Rise of the Tiger Star

Bridge: Independently Registered Freighter Pinjero Kuan

“This is never going to work!” complained Masual Gind, the Andorian Captain of the freighter Pinjero Kuan to his Romulan first officer and business partner T‘Var. “How do I let myself get talked into these things?” he continued as he sat in his command chair, wringing his hands nervously as little beads of sweat gathered around his antennas.

“Because you’re a greedy slob Mas, that’s why” retorted T’Var.

Masual shot his partner a dirty look, but inside he knew he was right. He was always right about these things. He was greedy. But if this deal worked out he’d be able to retire in luxury. If it didn’t work, he’d be dead. The only thing worse than an angry Kzinti, he thought and then he stopped with a shudder because he couldn’t think of anything worse than an angry Kzinti. The bottom of his stomach tied itself into knots.

“Don’t worry Mas;” continued T’var, “it is a sound plan with a good chance of success. It has the element of surprise as well as misdirection. It will work my friend, just be calm and let me do the talking.” T’Var was always confident in these matters.

The helm officer turned to look at them both, “Captain, the Kzinti security platform is now on the scanner. Range 300,000 Kilometers.” The security platform was a small station in fixed geosynchronous orbit over a penal colony on the surface of Terith IV. Terith IV being a rather small, unremarkable planet in the Terith system on the western outskirts of the Kzinti Hegemony. Mostly barren it was the ideal location for a remote prison housing the occasional Orion pirate, Klingons finding themselves on the wrong side of the border, political dissidents and the normal dregs of Kzinti society. Any Lyran finding his way to the prison usually found the stay unpleasant and very short.

T’Var observed the view screen as the station came into larger view. The security platform was nearly thirty years old and archaic by any races standards. Small and cramped, it housed the Kzinti security contingent that operated the penal colony on the surface. And T’Var knew that it was manned by those of marginal ability not able to make it in the regular fleet. It greatly increased the odds of success.

Captain Gind nodded and took a very deep breath. T’Var walked over to the comm unit and opened the general commerce frequency to the platform’s security office. “This is the deep space freighter Pinjero Kuan on approach. Requesting permission to approach and dock.”

“Pinjero Kuan approach to 50,000 kilometers and hold station. You are being scanned,” was the only reply before the frequency was closed by the platform. Normally, unscheduled civilian traffic was not permitted in the same system as a penal colony for security reasons. But the Pinjero Kuan had been making a scheduled resupply run to the platform for nearly fifteen months now. This was the reason Masual and T’Var had been approached for this particular mission by the Lyrans. The Pinjero Kuan leisurely made its way to the appointed range and began station keeping as the Station began intensive scans of the vessel.

The main view screen activated to show a rather large, scowling Kzinti security commander. “Pinjero Kuan, your number two hold shows a small amount of radiation which is blocking scans…EXPLAIN NOW!”

T’Var stepped over to the main view screen and as nonchalantly as possible answered, “We experienced a small Uridian Isotope leak a couple of months ago in that cargo hold while making a pick up from a Klingon mining colony. It wasn’t at dangerous levels and we were planning on a detailed clean up when we reach our final destination in the Wyn cluster.”

The Station Commander wasn’t impressed with the answer. Leaning close to the viewer to make the point crystal clear he growled, “You will remain at station keeping, you will not raise shields and you will await further instructions. Failure to comply with any of the above will result in your freighter being destroyed.” With that the viewer went blank.

T’Var looked at his partner who looked even bluer than usual as he sulked in his chair. “This was to be expected my friend, calm yourself.”

Kzinti Security Platform: Security Control Room

The station was commanded by Captain 2nd Grade Jarl. Captain Jarl didn’t like Vulcans. And if the matter truly came up, he didn’t like Lyrans, Klingons, Orions or Humans either. In fact, he didn’t like anything non-Kzinti unless it was raw on a plate.

Captain Jarl was new to the station and wasn’t familiar with the freighters that were contracted by the Hegemony for resupply runs. He turned to his security officer, “what do you know about the Pinjero Kuan”?

“A class three freighter sir, registered to operate in Federation, Kzinti and Klingon space with sporadic runs to the Wyn Cluster. Normal loads consist of unremarkable iron ores, isotopes and low tech supplies in addition to food rations. Captained by an Andorian named Masual Gind along with his first officer, a Vulcan named T’var. Suspected on several occasions to be smuggling various illegal commodities across borders, it’s always come up clean on inspection. They’ve made a resupply run for us every few months”, replied the security officer.

The Station Commander grunted angrily. Space scum he thought to himself, but no more so than any other freighter that came calling from time to time at the hated, dead end postings he’d been condemned to command. “Alright, send a security squad over to check out that number two cargo hold. If they come up clean allow them through the mine field and allow them to dock and off load their supplies”.

Cargo Hold number two: Pinjero Kuan

“Open them up”, snarled the rather large Kzinti security squad Sergeant.

“All of them”? replied T’Var. “There are over a hundred containers”.

“Open them all” replied the Kzinti.

Feigning a sigh, T’var nodded to the cargo technicians to begin opening the crates. After the first seventy-five crates yielded nothing more interesting than spare parts, number seventy-six through ninety-five revealed something quite interesting…Romulan ale. “Romulan ale isn’t on your manifest Vulcan”, sneered the Sergeant.

“My dear Sergeant”, stated T’Var in his very best dead pan expression, “Romulan ale is only illegal in Federation space. And in fact, outside of the Federation it is much more…appreciated.” This was true; Romulan ale even this far removed from the Romulan Empire did have a reputation as an exotic luxury. No one knew if it had an intoxicating effect on Kzintis of course as no one in their right mind wanted to be around a drunk Kzinti, but when used as a marinade for the few cooked dishes Kzinti enjoyed it was an exceptionally sought after commodity. And worth a small fortune, a fact not lost on the Sergeant.

“That leaves eight more crates to inspect”, was the Sergeants only response.

To this statement, T’var purposefully made a slight hesitation in his countenance. The Sergeant picked up on this immediately. T’Var walked over to him and quietly asked him to dismiss his squad, suggesting that the last eight crates could easily be inspected…alone. The Sergeant started to protest, and then looking at the crates of Romulan ale he turned to his squad and instructed them to tend to the task of transporting the normal supplies over to the station. He’d be along shortly after he finished the inspection of the manifest paperwork. T’Var similarly dismissed his cargo technicians. When they were both alone the Sergeant turned to him and quietly snarled, “this had better be good Vulcan”.

T’Var enjoyed it when he was mistaken for a Vulcan. It provided him with an air of respectability that proved useful on occasion. As long as he displayed all the emotion of an inanimate object the act was easy. He walked over to crate ninety-six and broke the seal. Inside were neatly stacked and stored Klingon disruptor pistols. The Kzinti Sergeant angrily spat at T’Var, “Romulan ale may not be illegal in Kzinti space but Klingon weaponry is”!

Inwardly T’var suppressed a nervous shudder. This was one part of the plan that he didn’t have total control over. It was a variable that had the potential of destroying the entire venture. But then he always did enjoy a challenge.

“Sergeant”, he responded very evenly, “for a moment let’s forget the legality of the situation. Those are disruptor pistols, not rifles. The final destination is the Wyn Cluster which has a distinct shortage of such weaponry for use in their civilian police units. You will agree that a pistol is a poor choice for a boarding party so the chance of them being use against any Kzinti is fairly non-existent”.

The Sergeant pondered this for a moment. It was true that ships boarding parties rarely relied on pistols. A disruptor rifle being the preferred weapon of marine boarding parties. And it was also true that the Wyn Cluster was usually starved for various tech equipment and supplies and those bringing them in were richly rewarded for the effort. Another fact that wasn’t lost on him.

T’Var sensed the greed rising in the Kzinti so he decided to press home to seal the deal. “Sergeant, as you no doubt have surmised, these few weapons are worth a handsome profit to me and my crew. It is a profit we desperately need to complete the slight radiation clean up of this hold as well as make some other rather pressing repairs. If you can see your way clear to signing off on our inspection I’m sure we can come to a mutually satisfactory…arrangement”?

“What did you have in mind”?

“Perhaps three crates of Romulan ale might be to your liking”, stated T’Var. He was now counting on greed to take the conversation in the direction he needed.

“Perhaps ten crates might be more to my liking”, stated the Sergeant with a wicked curl of his whiskers.

“Ten”! exclaimed T’Var in what he hoped was the right amount of astonished shock. “Do you have any idea what ten cases are worth”?!?

“Yes I do”, replied the Kzinti. “They’re worth about a hundred years in a Kzinti prison which is about what you’d get for smuggling arms across our borders…if you lived long enough to see it”.

“Yes, I see your point Sergeant”, remarked T’Var. Excellent, this had actually gone smoother than even he’d anticipated it thought T’Var. “Might I suggest Sergeant that we make arrangement to transfer our ‘gift of gratitude’ to you in the wee hours of the morning where there are less ‘inquisitive eyes’ around. Perhaps a remote transporter location in a lower cargo bay on the station where one may able to find a convenient storage location for all ten crates”.

This was sound advice thought the Sergeant. He’d need a little time to make arrangements with a lower transporter tech to beam the stuff over and get it properly and inconspicuously stored. Nothing a few bottles of ale couldn’t provide. With some of the rest he felt sure he could secure a nice promotion and even a transfer off the station to a better posting.

“I will contact you with the time and location on the station Vulcan”, remarked the Sergeant. Leaning down very close to T’Var, the Sergeant growled, “and it better be ten full cases understand”? T’Var, smiling on the inside commented, “Sergeant as you are no doubt aware, Vulcans do not lie. I will transport ten cases to you and each case will be full”.

He didn’t comment on what they would be full of though.

When the Sergeant had left the cargo bay and beamed back to the station T’Var walked over to the last crates and shoved them aside revealing access hatches in the flooring. He remarked then, as he had numerous times in the past how often inspection parties stopped looking deeper once they thought they’d found what they were looking for. Lifting the hatch up, he peered into the compartment below. “How are your men doing Lieutenant”?

“Cramped but well”, commented the Lyran. With that, one by one the members of the Lyran Commando Strike team exited the compartment and began checking their weapons.

Kzinti Security Platform: Lower Deck Storage Bay, Transporter Station 0300 hrs

The Kzinti transporter technician was deep in thought about what he would be able to do with five bottles of Romulan ale. It hadn’t taken long to convince him as transporter technicians weren’t exactly at the top of the pay scale. He locked in the coordinates and beamed ten large containers into the bay. Next to him stood the Kzinti security Sergeant who was also eagerly awaiting the pay off. When the containers had finished materializing he walked over the first container in the row. He snapped open the locking mechanism and opened the lid. The first thing he saw in the container was also the very last thing he ever saw in this life: A Lyran Commando with a wicked grin on his lips pointing a Klingon disruptor at his head. At the sound of the disruptor the transporter technician looked up only in time to see a second Lyran Commando in the container pointing his pistol at him. He didn’t have time to be shocked before he slumped to the floor dead.

The two Commandoes holstered their pistols and unhooked their disruptor rifles from their backs along with satchels containing explosive charges. Then one-by-one they opened the lids on the other nine boxes, each containing two Lyran Commandoes. Once they had assembled in formation the squad commander, looking at each of them in turn, clenched his fist and snarled only one word, “Victory”! They then moved out to their respective targets.

Bridge: Pinjero Kuan 0305 hours

T’Var hurriedly entered the bridge and moved to Masual’s command chair. “The packages have been delivered. I suggest we depart and put as much distance as we can between us and this section of space, our welcome is about to be worn out”. Masual nodded to the helm operator. They’d already been cleared for departure by the stations control room so he engaged the impulse engines and departed on the vector indicated by Station control. Once clear of the small mine field they went to full impulse and finally warped out at maximum speed.

Kzinti Security Platform: Security Control Room 0330 hours

The Lieutenant fourth lazily sat at the control console with his feet up on the side desk. He hated the midnight shift. It was boring and provided no challenges. His toughest duties were to try and stay awake along with the rest of the night shift. The sensor technician walked over with two frothing hot mugs of blood tea and handing him one of them commented, “I wonder why that freighter took off so quickly earlier”?

“Probably trying to make up for some lost time I would imagine”, replied the Lieutenant. “That’s a way of life I’ll never understand. Imagine having no ties or loyalty. Not knowing where your next job or meal is coming from.”

“Well”, the technician offered, “At least it is more exciting than what we’re doing now.” As the Lieutenant stood to stretch he turned at the sound of the control room door opening and saw the most surprising and unexpected sight of the rest of his life. So surprising that he didn’t even have time to think of drawing his sidearm as the precise bolts from the Lyran disruptor rifles cut down everyone in the control room. Nor did he or his companions feel the distant muffled explosions through the metal on the deck or hear the intercom come alive with calls for help or the crackling of disruptor bolts from all over the station.

Kzinti Security Platform: Security Control Room 0400 hours

The Lyran commando squad leader looked up as the last of his team entered the control room. The surprise assault had been so quick and so surprising that only three of his team were injured and even then only slightly. The Kzinit had been caught completely unawares. They were either off duty and sleeping in the onboard barracks or slumbering at the handful of midnight posts that required manning. He was proud of his team. They were professional and well trained for this type of mission. They were running ahead of schedule by several minutes.

He turned to his teams computer expert, “get into the computers main frame and check for safe passage through the mine field”. The mine field wasn’t very large and could actually be taken care of with a ships ESG if given a little time, but he wanted to avoid any possible delay for the extraction ship.

To be continued...