She looked back over her shoulder at him as he followed and smiled. "I heard rumors that you humans sometimes went by names."

After a moment of thinking, Chris realized it was a joke. However, the joke also raised curiosity. "Tell me, are there many humans in this galaxy? If so, why did they earn such contempt?"

She suddenly stopped and looked forlornly to the ground. He came up to her side and tried to make eye contact with her. A moment later, she looked at him. "History states that the Kiklar started killing off everyone in the galaxy because the humans made them angry. As such, humans quickly became the hated species of the galaxy."

She glared at him a moment longer, then began walking again, Chris quickly following. "Well, we aren’t those humans," he said in defense. "In fact, I don’t know how we can be related to those humans. We’re from the other side of the known universe!"

"And the moment I knew that, I decided not to treat you as bad as I would any other human," she said matter-of-factly. "Humans usually don’t live long in here, and even I won’t have control over that. In the worker’s eyes, you’re still human, and they won’t like you."

Chris shook his head and said, "Great, more to add to my already peachy day."

"Look," she stated as they finally made it across the catwalk and walked into a sort of control room. She stopped and turned to face him. "Because I know you aren’t one of those humans, I’m going to try to protect you as much as I can. But the fact is, I still have to put you to work, or the Rukarians will kill me."

Chris nodded and smiled. "All part of the job," he said, half-joking.

"Unfortunately," she stated. She put her hand on his shoulder again. "The best I can do for you is tell you what not to do. For now, don’t talk to anyone while you work, even if they try to initiate conversation with you. Many species here…well, their culture demands certain gestures. For instance, if I wasn’t so open and understanding, you would have insulted me five times because you blinked your eyes twice in succession."

Chris’s eyes went wide, then he decided to try to stop any such emotions from making it to his face, realizing that he didn’t know he was insulting her.

"Also, I hope you know how to fight, hum…I mean, Chris," she stated, moving to a console. "Because people here will randomly decide to fight you."

As she tapped in a command, the entire room jolted and began to climb further up the cavern. "You will report to me every day, and to no one else," she added. She looked at him again, concern on her face…at least, what looked like concern. "Because if you don’t, you will be killed by someone else."

Trying to keep his fright from showing on his face, Chris merely nodded. This was definitely going to be the hardest time of his life…



One Day Later



As the Dragon dropped out of warp, Vendar made a few more scans of the approaching vessels. Similar in design to the Britar warships, but without the arsenal, the ships provided no resistance against the Dragon, should they turn out to be hostile.

But then, that was a decision Ada would have to make.

"Open a hailing frequency," Sarah ordered.

Vendar tapped in the command, then replied, "Channel open, ma’am."

"This is Captain Sarah Caft of the Federation starship Dragon," she started. "We come to you in peace."

Vendar, with a near sigh of relief, saw that the lead ship was replying. She tapped in the command to put the transmission on screen.

What came on screen was humanoid, which surprised Vendar. They had encountered many, many humanoid species here in the Kalium galaxy. Back in the Milky Way, there was an actual reason. An alien species a long time ago had seeded the Milky Way with their own DNA, bringing to life almost every species of the galaxy that existed today, all like they were.

Here, however, that was no excuse. There wasn’t even an excuse for humans ever having existed here in this galaxy!

The translation matrix immediately translated the alien’s words, which also surprised Vendar.

"You are human?!" the alien woman asked.

Vendar brought up the translation logs and noted that they had a language similar to that of the Tarins…which was weird, considering the Tarins were not humanoid.

After a moment of hesitation, Sarah replied, "Yes, we are. We weren’t aware that humans were known throughout this region."

"The possibility that any humans might still be alive was only a bed time story in our culture!" the alien stated. "We never thought to see one alive, not in over several millennia!"

Things now become even more complicated Vendar thought. Or, as they say, "The plot thickens."

"We are not the humans you speak of, though we have heard of them. We actually come from a distant galaxy. We’ve been stranded in this galaxy…and to make things worse, our Commanding Officer was recently taken by the Rukarians."

The woman seemed taken aback for a moment, surprise hitting her, followed by a nod. "I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, they manage to take several of our people yearly."

Yearly! Vendar thought. That being the case…I doubt the Captain was taken just as leverage against us…

"So what you are saying is that the Rukarians are known quite well throughout this area?" Sarah asked. Vendar noticed just now that she was standing in between the helm and the Ops station.

"Known and hated!" the alien stated. "But the Rukarians are too advanced for us to take. We’ve lost several people to them, but no matter what we try, we can not get them back. Our problem, as is everyone else’s, is that we can not find a way past their barrier."

Vendar looked up at Sarah, who smiled. She looked back to her console and noticed that there was an intraship communications. She logged it and then brought her attention back to the alien.

"What would you say if I told you that we know of a way in?" Sarah asked.

The alien ‘frowned,’ its gray face seeming to change color. "I’d say you are the great messiah, that prophets have foretold about for several centuries.

Several centuries? How long have the Rukarians been doing this?!

"I assure you, I am no messiah," Sarah said, amused. "But we do know of the only place where they enter and leave. What we propose is an alliance of all species in this region to help regain all of your people. At the same time, we can teach the Rukarians that they can no longer take your people."

The alien seemed taken back, but then nodded…again. "I will propose it to my superiors. I can’t say anything about what we will do until after that. But I can tell you one thing, Captain." The alien leaned forward in her chair. "Most species in this area are friendly towards one another because of our common enemy. You will have little trouble conjuring up this fleet that you now seek."

She sat back again, and said, "Oh, and before I forget to tell you, my name is Allion."

Vendar looked up to Sarah and smiled, very happy that, so far, her plan was working. Sarah also smiled and said, "Nice doing business with you, Allion. We await your next signal."

Vendar looked back to her console and saw that the aliens had cut transmission. She immediately changed the view screen back to show the alien ships.

"Ada, lower shields," Sarah stated as she moved back to the command chair. "Let’s show our new friends that we trust them."

"Aye, Captain," Ada replied.

Vendar kept her smile, but then looked back to her console again. She brought up the transmission and noted that it had just been Kalia contacting Gamma Engineering.

Damn…sometimes being the Ops officer sure can be boring…

She mentally laughed at herself, realizing she thought that only because of the energy in her body. Before the Devil’s Virus ordeal, she had been the most patient person in the universe.. She enjoyed the peace and quiet of being the Ops officers. Now, she seemed more impatient. She didn’t like seeing that in her, but…there was nothing anyone could do…



Chris deactivated the laser torch and grabbed the ore piece before it fell to the ground. He brought it up close to his face, took in a breath through his nose, then blew the dust off of it.

Another good piece he thought. He had definitely chosen the right area to mine. It was an area rich with ore.

He stuffed the ore piece into his pouch and started up the torch again. However, before he could even begin cutting, some force suddenly hit his side and sent him reeling to the ground!

The torch clattered against the rocky ground as he grabbed his left side in pain. He looked up to see what had happened only to find what he had come to know as a Quarn…and it didn’t look happy.

Knowing he didn’t have time to talk diplomatically, Chris was on his feet in a moment. The Quarn came at him, bulging muscles pumping underneath his ragged and torn clothing.

Using the Quarn’s inertia and weight to his advantage, Chris grabbed the Quarn and went into a backward roll, sending the heavy Quarn over him and smashing into the ground. A moment later, Chris was back on his feet and was turned.

The Quarn, unwavered by Chris’s defense, quickly stood up and came at him again. Chris sidestepped out of the way…just in time to catch the Quarn’s arm and smash into the ground.

When his head hit, he knew he was going to have yet another mild concussion. Furthermore, his neck hurt from the whiplash.

Knowing that he didn’t have time to hurt, he quickly got up and spun around to face the incoming Quarn. His only chance was to disable the Quarn…

He stood there, staring at the charging alien, not budging, not giving any sign as to what he was about to do.

Finally, at the last possible second, he struck! Directly to the alien’s throat, Chris thrust his fist in. Though it hurt the creature, it still had its weight and inertia, and it trampled onto Chris and crushed him underneath its sagging weight.

His breath knocked out of him, Chris pushed the alien aside, then grabbed its breathing device and ripped it off.

Having already been gasping for air, the creature grabbed its throat harder and began to wheeze, barely able to breathe.

"I’ll put it back on the moment you agree never to attack me again!" Chris stated, already on his feet and looking down on the alien. "Do you agree?"

The creature quickly nodded, its eyes beginning to bulge. Not wanting to hurt the creature any more than he already had, Chris quickly put the device back on.

Immediately, the Quarn began taking deep, quick breaths through its nose…if it could be called a nose. Chris backed away as the creature attempted to stand up, still rubbing its bruised throat.

For the first time since the fight began, Chris looked around, seeing that they had drawn a fairly large crowd. Even aliens from the platforms and catwalks above were looking down at them.

"You fight well, Human," the alien stated. Chris noted that his mouth did not move with his words, which suggested to him that his communicator’s universal translator was still working. "Very deceptive."

Chris nodded and replied, "As do you."

The creature stared at him for a moment, then let out what Chris guessed was a laugh…or rather, hoped was a laugh, and not a battle cry. The Quarn walked past him, patting him on the shoulder twice really hard, nearly driving Chris to his knees! "You’re all right, human!" he stated as he walked off.

Chris rubbed his shoulder, followed by his neck, and finally his temple. That creature knows just how to make my life miserable he thought, a strong headache coming on. Hopefully, though, people will think twice before they attack me now that I’ve defeated him…

Tired, but knowing his shift wasn’t even close to ending, Chris picked up his torch and found a place to start cutting again.

As he started working there, he realized he’d only been here for a day…two maybe? He wasn’t sure, but he suddenly realized that this was going to be a hard life to get used to… And that’s not just figuratively speaking he thought, rubbing his temples.

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended