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Chapter Four

Printus Orlak stared at his lover while conflicting thoughts rushed through his mind. He wistfully stared at her as she lay face down on the bed, grateful for some intimate time with her, however short it was. Then again, he was about to confront her about some curious information he had stumbled across before she directed him into a lusting trance. For the first time in months, he saw a woman rather than the officer who served as his chief engineer. He wanted to bask in the afterglow for as long she slept, even as he knew he might not able to trust her entirely.

She grinned seductively at him as she blinked her eyes open and leaned over to kisses him on the lips. He responded with a light peck on her upper lip and arched his head away from hers.

“Something on your mind?” Pirella asked playfully while resting the palm of her hand on his cheek.

Printus nudged her hand away and gently clasped her wrist. “You did disable the Lambda Paz’s library computer, didn’t you?” he asked.

“Of course. Why do you ask?”

Printus sighed, still leery of broaching the subject of her insubordination. “During my surveillance of Starfleet activity in nearby sectors,” he said while coaxing her hand away from his face, “I noticed the Lambda Paz was at the same coordinates as when we disembarked.”

“I wouldn’t know about that,” Pirella attempted. She continued planting light kisses along the side of his face while stroking his neck and shoulder. “Perhaps they were awaiting an important rendezvous.”

“They were on their way to deliver supplies to the Akrynite system when they came to our rescue,” Printus reminded her, trying to meander his body away from hers. She responded by persisting in her foreplay. Her kisses moved down his neck and her fingers puttered along his chest, prompting him to tightly squeeze her wrists. “That means,” he hissed into her ear, “whoever planted the virus programmed it to disable the engines and most of their main power systems.” He then shoved her aside, allowing room for him to sit in an upright position.

Pirella sat herself up while wrapping a bed sheet around her body up to her chest. “Captain Limis would have immediately come after us and demanded that Gul Latham begin an immediate investigation.”

Looking away from her, Printus had already gotten out of bed and began dressing himself. “Nevertheless, you disobeyed my orders,” he said as he hiked up his gray uniform trousers.

Pirella stood up and circled around the bed. “I saved your operation from a lot of unnecessary scrutiny.”

Printus continued to avert his eyes from her while he slipped on a black sleeveless undershirt. “Despite your initiative, you’ve demonstrated that I can’t trust you in these matters.”

Pirella slowly sauntered towards him and put a hand on his right shoulder. “Printus, do not let your pride…”

With a quick glance at her, Printus yanked her hand off his shoulder and shoved her into a sitting position on the bed. “Be gone, woman,” he sneered as he grabbed his uniform armor. “I can’t stand to look at you right now.” He stomped towards the entrance to his cabin while Pirella remained silently motionless, clutching the edges of the sheet that concealed her nakedness.

The doors leading to the corridor parted just as a communications alert chirped. “All crew to duty stations,” Gul Latham announced. “We get underway in an hour.”

###

Captain Lenaris Holem had come aboard from the USS Derna to confer with Limis. She had not been accustomed to guests materializing on her bridge, even if it was the only alternative to using her ship’s presently unreliable transporter system. At least she had the satisfaction of knowing that an old friend and colleague from the Occupation days was lending her a hand rather than a veteran captain known for questioning her fitness to serve as a starship commander.

“Thanks for getting here as quickly as possible,” Limis said. She took a glance at both sides of the door frame, pleasantly surprised that her ready room door opened on cue to admit herself and Lenaris. “I was dreading the idea of not being in a position to retreat from hostiles.”

“It’s not like you were ever one to run from a fight,” Lenaris retorted.

Limis grinned, fondly remembering how stubborn she could be in her youth. “We were always at a tactical disadvantage in those days,” she said while circling around her desk and sorting through all the different padds. “As Starfleet captains now, you and I expect to have the upper hand against raiders on the prowl. And we were already a bit behind schedule on our supply run.”

“That’s what the two other starships and the freighter are for,” Lenaris explained, taking quick glances around the darkened ready room. “They’ll deliver the most urgently needed provisions while the Derna will stick around and help out with the repairs.”

“Wouldn’t Admiral Gundersen have insisted on having my ship towed back to Starbase 401?”

Lenaris leaned on one of the guest chairs, clasping the top of it. “I reminded him how much you dislike being taken off an assignment and how he wouldn’t hear the end of it if you were. I was tempted, of course, after we were ambushed by the bluegill aliens.”

Though she rarely believed in luck, Limis considered herself and her ship lucky that the Lambda Paz did not come under attack from a hostile force, especially one that took out a Dracon-class Cardassian heavy cruiser.  “Another reason to hope we don’t come under attack, then,” she replied. “Thank you again for all your help. Once we’re back up and running, I’m going after the Pakar’s crew.”

Lenaris’s eyebrows curiously twitched upon his hearing of her plans. “How will you know where to find them? The transport ship’s ion trail has probably already decayed by now.”

“Well, let’s just say we’re not that far from the Sarpedion system,” Limis cryptically answered.

Lenaris nodded, knowing that Limis was privy to Starfleet Intelligence files, for which the rest of her crew did not have clearance. “I got you,” he said. “I promised the admiral I’d make sure you complete your mission. But if you should happen to ‘drift off course’, Gunderson won’t hear it from me.”

***

Engineering to bridge. We’re ready to begin the reboot.”

“Understood,” Limis said in acknowledgement of sh’Aqba’s page. She handed a status report she had signed back to Lieutenant Carson. “Hail the Derna,” she then told Morrison. “Captain Lenaris, we’re ready to proceed. Recommend you extend shields around us during the reboot process.”

“Already done,” Lenaris replied over the ship-to-ship audio feed. “Good luck, Lambda Paz.”

Throughout the ship, every section and every corridor had gone pitch black. The officers on the bridge could not see even a millimeter ahead. About a minute later, the lights started to flicker back on.

“What’s our status?” Limis inquired with uncertainty as to whether she would like the answer.

“All tactical and communications systems fully functioning,” Morrison replied.

“Power distribution manifolds operating at specified norms,” Goris M’Rev, the Tellarite ensign at operations, added.

“All propulsion systems in standby mode,” Carson reported from the helm. “Warp power available at your command, sir.”

Limis seated herself in the command chair and keyed a command transmitting data from her side console to the helm. “Set a course, six-three mark one-eight-one, along this bearing.”

“Course plotted and laid in,” Carson replied. She then took a look at the new data the captain had transmitted, “That bearing takes us to the Sarpedion system,” she curiously remarked.

“Yes, Lieutenant, it does,” Limis confirmed. She swung a glance at Morrison, whom she expected to be more vocal in questioning a sudden change in orders. To her relief, he deferently nodded. “The Derna has taken on our original mission.”



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