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[2006: MAR-APR] Acid Green


Fleet Captain TPen
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“Acid Green”

A Captain’s Table Story

by Captain T’Pen

Captain T’Pen quietly reflected at her desk, having just returned, after reunification talks among the Kubazzak tribes on Ver’ydet V. “Six thousand years of bitter war among the tribal nations,” she thought. “This war? The byproduct of years of aggression, agitation and speculation.”

T’Pen sighed deeply. Had she done enough? Her FO, Frazier, would say that they had done their duty and that was all they could do. They could have done more. She sighed again and rested her head on her steeple fingers.

“Peace talks.” She wondered if they were serving the entire civilization or just a portion. She almost moaned. However, her Vulcan discipline would not let her. Instead, she chose to get a drink. Yeoman Adn’Ama Abernathy stood up from her desk walked over to T’Pen.

“Is there something I can get you, Captain?” she said in her songbird-like voice. Adn’Ama was sweet, her blond hair caught in ringlets across her forehead, complimenting her Trill spots.

“No. That will be all for this evening. I’m going to “Mission Control” and a couple of hours of rest.” The Yeoman smiled. “I expect you’ll be doing the same.”

Adn’Ama looked at her, “Not really tired yet, Ma’am. The schedule for tomorrow still needs to be coordinated with Major deMarc. He wants to send an armed escort to the surface with you.”

“Always looking out for me,” T’Pen shook her head a bit; the salt-n-pepper strands of her hair, flipping around her shoulders. It had been deMarc’s suggestion that she do away with the twin braid look. Though she did not like the strands getting in her face during a battle or wrestling match with deMarc, she had considered his suggestion and now wore it down.

“He loves you Captain. And I believe you love him.” Adn’Ama smiled and playfully grabbed a PADD off T’Pen’s desk before the Captain could use it as a projectile. “I’m only saying that he wants the best for you.”

“I know,” T’Pen nodded, turned on her heal towards the door. “Just get some rest.” With that, the door closed and she was on the bridge.

The night sounds of the bridge calmed T’Pen. She had a strong desire to remain on the bridge, but knew that she needed to take a break. “Even if it was only for a couple of hours,” she whispered to herself.

T’Pen looked up to the overhead computer in the turbolift and said, “Mission Control”. Moments later, she was deposited in front of the ship’s primary lounge, known as “Mission Control”.

Named after the NASA control center on Earth; its walls held replica memorabilia from the 20th Century. A time when space exploration was so new, you could almost taste the excitement in the air. Usually when crewmembers went into the lounge; in fact even before entering the lounge, a cacophony of noise and hard music vibrated from within. However, as T’Pen went towards the door, there was no fractious noise. T’Pen [...]ed an eyebrow.

The doors swooshed open and T’Pen walked in but as she blinked, there was a thud behind her. She spun, to see a large wooden door where the transparasteel doors should have been. Sniffing the air, the smell of tobacco and heavy smoke wafted around her.

Spinning, T’Pen tapped her combadge, but the chirp did not sound. “T’Pen to Bridge.” “Doc to Frazier.” “Doc to deMarc.”

“Doesn’t work in here, Captain,” A robust older fellow in faded brown shirt, balding head and white apron said as he cleaned out a glass behind a wooden tavern bar. “Can’t call em. They aren’t around.”

T’Pen moved through the smell of musk and tobacco. It filled her nostrils making her Klingon half want to howl. It felt good to be here, yet she did not know where or when she was.

“You’re in my bar, Captain. Well it isn’t mine, but it’s as much mine as it is his, hers or yours.” He pointed around the bar. She looked around, seeing the people he indicated. One looked like a Roman Centurion, his hair graying. A woman of about fifteen wore chain-mail armor and a sword, a bob of black hair outlining her youth.

“Who are these people?” T’Pen said, her hands coming to rest on the bar’s surface. Was she was hallucinating, dreaming? “If this is a dream, wake up quickly. If it is a hallucination, waking up would be a marvelous idea as well!”

“You aren’t dreaming, Captain. Moreover, you are not hallucinating. You are real. They’re real and this place is real.” He blew into a cup, wiped it clean with the edge of his apron and smacked the glass against the worn wood. ”So Blood wine with a whiskey chaser, Right?”

“Yes, but how…?” How he had known that? Given the circumstances, she was not sure she wanted to know. “I don’t have any currency.”

“Does not matter. No need. The first round is on the house. The second round… well that’s a different matter.” He poured the blood red wine from a flask, into the glass mug, then dropped a shot glass of amber liquid next to mug.

T’Pen [...]ed an eyebrow. Shrugging her shoulders, she tipped the mug to the barkeep. “Well, any port in a storm.” She guzzled the wine down, slammed the mug on the wooded bar surface then proceeded to grab the whiskey glass and down it in one gulp. With a burning in her stomach, throat and mouth, she howled into the smoky air.

“Now that’s what I call a mouthful.” The barkeep looked at her in amazement, blinked for and grabbed her glass. “Another round, Captain?”

Nodding. “What’s this condition about the second round?” She felt a bit light headed, but shook it off quick enough. When the next round arrived, she started to grab the mug, but the barkeep’s hand appeared not letting the mug move an inch. “You’ve gotta tell a story.”

“A story? Is this a joke?.” She huffed, trying to take the glass, a bit of the alcohol slurring her voice. “Come now!”

“Nope, a story is the payment for this round.” He kept his hand on the glass, his other hand gently wiping the counter.

“All right.” T’Pen sat. She looked over her shoulder as several of the motley bunch took up stools around her. An Andorian sat, his drink half-full of a blue bubbling liquid. The young Terran woman with chain-mail sat as well; her intense brown eyes looking up at T’Pen.

“I wasn’t a Captain when this happened. I was fresh from the Academy, serving on the U.S.S. Tri-Star. Her Captain was Karan Treadmore-Greets. I was serving as Medical Officer and had been called to the Captain’s ready room after joining the crew.”

* * * * * * * *

“Starfleet has ordered us to Avalon Station. A conference is being held to discuss the inclusion of the Hec-Torat Sect within the Federation.” The rotund form of Captain Treadmore-Greets, lumbered around her desk and sat upon the edge, as her beady eyes bore into Ensign T’Pen. “Dr. T’ok recommended you for the away team.”

“I’m honored, Captain. Mission Objective?” T’Pen folded her hands across her PADD.

“You’ll be acting as a member of this ship, representing the Federation and Starfleet during the talks. Nevertheless, you will also be watching for anything that may be amiss with the representatives of the Hec-Torat Sect. They aren’t the most wonderful beings to be around.”

“With all do respect, Captain. The Hec-Torat are gelatinous being, whose love for eating vegetables is widely known. They have been known to eat their entire weight of fresh fruits and vegetables in one sitting. They can be rude and rather crude. Not to mention that they take more than they give – at least from the Ferengi’s point of view.” T’Pen recited the information that came across her PADD, then committed the information to memory for further reflection should she need it.

“They are a species the Federation isn’t very familiar with. It will be your secondary job to take as many readings on them as you can.” Captain Treadmore-Greets stood up and motioned to the door. T’Pen took the cue and stood. “I’ll expect a full report on your findings. We will arrive at Avalon Station shortly.

T’Pen bowed slightly saying, “Aye Aye Captain.” She made her way out the door and to the nearest turbo lift, realizing this was the first away mission she had been assigned to and hoping it would not be her last.

The Away team beamed to the station’s mid section terminal several hours later. Their team leader, Commander Kos’Rass Dek took the five-member team to the Operations Control Room. T’Pen began her scans of the station and the various creatures that were walking the station’s corridors as the team moved through the station.. Many of the creatures she recognized from her time at the Academy. Others were very new to her. Her tricorder started to fill up with information on the various inhabitants of this great station.

The team was shown to their living quarters, though Commander Dek quickly made it clear that the majority of the away team would be beaming back and forth to the Tri-Star during their time on the station. This was rather unacceptable to the Station’s Command Officer, Gril’up Coarat, and a rather nasty looking Tellarite.

“Commander Dek, you may find that your team will need to be here all the time, rather than wasting my transporter’s power supply.” He poked his piggish fingers into Dek’s shoulder.

“We understand that and will beam out using our ship’s transporter system and our combadge, Sir.” A look of pure anger crossed the Commander’s face for a brief second, but then faded away into an almost forced smile. ”Now, if you’ll take us to the conference room, I’d like for my team to being their scans.”

“Yes, of course. Right this way.” The Tellarite motioned to his left and the team followed closely behind.

Once they arrived and were well underway with the systems checks and room check, the delegation from the Federation began to arrive. The banquet was scheduled for that evening in the conference room. Once the delegation from the Hec-Torat Sect arrived the conference would be begin.

The brawny shape of the Tri-Stars security chief, Lt. Pok, a Bolian with barrel chest and smooth pate, lumbered across the room to stand next to T’Pen and Commander Dek. “Sir, the room is secure. Starfleet and the Federation have already taken extensive measures to security this facility. I’m at a loss for what more we can do.”

“Thank you Lt. We’ll stand our ground and if needed will be here to assist.” Dek wiped his brow with the sleeve of his uniform. T’Pen held up her tricorder and scanned him. He did not appear to look well, but other than elevated heart rate, his vitals were fine.

Dek noticed her scanning him. “Thanks Ensign. However, I am fine. I am just a little nervous. It’s not everyday that the Federation members meet so far away from Earth.” He smiled at her. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“As do I, Commander.” She blinked at him and returned to her tricorder readings.

When the chamber room filled and everyone seated, a small man about the height of a Terran seven year old hobbled into the room on short legs, followed by four similar beings, each carrying what appeared to be a hammock set upon four legs intertwined together. The hammock was made of a green and silver material that glistened under the lights of the room. Once the hammocks were situated around the table, T’Pen noticed the first little man pull out a wooden stick, which held four long silver rods, each, tied with bits of blue string to the rod. He bent his head to the rods and hit them with his rather long pointed nose. The sound that traveled out into the room was like nothing T’Pen had ever heard before.

In moments, the doors to the chamber opened and four gelatinous blue creatures sloshed their way into the room. Lifted into the four hammocks, by the four hammock wielders, the Hec-Torat opened blue/white eyes upon the upper portion of their heads. A small box sat before one of the Hec-Torat members.

“We have not kept you waiting?” the strange mechanical voice emanated from the small box. The eyes on the head of the Hec-Torat blinked and focused on the other end of the table.

A Terran Male stood, his robes of office flowing around him. His sharp pointed beard, made his face look as if it were pointing at the ground. “Of course not, your Excellency. We have been but moments.” He waved his hands at those around the table.

T’Pen pulled her tricorder out slowly and keyed a series of buttons, which would allow the tricorder to scan the entire room, including the Hec-Torat Sect Delegation, without disrupting anyone. She continued to watch and listen.

“Very well Ambassador Cain. We are glad you chose to meet us,” the being blinked several times as it talked.

“Yes indeed. We are honored, as well. We have a splendid meal prepared.”

“Ah. Good. Please do not be put off by the way we consume our food.“ The being moved to show a small opening on the underside, a row of pointed teeth, gleaming.

“No. Not at all,” Delegate Cain stood, “We have a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. And a special surprise from Earth.” In his hands, he held red box. One of the small men, with the nose and chimes, walked up and took the box, bowed and opened it. Inside was a Green Apple. Similar boxes were placed before each person.

“These are Granny Smith Apples from Earth. They are a gift from our people to yours,” Cain said, then sat back down. In moments, everyone bit hungrily into the green orbs.

Though revolted, T’Pen watched the Hec-Torat chew into the apple. The hard crunching filled the room.

“That was a wonderful surprise Cain. We thank you. Ahhhhhggggg.” The Hec-Torat’s eyes bulged wide as its gelatinous form turned from blue to white. There was commotion from both sides of the table. Shocked looks of the Federation as they saw their talks falling apart, and the anger and accusations from the members of the Hec-Torat filled the room.

“You’ve killed him,” said one. “You’ll pay Federation,” said another.

T’Pen heard Commander Dek frantically call for the room to be sealed off, Lt. Pok try to keep the various members from killing each other, as she pulled her tricorder out and looked at the readings. Seeing the problem, she moved in among the hands flying body parts, right next to the Hec-Torat.

“My name is Ensign T’Pen. I am a doctor. You’ve swallowed poisonous apple seed.” She took a hypospray out of her pocket, programmed it and administered it. As the hypo took effect, the delegates shading returned to normal.

“Peace. Peace. Let us have peace.” The Hec-Torat cleared it throat and a black seed came out onto the conference table.

T’Pen stood up, watching the crowed begin to regain their composure. “The Hec-Torat are not used to Earth food Ambassador. What you rather innocently gave the Hec-Torat as a gift, was actually a possible death sentence.”

The Ambassador wrung his hands as he tried to find the words. “I am deeply sorry Hec-Torat for this. My most humble apologies.” He began to move around the table, but one of the little men who accompanied the Hec-Torat Sect blocked his path.

Through an obviously gritted voice, “It is not necessary to apologies Ambassador. Your gift was in good faith.” It waved a tactical. “I am Indebted to your Star Fleet for having someone available.”

T’Pen just blinked and slightly bowed to the Hec-Torat delegate.

“Now, let us proceed.”

* * * * *

“The conference went on for several days.” T’Pen shrugged her shoulders. “It was just routine.”

The woman to her right gasped. “You saved this creatures life, No?” Her accent was thick and T’Pen could almost put her finger on it. Shaking her head, as much in embarrassment of her duty as to her lack of remembering who this child/woman was, T’Pen felt she knew the girl.

The Roman Centurion, standing behind her, cleared his throat and put his hand on T’Pen’s shoulder. “I’ve had many meals with enemies and friends. If someone choked, the food was poisoned. We just let it take its course. It seems you caught Snow White before she took too big a bite out of the apple, Captain. I applaud you.” He clapped, as did several others.

“I really can’t say that I did anything out of the ordinary, Sir. I just did my job.” She took another pull on her wine, then downed the whiskey chaser. Placing the empty glass in the hand of the barkeep, she said, “Thanks, I needed that.”

“Any time, Captain. Just remember that the drinks are only free the first time. A story per drink, from then on,.” The barkeep wiped down the counter, winking as he did so.

T’Pen made her way to the doors and exited the tavern. Blinking, she realized who the young woman and the Centurion were. She spun around almost too quickly and saw that the door to the room she had just exited was not made of hard wood but of transparasteel. The doors whooshed open as her foot met the sensor and the sound of laughter and music played within. She looked inside, seeing a Bolian bar tender wiping down a couple of tables.

“Maybe I need more sleep than I figured,” she said as she made her way down the hallway towards her quarters. She tapped her combadge as she entered her bedroom. “Doc to Commander Frazier. Have I got a story for you.”

THE END.

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Corrected Version

“Acid Green”

A Captain’s Table Story

by Captain T’Pen

Captain T’Pen quietly reflected at her desk, having just returned, after reunification talks among the Kubazzak tribes on Ver’ydet V. “Six thousand years of bitter war among the tribal nations,” she thought. “This war? The byproduct of years of aggression, agitation and speculation.”

T’Pen sighed deeply. Had she done enough? Her FO, Frazier, would say that they had done their duty and that was all they could do. They could have done more. She sighed again and rested her head on her steeple fingers.

“Peace talks.” She wondered if they were serving the entire civilization or just a portion. She almost moaned. However, her Vulcan discipline would not let her. Instead, she chose to get a drink. Yeoman Adn’Ama Abernathy stood up from her desk walked over to T’Pen.

“Is there something I can get you, Captain?” she said in her songbird-like voice. Adn’Ama was sweet, her blond hair caught in ringlets across her forehead, complimenting her Trill spots.

“No. That will be all for this evening. I’m going to “Mission Control” and a couple of hours of rest.” The Yeoman smiled. “I expect you’ll be doing the same.”

Adn’Ama looked at her, “Not really tired yet, Ma’am. The schedule for tomorrow still needs to be coordinated with Major deMarc. He wants to send an armed escort to the surface with you.”

“Always looking out for me,” T’Pen shook her head a bit; the salt-n-pepper strands of her hair, flipping around her shoulders. It had been deMarc’s suggestion that she do away with the twin braid look. Though she did not like the strands getting in her face during a battle or wrestling match with deMarc, she had considered his suggestion and now wore it down.

“He loves you Captain. And I believe you love him.” Adn’Ama smiled and playfully grabbed a PADD off T’Pen’s desk before the Captain could use it as a projectile. “I’m only saying that he wants the best for you.”

“I know,” T’Pen nodded, turned on her heal towards the door. “Just get some rest.” With that, the door closed and she was on the bridge.

The night sounds of the bridge calmed T’Pen. She had a strong desire to remain on the bridge, but knew that she needed to take a break. “Even if it was only for a couple of hours,” she whispered to herself.

T’Pen looked up to the overhead computer in the turbolift and said, “Mission Control”. Moments later, she was deposited in front of the ship’s primary lounge, known as “Mission Control”.

Named after the NASA control center on Earth; its walls held replica memorabilia from the 20th Century. A time when space exploration was so new, you could almost taste the excitement in the air. Usually when crewmembers went into the lounge; in fact even before entering the lounge, a cacophony of noise and hard music vibrated from within. However, as T’Pen went towards the door, there was no fractious noise. T’Pen [...]ed an eyebrow.

The doors swooshed open and T’Pen walked in but as she blinked, there was a thud behind her. She spun, to see a large wooden door where the transparasteel doors should have been. Sniffing the air, the smell of tobacco and heavy smoke wafted around her.

Spinning, T’Pen tapped her combadge, but the chirp did not sound. “T’Pen to Bridge.” “Doc to Frazier.” “Doc to deMarc.”

“Doesn’t work in here, Captain,” A robust older fellow in faded brown shirt, balding head and white apron said as he cleaned out a glass behind a wooden tavern bar. “Can’t call em. They aren’t around.”

T’Pen moved through the smell of musk and tobacco. It filled her nostrils making her Klingon half want to howl. It felt good to be here, yet she did not know where or when she was.

“You’re in my bar, Captain. Well it isn’t mine, but it’s as much mine as it is his, hers or yours.” He pointed around the bar. She looked around, seeing the people he indicated. One looked like a Roman Centurion, his hair graying. A woman of about fifteen wore chain-mail armor and a sword, a bob of black hair outlining her youth.

“Who are these people?” T’Pen said, her hands coming to rest on the bar’s surface. Was she was hallucinating, dreaming? “If this is a dream, wake up quickly. If it is a hallucination, waking up would be a marvelous idea as well!”

“You aren’t dreaming, Captain. Moreover, you are not hallucinating. You are real. They’re real and this place is real.” He blew into a cup, wiped it clean with the edge of his apron and smacked the glass against the worn wood. ”So Blood wine with a whiskey chaser, Right?”

“Yes, but how…?” How he had known that? Given the circumstances, she was not sure she wanted to know. “I don’t have any currency.”

“Does not matter. No need. The first round is on the house. The second round… well that’s a different matter.” He poured the blood red wine from a flask, into the glass mug, then dropped a shot glass of amber liquid next to mug.

T’Pen [...]ed an eyebrow. Shrugging her shoulders, she tipped the mug to the barkeep. “Well, any port in a storm.” She guzzled the wine down, slammed the mug on the wooded bar surface then proceeded to grab the whiskey glass and down it in one gulp. With a burning in her stomach, throat and mouth, she howled into the smoky air.

“Now that’s what I call a mouthful.” The barkeep looked at her in amazement, blinked for and grabbed her glass. “Another round, Captain?”

Nodding. “What’s this condition about the second round?” She felt a bit light headed, but shook it off quick enough. When the next round arrived, she started to grab the mug, but the barkeep’s hand appeared not letting the mug move an inch. “You’ve gotta tell a story.”

“A story? Is this a joke?.” She huffed, trying to take the glass, a bit of the alcohol slurring her voice. “Come now!”

“Nope, a story is the payment for this round.” He kept his hand on the glass, his other hand gently wiping the counter.

“All right.” T’Pen sat. She looked over her shoulder as several of the motley bunch took up stools around her. An Andorian sat, his drink half-full of a blue bubbling liquid. The young Terran woman with chain-mail sat as well; her intense brown eyes looking up at T’Pen.

“I wasn’t a Captain when this happened. I was fresh from the Academy, serving on the U.S.S. Tri-Star. Her Captain was Karan Treadmore-Greets. I was serving as Medical Officer and had been called to the Captain’s ready room after joining the crew.”

* * * * * * * *

“Starfleet has ordered us to Avalon Station. A conference is being held to discuss the inclusion of the Hec-Torat Sect within the Federation.” The rotund form of Captain Treadmore-Greets, lumbered around her desk and sat upon the edge, as her beady eyes bore into Ensign T’Pen. “Dr. T’ok recommended you for the away team.”

“I’m honored, Captain. Mission Objective?” T’Pen folded her hands across her PADD.

“You’ll be acting as a member of this ship, representing the Federation and Starfleet during the talks. Nevertheless, you will also be watching for anything that may be amiss with the representatives of the Hec-Torat Sect. They aren’t the most wonderful beings to be around.”

“With all do respect, Captain. The Hec-Torat are gelatinous being, whose love for eating vegetables is widely known. They have been known to eat their entire weight of fresh fruits and vegetables in one sitting. They can be rude and rather crude. Not to mention that they take more than they give – at least from the Ferengi’s point of view.” T’Pen recited the information that came across her PADD, then committed the information to memory for further reflection should she need it.

“They are a species the Federation isn’t very familiar with. It will be your secondary job to take as many readings on them as you can.” Captain Treadmore-Greets stood up and motioned to the door. T’Pen took the cue and stood. “I’ll expect a full report on your findings. We will arrive at Avalon Station shortly.

T’Pen bowed slightly saying, “Aye Aye Captain.” She made her way out the door and to the nearest turbo lift, realizing this was the first away mission she had been assigned to and hoping it would not be her last.

The Away team beamed to the station’s mid section terminal several hours later.

Their team leader, Commander Kos’Rass Dek took the five-member team to the Operations Control Room. T’Pen began her scans of the station and the various creatures that were walking the station’s corridors as the team moved through the station.. Many of the creatures she recognized from her time at the Academy. Others were very new to her. Her tricorder started to fill up with information on the various inhabitants of this great station.

The team was shown to their living quarters, though Commander Dek quickly made it clear that the majority of the away team would be beaming back and forth to the Tri-Star during their time on the station. This was rather unacceptable to the Station’s Command Officer, Gril’up Coarat, and a rather nasty looking Tellarite.

“Commander Dek, you may find that your team will need to be here all the time, rather than wasting my transporter’s power supply.” He poked his piggish fingers into Dek’s shoulder.

“We understand that and will beam out using our ship’s transporter system and our combadge, Sir.” A look of pure anger crossed the Commander’s face for a brief second, but then faded away into an almost forced smile. ”Now, if you’ll take us to the conference room, I’d like for my team to being their scans.”

“Yes, of course. Right this way.” The Tellarite motioned to his left and the team followed closely behind.

Once they arrived and were well underway with the systems checks and room check, the delegation from the Federation began to arrive. The banquet was scheduled for that evening in the conference room. Once the delegation from the Hec-Torat Sect arrived the conference would be begin.

The brawny shape of the Tri-Stars security chief, Lt. Pok, a Bolian with barrel chest and smooth pate, lumbered across the room to stand next to T’Pen and Commander Dek. “Sir, the room is secure. Starfleet and the Federation have already taken extensive measures to security this facility. I’m at a loss for what more we can do.”

“Thank you Lt. We’ll stand our ground and if needed will be here to assist.” Dek wiped his brow with the sleeve of his uniform. T’Pen held up her tricorder and scanned him.

He did not appear to look well, but other than elevated heart rate, his vitals were fine.

Dek noticed her scanning him. “Thanks Ensign. However, I am fine. I am just a little nervous. It’s not everyday that the Federation members meet so far away from Earth.” He smiled at her. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“As do I, Commander.” She blinked at him and returned to her tricorder readings.

When the chamber room filled and everyone seated, a small man about the height of a Terran seven year old hobbled into the room on short legs, followed by four similar beings, each carrying what appeared to be a hammock set upon four legs intertwined together. The hammock was made of a green and silver material that glistened under the lights of the room. Once the hammocks were situated around the table, T’Pen noticed the first little man pull out a wooden stick, which held four long silver rods, each, tied with bits of blue string to the rod. He bent his head to the rods and hit them with his rather long pointed nose. The sound that traveled out into the room was like nothing T’Pen had ever heard before.

In moments, the doors to the chamber opened and four gelatinous blue creatures sloshed their way into the room. Lifted into the four hammocks, by the four hammock wielders, the Hec-Torat opened blue/white eyes upon the upper portion of their heads. A small box sat before one of the Hec-Torat members.

“We have not kept you waiting?” the strange mechanical voice emanated from the small box. The eyes on the head of the Hec-Torat blinked and focused on the other end of the table.

A Terran Male stood, his robes of office flowing around him. His sharp pointed beard, made his face look as if it were pointing at the ground. “Of course not, your Excellency. We have been but moments.” He waved his hands at those around the table.

T’Pen pulled her tricorder out slowly and keyed a series of buttons, which would allow the tricorder to scan the entire room, including the Hec-Torat Sect Delegation, without disrupting anyone. She continued to watch and listen.

“Very well Ambassador Cain. We are glad you chose to meet us,” the being blinked several times as it talked.

“Yes indeed. We are honored, as well. We have a splendid meal prepared.”

“Ah. Good. Please do not be put off by the way we consume our food.“ The being moved to show a small opening on the underside, a row of pointed teeth, gleaming.

“No. Not at all,” Delegate Cain stood, “We have a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. And a special surprise from Earth.” In his hands, he held red box. One of the small men, with the nose and chimes, walked up and took the box, bowed and opened it. Inside was a Green Apple. Similar boxes were placed before each person.

“These are Granny Smith Apples from Earth. They are a gift from our people to yours,” Cain said, then sat back down. In moments, everyone bit hungrily into the green orbs.

Though revolted, T’Pen watched the Hec-Torat chew into the apple. The hard crunching filled the room.

“That was a wonderful surprise Cain. We thank you. Ahhhhhggggg.” The Hec-Torat’s eyes bulged wide as its gelatinous form turned from blue to white. There was commotion from both sides of the table. Shocked looks of the Federation as they saw their talks falling apart, and the anger and accusations from the members of the Hec-Torat filled the room.

“You’ve killed him,” said one. “You’ll pay Federation,” said another.

T’Pen heard Commander Dek frantically call for the room to be sealed off, Lt. Pok try to keep the various members from killing each other, as she pulled her tricorder out and looked at the readings. Seeing the problem, she moved in among the hands flying body parts, right next to the Hec-Torat.

“My name is Ensign T’Pen. I am a doctor. You’ve swallowed poisonous apple seed.” She took a hypospray out of her pocket, programmed it and administered it. As the hypo took effect, the delegates shading returned to normal.

“Peace. Peace. Let us have peace.” The Hec-Torat cleared it throat and a black seed came out onto the conference table.

T’Pen stood up, watching the crowed begin to regain their composure. “The Hec-Torat are not used to Earth food Ambassador. What you rather innocently gave the Hec-Torat as a gift, was actually a possible death sentence.”

The Ambassador wrung his hands as he tried to find the words. “I am deeply sorry Hec-Torat for this. My most humble apologies.” He began to move around the table, but one of the little men who accompanied the Hec-Torat Sect blocked his path.

Through an obviously gritted voice, “It is not necessary to apologies Ambassador. Your gift was in good faith.” It waved a tactical. “I am Indebted to your Star Fleet for having someone available.”

T’Pen just blinked and slightly bowed to the Hec-Torat delegate.

“Now, let us proceed.”

* * * * *

“The conference went on for several days.” T’Pen shrugged her shoulders. “It was just routine.”

The woman to her right gasped. “You saved this creatures life, No?” Her accent was thick and T’Pen could almost put her finger on it. Shaking her head, as much in embarrassment of her duty as to her lack of remembering who this child/woman was, T’Pen felt she knew the girl.

The Roman Centurion, standing behind her, cleared his throat and put his hand on T’Pen’s shoulder. “I’ve had many meals with enemies and friends. If someone choked, the food was poisoned. We just let it take its course. It seems you caught Snow White before she took too big a bite out of the apple, Captain. I applaud you.” He clapped, as did several others.

“I really can’t say that I did anything out of the ordinary, Sir. I just did my job.” She took another pull on her wine, then downed the whiskey chaser. Placing the empty glass in the hand of the barkeep, she said, “Thanks, I needed that.”

“Any time, Captain. Just remember that the drinks are only free the first time. A story per drink, from then on,.” The barkeep wiped down the counter, winking as he did so.

T’Pen made her way to the doors and exited the tavern. Blinking, she realized who the young woman and the Centurion were. She spun around almost too quickly and saw that the door to the room she had just exited was not made of hard wood but of transparasteel. The doors whooshed open as her foot met the sensor and the sound of laughter and music played within. She looked inside, seeing a Bolian bar tender wiping down a couple of tables.

“Maybe I need more sleep than I figured,” she said as she made her way down the hallway towards her quarters. She tapped her combadge as she entered her bedroom. “Doc to Commander Frazier. Have I got a story for you.”

THE END.

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