Betazed. More importantly, her children believe her. And so do I.”


“We cannot do that!” Ivonovic nearly exploded. “Never again! We cannot retreat before the romulans - we would be ceding half of the Neutral Zone!”


“Your response was accurately predicted by our great friend, Ushi, the puppet master.” The emperor laughed. “I will provide the votes to make it happen from the Federal coalition. Your job will be to fire up the Homeworld coalition against it. Rise to great heights. Ride the wave. This is the moment created for you.”


“This will destroy Ushi. I will see to that,” said Ivonovic.


“He expects nothing less,” said Sin. “Did you know that he considers you the greatest internal threat to the future of the Federation? You are not a hereditary tyrant, like I am. You are a demagogue. A rabble rouser. A common man who has risen to create a cult of personality. The greatest threat any democracy faces. And this will be Ushi’s legacy. He considers it quite the irony.”


“He’s wheeling and dealing behind the scenes to give Federation space to the Romulan Star Empire and he considers me the threat to the Federation?” Ivonovic was nearly apoplectic.


“I will leave you with this, Emory,” said Sin. “You stand within a breath of realizing your greatest ambition. And you are angry with the man who is handing it to you on a silver platter. Along with his own head. Ushi asked me if you can handle this. If you are smart enough… If you are humble enough…” Emperor Sin IV’s antennae were focused intently on Ivonovic. Ivonovic could almost feel the emperor rooting about in his head. “Are you?”



The Andorian Emperor exited Ivonovic’s office, leaving the councilmember seething inside. He stopped at Joanna Trevor’s desk. Ivonovic’s personal secretary looked up with apprehension. She had seen the emperor a few times and was terrified of him. She had never spoken to him. She was used to Ivonovic having many dangerous and increasingly strange friends, but the newly legendary tyrant of the Andorian Empire was by far the strangest and most terrifying to her. The blind emperor leaned in close to her. His odd, blind eyes looked directly into hers - the irises and pupils of his eyes only partially formed. She felt a chill run up her spine. A nightmare creature in a blue pinstriped three-piece suit.



“Emory is in a bad mood," the emperor said to Joanna. "But he knows that I speak the truth. Thank him for me for this suit. It is quite an amusing gift. Your idea, if I am not mistaken?”


Sin IV paused as Joanna nodded - then smiled as an expression of confusion crossed her face as she remembered that he was blind.


“Um, I mean…” she started.


“Thank you. It has provided me a valuable lesson,” Sin interrupted. He briefly touched her forehead as if giving a blessing. Considering how thin, pale and… well… bug-like he was, she was surprised at how smooth and warm his hand was. “Good night, Joanna.”


22.9

End Notes:

Character:                       Joanna Trevor
Human Ethnicity:             English
Additional Species:          N/A
Hometown/Homeworld:   Charity, The Colony of New Hope
Introduced: Episode         22.10
Age when introduced:      25
Role:                                Paralegal and Administrative Assistant for Emory Ivonovic

Episode 22.10: Sacrifice - The Witness by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Justice Irons and Flight Specialist Hopper are not exactly prisoners on Vulcan...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 10: The Witness


22.10

The Witness


There was no lock on the door – as was the case with most houses on Vulcan. This was a very small house in a very large garden. The windows were open, but the sea air, while not rancid, was not refreshing either. For nearly a thousand years, the dying biosphere of Vulcan had relied increasingly on enormous machines to maintain the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gasses in the atmosphere and the waters because there just wasn’t enough life left to do the job. The last great planetary war had poisoned the planet’s lungs. Vulcan was a dying planet on life support and the air smelled like it. 


Under the leadership of the great philosopher Surak, the vulcan people had finally come to their senses. Too late.



“There is an enormous… I think it’s some sort of ant,” said Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper. She was looking at a greenish, vaguely ant-like creature about twice the size of her thumb on the open windowsill of a small room that served as a kitchen-dinette.


Justice Minerva Irons was in the other room – a sparsely furnished bedroom with two small beds. “How many legs does it have?”


“Four.”


“If it’s kind of a greenish black, it is a garden ant. They are very poisonous, but not aggressive. Just make sure you don’t sit on any,” Irons responded.


“That isn’t very comforting,” said Hopper. She carefully investigated the room, checking for any others. The ant on the windowsill retreated outside.


Irons walked into the room to find the young pilot pointing at the windowsill. “It just went back outside…”


Irons smiled and retrieved a glass of water. She sat at the table. “They were bred for docility. They’re hunters – they prefer the outdoors. And their primary prey are sand ants, which are just as poisonous, but far more aggressive. They’re also the principle pollinators. They were bred to provide that function as well after the nail bats became extinct.”



“Is it true? What Sela said about this planet being a dying planet?” Hopper asked.


“Most vulcans seem to have given up on their home planet,” Irons mused. “But there are tens of millions of human biologists living here now, trying to save the planet. They have worked miracles in the past few hundred years, but they haven’t been able to keep up with the chain reactions from the poisons used in the last war. Now there are more than a billion romulans here and they have brought biological resources from Romulus with them. Romulans are a passionate people – possibly even more passionate than humans. If they can work together, and if they have a lot of luck, and if the biological resources from dead Romulus are close enough to what is left of living Vulcan, maybe they can save this planet. Oddly, it is entirely possible that the fall of Vulcan to the Romulan Senate might be the only thing that possibly could save this planet. Did you notice our honor guard?”


“Honor guard?” asked Hopper.


“The guards outside that door are not Romulan Star Navy – they’re Praetorian Guard," Irons replied. "They aren’t stationed there to keep us. Their job is to keep us from harm. You might not have noticed because of the helmets, but one of them was vulcan and at least three more were some blend of human and vulcan. It seems the Senate is serious about reunification. I saw it in the propaganda posters at the entrance to the Romulan Star Navy headquarters. This installation feels less like a military headquarters and more like an embassy. The romulans have already become two people – the republic on Vulcan and the remainder of the old empire.”



There was a moment of silence, then Jennifer Hopper looked up. “I was expecting we would be put in a prison. Why are we being treated so well?”



“Propaganda for Federation consumption," said Irons. "There will be video of us being held here. And you will be released to return to the federation with stories of Supreme Commander Sela’s power, courage and magnanimity. And I want you to faithfully report those things. They will facilitate better relations which both our people will need. If the romulans must be our antagonists – and I am certain they will be for quite some time – it is better that they be an enemy we can respect and admire, just as the klingons were a hundred years ago.”


“But it is just a show…”


“Of course it is just a show, Jennifer. But what a show! Can you imagine any federation leader who would dare to treat a suspected terrorist this way? I can’t imagine Chancellor Martok getting away with it in front of the Klingon Council. The fact that Sela can do this and not risk a coup tells you just how powerful she is. She isn’t just doing this for our benefit. She is letting her own people know how powerful she is.”



* Special thanks to ProxiCentauri (PC) from An Archive Of Our Own (AO3) for allowing me to use the insects PC invented for PC’s story “Insects”, published on AO3. I will add notation when other PC romulan insects show up.


22.10

Episode 22.11: Sacrifice - Buzz Conference by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Dolphin meets with Rear Admiral Checkov - and has a later meeting with Captain Red...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 11: Buzz Conference


22.11

Buzz Conference


Commander Kenneth Dolphin tried very hard not to stare at the new captain of the U.S.S. Intrepid. He had been looking forward to and dreading the moment he would see Captain Red again. She had cut her long hair short - it now sported a wild curly, spiky appearance. She was the kind of woman who was aggressively beautiful regardless of her hairstyle, but this one seemed to capture her fiery, temperamental nature.



The small conference room on the U.S.S. Milky Way was called the Buzz Aldrin Room and a select group currently occupied it. Along with Commander Dolphin and Captain Red were Captain Sagittarius Hunter of the U.S.S. Prowler, Captain Elaine Nichols of the U.S.S. Pierre, Captain Suparman Saldana Budi of the U.S.S. Milky Way and Rear Admiral Serge Mykel Chekov.



Chekov was the first to speak: “Commandant Barrett th’Zoarhi has tasked us with developing effective countermeasures to a potential takeover of the Weythan colony by romulan forces.  That would be reasonably easy to do if we had another 15 or so Milky Way class starships, but at the moment there are only five under construction and they will not be ready for another few months. What we do have is not enough Escort class, fewer still of the Intrepid class and a whole lot of Prowler class starships. But these are scattered on missions throughout the federation. We can’t just let them sit anywhere. Ideas?”


Chekov looked around the room, not bothering to hide the impatience in his face.


“And we have nearly 2,000 long range interceptors,” said Captain Red.


“Pissants!” Chekov exploded.


“As my father used to say,” said Dolphin, “Enough pissants will eat an elephant.”


“What is this cornpone wisdom?” scoffed Chekov. “I thought you were from Rhode Island, not the Appalachians.”


“Actually, I think Captain Hunter is from West Virginia,” said Dolphin testily.



“Harper’s Ferry, the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail…” Captain Sagittarius Hunter started.


“I don’t care whether you’re from the south end of a northbound mule…” Chekov groused.



“Interceptors have a vital role to play if we want to keep the romulans from taking over Weythan,” said Dolphin. “It would be a good idea to station about 400 pilots there and keep at least 100 interceptors in low-energy orbit. Keep them manned at all times.”


“In space, the romulans have a huge advantage – those big honking ships,” Dolphin continued. “But the real fight for control of the colony won’t be in space. It will be on the ground. The romulans have some landing craft, some mining craft and even some in-atmosphere fighters, but nothing that can operate effectively in atmosphere that has a warp engine. Star Fleet interceptors are not as brawny as what the andorians have been building, or the orions. But what they lack in shields and firepower, they more than make up for in speed, maneuverability and most importantly, inertial dampening, meaning our pilots can pull stunts that no one else can match. And there is a squadron of pilots who are very motivated not to give another inch of vulcan ground to the romulans…”



“The vulcans,” said Red.



“Don’t think for a second that vulcans don’t have emotions that you can appeal to,” Dolphin continued. “I’m living proof they do. I’ve had more than a half-dozen of them rooting around in my brain – spent nearly two whole weeks enmeshed in a mind-meld with one. Those vulcan interceptor pilots that Admiral Senvol betrayed – they may look cool on the surface, but deep down I’d wager they are itching for some serious payback.”


“Okay, blondie,” said Chekov. “I’m listening. What else do you have for me?”


“A little over a year ago,” said Dolphin, “I was in a meeting with Commandant th’Zoarhi, Council Leaders Ushi Irons and Chelna Yaalleiysei and Councilmember Emory Ivonovic. The Commandant originally asked for an initial build of 88 Prowler class starships, which, with the Hunter and the Prowler would have given us 90 of them. As it was, they only approved an initial build of 44.”


“Useless,” said Chekov. “Those little pissants don’t have enough power in their phasers to even tickle a romulan warbird. And how did you get into a meeting with that crowd? What are you doing, dropping names?”


“At the time, I was Emory’s lawyer,” said Dolphin. “And remember, the U.S.S. Hunter has gone up against those warbirds and survived. But that’s not my point. At that meeting, Ushi asked the Commandant what the Council’s blind spot was and she said it was speed…”


“You’re just dropping names now,” said Chekov, impatiently. “Don’t tell me you’re on a first name basis with both Councilmember Ivonovic and Council Leader Irons, Commander…” Chekov emphasized Dolphin’s rank.


It was Dolphin’s turn to look exasperated, then he let it go and just shrugged, made an amused noise. “Well, my captain is Ushi’s mother. He and I argued a bit last week and I’ve heard he only bothers to argue with people he likes. He just left us to go to Pern with Dewayne – Ambassador Guth. I think they were going fishing.”


Chekov snorted. “I keep forgetting who you rub shoulders with, Goldilocks. Okay, so what was so important about this meeting?”


“It was what the Commandant said – the secret is speed. Captain Hunter, have your tests of the Alstars solution worked?”


“Call me Sage,” said Captain Hunter. “The tests were successful and we have now gotten the entire Prowler class into recursive warp – safely if the readings are to be believed.” 


“Just make sure if you have any math geniuses onboard that they aren’t studying the progenitors’ math proofs and you should be safe,” said Dolphin. “Here’s the point,” he added quickly, catching Chekov’s impatience. “Even though we only have 46 Prowler class ships…”



“I thought you said they only approved an initial build of 44,” said Captain Suparman Saldana Budi.


“That plus the Hunter and the Prowler,” Dolphin rejoined. “We have 46. But that speed is a force multiplier. If the romulans come from two different directions, we can deal with one fleet, then pivot to another.”


“With the weaponry you carry, you might as well be throwing rocks at them,” said Chekov.


“Actually, that’s precisely what we’re going to do,” said Dolphin. “I asked Geoff Alstars to provide a new calculation for a Prowler class to enter recursive warp while dragging an asteroid weighing four kilotons. This will be tricky, as you will have to fly stick at warp speed to get close enough to drop the rock just as you come out of warp, passing within 500 meters.”



“You’re seriously going to throw rocks at them???” asked Captain Elaine Nichols.



“Rocks,” Dolphin confirmed. “At warp 13.75. E equals MC to the 13th power… We hit them hard. We hit them fast. We leave the Intrepid and Escort class ships to mop up the debris while the Prowler class ships regroup and hit the second wave.”


“Okay you fearful little name dropper,” said Chekov with a wicked cat-caught-the-mouse grin, “Tell me how you are on first name basis with Sir Geoffrey Alstars.”


Dolphin shrugged. “He works in my engine room…”


- * -


A few hours later, Dolphin was in Red’s quarters. 


“Okay, flyboy, tell me why you got so weird in that meeting. Who were you trying to impress, Chekov or me?” Red was dressed provocatively - tight leathers and lace. “It’s a good thing I like you already.”


“Chekov doesn’t bother me,” said Dolphin. “You, on the other hand… well… I was recently reminded that lingering stares are more creepy than romantic…”


“You’ve been talking with Holly Nash,” said Red. She watched Dolphin’s face closely. Then: “And you screwed her!” 


“How many telepaths are there in Star Fleet? Are you part betazoid or something?” Dolphin asked. 


Captain Red laughed. “It doesn’t take a telepath to read that face. That and I was recently at Starbase 11. Holly’s an old friend. Now, the word that gets you out of trouble is ‘blue’. Make certain you don’t say it… You’re the only person who has ever taken a whip to my ass and I have been plotting delicious payback for some time…”



Dolphin rolled his eyes. “It was your shoulder… and it was only one pop…”



Red was straightening a length of silk rope. “The word is ‘blue’. See if you can avoid using it…”


22.11

End Notes:

 

Character: Captain Elaine Nichols
Human Ethnicity: African American
Additional Species: Vulcan
Hometown/Homeworld: Trantor, Cun Ling
Introduced: Episode 22.10
Age when introduced: 55
Role: Captain, U.S.S. Pierre


Character: Captain Suparman Saldana Budi
Human Ethnicity: Indonesian
Additional Species: N/A
Hometown/Homeworld: Jakarta, Indonesia
Introduced: Episode 22.10
Age when introduced: 61
Role: Captain, U.S.S. Milky Way

Episode 22.12: Sacrifice - Justice by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The trial of Justice Minerva Irons begins...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 12: Justice


22.12

Justice


Supreme Commander Sela attended the trial but did not play a formal role. Next to her on her right side was Senate Proconsul Vruncleel, who had negotiated the Gagarin Treaty with Justice Minerva Irons. To Sela’s left, Flight Specialist Jennifer Hopper was sitting. The courtroom was laid out like an amphitheater and was located on the top floor of the Imperial Romulan Administration Building on the edge of the Regar Sea on Vulcan. Unlike Federation courtrooms, in which the observers faced the judges, in a romulan court the observers were seated behind the three judges, seeing the accused from their perspective. A transparent wall behind the accused Justice Irons allowed a vast panoramic view of the Regar Sea swiftly darkening following a dull sunset. Lines of small lights defined the shoreline.


The three justices served different purposes. Only one was a professional judge - a vulcan named Soel who was part of a small vulcan population within the Romulan Star Empire. His job was to be the impartial judge and ensure the letter of the law was followed during the trial. Admiral Ekot was to serve as Justice Irons’ advocate - representative for the accused. The job of the prosecutor - representative for the romulan people - was assigned to Commander Hundeeth, who was, at the moment, asking the questions.



“Tell us, Justice Minerva Irons, how you came to invade the Romulan Star Empire and who ordered you to do it. Tell us how you came to destroy the planet Gamorlan, killing nearly ten thousand romulan citizens as well as destroying all life on the planet. How you came to damage the I.R.W. Fero, in an act of war against the empire. Tell us how, in a second incident of terrorism, you caused the borg to attack the I.R.W. Bestia, leading to the death of nearly a thousand more citizens of the Romulan Star Empire and how you then betrayed your own allies, leading to a death toll among them in the millions if not higher.”



“First of all, I want to thank you for that clear summation of events, Commander Hundeeth,” Irons replied. “And please forgive me for not standing. I am now 160 years old and this will be a somewhat long story. Recently, we have become aware of an illness that affects vulcans and is passed from one to another by mind-meld.”


“I must ask the accused to keep her remarks germane to the crimes with which she is charged,” Hundeeth interrupted.


“Oh, but the crimes with which I am charged are a small part of much larger crimes in which I am involved,” Irons responded. “I think this court may want to officially record crimes that the highest authorities within the Federation have concealed not only from their enemies and their allies, but even from their own people. But if the court prefers not to indulge in this larger context, I will restrict my remarks as instructed.”



There was enough of a silence that the sound of a few hundred romulans, vulcans and various vulcan/human hybrids drawing a sudden breath could be heard. Jennifer Hopper glanced at Sela and saw that her eyebrows were almost at her hairline and she was using all of her self-discipline to keep from smiling.



The three judges conferred quietly, then Admiral Ekot said, “This court will indulge the accused. You have raised our expectations, Justice Irons. We allow this indulgence in hopes you will meet those expectations.”


“Thank you, Admiral,” Irons said. “Two attempted genocides within the Federation have been carefully concealed from the public. The first of these was against trill/human hybrids and was accomplished by a powerfully telepathic serial killer. When my crew attempted to capture her, she forced us to kill her. At first, I thought this was because she desperately wanted to be free from the compulsion to kill. Only recently I have become aware of the actual reason. She was half vulcan, half betazoid. It was her father, a powerful member of the Federation Tribunal, who had laid that compulsion on her via repeated mind-melds. This is the illness I was referring to. Not only was she programmed by her father, she was specifically bred by him and genetically altered to become the perfect killer.”


“But she was not his only victim. Some of you might have become aware that Fleet Admiral Scumuk, the late Executive Director of Star Fleet Medical Services, died under suspicious circumstances. He actually died from the application of a drug that has terrible effects on vulcans and is usually fatal – quadropseudoprozadiazomine. This drug was designed specifically to counter the effects of repeated vulcan mind-melds and is only used on vulcans in case of emergencies. We used this drug on Fleet Admiral Scumuk in a desperate attempt to find a counter-agent to a virus he developed that threatened to exterminate the bolian people. In his death throes, Fleet Admiral Scumuk told me that I must go to the library.”



Irons paused to take a drink. “Of course Star Fleet kept these attempts at genocide, first against human/trill hybrids, then the bolian people a secret – what little they knew about it. At this point I should point out that my command is unique – my command is not under Star Fleet Operations, but under the Federation Tribunal. And it was one of the Chief Justices of the Tribunal who set these events in motion. And he was the one who arranged for our first incursion into romulan space.”


“I do not know if our first passage through romulan space was noted, but we did not encounter any romulan vessels. Our telemetry from that invasion revealed a galaxy that has produced waves of gamma radiation that are currently sterilizing the Romulan Star Empire and will leave the empire entirely lifeless within 500 years.”



“Shut these proceedings down!” ordered one of Sela’s admirals. 


Justice Minerva Irons sat back in her chair and had another drink of water.


Sela stood up, staring at the admiral who had given the order. Judge Soel was standing and staring at her as well. 



“Admiral Himela,” said Judge Soel, “this is my courtroom. You do not have authority to give such orders. Only I or the supreme commander have the authority to stop these proceedings. And I do not intend to stop these proceedings unless so ordered by the supreme commander. If you cannot control your emotions, I invite you to leave my courtroom.”


Sela watched Admiral Himela until she sat down. Only then did the supreme commander resume her seat. 


“Justice Minerva Irons, I entreat you to be careful with the charges you level against the Romulan Star Empire,” Judge Soel continued.


Irons took another drink, then said. “I have made no charges against the empire. The empire did not create this threat And while the gamma radiation will eventually sterilize the Klingon Empire, the Federation, the Cardassian Union and will, within 4,000 years leave the Alpha Quadrant entirely lifeless, there is nothing in the Babel Treaties, the Khitomer Accords or the Gagarin Treaty that requires the Romulan Star Empire to inform its neighbors of this impending doom that hangs over us all.”



Irons paused, watching her audience slowly digest this information. “It was this, my first incursion into romulan space that led directly to the second incursion, during which some of the events narrated by Commander Hundeeth happened as he stated them. The remainder happened during our third incursion into romulan space.”



Commander Hundeeth interrupted. “So you are claiming that you invaded romulan space not once, but three times and evaded capture all three times?”



“I have submitted into evidence a few sections of telemetry that is date/time encoded,” said Irons. “I have arranged for this telemetry to be broadcast at this time. The viewer behind me is programmed to receive this broadcast. I am aware this trial is being broadcast. Everyone who receives the broadcast of this trial will also receive the telemetry to which I refer, so I recommend this telemetry be added to the official record at this time.”



“The accused will not take control of my courtroom,” said Judge Soel.


The three judges conferred quietly for a few moments. Then Admiral Ekot spoke. “In the interest of learning more about the methods and technologies employed against the Empire and to further the jurisprudence of this case, we have decided to allow the telemetry for now.”


Justice Minerva Irons stood up. “Judge Soel, please accept my apologies for what may appear to be an attempt to take over your courtroom. I can only offer you the consolation that all of my plans have been similarly overridden.” She walked carefully to a very large viewer behind her. The viewer displayed a spiral galaxy.


“On our first incursion into romulan space, just over one Federation Standard Year ago, we were searching for a natural phenomenon that could explain the sterilized expanse known as the Dead Zone on the other side of the Romulan Star Empire from here. And we found it – one of my navigators dubbed it the ‘Gamma Gun Galaxy’ – a small spiral galaxy with a black hole at its core that went into a gamma emission stage about 2.5 billion years ago.”



The image on the viewscreen shifted to an image of the vast debris field the U.S.S. Hunter had traveled through. “Before we reached the Dead Zone, about 800 Federation Standard Light Years below the galactic plane, we encountered a great machine that Fleet Admiral Scumuk referred to as ‘the Hulk’. We had no idea what it was or how it got there, at first. Then we detected a massive gamma burst less than 40 minutes away from us, moving at the speed of light. We knew the intensity of the burst was more than 400 times what our shields could protect us from. We were going to get cooked. Even our circuitry could not have handled that intensity of radiation. The three artificial lifeforms aboard would not have survived either…”



Justice Irons was a good story teller and her audience was in rapt attention at this point. The three judges were just listening. Sela was relaxed back in her seat high above in the audience. Jennifer Hopper was on the edge of her seat, no longer casting side-long glances at the supreme commander.



“Alone, on a secret mission on the other side of the Romulan Star Empire, far from home, about to be boiled alive… We were about to join hundreds of romulan and klingon crews missing in action in the Dead Zone…”


22.12

End Notes:

 

Character: Judge Soel
Human Ethnicity: N/A
Additional Species: Vulcan
Hometown/Homeworld: Tith Vally, Romulus
Introduced: Episode 22.11
Age when introduced: 169
Role: Primary Judge, Romulan Star Navy

Episode 22.13: Sacrifice - David and Goliath by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

Commander Dolphin accidentally sets off his new imoginette transporter engineer, then has a conference with his Engineering Dept...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 13: David and Goliath


22.13

David and Goliath


Rear Admiral Serge Mykel Chekov beamed over to the U.S.S. Hunter along with the ship’s acting commanding officer, Commander Kenneth Dolphin. The two men barely stepped off the transporter pad when Transporter Engineer Dragomut began moaning loudly and leaned over the transporter control panel. The shell-like skin on the imoginette engineer’s long forehead was pulsing with a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors – most of them pastel. Dragomut slumped over the transporter control panel, spasming helplessly. Dolphin started to move forward to help, but Chekov grabbed his arm.

“Stand back, Commander,” Chekov ordered. “Get help – this crewmember needs to go to Medical.”

“Midshipman Datsun,” said Dolphin, “Please report to Transporter Room One immediately and help Dragomut to Medical. Napoleon, where are you?”

“Aye Sir,” Datsun replied. The transporter chief walked in seconds later. “Dragomut, can you stand?”

“I am on the bridge,” came Lt. Cmdr. Napoleon Boles’ voice.

“Report to Medical to assist Transporter Specialist Dragomut,” Dolphin said as Dragomut, leaning heavily on Carlos Datsun’s shoulder and still spasming, hobbled out of the transporter room. “Notify me whom you leave in command. Dolphin out.”

“Aye sir,” came the response from Boles over the comm system. “I am leaving 2nd Lieutenant Tolon in command.”

“So I take it you had a really wild time with Captain Red,” said Chekov with a bit of a wicked smile. “That’s why you were so weird in that meeting…”

Dolphin blushed violently. “How did you know?”

Chekov made an amused noise. “I wasn’t born yesterday. I was sitting between the two of you and if I hadn’t been, we would probably have had to pry you off of each other before the meeting was over. But the confirmation was just now – the reaction of your imoginette crew member.”

“You know what that was all about?” Dolphin asked.

“A delegation of them attended a diplomatic conference my wife and I were at a few years back," Chekov responded. "They’re empaths, but what they really key in on is sex. We had to call in security to keep the reception from turning into an orgy and several of the security officers got caught up in it. We were just really fortunate to have a large number of vulcans working security that night. Of course the imoginettes had no idea about the attitudes of other species toward open sexual expression. To them, a formal soiree hasn’t really begun until everyone has their clothes off…”

Dolphin’s eyes widened. “So all that moaning and spasming just now… Dragomut was…”

“Orgasming. Hard,” Chekov responded. “She must have picked up on your experience with Captain Red. Or he? I’m never sure what pronoun to use with these people… it?”

“Don’t use ‘it’,” Dolphin replied. “They see that pronoun as denuding them of sexuality entirely. It’s a terrible insult. I have recommended my crew simply avoid using pronouns altogether.”

“That sounds exhausting,” Chekov observed. “In any case, you should keep as much distance between yourself and your imoginette transporter engineer as possible. At least for the next 48 hours. And be prepared for some aberrant behavior from your crew. What… Dragomut is the name?”

Dolphin nodded.

“What Dragomut just took in from you,” continued Chekov, “will get projected back through other crew members.” The admiral took a deep breath, then looked up again. “Well, let’s go down to Engineering and meet your team.”

“One moment please, Admiral,” said Dolphin. “Hunter?”

The elderly looking ship’s avatar appeared in the transporter room. “How can I help you, Commander?”

“For the next 48 hours I want you to restrict crew member access to rope, handcuffs, whips and any other items generally associated with, um… sexual bondage and related sexual games. Don’t allow the crew to replicate them. Don’t let them obtain holographic versions and if there are any of those things actually laying around, secure them for the next 48 hours.”

“Understood, Commander,” Hunter replied evenly. “Should we refer to this as operation bondage restriction?”

“Um….,” said Dolphin, “….No...”

“Very well, Commander," said the avatar. "Rear Admiral Chekov, welcome to me.” The elderly looking, pudgy avatar vanished.

“I had forgotten this ship is artificially intelligent,” said Chekov. “That hologram is designed after Professor Jose Crumar?”

“With all of his knowledge and scientific acumen as well as, apparently, his sense of humor,” said Dolphin as he ushered the admiral out of the transporter room to the lifts at the rear of deck 7. “Main Engineering,” Dolphin said as the lift doors closed.


“So are we going to be able to literally throw rocks at those giant romulan ships?” Rear Admiral Chekov asked.

“Um….,” said Dolphin, “….No...”

“I thought it sounded rather far-fetched.” said Chekov.

“Well, the physics and the math work out," Dolphin mused. "But the ability of pilots to deliver the fine control needed to avoid disastrous consequences – well… My people tell me it would be irresponsible to pursue this method further. But it seems they have another idea."

"Anything that will make these little ships effective against a romulan warbird. So what is it?" Chekov asked as they stepped off the lift onto the main engineering deck.

"Not a clue," Dolphin replied.

Dr. Moon stepped up. "Welcome, Rear Admiral," she said and waved toward the engineering conference room. Chekov paused for a moment – in an open space between the warp core and the port wall were a number of clearboards covered with arcane equations written using a black marker. In the midst of these, a tall, elderly ensign stomped back and forth. There was only enough room for him to take one or two short steps, then turn around. He grumbled under his breath the entire time.

Dr. Moon turned at the entrance to the conference room and said, "Come on Geoff, Hui." She took a sip from the coffee cup in her hand, then: "Yolanda, why don't you join us as well? This started as your idea..."

Chief Flight Engineer Yolanda Thomas was a short, full figured African American woman with evidence of vulcan ancestry and a strong Oklahoma drawl. "I got the idea from reading the logs of Jonathan Archer," she said. "In their initial configuration, the original NX series Enterprise's phaser cannon were too weak to be of any use. They almost accidentally discovered that running them through the main EPS system and accessing power from the warp core made the phasers ten times stronger and phaser cannon have been configured that way ever since."

"Now the Hunter's recursive warp engine isn't more powerful than any other Star Fleet power plant. But it is by far the most efficient," Thomas continued. "So I wondered if we could borrow the recursive power generation and run that in passive mode through the phaser cannon."

"Our initial modeling showed us that this would only serve to cut our phaser power to almost nothing and the phasers can't be easily reconfigured," said 2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui as Ensign Alstars finally ambled into the conference room and closed the door. “But Geoff spotted something in the equations and ran a model test of the configuration against a standard shield configuration..."

"Like the shields just aren't even there," said Alstars "but at that point we're essentially trying to cut through their hull with a laser pointer. Even at full power, our phasers would take several seconds of sustained cutting to get through one of those romulan hulls. The romulans aren't kidding around with those things. The hull is made from layers of aluminum and plastic well over nine meters thick. These phasers were designed for popping open pirate schooners, not for cutting through a major war ship."

"So what good is all this?" Chekov asked.

2nd Lt. Sun Ho Hui rapped the table twice with his knuckle and said, "Hunter, display Thomas/Alstars solution model 47."

A highly detailed holographic model of a romulan warbird suddenly appeared hovering about three feet above the conference table – the model was about the size of the table. A scale model of the U.S.S. Hunter, just above the table top, underneath the warbird was about the size of a large man's fist by comparison. The tactical unit was about the size of a thumb when it separated from the Hunter's platform.

"Geoff and Yolanda were about to give up on this idea," said Lt. Sun. "But I wanted to know what would happen if we were to target the shield emitter. As you know, romulan warbirds use two separate networks of shield emitters. It turns out that each shield network has a separate primary emitter on the underside of the warbird. Hunter, run simulation."

The tiny phaser beams from the simulation of the Hunter were fine as spider silk. They sparked harmlessly along the hull of the warbird until they intersected with one of the shield emitters. With an instant flash, the warbird's primary shield network went down. When the simulated Hunter's modified phaser hit the secondary shield emitter, that shield array went down in an instant as well. It took Chekov a moment to realize that the simulated Hunter was operating in divided configuration – with the platform targeting one deflector network and the tactical unit targeting the secondary network. When both were hit at the same time with the deflectors already down, a series of secondary explosions caused damage to the hull around the deflector emitter arrays. 

The tiny parts of the Hunter then targeted these emitters with photon torpedoes, which buried themselves deep into the broken emitter arrays, causing a cascade of secondary explosions, severely damaging the underside of the warbird and potentially crippling it.


Both Commander Dolphin and Rear Admiral Chekov were evidently impressed. "Goliath, meet David," said Dolphin. "David, Goliath."

"Of course, there's an obvious problem with this simulation," said Dr. Alstars, in his bristly, precise Oxford accent. "The romulans will be shooting back. Which will make targeting those emitter arrays far more problematic."

"How long until you have a working solution?" asked Chekov.

"I have most of the math worked out," Alstars replied. "Actual tests with modifications to the phaser array - probably tomorrow or the next day. But Commander Dolphin will need to develop the flight doctrine and pilot training program. Making this happen will be one-tenth science and engineering and 99% manual flight doctrine and training."

Chekov turned toward Dolphin. "What do you think, Kenny? You're supposed to be the hot dog pilot in the fleet."

Dolphin smiled, then said, "I would like to work with Captain Sagittarius Hunter and his Flight Operations Department on this. After my group, they have the most experience flying this class of ship and the U.S.S. Prowler is really more representative of the class than the Hunter is."

Chekov nodded sagely. "Sage is a really grounded fellow. I think you'll like him – if you can get past that city-boy – country-boy thing. Sage says he's from Harper's Ferry, but he actually grew up on a farm, along with his half-dozen zodiac-monikered siblings."

22.13

Episode 22.14: Sacrifice - One Single Vote by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

An unpopular law passes by a single vote - cast by Ushi Irons...

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 12: One Single Vote


22.14

One Single Vote


Ushi Irons had called in every favor, leveraged every secret, twisted every arm... Not in person as he had spent a day on Cun Ling, then another day in transit back to Earth. But he had many, many children who had long done his vote wrangling for him. With 31 children, all devoted to politics, Ushi had long ago divided the task of vote wrangling among his children and a few of his older grandchildren. Each had between ten and fifteen of the 360 Federation Council members and knew everything about them, how to convince them to vote in their own self-interest and at this moment, the moment of greatest need, the dirty personal secrets that would compel them to vote against everything they believed in.


The resolution to cede the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems to the Romulan Star Empire and to assist in transplanting Saketh from deep inside the empire into those star systems, using Star Fleet's most advanced ship, passed by a single vote. When deeply unpopular resolutions were passed this way, it was almost inevitable that councilmembers casting the deciding vote would lose their seat on the Federation Council. Ushi Irons cast the deciding vote.


- * -


"They have done it again. And I tried, I fought hard to stop it. But I could not prevent it. As a Federation Councilmember, I have only one vote in 360. And by a single vote – one single vote – Federation space has been handed over to the romulans... again. The Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems, located on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone, are to be ceded to the Romulan Star Empire. You must be asking yourselves why. 


"If you have not yet learned of it, you will soon learn of something called the Dead Zone on the far side of the Romulan Star Empire from here. The information I am about to impart to you has only just been declassified by the Federation Council Security Committee and Federation President Maria Rodriguez. This is very complicated, so I must ask you to listen closely and return to this segment of this program and listen to it again.


"The Dead Zone is an area in the Beta Quadrant that has been sterilized by massive bursts of gamma radiation. This deadly gamma radiation comes from a black hole in the heart of another galaxy. These bursts of radiation have been traveling toward the Milky Way for nearly two billion years.


"We have recently learned that the Dead Zone is moving and over the next 300 years will engulf much of the Romulan Star Empire, exterminating all life in its path. In the face of this disaster, the Federation Council has offered the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems as a refuge for the Romulan Star Empire.


"Following the destruction of Romulus, the most productive planet in the Romulan Star Empire is a planet called Saketh. In less than 300 years, this world will be completely sterilized.


"While the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems have no habitable worlds, Al D 3, Al D 4 and Al J 4 are all good candidates for transplantation of the Saketh biosphere. Star Fleet has designed and built a ship, the U.S.S. Ark, for this specific purpose.”



"I will admit, there is a certain amount of nobility to this effort, to save an enemy from a natural disaster that is beyond their ability to adapt to. But this noble act puts the Federation at extreme strategic risk – dare I say existential risk. Until this risk is adequately managed, the Federation must protect itself not only from the threat of open romulan aggression, but more dangerously, from covert attempts by the romulans to divide the Federation, removing one homeworld from our coalition after another – first to seek independence. But more critically to invite romulan operatives in to ‘restore order’.


"With the offer now in place and on its way to the Supreme Commander of the Romulan Star Empire, we must harden our internal procedures to make our worlds safe from this kind of encroachment. We must protect Federation homeworlds – Federation soil.”



"With that end in mind, I have laid out a series of reforms, based on the Federation Charter. And to ensure that these reforms are correctly administered and that they are only temporary, I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United Federation of Planets at the end of President Maria Rodriguez's term.


"As you well know, the Federation President is elected by your representatives on the Federation Council. But you can have a tremendous impact on their vote. I am asking you to contact your representative on the council and advocate for the reforms that I propose and, if you feel that I am the man to see these reforms through, to advocate for me in my bid to succeed President Rodriguez. 


"I am Federation Councilmember Emory Ivonovic from the Colony of New Hope and I want to bring a new hope to the Federation. Our future is threatened by events that seem outside our control. But we are stronger than we realize. As desperate as this challenge is, we have the ability to rise to meet it. And in rising to meet this challenge, we will not only give ourselves hope for a future, but for a better future. In rising to meet this new challenge, we will build a better world. Better worlds. For all our peoples.


"This is Subspace Radio Ivonovic, your voice, the voice of all nature's children and the new hope for all patriotic citizens of the Federation and for our honorable allies. You will see my face again. You will hear my voice again. In these troubled times I will not leave you.”


22.14

Episode 22.15: Sacrifice - The Destroyer of Worlds by Robert Bruce Scott
Author's Notes:

The Destroyer of Worlds is revealed...

This is the final scene for Episode 22. The story continues in PART EIGHT, Episode 23: JAG Wars.

Star Trek Hunter

Episode 22: Sacrifice

Scene 15: The Destroyer of Worlds


22.15

The Destroyer of Worlds


"...But what we did not know was that the wreck we were in was, in fact, a great machine, designed, manufactured and until about a half million years ago, maintained to preserve life in our galaxy..." Behind Justice Minerva Irons, the enormous viewer displayed the vast debris field suddenly turning a brilliant green in some sections, while much larger sections remained unprotected.


"Deus ex Machina," intoned Irons. She stepped away from the viewer and returned to her seat. The viewer could be plainly seen behind her. "We were saved by the great machine. Only a few parts of this machine still work. We were fortunate enough to be in one of those still functional parts.” 



Behind Justice Irons, the viewer shifted to a display of the great ring structure around a star. "And so we came to the cradle of the builders of this machine. The place built by the progenitors in which they transformed their own people by the billions to give them the abilities needed to construct the great machine. This was the cradle of that race – a race we have come to fear and whom we know as 'the Borg’."



"On our return to Federation space, I was informed by one of our spies within the Romulan Star Empire about the thirty-years’ war the Romulan Star Empire fought with a coalition called 'the Tell.' And I was told of a dying planet named Gamorlan, on which, I was led to believe, the empire was attempting to re-create a terrible biological weapon that had wiped out the native, pre-warp species. I was also made aware of the planet Saketh and its impending doom from gamma radiation.”


"My orders to stop the romulan weapons research on Gamorlan came from the Federation Tribunal, specifically Chief Justice Scrivax. As you may or may not know, the Federation Tribunal does not have authority to conduct operations outside of the Federation. Such missions can only be authorized with the support of one of the founding governments. Our support came from the Vulcan High Command in Exile in the person of Saoron, the Vulcan Premiere in Exile.”



"Your honors, I want to thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to tell the story of all three of my incursions into romulan space. I will now speak directly to the crimes with which I am charged." 



Irons paused to take a drink of water. The room remained dead silent – the hundreds of observers barely willing to breathe.


Behind the elderly accused woman, the large viewscreen now displayed the actively volcanic planet of Gamorlan. 



"We managed to hide our ship on the surface of Gamorlan – a dying world under the sentence of sterilization – within 31 years this planet will be sterilized by gamma radiation. But there was still some life on this world when we arrived. I sent an expedition, led by my first and second officers, to determine whether there was any truth to the allegation that the empire was trying to recreate the biological weapon that the Gamorlan people had used to exterminate their own race.”


"I was informed by my officers that this was confirmed. I learned later that this confirmation consisted of one of my telepathic crew members reading the mind of a klingon operative – whose mission was similar to ours – who had, in turn, tortured a confession from a romulan researcher.” 


"Based on this scant confirmation, I ordered the destruction of Gamorlan. As we were escaping the ruin of Gamorlan, the I.R.W. Fero came out of warp into orbit and was caught up in the ruin of the planet. The Fero managed to escape the Gamorlan gravity well, unlike a romulan freighter that was in orbit. The freighter was lost with all hands. All romulan researchers on the planet were killed. And a large number of romulans aboard the Fero were killed when a volcanic mass, ejected from the dying planet, smashed into the ship.”



Behind Justice Irons, the viewer displayed dramatic telemetry of an exploding planet, an enormous freighter being caught in the spray of volcanic mass and the narrow escape of the Fero - only to be hit by an enormous chunk of volcanic mass ejected from the planet.



"My first and second officers were missing in action. We searched for several days, but, short on supplies and in danger of being discovered, we finally retreated to Federation space. Our third incursion was approved by Star Fleet's Executive Director of Operations, Fleet Admiral Miriam Stewart, and was the last order she gave before being dishonorably discharged for her complicity in the Fall of Vulcan.”



Behind Irons, the viewer displayed the interior of the Bestia as the Hunter was captured and engulfed in the Bestia's largest hangar bay.



"We were found, taken prisoner, and treated very well by Supreme Commander Sela. We were placed in an environment within which we could have found peace. I could have found peace. To be honest, I did not want to leave that prison. To spend the remainder of my days farming, tending to life instead of destroying it…"


There was a powerful wistfulness in Irons' voice. 


"But I could not allow the security of the U.S.S. Hunter to be breached. Nor would I allow my crew to remain enslaved - even if it would have been soft slavery. By means that I am not at liberty to discuss, I was able to summon the borg. And I used them mercilessly to create a distraction so that my people could escape.”



The viewer behind Irons displayed the ship's telemetry as it exited the I.R.W. Bestia, then details of the space battle between the enormous romulan battlegod and two borg cubes. 



"Again, using tactics I am not at liberty to discuss, we destroyed the second borg vessel. Our estimates of borg casualties agree with the estimate given by Commander Hundeeth – probably as many as a million on the second cube alone, not to mention the greater number on the first cube which was eventually destroyed by the I.R.W. Bestia."


The viewer was displaying the explosion of the second cube, then the screen went dark and was retracted back below the table. At the same time as the viewscreen was going down behind her, Justice Minerva Irons stood up, slowly, painfully. The air in the room smelled stale... More stale than the Reager Sea...



"Your honors, Supreme Commander Sela, I am guilty of the crimes against the Romulan Star Empire and the romulan people with which I have been accused. And the Federation played a role in these crimes by authorizing my incursions into romulan space.”


“As payment for its corporate culpability and surety of continued peace between our people, the Federation will offer the Al Donovos and Al Jenova star systems to be incorporated into the Romulan Star Empire and further, will assist the empire in transplanting the biosphere of doomed Saketh into those star systems.”


“Regarding the crimes with which I am accused, I take full responsibility. I gave the order to destroy Gamorlan. I gave the order to summon the borg. I gave the order to escape from the I.R.W. Bestia. And I gave the order to destroy the second borg cube. These crimes are my responsibility.”



The silence in the room had taken on a different feel. Instead of forgetting to breathe, the hundreds of romulans, vulcans and humans felt as though they could not breathe. Something of the light had gone out in Justice Irons’ eyes. It felt as if all the joy of life that had ever existed had been snuffed out and all that was left was howling emptiness. Irons’ voice had become hollow and gravelly, exhausted. She was no longer making an effort to conceal how difficult it had become for her to speak – it sounded as though gravel was flying about in her throat. Somehow even those in the highest part of the amphetheater could see every line on her face... the pores in her skin... her mouth seeming to distort as she spoke... nausea and irrational fear...



"I do not ask your forgiveness. I am not throwing myself on your mercy. My work is not yet done. The biosphere of Saketh must be transplanted from its doomed location before that planet is sterilized by a massive gamma burst. And another populated planet with a pre-warp civilization, as yet undiscovered by the empire, exists within the Romulan Star Empire. These innocents must be saved. And to save those people, I must make it impossible for them to remain.”


Irons took a deep breath, spoke more clearly, more loudly. "To all who can hear my voice, I am Justice Minerva Irons no longer. I forsake the title Justice. Given the crimes I have committed and the crimes I will yet commit, I can no longer pretend to that title.” Irons’ voice seemed to grow – becoming enormous and hollow… “And I forsake the name Irons. I no longer represent the moral code of that great family and can never again advise my kindred as their matriarch.” 


Irons’ gravelly voice had grown even louder – at once filling the courtroom and evoking a howling void within her listeners… More and more of them were clasping their ears... hyperventaling... The room was changing shape, bringing her ancient face closer... too close... “I forsake the name Minerva – I was named after the goddess of wisdom, the protector of life. My role has changed. I am no longer the protector of life.” 


Irons’ voice had become overwhelming, an ocean of sound… A sound as dead as the Regar Sea… Seeming to shake the foundation of the Imperial Administration Building… A rising wave of nausea and terror poured into the ears, hearts and minds of her listeners… Vulcans and romulans clasping their ears to hold back the painful torrent of sound... Frozen in terror... Gasping in terror... Everything tasted wrong... Shadow monsters lurked in every corner, leeching color from the room...


"Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds, the Monster of Saketh, the Terror of the Romulan People, the Scourge of the Innocent. If you must address me by name, you may address me as Shiva. Life cannot thrive without death. I have always striven to be a life force. But now…” Irons’ voice trailed off… “I am so old, I am so tired…” her voice was just a whisper now… She raised her eyes sorrowfully toward the ceiling. “I am become Death…"



Sela stood up suddenly, an instinct. Then everyone else heard it, felt it, saw it, a swirl of lights, a familiar whining sound…



"NO!!! IT IS NOT POSSIBLE!!! THIS IS A SHIELDED FACILITY!!” Sela shrieked, only to have her voice drowned in the ensuing chaos as a transporter beam removed the accused from her courtroom…


22 – Sacrifice

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