EPISODE 5.48 - “The Boolran Eye” - Part Three
written by Travis Cannon
The klaxon lights were still flashing in the dark, illuminating the bridge in a deep red.
“Report!” shouted Captain Kelsoe.
“All systems down!” came Hellon's voice.
“Deflective Hull Plating?”
“It wasn't affected,” informed Valdez. “Its external power source kept it running. We shouldn't be detected.”
“Is the internal communications working?” Kelsoe asked.
“I think so, sir,” Hellon said glaring down at the operations console.
Kelsoe tapped his commbadge.
“Kelsoe to Withrome, can you hear me?”
“Barely, sir,” Joanna voiced came out grabbled with static, but could just be heard.
“How are things down there?” Kelsoe inquired.
“We're barely holding on down here, sir,” Joanna reported. “I just managed to disconnect the warp core from the rest of the systems that were being affected. We'll have to work around whatever it was that Commander Bradford did.”
Kelsoe inclined his head in acknowledgement, and looked towards Hellon.
“Lieutenant Hellon, give her a hand,” Kelsoe ordered.
Dillon Hellon nodded and darted off towards the turbolift. Ensign Jenna McCormick tapped furiously at her helm panel.
“Helm is still unresponsive, sir,” she said.
Kelsoe turned and looked up at Tuff.
“Rob, see if you can get the long range communicates array to work,” Kelsoe said. “I'd sure as hell like to know what made Bradford think he had the right to do this!”
Tuff merely nodded and then turned around towards the science stations located in the rear of the bridge. Kelsoe turned and faced the blank view screen, a sight that unnerved him. No captain should ever see a blank view screen.
Commander Peter Bradford awoke with a whimper. He was alone in a dark dank cell. Iron bars blocked the only opening. He pulled himself up off the wet stone floor and inched over to the bars. He gripped the cold metal and peered out at the dimly room beyond. As he glanced around he realized that he was in a dungeon. He could hear the moans and groans of his fellow inmates. With this realization, Bradford knew that he had ruined his career. He had distrupted all the systems on the only Federation system within range and now he found himself a prisoner on the alien world of Boolran.
Brue stepped lively through the Grand Hall of Tiamat. The throne was before him, but he knew that he would not see King Boolgith XIII, only Tegdac, the Grand Minister, was present. Brue held the case which Commander Bradford had brought along. The green plasma flames from the wall scones gave the Great Hall of Tiamat an eerie feel. The busts and statues of the kings of old stood in every niche. Tapestries of the great deeds of Gelgith and Boolgith, the founders of the Boolran Order, hung from the walls. Behind the through hung the great seal of the Boolran Order: A triangle, representing of the great ziggurat of Marduk, in a large circle, with the symbol of Marduk (a diamond with legs, as some describe it) within it.
Tegdac was splendid in his blue robes of law, rich with embroidery. He wore a traditional feather headdress, which humans from the planet Earth would find remarkably similar to those worn by the ancient Aztec chieftains. Tegdac bowed his head as Brue approached.
“You bring the Eye, Brue Message-bringer?” he inquired arching his right brow. “Let me see it.”
Brue reached the base of the dais and knelt before the Grand Minister. Tegdac stepped down and touched Brue's shoulder.
“Rise, Brue, servant of Boolgith, and let us see the Eye,” Tegdac said.
Brue stood up and inclined his head, submissively. He held out the case flat, and unbuckled the strap. Then, very carefully and delicately, he opened the case.
There was a moments pause.
“Is this a joke, Brue?” questioned Minister Tegdac.
“Joke, Grand Minister?” spoke Brue.
Tegdac looked up, his eyes gleaming. “Look for yourself!”
Brue shifted the opened case so that he may look at its contents. His eyes widen with surprise and fear.
“A fake!” he gasped, saliva flying everywhere.
“A fake,” Tegdac repeated, grabbing the object in his hands and throwing it to the ground where it shattered into pieces. He picked the edges of his robe and marched back up to the top of the dais, where he spun around and clicked his tongue. “Guards!”
Two Boolran in heavy battle garments approached from the shadows and grabbed Brue by his shoulders.
“Brue, servant of Gelgith, has betrayed us,” spoke the Grand Minister harshly. “By order of the King he shall be beheaded, his body fed to the King's wolf-kin and his head mounted on a pike in the temple center.” He glared down at Brue. “Your fate his in Marduk's hands now, traitor!”
Brue hung his head in shame as the guards led him away.
A wheezing cough came from behind a grand tapestry of the Ziggurat of Marduk. A servant rushed out and gestured for Tegdac to come. Tegdac hiked up his robe and followed the servant. He stepped behind the tapestry, where in the dim haze of the green plasma flames, sat King Boolgith XIII. The chair was ornate, and had polls attached to it for bearers to carry it. Boolgith XIII held a dirty cloth to his mouth, which was missing many teeth. His face was withered and gray.
Was that necessary, Tegdac? the King inquired telepathically.
To serve Marduk is the greatest honor one man can do, my King, Tegdac responded.
“You did not answer my question, Tegdac,” wheezed the ailing king, saliva oozing down the side of his mouth.
To be deceived by the unpure is a sin, my King, Tegdac reluctantly replied. By the laws of Marduk, the High One, he must be executed. “You do trust my judgment, do you not, my King?” asked Tegdac aloud.
The King's eyes narrowed in thought and then he nodded.
“You are wise, Tegdac,” spoke the King. “Praise Marduk I have had a Grand Minister like you.”
If Tegdac could smile, he would have. He bowed and watched at the King's chair was lifted by its bearers and he was taken back through the secret pathway to his living chambers. Tegdac straighten out and signaled to a guard.
“Have the human's mind probed.”
The guard saluted.
Chancellor Ar'kon paced impatiently in his office. There was a bang at the door and he looked up. The door opened and in strode Admiral Da'note and the elderly Admiral Ru'siy, both dressed regally in their full orange military garb. Ru'siy's white sash was. as usual, filled with all his medals and awards. Admiral Da'note preferred to leave his sash clear. Da'note came up to the motionless Chancellor and inclined his head in respect.
“Admiral Ru'siy and I have selected the perfect candidate to approach,” Da'note hissed in so'jan.
“Who?” Ar'kon demanded, reluctantly, beginning to doubt his earlier decisions to have Hasz'fos removed from the palace.
“The Di'Gan!” Da'note grinned.
“But they were cooperators!” Ar'kon protested. “They served the Oppressors?”
“Ancient history, Chancellor,” Da'note soothed. “We are more powerful than they are. They would bow before us, as once they had us do for them.”
The Chancellor continued to look hesitant. Da'note looked towards Ru'siy. The elder admiral spoke up:
“They are a barbaric and primitive race, my Chancellor,” Ru'siy explained. “They need guidance, authority. They will recognize the So'ja as that authority.”
“See,” added Da'note. “You need not worry. They well serve us, and Mr. Calok will not be able to control our relationship with them, as he can with the Breen.”
Ar'kon narrowed his eyes and stared hard at Da'note. The Supreme Admiral raised his brow, awaiting Ar'kon's decision. After a brief moments pause, Ar'kon nodded his approval.
“See to it, then, Supreme Admiral,” Ar'kon turned and stepped back to his desk and picked up a piece of parchment. “Here is the treaty, I had Hasz'fos leave the appropriate blanks. Fill it in as needed, and see to it that the Coalition becomes stronger through this alliance.”
Da'note held back and smirk. “Yes, my Chancellor,” he said with a bow.
Da'note and Ru'siy marched at a high pace through the palace halls towards the transportation port. Ru'siy glanced over at Da'note.
“Does he suspect, Supreme Admiral?” he inquired.
“No,” Da'note answered. “He does not.”
The two admiral grinned wickedly and proceeded on their way.
Captain Kelsoe sat, depressed, in the command chair. He watched as the bridge crew scurried about trying to repair the damage Commander Bradford had done.
“Captain,” came Commander Tuff's voice. Kelsoe stood up and looked up at the tactical station, where the first officer was leaning forward, against the tactical panel. “Sir, engineering reports partial power back. Turbolifts are now operational.”
Kelsoe nodded. “You have the bridge, Rob.”
Kelsoe dashed up to the turbolift and doors hissed opened to his relief. He entered and said, “Engineering.” The doors hissed closed and he heard the whirl of turbolift's controls as the lift carried him down and across to the appropriate deck. When the doors opened, Kelsoe was met with the face of Ensign Kavoc.
“Sir!” said the vulcan, almost sounding startled. “I was just on my way to come to the bridge.”
“Where is Lt. Commander Withrome?” Kelsoe inquired, stepping out of the turbolift.
“Main Engineering,” answer Kavoc joining Kelsoe as he walked down the corridor.
Kelsoe eyed Kavoc for a while and then looked ahead.
“Ensign Kavoc, your a vulcan,” Kelsoe began.
“Yes, sir,” Kavoc said, nodding.
“How do you think the crew, namely the vulcan members of the crew,” Kelsoe continued. “React to Commander Braxis' being promoted and given his own command?”
“Sir?” Kavoc said, almost puzzled. “Is that something likely to happen?”
“No, no, not at all,” Kelsoe said, and then added, “Not now, at least. But it could happen. I know several ships that Starfleet Command has considered giving to him.”
Kavoc raised an eyebrow. “Seeing how there is currently no possibility that the Commander would be leaving us, I would have to say that when the time arises I believe he could, as you humans say it, rise to the occasion.”
Captain Kelsoe allowed himself a brief smile. “That's all I needed to hear Kavoc.”
“Then I take it that Commander Braxis will be leaving us soon.”
“As I said before, no, not now,” Kelsoe said. He paused and then gestured forward. “Lead on to main engineering, Ensign. Lead on.”
They picked up the pace down the corridor.
Grand Minister Tegdac stepped into the central chamber of the priestly college. In the center of the chamber stood a statue of depicting Marduk. He stood erect, with a hand on the hilt of his sword. One hand was raised to the stars, his eyes gazing firmly forward. Unlike most statues on Boolrillia, this one was made of a orange-yellowish metal not native to the planet. It was believed that the mighty god has brought it from his forges in the heavens to the priests. Long ago the priesthood had decided to keep it in hiding from the general public.
Tegdac strongly agreed with that decision and continued to support it when others in the parliament of noble houses questioned it.
The face that looked out of them from this holy statue was not like any Boolran. In fact it was much like the alien prisoner from the Federation, who was now having his mind probed.
The movement of a red curtain behind the statue caught Tegdac attention and the High Priest Relec, dressed in ceremonial robes, came out and bowed.
“Grand Minister,” he spoke aloud. “You honor us with your visit.”
“The human is being probed now, as we speak, Relec,” Tegdac spoke sternly.
Relec nodded, and stepped slightly over to a covered window and parted the red-dyed curtain enough to look out. “Was that really necessary?” he inquired, starting down at the temple center outside.
“You speak of Brue?” Tegdac asked.
“His is the only head I see out there tonight,” answered Relec.
Tegdac put his hands behind his back and walked up beside Relec and looked out the window, down at the hideous display.
“It was necessary, priest,” Tegdac said firmly. “He knew to much and his mission was a failure.”
“Was it?” asked the High Priest, letting the curtain drop close.
“It was,” Tegdac glared at the High Priest.
Relec shrugged and walked over to the statue of Marduk. “This whole scheme is fraught with necessaries that I fear will bring the rather of High One on us.”
“Speak sense, old man,” Tegdac said, frustrated.
Relec looked at the Grand Minister over his shoulder and projected telepathically, We have told and done evils to acquire what should not be in the hands of the mortals.
Tegdac shifted in weight and glared up at the statue. He has not returned in many years, priest. What we do now is not for Marduk, but for ourselves. If he cared for us, he would not have left.
“A god does not have to answer to the likes of us,” Relec responded, dripping saliva.
Tegdac's face crumpled up in a grimace.
“Besides,” Relec spoke again. “We have others who will protect us.”
“Others?” Tegdac questioned. “What others? We need no one but ourselves.”
Oh, on that note, I would have to disagree, came a strange telepathic voice into Tegdac's mind.
The curtain leading into the inner chambers of the priestly college, parted and a man with eyes that glowed fiercely red stepped into the room. Tegdac did not know what he was seeing. This was not Marduk, yet he appeared to have the abilities that an agent of Marduk would have.
“Who.... who are you?” Tegdac demanded.
The man raised his hand towards Tegdac and he suddenly felt a unexplained force pulled at him, pushing him down to his knees. Within moments he found himself helpless pushed to his knees. He looked up at the man, fear in his eyes.
“I have just prove my own words, Tegdac, Grand Minister,” the man said. “You need more the just yourselves.”
Tegdac looked over at Relec.
“Relec?” he gasped.
“He is not a messenger from the High One, if that is what you think,” Relec replied. “He calls himself Tyson Calok, the last disciple of the Monks of Joc-Duloc.”
Calok stood erect and beaming. His grin was a frightful thing to see.
“Believe it or not, Tegdac,” Calok spoke. “I am your greatest hope.”
Meanwhile, back in the small shuttle, Commander L'mar smiled as he listened to Tyson Calok belittle the most powerful man on Boolrillia.
Captain Kelsoe stood with his hand on his hips.
“Report, Lt. Commander.”
Joanna brushed a strand of her black her out of her eyes and looked up from the control console.
“Captain?!” she said, startled.
“Joanna?” Kelsoe urged.
“Sir? Uh, yes, status report!” Joanna straighten up and wiped her brow with sleeve.
She glance nervously over at Lieutenant Hellon. Kelsoe looked back and forth between them.
“Sir,” Joanna spoke up. “The systems of the Ares are state of the art. I'm having trouble making sense of it, even with Hellon's help.” At this point Hellon made a coughing noise.
Kelsoe eyes darted towards the lieutenant.
“Lieutenant?” he questioned.
Hellon bit his lower lip before speaking. “Whatever Bradford did, it can't be reversed. However,” he said, looking down at the console and calling up a display, “whatever it was, it's counting down.”
“What kind of count down?” Kelsoe asked. “To a detonation?”
Hellon glanced over at Joanna. He hesitated.
“I don't know, sir,” Hellon said. “But I will say this, Commander Bradford would not destroy this ship.”
“How can you be so sure?” Joanna asked, exchanging looks with Kelsoe.
“The count down is not linked to any crucial systems,” Hellon explained. “It's connected to the main computer, yes, but not in a viral fashion.” He examined the display of the coding of the program Bradford had uploaded. He paused the scroll on the LCARS display and pointed to a line of text. “You see, this code here, it's not a destruct or command code, it is more of an lockout command. And here,” he pointed to another line. “This hear seems to be the defensive code, requiring a clearance code to break.”
“Like Bradford's security clearance?” Kelsoe suggested.
“Yes,” Hellon inclined his head. “I think so.”
Kelsoe stepped back and sighed. “So we'll get control of the ship back.”
Lieutenant Hellon nodded. “That's what it looks like.”
Kelsoe half grinned. He should have expected something like this coming from Starfleet Intelligence. After all Starfleet Command did seem awful interested in the technology and its potential applications as a weapon. But what Bradford had done was stupid, more than that, it was almost suicidal. Any race capable of building and operating such technology would surely capable to detecting a fake. It was a reckless move, by Bradford.
“So how long?” he asked, returning his attention to the present.
“Until we get back control, Lieutenant.”
Hellon nodded and glanced back down at the LCARS display and skimmed through the text. Joanna leaned forward and examined the coding as well. After minute they both looked up.
“About an hour,” Hellon said.
Kelsoe looked over at Joanna, who nodded in agreement.
“All right,” he said. “Then we make contact with the Boolrans in an hour.”
Admiral Da'note step out onto the loading platform and found Admiral Ru'siy waiting there, stiff back and pompous as ever. Da'note eyed the many medals on Ru'siy's sash.
“Here to see me off, Admiral?” Da'note inquired, as he handed a seal case to an attendant, who quickly took it and loaded it about the departing vessel.
Admiral Ru'siy merely inclined his head.
“I pray Ba'gee gives us the strength we need,” Ru'siy said, half sarcastically; neither admiral really believed in a deity Ba'gee. It was all mere tradition, and both liked tradition, especially Ru'siy.
Da'note extended his hand, and Ru'siy grasp it firmly.
“Good luck, Supreme Admiral,” Ru'siy said, then saluted, placing a closed fist over his left breast.
“Thank you, Admiral,” Da'note said, then gestured to his aides over his shoulder to follow.
Supreme Admiral Da'note then boarded the departing vessel with his staff, the doors closed with a hiss, and Admiral Ru'siy stepped back to watch the gray hunk of metal soar off toward space.
Bradford shuddered. And blinked. The stench of rotting flesh and disease was overwhelming and the air tasted foul. The constant cries of other inmates seemed limitless, but Bradford was alone, in a dark cell, not much larger than the cockpit of a shuttle craft. In the distance there was a clang and the rustle of chains. A squeak echoed through the cell block, and footsteps could be heard pounding on the damp rock floor.
Bradford inched over to the cell door and looked out of the bars. Beyond the dim catwalk, he could make out the greenish glow of plasma touches hanging on the interior walls of the massive dungeon. The pounding footsteps got louder and soon he saw the glow of a light. Two guards emerged from the darkness followed by High Priest Relec.
Relec glared down at Bradford and the corners of his mouth twitched as if he was grinning (if that was even possible for a Boolran).
“You have a visitor, Commander Bradford!” sneered the High Priest.
Relec then stepped back and a dark figured blocked the light.
“Who...?” wheezed Bradford, hardly able to talk.
The dark figure crouched down to Bradford's level and peered into the cell.
“No one you'd care to meet,” came the dark disturbing voice that brought a chill to Bradford's spine.
“Calok!” he groaned.
From the darkness the glowing red eyes now became visible.
“Yes,” hissed Calok. “I wanted to see how you were being treated.” He chuckled. “Looks fair to me.”
“Calok!” Bradford protested, trying to stand. “Help! Please... man to man.”
“Man to man?” sneered Calok. “When was the last time that someone truly treated me like a fellow man! Never! You have no right to demand such treatment from me. Not after what you're kind need to the colonist in the DMZ.”
“But Tyson?” Bradford continued pitifully.
“You'll get no sympathy from me, Commander,” Calok growled, standing. He turned to Relec and nodded. “We can go.”
And with that, Bradford watched in disbelief and a sense of horror, as the two guards, the High Priest, and the most wanted man alive walked back the way they came.
Lieutenant Gervasio Valdez was watching the clock. The captain had made if very clear that he wanted to be notified when the hour was up. Commander Tuff sat calmly in the executive officer's chair, examining the repair progress via the small console on his right. The console in front of Valdez suddenly started to beep. It was soft, yet rang loud and clear to everyone on the bridge. All motion seemed to slow down and come to a complete stop. Tuff slowly looked up towards Valdez, who's gaze was fixed on his console. Valdez registered the beeping and shut it off. He then cocked his head slightly and returned Tuff's gaze.
“The hour is up, sir,” Valdez reported.
Tuff gave a quick nodded, and stood up, tapping his commbadge as he did.
“Captain Kelsoe to the bridge.”
Moments later the doors to the ready room hissed opened and Captain Kelsoe came striding out onto the bridge.
“Report?” he asked quickly.
“The hour you gave us is up, Captain,” Tuff said stepping forward to greet the came in the center of the bridge.
Kelsoe nodded briskly, stopped, turned and gazed out at the view screen showing a serene shot of Boolrillia. Near where they knew to be the capital a turbulent storm raged in the atmosphere. After a moment Kelsoe returned his attention to the present. He looked over his shoulder at his first officer.
“Well, Commander,” he inquired, “is the ship defendable?”
“Yes,” Tuff said with a curt nod.
Kelsoe closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.
“Very well,” Kelsoe said. “Valdez your with me, we'll need Miss Carson as well, please notify he to join us in transporter room.”
“Aye, sir,” Valdez said, then proceeded to inform Ensign Tracy Carson to meet him and the captain in transporter room one.
Tuff stepped forward and lowered his voice.
“Shouldn't you take an armed security detail with you, Ben,” Tuff said softly.
Kelsoe looked at his first officer and shook his head.
“We're trying to set up a peaceful relationship with these people, Rob,” Kelsoe responded. “The last thing we need is a misunderstanding.”
After some more quiet debate, Tuff eventually relented and conceded to the Captain's plans. But he made it clean that the moment that anything went wrong he would have the away team immediately beamed up.
To which Captain Kelsoe had no objection.
“Well?” Grand Minister Tegdac questioned.
Tyson Calok glared at the him. The man was a fool. His eyes light up for a moment. His anger was becoming harder to control.
“Bradford has no intention of handing over the location of his ship,” Calok said.
“What can we do?” demanded the distraught Grand Minister.
Calok smirked. This was turning out to be a lot easier than he had thought. The Boolran were all imbeciles. It made one wonder how they operated their advance technology with such a lack of mental ability. Calok turned on his heels and looked around the ancient room they were in.
It had been occupied by the Grand Minister for nearly thirty years, and was well worn. There was not a flat space to be found. On every table top, piles of scrolls and parchments were piled high. The crimson tapestry depicting the great god Marduk slaying his mother Tiamat was faded. The elaborate embroidery was no longer visible. Calok almost felt sadden to see such a masterful piece of art in such condition.
He turned and glared at Tegdac with his glowing red eyes.
“You show little respect for your past, Grand Minister,” Calok said, turning back to look at the tapestry.
“It is all ancient history, Tyson Calok,” Tegdac said. “It matters not. Only the present and the future. Insure one's salvation is much more important than understanding one's past.”
Calok grinned slightly. “I don't know quite about that.”
Tegdac shifted uneasily.
“Look, what is it you want, Calok?” Tegdac demanded. “Why is it that you have come here?”
Tyson Calok piveted on his heels to face Tegdac. The mere sight of his eyes, caused the Grand Minister to stumble and lose his will. Calok strode across the room and stood before a cowering Tegdac.
Calok opened his mouth and was about to speak, but stopped. The creaking of door caught Tegdac's attention, and he turned to see High Priest Relec step into the room covered in his priestly veils. Relec nodded to Tegdac and greeted Calok.
Nice of you to join us, Relec, Tegdac spoke with his mind.
I apologize for my tardiness, but my religious duties prevented it, responded Relec.
“I'm sure they did,” Calok spoke aloud, in an almost malevolent voice.
Relec looked from Calok to Tegdac.
“What has occurred?” he inquired.
Tegdac adjusted his official garments and lowered his brow. “Calok was about to tell us the reason for his stop here on Boolran,” he summarized. “I believe you were about to explain before Relec entered. Please continue.”
Tyson Calok nodded, as if he was grateful for their indulgence on his behalf. His mocking attitude was ignored by Relec, but Tegdac could not hold back his anger. A sneer proliferated across his face.
“As you will, Grand Minister,” Calok said, giving a feigning respect. “I have not come to save you, or to meet you - for that matter. I care little for the Boolran, a rather disgusting people, if you ask me. What they have one redeeming quality.”
“Oh yes?” protested Tegdac. “And what is that?”
“The High One?” Relec said, shocked.
“Indeed, the High One, as you call him,” Calok said.
“You dare mock a god!?” Relec demanded.
“God! Ha!” laughed Calok. “Marduk is anything but a god!”
“This is blasphemy! I will hear no more,” stammered the High Priest.
“Then leave! I need not have your presence to receive what is rightfully mine!” Calok roared.
Relec retreated, holding his arms in front of his face. Frighten at the glow in Calok's eyes. Tegdac inched back slightly. “And what, exactly, is it, that is rightfully yours?” Tegdac reluctantly inquired.
“The Eye, you fool! The Eye!” Calok ragged.
“But how can the Eye be yours?” demanded Relec. “It belongs to the Boolran, whom the gods gave it for safe keeping.”
“You can stop the religious spattering, old fool,” Calok sneered. “We all know where your thoughts truly lie.” He turned and raised his hand, causing all the flames in the room to shoot up and heighten in intensity. “That is real. Your gods have not visited you since long ago. They have abandon you. I... I am the last remaining disciple of the Monks of Joc-Duloc, the last true representation of your former gods in this plane. Whatever was once that of the gods, belonged to the Monks. As their last remaining disciple, I calm it.”
“But we do not have the Eye, Tyson Calok!” Tegdac pleaded. “How can we give to you what we not have?”
“Ah, but you will,” Calok said. “Soon it will be amongst us and that... that is when you will hand it over to me. I am the only one you should fear. Not the Federation. Not the ancient gods. And most certainly not Marduk.”
And with that Calok lowered the flames to their original intensity and departed from the room, leaving Tegdac and Relec starring at each other speechless. A soft beep sounded from a hidden computer console. Tegdac blinked. The computer beeped again. Tegdac finally moved and tapped the side of a carving depicting the great god Marduk's triumph over his mother Tiamat. The carving pushed back and moved upwards into the wall revealing a hidden computer terminal. Tegdac reached forward and tapped a glowing blue button.
“Yes?” he demanded.
“Grand Minister, apologies for disturbing you,” came the voice of his aide. “But he wanted to informed when the Federation ship made contact.”
Relec looked up with interest. Tegdac looked back at the High Priest and then turned back to the computer terminal.
“They are requesting permission to transport down and speak with you, sir.”
Grand Minister Tegdac could have grinned, if that were possible for someone without lips.
“Send them the coordinates of the meeting place,” he said. “Tell them I will meet them their in ten minutes.”
“As you command, Grand Minister.”
Tegdac and Relec exchanges looks.
Well, Relec, old friend, he projected. Shall we see what these Federation want?
It would do no harm to find out, was Relec's response.
The soft blue glow of the transporter beam illuminated the dark stone walls of the temple edifice. Grand Minister Tegdac raised a hand to shield his eyes. Relec stood behind Tegdac with a group of veiled priest, who had been gathered especially for the occasion.
With in moments, Captain Benjamin Kelsoe, along with Lieutenant Gervasio Valdez, and Ensign Tracy Carson materialized. Kelsoe looked around before settling his gaze on Tegdac.
The Grand Minister spread his arms wide.
“Welcome to Boolrillia, Federation representatives,” he spoke aloud. “On behalf of our great king Boolgith XIII, I invite you to supper with us in the Great Hall of Heorot.”
“Yes,” Relec said, stepping forward. “You shall dine with the priests and officials, along with others guests. It is a great honor, Captain.”
Kelsoe smiled weakly. “Then we accept, of course.”
Tegdac bowed his head. “Good, if you'll follow me, we shall go immediately.”
Supreme Admiral Da'note stood high and proud. It was important not to show any weakness in front of the Di'Gan. The warrior race stood across the table from him. They head held high, their eyes scrutinizing his appearances and that of his retinue. The Di'Gan stood there, with horns and spike protruding form their arms, legs. The horns that protruded from their forehead, gave them an extraordinary ability to smash an opponents skull with a head butt.
The lead Di'Gan stepped forward and grabbed the back of the chair assigned to him. He pulled it out and sat down. Da'note grinned and followed suit. It was always wise to allow a Di'Gan to make to first move, either in negotiations or combat. So he would wait for the Di'Gan to speak first.
“You seek help, yes!?” demanded the Di'Gan, speaking each word as if it were a quick bunch. His voice was guttural and deep, almost intimidating if you had never meet one before. They also seemed angry. Even when they were speaking tenderly to one they loved. It was their way.
“In a matter of speaking, yes, the is correct,” Da'note replied.
The Di'Gan cocked his head. “Me Tasgu.”
Da'note placed a hand on his chest. “Me Da'note.”
“Da'note, Supreme Admiral, yes. So'jan Fleet?”
Da'note nodded in rely. Tasgu smiled, showing his razor teeth, most of which were yellowing and rotten.
“So'jan seek Di'Gan help in battle against Federation, yes!?” questioned Tasgu.
Da'note merely nodded.
“What...,” Tasgu paused, thinking of the words. Di'Gan are not known for their conversational ability. “What exactly you proposing, Da'note of So'jan?”
With that question said, Da'note smiled and leaned forward. He had waited many hours on the volcanic planet of Di'gia for this exact moment.
“I am proposing an alliance between the So'ja Coalition and the Di'Gan Order,” Da'note said.
Tasgu cocked his head and snarled.
“Alliance!” he snapped. “You seek partnership in military campaigns against Federation!”
“We do not deny that,” Da'note said. “But think of this, Tasgu of Di'Gan; a alliance with the So'ja Coalition would bring the fledgling Di'Gan Order out of your dark age. We can provide you with food, water, and medical supplies.”
“Supplies!!!” grunted Tasgu. “This is all you offer the might of the Di'Gan Order. What else! We need more! We need breeding room, we do! We want more! We want territory!”
Da'note sat back. He had suspected as much, but he had still hoped that merely the offer of technology assistance to bring the Di'Gan into the technology capability of the rest of the sector who be enticement enough. He looked back at his aides, and nodded. Then handed a parchment forward.
“In exchange for the Di'Gan Order's accepting of our alliance,” Da'note spoke with great empathy. “The So'ja Coalition is willing to concede Trua'd, Lak'ia, and Balad'a systems.”
He laid the parchment down on the table and pushed it over to Tasgu. The Di'Gan leader studied the words, really not understanding the language of the document, he understood that the Di'Gan would get the three systems promised. Tasgu looked up Da'note.
He bit his index finger and scribbled his in name along the appropriate line. Da'note leaned forward and pulled the parchment over to him, and held up his hand. An aide placed an ink pen in his hand. He then signed the document, as well.
“The treaty is signed,” he said, rolling it up and sealing it with a wax seal.
Tasgu roared in pleasure.
Da'note stood. “The Di'Gan may move into your new territory at you convenience.”
With that said, Da'note turned to his aides, gave them a crisp nod. With one more bow to Tasgu and his Di'Gan warriors, Da'note and his retinue left the room, with a treaty that Tyson Calok could not control.
The Hall of Heorot was filled with veiled monks and official dressed in their traditional robes of authority. Grand Minister Tegdac stood before the rest and raised his arms wide. All noise in the hall ceased.
“We welcomed our honored guest from the Federation this evening,” Tegdac spoke aloud, gesturing towards Kelsoe and his two crew. Kelsoe nodded his head in greeting to the others. “And our distinguished guest,” Tegdac continued, gesturing towards a doorway to the right. “Who has traveled far in search of us and our god. I present to you that last remaining disciple of Joc-Duloc.”
Kelsoe and Tracy exchanged glances.
“Did he just say Joc-Duloc, sir?” Tracy questioned. “Isn't that where...?”
But before Tracy could finish her question, it was answered. The crimson curtains covering the doorway parted and none other than Tyson Calok stepped into the room. He was great with the hammering of fists on the table. Kelsoe, Valdez, and Tracy looked around. All around them, the veiled priest and the government officials were banging their closed fists on the table. Kelsoe glared up at Calok.
The man beamed, a wicked grin spread across his face. He raised his hands in triumph and took a seat, folding his legs on the soft cushioned pillow, across the low table from Kelsoe.
Tegdac, again, raised his hands for silence, and the pounding ceased.
“Let us being the Feast of Heorot!” he roared.
And the feast began. Tegdac lowered himself to the floor pillow at the head of the table Kelsoe and Calok sat. Next to Calok was Relec, who had began eating the soft leaf like substance on the plates before him. Kelsoe eyed the leafy delicacy before him.
“It is perfectly harmless, Captain,” Calok crooned from across the table. “Hasspart, it was they call it.”
“Real?” Kelsoe replied.
“Yes,” Calok said, peaking up a leaf with his fingers and taking a bit of it. “It taste just like lettuce.”
Kelsoe hesitantly picked up the leaf before him and nibbled on it. It did, indeed, taste like lettuce. Calok watched from across the table and grinned when he saw Kelsoe expression change.
“See,” Calok said. “Not that bad.”
Kelsoe put the lettuce down and glared at Calok.
Tegdac leaned back on some cushions, munching on his Hasspart, enjoying the confrontation between the two humans.
“What are you doing here, Calok?” Kelsoe demanded.
“What! Still bitter?” Calok inquired, sarcastically.
Kelsoe held his tongue. He did not want to blow up in front of the Boolran officials. Relec looked between Calok and Kelsoe throughout their conversation, while still maintaining a constant supply of Hasspart in his mouth. When he had finished the one in hand, he spoke.
“What is it between you two that bring such animosity?” he questioned.
Calok's responded merely by smiling. He picked up a goblet of water and sipped from it. “Tell him, Captain.”
“I'm sure you are aware, High Priest,” Kelsoe explained. “The Federation is at war with the So'ja Coalition. Mr. Tyson Calok, here, is working with the Coalition. A while back I was captured by the Coalition, and Calok was the one who tortured me on their behalf.”
“Really?” Relec drooled. “How intriguing.”
“Intriguing would not be the word I would use to describe the experience, sir,” Kelsoe said.
“I am quite sure,” Tegdac interjected. He had waited long enough, and felt that the time was right to speak. In addition, he did not the care for where he saw the current conversation heading. “So, Captain,” Tegdac said, cup in hand. “Why is it that you have shown yourselves now? We've known of your presence for sometime.”
Kelsoe took a deep breath and looked towards his Valdez and Tracy, who were currently trying something that looked like a tomato. He returned his gaze to the Grand Minister.
“Grand Minister Tegdac,” Kelsoe began. “Firstly I must apologized for Commander Peter Bradford's behavior.” He paused, and took a deep breath. “Secondly - what I am about to ask I, myself, cannot believe I am - I would like you to release Commander Bradford to our custody.”
Tegdac nodded, his brow furrowing in understanding and apparent wisdom.
“I understand your feelings on the matter,” Tegdac spoke, drool dripping from the side of his mouth. “I do not care for the man, myself. However, I must decline. Commander Bradford has violated Boolran law. He must answer for his crime.”
“I understand,” Kelsoe said. “But let me assure you that we would be given the punishment he is due.”
At that Calok gave a rough chuckle. Kelsoe gave Calok a piercing glare. Calok lowered his goblet and cocked his head.
“I find that humorous, Captain,” Calok said. “Grand Minister, the Federation idea of punishment would be rehabilitation. Bradford would not be punished, he would merely go through the Federation legal system and come out free, cleared of all charges... as if they did not exist.”
Tegdac turned to Kelsoe. “Is this true?”
“In a manner to speaking, yes,” Kelsoe said, reluctantly. “But it involves more than that.”
“Bradford must be executed,” Relec interject, sparring saliva all over the place. “The man has committed heresy and the punishment is death.”
“Death?” Valdez and Tracy exchanged looks. “Captain?”
“Yes, I must object,” Kelsoe protested, following his officers.
Tegdac shrugged. “I am truly sorry, Captain,” Tegdac said. “But Commander Bradford has already be tried and convicted by Tribunal. His guilt is without question. To appease the anger of the High One, for such blasphemy, he must be killed.”
“Sacrificed upon the temple edifice to the creator of all Boolrillia,” added Relec.
Kelsoe sat there aghast.
“What can you do, Captain?” Calok shrugged, grinning. “It is there law. And what is your precious Federation believes in so highly? Non-interference. Self-autonomy. By Federation law, you must bend to the will of the Boolran. Commander Bradford has committed crimes here on Boolrillia, and he is subject to Boolran law.”
Valdez leaned over and spoke into Kelsoe ear, “I'm sorry to say this, sir, but he's right about that.”
Kelsoe nodded. “There is nothing I can saw to change you mind?” He asked Tegdac.
“The order has already been given and signed by King Boolgith XIII,” he said. “It cannot be rescinded... unless...”
“Unless the High One saves Mr. Bradford,” Relec chimed in.
“Now, enough talk,” Tegdac said, his expression joyous. “Let us enjoy the Feast of Heorot. After which you shall be given a tour of our wondrous city.”
The tour began immediately after the Feast of Heorot. As Tegdac and Relec rambled on about the religious significance of certain sculptures and statuary surrounding the temple complex, Kelsoe questioned Tracy about the term Heorot. He had noticed that when Tegdac had first mentioned it, she seemed familiar with the name. As they walked through the grand halls of the Temple of Marduk, Tracy told Kelsoe about the tale of Beowulf, and the mead hall of Heorot where he fought the monster Grendel. The tale came from ancient Earth times, and she had almost forgotten it, but when she heard that name she remembered.
Kelsoe then asked her about Marduk. She explained that Marduk was indeed another Earth god, as was Helios from Paos. But whereas Helios was from Greece, Marduk was Babylon. Marduk was connected to water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. He began as the patron god of the city of Babylon. And when the Babylonians assumed power over the rest of the Mesopotamians states, Marduk was raised to supreme god. He was referred to as Lord Marduk, and Leader of the Gods. It was also said that he had fifty names.
Their conversation had distracted them, and they soon found themselves in a room with an altar. It resembled that of a Mayan sacrificial altar.
“And here,” Tegdac was saying. “Here is where we shall offer Commander Bradford to Lord Marduk, Lord of Lords!”
Kelsoe took a deep breath, and felt his pulse quicken. He did not like the idea of allowing such an obscene and brutal killing occur, but Tyson Calok was right in his assertion that under Federation law, he had to allow the Boolran their right of rule on their world.
Admiral Ru'siy, dressed as always in his dress uniform, stood alongside Senator Ru'kon at the shuttle port. Neither man had really seen eye to eye, but they had both agreed on the mission which Da'note had embarked on. Ru'siy looked over his shoulder at the Senator's entourage, then looked down at this companion.
“Can all of them be trusted, Senator?” he hissed, softly.
“They are all loyal to me, if that is what you ask,” Ru'kon replied.
There was a sudden hush over the entourage behind them. Both men turned and spied the yellow robes of the Chancellor. Both men became tense. What was going on? Why was Ar'kon here!
The entourage parted and Chancellor Ar'kon stepped through the lane provide him. He grinned, mischievously.
“Admiral Ru'siy, Senator Ru'kon,” he spoke softly. “It has been long since two members of the House of Ru have been seen together.”
“Our tribe loyalty have nothing to do with our political loyalty, Chancellor,” Senator Ru'kon said.
“Then I have nothing to fear,” Ar'kon spoke. “When I see two blood-enemies whispering together, surely House Ru cannot be conspiring against me.”
“As the Senate said, tribe loyalties does not transfer into political loyalties, Chancellor,” Ru'siy said, bowing his head.
A shuttle was descending and Ar'kon looked up.
“Is this Supreme Admiral Da'note arriving?” he inquired. “Shall we all say hello?”
The Chancellor stood between them, and they all waited in silence as the shuttle landed. The doors hissed opened, stream spreading into the air. Within moments, Supreme Admiral Da'note emerged clutching the case he left with in his hand. He saw the greeting party, and spied the Chancellor. He stepped out confidently and halted before the three So'jan.
“Well?” Chancellor Ar'kon demanded.
Da'note grinned slightly. “It is done.”
Chancellor Ar'kon bowed his head. “Good work, Supreme Admiral. Now the So'jan can take control of what is rightfully ours to take!”
Far back in the shadows of the terminal, a tall pale four-legged alien stood, listening with his mind's eye.
So that is what they were up to, thought Xojo Manjala. Wait until Tyson Calok find out about this. The Tealuian's mouth shifted into a soft smirk, and he quietly disappeared into the shadows.
The tour continued through the vast colonnades of the temple's square. As they continued and Tegdac and Relec droned on and on about this and that, Kelsoe noticed that Tyson Calok, who had been with them since the start of this seemingly unending tour had vanished.
Tyson Calok stood before the great seal of Marduk. His red eyes glowing. Cowering in the darkness were the priests, covered in white veils, and shivering with fear. Was this one of the demons? they all questioned.
Calok ignored the pathetic whimpering of the veiled priests. He did not care if he was desecrating some holy sanctuary. He knew the truth. He knew what Marduk was.
But the time was not right. Not now. Not yet. It was not time to reveal. Not time to speak the name. The name of the First Ones.
Tyson Calok closed his eyes and took a deep relaxing breath. He placed his hands together in a prayer formation and inhaled deeply. His eyes opened abruptly and all the flames in the room were snuffed out.
In the dark corners of the sanctuary, the veiled priests feared that Judgment had come. They stared with all their might into the darkness, searching for any sign of hope. Any sign of light. All they found was the dark red glow of the demon's eyes glaring back at them.
“You fear the dark,” came an eerie voice from the void. “Don't you. It frightens you, it gives you reason to question your faith. You obsess about it. The thought of it troubles you during all of your waking hours, and continues in the taunt at you in your sleep. I am the fear. I am the darkness. I am the harbinger of doom!” And with that Calok laughed maniacally.
There was a loud snapping sound and suddenly all the torches came aflame again. The veiled priest blinked, adjusting to the dramatic shift in light. When they finally regain their sight, Tyson Calok - the demon - was gone.
Aboard the Ares, Commander Robert Tuff was pacing back and forth on the bridge. He turned to Lieutenant Hellon.
“Anything, Mr. Hellon?” he asked.
Hellon, who had taken Valdez's post at the tactical station, shook his head.
“Not a thing, sir.”
“Commander Tuff,” came the voice of Ensign Jenna McCormick. “I am picking up a strange energy pattern on my console.” Tuff stepped over and looked down at the helm console. The pattern did, indeed, look strange.
“Transfer the data to the tactical station,” Tuff ordered.
Tuff turned on his heels and almost ran up to the tactical station, joining Lieutenant Dillon Hellon. Tuff scanned the console's readings of the energy patterns. He moved over and took more control of the tactical station. Lieutenant Hellon moved back, and watched as Tuff ran some algorithms. The Commander shook his head.
“This can't be,” he muttered, only loud enough for Hellon to hear.
Hellon moved forward, and Tuff let him examine the findings. Hellon's eyes immediately became wide, like that of a deer's caught in the headlights.
“Sir, this can't be true?” he stammered.
“The sensor readings don't lie, Lieutenant,” Tuff said, stepping down to the command chair.
“Commander?” questioned McCormick.
“Those readings, Ensign,” Tuff said. “Match that of the Mass Driver vessels.”
“It is the So'ja, sir?”
“No,” Hellon said.
“The Lieutenant's right,” Tuff said, looking towards the screen. “The enegry pattern is similar, but slightly shifted to a different part of the energy spectrum, meaning it comes from the same technology as that of the Mass Drivers.”
There was a flash of bright light on the screen as an enormous vessel decelerated from subspace. Tuff squinted as he examined the image he saw on the view screen.
“Mr. Hellon,” he said. “Get me the Captain, now.” And then much quietly, he said to himself, “This can't be good.”
Captain Kelsoe stood on the steps of the Temple of Marduk, overlooking the entire temple complex below. Fierce looking clouds moved over head. In the distance he could lightening. Kelsoe turned to Valdez, who had whipped out his tricorder and was taking readings.
“The storm system appears to be artificial, sir,” Valdez reported.
Both Tegdac and Relec was both staring up at the clouds in awe.
Kelsoe turned to the Grand Minister. “Have you seen this before?”
Tegdac did not answer.
“He won't answer you, Captain,” came the dark voice of Tyson Calok.
Kelsoe turned and saw the man he hated most step out from the shadow of an opening with the face of the temple stairs. Calok emerged fully from the shadows and stood openly on the steps with Tracy and Valdez.
“What is it, Calok?” Kelsoe demanded.
“They have never seen this before, Kelsoe,” Calok said, his red eyes looking up into the heavens.
“Have you?” Valdez asked.
Calok look towards the new face and grinned. “Once, before,” he replied. “With the monks of Joc-Duloc. Just before they were annihilated that the location of that place was wiped from my mind.”
Kelsoe stepped closer to his arch-enemy. “You're scared, Calok. I can tell.”
Calok laughed, but it was a weak laugh. Kelsoe knew that he was right. But being right did not make him feel any better. If Tyson Calok was afraid, that was bad news.
Kelsoe commbadge suddenly chirped. He tapped it.
“Captain, thank God!” came Tuff desperate voice.
“What is it, Commander?”
“Ben, there's some strange ship descending upon the capital city,” Kelsoe could hear the terror in Tuff's voice. Something was indeed wrong.
There was a suddenly loud crackle from the sky above. Everyone froze and looked up. Tegdac and Relec began to tremble. The base of an enormous ships began to part the clouds, pushing its way down. It was the color of warn gold. Kelsoe grabbed Valdez's tricorder and aimed it at the ship. He could not see its full structure. Most was hidden by the clouds, but the energy readings it was giving off was frightening.
“I believe it is my time to depart, Captain,” Tyson Calok said. He tapped the side of his wriest and dematerialized in the light of a Romulan transporter.
Aboard his shuttle craft, Calok rushed towards the cockpit. L'mar was sweating and wiped his ridged forehead.
“This is not good, is it, Tyson?” he inquired.
“No, my friend,” Calok said, the fear in his voice unnerving. “I was no expecting this.” He slipped into his chair and began punching in commands. The shuttle moved forward towards the planet, towards the Temple complex.
“What are you doing?” demanded the Romulan.
“We need something, and I am not going to leave without it,” Calok said. “Unfortunately, it means we need to get closer to the planet's surface.” Calok stirred the ship down into the clouds.
Within moments Commander L'mar was staring down at the capital city of Boolrillia. The massive pyramid like temple looming in the distance. He looked up at the clouds and saw the base of the terrifying ship he had seen in orbit.
“There!” Calok cried, staring at the console in front of him. He punch a button and behind them the soft glow of the transporter beams illuminated the cabin. L'mar turned around and saw the chained and gagged Commander Peter Bradford.
“Now we leave,” Calok said.
Back on the planet, Kelsoe was examining the readings of the tricorder. He looked over at Tracy, who had been looking up at the base of the ship, which seemed to have stopped.
“Ensign!?” he questioned over the dining noise from the above ship.
“There are markings on the base of the ship,” she said. “I can't exactly make them out, but the appear to spell out a name.”
“MARDUK!” cried Relec and he immediately tumbled down into a prostrating position.
Tegdac followed suit, crying, “Marduk comes! Marduk comes!”
Kelsoe looked back down at the tricorder and came to the conclusion that it was probably not in their best interest to wait and see this Marduk. He tapped his commbadge as the wind began to pick up, and stiffened his legs to hold his ground against this new onslaught.
“Kelsoe to Ares,” he said. “Three to beam up.”
Hellon tapped rapidly on his console.
“We have them!”
“Ensign, set a course for DS5, maximum warp!” Tuff ordered.
McCormick inclined her head and punched in the commands faster than she had ever done before.
The Ares spun around and zoomed away from the planet of Boolrillia.
Tegdac and Relec had managed to stand against the powerful wind, and were now in the chamber with the veiled priests. They had been told of what Tyson Calok had done, but now believe that his flight proved he was not as powerful as he had calmed. There was a suddenly burst of white light and everyone turned there attention to the seal of Marduk behind the altar.
“A Speaker of Marduk!” cried one of the terrified veiled priests.
In front of the altar stood a man dressed in a light gray hooded robe. The hood was raised over his head, covering him. His pale face was only visible below the noise. He had the appearance of being human. The symbol embroidered on the front of his robe were the most ancient of all symbols. In his right hand he clutched an simple wooden staff with a large red crystal melded with the top.
He opened his mouth to speak.
“The ruins show wisdom and wisdom speaks,” he spoke. “Those who tray from the path and welcome evil into their homes shall burn in the fires of damnation.”
The Speaker of Marduk then raised the staff off the ground and slammed it down with a great thundering sound against the stone floor, causing the stone to crack. A white light flash engulfed the Speaker and he was gone.
Relec and his veiled priest wailed in horror. Tegdac dropped to his knees and cursed the humans for stealing the Eye.
Captain Kelsoe and Lieutenant Valdez stepped out of the turbo-lift on onto the bridge. A chirping came from the tactical station and Kelsoe signal for Valdez to check it out. Hellon relinquished the station to Valdez and returned to the operation station.
Kelsoe stepped down to the command chair; Tuff stood as he approached.
“What was that thing?” Kelsoe asked.
“Like nothing I'd care to see again, Ben,” Tuff replied softly.
“Captain,” Valdez called.
Kelsoe looked up at his tactical officer. “Yes, Mr. Valdez?”
“There's been a large explosion on the surface of Boolrillia,” Valdez said, staring down at his console. “From my readings, I'd estimate that the entire radius of the capital city has been destroyed.”
A silence engulfed the bridge, with many crewmembers exchanging surprised and horrified looks. Kelsoe turned back to Tuff.
“I think we've just met one of the First Ones,” he said.
Tuff nodded. “Somehow, sir, I don't think it will be the last time.”