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Anna Perotti

March 29th 2274

Kayra Sgholen looked around, bored. Nothing was more depressing than a nightclub in the daytime. Chairs were turned over tables to allow the cleaning robots to easily do their work, and today they had substantially more work than usual to do. It had been a busy one, last night.

Ilva Keller, unquestionably one of his most seasoned customers, had chosen to celebrate her birthday—Kayra suspected it must have been her thousandth —right there, along with her whole entourage of idle scroungers. It had been a night of unbelievable revelry!

Relics of the night’s revelry were littered all across the floor—wastepaper, corks, broken glasses, a shoe (?!) and other, unmentionable things. But that wasn’t really bothering Kayra; he was used to it. As long as he could remember, that had been his life. The "Green Dragon" was his home. He had even been born there. He wasn’t the sentimental type, really, but today he felt unusually depressed, maybe because of the Saurian Brandy. He knew he shouldn’t have indulged, but Ilva had insisted so much and she was one of his best customers, after all!

So, here he was, with the mother of all headaches, brooding over memories as faded as the tapestries hanging on the walls. He knew should get around to giving the old place a good revamping--it no longer measured up its own reputation, nor to the standard of his other nightclubs, but somehow, he hadn’t had the motivation to do it. He owned a lot of nightclubs all over the planet: the "Red Dragon" in Kurlin, the "Black Dragon" and the "Blue Dragon" in Dravon, the "Gold Dragon" in Sonday, and a few more in other, lesser cities. He had run out of colors by now, for the next one he’d have to think of something else. Maybe the Flying Dragon, or the Fighting Dragon.

He really had come a long way, since his father had passed on, leaving him nothing more than the Green Dragon and a mountain of debt. He had been little more than a boy, then, bristling with ideas and determined to be successful, and he had made it, by sheer tenacity and resourcefulness. He had become the most celebrated and successful entrepreneur of the planet. His shows were known all over the Galaxy and had brought wealth and well-being not only to him, but also to his home world, whose primary economic resource was the entertaining industry. Primary? Actually, there was nothing else the planet had to offer.

When, some years ago, he had been appointed as the Great Constable, he had accepted it as the well-deserved prize for many years of hard work and sacrifice and the implied responsibilities as a new, most exciting challenge. Honored and wealthy as he was, however, he occasionally wished he was the least croupier in one of his casinos, and only had to worry about an excessively lucky player breaking the bank.

One of the cleaner-robots hummed toward him and gently hit his leg. Kayra moved a few steps aside to free the portion of floor he had been standing on. He leaned on the counter, behind which Yhk’Sto, the Klingon drag queen, sat. The Klingon had been the best attraction in his show during the last few months; he was a funny guy, but also a great performer ("Old Green" still offered top class entertainment, no matter what!).

"Good morning, Yhk," Kayra greeted.

"Ghmpf!" Yhk’Sto grunted in answer. He wasn’t clearly in the mood for small talk. Clad in a dressing robe and without makeup, Yhk’Sto really looked horrible, but he possessed a magnificent soprano voice and could move with unexpected grace. Rumors around suggested that he was an under cover Klingon agent, but Kayra didn’t buy it. He always had thought that the same Imperial Fleet officers that occasionally spent some time with the Klingon after the show spread those rumors. Poor guys, they thought they had to salvage their honor, as if anyone on Lovely II cared about their honor, or would take the time to besmirch it. Anyway, his personnel’s private affairs were none of his business, much less his customers’. Discretion was essential to his job and, of course, it was held as a national virtue—his planet welcomed whoever had money to spend, no matter where the money came from, and everybody was happy to help in their spending it. Asking questions or telling secrets was strictly bad for business. Anyone who had talent to use, or anything else that people would pay to see, and with enough wit to be discreet, could easily find employment on Lovely II and make a fortune out of it.

Nevertheless, there were customers who brought more trouble than they were worth, and Ernest Lynch surely was one of them. Kayra had recognized him at first sight—the kind of guy who buys only second-rate champagne, doesn’t leave tips, but is always ready to complain about everything. The fact that he was in the UFP government—Undersecretary of Interstellar Trade or something—only made things more complicated. You could not tell him to get lost; he might have the planet declared off limits to all the Federal ships and ruin your business. Should he get in any trouble, well that was a thought which could grow white hair on a bald man! The only possible thing one could do with such a fellow was to keep both ears and eyes wide open, all fingers crossed and hope he would depart soon. To Kayra’s surprise, he actually had departed soon, almost too soon. The problem was that nobody knew where he might have gone. He had disappeared, suddenly, without even paying his bill. Kayra might as well be willing to forget the bill if that had meant not having to deal with Lynch any more, but the UFP was not. They kept pestering him with questions, diplomatic complaints and subtle threats. And now, as if that weren’t enough, they were sending a Starfleet ship, with the unspoken, but official mission to cast light on the regrettable incident—that is to nose everywhere!

He might, of course, get rid of it by denying the crew permission to shore privileges—it was his right. Lovely II was a neutral planet, and no alien authority could interfere—but it would not improve the public image of a planet that prided itself in offering hospitality to everyone, with no restrictions at all, and lived on that hospitality.

Ah! A croupier’s life! With no problems in the world but to guard against the bank being broken!


U.S.S. Enterprise traveled smoothly toward her destination. Her crew, efficient and well-trained, carried on their duties with the most perfect care, but a feeling of excited anticipation lingered in the air—Lovely II, the planet they were heading to, was every spacefarer’s dream. Those who already had been there spoke in glowing terms of the wonders of the place: a whole planet dedicated to the sole purpose of making whoever sojourned there as comfortable as possible by all means.

In its past, Lovely II had been a lonely outpost in the galaxy, a planet small and poor, with a luxuriant wildlife, but no mineral resources of any significance. The indigenous inhabitants were humanoids, with a good degree of civilization, but limited technology. The lack of economic and strategic interest had turned the space powers’ attention away from the planet, and had called every kind of adventurer and explorer, who had good reason to get as far away as possible from their own homeworld. It had been a peaceful invasion, but a steady one. The invaders had brought in new customs and cultures, which had wondrously merged without significant trauma, giving birth to a wild paradise where everything seemed to be permitted and nothing seemed mandatory.

When the visitors happened to stop by, looking for some relaxation from their frantic life, they had found hospitable and compliant people, both eager to satisfy all their desires and well prepared to do so. Lovelians had realized that they could get wealthy by indulging their guests’ weaknesses and had arranged things for that.


"Officially," Captain Kirk explained to his senior officers gathered around the table, "the Enterprise will be orbiting around Lovely Two in order to allow some R’n’R to the crew, while waiting for her next assignment. In reality, we will be investigating Under-Secretary Lynch’s disappearance. Nothing has been heard of him in the last three weeks, that is since the day after his arrival on the planet for a vacation."

"What do we have to do with that? It’s a policeman’s job! Or Starfleet Intelligence!" Doctor McCoy pointed out.

"The matter, Doctor, is a most sensitive one," Spock responded. "Lovely Two is not in the Federation or any other interplanetary alliance. It is a neutral planet and has no extradition agreements with any other world. If they wished, the local authorities could forbid us to enter their space, and they surely would, should we go there with an official commission to investigate. But they would never dare to deny hospitality to a crew on shore-leave. The bad publicity that would result could prove disastrous to their economy."

"Anyway," Kirk went on, "the Federal Government has its own reason to not want too much ado about this story: Under-Secretary Lynch has been discretely watched by counterintelligence lately, because of some connections with certain Klingon Empire representatives that didn’t seem to be justified by his bureau activities. He wasn’t charged of anything, actually—before becoming involved with political commitments, he had been an aide at the Terran Embassy on Qo’noS for many years. Of course, he claims that those connections are nothing more than personal friendships, totally irrelevant to Federation security. It might even be true, but his sudden disappearance has raised new suspicions."


Even though it was relatively early, the place was quite crowded. Kirk and McCoy elbowed their way among the crowd, followed by Spock, who looked as comfortable as a pheasant attending a gathering of foxes. The room was large, dimly lit but for four cones of sparkling red light which enveloped four suspended platforms, each with a topless dancer performing on it. Among them a Velcosian, with her eight pair of breasts, looked really impressive. Especially when her dance began to whirl them in a slightly asynchronous mode, creating a very suggestive wave effect, even Spock gratified her with a heartily raised eyebrow.

A tall and sturdy man, showing the typical Berengarian features, exited from behind a sort of screen, which was likely hiding the private office door, and met them with a wide smile and a proffered hand. "You must be Captain Kirk," he said to the captain. "I’ve heard about you and your starship. My name is Kayra Sgholen, the owner of this establishment and the Great Constable of Lovely Two. It’s a great honor for me to have you as guests in my modest nightclub and on the planet which I humbly represent. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay here, notwithstanding the unfortunate occasion. You may, of course, count on my cooperation..."

"Thank you, Mister Sgholen," Kirk answered, interrupting the man’s flow of eloquence and managing to free his hand from his excessively welcoming grip. "There are just a few things I’d like to discuss with you..."

"Oh, we’ll have time for that, no doubt! For now, gentlemen, just enjoy the show. I have reserved our best table especially for you. You are a Vulcan, I see," he said, turning to Spock, who met the obvious statement with a slight nod. "Although you may well find the show quite illogical, I’m sure you’ll not fail to appreciate its fascinating diversity. Anyway, don’t worry. Lovely Two also offers more refined, intellectual kinds of entertainment than what we have here. At Sun’s Theatre, just to mention one, they are staging T’Thelaih, a classical piece. You surely know it, a great tear-jerker! Tickets are sold out, but I might manage to get a couple for you, should you be interested..."

"Thank you, but I do not think I will have time for that," Spock answered, raising an eyebrow at the famous tragedy, about one of the darkest pages of Vulcan ancient history, being called a ‘great tear-jerker’.

"He doesn’t seem that all-fired eager to help," McCoy pointed out, once they were seated at the table and their host was gone.

"I’m not surprised," Kirk answered. "I actually was expecting that. To him, we’re just an annoyance. It’s quite obvious that he couldn’t care less about what happened to Lynch. All that he’s worried about is that this affair doesn’t cause anything which might ruin the hospitable image of this planet. There must be a lot of things here that he would rather we never found out about."

"I do not understand, then," Spock said, "why the Federation did not make the true nature of our mission a secret to him also. If he does not want to help, it is logical to assume he will try to hinder our efforts."

"They tried, but he didn’t buy it. Anyway, rather than hinder, I think he will try to divert our attention to what is more to his benefit. After all, the sooner we’ll find what we are looking for, the sooner we’ll go. He just wants to be in control, and we’ll let him believe he is."


An Andorian waitress served the drinks they had ordered through the small comlink on the table—an old fashioned distribution system, but definitely more appealing than a common food dispenser. McCoy glanced in disgust at Spock’s drink, something that the Vulcan referred to as ‘hivas milkshake,’ but that the doctor was more inclined to call ‘horrible purple slop.’ Without warning, the already dim lights were dimmed further and the holo-panel portraying a huge green dragon, which occupied the whole wall in front of them, disappeared revealing a stage. On that, announced by a disembodied voice, a seemingly endless stream of Vaudeville-style attractions followed one an other—a team of Arcturian jugglers, who filled the air with an incredible assortment of objects of an outrageous array of sizes and shapes to the frenzied beat of the background music; a Tellarite ventriloquist with a three-headed puppet that he managed to make seem to talk from all the three heads at once, with different voices; a strip-teaser, a shape-shifter from Vendoria, who, as she stripped, shifted between the female forms of most of the known humanoid species. Last, introduced by an especially loud announcement, Yhk’Sto entered the scene, welcomed by roaring applause. Simultaneously imposing and grotesque, he was clad in a Klingon Imperial Fleet female uniform, which emphasized his statuesque but ambiguous shape, revealing a gorgeous pair of legs. Accompanied by horns and drums, he sang, with a crystalline voice, a Klingon romance of a martial and lascivious quality at once followed by his performing many other songs from his rich repertoire that included excerpts from famous arias from all the planets, every time changing attire and hairstyle behind a holographic screen which materialized around him when needed. To honor the newly arrived Earthen guests—as he said, looking at Kirk and McCoy with a disturbing smile—he finished with an overwhelming habanera. The high note on the last "Regarde toi" made the lamp-holders tremble.


"Enough, Mister Sgholen!" Kirk shouted, hitting the desk. He had spent more than a hour in the Constable’s office, listening to the Lovelian who insisted in offering every kind of distraction, ranging from the services of so called hostesses to concerts and art exhibits. "I came here to find out what happened to Under-Secretary Lynch and, be damned, I will do it, with or without your help. If you want to continue to make money off of Federation citizens, you will have to cooperate with this investigation. Do I make myself understood?"

"Absolutely," Kayra answered, recovering his smile, which had momentarily disappeared from his face. He actually just needed to earn time to his personnel to meet a supplier bringing very sensitive goods—Federation people were such a picayune bunch! By now the delivery must be done, and he finally could tell that nuisance something that would shake him off and get back to work. "What do you want me to say, Captain? I’m an entrepreneur not a nanny. That Under-Secretary of yours was a customer, the same as any other to me, I didn’t pay much attention to him. Anyway, let’s see—he came to the Green Dragon alone, took a table and after a few minutes he was complaining ‘cause it was too near to the speakers and demanded an other one; he also didn’t like the second one, I can’t recall why. When he finally seemed to be satisfied," Kayra went on, ignoring Kirk’s impatient glance, "he spotted some people he knew on the opposite side of the saloon and joined them."

"It’s about time!" Kirk blurted, resisting the urge to jumping over the desk and grab the man’s collar. "Who were they?"

"Uhum...a mixed bunch—a couple of old customers, a few unknown ones, some saloon hostesses and...Yhk’Sto, who was waiting his turn to go on stage." This should be enough to distract him, Kayra thought. Surely that old fag will not mind if I send this handsome officer after him!

"Yhk’Sto, eh? I know who he is, and I also had an interesting report on him from Starfleet Intelligence."

"Bullshit!" Kayra snapped in a resentful tone. "Yhk’Sto is an artist and artists associate with a lot of unusual people. The fact that your Intelligence is watching him proves that he’s clean. Otherwise his lot would have polished him off. Now, unless you have anything else to ask me..."

The captain met the man’s eyes, and decided it was time to leave.

As soon as Kirk exited the office, Kayra touched a button on his desk and the wall at his side vanished, letting out a short and pudgy man, with thick joined eyebrows and a broken nose.

"Did you hear, Grummer?"

"I did, Boss. Everything," the man answered in an unexpectedly shrill voice. "He swallowed the hook..."

"Yeah, but keep an eye on him. This one isn’t a fool like the other snoopers sent to us before were. I want to be informed about whatever he might do."


"Captain, what a pleasure!" the Klingon warbled, as he welcomed Jim Kirk in his dressing room; he was wearing a pink robe garnished with feathers and a kind of turban of the same color wrapped around his head.

Pleasure’s all his, Kirk thought, uncomfortably.

"Be my guest, please." Yhk’Sto insisted, maudlin, as he freed a small couch of an enormous soft toy (a cross between a teddy-bear and a Denebian tiger, in an unlikely shade of sky blue).

Jim sat down cautiously as if expecting the seat to bite his bottom. "Ahem... er...Mister Yhk’Sto, I will not waste much of your time..."

"Oh, don’t worry; I have plenty of it!"

The smile that underlined those kind words sent a chill over Kirk’s spine. Maybe I should have entrusted this interview with Spock...

"You were among the last persons to meet Under-Secretary Lynch," Kirk eventually managed to say, barring any further delay. "Do you remember anything that might give an idea about what he was planning to do?"

The Klingon frowned in concentration, "Mmm, Lynch, Lynch...oh, yes, that petty little man! Ah, Khrub’s friend, I think. No, Captain, I’m sorry. I hardly paid any attention to what that guy might have said; Khrub had all my attention. Mind you, it’s not like I despise Earthers, quite on the contrary!" he went on leering subtly at Kirk, "but there are Earthers and Earthers!"

Kirk was about to run away, but something stopped him. "Khrub, you said? Sounds like a Klingon name, isn’t it?"

"Klingon, of course! And what a Klingon! A Khm’yr one! Oh, that is a man, really, you know?...A pity he’s...oh, but this can’t be of any interest to you! Now that you make me think about it, he, too, has been nowhere to be seen, since that night. But don’t ask me where he has gone. Maybe one of the girls might know something...A pity, indeed!" he finished with a sigh.

Yhk’Sto’s disappointment appeared so funnily candid, that Kirk had to suppress a grin. Anyway, he had gotten a clue. As dim as it was, it was better than nothing. So he willingly accepted the advice to look elsewhere for further information.

Maybe Sgholen was right about the Klingon, or maybe Yhk’Sto, in addition to being an excellent singer, was also a great actor. Time would tell, Kirk decided.


"She got what she deserved, the harridan!" McCoy commented, rubbing his hands in satisfaction. "A pity for the poor two young ones, the author should have thought of a way to spare them..."

Spock rolled his eyes with dignified endurance. "Doctor, as I told you before, the play is about a historical event. As far as it is known there were no survivors. The author could not alter facts to give you a reassuring happy end."

Spock had finally accepted Sgholen’s offer to use his private box, driven by McCoy’s curiosity about Vulcan plays and his unwavering insistence. The good doctor had dozed almost all the time, but had become enthusiastic at the tragic finale.

"Hey, you aren’t planning to get back to the Enterprise, are you? The night’s young!" McCoy said, as Spock took out his communicator.

The Vulcan stopped in his tracks, the device half open. "And where would you want to go?"

"Green Dragon, of course. We have a mission to carry out. Remember?"


"Of course, things are just starting to warm up, there. Jim should be already there—he had to see a young woman who seems to know that...ah...Khrub. It might become interesting."

Spock didn’t think that the captain would be in need of help in any investigation that involved females, but he surrendered and followed his companion. Neither of them noticed the shadow which, as soon as they moved, came out of the dark colonnade in front of the now deserted theatre.

They found Jim watching some guys playing vuhlrj—an Andorian card game, very popular on Lovely II. Each player had eight hexagonal cards. The cards had a peculiarity—when looked at separately they all showed the same, slightly iridescent, crimson surface. As soon as the card were put together, patterns appeared on their surface. The patterns showed different shapes according to the cards number and setting, and they determined the scores. They players could bet on their own cards, before looking at them, as well as on the opponents’ ones, or they might skip their turn to raise the stakes. Right now, the kitty was quite high, and there was tension around.

"Fifty credits that I get at least two knights," one of the players said.

"Your fifty and twenty more for a winged amazon and a comet," answered another one.

"He’s bluffing," a third jumped in. "The comet already came out twice!"

"Come and see!" the second one challenged. The challenge was met, and the comet was there, along with the amazon. An argument started about who dealt the cards. It was discovered that it was just the one who had the winner’s hand. Voices raised and heavy words began to fly. As the nightclub bouncers readied themselves to intervene, Kirk, Spock and McCoy wisely moved to the next room, which appeared to be more peaceful.

"Not a bad one that little game," McCoy commented. "I’d like to learn it."

"Interesting," Spock agreed. "The cards are treated with thricolaidine, a vegetable material produced by an aquatic plant. Andorians discovered its photochromatic qualities about three thousand years ago..."

"Spock, for heaven sake!" the doctor pleaded. The Vulcan stopped abruptly and raised an eyebrow slightly annoyed.

Kirk smiled. "The woman we are about to meet should just have finished her show. I sent word to her to join us at our table as soon as she’s dressed."

"Which show?" McCoy asked distractedly.

"Um...strip-tease...I wonder if she’ll show herself in her natural form. I’ve never seen a female Vendorian before."

Kirk’s curiosity was bound to remain ungratified. Ghiij-vr-Hu from Vendoria was well aware that her natural appearance would be startling to any humanoid. Through the viewscreen in her dressing room, she carefully evaluated the three men waiting for her and, given the well known Vulcan lack of interest in feminine graces, decided that a Human form would be the most appropriate. She swiftly perused her model file and chose the one that seemed the most effective.

As always, her choice proved the right one. Kirk and McCoy were almost breathless. Spock appraised the gorgeous blonde with curiosity. He was about to comment that she reminded him of an ancient twentieth century picture, portraying a woman with her dress raised by a draft from the underground, but thought better of it, not willing to prove a reaction from McCoy, provided that the doctor would be able to hear him and react—actually the physician seemed totally dumbfounded. Spock was beginning to worry, when Kirk overcame his bewilderment and, remembering his manners, stood to welcome their guest. Although after a slight delay, McCoy did the same—he was alive, then.

"Did you ask for me, gentlemen?" the woman asked in a high pitched, yet pleasant voice. "How can I serve you?"

Spock had an uneasy feel that his Human companions were thinking about a kind of service that had nothing to do with the purpose of their presence there. He thought it wiser to take hold of the situation.

"Madam..." he began.

"Oh, you may call me Ghiij," she chirped.

"Miss Ghiij, we need to get in touch with Mister Khrub. We have reason to think that he might be able to give us information about an acquaintance of ours. Would you help us to locate him?"

The young woman looked confused. "Khrub?" She asked in her somehow childish voice. Then she beamed, "Oh, you mean Khru-khru!...sure! What do you like to know?"

"Just where we can find him," Spock patiently repeated, willing himself to ignore the sheer absurdity of a Kh’myr Klingon allowing anyone to call him Khru-khru.

Ghiij pouted graciously. "I wished I knew. He’d promised me a dinner at Qqaluhar, a top class place, nothing like this dirty hole, but he hasn’t show up since. I’d bet it’s that guy’s fault, that Terran whom he met the last night he was here—a greedy boor! One you’d never think would have anything to do with a gentleman like Khru-khru. Instead—oh boy!—they seemed like conjoined twins meeting each other after they were severed by ax blows! ‘My friend’ here, ‘my friend’ there...and so on, talking about old times, while we sat there like wallflowers...nauseating!"

"And what did they say about ‘old times’?" Kirk jumped in. He had by now recovered all his composure and had watched with amusement his first officer’s well-intentioned tries. Instead, McCoy appeared distracted, as if the girl’s babbling were boring him.

"Oh, I don’t know...something about when they were fishing didn’t understand what, some kind of Klingon fish, I guess; or about a fellow, Skhronn, who could drink an great amount of hrakai without falling under a table; of a gal...a Moykha who was good at everything but working with a computer...the usual men’s nonsense," she finished with a shrug.

Kirk was about to retort on that last sentence, not very complimentary of his gender, but was diverted by McCoy, who called his attention by gently kicking him under the table.

In a dimly lit corner of the room, Yhk’Sto, for once in male attire, was closely conversing with a Klingon officer. Now and then the two cast a glance toward the table occupied by Kirk and his companions—or so it seemed—as if they were somehow related with the subject they were talking of. After a few minutes, they stood and parted with a handshaking.

Kirk and McCoy stared in bewilderment. "Did you see?" the doctor whispered.

Kirk nodded. "Two Klingons saluting by shaking hands," he commented after a short while. "Very unusual, even here where all customs seem to be twisted and mixed. What do you think of it?"

"I believe one of those hands, or maybe both, held something..."

"And that something," Kirk added, "after the hands parted, had switched owners."

To his fans’ great dismay, that night Yhk’Sto, complaining of a bad laryngitis, didn’t perform.


"I’d never believe it possible, Spock." McCoy was sitting at his usual place in the briefing room on the Enterprise. "You were so busy chatting with that blonde-bimbo that you missed what was going on!"

"Are you talking about the exchange between Yhk’Sto and Captain Khanab?" Spock asked, unruffled.

"Did you see it?" McCoy wondered.

"Of course. Quite a clumsy play for two supposed professional spies. If I seemed to be more interested in Miss Ghiij’s talks, it is only because you two were so clearly distracted that she would have thought it illogical if none of us were paying attention to her, after we asked for an interview."

"Uhmpf! Do you really think such a nitwit would know what logic is?"

"I would not underestimate her. I think that pretended naive attitude was part of the character whom she had taken the appearance. As you will recall from our previous encounter with one, shapeshifters from Vendoria are able to reproduce personality, along with the external looks...they actually are known as the best actors in the galaxy."

"Where do you reckon she developed that shape?" McCoy asked.

Spock raised an eyebrow, mildly amused, "You surprise me, Doctor, that...’shape’ was quite famous on twentieth Century Earth. It went down in history."

"I’m a doctor, not a historian!" McCoy muttered, disgruntled.

"Anyway," Spock went on, "in what the young lady reported there are some interesting details, which I would like to further investigate. If you would excuse me..."

Kirk detained him, "Actually, Mister Spock, I would rather have you first searching everything might be found about Yhk’Sto and that Klingon captain."

"I already did, sir. My report is in the compuclipboard in front of you. With your permission..."

Kirk looked at the retreating Vulcan wondering what he might have found of any interest in the seemingly dull chatter of that girl. He was tempted to call him back, but considering the doctor’s poor demeanor, he thought better of it.


Kayra looked up from the accounts he had been perusing as Grummer entered his office. "Any news about the Federation crew?" he asked.

"Presently all the brass have returned to their ship; the other ones are enjoying themselves around. Maybe they really think they’re on leave. Anyway, our fellows are watching them closely."

"Very well. Do you think they noticed anything yesterday night?"

"I don’t think so, Boss. Ghiij and Yhk did a very good job. Actually the girl managed to distract them only for a short while—you were right; they aren’t that foolish!—but Yhk’Sto was great. And that sucker of Khanab stooged for him without even knowing. Moreover, Yhk holds him in his grasp, he might have him doing everything with that clip!" he finished with a evil grin.

"Didn’t he return it?"

"Just a bit, to give him the taste of it. He’ll deliver what’s left only when his old girl is here, safe."


Kirk had finished to read his first officer’s report and was not pleased at all.

Captain Khanab was known as a young officer with a flawless career. He was the only heir of a powerful Klingon family, related to the imperial house. Too a big pot to be risked in a spy mission! His record was almost perfect—the only occasion in which he had happened to stand before a disciplinary court—but just as a witness—was during an inquiry about his roommate at the Klingon Academy. The roommate had been expelled. Oddly enough, the charges had not been recorded.

As for Yhk’Sto, his story was a public one. Because of his unorthodox proclivity he was banned by his home-planet at a young age, with absolute prohibition to return under penalty of death. He had wandered from planet to planet, performing in various nightclubs and vaudeville theatres. Thanks to his talents, he had earned a great fame and, in more tolerant environments than his home world, even honors. His old mother still lived on Qo’nos. She had been trying in vain to obtain expatriation allowance to join her son for many years.

The door buzz pulled Jim out of his reverie. "Come!"

Spock entered, his hands clasped behind his back and the look of a cat who just ate your goldfish barely disguised under a stony Vulcan mask.

"Captain, maybe I found a clue which might help us to locate Under-Secretary Lynch."


Ernest Lynch struggled to step out of his long rubbery boots and let himself down on the damp grass. It had been a long day, but a wonderful one! A pity his vacation was almost over...all good things are bound to end. Anyway he really had enjoyed himself! He hadn’t allowed himself such a vacation in many years. He laid down and closed his eyes. Then he suddenly reopened them as he felt something cool and clammy on his face.

"Damn it, Khrub! Get that disgusting thing off of me!" he cried out in mock outrage, then he joined his friend in a burst of laughing.

"I thought you liked fish," Khrub teased. "You were so excited when it bit. If I didn’t catch you, you’d get in the middle of the lake."

The Klingon raised their prey, a specimen more than three feet long. "It’s a beauty, indeed!" He proudly said, "The biggest we ever caught. Look at its gills and what a you know whom it reminds me? Vjul, my aide, they have the same expression...hey, now what’s wrong with you?"

At the word ‘aide’, Lynch had jumped to his feet, looking shocked.

"Damn it! Oh my!...I forgot to inform my department that I would be out of touch for a few weeks!...Oh my God!...what if somebody did look for me?... and my communicator which slipped in the water the very first day we were here..."

"Calm down," the Klingon said evenly as he pointed at some Starfleet uniforms that were materializing nearby, "it would seem as if your aide has located you..."

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