Raising the Stakes

by David and Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2252)

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On a need-to-know basis, Sulu couldn’t think of anyone he should tell about the strange communication from Admiral Brezhnova. On the other hand, he certainly had to tell the senior officers something. While he recognized that after VonHels, ‘none of your business’ would probably work as well as anything, he didn’t want to run his ship that way. And the sting of being a First Officer kept ignorant was still very fresh in his memory.

Then it occurred to him that with VonHels’ strict ideas, there might not be a grapevine growing from Communications. In which case Lian Rendell and Ensign G’mian were the only ones who knew he’d received a priority call.

Yet was a First Officer ignorant of being ignorant any less so? And if there wasn’t a grapevine, shouldn’t one be planted? It had proved valuable on the Enterprise, more than once.

But if he did all that, he was back to what should he tell his senior officers?

The door chime to his office sounded and Sulu called, ‘come,’ without looking away from the empty com screen.

“Sulu,” Lian Rendell’s voice said, “since you’ve decided to alter the game plan on this bus, we’ve decided to raise the stakes.”

Sulu glanced up. With Lian were Jerel Courtland, Tara Ryan, the Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Commander Rivka Mazar, and Tristan Vale, Communications Chief.

“Mutiny already?” Sulu asked with a tilt of his head.

“Captain VonHels would have considered it so,” Jerel whinnied.

“You said on the Bridge that we could ask about standard procedures,” Tristan continued stiffly. “Ensign G’mian reported a priority communiqué...”

“So we want to know what was in it,” Tara finished.

“Prepared, of course, to take the consequences of having asked, as well as those of knowing whatever was in the transmission,” Lt. Commander Mazar put in. Sulu realized that her accent was much like Ruth’s, which made him also realize that Ruth’s wasn’t an Antari one. Rivka Mazar, like Ruth’s father, was Israeli.

“Which is what you meant by raising the stakes,” Sulu summarized.

Lian grinned. “So refreshing, Captain.”

Sulu stood. “Since I was sitting here contemplating this very idea, ladies, gentlemen, let’s adjourn to the briefing room.” The group parted to let him precede them out of his office. As the door opened and he stepped through, he heard Tara’s victorious, “I told you so.”


“I’m afraid there’s not much I can tell you,” Sulu began once they were all seated in the briefing room. He didn’t miss, but ignored Tristan Vale’s whispered, “I told you so!” to Tara. “Mainly because I don’t know that much myself,” he continued. “The call was from the Chief Alienologist, Admiral Brezhnova. She told me to expect to begin receiving frequent but irregular reports from a Haven trading vessel. I’m to pass along whatever these reports contain, with any commentary from relevant departments, immediately to Starfleet Headquarters.” Sulu spread his fingers on the table before him. “That’s about it, people.”

“What ship?” Tara wanted to know.

“The High Stakes.”

“That’s Bek Mokallian’s baby,” Lian said. "He’s been missing for over three years.”

“Missing?” Jerel asked.

“Well, not missing missing,” Lian returned. “But he hasn’t been working for the Empire, that’s for damn sure. No profit reports, no run statistics, no raiding... well, I won’t bore you with Empire operations.”

Sulu grinned, catching Lian’s eyes with a look that said he understood it wasn’t boredom she was worried about.

“That’s it?” Rivka asked.

Sulu shrugged. “That’s it.”

“Why were we chosen?” Tristan put in.

“We’ll be patrolling in the same area as the High Stakes,” Sulu replied.

“That’s half an answer, begging the Captain’s pardon,” Tristan insisted.

“How do you...?” Rivka began.

“He’s Indiian,” Sulu rejoined. “He can feel it.” He turned his attention back to Tristan. “Yes, it is,” he said. “The other half is confidential.”

Tristan scowled, but didn’t pursue the question.

“If that’s all...?” Sulu said, standing. The rest of the room’s occupants also stood. “Dismissed, then.” The Drake’s officers moved toward the exit to the corridor. “Lian,” Sulu called, “if you know of anything that could help with this contact, I expect to be informed.”

The Haven turned from the doorway with a mischievous smile. “Shall we discuss it later, Captain?”

“Done deal, remember?”

She looked offended, but there was a twinkle in her eyes. “Of course!”

Tara looked worried. “What was all that?” she asked.

“Nothing you or Jilla need be concerned about,” Sulu answered.

“What was the done deal?”

“To remember I’m married.”

Tara smiled. “Ah. Good. See you later, Captain.”

After everyone else had gone, Jerel turned to Sulu. “Anything more you need to tell me, sir?”

Sulu sat back down. “Yes.” He took a breath. “This information we’re going to be receiving. It has to do with the Seeders.”

Jerel whistled.

“Yeah,” Sulu agreed. “And the Admiral wouldn’t tell me anything about it so I could be properly dumbfounded.”

“Which is why you didn’t tell them,” Jerel affirmed. Sulu nodded. “So why, Captain, are you telling me?”

Sulu looked up, grinning wryly. “I figure you have the native horse sense to act appropriately.”

Jerel shook his head. “I had hoped to dispense with such monkeyshines, sir.”

“You know I’m only horsing around.”

“Yes, sir. And, like any good First Officer, I am aping my Captain’s behavior.”

Sulu laughed. “Enough, I concede this round.” He met Jerel’s blue eyes. “Very simply, Mr. Courtland, I trust you. And I know what it feels like to think your captain doesn’t.”

Jerel gave a deferential nod. “Thank you, sir. I’ll do my best to live up to your trust.”

“You already have, Jerel.”


Mok pushed irritably away from the computer console. Kila looked up from her unconsciously provocative pose on the double bed in the small cabin, where she had been filing her nails.

“Problems, oh, my master?” she asked.

“Don’t start with me,” Mok growled. “Get Ballerina in here.”

Kila’s bifurcated eyebrows rose in glee. “A threesome? Oh, my master, you’re too good to me.”

“I said don’t start.”

“Then you’ll want me to clear out. Should I go see if Young Green’s changed his mind about exploring Klingon biology, oh, my master?”

Mok turned a menacing look in Kila’s direction. “One more time,” was all he said. Kila sighed, rising languidly.

“You’re no fun anymore, Mok,” she commented.

“I hate paperwork. I hate the Drake. I hate Rhonda dear. I hate this mission. I hate...”

“Lighten up, oh, my master.”

Mok let out a roar, but before he could back it up with anything physical, Kila had scampered out of the cabin door. “Ballerina,” he heard her call in a sing-song voice, “the Captain wants you!”

“I hate Klingons,” he muttered. He paced in the small space until Christy appeared in the doorway.

“Need something, Mok?” she asked.

He grabbed her arm, pulling her into a quick, rough kiss. “Yeah, but we don’t have the time.”

Christy smiled sympathetically. “Kila acting up again, is she?”

“That’s not my problem.” He gestured to the computer. “I don’t do reports to Rhonda.”

“Ah, paperwork,” Christy nodded. “What’s the deal?”

“Contact with Captain Stiffneck in a matter of hours. I’m supposed to assign the right loonies to talk to him. I sure as hell don’t want to. But your Admiral Dearest wants written justification for who I send.” Mok’s manner abruptly changed, and he smiled his most charming smile. “I thought you could take care of the details, light of my life.”

Christy sighed. “Mok, after all this time, why don’t you just ask? It is your ship.”

Mok shook his head. “Not my style,” he said, moving closer to her. “And from what I’ve heard in the way of moans and groans, you’re well satisfied with my style the way it is.”

“True enough, I suppose,” Christy returned off-handedly, then giggled as Mok frowned. “Don’t let that over-inflated ego wilt on my account.”

“Why do I put up with you?” he grumbled.

“We live in a sardine can,” she replied. She turned to the computer. “Do you actually have recommendations or should I wing it?”

Mok took a seat on the bed. “Saran can’t go. He’d tell the whole and nothing but.”

“True. No Saran. M’rray?”

“Are you kidding? He’d eat VonHels for... on second thought...”

“No M’rray. The Precious Metal Twins?”

“Goddess might think it was a lark.” Mok’s smile went suddenly nasty. “And God-by-insertion would be so superior.”

“Rian and Eontril.” Christy thought for a minute. “Tharas will want to go.”

“And who among us tells God-any-way-you-look-at-it no?”

“Hush!” Christy said with abrupt vehemence. “Don’t joke about it.”

“Keep your briefs on, at least for now.”

“Then shut up about Tharas.”

Mok shrugged.

“Either you or me will have to go,” Christy continued. “The deal is a Haven trader who just happened across this information. I suppose I could pass...”

“As a Haven? Never. Shit!” Mok interrupted himself. “Rendell is aboard the Drake. She’ll head to the nearest Monolem if I don’t show.”

“That settles it then,” Christy said, and began typing into the computer. “You’ll go with Silver and Gold and Tharas. I’ll stay here with the kittens and Kila and Wondergreen.”

Mok grinned at her. “What would I do without you?”

“Put up with a hell of a lot more from Kila, since she’s the only other female on the ship who’ll look at you.”

Mok feigned a gasp, grasping his chest. “You wound me, Ballerina.”

It was Christy’s turn to grin. “Tell it to Security.”


U.S.S Drake
NCC 541
Command Office

San Francisco Shipyards
San Francisco, North America,
Terra, Sol System
Chief of Engineering, CA II


I love you.

Well, hon, I made it through the first twenty-four hours. I suppose I shouldn’t count it like this - after all, I’ve got 350 or so more 24 hour periods to get through, give or take a month - but it does feel like something of a minor triumph. I don’t even feel any withdrawal symptoms yet. True, I didn’t sleep much last night, but that’s great for getting paperwork done.

I love you.

How are you holding up? I imagine the engineers are swarming like bees to their queen. And you deserve it. Has Ruth got the computers saying ‘mommy’ yet? Say hi to her; Hi, Spike! I won’t ask if the two of you are sleeping yet. Valjiir routines take a while to get to intermission. Keep me posted on your progress. I want to start whittling away at that 350 day figure.

I love you.

We’ve been given an -ah- interesting assignment. Ask Ruth about the Silmarils - and don’t be a smart-ass, Valley, I don’t mean Tolkien’s jewels. I’d tell you more if I could, but I can’t. Need-to-know. Just watch for reports coming from this sector mentioning the HTE High Stakes.

I love you.

Not much more to say. I’ve got an Indiian Comm Chief who glares daggers at the back of my neck. Can’t tell why, just yet. My CMO is a Haven. Normal woman - normal for a Haven, that is. Tara says hello. Chief of Engineering is a nice Israeli named Rivka Mazar. Spike, I never realized your accent is Israeli, not Antari. I know, I can hear you from here; ‘I have an accent?!?’

I love you.

Yeah, you, too, Ruth.

Take care of yourself, hon. I miss you. Don’t worry, I remember cortayel. Do I need to call First Emperor Thaere?

I love you.




It took longer than it would have on the Enterprise for the word to spread, even though the complement of the Drake was half that of the heavy cruiser. But, by the start of the third day’s main watch, crewmen were actually beginning to initiate conversations with the captain. It wasn’t much more than a ‘good morning/afternoon/evening, Captain,’ but that was a vast improvement over the silence that had previously filled the corridors whenever Sulu was present. The Bridge crew was relaxing, by degrees - except for Tristan Vale, who continued to be properly, formally respectful to the captain, and no more; though he was quite vivacious where the rest of the crew was concerned.

Sulu sat in the con, sipping coffee, contemplating that fact, when Jerel turned from the Science Station.

“Sensors are picking up a small ship, approaching on an intercept course.”

Sulu put down his cup, leaning forward to the helm. “Miss Tsing, Mr. Zel, track them. Slow to sublight when they do.” He spoke over his shoulder to Communications. “Mr. Vale, what’s their I.D.?”

“Standard Federation beam,” the Indiian replied. “HTE High Stakes, a trader....” There was a pause. “She’s been modified from the last configuration we have for a ship of her type.”

“Havens usually customize their ships,” Sulu replied. “I wouldn’t worry about it unless she’s reading increased fire power.”

“She is, but within acceptable limits for her class,” Jerel rejoined.

Sulu nodded acknowledgment of the information.

“Ah, Captain?” Dylan Paine’s voice said from Engineering.

“What is it, Mr. Paine?”

“In keeping with asking about procedure, Captain VonHels always had shields raised when approaching a ship with undeclared intention.”

“That is standard procedure, sir,” Jerel reminded. Sulu glanced at him. The Equian’s blue eyes were twinkling. No, Jerel, he thought, I can’t very well tell them I already know the High Stakes intentions, even though they may already know I know. He reminded himself to find a way to test the budding grapevine.

“This is a civilian, Federation ship, properly registered with a proper ident beam,” he said to Dylan. “I don’t think she’s going to open fire on us. Leave the shields as they are.”

Dylan’s grin showed in his voice. “Yes, sir!” Jerel nodded.

“Slowing to sublight,” Zel reported.

“We’re being hailed,” Tristan said.

“Let’s hear it, Mr. Vale,” Sulu replied.

A light, pleasant, female voice came over the com speakers. “Drake, this is the Haven trading vessel, High Stakes. Do I have the pleasure of addressing Captain VonHels?”

Sulu motioned to Tristan to reply. “No, I’m afraid not. Captain VonHels has been reassigned. This is Captain Sulu. What can I do for you, High Stakes?”


“It’s not VonHels!” Christy squealed excitedly.

Mok had gone from lounging disdainfully at the helm, where he’d been ever since sighting the Drake, to upright attention.

“Did he say ‘Sulu?’“ he asked. His thumb found the communications relay. “Did you say ‘Sulu?’“ he repeated. The voice paused a fraction of a second.

“Yes. I assume this is Captain Mokallian?”

“Call me Mok. THE Sulu Sulu?”

Again there was a pause. “Depends on what you mean.”

“What DO you mean?” Christy wanted to know.

“You’re a racer, you figure it out,” Mok said. He again addressed the com. “You know Tomor Rand?”

The answering voice was tight. “Yes. Yes, I do.”

“Praise the Monolems. How’s Ebony Beauty, Kam?”

“Captain Mokallian, can I ask the nature of your contact?”

“Kam?” Christy squealed again. “KAMIKAZE?!? Mok, you’re shittin’ me!”

“Would I do that on such a serious subject as Clavist royalty, Ballerina?” Mok pointed to the image of the Drake on the ship’s forward screen. “That’s Kamikaze, LeRoi himself.”

“I don’t believe you!”

“Captain Mokallian?” the com said.

“Yeah, keep your pants on.”

“Mok, You’ve GOT to let me come with!” Christy demanded.

“Who’ll look after Young Green and the kittens?”

“Let Kila earn her bed and board. You can’t deny me the chance to meet Kamikaze!”

“Yeah? What will you do for me?”

“What will I... Listen, oh, not so great lover and only adequate dealer in seriously overvalued chemicals...”

Mok chuckled to himself, again thumbing the relay. “We’ve run into some information in our travels,” he began, “that we can’t begin to make head nor tails of, except we’re pretty sure it won’t turn a profit. We figure that’s what Fleet ships are for. So we want to unload and be on our way. Can do?”

“Will this require a face to face meeting, Captain?” Sulu’s voice asked.

“YES!” Christy hissed at Mok.

“Well, it’s a little bizarre,” Mok said, grinning at Christy. “Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

“I’ll beam aboard with my Science Officer...” Sulu began.

“No good, Kam,” Mok interrupted. “We’re pressed for space here. Let me bring my team aboard the Drake.”


“Don’t be a herbert. You really don’t want to come here.”

There was a long pause, during which Christy held her breath. “Very well, Captain. Give your coordinates to my transporter chief. I’ll meet you there in ten minutes. Sulu out.”

“Done,” Mok replied and closed the com. Christy let out her breath in a long sigh.

“Kamikaze,” she said.

Mok’s smile was full. “Kamikaze,” he repeated. “At least we know why Rhonda chose the Drake.”


“Kam?” Jerel asked as Sulu got up from the con. Sulu frowned, and caught Dylan’s murmured, “Kamikaze?”

“In a minute, Jerel,” he said, and stepped to the D&W station. “Mr. Paine, you have a question?” he said, his voice quiet.

Dylan’s eyes were wide. “You’re...Captain, I...” He gulped. “Kamikaze?” he whispered. “Really?”

“And you are...?” was Sulu’s reply.

Dylan swallowed again. “Peregrine.”

Sulu nodded, unable to stop the faint smile. “Yes, Mr. Paine. Just remember to keep it off duty.”

“Yes, sir!” Dylan said smartly. Sulu sighed, ignoring the fresh respect in the young man’s eyes. He turned back to the rest of the Bridge. “Mr. Vale, I’m going to need you. Call Tara Ryan, Lt. Commander Mazar and Dr. Rendell. Meet us in the main briefing room in ten minutes. Zel, you have the Bridge.” He walked to the turbovator. “Let’s go, Jerel.”

“Aye, sir,” came from both Tristan and Zel, and Jerel threw back his mane and followed.


“Kam?” he asked again, once the turbovator was on its way to the transporter room.

“A nickname from my misspent youth,” Sulu responded.

“Oh.” Jerel said. Then, “I thought it might be short for Kamikaze.”

“Shit,” Sulu said. “Does everybody know?”

“Everyone who has ever had dealings with Clavists. Kamikaze is a legend among legends.”

“When did you ever have dealings with Clavists?” Sulu wanted to know.

Jerel whinnied. “I did attend the Academy, Captain.”

“That’s not a prerequisite for any Academy course I know of.”

“No,” Jerel agreed. “Just for a social life at the Academy.”

Sulu searched Jerel’s face. “Has it really gotten that important?”

“Not to actually race, but to know of it, to go to the parties, groupie-ing...yes, that’s very important.”

“Who the hell gives the parties now?” Sulu muttered under his breath.

“I assume you mean since the Hunter was caught and Calvario’s support was - withdrawn.”

“Yeah.” Jerel took note of the tight response.

“Apparently, Mr. Calvario’s estate is under the management of Cameron Intergalactic. There’s a codicil mandating a certain portion of the profits directly for the benefit of the Clave. It’s being handled, I believe, by David Maxwell.”

Sulu shook his head. “Barak,” he muttered. “Figures.” He took a deep breath. “Well, that answers that. Jerel, keep this `Kamikaze’ stuff to yourself.”

“Will do, Captain.” Jerel smiled serenely.

“You’re smiling,” Sulu noted.

“Yes, sir.”

“Is there a reason?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright, Courtland. Give.”

“I believe I can now concur with Dr. Rendell on a certain point.”

“Which is?”

“A captain who has secrets makes blackmail so much easier.”

Sulu scowled. “No wonder you two get along so well. Are all Equians Havens in disguise, or is it just you?”

Jerel whinnied again.

“Or,” Sulu went on, “are you simply harnessing native talent again?”

“Captain, that was beneath you.”

Sulu shrugged. “Can’t win ‘em all. Let’s go talk Seeders.”

“Aye, sir.”


“I’m going,” Kila said. As she was sitting on the transporter controls, her words carried some weight.

Mok leaned back against the bulkhead, folding his arms. “What,” he asked, “did I ever do to deserve intransigent females?” Tharas, Rian, Eontril, and Christy were already waiting on the High Stakes’ small transporter.

“Child,” Rian began, “what good could you hope to do...”

“Who said she was planning on doing any good?” Mok cut in.

“I won’t be argued with,” Kila returned. “If I don’t go, I don’t move and no one goes.”

“I could make you move,” Tharas said softly. Menacingly.

“Yeah, right, like I’m scared of the Fed’s local god,” Kila snorted.

“You are supposed to be scared of the Andorian mercenary with all the weapons,” Eontril explained with a grin.

“Oh. I forgot,” Kila said. But she didn’t move.

“This is ridiculous,” Christy said. “Klingon, move your ass. We’re under orders here, and...”

“Terran, shut your mouth,” Kila replied. “You only want to go to kneel at the feet of His Most Royal Clavist Majesty and worship his Most Royal Clavist Ass...”

“Well, not ass, exactly...” Mok muttered.

“...which I think makes you highly unlikely to be able to deliver an unbiased opinion on exactly what our next move should be,” Kila finished as if Mok hadn’t spoken.

“Is there a question as to our next move?” Saran asked from his place at the controls - directly in front of where Kila sat. “We are, as Christy said, under orders to deliver our information to the Drake.”

“To the Drake, yes,” M’rray growled. He wasn’t in favor of this contact, and his cramped position in the doorway of the transport room wasn’t improving his mood. “We can accomplish that without leaving the ship.”

“Subspace can be monitored,” Tharas said.

“Not without my knowin’ it,” Mok disagreed. “We’re close enough to dance.”

“Then WHY does Ballerina have to go, except to gaze longingly into this sell-out’s baby-blues?” Kila wanted to know.

“His eyes are black, he’s Japanese,” Christy pointed out.

“No reason,” Mok conceded, then leered. “Except she’s agreed to pay me for it later.”

“I have not,” Christy corrected.

“I, on the other hand, have a legitimate reason to go,” Kila said. “Somebody has to keep the stars out of your eyes long enough to assess the situation clearly.”

“There’s no situation to assess,” Mok said. “We give the information, they take it. That’s our job. No big deal.”

“Then WHY does Ballerina have to go?”

“I’d feel more comfortable with a clear-headed observer,” M’rray put in.

“Alright, I’ve reached my bullshit quotient for the day,” Eontril declared. “Kila wants to go because A) she’s jealous and B) she doesn’t trust Feds, not even Clavists and C) especially not Clavists who ‘sold-out,’ meaning joined Starfleet. So Mokallian, do us all a favor and just let her come along.”

Mok grinned at Kila. “Jealous? Why, honey, I didn’t know you cared.”

“Not of you, of...” Eontril began, but Rian mentally hushed him.

Mok scowled. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” he said.

Eontril shrugged.

“Okay, Kila, you can come.” Kila jumped off the transporter controls and moved to stand on the pad with Eontril, Rian, Tharas, and Christy. Mok shook his head, stepping up onto the pad himself. “Majesty’s gonna think I brought the whole damn crew,” he muttered.

“Energize?” Saran asked.

“Whatever,” was Mok’s reply.


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