Another Piece of the Action by John Erik Ege - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

Borg? “I thought you were supposed to be heading to Doruf One.”
“I have my suspicions that that particular terra-forming project will be delayed, or canceled
completely,” Picard said. “If you aren’t too busy, perhaps you’d like to volunteer. We can turn the supplies
over to you,” Captain Picard asked.
“Actually, I’m here to collect Garcia and head in the opposite direction,” Munoz said. “Excuse me?” Garcia asked.
“I suppose I can tell you with present company listening in,” Munoz said. “Star Fleet has lost contact
with the USS Minnesota.”
“That was Captain Heller’s ship,” Captain Picard said, concern evident on his face. “It would be out of
character for him to not report in at regular intervals.”
“I know,” Captain Munoz agreed.
Tammas flashed back to a meeting with McCoy, Thalymum, Admiral Ventox, and Captain George
Heller. They were discussing a mission to the Iotian planet based on a sociological paper he had written. That
was only a few months ago, and now, McCoy was gone forever, sleeping next to his beloved wife, Natira “I’ve been ordered to go and investigate and Star Fleet wants me to take you, Garcia,” Captain Munoz
said. “I will provide you with more information once we’re on our way.”
“No disrespect intended, but I’m not going with you,” Tammas said. “I’m going with the Enterprise to
Vulcan to clear up… um, some issues I have with T’Pau and family.”
“Star Fleet said you might balk,” Captain Munoz said. “But I need you. Star Fleet needs you. I’m
prepared to offer you an in-field promotion to the rank of Ensign.”
Picard grinned. Troi merely observed Garcia’s reaction.
Tammas turned to Picard. “Is this your doing?” Tammas asked.
“Captain Janeway and I made some recommendations on promoting you,” Picard said. “But I have
nothing to do with this assignment, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Iotia is four weeks away at warp nine,” Tammas protested. “Don’t you have any closer ships? If it is
an emergency, I would think closer and faster is paramount.”
“It will take us six weeks,” Munoz said. “And the only thing Star Fleet has made paramount is that
you come with me. The fact that you’re one of the Federation brightest, up and coming sociologist, and the
fact that you’re familiar with the Iotian culture, and the fact that Star Fleet technically owns you, makes you
invaluable to this mission.”
Tammas didn’t look at Picard or Deanna. He had to make this choice, not them. He just focused on
Captain Munoz’s eyes, wondering if he refused if she’d pull rank and make him go anyway. He believed she
would indeed abduct him and take him against his will. But he would go willingly. This is what he had joined
Star Fleet for.
“Very well,” he said, finally. “I’m ready when you are.”
“Congratulations on your promotion,” Picard said, offering his hand. “I’ll have the Enterprise send
your things over right away.”
Counselor Troi was still in observation mode, neither commenting nor questioning. He saw more in
her eyes than her voice would have offered anyway.
“I have no personal affects,” Tammas said. “Thank you, Captain, for everything. Counselor, I
suppose we’ll have to reschedule my next appointment.”
“I’m sure the Philadelphia Freedom has a Counselor,” Deana said.
“The best,” Captain Munoz said. “Are you finished here? Do you need to say good bye to anyone?” “No,” Tammas said. “Let’s go.”
Captain Munoz and Tammas stepped away from the Enterprise Captain and Counselor and then she
called her ship. Deanna read Garcia’s lips as he mumbled something as the beam took hold. She wondered
what one hundred and ten meant. She’d have to remember to ask him.
“One hundred and ten what?” Captain Munoz asked as she stepped down from the Transporter alcove. “Transports,” Tammas said.
“I’ll show you to your quarters if you like?” Captain Munoz offered.
“It would be better if I familiarized myself with the ship,” Tammas said.
“Very well, consider yourself on active duty,” Captain Munoz said. “I’ll have the duty master slot you
into the rotation. You have access to the Iotian files. There’s a lot there, so the sooner you get started the
quicker you can advise me on what we’re getting into. I’m holding a conference in one hour.” Conference in one hour? He thought. What’s the hurry? We got six weeks to think about this mess.
But he kept it to himself. No need to unnecessarily antagonize the Captain this early in the game. After all,
six weeks was a long time in space. He would have plenty of time to be antagonistic later, after he got to
know everyone.
The Philadelphia Freedom was an Oberth class starship, named after the 20th century rocket scientist,
Herman Oberth. It was primarily used for scientific research, but could easily be converted to a cargo carrier
in a pinch, should the need arise. The decks were not as computer friendly as the Enterprise D. He couldn’t
just go up to any wall and ask for internal navigation information. This ship required you to carry a Personal
Access Display Devise, or PADD, if you wanted specific information. Or, you could have a neural implant,
which he did. Finding his quarters was a cinch after he grew bored of wandering aimlessly and decided to
access the computer via his implant. At any time he could have asked one of the crew members passing him
in the corridors. Some of them had even seemed interested in engaging him in conversation, but he detoured
around them.
Once in his quarters he found himself being hailed, a call from the Enterprise. He took it. Had he
placed a bet that it would be Simone, he would have won. She didn’t look happy.
“I do not understand this,” Simone said. “You and I must return to Vulcan. Together.” “I’ll meet you there right after I finish this mission,” Tammas said.
Simone seemed to pass through several emotions, including anger, before returning to her neutral
expression, with maybe a hint of sadness if you were human and inclined to such interpretation. “You did not
say good bye.”
“Goodbye?” Tammas said, pretending to be hurt. “When we’re parted but never parted, goodbye
seems a bit queer.”
Simone put her hand against the screen, her fingers spread in the familiar Vulcan gesture. Tammas
sighed, approached the screen and mirrored her gesture.
“Be safe,” she said.
“I will,” Tammas assured her. “Garcia out.”
Simone’s image vanished and was replaced by the screen saver, a star field where the stars blew like
glitter across a felt background. Before he dropped his hand, the screen alerted him to another incoming call.
He guessed it was Jaxa. He was right.
“Oh my god! I heard you just got promoted to Ensign,” Jaxa said.
Tammas responded: “I’m always amazed at how fast gossip travels.”
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Jaxa said, genuinely happy for him. “Thank you,” Tammas said. What else could he say?
Jaxa frowned. “I only wish you had come to say good bye.”
“I’ll ask Captain Munoz to turn the ship right around,” Tammas offered.
Jaxa smiled. “Silly. I’ll see you when you get back to Earth.”
“Promise?” Tammas said.
“Promise?” Jaxa asked. “Are you kidding me? A battalion of Cardassians couldn’t keep me away
from you! Tam? You know I love you, don’t you?”
Tammas thought about it, never dropping his gaze from her, and then finally nodded. “I know,” he
Jaxa pouted. “That’s all?” she asked.
“Is what all?” Garcia asked.
“Aren’t you going to return the sentiment?” Jaxa asked.
“Whether I love you or not doesn’t change my situation,” Tammas told her, trying not to sound too
cold. “We did talk about this before…”
“I know,” Jaxa said. “But would it kill you to say it?”
“No, it wouldn’t kill me to say it,” Tammas said.
“Well?” Jaxa asked. After an uncomfortable pause she decided to push on, not wanting to dwell on her
hurt. “The Enterprise should be at Starbase 234 by Stardate 45233 if you need to get in touch with me for
anything. I and some of the other cadets will disembark there and take a long range shuttle back to Earth.
You’ll be gone for three months I take it?”
“I really don’t know. Roughly six weeks to get there from here,” Tammas said. “A proper analysis of
the situation could take several months. I’ll probably have to change my graduation date. I really don’t have
any idea how this is all going to play out.”
“Well, just play it by ear,” Jaxa said. “You’re good at that. Jaxa out.”
The screen saver returned. Tammas wondered if there was a jab in that last bit, but decided even if
there was, he probably deserved it. He stared at the blowing glitter of a screen saver, waiting for another call.
It didn’t come. He turned to the sound of a door opening, only it wasn’t a real door, just one in his
imagination. Duana walked into the room and plopped herself on the couch.
“So, how’s the new pad?” Duana asked.
“It’s alright,” he said, frowning. “Where’s your other half?”
Duana shrugged and picked up the coffee table book. Garcia left his quarters and was halfway down
the corridor when he realized he didn’t have a clue where he was going or what he wanted. Not completely
true. He wanted to escape his hallucination. But, since technically Duana was in his head, and not his quarters,
leaving wouldn’t provide him with any more privacy. Was that what he wanted? To be alone? Was that the
message he was giving Jaxa? He called up the ship’s map and searched for a holodeck. Nothing came up. He
stopped a crew member.
“Um, excuse me,” Tammas asked the man. “Where’s the holodeck?”
“There isn’t one,” the man answered, pausing in his stride only long enough to give a reply.
“Recreation rooms are on decks four and ten.”
“No holodeck?” Tammas asked, feeling a tinge of panic. Six weeks on this tub and no holodeck? “No holodeck,” a familiar voice confirmed.
Tammas turned to discover Tatiana Kletsova directly behind him.
“Tatiana!” Tammas sang, surprising her with a hug. “You’re here!”
“I’m here,” Tatiana said, staring at him queerly because of that hug. “Our training mission just got
extended, that’s all.”
“Our training mission?” Tammas asked.
“There he is,” came another familiar voice. It belonged to Afuhaamango, but everyone that knew him
just called him Afu.
Tammas reached for the Tongan but before he could shake hands the girl to Afu’s right pushed herself
inside his reach and hugged him fiercely.
“Yuh have ah gyal rush me haircut o’ what?” Trini asked, laughing and kissing him quick on the
mouth. Her name was Indira Sookanan, but everyone called her Trini, short for Trinidad. The question that
she had greeted Tammas with was broken English, a Trinidadian dialect. The direct translation was: “You
have a girl rush me haircut or what.” Or trimmed down, “Is it your hair cut that brings you all these women?” Tammas hugged her, picking her up off the floor. “I’m so happy to see you, Trini,” Tammas said. “And you actually seem happy to see us,” Afu commented. “You’re always so stoic, Tam, while
Trini’s perfervid mannerisms are so loud by comparison.”
Garcia dropped Trini and hugged Afu, knowing full well that the man hated public displays of
affection as much as he did, especially from a fellow male. He just couldn’t resist hugging Afu. “I’ll show
you stoic,” Garcia said. “So, is there anyone else on board I know?”
“Lenar,” Tatiana said. “He’s on duty right now, though.”
“We’re all sorry about your losses,” Trini said.
“You guys know?” Tammas asked.
“We were told the moment we were diverted to go pick you up,” Afu said. “You’re a very popular guy
all of a sudden.”
“He was always popular,” Trini corrected.
“So, are you saying when I save the galaxy I won’t be equally as popular?” Afu asked. Trini slapped him playfully. “You’ll always be popular with us,” she said, and then back to Tammas.
“Rivan sends her love.”
“How is she?” Tammas asked.
“She’s been a bit moody since you’ve been gone,” Afu said.
“I’ll send her a letter,” Tammas said.
“It isn’t a letter that she wants,” Tatiana said.
“So, where were you off to?” Trini asked, not giving Garcia time to respond to Kletsova’s snide
“He was looking for a holodeck,” Tatiana said, crossing her arms.
“But this ship doesn’t have one,” Trini said.
“No doubt that was something Captain Munoz failed to mention in her recruitment speech,” Tatiana
said. And then, rich with sarcasm, she said: “What ever are you going to do?”
“I guess I will just have to spar with you,” Tammas said, feigning grumpy.
“Cadet Kletsova, report to security,” a voice called over her comm. badge.
“Work calls. Spar with you later,” Tatiana excused herself.
As she was departing Afu declared his hunger. “Are you with me?”
“No. I don’t feel like eating right now,” Tammas said.
“Alright, then I’ll catch you later. I need to eat before my shift starts,” Afu said. “Later, Trini.” The explosion of friends and happiness was short lived. Though he was still with Trini, he felt himself
sinking again. Trini smiled at him.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Trini asked. “You seem sad.”
He wanted to say, “Nay, I know not seems,” quoting Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Instead, he just affirmed,
“I’m fine.”
Trini touched his face. “I’m here for you. We all are.”
“Ensign Garcia, report to the conference room.” The voice belonged to that of the Captain. “Are you going to respond, Ensign Garcia?” Trini said, emphasizing the “Ensign.” Tammas shook his head in disbelief that he had already forgotten about his promotion. He didn’t feel
any different. He touched his comm. badge. “On my way,” he said, and closed the channel. “I’m glad you’re
all here.”
She hugged him. “You better not keep the Captain waiting,” Trini said.
“That appears to be true of all Captains,” Tammas speculated.
What the Federation knew about the Iotian culture and situation could fit in a nut shell, Garcia thought,
and that wasn’t a quip on the state of the electronic medium storage capacity. Information starts with a report
from the USS Horizon, before it was lost. The Horizon’s report described a race of humanoids that were
extremely intelligent, peaceful, and living in an agrarian society. The Horizon went on to describr the Iotian’s,
amazed by how human they were. They could not stress the human factor enough, and it was because of their
human qualities that the Horizon’s Captain was more than happy to share technological ideas with them. It
was a time before the Prime Directive. Their intentions were good, but the results were disastrous. The
Iotians were doing well enough, but he believed they had needs that could be easily met with very simple
technologies. It was without hesitation that the Horizon adopted these people, taught them to read and speak
English, and left them books on agriculture, medical care, and engineering.
The next recorded entry on the Iotians came from Captain Kirk. He had received an emergency
distress call from the Horizon and he was going to investigate. He was compelled to investigate, even though
the transmission he had intercepted was a hundred years old due to the distances involved. This was due to
the fact that the message was sent by standard radio waves as opposed to subspace radio. Something really
bad must have happened to the Horizon for them to have lost their subspace radio and their ability to fix it.
From the time the signal was received to the time the Enterprise arrived at the Horizon’s last known position,
it had taken less than a week at warp seven. Kirk really hadn’t expected survivors from the Horizon, but he
had to find out what had happened to the ship. Part of that was training, and the other part was loyalty; a
‘leave no one behind’ sort of motto. He would expect the same thing from Star Fleet if his ship were ever lost.
The best case scenario was that the crew of the Horizon made it safely back to Iotia and Kirk could rescue
their descendants. The best case scenario also meant that Kirk would have to evaluate the Iotian culture to
determine whether or not the Horizon’s crew had had a negative impact on the Iotian’s culture and make
repairs if need be.
The Horizon was never found. Kirk reported to Star Fleet what he did find: a world modeled after the
gangsters of twentieth century Earth. Flying by the seat of his pants, Kirk put together a solution, hoping to
unify the Iotian people into one nation: he consolidated the world government under one leader, The Boss. He
informed Star Fleet of his solution, and, in the manner typical of large bureaucracies, Star Fleet puzzled over
the situation for nearly a hundred years before sending another ship to see about the well fare of the Iotian
people. Part of the difficulty lied in the fact that Kirk’s solution was “intolerable” to most of the Federation
Congress. Kirk had bluffed the Iotians into believing that Star Fleet was taking over their world and that when
Star Fleet returned they would want “a piece” of the action. The percentage of that “piece” was beyond
reasonable taxation, but Kirk felt that had he not taken such a high percentage the Iotian’s profits, they
wouldn’t have bought his bluff.
Just this alone spelled trouble to Tammas and he had written as much in his essay that outlined the
research proposal he had submitted. Because of Kirk’s solution, the Iotian’s belief system hadn’t been
changed, but rather reinforced. They, the Iotians, would be even more territorial, more aggressive, and now
that they were unified under the central theme of Big Brother, Star Fleet, they would no doubt be fanatical in
their resolve to move out into the Universe with conquest on their mind. This had been the latest debate since
Garcia’s paper “resurfaced,” and was the current subject at hand in the conference room as Tammas entered
and sat down. The problem was that Star Fleet hadn’t been prepared to go in and try to explain to a radical
culture that they had truly misunderstood their first contact with aliens. The Iotians weren’t meant to be
gangsters, especially Americanized gangsters. They were meant to be something else. What that something
else was, well, was anybody’s guess. No one could say with any amount of certainty how the Iotians would
have developed had the Horizon never visited, but they were ninety nine point nine percent sure that it would
not have followed a gangster socio-evolutionary path.
The only face Tammas recognized was that of the Captain’s. As Garcia took one of the two remaining
seats, he took inventory of those sitting around him, pulling up the ship’s personnel profiles via his implant
and matching faces in order to quickly learn their names. Perhaps had he been on time he would have been
introduced to Captain Munoz’s Command Staff. He could see that the Captain was not pleased by his late
arrival, but she did not openly chastise him.
“The most recent ship sent to investigate the Iotian situation was the USS Minnesota, Captain Heller in
command,” the man to the Captain’s right said. He was the First Officer, Lt. Commander Osaka, and he
summarized the details they knew to date. Captain Heller had brought his ship out of warp, nine billion miles
from the Iotian sun, at the boundary known as the heliosheath where solar winds give way to interstellar gases.
Before passing through the terminal shock into the solar system itself, Captain Heller had scanned Iotian
space. He had found nothing out of the ordinary. There were seven planets, one of which, the furthest from
the sun, was a gas giant. Iotian prime was the second planet from the sun. Even if it hadn’t been a class M
planet, it would have been easily noticed by the Minnesota because of the number of artificial satellites in
orbit, and the fact that the radio and television broadcasts that were being beamed into space lit the planet up
like a small star. Captain Heller had sampled the media and sent it via subspace to Star Fleet command. He
had then notified Star Fleet that he was going in. That was his last broadcast.
Some of that media played in the back ground on several monitors in the conference room. Having not
taken time to study the materials, Tammas was not prepared to comment at this time, but he was not surprised
when the inquiry was presented to him anyway.
“So, Ensign Garcia, what do you expect us to find when we arrive?” Captain Munoz asked. “Judging by some of the media content, which appears to be commercials,” Tammas said off the cuff,
using a skill called “Fast and frugal” which tapped into the adaptive unconscious mind. He had enunciated
everything slowly, and carefully, as if he was being thoughtful, but really he was just thinking through
possible answers before committing. He made a prediction based on his first impressions of the media files
being displayed: “I would say that the Iotian culture is probably on the verge of collapse.” Lt. Osaka frowned, ingoring the commercial about guns, apparently machine gun type weapons, fully
automatic, and the “hot” women displaying them. “How did you come to that conclusion?” he asked, not
bothering to conceal his skepticism. “The broadcasts appear to be no different than what Earth was producing
in the twenty first century.”
“And if you recall your twenty first century history,” Tammas explained. “It was an extremely
unstable era. No matter which angle you approach it on, philosophically, politically, or economically, Earth
barely made it through that time period alive, and not without several wars. The Iotians have become even
more aggressive than Earth of the equivalent time period, and, if they have not found a way to curve their
population growth, which I believe put them in their initial crisis and, consequently, the reason for their
adopting the gangster mentality, then they will be on the verge of a global war, and or exhausting all of their
natural resources. This commercialization agenda we see here suggest that they are entrenched in a consumer
society and, as you recall from history, it is practically impossible for a materialistic society to expand
continuously, providing every citizen with an equitable level of material comfort. The demand for status,
demonstrated by a certain level of materialistic gain and power, coupled with dwindling resources, guarantee
conflict. The society will eventually implode, due to typical market forces of seeking to provide products and
services for the least amount of cost by means of reducing employee pay and benefits to finally having only a
few who can actually afford to buy the products or services. You end up having one percent ownership of
wealth, ninety percent abject poverty, and nine percent privilege class, if you consider sucking up to the one
percent a privilege.”
“It can’t be all that bad,” First Lt. Simmons objected. He was the ship’s Doctor, and from all
appearance, a man who enjoyed to eat. “America had the lowest poverty rates of any nation…” “Of any nation,” Tammas emphasized. “It still had poverty. The interesting thing about America
though, was not the fact that it was wealthy, but that they were using almost seventy percent of the world’s
resources to maintain that level of comfort. It was out of balance and because of that there were wars.
Everybody wants a piece of the action.”
“You’re forgetting how bright the Iotian people are said to be,” 2nd Lt Carl Lester said. He was the
ship’s counselor. “Surely they have managed to solve their psycho/social problems by now.” “Anything is possible,” Tammas agreed. “And bright is relative. They’re bright in the same way Idiot
Savants are brilliant. Sure, they can give you instantaneous results to large numbered equations, but if you ask
them to make something meaningful out of the data, you might as well be asking a child to explain the
complexity of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”
Lt. Anson, steepled his fingers. Even without technological assists, Tammas knew right away that the
pure blooded Vulcan was the ship’s Science Officer. “I find you to be unduly adversarial and biased against
their version of capitalism.”
Tammas stiffened, partly because of the jab and partly because Admiral Leonard H McCoy was taking
a seat next to him.
“Are you going to let that pointy eared, devil get away with that?” McCoy asked.
“I am,” Tammas began, shooting a quick glance at McCoy that he hoped no one else saw, “not being
adversarial. I consider myself to be participating in a lively discussion about what we’re most likely to find.” “Perhaps you should stick to writing fiction and leave the hard science to those better capable and
better trained,” Anson vituperated.
“Why you little…” McCoy snapped.
“Captain Munoz,” Anson pressed on, oblivious to the berating he was getting from the Good Doctor.
“We’ve all read Garcia’s paper on the Iotian culture. His suggestion that they adopted the gangster mentality
as a means of population control and resource management is highly speculative at best.” “But it does explain the why of it all,” Counselor Lester said. “That was something the Enterprise
crew failed to do. Why else would a peaceful society become barbaric? If we assume that they resorted to
violence because of limited resources and adopted territorial regimes to control population, then the measures
Kirk took would be insufficient to change that mind set.”
“Which Garcia bases completely on a data set that is now over a hundred years old,”