Security Chief Chterr really wished people would keep their stored secure merchandise truly secure. "Note to selllf. Never lllet Walllt Andrews meet Doctor Arielll Cord. This is one holovid collllection whose size rivallls the good doctors...celllebrity."
Not that such a meeting was likely, what with relations between Fleet Captain Chekov and Captain Sulu firmly in a gooey pile of urate.
Chterr had been ordered by Commander Saavik to conduct an unscheduled inspection of the personal storage lockers on Deck 11 in search of contraband. It was an unusual order, Chterr thought, and he wondered how much their upcoming rendezvous at Starbase 211 had to do with it.
He also wondered why Andrews kept the holovid cards and the portable image player here in Storage rather than in the cabin he shared with Raphael Escobar, the Brazillian-born ships chaplain. Humans, he clucked to himself. I will never understand them. Whatever the reason, it was Andrews business. Chterr merely reactivated the lockers encryption and moved to the next one.
Doctor Christine Chapels locker contained only a few items. A couple of uniquely shaped flower vases that looked as though they were intended to be gifts. In a small box, however, he found a heart-shaped picture locket featuring a man named Roger. He closed the locker, and moved on to the next one.
In Natalie Buchanans locker, there were a number of sealed, clear-bagged magazines, most of them featuring a man wearing a uniform and carrying a tricorne shield based on what Chterr believed was one of Terras pre-unity flags. Aiding him in the fight against a crimson-skull headed villain wasa boy named Bucky."Captain America? What kind of llliterature is this?" Chterr was going to ask about this one, he decided as he closed the locker.
The fact that Commander Saavik had overlooked a privacy lock seemed odd, but even odder was the holopic of herself and a young man with curly blonde hair, and he bore a faint resemblance to Peter Kirk. Not recognizing the man, he glanced at her other personal items, including a laminated letter written in Romulan from Consul Szarin Relikian and an encased Klingon dktagh. Such weapons were allowed aboard starships, providing they were secured in such a case and registered with the ships security chief. He scrolled quickly through his padd, and found she had indeed registered the dktagh with her personal belongings when coming aboard.
In the next locker, Chterr got a very rude surprise when he picked up a round device kept by Peter Kirk. He had no idea what it was, but suddently, it activated, and an small holographic image appeared. "To Chief Chterr I leave my great respect, my notes on the martial arts of several systems, and my batlhetlh, given to me via Uncle Jim by Chancellor Azetbur. It contains both the Starfleet symbol and that of Klingon House Kahless. I ask and instruct that you personally visit the grave of Connor Randolph on Serenidad, as required by Xartheb custom when the last of her students passes..."
Shutting the morbid thing off, Chterr looked down for almost half a minute. Apparently it was the Skorrs own DNA that had activated it. "Damn it, no. Not this. Theres such a thing as being too ready, Pete."
Still, he couldnt condemn the young Human for his foresight. Death had haunted Kirk since he was seven. But it still felt wrong. So he concentrated on a livelier part of Peter Kirks stored items: plastic models of various creatures. He picked up a pteranodon and admired it. "King of the Skies! Munch em allll down, Brother, cause thats what primates are best fer, Boy." With a start he turned to make sure no one was in the locker room. "Oh, my, I didnt mean that. Allll of my best friends are non-ornithoids..." He looked at the tag on the toy. "Rodan. A majestic name, to be sure." Chterr put the plastic figure away and looked at the others in the box. "Godzilllla, Gamera, Ghidorah..." One of them was situated on top of a small building, and he realized that these were supposed to be gigantic city-destroyers, similar to the giant monster movies of his childhood. Oddly enough, there were no pernacious fluffy rabbit- or insidious squirrel-like monsters in the bag. "Were from different cullltures, Petey..." His talons clasped a caterpillar-creature named Mothra. "Wellll, maybe not so different." He resealed the locker and went to the next.
Chterr himself felt his happiness fade with the next inspection.
"Chterr to Security. Lllocate and hollld Chief Thara Cox. Do not put the search on ships speakers. Silent search. I want her found ten minutes ago."
Jacobovich replied, "Yes, sir. Were on it."
Chterr made his way quickly to the security wardroom. He sipped on a coffee through a drinking straw as he observed the progress of his officers. Each room they checked held no sign of the third shift helmsman. From Gymnasium to Observation Deck, she was nowhere to be found.
"No!" His talon practically crushed the coffee cup. "We cant be too lllate. We wont be too lllate."
The communications system chimed. "Kirk to Chterr. Felityz tells me youre looking for Thara Cox. Shes here in the ships galley."
"Mister Kirk, whats she doing?"
"Chief, shes eating the biggest meal Ive seen a woman as slender as her ever eat."
Damn. "Petey, joke with her, get her seconds, but do not let her out of that galley."
"Okay, Chief, whatever you say. Kirk out."
Chterr rushed out the door, calling "With me!" to Jacobovich and Stuckey.
As the security squad rushed to the galley, Chterr quickly surveyed the scene. "Mister Kirk? Where is Mister Cox?"
A streak bolted for the door, with none of Chterrs people in position or able to stop it. The Skorrs own massive form was unable to reach for her, and the security chief was raising his phaser when he saw Kirk move. It wasnt anything as extreme as super-speed, or as ridiculous as self-teleportation, but it seemed as if he had anticipated her decision to flee even before Cox herself had.
The red-haired helmsman stared at her blocker, knowing better than to try anything, especially with Chterr and his two officers there. "How did you get ahead of me like that?" she asked.
Kirk pointed her to Chterr. "Call it synchronicity. Now talk to the chief...outside." They made their way out into the corridor, Kirk firmly holding on to Coxs wrist.
Chterr waited for two men to exit and take positions on each side of the helmsman. He then stepped out of the galley.
"How did you find out?" she asked, dejectedly.
"Thats not the question, Mister Cox," the Skorr said, sadly.
"You want to know why?" She turned and faced him. "It started at Alpha Tucanae. All those deaths. Then the Alliance, and we couldnt do anything for them. Then Demoras tragic death from something our own biosensors couldnt detect as a threat. Finally, we had that damned space monster. It killed good people. People like Katarina Brooks, a woman kinder to me than my own mother even bothered trying to be, and Demoras lover, Willis OBrien. You know, I consoled him after Demoras death. There was no one to comfort me after he was killed." Her eyes were brimming with tears. "My friends are dying all around me."
"And you intend to join them?" softly trilled the Skorr.
Peter Kirk was stunned. He had had no idea why Chterr had wanted to detain the woman, and frankly had figured that either she was a spy or a saboteur or both. He regarded Cox with a mixture of sadness and pity.
Thara Cox looked openly hostile at Kirks face. "Do you know whats in store for us at Starbase Two-Eleven? Weve already been debriefed about our last mission, but you damn well know theyre going to make us relive that nightmare again!"
"And so killllling yourself is better?" softly trilled the Skorr.
She burst into tears. "You of all people should understand," she said to Peter Kirk. "Youve lost just as many."
"I wont bother with the truisms, Thara, but Ill be damned if I let down those people whove gone on before me. And youre doing them a disservice if you think killing yourself is a solution to whats an inevitable facet of life itself."
"Now, lllets see if we can talllk with Doctor Beallls about you not wasting your lllife," the Skorr security chief said, as he gently clasped a talon on her shoulder.
As he walked her down the corridor, Peter Kirk at her side and the two security officers behind them, Chterr couldnt help but think of the suicide note uncovered too early, and thanked the Great Egg for the happenstance of a locker inspection.
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