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Randy Landers

December 24th 2295
0122 Hours

It was a simple matter.

Really, it was.

"Krasnyk, you in here?" he called.

The assistant chief engineer of the Excelsior answered, "Sure! Who needs what?" as he walked onto the main engineering deck. Suddenly, he froze as he saw the man before him. Then he attempted to regain his composure. "Uh, what can I do for you, sir?"

"Ah, you’ve forgotten me already, Kras. Or should I call you by your real name, Themis?"

There was a sudden flash of light, and the ship’s weapons fire alarm shrieked. The man stood there with a phaser he’d seemingly produced out of thin air.

Riley chuckled. "Sorry, my old foe, but you can’t get rid of me that easily." The Intelligence officer tapped his forcefield belt. "One of Mandelberg’s special models."

Dropping the phaser, Themis looked to the nearest exit, and found armed guards waiting there with weapons drawn. A glance to another exit led him to conclude it was time to shift. He resumed his normal shape, and began slithering up the intermix chamber, opening up one of the regulator panels. Four beams struck him from three different directions, and the octopoid fell to the deck.

"Is it dead?" asked Captain Sulu.

"Takes a bit more than that to kill a Vendorian," answered Riley.

"What was he after?"

"He was after my personal research." Captain of Engineering Maliszewski stepped forward from behind one team of security guards.

Sulu looked puzzled, but only briefly. "You mean your research on the transwarp engines? But that project was a failure." He saw her face fall for a second. "Sorry, Mali. Didn’t mean to be so insensitive."

"No worries, Skipper." She put on a brave front. "You just call ‘em like you see ‘em. So where’s the real Kras?"

"Long dead, I suspect," Riley answered. "If you hadn’t sent me that report on the ghost of Science Officer Valtane on the mainviewer following the Khitomer Peace Accords, this thing would’ve sooner or later either gotten what it wanted or sabotaged your ship."

"That report was sent to Starfleet Intelligence several months ago!"

"I don’t doubt that, Captain Sulu. Suffice it to say that there have been many changes since the death of Yves Gervais. Some things had to be put aside until I could handle them."

"I’ve heard you’ve been doing a little housekeeping of your own," Sulu said guardedly. There had been a number of disappearances of Intelligence officers lately.

"As have you, old friend. I approve of your new crew, by the way. Floyd will be a good asset, even if he does want your command."

The security detail had bound all of the Vendorian’s limbs in durasteel rod restraints, and were about to drag him from Engineering when it spoke with Kras’ goofy baritone voice. "I’ve already done both." There was an almost maniacal laughter from the head of the alien.

It snatched its limbs out of the manacles, and flung itself at the nearest security guard, frantically clawing for his phasers. Half a dozen phaser beams struck it as it grasped the phaser, and as it tried to turn the weapon on the security detail, another half dozen beams of fatal intensity struck it. It glowed briefly and quickly sublimated into a pool of glowing plasma.

"Captain of Engineering Maliszewski!" Sulu called. "That Vendorian admitted he’s sabotaged my ship. I want you to find out how, and I want it done in thirty seconds."

Maliszewski moved to the nearest intercom unit. "Chief Engineer to all Engineering personnel. Report to Engineering stations immediately. Code: Wooden Shoes." She then darted to the chief engineer’s station. The engineering deck was soon filled with all sorts of engineers and technicians, examining each station, each component of the engine room, every crawlspace, Jefferies tube, vent and intake. The whirrs and chirps of several dozen tricorders filled the deck.

Riley tapped his toe on the deck. "Themis would’ve kept it simple, Chief Engineer. Something so obvious but something that could be construed as a mistake..."

Maliszewski snapped her fingers. "The atomic matter piles in the impulse engines. Slattery!"

"Impulse engines, now! Check the piles!"

"Sir, the hatch isn’t quite closed. Good call. If they’d been open when we went—"

"Lock ‘em down, Ensign. Everyone, I don’t want any let up. Let’s give this entire vessel the most thorough going over she’s had since she was in SpaceDock."

"Yes, Captain!" and "Yes, ma’am!" came the call from the engineers and technicians.

"Good guess, Mali," Sulu beamed at her. "How’d you know?"

"An old friend screwed up with that once, and got busted...come to think of it, one of your former commanding officers had something to do with it," she said grouchily.

"All well and good, Captain Maliszewski, but—"

"But nothing, Riley. Call me ‘Mali’—it’s a lot shorter."

Kevin Riley smiled disarmingly, and Sulu wondered if he’d picked that trick up from Jim Kirk himself. "Your research—I suppose you fixed the transwarp problem, and now the folks Themis was working for has it."

"Your supposition is in error, sir. There’s no fix. It’s beyond our current level of technology. There’s no way we can create a transwarp medium...a conduit, if you will, that would allow the engines I developed to work."

"But if someone else can figure that out?" Riley pressed.

"Then the engines I developed would function at incredible speeds. Imagine going across the galaxy in a matter of months, not years."

"So who do you think he was working for?" Sulu nodded at the pile of dust that was the residue from the plasma as it cooled.

"Themis was one of the best Romulan operatives ever. We’ve locked horns on a number of occasions. Yet we also worked together against the Klingons and Orions from time to time. He disappeared about the time of the Khitomer Peace Accord, and no one knew his whereabouts. I suspected he went deep cover. That weird transmission and Uhura’s attention to detail led you to write a report. Funny thing was that it was Admiral Po who brought the matter to my attention. Most of your senior officers scrambled to find other roosts after your...téte a téte with Fleet Captain Chekov. Krasnyk was offered the chief engineering positions of four starships, and he turned everyone of them down, saying what a great captain you were to serve under."

Sulu stared at Riley, a little surprised by his candor. "And we all know that was not true," the Excelsior captain concluded.

"Whether true or not, it certainly wasn’t the consensus, and Admiral Po brought that to my office’s attention. I had one of our researchers follow-up on Krasnyk when we found that report about your ghost. Add into that an incident report filed on Krasnyk by Maliszewski during one of your drills."

"And you came running," Sulu added.

"Well, let’s just say I put Krasnyk on my list of things to do." Riley looked at the pile of dust. "I want that collected and beamed into deep space, widest possible dispersion." He looked at Sulu. "It’s hard to kill a Vendorian."


Captain’s Log, Stardate 9598.0
Christmas Eve...

Excelsior has dropped off Starfleet Intelligence Officer Kevin Riley at Space Lab Pisces 12. We have determined the nature of the mystery of a few months ago, and Captain of Engineering is in mourning for her friend we now know to be dead. Still, the saboteur was eliminated, and his attempt on Excelsior thwarted.

It’s been an interesting year...I hope the new one will be less so...

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