This article originally appeared in
Hailing Frequencies issue 5. It has been recreated here from the
of polished boots on metal presented a brief cacophony
in the tight spaces, winding as they did in symmetrical
form in seemingly all directions. A light of
unparalleled clarity illuminated the entire hall. Every
conceivably viewable part of that hall was spotless and
glimmering, except for the expressions on some of the
faces of those assuming positions in the rows.
I jump out of my skin and run screaming down the
corridor, tell them I can see the spirits of the
this look right? I think its level..."
don't think they'll care too much what we look like...
except for the meat on our bones."
commendations on display looked lonesome on their red
shadow passed slowly in front of the suns and the
galaxies, eclipsing the cascade of starlight through the
adjoining promenade windows. Those privy to the sight
couldn't suppress a shiver as the behemoth moved across.
Captain: the cruiser is alongside and they are
requesting permission to come aboard."
"Acknowledge. Permission granted."
settled down more rigidly into their places.
colossal, thunderous crash jars the room; everybody
looks about, and a quiet voice meant only for one
don't waste time do they?" from elsewhere.
problem - they're just a little rough... ... I think."
He gets a little nervous and queries back, "Trask is on
Weapons today, isn't he?"
familiar Vulcan nod gave him reassurance.
seemed to be holding themselves together rather well.
Until the airlock doors opened, And there they were - in
all their ghastly glory. Ready to step onboard across
that gleaming threshold, crimson and yellow and harsh
black-violet cascading forth from the monstrous interior
beyond that corrupted the harmony and order and sanity
of... Engineer Keith MacAlister - he lost his whistle.
turned to MacAlister, a grizzly seeming man who was as
unprepared for the event and the nature of their guests
as he was for reforming his coarseness. Wide-eyed in
every way he kept his cool and handled the situation.
the partially hooded figure gazed at the shooting object
speeding across his view, then at the engineer.
hapless witness could only turn his authoritative head
away, deftly retrieving and dry-swallowing in an
experienced and quick jerk of the head the aspirin he
kept handy at all times in his suit pocket. His
expression was a deadpan of joy thereafter.
MacAlister impromptly placed his hands to his mouth and
piped aboard the party in resoundingly unique style. He
then wiped the spittle on his dress pants and put on the
greatest fake smile ever known to mankind (but not to
alone stepped through, locking its shrouded gaze upon he
who had stepped forward.
of the United Federation Of Planets, I welcome you
aboard the United Starship VanKeegan. I am Captain J'lel
I...," the cowl, a tattered ripped black thing, fine but
ragged, is pulled down to the sides - a two-piece
module defective? Did you hear..."
behind him, "Barelyy...," and grabs the small metallic
device next to his chest, crushing it to pieces in his
hand and spreading the technology's ashes to the ground
before him. He reaches out for a replacement, which a
leathery hand promptly offers. He resumes his address.
bring greeetingsz from thee mightyy Gorn."
Seenior Captain HeeeV of thee Guardians, formerlyy
King'sz Fleet Guard. Wee are part ov thee 4th Fleet
taszk force asssigned to patroll this sectorr, and
unlessss you precsipitate itt, my shipp will remain
parallel and sssteady and there shall bee no bloodshedd."
returned a quick stare to his superior who swiftly dealt
with the concern, "I assure you we shall precipitate no
rest of the party trudged menacingly onto the floor,
towering ornate blades resting at hips and backs, the
cascading harshness from the dim shuttle interior
ceased: the shuttle iris interlocked once again. The
room began to cool back to its normal temperature - the
heat sweat abated.
my Mechanisst, Seniorr Comman-der Rrraakk Kesss. Beside
him is my Securrity officer Seniorr Comman-der Vorzazss
and my second-in-command," he then pointed to his other
side, "Crrodd is Juniorr Comman-der in charge of
Weaponsz, and my Analyssis officer reemainedd behind."
considerable distress of his blue-skinned counterpart
the Gorn strode forward and at him, "Yourr Speak Hall -
wee should go to itt now..."
yes of course. This way."
made sure that the decks through which they walked were
as devoid of incidental crew traffic as possible. Having
the 'lizards' onboard would be sure to shock the Hell
out of your typical recruit. They made their way to the
modest but still luxurious accommodation, as
deliberately close to the airlock as he could have made
inexorably they made their way into the room and into
their opposing seats at the long table. Each Gorn
removed the massive blade weapons on their persons and
laid them to their sides by their respective chairs.
Federation attentions turned towards the singular
exploring Gorn, checking doorways and accessways - he
was not so quick to assume a position by his superior.
Comman-der Vorzazss... he iss diligently para-noid, and
so he iz my Ssecurrrity officer and my second."
replied, "Certainly." A general easing began to
materialize now that the group was at rest, eventually
including Vorzazss, "So tell me Captain, why did you not
hehh..." the entourage grinned chillingly, knowingly,
"You are likely familiar with accidentss in the courrse
of your own transporter developmentt - the Ravenor iz a
new star-ship, and some fluctuations have been observved
with that sysstem. We havve avoidedd its use until
Commander Kesss's specialistss havve iso-lated and
remedieed thee problemm."
have a team go over to your ship and assist..."
nott bee necsessaryy."
Kesss tersely adds, "I will inspect thee system on your
VanKeegan and apply thee observationz to our system.
Yourr team would probably bee mosst... un-comfortable in
I request permission to visit sickbay - I'm seeing funny
colors everywhere and my eyes hurt considerably."
Captain concerns himself with the request, "I apologize
Annatan - yourr crew may havve sustainedd damage from
ourr lightss: we favourr different frequencsiez of
illuminationn... I shall havve Commander Heg on the
Ravenor log it for thee future." Heev continued towards
the affected, "Feemale crew-Man, the effectss will bee
temporaryy, yourr ocular sensez shall returnn in mere
thank you Captain. Captain?"
permission granted." Staggering slightly, she leaves the
room. J'lel finally gets the opportunity to introduce
Ta'let, my Science officer," the Vulcan nodded
cordially, "This is my Weapons officer Roger
that is my Chief Engineer, Mr. MacAlister."
ever-grizzly Gaelic bastard showed, despite the uniform
and the shave, "Greetings...." He was rather unprepared
for this prompt to speak - it showed on his apprehensive
spoke up again, now locked upon the nervous engineer "I
am gen-er-al-ly unfamiliarr with yourr customs, but I
guesss the device is meant to remain at yourr lipss..."
chuckling began to boil over and out, like a troll
before it snatches the sheep or a witch before she
grabbed Gretel. MacAlister immediately relaxed in the
grip of his minor infuriation at the reference - bloody
smartass snakes. He muttered under his breath, "Give me
a good stick and I'd whack you silly, 2 ton bags a sh…"
J'lel didn't have to hear MacAlister to know what it was
he was muttering - his guess was invariably in the same
ballpark. J'lel couldn't help but laugh some as well.
This was nice....
my Medical officer, Allana Honsberg."
Engineer iz curious az to yourr metallurgyy for thiss
takes the cue, "How iz it that you do not blow awayy
with thee solar windz? Your sslenderr architecturre
lackss thee masss to withstandd the rigourrz of combatt
- thee veryy plates wee walk on threaten to co-llapsse
under eeach ov our stepss; with effort I couldd snap
ssome ov your bulkheadz in half. This ship would
shatterr into a thousand piecez if it was struck by one
ov our Plaszma weaponzs."
responds, "The hull superstructure is in actuality quite
beyond your considerable personal capacity to damage. It
is composed of a Molybdenum, Tri-tellarine, Titanium,
and Di-tritichaic alloy molded and meshed to a
supporting weave of poly-plasts and steel alloy fibers.
These are joined together for the most part via
molecular welds that seamlessly seal the outer shell to
the vacuum of space."
Security officer speaks, "Then why doez your floor bend
do not know. The mean weight of a Gorn being 475
lbs....” Kesss corrects him, "503 poundz. By our lasstt
Interesting. I must theorize that despite the
specifications of our main structure, the corridor floor
plates or their mountings are manufactured to less rigid
tolerances. Perhaps when your combined mass is versus a
given area... it could be an unforeseen stress. These
access ways upon this Federation vessel were not meant
for cargo capacities."
doesn't mean to refer to you lugs as cargo crates..."
MacAlister chimes in. Vorsaszz looks at him, J'lel just
does his officer best to move on. The Gorn Captain helps
Sscience officerr Ta'let: were I to charge thee Ravenor
into your VanKeegan vessell in a normal ramming
maneuverr," J'lel looks at his engineer, knowing Kieth
cringes to himself at the thought of the damage such
would cause, and knowing that he shares his own
disbelief at how readily these beings embrace such
tactics, "it would snapp like thee bone of a Lyran
brooodling! Our vessels are designedd to bee strong and
resilient, while your UFP starships are sleek and flimzy.
So they look, and so they seeem to bee az well. I do not
understandd how you can claim militarry successez with
vessels aren't THAT flimsy..." J'lel pauses for a moment
and then looks away into a wall - he begins to quaff his
drink with relish.
quite possible given what we know of Gorn architecture
and priorities. You see Captain, the Gorn are said to
utilize a triple hull cast alloy frame with solid blocks
of fused stone ore interlocked throughout the entirety.
Very strong indeed..."
continues, but on a different subject of momentary but
immediate importance for him, speaking into a tricorder
device he has produced from who knows where, "Computer,
update status log for Species Entry - Gorn - Culture -
Vital Statistics, subject: weight mean update..."
do that later, please..."
neither I nor, if you clamber over my dead blue carcass,
Engineer Keith - never mind me - are going to let you
and my intrepidly dedicated Science officer dash my ship
to pieces in order to prove a point of resiliency!"
huh... of coursse nott, Captain. It would bee a waste ov
good Federation rezourcez. Insteadd wee shall havve to
acquire some of your sim-u-la-torr programz and allow
for thee eventt in wargamez sometime, if our
reespectivve leaderz agree to such in the near futurre.
Let uss drinkk to such an occasion!"
Annatan recomposes himself to join in the toast, a
feeling he somehow thought he would be reserving for a
gathering with Klingons or Romulans rather than with
Allies. Engineer MacAlister needs no invitation to do so
- his quaffing almost matches the slurps of the Gorn
officers. It also drowns his concerns about the Gorn and
his 'feeble' ship....
"So you do
Captain, but not like you do. Wee havve seen your selvez
on leavve and off militarry dutiez."
"Wee po-ssesss a metabolizm which enabless uss to ignore
thee effects of mosst 'inebriants'. It iz a core partt
of our beeing that manyy of you will like-ly findd
speaks again, "There iz a customm of yourrzs we havve
not yet seeen, Captain. Thee guest dinner..."
thee Feasst!" Captain Heev continued, "Let uss pro-ceeed."
Captain breaks himself out of the locking presence of
his counter-parts and turns to a nearby ensign,
studious Ensign proceeds to retrieve many dishes from a
nearby alcove, returning to place them on the table.
That done he is dismissed and exits. The Gorn sit
rigidly and strangely motionless for a short time as the
smell of the meats hits their nostrils. The leader takes
the first cautious bite, then in labored fashion so do
the others. Heev accelerates his consumption to a
tremendous pace, his throat expanding as half-chewed
morsels rush down his leathern gullet.
to accelerate their pace at the table, and J'lel begins
to eat too, until one of the Gorn, silent up until now,
speaks up in disgust.
meat izz crude for a Feassttt! Such smalll morselz..."
his head towards him "Are enough for YOU Junior
Commander Crrodd!" Crrodd settles down and resumes
eating. Heev's teeth are showing quite well, "You will
forget my officer`z state-mentt andd continue - he will
bee disciplinedd on our reeturnn!"
reaches for his chest and temporarily disables his
translator to directly address his subordinate. Crrodd
continues eating, but in a dedicated manner.... Hearing
the naked Gorn tongue chills even the Vulcan.
Captain responds in the awkwardness... not that this
evening has been anything but, "I... I could easily
provide more if you desire. We have other..."
slowly moves his head in a negative manner as he
re-engages the translating device, "The Feast iz ample
for our reequire-mentss. There will bee no unnecessaryy
entirety eat, at times the two sides seemingly competing
with each other, though of course the crocodilian
dedication and capacities of the guests predetermine the
outcome whether such was real or merely perceived. The
Federation group eats a little more lightly than usual.
gulps and slurps Senior Captain Heev spoke again.
not seen a blue-skin beforre in person. This iz an
evventt - your aggressivve selvez have beenn
unbe-hol-den to mee, exceppt for thee picturez wee
obtainedd from an Earther during a stopoverr at your
Starrbase 31. The pamphletss werre, I beelieve, part ov
your 'Tou-r-izm package'..."
J'lel had to chuckle some more.
apologize - we have aggressive commercial elements..."
Ta'let tried to finish but was brought to an abrupt halt
at the finality of his listener.
few moments Kesss adds, "Some verryy ug-lyy placez."
"Your medical officerz acceptedd our apologiezs for thee
unconscious burst of laughter escaped from the far table
end - MacAlister's belly. He could imagine what happened
to the poor fellow. He probably just wound up getting
the complete attention of the Gorns... that may have
been enough for a heart attack.
" So tell
me something about Ambassador Kerrvalzz - is he arriving
Captain's mood immediately tightens.
Vulcan to break it, "That would certainly explain why he
is not here, Captain..."
surprized? Perr-hapss you are nott familiar with ourr
punishmenttss for trreeazonn."
aghast, "Eaten?!? Isn't that a little... phhh…I can't
speak...” "Capital punishment for capital crimez,
Captain Annatan. Conn-suumm-ationn. It hasz beeenn so
for hundreddz of millenia."
bloody barbaric!" MacAlister bravely interjected.
ourr WAYY. Wee discovered his traitorous activvitties -
hee betrayyed uss to thee Orionz for personal gain. Az
rare az that iz for thee Gorn it haz happenedd and wee
deal with it appropriatelyy."
still dumbfounded by the revelation. Heev recognizes the
reaction and takes it in stride.
Captain." Heev adds shortly after, "Do not worryy: we
sllayy thee Meatt with bladezs before we ripp downn thee
piecez. We are not base flesh-beeasttss, human."
inveighing against insult stifles further debate by the
Captain turns the tables.
you not at Warr with thee Klingon Empire?"
flabbergasts J'lel. What a night.
you not fight thee Klingonz? I waz quite clearr in my
Federation does not look for trouble - we do not
initiate wars or look for conflict! ..."
turrn a blind eye to 'conflictt'." The Captain pauses
deliberately and then continues, "Thee Confederation haz
beeen fighting thee Romulan fleetss forr many yearz now.
It iz no borderr skirmishh - it iz a limitedd warr! They
strike at tar-gets ov opportunity and hide, wee then
huntt them downn and deestroyy them. Theyy are
accomplishhed hiderzs, wee are accomp-lishhed hunterzs.
Though wee do not intentionallyy penetrate deep into
theirr terr-rit-or-yy, wee willl purrssuue themm
wherever theyy may go."
grips his mammoth drink flagon and purposefully
squeezes, then lets go, squeezes, then lets go.
Eventually the flagon metal no longer springs back into
form. He looks about in as sheepish a manner as a Gorn
may look, to find that if anyone has noticed his
vandalism, no one pays heed. They are listening to the
are winning! So far wee havve deestroyyedd many of their
main-line fleetss, while theyy havve done little to no
damage to ourz. But still they raid our outpostss and
settlementss - they do so becauze it iz easy. Wee do not
ignore them! Wee do not stand byy! Weee strike back -
wee punish thee In-va-dderz. Wee divulge nothing
critical by telling you thatt our intelligence beelieves
thee Star Empire iz reigning itself in in prepara-tionn
for another largerr seriez of maneuverrz against uss...
something more bold and ambitious. They buildd their
warr machine Captain, and wee shall do more than what iz
nec-sessaryy to stop them."
full circle to his original querying point, "A-gainsst
thee Klingonz you doo noth-thing."
should we? Are you suggesting we instigate war?"
noth-thing Captain. Reelationz beetween your people
havve settledd down in recent time. Thiss provez that
your idealzs are worth-lesss." Heev has the undivided
attention of the UFP group - even Ta'let shows some
small signs of consternation at this. He explains,
"Within thee Imperriall Fleeet iz a veteran commanderr,
much honourredd by hiz brethrenn for hiz victoriez in
ac-tionn. He iz Goth Maaghe'. Do you know thee namez of
thee star-shipss in hiz bat-tle fleet? Enslaverr,
Conquerring Heeel, and In-flic-ttorr. How did theyy get
thoze namez, Captain? For thee sake ov 'prosperityy' you
look away while thee Klingonz hold worldz - entire
civilizationzs - in thrall. Wee do nott: if a Klingon
star-ship enterz our space, it shall bee destroyedd."
aware of the problems in Klingon society. Personally, I
hate them and their lust for violence. My people are
warriors too, but there is a time for such things. We
cannot forego diplomacy and move to force... then we
become as they and dictate. We must give civilized
approaches a chance."
WORDZ! You are ridden with them. You arre fulll ov
politicss. Wee do not approve!"
interjects, "With the rare exception, the Klingons
employ slaves of their criminals - said work being a
form of penal servitude and punishment. At least from
that perspective what their society does is comparable
to our own."
thee Klingonz, thoze who suf-fer deefeeat in battle are
criminalzs. So yess, what you say iz true."
Klingonz consider bat-tle to bee natural. Thee instinct
for vi-o-lence, thee drive to killl and dom-in-nate and
ravage, iz parrt of all sentient culturez. Gorn havve
realized thiss, but Gorn havve also realized thatt
instinct musst bee tem-peredd or it de-stroyz thee
Animal. Wee arre a higher life-formm. This iz thee mark
Captain relinquishes the flagon he has been cradling
upon the table for some time.
make no such diztinctionn... thee strong ruule. To them,
thoze that they enslave deserrvve to bee." Heev points
viciously at his Federation counterparts, "They fail to
realize, Captain, that there iz alwayz someone who iz
stronger than youu, whether az individualz or az
pipes up, "Except for the bleedin' Confederation,
chuckles as Gorn do. The Captain continues.
share a borderr with themm andd yourr goverrnnmentt does
not even ob-jecktt!"
cost do we object, Sir? Have you thought about the lives
we would lose if we forced the issue - if we
precipitated a conflict with the entire Empire? We might
bring the Federation to Armageddon! You don't want to
fight such wars... you want to fight the ones you can
your leaderrz should devote efforrt to thee con-sidera-tionn
ov thee livez ov thee enslavedd - your ambassadorz can
deeliver theirr diplomatick ssen-timentss to theirr
Worldz az well."
Federationn would mobilize itss entire militaryy force
if I were to take onlyy one ov yourr crew-men, but for
Worldz, you offerr noth-thing." He raises his voice to a
timultuous roar, "If wee shared a common borr-derr, thee
Klingonz would bee CRUSHED and wee would put an enndd to
theirr Empire! Dee-ci-ssivve ACTIONN! We DO - you talkk!"
quietened down into a more reflective insistence, "...
That iz why thee Empire livez: bee-cauze they can, and
bee-cauze you let themm!"
Annatan pondered in the silence, then spoke up, "Captain
Heev, I come from a lineage of Warriors, my great great
grandfather was decorated by the old Andorian tribal
councils themselves.... A scholar of old Earth once
declared that you first arrange for victory before you
pursue it. On a personal note, I must admit I am reviled
by the oppression you speak of, but I am one cruiser,
and I am bound by my chain of command - I am sure that
when the chance presents itself those further up that
chain will recognize the opportunity and seize it, but
until then my actions in that regard would be foolhardy
thee initi-ativvve ov your warrriorrz and leeaderzs."
and his officers followed suit, gathering their
all, Captain Annatan. We must return to my shipp and
rendezvous with the Cruiserz Grotto and Bloodd-Trickle-Blade
in a nearby sysstem. Wee will now leavve..."
J'lel's permission, guest to host.
"Permission accorded. Granted..."
proceeded from the table and the room without any
further utterance, heading with purpose back to the
docking door from whence they came.
shakes himself with a vigorous shiver. Finally
muttering, "Leave already....” J'lel remained stunned at
the table, absorbing the events. Suddenly he scrambled
out of his chair to see them off, after a subtle cue
from his Science Officer.
Engineer stepped up to the portal window looking out
upon the Gorn hull. His throat was thick with Gaelic