Articles and original stories about Andorians
I recently got an artcle and two original stories from Thalek a
REAL ANDORIAN. Check them out. If you want to contact him, write to John A. Whiting . Thank THALEK !
INDEX OF CONTENTS
On The Subject of Andorians
Humans had their first contact with the Andorians in 2079, when the UNSS MARCO POLO visited Rigel IV, the so-called Rigel Trading Planet. 
At that time, the Andorians were still living in a feudal society, with appropriate technology.  The Andorians on Rigel at the time were
part of a trading mission organized by the Rigellians. (The Rigellians
were of the opinion that assisting the "savages" would eventually create a
In 2087, the United Federation of Planets was effectively organized and
begun,  and Andor (Epsilon Indii VIII)  was a charter member.
While relinquishing their original claim to all stars visible to the
naked eye from the surface of Andor,  they made an alternative claim for
educational assistance from the newly-formed Federation.
Most planets were in favor of the idea in principle, while arguing
against such expense on purely pragmatic grounds. Vulcan, one of the
original dissenters, eventually changed sides and ultimately provided the
majority of the teachers and training materials. (The canny Vulcans,
knowing the war-like tendencies of their pupils, emphasized knowledge that
was more efficiently used for peace. It is difficult to make a gun barrel
out of solder, for example.)
The Andorian government originally consisted of warring clans lead by a
noble who was either elected Lord by the votes of "those who counted" or
wrested the position away from his or her predecessor. Territorial gains
and the prestige had higher priorities than the creation of new knowledge,
although most Lords very quickly learned the virtues of learning someone
else's lore. A few teachers were killed in the inevitable quarreling over
which clan would benefit first and most from the new knowledge, but threats
of total deprivation caused a grudging agreement to share the teachers.
Over the course of a century, Andor dropped its feudalism in favor of a
nominal democracy. The Council of Nobles still exists in a modified form,
and is still lead by a leader elected from and by the Council, but now the
nobles are elected by all the people in a district, and districts are now
apportioned on a population basis, rather than strictly along the old clan
boundaries. Generally, only someone who has been a clan leader is eligible
(in a strictly traditional sense) to be elected to the Council of Nobles.
Still somewhat true to its name, the vast majority of its membership is of
noble birth, although there have been many members elected from the
peasantry who have proven themselves quite capable. Like membership on the
Council itself, clan leadership is an elective office voted upon by noble
and peasant alike. (Since the noble families now avoid in-breeding by
intermarrying with peasants periodically, and greater levels of equality are
constantly being established, it is estimated that within another generation
the terms "noble" and "peasant" will have lost all but historical
significance.) All candidates must pass a written/oral examination to
qualify for candidacy.
Out of deference to tradition, the noble families still undergo
maturity tests upon puberty. The peasants had a somewhat more rigorous
life-style, and therefore considered continued survival adequate proof of
maturity. (It is interesting to note that with the arrival of more advanced
technology, more peasants now have their children take the same maturity
tests as the nobles, presumably as proof that modern peasant children are
just as durable as noble children.)
Another Andorian tradition is that noble families go armed except
during certain quasi-religious ceremonies and during formal audience with a
higher-ranking noble. Peasants are traditionally (although no longer
legally) forbidden to wear weapons in public except in a capacity as
soldier, security officer, police officer, bodyguard, etc., although they
usually wear arms at home (a hold-over from earlier times when marauders
occasionally broke into homes that were inadequately protected.) Both
groups favor knives which can be used for dueling (a favorite method of
satisfying honor) and other traditions, yet have little effect on modern
security measures. 
Andorians themselves are physically descended from vaguely insectoid
creatures.  They are basically carnivorous, but over the millennia,
have developed omnivorous tendencies, resulting in teeth very similar to
humans'. Oviparous, the Andorians gradually formed family units as the
organism became more complex, thus requiring more nurturing time after
hatching. It is speculated that a long period of scarce food
sources caused the development of mammary analogs, making it easier to
feed the young. Both males and females can nurse, although the females are
better adapted to the task. 
Andorians are generally blue in color with white cranial hair, although
there are a few clans that are yellowish green in color, and there have been
a few black-haired mutations in both groups. They possess no facial hair.
Andorians still retain a rudimentary exo-skeleton along their arms and
protecting the trunk.  Their antennae are highly sensitive,
somewhat directional hearing organs.  Coming from a moderately high
gravity world noted for its rocky ranges, Andorians have a wiry strength
that surpasses that of humans and approaches that of Vulcans. Evolving
under an orange dwarf seems to have resulted in vision that is slightly
poorer than humans' in acuity, although the Andorian eye is sensitive to
a wider range of frequencies, starting in the near infrared. 
Although native to Epsilon Indii VIII, they have since colonized
Epsilon Indii IV. General Andorian demeanor is proud, still fiercely war-
like, with a slight tendency to take ready offense at inadvertent slights to
their codified protocols and traditions. Tourism is discouraged on this
world with an active code duello, as tourists would require too much self-
protective education to freely walk Andor, thus being too much work for the
average tourist. 
1. Space Flight Chronology, Goldstein
2. Over-active Imagination, Whiting
3. Space Flight Chronology, Goldstein
4. Introduction to Navigation, Upton
5. Space Flight Chronology, Goldstein
6. Over-Active Imagination, Whiting
7. Medical Reference, Palestine
8. Over-Active Imagination, Whiting
9. Medical Reference, Palestine
10. Star Trek Concordance, Trimble
11. Over-active Imagination, Whiting
On The Horns of A Dilemma By J.
Commodore Troutman sighed and signed another form on his
"clipboard" before banishing the report back to the bowels of the
computer. Between reports, he sipped reflectively at the Saurian brandy he'd
been nursing most of the afternoon. It still amazed him that promotion
command of a Starbase could create so much work.
Nor was it much comfort to think about all the work First Officer
Thalek would be doing when he became Captain of the SOL in a week.
the worst part of all was the nasty suspicion that commanding Starbase 57
was likely to involve even more paperwork than running a heavy cruiser.
The door buzzer sounded a welcome respite from such
he said with something approaching enthusiasm.
The door slid aside for Yeoman Chandler---and the
"Sir, there's still something wrong with the
food synthesizers." There
was no mistaking her irritation. "I finally had to charge your
meal on my
diet card. Yours kept giving you carrot sticks and a jelly
Troutman frowned. "Sounds like T'Laan is
right: we seem to have a
practical joker aboard. I'll get Mr. Gabriel to assign one of his
experts to double check the system for her, and I'll have a little chat with
Security about the problem."
"Meaning no disrespect, sir, but does Cmdr.
T'Laan need help from the
Science Officer's experts? I mean, everyone knows about Vulcans and
computers . . ."
"Contrary to popular belief, Yeoman, Vulcans
aren't born wearing
wrist-comps. T'Laan is an excellent Mess Officer, but her background
computers is only a little better than yours. And if you must know,
made the request for expert assistance herself." The Commodore
meaningfully at Chandler. "And if I hear any interesting rumors
T'Laan or Vulcans in general, I'll know where they came from."
Chandler blushed. "Sir, what the Captain
says to his yeoman is
supposed to be strictly confidential."
"That is the theory," Troutman agreed
drily. "Let's strive to get
theory and practice to agree for one more week, shall we? Now, why
you go get yourself something to eat. I'll explain to Dr. Fisher why
suddenly eating for two."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
And if Chandler felt the least bit
embarrassed about the Commodore's roguish turn of phrase, she wasn't going
to show it. Not her, uh uh!
The intercom's whistle forestalled further
"Sir, there's an urgent signal from Starfleet
Command coming in."
"Pipe it down here," he replied,
moving his glass discreetly out of
range before turning on his viewer.
Hardly waiting for his image to appear, Admiral
Wilson began speaking.
"Commodore Troutman. The Banshees are
being overcome by plague. You
and the SOL are hereby ordered to divert to the Banshee homeworld, where you
will maintain the peace and render all necessary assistance to the native
populace until relieved by Captain Josephson of the hospital ship
If the local government has succumbed, you are authorized by the
to declare martial law and act to preserve the peace, in which event you
will stay until relieved by another Starfleet vessel or Captain Josephson
declares the emergency to be over. Questions?"
"Sir. What is the nature of the
problem? Will it impose any hazards
for my people?"
"The disease is a viral infection that causes
the Banshee chitin to
start growing again. Our doctors feel that even the Andorians are
to contract the disease, despite some biochemical similarities."
"The Banshee government has authorized me to
declare martial law. How
likely is that to be necessary?"
"The disease is extremely contagious, with a
seventy five percent
infection rate. Immobilization occurs within a week or two of
depending upon the patient's condition. Even without the doctors'
projections, I'd think it pretty likely, Jack. They already have a
the disease, but they have yet to develop a version that isn't lethal to the
patient. When one is developed, the Pasteur will bring samples and the
synthesis formula. I'm informed that could happen within the
"How is it that I get to save the galaxy this time, instead of
The Admiral frowned. "I take it, Captain, that you have not heard
Admiral Kirk has spent the last month on Vulcan waiting for Captain Spock
and his Chief Medical Officer to recover from some kind of Vulcan mumbo
jumbo? Or that they will have their asses court-martialed as soon as
leave their little sanctuary? Any other relevant questions,
"Then I suggest you study the materials
transmitted along with your
formal orders; the medical information is already flagged for your Chief
Medical Officer's attention. Starfleet Command, out."
Almost before the screen could go dark, Troutman
had gotten the
computer's attention. "Confirm arrival of new orders this
"Working. Arrival of orders
confirmed. Additional materials still
being transmitted. End of transmission projected for ten seconds from
Troutman switched off the computer and sat back
heavily. "That's a lot
of 'additional materials.'"
He hit a switch. "Troutman to helm."
"Set a course for the Banshee homeworld, warp five. Give me our
"Aye, sir." A minute's worth of pause, then, "Estimated
arrival is three days, four hours, sir."
"Very good. Execute course change. Troutman
out." The Commodore
turned to Yeoman Chandler. "See to it that all department heads
copies of our new orders and associated materials, then set up a meeting of
same in three hours."
"Aye, sir. Uh, sir, who are the
Banshees, and what are they like?"
"Do you have any phobias regarding meter-long
"By now," the Commodore said, seating himself at the head of the
briefing room table, "you will have familiarized yourselves with our
orders and caught some of the implications. Mr. Gabriel, please give
overview of the Banshees and their world."
"Aye, sir." The Science Officer activated the tri-screened
viewer. "As you can see, Banshee physiology resembles the Terran
beetle with some notable differences: they have eight legs, with the
forward pair having evolved into effective pincer-type manipulators.
"The antennae are auditory and olfactory organs with limited
application as manipulators as well. Banshees typically run about a
long, with a half meter variation in either direction.
"Communication is primarily by a pair of large diaphragms on either
side of the abdomen, which the Banshee can operate from the subsonic to the
ultrasonic regions. As the nickname implies, most of the audible
in the higher frequency ranges.
"The Banshees are fiercely independent, with an almost pure democratic
system made possible by a very extensive computer network. They have
reluctantly accepted the fact that some representation is required, even in
their system, but each representative has a constituency of only ten
thousand individuals, making the Banshee governing body one of the largest
in the Federation. These representatives propose the laws, but the
populace passes or vetoes each one. Laws may also be put on the ballot
"The Banshee homeworld is the fourth planet from a G-4 sun, an
unremarkable class-M world except for the fact of a 1.5 G surface
Dr. Fisher raised a finger, catching Troutman's attention.
"Beaming down into a fifty percent greater gravity field can pose some
health hazards, even if you're prepared for it. I'd like to arrange
kind of acclimation period for all landing parties before and after
"How long a period? Frankly, I'm reluctant to have the ship's
adjusted to 1.5 G's for the duration; this will be strenuous enough work
"I think that even thirty seconds to a minute would do, if the field is
Troutman looked at his Chief Engineer with eyebrows raised.
"No problem, sir: the transporter alcoves are equipped with their
gravity generators for this kind of problem. We can program in an
sequence for the generators from the transporter console."
"Excellent. People, there is a distinct chance that we will be
into a martial law situation shortly after or upon our arrival. Has
given any thought to how a lone starship polices an entire world of
"Yes sir," the Security Chief said. "The planet is
encased in a
network of phaser equipped defense satellites. If we focus those
on the planet instead, we could utilize their sensor systems and the phaser
stun setting for riot control and curfew enforcement."
"What if the original satellite controllers are incapacitated or
uncooperative," asked Thalek, the Andorian First Officer.
Troutman turned to his Science Officer. "Well, Mr. Gabriel?
computer people ready to take on some hostile military programming?"
"They'll be using variable passwords, restricted access terminals, data
encryption and computer-virus counter-attacks," Gabriel said
He brightened. "My people managed to get Starfleet's accounting
working; this should be much easier."
Troutman almost hid a smile. "Very good, Mr. Gabriel. Dr.
when the inoculant is available, we need it to be distributed to the
doctors first, both to immunize them and for their patients' treatment,
followed by logistics personnel and police. I'll want you to inspect
inoculation system and set one up if theirs has collapsed."
"Don't forget to inoculate the politicians, Jack. The sooner
government is back on all eight feet, the sooner we can drop that part of
"Good point, Doctor. If there's nothing else . . . ? I
reports and recommendations to be on my desk by 1800 hours tomorrow.
meeting is adjourned."
Captain's log, stardate 8808.3: We have been in orbit for three days
with no indication of when the Pasteur will arrive. The Banshees have
turned control of their defense satellites over to us and requested that we
assist the local police in maintaining the peace. Our other duties are
medical liaison and transportation. To that end, we have requested raw
materials for the manufacture of a series of transporter relay satellites,
which should be in place in another four days. Commendations to the
Engineering staff for their speedy work under difficult conditions.
For politeness' sake, Thalek and Chief Engineer Quinn beamed down into
the hallway just outside the hospital administrator's office: few
appreciate having others literally popping in on them. Not for the
time, Thalek thanked the appropriate gods that the administrator's office
was designed with multiple species in mind; a purely Banshee office would
have put the Andorian on his hands and knees.
Thalek glanced at his electronic clipboard one last time, then glanced
over at Quinn who was sniffing the air.
"Problem, Mr. Quinn?"
"No sir. It's just that I haven't been down before; it kind of
Thalek nodded. "Slightly rancid ones, I'm told. You'll get
it." Thalek palmed the doorlock, then went in for his latest
"A moment please," the Banshee said, typing away at his
seated," he added, pointing with an antenna, still engrossed in his
To Mr. Quinn, the voice sounded like a handsaw he'd once heard a friend
playing as a musical instrument: high pitched with a peculiar quaver
Thalek waited patiently for a minute, then impatiently for two.
Quinn studied the office as they waited. It was paneled in a black
that was down right depressing, at least to him. As the Andorian was
to speak, the brown "beetle" finally looked at him.
Thalek jumped in immediately. "Good afternoon, sir. My
requested that Mr. Quinn and I look into the delays surrounding several
items I have on my list here." 'There, that was diplomatically put,'
thought as he proffered his clipboard.
The Banshee administrator barely glanced at the list, scratching
carelessly under a wing casing. "These items are not delayed,
refused. They are vitally required here. If there's nothing else
. . . ?"
"I'm afraid we haven't adequately dealt with this problem, yet.
mortality rate is almost sixty percent in your Kelska province, directly
attributable to the lack of these supplies. The mortality rate here is
closer to eight percent."
"It is my intention to keep it that way. These materials are
to obtain and I require them for future patients." Thalek was not
Banshee body language, but those rigidly held motionless antennae had to
mean something. Especially considering how active they'd been earlier.
"We are already in the process of doubling the production rate at some
of your factories," Chief Engineer Quinn offered.
"The items are needed here." The antennae were still
"Very well," Thalek said. "You are terminated.
Clean your belongings
out within the hour so the new administrator can begin work."
"You have no authority----" Now, they quivered. With
"Check your terminal," Thalek suggested. "Look for
directives filed over the course of the last seven days. All members
SOL's crew have been deputized as members of your police force. And
guilty of hoarding vital materials during a planetary emergency. I
that's a capital offense under your legal system?"
Banshee sighs are painful to most humanoid hearing organs, including
Andorian. "You win. The supplies will be released
antennae were definitely drooping. There was no other word for it.
"This incident is already a matter of record. If we have any more
problems with you, I'll file those charges, and my problems will
Is that understood?"
"Good day to you." 'Diplomacy be damned!' Thalek thought as
the office door. 'That felt good!'
Thalek lead the way out of the Administrator's
office, and right into
the Andorian woman trying to enter.
"Your pardon, I--Shalina! It is, as
humans say, 'a small world.'"
Shalina was typical of her kind to gross
appearance: about 1.9 meters
tall, slender, with the blue skin and white hair of the northern hemisphere
Andorian. But it ended there: she was beautiful even by human
By Andorian standards . . . whew! Definitely not typical.
"Redel, of Lord Ka's Thalek clan, your
surprise does not do you credit:
I informed you that my mate and I had transferred to this very hospital some
months ago. You sent a reply, so I must assume that you received my
"I did, as you said, receive your
letter. But why such a formal tone,
Shalina? Between us, it smacks of insult, lacking but the use of our
tongue to complete it."
"That part has ended. I am not here to
fight," she added in soft
Andorian. "Permit me to pass."
Thalek automatically stepped out of the way--it had
not been a
request--and watched as the door closed behind her.
"Who was that, Redel?" Thalek realized that he'd forgotten
Engineer's presence during the brief encounter.
Curtly: "My ex-mate." Thalek looked back at the
office for a moment. "I'll see you back aboard the ship," he
Knowing it might cause nothing but trouble,
Thalek still went by the
hospital's day care center. As he suspected, their children were
Reshta, the elder boy, was a sturdy looking lad of perhaps eight
Redela, named partially after Thalek, looked to be about five. Both
would have been in school, had there been enough teachers who weren't
Thalek was rather surprised to see even the day care center operating, but
decided that trained medical personnel could probably get almost anything
they wanted right now---except rest.
"Who are you?", Reshta challenged.
"Guess," Thalek invited.
"Bala of Lord Telk's clan Pithra?"
"Does recollection of me wither so
soon?" Thalek concealed his
annoyance; he'd never particularly liked Pithra Telk Bala.
"Thalek Ka Redel."
Reshta turned to his brother, excitement and
pleasure mixed. "Do you
know who he is? He is our krella!"
Redela looked at Thalek. "Are you our
Redela's happy response brought both pleasure and
pain to Thalek; pain
uppermost for all the things that never were and could never be. 'I've
received gentler blows in mortal combat,' he realized.
"That part is over. You don't need me
anymore; you have a new father
now," Thalek said gently.
"But you're my krella."
"Redela, I would prefer that you call him
Thalek shifted into, then back out of,
combat-stance in the course of a
single startled heartbeat.
"Shalina. My apologies. I know you
would have preferred to tell him
under . . . more controlled circumstances."
"True, I would have chosen another time, but
apologies are unnecessary.
I am far closer to indifferent than upset. And facts are facts; you
his krella. But now, Tael has sponsored the boys to his clan."
"I was informed. Your mate is most
generous." Thalek placed his hand
on her upper arm. "I must go. But I'd like to see you
"Perhaps. But these are frantic
times." She moved her arm and his
hand slid away. Was it a natural movement, or done deliberately?
little things are paranoias born,' Thalek thought. "My mate . . .
boys, would enjoy seeing you again."
"If you like. Your attentions are not entirely unwelcome, and I
often wished that our original relationship had become more . . .
She held up a hand to forestall objections. "I know the reasons,
and I have
come to accept them, if not agree with them. But I speak now with no
to offend: I simply do not have the time for a lover, even when I am
dealing with planet-wide emergencies. And I already have a permanent
"I take your point. My regards to you
and yours." Thalek turned and
left, utterly routed.
Personal log, stardate 8813.4, Commodore Jack Troutman recording. Mr.
Thalek's performance has undergone a tragic alteration for the worse.
at a loss to explain it, and he won't. If I cannot turn him around
I'll be forced to take official notice of it. And I do not wish to be
one who puts the first black mark on an exemplary record . . . .
Mr. Thalek had the conn when the Commodore entered the bridge nearly
two hours before the change of shift. The Andorian was almost halfway
of the command chair when the Commodore waved him back.
"No, there's no emergency," Troutman said, answering Thalek's
expression. The Commodore moved closer and lowered his voice.
"But I think
we need to talk."
"Mr. Quinn reports that some of the materials he needs are
"I'll have to check my reports to find the cause."
"I see. Well, Dr. Fisher tells me that you also owe him some
"Sorry, sir. It must have slipped my mind. It won't happen
"It already has, Redel: the Banshee government is complaining
urgently required personnel and supplies were diverted from a regional
relief center to warehouses and hospitals in the capitol. Surely they
already well-supplied there?"
"I see your point, sir."
"Do you? Each of these was a smoothly running operation, headed
yourself, until a couple of days ago. Now they're going awry and you
flitting about the ship like some ill-tempered ghost." Noting the
Andorian's startlement, Troutman added, "Yes, I know all about that
with midshipman Harris, and I'm letting your reprimand stand in his file
only because he was careless with the equipment. But you blew the
entirely out of proportion and pretty well killed a well-deserved reputation
for fairness." Troutman leaned closer. "Redel, I'm not
just your captain;
you and I are also good friends. If there's anything I, or your other
friends can help with, tell us."
Thalek frowned. "I . . . I cannot, Commodore. Not just yet,
rate. Give me a couple of days." The Andorian
straightened. "I apologize
for my incompetent behavior, Commodore. It will cease at once."
"It must, Redel. Too many lives are at stake here."
"I'll be back to relieve you in a couple of hours."
A few days later, Thalek and Troutman were in the Commodore's cabin,
sharing a drink together. It was then that part of the story came
Thalek had been on home-leave almost ten years ago, where he'd met an
attractive xeno-biology student. A philosophical argument at a social
gathering had gradually blossomed into a strong relationship. They
a son, then a few years later, a second. But Thalek had been assigned
heavy cruiser shortly thereafter, and the longer-range missions with
infrequent leave time eventually took their toll. A couple years after
break-up, Shalina met Tael and they were wed. Tael adopted the boys,
action made easier by the fact that Shalina and Thalek had never married,
and sponsored them into his clan.
"And now you've run into her again?"
"Yes, just a few days ago. I find that I still love her, a fact
has made my life more difficult lately."
"I can imagine. Still, she's married now, Redel; she's out of
"Cultures differ," was Thalek's sole reply. And Troutman
Thalek was at the day care center again, unobtrusively recording the
children at play with a tricorder.
"I thought I might find you here."
Thalek dropped the tricorder, whirled, and found his fists inches from
Mr. Quinn's face and midsection. Thalek didn't just relax; he sagged.
"Could I ask what you are doing here?"
"That one's easy: I need the Commodore's 'hatchet man' to help me
expedite some supplies. What are you doing here?"
"That one is not hard, either: I intend to challenge Shalina's
Tael. I wanted a memento of the children, in case I lose."
"I don't understand."
"I intend to take Shalina from Tael by combat, per our
Thalek slowly retrieved the tricorder. "But if I challenge and
doubtless will never see my sons again." A decisive click turned
tricorder and closed the subject. "Let me drop this off in my
then we shall see to your materials."
Fixing Mr. Quinn's problem took most of the afternoon, and made Thalek
late for the shift change on the bridge. He was on his way to the
chair to relieve the current watch officer when Yeoman Chandler intercepted
"Sir, the Commodore was wondering where your report is. It's a
"I think I left it on my desk, Yeoman. See to it, won't
Chandler gave the First Officer a dubious look, but she had heard about
the 'new' Thalek, and asked no questions. "Yes, sir."
In Thalek's quarters, the yeoman found his desk to be empty, except for
a tricorder. 'This must be it,' she thought as she removed the
In his quarters, the Commodore slipped the tape into the computer slot,
but he did not get a report; he got some home movies of Andorian children
and a very intimate conversation.
Troutman touched the intercom control. "Mr. Thalek, report to my
quarters. Troutman out."
Moments later, the First Officer entered. "You sent for me,
The captain got up from behind his desk.
"Redel, what I need to discuss is completely off the record; you can be
as frank as you wish---as I must be. I understand that you intend to
challenge Tael for Shalina."
Thalek's face became a mask. "May I ask the Commodore how he
Troutman held up the microtape. "A little bird told me."
"It is true."
"Redel, I'd like you to postpone that challenge."
"Sir, I cannot."
"Redel, this thing is affecting your work. I need my officers to
me one hundred percent during this crisis, and frank suitors before he may
claim her. To that end, he
must announce a date far enough in advance that all involved may
Late-comers have no legal challenge right---unless they are on active civil
duty, such as police duty or military service. Such have up to two
make their challenge, after which their right is also forfeit. When
challenged Shalina's suitors, I was unable to get leave. My two years
in a little over two weeks."
"Redel, I need you---at your full capacity. I appreciate the
situation, believe me, I do, but which gains a warrior more honor:
a wife or saving thousands of lives?"
"Commodore. . . Jack, this is something I must do, else the chance is
"Redel, you gave an oath as a Starfleet officer to protect the
Federation and its citizens. I must forbid this fight. I'll make
order if I have to."
"Jack, Starfleet has given me honor, career, and home. I would
willingly give that up. But I must be true to myself as well; Shalina
worth a dozen careers. I will resign my commission if I must."
"When this mission is over and I'm put to pasture in some pleasantly
dull Starbase, you'll be Captain of the SOL. Are you willing to
your first command before you get her?"
Thalek looked away. "I know the SOL means a lot to you, Jack, and
must seem as if I'm throwing her away." Thalek looked straight at
captain. "In my eyes, I'm trading the SOL for something
precious. My commission is not too great a price."
"There is an alternative, I think. I have read that Andorians
many disputes by combat; even a dispute with a superior officer can be
settled that way if the situation isn't critical. While the Banshee
situation is critical, it isn't going to change much in the next few
"You would allow me to challenge in the Andorian manner?"
"Yes. The terms are simple: if you win, you can resign if
or I can assign another officer to your duties until you have done what you
feel needs doing. If I win, you will not issue a marriage challenge or
resign, and you will get back to work. Agreed?"
"Agreed. Let it be so. And let it begin." And
Thalek struck Troutman
a blow that lifted the captain from the deck.
Troutman rolled on impact, dodging the next several blows more by luck
and instinct than skill. Then his head cleared a little, which proved
undoing, for it cleared enough for planning but not enough for a sound plan.
Seeing an opportunity, the captain rushed his First Officer and
succeeded in slamming the Andorian into one of the bulkheads.
Unfortunately, Andorian physiology came into play: Thalek's vestigial
exoskeleton creaked but cushioned the impact. Thalek merely took the
opportunity to strike another telling blow.
Ears ringing and vision blurring, Jack knew his win would come now . .
. or never. It was never. The last thing Jack saw was a fist
between his eyes. His cabin exploded silently around him, and the
"Yes, I am aware of how I look, Doctor." Troutman was
regain some semblance of command and dignity, while looking like something
the cat had rejected for dinner.
"Would you mind telling me just what happened here?" Dr.
much curiosity and little shame.
"First Officer Thalek and I had a private discussion, Doctor.
all you need to know."
"My, aren't we formal today? Tell me, Redel, were you ticked off
because he won't put you in for a raise?"
"The Commodore is correct: the details of our discussion are not
"I see. I can also see my medical log entry: 'The Captain
injuries indicative of hand to hand combat during the course of a private
discussion with the First Officer, who did not look undamaged himself but
refused treatment with typical Andorian machismo.'"
Troutman looked annoyed, then pained at what the expression did to his
face. At minimum, he was going to be painfully puffy for awhile, at
his crew might have to tiptoe around the subject of a black eye or two.
"Doctor Fisher, I rather doubt that you're going to put down nasty
speculations or racist remarks in your log, so just quit playing detective
and get on with your repair job. Later, after I have enough blackmail
material on you to keep you silent, I just might fill you in. But even
then, there are parts that I cannot discuss because they aren't even my
business. Is that clear, Doctor?"
"Since I can see that you're going to be difficult about it, I guess it
will have to be."
"Doctor, you are shameless."
"Very observant, Redel. And if you don't want to add to the
that are inevitably going to follow this incident, you should let me patch
you up some. The skipper may have lost, but he went down
Thalek said nothing, but sat down where the doctor could examine him
"Oh, and I have a bit of good news for both of you: the Pasteur
its way with our cure."
It had not been Thalek's intention to visit the day care center before
issuing his challenge, but his feet betrayed his mind and followed their own
course. Once there, he discovered Reshta giving a lesson in swordplay.
The "swords" were actually local reeds, sliced into thin strips
bound into a tube that had a surprising amount of give. While
injure with, they could give a nasty bruise, and Thalek doubted that the
other parents would be happy if they knew: he had discovered that non-
warrior races protected their young as if fragile, despite the natural
resiliency of youth.
"Redela, you and Tamara demonstrate what I have just shown,"
said, and stood next to Thalek to watch.
"You are a skilled swordsman and a fine teacher," Thalek
"Your words are a gift to me," Reshta replied absently.
"There is something on your mind."
"I am troubled, yet do not know where to ask without risking
"It is hard for honest questions to create honest offense."
"Thalek Ka Redel, is it wrong to love?"
"No," Thalek said, startled. "Why do you feel it might
"I strive hard to become a warrior my krella may be proud of," and
Thalek realized with a pang that the boy spoke of Tael, not him.
creates weakness, and I believe that I love my krella."
"Love can be a weakness," Thalek acknowledged, "yet it can
strengthen you. Uncontrolled anger can cause an ill-timed sword
the same anger, with control, can strengthen your arm and make your aim
truer. Love makes one vulnerable to threats against that which is
but love can help a warrior recover from wounds that would kill someone less
motivated. Like much of the warrior's path, it can be difficult, but
honor is served first, love is no more a weakness than any other
And all emotions serve a purpose."
"Do you love my mother?"
"Your question is both personal and impertinent. But yes, I love
mother. And I love both of you, my sons. I intend to challenge
win the three of you back."
"It is complex, and I do not understand. Krella, teach me:
this serve honor, as you said before?"
Thalek stiffened. 'Indeed: where is the honor in serving only my own
needs? Until this moment, have I given any thought to what they might
wish?' The thoughts were bitter, doubly so because Thalek knew what
Thalek unfroze. "My son, I must think on this," he said
I begin to think that it does not."
"What will you do?"
"By now, you should have heard the story of Sha'ara. No?
almost two hundred years ago. Her mate was called to war, and she
him not to go; to stay on their farm and keep it safe. He thought for
days before telling her that honor dictated that he leave. He died in
war, and his body was returned. 'How foolish he was to leave, knowing
might be killed,' one of his younger sons said. And Sha'ara replied,
may love his mate, but if he is worth having, he loves his honor
then she buried him."
"But what will you do?"
"Sha'ara buried her love; perhaps it is time, not so literally, for me
to bury mine. . . May thee and thine fare well, my son."
Thalek wrote the note personally, in his native tongue. Although his
calligraphy was poor, it would not be proper to involve a third party, not
even the ship's computer.
It said, "I regret that I am two days late for your second anniversary;
I plead the press of duty. For the same reason, I cannot gift you with
in person: we've received new orders and will leave in less than a
"Tael, may this offering protect your family and clan, and may it bring
them peace . . . Thalek Ka Redel."
In the case was a finely crafted sword that had been in Redel's family
for a hundred years.
Shalina's reply and a small box arrived less than an hour before the
SOL broke orbit.
The note said, "I have spoken with Reshta; I am not unmindful of what
you chose not to do. There are times when honor programs us, traps us,
forcing actions that we would not otherwise do. But our honor is part
that which separates us from the beasts. I send a small token, in
understanding of your loss. Shalina."
The box contained a massive bracelet, inlaid with turquoise almost the
exact shade of Thalek's skin. And inside the bracelet was an
beautiful Andorian calligraphy: "In Salute to Sha'ara's
Thalek scrawled his signature at the bottom of the report
and stored it
in the computer. He paused a moment, then called another report out
the portable screen which Starfleet insisted was a "Portable Manual
Input Device." The name made marginally more sense than
is what the humans insisted upon calling it. After a hasty scan and a
hearty sigh, Thalek signed this report, too.
'Finished at last,' he thought. It had only
been two weeks since the
Andorian had been made captain of the SOL, and it seemed like every waking
moment since then had been spent doing "paperwork." Worse,
as the former
executive officer of the SOL, he knew just how little of it could be
delegated out. At least tonight he had managed to finish early.
reached for the glass on his desk, the intercom whistled. A slave to
reflexes, his hand activated the 'com.
"Flano here, sir. We've caught our
Thalek tried not to sigh audibly. "Bring
him in, Kantara."
"Aye, sir. Flano out."
Thalek looked wistfully at the Terran brandy before
putting it back.
No use starting rumors that the last two weeks had driven him to drink.
The door buzzer sounded and Thalek straightened his
tunic. "Come," he
reluctantly invited. In trooped First Officer Kantara Flano, Assistant
Records Officer Peter Brockleman, and Security Officer Patricia Garrett.
"Give me your report, Kantara."
"Sir, I asked Security for a few volunteers to
find out who has been
re-programming the food synthesizers. Lieutenant Garrett is one of
Thalek looked expectantly at Lt. Garrett.
"Sir, I borrowed a couple of tricorders and
concealed them in
inconspicuous locations in two of the Mess Hall offices, programmed to
record when someone was in their sensor field. Twenty-four hours
retrieved the tricorders and reviewed the microtapes. As a result, I
settled upon the prisoner as a suspect and arranged to be near the last Mess
Hall office he visited during his next off-duty period. I observed the
prisoner entering the Mess Officer's office after the Mess Officer had
I entered the office and caught the prisoner at the keyboard. He
the screen, but a scan of recent computer activity showed that the computer
had been tampered with at the time I made my arrest. He---"
"Arrest?" Thalek said sharply.
"Have you filed a report yet?"
"Aye, sir. According to the computer
scan, he had been altering Vulcan
dietary planning to include meatballs for lunch and rithan steaks for
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Ensign . . .
Brockleman, isn't it? Ensign
Brockleman, do you have anything to say?"
"It was only a joke, sir."
"A joke? Do you think it amusing to give
vegetarians like the Vulcans
meat? Did you think I found it amusing that I ended up with
my dinner two nights ago? Or that Lt. Freeman laughed his way to
when some apple juice, to which he is violently allergic, was included in
"I knew that he didn't like apples, sir.
I didn't know why."
"No? That's heartrending. Do you
have anything else you wish to add?"
Ensign Brockleman straightened even further.
"Sir, I take full
responsibility for my actions. I offer my resignation as partial
"Some compensation!" Thalek
snorted. "Do you think that you'll get a
free ride to the nearest Starbase for discharge? No, Ensign, we'll get
work out of you. Resignation refused. Lieutenant, you may
file that arrest report; I'll handle things from here."
"Aye, sir." She left, trying not to
"As for you, Ensign, I'm going to let Dr.
Fisher give you a talk on the
benefits of proper nutrition. Then, I'm going to let you tell him how
overrode his dietary recommendations."
"Then, you will immediately start spending
your off-duty hours
assisting Mess Officer T'laan in programming the food synthesizers until
After Brockleman had left, Thalek turned to his
"Think a month of that will be sufficient, Kantara?"
"It should: T'laan has the reputation of
making her assistants eat
Thalek smiled for the first time that
afternoon. "I know."
Goddess of Love . . . and Death
By J. A. Whiting
Tina Josephs examined the red crystal carefully, then looked again at
Dr. Fisher. "You're sure?" the Security Chief asked.
Dr. Fisher nodded once, somber. "It's definitely Venus drug, and
fairly potent stuff, too. She should know." He nodded at the still form on
the diagnostic bed.
She looked once more at the crystal. It felt like so much gelatin,
yet its heart glowed and shimmered. She handed it to Captain Thalek.
"Why would anyone willingly take this . . . _hashketha?_" The Andorian
was disgusted to the core.
"It's particularly popular on frontier worlds, where male and female
populations are frequently imbalanced . . . it seems to act on the most
ancient parts of the humanoid brain, making the females into helpless
cavewomen---maximizing their sexuality so they can trade on it for security
and protection with the strongest male. And the males become stronger; more
aggressive. Homicidal apes, really."
Thalek frowned at the doctor. "A nice, informative lecture which
doesn't address my question: why would someone take something that deranges
their faculties and kills them by inches?"
The doctor stared at two uncomprehending faces and sighed. Were
doctors the only ones who understood people's frailties? "The drug gives a
feeling of self-worth and potency; its primary users are people with a low
level of self-esteem: the hopeless and near-suicidal. To them, it would be
addictive even without the physical cravings. It makes emotional eunuchs
feel whole again."
The Andorian shook his head, not really understanding. Fisher tried
"You were raised in a warrior society where the genuinely ineffectual
get killed off young. The survivors are sure of themselves to the point of
arrogance." Dr. Fisher grinned at Thalek's frown. "If you imagine yourself
injured in a desert, unarmed, with wild predators around and every man's
hand raised against you, you might better appreciate the outlook these
people have. Now take the drug and be healed: you're whole again, armed,
and people look up to you. And the effect is _real_; people act differently
around a person who is self-confident and a little dangerous-looking than
someone who cringes from shadows."
"And someone like this has brought this poison aboard my ship."
"It would seem so, Captain."
"Dr. Fisher, the entire crew is due for a physical. Now. I want to
know who's using this _hashketha._" Thalek turned to Tina. "Commander
Josephs, I want you to land on this with both feet, before it gets any
"I understand, sir." Her voice matched his for grimness.
# # #
" . . . So, that's the situation," Lieutenant Commander Josephs said.
"I'm assigning three of you to planetside undercover, and three of you to
nose around shipboard. And effective immediately, all Security personnel
are to report to Dr. Fisher for drug-testing to make certain that _we're_
clean. Anyone declining to be tested will be offered a non-prejudicial
transfer. Any questions?"
At forty three years of age, Tina Louise Josephs did not yet have to
worry about gray hairs, her constant jokes about the job giving her them to
the contrary. A handsome, physically fit woman, she didn't have to worry
about her social life, either. What little social life being the _Sol's_
Security Chief permitted, that is.
"Who will be on the assignments?"
"I haven't decided just yet, but when I do, only the affected personnel
will be informed: I want this to be a leak-proof operation."
"Don'cha trust us, Boss?" That was Lt. Bottoms, making one of his
"On _this_ job, I wouldn't trust my own mother." Josephs was not
smiling. "Look people, the drug trade is a lucrative one, and any one of us
could be tempted. And drug dealers are notoriously ill-tempered; I'm not
going to risk the lives of my people by letting the cat out of the bag. So,
I'm going to tell the bare minimum of people the bare minimum they need to
do their jobs until this is over. After it's over, we'll all sit down and
I'll bring everyone up to speed. If there are no other questions, you're
There were none. Over the course of the next several days, Chief
Josephs shuffled assignments like a deck of cards. Teams were broken up and
locations changed, apparently at random. The idea was to make it look like
_everyone_ had moved around, making it harder to spot the undercover agents.
And Captain Thalek made liberal shore leave arrangements, making it easier
to get people planetside.
The cover story for the _Sol's_ lengthy stay was that extensive warp
drive re-alignment was necessary. Nothing that required a spacedock or much
in the way of outside supplies, but it could be very time-consuming. Visits
by curious colonials were diplomatically put off.
Tina pinned most of her planetside hopes on Lt. Sven Lundgren. Bright,
imaginative, and ambitious, he had checked out absolutely clean---and he had
a brother in the colony. It was her hope that having local contacts would
allow them to clean this up quickly. To that end, and to aid in his cover,
Lundgren was going to pretend disaffection with Starfleet and cashier out on
Shipboard, Lt. George Bottoms was the man. Where Sven was tall and
blonde, George was shorter and black. Sven was known to be somber; George
Bottoms was anything but. On the other hand, Bottoms may have lacked
Lundgren's ambition, but he was every bit as bright.
# # #
As Sven materialized near his brother's home, he was immediately
impressed with Tarkana IV. He was impressed with the numerous ground
vehicles and relative lack of air traffic. He was impressed with the poorly
maintained roads and streetlamps. And he was particularly impressed with
the predatory looks the locals were giving him. The bolder ones were all
armed. Sven pulled his small hand phaser out of concealment and appeared to
change its settings before making it vanish again. This little bit of
theatre caused everyone to start minding their own business again.
Olaf's house was reasonably well-maintained, but shared a subtle air of
apathy with the whole colony. The recyclables collection had not been taken
in some time.
Inside was a cozy enough home with Olaf's wife Marie, two boys, local
dog-equivalent, and Olaf. But the talk around the supper table was of long
lines at the grocery store, a line-jumper who got a (well-deserved)
stabbing, and how the gang that Olaf's kids belonged to had held off a
larger group of opponents earlier that week. Olaf praised his boys warmly
for this accomplishment.
For his part, Sven told stories about Starfleet life, stories in which
Starfleet always managed to be the butt of the joke or the cause of the
problem. And he spoke wistfully of putting down roots and breathing fresh
air for the rest of his life.
"I don't suppose Tarkana IV has any openings," Sven joked.
"We've always got an opening for a hard worker, or someone who knows
how to make his brains do the work."
"Can't be any harder than starship life," Sven replied. "As for
brains, well, you're talking to a Starfleet officer, the dumbest creature
since Klingons crawled out of the ooze."
"Who says they _have?_" Olaf quipped.
# # #
"You know, this is my idea of heaven," Lt. Bottoms said.
"Sir?" Ensign Tomkins was not certain that she'd heard correctly. She
looked around at the cramped, dimly lit crawlspace. Aptly named, there was
insufficient room in the crawlspace to stand, and barely enough room for two
people to lie side by side.
"Yup," he said, setting another sensor in place. "There's nothing I
like more than to crawl through the dusty dark with an attractive lady."
"But it's not dusty, sir." Tomkins took pragmatism to an extreme,
which made her a good engineer---and a poor dinner conversationalist.
"If you give me a lecture on the scrubbing systems," Bottoms grunted,
putting some muscle into his final placement, "I'll do something terrible to
you." What, he wasn't certain. He hoped she wouldn't ask.
She didn't ask. In fact, she didn't say anything. After a few
moments, George said, "That _was_ a joke, you know."
"No, sir, I didn't. I . . . uh, I'm told . . . I'm told that I don't
have a sense of humor," she finished in a rush. In the dim emergency lightning (probably the source of a few emergencies itself), it was hard to
make out expressions. Even so, George Bottoms could tell that Ensign Lisa
Tomkins was embarrassed. Which made _him_ feel embarrassed.
"It's a cultivated taste," George said, trying for levity. "Not
everyone takes the time to cultivate it," he finished lamely. He scooted
along for about ten meters. "This is over the rec room, right?"
Lisa flashed a light on the numbers painted on the crawlspace wall.
"No, sir. Another five meters."
"Right," he grunted as he moved again. "Here?"
They worked in silence for several minutes.
"Sir? What are these devices for?"
"They're a replacement for the old biotelemetry 'belt buckles'. Being
stationary, these sensors won't be as subject to interference as the old
"Yes, sir." She sounded dubious. "So why is Security involved? This
looks like a straight-forward installation job."
"Because, the idea is to take normal readings for calibration purposes.
If the crew was aware they were being monitored, it would throw some of the
readings off. Next sensor, please."
He had spoken without looking at her, concentrating on the work. When
he reached for the sensor module, she held onto it, forcing him to look at
"Sir, if this is classified, just tell me so. But don't bullshit me."
You didn't need light to tell she was angry.
His voice went hard. "What makes you think this is bullshit, Ensign?"
Tomkins held her ground, matching him glare for glare in the dim
lighting. "Because Engineering's been trusted on sensitive work before.
Because Commander Quinn programmed the fabricators for this sensor job
himself, then wiped the program when the run was complete. Because even
though you have a trained engineer along, you're doing all the work
yourself. Because you're bugging only certain parts of the ship. And
despite the sheer size of the job, you and I are the only ones installing
"All right, Ensign." Lt. Bottoms sighed. "I can't tell you a damned
thing except that it's a very sensitive job, and that no one in the crew
must know, just yet. I'm going to have to inform Cmdr. Quinn that I told
you even this much."
"I can handle that," Tomkins replied, a smile in her voice. "I just
couldn't handle you thinking that I was a total idiot." She handed over
# # #
Sven walked into the bar, pausing a moment to let his eyes adjust. The
first thing he noticed were all the weapons. Everyone carried a knife of
some sort, and most had other weapons as well: phasers, disruptors,
stunners; one woman even carried an antique projectile weapon. Had Sven
been an aficionado, he'd have recognized it as an old Ruger Blackhawk. The
fact that she was still alive meant that no one else had recognized the
priceless antique, either.
A snatch of conversation caught his attention: "There I was, four
light-hours away from the nearest rock, and _that_ was the size of my thumb
. . ." Sven turned away; if the stories were that old, the information
wasn't likely to be newer.
Tending the bar was an otherwise attractive blonde with a surly look to
her face. Sven smiled and ordered a whiskey.
"Local or imported?"
"Local." Wouldn't hurt to seem friendly, Sven reasoned.
"Brave man," was the reply as she shoved a glass at him and sloshed
some dirty-looking liquid into it. Sven's imagination supplied smoking
holes where the liquor splashed onto the bar. He took a cautious sip, thus
saving his vocal cords. The raw liquor burned like a runaway pile all the
way to his stomach, where it simulated a meltdown. Sven had never heard of
the China Syndrome, but now he knew what it felt like.
It was impossible to suppress a shudder, but he did wait until he could
speak above a whisper again. "It's got quite a kick," he admitted. He
slid his credit tab over to the bartender. "Buy yourself a drink," he
"I don't drink while I work," she said, managing to sound a little less
sour. Never the less, his tab came back with a drink-sized tip debited.
A few hours and a couple of drinks later, Sven had learned several
things: 1) her name was Anastasia Yar and she didn't date the customers, 2)
the imported whiskey was much better than the local brew, and 3) the
quickest way to get thrown out was to ask Anastasia about Venus Drug.
He was picking himself back up when he heard a mocking voice: "And I
always thought you were such a straight arrow."
"Planet-hopping can change a man---if he does enough of it." Sven
turned and faced his brother, still dusting himself off. "This isn't the
first bar I've been thrown out of; I doubt it'll be the last."
"So what'd you do? Recite the Boy Scout Pledge once too often?"
"Ticked off the bartender."
"With Anastasia, that's not hard, but she doesn't usually throw out a
paying customer. You _were_ paying, weren't you?"
"Not enough, I guess. Any other watering holes in this village?"
"Watch what you say, Boy Scout. We've got over three hundred thousand
people in this 'village.'"
"Sorry, I forgot how touchy you colonials are about that," Sven lied.
It surprised him to see a minor gibe like that making his brother red-faced
with anger. "C'mon, I'll buy you a drink," Sven added, hoping to change the
subject. Jerking a thumb over his shoulder, he said with a grin, "But not
The prospect of a free drink changed Olaf's mood yet again, and they
spent several hours hitting the younger Lundgren's favorite dives. The two
made rather a mess of their last stop, and the bar's patrons cheerfully
returned the complement. All in all, Sven later reflected, it was a pretty
successful introduction to Tarkana IV's night-life.
# # #
Capt. Thalek sat morosely, studying the reports from Security. This
early in the investigation, they did little more than indicate that things
were being set up. As a precaution, they had been put under his voice-lock
by Cmdr. Josephs. Patience was a warrior's virtue, but the Andorian was not
always a virtuous warrior; he wanted to do something to help. Thalek sat
bolt upright as a thought struck him. He tapped the intercom button.
"Thalek to Mr. Quinn."
"Mr. Quinn, at your convenience, I'd like to talk to you about an idea
"Aye, sir. In about an hour, then?"
"Very good, Mr. Quinn. My office in an hour. Thalek, out."
Thalek returned to his paperwork, figuring to do something useful while
killing an hour. It was a very long hour. At last, the office buzzer
Frank Quinn sat in the offered chair and waited expectantly.
"I've got an idea that may halt the smuggling, and has other
implications as well."
"While an object is in transporter storage, it's basically digitized
data. Why not subject that data to analysis? We could detect illegal
substances or dangerous micro-organisms before rematerializing them. Maybe
even remove the contraband while in transit."
The Chief Engineer was shaking his head even before Thalek was
"You're on the right track, Captain, but it can't be done. Not yet.
Maybe in eighty to a hundred years, what you suggest will be routine, but .
"Where is the problem?"
Quinn sighed. "It's in our hardware and software, sir. Oh, we have an
object stored in the transporter computer, right enough. I've even heard
rumors of using the data to create duplicates. But even if we had the
software, it would take over a week to perform the analysis. And the
software presents a bit of a problem, too."
"Well, what you're proposing is creating a digital filter that would
recognize and optionally remove disease organisms and contraband substances
from a very large mass of data---without harming the rest of the data. It's
a very tricky task you're setting up; not unlike voice recognition
Thalek frowned. "I don't quite follow you."
"It's like this: back in the Terran twentieth century or so, voice
recognition was originally thought to be a simple problem, capable of being
solved in a few years' time. But it got worse the more they looked at it.
"Your voice contains data on your gender, which is irrelevant to what
you're saying, so we filter that out. It also contains information on your
emotional state; that's irrelevant too. And your health and fatigue levels,
in general terms. Then there's the fact that you _never_ say the same word
exactly the same way twice. And the fact that _I_ never say the same word
exactly like you do. Then homonyms complicate things further: the so-
called 'to, too, two' problem.
"In short, this simple-seeming problem took software scientists over
fifty years to solve. And what you're asking is several orders of magnitude
"I see," Thalek replied. He pulled a small hone out of a belt pouch
and unsheathed a well-worn knife. The Andorian examined it critically a
moment, murmuring something in his native tongue, then slowly began
sharpening the blade.
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"I only said that it's time to buy another anger-knife."
Thalek sighed and put his tools away. "Actually, it's a meditation
knife. For centuries Andorians have used the mind-emptying task of honing a
blade as a meditation exercise, much like what I've read of your Zen
meditations. So, we buy a cheap, sturdy knife and use it only for
sharpening. Of course, meditation is also a good treatment for, shall we
say, 'untargeted' anger, so they've picked up the nickname of anger-knives."
"I see. Well, don't let me interrupt your meditations, Captain. I can
come back some other time." Quinn rose and tried to move towards the door
without seeming to hurry---and failed.
Thalek chuckled. "Very well, Mr. Quinn, but think about it. There
could be a Nobel or Zee Magnees prize in it for you. Not to mention fortune
and glory!" Thalek brought out his meditation tools again.
"Yessir. I'll look into it, sir!" And the door hissed shut behind the
# # #
Now that Sven Lundgren was established as a pub-crawler---and brawler,
it was time for the next stage of his cover. Sven wasn't looking forward to
this part; getting beaten up seemed a lot more appealing.
Making sure that he was supposed to be on duty at the time, Sven agreed
to be at his elder nephew's birthday party. When his communicator began
beeping, he ignored it until it quit. It took an hour, but eventually Cmdr.
Josephs and two burly assistants showed up.
"You're supposed to be on duty, Mister."
"Tina! Join us for a drink; we're celebrating Nils's birthday." The
slur in his voice was only slightly exaggerated. Tina Josephs's frown
deepened, if possible. "Tina, this is my brother Olaf, and his wife Marie,
and this fine lad is Nils----"
"You're drunk! I want you back aboard, and I want you aboard now, or
you can kiss your career goodbye."
Sven shook his head solemnly. "Can't do it: _Sol's_ not in the right
position for half an hour. We're outta trans--transporter range."
Josephs flushed. "Well, you're not going to spend it here getting
"You're not going to let a woman talk to you that way, are you?" Olaf
didn't wait for an answer but worked his way to his feet and faced the
woman. He topped her by at least a foot. "Why don't you take a hike, lady?
My brother and I aren't finished with our drinks." Grinning hugely, he
signaled the waiter for another round. The two Security guards waited
impassively, content to take their lead from the commander.
"Your brother is out of uniform, drunk while on duty, and away from
his post. That's deep trouble, Mr. Lundgren. Don't help him get any
deeper." The words were quietly spoken, but to Olaf it was like waving a
"I said, 'take a hike.'" A push on Tina's shoulder emphasized his
words. The two Security guards started forward, but halted instantly at her
gesture. She turned and smiled, and they relaxed: it was not a nice smile,
but it was one they'd seen before.
She looked past Olaf, ignoring him. "Are you going to come easily,
Sven, or the hard way?"
"You're gonna need reinforcements, lady, and they're half an hour
away," Olaf sneered. He pushed her again. Alarmed, Sven got to his feet.
"You're not afraid of these three, are you, Sven?" Olaf was
contemptuous as he aimed another push at Cmdr. Josephs. It never landed.
In a smooth, effortless move, she caught his arm and spun him around into an
"I wasn't speaking to you," she said evenly, ignoring his efforts to
escape. "Are you coming, Sven? Or are you as stupid as your brother?"
"Maybe I like it here," Sven snarled. "Maybe I'll just quit now and
you can go back to your starship and your canned air. Yeah, and your red
alerts that pop out of nowhere and last for hours before we hear what's
going on . . . and pulling double watches looking for jokers playing games
with the food synthesizers . . . No, I'm not going back! I'm resigning,
right here, right now."
Josephs continued to study him, ignoring Olaf's efforts as if they were
no more important than a five year old tugging on her pants leg. "Fine,"
she said at last. "Be back on the ship in the next twenty-four hours and
we'll muster you out. Be even one minute late, and I'll see to it that you
spend the next eighteen months mining dilithium with your teeth."
Turning her full attention to Olaf for the first time, she spoke in an
emotionless voice. "Your manners need a refresher course. I _really_ hate
being interrupted." She released him so quickly he staggered.
With a roar of rage, Olaf swept up a bottle from the table. Before he
could land a blow with his makeshift club, Sven caught his wrist, then
deftly extracted the bottle and set it back. Olaf glared at his brother and
tried to get his arm loose. "Are you _crazy?!_" Sven hissed. "She once
took a kzin into custody with her bare hands!" Tina Josephs and her
companions watched in that relaxed pose that meant instant trouble for any
"Commander, I think you should leave now," Sven said. Josephs nodded,
then gathered up her team with a look and left. Sven released Olaf's arm.
What happened next shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.
Olaf rounded on his brother, face flushed and eyes fevered. "You
helped her. You helped her against _me,_ your brother!" A trace of spittle
trickled from the corner of his mouth. "You traitor, you back-stabbing son
of a bitch! You took the side of that bitch instead of your own flesh and
blood. I ought to cut your throat for that!"
There was more, but Sven was no longer listening. The threat had
triggered his training, and he was a machine now. Observation: Olaf's
knife was in his boot tonight; Sven's was in his belt. Target: Olaf's
heart. Range to target: three and a half feet; need to take half a step
forward. Speculation: Olaf might be angry enough to carry out his threat.
Assessment: if Olaf goes for the boot knife, he's a dead man.
In two heartbeats, Sven had locked in a mortal self-defense program and
was now able to pay attention to lesser matters again. Idly, he noted that
he himself was trembling with rage. He waited tensely for Olaf to wind
down---or act. Olaf wound down.
"I need to go home and pack now," Sven said. "I have to find a place
of my own to stay."
"I'm not done talking to you yet!"
"I'll talk, when I can talk about it calmly. At the moment, you're
between me and the door."
"You're not leaving until we talk this out!"
Sven took a breath, held it, released it. "I'm going to ask you,
_just_ once, to stand aside and let me pass."
Olaf looked disgusted, but moved aside. "This isn't over yet, Sven!"
"When I can talk about it calmly, I will. Right now, I'm leaving."
# # #
Lisa Tomkins was monitoring the sensors in a state of total, absolute
boredom. Having spent several years in Engineering, she could now watch the
panels with half an eye and still stay awake. She hoped someday to master
the art of doing something genuinely interesting and not overlook her
She had no one to blame but herself, however. If she hadn't been bent
upon impressing George, that is, Lt. Bottoms with her intelligence, Cmdr.
Quinn wouldn't have assigned her to further assist the lieutenant in his
work. Now, she knew too much to go back to her regular duties until the
investigation was over.
'_Which might be soon,_' she thought when an alarm went off on her
panel. There had been several false alarms before, but something about this
alarm was different. One of the screens automatically showed an image of
the area where the detection was made. Lisa gasped and hit the switch that
sent _these_ images into permanent storage: she had a definite keeper,
here. Even as she watched the person on the screen ingesting the drug, she
was also hitting the intercom switch.
"George, it looks like we got one! Computer, enhance and identify."
The computer, pre-programmed for this operation, adjusted the image's
contrast and brightness, then froze a frame for processing. A second later,
it printed a name on the bottom of the screen: Ensign Patrice Edelman.
"Oh no . . ." Tomkins groaned.
"What is it, Ensign," a rather groggy Bottoms demanded.
"Sir, it's Patrice! She's my cabinmate."
"I'm on my way," and the closing of the channel were the only replies.
# # #
There were times when diplomacy just wasn't appropriate. Sven had
already decided that right now was definitely one of those times. He dodged
a kick, then threw some moderately effective counterpunches. The theory was
to do some damage to his hulking opponent without making himself look too
good, while not taking too much damage himself. The practice was a bit more
complicated. He rolled with a punch that felt like it could take his head
off, if it landed squarely.
The two circled in the makeshift arena, looking for openings. Sven's
opponent, a heavily muscled man with interesting scars on his fists and
face, thought he spotted such an opening. Sven stood his ground until the
last second, then snapped a powerful left to the jaw that felled his
Grabbing the man's shirt collar with both hands, Sven applied a choke
hold---and a small transponder, which was the whole point of this exercise.
Unable to speak, the giant nodded.
"Hand over the goodies, then."
The giant fished a plastic bag out of his pocket (the whole point of
the exercise from _his_ viewpoint) and gave it to his vanquisher. Lundgren
simply dropped the man and examined his winnings: nearly four ounces of
Venus Drug. It was the traditional prize in such matches, here at De
Milo's, the fourth such purse Sven had won this week.
"You stomped him good!" Kathy squealed.
In a way, Kathy was Sven's first conquest. An attractive redhead,
she'd picked him up in a bar. Having seen her surreptitiously swallowing
the drug, Sven was amenable. After the wildest three days of his life,
Kathy decided to introduce him to De Milo's. And Sven's hitherto slow
investigations hit paydirt.
De Milo's was an old warehouse in the heart of the business district.
Inside, it was "a wretched hive of scum and villainy"---and the chemically
Sometimes resembling scenes straight out of Dante's Inferno, De Milo's
was _the_ hotspot for Venus Drug users. There was a bar where any
intoxicant could be had for a price----cash only, Mister.
There were several makeshift arenas where males could test their drug-
enhanced machismo; the same arenas where Sven fought and frequently won.
And there was the auction block. Here, the women had a quantitative
measure of their beauty: they sold themselves for a night to the highest
bidder. Sven quickly found out that he couldn't afford Kathy. Fortunately,
she didn't feel the need to "check her numbers" very often.
And it was at De Milo's that Sven did his "rat-tagging." Every man he
fought, every woman he fondled had a transponder surreptitiously added to
their accessories. Inert to most scanners, the transponders emitted a data
pulse only when the correct code was transmitted to them. The _SOL_ was
even now creating a map of their habitual routes and stopping points.
Already, they had pinpointed three other clubs similar to De Milo's, and
most of the dealers' locations. Sven was to learn that this was not always
# # #
"What we apparently have here is three crewmen who apparently tried the
drug on a lark, and became addicted. All three have answered our questions
and agreed to submit to verifier-scans. All three claim that their supplier
was a colonist." Chief Josephs looked at the other three officers in the
briefing room: Captain Thalek, Chief Engineer Quinn and Doctor Fisher.
"Then there is no distributor among the crew?" Dr. Fisher's tone was
one of hope.
"There's no evidence of one. Of course, absence of proof is not proof
"Of all the paranoid---"
"That's enough, Doctor," Thalek said quietly. "That's her job. And
she does it well."
Fisher blushed. "Sorry, Tina. I just want to see an end to this."
Chief Josephs accepted his hand and shook it. "I know, Harry. I hate
spying on the crew. I hate keeping secrets from my own people. This whole
damned mess stinks!" She looked over at Frank Quinn. "By the way, Frank,
those sensors of yours are doing a fine job. We can't carry even one
unshielded capsule of the drug through the tagged areas without the alarms
"You can thank Harry for that," Quinn said, nodding at the doctor. "He
found an old report by a Dr. McCoy that commented on the effect Venus drug
had on med-bed scanners. I just used a similar circuit."
Thalek tapped the table once. The other three immediately broke off
"Doctor Fisher, have any more abusers shown up?"
"No, Captain. Everyone else has passed their physicals."
"Cmdr. Josephs, are you reasonably sure that there is no one
distributing this _hashketha_ on the _SOL?_"
Tina Josephs thought about it. "Yes, sir. There's just too few users
aboard to support a pusher; if there were one, they'd have created more
customers by now."
"Fine," said the captain. "Let's wrap this up then. Start the
"Aye, aye, sir!"
# # #
Sven returned to his apartment one night to find a message on his
terminal: "Phone home." Fortunately, Kathy was not the woman he was with
that night, and he was able to leave her there while he went out again "to
get some drinks." Once outside, he found a public comm unit and called the
_SOL._ Eventually, he reached Tina Josephs, who immediately had him
scramble the line.
"Sven, I won't mince words with you. Your brother is a dealer, and we
botched his arrest a couple of hours ago. I need your help in catching up
to him before he can spoil other raids."
"Are you _sure_ of this?"
"Right. Stupid question. How can I help? We aren't exactly close,
"You already know some of his favorite haunts; it would take us days to
learn that, and we'd ruffle too many feathers learning it _that_ quickly.
Give us the list and we'll check it out. If we don't catch him, I'll be
back to you."
"Sounds like you don't want me in on the arrest, Tina."
"That's right, Lt. Lundgren. I don't want you anywhere near him at the
time: you're too valuable where you are. I can't have you compromised."
Sven counted to ten in Swedish.
It didn't take long to list the places he remembered; there weren't
many. And he had shortened the list by one. After the calls, he went back
to his apartment and threw the woman out. Later, he barely remembered that
she'd been there, let alone what he'd told her. Armed with a map, he drove
his rented vehicle to a cabin in the forest, a couple of hours out of town.
His brother had taken him there a couple of times for some hunting. It was
a good hiding spot, until things calmed down . . . just the sort of place
Olaf would use.
Olaf answered Sven's knock warily, not the least reassured by the fact
it was his brother at the door.
"They're on to you," Sven said without preamble. He shouldered past
into the cabin. "They're probably on their way right now."
"Who is? Why would anyone want me?"
Sven's jaw tightened painfully. "Save it. I already know, and I just
came to get one question answered. Why? Why are you selling this . . .
"I needed money. Besides, only the fools who buy it get hurt." To say
Olaf was unrepentant was to understate the case: Olaf was completely
"Turning thief is cleaner than this!"
"Nothing's lower than a thief!" Olaf's disgust was obvious, if hard to
"No? Try a drug pusher. You claim that you only hurt your customers,
but every one of them robs or kills for money to buy your drugs. At least a
thief only has one victim at a time. All by yourself, you've created a
crime wave! And you're not the only pusher, by any means."
"So what? We only sell to the stupid ones, the ones dumb enough to
want it. It works like evolution, only faster. Why should you care about
"Maybe because I might have been one of them," Sven admitted. "I was
always unsure of myself, an outsider even at home. I certainly wasn't
wanted in the little clique you and Inga formed."
"You were a wimp," Olaf sneered. "You were always too good to
associate with us, or to get yourself dirty playing . . . you'd always hide
in your room with a book, instead."
"It was safer company, or don't you remember some of the 'games' you
and Inga used to play? Like all the times she used to scream for help
because you were beating her up? And then she'd jump me from behind because
I was 'too rough' on you? And then both of you would swear to Mother that
I'd started the fight."
Olaf shrugged. "You were too big for us; we had to stick together.
Mother was the only one to stick up for us."
"She stuck up for _you_ particularly. I got letters from her, you
know. I know about the arguments, the money you owed her, the jobs you quit
or got fired from. Once, just once, she admitted that she was afraid of
you. She died without a credit to her name because of you and your thieving
"That's a lie!" Olaf screamed, then launched himself at his brother.
Sven hit him with a right to the jaw, then pulled out his phaser. Olaf
slapped it out of Sven's hand with contempt.
"I hoped you would do that," Sven said, smiling slightly as he punched
Olaf in the mouth. "You know, I only lost one fight to you."
"Welcome to number two, brother," Olaf replied, and pulled a large
bowie knife out of a hidden sheath. Sven began backing up, looking for the
lost phaser; his own knife was back in the apartment. Olaf moved with the
confidence of a cat dueling with a mouse.
"C'mon, Boy Scout!"
"You always were a lazy bastard," Sven said, trying to keep an eye out
for the phaser and the knife at the same time. "If you really want a piece
of me, baby brother, you'll have to come and get it."
"Killing you is going to make up for a lot, Sven."
Sven spat on the carpet. "What does a _thief_ know about killing?
Maybe you need me to turn my back to do the job?"
Olaf lunged forward and Sven blocked the blade, but missed getting a
wrist hold. Evading the return cut garnered a shallow slice across Sven's
right palm. Sven threw himself backward across the dining table, managing
to kick Olaf on the chin as the younger Lundgren lunged again.
Rolling to his feet, Sven now had the table between him and his
attacker. He watched as Olaf spat out a tooth, then wiped blood off his
chin. Olaf stared at the blood for a moment, jaws working angrily.
"Letting you knock that phaser out of my hand is starting to look like
a mistake," Sven admitted. He backed a couple steps until he fetched up
against the china cabinet he'd noted earlier.
"The last one you'll ever make," Olaf agreed. He watched, amused as
Sven opened the silverware drawer with his left hand, still facing Olaf.
"You won't find anything sharper than a butterknife in there, brother."
Sven reached in and pulled out several . . . forks? Olaf just laughed
as Sven transferred one to his still-bleeding right hand.
Olaf stopped laughing the moment the first fork bounced off of his
chest. The second also bounced off, but it had hit his throat. The third
missed entirely, as with a roar of rage, Olaf vaulted the table, sliding
along its surface for a second.
That second was all that Sven needed. Dropping the forks as he dodged
his brother's feet, Sven slid into the perfect position to block and catch
Olaf's knife arm. A quick twist broke Olaf's wrist. The knife fell,
quivering point-first in the wooden floor.
Olaf twisted free, aiming a spinning kick at Sven. Sven caught Olaf's
leg, trapping it against his own body. Then the elder Lundgren brought his
left elbow down smartly against Olaf's kneecap. Olaf screamed, drowning out
the noise the kneecap made. Sven released the leg and unleashed a quick
left-right-left combination that left Olaf crumpled on the floor.
Sven looked down at his brother, noting with irony that the missing
phaser was now next to his own left foot. He picked it up with his good
hand, and changed the setting to something lethal. He aimed at his brother
a long moment, hands trembling with his anger. Slowly, he lowered the
weapon and reset it to 'stun', then settled in to wait. Thanks to his own
transponder, he knew it wouldn't be a long wait.
# # #
Sven spat at the force-screen in the brig. The spittle boiled
instantly, some it spattering back against his uniform, unnoticed. His
brother nonchalantly raised his head, briefly creating the illusion that
Sven was the prisoner, not himself.
"I just got the medical report. _You're_ addicted to the Venus Drug,
too. I thought you only sold to the stupid ones!"
"I'm not addicted to it; I can quit any time I want."
"Good, because you're quitting right now."
"What do you mean?" Was that apprehension in Olaf's face?
Sven smiled nastily. "Why, I'm going to cut you off. Then I can watch
your 'evolution' in action."
Olaf's scream halted Sven halfway through the door. Sven re-entered
the holding area, allowing the door to slide shut. "Yes?"
"I'll make a bargain: I keep getting my stuff and you get the names
you've been seeking."
"You know that everything in here is recorded?"
"Yes, yes! Do we have a deal?"
"Shall I swear on my honor?" Sven was sarcastic.
"Oh, definitely, brother. I know how much honor means to you Starfleet
"Very well, I swear on my honor as a Starfleet officer that if you give
me the names I need, I will personally see to it that you get all the Venus
Drug you need."
Olaf spent the next two hours detailing his contacts with his bosses,
and gave away every pusher and distributor he knew. Without much surprise,
Sven noted that Kathy was one of the pushers. Since the colony was still
relatively small, Sven knew that this information would just about shut the
trade down. Even so, he was disgusted by the display. _Nothing_ is
important to an addict except his drug, he thought and labored mightily to
keep the thought from reaching his face.
"And I get my stuff," Olaf asked again.
"All you need," Sven replied as he left. "Did you get all that?" he
asked the Security officer monitoring the cell.
"Yes, sir, every bit of it. Including your agreement to supply the
prisoner with drugs."
Sven's face hardened as he nodded. "All he needs. But you heard him
yourself: he's not addicted. He doesn't need it."
The monitor started to laugh, saw Sven's face and stopped. Quickly.
# # #
Thalek shook hands with Sven and gestured him to a seat. Seating
himself, the Andorian allowed himself a moment to study the lieutenant. He
didn't like what he saw. Lundgren looked more like he'd blown the case,
rather than closing it.
"I want you to know that I've entered several commendations into your
service record," the Andorian opened with. "You did a very difficult job
very well. Very well, indeed."
"Thank you, sir."
Thalek frowned. "You don't seem very pleased, Lieutenant."
"Sorry, sir. I was thinking of my brother."
"Yes, arresting him must have been very hard." Thalek's expression
reflected his sympathy.
"Not at all, sir. I rather enjoyed it. Leaving him alive afterwards;
_that_ was hard."
Another frown appeared. "Andorians have a very strong respect for
family. I got the impression that humans do, too."
"I never felt that Olaf was much in the way of 'family', sir. And
after he threatened to kill me . . ."
"You don't feel that the drug may have been responsible for that?"
"Frankly, sir, I couldn't care less. On or off drugs, my brother is a
shiftless, miserable excuse for a human being. He's conned money out of
every member of the family and drove my mother into poverty and an early
grave. I only regret that I didn't kill him when I had the chance!" Sven
was red-faced with anger, even as he slowed his breathing back to normal.
"So, you have no compassion for your brother's situation?"
"Sir, when a dog goes mad, the compassionate thing is to destroy it---
before it harms anyone."
"Then why didn't you?"
Thalek patiently elaborated: "Why didn't you kill him? Especially
since you feel that way."
"I . . . don't . . . know, sir."
"That's not good enough, Lieutenant. You made a life and death
decision. I need to know what's behind the decision."
Sven averted his eyes as he thought.
"I guess . . . it's because he wasn't a danger any more . . . and it's
wrong to kill unnecessarily." He looked back at the Andorian.
"You 'guess?' Are you sure you aren't 'guessing' what answers I want
Lundgren flared angrily. "Yes, sir, I'm sure! But I'm not going to
lie and tell you I'm certain about my answers, either."
Thalek nodded. "Good. You're not afraid to admit that you don't know.
And you know how to hold your temper, when it really matters." He held up a
hand to forestall Lundgren's protest. "It's easy to kill. Cold blood or
hot makes no difference. A simple press of a button and a being is gone;
usually with no evidence. Choosing to _not_ kill is much harder and much
more complex. Doing the right thing usually is," the captain added drily.
"I can get Security people who'll kill on command, or when their leash
is slipped; people who kill without a second thought," the Andorian
continued. "They're useless as Security personnel. And I don't need a team
"You almost got one anyway."
"I doubt it. There's three things I'd like you to consider,
Lieutenant. First off, I think you should check out what Dr. Fisher has to
offer; some of his staff are trained in counseling. Second, you should seek
out Cmdr. Josephs and get the benefit of her experiences. Third, I think
you need to learn to be more forgiving, both to your foes and yourself.
Guilt and rage are an ugly, unstable combination. More than one person has
destroyed himself that way." Thalek stood, signalling an end to the
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
"You've already made Cmdr. Josephs and I proud of you, Mr. Lundgren.
Keep us that way."
"Aye aye, Captain!"
The Andorian watched Sven depart, then pulled out his hone, and a well-
worn blade. After a moment, deep in thought, he began sharpening the blade.
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