EPISODE 4.37 - “ALMOST PARADISE”
written by Travis Cannon
Captain’s Personal Log - Stardate 58198.38:
After the recent events on Deep Space Five, despite my protests, the crew and I have been a month of shore leave. There was nothing I could do to talk Admiral Anton out of it, and in the end he almost had to order me to accept shore leave. I was informed that the Pioneer would be taken care of while I was away. Admiral Anton said something about a refit, but frankly I’m going to miss my quarters and the bridge. Commander Tuff decided to take shore leave on Earth to spend time with his wife and kids. Tracy and Norman have decided to visit Andres Rae, the so called Risa of the Oralian Sector. Connor talk me into going to Andres Rae, as well. I’ve heard that Andres Rae has some magnificent ruins. I think it might be interesting to go exploring. As for Commander Braxis, he’s decided to come along with Connor and myself in exploring the ruins of Andres Rae. As for Ensign Zimmer... well, I haven’t spoke with him in a while. I’m still upset over his actions in the Venka Nebula. But I’ve decided to put work behind me and enough my month off, something tells me that this might be the last time for us to enjoy ourselves, especially with Tyson Calok out and about somewhere in the space.
The loud sounds of beating drums filled the air in an almost tribal rhythm. Captain Benjamin Kelsoe ducked his head as he emerged from the airlock that connected the Raecian landing port with the transport ship that he and some other members of his crew had been on for the last couple of hours. Admiral Anton had insisted that they take a vacation, so here they were, on Andres Rae, the Risa of the Oralian sector. Kelsoe stepped down and was immediately greeted by a beautiful red head Raecian female, who placed a flower lay of Raechian Lemon flowers around his neck and kissed him on the lips. This startled Kelsoe so much that he did not notice that he had stopped in tracks.
“Captain?” Burt said behind him. “Captain?”
Kelsoe shook his head and nodded, then continued to walk down into the outdoor greeting lobby. Behind him Burt followed, and Braxis. A little ways behind them were Tracy Carson and Norman Craig. Not far behind them was Dr. Chase Braga. Kelsoe and his crew formed a circle in the center of the lobby.
“Well, we have three weeks to enjoy a nice long vacation here,” Kelsoe said. “I suggest we use it well.”
“No problem, Captain,” Braga said, looking at the beautiful Raecian women all around.
“Do the Raecian have a currency system, sir?” Craig asked.
Kelsoe shrugged. “I don’t know... Braxis?”
Braxis raised his eyebrow. “Andres Rae was accepted into the Federation about three years ago,” Braxis said. “And like the Federation, they do not require currency.”
“Good,” Craig said, and Braga nodded.
“So, what’s everyone going to be up to?” Kelsoe asked.
“Well, Norman and I are going to spend how time in Raechia,” Tracy said. “There are several hotels, and the city is located next to the ocean.”
“I hear it has beaches that arrival Risa’s!” Braga said.
“I assume that is where you are going to be,” Burt said.
“Sounds like a good plan,” Kelsoe said.
“And you, sir,” Craig said. “What are you going to do?”
Kelsoe shrugged. “I don’t know. I might take in some of the sights and sounds of Raechia, maybe travel out to some of the neighboring cities.”
“What about you, Brax?” Burt inquired.
“Andres Rae is home to some fascinating ruins,” Braxis said. “Most of which have not been explored.”
Kelsoe nodded. “We have three weeks, so enjoy yourselves... that’s an order.”
The all laughed and with that they broke, all going their separate ways. Captain Kelsoe, Commander Burt and Commander Braxis all walked together away from the landing port. The city of Raechia was beckoning and the weather was great. Kelsoe adjusted his sling bag over his shoulder and looked at Burt. Burt nodded and winked.
“Vacation, Ben,” Burt said. “I can’t remember the last time we had it.”
“Neither can I, Connor,” Kelsoe said.
“Indeed,” Braxis said.
The three of them walked towards a shuttle service platform to get a ride into downtown Raechia.
Deep Space Five almost felt empty to Lieutenant Albert Buerk. He sat in the lounge and sipped a glass of synthehol. He watched as the station personnel and station visitors moved about. It had been almost a week since Tyson Calok had shot him with a disruptor and he still felt a little weak. But the doctors said that he would make a full recovery and we had not choice but to agree. Suddenly from out of the crowd in the nexus Admiral Anton appeared with Admiral Dutton at his side. Anton strolled into the lounge and walked up to the replicator and ordered a glass of Scotch. Dutton ordered a glass of Andorian Ale and the two turned towards Buerk. They started walking towards him. Buerk didn’t know what to do. When they got closer Buerk stood up.
“Admiral, sir,” Buerk said to Anton.
“At ease,” Anton said. “We’re all off duty here. May we join you, Lieutenant?”
“Yes, of course, sir,” Buerk said.
Anton nodded. “Thanks.”
The three of them sat down around the square table. Anton sipped his Scotch and sighed.
“Nothing like a good glass of Scotch to relax after a hard days work,” Anton said. “Of course, though, it isn’t like it is the really thing.”
“Yes, sir,” Dutton said, and had a big gulp of his Andorian ale.
Buerk took a sip from his synthehol and began to relax.
“So,” Anton said. “Korban looks pretty strong right now.”
“Sir?” Buerk said.
“The election,” Anton said. “Come on, you know, for the President.”
“Ah, yes,” Buerk nodded.
“I don’t know what you see in Kaenar Korban,” Dutton said. “The man’s a bag of steam.”
Anton laughed. “That may be,” Anton said. “But Korban does know how to lead. I mean, after all, I’m going to have to work close with whoever gets elected.”
“You’re right there,” Dutton conceded.
Anton sipped his Scotch and looked at Buerk.
“How about you, son?” Anton said. “Who do you like in the race?”
Buerk shrugged. “I don’t know, I’m kind of leaning towards Korvin Mot.”
“Mot?!” Dutton grunted. “The Bolian!?”
“I believe he’s the only Bolian running,” Buerk said.
“Mot would make as good a president as Jaresh-Inyo did,” Dutton said, then adding under his breath, “Spineless puppet.”
“Dutton!” Anton said. “I’d expect you to respect the President of the Federation.” He paused for a beat and the continued. “No matter who he might be.”
“What about Laura Bernard?” Dutton said. “Now there’s a class act.”
“She’d make a great President,” Anton agreed. “I have to admit, both Korban and Mot are both middle of the road guys. They really don’t stand for anything.”
“Bernard taught at the Academy, right?” Buerk asked.
“Yes,” Anton said nodding. “In fact she taught Interplanetary Relations, if I’m not mistaken.”
“That’s right,” Dutton said. “She’s very popular among the cadets. Progressive thinking... that’s the key.”
“Mot can be progressive,” Buerk said.
“If you think that Bolian Banking reform is progressive,” Dutton said.
“You know, John,” Anton said. “There are times that I think your xenophobic.”
Dutton smiled. “Very funny,” Dutton said. “But if I was xenophobic I would never made it through the Academy, not with all those damn aliens there.”
Anton looked at Dutton, a bit shocked at the response he received from Dutton.
“John, really,” Anton said. “Sometimes I think you’ve changed.”
Dutton sipped his Andorian ale and smirked.
“Maybe I have, Harry,” Dutton said. “But I still believe Laura Bernard is the best pick for President.”
Noise and excitement filled the air. Around them people were bustling about, going from cart to cart, chatting and buying. Flowers of all sorts of colors were displayed almost everywhere, and there seemed to be a heavy mixture of pollen in the air. All Burt could do was sneeze when they had entered the market place. Kelsoe looked out at the active scene before them and smiled.
“Its nice to see the culture of another species,” Kelsoe said. “Especially in the market place.”
“Thinking like a Ferengi, huh?” Burt said through a sneeze.
Kelsoe chuckled. “I guess you’re right. A Ferengi would see the market place as the best place to learn about an alien species.”
“A logical place to start,” Braxis chirped in. “I have observed that many humanoid species are attracted to large groups. Within these groups the true self is reveal.”
“Very astute of you, my logical friend,” Burt said, slapping Braxis on the back, which caught Braxis off guard. He nearly tripped as they walked past the carts.
Kelsoe looked around at all of the different fruits and trinkets. He watched as coinage was exchanged for items and purchases were made. Some people haggled over the price, but from every cart left a satisfied costumer. A Raecian standing behind a cart selling some sort of fruit that looked like apples was talking with a Bolian, who did not understand the Raecian currency. Kelsoe continued to walk, and found a cart out of the way that looked interesting. The Raecian was selling what looked like artifacts from an archeological excavation. Kelsoe wondered over to the cart, Burt and Braxis followed him.
The Raecian behind the cart looked up as Kelsoe approach.
“Hello, hello, travelers from distant worlds,” he said smiling ear to ear. “Welcome to the Great Market of Raechia! Looking for souvenirs! I am your man!”
Kelsoe smiled in response and looked down at the artifacts. He picked on up. It was a small statuette of a man. Kelsoe looked up at the cart owner.
“What is this?” he asked.
“Ah! Glade you asked, traveler! Glade!” the Raecian said, still smiling. “It is an ancient statuette of the founder of our civilization, Chief Guardian Alaenor Rae!”
“Is this authentic?” Kelsoe inquired.
“Come come, I only deal with authentic items,” the Raecian said, almost looking offended.
“Were did you get it?”
“An anthropological team went into the jungles and got in from the ancient city of Andresia Raechia!” the Raecian said beaming. “The first city of the Raecians!”
“The ruins of Andres Rae?” Kelsoe said.
“Absolutely,” the Raecian said. “Andresia Raechia is the best place to find all of the artifacts of the old times.”
“Should these not belong in a museum, sir?” Braxis asked Kelsoe.
Kelsoe was about to answer Braxis’ question, when the Raecian chimed in.
“The Raecian Historical Society sees to that,” he said. “If an item is deemed significant to our history, then it is saved.”
“Then what about this?” Burt asked, pointing at the statuette in Kelsoe’s hands. “Surely something depicting the founder of your civilization deserves to be in a museum.”
“That is one of a thousand such statuettes,” the Raecian said. “Chief Guardian Karnoc Rae had many of them made when they deified his father Alaenor.”
“Oh,” Burt said, nodding his head.
Kelsoe looked at the statuette. The face was plain and did not really show any features, but the headdress was impressive. It was something designed for a king. Kelsoe looked back up at the Raecian.
“How much?” Kelsoe inquired.
“Ah, Captain?” Burt said from behind him, but Kelsoe ignored him.
“For you....,” the Raecian placed his hand on his chin, and tapped his finger. “Fifty cubis.”
“Fifty cubis?” Kelsoe said.
The Raecian noticed his confusion.
“No coins, huh?”
“I’m afraid not,” Kelsoe said.
“Then it is yours for free,” the Raecian said smiling.
Kelsoe smiled. “I can’t.”
“Yes you can,” the Raecian said. “It gives me pleasure to see you enjoy such a thing. Here... let me wrap it for you.”
“Okay,” Kelsoe said. “Thanks, very much.”
“No,” the Raecian said, taking the statuette, and smiling. “It is I who thank you for allowing me to please you.”
The drum in tribal rhythm filled the air. The landing port for Raechia was filled with people coming and going, as well as those who were there to welcome the visitors to Andres Rae. One of the many airlock doors opened and a green scaly reptile stepped out, followed by a companion. They both wore orange military uniforms. A Raecian woman came over to welcome them with a flower lay. Just as she was about to put the lay of his head, he pushed her away hard. They two So’ja stormed out of the landing port.
The water bubbled as Tracy turned the knob. Norman Craig shifted around and eventually settled down. He looked up at Tracy, who was in a two-piece bathing suit, as she climbed in. She eased up next to him and placed her arms around him, and they embraced. After their embrace, Craig leaned back and smiled at Tracy.
“What is this called again?” he asked.
“A hot tub,” Tracy said.
“Hot tub, huh?” Craig said, smiling. “This is kind of good.”
“It is comfortable, isn’t it,” Tracy said.
“Relaxing,” Craig said. “I can’t believe I’ve never been in one of these.”
“Norm!” Tracy said, laughing. “You’re acting like these are ancient.”
“They weren’t invented recently, were they?” Craig asked.
“No, silly!” Tracy said, splashing water into Craig’s face.
Craig moved forward and wrapped his arms around Tracy.
“Hey!” Tracy said.
Craig bent down and pressed his lips to hers. Tracy backed away slowly laughing.
“Norman!” Tracy said.
“What?!” Craig said. “We’re on vacation... and this time no one can interrupt us!”
Suddenly out of no where a Raecian female and a Raecian male stepped into the hot tub, completely nude. Craig and Tracy froze, confused and shocked. The Raecian female had long auburn colored hair and was absolutely gorgeous. The Raecian male was, well, tall dark and handsome. Craig and Tracy slowly moved over to the opposite side of the hot tub. The two Raecians kept starting at them. Tracy looked from them to Craig. She gave Craig a little punch in his side.
“Can I help you?” he said, hesitantly.
“No, can we help you,” the female said, very seductively.
“We are here to please you,” the male said, smiling and nodding to Tracy.
Tracy lean back, shocked and a little confused at what she had just heard.
“Excuse me?” Tracy said. “I don’t understand.”
“We are here to please you,” the male said again.
“How can you do that?”
“The pleasures of the flesh,” the female said, in a heavily sensual voice.
Tracy and Craig’s jaws dropped.
“Are we not pleasing to the eye?” the female said, standing up to reveal her impressive chest.
Craig’s eyes opened wide.
“Well...,” he began, but was punched in the side by Tracy.
Admiral Jonathan Dutton stood next to Lieutenant Albert Buerk in the office of Admiral Harold Anton aboard the U.S.S. Farragut. They had been standing there for some time now, and were still awaiting the arrival of the Starfleet Commander. The doors behind them opened and Admiral Anton walked in with his aide, Commander Jovan Diggs, behind him with a PADD in his hands. The Admiral rushed into the room and brushed past the two officers waiting in the middle of the office. Anton stepped behind his desk and took the PADD from Diggs, who then bowed his head and left the office. Anton looked up from the PADD and nodded to Dutton and Buerk.
“As you can see,” Anton said. “I’m quite busy.”
“Yes, sir,” Dutton said, with a curt nod.
Anton looked back down at the PADD. Buerk cleared his throat and the Admiral looked up.
“You, uh, wanted to see us, sir?” Buerk inquired.
Anton stood there for a while in thought, and then nodded.
“Ah, yes,” he said, placing the PADD down.
“I’m going to go back to Earth soon,” Anton said. “Starfleet Command needs me at HQ. Captain Mohaney wants to leave as soon as possible.”
“How is the captain of the Farragut these days?” Dutton asked, smiling.
“Well he’s sick of me calling him Pete in front of his junior officers,” Anton said with a slight chuckle and grin. “But he’s pleased that the Farragut is playing host as my flagship.”
“That is true. It is quite an honor,” Dutton paused for a beat. “To have the ship under your command designated as the Starfleet Commander’s flagship.”
“I suppose so,” Anton said, looking from Dutton to Buerk. “No if you excuse me, I’m very busy. And John,” Anton said to Dutton. “I’ll be out of your hair by tomorrow afternoon.”
Dutton nodded slightly and smiled. “Yes, sir,” he said smoothly.
“I still can’t believe that he gave you that statuette for free,” Burt said leaning back in his chair.
Kelsoe and Braxis sat across from him. They all sat around a small round table in a local bar in Raechia. Both Kelsoe and Burt had glasses of the ever popular Rae Liquor in front of them, while Braxis had a glass of Reacian Lemon Tea. Burt picked up his glass and seemed the alcoholic beverage. He exhaled after enjoy the flavor.
“Nothing beats really alcohol, if you ask me,” Burt said. “Synthehol may be a better choice in the long run, but it can’t stand up with this!”
Burt held his glass up and Kelsoe lifted his. They clinked their glass together and took sips. Braxis observed their behavior with an aura of indifference. Burt looked at Braxis and grinned.
“So Brax, how are you enjoying yourself, so far?” he asked, after sipping the liquor again.
“If you are referring to my thoughts on our current situation,” Braxis said, and paused, thinking of the appropriate words to use.
“The drink is adequate,” Braxis said firmly.
Burt glanced at Kelsoe and then back at Braxis.
“Do I detect a hint of annoyance in your voice, Brax?” Burt inquired.
“No,” Braxis said flatly. “You merely inquire upon my current status in this vacation. I respond in a logical and efficient way.”
“Indeed,” Burt said, in a mocking Vulcan tone, raising his eyebrow.
Burt and Kelsoe then burst in laughter.
“I fail to see the humor in my response,” Braxis said.
“Oh, come on, Brax,” Burt said. “Lighten up. Live a little.”
“Live a little?” Braxis questioned. “It is not logical to want to live little.”
“It’s a figure to speech, Braxis,” Kelsoe said.
“I’d thought he be used to humans by now,” Burt said.
Kelsoe shrugged, and sipped his liquor. He looked down at the small statuette that he had placed on the table. Kelsoe could sense the history in the object and had trouble thinking that such priceless artifacts of a people’s history were being given away and sold. Burt noticed that Kelsoe was looking down at the statuette.
“You know, I could have sworn that his smiling became even wider when he gave you that statue thing for free, Captain,” Burt said.
Kelsoe looked up.
“I know,” Kelsoe said. “Its kind of strange; a race that get pleasure from pleasing others. I’ve never met a race quite like the Raecians.”
“To new races, Cap’in!” Burt said with a slur, raising his glass.
“New races!” Kelsoe said, raising his glass.
They both looked at Braxis, who sighed and raised his glass - saying nothing. All three clinked their glasses together and then drank.
“Ah,” Burt said, laughing. “What a great vacation.”
“You know,” Kelsoe said, leaning forward and looking at the statuette in his hands. “I think we should go exploring.”
“Huh?” the drunk Burt said.
“I want to see this ancient city of Andres Rae,” Kelsoe said.
“Indeed,” Braxis said, raising his eyebrow. “It does sound intriguing.”
“I think we should do it,” Kelsoe said. “Find a guide and hike through the jungles to this ancient city of Andresia Raechia. What about you, Braxis?”
“As Commander Burt often says, ‘I am game for that’,” Braxis said, and Kelsoe smiled.
“And you, Connor?” Kelsoe asked. “Connor?”
Burt was slumped back in his chair, snoring.
“I believe the Commander is drunk, sir,” Braxis said.
It was getting dark and the market place was not as crowded. Some merchants had begun to close up their carts, but some remained opened. One such vender was a Raecian standing behind a cart with artifacts and statuettes on display. There was commotion on the other side of the market place, and he heard shouts. He started to think that it was about time to think about closing shop, when suddenly two hooded individuals rushed him. One grabbed his arms and held him, while the other turned to face him.
“Sell anything today, old man,” said a hissing voice.
“I have nothing to tell you!” the Raecian said.
“Nothing, eh?” hissed the voice.
The hooded figure held up a hand, revealing leathery green scaly fingers with yellow stained claws like nails. With his other hand he pulled back the hood to reveal his reptilian face.
“So’ja!” gasped the Raecian, and he struggle to free himself, but it was no use.
“Listen, old man,” the So’ja said. “I want to know what the humans bought from you.”
“Humans!? What humans?!” the Raecian said in-between his breaths.
“Ah....,” the So’ja hissed as his companion squeezed the Raecians arms tighter. “You will provide us with the information we want.” He paused, for dramatic effect. “If your answer satisfies us, I will give you a thousand cubis.” The So’ja held up a leather skin pouch that was full and when he moved it the Raecian heard the clinking of metal coins.
“A thousand cubis!” gasped the Raecian.
“Well?” hissed the So’ja moving his crawled fingers slowly passed the Raecians throat.
“Two humans, there where, sir,” the Raecian said. “One was not interested. They were with a vulcan...”
“Yes,” hissed the So’ja in front of him. “Continue.” He dangled the coin filled pouch in front of him.
“I gave a statuette of Chief Guardian Karnoc Rae to the nice man,” the Raecian said. “The other called him Captain.” He paused for a beat. “That is all I know, I swear!”
The So’ja smiled with glee.
“Your information and services are much appreciated,” the So’ja said. He nodded to his companion, who released the Raecian. The So’ja dropped the pouch on the ground. “Take your reward.”
And with that, the So’ja covered his face with the hood, and the two disappeared into the shadows of the market place, leaving the Raecian to kneel down on the ground to pick up the pouch that contained a thousand cubis.
Norman Craig sat in the restaurant looking across the table at Tracy Carson. Craig smiled as he nibbled on his food. The food was delicious and Tracy was beautiful. There seemed to be a glow about her.
“That bath was interesting,” she said.
“You’re telling me,” Craig said.
Tracy kicked him from underneath the table.
“Ouch. Hey!” Craig said, smiling. “I can look can’t I?”
“Look, but don’t touch, Norman,” Tracy said. “But I’d prefer if you did not look at all.”
“Come on,” Craig said. “I’m a guy.”
“I thought I was all you needed,” she said.
Craig leaned back and looked down at his food. Suddenly the food did not taste as good. He and Tracy had been together for almost more than two years, but he did not know how serious it would get. To make matter worse, he did not even know what his true feelings for Tracy were. I might love her, and then again he might just be physically attracted to her. The night in the caverns on Tealu had been strange. When he was there he could not help but feel a strong connecting and longing to have Tracy. To hold her and be with her, but the Tealuians were controlling his thoughts. How could he know that his feelings for Tracy were really his own.
“Norman?” came a female voice. “Norman?”
Craig shook his head and found himself looking back across the table at Tracy.
“Norman, are you listening to me?” she asked.
Craig shook his head and looked at her.
“Sorry,” Craig said. “I was thinking.”
“Yeah, I could see that!” Tracy said. “Think about her!”
Craig was suddenly taken aback by this.
“Don’t act so innocent,” Tracy said, the anger clear in her voice. “I recognized that expression on your face.”
“Tracy... I don’t know what your...,” he started to say.
But before he could finished, Tracy had thrown her napkin down on the table and was standing up.
“I’m leaving!” she announced. “We can talk about this in the morning.”
And with that Tracy strode off. Norman Craig sat there, watching he leave, in complete disbelief. He would have to sort this out in the morning. He stood up. Right now, he just wanted to find a bar.
Burt pushed a fern out of his face and pushed forward.
“I thought we were going to get a guide!” Burt shouted up to Kelsoe, who was in the lead.
“You should have paid attention,” Kelsoe called back. “After you, uh, fell asleep I decided we could do it without a guide.”
“And may I ask, why?” Burt demanded.
“Then its no fun, Connor!” Kelsoe said with a laugh.
Burt stopped and turned around to look back at Braxis.
“Come on, Brax,” Burt said. “Back me up here.”
“It is illogical to complain, Commander,” Braxis said. “You agreed to come with us. You much accept the consequences of your decisions.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Burt snorted turning around, pushing ferns out of the way and he continued to follow Kelsoe, grumbling to himself.
The night wind was cool and Burt leaned closer to the fire. Kelsoe and Braxis had collected stones to place around the fire, while Burt had gotten the thing started. It was now a cozy camp fire that they all sat around in a semi-cycle. Burt rubbed his hands together and leaned back against a fallen log.
“You know,” he said. “It ain’t that bad out here.” He paused in thought. “It reminds me of camping trips I went on with my father.”
Kelsoe nodded. “I wish I was able to do that.”
“I’m sure the orphanage wasn’t hell,” Burt said. “From history’s stand point you lived in a paradise compared to the orphans before World War III.”
“I know,” Kelsoe said. “But its never the same without parents.”
Burt nodded and reached over for his backpack.
“So,” Kelsoe said, cheering up. “What’s for dinner?”
“I thought we’d go with hot dogs and beans,” Burt said. “Cooked over the open fire.”
“Hot dogs?” Braxis inquired. “I believe that is finely chopped and seasoned meat, especially that of your Earth pig, usually stuffed into a prepared animal intestine?”
“Well, when you put it like that it doesn’t sound as good,” Burt said, grinning. “But don’t worry, I brought a veggie dog for you.”
“Veggie dog?” Braxis questioned.
“You know,” Burt said, as he took the pack meal out of his backpack. “A vegetarian substitute for meat. It simulates the taste, but is really not meat.”
“Do you have anything else?” Braxis inquired.
“No, afraid not, Brax,” Burt said, smiling.
Braxis thought for a while. He sighed, if you can call it that.
“Fine, I will try your veggie dog,” Braxis said.
Burt smiled and looked across the camp fire at Kelsoe.
“Did I just detect a bit of irritation?
“I think you did,” Kelsoe said, and they both laughed.
Braxis ignored them and worked on the fire.
Kelsoe was in the lead. He pushed ferns out of his way as he stepped forward and into a clearing that allowed the sun in. Kelsoe walked out into the center of the clearing and looked up at the bright sky above. Braxis and Burt entered the clearing and also looked up at the sky.
“Look at that,” Kelsoe said, almost surprised. “Those clouds are perfectly white.”
Braxis looked down from the sky and at Kelsoe.
“I believe the Raecians use some type of weather control system to keep the planet in such good weather,” he said.
“I know,” Kelsoe said, still looking up. “But sometimes its just nice to pretend that the planet is doing it on its own.”
Kelsoe looked down and looked over at Burt.
“What do you think, Connor?” Kelsoe inquired.
Burt looked over at Kelsoe and then back up at the sky. He pointed at a cloud.
“That one looks like Brax,” Burt said.
Kelsoe looked up and laughed. “It does, doesn’t it?”
Braxis looked up, confused at their laughter.
“Which one?” he inquired.
“That one,” Burt said pointing it out.
Braxis squinted his eyes.
“Indeed,” he said, raising an eyebrow. “That does indeed look like me.”
Suddenly there was a loud snap. All their heads darted towards the direction of the sound.
“Brax?” Burt questioned.
“Perhaps an animal,” Braxis suggested.
“No,” Kelsoe shook his head. “I was told that this part of Andres Rae has been cut off from wild animals.”
There was another snap and Burt turned.
“Hey!” he said, and rushed forward into the brush. A moment later he returned, looking very flustered and confused.
“Commander?” Kelsoe inquired.
“I don’t know, sir,” Burt said, pausing to take a breath and putting his hands on his hips. “It saw the brush move.”
“Perhaps it was the wind,” Braxis ventured.
“Nah,” Burt said. “It wasn’t that. No.”
The three of them turned their heads and looked over at the brush that Burt had ran towards. Braxis stepped forward and knelt before it. He reached out and picked up a leaf. He sniffed it and then placed it back on the ground. He stood up and turned to face the others.
“I believe we are being followed,” Braxis said.
“Followed?” Burt said, excitedly. “Who would want to follow us?”
“There are quite a few who have the motive to follow us,” Braxis said.
“The So’ja, Calok,” Kelsoe said nodding.
Burt nodded. “I see where your going. Very... logical of you, Brax. But I still don’t see why they - whoever they are - would want to follow us. I mean, hell, we’re just hiking in the jungles of Andres Rae, pleasure planet of the Oralian Sector.”
“That may be,” Braxis said. “But that would not stop anyone who would wish us harm, like, as the Captain pointed out, Mr. Tyson Calok.”
“Mister Tyson Calok!” Burt said. “That guy gives me the chills.”
Captain Kelsoe was kneeling on the ground going through his backpack. He rose with three phasers in his hand.
“Captain?” Braxis inquired as Kelsoe handed them out.
“Who knows,” Kelsoe said. “We may need them.”
Admiral Jonathan Dutton was sitting in his office, Lieutenant Albert Buerk stood in front of him looking very much concerned. Dutton narrowed his eyes and put down the data PADD that was in his hand.
“This is very disturbing, Lieutenant,” Dutton said.
Buerk nodded. “It is indeed, sir.”
Buerk turned and activated the view screen on the wall beside him. It let up and showed a detailed map of the Oralian Sector. Buerk pressed a button on his PADD and the view screen shifted, adding red lines that spread from system to system within the sector and then ending around the AO-5.
“Our intelligence is thorough, but we just cannot seem to stop Calok,” Buerk said. “Than man has some sort of advance ship, or something. The Milburn and the Tacitus spotted him around the Trajan Nebula, but that was the last we saw of him.”
“What about the Pioneer?” Dutton inquired.
“The ship is in docking port five, under repair and upgrades,” Buerk said, and paused. “As Admiral Anton ordered.”
“Yes, yes,” Dutton said nodding. “Where exactly is the crew?”
“Some have gone back to Earth, their home worlds, and some have gone to Andres Rae,” Buerk said.
“And Captain Kelsoe?”
“He’s gone to Andres Rae, sir,” Buerk said. “He said something about seeing the ruins there.”
“Yeah, the ruins,” Dutton said.
The doors opened and the Andorian ensign, Tolorev, came in holding a data PADD in his hands. He came up to Buerk and handed him the PADD. Buerk looked down at in and exhaled softly.
“We’ve just got some new information,” Buerk said, and continued, “from Starfleet Intelligence.”
Dutton nodded. “Let’s see what SI has to say.”
Buerk punched the PADD and the view screen zoomed in on the left portion of the map. It showed a computer representation of a large purplish nebula. Buerk turned and looked back and Dutton. He exhaled again before speaking.
“This is the Dallos Cluster,” Buerk said, glancing over at Tolorev and then back at Dutton. “According to Starfleet Intelligence, this is were Calok has last been seen. He was spotted by...,” Buerk looked down at the PADD. “... by the Hermes.”
“The Hermes?” Dutton said. “That’s Jack Copeland’s ship, right?”
“Yes, sir,” Tolorev said, nodding.
“What did Captain Copeland have to say?” Dutton inquired.
“Captain Copeland said that Calok’s ship was like nothing he had ever seen before, sir,” Tolorev reported. “According to the Captain’s reports, Calok’s ship disappeared into the Dallos Cluster.”
“And he did not pursue?!” Dutton exclaimed.
“He could not, sir,” Tolorev said.
“And why not?” Dutton demanded.
“Because, sir,” Tolorev said as calmly as he could. “Tyson Calok was heading into Breen space.”
Captain Kelsoe stopped. He looked around and pushed a fern out of his way. He looked up towards the sky and sighed. He turned and looked back at Burt and Braxis.
“I think we’re lost,” Kelsoe said.
Braxis stepped forward and looked around. He suddenly produced a tricorder from his jacket pocket. Burt and Kelsoe looked at Braxis in utter amazement. Burt was the first to speak.
“You brought a tricorder?!” Burt said.
“Yes,” Braxis said calmly.
“You clever Vulcan!” Burt exclaimed and clapped Braxis on the back.
Braxis stumbled. “Your appreciation is noted, Commander.”
“So,” Kelsoe said, stepping up next to Braxis. “Which way to the ruins?”
Braxis looked down at his tricorder. He raised his hand and pointed.
Norman Craig stepped slowly out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his midsection. He looked around at the hotel suite that he and Tracy had got for the vacation on Andres Rae. Tracy was laying on the king size bed. He glanced over and noticed that she... wasn’t sleeping. She popped up like a happy little puppy.
“Gee! I thought you were going to be in there all day!” she exclaimed.
“Hey!” smiled Craig. “It’s not every day that you take a shower with water. I’m used to sonic showers, not water showers.”
Tracy laughed and jumped off the bed. She quickly grabbed Craig and yanked off the towel.
“What’s all this?” Craig inquired.
“Come to bed, Norman,” Tracy said.
“You’ll get no arguments from me!” Craig said, practically jumping onto the bed.
Craig opened his eyes. He looked around him, startled at the change in the surroundings. Darkness engulfed him. He turned onto his side, and was startled not to see Tracy laying beside him. Craig sat up and soon came to realize that he was alone in the bed. He looked around, almost franticly in search of his love. Then came the sound from the bathroom. He couldn’t exactly make it out. He stood up and stepped closer to the door. It was one of those old fashion doors with a knob and hinges. He pressed his ear against it and could hear the sound through the wood. Accompanying this sound was another sound, low and rhythmic. Craig stepped back and shook his head. It wasn’t until then that he realized that the sounds he was hearing were running water from the shower and humming.
Craig smiled to himself and opened the door. With a flash he was inside and he walked up to the curtain. He could barely make out the figure behind the it. Craig slowly reached up and grabbed the curtain firmly. Then with a quick motion he throw opened the curtain to see Tracy standing there stark naked.
She gawked at him in surprised and then smiled.
“Want more, huh?”
Craig couldn’t think. For some reason his mind was moving slowly on him. He shook his head again. Then the memories came back to him. Of that day in the bed. An entire day. He had taken a shower in the morning and then Tracy had invited him into the bed.
With his memory restored and his mind focused, Craig looked at Tracy and smiled.
“You bet I do!”
While Craig and Tracy were having fun, the Captain and the others were having a different sort of fun.
“Ouch!” Burt cried out as he slapped the back of his neck. “Damn bugs!”
“They only do what comes natural to them, Commander,” Braxis said.
“Yeah?!” Burt blurted out. “But why me? Why not your green blood? Huh?”
Braxis shrugged, which was an odd thing to see him do. Kelsoe turned around and looked at the two of them.
“Could you two stop bickering,” he said. “You sound like your married.”
“Me? Married to a green blooded Vulcan? Ha! I think not,” Burt said, chuckling all the way through.
“Indeed,” Braxis said. “I, too, would not wish to have you as a mate.”
“A mate!” Burt said laughing. “Do you hear him, Ben. This guy says mate, not spouse or wife...” he stopped laughing. “Or husband, for that matter.” He paused for a beat and looked up at Kelsoe. “For some reason I’ve lost my humor.”
“Good,” said Kelsoe. “You can help me with the tricorder. It appears to be malfunctioning.”
“Really?” Burt said, stepping up onto the small mound that Kelsoe stood. “Let me take a look.”
Kelsoe handed the tricorder to Burt and he looked down at it. He held it out and scanned the area in front of them. Nothing. He reversed the device in his hand and scanned himself. Nothing. He looked up at Kelsoe and shrugged.
“Either the power core is dried up, or there is a jamming signal radiating around this area,” he said.
Kelsoe looked at Braxis, who nodded.
“It is possible,” Braxis said. “The tricorder’s power core should still be operating at normal parameters. It is highly unlikely that it would have ‘dried up’ as Commander Burt so eloquently put it. However, I do concur on his surmised conclusion of a jamming signal. It is the only logical conclusion with all the facts on hand.”
“Very logical,” Kelsoe said to Braxis. “And, quite frankly, I’m inclined to agree with the two of you.”
“A jamming signal, it is,” Burt said.
“But were could it be coming from?” Kelsoe inquired. “There should be no technology out this far.”
“Unless some one has brought it with them,” Burt said, looking at Braxis.
Braxis turned to Kelsoe.
“Again, I must agree with Commander Burt’s conclusions,” Braxis said. “Perhaps we are being followed.”
“If so, why hasn’t the tricorder picked up anyone?” Burt inquired.
“The jamming signal,” Braxis reaffirmed.
Kelsoe stood and thought for a while. He then nodded and took the tricorder for Burt.
“This is a little disturbing,” Kelsoe said. “We’ve been hiking for what two weeks?”
“Almost three, sir,” Braxis said. “I could give you the exact measurement of the time we’ve spent out here, but I am positive it would unnerve Commander Burt.”
Braxis gave Burt a little curt nod.
“Your orders, sir?” Burt inquired.
Kelsoe looked down at his two companions.
“Orders?” he said. “We’re on shore leave, gentlemen. There is no rank here. We will do what we must.”
As he said this he turned his attention down to the tricorder.
“I’m going to create a transmission that should disrupt whatever it is that is jamming the tricorder,” he said.
Burt and Braxis watched as Kelsoe punched in the appropriate commands on the tiny tricorder pad. The tricorder beeped and whistled. There was a flash of white light from behind them.
Burt turned around, drawing his phaser. Standing behind them were two So’ja. They were dressed in a strange black garment that covered their entire bodies except for their faces.
“Stealth suits!” Burt exclaimed.
The So’ja looked at each other and back at them. Kelsoe had his phaser in hand, too. Braxis followed his comrades lead and drew his phaser, pointing it at the So’ja. Kelsoe stepped down and brushed the foliage out of his way. He looked into the first So’ja’s eyes.
“Why are you following us?” Kelsoe inquired.
The So’ja was quite. Kelsoe turned to the other one, and pointed the phaser directly at its chest.
“Tell me!” he demanded.
“Please don’t,” hissed the second. “I am Ru’kan of the So’ja Coalition Embassy, and this is my associated Saz’fas. I am a diplomat on a vacation.”
“You still have not answered my question,” Kelsoe said. “Why are you following us.”
“Curiosity, I suppose,” hissed Ru’kan. “You see, I have not seen many humans. I was just curious.”
Kelsoe looked at him and nodded.
“Okay,” Kelsoe said. “Let’s say that I buy that. Why us? I’m sure that there have been plenty of humans on Andres Rae.”
“Yes, yes,” Ru’kan said nodding. “But none were as fascinating as you.”
“Yes!” hissed Ru’kan through his lips. “You see, many humans come to Andres Rae and stay in the sultry cities for fun and pleasure. But you... you did not. Instead of staying in Raechia and enjoying the many pleasures the locals have to offer, you have chosen hike out into the jungles and see the grand ruins of Andresia Raechia. This is why we have followed you.”
Kelsoe nodded, satisfied with the So’ja’s excuse. He lowered his tricorder.
Saz’fas nudged Ru’kan who nodded in return and directed his attention back on Kelsoe.
“If this as not all been too upsetting,” Ru’kan inquired. “I was wondering... could we join you.”
Kelsoe turned and looked back at his companions, and then he focused back on the So’ja, who were almost huddled together. He smiled.
“Sure. Why not?”
Admiral Jonathan Dutton sat in his office looking over data pads that were scattered all over his desk. The door opened and in stepped Lieutenant Albert Buerk, who himself was holding a data pad. He stepped into the room and stood at attention before Admiral Dutton noticed that he was there. Dutton looked up, almost smiled, but did not.
“Ah, Lieutenant Buerk,” Dutton said. “Excuse me for a moment, I’m catching up on some paper work.”
Admiral Dutton picked up one of the data pads and pressed his thumb against it. The PADD made a being noise, and signal that the process of recognizing his thumb print and storing it was complete. Dutton looked over the PADD one more time before stacking with some other data pads on the right had side of his desk. His “Out” pile. After this the Admiral returned his attention to Buerk, who was still standing at attention.
“At ease,” Dutton said.
“Sir,” Buerk began. “I’ve done as you’ve asked at contacted the Raecian government and spoke with Chief Minister Rue Tabon...”
“And?” Dutton inquired.
“The Chief Minister said that the Raecian Council would look into the matter,” Buerk said.
“Look into the matter?” Dutton repeated. “These people! I don’t understand them. They seem to want to do whatever they can to ‘please’ others, but their government is still bureaucratic! Ah! This is frustrating.”
“If I may, sir,” Buerk continued, “point out that we have other officers on the planet that we can contact and find out what has happened to Captain Kelsoe and his other officers.”
“Damn it!” Dutton said, slamming his fist on his desk. “I need Ben right now.” He paused for a beat as he thought. “How long as he been lost in that jungle?”
“About three weeks, sir,” Buerk reported. “And he might not be lost.”
“The Captain may just be exploring the jungles of Andres Rae, sir,” Buerk suggested. “I hear that it is very scenic and quiet beautiful...”
“And full of ancient ruins,” Dutton added. “The Captain has a liking of ruins and all things of ancient cultures. A habit he picked up from Picard, if I’m not mistaken. But... they still have not contacted the Shoemaker... It is still in orbit of Andres Rae?”
“What the hell are they doing?” Dutton asked no one in particular so Buerk did not respond. “They should have at least made the scheduled reports to the Shoemaker, so that Captain Diego can assist them in case they need it.”
“Perhaps they forgot?” Buerk suggested.
Dutton shook his head. “Not bloody likely, Lieutenant. Captain Kelsoe would follow procedure. He always has before.”
Kelsoe poked the fire with a stick and the blaze increased in size. Burt turned to Kelsoe. Burt held up his communicator.
“Captain,” he said softly, looking at the So’ja suspiciously. “The communicators aren’t working. We cannot contact the Shoemaker.”
Kelsoe looked up at the So’ja, and smiled. He returned his attention to Burt.
“We will deal with that later,” Kelsoe said.
The rest of the evening went well. The So’ja and the Federation citizens got along famously, though Commander Burt remained suspicious about the Ru’kan’s reason for being there. In fact Captain Kelsoe was having doubts on whether or not Ru’kan was telling the truth. Braxis, being a Vulcan, knew that all the other people present were paranoid emotional species and were common to the feelings of suspicion and doubt that they were having. They ended up staying up later into the night talking, exchanging stories about Raechia, and other such things.
The hour was late when they final got to sleep.
Commander Burt was the first to wake, and then wake the others. Burt stood over the smoldering ash that had been their fire last night and looked down at Kelsoe, who was still waking up.
“Well!” Burt exclaimed.
Kelsoe was still trying to wake up, but was having difficulties. It was pretty early in the morning. Kelsoe looked around and then back at Burt, confused about what was the matter.
“They’re gone!” he yelled. “Ru’kan and Saz’fas! The ‘so called dignitaries’ from the So’ja Embassy here on Andres Rae. I mean, come on! Couldn’t they have come up with a better cover story. We all know that there is no So’ja Embassy on Andres Rae. I mean... come on!”
Braxis stood up and yawned, which caught Burt off guard. He was also caught off guard by what Braxis said next:
“I agree with Commander Burt.”
“The hell you do...,” Burt stopped, with an open jaw. He looked at Kelsoe and then back at Braxis. “You agree with me?”
“Yes,” Braxis said, nodding. “Anyone could tell that they were not truthful with us.”
“You’re damned right!” Burt said.
Kelsoe stood up and stretched. He arched his back and felt better. More awake. He looked at Burt and gave him a short smile.
“So, what is it that you suggest?”
The foliage had crept over the boundary of the once grand city of the Andres Rae. The ruins of Andresia Raechia were still grand and bewildered to the off-worlder. The great step pyramid of Rae stood with all stone still intact. The aqueducts known as the Arches of Alaenor still carried water to the ruined city. The Obelisk of Rae still stood tall and proud, as does the Pillar of Karnoc. And the grand temple to the ancient sun god himself, Andresia, still stands with the same majesty it had in its heyday.
Out of a small clearing came Captain Kelsoe followed by Commander Burt and Braxis. Kelsoe held in his hand the tricorder that Braxis had brought, behind him, both Burt and Braxis had their phasers in their hands, ready for anything that might happen. Kelsoe lead the way. He was astonished by the sheer size of the Pillar of Karnoc and the Obelisk of Rae. They turned and went pass the Arches of Aleanor and went towards the Temple of Rae.
As they walked up to the entrance of the temple, they noticed that the stone door had been pushed opened. Vines and moss drooped down from the gapping hole. Kelsoe took out a wriest flashlight and attached it to his left wriest. Burt and Braxis did the same. Kelsoe looked back to the others and nodded. They entered together.
The walked down a long all that had been preserved for thousands of years from the harmful bacteria in the air. Every detail was amazing clear and Kelsoe found it hard to concentrate on finding the So’ja when he wanted to stop and explore the ruins of this most ancient and wonderful city. On the wall were sketched in carvings - symbols, a kind of ancient language from the time of the people who lived in this city.
From what Kelsoe could tell, it appeared that the writing was telling of an ancient and power stone that gave ultimate power to whoever held it. The story went on to tell of Gelgith’s quest to find the stone, which had been hidden by the sun god, Andresia. This brave warrior found the stone, after completing many tasks and overcome many obstacles, including the betrayal of his brother. Gelgith became a king, and the stone was passed done from generation to generation until the founder of this great city, Alaenor Rae, inherited the stone did the story end. It concluded with a telling of the tale of how Alaenor Rae decreed that the “Eye”, as it was called, be locked away and never seen again.
After following the inscription along the wall, which took them through a labyrinth of hallways and corridors, did they find another gapping hole where once stood a stone face disk blocking the way.
Kelsoe shown his light on the floor and could see the splashed engraving of an eye, almost like the eye of Amon Ra, the Ancient Egyptian god, on the floor. He looked up saw a chamber filled with light.
Slowly Kelsoe, Burt, and Braxis entered the chamber. The chamber was walled with columns of sandstone and the walls were engraved with the same story that had lead them to his mysterious place. And there, in the center, sitting on top of a limestone pillar was the stone. It was red and pointed like an arrow. On the flat end, almost centered, was a diamond in the middle of a strange metal that none of theme had seen before. That was the “Eye”, in which gave the stone it’s name.
Suddenly a green disruptor blast shot past them. Kelsoe dock and dove for the pillar. His only thought was on getting to the artifact.
“They want the artifact!” Kelsoe shouted. “I need suppressive fire!”
Burt and Braxis had ducked behind separate columns when the So’ja had begun to fire.
“You will not get the Eye!” hissed Ru’kan.
Their true nature and purpose revealed, Ru’kan and Saz’fas did not hold back on firing. Kelsoe pressed his back flat against the pillar. It was just wide enough to give him cover from their disruptors. Kelsoe quickly leaned forward and glance towards the direction that the disruptor fire was coming from. When he pressed himself back up against the pillar he knew where the two So’ja we standing. Kelsoe looked back to Burt and Braxis and signaled to them where the So’ja where. Burt ran forward and fired his phaser, causing Saz’fas to loose his focus. Kelsoe quickly stood up and grabbed the Eye.
“No!” roared Ru’kan.
Kelsoe looked over at Burt, who had ducked behind a stone coffin. Kelsoe turned and looked to his right. There was another stone coffin there and Braxis was behind it. Kelsoe used his hands to signal to his officers what their next moves shall be.
“Long live the Coalition, and death to its enemies!” roared Ru’kan.
Kelsoe sliced his hand through the air, which signal them to begin. He quickly stood up and began walking backward, while firing. But the suppression fire was not needed. The So’ja were not firing back. Kelsoe heard a hissing coming from begin a coffin across from the pillar that had the Eye on it. Remembering the Eye, he looked down at it.
It sparkled in his hand and almost seemed to be calling to him to use it. But to use it for what? Kelsoe did not know. Without really thinking, Kelsoe pocketed it and the strange feeling that had come over him disappeared.
Ru’kan snarled something in So’jan, the native tongue of the So’ja. Kelsoe had no idea what it was, but it sounded bad.
Suddenly Kelsoe realized what it was.
“A bomb!” he yelled. “Run!”
He turned and began running. He could hear Burt and Braxis behind him.
“Zukht!” bellowed Ru’kan in the distance.
Then a loud boom came from the chamber. Kelsoe looked back and saw flames rushing towards him. He turned, and the adrenaline kicked it. He ran fast than he could possibly imagine. Before he knew it he was back at the opening of the temple. He ran out and duck down behind a fallen column. Braxis and Burt were not far behind him. Braxis was the first to arrive. He was almost three seconds behind Kelsoe. Burt, was a little slower, and arrived thirty seconds after Braxis. They all ducked behind the fallen column as the inferno blasted out of the gapping hole that was the entrance to the Temple of Rae.
With in seconds the flames were gone. Kelsoe heard an energizing beam behind him. He turned around and saw five Starfleet officers materialize. He stood up and cleared his throat. Burt and Braxis turned around and stood up as well.
“Captain Diego,” Kelsoe said with a smile. “So nice of you to join us.”
“Well, your Communications Officer felt that I’d better come searching for you,” Captain Diego said nodding over to Tracy and Norman Craig.
Kelsoe smiled and nodded to the two. Dr. Braga was with them and came forward with a medical tricorder. Kelsoe waved him over to Commander Burt and Braxis. Kelsoe walked up to Captain Diego and shook hands with him.
“The Shoemaker will be ready to take back to DS5,” Diego said. He looked around. “Sorry to say I’d be taking you away from paradise.”
“Paradise? No, not really,” Kelsoe said. “Almost paradise, maybe, but not paradise.”
Captain Diego smiled and laughed.