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Lieutenant Galdar

Started by Feathers, June 04, 2009, 01:57:43 AM

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Joint backstory post by Feathers and Jen

Cadet Galdar slipped quickly into Cadet Emarrin's quarters and waited for the door to fully close before speaking. In truth there was no reason why he shouldn't be there, or why he should be sneaking around, but something about the task they were about to undertake had brought out his hitherto unknown melodramatic side.

"I've got the tricorder." he announced as the door finally sealed itself. "and the access codes weren't that difficult to crack. We're good to go if you want to."

The room's occupant lifted her head from her PADD and simply looked at him.

"What?", Galdar asked innocently, "Yes, I'm a Starfleet cadet...but I am a Ferengi Starfleet cadet." Putting down what he was carrying, he allowed a note of uncertainty to enter his voice and asked the question he'd tried to suppress. "Ryla, are you sure we should do this?"

"He deserves it, Galdar. I know it's impossible to prove to the Admiral that he is the culprit, but it was Danny who threw that fruit at us...I'm certain of it. He's bragged about pulling stunts like this before...and he was very angry at me for going to the dance with you instead of him." She harrumphed as she crossed her arms. "I'll admit, I'm a little nervous about doing this, but I refuse to be a victim Galdar. It's time Danny Young learns a little lesson in humility."

"Yes, but are you really sure it's safe? I don't want to injure anyone." Galdar still looked worried but Ryla's usual confident air, even slightly dented, was restoring his own strength of will.

"Trust me, all we have to do is tune the shower to the proper frequency. It won't harm anything but his pride. Danny won't know the results of our little operation until he wakes up the next morning as bald as you are.... not that there's anything wrong with that mind you," she paused her nervous pacing and gave him a quick apologetic smile before continuing. "Consider our response a sonic strike on the rapidly spreading empire known as 'his ego'." She stopped before Galdar and lifted her chin, "he won't know what hit him..."

A Ferengi grin is never a pleasant sight, but this one had an edge to it that Ryla hadn't seen in her friend's face before. Running a hand over his head, Galdar moved toward the door once again. "Sharing some of my beauty with another cadet, particularly one as ugly as Danny...why that's such a generous act." he announced. "Let's do it!" Glancing back at his co-conspiritor, he plucked his com-badge from his chest and threw it into one of her chairs, gesturing for her to do the same.

Slipping out of Ryla's quarters, the two left the building and headed across the campus to Danny's accommodation block. Above them, the sky was a deep blue-black and many stars were visible. Some clouds appeared to be lurking out toward the ocean but for the moment, at least, the sky above was clear and dry. On another night and with another female this could be quite romantic, Galdar thought.

Entering the block was easy enough but getting to Danny's room was a little more tricky. The tricorder Galdar carried was emitting a wideband interference signal such that the standard Academy security systems ought not to be able to detect them. They couldn't walk through walls, however, and they couldn't scale buildings so they had to risk the doors and the lifts. It would be recorded that they'd been used, but hopefully nothing would remain on record to reveal who'd used them.

As they approached the door they wanted, a burst of laughter from in front stopped them in their tracks.

"Great...it's Kate and Danny." The laughing couple rounded a corner as Galdar and Ryla tucked themselves into an adjoining hallway. The Trill watched as her former gal-pal kissed her ex-boy friend, the spots on her forehead elongating as her brows pushed them into her hairline. "This an interesting development," she whispered.

"Shhhhhh," came Galdar's reply.

"Well...they are better suited I supposed. Both of them are pretty shallow," she said in a voice that would be indiscernible to any but the Ferengi standing near her. A moment later, the new couple proceeded in the opposite direction, clearing the way for Operation Sonic Strike.

"Come on Galdi...let's get this over with," said Ryla as she slithered in towards Cadet Young's quarters.

Following in her wake, Galdar listened for any further sounds of approaching company. This was one of the most exposed points in their plan as any passer by could easily identify them. While they hadn't done anything worthy of note yet, that wouldn't be true for much longer.

Ryla nodded at Young's door as she passed it but continued walking until she reached the next turn in the corridor. Galdar stopped at the door, crouching in front of the access panel, and carefully entered the override code he'd obtained earlier that evening. The wait for the command to activate was agonising and the Ferengi could feel the perspiration cooling on his neck as he waited to be discovered. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the door opened and the orange cadet slipped inside, his spotted companion following closely behind him.

"Right, you're sure about the frequency and the period we need to configure?", the Ferengi hissed as they moved into the room. "From what you said, I assume we need to hit him with a controlled burst but leave the shower to function normally for the remainder of the time?"

"Affirmative," Ryla snapped crisply as she wandered through Danny's messy quarters, crinkling her nose at the dirty laundry strewn about his room. "It seems he became a tad bit messier after we broke up...what a pig."

"No offense, but with regards to cleanliness your own quarters are just a step above this mess. " replied Galdar.

She frowned at the comparison, "Ppplease...there's a huge difference between my quarters and this cesspool...I organize my chaos into little piles."

The chronic neat freak returned her frown as he made his way toward their target. The door to the head hissed open for them and Ryla gestured with a flourish for Galdar to enter.

With an exaggerated nod, the Ferengi ducked past her and knelt to remove the shower control access panel. Opening his tricorder, he checked the interference field was still operating before placing it, open, on the top of the counter. "It'll squeal if someone comes anywhere near us.", he told his companion as he bent to his task.

Once the shower interface was accessible, it was a simple enough job to access the functions he needed to change. Having already worked through these sequences in his own quarters, his fingers tripped quickly over the required controls.

"Can you program it to return to it's original settings in 12 hours?", Ryla hissed, trying not to interrupt his concentration. Galdar simply nodded and carried on working.

After what felt like an age to the Trill but was only two and a half minutes on the clock, Galdar sat back with a satisfied sigh and started to restore the room to it's original state. "Done.", he whispered, "It's set for a thirty second burst five minutes into the cycle with a repeat after ten minutes. It'll stay in that configuration for twelve hours and then reset to standard operating parameters." Pocketing the tricorder, he found it hard to resist the temptation to giggle inanely.

"This time tomorrow, bodily hair will be a completely alien concept to Cadet Danny Young...and anyone else who may use his shower!" Looking round the room again, another funny thought struck him. "You know, we could have configured his plumbing for a Bolian...THAT would be something I'd PAY to see. I suspect the medical attention he'd require afterwards would move the attempt from a prank to an assault, however."

Silently, the two cadets moved back to the entrance, scanning the corridor from inside before opening the door and slipping out.

It took only ten minutes for them to get back to Ryla's quarters. After they entered, the Trill turned and offered her friend a hand, "It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Galdar. I have no doubt that our little venture will pay off tomorrow. I suggest that we have our lunch in the dining hall in order to savor the fruits of our labor." After a brief silence her serious expression failed and a boisterous laugh escaped through snorts before erupting into uncontrollable laughter. "I'll see you tomorrow," she managed to say between her gasps and giggles.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Kobayashi Maru - Part 1

As the Ready Room door hissed shut behind him, Galdar surveyed the bridge of the U.S.S. Venture, his new Galaxy class command. Absentmindedly, he ran his fingers over the four gleaming rank pips attached to his uniform as he watched his crew labour at their stations, some talking quietly, others fully absorbed in their duties. The large curved viewscreen displayed a familiar, smeared star field, indicative of the high warp velocity at which they travelled, while diagnostic monitors around the walls and on the consoles displayed status readouts in reassuring yellows and oranges.

From the Tactical station at the bridge rail Commander Paul Gibson, his first officer, nodded to him as Galdar moved to the middle of the room and took his place in the centre seat. Unbidden, his face was split by a large and very toothy grin as he fingered his rank pips again.

"Enjoying yourself?", the woman to his left asked quietly.

"A little...Lieutenant Commander." Galdar answered, emphasising the rank and fighting to keep the elation from his voice. He thought he'd made a credible effort, but turning to Ryla Drett, the Venture's CMO, he could see he'd failed by the suppressed mirth in her eyes.

"We're on schedule for arrival at Galorndon Core in sixteen minutes, Captain.", Commander Gibson stated as he came round the rail to sit to the right of the Ferengi.

"Very well, Mister Gibson", Galdar said, carefully schooling his face. He allowed himself to settle back in the chair and placed one hand on each arm, feeling the grain of the fine leather beneath his fingers.

"Captain, I'm receiving a distress call." The Bolian Operations Officer spoke calmly but Galdar could detect an element of tension in the blue woman's voice.

"Good Luck.", Ryla whispered, too quietly for anyone but the Ferengi to hear.

"Let's hear it." Gibson called.

A blast of static and interference crashed from the speakers making Galdar and a number of other officers wince. Then, crackling and broken by distortion, words almost incomprehensible and the pauses between them long enough that Galdar feared they'd lost the signal, the message started to come through. "...distress call...we are adrift and life support....failing...Alg#&$# system...any ship...Kobayashi Maru....". The Ops Officer cut the noise with the stab of a blue finger.

Galdar nodded his thanks. "Do what you can to clean it up, Lieutenant, but I get the general drift." he said, leaning forward slightly in the now overly comfortable chair.

His first officer turned to him in confusion but Galdar simply glanced at him, grinned and tapped at an ear lobe. "Ferengi hearing, Paul. Possibly better even than Vulcans." Turning back to the viewscreen he called out, "Helm, plot a course for the Algeron system, and increase speed to Warp 8.5. Tactical, take us to Yellow Alert. Ops, try and get an acknowledgement through to the Kobayashi Maru and get a message out to command informing them of our...change of plan."

"May I remind the Captain that Algeron is centred squarely in the Romulan Neutral Zone?", Commander Gibson asked quietly once Galdar had finished.

"You may," Galdar replied, turning towards him, "but what else can we do?" Straightening, he raised his voice. "Helm, when we reach the Neutral Zone, bring us out of warp and hold us in position on the edge of Federation space." He looked back at Paul. "Satisfied?" he asked.

Gibson simply nodded and sat back in his chair, checking status and readiness reports on the arm console.

It took fifteen minutes for the ship to reach the Neutral Zone and Galdar could feel the tension of his crew ramping up as they got closer. He was doing a round of the bridge when he finally felt the ship drop out of warp and was halfway back to his chair when Ensign Skooda called out from the helm "Sir! We are at the edge of the Neutral Zone nearest to the Algeron system. Holding position as ordered."

"Tactical, what have we got?", called Galdar, dropping into his seat.

"Sensors have the Kobayashi Maru at three hundred thousand kilometres from the Algeron sun, Captain. It's stationary, looks to be venting drive plasma and their warp core containment stability is compromised. All appearances are consistent with some sort of accident."

"Life-signs?", asked Paul Gibson.

"Just over three hundred, Sir. Various species. Human, a few Vulcan, some Klingon and others."

"Open a channel", Galdar commanded.

"Channel open."

The Ferengi stood again and took a pace forward, raising his head as he did so. "This is Captain Galdar of the U.S.S. Venture to the Kobayashi Maru....

"Kobayashi Maru respond...."

"Nothing Captain."

"Very well." Galdar turned first to Ryla and then to his first officer. "Doctor Emarr...Drett", an apologetic smile flickered across his lips, "have your team prepare to receive casualties. Mr Gibson, you have the bridge. I'm taking a shuttle into the Neutral Zone."

"Sir?", Paul Gibson looked confused and Galdar realised that he'd jumped too far ahead in the scenario playing out in his mind. Taking a deep breath, he chided himself and mentally stepped back a couple of paces.

"This may not be as clean cut as it looks Paul, so I'm taking a shuttle into the Zone. Once I've assessed the state of play I'll call you in if I need to. Until that time, hold position here.

"Under NO circumstances will you attempt to enter the Neutral Zone without my express orders."

"With all due respect....No Sir.", Commander Gibson stiffened as he spoke, trying to convey respect for his superior officer while preparing to disobey his orders.

Galdar's shoulders dropped slightly and he was distressed to hear a pleading tone enter his voice. "Paul, you must see the risks here as well as I do? Would you take the ship into the Neutral Zone without assessing the situation first?"

Gibson leaned toward him and lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "Sir, this is not about what I would or wouldn't do." He paused as a new thought struck him, "You know they may not have the time for us to run a shuttle reconnaissance?"

"Yes," Galdar responded, at a similar volume, "but it's a chance we'll have to take. I can't take the ship in and ignore the risks and I can't abandon them and run away. I'm looking for another option and a shuttle craft looks to be it. It's small, maneuverable....harder to hit in a firefight..."

"I'm not questioning your tactics but your choice of personnel assignment. As the Captain your post is here. Someone else needs to take that shuttle, Sir. Probably me." Straightening again, Paul Gibson took a step back but maintained eye contact with his orange skinned superior. To his left he was aware of Lieutenant Armok, studiously avoiding the discussion playing out below him.

"Paul...I can't ask...", Galdar stopped then sighed theatrically. Looking round the bridge, he raised his voice to it's normal level and began again, "Very well. Mr Gibson, it appears you have me out voted." Someone laughed. "Take a shuttle and proceed to the coordinates of the Kobayashi Maru and assess her status. If this all looks to be genuine, I'll bring the ship in behind you and we can begin rescue operations. If ANYTHING untoward occurs, however, if you even get a sniff of something out of the ordinary you will turn around and get back here.

"If all else fails, we'll try and keep a transporter lock on you."

Lowering his voice again, he took a step forward, "...and if the worst happens then you know what I'll have to do?" He looked briefly down at the floor until he remembered his rank and pulled his head up sharply to look his first officer in the eye.

Paul Gibson nodded once as he met his Captain's gaze.

Turning, he acknowledged the other members of the bridge crew and strode to the lower turbolift. Tapping his com-badge as the doors glided open, he stepped into the car. "Gibson to shuttle bay...".

As the lift doors closed, Galdar felt his shoulders start to drop again and quickly sank into his command chair to mask the telltale sign. Beside him, he heard Ryla stir but she said nothing. Still, he took comfort from her familiar presence.

"Mr Armok. Clear the Commander's shuttle for launch and keep a tight sensor lock on her. I want to know everything she does and to see everything she sees." He stabbed at a control on the arm of his chair, "Bridge to Transporter Room 1"

"Sir?", the female voice crackled slightly At Ops, the Bolian Lieutenant reached for a control.

"We're about to launch a shuttle to reconnoitre the Neutral Zone, Chief. From the moment it leaves the ship I want you to get a lock on Commander Gibson and keep it on him. At the first sign of trouble I want him out of that ship."

"Aye Sir.", clearer this time. The Ops officer smiled.

As he waited for Paul to prep the shuttle and depart, Galdar contemplated his next move. If the distress call was genuine then he stood to face some questions if the delay due to sending a shuttle resulted in the loss of the ship and its passengers. If it were not, or the Romulans were using the Maru as bait then different questions would be asked - prime among them from the family of his first officer.

"Shuttle is entering the Neutral Zone.", the Tactical Officer eventually stated, cutting across Galdar's thoughts.

"On screen." Galdar snapped and the star field before them was replaced with the image of a type 9 starfleet shuttlecraft heading away from the ship.

A bead of sweat ran down the back of his head from the point where it met the leather of the command chair. Somewhere deep down he acknowledged the simulated nature of this mission but with modern holo-technology, everything his senses detected told him that this was genuine. From the hiss of the environmental systems and the electrical hum of the control interfaces to the slight ozone tang in the air mixed with the aroma of the crew...everything felt real.

"Sir!", the Bolian Lieutenant called, causing Galdar to flinch involuntarily, "I'm losing the cargo ship...she's gone, Sir."

Jumping from his seat, the Ferengi crossed to the Ops console. "Gone? Where? How?"

"She...just sort of faded out Sir. I didn't see an explosion and I didn't detect any weapons."

"Status of the shuttle?", Galdar snapped, turning to Lieutenant Armok at the Tactical console.

"Shuttle is..." the human's voice tailed off as on the screen before them all, a large green birdlike vessel shimmered into being between the shuttle and the Venture.

"Galdar to transporter room!", shouted the captain, thumping the com-badge on his chest, "Get Mr. Gibson back aboard. NOW!"

"Sorry sir,", the chief's voice sounded worried, "transporter lock was interrupted three seconds ago."

On screen the shuttle suddenly rolled to the left as a bolt of disruptor fire speared the space where she had been. A glittering, shimmering sphere briefly glowed...and Galdar groaned. With shields up, Paul Gibson was now on his own.

"Options?", he called.

No-one responded.

Galdar walked back to his chair, seated himself and looked around at the officers making up his bridge crew. He'd sprung the Romulan trap with the shuttle and revealed the situation for what it was...his gamble had paid off and he was now clear to do an about turn and run away with his ship and crew intact...but without his first officer.

In reality, Paul Gibson was a fourth year Academy student picked to play out the First Officer role in this test. Galdar had never spoken to him before today and would possibly never speak to him again. This wasn't reality, this was a simulation...a test...a scenario, but one that he had been repeatedly told to treat as he would the real thing.

Briefly locking eyes with those of Ryla Drett, he pressed a button on the arm of his chair and cleared his throat.

"All hands, this is the Captain.", he took a deep breath and released it slowly. "Battle stations."

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Kobayashi Maru - Part 2

As the deep alert klaxon sounded across the bridge and red strip lights flared along the walls, Galdar sat forward in the chair. "Mr Armok. Raise shields, arm phasers and torpedoes. Ops, reroute as much power as we can spare to the shields and keep them up for as long as you can."

"Aye, Sir."

"Helm, take us into the Neutral Zone, full impulse."


He imagined, rather than felt the surge of power as the ship accelerated, gripping the chair arms tighter as he watched his first officer's shuttle dodging disruptor fire on the screen. The type nine had been a good choice for this mission, he conceded, Paul had chosen well in terms of manoeuverability and speed.

"Entering Neutral Zone.", Skooda called from the helm.

A green beam of light struck out from the rear of the Romulan vessel and washed across the viewscreen. The ship shook but there were few other signs of the sheer amount of energy that had just been unleashed on their shields.

"Forward shields at eighty percent."

"Return fire Mr. Armok. Ensign Skooda, evasive manoeuvres, pattern Galdar one."

Skooda nodded as his hands flew across the helm panel accompanied by the distinctive sound of phaser barrages letting loose from the forward array. 'Galdar one' was an unorthodox approach but one he'd successfully used in the past while still aboard the Glanto class Depository. He'd had it programmed into this simulation against just such an eventuality as had now materialised.

"Quantum Torpedoes. Full spread." Galdar said, calmly.

Another disruptor beam struck the Venture's shields to the port side of the saucer section causing her to yaw wildly for a moment until Skooda got her back under control. Armok called something across the bridge but Galdar missed the detail. At the same time, the warbird let loose with a forward torpedo, catching Gibson's shuttle full on, sundering its shields and ripping through the small, fragile craft. The Venture's five quantum torpedoes impacted shortly afterwards, flattening then destroying the warbird's port shield and destroying its port warp nacelle.

As Galdar watched the shuttle disintegrate before him, his jaw worked furiously but no words came. He shook his head as a sudden dizziness threatened to engulf him then slammed his fist into the arm of his chair.

"Captain, two more warbirds decloaking between us and Federation space!", Armok yelled. "They're firing!"

"Skooda, come about, heading 214 mark 001. Best speed. Get us out of here!" Galdar shouted the orders.

"Aye" Skooda shouted in his turn.

Disruptor fire from two fully powered warbirds slammed simultaneously into the side of the Venture as she turned, shaking the vessel, penetrating her shields, impacting the hull on the top of the saucer and rupturing at least one plasma conduit on the bridge. The Bolian at Ops was thrown from her seat, landing in an untidy heap on the floor.

"Hull breaches reported on decks four through seven." Lieutenant Armok called, "Containment fields holding."

Galdar jumped to his feet, waving off the relief officer heading for the unmanned Ops console. "Skooda, take Ops. Do what you can with power distribution but keep those shields alive and structural integrity fields intact. Mr Armok, throw whatever you have at them but keep an eye on that wounded one behind us." As he barked orders, he darted for the now vacated helm console and settled himself in the chair. Hands moving of their own volition, he did the pilots equivalent of seizing the Venture by the scruff of her neck and shaking her until she squeaked.

As the two new warbirds swung onto the screen, Galdar rolled the Galaxy class ship through ninety degrees on her central axis, effectively standing her on one side. Disruptor fire from each Romulan sizzled past her, grazing both dorsal and ventral shields but making no significant impact. Rolling the ship again, anticipating the next bolts of fire, Galdar called, "Quantum torpedoes Mr Armok, Lower warbird. Follow up with all ventral phasers. Dorsal phasers on the other."

"Rear warbird firing!", the panic was evident in Armok's voice this time. "Torpedo's away. Firing phasers."

As their energy lashed out towards the Romulan ships, Galdar tapped the panel before him and the Venture dropped like a stone falling down a well. "Drop shields for five seconds, on my mark!", he shouted.

Luke Armok looked at the back of his captain's orange head, a stunned expression on his face and mouth open to protest.

"NOW!", Galdar shouted without turning and instinctively, Armok's finger stabbed down at the panel before him.

As the Venture continued to drop and the shields came down, the disruptor fire from the damaged ship burned across the top of the saucer section and impacted with the lower of the two warbirds in front of them. On top of the torpedo and phaser impacts, the disruptors collapsed the shields and speared the elegant neck of the vessel, separating the forward bridge section from the rest of the ship in a gout of venting atmosphere and flame. Had the Venture kept her shields up or dropped more slowly, she would have effectively protected the Romulan from the killing blow.

The Venture reared as the shields came back up and she rolled again as Galdar pulled her nose into the disintegrating ship, heading for the safety of the Federation. He ramped up the impulse power as the ship came around and the bridge shook as the inertial dampeners struggled against their reduced power availability.

"Photons. Rear warbird." snapped Galdar.

"Away!" Armok called as another bolt of disruptor fire took the Venture on the back of the secondary hull. "Rear shields gone, Sir!"

On the screen six red pulsing beacons sped towards the disabled Romulan ship as Galdar was thrown from his seat by a fierce explosion from yet another disruptor strike from the front. As he struggled to his feet the lights dimmed. Armok was gone from the Tactical station and Skooda was staring dazedly at the remnants of his Ops console. Regaining his balance, the Ferengi watched as the warbird exploded after releasing one final disruptor bolt. Mesmerised by the approaching energy, Galdar ignored the once familiar voice from the rear of the bridge.

"Captain, another two warbirds coming out of warp", Ryla Drett shouted from the Tactical station, hands busy on the unfamiliar controls. "Three more detected inbound."

Galdar simply stared at the screen and nodded distractedly as the disruptor pulse impacted and his ship went dark around him.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Kobayashi Maru - The Debrief
Joint backstory post by Feathers and Jen

As the lights came up, the surroundings dissolved, and Galdar found himself standing on an empty hologrid. The Ferengi blinked a couple of times and shook himself. Still in full Captain's uniform, he turned and watched 'his' crew get up from the floor where they'd landed during the maelstrom. There were some grins between them but also some sober faces.

Catching Ryla Drett's querying expression, he gave her a small smile and a short nod. He was OK.

With a base whine, the Holodeck doors slid open revealing Admiral Roberts...and 'Commander' Paul Gibson.

Gibson simply nodded at his Captain but Galdar hurried across the intervening space and shook him by the hand. "I'm...sorry", he said, quietly.

Ignoring this exchange, Admiral Roberts marched briskly to the centre of the room and waited for what little noise there was to die down. "Computer, debrief." he called.

With an obliging bleep and a twinkle of transporter effect, the hologrid disappeared and a Galaxy class starship briefing room materialised. With the wave of an arm the Admiral indicated that they all sit. Galdar took the head of the table while Roberts took the seat on his right. Paul Gibson sat to his left with Ryla next to him.

Once everyone was settled, Roberts picked up a PADD from the table and settled his eyes on Galdar.

"Captain Galdar. Well done."

The Ferengi looked up in surprise, this wasn't quite the start he'd expected. "Sir?", he queried. "I lost the ship, Sir." His hand once again crept to the four gold rank pips pinned to his uniform and unconsciously caressed them.

Roberts nodded and a sad smile of understanding briefly crossed his face. "Yes you did...but as you must be aware, so has just about everyone else who's taken this test." The far away look that passed across his face told a story all of its own.

He looked down at the device in his hand before continuing, a more formal tone entering his voice. "This will be the initial debriefing following the Kobayashi Maru mission. A more detailed brief will be held tomorrow when everyone's had time to reflect." He waited for the nodding and murmurs of agreement to die down then turned to the bald Captain.

"Sending a shuttle to investigate the distress call was an interesting option, Mr. Galdar", he said quietly, "but I must say that it's not one that's preferred by Starfleet. In a real situation it could easily have impeded the operation or cost enough time that the Kobayashi Maru would have gone down with all hands without any help from the Romulans."

It was Galdar's turn to nod. "Sir, I realise that. My thoughts were on the rescue of the passengers on that ship, but I also had a responsibility to the crew of this ship. To simply push into the Neutral Zone following such a convenient distress call seemed...risky. Thus, I thought to lead with the shuttle rather than a starship." His eyes drifted to the starfield through the port over Roberts left shoulder.

"You were scared?"

Galdar attention snapped back to the officer as the sting of his question hit hard. "No! Not at all, Sir! It was my intention to pilot the shuttle myself! By taking it into the Neutral Zone I sought to try and draw out any threat that might exist and so save the ship and crew. That is not a plan driven by fear."

Roberts eyed the other Cadets round the table, looking at each of them in turn. Finally, he settled his attention on Ryla. "Lieutenant Commander Drett, You were closest to Captain Galdar during the mission. How would you assess his emotional state when he first realised the nature of the task? Specifically, was his cautious approach motivated by fear?"

Ryla tried not show her displeasure at being asked such a question. She kept her posture rigid and her unaffected gaze on the Admiral. "I think it would be fair to state that Captain Galdar's crew was under a great deal of stress...and...I believe that is the purpose of the simulation, sir."

The admiral frowned as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You didn't answer my question Lieutenant Commander. Was Mr. Galdar afraid?"

The Trill lifted her chin slightly as she made the decision to speak her mind. Determination had always come slower before she was joined, but the confidence of Drett gave her a wisdom beyond her young years. "Sir, permission to speak freely?"

"Granted," said Roberts after a moment.

"As you know, I'm not an empath nor am I a counselor. My testimony as to Captain Galdar's emotional state can only be based on speculation."

"Then speculate, Drett. You're the Chief Medical Officer. It's your duty to keep an eye on your Captain's mental state and relieve him if and when he poses a risk to the ship," snapped the Admiral.

She nodded slowly, "Yes, sir."  Through her own experiences she had discovered that fear was a healthy emotion. Surmounting such an obstacle would develop character. She disliked the thought of speaking against her friend, but it was her duty as an officer to give the truth when it was asked of her by a superior. She glanced to the Ferengi with a softened expression that offered apology for the statement she was ordered to give.

"Well, doctor?" prodded the Admiral.

Ryla turned her face back to Roberts, "The Captain was afraid, sir..."

Galdar jumped to his feet, ready to shout a protest but the look in Roberts eyes quelled his anger. Deflating, he looked down at the table and shrugged minutely. "Yes, I was scared. The simulation is very...compelling, but I stand by what I've already said. Fear was not a motivating factor in any of my actions." He briefly locked eyes with the Admiral then turned and shot an angry look at Ryla before dropping back into his chair.

"You said your plan was to 'draw out any threat that might exist and so save the ship and crew'. If that was so...then your plan failed, Captain. As you said, you lost both your ship and your crew." Roberts leaned forward as he spoke.

The Ferengi shook his head and Ryla saw some of his spirit returning.

"With respect, Sir", he said, sitting forward himself and meeting the Admirals steady gaze, "My plan was a success. The threat was revealed and the surprise was neutralised. It was in the manner of its implementation that I failed."

Admiral Roberts nodded and his tone softened as he spoke again, "True, Captain. Your shuttle sprang the trap as you had hoped but Commander Gibson paid the price for your gamble and you hadn't prepared yourself for that, had you? So you still took the Venture into the Neutral Zone."

Galdar examined the fine grain of the wooden table before him. He traced some of the pattern with one blue nailed finger while carefully considering his response. When he spoke, it was clear that he had retained his composure once again.

"From the moment I let Commander Gibson convince me that he should pilot the shuttle, my plan was wrecked.", Roberts nodded agreement but no-one noticed. "I didn't see it at the time," Galdar continued, "but once that decision was made, there was no way I could avoid taking the Venture into the Zone behind him. Had I been the one in the shuttle as I planned, that problem would never have arisen." Galdar sat back.

Roberts looked thoughtful for a moment then put his PADD down on the table and slid it across to the Captain with two fingers.

"Loyalty is a fine thing Captain, but it sometimes comes at a heavy price. If you take a look at the PADD before you, you'll see how the scenario would have played out had you insisted on taking the shuttle yourself."

Picking up the device, Galdar looked questioningly at the Admiral but soon turned his eyes to the data before him.

There was silence for a full two minutes before Galdar looked up again.

"So you see Captain...the same outcome WOULD have arisen." Roberts sad quietly. "The self-sacrificial Captain has been catered for in the simulation and the result is very much as you witnessed this afternoon. The only difference is that you would have been stranded in a shuttle powerless to do anything except watch the destruction of your command first hand." Roberts caught Galdar's eye. "Be grateful you allowed Commander Gibson to talk you out of taking that path."

There was silence for a while longer as Galdar digested what he'd read. His initial stab of disappointment at the fact that the computer would have ruined his perfect plan even if Paul hadn't, quickly gave way to a feeling of wry humour as he realized how completely he'd been outmanoeuvered.

Seeing the twitch of his lips, Roberts spoke again. "You took the helm yourself at one point I believe?"

"Yes Sir."

"Would you like to justify that decision Captain?"

Galdar sat back as he considered his answer, eyes drifting down the table from face to face until they found Ensign Skooda. The Ensign smiled slightly and nodded quickly.

"As you know Sir, my primary training is in piloting." Roberts nodded. "At that point in the engagement, it had reached the stage where I could see a number of possibly navigable routes from the engagement but to have to put all of that into words would have been...wasteful," that was the word he wanted, "I don't want to belittle the skills of Cadet...sorry, Ensign...Skooda but equally, Sir, I felt we needed the best pilot in the room flying the ship." There was a little bit of defiance in his voice as he completed the explanation, tinged with a little bit of pride.

Roberts said nothing until Galdar felt the edges of his self assurance start to crumble. Something must have shown on his face since the Admiral finally smiled and sat back fully in his chair.

"It happens that the panel agreed with your assessment Captain and commends you on the way you managed to fly the ship and maintain firm command of the situation." As Galdar started to swell slightly, Roberts went on, puncturing his ballooning self esteem. "You lost it at the end though, didn't you?"

Galdar sagged and nodded quietly. "Yes Sir."

"You could at least have called 'abandon ship', particularly as you selected a Galaxy class. A family ship," he chided gently.

"Sir." Galdar lapsed into silence again.

"Still, you did creditably Captain. Two enemy kills and a confirmed hit on the third bird. That manoeuver of dropping the ship while lowering the shields was an inspirational tactic - I've not seen anyone perform in a similar manner, certainly not in this test. That one manouever bought you a guaranteed kill."

"Thank you, Sir."

The Admiral looked at the collected officers and nodded. "Very well," he said as he retrieved his PADD from before Galdar, "As I said at the start, this was only the initial debrief. Formal debrief and analysis will commence at 1300 tomorrow. Captain Galdar, you and your crew may stand down. Cadets, return to your duties. Well done everyone...dismissed."

As Roberts stood and walked to the door, Galdar also rose as did the other cadets. As the briefing room dissolved around them, he headed for the exit avoiding all eye contact and looking to neither left nor right.

Ryla followed him into the corridor, "Galdar...Galdar wait..." When her friend continued on his path, she jogged to catch up. The Trill fell into step beside the Ferengi as he wove his way through the busy hallways. She stared in silence at him as kept his deadpan eyes set straight ahead. When he didn't acknowledge her presence, she slowed her pace and allowed him to storm away. In that moment, she had no trouble assessing his emotional state; Galdar was furious...he was furious at her and she had no idea how to make amends.

"What's the matter Ryla?" Rolan asked. She hadn't even noticed that she had stopped in the center of the hallway, or that the  Bolian had appeared at her side.

"...I think I just lost a friend." Her heart sank as she spoke the thought aloud.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Joint backstory post by Jen and Feathers

Ryla dropped a slip of latinum in Galdar's hand as she entered the door of his quarters. His quizzical expression prompted an explanation on her part,  "My admission fee for entering your home," she said in a formal tone. For a total of two minutes, a day after she was left standing alone in the hallway outside the holodeck, she seriously considered whether his friendship was worth the stress. Despite his attitude and selfishness, it hadn't taken her long to decided that being his friend still meant a great deal to her and she would do whatever was necessary to offer recompense.

The culture and traditions of the Ferengi people were opposite from that of her own people. During the last couple days of persistent rejection, she decided these differences had kept her from communicating on a level that her former friend could understand. If he was going to be self-absorbed and inconsiderate then she would have to think like a Ferengi to get through to him.

Galdar's hand had closed around the slip almost out of reflex, his thumb running back and forth over the contours of the metal as if assessing its quality. He'd had half a mind to hand it straight back to her but she had entered his home and latinum...was latinum. He pocketed it.

"What can I do for you...Cadet?"

The Trill wandered about, examining the few knickknacks he kept on shelves within in his central living space. "I have been reading up on Ferengi tradition and have learned that your people practice a ritual known as 'plea bargaining'." She stopped to study a statue of a clothed Ferengi male standing beside a naked Ferengi female. Ryla's raised brows denoted the recognition of yet another cultural difference between their two peoples. After a moment, she turned her gaze back to her former friend and continued, "If an item of importance is taken by another Ferengi then the article in question shall be delivered to it's previous owner if the culprit is offered something of equal or greater value in exchange."

Galdar inclined his head, accepting the validity of her words. "Then you are here on business? You have a transaction you wish to propose?"

"Well, I'm not here for the grand tour," she said sarcastically; another trait that the symbiont honed. "I want to bargain. I will give you back your pride by supplying you with the apology you have demanded....All I require in return is forgiveness and continued friendship."

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Galdar sat beneath 'his oak', the early evening autumn rain soaking and chilling him in equal measure. The tree offered some protection but many of the leaves had fallen now and those that were left were brown and crisp, water rolling off them far more easily than would have been the case in summer. The impact of the drops on his orange scalp reminded him very much of Ferenginar and all that he'd walked away from and for the first time, he missed both the planet...and his family.

It had been light, dry and clear when he'd come outside to read up on some engine specifications and test reports for tomorrow's lecture. It had been a little cold for his liking but it had been quiet.

A week had passed since he'd taken the Kobayashi Maru test and four days since he'd talked with Ryla Drett.

It had taken him three days just to work through his anger at his friend. Three days of self-righteousness indignation...and misery. Eventually he'd reached the point of accepting that she'd had no choice but to answer the Admiral's questions, but he was not ready to accept the answers that she'd given. She'd made the mistake of coming to see him at about that time and while things had started out OK, both of them being fairly guarded with their words, it had ended...badly.

It had been another three days before he finally realized what had actually gone on in the holodeck and when he did so, the structure of his moral indignation and self-righteous justification came crashing down around his ears. He smiled sadly at the metaphor. Quite appropriate for a Ferengi.

She'd been correct in her assessment, of course, and he'd admitted as much on that day but he'd hated being pushed into it by Ryla even if the Admiral had been pushing her in turn. What he hadn't understood, in fact what he'd completely missed, was how important that admission was.

At the time it had seemed out of character for the Admiral to persue one fact so hard. Until then he'd been fairly understanding but on that single issue, he'd gone in like a terrier after a rat.

What Galdar had finally worked out was that Admiral Roberts had deliberately pursued Ryla on that issue, not to find something out, but to get Galdar to understand and accept his own reaction to the scenario— a lesson that the Ferengi now conceded was a valuable one that he had obviously needed to have rammed down his throat.

Galdar would never have accepted the assessment of his fear from the Admiral, he'd have found some way to justify things to himself, but from a fellow cadet the observation was much more potent. It was 'unfortunate' that the other cadet had to be his best friend.

Galdar had come a long way since joining Starfleet and entering the Academy, but none of that had made him invincible and this had been Roberts' way of making him realize that. It had given him a night to reflect on his performance in the light of his true feelings before the full debrief and, Galdar realized, had led to a more honest self-appraisal of his performance.

It was this realization that led him to the undeniable conclusion that not only had Ryla been right, but that she needed to have been the one to tell him. Of all the cadets Roberts could have chosen to point out what he needed to know, he had chosen the very best...and the very worst.

The problem now was one of putting things right.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Joint backstory post by Feathers and Jen

Within five minutes he was at her door, standing in a brightly lit corridor in a pool of water all of his own making. A passing Bajoran cadet looked at him reproachfully, but was somewhat reassured by his uniform so said nothing.

His finger hovered over the chime but was unable to activate it. He was afraid, he admitted to himself, afraid to find out whether the death of a friendship he had spent a week blaming her for, he himself had now provoked.

Closing his eyes, he touched the panel. The door opened to reveal the spotted female. She assessed the Ferengi a moment as he stood dripping in the hallway outside her entry. Galdar resembled a wet cat...and by the look on his face, he felt like one too. "What can I do for you Cadet?"

Silently, Galdar extended a single slip of latinum to the Trill, the entry fee he'd accepted from her the last time they spoke.

"Please, come in." The smile the Trill had been fighting won out as he moved past her in a sopping mess.  He roamed her small living space a moment in mock interest. She managed to wrestle the grin away just before his gaze met her own.

"Would you like to purchase a towel?" She inquired with a hint of wryness.

"Um. I have no more latinum. Well not with me...I mean...", he shrugged awkwardly as his words tailed off. Deliberately ignoring the chairs, not least because he didn't want to get them wet, Galdar stood in the middle of the room and looked at the blonde woman before him and thought how easy it would be to pretend nothing had happened between them.

"Cadet...Ryla, I think we need to talk," he stammered at last. "...at least I think I need to talk and I'd like you to listen...but you don't have to if..." Breaking off again, he took a deep breath.

"I'm here to reject your business proposal." Lifting a hand to forstall any interruption, Galdar continued, "I told you when you proposed it that the transaction was unnecessary and I stand by that assessment. You were following orders during the interview in the same manner as the rest of us and I can't fault you for it.

"What I was unable to accept then, but have come to," he paused, "respect now that I've had time to think about it, is what you actually said.

"You were perfectly correct in your assessment and you fought your hardest not to have to express it in front of everyone, but what the Admiral knew then and I have come to realize now is that I needed to hear it and I needed to hear it from someone I respect and trust." A drop of water fell from the end of his nose, rather spoiling the effect he had hoped for.

"So I reject your proposal that I plea bargain, on the grounds that you took nothing from me. That said, I would like to make a counter offer to you. The second Rule of Acquisition states that 'The best deal is the one that brings the most profit', so I would like to propose something that I hope will profit both of us....an exchange of friendship, something I seem to have forgotten the value of recently."

The Ferengi extended a hand to the Trill and waited.

Dimples escorted a smile that reappeared on Ryla's face. Forgetting the fact that Galdar was still soaking wet, she bypassed the outstretched hand and enveloped him with a friendly hug. "It's a deal," she replied.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


Ferenginar - Tongo
This is the very first part of the Galdar story (to date). It's been knocking about for ages but I never posted it


Baj's voice carried clear from the living space, backed by the jeers of support or derision of the onlookers gathered around the table. Tongo had undergone a resurgence in popularity in the last couple of weeks and Galdar's father was set to take full advantage. House admittance for this evening alone would have netted the family a hefty number of slips and if Baj's luck continued to run to form, the winnings from the game would net a lot more.

It wasn't luck, of course, it was all skill. Galdar didn't like admitting it, but one of his more uncharacteristic traits was an honest streak. His father was good at Tongo, good at being a Ferengi and good at letting every other Ferengi know it. Of course, there was little distinction between the last two traits. To be good was to have everyone know it since it showed in your personal wealth.

It was interesting to note how the increase in Tongo's popularity had only occurred after the family had procured their latest table. Galdar smiled sadly at the thought; his dad rarely missed an opportunity and never one so big. The smile faded and the Ferengi shook his head. Lying back on his bed, he listened as the sound of rain on the window drowned out the noises from next door before another round brought the shouting back to fever pitch.

"Evade!" Baj was sounding supremely confident.

By rights, he should have been in there with everyone else...and in truth he would have loved to have been included. If nothing else he could have earned a couple of slips by agreeing to wait on the assembled crowd, but he'd refused the offer when it was made as his father knew he would. In Galdar's eyes, accepting such a job would have taken him one step closer to becoming what his family wanted him to be, something he'd resisted through years of nagging and cajolery. Baj hadn't even tried to look disappointed at the refusal. He'd clearly reached the point where his preconceptions about his son's abilities outweighed any chance he had of seeing beyond the particular characteristics he so disliked.

Had Galdar really wanted to surprise everyone, he could probably have put in an acceptable performance at the table, at least for a little while. There was no way he would have won the game, but there would be many losers that night. With luck he could even have demonstrated a small profit if the cards had fallen well, but he wasn't going to try. The days of trying to please the family were past, having fallen under the onslaught of his stubborn streak.

Dusha, his mother, paused in the doorway, masking the sadness in her eyes as she found herself observed. She smiled brightly and waved at him but Galdar saw the brittle edges around the emotional display. She'd always found family problems hard to deal with, but now that he was old enough for his Attainment Ceremony, things were coming to a head and the stress of it all was taking its toll on her. Doing his best to look relaxed, he waved back and grinned in his turn before returning to the PADD he'd been staring at for a while.

With a grimace, he pressed his thumb to the space indicated and keyed the document to transmit. There he thought The the deed is done and there is nothing I can do to cancel it. For better or worse he was committed to a path and his future was decided...for the next few years at least.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


U.S.S. Leeds - Bridge Duty

"Take us out of orbit Mr Rolfe", Paul Adams ordered as he took his seat in the centre chair.

"Aye, Sir.", the helmsman tapped out a series of commands as he spoke and the vast Nebula class starship that was the U.S.S Leeds slowly lifted it's nose, powerful impulse engines pushing it out of the synchronous orbit it had maintained for much of the past three days.

To the captain's left sat the squat, gnome like form of Galdar. The youthful Ferengi was hunched forward in the chair looking distinctly uncomfortable and out of place in his civilian garb. He'd been aboard, on and off, for just over three weeks and while it seemed like he'd done an awful lot in this short time, his exposure to the bridge had been minimal. Save for witnessing the Altair departure of his former shipmates, he'd kept well away. Here now at the captain's invitation, he was unclear as to the exact reason why.

"Sir, I...", he started.

"Relax, Galdar. You're not a cadet yet so strictly you should be calling me either Captain, or Paul. Try Paul!" Smiling at the horrified look that this last suggestion produced, Adams shifted slightly in the chair. Truth be told, he'd grown to like this Ferengi in the time that they'd known one another and was now more firmly convinced than ever that the lad had a future in the fleet. Galdar may have stayed away from the bridge, but he had spent quite a lot of time in the company of the captain.

Firstly it had been a case of getting him settled in and acclimatised, a task that any one of dozens of crewmen could have assisted the young pilot with but one which the captain had taken upon himself. Galdar had been introduced to all and sundry aboard the Leeds, so many names and faces that he knew he would never easily remember. Many had been surprised by his presence but all had been accepting of his circumstances. To Galdar as an outsider, it seemed that the captain's word carried weight among the crew and the crew's work inspired the confidence and trust of the captain. This symbiosis was all in stark contrast to way the Depository had operated, DaMon Glem ruled that vessel with much shouting and gesturing, resorting to the back of an open hand when all else failed.

At the same time as this familiarisation, Adams had also proposed a course of informal learning, something that Galdar had accepted as a necessity but hadn't particularly enjoyed. As a non-federation citizen, there was so much basic information that he simply didn't know; things that any school child on Earth would be able to babble about for hours were revelations to the Ferengi student. On the whole, they were mundane matters of history and lifestyle but together they equated to the grounding that he would need if he really wanted to find a way of fitting into this society that looked to be adopting him.

More formal education would follow, of course; a fair amount of preparation was required of any candidate for the academy entrance exam.

"I want you to try something for me, Galdar", Adams said quietly after the de-orbit was complete. "Mr Rolfe, if you wouldn't mind..." Grinning at the civilian, the helmsman rose and crossed to the turbo-lift by the captain's Ready Room.Galdar's confusion at this obviously planned manoeuvre turned to shock as Adams jumped to his feet and gestured him towards the vacant seat.

"Captain, I really don't think...", he started as he stood slowly.

"I hope you do!" Adams laughed in a friendly manner, a number of the bridge crew joining him. "If you don't, we're all in trouble! Just sit...and fly." As Galdar crossed the space to the helm and gingerly took the offered chair, Adams crouched down beside him. "You've tried this on theholodeck , I know you have." he said, quietly enough for just the two of them to hear, "You may be a guest but remember, you don't have freedom to roam unhindered just yet." His smile took the sting from the words but Galdar knew he spoke the truth. It had been unobtrusive, but whenever he'd been 'officially' unaccompanied he'd been aware of the discrete security presence as he moved around the ship.

Rising, Paul Adams grinned down at his protege and nodded as he turned back to his seat. "Set a course of three one two mark seventy five Mr Galdar and prepare to engage at warp five."

"Aye, Sir.", Galdar intoned as he'd heard so many others do in his time aboard. "Ah...I mean 'Yes, Captain'" he stammered.

Smiling at the correction, Paul Adams exchanged a quick glance with his first officer. "Engage"

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


U.S.S. Leeds - Training

Standing at the central terminal in the engineering section of a Galaxy class starship, Galdar stared at the problem before him and sweated. He'd been analysing this particular configuration for at least half an hour but felt no nearer to solving the puzzle than he had when he'd first entered this holographic scenario. Sitting at one of the stations before the warp core, Commander Jervas was manipulating a PADD, looking over personnel reports or some such and monitoring the Ferengi's progress on the exercise.

Galdar shifted form foot to foot and looked up at the ceiling. The program was detailed enough that he could feel the faltering thrum of the failing power systems through the soles of his boots and detect the reducing hum of the plasma flow to the warp core as the conditions beyond the hull continued to take their toll on the ship.

Frustrated, he threw his stylus at the display and stepped back from the desk. The clatter of the implement hitting the screen and then bouncing around on the floor seemed to have no effect on the holo-engineers around him but it did get the attention of the Leeds' Argosian first officer. "Problem Galdar?" Jervas enquired mildly, glancing up from the PADD in his hand.

"I should say so." the Ferengi was grumpy in his defeat and there was an edge of self-pity to his voice that he was hoping wouldn't be detectable. "I've looked at this in just about every way I can imagine but there's no way I can find to get a conventional warp powered starship out of this situation. I guess there may be some applicable law of warp propulsion that I haven't learnt yet but aside from that, I'm out of options."

"Then maybe that's your answer. It's impossible for the ship to get itself out of there."

"No! I won't accept that. Paul...Uh, that is Captain Adams told me that this is based on real events from stardate 44631 and while Ferenginar may not be a Federation member, even we know that the Enterprise didn't disappear without trace never to return. There has to be a way out of this, it's simply one that I can't see."

"Computer, end program." Jervas called. "Galdar, take a break." The room around them swirled with the mists of dissolution until only Jervas' chair remained. When he stood, that too dissolved out from under him. "Let's get a drink or something and I'll talk you through it." Nodding assent, Galdar followed the commander through the large holodeck doors and out into the belly of the starship . It still amazed him how much space was available inside a ship that was nothing more than a saucer with nacelles and a weapons pod. The Nebula class was large when compared to anything he'd ever been aboard but the amount of available internal space spoke volumes about the systems miniaturisation that the current state of Federation technology afforded.

"What do you make of the dreams in the scenario, Galdar?" The question, asked as the doors to the turbolift closed behind them, brought the Ferengi back to the present with a jolt. "Huh?" he grunted as he refocused his mind on the problem, "What, the 'One Moon Circles'? They're just dreams. They don't have a bearing on the problem." Jervas regarded him quietly, the hum of linear induction motors being the only thing audible in the car. Aware of the scrutiny, Galdar looked down and shuffled his feet slightly but resisted the urge to fill the silence.

With a marked drop in tone the car drew to a halt, doors opening to allow the passengers egress. The commander maintained the silence as he guided the Ferengi towards an innocuous set of double doors set to one side of the corridor and through them into 'The Lounge'. Zig-zagging their way between the scattering of side tables, casual chairs and more formal dining furniture, they made their way to the small bar. Set to one side of the raised dais that dominated one wall and backed by an array of transparent aluminium windows, it was manned by a number of civilian staff and catered to some of the off duty needs of the crew.

Gesturing his guest to a stool, Jervas seated himself. "Why do you discount things so quickly?" he asked quietly, waving a greeting to the bar tender and miming an unquenchable thirst.

Ordering drinks gave Galdar a little time to process the question, but not as much as he would have liked. "Are you saying the dreams have a relevance?"

"They're in the exercise." The Argosian was patient, one of the reasons he had risen to the rank of Commander, "That ought to tell you that they deserve at least some attention. Starfleet examiners are good but they're generally fair. They'll give you enough descriptive detail to provide a sense of the real events but things that are truly irrelevant are generally avoided."

Taking the synthahol he was handed, Galdar eyed the crew around the room. A number of species were represented here and the civilian still marvelled at the lack of friction and conflict that seemed to exist between the different aliens. All that he'd learned of the Federation and its military/exploratory wing while growing up simply didn't stack up when compared against the reality he had found on coming aboard the Leeds. He'd had a glimpse of it in his first couple of visits at Altair and it had played a part in decision to jump ship so early in his contract aboard the Depository. Still, the degree to which it permeated the crew exceeded even his most optimistic expectations.

Returning his attention to the first officer, Galdar took a pull of his drink. "Maybe treating it as a pure engineering problem isn't the way to go then?", he asked.

"'A wise assertion' as my one Vulcan academy lecturer would have said." Jervas looked around the room. "As you well know, a starship is more than a collection of systems and components dragged together to perform a function. Perhaps you should allow that thought a higher priority in your considerations when considering problems such as this, hmmm?"

Galdar simply nodded and sat back, raising the drink to his mouth once again as Commander Jervas started to take him through the story of the Enterprise's escape from the Tyken's Rift.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.


U.S.S. Leeds - Accidental Intercept

The bridge felt tense to Galdar as he exited the turbolift and quietly slipped round the rail to sit beside the captain. Wearing a utilitarian starfleet coverall, the Ferengi had dropped his traditional wardrobe in favour of the more conformal covering. Partly driven by a need to 'fit in' aboard the ship he was rapidly coming to consider as 'home', the change was mostly due to the fact that in the glare of the surrounding uniforms, the high-waisted Ferengi fashions were starting to look more than a little ridiculous to him.

"Bring us out of warp and hold us on the rim of the asteroid belt. They'll be on the edge of sensor range but that should hopefully work both ways." The tension in Paul Adams' voice confirmed the Ferengi's initial feelings and set him slightly on edge in his turn. It was one thing to be asked to the bridge for a bit of flying practice at the whim of someone who was rapidly becoming a friend, but quite another to be called up here during what looked like a full blown operational encounter.

As the ship dropped into normal space it came to a halt almost immediately, the stars transitioning from streaks to static points as the Leeds came to a dead stop. On screen, Galdar could see asteroids at the periphery of the forward view as the Nebula class vessel sat just above the outer edge of the belt. Looking at the back of Lieutenant Rolfe's head, his respect for the helmsman lifted a notch or two in acknowledgement of the skill involved in the manoeuvre he'd just witnessed. Dropping out of warp on top of an asteroid field was an interesting way to avoid detection but it was also a good way of slamming your ship into a rather large hunk of floating rock. From the calm manner with which the Lieutenant had carried it out, it was clear that he'd done this before.

"No probes detected", the voice of the tactical officer cut across the bridge, "nothing either in the system or beyond."

"Very good." The clipped response came from Commander Jervas. Sitting in his chair to the far side of the captain and staring hawkishly at the screen, he looked as if he was trying to detect probes by eye alone. "Is the ship in range?"

"She's there alright." the officer confirmed as Galdar turned to face him, "She hasn't moved since we first plotted the end of the warp trail."

"Can you confirm their identity?" Adams' was a little more relaxed now, the initial danger passed.

"Aye sir. It's them, the warp signature matches across the spectrum."

"Very well. Helm. Hold position as best you can for the moment and let's see if anything else turns up." Turning to Galdar, Adams lowered his voice. "We appear to have run across an erstwhile friend of yours in a rather unusual place. It was pure chance that we picked up their warp trail but having found it I thought we'd take a little detour and see where it went."

"A friend?", confusion was clear in the Ferengi's voice, "I don't think I have many of those, not out here anyway." Silent for a moment, he suddenly straightened as a new thought struck him, "Hang on, you don't mean the Depository do you?" Confusion now clearly replaced with incredulity, Galdar's eyes were locked wide open as he flicked his gaze between Adams and Jervas.

"Well OK, maybe friend is too strong a word but they were certainly a brief acquaintance...until we showed up and chased them off, anyway."

Realisation dawning, Galdar blinked. "The Orions."

"The Orions indeed." the captain confirmed. "I'm not sure what they're doing this far out of their usual zone of operations, but here they are. They're being careful too. Far enough out of the system to avoid detection from any normal traffic but holding station very close to a single position. Almost no drift at all." Briefly turning to the tactical officer, Adams raised an eyebrow. "Anything?" he asked. A shaken head was his only reply. "I guess we should be grateful they're not using the system itself. Getting in there and close enough to keep an eye on them without being detected would have been quite a challenge for Mr. Rolfe."

"Why am I here?" Galdar was still a little confused. "I don't know these people. I'm not even sure Glem did although I suppose he might have been able to make a guess."

"Strictly, we don't know much about them either other then the fact that they show up pretty regularly around Altair and the surrounding systems. What they're doing out here, though, is anyones guess." Adams smiled, "As to what you're doing here...let's just say that you're here to observe and maybe further your education a little. Don't expect to fly anything."

Nodding his agreement and understanding, Galdar sat back and regarded the speck on the screen.

I know it's unnusual here but I don't have a podcast of my own.