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[2008: NOV-DEC] "The Dread Pirate Jackford"

James T. Kolk

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"The Dread Pirate Jackford"

by Jackford B. Kolk

Romulan Warbird, Stardate 63493.9

A formerly very drunk human of Euro-American descent woke rather suddenly when something hit his face hard. There was pain there now. There wasn't supposed to be pain. It's not nice to give someone pain. He looked about but his eyes couldn't focus. Before he could see much more than the vague colors of green, black, and grey, he noticed more pain. As the pain in his cheek subsided, a dull pain in his wrists humbly requested his attention. Thinking about it, he realized he must have been held up by chains attached to his wrists. That wasn't very nice either. Blinking, he was almost able to make out the form of someone in front of him, and a long slender something protruding from their right and coming toward him suddenly. More pain! Yep, there was definitely someone there. Either he'd gotten drunk somewhere he shouldn't have, or someone not very nice had captured him. Given the things he could remember doing in the last few days, and the unkind manner in which he'd been awoken, he was willing to bet good latinum on the latter. Maybe he should've been more careful about where he got drunk last night...

A disturbingly sensual female voice whispered at him from about 10 centimeters in front of his face. As it did, he could see pinkish green skin, the vague outline of eye sockets, a mouth with greenish-blue lipstick, and short black hair.

"For a Federation Spy, you're even more idiotic than I'd expected."

He blinked several times until some of the gunk in his eyes had been dislodged so that he could make out the face. Definitely a woman. Vulcan or Romulan. Judging by the tone of voice, combined with the fact that he'd been harassing Romulan warships just because he could, she was probably Romulan. He did his best to smile, but the blood from his lip that was now playing Plinco with the hairs of his goatee made it look a little odd.

"And you're even more ugly than I'd expected," he retorted in a less than convincing manner.

She stepped back and slapped him again and he let his head drop. Look at that, there was red blood on the floor. She probably didn't think it was nice of him to bleed on her floor, but he figured it made them even. He looked back up and she'd returned to just in front of his face.

"Alright, I lied. You're mildly attractive... for a Romulan."

He closed his eyes to brace for another slap, but she refrained. Instead she brought her face closer. As she spoke, her breath was delicious, like the best strawberries he'd ever tasted... and he hadn't tasted strawberries in years. He was tempted to try and kiss her, just to throw her off, but the thought of a real basket of Earth strawberries was too distracting. He opted to plan a route back to Earth to get some instead. As she tilted her head interestedly and spoke again, he found his possible escape plans littered with ideas of how to use kissing her to get away... the taste of strawberries was just too overwhelming.

"Who are you? And what makes you think you can harass the Empire without punishment?"

He smiled. Perhaps now was the time to kiss her...

Andor, Stardate 63569.7

Roughly a month later, in a sector, oh... not too far away, a group of five brownish-red starships glided into orbit around the wintry planet. The Andorian Imperial Guard's database registered them as Vulcan vessels so their presence was accepted without much consideration. After all the Andorians and the Vulcans had been allies since the days of Jonathan Archer and the founding of the Federation. They were slightly less welcoming, however, when the Vulcan ships started bombarding the planet...

From a safe distance, the Dread Pirate Jackford (as the Alternate Universe version of Jackford B. Kolk of the USS Ronin decided he was to be called this week) watched and smiled with evil glee. Starting the Gorn/Cardassian war had been a long, slow, beautiful dance. This...? This was just fun. He was fairly certain there'd be Federation diplomats working for peace almost instantly, but with the resources of the Romulan Star Empire backing him, he might still have a chance to devolve the situation into the very first civil war in the history of the United Federation of Planets. Now that would be an accomplishment. Roughly 7 billion dead in both reptilian empires had given him a modicum of vengeful satisfaction, but... he'd learned quickly enough that his soul still longed for more. He couldn't help but feel he was created for a greater purpose than mere revenge. And his new accomplice and lover had helped him find it. Sure, he couldn't trust Sheval, but that didn't mean he couldn't enjoy her passionate side until their plan was complete and they had to see who would kill whom first...

As the Imperial Guard pummelled the "Vulcan" fleet to bits, Jackford smiled. Romulans were so predictable. They sacrificed themselves willingly for the prospect of the civil war simply because they saw it as a chance to expand their Empire where the Federation had so long denied them room. They'd demanded proof that their involvement wouldn't be discovered, but their expansionist fever was easily manipulated by the master manipulator. It was child's play after talking and teasing the Gorn and the Cardassians into slaughtering one another.

Undisclosed Location, Stardate 63597.4

As predicted, a peace summit had been called, and, although not invited, the Dread Pirate Jackford and his Romulan friends showed up to... expedite the process. In the guise of Andorian Imperial warships this time, they waited for the summit to begin, then charged in, this time with a significantly larger fleet, knowing that Starfleet would be defending. It took some doing, but they managed to kill at least a few of the delegates before retreating. They couldn't afford to assemble an overly massive fleet, and it really wasn't required. All they needed to do was perpetrate a few more random attacks and create enough confusion for their operatives throughout the rest of the Federation to encourage various key worlds to pick sides.

Risa, Stardate 65729.3

Little more than two standard years later, the Civil War had escalated into an all-out Galactic War. The Romulan Star Empire had, of course, taken the opportunity to claim several key worlds, including Risa (because Jack and Sheval wished it) and a number of Klingon worlds. With the majority of their work done, Jackford the War-Starter (his new name, for now) and Sheval (with a fleet of Romulan Warbirds watching for enemy fleets overhead) took a sabbatical on the still-coveted pleasure-haven of Risa.

Jack, in short shorts and a near-non-existent open-chested shirt, lay on his back sunbathing. Sheval, equally barely dressed in the customary Risan vacation attire, had wandered off to get something special for her lover and co-conspirator. When she returned, Jack opened his eyes at the pleasant breeze that her motion created and smiled like a nigh-slumbering kitten.

"What did you bring me, e'lev?" the contented human asked.

"A treat you've been waiting years to taste..."

"Mmmmm. I love it when you're secretive."

He sat up to recieve her gift. As she opened the lid of the dark Risan Mahogany box, a sight he'd only dreamt of for nearly a decade met his eyes. Real, Terran strawberries!

"Are they...?!!"

Sheval smiled in that disturbingly heartless way she had, "Direct from Earth, e'lev."

"Oh, how I love you, Sheval!"

Her smile never fading for an instant, she held the small box out under his nose. "Enjoy..."

He dug in, forgetting the pledge they had made to pleasure each other until it no longer served their purposes. He had foolishly begun to think that they loved each other and that he was therefore safe. But she had been biding her time, making plans within plans, schemes within his schemes. And now, it was time. The war was nearly over, and the Federation in shambles. It would soon be time to claim her rightful place as Praetor of the Empire, and she would share that glory with no one. Not even the man who'd made it all possible. Though they tasted perfect and were, in fact, from Earth, the strawberries were also laced with Iocane powder, that perfect, millennia-old, tasteless, odorless poison...

Jack was enthralled by the luxuriant taste of the strawberries. It had been far too long since he'd tasted them. In his universe of origin, Earth was now only a shadow of itself. Ravaged by the Gorn, no living thing now existed there. It was a barren wasteland little better than a Class Y "Demon" planet. In this universe, he'd warn out his welcome more than once and hadn't been free to go to Earth since he'd nearly killed Captain Mar there several years ago. Even the short time he'd had there had not afforded him the luxury of eating real Earth strawberries. Still, there was solace in the fact that the man who'd kept him busy that trip was dead and crumbled to bits from Acute Cellular Decay. (It was such a shame he hadn't been able to stay and watch...)

As he bit into the penultimate berry, Jack finally opened his eyes and gave heed to a sense other than his taste buds to look into the eyes of his one true love... Which was when it hit him: there was something odd about her expectant stare. But perhaps it was merely a vicarious enjoyment of his elation.

"Don't you want to try one, e'lev?"

Her smile finally struck fear into him as she spoke tauntingly. "Perhaps when I'm Praetor, Jack, and you are no more."

"Sheval? I..."

Trying to stand up, he noted a distinct weakness throughout his body.

"You should've known not to match wits with a Romulan, e'lev. You could not win."

The look in Jack's eyes betrayed the sheer anguish and betrayal he felt. Once again, the one person he thought he could trust had torn his heart out with her bare hands. Addy's betrayal on the Alternate DS17 had been painful, sharing their bed with another man, but this... It was so final and... bittersweet. A gift and a curse at the same time... Maybe this was all that love could ever be. He focused all his will on standing despite the poison, his limbs loosing strength by the moment. Taking the last strawberry in his hand, he engulfed it, whole, in his mouth. Then kissed her with every ounce of strength he had left, forcing the final strawberry into her mouth with his tongue. He loved her, in his own way, and if it had to end this way, then he would do all he could to at least bring her with him into death...


Edited by Lt. Jack Kolk
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