Marines monitored passengers and crews boarding Sentinel Station. Gavin questioned a Marine about the increased security and reluctantly presenting his identification and his right hand, palm-up. A flash and smoke filled the corridor. Gavin dropped to the ground, a blade in his hand. Pleg came along side and offered a way past the checkpoint. Marines looked through the space with tachyon emitters to look for personal cloaking devices. Gavin questioned Pleg’s motives who was hoping to earn a favour from the traveller.
While speaking with Varg, several ships of Cronin design entered USS Daystrom’s sensor range. Trensu questioned Varg’s motives who swore he was the only chance for a peaceful resolution. Favor registerd a ping on sensors and wondered if the ships were engaged in a search operation. Doctor Theophilus reported an innoculant to counter the boryan radiation permeating the ship. Daystrom’s captain ordered the helm to reach what appeared to be an escape pod ahead of the Cronin ships. USS Arbalest was dispatched to assist but was still an hour away. The pod was small, short-range and carried a single occupant. As soon as the pod was in range, it was beamed into the cargo hold and it’s occupant directly to Sickbay. Daystrom then set a course at it’s maximum speed for Sentinel Station. The captain realized the Cronin would pursue them even more that they had a survivor aboard. Varg hurled an insult at the retreating USS Daystrom.
The occupant of the escape pod materialized in Sick Bay. Ariana recognized the species as Loukassan. He had spent days in a pod depleted of breathable air. Campada awoke with a start and recognized his doctor and Ensign Serota as human. Doctor Theophilus reassured him he was safe and that she was actively countering the effect of borayon radiation. Campada stated that his planet had been occupied by a faction of Cronin who were a generally chaotic species. The Campada were compelled to maintain Cronin ships captured from the time they rebelled against the Solimenti.
Delmo moved from storefront to storefront engaging their owners in conversation. Seket noticed the Bolian and decided to tag along. Delmo tried to ignore the Cardassian woman at first. He was adamant he had an invitation for her as well and would prefer to hand deliver them. Seket offered to introduce the shopkeeper around the Promenade. In one interaction with a spice-and-oil dealer, Seket took it upon herself to speculate on the Promenade’s future of higher rents and corruption. The Cardassian offered to distribute Delmo’s pamplets for him.
Husar stepped into Pleg’s shop while Gral was stocking fake Gatrubbian statuettes. Lirka was unaware of her husband’s venture but played her part as good Ferengi wife. Pleg had learned that Governor Kal-Nar was invited to an evening meeting with Promenade shopkeepers at Delmo’s invitation. Pleg assumed Husar was prepared to order Delmo’s execution. Her links to the Scravvan families gave her almost as much power as the Obsidian order. Another option was to frame him for smuggling on behalf of the Kharians including a few sloppily coded communications. A couple of expendable lackeys would be caught with biogenic weapons. It was not going to go well for Delmo.
Groud and Durk stopped to check the heavy crate they were carrying matched their instructions. They had been told to pick up the box on dock two. Durk had second thoughts about not using a grav sled and was reminded by Groud that spoonheads were as cheap as Ferengi. Durk speculated the contents were valuable contraband. Their curiousity got the better of them. Seket watched the pair over a security camera. As Durk reached into the crate, Groud slammed the lid and ran for his life. He yelled over his shoulder he was going to pick up a grav sled but was already on his way to the next freighter leaving the station. Durk wandered away. The partially opened crate was left in the open with Delmo’s name on the shipping manifest.
Husar inspected the Sushi Bar before the guests arrived. She wore a dress that sent a statement of wealth and power. She asked a number of clipped questions without allowing Gaspar to answer any of them fully. She told the restauranteur that Pleg was footing the bill. The Ferengi entrepreneur and his wife arrived first. The lady Lirka wore a diaphanous dress that barely covered her.
Special Inspector Ashton-Milyo met with Admiral Leval to hear his opinion on Commander Mirel. The Vulcan admiral found her to be a competant and dedicated administrator. He also met with Judge Advocate Melinda Michaels to discuss any open investigations against the station commander.
Governor Kal-Nar took a break from the pile of padds on his desk. He found Delmo waiting in a back corridor and pressed a silent alarm. Delmo began politicking and the governor agreed to a town hall that evening. It was an incredible opportunity for the Bolian.
Charles Goodwin entered the smoke-filled ‘Pit and Dagger Cantina’. He placed a few bars of latinum on the counter and asked for the Dream. He found her in a back room with her feet on the table. She dismissed the well-dressed man. He responded with double her usual rate. He was looking for a woman named Valeria. She had stolen something from his family. Dream asked if he needed time to gather the funds. Charles tried to keep the offense out of his voice; money wasn’t an issue. Dream admitted that she was Valeria. Charles doubted her claim. Dream offered her bottle for a genetic comparison aginst whatever Charles had of Valeria. Dream remembered what she had stolen: engine schematics; the elder Goodwin’s life’s work. Dream kicked up the table she had been resting her feet on and shot Charles and his two bodyguards with a heavy stun. She collected the reward of finding Valeria from Charles’ pockets, tossed the bartender a few bars for his trouble and disappeared. Again.
Admiral Leval walked into Sickbay weak and with a headache that would down a sehlat. Doctor Butler dropped what she was doing and began examining the sector commander. The growth in the admiral’s brain was found quickly. He was concerned with recuperation time given all that was happening in and around the station. He was typical of all Starfleet officers, hard to get into Sickbay and nearly impossible to keep there. She gave Leval a hypospray to temporarily alleviate the symptons. His next visit would be an overnight stay while nanites removed the growth.
Bresa was called to the Gatrubbian settlement within the sphere. He was the center of attention as he walked through the spaceport. Egira invited the time traveller to the opening of a new temple attended by several prominent Readers. What he most wanted was to see Ligshuk again. She and her father had a home on the outskirts of the settlement. When Bresa had finished his meeting, Ligshuk was waiting for him in the lobby of the government building. They decided to attend the Readings. It had been a long time since Bresa set foot in a temple. Kalana welcomed them and told Bresa he had heard many stories of the last of the Voci family to live on Gatrubbe. Kalana was a direct descendant of Bana Voci, Bresa’s brother.
Dvir told Elias he was leaving Seiklon Axel as soon as the ship docked with Sentinel Station.
Captain Pigg would justify the actions of Quidano and Toraith by their success. It was more than he had done himself. He reported Chelsea’s kidnapping to a marine desk sergeant. They also reported the theft of the Cyclone. The group were referred to Lieutenant Colonel Stoneclaw, task force commander. Johnson provided a statement beginning with aiding Axel during an attack. His ship was then stolen by two members of Axel’s crew. The colonel did not deem the theft as a general threat to travel and trade. Captain Johnson reserved his right to press charges on the condition of his ship when it was returned. He understood the motivation for stealing the ship and could not fault it. Pigg described the attack and kidnapping. Stoneclaw needed more than the Elias’ accusations to pursue things further. Elias presented evidence that showed planetary bombardment by retired, and presumed stolen, Starfleet ships against the planet Thela. Elias himself was a target to be returned for a mock tral in front of the Setlin Commerce Guild. The Marine CO agreed to dispatch a squadron to intercept Eugene and recover Reed’s ship. He agreed with Elias’ decision to not further risk his entire crew to save a single individual and, instead, ask the Marines for help. Both Bresa and Reed gave reassuring getures to the guilt-stricken captain.
Duke Faritha thanked Captain Pigg for taking care of his son and offered a generous payment to take the two back to the Gorn home world. Pigg was determined to repair his ship and pursue Chelsea’s captor. Xin and Imgres hoped to repair the ship well enough to reach Sentinel Station under it’s own power. The crew dreaded the idea of being towed. Noluk also declined the Duke’s offer. Reed Johnson barged into Pigg’s quarters demanding answers about his stolen ship. The Cyclone was capable of warp 8.5. Elias winced knowing neither his ship nor Albatross would catch it. The captain said he would declare the ship stolen if Toraith and Quidano didn’t return it undamaged. The Duke apoligized for his son; not on behalf of his son, for his son.
With Chelsea rescued and aboard the Cyclone, Serosian raiders decided to move in. Chelsea came to, to find Quidano and Toraith standing over her. When the raiders boarded, they offered the Axel crew free passage if they laid down their weapons. Toraith believed they were sent my Eugene to recapture his ship. Toraith grabbed a fire extinguisher intending it as a blunt, improvised weapon before Quidano told him what it really was. Toraith stalled by asking the raiders about their culture. As soon as the Serosians started their attack, Toraith moved in and bit down on the lead raider. Quidano came out of a side compartment and engaged the raiders from the side. He knocked one down before taking a disruptor blast to the chest. Toraith was shot as well before Chelsea, in her drugged state, fired a phaser at it’s highest setting against the last Serosian. In the end, the Axel crew were the ones left standing.
The crew of the Serosian raider began to worry when their boarding party did not check in. Toraith beamed onto the raider and quickly dismembered the remaining two pirates. With it’s crew dead, the ship self-triggered a self-destruct forcing the Gorn to escape back to the Cyclone.
Vaquero Flight arrived and offered assistance to the damaged Cyclone. A recovery team beamed aboard Cyclone. The lead marine asked Quidano and Toraith to identify themselves and then placed them under arrest. When Toraith threatened the Marines, he was shot with a heavy stun.
Elias surveyed the Axel shuttle bay. It had an occupation-era Bajoran raider, a grav truck and a Kobali shuttle. He liked the pair of versatile workbees that could be endlessly configured. He needed a proper shuttle. Seiklon Axel’s new Chief Officer moved the two workbees to the shuttle bay and brought a third aboard.
Elias was perusing small craft at ‘The Motorpool’ and immediately liked the Clydesdale-class shuttle. They had been workhorses of the Federation for decades according to Lieutenant Caspin Mudd, great grandson of Harry Mudd. The interior was configured for eight seats along with a replicator and lavatory. The control board was covered in scores of buttons; not like modern shuttles with endless submenus. Elias regretted that he had sunk his funds into a 2332 Bajoran raider. It was perfect for a history buff. Those shuttles were collectors items. Mudd wondered aloud about selling to a Cardassian collector and accepted a straight up swap.
While working in Axel’s shuttlebay trying to accomodate the new shuttle and the existing workbees, Elias received word that the Cyclone had been recovered. Chelsea was aboard a Starfleet ship, safe and sound. Imgres received the same message and offered his Chief Officer a thumbs up. Elias realized he as an ineffective leader and didn’t belong in the captain’s chair. Elias had earlier spent 30 minutes conveying his condolences to Chelsea’s parents. Without preamble, he announced his resignation as Captain of Seiklon Axel to Bresa and Xin. Bresa would be the ship’s new captain and Elias would retire to a home with a white picket fence. In the short term, Elias would stay aboard as a mentor.
Chelsea stopped by Elias’ quarters. He saw the faded bruising and apologized. She knew the Arvonians would not give up until they had Elias in prison. He openly cried at his own failures; he could not have done what Toraith and Quidano did. Chelsea was shocked that Elias gave up what he loved: being a captain. Elias didn’t say that he loved Chelsea more than being captain.
Bresa decided to adjust the titles and responsibilities of the crew. Elias would become it’s Chief Officer in charge of deck operations. Bresa offered Xin the position of Second Officer with bridge duties. Elias liked his new captain’s ideas. Bresa also wanted to add a Third Officer. Elias mused about who could fill the roll when Bresa threw a curve ball and suggested Toraith. Bresa appreciated the Gorn’s drive to save Chelsea. Elias suggested Quidano but Bresa disagreed. When informed, Toraith immediately asked for a sash. Xin stepped into the role immediately offering to have crew evaluations on the captain’s desk the following morning.
Reed Johnson had been in the same situation as Elias Pigg. The latter captain would recover in time. Reed decided not to press charges. The Cyclone was in bad shape. Elias offered his own share of Seiklon Axel’s profits until the damage was repaired. And the share of a crew member as well. Elias didn’t feel right collecting his fee on a mission where he lost Chelsea. With Reed’s ship needing repairs, he could tag along with Axel’s crew in the meantime. Axel had a good reputation os earning enough for ‘gas’. Captain Pigg enjoyed the adventure all the more. Toraith was brought into the shuttle bay restrained and muzzled. The Duke removed the muzzle so that Toraith could apologize.
With Bresa taking command of Seiklon Axel and a crew shuffle, the ship was left without a pilot. Reed Johnson was willing to fill that role. The indepedent captain had expected to remain aboard Sentinel Station while his ship was repaired. He had been on Cyclone alone for eight years. He knew every position. Chelsea would show Johnson to his new quarters. It meant a lot to the new pilot to be a part of a crew again.
The crew of Albatross beamed down to the colony on New Enterprise. It was a boom town of pre-fab structures and a physical wall separating it from the outside wilderness. Icmod seemed to appreciate it whereas everyone else was surprised at it’s rustic style. Pelira welcomed the crew to his home. He invited the crew to the Raeldra busting competition that evening. Raeldra were a native horned animal described as projecting and indomitable spirit. Icmod asked about the colony’s relationship with the native species. Pelira brushed aside the question. Raeldra were hunted and used for sport. The beasts were worn down and bled upon a field as a public spectacle. Zoss and Roquel reacted with disgust. Icmod played the diplomat and Jillido was indifferent.
Before the Albatross crew could settle in, the colony was attacked by the native Vegones. Locals unholstered weapons and ran towards the site of the attack. Zoss and Zal joined the defenders while the rest of the crew took shelter. The walls of the settlement looked they would collapse momentarily. There was no organized defence. The Human and Akritirian colonists fired their low-powered phaser rifles until the locals ‘skedaddled’. The pair of Jem’Hadar vapourized a tree sending several natives running. They became defacto commanders of the settlement’s defence and ordered the colonists to deny the natives cover. The vegetation was shredded and the Vegones ran off. Several were picked off for sport by the colonists. Zoss informed Icmod that the locals were intelligent beings.
Icmod and the Albatross crew say on wooden benches surrounding the raeldra fighting arena. It looked like the ancient rodeos once held on Earth. Jillido saw New Enterprise as a money-making venture for his old Orion Syndicate bosses. Shenara braced for the fight wishing she could face one of the fearsome creatures in face-to-face combat. Roquel was conflicted. She did not like the idea of blood sport but this was the mission she picked on behalf of Captain Noluk. An Akritirian walked to the center of the ring welcoming the distinguished guests from Albatross. Three colonists entered the ring claiming to be able to wrangle even the wildest beasts. Roquel felt physically uncomfortable as a raeldra fought against it’s handlers. It knew it was going to die in the ring. The Akritirian spectators whooped and hollered and beat the heals of their boots in a steady rhythm-the drumbeat of death. Jillido wished he had placed bets on the contest. The raeldra avoided the people in the ring and tore for the fences looking for an escape. Icmod recommended they leave but Roquel was glued to her seat. She spoke in words that didn’t seem her own, distant, in a sing-song voice. Roquel slipped to the ground speaking for the raeldra, pleading for help. The crowd roared as the beast was speared multiple times. One of the fighters was gored and ground into the dirt. The pain of the raeldra, through Roquel, was beginning to wash over Icmod as well. Roquel fell to the ground and spotted one of the planet’s natives beneath the stands. They were sharing the same experience. Roquel coughed up blood as the raeldra was raking along it’s side with a lance.
At a distance, Zoss felt a physical reaction to the fight in the ring. His body responded as if it was in the fight: sweating, twitching extremities, visceral rage. Zoss and Zal had no sense of love, fear, compassion or sadness and could only feel the death struggle of the raeldra. Zoss armed himself ready to shoot every single colonist in the area. He aimed the reticle squarely on the thrashing raeldra and took aim. A single bright lance struck the raeldra on the forehead. It lasted only a millisecond and the beast fell forward, dead. The Akritirians, deprived of psychic, endorphin-inducing stimulus fell the ground in agony before mania and panic set in.
Player of the Month
Rich put so much into his writings in May. The character of Elias Pigg (formerly Paul Gorgon) has been evolving and this month had a turning point after the abduction of Chelsea. He had a crisis of identity and stepped back from the captaincy of Seiklon Axel to take on a new role with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose. He expressed such pain through Roquel’s psychic connection to the raeldra. The reader is experiencing far more than a play-by-play in the arena. I have written with Rich since I joined Borderlands and am amazed at his skill.
Subject Line of the Month
2417.05.14.03 CYC – Quidano “Explosions Come To Those Who Wait”
Creepy Post of the Month
The Akritirians in the stands started whooping and hollering for the spectacle that was about to commence. Many of them removed a boot and used the heal of it to pound on the the rail before them or the bench at either side. After 20 – 30 seconds those who had done so settled into a steady rhythm – the drumbeat of death.
—as described by Rich