SEASON 3: EPISODE 04
TO DELIGHT IN THE INHUMAN WORD: Part Eight
Jasis slowly walked the room. She paused here and there to pick up or analyse an object. Masters had one piece of art hanging on the wall. It was unusual. It simply seemed to be a bunch of shapes, however there were no solid lines on the canvas; instead every line was made up of dots.
“It’s an Australian Aboriginal dot painting,” said Daley. “It’s a nice piece if you ask me.”
Jasis had not, nor did Jasis care. Art appreciation was not a skill she possessed or cared to. She was not surprised that Daley had spoken, Jasis had been silent for some time now and it had to be making the captive marine nervous. No doubt she had expected more interrogation and maybe even some torture and so far all Jasis had done was have a brief chat with her to discover if Masters was on the ship and then she went about silently inspecting the room.
All in good time, thought Jasis. The Vorta were a patient people.
“He’s trying to tie himself to a culture that is not his own,” said Jasis.
“What do you mean?” said Daley not understanding Jasis’s simple statement.
“Jonathan has no direct Aboriginal heritage. His ancestors only moved to that continent five generations ago.”
“How do you know that?”
Jasis turned and smiled at Daley. “I have done my research.” The Vorta walked over and took a seat on the sofa under one of the windows. Daley’s chair had been fastened to the floor nearby, another precaution so that the Starfleet marine could not just stand and move about.
“The Masters family has a somewhat incomplete history. Records of that line only go so far as to the war your people had with the Romulans before the formation of your Federation. Have you heard of the New Ascot colony?” Daley shook her head. “Not surprising, it was a United Earth colony. It was in the Beta Hydri system, not that far from Earth but back then your people had only primitive warp technology, so it was on the edge of your empire. It was one of the first targets hit by the Romulans during the war. They got around the Earth Starfleet defences and wiped the colony out.” Jasis paused to let that last part sink in.
“Earth only learnt of its fate three weeks later when one of your ships stumbled on a small ship floating in space. In it were only two people, a Ricky Masters and Victoria Bellman. They checked the ship’s logs and found it had left from New Ascot. The logs also recorded the arrival of a Romulan attack fleet and the attack on the world. They were the only two survivors. Interestingly apart from saying they were from the colony neither could recall much of the attack. They put it down to post traumatic stress and the injuries suffered in their escape. However, back then the record keeping of where your citizens were was not - shall we say entirely accurate or up-to-date. I wasn’t able to trace Ricky’s life or family before that. I found several other individuals with the surname ‘Masters’ but nothing to directly link Ricky to any of these individuals.”
“That was an entertaining story,” said Daley. “Does it have a point?”
Jasis ignored Daley’s comment and continued, “Neither could recall the other apart from a vague recollection. Despite this they had an undeniable bond, one based on having lived through a life or death struggle. They knew that despite their insufficient memories that their lives had to have relied on each other, and that they owed each other their lives. It’s just an interesting comparison to your relationship. As I understand it you rescued Jonathan twice so far. Once while you two were marooned on a deserted planet and the other time after he had murdered me. It’s an interesting little bit of history repeating itself.”
“Has anyone told you that you ramble?”
Jasis laughed. “Yes, it is one of the features of the Vorta, our ability to talk on and on.”
Jasis reached forward and picked up the small replica of an Excelsior class starship on the table. She did not need to see the markings on its hull to know which ship it would be.
“The previous Swiftfire,” she commented.
“If you’re going to give me a history lesson on Jono having served on that ship you need not bother, I know,” pre-empted Daley.
“Just another little bit of interesting coincidence. This ship rescued Jonathan from death at the hands of the Romulans...”
“Let me guess,” interrupted Daley. “The ship that rescued his ancestor was the Earth ship Swiftfire.”
“No but close. It was the Swiftsure, the vessel which would see the creation of the first Swiftfire. The Swiftfire was created as part of an operation called Mirror Image. The goal of the operation was to take unfinished and older ships to mimic active vessels. These ships would make appearance at various fronts and deceive the Romulans as to the true location of the real vessels. The Swiftfire was originally named the Swiftsure-II as it was mimicking the Swiftsure. The crew gave it the nickname Swiftfire and after the operation was completed that became the ship’s name. Of course the Swiftsure had a longer service life than its twin; it managed survived the war and served in the newly created Federation for a further eleven years before it was retired from service.”
“You seem to be mistaking tedium for interesting,” voiced Daley, boredom clear in her tone. “If this is a torture tactic I have to say it might be working,” said Daley.
Jasis gave Daley a confused look.
“Bore me with history lessons until I want to rip my ears off. Devious.”
Jasis slowly put the replica back on the table. She locked gazes with Daley as she did. “I would not joke about torture tactics with me,” she stated in all seriousness. “I have done my fair share of prisoner information retrieval in the past.” Jasis paused and just stared into Daley’s eyes for several seconds before she let a smile come to her lips. “But why spoil things when we’re enjoying a nice chat.”
“It’s nicer than having you kill me because if you were free you would do exactly that.”
“I’m not going to apologise for that,” Daley stated.
“Nor should you,” Jasis agreed. “Your ship has been captured and it is your duty to liberate it from your enemies.” She gave Daley a look of sadness. “Of course, you would fail and be killed in the attempt. And I must admit at this moment I do find that an unpleasant thought.”
Daley rolled her eyes at Jasis. “I’m sure that would comfort my parents knowing a Vorta would feel bad if I were killed.”
“I doubt it would make any difference given they’re both dead.”
Jasis noticed the shock on Daley’s face; she had not expected Jasis to know anything about her that was not in some way connected to Captain Masters. However, as Jasis had told her previously, she had researched her prey before attacking – thoroughly researched.
“I wouldn’t be too surprise,” Jasis stated as she stood. “Once I knew you were in a relationship with the captain I made sure to inspect your history, to see if there was anything I could gleam from your past. You were born on the New Providence colony in 2342, stardate 19207.8473. You attended the Zefram Cochrane High School on Alpha Centauri III. You then attended the Starfleet Marine Corps Academy on Earth staying at the Quantico training base. Then two years after you graduated the Borg came along and scooped up the New Providence colony and everyone there, including your parents and your two older sisters.” Jasis paused next to Daley, looked down and pouted. “I hope this isn’t too painful for you?”
“Oh, please remind me of the death of my family and my friends,” Daley angrily said sarcastically.
“They might not be dead. As I understand the Borg they assimilate individuals into their collective. Your family and friends might be happily serving as drones in a distant part of the galaxy. Maybe one day they’ll return and you’ll get to see them again...and kill them.”
Jasis could feel Daley’s anger as if it were light radiating from a star. She saw the chains around Daley’s feet tighten and the muscles in her arms bulge as she strained against her restraints. “If you want a lesson on ‘too painful’ I’ll be happy to give you one,” Daley snarled.
“How inconsiderate of me,” said Jasis, mockingly chastising herself as she started to circle Daley. She put on a look of pity. “That was a difficult time in your life. I understand three months later you attempted suicide.” Daley anger was still simmering but a flash of uncomfortableness and embarrassment came to her face. “What did you try? It couldn’t have been a phaser since you can’t fail with a vaporise setting. Poison? Severing one of your main arteries?”
Jasis saw Daley stop straining and her hands come together behind her back. Both of her hands delicately stroked her wrists given Jasis her answer, though she already knew what it was anyway.
“You cut them along your wrist,” she whispered behind Daley. Jasis reached down and ran her finger up her wrist on the rough course that Daley would have cut along. “Luckily your medical technology can get rid of scars or you’d have a permanent reminder of your failure.” Jasis reached up and placed her hands on Daley’s shoulders and leant in close to her ear as she continued at barely a whisper. “To think you could let despair get the better of you in such a way. You had to undertake counselling after that. All your secrets and fears laid out to bare before a total stranger as they judged you,” Jasis paused. She could hear Daley’s heavy breath as she recalled her past; she seemed much more the unsure girl she had been than a hardened warrior. Jasis leant back to continue. “Your psychological evaluations afterwards showed remarkable improvement. That experience seemed to make you a different person.”
“That’s something we share,” said Daley, her rage returning. “You’re brush with death changed you, though you went the other way and turned into a super bitch.”
Jasis laughed. “Touchy, touchy! Don’t you like to be reminded of your past? Of your mistakes? Have you spent the last nine years trying to forget you past, trying to hide from the pain you feel? That’s not very healthy. You need to face it if you want to conquer it. Much like I’m doing now. You can learn a lot from me.”
“Are you auditioning for my new mother figure? Because if you are, I’d sooner take on Mellanoid slime worm.”
Jasis scoffed. “Who says I need any more children?”
“I thought Vortas were all clones.”
“A generalisation. The vast majority of us are clones but there is always a number of new Vorta. When the Founders require new Vorta they take genetic samples from existing Vorta and to create new Vorta. I suspect I would have quite a few ‘children’ out there commanding the Jem’Hadar and doing other busywork for the Founders.”
Daley shook her head. “That’s not the same. You have no emotional connection to them. It isn’t the same as a family.”
“What a very narrow view of things. Just because humans like to mate off in pairs and raise their young doesn’t mean it we all should do the same.”
“If you don’t like it you’re welcome to leave our quadrant,” was Daley’s hostile reply.
Jasis shook her finger at Daley. “There...that is what I mean! The arrogance of you humans and your Federation – ‘Your quadrant.’ You control only a tiny fragment of this quadrant and you automatically declare it yours. Yet when we do the same with the quadrant you’ve labelled as the gamma quadrant, you beat your drums and say that we are the arrogant ones!”
“We’re not trying to take over this quadrant.”
“You’re not?” said Jasis with mock surprise. “The driving goal of your Federation is to add new members to it. You’re just as expansionary as the Dominion.”
“We at least give other a choice about joining.”
“Yes, but your choice is an illusion! If they refuse you continue to play nice and your insidiously force your ways on them. You surround them with the Federation and its ways and dominate them through cultural assimilation. They never truly had a choice; all that was done was change the timeline of when they joined. With the Dominion at least we don’t hide behind half-truths and platitudes. What we want, we take,” Jasis let a sadistic smile touch her lips. “And what the Dominion wants, it gets.”
Susan Core’s face was cold and numb, which was a blessing. The Jem’Hadar’s headbutt had been enough to stun her and break her nose, but the ice pack she had pressed to her tender face was a welcome relief.
“How’s your face?”
She moved the pack from her face and looked across to Lieutenant Misi. He cringed.
“Does that answer your question?” she asked.
“Maybe we should ask for a dermal regenerator?”
Core wished she had one. She knew she had a gash across the bridge of her nose and scraps and puncture marks on her head from where the Jem’Hadar’s head spikes had impacted with her hard head. She had no doubt her face would be a swollen purple mess but thankfully the ice pack was doing something about the swelling. She could only really see out of one eye at the moment due to the swelling closing her other eye.
“I doubt he’ll grant the request.”
“Might as well try,” said Misi. “Excuse me,” he called. Core was not sure what politeness would mean to the Jem’Hadar, she banked on nothing. “Can we have a dermal...”
“No,” said the ninth, at least she thought that was who he was. When they had been moved into the bridge lounge she had still been groggy. “Her wounds are superficial. There is no need for extra medical equipment.”
“Come on! Can’t you see...”
“My decision is final,” cut off the Jem’Hadar.
Core reached out and patted Misi’s arm to tell him to stop and she appreciated his effort.
“Don’t worry about, Sol” she said. “I’ve had worse.”
That was unfortunately very true. She could think of at least three occasions when she had been wounded seriously enough that she could have died. Compared that those times a little swelling and a few cuts was nothing.
“How’s Rosetta?” she asked.
“He’s still breathing.”
She turned her head, a very painful experience, to glance briefly at the incapacitated officer. Rosetta was on his side with his back to her. The phaser wound to his side was roughly patched with bloody bandages. The Jem’Hadar who had done the job had said he would live but she did not trust his word, he was far from a doctor.
Core’s hand was getting tired so she rested it from holding up the ice pack. The swelling and gone down a bit and she could just about squint out of her closed eye. She looked at Misi; he was not in much better shape. The Jem’Hadar had popped his shoulder back in but his other arm was in a sling, broken in several places when the Jem’Hadar had used him as a shield. She did not remember this, in fact after the clash of heads she only really had any memory of being in the lounge with an ice pack on her face.
Misi had mentioned that Bailey and Cole had got to the turbolift but he was sure Bailey had been shot and he thought so had Cole given the Jem’Hadar had not gone after them. That meant she could probably count on five deaths from the bridge. She had no idea what they had done with the rest of the ship but the Jem’Hadar did not seem overly concerned about a counterattack on the bridge, so she guessed they had managed to incapacitate the crew somehow.
“Someone would have escaped,” said Misi, reading her mind. “They couldn’t take down all seven hundred people on the ship.”
Her head started to throb again. “I hope you’re right.” She placed the ice pack back on her face. “If you’re not then it’s down to us to retake the ship and I don’t like our chances.”
Thopok stood patiently as the Starfleet Marines went through the contents of the small armoury. They had made it to the armoury with no difficulties and had accessed it without the enemy noticing, or at least if they had noticed they had yet to attack them.
Thopok had been pleased to see the Starfleet warriors when they ran into them in the Jefferies tubes. He had been concerned that only their group remained active and that the fate of the ship would be in the hands of a female engineer, a drunk and a poor excuse for a warrior. The only person he had any faith in was Captain Masters, but he could not retake a ship alone. So to see another eleven beings were also active had lifted his spirit as he knew that it would not down to him to save the ship.
Starfleet Marines had a favourable reputation as skilful and honourable warriors amongst the warriors of the Empire. They were a force that was used primarily for assaults on starships and space based facilities. As such they specialised in fighting in confined spaces as well as in low to zero gravity. He had not personally faced any in battle, instead having fought against the warriors of the Starfleet Ground Forces.
Nearly as well respected by Klingon warriors as the marines the Ground Forces were the main army of the Federation. Legions of soldiers backed by armoured vehicles they defended the cities and surfaces of the planets of the Federation as well as acted as the primary attack force of any planetary assault. They were an anvil that could be brought to crush an enemy.
During the recent war with the Federation Thopok had taken command of warriors from the House of Grilka during the Battle of Syndora III. He had been caught on the surface of Syndora III, a class O planet with nearly 85% of its surface covered by water. The population of the planet was spread across two major landmasses and several islands across the planet. The planet had a strategic location but given the previous peace between the Federation and Klingons the world was mostly viewed as a tourist location. As such when the Klingons invaded after the start of the war the population put up next to no resistance.
Just prior to the ceasefire the Federation had pushed back against the Klingons and reached the Syndora system. They landed two divisions to attack the nearly 15,000 strong Klingon occupation force. They came with attack skimmers and ground assault vehicles for their ground assault and armoured assault craft to take control of the skies. The Klingons of course had their own vehicles to match and a massive battle for control of the planet was fought between the two forces.
Thopok could only watch as the aircraft fought in the skies and the ground vehicles crisscrossed the battlefield attacking and counterattacking. Thopok and his warrior had fought disruptor to phaser and blade to blade with the Ground Forces in the confines of one of the planet’s major cities. He was impressed by the Starfleet Ground Forces tactics, skills and courage. The Klingons had been forced to retreat, but it was an honourable one. The battle had been fought hard and with spirit by both sides. That day he had come to have a newfound respect for these Starfleet warriors that could only be gained through battle.
Thopok shook the memories away. It was a waste to think about such times when he was a true warrior. To live in the past was wasteful. He had to deal with what was before him now and the glories of the past meant little.
Thopok felt the sensation of being watched. He turned his head and found G’Ethza staring at him. He had caught her on several occasions staring at him during their journey to the armoury. She never held his gaze when he did catch her. It was irritating so he decide he would learn why she insisted on doing it over and over.
“You keep staring, what is it?” he asked harshly.
“There is a reason you are doing it. Tell me,” Thopok demanded.
G’Ethza hesitated and from her body language Thopok could tell she was uncomfortable.
“Do you dislike Klingons?” Thopok asked. He would not be surprised if G’Ethza did, Klingons were not known for making friends with non-Klingons.
“No! I’ve never met one in person before today. I know the history between the Federation and the Klingons but I don’t dislike you.”
“Then why stare?” Thopok pushed on.
“It...it’s your forehead.”
Thopok frowned deeply. It was rare that there would be a person who would remember how the Klingons had appeared during the past centuries when many Klingons had a more human appearance. The reason was not one that they discussed with other species.
“I find it...appealing,” said G’Ethza.
Thopok could not hide his surprise at that admission. Most species usually found the Klingon appearance to be intimidating rather than ‘appealing’.
“I have made you uncomfortable, I apologise,” said G’Ethza.
“No...it is just I have not met many non-Klingons that would have such a view.”
“How much do you know about my people?” asked G’Ethza.
“I know nothing apart from your atmospheric requirements that you told me before,” he admitted.
“The males and females of my species appear quite different. Females like myself have small heads but the males have much larger heads. They have taller foreheads with two prominent lumps at the front, which meet in the middle so to form a crevice. The shape of a person’s forehead is a secondary sex characteristic among my people. The larger and more prominent the forehead on a male is considered desirable, so you can see why I would be intrigued by your...forehead.”
“I can. I take it for woman the opposite is desired.”
G’Ethza nodded. “We try to minimise our forehead, the smaller the better. Some do this by wearing their headdress higher than normal so to create the illusion.”
“Why not just cover your entire head?”
“That is only for those who are wed. Once a woman is married she will cover her entire head as a symbol of her union with her partner.”
“So these headdresses are decorative?”
“It is customary that woman wear a headdress that covers their head, with the top of their head exposed if unmarried. Usually we don’t cover the face, obviously when off planet we have to wear these masks to survive.”
“If I understand this correctly you would find Klingon men attractive but males would not find Klingon women attractive?”
G’Ethza shook her head. “No, they would most likely find them intimidating to their masculinity.”
Thopok grinned. Most species would feel the same way. Klingon women were strong in body and will. Few species could handle a true Klingon woman.
“What about humans? Do you men find them attractive?”
“No, most Zaranites find hair to be...unusual. Deltans are known to be desirable to our men.”
When are Deltans ever not considered desirable? Quipped Thopok to himself.
That last comment raised another question. “I am not bald, yet you find me attractive?”
“I have spent years with species that have hair. I am less put off by it than would be typical.”
“Can you breed with other species?” Thopok asked. He had no interest in mating with G’Ethza. He did not find her attractive as all he saw was a grey mask. That thought made him briefly wonder what G’Ethza looked like without her mask.
She might be attractive, he considered, to judge one by purely by the masks they wear is a foolish and dangerous mistake.
“It is possible but cross species breeding is not possible. Even if it were there would be complications from the fact that we require fluorine to survive.”
They both paused as a marine approached them.
The marine handed Thopok a Federation hand phaser. “Do you know how to use this?”
Thopok nodded. He had experience with this type of weapon in the past. It was a small, almost understated weapon but Thopok knew that it was just as capable of killing as the disruptors preferred by Klingon warriors.
The marine handed a phaser to G’Ethza before moving towards Mon’kor. The other Klingon had placed himself away from everyone where he stood looking displeased with everything around him.
“What is this?” Thopok heard Mon’kor ask the marine.
“It’s a type 2 phaser.”
“You expect us to fight with this? It is a weapon for children! Look how tiny it is.”
“The type 2 might be small but it is a versatile weapon. More so than your typical disruptor pistol.”
“All I need is for my weapon to kill the enemy,” argued Mon’kor. “What more can you need a weapon to do?”
Thopok sighed inwardly. Mon’kor seemed set with arguing with anyone he could. He now wished he had left him unconscious in the lounge. He again felt the sensation that he was been watched and turned to G’Ethza.
G’Ethza looked down to the ground and said, “Sorry.”