From the log of USS
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It had been a
hectic week. The only thing that had ever come close in Angie's
experience was "Hell Week" at the Academy, the seven days of rigid
discipline and physical and mental stress that began every
Starfleet Cadet's experience on the San Francisco campus.
Everyone on ARTEMIS was great, including the senior officers. The
Middies had been accepted as shipmates from day one, but...
Basán was putting them through a rigorous and demanding
Physical Fitness—tests of their body
strength and stamina;
Unarmed Combat—in standard-gee, lo-gee, hi-gee, and zero-gee—in duty uniforms and armored spacesuits;
Marksmanship—with hand-phasers and phaser-rifles—at static and
moving targets and on the combat range (where the targets
Shipboard Fire-control—managing the targeting computers of the main
phaser banks and photon torpedo tubes.
Both Middies had passed every test, but their Department Head hadn't
exactly showered them with praise. She'd made it abundantly clear
that simple proficiency might satisfy an Academy instructor, but LT
Olena Basán expected her Security personnel to excel in the required skill sets,
and as far as she was
concerned, both Middies needed work.
Angie and Lyra knew what was going on. Olena was being the
"Designated Hard-Ass", and they were being stress-tested to see how
they'd adapt to the shipboard environment.
At the moment, they were in the middle of a tactical exercise.
Angie was in a concealed position overlooking a jungle trail. Off
to her right, a Carmow warrior was crouched
behind a fallen log. The Scatara autochton had gray-striped fur
that reminded Angie of Cuddle-Kitty, a childhood pet, but there
nothing cuddly about this particular
Carmow weapon, the m'rrtu
The m'rrtu was a combination
bow, quarterstaff, club, and stabbing-spear. It could be used to
bludgeon with the weighted knob at one end, stab with the steel
lance-point at the other, or parry with the shaft in between. In
addition, it could be
grasped in the middle and an arrow nocked to the string running in a
groove along its entire length. As the arrow was drawn,
two narrow staves of laminated hardwood and animal horn lifted free of
the shaft, bending like the limbs of a
typical bow. When the
arrow was released, the staves snapped back into the shaft and the
its target. Compared to a dedicated bow, the m'rrtu was weak and short-ranged,
design made for a good ambush
weapon, well-suited to the close quarters of jungle fighting.
And ambush was the order of the day.
Angie knew other Carmow
positioned on either side of the trail, but "Gray-stripe" was the only
one she could see. Angie suspected she was there to protect and
keep an eye on the
"Starrrfleet Hoomahn Kitten", as the Carmow warriors called her, as
much as to
participate in the attack.
The Carmow swiveled her head towards Angie
and flattened her pointed, furry ears. She held up her left
and made a series of gestures with her claw-tipped fingers.
"Two enemies and three [something]," was the message, and Angie nodded
her understanding. Their target was approaching. Carmow
sign language, or "claw-speak", had a
vocabulary of more than two hundred words, of which Angie had only had
time to learn a few. She checked that her hand-phaser was
set on "stun", then
smiled at her Carmow ally, very carefully keeping her lips tightly
The Carmow smiled back, also in a tight-lipped manner. She then
faced the trail and her smile broadened, baring the sharp points
of her teeth.
This was a hostile display, intended for their approaching
enemies. She fitted an arrow to her m'rrtu, then froze in place.
passed... then, the foliage shook and an Andorian pirate came
view. Only about fifteen meters from Angie's position, she was
picking her way down the trail, focusing both on the path immediately
booted feet and on the more distant jungle on her flanks and farther
ahead. Her blue head was "on the swivel", as Olena put it, alert
tripwires and other dangers.
Walking behind the pirate came three bound, gagged, and naked
prisoners: two Carmow and Lyra D'varas. Angie's roommate and her
fellow captives had their arms folded and lashed behind their backs,
ice-spider silk rope pinning their arms to their sides—classic
box-ties. The pirates had wrapped the feloids hands in rags as a
precaution against them using their claws to whittle the ropes, but
Lyra's hands were free. More rags were stuffed in all three
captives' mouths and held in
place with more rope. Finally, they were coffled together,
The Carmow were young, barely adults. One had gold and
brown spots, like an earthly leopard, and the other was a calico, her
mottled patches of gray, tan,
and brown. If Angie was reading their body language correctly,
long, twitching, prehensile tails signaled anger and
Lyra gave every sign of being exhausted and resigned to her fate, but
tell her friend was only feigning defeat.
what Lyra looked like when she was exhausted. Tree Frog was being
Bringing up the rear was a second Andorian. Both simulated
pirates were dressed, armed, and equipped like the pair that had
captured the Middies in this same simulated jungle the day they
reported to ARTEMIS.
Angie had no idea how the Carmow coordinated their attack, but
sudden, simultaneous whistles sounded from the jungle, ahead and
the group on the trail. The lead Andorian crouched into combat
stance, her disruptor-pistol at
the ready, and the second pirate did the same.
Not that it did them any good.
Arrows flitted from the foliage, from both sides of the little column,
of them found their marks. Both Andorians fired their disruptors,
but they were wild shots. Their trigger fingers had twitched in
They collapsed to the forest
floor, each with a half-dozen arrows protruding from their necks and
torsos. Their antennae twitched, and then they were still.
The Carmow war party emerged from their positions. Several
growled and stabbed the Andorians with the spear-points of their m'rrtus. If the pirates
dead before, they certainly were now. Others untied the Carmow
captives, and there was a great deal of laughing, purring, and hugging.
Angie grinned and holstered her phaser as she strolled towards
She then stepped
behind the green captive and untied her gag.
"My hero!" Lyra gushed as the rag was pulled from her mouth.
"I didn't even fire my phaser, smartypants," Angie muttered. She
made no move to untie her friend.
"And why not?" Olena demanded. The Lieutenant seemed to
materialize from the green shadows, although a few fluttering leaves
stepped from hiding. Her phaser was in its holster.
"Phaser fire might register on passive sensors in the pirates' main
Angie explained, "or on an orbiting ship." She
smiled. "Besides, the Carmow know their business.
They didn't need my help."
"Anything else?" Olena asked.
"I didn't fire, but the pirates did," Angie said. "We should
clear the area immediately, in case the remaining pirates send a
patrol to investigate."
Olena nodded, then, for the first time in days, she favored Angie with
smile. "Very good." She turned to Lyra. "And what did
Lyra smiled. "Uh, not to volunteer for prisoner duty during
"I don't recall asking for volunteers," Olena said, evenly.
"Oh, that's right. Anyway..." Lyra's smile faded.
"The pirates search their captives very
thoroughly. They found all
the escape and tracking aids I'd hidden on my uniform and about my
person. Also, they don't like Orions."
"I'm sure it's more than simple xenophobia," Olena shrugged. "The
renegades think of all 'green-skins' as... business rivals."
"Now that you mention it," Lyra purred, "I have been thinking about
setting up a franchise on ARTEMIS."
"You are a smartypants,"
chuckled, "even without pants. Computer, arch!" she
commanded, and the control arch
materialized. "Delete computer generated characters," she said,
and the still celebrating Carmow and the pirate corpses
disappeared. "Door." The
door to the
corridor materialized in the arch and hissed open. "It's still an
hour 'til lunch. Make your way back to the Carmow hunting camp,
then call the arch. Final away mission briefing will commence at
sixteen-hundred hours." She strode through the door and the door
and arch dematerialized.
"I think she likes us," Lyra stated.
"Lucky us," Angie sighed, then took out her tricorder and set it in
tactical mode. A map appeared on its tiny screen. "The camp
is a little over
three kilometers—" She nodded to the north. "That way."
"Well, untie me and let's get started," Lyra said.
Angie returned the tricorder to its pouch on her equipment harness,
crossed her arms under her breasts, and smiled. "Untie you?
Lyra favored her friend with her most cajoling, dimpled pout.
"You aren't still mad about that meditation thing in the Captain's
quarters, are you?"
Angie retrieved the end of the rope leash still tied around Lyra's
throat. "Mad? Who, me? Certainly not." Smiling, she
stepped back and let the strand of soft, braided, ice-spider silk trail
through her fingers. She reached the end of the leash, took
a firm grip, then turned and started jogging through the jungle.
The rope snapped taut and Lyra scrambled after her
"Kipper!" she complained, "I'll get you for this!"
"Shut-up and meditate, Tree Frog," Angie chuckled.
ORBIT AROUND SCATARA-IV
on the task at hand, monitoring
the passive scanners of the cutter's weapons console. Lyra was at
engineering station and LT Dax was
manning science/communications and scanning the planet below.
Science Officer's immediate task was cataloging energy sources and
of lifeforms on the surface. Angie's focus was on the surrounding
space. She was on the
lookout for incoming pirates.
ATALANTA was one of ARTEMIS' two assault-cutters. They were of a
based on the design of the famous DELTA-FLYER created by the crew of
Slightly longer than the original, they were fast, well-armed, and had
long legs. In short, they were designed for independent
operation in hostile space. They were not designed for comfort.
By Starfleet standards, the interior was cramped and spartan, although,
to the Klingons, ATALANTA would be a pleasure
yacht. The bridge had four stations: pilot/command,
copilot/weapons, engineering, and communications/science. Behind
an airtight bulkhead was the combination crews' quarters, work area,
and EVA deployment bay. The crew slept in hammocks, which were
stored when not in use. All furnishings, tables, chairs, and
workstations could be quickly folded and unfolded from bulkhead
cabinets. All cargo was containerized and stowed against the aft
Limiting the available space even further, four armored spacesuits were
stored in the overhead and under the deck. One of the
possible missions of an assault-cutter was to transport up to a dozen
personnel in EVA combat suits and deploy them through twin,
quick-acting hatches. Starfleet boarding tactics favored the use
of the transporter, but EVA assaults were a common practice of space
Direct boarding had the advantage of not requiring the target ship's
shields to be down. The pirates would
match course with the prey vessel, cross the intervening space in
suits, force one of the hatches, and subdue the crew.
Such an attempt would be very iffy against any Starfleet vessels larger
a shuttle or runabout, but could be highly effective against bulk
freighters, commercial star-liners, and civilian yachts. Flipping
the coin, while pirate
ships were always fast and well-armed, they also tended to be
small. Therefore, they themselves were
"Is ARTEMIS still in scanner range?" Olena inquired from the
Angie shifted the display mode of her console. "ARTEMIS is just
leaving extreme sensor range. Course and speed unchanged."
ARTEMIS would be spending the next twelve days seeding a network of
sensor-buoys in this quadrant of the Expanse. The automated
sentinels would monitor
the surrounding space for warp signatures and subspace
communications. They were stealthy and difficult to detect,
and even if they didn't detect pirate activity, negative intelligence
had its own value.
ATALANTA's crew were on a dual mission: (1) reestablish
with the Carmow clan that had befriended Gwen during her previous visit
to the Expanse, and (2) gather intelligence on any pirate activity in
The door to the aft bulkhead hissed open and Gwen entered the
bridge. "Are we there, yet?" she sighed.
"If you mean are we in orbit," Olena muttered, "yes, we are."
"I've checked and rechecked my medical supplies," Gwen stated.
"Can we please beam down to
"Not until Midshipman Goodnight completes her scans of the system,"
"Scan's complete, Lieutenant," Angie said.
"We'll wait 'til all the
planets, planetoids, and moons have completed at least one rotation,
each," Olena growled. "I want a passive scan of the entire
surface of every object big enough to harbor a pirate base."
Gwen sighed, again. "Perhaps you'd like to land on every moon and
look under all the rocks."
"And perhaps you'd like me to order Midshipman D'varas to strap you
into your hammock so we can get some work done," Olena countered.
Gwen and Lyra exchanged a grin.
"Lieutenant," Angie said to Olena, "I had ARTEMIS beam us their data
stream as they left the system. We already have full
coverage." She tapped a series of touch-pads. "In fact, we
have one-hundred eighty-nine percent coverage. Unless the pirates
have Klingon or Romulan cloaking technology, or have all their systems,
including life-support, powered
down, or are buried under at
least a kilometer of rock, we're alone."
"Good initiative," Olena said, then stood and motioned to Ezri.
"You have the con." She stepped aside as Ezri moved from the
engineering station to the command chair. "Get ready for
transport," she announced.
"Yes, O fearless leader," Gwen muttered, and opened the aft door.
"I've been ready for two hours."
Angie chuckled as she rose from the copilot's chair. "I'll
relieve you in eighteen hours," she said to Lyra as the grinning Orion
took her place.
"Lucky quastraad," Lyra
mumbled, referring to the Orion equivalent of a sewer rat.
Angie shrugged. She knew her friend was kidding. "Don't
worry, there will still be plenty of jungle for you to play in."
Olena leaned close and placed a hand on Ezri's right shoulder.
"Stay alert, and keep the automatic evasion routines
online. Some of the larger pirate ships have
fighters, and they can zip up on you faster than you can blink."
Ezri looked back over her shoulder and favored Olena with a dimpled
smile. "Are you familiar with the quaint Earth expression
regarding the inadvisability of teaching one's
grandmother to suck eggs?"
Olena laughed. "Sorry. Sometimes your sweet, girlish face
makes me forget that Dax was serving in Starfleet when my grandmother was in diapers."
"No problem," Ezri chuckled. "Neither of us are offended."
She was referring to her symbiont, of course.
Olena and Angie left the bridge and the door hissed closed.
Lyra grinned at Ezri. "What you want for lunch?" she asked.
Ezri's smile broadened. "Ever try gagh?"
Lyra's smile disappeared and she shuddered. "Live Klingon serpent worms?
Are you kidding?"
Still smiling, Ezri shrugged. "It's an acquired taste. My
last husband was Klingon." She focused on the piloting
console. Symbols and numbers were appearing on a side-screen,
evidence that Olena was already setting up the coordinates for the
transport to the surface. "The replicator won't produce live,
wiggling gagh, of course, but
the texture and taste are more-or-less authentic."
"You were married to a Klingon?"
Lyra demanded, an expression of awe on
her green face.
Ezri chuckled. "Something for us to talk about," she
purred. "Set up an automated passive scan of the outer system,
would you please?"
"Yes, Lieutenant," Lyra responded, and began tapping her station's
touch-pads. A Klingon!
she marveled. She's so... tiny!
Carmow culture was semi-nomadic, but every clan had a permanently
occupied "clan-town", with satellite farms and/or fishing hamlets, and
all were walled fortresses. Inter-clan strife
was an exceedingly
rare event and generally took the form of something closer to
ritualized sport than bloody warfare, but defenses were maintained,
At any one time, at least half the population would be away
on hunting and trading expeditions, but at the moment this particular
town held approximately three thousand Carmow of all
ages. It was situated on a hill near a bend in a wide,
river, and was
surrounded by a stone wall and an abatis, a dense thicket of
outward-facing, sharpened stakes. The jungle loomed on all
sides, excepting the riverfront, but was cleared back from the base of
the wall a hundred meters or
Olena, Gwen, and Angie materialized just inside the jungle on one of
the main trails leading into the town. Preliminary scans had
Carmow were nearby. From their contact with the previous science
natives were at least somewhat familiar
with Starfleet technology, but there was no need
to startle anyone.
Olena and Angie were dressed in camouflaged Security uniforms: boots,
trousers, and tank-tops. In addition, they wore equipment
harnesses with survival supplies and rations, as well as tricorders,
combat knives, hand-phasers, and phaser-rifles. The
tricorders and weapons were stowed, sheathed, holstered, and slung,
Gwen was barefoot and wearing a pair of black knee-pants and a
tank-top in the teal-blue of a Starfleet Science/Medical
specialist. Like the others, she was wearing a harness with the
supplies; however, her only weapons were a sheathed knife and
holstered hand-phaser, and her tricorder was the specialized medical
version. She was also burdened by a heavy pack loaded with the
medical supplies she would need to assist the local Carmow healers
during the visit. Finally, she was wearing a necklace of
polished red stones and a single, snail-like shell. It had been
presented to her during her previous visit, and marked her among the
Carmow as a "sacred
"Let's go," Olena said, and they emerged from the jungle and made their
way to a grassy clearing at the side of the main trail. They were
in clear view of the
watchtowers of the city, and in only a few seconds the raucous clamor
of an alarm gong began to
"And now we wait," Angie stated.
"And now we wait," Gwen confirmed, then smiled
at Olena. "Ready to grovel?" she asked.
"Very funny," Olena huffed.
The gates of the town opened and a dozen Carmow warriors jogged towards
the away team. They were booted and fully armed, and were shaking
their m'rrtu over their heads
chanting in unison, something between a growling roar and a mocking
hoot. As they drew near the waiting Humans they went
dead-silent and their mouths opened in wide, toothy grins. They
formed an arc between the newcomers and the town and pointed the sharp
ends of their m'rrtus towards
As they'd been briefed, the Starfleet visitors kept their expressions
carefully neutral and stood perfectly still.
One of the Carmow
stepped forward and shook her m'rrtu
over her head. She had dappled,
reddish brown fur and striking gold eyes. "I am Purrgatah,
Warrior and Pathfinder of Bendwater," she growled. "I have fought
wars and fed my clan. I protect Bendwater; clan, sisters, and
Olena drew her knife and dropped into fighting stance. "I am
Olena, Warrior of ARTEMIS," she stated. "I have fought wars and
fed my clan. I protect ARTEMIS; clan, sisters, and kittens.
I protect this healer—" She indicated Gwen with her free
hand. "—and would speak to Bendwater with the voice of a
Purrgatah continued her scowling, tooth-baring grin for several long
seconds—then let her features relax. She tossed her m'rrtu to one
of her companions, sat in the grass, and removed her boots.
Angie noted the steel claws attached to the boots' toes, and the string
of pebble-sized beads around the ankles. From her briefing she
knew the beads were trophies, evidence that Purrgatah had "fought wars"
as she claimed. She also knew the title "Pathfinder" meant the
barefoot feloid was one of her clan's senior leaders.
Meanwhile, Olena had settled to the grass and was removing her boots
and socks. This variant of Starfleet uniform pants, camouflage
aside, was unusual in that it was more a pair of thick tights with
knee-pads and cargo pockets than conventional trousers. The
hugged Olena's legs like a second skin, much the way her camouflaged
tank-top hugged the curves of her torso.
"You wait," Gwen whispered to Angie.
"I remember," Angie whispered back, mildly annoyed. She might be
inexperienced, but she could
remember her part in a simple greeting ceremony. She hadn't slept
through the briefing.
"Your kitten-warrior may bare her feet now, if she wishes," Purrgatah
chuckled, and her companions laughed. She nodded over her
shoulder and continued, "My kitten
"Pathfinder!" one of Carmow whined, and her furry friends howled with
The complaining feloid was the shortest of the group, and she was rather kittenish in
appearance. Her short, fine, un-patterned fur was a tawny,
slightly pinkish shade of tan, and the longer
mop of hair atop her pouting head was blond, as was the tuft at the tip
of her twitching
The "kitten" and Angie exchanged a commiserating (tight-lipped)
smile. Good-natured harassment of junior warriors appeared to be
a common trait of both their
Olena smiled and nodded, then turned to Angie. "Do it," she
"Yes, ma'am," Angie sighed, sat, and removed her boots and socks.
"Bendwater welcomes you," Purrgatah said, and grasped Olena's right
elbow in the Carmow's traditional forearm-to-forearm greeting.
embraced Gwen. "Healer Grrren," she said, "it is good to see you
"And you, Purrgatah," Gwen responded.
The other Carmow came forward and greeted the Humans.
"Come," Purrgatah said, "the clan-council awaits."
Olena handed her boots to Angie, then followed the Pathfinder.
"I told you you'd be carrying her boots," Gwen chuckled, and followed.
Angie smiled and heaved a theatrical sigh (as was expected), then
followed her superior officers. The short, tawny Carmow fell in
"I am Zeeka," she introduced herself.
"Angeronia Goodnight," Angie answered, then shrugged, indicating her
armload of boots.
"Here," Zeeka giggled, relieved Angie of a pair of boots, then extended
her right arm.
Angie shifted the remaining pair under her left arm, and shook arms
with her new friend.
"Angurrronia-goonigh," Zeeka repeated. "A very long name."
Angie smiled. "Please, call me Angie."
"Ahngie." Zeeka nodded. "I will do so."
The journey to the town gates continued.
female was staring at a three-dimensional chart of surrounding space
projected in the holo-tank before her targeting station. She
zoomed the display and adjusted the focus. "The Starfleet
warship is leaving the system, Prime Suzerain," she announced.
"The shuttle remains in orbit over the cat-planet."
strikingly beautiful Orion woman lounged in the command chair.
"Very well," she
She was Marta Cyrelle, STAR-MANTA's captain and the
leader of a pirate band loosely affiliated with the
Orion Syndicate. Her followers and rivals referred to her as the
"Ruby Queen" thanks to her very public fondness for the mineral
carborundum. Polished rubies dangled on delicate chains or
gleamed from the silver mountings of the earrings, bracelets, the chain
belt adorning her firm, athletic body. The red jewel also
flashed from the green leather holster of the disruptor pistol on her
left hip, and from the pin clipped through her pierced navel.
She was wearing a skimpy, mottled, silk bikini in shades of green
somewhat darker than her verdurous
skin. Tight, green
leather thigh-boots hugged her feet and legs.
Her revealing, some would say provocative
was far from unusual for an Orion, and her entire band
was similarly clothed and
armed, albeit in a variety of colors and with minor variations in
Her ship, STAR-MANTA, had begun life as a Tellerite freighter, but had
extensively modified after her capture. She was very fast for her
the thrusters and warp nacelles of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey that now
her original engines. Her phasers, plasma-cannons, and
defensive shields had also been upgraded, of course, and her forward
cargo modules had been replaced by docking clamps that held four
"Thruster-shark" fighters close against the hull. The two-person
craft didn't have warp drives, but were heavily armed. More
importantly, they were
fast and agile enough
to stand a good chance of evading even military-grade targeting
systems. In addition, STAR-MANTA's remaining cargo modules had
been reconfigured to
transport slaves and other booty.
Two smaller ships were keeping station with STAR-MANTA:
LADY-WASP, a former Gorn corvette, and YES-PLEASE, a former Benzite
Both were crewed by Marta's Orion pirates, of course, their original
captains having been persuaded to transfer ownership at the business
ends of disruptor-pistols. Like Marta's flagship, they had also
modified with looted upgrades,
and each carried a pair of Thruster-sharks.
"How soon 'til RUSTY NEEDLE joins us?" Marta inquired.
"Seventeen hours," one of the bridge crew answered. "They claim
fixed the radiation leak."
Marta nodded. RUSTY NEEDLE was a small freighter of Lurian
construction, and was the fourth element of the Ruby Queen's ragtag
fleet. She added two more Thruster-sharks to Marta's fighter wing.
"Those relay buoys we purchased from that Ferengi were worth every
credit," Marta purred. The buoys in question were designed to
monitor the starship traffic around planets the Ferengi
considered to be their exclusive trading partners, to keep watch for
"smugglers" (competitors), and they were extremely stealthy. They
could power-down in less than a nanosecond at the slightest hint of a
beam, and were virtually undetectable, even to the latest Starfleet
technology. At the moment, they were allowing the pirates to
remain out of ARTEMIS' detection range while providing Marta a tactical
plot of Scatara and the neighboring systems.
"What do you think the Feddies are up to?" one of her crew asked.
"Reading the Universal Declaration
of Sentient Rights and
handing out free quastraad snacks
"We'll wait 'til their starship is farther away and they've had a
to settle in with the cats," Marta answered, "then go down and ask."
The entire bridge crew chuckled.
Marta crossed her booted legs and propped them atop the command chair's
in question was Chel ch'Eclet, renegade Andorian pirate-slaver and
Marta's arch rival in the Gian Expanse—or rather, Marta's former arch rival.
Two days earlier, the "blue-skin" had been negotiating with the natives
a nearby system, Zeptar-III, for the purchase of a shipload of
war-captives. The Zeptarians were lizard-women, but were unlike
the Gorn. Their
features were only slightly
reptilian and their bodies lithe and very graceful. Their scales
were tiny and smooth, and caused their smooth skins to glisten like oil
on water. Most races found Zeptar maidens to be quite attractive;
but they were all formidable
The major Zeptarian polities
were in a nearly constant state of war, and the incessant raids and
counter-raids made for a reliable supply of prisoners of war, all of
whom were exotic
merchandise to Chel's buyers outside the Expanse. Her plan had
been to make a deal with the queen of one of the stronger cities.
Unfortunately for Chel, the Ruby Queen had already negotiated a deal with
that same queen. The Andorian was taken
prisoner by the lizard-women, and before her crew could rescue their
captain, STAR-MANTA and LADY-WASP warped into the system.
Facing a superior force, the Andorians had little choice but to abandon
Chel to her fate and flee.
At the moment, Chel was naked, bound, and gagged. Her blue flesh
glistened with sweat in the humid heat
of the Orion ship as she squirmed and tested the red-dyed, ice-spider
rope and cord binding her body.
Marta Cyrelle was not an aficionado of Kahl'vin. Meditation held no
interest for her. However, she was
a ranked Mistress of Dach'vin,
scholars compared to Kinbaku-bi, the celebration of "the
beauty of tight binding" practiced by the Japanese of pre-warp
Earth. The aesthetic goal was similar, to restrain a
subject (prisoner, slave, sex-partner) in a manner that was elegant,
visually pleasing, and inescapable.
Also, like Kinbaku-bi and
its variants, Dach'vin techniques
for the way Marta had
bound her footstool.
sitting on her rump and bent forward at the waist, with her legs
a half-lotus. Her ankles were bound to her thighs, and her
arms were folded behind her back and bound in a tight, complex
box-tie. Her additional rope bonds consisted of three separate
diamond-hitch harnesses. The first encircled the Andorian's
torso, the second bound her folded legs, and the third encompassed her
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the
captive pirate's bondage was the uniform, flesh-dimpling tightness of
of her bonds. Every aspect of the prisoner's final condition had
been crystal clear in Marta's mind as she applied the ropes, and while
the initial bonds might have seemed overly tight here or loose and even
sloppy there, they'd coalesced into a
uniform, crushing web when Chel was forced into in her final pose and
various elements were hitched and cinched together.
All of this had been accomplished with red rope.
Thin red cord was next, and
it was used to bind Chel's fingers, thumbs, and toes,
and to lash a robotic vibrator against her crotch. This
model was sculpted of ruby-red, translucent plastic to resemble the
Orion pest known as the "blood-mouse". The rodent-like vermin
in question would creep up on sleeping herd beasts, sink their fangs
the unfortunate animals' legs, and suck their blood. This red,
artificial mouse was not a
bloodsucker. It had other functions.
Finally, a wad of red silk had been stuffed into Chel's mouth and
windings of thin,
translucent red tape applied to cleave her mouth and keep it in
place. Then, tight bands of wider, matching tape were used to
mummify her lower face.
"Prime Suzerain?" one of the crew asked. "Why didn't you bind her
Marta smiled. The "wigglers" in question were Chel's
antennae. Even though her footstool's gagged head was facing
away, Marta could see the two slowly twisting, blue appendages poking
through Chel's mop of
white hair. "It makes blue-skins nauseous if you mess with their
feelers," Marta answered. "I don't
want anything to distract Captain c'Eclet from the bite of my ropes."
The questioner nodded, then quickly returned to her duties. Like
most of the crew, she had felt the
performed duty or simply because her captain wished to experiment.
A truly evil smile curled Marta's lips. "And speaking of
distractions..." She tapped a button on the arm of the command
chair and a small touchscreen rose from a slot and folded itself back
to a convenient angle. Marta's green fingers tapped the screen
as she navigated her way through a menu. Smiling down at her
boots and the blue, rope-bound prisoner underneath, she tapped the
Chel flinched and moaned
through her gag as the mouse against her crotch began to vibrate.
The plastic robot also
extended its tongue and wiggled its head between the glistening blue
folds of her labia and into her pussy. Delicate tendrils of
multicolored energy emanated from the mouse's body, bathing Chel's
crotch and thighs in waves of
teasing, rippling fire. The tongue twisted and probed, sending
more waves of the insidious radiance crawling across the interior of
the bound captive's vagina.
Marta watched as Chel continued to writhe and struggle. The
strained against the red ropes and cords. The Ruby Queen knew the
dancing energy wasn't painful or damaging,
but the sensation was at once skin crawling torment and indescribable ecstasy.
Chel would cum, repeatedly, to the point of exhaustion—until she
slumped forward in
her bonds in
the welcome, blessed oblivion of unconsciousness.
Marta's smile broadened, sending shivers up the spines of her watching
crew (as well as through their moist pussies). Marta Cyrelle's
pheromones permeated the atmosphere of her ship. Her subordinates
both dreaded and prayed for the summons that would send them to the
quarters, to feel the tight embrace of the Ruby Queen's ropes, and to
tongues to give their captain a night of pleasure.
Marta shifted her gaze to the tactical display. The icon
representing ARTEMIS had disappeared from the far edge of the screen
several minutes earlier, but the icon of the Federation shuttle
remained in geosynchronous orbit over Scatara-IV.
The Ruby Queen began planning her attack—as well as the next Dach'vin ordeal she would visit
upon her favorite Andorian—after Chel had a few hours to recuperate in
one of the coffin-sized cells in the slave-pens.