STILL I RISE
Previously: Episode Twelve
JUMPER’s LOG, Star Date 2274, September 19th (9 Years, 1 Month, 19 Days)
Here’s a question for you: When does a criminal society cross the line into being an actual society? That question is never straight forward, and when the people asking are members of Starfleet, it has special significance… and special pressure.
Sharing a common border with the Klingons and the Federation lies a multi-system polity known colloquially as The Orion Syndicate. Some would call them a nation. Others would call them criminals and thugs. The Orions claimed neither, just the right to rule their own worlds… and peddle drugs, slaves, and weapons all across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. They supported piracy, they kidnapped, blackmailed, and spied. But they largely did so with proxies and were, if not liked, were at least respected by their own people. At least the free ones.
We were coming back from one of the infrequent but routine diplomatic rendezvous with our counterparts in Klingon Space, leaving the Neutral Zone behind us as we began our slow return to Earth for the end of our second 5 year mission, when a small space freighter hailed us, sending out a targeted distress signal. It was suffering engine trouble and was calling for any Federation vessel.
We arrived less than 45 minutes later, having briefly jumped to maximum warp, and slowed just in time to see three small attack craft decloak and begin firing at the freighter. They weren’t even vaguely a match for our systems and we rapidly disabled them, then rescued the freighter’s crew and passengers, who turned out to be a couple of Pakleds and three dozen Orion females, all attractive, young, and bearing the indications of being slave girls, though they’d changed out of their slave garb and into working jumpsuits. Our security forces also boarded the attackers and discovered they too were crewed by Orions, all of them male, tough, and lacking any identification as military. Rather, they carried civilian ID, which made them pirates.
We arrested them and seized their vessels, which we tractored to our hull as we headed for the nearest starbase to drop them off. I may have taken advantage of the situation to study… and then subsequently duplicate their cloaking devices, which were clearly illicitly acquired Klingon Military models, but I hazarded a guess that they were a generation old.
Still, using my scans and the replicator system I’d spent the better part of the last decade building and refining, it was fairly easy to both create a functional duplicate as well as gain a detailed understanding of the process by which it worked. Creating the replicator really wasn’t that much of a leap forward, the Federation of Kirk’s time was already using a similar system for food synthesis and a separate and much larger and simpler system for general fabrication. All I’d had to do was refine the system, compact it, and link it to basic building block supplies… which now took up quite a large section of my smaller drydock, where it had fabricated any number of things, including a warp core, deflector array, and nacelles for the Black Jenny. That was soon bolstered by the addition of a cloaking device.
A holodeck is not a hard thing to build either. All it takes is holo-emitters, computing power, and a knowledge of forcefield physics. In fact, the only real trouble I faced in all of this, besides fitting research and development time into my not unbusy schedule, was getting my hands on enough dilithium to last me until I could find a way to either replace it or create my own.
Oddly enough, my reasons for pressing ahead with the creation of the holodeck was my evil twin, who I was, despite the fact that she was ruthless, unethical, and murderous, hesitant to kill. She was what I could have been without too much of a paradigm shift, and yet I had her locked in a cage from which I never, ever, let her out. I couldn’t take any chances with her. Sure, the cage had been moved to one of the bedrooms (it didn’t take a technical genius to transform part of the housing complex into a functional brig), and I’d asked Uriel to speak with her, to get a sense of her. His report was far from glowing. He compared her to Mehrunes Dagon… and not favorably. Alternate Spock she was not. Joseph Mengele would have been horrified by her disdain for life.
Regardless, I wanted to improve her quality of life, while I figured out what to do with her, though I was more and more tempted just to fire her into the heart of a star with every encounter. I wasn’t exactly innocent in this. Anesthetizing a kidnapped prisoner and performing unauthorized plastic surgery on her was a violation of medical ethics on a pretty severe scale, but there was no way I was going to allow her to continue wearing my face, cyborged up or not.
Still, as long as no one found out, I wouldn’t have to give back my various awards… which by this point included the Vulcanian Scientific Legion of Honor for my work in the field of Ethical Calculus, the Carrington Award for my work in creating the first universal vaccine for the common cold, the Zee-Magnees Prize for my work with monopole magnets, and the Nobel Prizes in both Physics (for my work on warp manifold efficiency) and in Medicine (for my work in auto-diagnostics). Perhaps the strangest of my awards was the Star of Khaless for my work on Ultar and Yuria. The invitation, which had come from Klingon Chancellor himself, had stunned the Federation Council when the Klingon Ambassador delivered it in person on the Assembly floor. Not only was I the first Vulcan ever to be so honored, but the first Medical Doctor. It was a very strange ceremony, as I listened to the Chancellor praise my valor against the forces of our mutual and age old enemy, disease…. And then he pinched my ass. Only Klingons could think a foreign military officer decking their Chancellor in front of a public audience was funny. The Chancellor thought I was flirting with him and offered to continue the fight in private. Klingons… Oy.
But that was for later. For now, we had to deal with the Orions. As we arrived at Starbase 16, we discovered that the Orion Military had beaten us there, and they were demanding the return of their ships, their men, and the runaway slaves. The ex-slaves were, of course, requesting asylum. And now we’ve come full circle on the issue at hand.
For you see, among the former slaves was one Zhavva and, according to both her and Starfleet Intelligence, she was the leader of a massive slave rebellion among the Orions. According to the Orions, she was a criminal, a terrorist, a saboteur, a thief, and a murderess. But one man’s terrorist is another’s patriot, right? And General Order One was very much in play. I won’t go into detail over much over the many many long and intricate debates we had about what we dared or did not dare do, over the ethics and morality of the issues, and (less officially) over how attractive she and her companions were.
The crew was firmly on the rebels’ side, as were most of the officers… okay, all of the officers. Absolutely no one thought the Orions were in the right. But the legality of the issue was… tricky. And we were told a special legal envoy from Starfleet’s JAG office was being dispatched to deal with the issue.
The Captain called me and Zane into her day room. “Okay, you two. You’ve managed to pull off any number of strange and only partially explained miracles over the years. We need one of those now.”
Zane said “We could pull an “I am Spartacus”?”
Captain Sherwood smirked “They were all executed.”
“Well, umm… we could blow up the Orion’s ship and pretend it was an accident?”
While Zane was thinking, I suggested “We could stage a jailbreak, then, while the slaves stole the cloaked fighters, get in the way while trying to help capture them?”
“That might work, but what if the Orion ship can track them through the cloak?”
I gave her a smirk “I’ll make sure that’s not the case. Give me… two hours.”
She nodded and I went to get Zhavva and explained the situation to her… and then I gave her an unexpected additional offer. “Look, there’s a chance the escape won’t work. I cannot be certain my modifications will work, but there is a place aboard this ship that no one else knows about besides me and my… associates. We do a little… off the books transportation from time to time. I can hide you there, in medical stasis, for a couple weeks, until we reach our next port of call. There I can drop you off without anyone else knowing and you’ll be free to resume your activities.”
She considered, then shook her head “Tempting… but my companions are also my friends. My life is nothing compared to the cause… and truth be told, I’m no brilliant warleader. I’m more in the nature of charismatic figurehead. But it’s nice of you to offer. You Vulcans have a reputation for even dealing… nice to know you can be sneaky sometimes.”
I smirked. “You have no idea.”
I cannot say there was no attraction between the two of us, nor can I claim that nothing had transpired between me and the attractive, cunning, and daring rebel leader in the days leading up to the escape, but we had a time limit. Zane and the gang were carrying out a little unauthorized modification of the Orion warship. Did you know that nacelles are often held on by explosive bolts so that they can be jettisoned if they destabilize?
The jailbreak escape went off without a hitch, at least from our side, the slavegirls used their wiles to distract our crewmen and beamed aboard the small ships, we moved to intercept, accidentally blocking the warship’s firing solutions, and then, once the Orions’ had discovered the rebels’ sabotage, towed the now Nacelle-less ship back to the starbase, just in time for the JAG representative to arrive and yell at us.
He yelled a lot more a day later when the Orion ship, in the process of reattaching their finally recovered nacelles, discovered further sabotage that forced the entire crew to abandon ship as the corridors filled with a semi-toxic gas that turned their normally green skin purple and made their voices sound all high and squeaky. Once aboard the Spacestation, it was discovered that most of the Orion crew were wanted in various systems and many of them had false IDs, and the ship, now empty, was declared derelict and seized, then searched, where it was discovered they were carrying contraband. So they were, their Captain included, arrested, creating a massive diplomatic incident (and supplying me with quite a number of useful and highly illegal or restricted goods… after all, what were the Orions going to say? “No your honor! There weren’t 2 crates of Romulan Ale! There were 50!” I think not. Also, three Orion warp capable shuttlecraft / smuggler vessels, all loaded with contraband would do wonders to bolster my fleet). Stealing isn’t nice… but stealing from criminals is at least fun.