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Randall Landers

December 23rd 2295

"Captain Sulu, we’re being hailed."

Hikaru Sulu sat up in his center seat. "By whom?"

"Starfleet courier approaching, sir, at high warp from the general direction of Starbase 211."

"On screen, Mister Grexi."

The Edoan’s three tri-fingered claws danced across the communications board. "Sir, they’re declining visual communication. The sender says, ‘Tell Sulu it’s Riley, and I’ve come to talk to him.’"

Riley? Kevin Riley? Here? Sulu pondered the implications of one of the highest ranking Starfleet Intelligence officers coming aboard his starship. Are we about to receive a secret mission? A covert operation?

"Mister Floyd, I’ll be in Transporter Room Two. You have the conn."


As Riley materialized, Sulu noticed his grizzled salt and pepper beard and black tunic. "Welcome aboard, old friend," the captain extended his hand.

The intelligence officer was taken aback. "Not the sort of welcome I usually receive these days." He took Sulu’s proffered hand and shook it warmly. "Of course, these days, we’re both pariahs."

Sulu chuckled softly at Riley’s attempt at humor, then cut himself off. "Sorry about that, Kevin. It’s not a laughing matter for either of us."

"No, it’s not. But right now I’m trying to make amends for twenty years’ worth of disservice to Starfleet and the Federation." Riley grinned goofily. "I’ve got quite a head start on you, Hikaru."

The captain of the Excelsior looked down. "Kevin—"

"Sorry, pal, but that’s the simple truth. No need to feel bad for me." He glanced around. They were alone in the transporter room; Sulu himself had apparently beamed him aboard. "Listen, Captain, what do you know about your girlfriend?"

"Ariel? This is about Ariel?"

"Actually, this is about several things. We might as well start with her first. Where’s she at right now?"


Riley and Sulu entered Sickbay. Doctor Ariel Cord was standing next to a science tech who was reclined on a biobed, examining the results of her scan. "Crewman, next time your back itches, please come see me for an analgesic steroid cream instead of using a broken glass rod to scratch it."

"I didn’t know it was broken, Doc," the technician replied as she slathered dermaplast on his back.

"Well that’s got you taken care of. Now get back to work. Mister Tork tells me that he wants the analysis of that substance immediately."

"Yes, ma’am."

After the doors closed behind the departing crewman, Cord turned her attention to the two men before her. "Good morning, Captain. Who’s your friend, and what can I do for either of you?"

"This is Captain Kevin Riley, Starfleet Intelligence. And I’m not sure what he’s here for."

"I’m here for you, Doctor Cord," Riley began.

Sulu turned with a start to face his old friend who was apparently unaware that he had evoked an old memory. He quickly suppressed his surprise. "Can you be a bit more specific, Kevin?"

"Hikaru, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but your girlfriend here is practically immortal."

No one said anything, and Riley smiled. "The lack of a response indicates you’re both well aware of this." He favored her with an appraising look. "Aside from the fact that you look remarkably young for a woman your age, I’d bet you’re practically invincible."

"What gave me away?"

"It came to Intelligence’s attention when you survived the exposure to the plasma plague on Korvat back in April. A little research showed you survived a fire and explosion aboard the Cooper in 2290 that should have killed you as well. Other incidents came to our attention as well, including your surviving the explosion which resulted in your mother’s assassination."

She stared at him, then blew a bubble of gum and popped it petulantly. "So my gig’s up. What are you going to do? Take me back and dissect me?"

"Believe it or not, Doctor, that’s exactly what Admiral Gervais was planning. Fortunately for you, he was not immune to that particular strain as you well know since, ironically, you conducted his autopsy."

Cord slid next to Sulu, slipping her hand into his. "Karu, you can’t let him—"

"Don’t worry, Ariel, I won’t let him—"

Riley held up his hand in an attempt to placate the two Excelsior officers. "Whoa, slow down there, guys. The problem is moot. I’m here to tell you, Doctor Cord, that you need no longer worry. The only personnel still aware of your abilities have been bought and paid off, and if your condition is ever mentioned, there will be...penalties."

"‘Bought and paid off’? By whom? Daddy?"

Riley shook his head. "By Starfleet Intelligence under direct order from Commander-Starfleet Lystra Davis herself."

"Really?" Sulu was impressed. "But why? She can’t stand me!"

"Captain, I regret to inform you that the universe doesn’t revolve around you," Riley said sarcastically. "Doctor Cord’s performance on Korvat saved Ambassador Sarek’s life, a fact that has not escaped Admiral Davis’ notice, but more than that, the admiral does not intend to set aside the rights of any sentient being for the sake of Federation security."

"So why come here and tell us all this? You needn’t have bothered. If Starfleet is planning on leaving me alone, then what’s the point—?"

"Because, dear woman, that information may be in the hands of others, including the Klingons, the Romulans, the Orions... As you know, their agents can be most tenacious. We thought it best if you have fair warning. Hopefully, the matter won’t arise."

Sulu walked to the biobed, and hopped up on it. "Sorry, I just need to sit down. Kevin, this is all remarkable."

Riley shrugged. "Perhaps, but I told you my visit was about several things. I’ve accomplished my first two goals: Doctor Cord has been made aware of her situation and has received Starfleet’s assurance that we’re the least of her worries."

Sulu frowned. "And the rest of your goals?"

"Just a few simple things that will wait until Gamma shift. Now, how’s about dinner with an old friend?" Riley reached into his duty jacket and brought forth a bottle of saki.

"Who are we to refuse to offer our hospitality to an old friend?"

And within a few minutes, the three sat around a table in Sulu’s quarters enjoying sushi, sashimi, sake and a celebration of their friendship.

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