Star Trek: Timelines
The Widening Gyre
Stephen Garrett Jr.
Table of Contents
The Romulans as portrayed in this story are based upon the works of Diane Duane."Turning and turning in the widening gyre..." - William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"
.5LY from Federation-Orion Border
23 April 2368 Earth Standard Time
The brilliant white color of an Orion starship-grade blaster washed over the shields of the U.S.S. Salamis
, rocking the Akira
-class cruiser roughly as her shields struggled to absorb the shot. Three Orion raiders, each carrying deadly heavy blaster cannons on their bows, swarmed over the Federation strike cruiser as Salamis
' own phasers sliced into the engines of an Orion transport. Inside was the entire reason Salamis
had attacked in the first place: according to some partial intel, there were an estimated 200 civilians on board, mostly kidnapped off the streets of nearby worlds or taken in pirate raids, being brought to Orion to be sold into the Orion slave market. And only half a light-year stood between them and enslavement.
Half a light year and Salamis
On the bridge of Salamis
, Captain Adrian Parker was ignoring the klaxons of alert status and concentrating on the reports from his bridge crew. "Orion 1 is coming across our..." The ship rocked again as the other two blasted the ship simultaneously. The lieutenant at tactical finished with, "...bow! Dorsal shields down to thirty percent!"
"Heading zero-two-zero mark zero five two!" At Parker's order, the helmsman turned the Salamis
slightly to the right and up at a fifty-two degree angle, causing the Orions to miss their next shots. The phaser arrays on the ship's aft arc fired, cutting into the weak shields of the light Orion raiders.
turned again at Parker's order, this time to the left and on a down angle, quantum torpedoes raced out of her bow launchers at the raider designated Orion 1. One torpedo missed from the ECM put out by the raider, but the other three were right on target. Two impacted on it's dorsal hull shields and wiped them out, damaging enough armor that the third crippled the raider and nearly blew it in half.
The other Orion raiders turned sharply, seperating. Parker watched his screen intently, keeping track of their movements. "Helm, follow Orion 2! Weapons, keep an eye on that transport! Don't let him get back to warp!"
A pair of affirmations echoed from the respective bridge officers. Salamis
turned to the left, following Orion 2, it's forward phaser arrays cut through space and into the smaller ship's rear shields. A burst of fire from the cruiser's forward-mounted pulse phaser cannons succeeded in finally ripping apart the raider's engine assembly. The crippled ship continued to drift forward, unable to maneuver any longer.
The final raider came above the Salamis
and tore at it's weakened dorsal shields. The shield indicator on Parker's display quickly went from yellow to red. "Helm! Stop all engines and fire maneuvering thrusters to bring the bow up!" Parker's mind raced as he calculated his bow shield strength against the pirate's. Turning to the Lieutenant at Weapons, he barked, "At my mark, give me everything you've got in the forward arc!" Salamis
's main impulse engines quieted and her maneuvering thrusters fired. The ship turned as quickly as it could, showing her bow to the Orion raider as it came in for another pass. Parker shouted "Fire!" upon the completion of the maneuver, and the two ships exchanged vicious attacks.
certainly took a hammering from the pure power of the Orion's bow blaster cannon, she had the advantage in her multiple weapons. The forward phasers, arrays and pulse cannons, handily-removed the raider's foreward shields so that a pair of quantum torpedoes could tear the ship apart.
With the starship combat ended, Parker immediately placed the order for boarding parties to be sent to the transport. When he was done, he turned to his XO and asked for a damage report. The Andorian replied quickly by rattling off item after item of damage. Casualties but no fatalities so far, which Parker was thankful for.
His gamble did pay off, however, as nearly twice the number of people that intel had estimated were aboard. With the transport seized, Salamis
placed a tractor beam on it and took it to warp, moving at a leisurely Warp 5 to the nearest Starbase.Starbase 419, Border Sector 4, Federation Space
10 May 2368 Earth Standard Time
Parker was in formal uniform, the familiar black jacket with grey shoulders plus black trousers, and standing at his full height of 183 centimeters beside his military advocate when the four leading admirals of the sector assembled again at their desk. He showed no immediate emotion in his gray eyes and did a rather good job of hiding any fear he might have had. He looked like the consumate military professional, with his black hair well-combed and trim to regulation and his hands behind his back.
In the week after Salamis
had intercepted the transport and destroyed her escorts, a small political crisis had developed between the Federation and the Orions, and the Orions' Romulan backers. The Orions initially levied charges of unprovoked attack and for a short while seemed to be threatening war, with Romulan backing, before the images of the freed slaves-to-be were released to the public along with their debriefings. Immediately the momentum shifted; now the Orions were scrambling to find the corrupt officials within that were aiding the slave trade and the Romulans had backed off. In the Federation Council itself, the peace parties that had been calling for Parker's head were now quiet and incapable of speaking, or so it seemed. He had become a public hero now and politicians were apt to be silent when it meant going against popular opinion.
But that had not prevented an impromptu review board being appointed to review the case and find if he had overstepped his bounds. Parker waited silently for the sector CO, Admiral Hansen, to begin speaking. "Captain Adrian Parker, upon review of your actions on the 23rd of April 2368, we have concluded that you acted without orders or probable cause in intercepting the transport Meklavr
. As such, you were technically in violation of interstellar law regarding the innocent passage of ships." Parker did not betray any emotion but permitted Hansen to continue. "However, it is clear to us that while you violated the letter of the law, the Orions were violating it's spirit, and in your actions you showed admirable traits in a starship captain, namely in your swift response to the evidence on hand and in your resolution to action. Since the Orion government has withdrawn it's charges against Starfleet, we will not bring this to court-martial." Hansen folded his hands together. "However, because of the seriousness of the breach with the Orion government and potential damage to the interests of the Federation, you are being re-assigned to another command outside this sector that Starfleet Operations will arrange immediately. That is the extent of our official findings." Hansen allowed Parker and his advocate to exchange a handshake and sighs of relief before continuing. "Off the record," Hansen's grim expression finally softened, "we are also in concurrence on one thing; we would have all done the same thing in your place, Captain Parker. You have done a valuable service to Starfleet and the Federation, not to mention four hundred and thirty innocent lives that were held aboard that slave carrier. We of this Review Board wish you good luck in your next posting. You are dismissed."
Parker was in his quarters on Salamis
packing the last of his things when the door chime sounded. He openly declared, "It's open", and his XO, Lieutenant Commander Virshk, stepped in. "Commander, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Sir, on behalf of the crew, I'd like to say we've all been honored to serve with you," the Andorian said in a strong baritone. "We're going to miss you, Captain."
"Goes for me too. I'd be worried about you, but Captain Shelby is an excellent officer and I know she'll do you all good."
"Of course, Captain." Virshk offered him a hand. "Sir, may I?"
Parker looked back from his bags, showed a small grin on his face, and gave Virshk a handshake, the first they'd had since Virshk had been assigned to Salamis
. "Help Shelby with the greenskins, will you?"
Virshk laughed, "Of course."
"Good, because after what we've done here, they're going to be looking to even the score. Wouldn't want them to pull a fast one over you." Parker went back to packing the last few items.
"Any idea where they're sending you, Sir?"
"I've been recalled to Earth," Parker replied. "Captain Sisko's letting me hitch a ride on the Saratoga
. Once we get there, I'll see where I end up."
"Mind if I follow you to the airlock, Sir?"
"Not at all." Parker secured his bag and lifted it onto his left shoulder. With Virshk by his side Parker walked through the ship's port-side corridors to the port airlock, attached as it was to a berth inside Starbase 419.
The entire command crew was awaiting him there, and Parker would run the gauntlet they had created for him, shaking hands and giving pleasant goodbyes to the men and women he'd served with for the previous three years. At the end, when he was on the other end of the airlock, he took one last look at them before the airlock doors closed and they disappeared. With that done, Parker moved on.Chapter 1U.S.S. Saratoga, en route to Sector 001, Federation Space
13 May 2368 Earth Standard Time
The sound of laughter was coming from within the officer's lounge on the top deck of Saratoga
. Inside it's occupants were dining on a meal prepared mostly by the ship's commanding officer, Captain Benjamin Sisko, who had used the last of his personal stores to put together what he insisted to be an authentic taste of New Orleans. Parker had known Sisko in the Academy long enough to consider him a classmate and friend even if they had spent the years since that time serving seperately.
The other two present were Sisko's XO; a Native American and Commander named Chakotay. Perhaps more prestigious was another one of his friends; a retired diplomat from Trill, Curzon Dax. The four men were seated at a circular table, their meals already finished, drinking glasses of technically-illegal Romulan ale that most Starfleet officers gained access to with virtual impunity; Romulan ale was "the second law that everyone breaks" according to jokes, with tax laws being the first. After finishing an amusing anecdote about playing revenge pranks on a few uppity upperclassmen while in their junior year, the conversation changed course for a moment. "And then there was the time Ben here," Parker began, chuckling from memory, "decided to take on this Vulcan. Suluk, Siluk, what was it again?"
"Solok!" Sisko began snickering. "You never got the name right!"
"That's right, Solok! Well, this Vulcan was being, well, being a normal Vulcan, and Ben took offense, and, well, never wrestle with a Vulcan."
"I'll take that in mind," Chakotay said in amusement.
"Ben, how long were you in the infirmary again? A week?"
"Just four days." Sisko rubbed the back of his neck, clearly smarting from the reminder. "I still want to wipe the smirk off Solok's face."
"Well, I almost did take a chair leg to him," confessed Parker. "But some of the others stepped in. Told me I was too drunk to swing it accurately."
Another round of laughter echoed in the room. "Well, now that we're finished with remembering what fools we were as cadets," said Sisko with a wide grin, "let's talk current events. Know where they're sending you?"
"Not at all," Parker answered. "I suspect they'll stick me on a tender of some kind."
"Depends on which admiral in Operations handles the appointment." Chakotay folded his hands on the table. "Admiral Paris would give you a rickety old Constellation and send you off to the farthest corner of the Quadrant to keep you out of the spotlight. Kirschbaum can be pretty fair, though."
"I'd bet on Admiral Leyton getting you something. You remember Leyton, right Adrian?"
"James Leyton?" Parker wagged his finger for a moment, as if to show he was trying to place something. "Your old CO on the Okinawa
, right? The one who convinced you to go for command school?"
"That's him," Sisko confirmed. "You were on the Kursk
as I recall, under Captain Sulu?"
"Yeah, that was her." Parker looked over the table at Chakotay and Curzon. "We were in the same task force fighting the Tsen'kethi. Closest Ben and I got to being assigned together after the Academy." Parker set his glass on the table. "So, Curzon, how did you manage a ride?"
"Blackmail," the older Trill said. "I'm blackmailing Benjamin."
"Actually, if any man at this table can be blackmailed, it'd be you, Old Man" Sisko retorted with a chuckle. "You're the wild one."
After everyone stopped laughing, Curzon admitted, "Yes, I did have quite a time in my youth. Those days are over with, though. Well, except for when I go to Risa and see Arandis."
"Somehow I have trouble seeing you keeping up with a Risan." Parker leaned forward in his seat. "So, seriously, you're going to Earth or something?"
"Yes, I am." Curzon nodded. "Earth's on the way to Trill anyway, and I've been exchanging letters with a professor on Earth, Jones, from Cambridge. He's with their history department, and is working on a series of what he calls counterfactual historical scenarios and wants my input."
Chakotay asked, "Counterfactual?"
"A 'what if', to put it simply," Curzon replied. "You see, I've been around in the Federation diplomatic corps for over seventy years, nearly eighty. Professor Jones is writing a counterfactual scenario based on something that happened in the Klingon Empire around 2293, concerning Praxis."
"Praxis is their homeworld's moon." Parker seemed to have spoken just to hear himself say it.
"Yes, it is. Used to be their key energy production facility. You might say they were putting all of their eggs in the same basket. Praxis had everything for them. Anti-matter generation facilities, dilithium mines and refineries, deuterium purification plants. Contributed about a third of the entire Klingon Empire's fuel supply. Well, it took us a couple years for some of our intel people to get wind of what happened, but sometime in 2293 there was a near-accident on the moon caused by some bad safety measures. It was brought under control but, well, if it hadn't have..." Curzon let the sentence trail off so he could take a drink of ale. "It probably would have blown the entire moon up."
The others showed a bit of surprise. "I can only imagine what that would have done to Quo'nos."
"It would have needed clean-up and some evacuation," Curzon admitted. "That's why the Klingons took the hint and moved some of the operations elsewhere. But the real issue is what it would have happened to the Klingon economy if they had needed to perform such a large scale clean-up and evacuation. The Klingons were within a year or two of economic collapse twenty years ago when they aligned with the Ferengi and became economic dependents. Imagine what would have happened if Praxis had exploded."
"It would have destroyed the entire Klingon Empire," said Chakotay.
"Well, perhaps." Curzon took another drink, causing the others to do the same, before continuing. "We discussed it a bit back in the day. Either the Klingons would have had to have gone to war with us while they had the military strength to fight, something that would have killed billions but left the Klingon Empire destroyed utterly, or..." Curzon sighed. "Well, Professor Jones is interested in the other route. The Chancellor at the time, Gorkon, was quite liberal for a Klingon leader. He was eventually assassinated by his own chief of staff for his views, but if he had an opening like the destruction of Praxis, I believe he might have pursued peace with the Federation. To cope with the disaster the Klingon economy would have to be demilitarized. Something that would require the Federation to demilitarize in turn to remove a threat to the Klingons' security. If that had happened..."
"...the entire history of the 24th Century would be radically different," Sisko finished for him. "Makes you wonder... where we'd be right now."
"That it does," Parker agreed. "But there's no use in putting too much thought in what might have been. Besides, I don't think any of us is sober enough to actually think about it too much."
The others laughed at that. "Well then..." Sisko picked up his glass. "I propose a toast, to my good friend Captain Adrian Parker, for his great accomplishment this past month in shutting the Orions up and giving them one hell of a beating!" He smiled toward Parker. "To Captain Parker, one of Starfleet's finest."
Curzon and Chakotay joined the toast, echoing the sentiment "To Captain Parker!", causing Parker to blush just a little bit.McKinley Base, Earth Orbit, Sector 001
17 May 2368 Earth Standard Time
's arrival at Utopia Planitia for her scheduled refit, Parker was flown by shuttle to McKinley for an appointed meeting with Admiral Leyton. He was escorted by a young enlisted crewman to Leyton's office. The admiral, complete with the now-graying beard Parker had remembered from the last time he'd met the man, immediately ordered Parker to be at ease and stood from his desk. "Captain Parker, good to see you."
"The same to you, Sir."
"Do you have your things?"
"I've got them in a storage locker until you give me a new assignment, Sir," Parker answered.
"Ah, well, you'll be seeing that soon enough. Follow me."
Leyton led Parker through a side door and into the corridors of the massive Starbase. "How's Ben?"
"Ben Sisko? He's doing fine. He's invited me to come down to New Orleans when I get the chance and see his father's bistro. He spent the entire trip from Starbase 419 telling me about how the Siskos are the best cooks in the entire city."
"That's good news. You know, at first I didn't remember you."
"Not surprised, Sir," replied Parker. "I was a third watch command officer at the time. Not very high on the chain."
"Yes, but then I recalled Captain Sulu insisting you were going to be an excellent captain one day. Looks like she was right." Leyton led him into a turbolift and entered a destination on the control panel. "I managed to mislead the press about your arrival. I wanted to spare you a media storm."
"Thank you Sir."
"After that fight last month, you had half of Starfleet ready to court-martial you and the other half wanting to give you a medal."
"Which half were you?"
"Which do you think?" Leyton grinned. "We've suspected the Orions were playing fast and loose with our treaty agreements. Now you've blown that door open. A lot of people are going to owe their freedom to you, Captain Parker."
"Just glad I could be of service, Sir." Parker waited a moment, thinking of how to phrase the question, when he asked, "So, Sir, what am I going to get?"
"Good things come to those who wait, Captain." The turbolift slowed and came to a stop. The doors opened and, on the other side of what looked like a waiting lobby, Parker saw windows out into a berth of the spacedock. Leyton walked up to the window and pointed out just before Parker could walk up close enough to look down at what he was indicating. "So, Captain, what do you think?"
Parker looked out at what he recognized to be a brand new Sovereign
-class starship. The Sovereign
was a new class, the U.S.S. Sovereign
herself only commissioned earlier in the year before, equipped with the latest technologies Starfleet had to offer. Perhaps more prestigious than her class, however, was the name emblazoned on her upper hull. U.S.S. Enterprise. NCC-1701-D.
"She looks good, Sir," Parker responded.
"Nice to hear you saying that, Captain." Leyton looked over at him. "Because that is your new ship."
For a moment Parker did not reply, and was not even thinking. It was a stunning thing to hear Leyton speaking those words. He had, expected, at best, one of the Galaxy
-class Command Cruisers, and really nothing heavier than an Excelsior
heavy cruiser. But the Enterprise
? "Sir, I didn't..."
"...didn't expect this?" Leyton finished for him. "You've become somewhat of a public hero, Captain Parker. The President himself insisted you receive this command."
"I don't know what to say."
"Well, think on it a bit." Leyton pointed down one end of the corridor. "The airlock's down that way. Your Executive Officer is already on board the ship, waiting to brief you on the details. Call me later when you're done and we'll prepare for the official appointment."
Leyton turned and walked back to the turbolift, leaving Parker dumbfounded. In Starfleet, to be known as the Captain of the Enterprise
was probably a higher honor than joining the Admiralty. He would join ranks with officers like Chris Pike and Rachel Garrett, not to mention James Kirk himself, the epitome of the starship captain. It was a great responsibility.
And it was a great opportunity as well. Parker resolved at that moment he was going to make the best of this appointment. He had to, as he was now thrust into the position as the torch-bearer for all of Starfleet. With his heart still thumping from excitement, he walked toward the airlock. Enterprise
was a big ship, nearly 800 meters in length, and Parker wasn't quite sure where he was supposed to go. Walking about the ship looking around he finally had a young woman from Trill walk up to him, wearing a duty uniform with beige color coding, and the gold and black rank pips of a Lieutenant J.G on her right collar. Standing at attention, she asked, "Captain, is there something I can do for you?"
"I'm looking for the ship's Executive Officer, Miss...?" Parker let the sentence drift off to indicate he wanted the woman's name.
"Right this way, Captain," she replied in a sweet, bubbly voice, obviously not getting the hint. She started leading him down corridors. "Commander Razmara is helping our engineering staff set up the anti-matter pods."
"And you are?"
"Lieutenant Jobrie Tevala, Sir," she answered in the same sweet voice. "I've been assigned as the weapons officer for second shift."
Parker nodded and said no more while following the anxious young lady through the corridors of Enterprise
to the aft section of the ship.
After a turbolift trip, Jobrie led Parker through the upper engineering deck to the main fuel bunker. It was a sizable room, about the size of a shuttle bay, situated two decks away from the ship's dorsal hull in that area. The bunkerage was protected structurally by thick armor plate, so as to protect it from initial hits and increase the ship's survivability. Conveyers were placed facing the insides of the ship to transport pods to the injection chambers that sent the anti-matter into the warp core. The pods themselves were arrayed on trays attached to slings, so they could be tossed out into space easily and manually in the event of a possible containment breach.
A number of officers and enlisted crew were unloading the pods from anti-grav transports to trays. The pods were heavy, about 180 kilograms as Parker knew from personal experience, and in most cases each pod required two people to lift it.
That was why Parker was a little surprised to see a single woman, in burgundy red duty uniform, carrying a pod all by herself and with only some apparent effort. She had an attractive form, flattered by the form-hugging nature of Starfleet uniforms. Her skin tone was a light bronze, something Parker would expect from a Middle Eastern-born human. Brown eyes looked around the tray to make sure the pod was fit securely. Her black hair was slick and short, only long enough to cover a bit of her ears and some of her neck. Parker walked up to her and she turned. "Commander Razmara?", Parker asked while she straighened her back into full attention. "At ease."
Razmara relaxed. "Captain Parker I take it?"
Parker nodded. "Captain Adrian Parker."
"Commander Sophia Razmara," she replied. She used a forearm to wipe a little sweat from her forehead. "I take it you want the grand tour?"
"Looking to move in first. I also wanted to see who else on the command staff was available."
"Well, most are still en route, but there are a couple already here on Earth. They should be up later today."
Parker nodded. "Well, that'll do for now." Seeing Razmara wasn't moving, he added, "You're dismissed." She promptly turned and began walking away to resume her work while Parker went to leave. Before she could reach for another pod, Parker immediately turned back to her, having remembered something he wanted to ask. "Say, um, if you don't mind me asking... you're lifting one hundred and eighty kilo pods that are probably twice your weight. How?"
Without a slight hint of emotion on her face, Razmara brought her right hand up and moved back some strands of her black hair to show her right ear. Parker received his answer when he saw that the ear didn't end in a blunt shape but a sharp point. "You're a Vulcan?"
"Half-Vulcan," Razmara replied with some annoyance. "Anything else Sir?"
"Oh, nothing." Parker turned for the last time to leave the fuel bunker. "Nothing at all."
It was later in the day that Parker met Razmara again, on the bridge of the Enterprise
. He had been looking over the control stations when he heard the familiar whooshing sound of the turbolift doors, and turned to see Razmara in her full uniform, including the jacket, flanked by two men. One, a Lieutenant Commander with dark skin and hair and - most interestingly - a visor device over his eyes, had a beige uniform top under his jacket; the other was a Lieutenant (S.G.) with lighter brown hair and brown eyes who wore a light blue one, meaning he was a fighter pilot. "Commander." Parker nodded at her and the others. "At ease."
They relaxed. "Captain," Razmara began, "this is Commander Geordi La Forge, our Chief Engineering Officer, and Lieutenant Chris Coleman, the commander of our squadron of Wolverine fighters."
Parker nodded in reply and accepted their greetings of "Captain". "That's all we have for now?"
"There is also Lieutenant Larrisa, our Sensor Officer," Razmara informed him. "But she is still planetside. My messages to her that you wished a meeting were not answered, so she's not in the apartment Starfleet rented for her in San Francisco."
"I want to see if there's a way to reach her. Admirals Leyton and Pressman will be conducting a tour of the ship tomorrow and I want everything and everyone ready." Parker nodded to the others. "Commander, Lieutenant, an honor to meet you. I'll see you again tomorrow."
After they were back in the turbolift and gone, Razmara looked to Parker. "I didn't want to bring this up in front of the others, but I have a feeling I know where to find Larrisa."
Parker folded his arms. "Oh?"
There was a tiny bit of humor in Razmara's voice when she remarked, "Where in San Francisco do you think an Edo woman would go at night?"
That provoked a blink and bewildered look from Parker. "Edo.... as in Rubicun Edo?"
At that, Parker sighed softly. "I suppose I'll look over her record. Have you met her?"
"She was assigned after shakedown, so I just saw her when I took a group of officers on a tour of the ship." Razmara answered. "I know Captain Harburton wouldn't have accepted her."
"Personnel wouldn't have assigned her if she didn't fit the bill, but I don't want the command staff getting disrupted by a contest to get into her bed. Did she seem.... you know."
Parker shot a partly amused, partly irritated glance to Razmara. "I was going to say 'flirty'."
"Not really, I admit, but I wasn't watching her the entire time." Razmara sat down beside him in her assigned station. "I don't suppose you're planning on asking for a different officer?"
Parker shook his head at that. "No, that wouldn't be fair. Not before I speak to her and see how she acts. But I'm not going to tolerate an officer who spends her off-duty time looking for people to slip into bed with."
"Of course not, sir." Having said that, Razmara had some ideas of her own, and intended to follow them through.
At about 2100 Razmara had beamed down to San Francisco, wearing a sleeveless silver blouse and blue pants. Her dress was casual enough, but she knew that where she was going it would make her clearly distant from the activities. And so she set off from the Starfleet apartment blocks toward the one place she'd expect an off-duty, planet-bound Edo to go.
The Edo were... unique. Protected by an unknown entity, or group of entities, in orbit over their world, they enjoyed an idyllic existance which they devoted to the pursuit of pleasure for themselves and others. Their protectors sustained them where their own meager labor efforts could not match their needs, but Edo society had one startling flaw to Parker and many others: every crime was capital. Even for something as meager as stepping over the wrong line or breaking an obscure minor law, an Edo was executed with little chance for appeal. The Edo thus lived in a paradox of love and fear for their society: they loved their effortless existance and the constant pleasure of their lives while they were terrified of their rulers and those who enforced the law.
The Edo had welcomed Federation tourists with open-arms, but always insisted on their laws being followed. Because only a handful of thrill-seekers were willing to risk death over a cultural faux pas
or obscure law, most settled for Risa over Rubicon. This had changed after the Edo established enclaves for Federation tourists to visit and agreed to grant Federation citizens extra-territorial rights within said enclaves. In return, Federation citizens could not leave the enclaves without signing a waiver accepting responsibility for committing crimes and earning the death penalty. Though Risa was still the preferred vacation spot for most Federation citizens of sufficient means, Rubicon was also popular now for the particular ways and means that the Edo had created over the years for maximizing pleasure.
Very few Edo were well-equipped for living off their homeworld. Most were raised from childhood to be dependents of their society. They were incapable of anything more. But a handful did manage to make ends meet. Restless souls incompatible with the idle bliss of Rubicon and sometimes those who chose living a worker's life in the Federation over dying from the syringe of a police executioner on Rubicon. Apparently Larrisa was one of them. Before coming down, Razmara had noted that her record was surprisingly good for an Edo in Starfleet. She had good discipline and performance marks and the approval of her prior COs. No record of improper behavior, nothing one would associate with someone coming from such a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking society. Just a lot of hard work, almost extraordinarily hard, without actual "shore leave" for fourteen months as she scrambled to finish sensor qualifications.
After ten blocks of travel, closer to the city's other residential and commercial areas, Razmara came upon a building, a former warehouse/office building by the looks of it, but now with a gaudily-lit sign out front announcing the place's name: "Forbidden Desire". A couple well-muscled men out front were checking IDs to make sure the underaged didn't slip in, or those who were on the club's blacklist. She got into the small line and looked very much out of place with her wardrobe, given the women were wearing a combination of slinky dresses or halter tops and mini-skirts and the men, often enough, muscle shirts and shorts or pants.
Inside the main room of the club was much like any nightclub. A bar to provide drinks, a table for friends, and a dance floor. The dance floor included poles for the obvious use, with young women gyrating around them while their male (and in a couple cases female) dance partners held them in suggestive poses.
Razmara slipped over to the bar where an older man was preparing drinks, a Starfleet Marine tattoo visible on his right arm. Being in the place was not entirely comfortable for her, but she had the same curiosities toward their Lieutenant's personal conduct as Captain Parker. The very thought of an Edo in Starfleet was a shock.
As she put down a shot of tequila Razmara briefly thought of getting up and leaving. It struck her as uncouth and rather unkind to Larrisa, almost a breach of faith. But at this point her curiosity and her concerns were overcoming her sense of decorum.
"So, here for a date or are you waiting for the show to start?" the bartender asked.
"Yeah. In the backrooms." About as good a place as any...
Handing the bartender a few coins to pay for her drink, she asked, "Say, have you seen an Edo woman here?"
"Edo? As in..."
"Sure, I have." The bartender smirked at her. "Which makes your choice of clothing a bit more obvious. So, you her new CO, or some other higher up looking to spy on her?"
Razmara blinked at the man. "What do you mean? The Edo told you she was in Starfleet?"
"No, but I was a Starfleet Marine for twenty years. I know an Academy-bred Starfleet officer when I see one. Same as with you. You Academy graduates stand out in a crowd like this." The man smirked. "As the saying goes, whatever happens on shore leave doesn't come back."
Razmara nodded silently and left her empty shotglass on the bar. She followed a couple of people through the hall into a back area, a room with more benches than chairs and about halfway full in occupancy. She remained near the back and stayed silent as the show was begun.
"Here for entertainment, or because of me?"
Razmara turned back down the hall. Larrisa was standing beside one of the other doors, wearing a pair of leather manacles on her wrists and what looked to be an easily-removed loin-cloth, but absolutely nothing else. She was, certainly, a sexually-appealing woman; prominent, well-shaped and proportioned breasts, smooth lips, shining blue eyes, and a trim body with some light signs of muscle on her belly, arms, and legs. Her almost gold-tinted blonde-hair was let out from the pony-tail she'd kept it in while in uniform, flowing around her shoulders. Razmara's jaw lowered out of shock. "What are you...?"
Larrisa seemed rather surprised too, but there was more irritation, even anger, in her voice. "I'm not officially on post yet, Commander. This is my private time."
"And you want to be the slave-slut for the club?" Razmara almost gasped aloud. "Is that how you spend your time, Lieutenant? Being the metaphorical doorknob?"
That brought an even angrier reaction. "How dare you," Larrisa said. "How dare you spy on me. If any of us is out of line, Commander, it's you
"I find this conduct unacceptable, Lieutenant, a disgrace to your uniform and an embarrassment to Starfleet!" Razmara's voice began to get louder, her disgust overriding her discretion.
"If anyone is going to embarrass Starfleet here, Commander, it is you," Larrisa countered. "You're the one making a scene. Now I insist you leave, or I'll ask them to throw you out and then I'll go file a harassment complaint."
With that said Razmara remained silent and watched Larrisa walk past. The crowd in the room cheered and wolf-whistled when she entered, a few shouting remarks. A voice introduced her as "Larrana" and remarked on the night's event; the men and the women in the audience getting to do their best to make her "submit". A hook was provided to link to Larrisa's leather manacles, holding her arms upward from a place before the crowd, and Razmara watched them put a ballgag into her mouth.
A couple of male volunteers stood up, but Razmara didn't bother staying to see what they were going to do. She walked out.
Parker had been returning to his new quarters when his commbadge made a message receipt tone. He tapped it and said, "Parker here."
"Captain, I found Lieutenant Larrisa.
"Did you ask her to be aboard by 0900 tomorrow?"
"I didn't get the chance, sir. I caught her...
" There was a brief silence. "Sir, are you... alone?
"Yes, I'm alone in my quarters. What?"
"I caught her at a sex club in San Francisco, about to play the helpless bound maiden and get nailed by every man and woman in the room.
For a moment Parker didn't react, but it was hardly out of surprise that Lieutenant Larrisa had been found in such a way; it'd be like being surprised at finding a Vulcan in a debate society. "You went after her
"Yes, I wanted to see how she was...
Angrily, Parker cut her off. "Commander, I am disappointed. I have my own way of getting the measure of the Lieutenant, I didn't need you going after her like some kind of morality patrol!"
"I.... you're right, Sir. What I did was unacceptable. I apologize.
"Don't apologize to me. Apologize to Lieutenant Larrisa, tomorrow. Parker out." Parker pulled the commbadge off and went about removing his uniform and finding suitable sleeping clothes. He took his usual nightcap from a bottle of Pacifican-brand whiskey and climbed into bed.McKinley Base, Earth Orbit, Sector 001
18 May 2368 Earth Standard Time
The office built into the Enterprise
's bridge deck was on the starboard-bow quarter. It was of modest size, mostly consisting of a desk, a pair of chairs on the other side, and space for the CO to put personal effects. Parker chose to place a poster montage of the American nation's first nuclear carrier, also named Enterprise
, on his wall. Across the bridge deck in the conference room was a similar brass model of the carrier and it's earlier cousin from World War II, as well as ships named Enterprise
from the rest of human history up to the Enterprise-C
, an Ambassador
-class ship (originally built as a battleship but now classed as a large cruiser) that had been decommissioned in 2362.
Parker was reviewing a schematic of the Enterprise
when the door swished open. Larrisa entered, wearing her uniform jacket over the blue uniform of the science-related branches. Her figure, obscured when he saw her the previous night, was a nice one. She was of a good figure and her uniform did not do much to subdue the attractive curves on her posterior and chest. Her long blond hair was well-kept and now pulled up into a ponytail. Larrisa's blue eyes stared forward, not directly making contact with him, and Parker found her stance at attention to be flawless. Certainly not something he would expect from someone raised on a planet completely lacking in discipline. "Lieutenant Larrisa reporting as ordered, Sir," she said to him in an emotionless voice, a voice not as high as Parker expected.
He waited a moment. Parker wanted to see how well she held her stance. When five seconds passed and she had not even blinked yet, Parker nodded. "At ease, Lieutenant. Sit down." While she sat, Parker wondered just how it was possible for an Edo to be that disciplined as their reputation seemed to speak against it. Furthermore it didn't jive with his mental image of her in the club tied up and having sex. That was the action of a wild and undisciplined girl seeking pleasure, not of a professional military woman.
But she had been doing that very thing yet had been flawless in her posture and stance while at attention; certainly she was professional in her manner. Parker drew in a breath and began to speak. "You were right on time, Lieutenant. I like that."
"I try to be perfect, Sir."
"So your record says. Your COs have all given you top marks. I can see why Operations assigned you here. But I have some concerns."
Larrisa's expression was cold. "This is about last night."
"Wearing that uniform means accepting a code of behavior, even when you're not in it." Parker frowned at her. "That was unacceptable."
"Permission to speak freely?"
Parker nodded at her. "Granted."
"To be frank, Sir, what I do in my private time is none of your damned business," Larrisa said coldly. "In fact, I'll point out that nobody could have any idea I was in Starfleet until Commander Razmara started arguing with me. Had you trusted me, and waited for me to report - and I would have seen that message the Commander left - they would have thought I was some Edo girl passing through. So if my actions caused Starfleet's reputation to be tarnished, it's only because she gave me away. And I'll point out that she didn't do this to any of the other officers on the ship. She did it to me because I'm from Rubicon and neither of you trust me."
Parker gave a short nod. She was right. Commander Razmara had stepped out of line, and he had probably encouraged it from his own reaction. They had only done so, certainly, because of her origins. "Well spoken, Lieutenant. I agree, Commander Razmara was acting out of line, and we both are guilty of not showing much trust in you." Parker folded his hands on the table. "You're correct about that.. But the question is now raised about your personal behavior. And I'd like an answer."
"My personal behavior on duty is the same as any other officer's, Sir. Off-duty and on-ship, it'll be the same as well." Larrisa was clearly upset as she continued. "Sir, I get to go planetside about twice a year and that's just my average in the five years since I graduated from the Academy. It's been fourteen months since I was last planetside, Sir. All of my off-days since were on military starbases and I remained on inactive duty, not full leave. I did this because it was the only way I was going to finish my advanced sensor qualifications and get my promotion." She leaned forward. "Captain, I've been training for two years to get this posting. I'm not going to do you or the crew wrong. I know what you're thinking. I'm an Edo. My discipline will waver as I yearn for the pleasures of life, the pleasures I got in ample quantity back on Rubicon. You think I'll be sleeping around, but I won't, Sir."
"You say that, but according to your record," Parker pointed on his screen, "you've had romantic liaisons with other personnel in every posting you've had."
"Sir, I'm not the only Starfleet officer to see a shipmate while off-duty," Larrisa pointed out. "In three cases, they came on to me first and it was only a couple of times. In another, she was my roommate and we actually had a solid relationship going. In not a single case were any of them working with me directly while on-duty." Larrisa shook her head. "Sir, what am I supposed to do? How do I convince you to trust me?"
"Show me that you can resist your impulses. Why were you at that club last night?"
"Because I hadn't done anything like that in three years," Larrisa replied. "Because it was nearby. It's not like I went there in my uniform, Sir. I was in civilian clothing and never mentioned my occupation. I just went to wind down."
"You call depraved sex winding down?"
"That's a matter of personal standards and not objective, Sir. And I hardly think anything I experienced last night to be anything but, maybe, unorthodox." Larrisa shook her head. "Sir, this is not going to get us anywhere. I promise you I am not going to do anything to bring you or the crew shame. I will maintain perfect discipline."
Parker found her expression and her explanation convincing. But there was something else he wanted to know. "Lieutenant... why are you here?"
"Because the Enterprise
is where careers are made, Sir."
"No, you misunderstand me." Parker finished shaking his head. "Why are you here? In Starfleet? Why did you leave your idyllic paradise for the military life?"
Larrisa bit on her tongue for a moment. "Idyllic paradise? No. What kind of paradise is one where you die for any infraction, no matter how small?" Larrisa looked down. "I lost my father when I was eight. He and my mother got in a fight and he lashed out and slapped her. She... she didn't even mind, but he broke the law. So I had to watch as they put the syringe in his arm and killed him." Parker, for a moment, thought he saw a tear start to come down the young woman's right eye. "My mother wasn't the same after that. Oh, there were other men to pleasure her, but she loved my father. She missed him so much that every day she cried for him and died a little inside. So when I was seventeen and of age to live on my own, she just walked into a forbidden area one day. Instant death, which is what she wanted." Larrisa's fists clinched. "Do you know how many Edo live to see fifty years of life? One out of every ten thousand. Over the years, only a small handful can avoid breaking the law. It's simply a matter of time before you slip up somewhere. Almost all Edo die from the syringe because of that little fact. Some do it on purpose, without friends or loved ones to give them any reason to live." Larrisa smirked. "Our elders say that pleasure is a good enough reason to live. But it isn't. There is more to life than physical pleasure. Humans taught me that, you know. It was the strangest thing, staying in an enclave and finding humans cherishing the simplest pleasures. Little things that we considered a basic and daily pleasure were so sensual and pleasing to humans that it was... vexing. It took me a couple years to realize it, but by the time my mother died I knew the secret of Humans."
"And that is?"
Larrisa smiled and continued. "You cherish pleasure so greatly because you do not always experience it. You do not spend your days doing nothing but having fun. You work, you toil, you fight amongst yourselves and others day in and day out. No Edo, growing up, wants to work. Yet you enjoy pleasures greater than we do. After realizing that, I knew there was more to life. Pleasure alone is not a good reason to live. It is transitory. If it is experienced too often, it's effect is lost. The extraordinary becomes ordinary. I wanted to experience what you knew. I wanted to work and toil, to suffer pain, so that I could feel the same about pleasure as you did. And after coming to Earth, being schooled, and entering Starfleet Academy, I came to understand life like no Edo knows it. Life was never meant to be a short-term thing filled with pleasure and ended by execution. There are so many worlds to find, things to see and do, and you can't do that if you remain an ignorant member of idyllic society, spending each day doing simple tasks and enjoying routine pleasures. You have to push yourself beyond what you are at first. You have to improve yourself. That's why I'm here. I joined Starfleet to better myself, Captain. I joined Starfleet to make myself a better person, and I'm not doing it for my people but for myself. As far as I'm concerned, the Edo don't deserve to better themselves unless they are willing to work for it."
Parker nodded slowly. He finally stood. "Lieutenant Larrisa, go ahead and report to Commander Razmara. Welcome aboard."
Larrisa's reply was a vigorous nod. "Thank you, Captain." She stood immediately and went straight out the door.
Razmara was on the bridge when Larrisa came out.of Parker's office, awaiting the other present members of the Enterprise's command staff. Larrisa looked at her and went toward her new station. She ran a hand over the controls and thought of what an honor it would be. This was where she would be given a chance to shine. The most visible posting at her specialty in the entire Starfleet and it'd gone to her. The outsider from a race most found strange and weird if not selfish and hedonistic.
Larrisa looked over and saw Razmara looking at her. "Yes, Commander?"
"I'd like to apologize," Razmara said. "I... you were right. It was a breach of trust and I was wrong to do it."
Larrisa thought she could see some sincerity there, but she was certain it was an apology Parker had ordered. Nevertheless she allowed her superior a grin. Razmara hadn't been the first XO of a starship to treat her like that, just the first to catch her in such a "compromising" situation. "I accept the apology, Commander. I hope to do well with you during our service here."
"I feel the same way, Lieutenant."