by David C. Petterson

(Standard Year 2248)

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

Go to Part Two

It wasn’t often that Bek Mokkalian felt nervous. It was even less often that his nerves showed. But he found himself frequently drying his palms on his jumpsuit, waiting anxiously for the Port Authority to call him again.

He stood up from the pilot’s couch and started pacing. Things just were not going well. He’d contacted Lorelei Space Traffic Control at Port Delilah, slipped into a standard holding orbit, and waited for confirmation and a landing berth. All official and by the rules. But something had attracted the PA’s attention and Lorelei Customs wanted to come aboard.

This had shocked him. Mok hadn’t known Lorelei even had Customs. That was how he and hundreds of other free traders made a living -- Lorelei had no Customs, no police, and only barely observed the Federation regulations on chemical and drug traffic. The only thing keeping the system from total anarchy was a very tolerant Port Authority that kept the peace and controlled landing patterns.

And now here he was, with a kilo and a half of frog hidden under the cargo hold deck plates, and a mythical Customs official wanted to poke around. The smart thing to do would be to destroy the stuff before anyone beamed over. But he’d gone through Saford’s Hell for those chemicals, and if he could find a buyer he’d be set for life. A very long, very rich life. It would burn like scab to destroy it.

And besides, if they wanted to put him away they’d find other reasons. He grunted. For one thing, he was also carrying an illegal alien who would be considered underage on most worlds. Whether or not Lorelei would consider her underage was another question entirely, and probably an irrelevant one. The age of consent is inversely proportional to the ambition of the Customs official.

He should at least make sure she was presentable. He walked quickly out of the bridge and down the short hallway and into his cabin.

She was lying naked on her stomach across his bunk. He considered for a moment jumping on top of her and forgetting his problems. But it wouldn’t help matters for this Customs person to beam over and find him engaged in deviant sexual practices with an adolescent Klingon.

“Kila,” he said, and kicked the bunk. “Wake up.”

She rolled over, rubbing her eyes. “Are we somewhere yet?”

“Lorelei. Almost. Get dressed.” He heard the subspace radio buzz at him from the bridge. “And wear something respectable. We got ugly nasties beaming over.”

He hustled back to the bridge, slipped into the couch and took a deep breath. He punched on the comscreen and said, “Hi there. Haven Trading Empire ship, High Stakes, Bek Mokkalian commanding. Waddaya want?” And he congratulated himself on not panicking when he saw that the man on the other end of the line was wearing a Federation patrol uniform.

Well. At least he was right about Lorelei Customs. It still didn’t exist. But what the scab would the Feds want with him?

Unless they knew about the frog. Or the Klingon. Or both.

The patrol officer informed him that a pair of men were beaming over shortly, and broke the connection. Mok sat back and smiled resignedly. He’d dealt with the Fed patrol before. At least he knew now what he was up against.

Kila wandered onto the bridge wearing a pair of sheer balloon pants and a halter. “Something wrong, Mok?” she asked.

He grinned at her. “Not really. We’re dead.”


One of Saran’s classmates had called it a “strange and arcane ritual”. Saran was inclined to agree, but in less emotional terms. Officially, the course guide of the Vulcan Science Academy claimed that lectures were necessary because of the difficulties and inconvenience involved in keeping text tapes and teaching computers up to date. However, most students realized that the information possessed by lecturers was nearly as obsolete as that in the most recent tapes, and some educators were experimenting with teaching programs for computers which scanned current journals in order to update themselves. The main problem with that approach, of course, was finding a way to classify preliminary or premature reports for what they were and not to give them the same weight as more established theory.

At any rate, the only workable teaching method was still the lecture, especially in fields such as history which were primarily non-experimental. And, to give credit where it was due, the Science Academy did try to match the peculiar needs of a given subject to the particular style and abilities of a given lecturer. Thus, The History of Science course was taught by a series of lecturers of various races, each expounding on the development of science on a planet other than their native world. This allowed the lecturers to approach their subject from a direction radically different from that of the scientists being studied, and thus to more easily show errors, ineffective methods, unwarranted assumptions and so on. Hopefully this would encourage the student to not make the same errors.

It did get frustrating occasionally, however. For instance, Clark Thompson, a Terran, was the lecturer on the history of Vulcan science and he maintained that the reason for Vulcan’s comparatively slow scientific advances rested in their plodding, excessively thorough methods and refusal to make intuitive leaps, which so characterized Terran science.

The other advantage of the VSA’s multiple-lecturer system was that classes often took on the air of a formalized debate. After Thompson had given his case on the value of scientific intuition, Professor Sepik had stood up and had begun his remarks on Terran science with the statement that it was characterized by its inability to accept empirical evidence that contradicted its intuitive leaps. “General relativity is a case in point,” Sepik said, “an elegant mathematical framework built on an intuitive foundation of utter nonsense. Of course, it dominated Terran physics for close to three centuries, in spite of the lack of supporting experimental evidence and the preponderance of contradictory observations.” Thompson sat, his face turning red.

Saran glanced around the lecture room at the other students and leaned forward. This was getting interesting.

“One of Sol’s outmost planets,” Sepik was sating, “an ice-world called Pluto, was discovered through perturbations observed in the orbits of the more interior planets. However, when Pluto’s mass was actually calculated, it was found to be totally inadequate for the observed effects, according to the nature of gravity as explained by Newton and modified by Einstein. The difficulty grew out of Einstein’s erroneous intuitive assumption that gravity propagates at the speed of light. It is true that gravitons travel very close to the speed of light, and that in the innermost parts of the Sol system the planets are close enough together that the difference in speeds was negligible. It was therefore attributed to observational error. In the outermost regions of the Sol system, however, the distances between worlds are much more vast and the differences in speeds becomes significant, gravitational effects occurring at a time not simultaneous with the reception of reflected light. Once the speed of gravity was taken into account, calculations of the orbital perturbations fell precisely into place.”

“Of course,” Sepik continued, “even Special Relativity was not without its problems. The Einstein equations and Lorentz transformations accurately predicted the increase in mass and slow-down of time scales caused by accelerating a particle or other object. However, Einstein thought these effects were due to acceleration itself, totally ignoring the vast amounts of energy imparted to the particle from external sources. It was not until much later that Terran physicists worked out the mathematics of an object accelerating without external energy -- in other words, by its own motive forces -- and realized that these inconvenient and insurmountable effects no longer applied. Vulcan, meanwhile, unhampered by the misconceptions inherent in relativity theory -- “ He paused and looked up at the back of the room. “Yes, sir?”

A tall Vulcan whom Saran didn’t recognize, wearing the uniform of an Academy official, was standing just inside the doorway. “This interruption will be brief,” he said. He scanned the room quickly and his eyes came to rest on Saran. “Will you accompany me, please?” he went on. “There are visitors who wish to see you.”

Saran raised an eyebrow, then gathered his tapes and tricorder and followed the official out of the room. He heard Sepik resume his discussion of Terran relativity as the door hissed shut behind them.

Saran continued to dwell on the lecture with a good part of his attention. He’d known of Einstein’s curious definition of gravity as geometry, but hadn’t realized it was related to assumptions concerning the speed of gravitational propagation, and it didn’t even seem sensible to think of a geometric effect actually propagating at all...

But most of his mind was occupied with this Academy official, and the “visitors”. At the Academy? Interrupting a class? Saran was tempted to ask the official for details, but he realized that if the official had anything to say he would have said it.

So they walked in silence through the Academy corridors, finally reaching the door to an unused administrative office. The door hissed open and they entered.

There were two Terran males standing within, wearing the uniform of the Federation patrol.

The official finally spoke again, in Vulcan. “These gentlemen claim to have a message for you, of great import. I have been assured that it is unrelated to any suspicion of misconduct, but they refuse to discuss it with me beyond that. In their official capacity, they are perfectly within their rights to summon you as they have done. However, you should be aware that unless formal charges of misconduct are brought against you, they do not have the right to remove you from the Academy.” He then said, in Anglo-Terran, “Now, you will excuse me,” and he turned and left.

Saran faced the patrol officers, raised one eyebrow and waited expectantly.

“I don’t know what you were just told,” one of them said, “but it doesn’t really matter. What we are here for is to present you with a research opportunity.”

Saran raised his other eyebrow. “Of what nature?”

“A special exploratory task force is being unofficially assembled to investigate a phenomenon recently uncovered by one of the Federation cruisers. Because of the nature of this phenomenon, and the nature of the special task force, we have been given very little information. You will be informed more fully if you accept the assignment.”

“Am I then to accept without even knowing what it is I am to investigate?” And yet, the ambiguity was fascinating.

“Not at all. I was instructed to mention a Vulcan scientific term, which is meaningless to me, but which should imply much to you. The term is tchen’ya.”

Saran scowled for a moment, uncertain. It took him nearly three seconds to realize the Terran’s pronunciation was accented even more oddly than he’d come to expect. This fellow had not meant to refer to gardening furrows – he had slurred the glottal stop before the final syllable, and pronounced the opening consonant too much like a z. What he must have meant was --

Saran’s eyebrows shot up. He blinked, then closed his eyes tightly for a moment to concentrate on calming his racing pulse. Such a show of excitement was extremely unbecoming.

But --

The Seeders! They’ve discovered the Seeders!

He opened his eyes again. “I am interested. How do I begin?”


There was a slight ripple in the tall grass, such as a passing breeze might make. A pair of bright eyes looked out, toward where the huge carnivore was feeding, then quickly vanished again.

The carnivore glanced up, saw nothing, sniffed the air, and went back to his meal. He knew scavengers would be collecting in the surrounding underbrush, or wheeling in the air overhead. But none would dare approach until he’d had his fill, and even if they did, they’d be at most a minor annoyance. One swipe from his huge claw would be enough to crush any scavenger -- would provide him with another mouthful of food besides.

The bright eyes appeared again, a little closer this time, but more directly behind the feeding beast. A creature something like a great jungle cat was attached to the eyes and was moving silently through the grass, studying the huge carnivore. He’d seen the beast many times before, watching for its strengths and weaknesses, watched helplessly as it carried away the grazing animals the colonists had brought with them. This morning, the carnivore had attacked the herd again. M’rray remembered watching it attack, moving with a speed almost unbelievable for a creature so big, easily outrunning the much smaller cattle, then rearing up on its hind legs, its huge head nearly fifteen meters above the ground, reaching out with a claw bigger and heavier than M’rray’s body. It snatched up a grazer, then ran on three legs, caught another, and strode off across the hills with its catch.

M’rray had seen it and had been armed this time. He’d fired three shots with his phaser set on full kill. The beam had reflected harmlessly off the great beast’s scales. It hadn’t even looked back.

But today was the last chance. An urgent message had come from the Caitian Office of Colonial Management. M’rray’s services were sorely needed elsewhere, and they would be coming to pick him up in a matter of hours.

He couldn't let himself leave with this carnivore still alive.

The rage had welled up within him from the first, and had grown stronger. Only a few days after the colony ship had left them here the carnivore had discovered their herd and had carried off one of the grazers. It had taken all of the self-control M’rray could muster not to stalk it then, but he knew it would be suicidal. His hunting instincts would not all apply here. The winds were different, the smell of blood different, the feel of the grass, different...

But today was the last chance. He’d followed it before, had even shot at it a few times. The phaser never did any good, but M’rray tried anyway, knowing it would do no good. He had to take some action, had to release the rage somehow. But it didn’t help, it was completely unsatisfying. The only thing which would satisfy him now was a kill -- a hunt and then a kill.

He’d followed it enough to know more about it; it was more sluggish after a good meal, it seemed to have a soft spot on its throat protected by a bony frill surrounding its head, it couldn’t easily twist around to look backwards. And its arms and legs were jointed in such a way that it couldn’t reach its own back -- M’rray had watched it more than once roll belly up and scratch its back on a projecting rock.

The colony was losing its herd to this beast. They had no weapons bigger than hand phasers -- the OCM Planetary Survey had reported no dangerous indigenous life that phasers couldn’t handle, having missed this beast completely. There must be very few of them. That was natural enough. The planet wouldn’t be able to support many creatures like that.

M’rray couldn't leave the colony as prey to this beast. And today was his last chance.

His great, catlike body seemed to flow through the tall grass. He was naked --the less encumbrance and foreign odors here, the better -- and his sleek brown and orange fur would blend fairly well with the dry grasses. This was the one time he was happy they’d been experiencing a mild drought.

Enough remembering, enough worry. Enough thinking. He had all the knowledge he was going to get. Give it to the instincts. Let them play.

His tail twitched above the grass, feeling the breeze. He was upwind of the beast, but it couldn’t be helped. He had to come in from behind. Besides, it had smelled him before and would most likely just consider him one of the dozens of small scavengers lurking in the brush, waiting for him to finish and move on.

The bright orange sun shone from a perfectly clear morning sky, not yet halfway to the meridian. The breeze was light but erratic. M’rray slunk silently past an ugly doglike scavenger less than three meters away. It didn’t even react to his passing.

The carnivore put its head down, breathed deeply the scent of fresh blood, and took another bite of its kill. Lifting its head and beginning to chew, it sniffed the air, sensing the small creatures moving in the grass behind it. Such tiny creatures, some impatiently venturing close, most exuding fear and hovering at a respectful distance. The great beast stretched the muscles of one of its rear legs, swallowed, and buried its nose again in its kill.

M’rray sprang forward, a flash of bronze in the morning sun, covering the last hundred meters in a matter of seconds. Before the carnivore had raised its snout from the satisfying odor of fresh blood, M’rray was in the air, hurtling the final few meters in a great leap, carrying him high onto the carnivore’s back. His claws grabbed hold, digging into the cracks between scales, and M’rray scrambled toward the beast’s huge shoulder.

Reaction came instantly. Not even M’rray’s two hundered and seventy kilograms of mass, hitting at nearly a hundred kilometers per hour, would be enough to knock the great creature over, or even to make it lose its balance. But the impact was certainly felt.

The huge muscles under M’rray’s paws flexed and the great beast launched itself up and backward, meaning to land on this thing disturbing its meal and crush it into the ground. M’rray too leapt backward, and a little to one side, adding his speed to the fall. He hit the ground first and was already back in the air, flying toward the beast’s throat when it landed with a resounding THUD!

But its chin was lowered, the bony frill covering its neck, and M’rray skidded off and finally got a clawhold centimeters from the huge, gaping mouth. A great paw the size of a small landcar was swooping toward him like an avenging angel, and M’rray threw himself away from it and slammed unexpectedly into an upraised arm like a marble column.

He slid to the ground, dazed, but his instincts kept him scrambling away as the carnivore rolled its vast bulk toward him. M’rray smelled surprise and annoyance from the beast, not yet thinking there was any real danger. But all around him, the smaller creatures reeked of shock and fear, a palpable stench like a crushing wall --

He shook his head to clear it, and looked up to see a great maw twice as long as he was. The beast was on all fours, searching the grass for him. In a moment the huge claw would be moving toward him --

Impulsively, M’rray threw himself upward, all four claws aimed at the gigantic eye as big as his head. The beast saw him at the last instant and began to move, but M’rray was able to catch onto its brow ridge. He swiped downward and the beast blinked, and M’rray’s claw caught painfully in the scales, but he had a hold of the creature’s huge eyelid. He pried desperately upward as he saw both of the beast’s paws flying toward him. Then the eye came open and M’rray plunged his other claw into it, and it exploded in a shower of red and white fluid.

The beast bellowed like a rolling thunder clap, threw back its head, and started pawing at its eye. M’rray tried to leap free, but his claw was still caught. He dodged one swipe and pulled frantically, saw the other paw coming and he threw himself down the beast’s back, ignoring the consequences. One finger ripped from its socket and sprayed blood across the carnivore’s face, but the panic and the frenzy was upon him now and the pain would have to wait.

The beast was throwing its head back and forth, still clawing at its now-useless eye, seemingly oblivious to M’rray scrambling across its back. And then M’rray was under the bony collar, squeezing around to the front --

Panic! The great creature threw itself down onto its belly, and M’rray knew he couldn’t get out in time. He was trapped between the frill and the soft skin of the beast’s throat. He ripped at it desperately, digging with all four claws, and hot, sticky blood gushed out around him and he broke through the soft membrane and was inside the beast’s throat as it hit the ground.

He was cushioned by the soft flesh all around him, but still he felt himself being slowly crushed by the beast’s vast bulk. It lurched upward once more, then struggled and collapsed again. M’rray could feel the double thud of its huge heart, but the beating lasted only a few more seconds and then stopped.

M’rray was clawing at the flesh around him even more frantically now. The large tear he’d made in the beast’s throat gave his limbs room to maneuver, and he dug out huge hunks of muscle, desperately trying to find a way out before he suffocated within the beast’s body, or drowned in its hot blood. Finally his claw struck the underside of a scale on the side of the creature’s neck, and he was able to kick it out enough for some of the blood surrounding him to escape.

He pulled and heaved his way toward the hole and pushed his face against it and gasped the sweet, cool air outside. He rested and calmed himself a little before going on. It took a while, but he finally scraped enough of the sinew from the under side of the scale to push it out of the way and squeeze himself out through the hole.

He stood, stretching cramped muscles, catching his breath. His fur was soaked head to foot in glistening blood. Scores of small animals with long snouts and lots of teeth stood around the huge carcass, eyeing it -- and him -- very warily. M’rray snarled and they backed away. Many showing signs of respect or submission. He smiled a big, toothy cat-smile and turned to face the dead beast.

His hatred and anger were slowly ebbing, even as his heartbeat slowed and his breath returned. The gigantic creature lay on its stomach, still bleeding profusely through its mangled neck and missing eye. It was probably the largest carnivore the galaxy had ever seen. And M’rray, unarmed, had killed it.

His right front paw started aching and he glanced down to see the missing digit, an empty hole welling up his own blood. The great beast he’d killed had been a carnivore, just like him. They were related in a way -- strong, fast, fearless. Carnivores throughout the galaxy were usually also very intelligent.

His smile faded and his paw began really throbbing. He could, of course, have a prosthetic implanted later, but he didn’t think he would. He paused for a few moments, then stepped forward and grasped the scale he had pushed aside. He pulled with all his strength, and it came free.

That was fitting. A scar and a trophy. The beast would be remembered by the conqueror, and that was fitting.

He turned again and started back toward the colony camp, to be taken to another world when the courier ship came. The crowd of scavenger-animals parted to let him pass, then descended on the carcass when he was gone.


It was a morning more beautiful than any other she could remember. Her garden was in bloom, dew dripping lightly from every leaf and flower. She watched with huge, violet eyes as a tiny spider fussed over its web, darting back and forth between dewdrops The sun, in a glorious blaze of red, had just lifted herself above the horizon and now peacefully gazed down upon the garden.

Rian smiled. The air was deliciously cool, with a gentle breeze wafting the leaves. In the distance beyond the garden, a grove of trees was drinking in the morning sunshine and the wonderful moist air. In the emerald light, the grove and the garden seemed almost to glow with -- pride? -- in their coolness and youth and beauty.

Mornings like this had come much too rarely of late -- no, Rian corrected herself there had never been a morning like this. Never had she felt quite so close to her garden. The closeness there once had been, so long ago, had all but gone from her over the many years. But this morning seemed a dawn filled with renewal and hope. It was a morning to laugh, or to lay, unclad, in the dewy grass, or to watch a tiny spider.

She stood and stretched her long, supple body, and her golden skin glistened with a light coating of dew. It was past time for breakfast so she turned to go into the forest and nearly ran into the Zehara.

Rian stepped back in surprise. “Lady, I did not hear you coming.”

The matriarch looked back with her ancient, lovely eyes. “I did not wish you to hear. Such a moment of communion with your garden should not be disturbed.”

Did she know? “This morning,” Rian said, “my garden seemed especially beautiful.”

The Zehara smiled. Of course she knew! “What is it your garden speaks of to you this morning?” she asked.

Rian gazed back across the flowers toward the huge crimson orb of the sun. “Pride, I think. My garden is proud of her completeness.”

The matriarch shook her head. “You confuse pride with joy. This morning, she made you happy. This morning she is complete. And for that, she is happy. Your garden has seemed empty to you for so long.”

Rian looked down at her bare feet. The Zehara, of course, knew everything. “Lady, I am old. I lay at night and look at the stars and wonder if there is nothing more for me. My garden has seemed so small.”

The Zehara tsked. “Why did you not come to me with these questions?”

“It seemed that a keheil of my age should be able to find such answers for herself. Or rather, should not be bothered by such questions any more -- she should have asked them at a much younger age.”

“Such pride! Child, you are too proud of your age and your accomplishments.”

“Pride? Lady, I am not proud. I have come to realize that the problem is within me. It is not that my garden is not enough. It is rather that I am faulted. Is it pride to see a fault in oneself?”

“It is pride to think you are above help.”

“Could you have mended my flaw?”

“No one can mend a flaw in another, not even a keheil.”

“Then why should I have come to you?”

“I can see what flaw there is more clearly than you can. I can point the way for you. Even one of your age cannot know All.”

Rian again looked down. They stood silently for a few moments. She gazed back at her garden then. The sun was going behind a cloud now and the immense beauty of the early morning seemed to be fading along with the sunlight. “I am hungry, Lady. I have not yet breakfasted.”

“The hunger is more than in your belly, daughter. You know this, and still you do not ask me for a path.” Silence again. Rian felt almost ready to cry. The morning was lost.

The Zehara sighed. “Rian ani Rina,” she said, “I have a mission with which to charge you. I have recently spoken with an admiral of Starfleet. She has asked me to recommend a keheil for a project in which she is engaged. I choose you. A ship shall take you from here before this day is finished.”

In her long life, Rian had never been offworld. A great fear clutched her and she looked up again. “Lady, no! I have no wish to leave my garden!”

“Nevertheless, it is the path I choose for you. And it is a path which will seem all the more difficult that you did not ask for it.”

Rian spoke so quietly as to almost be unheard. “And for how long must I follow this path?”

“Until you reach its end.”

“But for how long must I leave my garden?”

Once more, the Zehara sighed. “Still you do not see. Even through your long life and with all your wisdom, there is much you have not learned. I cannot tell you how long you shall be gone. Perhaps you will never return. Perhaps you will not want to, perhaps you will find that your garden is indeed too small for you. Or perhaps you will find another answer and be welcomed back. It is not right for me to tell your fate to you. And the choice, as it always was, shall be yours.” And without another word, the Zehara turned and walked away.

Rian turned back to the flowers and trees and then she did begin to cry. And amidst her pain and loss, the thought of a new fear came to her.

The Zehara had commanded her to leave. And had said that she would, perhaps, be welcomed back.

Such a thing had never before happened to a keheil. She was being exiled.

And then, the huge red sun of Antares burst from behind the clouds and shone down upon the garden, making it look more achingly beautiful than ever.

Rian fell to her face in the grass and wept.


Mok had no idea to where his ship was being towed. He and Kila had been separated and he had been kept in a tiny room aboard the Fed cruiser for nearly a week. Even towing the High Stakes, they could be almost anywhere by now.

It was all so mysterious. They hadn’t arrested him -- not exactly. Not formally, anyway. What they were doing was not even remotely legal, but considering his cargo, that wouldn’t have mattered. The Feds hadn’t been interested in any sort of bribe -- he’d tried everything he could think of (if they ever got out of this, he’d have to convince Kila that he wasn’t really serious about his last offer...) But they hadn’t been interested. And they hadn’t hurt him, or threatened him. Very, very strange.

After a week of trying to figure out what was happening, with absolutely nothing to go on, a guard came in very unceremoniously and led him to a transporter. He stood on the disc and watched the room around him fade, to be replaced by a large and well-lit office with a huge picture window overlooking a small, round lake. In front of the window was a good-sized desk and seated at the desk was a middle-aged woman in a Starfleet admiral’s uniform, her graying hair tied back in a neat bun, her eyes piercingly black.

“Hello, Mok,” said Admiral Brezshnova.

Mok took a deep breath, then smiled his most charming smile. “Why, hello, Rhonda. How very nice to see you again!”

“Right,” she said. “Glad you remember me.”

“How could I possibly forget? I owe you so much.”

“A quaint way of putting it. Please, sit.”

Mok found himself a chair, crossed his legs. “Sorry I’m such a mess, honey. Your goons didn’t give me access to a shower. But tell me, sweetheart, did you bring me all the way to Terra just so we could malign each other for old times’ sake?”

She smiled, all teeth, and sighed. “Of course not. And we’re not on Terra. Nice try, though.” She folded her hands on her desk. “Mok,” she said, “I need your help.”

“Swell. Did you think, for a moment, that I’d give it to you?”

“For a moment. We were friends once.”

“For a moment. If you want to call it that.”

“Lovers, then.”

“You sure as scab have an odd way of expressing your undying love. Don’t try appealing to my sentimentality.”

“Your sense of honor, then. You said it yourself: you owe me.”

“And that means exactly what?”

“You’re a Haven. You pay your debts."

“Funny, most Terrans seem to forget that unless it’s to their advantage.”

“If you recall, Mok, I am not ‘most Terrans’. Scarcely as straightlaced as most, certainly not your typical Fleet-neck, either. We’ve had dealings, Mok. Profitable ones. Not always on the books.”

Mok thought about that for a few moments. “What I assume you’re trying to tell me, in your own, subtle, bull-Klingon type way, is that you are engaged in something illegal. I knew that already, honey. Whisking me off like that, when I was about to close the biggest deal of my life. Real sweet. Tell you what. Appeal to my sense of greed. Make the payoff big enough and I’m yours.”

She rubbed a hand across her face.

“I’ve had a rough year this week. Look, I can’t promise you anything. But the chances are very good that you’ll come out of it a lot richer than you went in.”

“That’s not good enough. I’m sure I’d do even better if you gave me my ship back and left me alone.”

“I know about the Klingon. And the frog.” She sighed again. “I didn’t want to do this to you but you, know what it’s going to come down to.”

“Yeah, sure, I can see the deal. Do it or else, right? But what if I don’t, honey? I don’t know what you’ve got going, but if I go to trial, I’ll drop enough screaming hints that someone will look into it.”

“That won’t happen and you know it. Who said anything about a trial? I’ve got friends.”

“You’ve got friends?”

“We’ve all got friends, Mok.”

“And some of us got mock friends.” He smiled. “Okay, we’ll play it your way. How big is it?”


Go to Part Two

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum