November 11th 2297
Captain Uhura stood in the transporter room, patiently waiting for Lieutenant Commander Indris arrival to operate the unit. The doors slid apart, and Lieutenant Commander Greggson entered. "Sorry were late, Captain," the white-haired security chief said as two more of his officers joined them, weapons at their side.
"I didnt call for you, Chief," Uhura said archly, an eyebrow raised in disapproval.
"An oversight, Im sure, Captain." He gestured to Ensigns Peres and Faulk to take flanking positions at the sides of the transporter alcove. "Fortunately, Lieutenant Commander Reichard seems to share my concerns with your safety and security."
"And his distrust of Klingons..." Uhura muttered under her breath.
The doors slid open again, and in stepped the first of the Klingon captives, hands held behind his back by a durasteel rod restraint. Two security guards accompanied the surly Klingon, Yolagg, leader of the scouting party on New Menno. They positioned him on the transporter pad, and withdrew, leaving the Klingon glaring at his feet. Another two guards came in with Karssed, and deposited him on the transporter platform before they withdrew as well. Vogav was next, followed by Gordung, Bhatag and finally Degrel, who was the only Klingon still struggling. His guards did not withdraw.
"Wheres Indri?" Greggson practically growled. The doors opened again, and the Indian chief engineer stepped to the transporter console, which came to life with a few flicks of his fingers. "Youre late," the security chief commented drily.
"I figured that Id only be in the way with all your officers coming and going with their prisoners," the engineer explained almost glibly. "All present and accounted for?"
Greggson simply glared at the engineer. Normally while hed be needling Indri, Uhura knew that her security chief was tired and stressed from having dealt with the Klingon prisoners for far too long a time.
TSorals voice came over the overhead speakers. "Receiving a transmission from the Klingon ship, Captain Uhura. Theyre awaiting our transporter signal."
"Mister Indri, lets not keep Admiral Koloth waiting." Uhura turned to the Klingons. "Good luck, gentlemen."
Yolagg spat at her. Surprisingly, the spittle almost reached her from across the room. "You are sending us to our deaths."
"No, sir, were sending you home." She turned to Indri. "Energize."
The Klingons disappeared in a shower of silver.
"Were receiving their transporter signal now, Captain," Indri reported.
"Call for our medical team," the commander of the Hyperion ordered.
A red flood of energy filled the transporter alcove, and four forms materialized: three Humans and one Klingon. Uhura gasped as she recognized one of the Starfleet officers before her before she turned her attention to the Klingon admiral.
"My dear Captain Uhura," remarked Koloth.
"My dear Admiral Koloth," she replied in the same oily tone hed used with her. She was pleased to see Doctors MBenga and Eletto and Physicians Assistant Davids had already arrived with both Nurses Marie Webb and Carla Griffin. They swept onto the transporter alcove and immediately beginning examining the repatriated officers.
"I return to you three of Starfleets finest," he said, amused by his own repartee.
"Regrettably the same cannot be said of the six Klingon warriors we returned to you," she smiled broadly. "They were captured by civilians on one of our colony planets."
Koloth frowned. "They will be dealt with. Its unclear to the Klingon High Command how they came to be on that planet. I will determine why they were there, and how they came to be captured by weakling Humans."
"Perhaps you underestimate us, Admiral."
Koloth gave her a murderous glare, and for a moment he looked as though he were about to lose control. Then he laughed genuinely. "Perhaps I do, Captain. I certainly never thought I should find you in command of a starship such as this."
"In all honesty, Admiral, I never thought Idve ended up in command either."
He regarded her with a feral grin. "Nonetheless, this is your vessel, Captain. Treat her with the honor she is due." He glanced around the transporter room as anti-grav stretchers were being brought in to take the three detainees to Sickbay. "But a word of warning: these three were caught within our borders. I know for a fact what their mission was: the assassination of The Albino, a known galactic criminal and the villain that took my first born son from me. That is the only reason they were not executed summarily."
The portable biomonitors on one of the beds sounded an alarm, and the two physicians worked frantically trying to restore life to one of the former-prisoners.
"But do assure Mister Riley and his cohorts that if they are caught inside Klingon borders again, we shall not be so...hospitable."
The biomonitor flat-lined briefly then slowly the vitals crept up.
"I shall pass that along to him." She glanced at the anti-grav stretcher that held Riley. Theyd nearly lost the Starfleet Intelligence officer. "If he lives," she added with a controlled tone. To Indri she said, "Prepare to beam our guest back to his ship."
With a broad bow and a sweeping arm, he bade her, "Farewell, Captain Uhura."
"Qapla, Sa Koloth," she answered in Klingonese.
The Klingon disappeared in the silvery sparkles of the transporter effect, and Uhura could finally turn her attention toward her friend. "Doctor?"
"Every internal organ he has has been bruised, battered and beaten. His spleen is ruptured, and hes bleeding internally. Im not sure how long hes been like this, but we could lose him any time."
"Klingon knotheads," grumbled Greggson as he ushered his security detail from the transporter room.
Kevin Thomas Riley coughed up some blood. "Three days," he said through broken teeth. "They caught us three days ago. We were so close. So...close..."
Doctor Eletto injected him with a hypospray, and he was unconscious again. "He does not need to be conscious right now, Captain. He needs to heal."
The first anti-grav was already out the door, Physicians Assistant Davids in charge of its occupant. The second headed out the door, Eletto with Riley, following close behind. The third stretcher and MBenga started toward the door.
"Keme?" Uhura asked.
"Riley probably wont make it, Nyota. Im sorry. But well do our best."
"I know you will."
Greggson stood before Uhura. "Captain, your orders?"
She stared pensively at the door. "I want guards stationed outside Sickbay. Our guests are in no condition for visitors."
His eyebrows raised into the bangs of his silver hair. "Agreed, Captain," he said, his voice conveying his approval. "Oh, theres one thing you seem to have forgotten." He held up the electronic key to the Klingons restraints.
She chuckled. "What an oversight on my part." She looked up at the open microphone on the ceiling. "Uhura to Bridge."
"Bridge, Reichard here."
"Ken, get us back on our patrol route, please. Ahead, Warp Factor Five."
She looked back at her security chief. "Quite an oversight indeed," she said as she left the transporter room.
In her ready room, Uhura stood at the open window overlooking the arboretum. She thought she saw a sudden bit of movement in one of the tree limbs. She looked again, and shook her head. "Now Im seeing things."
The annunciator chimed. "Come," she ordered.
The doors slid open, and her security chief entered. "I have the data on our guests. I dont think youll like hearing this."
She smiled and turned to face Greggson. "Actually, theres not much about Kevin Riley that I dont already know."
"Did you know hes a murderer?"
The smile fell. "A murderer?"
"Mister Riley has been involved in a number of clandestine activities for Starfleet Intelligence. He is considered a major operative, and is suspected of murdering a number of undesirables on orders from Yves Gervais."
"The former head of Starfleet Intelligence. He was reported dead some time ago."
"Correct. The Judge Advocate Generals office launched a general inquiry into Starfleet Intelligence, its operations and its operatives. Riley was implicated in at least three murders."
"Has he been tried and convicted?"
"Negative. He disappeared before any indictments were issued."
"Then hes not a convicted murderer, Mister Greggson. Please dont cast any more unsubstantiated allegations at the man."
"Captain, I dont believe you understand this situation. This morning, I received this." He handed her a padd. "Once you notified Starfleet of the identities of the prisoners, someone at the JAG office got very busy."
"Indictments for all three of them," she quickly scanned the documents. "Tell me about Mister Rileys associates."
"Lieutenant Johnny Bentley, a Starfleet Intelligence officer. Missing for six months, presumed captured by the Klingons while undertaking an unauthorized mission in Klingon space. Bentley is considered a hot-tempered daredevil with uncanny accuracy with practically any firearm. He is officially listed as a Starfleet Intelligence sniper."
"And the other?"
"Lieutenant Peter Cage, also with Starfleet Intelligence. Missing for six months, presumed captured by the Klingons while undertaking an unauthorized mission in Klingon space. Cage is an effete intellectual, a classical music lover, and perhaps the best explosives expert Starfleet has ever had. He is officially listed as a Starfleet Intelligence saboteur."
"Kevins been keeping some interesting company." She sighed deeply. "What are the indictments for?"
"Dereliction of duty, absent without leave, the usual sort of thing Intelligence might issue for their agents captured while under deep cover."
"Once our guests are revived, place them under arrest."
Down below Uhuras window, Snowdome, Mole and Weed sat at a table in the arboretum. The white-haired Andorian science officer remarked, "So its like Hardav said."
The nearly blind Vulcan communications officer nodded. "Greggson will be placing them under arrest tomorrow." She tilted her head, angling her ears so she could eavesdrop better on the ready room. "Hes left, and I believe the captain is sobbing softly."
"Dunno why you wouldnt take my word on it," Physicians Assistant Harrison Davids said. "I told you how it went down in the transporter room."
"Because, Hardav, youve been known to create some really wild practical jokes," Drevan said defensively, his antennae twitching angrily. "There are days I dont know whether to take you seriously or not. This was so lame-brained, I figured you were just trying to yank my flabjellah."
"Not this time, Snowdome. Theyve got Mephistopheles himself, along with Molotov and Squinty."
"I will not endanger my position aboard this vessel in order to liberate them," TSoral said plainly.
Davids tried to read her eyes, and found them as gray and empty as ever. "Mole, Im not asking you to do anything like that. All three of us came from Clandestine Operations. While we were never part of Starfleet Intelligence, we ended up doing things that we all find distasteful and even barbaric today. For heavens sake, I actually smoked that nasty weed for two years as part of my cover."
"Then what are you asking?" the Vulcan turned her head toward the physicians assistant.
"We owe our lives to those three men. Id like the three of us to go to Captain Uhura."
Chief Medical Officer MBenga dried his hands on a towel as he entered his office. Uhura was seated in the lounger opposite his desk. "It was touch and go with Riley, but hes going to actually pull through, I think."
"Has he regained consciousness?"
The doctor shook his head. "Not yet, but I think hell be coming to tomorrow morning."
"And the other two?"
"Doing fairly well, all things considering. Mister Greggson placed them under arrest this morning, and confined them to Sickbay and restricted them to having no visitors." The doctor chuckled. "Its not like theyre going anywhere. I did move the goon squad to the corridor."
"Funny, I didnt see them there."
"Thats because theyve been temporarily assigned elsewhere, Captain," came TSorals voice from behind her.
Uhura turned with a start. "Gracious, Lieutenant! You frightened me!"
"It was not our intent to frighten you, Captain," Drevan said from behind MBenga.
Both the chief medical officer and the captain turned to see him. Uhura held her breath for a second before sighing in relief. "I suppose Hardav is also in on this. Id almost forgotten that the three of you were in Clandestine Operations. I suppose sneaking up on senior officers is childs play for you."
"Given that Gramps Greggson has restricted the visitors for our friends, I didnt want to be caught breaking curfew or whatever," Harrison Davids explained.
"So whats your angle, Weed?" asked Uhura, determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Davids gestured to the Andorian to begin.
"These three men are friends of ours, and I dont doubt that theyve committed some sort of crime," explained Drevan. His antennae fluttered in absolution. "Theyve probably committed a shipload of crimes before we knew them, while we knew them, and after we knew them."
"But what our science officer is failing to explain, Captain, is that such is the life of a Starfleet Intelligence agent," TSoral elucidated. "These three menRiley, Cage and Bentleyhelped us bring down a slave ring set up by the Orion Syndicate at great peril to themselves."
"Theyve been accused of murder, Lieutenant," the captain said matter-of-factly.
"Captain...Nyota, please, youve got to understand," began the physicians assistant, "weve all committed murder."
Uhuras mouth dropped. "Hardav!"
The Vulcan objected. "I have not. Technically, I am an accessory to the crime, as are the two of you."
"Well, thats true enough. Mole never was a good shot. But when we ended that slave ring, we had a real problem on our hands: Lisna Tyro," Davids explained.
The captain drew a deep breath in surprise. MBenga, however, was at a loss. "Whos he?"
"She was the daughter of the current director of the Orion Syndicate. She was reported as missing three years ago. A boating accident, if I remember right. The body was never recovered," Uhura recalled. "You killed her?"
Drevan nodded, his antennae curled in embarrassment. "We had no choice. The orders came from Starfleet Intelligence."
Davids picked up the story. "Wed captured her, and Mephistopheles...er, Riley and his pals, had been sent to help her swim with the fishes, so to speak."
TSoral knew it was her turn. "Unfortunately, a few cousins from the Clan Tyro showed up first and captured me. They wanted to exchange me for Lisna, and Drevan and Hardav were going along with it."
"Unfortunately, Snowdome and I got duped on the exchange, and all three of us were about to be tossed overboard." The physicians assistant shook his head. "So here we are, with our feet sealed in buckets of some sort of cement about to be tossed into the Cedros Trench off Baja."
"And thats when Riley showed up?" asked Uhura.
Drevan nodded. "Squinty there took out the bloke who was about to shove me overboard with one clean shot. Mephistopheles took out the other himself. Both of them were unceremoniously tossed into this skiff Riley had come along side with."
TSoral shrugged. "I administered the Vulcan nerve pinch to Lisna, and Mister Riley had freed us in less than twelve seconds. While I held her, he bound her feet with the same sort of durasteel restraints Greggson used on the Klingons."
"Molotov went below decks and arranged a little explosion with the yachts engine. Mole here started to object to what Mephistopheles was planning, but Squinty told her to stuff it. Told us about the orders. Snowdome argued with them about the legality of the orders, but Mephistopheles wouldnt hear any of it."
"We transferred over to the skiff theyd used to get to us." The Andorians antennae crossed in absolute shame and regret. "By that time, Lisna had regained consciousness. She began to plead and beg us for mercy, and Riley laughed and reminded her of the irony that she was about to be killed in the manner shed planned to kill us."
"The three of us were now seated in the skiff, not including the two unconscious goons in the back, and we watched as Riley shoved Lisna overboard into the Pacific Ocean. He hopped aboard the skiff, and we raced away. The explosion of the yachts engine reached our ears fourteen seconds later." Her features were tinted greener than usual.
"We were such fools," Davids buried his head into his hands.
"You still are, Weed," came a raspy voice from one of the biobeds.
"Mephistopheles, you ol devil. Youve seen better days," the physicians assistant said, rushing to Rileys side. Around the biobed gathered the five Hyperion officers.
"Good to see you, Uhura," Rileys grizzled face had a flutter of a smile. "You, too, Doctor MBenga. Had heard the two of you had shipped out together. Cant believe you hooked up with these reprobates... let alone made them your officers." He coughed considerably.
"Kevin, you need sleep," MBenga said determinedly. "Your vitals are slightly higher, but youre far from out of danger."
"I never am," he chuckled weakly. "Danger is my middle name."
"Liar," Uhura smiled at him fondly. "Youre middle name is Thomas."
"Yeah, it is. Listen, Captain, your officers have it all wrong."
"How are we in error?" asked TSoral. "We observed the events in question."
"Really? So you decided youre all accomplices to one of my many murders?"
"It would be illogical to deny our actions."
"Mole, you and Snowdome and Weed are three of the biggest stooges Ive ever played."
"I beg your pardon," Drevan objected, his antennae crawling upward in anger.
"You think you helped me kill that girl. Would you believe that Lisna Tyro is alive and well and living in Saint Louis as a renowned satyrist?"
"I would not," answered TSoral.
"Nor I," answered Drevan.
"And you, Weed?"
"Ive been in so many double McGuffins that I actually could believe it if youd explain how."
"We beamed her into the transporter buffer of the skiff we piloted. Once we got rid of the three of you, we rematerialized her, got her all cleaned up, and let her sing like a canary in exchange for a new identity. The two cousins were dumped at the dock, and they basically told the Clan Tyro not to try slavery on Earth again."
"You let us think wed helped you kill her?"
Riley coughed a bit more. "Well, that was necessary. We figured if anyone was going to get captured, itd be one of you three, and that under the proper inducement (say a forced Vulcan mindmeld or a Betazoid with strong empathic ability), youd sing like canaries."
"And wed tell them that Lisna Tyro was swimming with the fishes," Drevan concluded.
"A triple McGuffin," Davids decided.
Rileys eyes fluttered. "Yep. Well, I need some beauty sleep. Talk to you tomorrow, guys." He dozed off.
"That zabathus rear..." Drevan began.
"He set us up so that wed give this falsified account if captured," TSoral finished.
"We have been taken for fools," the physician assistant looked on with a murderous glare, "and been made to think wed taken part in a murder for years."
Uhura and MBenga looked at the three officers with some bemusement. "So why are you here again?"
"We were going to give you a reason not to turn him over to the JAG office," TSoral answered.
"Sort of a professional courtesy kind of thing," offered Davids.
"I suspect we need to rethink that notion." Drevans antennae bobbed in appreciation of the irony.
"Youll have plenty of time to rethink that notion while coming up with an explanation of how you managed to lure my guards from their posts and sneak in here past the monitors."
"Gramps!" Hardav explained, startled by the newcomer.
It was Security Chief Greggson. "A professional courtesy kind of thing, you might say. My office. Three minutes."
"Captain," pleaded Davids to Uhura.
"Better make it two minutes, Commander Greggson," she suggested.
Sickbay emptied out quickly, leaving Uhura and MBenga and the three patients. "Keme, a Starfleet interceptor will be here in two days to take charge of your customers. Make sure theyre not killed between now and then. I suspect three of my officers may be contemplating murdering them for the remainder of their visit."
"I suspect youre right as usual, Nyota." He favored her with a deep smile. "Good night."
She winked at him. "Good night to you, too, Keme."
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website