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Cptn Elias Moore

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About Cptn Elias Moore

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    Enough is nice. But Moore is better.

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  1. "You're lucky we were warned of your arrival." M'ehl said to Rex. "If we'd taken you for simple Orion merchants, we might have opened fire. Quite ironic, don't you think?" Rex looked to Captain Archer as the Klingon laughed. "Captain, what's going on here?" He'd already told the rest of the team to stand down their rescue efforts. Now he wanted to know why. "It might take a while to explain, Ambassador. Why don't you have a seat." Though Taavlan was a prison camp, Archer's abode looked nothing like a prison cell. It was as dark and musky as any Klingon environment with markedly alien furnishings and architecture, but it was as large as a VIP suite with all the amenities. There was little to suggest that Archer was anything but a guest. "Ambassador," Archer continued once the trio was seated. "I need your assurances that the information I'm about to give you doesn't leave Klingon space. This is as per not only the orders of Starfleet Command... but also a promise I made to the former Chancellor M'rek. You can share it with your crew, but beyond them this must remain strictly confidential." When Rex gave his agreement, Archer unexpectedly brought up the Augment crisis which took place two years ago. The first part was nothing new to Rex. He'd read the reports about noted scientist Arik Soong's descent into madness and his relationship with a band of genetically-engineered humans 'built' using secrets from the days of the Eugenics Wars. He knew about their quest to start a war between the Humans and Klingons and about Enterprise's race through Orion territory to stop them. How closely those events mirrored Challenger's mission; it couldn't come as too much of a surprise that the Augment crisis had something to do with all of this. It was the account that followed that came as a surprise. Some time after, Archer explained, the Klingons investigated the site of the decisive confrontation between Enterprise and a Bird of Prey hijacked by Soong's Augments. They managed to recover samples of the augmented Human DNA and used them in an attempt to replicate the process on their own warriors. Their attempt backfired, however, resulting in the emergence of a fatal virus. The Klingons kidnapped Enterprise's Dr. Phlox and forced him to develop a cure for the virus. The aftershocks of the incident continued to reverberate, however. Rex nodded as Archer described the new Klingons. They were stronger, faster, and sharper, but, as a curious side effect of Phlox's cure, they more closely resembled Humans than Klingons. He now understood the identity of the 'Klingon' that was locked up in their transport's Brig. "There are about a thousand of these augments spread throughout Klingon territory." Archer continued. "It wasn't until I was sitting in a cell aboard M'ehl's ship that I learned about the most important one of them all..." Archer practically jumped off of the crude steel cot in his cell when the door opened. His captor, M'ehl, surprisingly entered alone, the door closing right behind him. He was obviously confident that a Human posed no physical threat; Archer had no intention of putting this to a test. "You've opened fire on two Starfleet vessels and kidnapped a Commanding Officer. Obviously, you're aware that this will lead to war?" He kept the rage out of his voice; he could only assume his crew was dead, but he had to remain political. "A war between our people is indeed brewing, Captain." M'ehl answered. "Sit." "I'll stand." Archer replied in a defiant tone. The Klingon would have to force him. M'ehl, however, just smiled. "Stand, then." The Klingon walked past him and seated himself, putting himself at a remarkably vulnerable position--an even greater demonstration of his confidence. "Your two ships were disabled, but not destroyed. They are in our possession. The crews have been transferred to cells aboard our ships. None of them have been harmed." "Klingons don't take prisoners." Archer stated simply, a narrow-eyed gaze fixed on M'ehl. "They do if they've been ordered to by their Chancellor." M'ehl wasn't returning the gaze. For some reason, he was looking around the cell slowly, as if he'd never seen it before. "What does the Chancellor want with us?" "Chancellor Min is aware that you are responsible for his condition." M'ehl answered, almost lazily, as he seemed preoccupied with scanning every inch of the cell's interior. "His condition?" M'ehl now looked Archer squarely in the eyes. "His forehead has no ridges." Archer's brow furrowed deeply as he took this in. One of the Klingon augments was behind the rumored coup on the Klingon homeworld! This was the third time Archer had been dragged into Arik Soong's eugenic playground. "Is that why you're preparing for war? Revenge?" M'ehl tilted his head back and laughed. "Revenge?! Captain, you couldn't be more wrong! Chancellor Min views his condition as a blessing! A blessing from mighty Kahless... helped along by you and your Doctor Phlox, of course. He is so appreciative of what you've done, in fact, that he would like you to pass the blessing on to the rest of the Klingon people." Archer's face contorted in a scowl; it was all starting to come together now. M'ehl continued, "The Klingon armada is amassed along the Coalition borders standing by for orders to invade. Those orders will not be delivered until I've accomplished my objective... which is to take you and your crew to my base and force you to replicate the transformation process. When our military invades, it is not to be the standard Klingon military, but a horde of the same genetically modified supersoldiers that were capable of overwhelming the capital city and swiftly seizing control of the Klingon Empire." "You tell me all of this." Archer said coldly. "And actually expect me or anyone on my crew to cooperate?" "My orders are to use whatever means necessary, no matter how 'un-Klingon' they may seem, to earn your cooperation. Torture, much like ambushes and kidnappings, is not above our new Chancellor." "It won't work. On any of us." M'ehl flashed a toothy grin at Archer. "Though I'd love to prove you wrong, Captain, I am not going to try. You see, I have no intention of following my Chancellor's orders." Just when Archer thought he understood this entire situation, it all scrambled back up. He was stunned, but he offered no response, merely waiting for the Klingon's explaination. "Chancellor Min was one of our finest Generals, Captain." M'ehl said. "An exemplary leader of men. Many of the Klingons who enjoyed the honor of serving alongside him, myself included, counted Min as a close friend. His influence over our warrior caste was great, indeed. So great that even after Min's transformation... even after Chancellor M'rek discharged him along with all the soldiers who had been changed by your virus... the loyalty of a great many of his men, even those who had not been changed, did not waver. For two years, Min coaxed the loyalty of Commanders assigned to homeworld's defensive fleet and drew up plans for a swift and subtle takeover. His coup met little resistance. Within days, Min occupied the throne and M'rek's head was displayed on a pike outside the Great Hall. Within weeks, the first stages of the renewed expansion of the Klingon Empire were being planned. None dare oppose him. His guile and his physical prowess are unmatched among our people. "But he has been changed in other ways, Captain. His transformation was not a blessing. It was a curse! He is tainted by Human blood. There is no honor guiding his actions. He employs assassins to skulk about homeworld planting knives in the backs of potential rivals. He treats the families of M'rek and the old advisors as if they are garbage. He speaks of a return to the days of the Emperors, but his way could lead to anarchy. And now he wishes to spread the same taint to all Klingons. It pains me to say this of a former friend, Captain... but he must be stopped." "But you kidnap my people anyway. Why?" Archer asked. "Min gave this task to me because he trusts me, Captain. If I'd refused, he'd have had me killed and another would have taken my place. I must maintain the appearance of following the Chancellor's orders. He's assigned augments to my crew; if they report any kind of disobedience, I will be relieved of my command and they will take over this operation. If that happens, my plans will be ruined." "And what, precisely, are *your* plans?" Archer asked, finding himself skeptical of his captor's noble intent. "To give Min exactly the opposite of what he is asking for." M'ehl grinned. "You and your medical officer are the experts on these transformations, correct? That presents those of us who are opposed to this new regime with a great opportunity. Instead of replicating the transformation process, you will develop a means of reversing it." Archer sighed deeply. "I've had it up to here with genetic engineering, M'ehl. This is not something that can be turned on and off like a light." "I did not say I expected instant results, Captain." M'ehl stood. "But I expect results. The Chancellor has supplied my base camp with the finest in Klingon lab equipment, and the augments on my crew are going to provide you with genetic material... whether they like it or not. You will have all the resources you need. The alternative may not be torture, Captain... but as our Chancellor is preparing for war with your people, I am sure you can find suitable motivation to cooperate..."
  2. He'd only been asleep three hours before his small transport's proximity alarm awoke Captain Moore. At first, he was confused when he looked out the forward viewport. Had the ship he was looking at managed to get this close before setting off the alarm? Or had the loud blaring of the alarm actually failed to wake him until now? Wrong on both counts. As Moore's eyes refocused out of their sleep-induced blur, he realized that the ship was far enough away to be right on the edge of the proximity scanners. It was simply immense. It's immensity was staggering. The Orion fortress ship. Moore's hands reached the shuttle's control panel faster than his brain could send the command. Even as they did so, he realized that it was too late. The interceptors had already been launched and were closing in on the shuttle. His attempt to turn the ship around and escape was doomed for failure--the interceptors were too fast--but he'd be damned if he didn't try. The cabin shook. Sparks erupted from the panel. Moore blacked out before he could speculate whether death or unconsciousness was gripping him. He awoke with large green hands clasping his arms and dragging him forward. How long he'd been out, he couldn't be sure. His head was throbbing, and a faint smell of burnt flesh told him why his left hand was in agonizing pain. The corridors were wide and brightly lit, nothing like the corridors on Rago's transport. Certainly, he'd been taken aboard the fortress ship. Was he still aboard, or had it dropped him off somewhere else? The first face to greet him provided the answer. A human-sized man with a slick black body suit, a bald head, a thin black visor concealing his eyes, and, most remarkably, skin the color of solid gold. How could he forget that face. Gravus. The mastermind of the kidnappings at Deneva a year ago. Somewhere behind those shades were a pair of appraising eyes. The tingling on the back of Moore's neck implied that a gaze could, indeed, be felt. Gravus was seated in a pivoting chair at the center of a circular command deck eight times as big as Challenger's Bridge. Orions both male and female were working at the stations scattered around its perimeter. One Orion male stood to the side of Gravus' chair, arms crossed, eyes staring at the Captain. Gravus' left hand lifted a small white device similar to a hypospray. He pushed it against his left nostril and pressed a button at the bottom. The device emitted a faint hiss, and Gravus' head tilted back momentarily. Moore recalled witnessing this at Deneva. "Remove that." Gravus pointed at the top of his own head. A large hand gripped the top of Moore's head and ripped off his Orion wig roughly, ripping off the skin where the cap had been adhered. Moore was in too much pain from the hand injury to notice. "Captain Moore." Gravus addressed in his languid voice. "When last we parted, I knew our paths would cross again." Moore was starting to feel dizzy from the pain. "As you may have guessed by now, I have come for your head." A small grin touched Gravus' face. "But before I take it, I am going to repay an old favor. The new Klingon Chancellor will be delighted to know that Starfleet officers are prowling around his territory dressed as Orions." "... no ..." Moore managed a weak shake of his head. "I do believe you shall meet him personally." Gravus pulled aside his visor. The glow that emerged from his eyes defied belief, and they were focused directly on Moore. With one look at those glowing orbs, a wave of nausea crashed into Moore. In moments, he fell unconscious once again.
  3. NX-05 Challenger Mission Briefing -- May 28, 2156 The Orion transport cleared the Briar patch unmolested and is now in Klingon space. A course has been set for M'ehl's base of operations, a prison camp in the Taavlan system. It will take a journey of several days to reach the camp. For the time being, the crew has another concern to deal with. The intruder who managed to escape the medical bay has mysteriously disappeared from internal sensors. The crew is on high alert; the mission could be seriously jeopardized if this stowaway turns out to be a spy or a saboteur.
  4. Every Orion ship, from the smallest personal yacht to the largest cargo freighter, has a chamber known as the 'blind spot.' Wedged in a section of the ship surrounded by thick masses of constantly active optical cables, unusually noisy power conduits, and thrumming structural field generators, this chamber is remarkably resistant to sensor scans. An uninformed engineer might speculate that the 'blind spot' is a superfluous hollow that shouldn't have made it past the blueprints--an accident of the ship's clearly inferior Orion design. An Orion knows better, of course. The blind spot is as much a key element of the ship's design as the overlord's quarters. It is in this chamber that the ship's most precious cargo is frequently stored. Should the ship ever be stopped by the local authorities of a region in which the crew is operating, their scans will pick up only the modest trade goods in the ship's main cargo hold; the contraband goods in the blind spot will be missed entirely, and the crew will be allowed to go about their business. Similarly, should the ship fall into enemy hands, its captors may never discover the treasure trove sitting right under their noses; the ship is likely to be recaptured before the blind spot is located. Jojo Quickhands, being both a connoisseur of all things hidden and a veteran of Orion affairs, happens to know the location of the blind spot on every variety of Orion ship that has yet been invented. Jojo, furthermore being aware that the blind spot is just as useful for hiding *people* as it is for hiding illegal goods, is currently sitting in the blind spot of an Orion medium transport taking a Starfleet crew into Klingon space. Jojo is not privy to that particular detail just yet, but the knowledge would do little to stir his excitement; Jojo possesses quite an active imagination, and the idea that his hosts are diving through enemy lines disguised as Orion slaves to procure the rescue of their organization's most beloved commanding officer from a Klingon prison camp, while impressive indeed, only scrapes the iceberg of the possibilities he's envisioned. Unfortunately, Jojo is not on very good terms with his hosts just now. Despite his charitable contribution to their dire need for medical supplies, the untrusting lot would just as soon shove him out an airlock as include him in any share of thrillings and shillings to be produced by their gallant adventure. Thus the reason that Jojo must hide. Jojo has travelled through space quite extensively, but he has never done so outside the confines of a starship, and even his most exploratory instincts would prefer to keep it that way. In addition to hiding, Jojo is waiting. He has surreptitiously tapped into the surrounding optical cables through the use of a handy hacker's kit that he skillfully rendered safe from a large gentlemen who was (probably, maybe, there is certainly a chance) intending to use it to disable Mingavon's life support systems and kill everyone on board the station. With this convenient access to the transport's computer network, Jojo is monitoring his hosts even as they futilely attempt to locate him. His intention is to wait for a dangerous situation to arise (almost a certainty, for why else would Human men be dressed as Orion slave girls, if not peculiar fetish?), then *show* the crew the useful array of capabilities for which they would not take him at his word. They will agree, he hopes, that his services would prove quite valuable in the face of the dangers toward which they anxiously advance. Valuable enough, he furthermore hopes, to earn some of the rewards toward which they eagerly scramble. With three week's worth of space rations and water, a decanter of Andorian ale, and four volumes of choice Klingon literature stuffed into his tunic, Jojo Quickhands has everything he needs for a long blind spot stakeout. He just wishes the blind spot were also a deaf spot and hopes that the unearthly noise will not drive him insane...
  5. Red Star and Challenger will both take place this weekend. See you all there!
  6. NX-05 Challenger Mission Briefing -- May 21, 2156 Challenger's crew is ready to depart Mingavon with everything they need for the mission into Klingon space--a second ship, supplies, and directions to a prison camp operated by M'ehl. Caasia has transferred maps of the Briar patch to both transports. These maps show several safe routes through the nebula to Klingon space. The border between Klingon and Coalition space is lined with Klingon warships, but the edge of the nebula is not patrolled; this is the most furtive route the crew can take. The maps will guide the two ships safely, but precise piloting will be required and the trip will be bumpy.
  7. I don't imagine that any of our sims give diplomatic positions to new Academy graduates. They might be given out as 'guest roles' to players who have simming experience, but even that's rare. As a new player, it's really best for you to get your feet wet with one of the 'standard' positions.
  8. "A package?! What package?" General Erdok shouted at the viewscreen. "That is not for you to know." Replied the ivory-haired Klingon on the screen, a nameless representative of the Chancellor's war council. "You need know only that this is the bidding of Chancellor Min and it is your duty to abide." "My men are restless!" Erdok protested. "You sent my wing to the Coalition border with orders to be prepared for war, and now you tell us that we must wait for a 'package!' When will this package arrive?" "Soon. The packages are still being prepared for distribution to the fleet." Erdok narrowed his eyes at the aged military advisor. That was the first indication he'd made that every wing would be receiving a 'package,' and Erdok was now considering possibilities. The orders to the fleet to amass along the Coalition border had been as sudden as the announcement of a change of power on Qo'noS. The orders were assumed to be the product of a more aggressive foreign policy on the new Chancellor's part, but the strategy was questionable. A war against the allied powers of the Coalition would be a risky proposition, especially considering that the fleet mobilization was conducted right out in the open where the Coalition could observe and prepare for it. Did this new authority on homeworld have a wildcard to offer? Had a new form of weaponry, perhaps, been developed? The existence of a new weapon would serve to explain how this mysterious Min had managed to launch his coup successfully. "In the meantime, General," the advisor continued. "I will trust in your much heralded ability to keep your men fit and eager for battle. The Coalition is the greatest menace to galactic stability that we have ever known, and our glorious campaign to put it in its place is a duty blessed by Kahless himself." When the discussion was over and the advisor's face cleared from the screen, General Erdok sat back in his chair and allowed a toothy grin to spread across his face. A student of Klingon history, Erdok was of an ambitious mind that longed for the old days when an Emperor sat atop the Klingon throne. The Empire had stagnated since those days, ruled by weak-willed Chancellors too satisfied with the Klingon borders as they were, even as the Romulan and Andorian Empires stretched their territories ever closer to Klingon space. The emergence of the Humans as not only an ambitious power but also a unifying force for their neighbors was the spark that blasted the furnace. Placing colonies in the border systems of Straton, Deneva and Belpherus, and even daring to stain the surface of sacred Khitomer, the Humans were a plague that spread across the stars with all of the ambition but none of the temperance of the Klingon Emperors. Now, with a new weapon possessed by the Empire, the time for restoration had come. For over a century, the Klingon people had called out the dire need for renewed expansion. At last, the disease of contentedness would be purged from the Empire. And with it the disease of Humanity.
  9. "And what form of payment will you administer?" The albino asked in his silky voice. Moore looked around at his team to see if an answer to that question had managed to hit any of them yet. Sure enough, even vital medical supplies were going to have a pricetag in this place. There was one option at his disposal--the various pieces of Starfleet equipment concealed within his robe, sure to be worth something to someone on the station--but he was loath to part with them. The albino kept his patient stare fixed on the team, and judging by the expressions Moore saw on his teammates' faces, an answer would not be forthcoming. Just as Jasmine was about to stall the albino, a squeaky voice emerged from behind the team, peculiarly close to the floor. "I believe I can answer that!" As one the team turned and looked down at a slightly plump figure half the size of a human. It was the man who'd bumped into Matt on the docking level. "You again!" The Lieutenant said, recognizing the man's cherubic face, curly hair, and, of course, diminished stature. "Did you follow us?" Moore asked, putting on his best feminine voice. "Just who are you?" "Shhh!" The halfling said, raising his index finger to his smiling lips. With an amazingly swift motion of his hand, the small figure produced a bulging sack about the size of his own head. No one on the team could see from where he retrieved the bag; he appeared to pull it out of nowhere. He directed his attention to the albino standing on the other side of the team. "My good sir, I believe that this will cover whatever expenses these fine folk accrue." The halfling threw the bag up to the albino's snatching hand. A sound of clinking metal accompanied the catch. The albino opened the bag and looked inside. His pale eyes had a curious twinkle as they looked up and swept over the team. "This... is quite satisfactory. Come with me and I will see to your needs." "Jasmine, T'Parek," Moore said. "Go with him and show him our shopping list." As the group split up, Moore looked down at the halfling. "I'll ask again. Who are you? And what are you expecting in exchange for this favor?" "Sated curiosity." The halfling grinned at Moore and Matt. "I couldn't resist wondering why two Starfleet officers are disguised as Orion women." The two officers exchanged a concerned glance. "Don't be alarmed," the small man continued. "I won't tell anyone your little secret, obvious though the signs of it may be. It's not as if as I have any loyalty to the big folk around here; they're simply easier business partners." "And what is your business?" Moore asked, dropping the feminine voice, but speaking more quietly. "Personal Property Safety." The halfling grinned. He tucked both hands into his tunic and they emerged holding Matt's phase pistol and scanner. "I was keeping these two items here safe from misuse." "Those are mine!" Matt said. He grabbed the halfling hard by the shoulder and retrieved his stolen equipment. "Ow!" The halfling barked. "I'd meant to return them, honest! A show of my good faith. Oh, please let me go!" "What do you want from us?" Moore asked again, shaking his head at Matt. "Ow... I want to accompany you wherever you are going!" The halfling answered desparately. "I sense that you fine gentlefolk are putting together quite an adventure, and I very much desire to join in on the danger-fraught excitement, the intellectual fulfillment, and, I sincerely hope, at least a small fraction of any material profits." "Not a chance." Moore said. The mission was too sensitive for a three foot tall security liability. "Your financial help is appreciated... now get lost." The halfling brushed the shoulder of his tunic as Matt released him. "But... I am quite skilled. I may be able to assist you! Please, I implore you to reconsider." "I said get lost... or Mr. Vank might just be inclined to 'misuse' his pistol." The halfling glanced at Matt and took a step back. He appeared as if he was about to respond, but at that moment Jasmine and T'Parek returned. "They have the supply list." T'Parek said. "They're going to have everything shipped to the transport within an hour." "Great." Moore said. "Let's be on our way then. If you'll excuse us." He gave the halfling a threatening look. "Well, I wish you knew better how to show your appreciation!" The halfling stepped aside to let the group pass to the escalator. "Don't expect any more favors from me in the future. And consider yourself lucky that I didn't render safety upon any more of your belongings." When the team was out of sight, the halfling looked down the hall in the other direction. A smile crept onto his face as he recalled the precise location of the room where outgoing cold-storage shipments were assembled...
  10. NX-05 Challenger Mission Briefing -- May 5, 2156 A rust-colored cloud pierced by spots of brilliant light dominates the Orion transport's viewscreen. In a century, it will be one of the most well-known nebulae in the galaxy, positioned nearly at the nexus of three interstellar superpowers--the Federation, the Romulan Empire, and the Klingon Empire. Currently, few Humans are aware of its existence, fewer still know its name--the Briar Patch--and only a select handful know of that name's curious origin. "Tangelia!" The Orion helmsman says, indicating the nebula on the screen. "Dosheka call it Klach D'Kel Brakt. Don't know if Humans have named it." "Is it safe to enter?" Captain Moore asks. "Not very safe, no." The helmsman answers. "But it is good place for hiding; ship scanners have trouble getting through. There are safe paths if you know how to see the signs of danger, or if you know where you are going." Moore nods. The perfect place to set up a station like Mingavon, whose owners desire secrecy. And if the nebula has a well-known Klingon name, it is likely that a substantial portion of it borders or occupies Klingon space. The telltale clanking of the transport's lift announces that Rago is on his way to the Bridge. Moore turns just in time to see the massive Orion being escorted off the lift by two security guards. He now has the same drunken look on his face as the rest of the Orions on the ship. "Captain! Looking good! If I didn't know you were a man, I'd be positively enamored!" "I see you've had a chance to enjoy the transport's new environment, Rago." Moore says. He nods back toward the viewscreen. "As you see, we've arrived at your nebula. Now, if you help our helmsman here steer us to Mingavon, I'll see to arranging some private time between you and one of my female officers." "Really?" An eager look spreads across Rago's face. "Either that or I won't have you shot." Moore answers. "You're a winner regardless." As a disappointed Rago is ushered toward the helm console, Moore turns to Ambassador Rex, acting as impromptu First Officer with Commander Cole debilitated by a sudden allergic reaction to the Orion pheromones. "Notify the crew that we'll be arriving soon." The ship lurches forward and the cloud on the viewscreen looms nearer. The view conjures up mental images of the underworld of epic tales, an image that fits the crew's voyage well--the nebula is home to six of the key players of the Orion underworld, and beyond the threshold lies the danger of Klingon space...
  11. Captain Moore entered the transporter room flanked by two armed security officers. He'd taken off his wig and put on a long robe, but the guards, both men, still looked like ugly Orion women; Moore hoped this would not diminish the intimidating effect. Rago was sitting nonchalantly on the edge of the transport pad. He looked up at the arriving officers and smirked. "Captain Moore, good to see you again! Love the 'do, but you're still looking a little green, I must say." He spoke as smoothly as he had when he'd informed the crew that he was turning them over to a band of slavers. This clearly wasn't the Rago Moore had met for the first time--the grinning oaf whose grasp of English was a work in progress. "You betrayed us." Moore stated simply. The guards stepped in front of him. "I rescued you." Rago retorted in a proud tone. "Your little slave-exchange ploy wasn't such a bad idea. But it was doomed for failure if not for my noble intentions; I needed only tell Overlord Gamses that the Orions you sent to his ship weren't the slaves he was after." "The slaves he was after?" Moore repeated with a suspicious glare. "Captain, Captain." Rago laughed silkily. "You want your crew to infiltrate Orion society convincingly. How can you do that if you don't understand Orion ways? Mark my words, Captain. From this point forward, nothing... *nothing*... is quite what it appears." Moore could buy that. Rago was proof of it. During their first encounter, there was little reason to believe that the Orion was any more than a hired hand, sent to give the crew a lift, possibly capable of punching a few lights out. His cheery personality and self-effacing language struggles gave him an aura of innocence; ironically, his size only heightened this perception, possibly playing on a 'big and dumb' prejudice deep in Moore's psyche. That was all a guise, however, no different from the transformations that the crew had undergone. Now that the 'gentle giant' mask was discarded, Rago had the air of a calculating killer about him--the debris of the slavers' command carrier supported this. "It's a bit stuffy in here, isn't it?" Rago looked around the transporter room. "That's because the environment in this room has been cut off from the rest of the ship," Moore answered. "Where we're currently pumping our pheromone substitute into the air. Every Orion on this ship is now obedient to us; there's no one to come to your aid. And I'll have no compunctions about ordering my people on the Bridge to beam you right back to the slavers' ship." Rago understood his meaning. After all, he'd been the one to blow the carrier up. "There'll be no need to do that, Captain. We're still on the same side. You see, I was counting on your escape. I'll admit you managed to take control of the transport a bit more quickly than I'd anticipated, but there was still enough time for my associates to plant explosives on the carrier's warp drive... and enough time for me to figure out who the carrier belonged to." "I'm listening." Moore said. "But I won't listen long. I've had my fill of your lies." "Aww, you mean I'll have to leave the Orion political history out of my explanation? Pity, as it happens to be my area of expertise." Rago crossed his large legs and grinned up at Moore. "You were not beset by mere slavers, Captain. The large Orion you encountered (large even by our standard, that is) was a 'Fist of Gold.' Quite a specimen I must say. There were two more on the carrier. They are genetically engineered warriors of an Orion Syndicate faction known only as the 'Stregadoro.'" "Genetically engineered?" Moore repeated. His mind instantly recalled the complex under the Nequencia colony. Couldn't anyone keep their fingers out of this sort of activity? "That's right. The scientific brilliance of the Stregadoro is matched only by their secretive ways. They don't trade in slaves, Captain; it's never been their way. If the Stregadoro kidnaps someone, it's because they have a clearly defined purpose in mind for the kidnapee." "What purpose?" Moore asked. "I don't know." Rago's massive shoulders shrugged. "But I'd wager that it has something to do with your Klingon mission. Allow me to explain how this set of circumstances came about, Captain. All of the rival factions of the Syndicate consist primarily of Orions, understandably enough. This makes it remarkably easy for agents of one faction to infiltrate another faction--one of the reasons that my superiors, The Six, are interested in closer ties with other species. When involved in the Syndicate, it's generally best to assume that everyone around you is working for another faction and waiting for the right moment to stab you in the back... because, if they aren't already, there's a good chance that hefty bribes will eventually turn them." "Sounds like a fun career." Moore observed. "It has its moments." Rago beamed. "Shortly after Starfleet contacted us about your mission, The Six put my crew together not only assuming that two or three traitors would be included among its ranks, but anticipating it, even assigning one traitor that was known to them." "This was a sensitive mission that required the utmost discretion." Moore said. "You're telling me The Six deliberately assigned known turncoats to the transport?" "Common procedure. In this business, it's wise to keep one's enemies close. Consider the alternative. Without a Stregadoro informant on my crew, they might have learned of the mission through other channels... possibly after you'd already entered Klingon space. There's no telling what they would have done under such circumstances. Blown your cover to the Klingons, maybe? Destroyed the transport, killed you all, since there would be no one on board worth sparing? No, it is better to anticipate and plan accordingly than to allow events to unravel at someone else's whim. The way we do it almost always ensures that we remain in control." Moore furrowed his brow, trying to keep up. "So this informant on your crew notified this faction that you were escorting a Starfleet crew into Orion space? Then what?" "Then they contacted me." Rago said. "Not the wisest decision, maybe, but the Stregadoro tend to be somewhat... arrogant when it comes to their rivals. They assume that we're all mindless thugs with price tags. As we were en route to picking you up from your Deneva colony, their carrier intercepted us. They offered me a handsome sum of money for my transport... with you and your crew on board, of course. It was also implied that refusal of their offer would subject us to the itchy trigger fingers of their fighter pilots. I didn't refuse." "Quite a roll of the dice with our lives." Moore said, not doing much to conceal his anger. "While we were having our heads bashed in by Fists of Gold, what were your people doing over there?" Rago shrugged. "Learning about them and their interest in your crew. If you'd taken more time in capturing the transport, I might have been able to learn more about their motives. But the knowledge of which faction they belong to will go a long way in helping us combat their efforts. As soon as I inform The Six of Stregadoro interest in your mission, steps will be taken to shake them off your tail. Decoys will be dropped, false rumors will be planted, key officials will be clipped... well, it's probably better if I don't go into details. Suffice to say that things will get bloody in the coming months, but we'll accept the sacrifices in the best interests of our alliance with the Coalition." "Touching." Moore said, voice dripping with sarcasm. "Aside from that," Rago continued. "We planted explosives on the carrier in preparation for the right moment to wipe out any evidence of what occured out here. Along with any traitorous elements." Moore did the mental math. Rago was the only member of the transport crew who'd returned from the carrier. "You killed off your entire crew just to take out one person?" "I wasn't certain which one of them was the Stregadoro informant. Would you rather he tagged along with us, Captain?" Rago asked. "Enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about what you're doing in Orion space? Or to draw more Stregadoro carriers to us? Which reminds me... you have the rest of their crew here, still alive, right?" "Despite their intentions, yes, we avoided killing any of their people." Moore answered. "The pheromones are keeping them in line, and their leader is going to be restrained in your medical bay." "Gamses' mate? Is still alive?" Rago laughed. "That was quite a lie you told him. The fact that he didn't react by opening fire at once tells us that you're more valuable to the Stregadoro alive. But if I were you, I would kill her and the rest of her people as quickly as possible. They're liabilities to your mission." "We're not killing anyone." Moore stated flatly. "We're in charge of this ship now, Mr. Rago, and my people don't do things the way you and your associates do things. They'll be monitored closely." Rago sighed and shook his head. "Inviting trouble, Captain. The Six will probably order them killed anyway, but have it your way for now. I'll head to the Bridge and set us back on course for Mingavon." The Orion stood up, prompting Moore's guards to snap to readiness. He cast them both amused glances. "Or won't I?" "You won't." Moore answered. "You'll be kept in the same suite you locked us into, under guard of course. We've figured out enough about your helm controls to restore the course you had us on originally." "I see." Rago chuckled and moved toward the guards with his hands on top of his head. "Fine with me. I've been a prisoner many times before. But you're still going to need me, Captain. The course you're on doesn't lead directly to Mingavon. Call me when you reach the edge of the nebula." Rago winked. Moore glared back at the Orion and motioned the guards to take him away. He couldn't help but think that the Syndicate had more surprises in store for his crew...
  12. NX-05 Challenger Mission Briefing -- April 30, 2156 Challenger's crew is in control of the Orion transport... for the moment, at least. The Orion behemoth who has proven so difficult to overcome is still roaming below decks. The synthesized pheromones are having no effect on him, oxygen depravation has not been a problem for him, and he's even able to resist repeated disruptor blasts. The engineering team has managed to drop the transport's security bulkheads, but he is strong enough to tear right through them. His master is currently trapped between two of the bulkheads, but her last orders to him were clear--eliminate the escaped slaves.
  13. Starfleet Intelligence Dossier OS-428 Confidential: Level 5 Clearance Required Factions of the Syndicate Wars The formation of the Coalition and its aggressive stance toward interstellar piracy have succeeded at destabilizing the Orion Syndicate. With the Coalition worlds united and sharing resources in their efforts to police trade routes, the Coalition territories are now virtually free of Orion influence. Not only has this bolstered the Coalition economy, it has stripped the Syndicate of one of its most reliable areas of operation. With the Syndicate sphere of influence diminished and no longer capable of supporting the entire organization, its leaders have taken to infighting. They have splintered the organization into factions which all aim to eliminate their rivals and exert complete control over the remaining Syndicate territories. These factions have varying ideas as to how the Syndicate may turn its fortunes, but they are defined primarily by the identities of their leaders. The following are the three most prominent factions; their leaders were the highest-ranking Syndicate officials prior to the splinter. The Six -- Among all their rivals, The Six are the most favorable to non-Orions. This has made them the perfect allies to Starfleet. 'Six' refers to the six leaders of the faction, all women. The relationship between them is vague; it is speculated in Syndicate circles that they are sisters. Our chief contact within the faction is one of their number. The irony of our alliance is certainly not lost on them. The Coalition is responsible for their hardships, and it is against those hardships that we make offers of support. They are remarkably business-minded, however, so our support is readily embraced. By fostering their dependence on us, we will have the loyalty of a talented band of mercenaries who can perform black operations for us when we require a higher level of discretion. The Six are based primarily in the Borderland; their dealings with the Klingons have been extensive, but they have no particular loyalty to the Empire. The weapons trade has always been their primary area of operation; steps have been taken to afford them leniency in smuggling their goods through Coalition space. They have always been mercenary, selling services such as assassination, robbery, kidnapping, and espionage to wealthy customers. The Stregadoro -- The Stregadoro may be the most dangerous of the three factions, despite having the fewest members. They are a reclusive and mysterious band that wields science to achieve power. Their most deadly members are the Fists of Gold, Orion males that have been subjected to genetic tampering. They are said to be larger than the average males and nearly impervious to damage. Many are covered in body armor to which extensive arrays of equipment are attached. High-ranking Stregadoro employ the Fists as bodyguards and assassins. Their subtlety and efficiency would make them superb allies, but the higher echelons of their leadership have been difficult to contact--they do not associate freely with non-Orions. The identity of their leader is not known; he is infamous for speaking and acting through intermediaries. It is said that he is a man with strange and terrible capabilities, likely scientific in nature; he may, in fact, be a Fist of Gold. The potency of the narcotics produced by the Stregadoro are known throughout Syndicate space. Their few dealings with other species have involved the sale of scientific marvels, primarily bioweapons, but they rely mostly on their drug trade. The Neo-Syndicate -- The faction claiming to be the new incarnation of the Syndicate appropriately conforms to the Orion reputation for thuggery. The typical Neo-Syndicate member is an unthinking brute and the faction has produced more violence and destruction than any of its rivals. Their leader, a male by the name of Gufaso, is said to be no different. He is infamous for both his lack of guile and his destructive temper, and it is commonly accepted that he arose to his position through coercion alone. Alternative ideas have been suggested, however. Some speculate that Gufaso's boisterous manner is merely a clever facade concealing his brilliant intellect (it may be Gufaso himself who spreads this rumor). Others speculate that he is merely a strawman for the true power behind the Neo-Syndicate (Gufaso has been known to react to this suggestion with violence). Whatever the case, the Neo-Syndicate boasts by far the largest membership of any of its rivals; this is owed mostly to their lower standards for recruitment. Their two areas of focus, slavery and piracy, are the two most adversely impacted by the Coalition clampdown. In time, they are likely to self-destruct, but as long as they command the sheer numbers that they do, they must be reckoned with.
  14. Klingon Jello Wrestling?