From the log of USS ARTEMIS (NCC-69069)
|by Van ©2010|
Angie and Lyra were still somewhat dazed. They were elated that the ordeal of their captivity was over, of course; but still, they'd only been aboard ARTEMIS for a few days before they left on the away mission. The ship had just begun to feel like home. They'd readjust when they had time for a little R&R, but for now... they were dazed.
Olena and the Middies were poked and prodded by Gwen, then took turns getting clean in Sickbay's sonic shower. Fresh uniforms were replicated and donned, then they submitted to more prodding and fussing from the good doctor, and this time it included analgesic hyposprays, topical dermal regeneration, and muscle relaxation therapy from glowing and humming hand-emitters.
"You are going to see to your own needs at some point, I assume," Olena muttered as Gwen ran an emitter over her shoulders. The doctor was the only one in sickbay still naked. "At least take a shower. You smell."
"Hold still," Gwen growled, then lifted Olena's arms and ran the emitter over her shoulder muscles, again. "If you don't stop squirming, I'll strap you down."
Olena made eye contact with the two watching (and grinning) security personnel, and they stepped forward. "Perhaps you'd like to be the one under the straps."
"Mutiny, in my own sickbay," Gwen huffed, then turned off the emitter and took a step back. "You can call off your goons. Get out, all of you. You're released."
Just then, the sickbay door opened and B'Elanna entered. "What's the holdup?" she demanded. "The Captain is waiting on the bridge." She favored the naked doctor with a mildly irritated expression. "At your convenience, doctor."
Gwen's nurse, a Bajoran named Roanna, stepped forward. "I'll see that she gets up there right after I check her over."
"Very well," B'Elanna acknowledged. "And put her in a uniform, if you can manage it."
"Mutiny, I tell you," Gwen muttered, "in my own sickbay."
"Let's go Middies," Olena said, and all but the naked doctor and her "mutinous" nurse made their exit.
B'Elanna, Olena. and the Middies emerged from the turbolift and onto the bridge. Captain T'Pax was standing in front of the center seat, and on the main view-screen—
"No!" Angie gasped, then blushed bright crimson when the others turned and stared. "Sorry," she whispered.
On the view-screen, Captain Larga and Marta Cyrelle were depicted in high-resolution, holographic detail. From the background, they were somewhere on board NING'PARA. Larga was in IKDF uniform, and Marta was naked—from the waist up, anyway.
The captured pirate queen's arms were raised and her hands encased in twenty-centimeter diameter globes of stainless steel. Integrated cuffs were locked around her wrists and taut steel chains attached to the ends of the globes stretched up and off the screen.
"All is well?" T'Pax asked her XO.
B'Elanna nodded. "The doctor will be along, shortly."
T'Pax turned back to the screen. "Captain Larga—" She gestured at the newcomers. "Allow me to introduce my Security Officer, LT Basán, and Midshipmen D'varas and Goodnight."
Olena and the Middies snapped to attention.
"Warriors all, based on the words of your enemies," Larga chuckled. "K'Plah!"
Olena bowed her head. "We are honored, Captain." She stole a glance at B'Elanna, who smiled back.
"If I may, Captain," T'Pax said, "I'll explain your presence to my officers."
T'Pax turned to face Olena and the Middies. "I can now reveal that our mission is, and always has been, a joint operation of Starfleet and the IKDF. The participation of Captain Larga and NING'PARA was a closely guarded secret, known only to Admiral Janeway, Admiral Kurn on Kronos, myself, and the XO.
"We didn't want even the suspicion that a cloaked warship might be involved in this operation to leak to the Syndicate," B'Elanna explained.
"Exactly," T'Pol nodded. "The plan was for ARTEMIS to enter the Expanse and make a demonstration of a prolonged presence."
"Meanwhile," Larga said, "NING'PARA would patrol the Expanse/Federation border, cloaked and ready to pounce on any pirates ARTEMIS flushed from cover."
"Like all plans," T'Pax continued, "it only partially survived contact with reality." She focused on Olena. "If I'd had any idea the pirates were operating as a coordinated fleet, or that they had a network of tactical buoys deployed—"
"Please, Captain," Olena interrupted. "I already worked that out." She gestured at the Middies. "We already worked that out. You never would have left an away team on Scatara-IV if you'd known. I studied the Intelligence reports on the Expanse and the bordering sectors before we left Starbase Seventeen. It was my error, as well."
"There was no error, Lieutenant," Larga laughed, "only an opportunity for bravery."
Lyra glanced at Angie, and frowned. "What's wrong?" she whispered.
Angie was staring at the screen, at the Ruby Queen. Her cheeks were still flushed, and sweat was beading on her forehead and upper lip. "Nothing," she whispered back.
"In any case," T'Pax continued. "Marta Cyrelle, Captain Larga's prisoner, will be transported to Kronos to stand trial for crimes against the Klingon Empire. There is also the matter of her extradition to Orion-II—"
"Her possible extradition to Orion-II," Larga interrupted, smiling broadly.
"Just so," T'Pax conceded. "In any case, Klingon law requires a formal statement of identification of accused criminals." She nodded to Larga. "Captain?"
Larga made a gesture to someone off-screen, and the seals of the Klingon Empire and the Federation appeared on opposite corners of the screen, as well as a time stamp and the sentence "Formal statement under oath," in Klingon and Federation Standard. "Under penalty of perjury and dishonor, do you swear that this—" She indicated Marta with a contemptuous gesture. "—is the leader of the criminals who unlawfully captured you?"
"I so swear," Olena responded, then nodded to the Middies.
"I so swear," Lyra said.
"I... I... I so swear," Angie gasped.
"Your statements are recorded," Larga intoned, and the seals and text blinked from the screen
"Midshipman," T'Pax said, focusing on Angie. "Are you in distress?"
Angie's face was flushed and dripping with sweat. "I... I'm all right, Captain. I..." Her eyes rolled up in her head and she collapsed in a faint—but Lyra and Olena caught her before she hit the deck. "W-what happened?" she muttered, shaking her head.
"Sickbay!" B'Elanna barked, nodding at the turbolift.
"I'm all right, Captain," Angie responded.
"It is obvious that you are not," T'Pax said, and nodded to Olena.
"Goodbye, Starfleet," Marta chuckled, then grimaced as Larga grabbed a handful of her raven hair and pulled her head back.
"No!" Angie gasped. She was already in the turbolift, and Olena and Angie held her from lunging back onto the bridge as the doors swished closed.
"If you speak out of turn, again," Larga warned Marta, "I'll fetch a pain-stick and make you scream until you voice fails. Do you understand?"
Marta nodded, as best she could. Larga maintained her grip.
Larga focused on T'Pax. "I believe your brave little warrior is this one's musk-slave."
T'Pax frowned. "How is that possible?"
"It is possible," Larga chuckled. "I will have my ship's physician consult with yours. The Klingon Empire has been dealing with the Orions even longer than you Vulcans. Not to worry. It is a problem that can be dealt with."
T'Pax glanced at her XO and B'Elanna's shoulders bobbed in a minuscule shrug. T'Pax turned back to the screen. "Well, Captain, we both have duties, so—"
"Wait!" Marta cried, then gasped, "Ah!" when Larga tugged her hair. "Asylum!" the Orion continued. "I'm a citizen of the Federation! I demand Starfleet protection!"
"I'm afraid your situation is rather complicated, from a legal perspective," T'Pax purred. "I've already forwarded a preliminary report to the Judge Advocate General on Starbase Seventeen, and he's agreed to forward his report to the JAG at Starfleet Headquarters. That will be after I've found the time to make my final report, of course, and it's been approved and forwarded by Admiral Janeway. When we receive final reports from Captain Larga, Admiral Kurn, and the Klingon High Council's legal liaison with IKDF Fleet Command, extradition proceedings will probably begin."
"No!" Marta gasped. "I demand—Mrrrf!"
Larga had stuffed a handful of Marta's hair into her mouth and was holding it there with one hand. "I can tell this one is going to require my personal attention," the grinning Klingon growled.
"Please be my guest for dinner, Captain," T'Pax said.
"It will be my pleasure," Larga responded with a respectful bow. "NING'PARA, out!"
As soon as the image on the screen shifted to the surface of Scatara-IV, T'Pax turned to B'Elanna.
"Sickbay," they said, in unison, and headed for the turbolift.
Angie was reclined on a sickbay bed, still in uniform. Her eyes were closed and according to the readout of the medical monitor above her head she was asleep; however, her features were far from relaxed, and she was continuing to sweat. Nurse Roanna was at her side, keeping a concerned eye on the screens and her patient.
"It's something like a panic attack," Gwen explained to T'Pax, B'Elanna, Olena, and Lyra. They were crowded in her office and watching Angie through the transparent partition. "I gave her something to help her relax, and it's working, more or less. It seems to have been triggered by her encounter with Marta the pirate-bitch. She'll recover, but I can't guarantee it won't happen again every time she sees the Ruby Queen."
"Which could happen, if she's called to testify at her eventual trial," B'Elanna muttered.
"A panic attack?" T'Pax asked.
"Something like one," Gwen nodded. "Many of the same neural centers are involved, but so are the accumens nuclei, and there's significant physiological evidence of sexual arousal. It will pass, but for now, all I can do is see that she rests." She focused on Lyra. "This never happens among Orions?"
Her eyes on Angie, Lyra shook her head. "Female-on-female musk-enslavement is known, but except for the orgasm requirement, it's the same as male enslavement. There's nothing debilitating about it. This is... different." She turned to the doctor. "Perhaps it's a Human thing."
Gwen held up a PADD. "And, apparently, a Klingon thing. They have a 'cure' for what they call 'musk addiction', one they claim is a sure fire, permanent remedy, but..."
T'Pax raised an eyebrow, and Gwen sighed and handed her the PADD.
"What's the problem?" B'Elanna asked. "They aren't suggesting torturing her with pain-sticks 'til she sees visions of Kahless, or something, are they? I know Klingon medicine can seem a little, shall we say, harsh, especially their version of psychology, but—"
"Read," T'Pax ordered, and handed B'Elanna the PADD.
"What is it, Captain?" Lyra asked. "Excuse me, but she's been my friend from our first day at the Academy."
"How good of a friend?" B'Elanna asked, her eyes still on the PADD's screen.
"My best friend," Lyra bristled. "I'd do anything for her."
B'Elanna nodded, then held out the PADD. "Read."
Lyra took the PADD and began reading.
Olena watched as Lyra's expression turned from concern... to concentration... to wide-eyed astonishment. Olena glanced at Gwen, and the doctor shook her head and silently mouthed a single word, "Wait."
Lyra finished reading and handed the PADD to Olena. She focused on T'Pax and B'Elanna, her expression one of quiet determination. "Like I said, she's my best friend and I'll do anything for her."
Angie opened her eyes, and blinked in astonishment.
"Oh, c'mon!" she griped. "This is ridiculous!"
She was naked and tied up—AGAIN!
Angie's arms were folded behind her back and encased from armpit to armpit in a skintight sheath of some rubbery, slightly elastic material. Whatever it was, it was patterned and textured like reptile skin, with smooth, tiny scales. Mottled stripes in various shades of green covered what Angie could see of the sheath. Wide bands of the same stuff were strapped around her ankles and attached to separate ends of an elaborately carved, meter-long pole of darkly stained wood. Needless to say, this forced her legs into an immodest spread.
Angie kicked and squirmed, with no effect other than to elevate her heart-rate and confirm, once again, that Angie Goodnight was somebody's helpless prisoner.
She shook her tousled hair from her face, sat up, and examined her surroundings.
"Wow!" she gasped, blinking in surprise.
Incredibly, she'd been transported across the Federation to Orion-II. Specifically, she was in a pleasure-pavilion overlooking the famous Bridge to Paradise Falls on the tropical Isle of Suzerainty. It was a famous tourist destination, like the Grand Canyons on Sol-III and Sol-IV, the gypsum caverns on Tellar Prime, or Mount Seleya on Vulcan. The entire island was exquisitely beautiful, enhanced by three thousand years of landscaping and horticulture, with continuous, generous funding. It was the home of the Suzerain of Suzerains, Orion-II's planetary ruler. The position was now symbolic, and the current "SuSu" occupied a compound on one of the island's more isolated peaks. The remaining palaces, temples, governmental buildings, trails, and venues were open to the public... but there was no public anywhere to be seen.
The pavilion was open on all sides, with sheer, billowing drapes, all of which had been tied back with equally sheer ribbons that fluttered in the warm, humid breeze. The roof was comprised of stretched panels of translucent canvas arranged like the overlapping petals of a gigantic jungle flower. A hundred or more large cushions carpeted the pavilion's floor. Everything—drapes, roof panels, and cushions—were in vibrant shades of green.
Angie had an unobstructed view of the falls across the bay as they thundered a thousand meters into the turquoise sea. In the opposite direction, dagger-like peaks covered in green vegetation pointed to the sky.
Between the falls and the peaks, an open meadow was host to countless flowers, in all the colors of the rainbow. The local equivalent of bees and butterflies droned and fluttered about, sampling the nectar of the abundant blossoms.
Opposite the meadow was a large pool of still water, studded with green, floating pads with large, pearl-white flowers. The pool was surrounded and shaded by forest giants with buttressed roots and draped with flowering vines.
Breathtaking beautiful... but empty of sentient life. Angie couldn't remember having seen even a single holo-recording of any part of the Isle of Suzerainty that didn't include gawking tourists from somewhere in the Federation. But here, today... nobody. "Nobody but us helpless, naked Humans," Angie muttered under her breath. She struggled against her bonds, again... with the same result.
Suddenly, she noticed a disturbance in the pool. The water was rippling, and a series of bubbles were rising to the surface, marking the passage of something under the water... something crossing the pool and getting ever closer to Angie and the pavilion. The bubbles reached the nearest shore... then... a familiar figure rose from the water.
"Tree-frog!" Angie croaked.
Lyra was naked, and water streamed from her smooth, green skin as she slowly, gracefully climbed unseen steps to stand on the mossy lawn between the pool and the pavilion. She picked up a large, fluffy, green towel and began drying her body and hair.
On closer look, Angie noted her Orion friend wasn't quite naked. A thin, jewel-studded choker of yellow gold encircled her throat, and whisper-thin chains with more jewels were around her waist, wrists, and ankles. Finally, a ruby-studded post—Angie's heart hammered and she momentarily found it difficult to breathe—a ruby-studded post pierced Lyra's navel. Marta Cyrelle, the Ruby Queen, had a post like that—exactly like that.
Her hair damp and hanging in slight disarray, Lyra strolled into the pavilion. She tossed the towel aside, then stood over her helpless, Human friend, a dimpled smirk curling her lips. "Well?" she said, finally.
"Well, what?" Angie responded.
"Do you like it?" Lyra clarified, indicating their surroundings with a sweeping gesture.
"Very nice," Angie huffed. "I'm sure it took you all of five seconds to program the holodeck."
"Oh, you know we're on the holodeck."
Angie rolled her eyes. "Either that or I'm in a profound fugue state and this is all a hallucination." She tugged on her bonds. "Why am I tied up?"
Lyra sat on the cushions. "Funny story."
"I'm all ears," Angie muttered.
"Marta the bitch-pirate has managed to imprint her musk-of-power on your neural receptors."
"Repeated orgasms," Lyra explained. "All it takes for a male is simple exposure. For a female, it takes repeated orgasms and exposure."
Angie's only response was to blink and stare up at her friend's smiling face.
"It's what the doctor calls a semi-persistent neurochemical dependence," Lyra said. "It fades with time, but can reassert itself in the form of hot-flashes and wet-dreams, for years."
Lyra nodded. "Lucky for you, the Klingons know a cure. It's consistent with Orion legend, and Gwen says it makes sense, from a neurological perspective. Marta's musk is masking certain of your neuroreceptors, so we need something biochemically very similar to compete and dislodge enough of Marta's molecules to allow your brain chemistry to shift back to normal."
"So," Angie sighed, "Gwen—I mean Doctor Tabor—needs to synthesize some sort of antidote. That could be very tricky."
Lyra's smile broadened. "Lucky for you, Kipper, a natural antidote is available." She gestured to her crotch. "A whiff of my 'green spice' while you orgasm should do it. The Klingon medical journal entry recommends at least three treatments, meaning three orgasms."
"Tree Frog!" Angie complained, blushing and tugging on her bonds, again. "Y-you aren't suggesting I replace my, uh, fascination with M-Marta with you? Are you?"
Lyra laughed. "As attractive as I find the prospect of you following me around as my moon-eyed, slavishly devoted concubine for the rest of our lives, no. Like I said, competing musk molecules will free up enough neuro-receptors that your natural brain chemistry can take care of the rest. You won't become my slave, not with only three 'treatments'. This 'musk-addiction' thing doesn't occur among Orions, men or women. With us, time and distance weakens and, eventually, cleanly severs the bond. Only Klingon, and now, apparently, Human she-slaves seem to have a problem." Her smile became teasingly coy. "Tell me, Kipper, are there any Klingons hiding in the branches of the Goodnight family tree?"
Angie ignored the question. "Perhaps we should just wait a few days and see if I get better. Wouldn't that be best?"
This time, Lyra ignored the question. "The Captain has booked the holodeck for us for the entire night. I'll administer the first treatment, then we can enjoy a traditional Orion feast. After that, treatments two and three."
"No!" Angie whined, her forehead was beaded with sweat, and her heart was hammering, again.
"The journal warned about reluctance on the part of the patient," Lyra sighed. "Marta's molecules won't go quietly. Hence—" She reached out and teased Angie's right nipple. "—the need for bondage."
Lyra went up onto her knees and straddled the squirming captive, reversing position so her face was over Angie's crotch and her crotch over Angie's face. She then settled her weight, using her hands to grip the bar spreading Angie's legs and further keep her bound friend under control.
Pinned on her back, with Lyra's smooth, green body pressing against her own and her friend's green thighs clamping her head and trapping her nose and mouth close to her crotch, Angie struggled and moaned.
"You'll thank me for this," Lyra purred, "later." She then delivered a slow, deliberate lick to Angie's flushed, moist labia.
"Mrrrfh!" Angie's protests were muffled by Lyra's crotch.
"Oooh!" Lyra shivered. "Maybe you'll be thanking me now!" She lowered her head and went back to work administering Angie's first treatment.
MEANWHILE, IN SICKBAY...
Olena quietly crept into the doctor's office, a coy smile curling her lips.
Gwen, her eyes glued to the holographic display hovering above her desk, was totally unaware of the presence of her fellow department head (and lover).
The display depicted a naked Midshipman D'varas administering an enthusiastic tongue-lashing to Midshipman Goodnight's crotch. And Midshipman Goodnight, despite being bound and pinned under her fellow Middie's green body, was returning the favor with due diligence.
Silent as a stalking cat, Olena moved behind the chair— "Mrrrfh!" —and clamped her left hand over the Doctor's mouth. Leaning close, she used her right to gently massage Gwen's squirming crotch.
"Naughty Martian," Olena whispered in Gwen's ear. "Spying on the Middies. You should be ashamed." She lifted her hand from Gwen's mouth. "Keep your hands on the chair's armrests," she warned, "or I'll put you in binders."
"I knew I should have locked the door," Gwen whispered back. "It's the only way to keep out the riffraff."
"I take it the 'Klingon Treatment' is working?"
"I'll know for sure after I run more neurological scans," Gwen answered, "in the morning."
Her head resting on Gwen's shoulder, Olena's eyes were on the display, like Gwen. "Hmm... just to be safe, maybe we ought to undergo a few treatments," Olena suggested.
"I don't see the need," Gwen chuckled, "but I suppose we might consider ourselves a control group. I'm sure Midshipman D'varas has the stamina to service us both."
"I was thinking we should try this ourselves," Olena purred, "on the holodeck."
"What, exactly, do you think the Middies are doing that we haven't already done?"
"We've never done it on the Isle of the Suzerainty on Orion," Olena whispered, and kissed Gwen's ear.
"I'll book a double holodeck session for next week," Gwen suggested. "We can try something different... like the public concourse of the Temple of Enlightenment on Mount Seleya, surrounded by two hundred naked, dancing Vulcan nuns."
Olena smiled. "I want to try the Barsoom holo-novel, again. You make a stunning Princess Dejah Thoris."
"Yeah," Gwen huffed, "I'm always 'stunning', as long as you get to kidnap me and rape my naked, helpless body."
"Rape is such a harsh word," Olena whispered, and kissed Gwen's ear, again.
"Get out," Gwen ordered. "I need to continue monitoring the Middies. This is a serious medical/scientific investigation. I fully intend to submit a journal article about all this."
"The Middies will love that," Olena chuckled.
"Subjects Alpha and Beta will have complete anonymity," Gwen huffed. "Get out!"
Olena laughed, kissed Gwen's lips, and headed for the door. "Dinner at the usual time!" she called back over her shoulder.
"Whatever," Gwen muttered, with typical Martian rudeness. Her eyes never left the display.
ONE WEEK LATER
"I'm still not talking to you," Angie huffed as she walked down the corridor at Lyra's side.
"Then how am I going to tell you how it went down on the planet?" Lyra chuckled.
"Oh, that's right," Angie frowned. "Okay, talk. I'll tell you when I'm mad, again, and you should stop."
"Zeeka appears to be settling back in without difficulty," Lyra said. "She's gained quite a bit of status, however, thanks to her adventure. A couple of old warriors were giving me a hard time—the usual 'green-skin' comments, nothing serious. Anyway, Zeeka got in their faces and told them in no uncertain terms to knock it off—and they did. She's pretty close to being Bendwater's official liaison with the Klingons."
"That's good," Angie sighed. "I was kinda worried about her."
"Me too," Lyra added, "even though I never actually met her before the attack." She stole a sideways glance at her companion. "How are you doin'?"
"The doctor confirms that your 'treatments' seem to have worked," Angie huffed, "as I've told you repeatedly. Do you know what this is about?"
"Why we've been ordered into full uniform and told to report to the bridge?" Lyra shrugged. "Not a clue."
"I just hope it's quick, whatever it is." Angie was more or less used to the tropical setting of ARTEMIS' life-support system and the matching conditions on Scatara-IV, and was no longer sweating through a tunic in a matter of minutes. Still, she'd be glad when they'd be allowed to go back to tank-tops.
They entered the turbolift, Angie said "Bridge," and the lift moved. The Middies straightened the front of their tunics with brisk tugs—an Academy habit—and waited. The doors opened, they stepped onto the bridge, and their eyes popped wide. Quickly recovering, they snapped to attention.
"Admiral," Captain T'Pax said, "allow me to introduce Midshipmen Lyra D'varas and Angeronia Goodnight."
Holographic images of two Starfleet officers filled the main display. One was quite possibly the most famous Human currently serving in Starfleet: Admiral Kathryn Janeway. The other was a blond, female, Human Captain. The gold aiguillette on her left shoulder suggested she was the Admiral's aide. They appeared to be in the Admiral's office at Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco.
"I'm pleased to meet you, Midshipmen," the Admiral said. "The future of Starfleet is bright, indeed, with such officers joining our ranks."
"Thank you, ma'am," Angie and Lyra responded, still rigidly braced at attention.
"At ease, Midshipmen," Captain T'Pax said, and the pair "relaxed" to parade rest.
"This is Captain Samantha Carter, my Chief of Staff," the Admiral said, gesturing at the smiling blonde.
"Midshipmen," the Captain said.
"Captain," the Middies responded.
"Captain Carter will be taking command of ONTARIO at the end of the month," Janeway continued, "and will be joining you in the Gian Expanse after a brief shakedown."
"USS ONTARIO is a new concept," T'Pax explained, for the Middies' benefit. "She has roughly twice the gross tonnage of ARTEMIS, but a rather unusual configuration."
"We call her a 'Warp Carrier'," Captain Carter said. "She has the speed and armament of ARTEMIS, but an elongated secondary hull with internal docking facilities for six assault cutters and external docking clamps for four more, plus a depot-level repair module that can be deployed as an orbiting space-dock."
"A Captain's pride in her new command," Janeway purred, then focused on T'Pax. "After Captain Carter joins you, Captain Larga will be relieved by another IKDF warship of the Order of Lukara. Admiral Kurn hasn't yet given me a name, either of the ship or her captain.
"And the Federation Council Representative?" T'Pax asked.
Janeway shrugged. "The bureaucrat who will oversee the development project also has yet to be named."
"Development project?" Lyra asked.
"Tree Frog!" Angie whispered out of the corner of her mouth.
"That's all right, Midshipman Goodnight," the Admiral chuckled. "I'm sure your Academy instructors would be disappointed, indeed, if you weren't both confused. How can the Federation mount a development project in a cluster of pre-warp star systems?"
"The Prime Directive," Angie responded, blushing furiously, but speaking out, nonetheless.
"Exactly," Janeway nodded. "How can we justify interference in the natural cultural evolution of the sentient species of the Expanse?" Still smiling, she continued. "Starfleet Intelligence and various law enforcement agencies have already rescued nearly a hundred Expanse residents, from various systems, all of whom were enslaved by the Syndicate pirates you captured. As investigations continue, that number will climb into the hundreds, and possibly even higher. Some have been captives for many years and have almost certainly gained scientific knowledge far in advance of their parent cultures. What do we do with such individuals?"
T'Pax took up the explanation. "It has been decided the Gian Expanse will become a joint protectorate of the Federation and Klingon Empires. Rescued slaves will be reintegrated into their societies, wherever and whenever possible. But, if reintegration is not possible, the new Protectorate authority will establish and supervise protected communities. In any case, a flotilla of starships will patrol the Expanse to counter the pirate threat."
"And your Captain will be the first Commodore of that flotilla," Janeway added.
"This is a unique opportunity to continue the Federation/Klingon goodwill and cooperation engendered by recent events," T'Pax observed.
"Yes," Janeway chuckled. "Perhaps we should thank the Ruby Queen for scavenging the warp nacelles from a disabled bird-of-prey and getting the IKDF interested in her capture. Anyway, Captain T'Pax, I believe you have some ship's business to conduct?"
"I do, indeed, Admiral," T'Pax responded, then picked up a PADD and tapped the screen. "Attention to orders," she announced.
Everyone on the bridge not manning a watch station snapped to attention.
"Effective this stardate," T'Pax intoned, "having demonstrated their professionalism, diligence to orders, and good character to the satisfaction of their Commanding Officer, Lyra, free-daughter of the maternal line of D'varas, and Angeronia Charlotte Jean Goodnight, are promoted to the rank of Ensign, with all the duties, responsibilities, and privileges, thereof—T'Pax, Captain, USS ARTEMIS, Commanding."
"Congratulations, Ensigns," Admiral Janeway said and began clapping. Captain Carter and everyone on the bridge of ARTEMIS joined in.
Lyra and Angie smiled and blushed.
B'Elanna took the PADD and handed her Captain something in return. T'Pax stepped forward, removed Lyra's black rank pip, and replaced it with a pip of shining gold. She then did the same for Angie.
"Don't think this gets you two out of orientation tours in the other departments," B'Elanna told the grinning, newly-minted Ensigns. "Report to main engineering at the start of tomorrow's day watch."
"Yes, ma'am," the Ensigns responded in unison.
"Now," T'Pax said, "The Admiral, Captain Carter, and I have further business to conduct." She turned to the comms watch-stander. "Transfer this transmission to my office."
"Good luck, Ensigns," Admiral Janeway said from San Francisco, then tapped a key on her desk and the main display on ARTEMIS was replaced by a view of the planet below.
T'Pax left for her office and B'Elanna accompanied the Ensigns into the turbolift. "Wetting down is at 1800 in the dining hall," she said, then got off on deck three. Angie and Lyra continued to deck five, then walked towards their quarters.
"Wetting down," Angie muttered.
Lyra laughed. "The traditional party honoring newly promoted officers?"
"I know what a wetting down is, Tree Frog," Angie huffed. "I was hoping to spend the night memorizing engineering specs."
"Party-pooper," Lyra chuckled. "We still have three hours to cram facts and figures into our heads before supper, Ensign Goodnight."
Angie smiled. "That we do, Ensign D'varas." Her smile faded. "LCDR Hansen isn't going to make us wear radiation suits, is she?"
"Probably," Lyra chuckled. "Every time I've been in main engineering the entire watch was in rad-suits. Seven must like the look."
"Don't call her Seven," Angie scolded. "I wonder if they're as hot as they look."
"Not to worry, Kipper," Lyra purred. "I'm sure we'll both look very hot in skintight, silver rad-suits."
"Oh, Tree Frog," Angie sighed, shaking her head.