Dedicated to Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
I started this story several weeks ago. With the loss of Majel today, I wanted to post what I have so far.... I had hoped that she would get to see it, as I had intended it to be a tribute to her characters, and her. I wanted to do it as a comic book, or even live-action. But it seems more appropriate today, to post it as is. Please do not comment in this thread. The subsequent parts will be posted when I am done.Star Trek: "Here There Be Dragons" Part 1
By Kenneth Thomson Jr.
(with acknowledgments to Gene Roddenberry, Stephen Kandel and Margaret Armen)
The Starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Christopher Pike, sailed the stars.... Aboard the ship, in the transporter room, a landing party was standing by to beam down. The landing party consisted of the ship's first officer, Commander Morgan Chapel, Lt. Spock, Lt. Kelso, Ensign Ross and two Starfleet Academy cadets, Willard Decker and Raymond Martin.
Behind the transporter console stood the engineer, and the captain himself stood just in front of it. He was smiling as he said, "Berengaria 7 is a zoologist's paradise gentlemen. I've been there myself, many years ago. I think you'll enjoy your studies there. But be careful. It's not a tame world, and the reptiles there are rather formidable."
"We'll keep the cadets safe, Captain," the leader of the mission said.
"Of that I have no doubt Number One," Pike said to the tall brunette, "The rest of the cadets will join you as soon as you find a place to set up an encampment."
"Understood sir," she said with a slight smile that was only for Pike and instantly vanished as she turned to the cadets who had been lucky enough to draw first duty.
For their part, Will and Ray remained at full attention and contained their excitement and the anticipation of their first journey to a truly alien world that was not settled by any sentient species....
"Energize Materializer," Pike ordered and watched as the almost musical sound of the transporter disassembled the five personnel and sent them to the surface of the planet below....
* * *
With a musical cascade, the six personnel materialized on the surface of a world that could only be described... as paradise. As far as the eye could see, and that was miles, the land was green and lush, not quite jungle, not quite forest, but grass as green as the most fertile lands Ray had ever seen. And the animals! Herds of giant creatures, almost like dinosaurs could be seen all around in the distance. They were on a rise, far above the plains where the creatures roamed and fed upon the lush plants that encased the landscape.
At the age of 22, Ray Martin had traveled to a few worlds, and had seen holovids of hundreds in his studies. But they could never do justice to actually standing there. His reverie was cut short, however, by Commander Chapel, who ordered, "We were lucky. This spot will do nicely. Cadets, please begin setting up camp. Mr. Spock, Mr. Kelso, please establish a perimeter security so that we can avoid any stray creatures encroaching into camp. Ensign Ross, please assist the cadets while I contact the ship."
"Aye sir," she replied.
Number One flipped open her communicator and called the ship, "All secure, Captain. We're ready for more victims," she smiled."Sending the next batch down, Number One,"
she heard Pike's voice, and was sure she sensed the grin on his face.
Six more Academy Seniors materialized nearby. One tent had already been assembled by the time they appeared. Morgan called the Enterprise again, and reported, "Arrivals confirmed, Captain."
"Very good Number One, we'll see you in a week," Pike said loudly enough to be heard by the cadets standing close to the first officer's communicator.
"Understood, Captain," she replied, "Safe voyages."
"Enjoy yourselves. Pike out," he said, closing the channel.
The second tent was up and the third almost done as well by now. Morgan gave Martin and Decker appreciative glances, but then turned to the next set of young officers-in-training, and said to them, "Welcome to Berengaria 7 ladies and gentlemen. This world may seem like paradise, and to the uninitiated... those who watch from the comforts of home, it certainly is. But let me tell you, it is a dangerous world to those who become careless. The animals here are huge, and are as likely to step on you as to try and eat you. Each of you will have a partner, and each of you will stick with that partner as if your life depended on it. Because in fact, it does. Don't lose yourselves in idle chatter. Predators are lurking in the high grass. We will all be staying together, but you are responsible for your partner's safety as well as your own. We will be spending one week here, testing your ingenuity and survival skills. You will also be responsible for zoological study of the environment, cataloguing as many species of plants and animals as you can find. Remember, not only are the animals potentially dangerous, but some of the plants are as well. Before eating any fruit, be certain to run full toxicological scans. If you don't do a good job with that, you may not wake up."
Several eyes widened a little at her pep talk and briefing, but each of them gave her his or her full attention. Lieutenants Spock and Kelso maintained studious attention to their tricorders, while Ross kept her eyes open to the world around them. An old lesson: Instruments can fail. A set of eyes and ears out there was almost as good as a tricorder when it came right down to it.
"For now, we set up first camp. The rest of you cadets set up your tents. Martin and Decker, come here please," she ordered.
Will Decker grinned at his friend Ray Martin slightly, then, the two of them approached the commander and saluted.
"At ease," she smiled, then said, "The two of you will be working with Mr. Spock. I hope you're up to it," she said with a single eyebrow raised slightly, in imitation of the vulcan without even really intending to do so. She seemed, in some ways, almost vulcan herself, keeping her emotions tightly in check.
"We are, Commander," Decker said quickly.
"Aye," Martin agreed hastily.
Morgan smiled, and told them, "That's what they all say," then turned and went to watch over the rest of the cadets, hiding her smile quickly, so that they were not sure they really saw it.
Ray and Decker just looked at each other in the growing darkness and thought about what tomorrow's hunt for knowledge would bring.
* * *
Berengaria 7 was a protected world--no intelligent life, but it was a zoologist's dream. Unspoiled and lush, for decades it had been a training ground for young cadets for it's prime location, deep in the heart of Federation Space, yet also ideal for it's remoteness to intruders. It was off the spacelanes, and no casual traffic came nearby, by design. Federation law protected all species of life on this planet from any kind of hunting. No landings were permitted except under strict guidelines established by Starfleet General Orders.In a perfect world.
It was on day two that they came across the remains of a dragon that had been killed by poachers.
"Mr. Spock! I've found something!" Martin said in a voice that was both hushed so that it wouldn't carry too far, and loud enough for the vulcan to hear him from a fair distance.
Spock approached the carcass and a look of barely contained distaste momentarily crossed his features.
"Hunters," Martin said....
"Poachers is the correct term, cadet," Spock told him, then turned to the side slightly and pulled out his communicator, saying, "Spock here. Number One, we've found evidence of illegal poaching of the indigenous dragons. From the look of it, I would estimate they were last here 1 hour, 22 minutes, 33.2 seconds ago."
"Understood, Mr. Spock. Secure the site, I want forensics done, and I want to find the ones responsible," came Morgan's voice over the communicator.
"Aye, sir," Spock told her then flipped his communicator shut. He noted that Martin and Decker were both scanning the area with their tricorders and taking precautions not to contaminate the area by walking through it. The illogic of it left him feeling disgust that his vulcan side could only barely contain, but contain it he did. He brought his own tricorder to bear, and told the cadets, "Mr. Decker, Mr. Martin, scan the surrounding area. Attempt to locate the poachers while I study the deceased animal."
"Aye, Mr. Spock. We'll find them," Martin said, his expression grim. The thought of what they had done to such a magnificent creature made Ray want to take a phaser to them.
"You will take no aggressive action, and you will await my orders. Is that understood?" Spock clarified.
"Understood, sir," Decker chimed in as Martin nodded.
Each cadet carried a phaser pistol on his or her belt, a communicator, a backpack full of survival rations and a small tent and blanket. Water purifiers helped them to refill canteens safely. But what they carried inside was far more valuable. Each of them had to have courage to wander this dangerous world. Already there had been two injuries, though fortunately they were minor. The snake bite had been of the non-venomous variety, and had happened when a cadet had startled the sleeping reptile.
Martin scowled at the tricorder. No readings or signs of tresspass, except where the animal had been killed and gutted. He went to Decker and asked his friend, "Will, you find anything?"
"Sure haven't Ray. It's really weird. It's like they just appeared here, killed the dragon, and disappeared," Decker replied.
"That's what I was thinking too. Transporters?" Ray asked.
"No, no residual tachyon traces. They didn't beam in or out of here," he replied.
"I don't see any trace of any particles other than DNA," Ray told him with a frown, then said, "Do you think they--"
"Flew in and out of here? Yeah, that's exactly what I think," he said, interrupting his friend.
"We'd better inform Mr. Spock," Martin replied, and with a nod of agreement, Decker and he headed back to the carcass to find Mr. Spock, Number One and the whole group standing by awaiting their return.
"Report," Spock said.
Martin stepped forward and told him, "Sir, there is no trace of any passage of any kind. No residual energy of either a transporter or vehicular landing."
Decker stepped forward and added, "It is our analysis that the attackers can fly."
Spock raised an eyebrow, and nodded, "Logical deduction," then, he turned to his own commander and said, "It would appear, Number One, that we have an avian species to blame for this."
"You're certain, Mr. Spock?" she asked.
He lifted a golden feather by way of confirmation, and Ray and Will looked at each other with a bit of a sheepish look.
"I'd say the evidence supports your analysis, gentlemen," Number One said. She then turned to the rest of the assembled team and told them, "You are now scanning for avian beings. Whatever they are, they left this," she said, holding up the golden feather, and added, "I want each of your teams to set one tricorder to scan this, and set your instruments to detect this DNA form. The other tricorder is to remain on its current setting. We want to remain safe while we search for these poachers. Ensign Ross, please assist the cadets," she said, handing the young woman the feather.
"Aye, aye," she said, then went to stand among the six young cadets while Number One went to stand with Spock, Martin and Decker while Kelso looked over the young cadet's shoulders to make sure they knew what they were doing. Several nods of approval left Morgan satisfied that the cadets were up to the challenge.
"The Enterprise will not return for four more days, Mr. Spock. How many poachers do you think we might be facing, if we come across them?" Morgan asked.
"Based on the size of the deceased animal, I would say that they must have had at least a dozen or more in their party. Perhaps more, if not all were involved in the attack. That also only factors in the general area. There could be more almost anywhere on this world," he replied coolly.
"Why didn't the Enterprise's sensors detect them?" Decker asked.
"They did not bring any technological devices with them, therefore, we did not detect any energy sources. It is logical to assume they were dropped off here, just as we were," he said.
"Do you think they know we are here?" Martin asked.
"They may. They have the advantage of flight. And avian species tend to have the keenest of eyesight," he warned, "We are in grave peril."
"Maybe. Maybe not sir," Ray said, holding his phaser up.
"Belay that, Cadet," Morgan chastised him, "We are not here to fight."
"Begging your pardon, Commander, but if we are outnumbered and they attack, what do you want us to do? Talk our way out of this?" Martin said grimly.
"That is exactly what is expected of a Starfleet Officer. Do I make myself clear, Cadet?" Morgan said in all seriousness.
Ray holstered his sidearm, and nodded, "Perfectly Sir."
"We talk first, then fight if we have to," she told him, putting a hand on his shoulder, then glancing one last time at the carcass before turning away and ordering the cadets to continue onward toward their previous goal, a rocky outcropping a few kilometers away.
Decker walked up to his friend and told him, "You'd better watch the trigger finger buddy. She doesn't take too kindly to shooting first and asking questions later." He was grinning at Ray. They had been through the last three and a half years of the Academy together, watching each other's backs, and just being good friends.
Ray just nodded and with a sigh headed after the others. But he took the time to scan the heavens with his eyes. A winged form circled in the distance, but Ray realized it was one of the dragons, not a feathered creature. He watched the graceful flight of the reptilian creature. It was just like something out of medieval mythology. Two hind legs, two forearms, and huge wings growing out of the shoulders. Six appendages.
A true dragon-form. He wondered if such a creature had actually lived on Earth millennia earlier. No actual remains had ever been found, but the look of the beast was so close to the Earth legends, one had to wonder....
* * *
They had pitched camp in the rocky hills. It was a huge granite dome, covered with boulders the size of shuttlecraft or larger, some stacked upon one another enough to provide shelter from the elements. Spock had been here before, as had Morgan, Kelso and Ross. This was only Ross's second visit. She was a tall blonde woman, rather on the thin side, but not skinny. She seemed to glide over the terrain effortlessly as if hiking were second nature to her. Sitting around the campfire, each of the cadets let their weariness ease from their bodies as they took their rations for the night. Conversation remained muted, mostly curiosity about the nature of the avians who had attacked the dragon. Several were wondering how they brought down the creature without phasers.
Spock illustrated in the sand what he believed to be an approximation of what the creatures might look like.
"Avians of intellect will most likely have a roughly humanoid form," he explained, "As we have seen throughout the galaxy, all sentient species that can utilize space travel, have the ability to manipulate tools."
He sketched out a roughly humanoid shape, then added wings. The wings were not attached to the arms as in a bird, but attached to the back of the creature, much like an angel's wings would be. Cadet Riley said so in fact, "That looks like an angel..."
"Or a griffon," Martin said, noting the face Spock had drawn on the creature. A roughly hawk-like or eagle-like appearance, "Predatory eyes," Ray said to Spock, who nodded.
"Precisely. Eyes that face forward, capable of focusing on prey from a long distance. Not on the sides of their heads the way that prey would be configured."
"But who are they?" asked cadet Tonia Barrows.
"No known species, Ms. Barrows," Spock replied.
The lovely brunette shivered slightly, then asked, "Do you think they would mean us harm?"
"They're here on Berengaria illegally, Cadet Barrows," Morgan told her, "I think they would consider us a threat, and until we know otherwise, we shall consider them the same. Half of you get some sleep. The other half, keep watch. Sensor scans on passive mode. Silent."
There was a chorus of "Ayes," and the cadets complied.
* * *
Ray was on watch while Decker was taking his rest, and he approached Morgan. "Commander Chapel? May I speak to you?" he asked softly so as not to disturb anyone who was trying to get some rest.
She nodded, and together, they moved away from the sleepers. She turned to Ray and asked, "What's on your mind, Cadet?"
Ray paused slightly before asking, "I was wondering if you were related to Admiral Christopher Chapel?"
"He's my father," she smiled slightly.
Ray nodded and smiled as well. He said, "I met him years ago. My grandparents served with him on the U.S.S. Cochrane."
"I am aware, Cadet," she smiled.
"I thought he was a very impressive man," Ray told her with a smile.
"He was," she told him, "We called him the Great Bird of the Galaxy."
Ray grinned, "So I have heard. I wonder if he's watching over us tonight?"
Morgan held up the feather she had kept, and smiled, "I wouldn't be surprised, Mr. Martin." Then, she stood up and walked over to stand near the edge of a boulder that overlooked a valley below. She thought about her younger sister Christine. She hadn't seen her since her fiancee had disappeared last month other than on a subspace communication to Earth. Christine was a nurse, but she had told Morgan she was going to enter Starfleet. She intended to find Roger, despite all reports that he was dead. After all, his body had not been found. Morgan felt for her. She had always been the strong one, driven to the service, hoping for command of a ship of her own, if only she could prove herself. But it was hard to break out from a man's shadow. The service was far from the equal utopia it was proclaimed to be. Women commanded smaller ships, and they did it quite capably. But the starships... no woman had commanded one yet. She intended to be the first. Chris Pike believed in her, yet even he seemed reluctant to help her get a command of her own. He never meant anything by it, she could tell, but even he held her back.
Suddenly, the wind was knocked from her and she was over the side of the cliff! Yet she did not fall. Two talons gripped her by the shoulders and when she looked up, she saw a creature in the near blackness of the night that seemed to glisten slightly under the faint illumination of the small moon which looked very much like Mr. Spock's artistic rendering. It wore a necklace with gemstones inset in it that appeared to have been machined, not fabricated with tools. The talons were on it's fingers, and were wrapped under her armpits, carefully so as not to injure her, at least for the moment....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 2
Morgan patiently waited for her captor to take her to its destination. To do otherwise, would likely end in a fall of about twenty meters. She still had her sidearm and her communicator, so she grabbed both devices and held them ready. Craning her neck, she was able to tell that the creature that held her was definitely no animal. It was an intelligent being, but how intelligent, she could not say at this point. The markings on it's body were apparently rather primitive. But she'd seen several technologically advanced races adorn themselves in so-called primitive ways. There really was no way to tell by looking, so she tried another tactic.
"Hello," she said in a calm and rational voice.
The being squawked at her but said nothing she could understand. However, it seemed they were near their destination as it began its descent....
* * *
At the campsite, things were in an uproar until Spock took charge, "Attention Cadets, we will focus on the problem at hand. Our first duty is to the life-forms on this planet. The commander will expect us to carry out that duty."
"Are we abandoning her?" Barrows asked in shock.
"Negative, Cadet, but we will react rationally and systematically," he replied, "Without emotion."
Several of the cadets balked, but both Decker and Martin remained quiet. They were studying the readouts on their tricorders.
"Mr. Spock, I have a bearing on them. They have set down approximately two kilometers distance to the south east," Martin reported.
Spock, for all his Vulcan stoicism, seemed perturbed nonetheless. "Your reporting is flawed, Cadet Martin. The coordinates are 269, mark 2.2. Please endeavor to be more precise in the future," he told Ray, who seemed non-plussed. "That will be our destination. Mr. Kelso, Mr. Ross, you will remain with the cadets while I go after Number One," he ordered.
"Aye sir," Kelso replied, and was echoed by Ross.
"We're not all going, Mr. Spock?" Decker asked.
"I will not further endanger this team, or Number One with rash action. I will go in and negotiate her release. If I do not return, you are to await the return of the Enterprise. Captain Pike will deal with the situation at that time. What I need you to do, is monitor the situation with your tricorders and record what transpires so that the captain will have all required data. If we are taken elsewhere, follow at a safe distance, maintaining all security precautions," Spock explained.
Kelso walked up to Spock and told him, "Don't concern yourself with our charges, Mr. Spock. I'll see to it that they mind the store."
Spock gave him an impassive look, then said, "I am going now."
Then, he walked off in the direction of the poacher's gathering.
Ray Martin and several of the other cadets watched in some annoyance that they were not being allowed to help, but Kelso and Ross herded them back to the fire.
"We're just going to sit here?" Riley asked.
"Those are our orders, but we'll be monitoring and recording what is going on down there," Kelso explained, "That means every single one of you will have their hands full. Martin... Decker... I'm putting you two in charge of security since you both like your phasers so much. Set them to heavy stun force. If we are attacked again, I don't want the situation complicated by killing any of the aliens. There is always a chance we can come to a peaceful solution. Don't blow it."
"Understood, sir," Martin said. Decker agreed.
"Riley, Barrows, Harris, Rollins... I want you all monitoring the avians as Mr. Spock ordered," Kelso added.
"What about the rest of us?" asked Boma.
"Sleep, if you can. This may go on for awhile, or it may not, but we will need a few of us to be fresh and wide awake later," Ross told him, then, motioning to Boma and Latimer, turned back to the campfire.
"Aye, sir," Boma said, taking a look out where the vulcan had gone, then, turned and went back to lay down on his bedroll, unable to sleep....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 3
Morgan Chapel was gently released into a clearing by the being who had carried her for several kilometers. Surrounding her, were at least two dozen more of the winged warriors.
"You have me.... What do you want with me?" she asked coolly.
"Who are you, and what are you doing in the sacred hunting grounds?" asked one that appeared to be an elder. He had a dark patch of blue above his beak. Morgan noted that some had pink nostrums most likely denoting females, and she was reminded of her pet parakeets when she was a little girl. She and Christine both had kept them in the garden aviary.
"I am Morgan Chapel, First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. Whom do I address?" she replied.
"I am K'Chan of the S'korr. You trespass where you do not belong," he told her.
"This planet is in Federation Space. It has been used as a training world for decades for our younger officers in training, and is a preserve for many endangered and rare species. What is the basis of your claim, K'Chan of the S'korr?" she asked.
"It has been the sacred world of our hunt as decreed by Alar for the last thousand revolution cycles of this world, human!" came the voice of one of the females, confirming her theory....
"You hunt the dragons?" Morgan asked, then added, "Why?"
"We prove our worthiness as true warriors in battle against the mightiest of creatures, human," K'Chan explained.
* * *
Elsewhere, a large shadow in the moonlight fell across the remains of the dragon the Enterprise personnel had found. A roar of anguish could be heard for miles....
* * *
The encampment came on alert instantly. Kelso began ordering everyone to take up defensive positions as the bellowing seemed to grow closer to their location.... Every man and woman, experienced and cadet-in-training held their phasers at the ready and ducked under whatever rocky cover they could find....
* * *
Spock had followed the S'korr that had taken Commander Chapel as far as he could until the trees had obscured his vision. His tricorder was locked onto her readings, however, and he had been following at as quick a pace as he could make in the forest. Until he had come again across their path which had led past the corpse of the dragon they had found earlier. The sight before him made even the vulcan's icy demeanor crack as his heart rate increased involuntarily.
A dragon stared him in the face and reared back, prepared to strike!
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 4
The echoes of the roaring ended abruptly. The S'korr looked at one another anxiously until their leader motioned them to take flight. They vanished from the clearing in a gust of wind stirred up by the beating of their great wings, carrying their javelins aloft with them.
Morgan looked at the elder and said aloud, "From the direction that came from... it may be the mate of the dragon you slew."
K'Chan nodded. "It is often so. The mate will come hunting us, and we will slay him and the hunt will end. It is not fitting to leave the mate to die of loneliness."
"How very... thoughtful... of you," she replied. Inwardly she understood that alien cultures had their own ways of looking at things, but she was still appalled at the needless waste of life.
"We hunt the dragons to honor them."
"Letting them live in peace would be a greater honor," she countered, "How many of the young have been orphaned by your hunts? Are you aware that the dragons have displayed signs of sentience?"
"Many sentient species have been enemies and friends of the S'korr through the millennia. It does not preclude the hunt," K'Chan replied.
Chapel said nothing to that....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 5
A large, gull-winged starship glided gracefully into orbit over Berengaria 7, sacred world of the S'korr. Several fighter craft launched from their bay and began atmospheric descent....
* * *
On the planet below, hoots, grunts and what sounded like bird-calls came from the trees that surrounded the Enterprise team's encampment. Each of the personnel stood in a circle, weapons facing outward like the points of a star, looking for a target in the darkness. Only the moon illuminated the scene. The roar of the dragon had silenced earlier, but now Kelso's team was surrounded by something potentially as dangerous....
"Stay back to back," he ordered, "All weapons on heavy stun force. Do not shoot to kill... without my order. Is that understood?"
A chorus of "Ayes" answered him.
All hell broke loose as a pack of bipedal raptors charged into the clearing. Ray Martin had only a moment to notice they were feathered but not winged. As his phaser dropped one his mind recalled the velociraptors of the dinosaur era on Earth, and these easily compared to them, down to the curved claw on their feet used to rip up large prey. They were fast, and one of them leapt into the group, even after being stunned, and fell atop Ross, who went down and didn't rise. Phasers were going off in all directions as a few dozen of the raptors attacked.
A scream of pain from behind Ray, and Kelso went down. Will Decker blasted the raptor who had gouged out a horrible triple-clawed gash on the Lieutenant's back. Some of the raptors that had been stunned were already rising up, shrugging off the momentary shock.
"Switch weapons to 'Kill!'" Ray ordered, "They're getting back up!"
He was thrown to the ground suddenly, the wind knocked out of him. The last thing he recalled was the stench of the raptor's putrid breath blowing in his face as it reared up to strike....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 6
The dragon bit down on the raptor and cast it aside, then stared briefly at Ray before snarling slightly and taking down the others. Phaser fire flashed around them and as Ray rolled over, he spotted Spock stunning the remaining dinosaurs with multiple shots of heavy stun. Ray wasted no time and rolled to his feet. Quickly surveying the group, he spotted a woman down, and rushed to her side. It was Ross... and she was dead....
Decker stepped up next to him and Ray looked up at him. "We lost Ross," he said with a grimace as he looked away from her body.
"Damn...." Decker said, closing his eyes briefly to mourn the once lovely woman....
All other eyes were on the dragon, however, as it stood beside them. Spock stepped forward and Boma asked, "How...?"
"The creature is intelligent," Spock informed them, "We heard the attack and returned to assist you. But now I must return to find Number One."
"A burial?" Kelso asked.
"Proceed, Mr. Kelso. I'll return shortly if I am fortunate. The Enterprise
is scheduled to return within the next three hours as well. If you do not hear from me, await their return here and report," Spock ordered.
"Incoming!" Boma shouted.
They looked up, and a flock of the S'korr were upon them.... There was a WHOOSH, followed by a blast of wind, and they were all knocked to the ground as the massive dragon flew up to meet them with a roar of anguished despair and rage.
Spock fell to his knees at the wave of emotion emanating from the beast, and grimaced in pain.
The wind blast subsided quickly as the giant reptilian creature soared up into the air above them, but Spock did not rise....
* * *
"K'Chan of the S'korr... why do you not join your fellows?" Morgan asked.
"I have performed the ritual before, human," he replied.
"Do you realize that the Federation will not stand for trespass onto a protected world, especially the destruction of intelligent species?" she asked him.
"Your Federation is young, human. We sailed the stars when you were but cave-dwellers. We conquered."
"And if you know my people... then you know we are peaceful... unless provoked," she replied.
"You do not interfere in the affairs of others, human. That is known. This world is ours from time immemorial. You are the trespassers, and you must leave," he replied.
"Why did you not slay us if we trespass against your people?" Morgan asked, wishing she'd not lost her communicator in the flight. Her phaser was in K'Chan's hands....
"We are not brutes," the being said with what might have passed for a smile if the wrinkles just above its beak were any indication.
"Then why kill innocents?" she demanded, "What have these elegant creatures ever done to you?"
"They drove us away... to the stars," he replied, wistfully.
Morgan blinked. "THIS is YOUR world?" she asked in shock.
K'Chan nodded. "We of the S'korr... our race... were born here. But we quarrelled with the dragons, and they defeated us, at the dawn of our time. They exiled us. But they fell into decay and anarchy and devastated the world. All that are left are their descendents, little more than animals now. But this is not our home any longer. We only return... to prove our bravery... and our strength."
"Why not make peace at long last? These are the children of your foes... but they do not remember. Why punish them for something that was done centuries ago?" she asked K'Chan.
"Alas, human, you sound like Alar, our holy one. But we are a warrior race... and the blood boils and must be answered."
"Make peace. You need not do this thing any longer," she pleaded.
* * *
The dragon swooped and barrelled into three of the S'korr warriors, hard, and with a cloud of feathers, they plummetted from the sky and hit the ground with a trio of sickening crunches. The dragon roared in triumph, but the roar turned to pain as a shaft from one of the other S'korr javelin's struck him in the area just below the neck.
"No!" shouted Tonia Barrows.
Ray lifted his phaser and locked onto the avian, but Spock placed a hand over his phaser, forcing him to lower it, and shook his head. There was a tear glistening under his left eye, and Ray raised an eyebrow with surprise. "The creature does not desire our interference, Mr. Martin. Stand down."
"Aye... sir...." Ray replied, shocked, as yet more javelin's struck the dragon. It reeled, but it did not fall. It flew upward, and then doubled back and dove downward at an easy 300 kilometers an hour and plowed right through the rest of the S'korr, destroying them utterly, before flying off in the direction it had come from--the direction where Spock had been heading... the S'korr's encampment....
"Do we follow, Mr. Spock?" Decker asked.
Spock raised an eyebrow, and shook his head 'no' as he said, "We could not arrive in time to make a difference. The commander is on her own."
Even though he said it, he went quickly into the trees, following the dragon.
"Crazy Vulcan," Boma said with a roll of his eyes.
"Belay that, cadet!" Kelso shouted.
Ray and Will just looked at each other and at their companions, then turned to watch the trees.... The sound of a sonic boom turned their gaze to the sky, though, and they saw four winged ships flying down from the high clouds at high speed....
"Aw hell...." Ray said....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" Part 7
Spock watched the dragon's now erratic flight and knew that it was dying. Regardless, after the mind meld, he had understood the creature's pain. The dragons were telepathic, and Spock could still sense the creature's raw emotions, even from this distance.
It called itself Elorsha. It's mate had been Hisharna. They were very old--hundreds of years, in fact. They had lived at the time of Surak. 'Such waste,'
Spock thought sadly.'Yes, child of the stars, it is a travesty,'
the voice in Spock's mind replied, astonishing him, then continuing, 'The S'korr are our ancient enemies. They have hunted us for eons. But we are not so weak as they believe.''You do not find our presence threatening?'
Spock replied in his mind as he continued to run behind the flying ancient....'Your kind have come in peace. We welcome you. But we will never welcome the S'korr!'
Elorsha replied just before he roared and dove downward.
Spock ran as fast as he could!
* * *
"Captain Pike, our sensors are detecting a warp signature in the Berengaria system," Lieutenant Colt reported from the helm station. She had recently completed her helm certification and was filling in for Commander Chapel.
"Increase speed to time warp factor 4. Science officer, scan the ship. Communications, see if you can hail them," Pike ordered, then, leaned forward in his chair and scowled.
"We can be there in fifteen minutes at this speed, Captain," Colt informed him.
"Very good, Yeoman... I mean, Lieutenant," he said with a very light trace of a smile that faded just as quickly. He had people on that planet, and an unknown ship had just entered orbit. "Yellow alert," he said, then sat back to wait for more information as the mighty starship, Enterprise,
bent the fabric of space to get to Berengaria 7 as fast as they could inside a dense Oort cloud....
* * *
The dragon landed, spent from its battle, just short of K'Chan, who levelled Chapel's phaser at the creature. Elorsha looked up at K'Chan and K'Chan suddenly felt a wave of nausea at the raw emotions and pain that were levelled at him in that stare... in that mental attack that pressed him down to his knees. But K'Chan raised the phaser once more, aiming directly at the fallen dragon.
"You may die with honor, worthy one," he said. He was about to fire, but Chapel barred his path.
"I cannot allow you to destroy him, K'Chan," she said.'It is my time, friend human,'
Elorsha said into her mind, and she turned to face the solemn stare of the fallen ancient.
"You can be healed.... Doctor Boyce--" she started but was cut off....'--Human medicine cannot save me... though I am touched by your mercy,'
Elorsha said to her, in her mind, 'Your race... has come a long way... since the last age we traveled the stars....'
"You have come to Earth?" she said with raised eyebrows.'Indeed. Some of our people were marooned there for a time....'
he thought to her, then shudderred in a painful convulsion.
Morgan felt the tears start to flow. Tales of knights and dragons--those had been bedtime stories her father had told her and Christine when they were children. And now one of those same beings lay dying at her feet.... She turned back to K'Chan, and said to him, "These dragons are not only intelligent, K'Chan, but they are extremely benevolent... and long misunderstood. Drop the weapon... let us heal him before it is too late. Make peace!"
"It is too late already, human," he replied, "Already my brethren return to reclaim this world."
"I thought you only were here for a ritual hunt!" she replied.
were. But there are others
who want more," he said, waving his hand toward the ships that were approaching.
Morgan suddenly realized something else was wrong, and when she turned back to Elorsha, he was still. She stepped over to the fallen dragon, and, kneeling at his side, swore, "I won't let them slaughter your people.... K'Chan," she said, snatching the phaser from K'Chan's stunned grip, "Find a transmitter, now!"
He nodded. Tears were filling his eyes as he looked at the fallen Elorsha as he said sadly, "I... thought they were only savage beasts... but now I see... it was us... not them...."
"Help me save them... and your people as well," Morgan said, putting a hand on the taller creature's shoulder.
The bird-man nodded softly then turned toward a small hut, and opened a curtained door. Beyond it, inside the room, was a transceiver of alien make.
"Call to your people," Chapel said with impatience as all around them she could hear distant roars that answered the roar of the S'korr's ship's engines, and prayed she was not too late....
* * *"Here There Be Dragons" The Conclusion
"Alien vessel is turning to bear on us, Captain!" Colt said from the helm nervously.
"Red alert! Shields up. Ready main phaser banks!" Pike ordered. Then, he turned to the communications officer and asked, "Any response to our earlier hails?"
"Negative Captain. They're running silent. But I am getting chatter from some smaller ships... fighters... down in the atmosphere," he replied.
"On audio!" Pike ordered.
Static was overloading the communications but some words were getting through and the universal translator was able to translate bits and pieces...."---Wing four-- down! Dragons--- weapons fire! Turning to---ZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT"
A moment of silence, then, "Transmissions ended, Captain."
"Intruder status?" Pike demanded.
"Sensors indicate they are standing down... powering down their weapons and lowering shields," reported the tactical officer from the science station.
"Yellow alert. Get me Number One," Pike ordered.
* * *
Spock stood beside Chapel in the shelter that the S'korr had built and used to house their equipment. His communicator beeped.
"Spock here!" he said into the voice recognition unit of the communicator to activate it."This is Captain Pike. Is Commander Chapel with you, Mr. Spock?"
"Affirmative Captain," he said then handed his communicator to her.
"This is Chapel," she smiled."What's going on down there?"
"It's a long story, but I think we've resolved an ancient misunderstanding here. I'll give you a full report once we beam up, sir," she told him. "Oh, and we have a guest.""Sounds interesting, Number One. I'm looking forward to hearing it... and meeting our... guest,"
Pike said calmly.
Chapel could sense the smile on his face as she snapped the lid closed with a, "Chapel out."
* * *
It was hours later when a delegation of S'korr stood at attention proudly before the council of the Elder Wyrm, as the dragons called themselves. Captain Pike, Commander Chapel, Lt. Spock, and each of the officers and cadets who had been on the mission stood nearby in full dress uniform.
"From this moment forth, the Elder Wyrm and the S'korr are no longer blood enemies. We shall live in peace as Alar has taught us," said K'Chan of the S'korr.
"Warrior children of the ancient times, you have returned, first in bloodshed, but now in understanding. We of the Elder Wyrm heard the cry of Elorsha and his mate, and we ended your ignorance. Know this: The Elder Wyrm has never forgotten the ancient wars. We did not fall into decay and barbarism as you so put it. We cast aside the need for war and hatred. We do not need such things. If you end your hostile ways, then you may return home, and live with us in peace and harmony."
"Then it is agreed," K'Chan smiled.
The great Wyrm bowed her massive head, then rose to her full towering height. All around her, the rest of the dragons did the same, each spreading their massive wings. Ray Martin, Will Decker and the other cadets looked around at the unbelievable sight and smiled broadly. Chapel looked at them, and noted that even Mr. Spock had the trace of a smile on his face. She smiled at Kelso who stood next to her and smiled at her.
"Nice work, Commander," he grinned.
"Thank you," she whispered, "You did well with the cadets."
"If only..." he started to say, thinking of Ross, their one casualty.
"She will be missed... but it wasn't your fault," she said.
He just nodded sadly.
* * *
The Starship Enterprise decellerated from warp speed over the planet Earth. In orbit was Starbase 1, the space station that had been serving the Federation for decades. Enterprise's
mission was almost over, just one more thing to do.
"Notify spacedock that we're ready for them to take control," Pike said.
"Aye Captain," the communications officer replied.
"Well Number One, it's been an honor serving with you," Pike said, then added for the rest of them, "It's been an honor serving with all of you. Each of you will be moving on to new posts... some of you will be staying aboard the Enterprise," he added with a look at Mr. Spock. "We've had a great mission, and each and every one of you should be proud of your accomplishments. I wish each and every one of you the very best." He grinned and hit the intercom, "Party on the Hangar Deck at 1800 hours. I expect all hands to attend."
Cheers went up all over the ship.
* * *
"Well Ray, that was quite an adventure, wouldn't you say?" Will Decker said with a smile.
"It was. But it could have turned out a lot worse if we hadn't gotten lucky," Ray replied.
"It's all part of being in Starfleet. Danger comes with the uniform," Will said.
"Well, now... it's graduation time," Ray said with a smile of his own, asking, "Where do you hope to be posted?"
"Well, you know I love to tinker with stuff," Will replied.
"Yes... Mr. Scott kicked you out of Engineering. How could I forget?" Ray laughed.
Will laughed. "I was only following along with what he was doing! It's not my fault!" Will protested. Then, he answered Ray's question, "I'm hoping for an engineering post. I wouldn't mind getting command of a ship someday, but I think that knowing everything about the ship I command will make me a better captain, don't you?"
"The best of both worlds, right?" Ray grinned. "I'm out here to explore and learn the answers that science hasn't found yet. Why are we here? How did we come to be? Is death the end, or a new beginning?"
"Lofty questions. You may be in for a disappointment," Will said after a few moments of reflection.
"They say space is the final frontier.... I disagree. I think space... is the next frontier... but there will be others to cross, in time," Ray said.
"Well, first one to make captain buys the drinks, alright?" Decker suggested.
"You're on, my friend!" Ray replied and shook his friend's hand.
* * *
Days later, the U.S.S. Enterprise
again sailed for the stars. She had a different crew and a different captain--James T, Kirk. Kirk was a young man, several times decorated for bravery. Ray had met him in passing at the change of command ceremony. He was only a few years older than Ray, in fact. He'd been very impressed with the young captain. Pike had been promoted to Fleet Captain, a rank just short of Commodore, and was staying at Starbase 1 for the moment.
Ray heard footsteps coming up from behind him, and turned to see Diana Palmer approaching. He smiled.
"Hi Diana," he grinned.
"Ray," she smiled, "I heard you had a hand in first contact with the S'korr. Pretty impressive for a cadet's resume!"
"Will was there too, and Riley, Boma and Barrows," he told her.
"Well, I just got back from serving on the Constellation
. Wait till I tell you about that adventure...." she grinned.
"Tell me about it at the ceremony," Ray grinned, "Come on!" he said as he took her hand and guided her down the halls.
There was a huge gathering. Outside the gigantic windows was docked the U.S.S. Archangel
She was an older Constellation
Class starship, but she was still very capable and had just had some of her systems modernized. Not to the extent of the Enterprise,
but that refit to Constitution
Class was still to come when her next mission was completed. Constellation
herself would be refit next. But until that job was completed, Archangel
had duties to perform.
There was a podium set above the crowd, and Fleet Captain Christopher Pike stood at it, and announced, "It is with great honor that I am priviledged to grant command of the proud Starship Archangel
to a dear friend of mine, Commander Morgan Chapel this Star Date, 1118.7. Commander, if you will approach the podium please?"
Morgan Chapel was about to become the first woman to command a Starship. The press was having a field day....
Ray and Diana stood together, holding hands, watching the ceremony when he happened to glance at a woman in the crowd. She was grinning ear to ear and waving to Commander Chapel as she approached the podium, and Ray realized the woman looked just like her. She must be her younger sister. He smiled.
"I humbly accept command, sir," Chapel said to Pike with a smile and a sharp salute.
"Then by the power vested in me as Fleet Captain, I grant you command, Captain
Chapel. May God have mercy on your soul," he grinned from ear to ear as the whole auditorium burst into cheers.
* * *
It was six months later. Ray Martin sat at the helm of the U.S.S. Hood
, when the news came in.
"Captain Raintree... Starfleet reports that the U.S.S. Archangel
... has been lost," reported the communications officer.
"Destroyed?" the captain asked grimly.
"Missing in action," she replied.
The bridge was silent. The details would come in, eventually. It was a fleet wide communique. Archangel
had not been in their sector, so there was nothing they could do.
"Steady as she goes, helm," the captain ordered.
"Aye sir," Ray replied, then added softly, looking out at the stars, remembering.... "God help them...." FIN