AOH :: TREK-059.TXT|
TNG: Grey Stars 2
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Sergey Shimkevich)
Subject: Grey Stars 2
Date: 20 Apr 92 03:47:35 GMT
Organization: Boston University Chemistry Department
Here's the second part of the story.
Once again, any comments/suggestions/criticisms are most welcome.
An alien city. Tall, white buildings under a bright blue sky witha shining
bright-orange ball of a sun overhead. The crowd in the streets is a mixture of
different races. It is not as warm as it seems from a first glance at the city
- most of the humans in the crowd are wearing coats or jackets.
Am alien with a diamond-shaped bump on a forehead (note: different race from
the alien in the beginning of the story), dressed in a short blue jacket and
brown pants is walking towards a huge transparent wall. The 3-d sign on the
wall says "Green Zone Hotel" in several languages. The alien is carrying a
small black suitcase. When he approaches the wall, a rectangular outline
appears under the hotel sign. The alien walks right through the wall which
gives way. (cut to the hotel lobby) We see the alien walking through the wall
towards us. He almost clears the wall when the outline flashes brightly and
then disappears. His left foot is now stuck in the wall. Suddenly stopped in
his tracks, the alien waves his hands frantically to regain balance. On of the
receptionists rushes from behind his desk with a contraption that looks like a
small vacuum cleaner.
Receptionist: A thousand apologies, sir. We've just installed this new system
and sometimes people get stuck. (raises his "vacuum cleaner". The wall around
the alien's leg starts to ripple slightly.) You can pull your foot out now,
Alien: From the speed of your reaction, I would guess that this happens pretty
often. Why don't you switch back to normal doors?
Receptionist: Not on this world, sir. Permeativity is the latest rage. If you
don't have permeable doors, you won't stay in business.
Alien: Yours is a strange world.
Receptionist: It sure is, sir. Can I help you with anything else?
Alien: I have an appointment here at two o'clock. Appointment number 47.
Receptionist: If you could just come to the lady over there, she'll give you
(A lounge in the same hotel. A blond human male in his late twenties/early
thirties is sitting in an armchair, holding a portable viewer in his hand. He
is wearing a loose olive-colored suit. A klingon female, dressed in what is
best desribed as a cross between a business suit and a suit of armor
Woman: Don't keep your appointment waiting, Pelle. (gives him a crooked smile)
Pelle: That mystery person of yours, Vernath? Showed up on time, hasn't he.
Vernath: He's already in the room. Take a look. (takes a viewer out of the
pocket and gives it to Pelle)
Pelle (he looks funny with a viewer in each hand): Just great. The only thing
absent in my life this morning is an appointment with a Lardonian.
Vernath: This one looks promising, though. (another crooked smile)
Pelle: Don't get too excited about the whole thing.
Vernath: Why not? Come on, Pelle, let's not keep our client waiting.
Pelle: Jeez, Vernath. You actually enjoy plotting, don't you.
Vernath (laughs): That's our evil Klingon nature, don't you know.
Pelle: Is the room prepared?
Vernath: Of course. As if you haven't checked it yourself ten minutes ago.
Pelle: Just to make sure. Knowing you, Vernath.
Vernath (annoyed): Just what is that supposed to mean?
Pelle: Er, sorry. That was supposed to be a compliment.
(Pelle stands up and leaves. Vernath taps a jewelled pin on her collar and
says something in an aline language [not Klingon].
Cut to Pelle walking along a corridor. He stops at one of the doors which
slides open after a couple of seconds. One can notice the unusual thickness of
the walls. The room has windows but the curtains are down. A simple table and
two chairs are the only furniture. One of the chairs is occupied by the alien
who got stuck in the door.)
Pelle (pulls the chair away from the table and sits down, facing the alien):
Alien (stares at him): Are you Pelle?
Pelle (somewhat annoyed by the stare): No, I'm a Venusian slime mold.
Alien: This is not the appropriate time for jokes.
Pelle: All right, all right. You're my prospective employer after all. I am
Alien (not noticing the irony in Pelle's voice): You can call me Daruma. My
real name is not important.
Pelle: I understand. Some of the names that our parents give us are real
Daruma (smiles a forced smile): I heard that you like to make jokes.
Pelle: Not really. I'm just not as gloomy as other people in the business. I
just stand out, that's it. If I were to try being a stand-up comedian, I
wouldn't stand a chance.
Daruma: We don't want you for your comedy talents.
Pelle (bored): Guess not. Nobody seems to like my jokes. All right, what is
that you want me to do?
Daruma: We want someone in Starfleet to be killed.
Pelle: I don't usually do assassinations. You and your organization, whatever
it might be, ought to know that.
Daruma: Yet we know that you are good at everything you do. Maybe besides
Pelle: Who exactly in Starfleet?
Daruma: His name is Captain Picard.
Pelle (looks quizzically at Daruma): Captain Picard? He is a well-known
Daruma (his emotions surface for an instant): Too well known for his own good.
Pelle (takes a deep breath): Kinda stuffy in here. The climate control needs
Daruma: Excuse me?
Pelle: oh, nothing.
Daruma: Do you agree?
Pelle: I said, he is a well-known person.
Daruma: We'll pay you well.
Pelle (another quizzical look): Just how well?
(Daruma takes his suitcase and opens it. Inside, there is a small grey box.
Daruma taps on the cover which becomes transparent. Inside there are several
fairly large crystals.)
Daruma: Dilithium crystals. Current market price is 500,000.
Pelle (takes a small tricorder from the jacket pocket and scans the box):
Looks real enough.
Daruma: Do you accept the offer?
Pelle (takes a deep breath, looks at the ceiling and breathes out): How 'bout
this: you take your money, buy your buddies from the Ladonian Liberation
Alliance some cookies at the nearest coffee shop and make this planet free of
your presence in 12 hours.
Daruma (in disbelief): What?
Pelle: Actually, make it 6 hours, or I'll keep the crystals. I could use some
pocket change, y'know.
Daruma (draws out a phaser): You are quite stupid, Pelle. You must realize
that I cannot let you out of this room alive.
Pelle: Whoa, you are holding it the right way. Congratulations. Must be quite
an accomplishment for a Lardonian.
Daruma: I was right about you. You are just a clown.
(Closeup of Daruma's hand. His index finger is straight and definitely not in
the proximity of a triger.)
Daruma: What the...?
Pelle (looks at Daruma in the same way a scientist looks at a rat): Works well
Daruma: I - I can't move.
Pelle: Of course you can't. This is a small invention of mine...Not entirely
mine, mind you - I was using other people's research in the process, but the
end result is quite unique...What incapacitates you now is a nanite-like
artificial parasite which I designed a year ago...Never had a chance to use it
before, I must admit.
(stands up and starts walking around the table)
These micro-parasites were spread on the table surface before you came here -
you didn't notice that I never touched it with my hands. The parasites
penetrated through the skin on your palms and into the bloodstream. That was
easy enough to design, nothing new, really, nature has been using this method
(Daruma looks at him with fear and hartred)
Daruma: You planned this from the start!
Pelle (ignores him): Now the interesting part: the surfaces of these parasites
were coated with a protein that has an affinity towards the cell membranes of
the glial cells that cover the nerves...Of course there is a problem that the
all might stick to one nerve and we don't want that, do we...well, I don't,
you do, of course...that's why there is a proximity detector in each of them -
the binding properties are temporarily suppressed when one of them is near an
already bound nanite. After five-ten minutes your nervous system is seeded
with these computer-controlled parasites...Now, when you presented me with
that loony proposition of yours, I said a keyword - "climate control". A
nanite attached to an auditory nerve has read the signal that the key word
generated and released a chemical messenger into the bloodstream. This
messenger activated the nanites attached to the nerves in your hand, telling
them to block a specific signal from the brain - a signal that tells the index
finger to squeeze the trigger.
(takes a keychain from his pocket and spins the keys around his finger)
Pelle: You must have realized that this signal word is quite unnecessary. A
touch of designer's vanity on my part, perhaps. If I ever decide to sell this
thing, it would be just with the remote control, like the one I'm holding now
in my hand. (takes out his mini-tricorder) Or I might list the voice control
as an option and charge extra for it, I'm not sure...Together with the nanites
in your body this tricorder works as a CNS emulator, which results in your
body accepting my voice commands and not the ones from your brain.
(puts the keychain back into his pocket)
Anyway, Mr. Daruma, talking to you has been extremely enjoyable, but I'm
afraid I can't do this all day. (turns away from Daruma and looks at the
window curtains) Therefore, I would be much obliged if you could turn this
phaser around and pull the trigger...
(Daruma's hand turns the phaser around until it is pointing directly at his
chest. We can see sweat on his forehead.
A closeup of Daruma's index finger pressing the trigger.
A dull clunk of the phaser dropping to the floor.
Pelle turns around, comes to the table, puts on a glove and picks up the
phaser. He sets it on low-power, high-dispersion and moves the resulting broad
beam across the table and the suitcase. He then throws the phaser away, takes
off the glove, opens the suitcase, takes the box with the dilithium crystals
and puts it into his pocket.
The door opens. Vernath comes in.)
Vernath: Hey, you greedy human. Don't forget my share.
Pelle: One day those schemes of yours will get you killed.
Vernath (winces): Another of your hypocrisy fits?
Pelle: Where do you see hypocrisy?
Vernath: For one thing, you were the one taking risks.
Pelle: True, but I'm not doing this on a regular basis.
Vernath: Doesn't matter. Death is where you find it.
Pelle: Oh yes, the Klingon fatalism. A good way to avoid unnecessary stress, I
Vernath: Could we discuss the respective philosophies of our races some time
later? Say, after I get the crystals.
Pelle: Crystals? What crystals? they were decomposed by a phaser blast, as
your report says.
Vernat: You know something? This Lardonian was pathetic, but he was right
about one thing, though...you are not funny.
Pelle (with resignation): All right, here they are. (hands the box over to
Vernath: Great! Too bad we have to share it with the spaceport security.
Pelle: What about the other two Lardonians?
Vernath: We tried to arrest them twenty minutes ago. Unfortunately, they
resisted arrest and were mortally wounded in the resulting shootout.
Pelle: And this guy here? (points over his shoulder to the chair where Daruma
Vernath: As we decided earlier. He presented you with a ridiculous
proposition. When, understandably, you refused, he tried to kill you.
Fortunately, you had a concealed phaser with a neural link, which you used to
protect yourself... Not that you don't have one, in those padded shoulders of
Pelle: I just love the law enforcement here!
Vernath (annoyed): I see nothing wrong in what I did. Only a falzh would
surrender the spoils of war. Or law enforcement, in my case.
[Note: "falzh" - literally translated as "subdued warrior"]
Pelle: Come on, Vernath. It was not about morality at all. Just a humorous
Vernath: Yet humor is a reflection of reality and in reality humans are
hypocrites who hate to confront their own selfishness. Thus your comment.
Pelle: Is this Klingon psychoanalysis? Stereotypes, stereotypes.
Vernath (gives him a side look): You, humans, are too frail for Klingon
Pelle: Then it's just stereotypes.
Vernath: These are my observations.
Pelle: Then I suggest that you observe more.
Vernath: Sure. I'm going to drop everything and devote my life to observing
human behavior patterns.
Pelle: If you had time to observe, you would have noticed a lot.
Vernath: Like what?
Pelle: Just think about it. (points at Daruma's chair) This sort of thing
would have been unthinkable even thirty years ago. Some third-rate provincial
terrorist plotting to assassinate a key Starfleet figure? (after a pause)
Somewhat ironic, isn't it? Even as the Federation is growing in size and
power, it is losing respect.
Vernath: The better for us. When people do not believe that the Federation
will protect them, they come to us.
Pelle: Or our competitors...Well, I have to go now...
Vernath: When are you leaving?
Pelle: Tonight. They should finish the work about ten. I'll run the
diagnostics - should take about thirty minutes - and then take off.
Vernath: I'll have the money transferred to your account as usual. Good luck
in whatever you are looking for this time.
Pelle: Nothing in particular, just some loose ends...Good luck to you, too.
Pelle/Vernath: See you.
(Pelle leaves. Vernath sits down on a chair, takes one crystal out of the box
and tosses it into the air like we usually would toss a coin.)
(Inside a spaceport. Somewhat similar to a modern-day airport, but more
sophisticated (obviously). Everything looks shiny, new, expensive and somewhat
tasteless - twenty-fourth century baroque. A counter with a huge holographic
sign above it in the air says "Luxion Spacelink - Customer Service". A young
girl in a white and gold uniform is standing behind the counter, the wall
behind her back a huge 3-d screen which is showing short flashes of various
places where you can get by Spacelink. Two people are standing near the
Girl: I am truly sorry, sir, but the engine parts won't be here until
Wednesday. This kind of a malfunction is extremely rare, basically unheard of
and we just don't have the right part in stock here on Rocinante.
Wesley Crusher (yes, it's him): And there is no othe company that flies to
Girl: No, sir.
(Wesley mutters something)
Wesley's companion: Wes, what's the problem? They are gonna pay for the hotel
and give us a 50% refund. Why not stay here till Wednesday? This is Rocinante
after all, not some starbase.
Wesley: I told Captain Picard that I'm going to be there on the eleventh.
Mike: So what? We can't have a better excuse. Come on, when will you ever have
another opportunity to come here?
Wesley: Picard is not gonna like it and nobody will believe our story about
the engine failure. They'll think that we've stayed here on our own.
Mike: We can get a confirmation from Luxion if it comes to that.
Wesley: Mike, I just have to be there on the eleventh. You can stay here, it
is fine with me. You don't have to come.
Mike: No way. If you go, I can't stay and you know that.
Girl: Excuse me.
Wesley: Oh, er, sorry.
Girl: There are no flights, as I said, but I can try something else.
Wesley: Could you, please?
Girl: There might be a freighter or a private ship of some kind going to
Antanarivu, a planet in the same star system as Starbase 37.
Wesley: That would be great.
Girl: Let me remind you that if you use a non-registered flight, you are not
eliegible for the 50% refund on your ticket.
Wesley: That's OK.
Mike (sourly): Just great!
Girl (puts her hand on a grey panel on her desk. Since there are no visible
keys, the panel must be a neural interface of some kind.): Hello, is Changting
here? Hi, this is Dora. Oh, nothing much. Listen, one of our flights got
cancelled...Do you know of anybody going to Antanarivu today? Oh, really!
When?...Will they take passengers?...Two, both human, they are actually going
to S-b 37...I see...Yeah, sure. (to Wesley) There is a small ship leaving for
Antanarivu around ten-thirty. A friend of mine is going to find out if they
Wesley: Thank you very much.
Mike: Wes, you can't be serious about going on a freighter. Come on, let's
Wesley: Sorry, Mike, I just can't.
Mike: Is it really about Captain Picard? Or is it about that girl on the
Enterprise? She's gonna be mad if you stay here on Rocinante, right?
Wesley: What are you talking about? Robin is not that kind of person at all.
Besides, we are just friends.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, sure.
[Note: Robin is Robin Lefler from "The Game". In her Starfleet Academy years
was one of the initiators of the RRF boycott.]
Girl (puts her hand on the panel again): Yes, Ching...They will?...OK, I'll be
sending them over...All right, see you later...Bye. (to Wesley) She said
you'll have to talk to the captain of the ship.
Wesley: Thank you very much. Where is it?
Girsl: It's in the zone fifteen, hangar 182. I'll load the directions into
Wesley: Thanks a lot. (gives her his pocket book)
Girl (takes the pocketbook and passes it over a blinking light): The
directions are in your pocketbook now. Voice and visual. (to herself: Shimada
66? This stuff is old! Gives Wesley his pocketbook and also a thin pad with a
stylus) Could you sign this discleimer form, please?
Wesley: Disclaimer form?
Girl: Yes, that you don't want the hotel and are changing to a non-registered
(Wesley takes the pad, examines it for 20-25 seconds and signs his name.)
Wesley: Thank you very much. (opens the pocket book and starts walking away,
holding it in his right hand)
(Mike starts to pick up his bag.)
Girl: Are you sure you don't want to stay? In such a hurry to get to this
Mike: Ahh, he is hopeless. I would love to, though. (picks up his bag and
Girl (taps one of her earrings): Calling Jennifer Baer, scrambled...Hi,
Jen...listen, we've got two who are taking a non-registered carrier...Yeah,
we've had a cancellation...Can you convert the hotel stay into cash?...Great,
I'll do the paperwork...Great, we'll blow it together. Is your boyfriend in
town?...Where do you wanna go?...Sounds great...Allright, I'll meet you in the
cafeteria at 5...Bye.
An open field that stretches as far as the eye can see. Huge hangars here and
there, arranged in an irregular fashion. An immense holographic projection of
a beer bottle to the left. several large cargo shuttles and a couple of sporty
warp sleds stand in the parking lot to the right. The parking lot is marked by
luminous lights. An antigrav truck glides by.
An automated taxicab stops near one of the hangars. Wesley and Mike climb out
with their bags. Wesley is still holding his pocketbook in one hand.
Mike: Jeez, this spaceport is HUGE.
Wesley: This should be the place.
Mike: Nobody's here.
Wesley: Perhaps they are in the hangar.
Mike: I wonder what kind of a ship this is. The hangar is really big.
Wesley: It is probably for a cargo shuttlecraft. I'm pretty sure the actual
ship is in orbit.
Mike (points at the door in the hangar wall): Shall we knock?
Wesley: I guess so. (walks to the door and examines it, then puts his hand on
a pad to the right of the door) Nope, doesn't open. No buzzer, either.
Mike (knocks on the door): Anybody here?
(The door opens and Pelle steps out. He is dressed in a standard issue
Starfleet field jacket, jeans and boots with force plates.)
Pelle (looks them over): You are the ones going to Starbase 37?
Wesley: Trying to get there. Could you give us a lift?
Pelle: Starfleet cadets, aren't you. What year?
Wesley: Fourth year.
Mike: Third year.
Pelle: So you've had some practical experience with warp drive, eh?
Wesley: Oh, I've had plenty. Even before the academy.
Pelle: How 'bout a deal? I give you a lift to Antanarivu, you calibrate the
warp coils on my ship.
(A look of puzzlement on Wesley's face.)
Wesley: But I thought that you were leaving tonight.
Pelle: That's right.
Wesley: But how can you calibrate the warp coils while in flight?
Pelle: If the speed is below warp 7, it is no problem.
Wesley (still puzzled): OK, we'll do it.
Pelle: OK. Got any baggage?
Wesley: Just our bags.
Pelle: Fine, pick them up and get in. (disappears into the hangar)
(Wesley and Mike walk back to where they dropped their bags.)
Wesley: This is weird.
Mike: I told you we should have stayed. We don't even know the guy.
Wesley: He looks alright. I wonder what kind of a ship he's got, though.
Mike: What do you mean?
Wesley: You see, there are only four kinds of ships where you can calibrate
the warp coils when the warp drive is operational. Three of them are pretty
ancient types and the fourth...no, it can't be.
Mike: Oh, well, we'll find out soon enough.
(Wesley and Mike take their bags and return to the hangar. They both step
inside. Cut to the inside of the hangar.)
Wesley: Oh, SHIT!!!!
Mike: Oh, man!
(The hangar is dimly illuminated and it is hard to see, but the ship inside is
undoubtedly a Bird of Prey.)
Mike: This guy owns a Bird of Prey? No way!
Wesley: Oh, no.
Mike: What's the problem?
Wesley: Not the BOP warp coils!!
Mike: What's wrong with them?
Wesley: The Klingons did not design this thing to be user-friendly. And the
warp engines, they are a nightmare when it comes to maintenance.
Mike (vindicated): Well, I don't know much about warp drive, anyway. I'm
pretty sure you can handle it with your background.
Pelle's voice from above: There is a ramp under the right wing. It's pretty
steep, so watch your step.
Mike: We're coming.
(Walks towards the ramp, Wesley is trailing him, terror in his eyes.)
(Cut to the inside of the BOP. Pelle is standing near the airlock door. Mike
and then Wesley climb in.)
Mike (shields his eyes): It's kinda bright in here.
Pelle: Yeah, I had brighter lights installed. All right, let me show you the
room, cause we have to take off in ten minutes - the air traffic here is
pretty thick. I had to book the clearance three days in advance.
(Pelle walks out of the airlock, followed by Mike and Wesley. The doors
close. Cut to Pelle, Wesley and Mike standing outside a door in the corridor.)
Pelle: OK. here is the room. You can get the bedsheets and other stuff from
the locker under the bed. I'll be on the bridge, you can join me if you want.
Mike: Just a curiosity question, but where is the crew?
Pelle: There is no crew. Kazhar is entirely automatic. (leaves)
Mike: This whole thing is weird. I think I remember the guy, though.
Wesley: From where?
Mike: er...er...Yes! Last year's Warp and Impulse magazine! They had a report
on privately owned Birds of Prey and there was a picture of him and his ship.
Wesley: Oh, I see. Another playboy.
Mike: Hey, Wes, there might be bugs in this room. Just keep quiet, willya.
(Cut to the bridge, which is brightly illuminated. Pelle is sitting in the
captain's chair, which has huge control panels attached to both armrests.)
Computer voice: Information. We are cleared for takeoff. Activating the hangar
Pelle: Hey, Unit. we've just got ourselves a free coil job.
Unit (the computer): That would mean a savings of 100,000.
Pelle: Exactly. Just monitor them to make sure they do not screw anything up.
(Cut to the outside of the ship. The hangar roof starts to shimmer. The BOP
rises and goes through the roof in almost total silence.)
Wesley and Mike appear on the bridge.
Pelle: Want to see the takeoff? Unit, visual.
(We see first the inside of the hangar, then a thin horizontal line moves
across the screen and then there is a rapidly receding view of the field
below with brightly illuminated spaceport buidings and the multitude of lights
- the megalopolis that surrounds the spaceport.)
Wesley: Why is everything so quiet?
Pelle (glad at the opportunity to boast): I've had reactionless thrusters
installed instead of the regular impulse engines.
Wesley: Oh, wow.
Pelle: Saves space. Besides, they are more efficient and more reliable. Wonder
why Starfleet is not using them. The Klingons are putting them on the newer
Birds of Prey standard.
Wesley: There are some shortcomings, though.
Pelle: Everything has shortcomings.
Unit: A message from Flight Control. They need a voice confirmation from the
Pelle (in a bored voice): This is Kazhar, registry number PCC-3698, clearance
number, what is it?
Pelle: Clearance number 98R45.
Voice: You are cleared for orbit. A reminder that energy transfer to any
weapons systems is illegal in Rocinante space. Have a safe trip. Flight
Pelle: Unit, once we are in orbit, set a course for Antanarivu. Warp 5.
(To Wesley) Get something to eat - there is a food synthesizer in the hall
outside your room - and let's take a look at the warp drive. No hurry, though,
take your time. I'll be in Engineering anyway.
Wesley: OK, sure.
To Be Continued
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