Jerry carried Lt. Anderson over his
shoulder. She wore nothing but the tatters of her undergarments. He
wore the remains of his pants and scrap of black cloth that once made
claim to being an undershirt. She was limp and unresisting. This
was never a good sign. The grass crunched underfoot has he staggered
step by step across the brittle dry plain. In the distance the
remains of the crashed ship and the rest of their penetration team
sent a long column of smoke into the sky. In the other direction a
smudge of green promised something more than this hostile, shadeless
plain. Jerry shifted the Lieutenant and kept walking. So much for
infiltrating the pirate base. Someone had them made before they
could even ask for landing clearance.
Time and persistence took him at last
to the waterhole. He dropped Anderson under the trees like a rag
doll and staggered to the waterside itself. He buried his face in
the water. After a long moment he came up for air looking much
better for his actions.
He returned to Anderson and
her pulse. It was weak and thready. Both of them had been without
water and food too long. He tore what was left of her right stocking
off and carried it to the water. He cleaned it and soaked it in the
water. This he carried back to her and softly dribbled across her
face and into her mouth. After a moment she sputtered
consciousness. She sucked at the water filled cloth eagerly. He got
her another cloth full of water, and she drank more. At last she
nodded and fell back among the water loving plants into a more normal
He stared long and hard at the
rat-like creature. At last he caught its eyes. Slowly, ever so
slowly it stumbled toward him in a fatal dream. His hand snatched,
and in a sudden twist he broke the creatures neck.
The rat creature slowly cooked over an
open fire. Perhaps it was the water, or the smell of food, but
Lieutenant Anderson was starting to come around. "Wha?"
evening Lieutenant. Good to have you among the living."
"Where are we?"
"Some god forsaken arid plain
just short of a desert."
"Crashed, the rest are dead."
"We were shot at."
"Good you remember that at
"What about the Orions?"
"I suspect it will be a major
effort to keep ahead of them. A single man carrying a woman does not
leave a stealthy trail in this terrain. I don't think we can depend
on any rain to erase the evidence.
"The ship went in Lord Jong."
"The Gold Orion looked down
his elaborate throne at the subservient underling. "I find you
continued statements of the obvious tiring Of course the ship went in
as you put it. My question, and you have one chance to answer it,
were there any survivors?"
"I, I do not know my Lord."
"I do not know...." Jong's
tone dripped dangerously. "Words I do not like to hear sirra. I
strongly suggest that you get a flitter and find out."
"Yes my Lord, but they
Jong motioned to one of his
guards. The man leveled his disruptor and fired. Jong raised his
handkerchief against the smell of the charred body as it hit the
floor. He looked at the former servant's underling. "You will
do as I have ordered."
"Yes my Lord." His
wide-eyed terror evident on his face.
"Good, get about it."
He left the chamber before
changed his mind.
Anderson picked up the faint sound of
the distant flitters and gave Jerry a quick shake. He rolled to his
feet. She looked back at him.
Jerry looked around. The plain
about as barren as you could ask for. Not so much as a short bush to
hide behind. "Not a one. Unless you feel like fighting to the
death this doesn't look like a good place for a fight."
"With Orions the thought had
crossed my mind."
"No, even with Orions, where
there is life there is hope. We are not out of options as long as
"Can you get out of an Orion
"I got out of a Klingon
"I guess you get a chance to
"Don't fight. Near naked and
unarmed, all we can get is dead."
The two flitters landed to
of them. Gold Orions armed to the teeth approached with caution. The
swarthy Orion bringing up the rear leered at Anderson's lack of
dress. "Well, we won't have to undress her...much." He
leveled his gaze at LaSaille. "Are you going to make shooting
you a necessity?"
"I don't see why I
"Then you don't know us very
well." He motioned with his blaster. "After you."
Gonk bowed his way out of Lord Jong's
presence, glad to be alive and not frowned upon. Lord Jong waved his
handkerchief about to clear the air of the smell of lessor beings. He
turned is attention to the spare form of a Vulcan standing to the
side of the hall. "Srock, we have need of your
Srock stepped forward with a
bow, enough, but never too much. "Indeed my Lord, and which of
my services to you require."
"The Humans, take what you can
from them. We will sell what is left."
Srock slowly shook his head.
my Lord. Starfleet personnel never make good slaves. Use them as
you will, but I fear your reputation for quality goods would suffer
if they were sold."
Jong allowed himself a slight
find you attention to my reputation, fascinating."
"Only in my best interest Lord
Jong. Your reputation is my reputation."
"Indeed, I shall consider your
recommendation. Meanwhile, do what it is that you do, but see that
we learn what there is to learn."
"Yes Lord Jong."
Jerry looked the tall, austere Vulcan
over. For some reason a Vulcan head just looked wrong coming out of
rich Orion robes. The Vulcan returned his gaze. LaSaille was hardly
impressive in the remains of a torn uniform. The Vulcan spared a
look for the guard. "Leave us." The guard scurried out.
Jerry didn't bother to move.
the level stare. "I suppose you want 'answers'."
The Vulcan arched an eyebrow.
you are familiar with the process. I am Srock."
"A Vulcan renegade would be my
assumption. I have found nothing about Vulcan philosophy that is in
accord with Orion philosophy."
"Nothing in Surakian
Jerold LaSaille. That is not the only Vulcan philosophy there is.
However this is not about me, it is about you. What are you willing
to tell me, to avoid pain."
"Old game, I'm tired of it. I
willing to tell you nothing."
"You misunderstand me Jerold
LaSaille. You will not be the one to suffer pain. Your female, Lily
Anderson, she will suffer pain until you tell me what I wish to know.
The longer you hold back, the more she will suffer. Your silence
will increase her pain."
"False dilemma. What actions I
take or do not take have no governance on what actions you do or do
not take. The responsibly for your actions are yours and yours
"I seriously doubt you can
unmoved as you watch your female tortured Jerold LaSaille. My study
of humans has been most complete."
"Not complete enough Srock. Do
this thing, and I will Remember."
"You are amusing Jerold
LaSaille. You will never be free of this place to remember anything. I
give you 24 hours to consider this." Srock turned to leave the
burned into his back. "Never is a very long time Srock."
The Vulcan stopped as if to
continued out without a word.
the light. In the parlor the old record player was scratching out
something by the Navy band. Jerry walked out the open door onto the
porch. His Father was in a rocker watching rain pour through the
trees. Thunder pealed in the distance. It was going to be an all
day soaker. Jerry brushed his buzz cut back, an unnecessary move. "Dad?"
been thinking about college." Jerry moved to the rocker beside
have been discussing that."
"I want to do a tour in the
"Son, I would be the last man
to tell you not to serve your country. But I have ask why? You
didn't apply for any of the service academies. I'm sure your marks
would have gotten you into Annapolis. Congressman Simmons would
write you your appointment."
A brief smile flashed over
face. "I guess I'm not the water type Dad."
Ryan LaSaille looked at his
mock anger. "You do know how it pains an old Navy man to hear
that, don't you?"
"I suppose, but I'm more at
home with dirt under my feet."
The elder LaSaille reached
lightly punched his son on the shoulder. "I'm glad to hear you
know yourself that well. Why not West Point then?"
Jerry sat and watched the rain
a long moment. "I don't see myself as a soldier Dad. I want to
serve, but I don't see it as a career. I figure I'll do an
enlistment then go to school. My future is here, on the farm."
"Well son, I'll stand behind
you on that. Service to one's county is never a bad thing."
and the walls swam back into focus. **No, not unless you were in an
**But never alone.**
Jerry shuddered at the smooth
mental touch. **Aleilan, it's good to feel you. I just want to
close my eyes and let you wash over me.**
**The time will come love. I
we are here. You have strength.**
**I need strength. You are my
weapons, my last hope here.**
**We are with you, do what you
Jerry took a deep breath and
strength wash over him. No matter what, he was not alone and he
"Incoming message from Starfleet
Command Captain Marshall"
Marshall nodded. "Status?"
"Ordinary, urgent, Sir."
"On screen Mr Carter."
"On screen, Sir."
The screen resolved to show
Kalfax at his desk. "Captain Marshall, we have received
intelligence as to the location of the Orion base and your missing
"Intelligence? But I only
reported them overdue a day ago."
"Yes , Captain, a reliable
outside source has reported the location of the pirate base. I am
keying that information to you now."
"Received sir. If I may ask
reliable this is?"
"Direct from Starfleet
Captain Marshall. Kalfax out."
scrubbed his hands together. "Odd. Mr., Carter, call the
senior officers to a briefing in ten minutes. Mr Karprax you have
The guards shoved Jerry into a chair. On the other side of the room
Anderson was spread naked to an upright
Srock ran his had down her hip
thigh. "Now, we will have the answers I seek Jerold LaSaille,
or you will get to watch this fine female specimen reduced to a
sobbing wreck. It would be a waste to do so...."
Jerry shut Srock and his
from his mind. He concentrated on Anderson, looking directly into
her eyes. **LILY!** Her eyes popped open as she
directly back at him. **Lily, listen closely. Open
to me, open your mind to me come within. I will dull the pain, I
will make it distant, an illusion.**
"Ah, she pleas. How can your
Human emotions disregard that." Srock prattled on.
Jerry intensified his
and pulled on Aleilan. **Lily, don't speak again. Lieutenant
Anderson, I am doing everything I can and that requires you to look
only at me, concentrate only on me.**
**Open, let me deep within
your mind. Yes, deep within. Let us fortify you.**
There was tickle up her side.
brushed it aside. Her body spasmed from the attack. Jerry relaxed
enough of his concentration to see what Srock was up to.
"Yes, the Klingon agonizer is
most effective. If you don't cooperate, we will see what it does to
the lovely lady's more, tender, body parts."
Jerry pulled his attention
to Anderson. **Stay with me Lily, we'll get through this together.**
Hours later the guards dumped him weak
and sweating into his cell. She hardly felt a thing, but it wasn't
easy. Srock followed them.
"You are a hard case Jerold
LaSaille, we will try again tomorrow."
Jerry shot him a glance of
pure hate. "Today, tomorrow, it will not matter."
Srock arched an eyebrow. "We
will leave that for tomorrow to decide."
Three days into the work Lord Jong
summoned Srock before him. He lounged on his throne ignoring the
fawning slaves. "How does the interrogation proceed Srock?"
"Not well. This Human, he is
hard as flint. He watches the woman tortured impassively, never
wavers. By the expression on his face he might even be enjoying it."
Lord Jong pushed the
away. "As much as you do Srock?"
Srock looked at him
attempts at insults are childish. We may get further questioning the
woman herself, before the torture destroys her mind."
Jong snorted. "The woman? You
honestly believe the Human sluts know anything? This man however, he
sounds worthy of being an Orion."
"Humans are not Orions. Logic
dictates that they are not the same."
"Now you are falling back on
very thing you claim to despise. The Human slut knows nothing. Work
on the man, directly if you must. I know you enjoy that."
Srock stiffed and a glare slid
the Orion Lord. "By your will Lord Jong." Srock remained
stiff as he left the room. **And never more than you will.**
The lights came up again. Srock
walked into the room, and the door closed behind him. Jerry looked
up. "Well, look who's come for
"Your levity is misplaced
LaSaille. I have come for the information you hold."
"Things will not be any
this time Srock. I will not tell you, and your time is getting
"Do you still believe that the
Republic is coming for
you Jerold LaSaille? I have heard that humans
are capable of the most illogical hope. But you are the most
"Pot calling the kettle black."
Srock allowed himself a frown.
do not understand your Earth idiom."
"You calling me illogical. A
Vulcan working for Orions? That is illogical."
"Because you do not understand
the logic Jerold LaSaille does not mean it does not exist."
"You find logic in evil Srock?"
"The concept of evil
"Then you make no claim to
Srock stiffed his resolve. "I
not here to discuss philosophy."
"Logically no, that would not
your reason for being here."
"We are back to baiting me
statements about logic I see."
Jerry waved him off. "It
the time. I have plenty of time."
"Time is shorter than you
"Time is indeed short Srock.
I have plenty of time."
"I think not. Your time is
over. Humans are known for their weaknesses in many things Jerold
LaSaille. The physical, the mental. You will yield, or I will force
it from you."
Jerry steeled his mind and
Aleilan closer. "That is not an advisable course of action
Srock steepled his hands. A
across his face. "Vulcans have certain talents, that we are
traditionally reluctant to use."
"It would serve you to remain
reluctant." Jerry strengthened his connection to the All.
Srock approached LaSaille, the
written in his walk. "Since my exile from Vulcan and my
subsequent employment by the Orions I have come to have a certain,
taste, for the process Jerold LaSaille."
Jerry relaxed physically. The
need not fight this battle. His voice sounded distant. "It
would be unwise."
Srock picked LaSaille up by
the shirt. "You will tell me all I wish to know, or I will take it."
Jerry heard himself speak as
if it was
someone else. "I do not advise that course of action."
Srock gripped LaSaille's face.
mind to your mind...."
The ground came up and slammed Srock
hard. Cold rain poured down his bare back and through his hair. A
gasp and shiver escaped his control. Srock staggered back to his
feet. He was naked. The sky rent with lightning and vomited forth
the cold hard rain.
to my Id Srock.** The
voice spoke like a roll of thunder.
**Where is this? Who are you?**
**This is the place you wanted
Srock. The place I advised you not to come. I am Jeriban. I am the
one you call Jerold Ryan LaSaille.**
Srock clutched his arms about
himself. The figure before him rippled with muscle, and stood
the cold rain. **LaSaille, the Human?**
**There are Human telepaths
you wouldn't listen. Now you are in the place where I am strong.**
**I am Vulcan! I am the
LaSaille frowned and sleet
the rain. **Spending too much time with Orions I see. The natural
order will not save you. Now, you will tell me all I wish to know.*
Srock shivered in the growing
cold. **I will give you nothing, you are the prisoner here.**
**I was with Lily Anderson
minute Srock, every minute you tortured her. How do you think she
withstood the pain. I said I would Remember, and Remember I have. I
will take from you all I want, and give you back in full measure
Srock, Fate pity what I leave behind.**
Srock stood up, and
arms with a will. He balled his fists even as his body shook
uncontrollably in the driving snow and rain. **I will give you
Jeriban stepped forward, his
glowing, unfathomable blue. **Then you will suffer the fate you
envisioned for me. I said I would Remember.**
we have further updates from Starfleet command. A detailed map of
the Orion base and information about their watch keeping and
Captain Marshall tapped the
arm of the
command chair. "Fascinating. I wonder how he is getting the
information. It's almost like LaSaille was interrogating them."
Persimmons stepped up to the
Captain. "Possible sir. LaSaille's jacket notes him as being a
telepath. They might be giving him more than they realize."
LaSaille pushed Srock away from him in
disgust. The spent Vulcan crumpled on the floor and curled into a
fetal ball, whimpering. Jerry slumped to the floor himself, the
Orions not having provided such comforts as furniture. **And now Mr.
Srock, we shall see what we shall see.**
The Republic rolled out of
into orbit around the planet. Commander Persimmions worked the
sensors. "The base is exactly where it was indicated. I have
two ships, they are moving out."
Marhall nodded. Noted, we came for the base, we'll find them later.
Tell Mr. Tarrant
to beam in when ready.
Tarrent's security forces
the Lord's chambers themselves. With their phase rifles on heavy
stun they cut down screaming women and guards alike. They would sort
them out later. Lord Jong caught a beam as he
through the door to see what the commotion was about. Starfleet
security quickly striped him of his weapons and spread out throughout
the complex. There was heavy fighting on
docks as pirates that missed the ships fought to make it to shuttles
and clear the planet surface. Smarter pirates fought to get out of
the base and into the planet's concealing jungles. Starfleet
security meant a Starfleet ship overhead.
The lock glowed and slagged. The door
burst open to reveal Lt Tarrant and his security team. In the corner
sat Lt. Commander LaSaille. At his feet was a whimpering Vulcan
curled up in a fetal position. "Sir? Are you all right?"
"Reasonably well Lieutenant,
given the circumstances. We will however, let the Doctor decide
"The base is secure Commander.
What are you orders?"
"I am compromised Lieutenant,
shouldn't take any orders from me until I have been debriefed and
returned to duty."
Tarrant flushed. "Yes sir.
about the Vulcan?"
"He is one of the pirates, and
will require medical treatment. Have you found Lt. Anderson?"
"Yes Sir, we have beamed her
the ship." Tarrant stepped back and opened his communicator.
"This is Lt. Tarrant. Medical
and security to the transporter room, two to beam up, these
Doctor Reeves put his fineberger away. "Mr. LaSaille, you should not be
as healthy as you are. I know
how Orions treat prisoners, and I have heard what Vulcans can do with
that mind meld."
"Doc, what can I say. Not all
Vulcans are created equal. Srock here is not the best you will find. He
had an illogical opinion of his abilities."
"Well provided you pass the
tests I have no problem returning you to duty. Hell of a vacation."
Jerry gave a wry smile. "Yea,
vacation. How is Lt. Anderson?"
"Abused, but in better shape
I would suspected. She doesn't have your bounce back capacity. She
is down at least a week. I don't know how much therapy she will
require yet." The two felt the ship move to warp. "Joe
isn't wasting time. Two of the pirates got away. The base must be
secured and destroyed already. Well no time like the present. Let's
get the psyc scan taken care of."
The Republic had
been in pursuit of the Orion pirates for half a day when LaSaille
started his shift on the bridge. Capitan Marshall nodded as he took
his seat. "Good to have you back Mr.
"I can honestly say not half
good as it is to be back Captain." Jerry quickly checked the
helm board, affirmed the readiness of the lasers and photon
was on course
giant of a star system. Three stars and half a dozen giant planets. Mt
Carter had his head in the sensor hood. "Beta Madrigals. The noisiest
system for 50 light years."
Capitan Marshall grunted.
hiding place for a pair of rats. Take us in cautiously. Heads up."
The shift had not changed for
hours. Twice they had spotted the fugitive ships only to lose them
amid the rampant sensor noise and piles of stellar rubble. Captain Marshall looked into
screen as if he could pull the Orion ships out of the darkness. "Mr.
"Sensors are taking a great
of interference from the magnetosphere of the gas giant sir."
"Mr., LaSaille, that is where
quarry lies then. Take us in, one half impulse."
"Aye aye sir."
Carter from the sensors. Thunder filled their ears and the bridge
reeled, darkness, red light, flying bodies, darkness. Jerry hung on
to the helm console for dear life itself. The red lights came back
up and the motion stopped. The silence was punctuated by a high
pitched scream, escaping air. Jerry looked around, only a
people were even moving. Captain Marshall was missing most of his
head. Commander Persimmions was not in any shape to command with one
leg missing. "Abandon the Bridge! Anyone
help those who are not." He hauled Lt. Carter, to his feet and
slammed the intership as he did. The light flickered, but indicated
function. "Auxiliary control, take the ship. The bridge is
breached and loosing air."
"The turbolift is working."
Screamed Ensign Marcelle over the laboring life support.
Jerry helped Lt. Karprax the
to his feet he was favoring his right arm, blue blood smeared his
face. "Everyone out! Move!" The car was soon packed with
and the near dead. It was plain the car was over loaded as it was.
Jerry made a quick decision. "Go!"
"Sir the air won't last."
"GO DAMN YOU!!" Jerry hit
the external send. "Sick bay, command override". The doors
closed. No time to waste. The air was
thin. The life support knew the battle was hopeless and had stopped
trying. Jerry could hear the vents slam closed. He held his breath
with as much air as he could get. The ship lurched slightly. Jerry
quickly checked the two bodies on the bridge to make sure they were
bodies. His vision was starting to red out as the capillaries in his
eyes burst from the dropping pressure. He lungs screamed to breathe
but he knew there wasn't the air to do so. He threw the gangway
hatch open and all but fell down the ladder with his eardrums
bursting from the lack of pressure. The hatch overhead slammed shut,
and the hiss of incoming air replaced the pounding of his own blood
in his ears, a few blinks cleared the red haze from his vision. After
what seemed like an eternity the hatch under his feet opened. He
dropped onto B Deck and made for the turbo lift. The ship
shuddered again. He felt the thump of the torpedoes beneath his
feet. At least they were fighting back. The Turbolift doors opened to
Cater and Yeoman Gagx getting into life support suits. They stared
wordlessly as he stepped in and took the control handle. "Auxiliary control."
"Sir?" said Carter.
"What is is Lieutenant."
"You have been bleeding from
ears and eyes Sir."
"Fancy that. We need to fight
this ship, then I'll worry about it."
Jerry stormed into the auxiliary
"We have two Orion ships
us. You are the senior officer Sir."
"We have torpedoes, two
laser banks. Shields are at two thirds, and not yet stable."
"Give me the plot." The
requested information came up on his tactical screen. "Good. Make a frontal assault
target alpha. Reduce the rear shields by 30%."
"Sir, that will make us a
target for beta."
"That's the idea. Watch beta
closely, when she fires, veer starboard, as hard as you can. All she
has left. and rake alpha with everything we have."
"Aye aye Sir."
Carter nodded. "Steed feint,
"That's the idea Mr. Carter.
Hold us steady."
Jerry turned toward the
station. "Ensign, how do we look."
Marcelle kept her eyes glued
scope. "He's lining up."
"Carter, on her call."
"Aye, aye sir."
Minutes passed as the three
closed toward each other. "NOW!" Shouted Egn.
Carter hauled the wounded
starboard with quick fingers over the board. Twin lances of energy
flashed passed her hull and slammed into the other Orion vessel. Lt.
Tarrant likewise fired the lasers. The abused Orion exploded in
"Shields full power. Torpedoes
to maximum yield. Come around Mr Carter and we'll finish this."
"Aye, Aye, Sir coming around
heading 172 mark 3."
"Fire at will, all lasers."
Twice the lights dimmed with
lasers firing. Egn Marcelle kept her eyes glued to the sensor scope. "He turning away Commander.
shields are heavily damaged."
"Long range and he is pulling
away. Warp buildup. Sir the target has moved to warp."
Carter shook his head. "No Sir,
we don't have warp power on line."
"Commander LaSaille, I am reading
several possible ships on long range sensors, same heading as alpha's
"Damn." Jerry slammed his
fist on the chair arm. Stand down to yellow alert. All damage
control parties to stations. We need warp power and shields as the
priority. Captain Marshall is dead. Everyone take stock of your
department. I want all senior officers in the briefing room in
twenty minutes. Ensign, get me all the readings you can on the
unknowns. I have feeling this is not over. I'll be in sickbay."
was a first-rate horror show
with wounded personnel on every bed and lining the walls. It took
LaSaille a few minutes to find Doctor Reeves. He was up to his
wrists in someone guts putting things back together. Jerry stood
back out of the way and let him finish. Reeves noticed him while
cleaning up. "Who's in command?"
"I am. Doc, how is Commander
"He'll live, but he isn't taking
a starship bridge for a good long time. What about Joe Marshall?"
Jerry took a deep breath. "He
was dead before he hit the deck Doc. I didn't see it happen, I was
holding on to my own console. Half his head was gone. The part with
the brain in it. He had no pulse, nobody home. I'm sorry." Jerry gave
the Doctor a few minutes to digest the news. Finally
Reeves nodded. Jerry continued. "What is the state of the
"We have sixty down, twelve of
those are dead. Nine I can have back on duty on 24 hours."
"We might not have 24 hours. One
ship got away, and it looks like he has friends."
Doctor Reeves sighed. "War and
rumor of war."
"They caught us flat footed once,
I'm not letting that happen again. Get the wounded battened down. Put
beds in the companionways if you have to and we'll seal sickbay
off. Stay here with the wounded. I'll consider that your report is
"Okay Skipper. We'll do our
the last into the briefing
room. Once everyone was seated he started. "We have a wounded ship and a
wounded crew. It looks like we might have more fight on our hands as
well. Doctor Reeves gave me his report in sickbay. Mr. Carne, what
is the condition of the ship?"
Lt. Commander Carne cleared his
throat. "We will have warp power within four hours. The bridge
is breeched. We have extensive damage along the port secondary hull
at the strongback that will limit our tactical maneuverability. Weapons
are functional, shields are functional."
"Can you seal the bridge before
things get hairy again?"
"Yes, Sir, but what do you what
me to not do?"
"How bad is the secondary hull
"Serious. We could loose ship
integrity if we are hit there again. She could snap in two."
"Forget the bridge. However, we
have two bodies that need to be recovered. Keep the structural crews
were you see they are needed. Ensign Marcelle, what can you tell
"In the limited amount of time I
have I can tell we have three ships in addition to the one we were
fighting. If all three come in we are looking at a four to one
fight. If they are of a similar class, we are out gunned and out
massed. We can handle any one, but not all four."
"We need an advantage."
Lt Carter perked up. "Terrain?"
"Yes, the Orions used it against
us once. And this star system is full of it. We need to get them
mad enough or confused enough to come in after us, one at a time. Mr
Marcelle, I want you to take anyone qualified that isn't working
sickbay or damage control and rig all the probes you can to ping
exactly like the Republic.
Let's give him too many targets."
"What if that makes them stay
away?" Asked Carter.
"Then we run like rabbits and be
glad for it. We are in no condition for a stand up fight."
later Jerry settled back
into the Auxiliary bridge command chair. "Report?"
"I have four Orions coming into
tactical sensor range. They are at warp and decreasing speed."
said Egn. Marcell.
Jerry nodded. "Fire probes."
The lights dimmed four times. Eng.
Marcell reported. "Probes away, they are taking up their
"Good. Lt. Tarrant take us into
the magnetosphere of class J One."
"We will lose sensor
"Yes, ping off the probes. Ensign, keep us as
informed as you can."
"Aye, aye sir."
"Steady as she goes people."
viewed the images of his fellow
ship commanders with disdain. Moce was grumbling, the fat sow. "Joss, you said one wounded
Federation battleship, not a whole fleet!"
"It is one ship you fat fool. Look at your
sensors. All the "ships" are
quarry is playing a hiding game."
"Then we can split up and locate
him at our leisure." Drawled Lord Sybin.
Joss bowed in his seat. "I do
not recommend this Worshipful Lord. This one is clever. Together we
can confront and defeat him. One at a time, he will take us."
Sybin waved a beringed hand
dismissively. "Nonsense. If it is damaged as you report, it
will be easy prey. It is as damaged as you report, isn't it Captain
Joss stiffened. "My report is
"I do not have time to troop
around together. We will divide our efforts We will find this
Federatii and destroy him." The screen with Lord Sybin went
blank. The rest shortly followed.
"By your command, my Lord."
grated Joss under his breath.
His second stood to attention. "Orders
"As Lord Sybin desires Teng. We
will do what our damaged vessel can do. Sweep wide in support of the
"If they will play the
Federatii's game, I will not. He is wounded. And the wounded prey
is the most dangerous. Let the natural order sort out who is worthy,
and we will finish the task."
obscured the viewscreen. Muttered conversations sounded around
the bridge as each station
talked with their department. Marcell had her face buried in the
sensor scope. "They have dropped to sublight and are splitting
"Yes. Let them come. Marcell
goose probe two. Get it to give a good sweep."
"Aye, aye Sir. Trying to lure
"That would be the idea."
"One is turning. It is
"Let it come. Keep us quiet. Full weapons
Tarrant nodded. "Lasers and
torpedoes on line and changed, Sir."
"Hold your fire until we have a
good shot. We are only getting one."
The Orion ship approached at an
oblique angle, trying to get into the probe's blind spots.
Marceel was back into the scope. "He's slowing
Sir, the jig might be up
with that one."
Jerry looked at his helmsman. "Tarrant?"
"I have a shot."
Tarrant hesitated a moment, then
punched the firing switches. The lights dimmed as torpedoes and
laser beams lanced out. The Orion ship shuddered, faltered, and
detonated under the barrage of weapons.
"Got him!" Shouted
"And they know where we are now." Added
Jerry kept is gaze on the tactical
screen. "Yes, cometary orbit to class J Two. Get me 10 grams
of antimatter in pods with a proximity fuse. I want three of them."
"Carter looked up from his board. "Mines?"
"Yes, the sooner the better. We
still have three to go, this is hardly over yet."
watched the detonation on the
"It was not the Federatii
"That was evident, sensor. This
one will not come easily." Joss chided himself privately for
loquaciousness with the crew. "Who of out illustrious comrades
"Lord Moce's Golden
Joss sneered. "He will be
missed. We now have the quarry's location, ignore all other targets,
keep locked on the real one. Teng, bring us around slowly. We will
be last to face him."
Teng nodded briefly. "By your
will Worshipful Lord."
minutes latter Engineering
reported the mines ready.
"Good, put them in an airlock and
blow it on my signal."
"We are not going to fire them
"No Tarrant. The less attention
Marcell reported. "Two Orions
are on us Skipper, Targets Delta and Beta."
Jerry studied the tactical plot.
"Let them close."
"Delta is right on out tail."
"Drop the first package."
shuddered and boomed with
the hit. "We just lost the shuttlebay."
They all watched the blast clear. The
Orion ship was still there, but clearly damaged.
Jerry leaned forward. "Come
around, take him. No cripples."
"That could force a pass with
"Accepted. One at a time we can
handle. We have to look strong."
came around and lashed
out at the wounded Orion. She struck out in kind at the Starship. Each
came away but the Orion was drifting.
Jerry kept is eyes on the tactical
"We got clean away Skipper. The
Orion is dead in space."
Marceel was face deep in her sensor
scope. "Delta still coming in hot."
"Full spread of torpedoes."
"Skipper, at this range?"
"Old tactic Tarrant. Fire on my
"Aye aye sir."
The torpedoes spread out heading for
the Orion ship.
"Good come around. Run. And
drop those last two packages as the torpedoes go off."
Each crewman concentrated on the task
at hand. "Torpedo detonation sir, Delta
"Good, continue the cometary to
J2., full impulse."
"Delta is slowing. Detonation! Still there
Skipper, Detonation. She is
still with us."
"J2 five seconds."
"Delta is still poking around, I
think it expects more bombs. Gamma is still holding back."
"That was our first target?"
"She hasn't had much time to
repair damage either."
"What have you in mind skipper?"
"I don't exactly know. Get us in
the magnetosphere. Are our three remaining probes still pinging?"
"Yes sir, the Orions are ignoring
"Good we are going to try
something I saw on Galaxy Quest once."
"I'll tell you later. Rig
torpedoes to take target information off the probes, give me a
couple. How soon?"
Tarrant grinned. "Five minutes
skipper. Who are we taking?"
"Whoever comes in first. We need
to be ready to close and take advantage of the situation if it works.
The Master's Jewel cautiously
approached the giant planet. Her foe was hiding somewhere in the
massive magnetic fields and radiation belts, and her sensors were
partly burned by the mines. At least her foe had no more idea of
what was going on that she did. It was luck of the draw.
watched the Orion probing the
magnetosphere on the probe screens. the probes were paying off. "Ready
Mr Tarrant. Easy. Fire. Come around 134 mark 43, arm
The two torpedoes flew without
guidance. Then they picked up the probe data, locked onto the Orion
and plunged in for the kill. The Republic
was right behind them.
Detonation. "Fire Mr Tarrant, on the explosion." Weapons
thumped and whined.
The Orion ship was wracked by hits,
and started to lose orbit.
Marcelle called from her scope. "She
is going in."
LaSaille watched the screen fizz and
break up as the wounded ship plunged deeper and deeper. "Burn
in Hell bastards."
Tarrant shook himself. "We have
"Yea, and I have an idea. Stay
out of clear sight. call Ensign Mong to the bridge. Cater, you have
record of the Orion communication? Good. Set your board to emulate
that as much as possible."
Carter looked over his shoulder? "You
going to try and fake them in Skipper?"
"That's the idea. They are
faster than we are. They need to come to us."
"I don't know that I can get the
set up 100% Skipper."
"Well, we are going to try. I
hope the radiation covers any mistakes we make."
officer on the Pride of Joss
pressed the contact closer to his ear. The communication was faint
and fuzzy. He adjusted his board and listened again. "Worshipful
Lord, The Master's Jewel reports
successfully engaging and destroying
the Federation battleship. They require assistance."
Joss relaxed on his command throne.
"Since it is obvious I must ask;
why in the name of the natural
order must we assist them?"
Pell bent back to his communications. "Their
impulse engines are
damaged worshipful Captain. They
cannot break orbit."
The gas giant flared suddenly as
something within it's depths detonated. Pell wrenched the contact
out of his ear with a wince of pain.
Joss pulled the green girl closer to
him. "Well, something big just died in there. Sensors?"
"It is difficult to tell
worshipful Captain. Something orbits, but what and whose is
currently beyond detecting."
Joss sighed. "Very well. We
will investigate this ship in need of help. With the flare the
advantage is ours, even if we are being lied to."
screen totally derezzed as a blast
of noise shredded any pretense of communication. Eng. Mong ripped
the ear bug from his ear and shook his head..
"They sounded skeptical Skipper."
"They would. Any movement"
Tarrant played his board. "When
I can read the probes, I'll let you know Skipper. That blast blinded
us worse than it would have blinded them." Tarrent continued to
work. "I can't read anything."
Jerry nodded. "Break orbit 180
from Alpha's last reported location. Take us out 100,000 klicks and
come around until we can see something."
Pride of Joss came in slowly,
cautiously. The radiation from the blast still made using the
sensors a difficult proposition. Joss tapped his command throne. "I require information."
The sensor office ducked his head. "There is a
great deal of
interference My Lord. The ship as
reported is not where I expect it."
Joss stood suddenly dumping the Green
girl off his throne. "What?"
"My Lord, the ship is not where I
The bridge shook with a thunderous
roar as panels exploded and lights shattered.
Jerry smiled. "Good shot Mr.
Tarrent, you win the brass ring. Mr. Marcell, any activity?"
"No sir. Their engines and
weapons are off line."
"Hail them. Let's see how the
Natural Order takes to losing."
"Hailing sir. I am getting a
screen mostly cleared
to show the bridge of the opposing ship. Bodies were draped like
scattered dolls. Someone, her commander by the richness of his
tattered dress sat painfully in the command throne. He looked at the
screen. "You wish to gloat your victory
"No Captain, I do not. I have
called to offer your surviving crew honorable surrender."
"This is not gloating?"
"Not among my people, no. When
the fight is over it is over, you aid the wounded equally."
"You fight cleverly Captain..."
"Lt. Commander Jerold Ryan
LaSaille, my Captain, is a causality."
Lord Joss smiled weakly. "Well
then, you fight well for one so young."
"Surrender sir, you do not need
to die today."
Joss shook his head. "No, I am
Lord Joss of House Auric. I do ... not ... surrender."
"Sir, you are wounded we can
The crew of the Republic flinched back
as the screen derezzed again in a blaze of light.
Silence settled over the bridge for a
moment. Finally Marcell said. "Sir?"
"They fired a probe, a recorder
marker I believe."
"Leave it. Let the Orions know
what happens when Starfleet is crossed. Anything else to worry
"Not currently on the scopes
"Stand down to Yellow Alert. Let's get this
ship moving in the
direction of a Starbase."
Republic pulled into
much the worse for wear. Blast marks covered her, patches lined the
strongback where Orion disruptors had torn into her fabric. Starfleet
medical forewarned was at the dock to transfer casualties,
the quick and the dead.
Lt. Commander LaSaille took himself to
the Admiral's office to explain. The look of shock when a Lt.
Commander walked in and not Capitan Joe Marshall was all the prelude
he needed. "He was loved and respected sir."
"You have your reports Commander
LaSaille?" Admiral Page looked weary before they even started.
"I do. The Republic
is not fit
for space duty at this time. My engineer is of the opinion that she
is going to be a long time in dock. We have many wounded, too many
"They lost five ships, no
Admiral Page flipped though the
reports. "Commander Persimmions is still with us?"
"Barely, he lost his right leg at
the hip. Doctor Reeves is of the opinion that it may be as much as a
year before he is fit for duty."
Page frowned at the report. "You
leave me in the position of scaring up a Captain out here, Mr
"Sorry sir, I can but serve."
"I'll have to read this in detail
later. There is the matter of condolence letters as well."
"They are in the packet Sir. I
took care of them on the way back."
"Amid trying to keep the ship
from falling apart you wrote the condolence letters as well?"
"It's part of the Job Admiral
Page. The stripes on my sleeve don't matter. I had the Job. They
were all people I knew and knew well."
Page nodded. "Right now I don't
have a line officer on the station I can assign. Continue to command
the Republic and see that the
ship gets a through inspection. With
repair in mind. Starships do not come cheap. We need her."
"Aye aye, Sir."
found himself the Junior
officer at a rather high powered meeting. Admiral Page and his chief
engineer Captain Decatur were discussing the future of the Republic.
LaSaille had just finished a lengthly report of the Republic's damage
and shortcomings. It was a depressingly long and detailed list. "In conclusion Sirs, the Republic
is not now fit to move. We were lucky to get her home in
Returning her to service will require extensive dock time to rebuild
major space framing through the saucer, the primary pylon and the
Decatur shook his head and Page looked
grim. Decatur spoke. "I've examined the
damage myself. It's not a repair, it's a major rebuild. We don't
have the facilities as of yet. We have them planned, but we don't
have them now.
Page looked up and LaSaille. "What
would you suggest Commander?"
"Reluctantly, I would pay her off
Sir. The expense of shipping her back to a yard that could rebuild
her is considerable. She isn't an old hull, but the damage is
Decatur nodded. "I concur. repairs at this
time are unreasonable."
Page grumbled as he stood. "I
hear you gentlemen. Make it so. Commander, shut down the ship and
pay off your crew. Dismissed."
spent the next two weeks
getting assignments for his crew and querying personnel as to his own
berth. once again he paged Robert Clemens. "Bob, it's Jerry, what's up?"
know what's up, you are looking
for a ship berth. Well, I hate to admit it by the USS Enterprise has
just posted a opening for a senior helmsman."
"That would be Captain Pike?"
"Yup, it would"
"A good man, his reputation
precedes him. I accept the transfer."
contact the Enterprise. Pike
will be gratified to get his needs
filled so quickly.."
pressed the button on the
Captain's office. "Come."
The door opened to admit him. "You
wished to see me sir."
"Yes Commander. Please, have a
Jerry sat. Pike shuffled papers on
his desk, Papers were unusual.
"I just received a package from
Starfleet Command. A most unusual package. One I have never in my
career in Starfleet received." Jerry was looking a bit nervous at
this point. "Oh, it's a commendation, don't
worry. But I am aggrieved to be loosing a good helmsman so quickly."
"Ensign. Sulu is a quick study
Sir. Where am I going?"
"Eager to leave?"
"Not really, I've only been here
three months. However, you seem to have me out the door already."
"The whole thing in order. I
have here on my desk a Commendation for the Federation Medal of
Honor. I also have a promotion to full Commander and transfer to
command of the USS Lydia
Sutherland, a light cruiser, if
accept that is. Close your mouth Jerry, you'll catch flies." Pike had
on the wry grin that he wore so well. "I'm putting
this one down in the log. Seeing that look on your face is all too
Jerry stammered a bit. "I really
don't know what to say. Yes, I accept, but, why?"
"Someone thought you deserved it. Admiral Page
seems the responsible
party, cosigned by Commander
Persimmions, and the rest of the Republic's
surviving senior staff.
Makes me wish I had been there."
"Not really, it wasn't pretty at
"I know, it never is. However,
I'm just as glad we are a good two weeks from any station. I've
never gotten to pin one of these on before." Pike stood up and
offered his hand. "Congratulation and good luck with your new
to the Valiant -- May, 2008
No one sets
out to be a hero. But I describe Jerry as a hero, one with the Medal
of Honor in fact. I hope the my version of events is sufficient to
I have been pecking at this one for
a long time now. It has not been a easy write. A couple of years of
on and off typing and many scenes have been refined and rewritten
repeatedly. I finally got past the difficult parts and over the
plain workmanlike parts and got it done. My first new piece of
fiction in a couple of years.
Subtext 2011 - The usual clean up and error finding. Fairly light on this one.
questtons on this story? Mail Here
Return to -- Epiphany Trek: The
Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any
resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Garry Stahl: May 2008. All rights reserved, re-print only with