written by Travis Cannon

Captain Aranog sat in the captain’s chair on the Jolly Rogers, a Constitution class ship that has had a lot of modifications made to it. It was also unrecognizable as a Constitution class ship. He spun around to look at his weapons officer. He raised his fist.


His eyes darted across the view screen, between the white stars he was watching. Waiting for his prey to show it self. His other hand came up and rubbed his unshaved chin, which was rough - like himself.

“Target, Mark Zero Four.”

“But, sir!” Targen, his first mate said.

“Quiet!” Aranog said. “Weapons, on my mark fire.” Aranog paused for a beat and then quickly lowered his fist. “Fire!”

The weapon’s officer pushed down on the appropriate button. Aranog watched as two torpedoes blasted out from the ship and head towards what appeared as a empty part of space. Within too minutes there was an explosion and for a couple of moments a Klingon Bird of Prey appeared, until the second torpedo reached it and then there was no Klingon Bird of Prey. Aranog’s eyes narrowed. He stood up quickly drawing his phaser.

“I told you I wanted prisoners!” Aranog yelled at the weapons officer.

“Uh, sorry, sir,” the crewman stuttered.

“I don’t care for excuses,” Aranog said and then shot the officer.

The crewman jumped backwards as he vaporized. The other crewmen on the bridge all became silent and stared up at Aranog.

“Skipper?” Targen said.

Aranog shoved his phaser back into his holster.

“You all knew what you were getting into,” Aranog said as he sat down. “I did not take pleasure in that. He was my best weapons officers. However it did not occur to him that our client wants Captain Mog alive. Now, we must kill our client and take all that is his.”

Targen smiled.

“Aye, Skipper,” Targen said. “Pilot, set course for the Oralian Sector. Warp Factor Five.”

“Aye, sir,” the pilot said.

Aranog leaned back in his chair and looked over at Targen.

“Our client is going to pay us whether he likes it or not,” Aranog said. “I’d also like to take his life away, too.”

“Can’t have anyone talking about us?” Targen inquired.

“Absolutely correct,” Aranog said.

The starship Pioneer hovered in space. Behind the Pioneer was a long and wide green dust cloud that stretched on for what seemed like eternity in each direction. This green dust cloud was called the Rift by most of the people in the Oralian Sector. It was the barrier between the Oralian Sector and the Kai Imperium Territory. The deflector dish became brighter for a moment and then the brightness subsided. On the bridge, Captain Benjamin Kelsoe was standing behind Ensign Tracy Carson.

“Did that get the message to Starfleet?” Kelsoe asked.

“Yes,” Tracy said.

Kelsoe turned around and leaned over to Craig’s station.

“Anything on way we’re getting communication interference?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I don’t know,” Craig said, looking down at his console.

“I believe I understand the problem, Captain,” said Braxis from the other said of the bridge.

Kelsoe slowly stepped over to the science station.

“You’ve got my attention, Mr. Braxis,” Kelsoe said.

“I believe that this Rift, as the locals call it, disrupts communications,” Braxis said. “For the past hour I have observed what appear to be a form of radiation come out of the Rift every ten minutes.”

Kelsoe turned around and looked at Tracy.

“That explains a feel things,” Tracy said.

“I’m reading the radiation bursts,” Craig said. “They appear to be come from within the Rift.”

“Well, now we know why they call it the Great Rift Barrier,” Burt said from his chair.

“It is also the border line between the Oralian Sector and the Kai Imperium,” Braxis said. “I recommend caution while we are in this present location.”

“Worried that the Kai might attack?” Burt asked.

“No,” Braxis said, calmly. “I am just taking the logical course of action. According to the Kobal and many other species we’ve encountered, the Kai are not a particular friendly people.”

“Yes,” Kelsoe said, nodding. “Kind of like the Cardassians or Romulans of this Sector.”

“Indeed,” Braxis nodded.

They were interrupted by a beep from the communications station. Kelsoe turned to Tracy, as Tracy attended to her console. She turned and looked up towards Kelsoe.

“Incoming transmission from Starfleet Command,” Tracy said.

Kelsoe stepped down to the center of the bridge as he spoke:

“On screen.”

“Sorry, sir,” Tracy said. “Starfleet is saying that this is a priority one message.”

“Priority one?” Kelsoe said. “Transfer it to my ready room.”

“Aye, sir.”

Kelsoe stepped towards his ready room.

“You have the bridge, Commander.”

Kelsoe entered his ready room, curious about what the priority one message was about. Kelsoe sat down in his chair and turned it around to look at the small view screen on the wall behind his desk.

“Computer, view screen on.”

The screen blinked and the Starfleet Command room on Deep Space Five appeared. Kelsoe say Admiral Harold Anton, the officer in charge of operations in the Oralian Sector and standing beside him was a familiar face.

“Dutton?” Kelsoe said. “Jonathan Dutton?”

“That’s right,” Admiral Anton said. “Look, Ben, I’ve got some bad news.”

“Go on, Admiral,” Kelsoe said.

“Admiral John Hayes has died,” Anton said.

“How?” Kelsoe said, shocked more that anything. Hayes was not old enough to die of old age.

“There was a malfunction on the U.S.S. Guanine,” Anton said. “Have you heard of the Guanine?”

“Yes,” Kelsoe said. “It’s a prototype ship, right?”

“Correct,” Anton nodded. “It’s part of a new class of ships, the Cosmos Class ships. They’re suppose to be bigger and better than the Sovereign Class ships.” Anton paused for a beat and then continued. “Well to make a long story short, Admiral Hayes was onboard the Guanine during her test flight and the reactor core malfunctioned. Hayes was in the engine room, inspecting the new trans-warp drive. Needless to say everyone in the engineering died of extreme exposure to antimatter radiation.”

“When did this happened?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Several days ago,” Anton said. “Look, Ben, I know you and Hayes were close. I’m sorry.”

Kelsoe controlled his emotions as best he could.

“It’s the danger we accept when we take this job,” Kelsoe said.

“I’ve been named the acting Commander and Chief of Starfleet by the Federation Council. Captain Dutton’s been promoted to Admiral.”

“It’s been a long time coming,” Kelsoe said.

Dutton nodded.

“Thanks, Ben,” Dutton said.

Kelsoe nodded back.

“Admiral Dutton will be the new chief of operations for the Oralian Sector,” Anton said. “Look, Ben, I know you’re studying the Rift, but I need you back on Earth. I’ve got a few enemies at Starfleet Command. The why it’s going it looks like Admiral McCloud and I seem to be the leading candidates for Hayes’ replacement. I’ll need some Starfleet captains’ support to be selected by Starfleet Command.”

“I’ll give you my backing, sir,” Kelsoe said. “Personally I think that the Council made, as my science officer would say, a logical choice.”

“Thanks, Ben,” Anton said, with a nod and smile. “You’ll need to be at Earth Dock one in five days.” Anton paused for a beat. “Anton out.”

Kelsoe turned around in his chair and looked out the window at the stars and the greenish cloud called the Rift.

The Jolly Rogers hovered along side AO-5, an alien outpost in the Oralian Sector, operated by the Nawlo. Captain Aranog sat on the bridge. He turned around and looked at his first officer, Targen.

“Where’s our client?!” Aranog demanded.

“I don’t know, sir,” Targen said. “Navigation, are we in the correct coordinates?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Damn!” Aranog said hitting the arm of his chair.

“It appears that they are a no show, sir,” Targen said.

“Typical,” Aranog said. “Well, no matter, I’ve heard of some bounty we can find easily.”

“Bounty, sir?” Targen inquired, his eyes narrowing.

“Yes,” Aranog said. “Bounty, my boy. Bounty! The U.S.S. Pioneer! Federation Nova Class vessel. With out modifications to this Constitution Class ship, the Pioneer, would be no match for us.”

“Why would we want her?” Targen said.

“She is equipped with some new technology, according to the traders on the outpost,” Aranog said. “Apparently one of her shuttles came here. She may not be the prize that the Enterprise is, however, she makes it up with her advanced technology.”

“Right, sir,” Targen said. “But how could we possibly find them?”

“Easy,” Aranog said, and looked behind him. “Communications, main viewer please.”

The screen flashed to show Captain Kelsoe: “Starfleet, this is Pioneer, we are currently running scans of this Rift that we’ve heard of from many of the Oralian species. It is supposedly the...”

Kelsoe was cut off when Aranog gave the communications officer the signal to end it. Aranog turned and looked at Targen. Aranog was all smiles.

“It is easy,” Aranog said. “So close to the Rift, the Pioneer won’t be able to send for help.”

“It didn’t look like they were in the Rift,” Targen said.

“Ah, but we’ll be able to push them in,” Aranog said, and raised his voice. “Navigation, set a course for the Rift, warp factor seven.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Red Alert!” came Commander Burt’s voice over the intercom. “All hands to battle stations. Captain Kelsoe to the bridge!”

Kelsoe dashed out of his quarters, barley finishing putting his uniform on. He reach the turbolift in no time.


When the doors opened, Kelsoe say the chaos on the bridge.

“What’s the problem?” Kelsoe demanded as he stepped onto the bridge.

“Two Kai battle cruisers are on an intercept course,” Tuff said from his station.

Kelsoe stepped down into the center of the bridge.

“Have they shown any hostile intent?” Kelsoe asked.

“Their weapons systems have been raised,” Burt said. “That’s good enough for me.”

“When did they appear?” Kelsoe asked, sitting down into his chair.

“Just now,” Burt said, sitting in his corresponding chair.

“Before we jump to conclusions, Connor,” Kelsoe said, “Let’s see what they are up to. Tracy, open a channel.”

“Channel opened.”

“To the Kai ships,” Kelsoe said. “This is Captain Benjamin Kelsoe of the Federation starship Pioneer...”

The flash of the view screen to the bridge of the lead Kai vessel cut Kelsoe off.

“Yes, yes, Captain,” said the Kai Commander. “I can assure you that we have no interest in your ship. We are pursuing a criminal of the Kai Imperium. Do not get involved.”

The transmission was terminated.

Kelsoe turned to Craig.

“Can you read the ship they are pursuing?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Yes, sir,” Craig said. “Its...”

Craig stumbled.

“What?” Kelsoe inquired.

“It’s a Starfleet vessel,” Craig said.

“What!?” Kelsoe said standing up. “On screen!”

The screen flashed to show a small Constitution Class ship being chased by two enormous Kai ships.

“The U.S.S. Justice,” Craig said.

Justice?” Burt said. “That ship was lost in space more than a century ago.”

“I can barely see the Constitution ship in her,” Kelsoe said. “Hail them.”

“Aye, sir,” Tracy said. “Opening a channel.”

The bridge of the Justice appeared on the view screen. A man dressed in an old Starfleet uniform was sitting in the captain’s chair.

“This is Captain Kelsoe of the Pioneer,” Kelsoe said.

“Captain,” nodded the other captain. “I am Captain Aranog. I would like to have met under other circumstances, however at the moment I am a bit busy.”

“We can assist you,” Kelsoe said.

“Thank you, Captain,” Aranog said, “But I’m afraid I don’t know what to do.”

“Captain,” Braxis said. “If we head into the Rift, it is possible that we can hide ourselves from the Imperium vessels.”

“Did you hear that?” Kelsoe asked Aranog.

Aranog nodded. “Yes.”

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe ordered. “Coordinate with the pilot of the Justice to get into and hide the Rift.”

“Captain,” Kelsoe said looking back up at Aranog. “We’ll have to distance ourselves so that the Kai ships won’t fire upon us.”

“Understood,” Aranog said. “My pilot is standing by.”

Kelsoe nodded.

“I hope to met you again, soon,” Kelsoe said. “Kelsoe out.”

Their transmission with the Justice was ended. Kelsoe sat down promptly.

“Make it so, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said.

“Yes, sir,” Zimmer said. “Coordinating with the Justice’s pilot.”

“Sir,” Tuff said. “The Justice is being fired upon.”

“On screen!” Burt said.

On the view screen, they saw the Kai Imperium ships fire some sort of plasma weapon at the Justice. However, thanks to the Justice’s pilot and the ship’s evasive action programs, the Justice was not hit. Kelsoe turned and looked at Burt. Burt nodded.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Burt said. “Execute the maneuvers. Get us into the Rift.”

Zimmer typed on the helm control console.

“And make it look like we’re just going in the Rift to do research,” Burt said.

“I will begin scans,” Braxis said.

Kelsoe nodded. “Good idea, Mr. Braxis.”

“It is the logical disguise.”

The Pioneer turned around slowly and began heading towards the Rift. The Kai ships’ did not respond to the Pioneer’s movements. The Justice had begun its course to the Rift. It was moving relatively quick for such an old ship. Within moments the Pioneer was inside the Rift. A couple seconds later the Justice entered the Rift about five thousand yards from were the Pioneer had entered. The Kai Imperium ships spun around and head towards the Rift.

The massive ships seemed to be as vast as the Rift, but of course it was not. The best comparison to the Kai ships would be the V’ger vessel that came to Earth almost a century before the Federation first encounter with the Kai. So this makes both Starfleet ships a mere dot compared to the Kai Imperium battle cruisers. Both Kai vessels could probably hold a thousand million crew members, each.

Both Kai vessels slowed down and hovered there. Both extend several yellow beams across the sections of the Rift that the Justice had gone into. And then, without any warning, both Kai battle cruisers entered the Rift.

“Do they detect us?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Negative,” Tuff said.

“The Justice?” Burt asked.

“The Justice has not been detected, either,” Tuff said. “Both Kai vessel are heading away from us.”

“Good,” Kelsoe said with a nod. “Tracy, open a channel with the Justice.”

“Yes, sir,” Tracy nodded. Within moments the bridge of the Justice had appeared on the view screen.

“Captain Aranog, how is your ship?” Kelsoe asked.

“Fine, Captain,” Aranog said. “Just fine. If you don’t mind, I’d like to beam over - and my senior staff, too, of course.”

“Sure,” Kelsoe said. “We’re sending the coordinates now.”

“Good,” Aranog said. “Aranog out.”

Aranog leaned back in his chair and looked up at Targen.

“Prepare the boarding party,” Aranog said. “The Pioneer is ours.”

“What about the Kai?!” Targen said.

“Our clients should never I’ve made an enemy of me,” Aranog said. “Soon, with the help of the Pioneer technology we can find a way to destroy Commander Iaz and his ship.”

Targen nodded.

“I’ll prepare the boarding parties,” Targen said.

After several minutes, back on the Pioneer:

Kelsoe stood in the transporter room. Beside him was Commander Burt and Braxis. Kelsoe turned towards Ensign Kavoc, who was standing behind the transporter control console. Kelsoe nodded. Kavoc pressed the buttons on the control console and the transporter pad illuminated with faint blue light. Soon Captain Aranog and his senior staff appeared on the transporter pad.

As soon as transport was complete, Aranog stepped down from transporter pad and walked over to Kelsoe. He extended his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Captain Kelsoe,” Aranog said.

“I’ve got some question, if you don’t mind?” Kelsoe said.

“Sure,” Aranog said. “Not at all.”

“Then let us go to the conference room,” Kelsoe said.

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe sat at the end of the conference table, with Captain Aranog to his right and Commander Burt to his left. Aranog’s senior staff sat on his side of the table, and along with Burt, Braxis, Tuff and Dr. Braga were seated in the conference room. Kelsoe leaned back.

“A temporal worm hole,” Kelsoe said. “Is that possible?”

“I believe so, Captain,” Braxis said. “It has been known that some worm holes connect through time, instead of space.”

“Sometimes, both space and time,” Aranog said. “We encountered the worm hole close to the Klingon border. Then before we new it we were in the Kai Imperium. We’ve had to survive in the Kai space for almost ten years before we were able to upgrade our Constitution Class ship enough to survive through the Rift.”

“Why haven’t you made contact with Starfleet,” Kelsoe inquired.

“Captain,” Aranog said. “Our family and love ones are long since dead. We had nothing to go back to. After all, we would be able to be the first Federation crew to explore this sector.”

Suddenly the alarms went off. Kelsoe stood up and tapped his commbadge.

“Bridge, report!” Kelsoe said.

“We’ve had several unauthorized transports,” Craig said. “We’re getting reports of weapons fire on several decks.”

“Excuse us,” Kelsoe said, as we walked towards the door. “Dr. Braga stay with our guest and keep them companion.”

Kelsoe emerged on the bridge and stepped down into the center. Tuff dashed to his station.

“Engage force fields around the intruders,” Kelsoe said.

“Force fields in place,” Tuff said. “Sending security teams to intercept those who weren’t trapped by the force fields. We’ll have them in a few moments.”

Suddenly the turbolift doors opened and officers of the Justice appeared, lead by first officer Targen. They all had disruptor rifles.

“Freeze, all of you!” Targen said.

Targen turned towards Tuff and raised his disruptor pistol.

“Don’t even think about it,” Targen said. “Raise your hands where I can see them.”

Tuff obeyed. Targen gestured with his head.

“Move,” Targen said, and lead Tuff into the center of the bridge.

The Justice’s officers had spread out and cornered all of the Pioneer’s bridge crew in the center of the bridge. The conference room’s doors opened and Captain Aranog appeared with his men behind him, who had Braga held by his arms. Braga was pushed down into the center of the bridge. The bridge crew formed a circle. Kelsoe stood in the center with Burt and Braxis.

“What do you want?” Kelsoe said.

“Captain, Captain, Captain,” Aranog said. “Do you really think that we are Starfleet? I’m afraid to inform you that we are not. We are pirates. Space pirates.”

“Why were the Kai Imperium chasing you?” Kelsoe inquired.

“They were clients gone bad,” Aranog said.

Targen was at Craig’s station. Aranog slowly walked over in that direction.

“We’ve transferred our colors here,” Aranog said, tearing the chest flap down on his red Starfleet uniform. “I don’t even know why we wear these uniforms.”

“To look as if you are part of a big fleet?” Kelsoe proposed.

“Yes, yes!” Aranog said with a smile. “You are a smart one, Captain Kelsoe.”

“So that whole worm hole story was a lie,” Kelsoe said.

“That part about the worm hole is true,” Aranog said. “Except for the real Justice crew. We call our ship the Jolly Rogers.”

“A true pirate name,” Braxis said.

“Right you are, Mr. Vulcan,” Aranog said. “Personally I never liked your kind.”

“Were you part of the Maquis?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Me, never!” Aranog said. “The Maquis were traitors to the Federation. Myself, I’m more of an opportunist. I really don’t have a side.”

“Why are you doing this?” Kelsoe asked. “Who’s your client this time?!”

“Me,” Aranog said. “Us! This ship... this ship has so much new technology that we can use to increase our effectiveness against Kai and any other aggressive species.”

“So, you’re all alone,” Kelsoe said. “No fleet, nothing to support you.”

“Damn it, did you hear me!” Aranog said. “We’re pirates! We work alone!”

Kelsoe nodded. Targen looked up from Craig’s console.

“Can you get anything?” Aranog inquired.

“Negative,” Targen said. “They’ve locked out the computer.”

“Impossible,” Aranog said. “Let me see!”

Aranog pushed Targen out of the way. He punched the console and then looked up. He glared at Kelsoe. Aranog stepped out from behind the tactical station and stepped forward.

“Tell the computer to accept my commanders, or I will start killing your crew,” Aranog said.

“Can I discuss this with my officers,” Kelsoe said.

“Captain!?” Burt said.

Kelsoe raised his hand to silence Burt.

Aranog nodded. “Very well,” Aranog said. “If you must.”

Kelsoe turned around and spoke with his officers. Aranog looked at Targen.

“Sir?” Targen said. “We won’t be able to get anything out of the ship. Main engineering and sickbay are protected by force fields.”

“Damn,” Aranog said. “This was suppose to be easy.”

He turned his attention to Kelsoe.

“Now, Captain Kelsoe,” Aranog demanded.

“Okay,” Kelsoe said. “Computer, activated self-destruct, authorization Kelsoe Alpha Tango.”

Aranog’s eyes opened wide.

“Does the first officer concur?” the computer asked.

“He does,” Burt said. “Authorization Burt Beta Charlie.”

“Authorization except, awaiting final commands.”

“You wouldn’t?” Aranog said.

“Oh yes, I would,” Kelsoe said. “I would gladly destroy this vessel then let its technology fall into the hands of terrorist.”

“We not terrorist!” Aranog said.

“I’m not hearing you, Aranog,” Kelsoe said. “Computer, command code zero zero zero destruct.”

“Self-destruct activated. Warning. The ship will self-destruct in two minutes.”

“Damn it!” Aranog said.

“Sir, we must leave,” Targen said.

“No!” Aranog said. “I will not leave my bounty!”

“Enough, sir! We can find other bounty!” Targen said. He activated his communication device. “This is Targen to the board teams. Abort mission. Targen to Jolly Rogers, beam us back!”

“No!” Aranog cried as all his men transported off the bridge.

Immediately Tuff and some of the bridge crew took Aranog into custody. Aranog struggled, but soon gave up. Kelsoe stepped up and looked at Aranog in the face.

“Can win them all,” Kelsoe said. “Take him to the brig.”

“Aye, sir,” Tuff said and lead Aranog away.

“Warning. One minute until ship’s self-destruct.”

“Computer,” Kelsoe said. “Terminate self-destruct, authorization Kelsoe Alpha Tango.”

“Self-destruct terminated.”

Kelsoe sighed and sat down in his chair.

“Tracy, send a message to the Kai Imperium that we have a prisoner for them,” Kelsoe said.

“Yes, sir,” Tracy said.

“And Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Get us the hell out of here. I think Mr. Braxis has had enough time to gather sufficient information.”

“That I have, Captain,” Braxis said.

“Course laid in, sir,” Zimmer said.