written by Travis Cannon

The stars rushed pass the window of Commander Braxis’ quarters as the starship Pioneer was at warp. Braxis was seated with his back to the window and his hands in his lap.  He was wearing a white tranquil Vulcan rube. A single candle was lit in front of him. He took a deep breath.

“Clear all thoughts of the outside world,” Braxis said.

Across from him with her legs folded, as well, was Ensign Tracy Carson. She did as Braxis instructed.

“Cleanse your mind, think only of the flame,” Braxis continued.

Tracy’s eyelids hide her eyes, but were unable to hide the fact that her eyes were moving rapidly. She kept her hands in her lap, as well, but did not seem as relaxed as Braxis.

“I sense struggle,” Braxis said calmly. “Relax your muscles, focus on only using your mind. The mind is stronger than the body.”

Tracy was unable to focus on only using her mind. Her eyelids fluttered opened. Braxis’ eyes opened in succession.

“You broke the mediation,” Braxis said. “You are still not fully prepared.”

Tracy sighed.

“I’m sorry,” Tracy said.

“There is no need to be sorry,” Braxis said. “I, as your teacher, have no ego to bruise. And it is also difficult for a beginner to learn how to control her mind.”

Tracy nodded.

“Let us try again,” Braxis said, calmly.

Tracy took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

“Breath calmly,” Braxis said. “Allow your mind to move beyond this realm, beyond this world.” Braxis paused for a beat. “Focus on the candle. Focus on the flame.”

“I’ll try,” Tracy said. She inhaled and exhaled slowly. “I sense the flame.”

“Good,” Braxis said. “Now concentrate on making the flame become more intense.” Braxis’ eyes darted from the flame to her face rapidly.

“Okay,” Tracy said.

There was a long pause and nothing happened. Braxis was about to end the mediated, but then the flame slowly crept up and grew to a half a foot long. Braxis’ eyes opened wide. Amazing, he thought. And then the flame dwindled back down to one inch. Tracy opened her eyes.

“How was that?” she inquired.

“Extraordinary,” Braxis said. “However, I must warn you that you still have not fully discovered how to use your powers. It is very obvious that you are gifted beyond a Vulcan, and some other telepathic races.”

Tracy smiled.

“You must remember, however, that with this power comes great hardship,” Braxis said. “You must learn to block you telepathic abilities when they can distract you.”

“Like Vulcans do?” Tracy inquired.

“Yes,” Braxis nodded. “Like Vulcans. However you must focus more on blocking them, for you can do much more than a Vulcan can.”

Tracy nodded. “I understand.”

“We shall continue the lesson at thirteen hundred hours tomorrow,” Braxis said.

Tracy nodded. They both stood up and Tracy headed for the door. The communication system suddenly turned on, and Commander Burt’s voice came out of the speakers.

“All senior staff to the bridge,” Burt said.

Braxis and Tracy looked at each other and quickly exited his quarters.

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe sat in his chair.

“Mr. Zimmer, bring the ship to complete stop,” Kelsoe commanded.

“Aye sir, no forward motion,” Zimmer said.

Kelsoe turned to Tracy.

“Play the message again,” Kelsoe said.

The speakers came to life and the heard a hoarse voice.

“This is a Callian cargo ship, the Brine XII,” said the voice. “Please help us, we are under attack by Di’gan marauders. Please! We need h...!”

“That’s all we’ve got, sir,” Tracy said.

“Can you trace the distress call?” Burt inquired.

“Yes,” Craig said from his station. “It’s not that far, I’m sending the coordinates to the helm.”

“Very well,” Kelsoe said. “Mr. Zimmer, target those coordinates and engage.”

“Aye, aye,” Zimmer said. “Plotting in course and engaging. Warp five, sir.”

“Good,” Kelsoe nodded.

Kelsoe turned to Burt.

“Connor,” Kelsoe said. “I want you and Braxis to found out who are these Di’gan. I don’t believe we’ve encounter them yet.”

“Yes, sir,” Burt nodded and walked over to the science station to join Braxis.

Kelsoe stood up and stepped up to Tuff’s station. Joanna was standing next to Tuff, looking over some data. Kelsoe glanced from Joanna to Tuff.

“Rob,” Kelsoe said.

“Yes, Captain?” Tuff said with a nod.

“I want you to prepare the ship for any confrontations that we might run into, these Di’gan don’t sound friendly,” Kelsoe said.

“That they don’t, sir,” Tuff said. “Not that often that I hear the word marauders.”

“Yes, quite right,” Kelsoe said. “Uh..., Joanna?”

“Yes?” Joanna said, looking up.

“Can I see you in my ready room?” Kelsoe said.

“Yes, sir,” Joanna said. “Excuse me, Rob.”

Joanna stepped out around the station and followed Captain Kelsoe to his ready room. Within seconds they were inside. The window showed the stars zooming by as the ship was at warp factor five. Kelsoe stepped over to the replicator.

“Anything?” Kelsoe inquired.

“No thank you,” Joanna said.

“Suit yourself,” Kelsoe said, and leaned towards the replicator. “Black coffee, hot.”

A white cup materialized, and Kelsoe picked it up. He sipped it as he sat down in his chair. He looked up at Joanna and gestured for her to sit, as well. However, she ignored his gestured. Instead, Joanna cocked her head.

“What’s this about?” she demanded.

“What happened between us,” Kelsoe said.

“Oh, that,” Joanna said, and sat down on the couch in front of the window. “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“Well,” Kelsoe hesitated, taking a sip of his coffee. “I don’t think its right for the Captain and one of his senior to staff to be, well, involved.”

“Oh!” Joanna said, standing up and placing her hands on her hips. “But it is all right for Norman and Tracy!”

“That is different,” Kelsoe said. “Neither one of them are in command of a starship.”

“I thought our feeling were genuine,” Joanna said.

“So did I,” Kelsoe said. “Until I realized that we started to feel things for each other at the exact time that the Tealuians had begun experimenting on us.”

“So what are you saying!?” Joanna said outraged. “That you could only love me if some one was drugging your mind! Huh!? Oh, yes that’s exactly what I need to hear!”

“No, I don’t mean that,” Kelsoe said standing up.

“Then what did you mean? What is this all really about?” Joanna said, throwing her arms up in the air. “Or are you just too afraid to love again?”

Kelsoe stopped with his mouth open. No sound came out. He stood there with his jaw dropped, not knowing what to say or what to do. He slowly sat down, his eyes gazing into nothingness.

“Sorry, if you can’t understand,” Kelsoe said. “But I have experience in these types of relations.”

“You do?” Joanna said, narrowing her eyebrows.”

“Yes,” Kelsoe nodded. “Back when I was the executive officer of the Skyfox, I became involved with Captain Tellening, and that compromised her abilities to send me on dangerous assignments, that if I was not on could have serious jeopardized our mission. So do you understand?”

Joanna stood there, thinking. She slowly nodded.

“I understand, sir,” Joanna said. “May I go.”

Kelsoe nodded. Joanna turned and marched out of Kelsoe’s ready room. Kelsoe sat back down and sipped his coffee wondering if he handled that correctly.

Captain Kelsoe stood in the center of the bridge looking at the view screen.

“Magnify,” Kelsoe ordered.

The image of the derelict vessel grew large in a blink. It was a bluish gray vessel, about twice the size of the Pioneer, shaped like a sting ray. Kelsoe turned back and looked at Craig.

“Is this it?” Kelsoe demanded.

“Yes, Captain,” Craig said, checking his station. “Sensors confirm that this is the coordinates from where the distress call came from.”

“It doesn’t look damaged,” Burt said.

“Braxis?” Kelsoe inquired, turning towards Braxis.

Braxis leaned over to his console and examined a monitor. Braxis turned back and looked up at Captain Kelsoe.

“I’m reading what appears to be a warp reactor failure,” Braxis said.

“Tactical?” Kelsoe asked.

“I’m reading some sort of weapon signatures,” Tuff said from his station. “Defiantly not So’ja or Imperium.”

“Are they Di’gan?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to learn much about the Di’gan,” Burt said.

“Braxis?” Kelsoe said, narrowing his eyebrows.

“All we have of the Di’gan is from the So’ja,” Braxis said. “According to the information we got from the So’ja while we were allies, the Di’gan are a warlike race.”

“Like Klingons, eh?” Burt said.

“Yes, Commander,” Braxis nodded. “Similar.”

Burt turned to Kelsoe.

“It doesn’t look like that ships been attack,” Burt said. “I smell something fishy.”

Kelsoe ignored Burt and turned around to face Tracy.

“Hail them,” Kelsoe commanded.

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and waited for the Callian ship to respond.

“They’re responding,” Tracy said. “I’m opening a channel.”

The view screen blinked to the interior of the the Callian vessel. It was lit badly however cords, console and conduits could be seen in the background. All of the ship seems to be made of the same bluish gray material. Kelsoe squinted his eyes, trying to make out a face or figure. In the background some of the conduits sparkled and smoked white stream. Finally the lower lights were lit and a figure approach the view screen. This would be the first time that a human would see a Callian.

His face was basically humanoid. The Callian’s eyes were similar to humans, except bigger. They had noise. On both sides of the jaw were gills openings, three to be exact. On that back of the head appeared to be a dorsal fin, that ran down the length of the skull to the base of the neck. On the forehead of the Callian were three V-shaped scales that went from the bottom of the forehead to the top of the head. The skin was bluish gray, like the color of almost everything in the Callian ship. He opened his mouth.

“This is the Brine XII,” the Callian said. “I am Crespin, captain of this vessel.”

Kelsoe recognized the hoarse voice they had heard over the speakers earlier.

“Well, Captain Crespin,” Kelsoe nodded. “I am Captain Benjamin Kelsoe of the Federation starship Pioneer, how may we assist you?”

“Assist? Oh, yes!” Crespin nodded. “How warp core is in need of some major repairs. The Di’gan came out of no where and attack!”

“Okay, okay,” Kelsoe said, raising his hands. “Don’t worry. We’ll help you.”

“Bless you, Captain. Bless you!” Crespin said.

Kelsoe nodded.

“I’ll send a team over as soon as possible,” Kelsoe said. “Kelsoe out.”

Tracy terminated the transmission. Kelsoe turned around and looked over at Joanna.

“Assemble a team,” Kelsoe said. “And make is small one.”

Joanna nodded. She still looked a be flustered from their conversation earlier.

“Aye, Captain,” Joanna said and headed for the turbo-lift.

Kelsoe turned to Braxis and nodded. Braxis got up and rushed to the turbo-lift to join Joanna. Kelsoe then turned to Burt.

“Kind of interesting that the view screen is working now,” Kelsoe said.

“What are you thinking, sir?” Burt inquired.

“That this may be a trap,” Kelsoe said.

“Should I send a security team over with the repair team?” Tuff inquired.

Kelsoe turned and shook his head, no.

“I don’t want them to think we’re suspicious,” Kelsoe said, and then he turned back to the view screen. “Mr. Zimmer...?”

“Yes, sir,” Zimmer acknowledged.”

“Bring us along side her,” Kelsoe said. “But keep us a far enough distance.”

“Aye, Captain,” Zimmer nodded.

Kelsoe glanced over at Burt, who gave him an confused expression.

“Just in case,” Kelsoe said.

“We’re ready to beam aboard,” Joanna said over the communications to Captain Kelsoe.

Lieutenant Commander Joanna Withrome, Commander Braxis and Ensign Kavoc stood on the transport platform in transport room one. Lieutenant Craig stood behind the transport control console.

“Right,” Kelsoe replied. “We’re sending the coordinates down there now.”

“I’ve got them, Captain,” Craig said from the transporter control station and then looked up at Joanna and the rest. “Ready?”

“Hell yes,” Joanna said. “I want to go in and get out as soon as possible.”

“All right,” Craig said. “Energizing.... now.”

Craig worked the controls on the console and the transporter platform was engulfed with white-blue light as the repair team was transported off the Pioneer and onto the Brine XII.

The dark room was momentarily lit by the after glow of the transporters. As soon as Joanna re-materialized she tapped her commbadge.

“Transportation successful,” she said.

“Roger that, away team,” Kelsoe said.

The room was about the size of a small bedroom. Joanna suddenly felt a little claustrophobic, even though the room was not as small as some other places she had been. She felt a little silly, because she could handle the tiny Jefferies tubes. She turned to look at Braxis and Kavoc, who obviously showed no emotion at all. From out of the darkness walked two Callians. Their suits were dark gray and appeared to be made of some leather material. They glanced over at Joanna and then to the two Vulcans. Joanna cleared her throat, and the Callians jumped.

“Sorry,” Joanna said, with a general look of concern.

“I apologize for my subordinates,” said Crespin, as he stepped out of the dark shadows. “They are not used to talking with non-Callians.”

“Oh,” Joanna said. “I thought I startled them when I cleared my throat.”

“Indeed you did,” Crespin said, his eyes scanning the length of Joanna. He then met her gaze, and exhaled. “As I said before, they are not used to talking with non-Callians. It is the not the Callian why.”

“You are a secluded race?” Braxis inquired.

“We keep to ourselves,” Crespin said nodded, stepping forward. “The captain of a cargo ship is usually the only one who speaks with the traders.”

“So what is the probably?” Joanna asked.

“The problem?” Crespin said, nodding, keeping his eyes on Joanna. “The problem is that our warp core was malfunctioned. I will show you to our reactor core.”

“Lead the way,” Joanna said with a smile, trying to be as polite as possible, while she thought to herself. Damn! These aliens are ugly!

Crespin lead the way down the a dark hallway, which was only lit from floor lamps. Joanna followed right behind Crespin, then Braxis and Kavoc brought up the rear. Behind Kavoc the two Callians followed behind, with weapons in their hands. Crespin began chatting on their way.

“So what species are you?” Crespin said.

“Human,” Joanna said. “We’re from the planet Earth.”

“Humans, huh?” Crespin said. “Why do those two have pointy ears and you don’t?”

“Unlike Lt. Commander Withrome,” Braxis said. “We are not Humans, rather Vulcans, from the planet Vulcan.”

“Vulcan, Earth,” Crespin said, squinting his eyes in the dark. “Interesting names. I can see why the Vulcans are Vulcans. But Humans and Earth, I don’t understand that. We are Callians, because our home planet is Callia.”

“Well some races call us Terrans,” Joanna said.

“Terrans... still makes no sense,” Crespin said, ducking his head as he turned down a new hallway. “What is the name of your solar system?”

“Sol,” Joanna said.

“Sol?” Crespin said. “Well, it looks like you are correct Mr. Vulcan, sir, we are a secluded race.”

“Indeed,” Braxis said. “This conversation is lacking in any meaning, it is a waste of our time.”

“Human conversations are interesting, sir,” Kavoc said. “I have found that one can learn more about an individual through means of... small talk.”

“Such actions are illogical,” Braxis said.

“Well, I think they are very important,” Crespin interjected. “Without... small talk, as you put it... we would not have anything to talk about.”

“You could refine you speech to relevant conversation,” Braxis said.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Crespin inquired.

Joanna stopped and looked a Braxis.

“Yeah, where’s the fun in that, Braxis?” Joanna said.

They continued on in silence until they reached the reactor core. It was a rather large room, compared to the first room. In the center was a circular globe which had a rod coming up from the center, and stopping in the middle of the globe, where it created another small globe. This globe shot out electrical bolts which hit the surface of the outer clear globe. Surrounding the big clear globe were console and conduits. Joanna looked at it with wide eyes.

“Amazing,” Joanna said.

“Well, I’ll leave you to your repairs,” Crespin said with nod, and left the room. The two other Callians stayed behind, standing at the entrance watching them.

Braxis turned, and pulled Joanna aside, as Kavoc starting unpacking the equipment.

“What’s the matter?” Joanna inquired.

“How friend slipped,” Braxis said. “He told us that the warp core malfunctioned... we were told earlier that they were attacked by the Di’gan and the result was a damaged warp core.”

Joanna nodded. “Good, point.” She nodded towards the guards. “Keep an eyes on them.”

Joanna and Kavoc worked on repairing the damage to the spherical warp core device, while Braxis stood next to one of the consoles and pretended to be working. And the Callians guards bought it. In reality Braxis was actually attempting to find out what really happened to the warp core.

Joanna turned to Kavoc.

“Hand me a plasma injector,” Joanna said.

Kavoc reached over to the equipment case and took out a plasma injector. He handed it to Joanna and she turned back to the warp core and made the necessary adjustments. She then handed it back to Kavoc.

“Tricorder,” she said.

Kavoc handed her the tricorder. Joanna held it up in front of the warp core and scanned it. She nodded with approval.

“I think that’s it,” Joanna said.

“Indeed, Lt. Commander,” Kavoc nodded. “It did not seem to be that damaged.”

“Yes,” Joanna nodded, out of the corner of her eyes she say Captain Crespin enter. “Strange. From what they told us, it sounded like it was a bigger problem.”

“What would be a bigger problem?” Crespin inquired.

“The warp core,” Joanna explained. “You see I thought it would be something much worse than a misaligned instrument.”

“Please elaborate,” Crespin said, with a smile.

Joanna looked away in disgust. She didn’t want to offend them, but they did not look pretty when they smiled. Braxis stepped over to reply to Crespin’s question.

“It was too easy to repair the warp core,” Braxis said. “Logic dictates that you were not attacked. From what we have learned about the Di’gan, they usually do not leave a ship in such could condition after an attack.”

One of the guards behind Crespin spoke up.

“They know, sir!” he hissed quietly.

“Quiet!” Crespin snapped back at the guard, and then turned back to the Starfleet officers. “Ah, I did not realize that you were acquainted with the Di’gan.”

“We are not,” Braxis said. “We found out as much as we could from the So’ja.”

“The So’ja?!” Crespin looked worried.

One of the guards stepped up.

“It’s too risky, sir,” the guard said. “They’re allies with the So’ja.”

“No!” Crespin said. “According to the bounty hunter the Federation is not allies with the So’ja.”

“Bounty hunter, eh?” Joanna said with her hands on her hips.

Crespin became extreme frustrated. He took out what appeared to be a communicator.

“Bridge..., now!” Crespin ordered, he then looked at Joanna. “Don’t worry, I’m probably keep you.”

“Captain?” Zimmer said. “I think you should look at this.”

Kelsoe turned around from where he was standing, next to  Tuff’s station, and looked at the view screen.

“What the hell!?” Burt said, standing next to him.

The Callian cargo ship had warmed its engines up and was moving away at full impulse.

“Hail them!” Kelsoe said, rushing down into the center of the bridge.

“No response,” Tracy reported.

“Follow them, Mr. Zimmer!” Kelsoe ordered, as he sat down into his chair.

The Pioneer sped up and was soon on the tail of the cargo ship. Kelsoe turned and look over at Tuff.

“Target their engines,” Kelsoe said.

“I can’t get a lock, sir,” Tuff said. “They are jamming our sensors somehow.”

“Sir!” Craig said from his station. “I’m picking up a power build up.”

“They must be preparing to jump into warp,” Burt said.

“Rob, best guess... fire!” Kelsoe commanded.

Tuff hit the fire button and the phasers shot out and bounced off of the cargo ship’s shields. The Pioneer was right behind the stern exhaust tubes. Kelsoe squinted his eyes as he saw the exhaust tubes light up. He suddenly knew what was going to happened.

“Full stop!” Kelsoe said.

However it was too late. The power serge blasted out of the exhaust tubes and pelted the Pioneer, sending her spinning out of control, as the cargo ship jumped into warp. Kelsoe was thrown of his chair. He landed beside the helm station. He saw that Zimmer had been pushed back on his back, and he helped him up. Zimmer adjusted himself back in front of the controls. Kelsoe heaved himself up along side the helm control station.

“Bring us about!” Kelsoe ordered.

He felt something warm and wet on his forehead. He knew that he must have scrapped his forehead enough to bleed. He must have hit the edge of the helm station. Zimmer punched rapidly on the console. Slowly they regained control of the  ship’s motion. Kelsoe turned around.

“Track them!” he ordered.

“They’ve masked their signal, sir,” Craig said from his station.

“No!” Kelsoe said, stumbling forward.

He almost feel, but Burt caught him. He learned against Burt. Burt looked over at Tracy.

“Get Braga up here, now!” Burt shouted.

Burt helped Kelsoe over to his chair and assisted him as he sat down. Kelsoe looked up at Burt.

“Get the Velosian Ambassador, ask him if they know where the Callian home world is,” Kelsoe said.

“Yes, sir,” Burt said. “Now just take it easy. Dr. Braga is on the way.”

Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome sat in a dark room, with Commander Braxis and Ensign Kavoc. The room was full of piping, and looked as if it had once been a storage compartment that had been converted into a brig. She turned and looked at Braxis and Kavoc, who were siting in the opposite corner muttering some Vulcan mediation. She rolled her eyes. Vulcans and their silly mediations, she thought and then with a slight chuckle thought to herself, Well, two Vulcans and a human, this should be interesting... not.

Braxis looked up at her.

“You’re lack of concentration disturbs me, Lt. Commander,” Braxis said.

“Oh, sorry,” Joanna said. “Sorry if I’m not up to the standard of Vulcan logic and concentration. I’m human, you know, not Vulcan.”

Braxis raised his eyebrow.

“Indeed,” Braxis said. “However, I believe you time would be better spent assisting us in our attempts at plotting an escape.”

“An escape!?” Joanna said with a slight chuckle. “We’re trapped in the middle of a ship that we don’t even no the layout of and we don’t even now how far or to the matter, what direction the Pioneer is in. Escape is the least of our worries.”

“Apparently so,” Braxis said, staring at her with his cold vulcan eyes.

The Pioneer hovered in orbit around Callia. The Velos were able to tell them were to find the Callians home planet and Kelsoe was about to speak with the Callian Ambassador.

Kelsoe sat in his chair looking out at the view screen. The planet was amazing. It almost looked like a huge planet of water, with only a few patches of land here and there. Kelsoe shifted his weight in his chair. Even though Braga had repaired the injury on his forehead, it still felt itchy. Kelsoe looked over at Tracy.

“Have they responded yet?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Not yet, sir,” Tracy said. “From what I can make out, they are trying to locate the Ambassador.”

“Right,” Kelsoe said, standing up. “Tell me when they have him.”

“I will, sir,” Tracy said.

Kelsoe looked over at Craig’s station. Burt and Craig were both working at the station, trying to retrace the path of the cargo ship using the ship’s sensor logs. Over at the tactical station, Tuff was doing the same. Kelsoe stepped over to Braxis’ science station and sat down in the chair. He looked over at the consoles and punched up the sensor scans of the Callian cargo ship Brine XII. A monitor lit up and showed a wire image of the ship that was reconstructed with the sensor information that the Pioneer had gathered. He punched a button and the image shifted to the stern and the exhaust tail tubes.

“Computer,” Kelsoe said, and the computer chimed his response. “Analyze the exhaust of the Brine XII.”

“Analysis complete,” the computer hummed after a few seconds.

“Uh, Captain, they have the Ambassador,” Tracy said. “He’s standing by.”

“Good,” Kelsoe said standing up. “Burt?”

“Uh, yeah?” Burt said, looking up from the operations station. “Have a look at the analysis I just did, tell me what you find.”

“Aye, sir,” Burt said, walking out from behind the operations station and over to the science station.

Kelsoe stepped down into the center of the bridge.

“Open a channel,” Kelsoe nodded to Tracy.

The screen flashed to a Callian with a gray head covering and wearing a gray robe.

“Ambassador Gunthrod,” Kelsoe said with a nod. “I am Captain Benjamin Kelsoe of the Federation starship Pioneer.”

“Yes,” Ambassador Gunthrod nodded. “What can I do for you, Captain Kelsoe?”

“Three of my crewmen have been kidnaped by a cargo ship of yours,” Kelsoe said. “I was wondering if you could assist us.”

“Wait a moment, Captain,” Ambassador Gunthrod said, raising his hand. “What was the name of this cargo ship?”

“The Brine XII, why?” Kelsoe asked.

“It’s just as I suspected,” Ambassador Gunthrod said looking away for a moment. “The Brine XII is under the control of fugitive from the government. They are charged with smuggling.”

“Is that so?” Kelsoe said. “Then we should worked together to find them.”

“However, the trouble is that Crespin, their leader, has developed a jamming system that hide his eyes,” Ambassador Gunthrod said. “There is no way to find them.”

“Uh, I would say that,” Burt said, standing up from the science station. “Um, Captain, I looked over the information you had the computer analyze... you were right. The ship leaves a signal of small particles.”

“Particles?!” Ambassador Gunthrod said. “What kind of particles?”

“Plasma,” Burt said.

“Exhaust?!” Ambassador Gunthrod exclaimed. “I cannot believe that our investigators have never thought of that.”

Kelsoe turned back to the view screen with a grin.

“Then perhaps we can help each other out,” Kelsoe said.

The Ambassador stared at Kelsoe.

“You have a far superior ship compared to ours,” the Ambassador said.

“Ambassador Gunthrod,” Kelsoe said, stepping closer to the view screen. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but how would it look to your people if your on government turned down an opportunity to capture fugitives?”

Ambassador Gunthrod stared a Kelsoe with narrow eyes. He hesitated and the spoke.

“I see your point, Captain,” Ambassador Gunthrod said. “I’ll notify our authorities, meanwhile you better get a head start. Gunthrod out.”

The screen flashed back to the image of Callia. Kelsoe turned and sat down in his chair.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Scan for the plasma particles that match the Brine XII, and engage at maximum warp.”

“Aye, sir!” Zimmer said, very enthusiastically.

The Pioneer had shot out of warp right in front of the Brine XII, and had damaged it with several blows of photon torpedoes. Right now Crespin was looking at Captain Kelsoe via the view screen.

“I’m sorry, Captain,” Crespin said. “I don’t know what you are talking about. You must be mistaken with the wrong ship.”

“The hell I am,” Kelsoe said. “You know exactly what I’m talking about Crespin. Hand over my crew.”

“Sorry, you’re breaking up,” Crespin said and terminated the transmission.

“Sir! There firing again!”

“Brace for impact,” Crespin said. “Evasive maneuvers!”

The Brine XII shook as another volley of photon torpedoes hit them. Crespin turned to one of his crewmen.

“Damage report?” Crespin demanded.

“We’ve sustain major damage to stern exhaust tubes,” the crewman said. “According to our readings the exhaust chamber well explode if we don’t repair.”

“Well we have an Chief Engineer, right?” Crespin said. “Get them to work on it.”

“Aye, sir,” the crewman said and left.

Crespin turned to another crewman and said, “Return fire.”

Crespin looked over at his tactical officer, who looked very worried.

“What’s the matter?” Crespin inquired.

“Sir,” the tactical officer said. “I’ve picked up a fleet of Callian battle starships.”

Crespin cursed in Callian.

“We need full power to escape,” Crespin said. “Cut all minor ship function and redirect power to the engines.”

“Yes, sir,” the tactical officer said.

“Meanwhile, I’ll check and see how the repairs on going,” Crespin said and left the bridge.

Joanna struggled with the equipment to repair the damage to the exhaust chamber. Kavoc stood behind her assisting her. Braxis was placed next to a console to monitor their progress.

“It’s no wonder they were able to damage their warp core,” Joanna said. “They don’t know a thing about ships.”

“Indeed,” Braxis said. “It is very illogical to run a ship without any engineers.”

“Perhaps that is why they need us?” Kavoc said.

Braxis looked up as Crespin entered the room, and noticed that Crespin’s eyes fell directly on Joanna.

“Somehow I doubt that, Ensign, however that is a very logical reason,” Braxis said.

Joanna looked over to see why Braxis had said that and saw Crespin. When she locked eyes with Crespin, he smiled. She quickly turned away so that she would not vomit. She stepped back and handed the instrument to Kavoc.

“Kavoc, you take over,” she said.

“Aye, sir,” Kavoc said, taking the instrument.

Joanna wiped her hands on her uniform and stepped over to Braxis. She glanced up at Crespin as she walked over to the console. Crespin was still smiling. She quickened her pace so that she would not have to look at him for a long time.

Meanwhile, on the Pioneer, Craig and Tracy were purposing an idea to Kelsoe.

“So what you are saying is that Tracy should be able to send a telepathic message to Braxis?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Exactly,” Craig nodded, looking at Tracy and then back at Kelsoe.

Kelsoe turned to Tracy.

“Are you sure your up to this?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I have to do it, Captain,” Tracy said. “It is the only way that we can send a message to them.”

Kelsoe looked at Burt, who nodded.

“All right,” Kelsoe said, “but I want Dr. Braga to monitor your brain functions - just in case.”

“Okay, Captain,” Tracy nodded.

Tracy sat back on a bio-bed with a neural scanner placed right below her right ear. Dr. Braga stood behind the closest medical console to the bed. Behind him, were Kelsoe and Craig. Braga looked up at Tracy.

“If anything goes wrong, I’m pulling you out,” Braga said.

“Right, doctor,” Tracy said.

“Are you ready, Tracy?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Yes, sir,” Tracy said.

“All right,” Kelsoe said. “You can begin.”

Tracy took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

Braxis was looking down at the console, monitoring Ensign Kavoc’s progress on the repairing of the exhaust room. Suddenly a felt the presence of another person in his mind. He closed his eyes and focused on the other presence. Then he could sense who it was. It was Tracy and she was trying to tell himself. He strengthened his concentration. Braxis, were are the cause for the damage to the Brine XII however we need not damage her enough for her shields to lower. You must find a way to lower the shields so that we can beam you out. Hurry! And then she was gone.

Braxis opened his eyes, and noticed that Joanna was staring at him.

“Ensign Carson has just contacted me,” Braxis said. “Her telepathic powers are quite fascinating.”

“What did she say?” Joanna inquired.

“We need to get the shields to be lowered,” Braxis said.

“Can you do that from this console?” Joanna inquired.

Braxis looked down at the console and typed. It buzzed in error.

“No,” Braxis said.

Joanna noticed that the guards were looking over suspicious. However, Crespin did not seem as alert. He appeared distracted. He was looking at her, but not. He seemed to be day dreaming. Joanna shuddered to think of what was going on in that twisted mind of his. Joanna turned back to Braxis.

“Do you require a password?” Joanna inquired.

“Affirmative,” Braxis said. “They major systems are cut off from this console. It would take me sometime to decode it and judging for the tone of Ensign Carson’s message, time is of the essence.”

“How else can we get the codes?” Joanna said.

Braxis glanced over at Crespin. Joanna noticed this and shock her head.

“Oh no,” she said.

“It is the only way,” Braxis said. “It is obvious that he is infatuated with you. We shall use that attraction to our advantage.”

“But he’s so, so, so damn ugly!” Joanna protested.

“Think of it this way, Lt. Commander,” Braxis said. “Either you do what is logical or we stay here. It is up to you.”

Damn,” Joanna said through clenched teeth. “You better not tell anyone about this.”

“There would be no reason to,” Braxis said. “Gossip is a waste of...”

Joanna held up her hand. “Yes, I know, time,” Joanna said.

Joanna took a deep breath. She slowly walked over to Crespin. She tried to walk as sensual as possible in a Starfleet uniform. Whatever she was doing was working, because Crespin was total focused on her. Soon, she was standing right next to him.

“Hi,” Joanna said, attempting to be very sensual.

“Lt. Commander Withrome,” Crespin said quickly.

Joanna noticed that Crespin's gills started flapping quickly. Joanna stepped closer and placed her hand on his chest.

“Call me, Joanna,” she said.

“Oh, Jo... Joanna..., uh,” Crespin said nervously. “I did not know that you returned my..., well my affections.”

“How could I resist?” Joanna said and thought, God, this is so disgusting!

“Wha... wha.... what can I do... do for you?” Crespin inquired very slowly.

“You can tell me the combinations to the major ship systems,” Joanna said.

Crespin’s eyes narrowed.

“I don’t know,” Crespin said.

“Ah, come on,” Joanna said kissing his shoulders and rubbing the fin on the back of his head with her fingers. “I want tell anyone.”

Crespin shuttered.

“For an amazing different species, you do know where our sensitive spots are,” Crespin said.

“Well?” Joanna said, continuing to stroke his fin.

Crespin opened his mouth, and moaned. Joanna was disgusted by this, but held down her stomach.

“Come on,” Joanna said, seductively.

“All right,” Crespin said in quickly short breaths. “Five - Eight - Three.”

Joanna quickly jumped away.

“Braxis!” she shouted.

“I heard,” Braxis acknowledged.

Crespin’s eyes opened wide as he suddenly realized what she had down

“Why you little...!” Crespin said, grabbing for his weapon.

Joanna quickly reached around and grabbed at his fin.

“Ahh!” Crespin screamed and collapsed to the floor.

Joanna bent down and picked up Crespin’s weapon. She held it up at the two guards, who backed up. Joanna slowly stepped over to Braxis.

“Have you go it?” Joanna inquired.

“Almost,” Braxis said. “I have access to the ship’s systems, shutting down the shields.”

As soon as the shields were down, Joanna, Braxis and Kavoc were beamed off. Crespin stood up, rubbing his fin, outraged with what had happened. He screamed at the top of his lungs.

The Callian battle starships surrounded the Brine XII, as the Pioneer came about and jumped into warp.

On board the Pioneer, Dr. Braga checked all of the away team to see if there were any injuries. Braga cleared Braxis and Kavoc, who returned to duty and was now checking Joanna. Captain Kelsoe came through the sickbay doors and walked over to the bio-bed.

“How are you?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I’m fine,” Joanna said. “I’m not hurt, although I might need to see the ship’s councilor.”

“That bad, huh?” Kelsoe asked.

“Let’s just say that there are something that are better left unsaid,” Joanna said.

“Fine with me,” Kelsoe nodded.

“You’re cleared,” Braga told Joanna.

“Thanks,” Joanna said and jumped off of the bio-bed. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Captain, I’d like to take a shower... I smell like rotten fish.”