Topic: Endeavour #3  (Read 2143 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Captain Sharp

  • Lt. Junior Grade
  • *
  • Posts: 161
  • R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
Endeavour #3
« on: July 02, 2013, 06:32:35 pm »
Star Trek
‘Pillar of Law’
Chapter One


Captain’s Log, Stardate: 1042.3
At the request of the Federation Xeno-Social Science Bureau, Endeavour has diverted from her survey route to head for the planet Akurra. The Bureau has lost contact with its researcher there and we have been asked to investigate.




“The inhabitants of this planet are early Level Two, reportedly on the verge of establishing their first city state on the most populace continent.” Lieutenant Commander Ursula Andreavich was telling them as she sat down at her station. The science officer was just back from the computer research lab, where she’d reviewed the information they were going to need. She gave her skirt bottom a tug and went on. “They’ve learned to do surface mining, have developed tin and copper tools and weapons. Tightly knit clan-like organizations throughout.”

“Aggression level, science officer?” Asked the captain. Jon Sharp’s eyes were locked on the star in the center of the main viewer.

“Easily provoked, territorial, rigid social structures based on visible wealth and lineage. Very established dueling system of champions fighting for their betters. The lead researcher does note a growing system of honorable conduct in the region she’s encamped near.”

“Any chance she’s run afoul of some of those rigid systems?”

“Plenty, Captain. Though, she has been living down there for seven years.”

Commander Daniel Jeremy throttled back on his engine controls at the helm console. The main drive rumbled under deceleration.

“Coming out of warp speed, Captain. Planet Five within sensor range.”

“Pre-approach scan, science officer. By the numbers people.”

The captain didn’t notice how half the officers about his bridge mimicked him saying those last four words. They knew them by rote and expected them at every turn. The small blue and green world was already growing on the center screen.

“Negative contacts, in orbit or in the starsystem, Captain.” Said the gunnery officer, Mister Sehr.

“Scans of solar bodies match Starfleet’s last probe into the area.” Andreavich added right after. “No sign of any drastic occurrence. Scanning Planet Five now. Class M, 1.1 Earth Standard Gravity. Northern Hemisphere in its summer season. I have the area of the research camp site in view.”

“Assume standard orbit, Number One.”

“Aye, Captain.” The helmsman responded.

The aft hatch hissed open and closed. Sharp did not turn to see the chief engineer join him at the conn. The Tellarite thumped to a halt and looked from viewer to captain beady eyes.

“Missed anything, yet?”

“Not yet, Engines.”

“What are we going to do if she’s dead?”

Sharp hid any look of exasperation.

“We’ll recover her and her materials.”

“No needless snooping to discover why it happened?”

Sharp did not answer immediately. His senses, what his instructors at the Academy called his ‘Sixth Sense’, weren’t warning him of any particular problems.

“Depends on what we find down there, engineer.”

“Never good sniffing around in someone else’s yard, Captain.”

Sharp again chose silence. The planet grew larger before them. Commander Jeremy was inserting them into his favorite orbital approach, which would put the planet seemingly above them.

“I have the research site’s orbital comm satellite now, sir.” Reported Mister Sehr.

“On screen, Lieutenant.” Sharp told the shave-headed Andorian.

The main screen focussed on an area in high orbit. There was a small metallic module floating without apparent motion, covered in antennae. There was a large dent in the left-hand top section and a broken metal strut.

“Guess we have some kind of an answer.” Jeremy commented.

“Perhaps so, Number One. Science?”

Andreavich turned to a different scanner.

“Meteor impact, Captain. The long-range transceiver has been torn away. Other than that, the unit is still functional.”

“Does its short range array have a lock on our researcher’s ground transmitter?”

“Aye, sir.”

Sharp raised from his seat and stepped around Mister Bornet, aimed for the communication’s station. The engineer glanced at his captain as though aggravated about being seen as an obstacle.

“Lieutenant Lania, establish a hailing frequency.”

The Vulcan officer tapped three keys. She’d been ready for a few moments. “Frequency open.”

“Doctor Garvin, this is Captain Jon Sharp of the Federation starship Endeavour, please respond.”

No one expected an immediate reply. Sharp waited patiently, glancing to the main viewer occasionally. He also noted the map showing on Lania’s upper monitor, displaying the locator beacon from Garvin’s transmitter console.

“Standard orbit, Captain.” Came from the helm.

“Engines to standby, Number One.” Sharp said, knowing his exec was already doing just that. He returned is attention to the comm panel. “Doctor Samantha Garvin, this is Captain Sharp of the starship Endeavour, please respond, over.”

“Hello!” Came an excited, young voice. “I almost missed you! This is Samantha Garvin, over!”

“Doctor, we’ve been asked to come here and see about you. Your orbital array was apparently hit by an asteroid. The Bureau hasn’t had any word from you in some time.”

“Is that what happened? I was beginning to wonder if the Federation had been conquered by the Klingons.”

Sharp made a wry face. With the exception of Lieutenant Lania, the bridge officers were smirking.

“Hardly, Doctor. Are you in need of any special assistance?”

“No…not really. You aren’t about to just up and go are you?”

“No. In fact, I had decided to send down a landing party no matter what we found.”

“You mean whether I was dead or not.” By the tone of her voice, she was obviously grinning like a lark. Sharp’s own countenance softened.

“Something like that, Doctor. Is now a convenient time to beam down?”

“Good as any. I was about to attend something of a town meeting. You’re welcome to come along.”

“You attend their town meetings, Doctor?”

“Don’t sound so surprised, Captain. I’ve been here for seven years. Or is it eight? Years are shorter here… Yeah…seven.”

“We’ll beam down to your position then, if it’s out of sight.”

“I’ll make sure it is, Captain.”

“Any special precautions or preparations I should make?”

“No. Just come as you are.”

Sharp paused.

“You’re sure about that, Doctor?”

“Absolutely. You won’t create a stir. Trust me.”

“Alright, Doctor. We’re on our way.”

The captain turned away from the communication’s station and took stock of his officers. “Number One, you’re with me. Science officer, you too. Mister Jackson, assign yourself or another hand-to-hand specialist.”

Lieutenant Alfred Jackson turned about in a chair barely able to contain him. “Me, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Am I coming, Captain?” Burst from Bornet.

“Negative, engineer. I want you here.”

“Good, I hate fresh air!”

Sharp looked down at Lania.

“Lieutenant, I’d take you, but I’m not sure how they’ll respond to those ears of yours.”

The Vulcan officer’s left brow arched. With deft flicks of her thumbs, she dropped her long, dark hair down over her ears.

“Satisfactory, Captain?”

“Good enough, Lieutenant. Let’s go. Mister Sehr, you have the conn.”







Chapter Two


Five shafts of swirling energy appeared before Doctor Garvin, prompting her to check around the side of her hut for any impromptu interlopers. She’d forgotten how much noise accompanied a Starfleet ship’s transporters on beam-down.

Finally, the noise and the light show ended, leaving a party of field jacketed officers standing in front of her. Each of them squinted into the dusk, night blind. She stepped in slowly, hands at her sides. She felt anxious, suddenly.

She’d apparently also forgotten how good it was to be around regular, post-Copper-Age humans.

“I’m Samantha,” she greeted them, trying to decide which was the captain. “It’s so good to see you all!”

“Mutual, Doctor.” Returned the tall, strapping one at center. He had dark skin, a muscular physique and big hands. He gave something of a smile when he leaned in to shake her hand. There was a tiny gap in his brilliant teeth. It made her suddenly conscious of the cleanliness of her own.

Sharp gestured to his officers.

“My crew: Commander Jeremy, first officer. Commander Andreavich, sciences. Lieutenant Lania, communications. And finally, Lieutenant Jackson, chief of security.”

The last one was a tower.

“I’d almost expected you to introduce him as your bulldozer, Captain!”

“He doubles as both.”

Jackson’s grin was boyish and anything but bashful. She could swear that he’d just flexed a pectoral…

Sharp took a look around them, evidently able to see better now.

“Are you sure we’re not going to create a stir, Doctor?”

“Quite sure, Captain. I go out openly among these people and take tricorder readings in full view of them. The Prime Directive doesn’t apply here.”

“They’ve been visited previously, then?”

“Yes, by someone they call Cardassians.”

“Cardassians.” Sharp’s inflection said he was familiar with the name.

“You’ve heard of them before?”

“We’ve heard the name. We know the Klingons have had some dealings with them in the past.”

“What sort of dealings, I wonder?” She joked.

“Same sort Klingons have with everyone, I’d assume.”

The Klingons were a sore spot with this one, she decided. She motioned them all to begin following her, and took off at an even pace. The road into town wasn’t far from the facing side of her home.

“Are the natives humanoid, Doctor?”

Garvin looked up to the broad-built captain.

“Yes they are. Their DNA is distinctly human, in fact.”

“Another Preserver race, then?”

“Possibly. If so, these are the latest occurring example of a society on their level. Most others have advanced much further in the time allowed.”

“These people have no access to advanced technology from earlier visitors?”

“Nothing, Captain. Whoever the Cardassians were, they found nothing of any use here, and weren’t interested in trade or the like. What they did manage to do, though, was kill the son of a clan patriarch. The clan rallied and attacked their campsite, slaughtered them in the night. The aliens retaliated by destroying their clan hamlet from orbit.”

“Nice folks.” Jackson said from the rear of the party.

“The story is common knowledge here.” Samantha went on. “Rob and I should have expected more trouble integrating our research—“

“Rob?”

Garvin looked at the captain with a bit of surprise.

“Rob, my husband… He started the expedition with me…”

Sharp glanced back at his science officer. Andreavich shrugged apologetically.

“Sorry, sir. In the time allotted, I was only able to go over computer selected necessities. I guess the computer left Rob out.”

Samantha harrumphed.

“I suppose it would have.”

“Why is that, Doctor?”

“Because he’s dead.”




“These people call themselves the Var,” Doctor Garvin was telling them as she led them into the town. “Before the construction of this small city, none of the locals tribes had any sort of name for themselves beyond labeling themselves by where they live. And that practice is still in place, really, since they named this city Var.”

This brought slight amused grins to Sharp and Jackson, who were close behind the lady scientist. Commander Andreavich lagged a bit behind, scanning the torch-lit buildings.

“As you can see, everything is quite primitive even by say, medieval standards. Stone building foundations with rough, fitted wooden structures. Thatched roofs. Right over there is the smithy. The forge is right out in the open with just that lean-to for shelter. There are two copper mines and a tin mine to the west. Their location and the proximity to the Fratee River is what brought this settlement together. The wealth and ease of planting made it a popular place to live and do business. There are two trade routes being established right now.”

The bulk of the little city’s population had gathered in the center of the town. As they drew closer to the gathering, Sharp could make out the dull din of conversation. He heard very few feminine voices.

“I’m assuming a male-dominant culture?”

Garvin glanced back at him with a smile.

“You’re right, Captain. But something is about to happen that will give Var women their first rights ever.”

“Oh? We’ve come on an important occasion?” Asked the science officer.

“You could say that,” the doctor halted and made a sweeping gesture before the semi-circle of hide-clothed people sitting on the ground. In their midst was a tall, cylindrical stone, polished smooth. It had been covered in deep etchings along its glass-like surface. The people all looked to the thing with reverence. Accompanying the monument was an artisan, who even then worked diligently at his creation.

Doctor Garvin had an expression of pride on her face when she looked back at the Starfleet party. “Tomorrow, they formally commission this planet’s first laws…and its first written language. At the same time.”

The captain whistled. Neither accomplishment was unusual, no matter how note-worthy. But he’d never heard of a civilization developing both at the same time.

“These people can’t read?” He asked.

This was the first real opportunity the captain had had to take a clear, long look at the civilian scientist. She wasn’t tall, perhaps a bit below average, in fact. And while she was a bit chubby, she was not at all heavy-set. She had long, dark hair he assumed was black, and a wide, expressive face. Her weight did not diminish her appearance, and augmented her with a very blessed bosom. She was wearing what turned out to be an Earth-style civilian work suit and a jacket made of local craftsmanship. The Doctor obviously loved these people.

“There is no established written language anywhere on Akurra. This will be the first occurrence. The headman, called Ura, and the artist, Vakal, are the ones who designed the language. Ura outlined the laws that Vakal is still chiseling into the stone. Vakal, when he is finished, will be the Var’s first court scribe.

“Tomorrow, during the commissioning ceremony, the city will get its first…reading lesson. Vakal’s going to be a very busy man.”

Sharp studied the bald-headed young artisan. He already bore the signs of fatigue and stress upon him. Slumped shoulders, lined face, dark circles beneath his eyes. All these spoke of a man working tirelessly to fulfill a vision.
The Var, the captain saw, were of tan skin with faint Mongoloid features. Many wore fu man chu mustaches and ponytails. Their clothing was of rough hides, expertly tanned, and heavily stitched. Those that were armed carried short, curved swords. Several bore lightweight spears. Simple bows were evident. As a Federation soldier, Captain Sharp found an interest in their military development.

“So, how much of their language have you deciphered?” Asked Andreavich.

Garvin smiled and held aloft her tricorder’s remote sensor.

“All of it. Like I said, they’re not scared of technology, even if they don’t understand it.”

Garvin motioned for them to follow her into the throng of villagers. The officers followed cautiously, looking about at the collected persons around them. They were studied just as curiously. The captain noticed several of the men taking note of his science and comm officers. Commander Jeremy also took note of this and glanced back to his CO questioningly. Would there be a problem?

Samantha led them to a point just at the end of the semi-circle, very near to the front. There she motioned for them to copy the Indian-style seating of the villagers. The stranger’s attendance seemed to please many among the natives, and they babbled to one another with contained excitement. Many of them spoke the name ‘S’ma’tha’.

“Doctor Garvin, do you suggest we use the universal translator?”

“Uh…no, Captain. Some of the inflections the Var use is going to be lost on the UT. It’ll adapt, of course, but it’s best to just set it to record for the time being. I’ll translate for us.”

The crowd about them quieted when a hut’s door flap was tossed aside. A broad shouldered Var emerged from the dimly lit construction, wearing a white-mottled fur cape over one shoulder. At his hip were two matching swords of intricate craftsmanship. His head was bare of hat or headdress, but it was obvious that this was the headman Ura.

Ura saluted his people with an outstretched hand, palm forward. The town reciprocated, touching their foreheads before repeating the gesture. The headman gave a small, gratified smile, then stepped up before the law stone.

“Canurna ne a’hurra, se vena!” He projected to the citizens of his city. His people bowed slightly where they sat, a gesture that Doctor Garvin mimicked.

Unknowing, Sharp and his party did not bow with the others. This drew the eye of Ura, who saw them for the first time. He seemed surprised by the appearance of additional outsiders, but this did not deter him from his speech. He refocused on his people and began to go into a long and detailed address.

“He’s telling them that the momentous occasion is close at hand.” Samantha detailed for them, leaning in and speaking just loud enough for them to make out. “Ura is gratified to have more visitors, friends of mine, to help mark such an auspicious day… He says that the Pillar of Law will serve the Var for all time to come, and that future generations will remember each of them as the first generation of the Learned.”

Ura went on, gesturing to the Pillar and to the artisan, Vakal, who was obviously his close friend. Samantha let him go on for a while before giving them the gist.

“He’s detailing how Vakal will begin the first class tomorrow at high noon, which is the most favorable time of day to begin anything new in their customs, and teach the first twenty students. These students are being named now… The metal smith, the caravan master, several stockbreeders. The most important and powerful of them. Those will then be responsible for teaching their own families and their servants.” Garvin shrugged. “That system should take care of just about everyone, actually.”

“You’ve grown quite attached to these people, Doctor?”

“Sam, please, Captain. I haven’t been called doctor so much since the ship-ride out here. And yeah…I have.”

Jonathan looked closely at the lady doctor beside him and found that he was smiling. He also found that his XO and science officer were smiling at him, which ended his smile then and there. He looked quickly back to the headman as the leader was finishing up his speech.

Doctor Garvin waved for her guests to follow her as the entire crowd stood as one and began to mill about. The smells of roasting meats began to permeate the air as the wind shifted from the south. Sharp gave a glance to see that many of the men-folk were gathered around a trio of spits, turning some form of herd beasts over low fires. It seemed that dinner was provided with a short speech.

The headman was speaking with several of the more elaborately dressed of his townsfolk when Garvin led her guests up to him. He made what looked like a pleasant parting excuse to them and turned his attention fully to them. He had a small smile repressed beneath his demeanor, which made him seem affable.

“Eedak, rel na fall, Captain Sharp’a.” Garvin said to the leader, then turned to the captain. “I’ve introduced you to Ura as a headman. The affix ‘a denotes a person of power.”

“I’m no politician, Doctor.”

“But you are a leader of men, Captain, and I don’t need to remind you that you could lay waste to Ura’s entire city, and he knows it. He will accord you the respect such knowledge befits.”

Ura reached out a hand in the obvious human gesture. The captain took it and shook, noting the strength in that weathered grip. Samantha smiled.

“My husband taught him that.”

“Rob?”

Ura’s eyes brightened.

“Rob! Ah! Carna’sa!”

The headman seemed happy that the new off worlder’s knew something of his friend, but he also bore a sadness in his eyes. He touched his heart with an open hand.

“Ura and Rob were good friends. It was Rob’s idea to come here when we read the original survey report. He traded his knowledge in metal working for much of what we gained while living here. Not giving them advancements as such, but building very beautiful items in their own styles. Ura liked Rob’s swordcrafting.”

Ura looked at Samantha with question and she translated her words for him. He nodded his agreement and spoke, pointing about the city and to the roast spits.

“He’s inviting you to partake in what they have to offer. As friends of mine, you are welcome. He says to try the Uruk. It comes from his own herd.”

Ura nodded politely to them and returned to the stately dressed men who were still waiting for his attendance. Samantha led them closer to the law stone.

“Doctor, Captain,” said Andreavich, “can I take some readings here? I’d like to get a record of their language as it develops and translate their laws for the Federation database.”

Garvin nodded.

“Go ahead, Commander. Number One, stick with her for now. Lieutenant Lania, take some readings with the UT, let it get acquainted with the Var language as Doctor—“

Garvin put hands on her hips and gave him a reproachful look.

“—Sam…suggests. Mister Jackson, you’re with Lania.”

“Aye, Captain.” The tower of a man replied. Lania merely nodded and moved into the crowd, her communicator open and tuned.

“And feel free to get a bite to eat!” Garvin called after them as she took hold of the captain’s muscular arm. “And you are coming with me! I’m hungry!”










--And there ya go, a bit more Sharp. This one was one of my favorites to write, and re-reading it now, I'm still pretty happy with it. Hope y'all enjoy. More to come.

-guv




"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline KBF-Frank

  • Lt. Junior Grade
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Endeavour #3
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2013, 07:50:45 pm »
thanks, Reading  ;D

Offline Captain Sharp

  • Lt. Junior Grade
  • *
  • Posts: 161
  • R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
Re: Endeavour #3
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 10:13:30 pm »
For your patience, Frank...since you were apparently alone in holding down the fort for a while, there...


Chapter Three


“You call your communications officer by her first name all the time?”

Captain Sharp blinked as he glanced back at his silent comm officer and her guard. The two of them were moving with the crowd, conversing only a little as they worked.

“She’s Vulcan.”

Doctor Garvin giggled and leaned in on Jon’s arm as she led him.

“Oh, she’ll get a great response if those ears come out.”

“We were hoping they wouldn’t.”

“There won’t be a problem, if that’s what you’re worried about, but they’ll be curious. She’ll probably get a marriage proposal.”

“Just what the Lieutenant needs.”

“Oh, is that a joke from the stern captain?”

“Stern?”

Samantha smiled coyly at him.

“Well, you strike me as the type that has to be serious all the time. You wiped that grin off your face almost as fast as I put it there, earlier.”

“That was in front of my officers.”

“So they’re not permitted to see you smile?”

The captain halted and gave her a disparaging look. It only made her beam wider. Her cheeks glowed.

“I’m aggravating you!”

“Yes you are.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No you’re not.”

Sam shrugged and continued them on their way closer to the spit.

“No, I’m really not.” 

“So, Ura and your husband were friends?”

Samantha’s eyes dropped to the ground. Her grin faded, but only a little. Jon wondered if he should have brought up her late husband, but he wanted to know more about their past here. His instincts said there was something important there.

They also told him that something important was going to happen on this planet. Soon.

“Yes, they were fast friends. At first, we were accepted only as strangers. Tolerated. We’d brought raw copper and tin to trade and that got us by among them to begin with. Then Rob started working with the smithy that lives near the mountain base, thirty kilometers northeast. That’s where Ura met him. He liked Rob’s style of making swords. He employed my husband to craft weapons for his small army.”

“Sounds mighty close to—“

“Influencing? Yeah…Rob thought so too. But you can argue that someone was going to build them swords and spearheads. And the opportunity was too good to pass up. With Ura’s acceptance and friendship, we had a lot more access to the real goings-on of native life on the socio-political level. And Ura, obviously, was the man in the area to watch. They were together so much that Rob learned to speak the local dialect without the UT.”

The two of them arrived at the cooking area. Samantha inclined her head to one of the servers, who cut them each a slice of juicy flank meat. The man stabbed a stick through the meat and handed it over with zeal. Sam thanked him in Varan and they stepped past.

Sharp smelt the meat before taking an experimental bite. It was sweet, totally without the taste of salt in it.

“Good, huh?”

He nodded.

“So, Sam. You mentioned he died. You never mentioned how.”

She kept smiling as she looked up into the darkness above them. Little could be seen of the stars for the firelight about them, save a twinkle here and there.

“He went to Ura’s most productive mine to try and identify a new ore they discovered. It was unknown to the Var, but Ura knew Rob would likely know what it was. By then, Rob wasn’t very worried about influencing the natives. If there was something there they could use, he didn’t see a problem with it. Turns out, it was silver…” She absently touched a small medallion hanging from a thong around her neck.

“Something happened?”

“The mine collapsed. Rob and three others were killed.”

“I’m sorry.”

Sam shrugged.

“It was five years ago, Captain. And a lot has happened here since then. I’ve seen a lot of social development and even a war since then.”

“You’ve had no trouble in the time since?”

“No. Ura saw himself as responsible for my troubles, since it was his mine and his friend. He made me something of a ward. Where my house sits, the property belongs to me as long as I live here. The captain of his guard lives within sight of me. My needs are cared for.”

“And no…marriage proposals?” Sharp was grinning again.

Samantha finished the meat on her skewer and tossed it into a fire pit. She grabbed up his arm again and leaned in once more. Jon could feel the warmth of her through his field jacket, which made him realize how cold it was growing in the night air.

“Nope. I’m seen as untouchable, since my husband died of accident. I’m damaged goods, Captain!”

Sharp shook his head, marveling at her mirth. She was certainly at home among these people, and wasn’t wallowing in sorrow, certainly. As she’s said, a lot had happened in all that time.

“So, the bulk of the work you’ve done was on your own?” He asked her.

“I’d say about half of it. We did a lot in those two years. We were always so busy. One day, I just passed out while we were travelling between villages… Turns out, I’d forgotten to sleep for two days!”

Sharp laughed out loud.

“My captain laughs?!” Garvin cried out in mock amazement. They had wandered to the far edge of the village now, and could make out more of the stars and the rolling hills beyond the firelight.

“I don’t have any problem laughing, Doc—“

She stepped back from him, hands still entwined with his right, and looked at him severely once more.

“—Sam.”

Sam smiled and tucked herself in close once again. She breathed in deeply, and the captain noticed that he could feel her breasts pressing against his arm. The soft sensation brought a rise to his blood. He wondered if the happenstance were an innocent one.

“How long have you decided to stay, Captain?” She asked him then.

“Why don’t you call me Jon?”

“Jon?” She glanced up at him wide eyes twinkling in reflected torchlight. He nodded.

“Jon Sharp… Okay. I think I will.”

She hugged his arm again, this time convincing him that the contact wasn’t incidental. Her soft flesh moved up and down far too convincingly and her little sigh made him want to pull her tighter to him.

He’d just met her, literally only an hour or so ago, but this woman’s sensual abandon and at times ridiculous mannerisms were alluring to him. He had to be rigid and by-the-book at all times, much as she’d mentioned earlier. She cut against that grain, and being beside her felt good. He wondered at her interest in him, but she’d essentially explained that already. She’d been alone here, apparently without such close companionship, for five years. To those around her, possibly even Ura, she was ‘damaged goods’.

Samantha played her hands about in his larger one, still moving her bosom about luxuriantly against him. They were enticingly alone. Her cheek came to rest just beneath his shoulder. She was almost two heads shorter than he. Her breath soaked through the fabric of his jacket.

Sharp looked down, locking eyes with her. Hers had come searching for his at just the right time. He eased down, face coming closer to hers. He saw acceptance there. Her eyes gently closed, lips pursing just a bit. She trembled against his arm.

“Sehr to Captain!”

“What?!”

Samantha was blinking in shock. The captain felt like cursing. What had he been thinking anyway? He snatched out his communicator.

“My gunnery officer,” he explained. “I left him in command.”

Sam calmed, separating from him to let him do what was needed. She still looked somewhat indignant. He flipped open the device.

“Go ahead, Mister Sehr.”

“Captain, spaceborne contact on long range sensors. Headed this way at high warp.”

“Identification?”

“Negative as yet. We’re running it.”

“Understood, Mister Sehr. Stand by to beam me aboard.” Sharp closed down his communicator and turned to the doctor. “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to postpone for a bit.”

“As long as it’s only a rain check, Captain.” She toyed with him, hands finding his again. She sensed the tension that was in him now. “What’s going to happen?”

“I’ll go up there to evaluate the situation. A ship running at high warp isn’t completely unheard of. For all we know, they’re clearing the cobwebs out of their drive. Or our definition of high warp may only be their cruising speed.”

“Oh.”

“I’m assuming beaming out of the middle of town would be unwise?”

Sam looked back into the town.

“Well, they’ve seen it happen before, but I think that under the circumstances, beaming out in the middle of their gathering would be seen as rude.”

“Alright, then. I need you to do me a favor.”

She looked back at him with mischief.

“I was just about to.”

Jon laughed. If only Sehr’s call had been an hour later…

“I need you to gather my people and get them to a good beam out site. I don’t know if I’ll need them, but I would rather not cause your efforts here any problems.”

“Thanks. I’ll go get them.”

She lingered just a bit, half-turning away to start toward the village. He winked at her as he flipped open the comm again.

“Bring me up, Mister Sehr.”





The captain trotted from the transporter room to the bridge turbolift. He resumed a normal walk as he exited the elevator and made for the science station. His blue-skinned gunnery officer was waiting on him.

“Contact still in-coming, moving at warp seven.”

“No ID?”

Sehr looked down at the quickly rotating field patterns on the science monitors. The technician manning Andreavich’s post was still trying to match the pattern.

“Not yet.”

“Is it bearing straight for us?”

“It’s aligned for orbital approach with Akurra, sir.”

“Have you hailed them?”

“Ignored.”

Sharp didn’t like that. He hadn’t mentioned his concern for the contact’s apparent course to Samantha. He hadn’t wanted to worry her unnecessarily. The fact that they were ignoring communications could turn out to be an additional precursor to trouble.

Jonathan looked more closely at the waveforms on the main science monitor. The readings struck a nerve. He leaned in and brought up an older identification file from the computer. It found a match almost immediately.

“Klingon!” The science tech exclaimed.

“D-5 Class cruiser.” Sharp added. “IKS Durok.”

“You know the ship?” Asked the gunnery officer.

“And its captain.”

The Andorian nodded, said nothing further. He looked down at the sensor readings and began to regard them from a tactical standpoint. Sharp was doing the same.

“The D-5 isn’t one of the two ships listed in our sector brief.” The science tech said then.

“No. I think its captain takes his orders straight from the Klingon counsel. He’s harder to track that way.”

Sehr looked up to Sharp then, likely wondering how his CO knew such information. He figured the gunnery officer would be reading up on the Durok at his earliest opportunity.

Sharp inclined his head to the science tech.

“Technician, monitor our landing party. They should be making their way to a secluded area for beam out soon. Watch for it.”

“Aye, sir.”




Commander Jeremy couldn’t help but watch was the science officer bent over to scan the lowest few lines of inscriptions on the law stone. Unlike Lieutenant Lania, Andreavich had elected to remain in her uniform dress. On the bridge, she was always fighting to keep that tiny skirt beneath the curve of her splendid buttocks. Right now, such a battle was a losing proposition.

Ursula’s hose added a seductive measure to her appearance, offsetting the unstrapped field jacket that was draped about her shoulders. Daniel couldn’t help but watch her. And he wasn’t the only one.

Several of the natives had noticed her. One in particular was keeping a close eye on her every move. Jeremy took a moment to send him a serious glare.

“Enjoying the view, Commander?”

“What?”

“Were you enjoying the view, Commander?”

The XO looked back to Andreavich in time to see her straighten and give that naughty skirt a trademark tug. Those silky bits of lace slid out of view once again. He looked away suddenly.

“No!”

Ursula smirked and sauntered close to him.

“I’m offended.”

Daniel looked back, about to demand some sort of explanation, and half tempted to ask if she wanted him to look. She was already changing the subject.

“I’ve completed the study of the pictographs. The symbols represent ideas more than regular words. It’s a relatively simple language system, but it’d probably take a lot of practice to learn it.”

“Doctor Garvin said she could understand it.”

“She’s lived here a while, and speaks the verbal form. I imagine there are similarities in structure.”

“Man’anya’ma.”

Daniel turned to see that the villager he’d tried to dissuade had gathered up the daring to walk over and tap his science officer on the shoulder. The greasy looking little man was smiling beneath his thin mustaches, his spiked eyebrows bobbing in Machiavellian comedy. His teeth were stained brown, and his breath smelled like the south end of a northbound mule. 

Ursula gaped and turned to face the man, who quite blatantly ran his hand over the firm contour of her ass. She jumped in surprise, lips half curled into a smirk at his audacity. He put his hand firmly atop her breasts.

Jeremy found himself pulling her back by the arm, rather roughly.

“Watch it there, hillbilly!”

“Can’manna a’wei? Pan’a man!”

Daniel stepped in between the two, causing Andreavich to stumble back into a low stool she hadn’t noticed near the law stone. The little villager chuckled to himself and attempted to push past the commander to get to her. Her reached out for her once more.

“I don’t think so, bud!”

Jeremy smacked the offensive hand away even as Ursula was recoiling from it, off-balance. The native snarled something unpleasant and swung back on the human. His fist came up and caught Jeremy on the jaw. The force of the blow was only enough to knock the commander back. It didn’t even cause pain.

It served quite well to make Jeremy angry, though.

With a simple shove and a sweep of his boot, the exec sent the man tumbling to the dusty ground. This by-play brought on the attention of the near crowd. The murmur of a happy gathering came to an abrupt end.

The little man was up on his feet in a second, charging. He shouted shrilly. Two much larger men separated themselves from the throng and approached the two combatants. Jeremy saw them and measured them up. His jeopardy had just increased. Andreavich came up in a defensive crouch beside him just as the first offender crashed into the commander.

The little man screamed aloud as he passed through the air, upside down, from the throw Jeremy employed. He’d aimed the villager toward his friends, but he just didn’t make it. But his companions were enticed to break into a charge of their own, their eyes glinting with malice.

Ursula burst forth toward the one coming from their right. She ducked low and spun into a spinning leg sweep that took the huge native off his feet. The second leapt over the crashing one and came hurtling down on Jeremy. There was no stopping the massive man. Two fists slammed down into the XO’s face as he toppled backward.

“Number One!” Daniel could hear Jackson’s concerned shout, but couldn’t tell where it had come from. As three tremendous punches came crashing down on him, he hoped the security chief was close by. The smell of alcohol was persistent from his opponent.

Jeremy shifted beneath his pinning adversary and pushed with his right leg. The alien nearly rolled from atop of him and moved to compensate. But Daniel had already capitalized and was forcing the brute further. He freed a hand to punch the native in his ear. The big man grabbed at the side of his head and fell away.

The exec looked to the side to see about Andreavich and found Jackson tackling her antagonist to the ground, smashing the little stool she’d tripped on a second earlier. The huge security man pummeled the oaf half-senseless and rose with an energetic leap to look about for further targets. Two men moved in to try and grab his arms, but were rebuffed by two right crosses that left them unconscious on the ground beside their friends.

Jeremy and Jackson stood their ground, legs planted firmly apart as they stared down any further attempts at combat. The XO could make out Headman Ura and a small party of swordsmen pushing their way through the crowd. He didn’t expect trouble from that quarter. In fact, he figured the leader would smack some sense into these idiots. His breathing began to slow.

“What the hell are you doing?!”

The piercing shout from Doctor Garvin made Jeremy look to the side. His heart plummeted, and he had no idea why. The sociologist was looking at him as though he’d committed murder in front of her.

“Just a tussle, Doctor.”

“Like hell, Commander! They don’t get involved in other men’s private fights unless honor has been insulted! What did you do?!”

Jeremy gawked, unable to believe he was somehow the offender.

“He came up and grabbed her ass and was trying to grope—“

“He put his hand on my breasts!” Andreavich added angrily.

Garvin halted, slapping a hand palm-down on her own chest.

“Like this?”

They blinked as one.

“Yes.”

Garvin scoffed. Her look told them this was no laughing matter.

“It was a marriage proposal.”

“What?!”

“Var men are permitted and expected to propose to any female he has a mind to. Any unattached woman is fair game.”

“And he can just come up and grab whatever he wants to?” Ursula turned on Garvin as though she were the offender now. The doctor stared a hole straight through her.

“Yes, science officer! It’s a male dominated society! You’re a woman. He can touch what he likes here. He was showing you what he liked, and the touch on your tits was the beginning of his proposal. A proposal that you only had to refuse.”

“How the hell was I supposed to know that?!”

Garvin looked at the ground before her, jaw working in frustration. Jeremy looked back and saw that the headman had emerged from the crowds and was entering the clearing about them. All but one of the combatants were now on their feet, including the little guy who started the entire mess. He went up to Ura and pointed Jeremy out.

“He’s telling Ura about your offense to his honor.” Samantha translated for them.

“Everything he did was pretty damn offensive, Doctor.” Jeremy put in.

“It’s their world, Commander.” She told him, still listening to the plaintive speech spewing forth from the gesticulating little man. “And I think we’ve just started a bunch of trouble.”







Chapter Four


Captain Sharp kept his eyes on the science monitor that showed the approach of the Klingon vessel outside the starsystem. The enemy had yet to slow or alter its approach. He noted the ETA listed beside the contact.

“Has Commander Jeremy’s party moved to a secluded area yet?”

“Negative, Captain.” The science technician replied. “In fact, there are even more people around his position than before.”

To cover his aggravation, Sharp whirled and took his place at the conn. “Communications, get me the first officer.”

“I have him, sir.”

“Commander Jeremy, what’s your status?”

“We’ve had a…bit of a problem down here, sir.”

“Then clear it up, Number One. We have a Klingon vessel inbound to our position. ETA two hours, present speed.”

“One of the ships from our mission brief?”

“Negative, Number One. It’s Rell.”

“Rell? Here?”

“That’s right, Commander. I need you back up here.”

“I’m all for it, Captain…” There was the note to Jeremy’s voice that said he was embarrassed to admit something to his captain. “But Doctor Garvin believes it would be…counterproductive to her research here if I were to beam up right now.”

‘If I were…’ Sharp’s eyes narrowed as he caught those words. “What did you do, Commander?”

Samantha’s far-away voice intruded from the comm signal.

“He butted into a marriage proposal, Jon. He didn’t know it, but it’s not allowed, even for the woman’s family.”

“Who was being proposed to?”

“Andreavich. The rite involves some touching that neither of them took too kindly. I’m sorry, Jon, I wasn’t here to tell them—“

“What happens now, Sam?” He asked her. He noticed Sehr’s antennae twitch when he used her familiar name, and he silently rebuked himself.

“The aggrieved is allowed the opportunity to declare challenge, Jon. For a duel.”

Captain Sharp was out of his seat and rounding the conn, aimed for the aft lift. “Close channel. Mister Sehr, you have the conn. Have the transporter room ready to beam me down there.”

Again, Captain Jon Sharp appeared on the surface of Akurra. This time, however, he deigned it necessary to transport down within full sight of the natives. He wanted them to see their technology in operation, to see the trio of flanking security men he’d brought with him. Let them really understand what it was they were dealing with.

When the glowing cascade of golden energy released him and his men, the captain stepped forth and strode confidently in amongst the collected inhabitants. He could see his team and Doctor Garvin in the center, standing before the headman and his own guards.

Jon halted before the headman and bowed, giving obeisance. The gesture was not lost on Ura, who returned it. Sharp looked to Samantha.

“Sam, will the UT work well enough that we can make do without a translator?”

She looked at him warningly.

“No. It really won’t Jon. It gets too many things wrong. For instance, they have only one word for man and woman. The physical gestures and force of its saying actually denotes which is which.”
Sharp grimaced slightly.

“I see. Ask what the headman intends to do.”

Sam seemed to already know the answer, but turned and asked the question anyway. Ura pointed to a small man beside him and then his dust covered XO. Sam’s face showed little encouragement when she looked back.

“Ura says he intends to allow the challenge.”

“What challenge, exactly?”

“For intruding on his manly right, the aggrieved is allowed to call out his offender. It can be as simple as a fist fight, or a fight to the death.”

“And which is the aggrieved asking for?”

“Blades, Jon. To the death.”

Sharp nailed the little man indicated with the most severe glare he could elicit. The tiny man blanched just a bit, a point not lost on his friends behind him. One of them jostled him and rebutted his fear. This steeled his nerve. It seemed the little one’s friends were pressuring him into this display.

”Ask Ura if this is part of their new laws.”

Samantha asked the question. The answer was long and detailed.

“Ura answers that it is not. Should such a matter arise under the Pillar’s Law, the complaining parties would have to appear before a counsel, which has yet to be established. Only then would any request for a formal duel be reviewed and accepted. However, he adds, the Law does not supercede the old customs till tomorrow at high noon. If fact, it is only because Jeremy is an off-worlder that the aggrieved is required to come to him to finalize the duel.”

“And Ura has the power to deny his citizen the duel?”

Sam asked.

“He says that he can, but only if one of the parties is needed in time of war, harvest or to ensure his family line.”

“Tell him that Commander Jeremy is needed to continue his family line.”

“Is he married, Jon?”

“No.”

“Then the claim isn’t valid. Any exclusion has to be proven before all.”

Jon made fists of his large hands.

“Is there anything that we can do?”

Sam relayed again.

“Ura says that the decision is ultimately in Caza’s hands. Caza is the aggrieved. At any time till the duel, he can end the duel or alter its details.”

Sharp stepped forth and closed in on the smaller human. Caza looked up at Sharp, eyes growing wider and wider as the gray and black clad captain halted. Jon took his time, measuring the man for all he was worth. Many bouts in the ring had told him both how to size up an opponent and how to show them they didn’t have a chance. He then looked back to Commander Jeremy.

“He doesn’t have a chance against Jeremy.”

Sharp made sure to shake his head as he spoke, letting body language break the barrier his speech could not. The little Akurran understood all too well. He turned and talked in quiet but excited tones with his companions. They responded with smiles and turned to a figure at their heels.

Captain Sharp uttered a tiny curse. The man behind them could have been a fraternal twin of Jackson’s. The guy was huge, a muscle bound monster on oak legs. But he moved with practiced grace and bore a matched set of short, curved blades on his belt. He bore scars of obvious sword injuries and had a long black ponytail. He looked back at Sharp with a calm, deathliness that said he’d killed before.

“Caza has declared his Champion, Jon.” Sam informed him, though her could have guessed on his own. Her voice had finality to its tone. “Mura, known as the Skull Render.”

This man, Sharp didn’t need to size up, and any attempt at intimidation would have been a waste of time. He glanced back at Jeremy. The executive officer stared back with evident anxiety. Both he and the captain knew that he would not be able to defeat this man.

“What sort of weapons are allowed?”

“Swords or other melee weapons. Bare fists if the aggrieved decides.”

Sharp looked back to the headman. Ura gave him a small, understanding smile. He knew fully that Sharp’s people were not a dueling society. But he had his own standards to uphold. And Jon was sure he’d done what he could to dissuade Caza.

“Alright. We need some time to talk. When is the duel?”

“Daybreak, Captain.” Samantha replied. “Jeremy is not allowed to leave the city.”




“Any aspect change from target, Mister Sehr?”

Lieutenant Sehr gave the tactical monitor before the conn an unnecessary glance. He knew only too well what the target ship was doing.

“Negative, Captain. D-5 remains on an inbound course, warp factor seven. ETA one hour, seventeen minutes.”

“Keep him under surveillance, Lieutenant. For now, I’ve got to stay down here and deal with Mister Jeremy’s issue. Bring me aboard when the Klingons begin to enter the starsystem.”

“Understood, Captain.”

“Till I’m aboard, handle the situation as you see best. Captain out.”

“Aye, sir. Endeavour out.”

Sehr cast an eye toward the science monitors to his right. The Klingon cruiser was still on its flight to charge right at Endeavour. It gave every appearance of coming right in at the Federation starship. Why was it being so blatant? And why engage a Starfleet command ship with such an antiquated vessel. Endeavour would walk all over them.

“Helm, put us in a high orbit around Akurra. Align the main long range array with the target.”

The oriental kid at the helm began punching buttons. The planet hanging ‘above’ them dropped aside and fell away a bit. When the ensign was done, only a thin sliver of the planet showed on the main viewer.

“New orbit established. Apogee now fifty thousand kilometers.”

“Maintain. Science, probe the Klingons with an intensive tactical scan. I want to know what their captain had for dinner.”

“Roger that, Lieutenant.”

Sehr contemplated the situation further. Information was already beginning to fill the science screens and filter over to the gunnery console. The Andorian dismounted the conn and perused the intel as it came in. The ship was a highly modified D-5 cruiser, with all the expected upgrades such an old ship required to maintain its usefulness. She had powerful, dual particle disruptors mounted on a turret on her belly and modern photon torpedoes. Nothing unexpected.

“Comm officer. Hail the Klingons, standard challenge frequency.”

“You’re on, sir.”

“Klingon vessel Durok, this is the USS Endeavour. Your high speed run toward this system is being regarded as an act of aggression. Should you enter the system, you will be fired upon, do you understand?”
The lieutenant expected no response to the signal, and got none. He just stood between the helm and navigations console, watching the numbers change on his tactical map. The numbers began to change wildly.

“He’s turning aside, Mister Sehr!” Said the science technician. “Coming left to 237 Galactic. Reducing speed now to warp four. He’s returning scan.”

“There’s no way he didn’t know we were here.” The helm ensign muttered in a Southern US accent.

“No.” Sehr agreed with him. He returned to the command chair and sat, pressing the comm controls. “Sehr to Captain.”

“Go ahead, Endeavour.”

“Captain, Klingon contact changed course after a warning hail. They are now circling slowly around the limits of the system. They’re scanning.”

“Understood, Mister Sehr. Will their new course bring them into the system?”

“Negative.”

“Good work. Keep an eye on him. Inform me if there’s a further change. And switch to scrambler frequency till further notice.”

“Aye, sir. Endeavour out.”





Captain Sharp snapped shut his communicator and returned his attention to the Starfleet officers sitting around in the hut they’d been given. It seemed the orbital situation was on the theoretical back burner for now.

“Can this Caza be bought off?”

Jeremy looked back to Doctor Garvin hopefully. He was battling between acting as though he were aloof from the issue and fear for its outcome. As a Starfleet officer, the commander was trained in hand-to-hand combat. But he was rarely called upon to use more than the most rudimentary disciplines of it, and was out of practice. If he were to fight for his life…

“I don’t know. And what would we have to give him that would both interest him and not influence society on this planet?” The doctor asked with an expansive shrug.

“Maybe a supply of raw metals from ship stores or matter fabricators.” Commander Andreavich offered.

“Giving him wealth isn’t likely to be accepted. It’ll look as though his honor can be bought off.”

Sharp resisted the urge to glare at Sam. She wasn’t trying to be counter-productive, no matter how many times she shot down their ideas. She knew these people all to well, and most dueling societies worked in lots of bothersome caveats to their honor systems to prevent just what they were attempting.

“It’s looking more and more like I’m going to have to fight that guy.” Jeremy remarked. “Am I going to have to stay down here and take him on?”

Sharp shot him a dark look.

“He’ll cut you to pieces, Number One.”

“But I—“

“No, I’ll beam you to the ship before I let you fight a battle to the death.”

“Then that’ll be the end of my research here!” Samantha nearly shouted. “These people respect me because I respect them. If people I invited among them show them just what we think of their ways, then I’m not going to be welcome. Even Ura won’t be able to let me roam about freely.”

“What about a Champion?”

Lieutenant Jackson stood then, unable to stand at full height in the confines of the hand-built hut. He hunkered there before them, looking questioningly at his captain. “I can take that primate. No problem.”

“I’m not having you fight my battles, Lieutenant.” Jeremy retorted. His pride was being stepped on.

“You will if I allow it, Number One.” The captain rebuked. “But the danger isn’t much improved. You’ve never fought with bronze swords, Mister Jackson.”

“I’ll disarm him, then. Turn it into a fistfight. He won’t stand a chance.”

“I’ll consider it an option, Lieutenant.”

Samantha touched the captain’s leg. She sat very near to him in the dim firelight of the hut. He liked her touch, but felt conscious of it in front of his officers. He didn’t correct her, though.

“We should still talk to Caza, though. If we can’t convince him to end the challenge, then maybe we can get him to alter the stipulations.”




“He says no. This is the first challenge he has ever had to his honor, and he intends to deal with it in his people’s way.”

Sharp glowered at Doctor Garvin’s translation, his eyes directed at the tiny little Varan before him. The diminutive man was still flanked by his companions. He showed lots of backbone with their support.

If only he could separate the little guy from his friends…

“Ask him if honor allows for him to be magnanimous. To forgive those lesser than him. Surely he saves face even if he declares a non-lethal duel.”

Samantha transferred the question. Caza shook his head.

“He’s adamant, Jon. He’s got something to prove.”

“Even if someone else is doing the fighting?”

“Their system of champions has been established for generations. They see it as an honor to fight and risk death for their masters.”

“Masters?”

“Caza is the owner of a large herd of ke’inn. They’re like horses, but with horns. These men are both his friends and his employees.”

“I see.”

“And they just like to fight, Captain. For all the advancements they’ve brought about, they’re still a martial society. They see—“

“I understand martial societies, Doctor…” The captain didn’t correct the use of her title. She’d, after all, just called him captain. He stepped to the side of the smiling group of ruffians that flanked the littler man. “Tell them that Commander Jeremy has selected his own champion.”

Samantha’s face set into a stern, lecturing mask and she relayed the message. Caza blinked. The man he’d selected as his champion smiled and nodded. He burbled guttural tones though uneven teeth.

“Mura says good. He wants a real fight.”

Mura stepped out from behind his master and put a hand forth in a barring gesture. Sharp didn’t budge, and the hand ended up on his chest. Mura didn’t push, but he didn’t remove the hand either. He began to speak in warning tones.

“Mura says that there has been enough talk. He says that we infringe on Caza’s honor and disgrace ourselves by…by whining about the result when Jeremy was clearly in the wrong.”

Sharp stared hard at Mura before turning away from Caza’s broad stone and wood house. “Tell him to get his affairs in order, then.”
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline KBF-Frank

  • Lt. Junior Grade
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Endeavour #3
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2013, 12:50:08 pm »
le puedo proponer matrimonio a Andreavich?  ;D

thanks guv, Reading and want more  :)

Offline Captain Sharp

  • Lt. Junior Grade
  • *
  • Posts: 161
  • R. Lee Ermy for Prez, 2016!
Re: Endeavour #3
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 07:08:54 pm »
Chapter Five


Captain’s Log, Stardate: 1042.45

I remain on the planet surface with Commander Jeremy and Lieutenant Jackson as we prepare for the duel at daybreak. The hours are ticking away and I find myself at an impasse, unable to come up with a solution to terminate this conflict without disrupting Doctor Garvin’s work here. I may have to allow my chief of security to go through with the ordeal. Mister Jackson assures me that he can both disarm his opponent and render him unconscious without the need for bloodshed.

Meanwhile, in orbit, Lieutenant Sehr continues to watch our circling Klingon friend. The cruiser has given no clue to the reason for it’s inbound sprint nor its continued presence outside the Akurran starsystem.




“He wants you to select your weapon.” Said Doctor Garvin.

Lieutenant Jackson stood as well as he was able within the tiny hut and approached the Var who’d just entered. The leather clad soldier held forth a rope-handled box brimming over with bronze weaponry. The Var was obviously offering the items up with pride. The security chief tried not to look doubtful as he rummaged through the selections.

Most of the swords were of the typical Varan design: a short curved blade, ending in a thin tip. The handles were invariably of wood, banded to their tang by shrunken leather strips. They would be easily damaged in the coming duel, prone to bending unless the smith who forged them was particularly good at his craft. Jackson was not a metallurgist, and couldn’t even begin to guess which was better forged than the others.

One weapon stood out from the rest, however.

The sword’s curve was more severe than the others, and the blunt backside of the blade was reinforced with a thick brace of folded tin. The grip was not banded in leather, but riveted in place and etched for a superior grasp. Blood grooves had been worked into the length of the blade. Alfred smiled thickly and withdrew the weapon. The man before him seemed to approve the choice and nodded.

“That’s one of Rob’s designs.” Samantha told him, stepping close from behind. She put a hand on his shoulder and looked at the well-kept weapon. “He built the best.”

Captain Sharp stood up from the slim bench he’d been resting on and looked the sword over. Both Jackson and his captain took lessons from their gunnery officer. Neither had been at it for long though. Sehr was a relatively new officer aboard.

“Think you can handle that thing, Lieutenant?”

“Yes, sir. It’s just a big knife, sir. Mister Sehr’s specialty.”

“His, Lieutenant. Not yours.”

“Thanks for cheering me on.”

Sharp smirked and clasped him on the shoulder. Then he pegged Doctor Garvin with a deadly serious look. “Do realize, Samantha… Under no circumstances will I allow one of my men die in this duel. If Alfred drops, I’m beaming him home.”

To Jackson’s surprise, she just nodded.

“I understand. You’re only going this far to keep my research going.”

“A-shanma na ke.” The Var man told them, handing over a final object before collecting his box of swords. He offered no explanation before turning and leaving. Jackson was left looking at a small, wooden jug with a pulp stopper. He turned it over in his hands with curiosity.

“So…what’s this?”

Samantha cleared her throat, looking pensive.

“Poison, Lieutenant.”

Sharp looked at her angrily.

“The blades are poisoned?!”

“Yes, Jon. They are.”




 “Time till daybreak over the Var city?” Asked Lieutenant Sehr.

The Gamma Shift technician at the science station glanced aside at her chrono. “One hour, twelve minutes.”

The gunnery officer paced slowly back to the conn. He was more than tempted to offer his services on the planet, to fight the duel for Commander Jeremy and Lieutenant Jackson. However, to do so would step on both men’s pride (Jackson’s more than Jeremy’s, he was sure) and also add another alien element to the situation below that might further complicate the matter. But he knew the training of both men, and knew he stood a far better chance of coming through a melee battle unscathed.

Further, Sehr was tired of staring at the unresponsive, slow moving Klingon blip as it circled listlessly about the starsystem. Whatever the Klingons were doing, they were quite happy to take their sweet time doing it. It was infuriating.
The Andorian’s mind kept returning to the fact that his captain had some kind of knowledge of and possibly a history with the enemy commander. Perhaps delving into that might shed some light on the situation. Inwardly, he balked at prying into his CO’s past.

Sehr thumped back up to the science station and tapped a control on the computer access panel.

“Computer.”

“Working.”

“Access Endeavour logs. List previous mission encounters with IKS Durok during Captain Sharp’s command.”

“Working. None listed.”

None? Sehr frowned, his antennae rigid with aggravation.

“Has Endeavour ever encountered the IKS Durok under any previous commanding officer?”

“Negative.”

Sehr tapped the station top impatiently.

“Search Captain Sharp’s service record. Are there any listed encounters with IKS Durok?”

“Working. There are seven listed encounters with the vessel identified as IKS Durok, Captain Rell commanding.”

Sehr really didn’t want to nose around in his captain’s past. He certainly didn’t want to do so from the bridge, standing right next to the relief science officer.

“What vessel was Sharp serving on during these encounters?”

“Captain Sharp served as commanding officer of USS Cleopatra during all seven listed encounters.”

Again the lieutenant debated.

“Computer, transfer the details of those missions to data pad 37-Alpha.”

“Affirmative.”

Sehr picked up the small data pad and was turning back to the conn when something grabbed the science tech’s attention. Thylis looked down at her when her heart rate changed enough that his antennae could pick it up.

“You have something, specialist?”

“Not sure, sir. Trace energy reading. Faint, but persistent. And there it is again. I’m not sure.”

“What does it look like?”

The technician shook her head.

“It’s too faint a trace to identify. The emission is… Sir, it’s gone. Whatever it was, I’ve lost it.”

“And you can’t identify it?”

“Negative, sir. I’m sorry.”

Sehr gave her a nod.

“Keep monitoring, specialist. They may do it again. Send your sensor records down to tactical for analysis.”

“Aye, sir.”

Sehr settled into the command chair for some light reading.




The faint light of dawn shone out over grassy plains as the City of Var awoke to a new day. There was anxious energy running rampant about the settlement, apparent even as Captain Sharp led his people out of their borrowed hut. People were moving about in an excited fashion. It was like the county fair had come early for them. These people enjoyed violent displays.

Jackson emerged last from the abode, seeming calm and composed. He even paused to look out over the grassland south to watch the wind generate cascading waves through it.

“You’re sure you don’t want the poison, Lieutenant?” Samantha interrupted the peaceful moment, offering up the wooden bottle.

“I’m not here to kill anyone, Doc.” The big man said. He began to stretch and message out the kinks in his frame.

“Mura’s not going to be thinking the same way, though.”

“If I have to, I’ll kill him. But I won’t need poison to do the job.”

Sam shrugged, giving up. She tucked the liquid death into a pocket and strode up to the captain. She joined him in examining the townsfolk.

“They do like a good duel.”

“Blood thirsty?”

“Not so much…not always.” She shrugged. The night chill hadn’t left the city just yet. She huddled next to him just a bit. “But they’re still a Bronze-Age, martial society. We were no different, once.”

“I suppose.”

A circle was beginning to form in the space before the Law Stone. Ura and the stone’s artisan were already approaching the area being marked for the fight. The smell of toasting meat wafted on the air.

“Well, let’s get this over with.” Jonathan looked back to his officer. “You still okay with this, Lieutenant?”

Jackson stripped off his red tunic to bare a shaven, pale chest. A thin layer of fat covered a toned and extremely robust figure of muscle. He flexed first one, then the other pec for the entertainment of those watching.

“Don’t I look ready, Captain?”

He flipped the little sword around in his hand with a meaty grin.

“Try to show some confidence, Mister Jackson.” The captain’s sarcasm made the man smile even broader. They marched for the circle.

Horns cried out into the cool morning breeze. Caza and his entourage of cronies took places next to the headman. Mura, the Skull Render, stepped apart from his friends and master to take his place in the circle. He drew his swords slowly as the group approached. His flesh was oiled, naturally devoid of hair. His long locks had been braided and a look of disdain stamped on his face.

Jackson took a step into the circle, and it formed up solidly, barely allowing the rest of Sharp’s people to stand among them. Ura was the only man with elbowroom to spare. He raised a hand, hushing the crowd and began to speak.

“He’s telling the crowd that this is a traditional honor duel, a battle of blades, to the death. Either opponent may surrender himself if at the brink of death, to be measured on the mercy of his opponent. None may interrupt the match.”

Samantha paused in her translation and listened intently as Ura’s tone changed. He appeared to be making one final appeal to Caza. “He’s asking Caza if he still intends to go through with the challenge.”

“And?”

Caza sneered.

“He says yes.”

Ura seemed disappointed. He looked forth and turned an open palm to the crowd. “Kestraa!”









Chapter Six


Mura was on Lieutenant Jackson in a rush. Dust flew up from the packed ground as his boots skidded over the terrain. He was lithe for such a big man. His blades slashed both directions, aimed for the throat.

Jackson lurched back, feeling off balance for a second. He brought his own blade up a bit but chose not to employ it. Why block when a dodge works better? Sehr had taught them at least that.

Instead, the security chief cleared the attacks and whirled in under a third. He slashed up at what should have been an exposed flank. But Mura’s blade was already there, waiting. The two weapons met and rang out. Jackson backpedaled again, gaining distance.

Mura came in, like a dog on the scent. His ready blades were up to either side and alternated thrusts with quick cuts to probe Jackson’s defense. Alfred, for his part, was also feeling out his opponent. He flipped his blade down, bringing the back of the blade rest against his forearm. He parried two strikes this way, felt the impact of Mura’s strong swings. Already, two large clefts had appeared in his blade. He could only imagine what Mura’s looked like.

The two circled after the last parry. Mura did not look pleased with the outcome of his efforts. He spat to the side, never taking eyes from his prey. Was he angry that the fight was lasting even this long, or was he disappointed in Jackson’s skill? Alfred hoped it was the former. He stepped in, feinting a chest level slash that he reversed into a backward stab. Mura fell for the feint. But the blade never touched him.

The big man hopped back just in time. His left-hand sword slashed out wide as he retreated. Jackson’s reversed blade caught it and snared it.

Quickly, the security man grabbed Mura’s forearm in a death lock and twisted it. Mura grunted and tried to yank his arm back, drawing back with his right to attack. Alfred knew he only had a moment. He freed his sword and raised it high. With all his might, he brought the pommel of his weapon down on Mura’s left wrist.

The wrist shattered, the sword falling. Mura shouted out in pain as he staggered back. Jackson followed to capitalize.

Mura suddenly halted, leaned in.

His remaining sword flashed outward. A stinging sensation cut left to right across Jackson’s abdomen. That felt like…a ripping sensation, he realized.

Jackson blinked. Fear welled up.

Mura smiled over his pain as Jackson stumbled backward. The lieutenant’s hand touched the area of his belly where the sword had found his skin. He was cut from his lower left rib to the bottom of his right row of abdominal muscles. It felt superficial, but the heat coursing through him told him this was no trivial wound.

Mura’s leer told him one thing.

He’d just been poisoned.

The clear blue sky was turning brown.




“Klingon vessel is scanning us, Mister Sehr!”

Lieutenant Sehr sat up straight in the command chair and dropped his data pad down beside him. He looked down at the tactical plot.

“Movement?”

“None yet, sir.”

Thylis looked to the rows of monitors on the science board. What would be the good in scanning Endeavour again, now?

“Watch him close, science.”

The blonde technician was still manning the console. Without Commander Andreavich being aboard, her shifts grew longer, much as Sehr’s.

“Aye, sir. There’s that signal again, sir!”

“Return scan. I want to know what that is.”

The gunnery officer stood up and stretched his legs. He’d been sitting for so long, he’d lost track of time. It had been time well spent, though. He felt he had a kind of understanding for this Rell now. The Andorian’s mind was beginning to work.

“Computer still can’t identify the nature of the emission, lieutenant.” The tech told him. “But, it reminds me of a directional transmission. The instruments register heavy energy use but almost no wavelength—“

“Directional?” Thylis jumped on that idea. He approached the safety rail. “Estimate direction.”

The order made the tech’s brows shoot skyward.

“Sir?”

“You’ve got to have an idea from what portion of their ship that emission is coming from, specialist. If it’s a directional burst, then what direction were they aiming it?”

Understanding, the tech returned to her controls and soon had an answer.

“Approximately 164 degrees, mark…17.”

Sehr glanced at the bearing indicated on the floor-mounted tactical board. He hopped back into the conn. “Red Alert! Helmsman, bring her about to that bearing. Science, full tactical scan along that section!”

Endeavour spun about, directing intensive probes into an empty quadrant of space at the far side of the starsystem. The alert siren sounded rhythmically, loudly. The bridge was bathed in crimson light, casting everything in a bloody glow. When the stars settled on the main view screen, Sehr held his breath slightly in expectation.

“Contact! Klingon D-6 cruiser sighted on active scan!” The blonde tech shouted. “Long range, closing. Speed, point 012!”

“Lock phasers on target!”




Everything happened in the span of seconds. Lieutenant Jackson staggered back from the slash across his belly, eyes wide in shock. Mura the Skull Render raised his arms in victory, leering a deadly grin. Jackson’s blood pattered down onto his face and chest from his weapon. Sharp had just enough time to wonder how fast-acting the poison on Mura’s weapon was when he got his answer. Jackson sagged visibly, sank to one knee.

Even as Captain Sharp’s hand bolted for the communicator beneath his field jacket, it beeped plaintively. A call from Endeavour. His fingers just grazed the device when he felt the press of spears at his back. Two swords crossed before his throat, threatening his next action.

The Var surrounding him eyed him with steely reserve, ready to kill. They might not know much about technology, but they knew enough to be wary of him reaching for anything when his man was obviously in trouble. They would see this duel come to its inevitable end.

Jon opened his mouth to tell them it was just a call from his ship, but he didn’t speak their language. His eye sought Doctor Garvin, but found her being hauled backward away from the press of soldiers and Starfleet crew. Each of his officers now had a sword or dagger to their backs and sides. Commander Jeremy looked back at him, eyes seeking permission. Jon shook his head.

The communicator beeped again, twice this time. Perhaps Lieutenant Sehr would beam them home when he didn’t answer. The captain’s Sense told him that wasn’t going to happen. He glanced back over to Mister Jackson, who tottered side to side before Mura. The big Var was stalking nearer, victory already in his hands. He needed only wait for the poison to kill his opponent. The look on his face said he wouldn’t.

Sharp pondered his actions. Half the crowd’s attention remained on the battle. Could he move quickly enough to save Mister Jackson’s life before his own ended? No, he’d be dead before he could get his comm off his belt. If he told one of his officers to raise the ship, they’d be dead. None of them could reach their phasers in time.

Cold bronze touched the captain’s Adam’s Apple as Mura rounded the lieutenant for the kill.




Lieutenant Sehr stared daggers at the communications station while the second shift officer tried in vain to raise the captain. The older man turned back to his commanding officer and shook his head.

“I can’t raise anyone in the Captain’s party, Mister Sehr.”

“Keep trying, Ensign Sutter.”

“Sir! I have a power surge from the D-6! They’re activating their impulse engines and shields!”

Sehr gave the science tech a glance before returning to the command chair. Whatever was happening with the captain’s team, he didn’t have the time to handle it. The Klingon’s strategy now seemed clear. The D-5 had been out there to draw Endeavour’s attention, to allow the D-6 to close in for the next step in their plan. Neither ship alone was a match for the Constitution-Class heavy cruiser. Both, with surprise on their side, could have destroyed or captured her.

“Ahead full, helmsman.” Sehr told the ensign pilot. “Navigator, lock photon torpedoes on target.”

Under the Asian kid’s guidance, the great ship surged ahead, bearing right down the Klingons’ throats. The drive moaned in building crescendo as speed built as quickly as one hundred fifty thousand metric tons would allow. The young chief at the gunnery post acquired her missile lock swiftly.

Sehr’s finger jabbed the intercom.

“All hands, prepare to attack!”

The acting captain fortified himself for the encounter, feeling the anxiety of possibly winding up in battle with not one, but two enemy craft. He was confident in the technical superiority of this ship, however, this was his first combat command.

The bridge was bathed in red. The crew spent half their attention on their consoles, the other on the main viewer. The enemy ship, an all too familiar Klingon design, was steadily becoming visible in the screen’s center. Sehr prepared to give the order to fire. He had to kill this one quickly.

“D-6 engaging engines, sir!” The science technician called out over the engines’ howl. “He’s turning aside! He’s running!”

Sehr watched the flight of the D-6 cruiser. The right angle maneuver could easily be the precursor to an attack run. Even as he began to formulate his response, the old cruiser shot away at warp speed.

“Klingon cruiser has gone to warp,” the tech said unnecessarily, “Heading 326 mark 4 Galactic Bearing. Speed building to warp seven. Sir, they never activated their weapons…”

Sehr realized that their enemy’s captain had been thinking thoughts similar to his own. He knew his ship was not going to come out of the battle unscathed. Without his previous advantages, the risk wasn’t worth it.

“And the D-5?”

“Leaving on a parallel course, sir.”

Sehr nodded.

“Mister Sulu, take us back to the planet, ahead one-quarter impulse power.”




Jonathan Sharp’s muscles tensed as he prepared for what he had to do. He would drop to the side, pushing away from the men surrounding him, and tuck into a roll. Whether he made it clear of the Var made no difference. They would have to fight to keep hold of him and they wouldn’t have a clear shot at him without striking their friends. He’d be able to reach his communicator, get Jackson beamed out of here.

Sharp’s eyes locked on Mura’s huge form. He was behind Jackson now. He raised his right-hand blade. Sharp was already leaning into his dive when his security chief whirled on the ground, raising dust and slinging rocks. His own weapon came up. The parry was clumsy and weak. But it intercepted the attack and diverted it as Jackson retreated. Mura smiled with dire glee as he chased Alfred down. His swords came down again and again, faster than Jackson could hope to keep up with. It was still only a matter of time. Sharp again prepared to act.

The flash of the phaser blast struck to the core of the captain’s optic nerve and left him blinking, baffled. He blinked hard and fast to clear his vision. Where had the shot come from? Had Jeremy gotten clear? Were the Var now pressing in to assault his people? His eyesight cleared itself enough to tell.

The Var were just as dumbfounded as the captain was. They slowly backed off from Doctor Garvin as she stood, a phaser pistol held in an outstretched grip. Mura dropped, his eyes rolling back into his head from the stun blast. He dropped atop of Jackson, who then rolled him onto his side with relief. Sharp’s people made a beeline to the poisoned lieutenant.

Garvin slowly lowered her weapon, sober but alleviated of worry. She looked back to Sharp. She’d just ended her studies here, and she knew it. But she’d given it all up to save a member of Sharp’s crew. He stared back at her thankfully.

Headman Ura was pushing his way through the gathering, a stern look on his face. He halted to speak in low tones with Garvin. The captain figured he was sympathetic. He had his own laws and customs to uphold however.

“Sehr to Captain.”

The spears had fallen away from Sharp and the guards about him were standing back from him as though he were a disease carrier. He turned a shoulder to them and drew his comm with a flourish.

“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“We’ve detected weapons fire. Is everything alright?”

“We had a situation down here. It’s passed. Stand ready to bring the landing parties aboard.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“I wasn’t able to answer your comm earlier, Mister Sehr… What happened?”

“We detected a second Klingon cruiser, sir. He was compelled to leave.”

“Good work, Lieutenant. I look forward to reading your report.”

“It’ll be waiting on you when you return.”

“No hurry, Lieutenant. Sharp out.”

Commander Jeremy was cautiously picking his way through the crowd to the captain’s position with Lania in tow. Commander Andreavich and Sharp’s array of guards were gathered about Jackson, tending him and screening the security chief from the natives.

“Well, a lot of help we were here.” Jeremy commented.

“Such is life, Commander.”




Chapter Seven


Doctor Garvin was stepping about briskly as she packed up the last of her belongings. Captain Sharp leaned on the frame of her door and watched her work. He was glad she wasn’t showing any sign of anger over his people essentially ruining her work here. Perhaps she’d decided seven years was enough. Perhaps she was simply looking forward to spending time with humans from her own level of development.

Maybe there was a whole other reason for her to look forward to leaving. She certainly did seem happy to be going. Her face glowed and she had yet to stop smiling.

The captain’s eye fell to the phaser pistol sitting atop the first bag she’d packed up. It was a duplicate of the one on his own belt, Starfleet standard issue. When pressed about it, she’d simply explained ‘How else do you think I could be so confident here?’ The captain of the research vessel that had dropped her and her husband off here had given them each a phaser. The other was in a sealed box.

That phaser represented Sam’s choice to leave here. Mister Jackson had been in peril, and it hadn’t been likely that anyone would have been able to intervene in time to save his life. She’d given up her research among these people, her very life here, to save a member of his crew. Her sacrifice made his feelings swirl.

“What are you smiling at?” She was suddenly asking him.

“…You, I suppose.”

“Me? Why me?” Her eyes pled innocence and she leaned on her bedpost. For a full figured woman, she had some beautiful curves.

Jon found himself smiling even wider.

“Perhaps you just amaze me. What you gave up. And why.”

Her smile became warm.

“I just did what you would’ve done if you’d been able to get to your own gun. And I knew ever since last night that I was probably done here.”

“Because of the Challenge?”

Her smile became cloy again as she stepped nearer.

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“So…what next?”

She pressed into his chest, her own soft and pleasant against him. Her eyes peered up at him. “Well that depends… You aren’t going to just dump me off at the nearest Starbase, are you?”

“The nearest Starbase is three weeks away at high warp. And we’re too far away for it to be safe for a courier to get you. I’m afraid you’re stuck with us for a while.”

“Oh…too bad…”

“However, if you could arrange to get permission from the Bureau, I’m sure Endeavour could use another Xeno-Social specialist. We expect to find many more Preserver-planted societies in this sector.”

Samantha’s arms wrapped around his waist.

“Would that be my only use aboard?”

Sharp leaned down, lips brushing hers.

“Maybe I could find another thing or two to work on.”

It had been some time since Jon Sharp had kissed a woman. He’d almost forgotten the simple elation in the act. Her lips were soft despite being dry from the wind. She pressed into him with a hunger, her mouth devouring his. Her tongue was aggressive.

When they finally parted, Jon found that he had to catch his breath. Had he been holding it? She practically melted into him. His eye flicked to the bed in the corner, but they didn’t have that kind of time.

“Are you ready?”

She gave a final glance about the small two-room hut. It was small but comfortable, and had served her for several years. This would be the last time she would ever lays eyes on it.

“I guess so. Everything’s packed.”

Sharp helped her to gather up her packs and together they lugged them out the door. Down the road to the Var city, a small group of natives stood clustered. At their head was Ura. He had a sad smile on his face, unseen by his people. Sam halted and cast a look his way. Sharp was sure a tear had escaped to roll down her face.

Ura raised a hand in salute, nodding as he did. He smiled wide despite the sadness in his eyes. Samantha matched the gesture. When the captain was sure that neither was going to move closer to speak their good-byes, he whipped out his waiting communicator.

“Sharp to Endeavour. Two to beam up.”

The Var watched impassively as the loud energies of the transporter caught them up. Ura continued his solemn salute till they had faded from view, and then led his people home once they were gone.

END
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 07:33:38 pm by Captain Sharp »
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "