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 Chapter 6

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Lyra followed the pirates, keeping well back from the criminals' vigilant rearguard but remaining close enough that she didn't lose their trail.  The lush jungle both aided and impeded her efforts.  There was an abundance of cover, but she had to be careful she didn't nudge a vine or bush as she passed and start it swaying and shaking.  She had to be doubly aware of her surroundings.

A grim smile curled her lips.  Olena taught me this, she mused.  Tactical instruction at the Academy made me a competent soldier, but it was what Olena put us through in the last week that's made me at least a little at home in this particular jungle.

They'd trekked about five kilometers from the site of her shipmates' capture, and Lyra estimated local sunset was still about two hours away.  She didn't bother checking her tricorder to confirm her conjectures.  It didn't really matter.  However far the pirates' chosen campsite might be or however dark it got before they arrived, Lyra was not going to let her captured shipmates down—or the young Carmow warrior Zeeka, for that matter.  She hadn't seen the prisoners since the beginning of the hike, but she knew (hoped) they were still somewhere ahead among the pirates and were still unharmed.  If they'd been transported to the pirates' ship after they were out of sight, all her careful field-craft was for nothing.

Lyra continued forward—then froze.  The pirates had spread out and gone to ground, and one of the few she could still see had produced a hand-scanner.  Uh oh!  If she'd been fully equipped, Lyra would have had a tiny field jammer on her harness, but this was supposed to be a meet-and-greet with the pre-warp locals, not ground combat.  And I thought Olena was being paranoid for making us lug along phaser-rifles.

Lyra mentally reviewed the last kilometer of jungle trail.  If or when she was detected, she'd turn and sprint a hundred meters, break right when she passed a mature tree, sprint to another forest giant, then break left.  With a little luck, her scanner signature would be momentarily masked by the trees, the pirates would pause to reacquire, and then lose her again with her next dodge.  Eventually, she might gain enough ground to pass beyond their scanner range.  She prepared to flee—then frowned.

The pirate had taken her reading... then holstered the scanner.  And the rearguard was resuming their march.

What the hell?  Is their equipment defective?  Then, Lyra's smile returned.  No, they've set their scanners to filter out Orion life-signs.  This is good.  It makes me 'invisible'.

The pirates faded from sight and Lyra crept forward.  After only about a hundred more meters, she realized the criminals had reached their destination.  Lyra was at the edge of another clearing, and it was quite a large clearing.  She found a hiding place well off the trail, with good cover and concealment, and settled in to watch.

A shuttle was parked to Lyra's right, about three hundred meters away.  It may have been a Gorn design, but she wasn't sure.  As she watched, a second shuttle landed.  This one was a little larger, and was definitely Andorian.  As she watched, the new arrival's cargo hatch opened and a pirate emerged, shepherding a load of crated and bundled supplies on an anti-grav sled.

With the arrival of the pirate patrol, there were now more than fifty booted, bikini-clad, and well-armed Orions milling around in the open space.  Some were keeping watch on the jungle and some were erecting a large, gaudy pavilion of plasticized fabric dyed ruby-red.  Others were preparing fire pits and rigging rain-tarps.  The prisoners—Olena, Gwen, Angie, and Zeeka—were led to the center of the clearing.  As Lyra watched, a pirate pointed towards the nearly completed pavilion and the naked pirates carrying Olena started in that direction.  The remaining captives were forced down onto the grass and their ankles were crossed and bound.  Lyra noted that Zeeka seemed to have calmed herself during the march from the Starfleet campsite.  Her tail continued to twitch, but she'd ceased her futile, energy-wasting struggles.

Suddenly, the air shimmered near the captives and a tall, exceptionally beautiful Orion in green boots and bikini appeared.  Jewels set in the newcomer's equipment flashed red as she turned and began issuing orders.  By her side was a silver, vaguely ovoid object about a meter and a half in length.

That's probably the 'Prime Suzerain' I heard talking while I was hiding in the river, Lyra speculated.
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 Chapter 6
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"RUSTY NEEDLE is departing," Marta announced to her gathered crew.  "The radiation leak is holding, but they need to replace their main power converter without delay."  She pointed at Zeeka.  "That one will be paying for it.  Get her ready to travel."

Gwen and Angie watched in horror as pirates opened several latches on the silver "egg" and it split open into two halves.  Others lifted Zeeka and carried her to what they now realized was a packing case.

The Carmow youngster struggled and mewled through her gag as her bound body was tucked into a fetal position inside the egg and numerous straps tightened around her squirming, furry body.

"Be sure and strap down the kitten's tail," the Ruby Queen purred.  "Damage will diminish her value."

"Yes, Prime Suzerain," one of the pirates answered.

Marta smiled down at Angie and Gwen.  "Don't worry," she told the wide-eyed Humans.  "There's a breathing mask and waste-handling catheters.  Once the egg is sealed and the padding inflates, she'll be as snug and safe as she was in her mother's womb.  And once the vibrators and euphoric gas kick in, your little she-cat friend will probably enjoy her journey."  She turned to two of the watching, gloating pirates.  "Bring them over so they can say their goodbyes," she ordered.

Angie and Gwen were dragged next to the packing case and lifted up onto their knees.  Pirate hands gripping their tousled hair forced them to watch as the last of the straps binding Zeeka inside the egg were tightened.

Her blue eyes wide with terror, the tawny Carmow youngster continued to struggle, but her redundant rope and webbing-strap bonds were so numerous and tight she could barely squirm.  A clear plastic mask with an attached tube covered her nose and gagged mouth, and a plastic cup with more tubes was strapped against her crotch.

"That won't do," Marta purred, smiling down at Zeeka's helpless form.  "Bind her toes and engage the foot-teasers."

A pirate knelt and used a length of thin, ruby-red cord to bind Zeeka's big toes together.  She then stretched the cord's free end to a small pad-eye in the side of the egg, pulled out the slack, and tied a knot.  The Carmow's feet were now completely immobilized.  Finally, the pirate adjusted the position of a pair of flat, oval-shaped pads until their metal surfaces were about a centimeter from Zeeka's pink soles, then locked them in place.

"Those pads use the same technology as our slave-wands," she explained, for the Human's benefit.  She focused on Gwen.  Your young friend—"  She nodded at Angie.  "—already knows what that means, and you'll be learning for yourself, soon enough."  She turned back to Zeeka.  "Close it," she ordered.

Smiling with sadistic glee, a pirate slowly closed the packing case's top half.

Zeeka squirmed and whined through her gag, her desperate, pleading eyes darting from Gwen to Angie.  Finally, just before the two halves of the case met, she forced a mewling scream through her gag.  "Nrrrr!"—Thunk.

The watching pirates laughed.  The Humans turned their heads, as best they could, and glared at the Ruby Queen.

Marta watched as the egg's latches were secured and a pirate opened a small panel and began tapping the keys of a control pad.  "Put her in a semi-conscious state, immediately," she ordered, "then program a cycle of entertainment and mild punishment, with the punishment accompanied by boosts in the euphoric gas.  We may not have time to train her completely, but we can begin the process."

"M'mmpfh!" Angie growled.

Marta chuckled, then walked over and relieved the pirate holding the Middie's hair.  She tightened her grip until Angie winced.  "Your elder shipmate has better control," she purred.  "Her pretty, dark eyes, however, make it clear she shares your disapproval."

Gwen was glaring, but she'd managed to stifle the urge to complain—just barely.

"Pain and pleasure, fear and arousal, all are tools of my trade, Starfleet," Marta continued.


Marta had widened her stance and thrust Angie's gagged mouth and her entire lower face against her silk-clad crotch.  Angie's nose against the pirate queen's sex, their eyes locked.  "Pleasure her," she ordered.

A pirate produced a slave-wand, pressed its paddle against Angie's crotch, and thumbed it on.  Another pirate straddled Angie's mewling, struggling body from behind and held her shoulders, keeping her in place.

"M'mpfh!  Nrr!  Nrr-nrr-nrr..."

Marta's crew stared with slack-faced awe, as well as envy.  The Ruby Queen's musk-perfume filled the air.  Their breathing quickened as they watched Angie's squirming distress and their leader's smiling, gloating face and beautiful body.


"Yes, it feels good, doesn't it, pink-skin?" Marta chuckled.  "Cum for me, Starfleet.  Cum like a pink, naked little quastraad in heat.  Cum for me, again!"
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 Chapter 6
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It was now well after sunset and Lyra was watching the pirate encampment in a near trance-like state of concentration, as she'd been trained.  She'd already learned quite a bit.  The pirates' guard shifts lasted two hours, and the criminals were relying on their hand-scanners to keep the Carmow at bay.  They watched the jungle from prepared positions scattered around the perimeter, foxholes and barricades that were well beyond the range of the natives' m'rrtus.  When relieved, they strolled back to one of the many campfires to sample the meat roasting on various spits and to quench their thirsts from the freely circulating bottles and flasks.  Their captain's red pavilion was lit from within, but no special guard had been mounted on the entrance and there was no regular traffic in and out of the glowing tent.  Unless she's using the transporter, Lyra thought.

Angie and Gwen were still naked, hogtied, and gagged in the center of the clearing.  They'd been given food and water an hour earlier, but had otherwise been left to languish.  Stakes had been hammered into the grassy soil and her shipmates were tethered between them by their necks.  They lay on their stomachs side-by-side, far enough apart that they couldn't help each other try and untie their bonds—an impossibility, given the skintight leather mittens still laced over their fists, but the pirates weren't taking even such a vanishingly small chance.

Hours before, almost immediately upon their arrival at the clearing, the Carmow Zeeka had been strapped into an ovoid case and transported away.  There had been no sign of Olena after she was carried into the red tent.  The two naked pirates who had done the carrying, however, were very much in evidence.  They were being passed from campfire to campfire and were the subject of a great deal of erotic attention in the form of spankings, whippings, and generalized orgies in which they were the bound and often gagged "guests of honor".

Lyra continued her reconnaissance.  I'll wait 'til they start going to sleep, she decided, and then—"M'mmrfh!"

A hand—a hand attached to a furry arm—was clamped over Lyra's mouth and cords were tightening around her ankles and wrists.  "Nrrfh!"  Her protests were ignored as a wad of cloth and a cleave-gag replaced the hand and more cord tightened around her upper body, pinning her arms to her sides.  There were at least three furry figures binding her, but she could see little in the darkness and confusion.

Legs together and wrists crossed behind her back, Lyra was hoisted onto a muscular, furry shoulder and a cloth bag was pulled over her head and cinched around her neck.

And then her captors began to run.

Obviously, Lyra had been captured by the Carmow.  She decided to cooperate—although, at the moment, cooperation only meant not wiggling and squirming.

The uncomfortable, jostling journey continued for several minutes.  The bag was stifling but not suffocating.

Finally, she was eased off her captor's shoulder, deposited on the ground, and the bag was loosened and jerked from her head.

Lyra blinked in the light of a small, well-shielded fire.  She was in a small jungle clearing, between the trunks of two fallen trees, and was surrounded by a dozen or more Carmow warriors.  All were booted, armed, and staring at her with what she very much hoped were neutral expressions.  At least they aren't showing their teeth.

A reddish brown, mottled Carmow and another with gray stripes were the closest.

"I still say she may be a pirate," the gray-striped cat-woman muttered.

"And she trailed her companions and has kept a warrior's watch on their camp all of this time just to fool us?" the mottled warrior inquired.

The gray-striped feloid gave a very Orion (and Human) shrug.  "It is unlikely even a pirate is that devious, or foolish.  Still... she is green."

"Yes, she is green," the mottled Carmow agreed.  "And the other star-friends are pink, and none of them are Carmow."  She knelt and untied Lyra's gag, then stood.  "Explain yourself," she growled.

Lyra spit the cloth from her mouth.  "Explain what?"

"Why did you not seek out the Carmow when the pirates attacked?"

"Because I was afraid something like this would happen," Lyra answered, tugging on her bonds for emphasis.

"You were 'afraid'," the gray-striped warrior sneered.  "The Carmow do not make war on bootless kittens.  It is blue-skins and green-skins that do that!"

"I am a Starfleet officer.  Untie me and choose your best warrior," Lyra growled, consciously baring her teeth as she smiled up at the gray-striped Carmow.  "I'll show you who's a bootless kitten.  Fight me yourself if you have the courage."

Several of the watching Carmow laughed quietly and shook their m'rrtus.  Lyra hoped it was approval of her defiant words and not a show of support for an actual duel.

Gray-stripe's lips covered her teeth, but her smile remained.  "I like you, green-skin," she chuckled.  "You are brave like only a kitten can be brave."

"Yes," the red-mottled Carmow huffed, "a kitten who has not lived long enough to have learned not to challenge the champion war-dancer of five-clans."

The Carmow laughed, again, and Gray-stripe continued to smile.

"I am Purrgatah of Bendwater," the mottled Carmow said, as she knelt and began untying Lyra's bonds.

"I greet you, Pathfinder," Lyra said, sitting up and squirming in a half-turn to make Purrgatah's task easier.  "I am Lyra, warrior of ARTEMIS."

"You know me?" Purrgatah asked.

"Olena told me of you," Lyra answered.  She noticed her phaser-rifle, hand-phaser, and tricorder were by the fire, well out of reach.

"She spoke to you with star-magic," Purrgatah nodded.  "We shall attack the pirates at dawn.  We have gathered the war-bands of four clans, and the strength of seven will have arrived before dawn."

Lyra shook her head.  "They'll slaughter you."

"Yes," Purrgatah nodded, "but we will overwhelm them in the end."

"They'll beam up to their ship as soon as you attack," Lyra responded, "and they'll take their captives with them."

"A warrior does not fear death," Gray-stripe growled.

"A warrior doesn't throw her life away to no purpose," Lyra countered.  "I have a plan."

"The kitten would lead the Pathfinder and Champion in battle," one of the watching Carmow said, and the others chuckled.

Lyra smiled.  "Please, hear me out."

"Speak," Purrgatah said with a tolerant smile.

"The, uh, 'star-magic' of the pirates will warn them of your attack," Lyra said.  "When you gather in numbers close to the edge of the clearing, and especially once you step out in the open, they will know."

"The Green Mother shields us, but only like a wall of sticks," Purrgatah nodded.  "Olena explained this."

 "But it won't warn them of me," Lyra continued.  "I can sneak into their camp undetected."

"Because you are a green-skin," Gray-stripe suggested.

Lyra nodded.  "Because I am a green-skin."  She freed the pair of discarded pirate bikinis still tucked in her harness.  "Dressed as one of them, I'll untie the others and we can sneak away before they realize what's happening.  If they chase us into the jungle—"

"It will be their end," Gray-stripe nodded.  The others shook their m'rrtus in agreement.

Stroll into the pirates' camp and free the others, Lyra thought, all by myself.  One of Kipper's New Avalon expressions came to mind.  Piece of cake!
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 Chapter 6
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Marta poured herself a goblet of Romulan ale, took a delicate sip, then reclined against the massive pile of cushions arranged in artful disarray against a sidewall of her pavilion.  The house-sized, red tent was supported by stout poles that were cross-braced at the top to form a rigid framework.  From the outside it glowed a soft, uniform red, but from the inside, an elaborate mural in the ancient Orion style covered its sloping walls and ceiling.  They depicted green captives in elaborate bondage, their bodies contorted in punishing poses and their limbs often intertwined and lashed together, to form an elaborate montage of frenzied, helpless flesh.  Some of the rendered slaves were in obvious pain from their contorted bondage.  Others were in ecstasy as their fellow captives delicately licked their erect nipples or exposed genitals.  Others giggled and laughed as their feet, ribs, or inner thighs were tickled by feathers held in their fellow slaves' teeth and lips.

It was an excellent copy of the tomb paintings decorating the inner crypt of Supreme Suzerain D'Lynkka the First, founder of the empire that grew to unify the Orion home world.  The holo-projected copy had cost Marta a fortune, but was worth every credit.

Marta sipped her ale, again, then turned her head and smiled at the first of the two living decorations of her pavilion.

Captain Chel ch'Eclat was bound between two vertical posts in a standing spread-eagle.  Only her wrists, hands, ankles, and feet were bound.  This was something of an understatement for a Mistress of Dach'vin; but, like all sophisticated disciplines, the principle of less-is-more held a recognized place in the Art of Slave-binding.   Chel's fingers, hands, and wrists were bound in tight, cinched, symmetrical webs of red rope, the free ends of which traveled up to rings in two of the posts.  The same was true of the naked Andorian's ankles, feet, and toes.  She was stretched taut, in total suspension, and had been for several hours.  This would have become agonizing painful by this time, of course, but Marta had added a technological element to her plight that mitigated the ordeal.

A null-gravity field generator rested on the carpeted floor between Chel's splayed legs.  Rising from the generator was a vertical steel rod which terminated in a glowing red phallus, and most of that phallus was buried in the blue-skinned beauty's vagina.  The generator was set to cycle between one-quarter and one-fifth M-standard-gee at closely spaced, random intervals.  This eliminated the majority of Chel's weight, making her suspension bearable, but it also engendered the sensation of her pussy sliding up and down on the slippery phallus, ever so slightly.  The blue prisoner hung in her bonds, unmoving but for the slow, weak waving of her antenna.

"This is an excellent ale, Captain ch'Eclat," Marta purred.  "The pantry of your shuttle was surprisingly well-stocked.  You enjoy your luxuries.  We're alike in that regard."  She sipped the goblet, again.  "Would you care for a taste?"

Chel wasn't gagged, but she didn't answer.

Marta touched a button on the remote controller on her belt.  Instantly, a pulse of multi-colored, sparkling energy coursed through the phallus and played across Chel's thighs and lower abdomen in flickering tendrils.

"Ah!"  Chel gasped and flinched in her bonds—then relaxed as the energy dissipated.  She lifted her head and stared at her tormentor with tired eyes.  "You haven't given me anything to eat or drink for a day and a half," she muttered.  "Of course I'd care for a taste."

With slow, deliberate grace, Marta climbed to her feet and sauntered towards Chel, her hips swaying in a natural, unconscious, seductive dance.  She took a handful of Chel's short, white hair, pulled her head back, and held the goblet to her lips.  "Say please," she ordered.

"Please," Chel said, her tone perfectly flat.

"Try again."

"Please, Mistress," Chel responded.

"That's better," Marta chuckled.  She slowly tipped the goblet, letting her captive drink its entire contents.

Marta held the goblet aloft.  Her other hand maintained its grip on Chel's hair.  "Magnificent, isn't it?"  The goblet was transparent aluminum and studded with rubies.  Ripples of green and gold played across its surface as she gave it a slow turn.

"A little ornate for my taste," Chel muttered.

Marta tossed the goblet aside.  It landed with a hollow thud and rolled away until it was stopped by a cushion.  "I like you, blue-skin," Marta purred, tightening her grip on Chel's hair until she winced.  "I thought I'd simply toy with you for a while, than either sell you as a drudge-slave on some primitive, pre-warp hellhole of a planet, or terminate you in some painfully spectacular manner.  Now, I think I might take the time to actually break you, first.  It will be a professional challenge."

"I'll try not to disappoint," Chel sighed.

"Keep that thought," Marta chuckled, then nodded towards the Pavilion's second living decoration.  "And speaking of strength..."
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 Chapter 6
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Marta released Chel's hair and strolled to the other side of the pavilion.

Olena lifted her head and glared at the Ruby Queen.  "Mrrf!" she growled through the ball-gag filling her mouth—and the gag's rubbery mass did, indeed, fill her mouth.  Immediately after being stuffed past Olena's cursing lips, it had expanded to fill her entire oral cavity.  The black mass was spongy and riddled with tiny channels, letting Olena breathe through her mouth.  However, it had the irritating property of vibrating and tickling her mouth and flattened tongue when she tried to make noise.  Her cheeks bulged above the gag's crushingly tight strap, but this was the least of Olena's problems.

Olena was strapped in a body harness of narrow leather straps.  They yoked her shoulders and were cinched above and below her breasts, around her waist, and through her crotch, passing to either side of her labia and pinching them together.  Her fingers and hands were still encased in the skintight, chamois mittens Marta's minions had laced over her fists immediately after her capture.  Her arms were folded behind her back with her wrists locked in joined, thick-walled manacles attached to the back of the harness, high on her back.  A second, clamp-like, device crushed her elbows together and was attached at mid-harness.  Together, they enforced a cruel "reverse-prayer".

The Human captive was bent forward at the waist with her left leg extended straight back and her weight carried by her right foot—but Marta had greatly complicated her situation.

The rope binding her left ankle traveled diagonally back and up to pass through a pulley mounted near the ceiling.  It then stretched to a second pulley directly over Olena's center of gravity, then down, to cleave her buttocks and labia.  If Olena allowed her left leg to drop, the rope tightened and bit her crotch.

A second red rope was tied to the top of her harness, traveled up to a pulley directly overhead, then down to join the crotch-cleaving rope about a meter above her waist.

Finally, self-tightening clamps were clipped to her nipples and joined by a thin red cord tied to the big toe of her right foot.  Marta had meticulously adjusted the cord's length so Olena could not quite straighten her leg and lock her knee without the clamps biting painfully tight.  She was forced to hold herself in position with only the strength of the muscles of her right leg.

So, if she let her left leg drop or bent down even further at the waist, the crotch rope would tighten and bite her pussy—if she straightened her right leg or her back, her nipples would be pinched—and if she totally collapsed, she would hang by her harness and left ankle, with her entire weight bearing on the crotch rope.

Olena's tan, smooth skin glistened with sweat, and a barely noticeable tremor shook her right calf.  She had found that going up on the toes of her right foot brought temporary relief, but now those muscles were failing, as well.  Eventually, inevitably, she would slump forward and hang from her inescapable bonds, and her pussy would pay the price.

"I can tell you're a strong one," Marta purred, lifting Olena's chin and gazing into her angry blue eyes.  "Yes, a fighter.  You certainly fought when I placed you in this exquisitely entertaining predicament."

Olena didn't bother trying to force her opinion of the Orion pirate's taste in "entertainment" past her gag, but she continued to glare.

"Yes, a strong one," Marta chuckled, "like your pale little youngling warrior."  She released Olena's chin, stepped to one side, and pulled a slave-wand from her right boot.  Her eyes locked with Olena, thumbed the wand to sparkling, glittering life, and delivered a slap to the back of Olena's left thigh.  Whack!  Multi-colored tendrils of energy played across Olena's skin for the brief instant the wand's paddle made contact.

Olena's eyes widened and a gasp escaped her gagged mouth.  She shivered in her bonds, then glared at Marta, again.

"That's only the first pain setting," Marta purred, and delivered another blow, this time to Olena's right thigh.  Whack!

Olena winced and momentarily slumped in her bonds.  The pulleys overhead squealed and the crotch rope tightened, but Olena managed to lift herself back into her narrow and increasingly precarious comfort zone.

"All strength has its limit," Marta said.  "I think you're almost ready for my ropes, pink-skin," she chuckled.  "I've been planning something special for you, warrior, a position I've only explored a few times.  It will require at least a quarter of my supply of silk rope.  The embrace of the ice-spider is so much more personal than cold steel or tight leather, don't you agree?"

Olena continued to glare.  Sweat was beading on her forehead and her thigh and calf muscles were trembling, again.  She forced herself to be ignore the growing pain.

 "Don't you agree, captain?" Marta called back over her shoulder.

"I make it a habit not to over-handle the merchandise," Chel answered in a tired voice.

"Really?" Marta said.  "What an unpleasantly Ferengi attitude.  Does your crew share your appetite for self-denial?"

"I said over-handle," Chel noted.

"So you did," Marta chuckled.  She walked back to her luxurious bed of scattered cushions, reclined, and stretched her green, scantily clad body full-length.  "Ahhh!  Well, I think I'll take a nap."  She favored her Andorian captive with a pleasant smile.  "You will be polite, won't you?  Or would you like a gag?"

"I'll be quiet as a sharcen," Chel sighed.

"A what?"

"An ambush-predator found in Andoria's tropical waters," Chel explained.

"Oh," Marta smiled.  "Andoria's tropical waters.  The thousand miles on either side of the equator that's ice free for three seasons of the year?"

"The same."

"I see," Marta purred.  "An ambush-predator.  I assume it's known for its extreme patience?"


"I'll keep that in mind," the Ruby Queen chuckled, and closed her eyes.

Across the tent, Olena marshaled her remaining strength and prepared herself for the inevitable, the excruciating pain that would come when her leg muscles finally failed.  Starfleet Intelligence has no idea the Orion pirates are here in such strength, she thought, or that they're operating as a coordinated force.  If we'd known, the captain would never have authorized this away mission, and I would have agreed with her.  The spooks at Starfleet HQ got it wrong.  What a surprise.

Olena blinked as a bead of sweat dripped down her forehead and found its way to her right eye.

The next time the captain tries to talk me into joining her meditation class, I think I'll take her up on it, Olena decided, assuming I ever see ARTEMIS again.

The tremble in her right calf was getting worse, so Olena straightened her leg and lifted her body, just a little, trading relief for her tired muscles for the sharp pain in her nipples as the clamps tightened.  Gwen, the Middies, and Ezri, she worried, what's happening to them?  Did my entire away team get captured?  She knew Gwen and Goodnight were prisoners, but had Lyra made it down to the planet?  Had the cutter been able to escape the pirate fleet?

If Lyra had made it to the surface, Olena hoped the Orion youngster had the good sense to hide among the Carmow, wait for ARTEMIS to return, and not attempt a solo rescue.

And what about ARTEMIS?  There's no reason to think they even know we need help.  They're light-years away, still in the early stages of the sensor-buoy deployment mission.   Is there any hope of rescue?
 Chapter 6

Chapter 5
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Chapter 7