A Little Bitty Bit Of Treachery

by Cheryl Pettersonand Mylochka

(Standard Year 2250)

What if certain crewmembers decided to save Valjiir from the Klingons?’

(This is an alternate to the Shadow Captain series.
It begins at the story "Danse Macabre").

Go to Part Three

Return to Part One

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum


"Mr. Bergmann, you have a fix on our shuttle?" Sulu said.

The tall blonde man turned from the Science Station. "I can give you a projected course, based on the data Captain Spock..." he began.

"I don't give a damn about the data Captain Spock provided," Sulu interrupted harshly. "Do we have a fix on the Galileo or not?"

Bergmann's fair skin flushed. "No, sir. She went into the verilium-obsitrate cloud. I can estimate her location based on her trajectory, but without sensor confirmation, it would only be a best guess."

Sulu turned to the usual Third Watch Helmsman. "Ensign Cabot, can you best guess us to the Galileo?"

The young man grinned at him. "I can best shot it, sir!"

"Sulu," Monique DuBois said as she turned from the Navigation board, "how will we find our way out of the cloud once we've rescued the shuttle?"

The turbolift door opened as she spoke, DelMonde and Scotty both emerging from the car.

"We been workin' on jus' that problem, gal," Del announced.

"We can convert magnetic probes into beacons that'll absorb and reflect the verilium in the cloud," the older engineer explained. "We drop 'em behind us as we go in and they'll light the way back for us."

"It's going in that's the real problem," Sulu mused.

DelMonde gave him a sly half-grin as he stepped down to the con. "Not wit' th' bes' damn pilot in th' galaxy at the controls."

Sulu acknowledged the compliment with a slight nod of his head, though his pulse was racing.

"How long before the probes are ready?" he asked.

Scotty rocked a little on his heels. "Well, sir, knowin' that time is of the essence," he began, "me an' Noel have already got a few of 'em converted, and it willna take us much time at all to rig more while we're goin' in." He smiled. "Sir."

"Almos' like we plan ahead o' time," Del murmured, too quietly for anyone else to hear.

Sulu hid his knowing grin and rose from the con. "Ensign, you're relieved," he said to the helmsman. "I don't doubt your best shot, but..."

"I think I understand, sir," the young ensign replied. "If it were my wife...." He shrugged, and relinquished his seat with an understanding grin.

Sulu slid into the chair next to Monique, and she, too, smiled. "Bergmann," he called over his shoulder, "send that best guess trajectory to Navigation."

"Aye, sir," the Science officer said.

"Scotty, Del, what do you need to do to launch those probes?"

"They're all set, sir," Scott returned. "Noel can release them from the Engineering station here on the Bridge."

"All right," Sulu said. He glanced around the Bridge. Each face was tense and expectant - but also something else. He detected relief and excitement, as though this were the first time they were glad to be on duty in a very long time. He thought back on the few minutes since McCoy had reported Spock relieved of duty, and tried to count the number of smiles he'd seen since then. The total was far more than he'd seen on the Bridge in the past eight months.

"That hope you feelin', mon ami," Del whispered. "Hope an' a reprieve from bein' under th' bastard's damned Vulcan thumb." He turned with another half smile and moved up to the Engineering station.

Sulu let himself revel in the emotion for only a fraction of a second, then straightened his shoulders.

"Course laid in?" he asked Monique.

She nodded.

Sulu took a deep breath. "Let's go get Valjiir back."


Piloting sensor-blind on manual was a lot more taxing in a starship than it had ever been in a needle. Sulu's eyes were glued to the forward screen as he let knowledgeable fingers instinctively follow the coordinates Navigation sent to him. The ship rocked and shuddered at the abrupt changes in direction and orientation needed to avoid the pockets within the cloud that would allow the Enterprise to pass through, but would trap the energy needed to propel her. Gritting his teeth, Sulu tried not to think about how much better a pilot he was than either Ruth or Jilla. He'd find the shuttle, even if it were contained in one of those pockets without the ability to maneuver.

And if it's without life support too?

Don' t'ink like that, mon ami, Del's voice came in his head.

It would almost be better if the Klingons did find them, Sulu thought back savagely.

An' you definitely not t'ink that, Del advised, just as fiercely.

Shut up and let me concentrate! the helmsman snarled.

Port 'bout two degrees, Del replied, ignoring his commander's suggestion. Negative Y a teeny bit more'an half a degree.

Sulu closed his thoughts to anything other than piloting - and listening to Del's instructions. It almost felt like the years they'd spent at the Clave, only then, he had never listened to Del trying to tell him how to fly. A wry grimace touched his features and was gone.

An' if you done listened to me back then, Del commented, you been made LeRoi fo' life.

Sulu dropped his focus only long enough to reply, I already am.


Jilla closed her eyes and tried to ignore Ruth's screams. She repeated to herself, over and over, that there was nothing she could do, even if she would. That Ruth was in agony tore at her -- death she deserved, but not this way, and certainly she didn't deserve murder. Not at Klingon hands. Only Spock had the right to judge her. If it were his decision, she would feel satisfied, even as she wept for the pain. And there was pain, great searing torment.

The sound of Kor's voice had blacked her out with terror, but she had woken to Ruth's screams. She'd tried to sit up, found herself efficiently restrained. From what she could see, she was in a sickbay of sorts... There her thoughts stopped as a wave of panicked hatred and fear blinded her senses. There was a command in that wave, one of death, and the room was suddenly alive with wildly crashing objects and bolts of searing, destructive energy. She could hear harsh voices commanding the firing of weapons, the whine of phaser-like blasts, Ruth's terrifying, imperious, "No!"

"Commander, we can't..."

"I said fire!"


"Stun her, you idiots!"

More crashing, loud, deafening, stronger and stronger waves of emotion, whirring, screaming, and all at once everything stopped, as quickly as it had begun. Ruth was unconscious.

"Quickly, the sauvrn, "before she fights that off as well," Kel ordered.

Jilla had turned her head in time to see a Klingon handing what appeared to be a small stasis box of some sort to Kel. He passed an electronic device over it, and the box dissolved, revealing a thin, leaf-shaped smear of sparkling green, about two inches long. It was quivering with life. Kel smiled, then gently placed it on Ruth's forehead.

In the same moment, the thing suddenly vanished as though Ruth's skin had absorbed it, and the Antari's eyes flew open. She began screaming, and this time she didn't stop.

It had taken nearly half an hour before she'd managed to control the pain enough to speak, and then it was only hoarse, short gasps, punctuated by sobs and moans and shrieks of agony. She was begging for death. The Klingons had cheerfully explained what a sauvrn was, how it worked, how the exquisite, wracking torment kept the highly trained keheil too weakened to use her vast mental powers against her captors. But through blinding waves of pain, Ruth had told her a small detail that the Klingons had overlooked. This particular sauvrn was female. It was in the process of reproduction. And it was building a nest, feeding on Ruth's mind for its young. It was devouring her very consciousness. If allowed to remain, it would destroy her being and she would become a living carrier, a threat far worse than death to her entire species. There was only one way to stop it. Kill Ruth, before the sauvrn got control.

But Jilla was restrained, even as Ruth was. She was unable to do as the Antari asked. Ruth's voice cut into her thoughts. She was delirious, the agony near to driving her mad.

"Kill me!" she screamed, and it faded into a whispered sob. "Spock — " She gasped, the sound catching it in her throat, then words again escaped her in a rising, tormented wail. "Spock, Zehara, please!" She screamed again, without words or coherency.

Jilla swallowed, fighting the panic that bombarded her, battling, too, her own anger and grief and guilt Ruth’s words were repeated, over and over, begging for death, begging for her husband. How dare she call for Spock? Jilla cried in silent anguish. Betrayer, m'lek’ta-fee!

She loves him, she still loves him, and yet she can...

And you do not still love Selar?

I do not beg for his forgiveness!

Does she? She begs for justice, for judgment, from him and her goddess. As you haven't the courage to do! She wishes to face her damnation. Do you?

She wishes to die to avoid it!

She wishes to save her people...

Too much, too many reasons. You are as wrong, as guilty as she. Condemn her for sharing Noel’s bed while you share Sulu's?

It is different!

Is it?

I accept my damnation, she denies it!

She is not Indiian.

Her husband is Vulcan!

A cold, soulless monster! Condemn dear Ruth to that?

She chose it.

You pushed her.

She chose it! She wed him! So faithless to desert him... he deserves it. And so she should leave him, instead of this repulsive, ugly... she loves him. Then how can she... she loves Noel, as you love Sulu…

Selar is dead!

And Spock is not?

Do you not see? That I am as wrong does not make her right! If I could spare her this abomination... I do not excuse myself, how can I excuse her? No, she must realize, as I have, what horror she has done. I expect no one to forgive me. I cannot ease the way for her.

She stopped the angry, lost flood of tears, pushing away the bitter fear. Were she free, would the emotion overwhelm her? Would she send Ruth to the fate she couldn't face? And what emotion would it be that propelled her? Ruth needed to die for reasons totally unconnected to Spock. But would those be the reasons she'd feel as she did it? No, and I haven't the right. I cannot murder. I will not murder, not even m'lek'ta-fee.

Ruth screamed again, Spock's name, a desperate, despairing plea of agony and remorse, and Jilla trembled, her eyes filling with tears, and refused to listen to the voice that demanded she care.

All at once the ship rocked and heaved with the impact of a direct, unshielded phaser hit, followed immediately by a second blast, then a third. Faintly she could hear the labored whining of suddenly overtaxed engines. Another blast and the whine changed to screeching protest.


“Sir!” Bergmann called suddenly from the Science station. “The cloud – it’s starting to thin…”

Sulu frowned. “No sign of the Galileo?”

“Sign of… something…” The young man stiffened, then turned. “Ships, sir. Two of them at least. Big.”

The helmsman’s mouth hardened into a tight thin line. “Klingon?”

“Very probably, sir.” Bergman rechecked his readings. “We’re going to exit the cloud right on top of them.”

Mais, you t'inkin' a surprise attack would work best, Del’s voice drawled in his mind as the helmsman adjusted his course based on the freshly updated readings to avoid a collision.

I didn’t plan on being one of the ones surprised, Sulu thought back. Aloud, he ordered, “Keep your eyes peeled for that shuttle, Bergmann.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Battle stations!” he called over his shoulder to the Communications Officer.

Paradoxically the all-too familiar screech of the claxons steadied him as his battle-ready heart sent warm blood coursing swiftly through his veins. He hoped the alert signal would have the same effect on his less-experienced third watch crew. Now was the time for all the drills everyone had been hating him for to pay off. He had faith in each and every hand-picked name on the Bridge’s duty roster – first watch to third. The Vulcan’s hellish drilling schedule had at least given him that. There was only one position he had any regrets about. Monique wasn’t a bad shot. She just wasn’t quite as good as….

“Relieving you, Miss Dubois,” a familiarly accented voice said, appearing at his elbow as if by magic. Chekov gave his old helm-partner a grateful smile as he slid into the seat behind the navigation console. “Reporting as ordered, sir.”

It only took Sulu’s brain a half-second to supply the name of someone who could have convinced the Russian that he’d been ordered to the Bridge.

Monique was nervous as a cat, that person argued preemptively. An' you know this son of a babushka too dumb t' have anyt'ing but th' ice cold waters o' th' Volga flowin' through his veins.

Settle down, Cajun, he reprimanded silently.

Sorry, DelMonde grumbled unrepentantly inside his head. It my first mutiny – I a li'l excited.

And still amped up on whatever it had taken to knock Spock out, Sulu decided. Without waiting for confirmation, he turned to the navigator. “We target the biggest ship -- or closest -- of the two. Weapons, engines, Bridge – in that order. Have a full spread of photon torpedoes ready to keep the second one busy.”

“Aye, sir,” Chekov acknowledged, his fingers already communicating their intentions to the waiting Weaponry crews.

“Readings, Bergmann!” he demanded, keeping more than half his attention on the thinning but still treacherous verilium-obsitrate cloud.

“Clearing,” the young man reported. “But still indeterminate.”

“Can they see us yet?”

“Doubtful. If they’re running sweeps on the cloud, they may read…” Bergmann suddenly broke off. “Captain! Thinning rapidly now. We’re visible in 5…4… 3… 2…!”

“Sheee—it,” Del breathed from the Engineering station as the sparkling veil that had been cloaking the main viewer seemed to lift, revealing an alarmingly close view of the heavily armed aft section of a Klingon vessel.

“Fire!!” Sulu cried, rolling the ship hard to starboard with all his skill and might.

Quick as thought, Chekov sent screaming beams of green death into the warbird.

Impacts blazed blue and red so close to their own ship that the Enterprise shuddered with the wounds she’d inflicted on the warbird.

“The Galileo!” Del shouted, pointing at the viewscreen while he hung onto the Bridge’s railing.

“Photons! Now!” Sulu ordered, wrestling the ship back to port in time to avoid ramming the second ship.

“The first ship’s engines are damaged!” Bergmann yelled, hanging onto his console for dear life as the torpedoes exploded against the hull of the second vessel. “Tractor beams failing. The Galileo is starting to drift.”

“Get a beam on her, Del!” Sulu shouted over his shoulder, but the engineer was kneeling on the deck, his face contorted with pain as he struggled back to his station.

“No life signs on the shuttle!” Bergmann reported.

They got ‘em somewhere in th' lower decks. DelMonde’s mental voice was agonized. Sweet Jesus, what them monsters done to my sweet girl?

“Target their Bridge first, then their weapons,” Sulu ordered, grimly swinging the ship around for another run at the flagship. “We’ve got to take out those forward shields. Bergman, pinpoint Antari and Indiian readings.”

A near-miss blast from the second ship sizzled past the lower right hand corner of the main viewscreen, accidentally tagging the starboard pylon of the flagship.

“Thank you.” Chekov grinned as he poured a blazing line of lethal green down the flagship’s main hull. “I was just about to get to that.”

“Shields weakened but still holding,” Bergmann reported. “Flagship charging weapons.”

The second Klingon’s next shot was less wild and hit them midships as they turned to make their next run of the flagship.

“Feed him some more photons, Chekov,” Sulu said, whirling the ship around to give his partner a better angle.

“Shuttle in tow,” DelMonde reported, finally pulling himself back up to standing and wrenching his mind out of whatever hell Ruth was experiencing. “Deflector shields holdin', but we took some damage.”

They flew into the second Klingon’s teeth, firing volley after volley of torpedoes. The Klingon stubbornly returned fire. Just at the moment Sulu began to fear the warbird was going to insist on a head-on collision, the Klingon peeled off to starboard in an attempt to strafe their main hull.

“Aft torpedoes!” the helmsman ordered, cutting the engines in the sort of abrupt deceleration that was more natural to a needle than a starship.

Shee-it, Kam, Del protested inside his head as the ship whirled wildly. You tryin' to tear this t'ing up?

Sulu grinned as the warbird overshot, taking another torpedo hit and them leaving a momentarily clear path back to the flagship. Whacha gonna do? Take the keys and put her up on blocks?

Don’t be temptin' me, the Cajun warned.

“Chekov, target those forward shields again,” Sulu ordered, tilting the ship into a sharp approach vector intended to give the flagship as little flank as possible to aim at. “Bergmann, I've got to have those readings now.”

“Yes, sir!”

The helmsman freed one hand up just long enough to hit the comm. button. “Transporter room.”

“Scott, here. Standing by for coordinates.”

Good man, Sulu concluded. Sickening red began to bloom from the Klingon’s weapon ports. “Bergmann, I need those readings NOW!!”

“Sir, I…” the Science Officer began helplessly, not daring to take his eyes from his viewscreen.

“This may help, Mr. Bergmann,” Chekov said, confidently pressing the buttons to release a burning line of energy into the Klingon’s duranium-plated hide.

“That my boy!” DelMonde congratulated his roommate as a satisfying plume of fire rose from the Klingon’s hull. “Forward shields bucklin'!”

“Got ‘em, sir!” Bergmann cried. “Transferring coordinates to Mr. Scott!”

The ship suddenly lurched to one side as a hit from nowhere exploded against their starboard flank.

“A third Klingon warship!” Bergmann reported a little belatedly. “Must have been obscured by the cloud.”

“Damage reports comin' in from all decks!” DelMonde reported grimly. “Power down to eighty-six percent!”

“Mr. Scott, are you still with us?” Sulu shouted in to the comm as he struggled to wrest the limping ship back on course.

“Locking on now, Sulu,” the Scotsman replied.

“Target his weapons, Chekov,” Sulu said, bringing the ship in closer proximity to the Klingon’s shields than the manufacturer’s handbook recommended. “I’m going to give you a nice shot.”

“Alarmingly nice, Mr. Sulu,” Chekov agreed as they came near to skimming the outer pylons.

“We have the lasses, Sulu!”

“Fire!” the helmsman commanded, wishing the inhabitants of that vessel a particularly uncomfortable death.

Repercussions of the blasts rocked the ship as they twirled out back towards the verilium-obsitrate cloud.

“Oh, hell,” Del swore. “They gonna follow us.”

“Bergmann?” Sulu queried urgently as the sparkling veil of verilium descended again over the main viewer and the ship jostled into the rough terrain of the cloud.

“The flagship is probably too badly damaged to pursue,” the Science Officer replied. “But the other two ships have penetrated the cloud.”

“And now we can’t see them,” Sulu said, glancing down at the nonsensical proximity readings his console was providing him.

Another blast jolted the ship to one side.

“But we leakin' plasma,” Del apologized.

“So, they can see us,” Sulu concluded, adding zig-zags to his already complex course following a breadcrumb trail of converted probes through the cloud’s minefield of pockets. “Cajun, get on that plasma leak!”

“Yes, sir!” DelMonde replied, gesturing a crewman from Damage Control to temporarily replace him as he exited.

“Sulu,” Chekov said slowly as he studied the muddled readings from his instruments. “If the Klingon vessels are following the plasma trail…”

Sulu could have kicked himself for not drawing this conclusion first. “Best guess at their coordinates. Fire phasers aft!”

“Aye, sir!”

There was a familiar whine as the phasers were deployed. Then the sparkles on the mainscreen ignited into a multi-colored shimmer.

“Bergmann?” Sulu asked, unable to make any more sense of the new readings his console was recording than the old.

The Science Officer spread his hands. “I think we may have hit one of our converted probes.”

The helmsman turned to the navigator. “A better guess next time, Pavel?”

“Much better, Sulu,” the navigator promised, chagrined.

Before he could program his next volley, the ship shuddered with a new impact.

“Aft shields failing,” the Damage Control officer, Richardson, reported.

The Enterprise’s phasers whined again. This time, the thick space surrounding them rumbled with the aftershocks of what had to have been an impact on one of their pursuers.

“A definite improvement, Navigator.” Sulu nodded as he zig-zaged their starship down the twinkling trail of magnetic probes they’d left on their way in.

“Thank you, Commander,” Chekov replied politely as his fingers worked frantically over his board. “May I try again?”

“At your discretion, Mr. Chekov,” the helmsman invited him generously as he twisted the ship in a sharp turn to avoid a pocket that reared up suddenly in their path.

“Power loss has slowed,” Richardson reported, “But is continuing. We’ve taken damage to the thrusters.”

Sulu nodded as he attempted another abrupt portside turn. “I can feel it, Mr. Richardson. Maneuverability is down. She’s getting sluggish.”

The phasers whined again. The Bridge crew held their breath for a second but there was no sign of the shudder that had accompanied the last hit.

“Clean miss,” Chekov concluded.

The ship lurched as the Klingon used Chekov’s last trick against him and used the trajectory of his phasers to guess the Enterprise’s location.

“Nobody likes a smartass,” Sulu muttered ducking and weaving dangerously between his breadcrumb probes.

“Aft shields have buckled,” Richardson reported. “Their next shot could take out our engines.”

“Not gonna happen,” his commander assured him. “Estimating the far edge of the cloud, Bergmann?”

“Of the forty-five probes we launched, we’ve cleared twenty-three,” the Science Officer reported, sounding like he was making an effort to be optimistic.

“Bridge,” the comm crackled. “This is DelMonde. We got the plasma leak plugged.”

“Fixed?” Sulu clarified.

“I said plugged,” Delmonde replied dryly. “It hold fo' 'bout half-hour or so if you can manage t' stop shakin' the ship 'round.”

Despite the Cajun’s typical nonchalance, Sulu thought he could hear an edge to the engineer’s tone. He had to be as eager to get to sickbay as the helmsman himself was.

The ship nearly sloshed into one of their probes as she wallowed around yet another of the sharp turns Sulu ordered her to perform. “I could manage a lot better if we could get power back up.”

Mais, if you see a space dock out here, pull over an' we get this t'ing fixed right up,” the engineer replied sarcastically.

There was a sharp cracking noise nearby.

“Bergmann?” Sulu demanded as a shimmer filled the screen.

“The Klingons are…”

“…destroying the probes,” Sulu and Delmonde finished with him.

“Bastards!” the engineer swore.

“Del, I need speed.”

“Some t'ings never change.” The Cajun drew in a deep breath. “I do got an idea, but I not know if Scotty go fo' it.”

Sulu gave the next probe a wide berth. “Why not?”

“It be a li'l crazy.”

“Plain crazy or suicidal crazy?”

“Jus' plain crazy,” the engineer assured him.

“Tell Scotty you have my blessing,” Sulu decided. “Report progress.”

“Aye, sir,” the engineer replied, snapping off the link.

The screen filled with shimmers as the Klingons destroyed another glimmering probe.

“How do they think they’re going to navigate out of this soup?” Chekov asked, frustrated.

“Destroying us is priority one right now,” Sulu replied curtly as he coaxed his increasingly sluggish controls into another hard dive to the starboard side of the twinkling probe. “They’ll worry about survival at their leisure after that.”

A sparkling probe just ahead of them burst into a shooting star of dazzling dust.

“How many probes left, Bergmann?”


“Chekov, when they fire again, best guess and fire photons,” Sulu ordered. “I’m going to decelerate and let them blow past us.”

“But they will continue to destroy our probes,” the navigator objected.

“Trace their line of fire back and keep hitting them with phasers like they’re doing to us. We’ve got to disable their weapons before they disable us.”

“If we lose the trail of probes, we could all end up lost in this cloud,” the Russian pointed out. “Sensors are useless for aiming our weapons…. And we are losing power. Soon we will not be able to maneuver. And there are two Klingon ships and one of us…”

“I’m aware of the possibilities, mister,” Sulu interrupted grimly.

Chekov drew in a deep breath and nodded understandingly. Command decision. That’s what it meant to be the person bearing the ultimate responsibility of being in control of a starship. “Yes, sir. Preparing to fire on your order.”

“Bridge,” the comm link crackled to life. “This is Delmonde.”

“What have you got for me, Del?”

“A daft scheme,” Scotty was grumbling in the back ground. “E’en more daft than the first…”

“We gonna try creatin' a controlled explosion in th' secondary thrusters usin' a borobsitrate compound.”

“Where are you getting borobsitrate?”

“We make some by superacceleratin' a half ton o' obsitrate we beamed in from th' cloud.”

“Unstable mess of worthless junk…” DelMonde’s superior fretted discontentedly. “As likely to blow our crystals as boost them.”

“It jus' gonna be a boost – if it work,” the Cajun warned. “Not gonna last more'an a minute or two. But it gonna shoot us up out this cloud like a cannonball.”

The screen filled with shimmers again as the Klingons blew the next probe out of existence.

“How fast?”

“I dunno,” the Cajun admitted. “Maybe beyond warp twelve or so fo' a few seconds.”

“Will shake us apart,” Scott predicted. “Or blow the engines so badly we’ll be lucky to make warp two.”

“We got a steady power loss,” Delmonde stated. “We down to 67% an' they not a t'ing we can do t' fix that in this cloud. We got a brace o' Klingons on our tail an' a plasma leak fixin' to break loose again here in a minute an' light us up like a neon bullseye. This th' best option I got fo' ya. It not a sure t'ing, but it all I got. Whether or not you take it is up to you.’

Sulu took in a deep breath as he ducked the ship under another probe. “Scotty?”

“He may be a madman,” the Chief engineer conceded, “but the lad has the right of it when he says we’re in a fix and we’ve no other option to offer ye. ‘Tis your decision, Commander.”

The helmsman took in a deep breath. To have tricked the Vulcan out of this ship only to destroy it… To have saved two precious lives only to lose all four hundred and thirty…

“Prepare the booster, DelMonde,” Sulu ordered.

“Ready on your mark,” the Cajun replied.

The helmsman hit the button on the comm that would broadcast his voice throughout the ship. “Attention all hands – Brace for acceleration.”

Beside him, Chekov gripped the sides of his console. “A straight line course between the remaining probes and out of the cloud plotted and on your board, Mr. Sulu.”

The helmsman switched back to the line connecting him to Engineering. “Engage on my mark,” he said, placing his hands carefully over his controls.

“Aye, sir.”


At first it felt like a completely normal increase of speed...

“Warp six,” Chekov announced.

…But the sensation continued… and continued…

“Warp nine,” the navigator read.

The only thing Sulu could compare it to were the times that they had tried slingshotting around the sun. He felt stretched… elongated… like space pulling at the coattails of time…

“Warp twelve,” the Russian informed him.

The ship was moving faster than his conscious mind could work now. He let his brain slip carefully out of gear, trusting himself to make the right decisions by instinct rather than by reason.

“Warp…. Speed is off the dials now.” Chekov’s voice was simultaneously far away and intimately close.

Del was wrong. They were not like a cannonball at all. They were a great silver bird. Muscles. Flesh. Feathers. Blood cells. Each of them a part of her being. A unity gliding through planes of being… A silver hawk sailing through the endless night…

The featureless sparkle of verilium-obsitrate smeared and streaked into multi-colored strands… which finally resolved itself into stars…

“Warp four…” Chekov’s voice was saying as the galaxy resolved itself into its normal appearance and the engines moaned down to a halt “Warp three… Warp two…”

“Shee-it!” Noel DelMonde swore over the intercom.

As if from nowhere, two streaks appeared on either side of the Enterprise. They resolved abruptly into the Kali and the Siva and immediately began firing on the Klingon battlecruisers that emerged from the cloud. The two destroyers angled themselves and their attack in front of the heavy cruiser, allowing her to limp further away from the battle.

"Switch to aft view," Sulu told Bergmann. Streaks of phaser fire lit up the screen, receding as the Enterprise moved slowly away. "Chekov, do we have any aft firepower left?" Sulu asked.

"We're down to less than 50% power overall, sir," the Russian replied, "but since we don't have to either maneuver like a drunken laska or attempt to break every speed record know to the galaxy, we should be good for a few more phaser shots." He grinned at his helmmate.

"Fire at will," Sulu ordered with a fierce grin of his own.

"Aye sir!" Chekov returned.

"Jus' don't hit th' Kali or Siva," Del's voice said from the comm, as if to make up for his earlier compliment.

The screen went while for a moment as the ship rocked with an impact shockwave. When normal color returned, there was only one Klingon ship in view, listing badly, clearly dead in space.

"I've got a message from the Kali," John Holden said from Communications.

"On screen, Lieutenant," Sulu responded.

"Captain Spock," came the voice of the Kali's commander, Nari Dyandana. "All enemy vessels destroyed or incapacitated. We're prepared to take the last Klingon ship in tow."

"Captain Spock is incapacitated," Sulu said. "This is First Officer Sulu."

The TerHindi woman's features creased with worry. "Is the captain going to be all right?"

"He wasn't injured in the battle," Sulu said tersely. "He'd been on duty nearly twenty-four hours before we went into the verilium-obsitrate cloud and our CMO relieved him untill he could get some rest."

"A Vulcan needing rest after only a day?" Dyandana returned. "Isn't that a little unusual?"

"We've had a stressful couple of weeks, Captain." Sulu's face was expressionless.

Not t'mention we almost lose Valjiir an' th' sumbitch not give a fuck, Del's voice whispered in his head.

"We were actually on a rescue mission," Sulu continued. "As I'm sure you know, the design team of Valjiir is assigned to the Enterprise. They were exploring the cloud when the Klingons appeared." He declined to mention the captain's indifference.

Dyandana nodded. "Understandable, then, that the Captain was overtaxed."

Sulu answered the long string of obscenities that echoed from the Cajun's mind with an agreeing, yeah, right, because he cares so fucking much.

On the screen, the captain of the Kali broke into a gentle smile. "At any rate, Commander Sulu, that was some escape you made."

"Our crew is the best," Sulu said, "casting no aspersions on yours Captain, or the Siva's. You saved our asses. Thank you."

"No offense taken, Commander," Dyandana grinned. "You're most welcome. I'm sure Captain Spock will be proud of you all."

Bets? Sulu snorted silently, and this time heard Del's silent agreement.


Sulu had finished looking through all the damage reports and assigning repair crews. Some of the damage couldn't be fixed without a base's facilities. The Kali agreed to provide escort to the nearest repair center on the neutral planet of Betara. The Siva would contain the remaining Klingons and await the arrival of a tug to tow the battlecruiser to the nearest Federation starbase. He hated the dedication to duty that kept him on the Bridge when all he wanted to do was get the hell to Sickbay and make sure Jilla and Ruth were all right. By the time every task was completed, his jaw ached from the constant gritting of his teeth.

"Chekov, you have the con," he said as he finally rose to head to the lift.

"Sir, message coming in from Starfleet Sector Command," Holden reported.

Damn it! Just a few more seconds... Sulu fumed, but outwardly he only sighed.

"On screen, Lieutenant," he replied.

Commodore Alex Foran's face was stern when it resolved on the viewscreen.

"Captain Spock..." he began.

"The captain is incapacitated," Sulu repeated. "First Officer Sulu here, sir."

Foran snorted. "I should have guessed. No Vulcan would make unprovoked attacks on..."

"Unprovoked attacks, sir?" Sulu interrupted.

"We received a message from one Commander Kel of the Klingon battlecruiser Kalian. He reported a sneak attack from the Enterprise in Klingon space..."

"Commodore," Sulu broke in again, "this is neutral, not Klingon space, and they had captured a shuttlecraft which we had sent to explore a rare verilium-obsistrate cloud formation."

Foran scowled. "They threatened to involve the Organians, Commander."

"Since we had to beam our officers - Valjiir, Commodore - whom the Klingons had illegally detained, from the Kalian while they fired on us, I doubt Organia would look favorably on their case. I repeat, sir, that we only attacked because we were on a rescue mission, a situation the Klingons themselves precipitated."

The Commodore drummed his fingers on his desk. "The press has gotten wind of this, Mr. Sulu."

"We saved Valjiir, sir," Sulu responded, his voice tight. "And we captured an intact Klingon battlecruiser. Call Dave Calvin. I'm sure he'll love that kind of story."

Foran made a hmmphing noise in his throat.

"Now if you'll excuse me, Commodore," Sulu added, "I've got a lot to do here."

"Very well, Commander," Foran said. "But this incident will go in my sector report."

"Of course, sir," Sulu said, and nodded to Holden to cut the connection. "Fuck you, sir."

He turned on his heel and strode to the lift.


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