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Mission 7 - Wedding Bells

Represnting the Federation at a royal weddng.

The Short Version

Starbase 93
July 2401

Doctor Lori Weaver stepped into the temporary office Captain Kirby was using while the crew of the Eagle was on a short break on Starbase 93.

“Ah, Lori, please sit,” said Kirby as he stood up, a smile on his face.

Sitting down and placing a PADD on the desk, Lori couldn’t help noticing his smile.  “I have my final reports on the senior staff.”

Kirby eyed the PADD.  “Give me the short version and I’ll read the full report later today.”  He sat back in his chair.

“The short version?  Everyone was scared out of their minds, but they’re cleared for duty.  Well, everyone but Nick.  Okay, maybe not Izi either, but I don’t mind saying I was close to wetting myself.”

Kirby blinked several times.  He clearly didn’t expect that.  “Perhaps a bit less short, Doctor.”

“You know how it is,” said Weaver.  “Just hearing the word Borg sends shivers down your spine and nightmares into your soul.”

Kirby nodded, a grim expression on his face.

“We were sent to try to find one of their ships  The tension on the bridge was so thick, it felt almost like a physical presence,” said Weaver.

“Yes, but they did their jobs.  They’re a good crew,” said Kirby.

“Yes, we are.”

Kirby chuckled.

“When the sphere turned around and came after us, sending a drone onto the bridge, we all thought that was it.”  Weaver shivered.  “Izi was ready to go down fighting.  Ever since Nick came back from leave, he’s seemed, well, happy.  I’m not sure why and he won’t talk about it.  I asked Izi, but she said it’s Nick’s story to tell.”  Weaver shrugged.  “I’m most concerned about Haia.  She’s always laid back and nothing seems to bother her, but the drone threw her off her chair and onto the floor.  I don’t think she’s gotten over that yet.”

“Will it affect how she performs her duties?  Should I leave her here for awhile?” said Kirby.

“No, I think leaving her for more counseling will make her feel broken.  She’s an overachiever not accustomed to failing at anything.  Haia needs to keep working.”

“Okay.”  There were a few seconds of silence before Kirby continued.  “What about you?”

“Me?  Pfft!  I’m fine.  I was a drug lord.  Twice.  I got over it, so what’s a Borg drone hacking our personnel files compared to that?”

“And you didn’t wet yourself.”

Weaver’s eyes widened in shock, but she burst out laughing.

“All right then,” said Kirby.  “We have a new assignment.  We leave day after tomorrow once the engineering crews are finished with minor repairs and upgrades.”

“Please tell me it’s not another supply run,” said Weaver.

“It’s not another supply run.  We’re going to a wedding.”

 

Setting the Stage

July 2401

USS Eagle

The Eagle was traveling to Lenal III and Kirby was looking out the window from his ready room, streaks of the warp drive affect racing past.  It felt good to be on an assignment that wasn’t a supply run, especially on something so important to the Federation.  Maybe the good work they had done was finally being noticed.  Bringing down a dangerous cartel and obtaining Breen deployment plans to aid against the lost fleet showed the young crew could get the job done.

As official representatives of Starfleet and the Federation, attending a wedding that would finally unify a planet so it could join the Federation, was an honor.  Kirby knew they would be at their best, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something would go wrong, as there would surely be factions that didn’t want this to happen.  Plans had been made over weeks of diplomacy, so Kirby tried to not worry.  He supposed it was just nervous jitters and not wanting to fail.

Lenal III – Equamar

“I still don’t understand why you can’t find another way.”  Prince Jahk Korlus d’Cempus of Equamar was unhappy and that was putting it mildly.

“We’ve been over this already,” said King Limmar.  “There is no other way.  We’ve been at odds, and often at war, with Canbolla for centuries.  Marrying their princess will finally unify us, bring peace, and begin a new era for all the nations of our world.”

“But I don’t want to be tied down to some spoiled brat.  I’m not a political person,” said Jahk.

“I find it amusing that you used the word spoiled,” said Limmar.

Jahk scowled.

“The Federation ship will be here in less than two days.  You have that long to want to do this,” said Limmar.  “The decision has been made.”

Lenal III – Canbolla

Princess Yari su’Benna of Canbolla was seated on a stone bench before her mother’s final resting place.  The marker was huge and ornate, and actually quite beautiful with its carvings in a light, pink stone.

The weather was seasonally cool.  Birds and other animals flittered about, with only their daily activities to do.  None of them were being forced into a marriage they didn’t want.

Yari sat in deep reflection, her protection team a respectable distance away, but close enough to act if needed.

Yari sighed deeply.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way, Mama.  I was supposed to be the little sister that made public appearances and promoted charitable causes.  I wasn’t supposed to marry the prince of Equamar so we could join the Federation.”  Her sad voice softened.  “And you weren’t supposed to die.”

Yari held in her tears.

“I never wanted to be in politics, and certainly not a world leader.  What do I know about any of that?  Couldn’t Daddy and the Queen think of something else?  Am I being selfish? I’ve lived a privileged life, with the best of everything.  Is it asking too much for me to do something for my world and for all Lenali?”

She watched a small animal scurry across the grass.

“Why did it have to be Prince Jahk?  He’s so full of himself.  He goes to casinos and clubs.  He takes vacations to exotic beaches.  There’s always a different floozy on his arm.  Who knows how many women he’s been with?  The media calls him the Playboy Prince.  How can I marry someone like that?  The thought of him touching me, lying in bed with me, it makes me want to vomit.”  She did a body shiver.

“Do you remember Jorsio?  He’s from one of the lesser noble houses.  I’ve been secretly seeing him and I think I’m falling in love with him.  I always thought he would be my husband one day.  If you’re there somewhere watching over me, if there’s anything you can do to help…”

Yari heard someone approaching.  Looking behind her, she saw Berathor, the head of her security team.  He had been in that position since Yari was a little girl.  She couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t there.

“Princess, we need to leave now. There’s still much to do before the Federation delegation arrives.”

“Yes, of course,” said Yari.  She got up and placed her hand on her mother’s stone, her heart so heavy, she wondered how she could bear it.

“We all have our duties, Berathor.”  She moved toward the transport vehicle, her tail so low in sorrow, it was almost dragging on the ground.

 

 

Learning and Waiting

July 2401

USS Eagle

Seeing Haia at a table alone, Lori moved through the mess hall and stopped beside the science officer.  “May I join you?”

Haia set her PADD on the table and nodded yes.

“You should try the lasagna,” said Lori.  “It’s not replicated.  Crewman Thomas made the real thing.”

“Maybe I will,” said Haia.

Lori smirked at the typical deadpan reaction.  “So, what are you reading?”  Lori knew talking about something that interested Haia would get her to open up.  At least a little.

“Lenali anatomy.  They’re quite an interesting species,” said Haia.

“What do you find so interesting?”  As chief medical officer, Lori had already studied them, but she was curious to hear Haia’s thoughts.

“Like most races, they’re basically humanoid, with some internal differences,” said Haia.  “Their ruddy skin color and sharp facial features and pointed ears led initial teams in first contact reports to creatively describe them as red elves.”

Haia paused and glanced to the side.  Following her gaze, Lori saw Iziraa approaching with her dinner tray.

“Howdy, girls,” said Iziraa, sliding into an empty chair.

Haia rolled her eyes.

“Still learning the social graces, eh Iz?” said Lori.

“What do you mean?  I’m following Andorian graces.”

“Never mind,” said Lori.

Iziraa shrugged.  “What are you talking about?”

“Lenali anatomy,” said Lori.

“Ah!  I’m impressed with their tails,” said Iziraa.  “Did you know that in combat, they can use them like whips?  They can fight two opponents at once, one in front and one behind.  The best warriors can take off someone’s head.  Amazing people.”

Of course Iziraa concentrated on the martial aspect of the Lenali.  “Anything else grab your attention?” said Lori.

“No.  Haia, you should try the lasagna,” said Iziraa.  “Crewman Thomas did a great job cooking it.”

Lenal III – Canbolla

Princess Yari had originally prepared to join her father to meet the Federation delegation when they arrived, but she had learned, for some reason, she wouldn’t be included.  She had no idea why, as she was basically one of the most important reasons the Starfleet people were coming.  Instead, she had gone to the palace and was in her personal parlor.  What did she know about such things anyway?

Sighing, she stepped onto the balcony, smiling as she thought about two nights ago when Jorsio sneaked onto the property and climbed a tree that grew next to the building.  He couldn’t stay long, as security patrols would find him, but even being together for just a few minutes, was enough to fill her heart with joy.

When Yari’s lady-in-waiting came into the parlor, Jorsio quickly scurried down.  With a deep, longing gaze, Yari watched, wishing she could run away with him.  Reaching out towards each other, she felt his fingers slide down hers, a sensation she never experienced, tingling up her arm.  She leaned and stretched as far as she could.  It would have been worth tumbling off the balcony to feel his finger tips just one second more.

Of course, all of that was a hopeless dream, a fantasy Yari could never live.

“Princess.”

Berathor.  When had he arrived?  Though he never spoke of it, she was certain he knew about Jorsio.  He was too good at his duties to not know.

“Are you all right?  I called out to you three times.”

“I’m fine, Berathor. I’m just doing a lot of thinking.”

Yari could sense that Berathor wanted to say more, but she also knew he would feel it wasn’t his place.  He had done so much to protect and take care of her, she came to love him like a beloved uncle.

“I don’t mean to disturb you, Princess, but I have important news.”

Yari sighed, leaning an elbow on the edge of the balcony.

“What am I required to do now?”

“It’s about Prince Jahk.”

“Oh?  Did one of his conquests file a paternity suit against him?”

“It’s nothing like that.”  Berathor could barely hide his smile.  “Once the arrangement was official, I started working with the prince’s security team.  I just received a report from them that the prince was flying his glider from the Grezhar cliffs on Mirilad Island.  He likes to go there alone, against their objections.  He’s past his check in time, so they suspect he may have crashed in the woods.  They’re organizing a search team now.  I just came from informing your father.”

Yari stood straight, her face pink from shock.  “Is he… is he alive?”  Her voice was subdued.

“I don’t know,” said Berathor.

Yari’s mind raced.  Her heart was pounding and she had to force herself to take short, deep breaths.  Her stomach churned like she had eaten something spoiled.

Grezhar was near an owalla beast hunting ground.  If Jahk survived the crash, he would still be in danger.  If something tragic happened, this could be her way out.

She immediately felt terrible guilt for thinking such a thing.  Besides, the plan to unify the countries would still move forward.  They would just find someone else of royal blood for her.  For all she knew, that could be a fat, old man, three times her age, that would need to drink zimba root tea to perform his husbandly duties.

“What do we do now?” said Yari.

“We wait, Princess.  We wait until we hear something, one way or another.” 

 

 

Asking for Help

July 2401

USS Eagle

“Captain, we’re being hailed.”  Iziraa tapped the tactical console.  “It’s the Equamar government channel.”

Kirby thought that was odd.  The Eagle was still an hour away from the Lenal system and there wasn’t really any reason for them to call.  “On screen.”

“Aye, sir.”

From the mission briefing, Kirby recognized the man that appeared, King Limmar Korlus d’Cempus.  He was tall, with brown hair and was about sixty years old.  Standing in front of a desk in an ornate office, he had a commanding presence.

“Your Highness, I’m Captain Matt Kirby.  What can I do for you?”

“I need your help with something, Captain.  It’s embarrassing, but it’s also a matter of grave importance.”

Kirby thought back to a few days ago when he was reflecting on the assignment.  He had a sinking feeling in his gut that something might go wrong.  He didn’t think it would be before they arrived.

“Whatever we can do.  The Eagle is at your disposal.”

“We can’t find Prince Jahk.”

Kirby frowned, almost slumping his shoulders.

“As I’m sure you already know from your briefings, Captain, the prince can occasionally be… difficult.

Kirby didn’t say anything, not wanting to risk insulting the king by agreeing with him about his son.

“He went to Mirilad Island.  He likes to fly his glider from the cliffs.  I suppose this was one last excursion before he marries Princess Yari.”  King Limmar paused.  “He’s past his check in time and we’re not getting a signal from his tracking chip.  We’ve sent search teams, but the wilderness area is large and he hasn’t been found.  Your sensor technology is advanced.  If we send you the tracking frequency and his DNA, would you help us find him?”

“Of course.  My tactical and science officers will get right on it.”

“Thank you, Captain.”  Limmar went behind his desk and sat down, tapping a console.  “I’ve sent the information.  If… when you find him, call me directly on this channel.”

“We will.  Don’t worry, sir, we’ll find him.”

Limmar nodded and his image disappeared, the view screen returning to showing the stars.

“I have the information,” said Iziraa.  “I also brought up the map of the island.  The king wasn’t wrong about the size of the wilderness.”

“Helm, increase speed and when we reach Lenal, put us in geosynchronous orbit.”

Yes, sir.”

Lenal III

Arriving in a hover car and parking in an isolated, wooded area far from the capital city, a lone person stepped out.  Moving to another lone figure just inside the treeline, the person stopped.  “It’s done.”

“The prince’s glider was sabotaged?” said the Second Person.

“Yes,” said the First.  “I made sure of it myself.  It’s timed to shut down once he reaches flight.  My contact inside the government told me he’s missing, though they’re keeping it quiet.”

“Excellent.”

“Is there anything else you need?” said the First.

“No.  Your services are no longer required.”  The Second drew a firearm from his pocket.

“Wh… what is this?” The First was shaking in fear.

The Second fired twice, the silencer preventing anyone from hearing the shots.  When the First fell, the Second shot twice more.  The terrified expression was still on the victim’s lifeless face.

Another person emerged from hiding in the woods.

“Drag the body into the forest and leave it where it won’t be found, then drive the car to the back roads of Vilton.”

The Third nodded and began the grisly task.

The Second smiled.  The first part of the plan had begun.

 

The Searchers

USS Eagle

“Moving now from grid eleven to twelve.”

Kirby detected some irritation in Iziraa’s voice.  It seemed it was beginning to bother her that she hadn’t located Prince Jahk yet.  He could understand, as it bothered him as well.  If something bad had happened to the prince, they could be linked to the failure of an important mission even though they hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I’ve got something,” said Iziraa, the tone in her voice changing.  “It’s definitely the prince, but he’s moving quickly and something large is following him.”

A predator!

“Kirby to transporter room.  Lock onto the signal and beam it directly to sickbay.  Hurry.”

The atmosphere became tense as Kirby waited long seconds to hear if they had been in time.

“Sickbay to bridge, Weaver here.  We’ve got Prince Jahk.  He’s battered and bruised, but he looks okay.  I’ll let you know more once I’ve done a full work up.”

Kirby sighed audibly.  “Thank you, Doctor.  Iziraa, contact King Limmar and tell him the good news.”

“Aye, sir.”

Hopefully this was the worst that would happen.

Equamar

“What were you thinking?  You know how dangerous it is to fly alone.  You still don’t understand how important the wedding is,” said Limmar.

“I don’t care how important it is,” said Jahk.  “I keep telling you I don’t want to do this.”

“Yes, yes, but we’re long past that,” said Limmar.  “Since you’re not taking this seriously, you leave me no choice.  You’re confined to the premises.”

“What?” exclaimed Jahk.

“You’re staying here, under strict security.”

“You’re treating me like a prisoner!”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but you did this to yourself,” said Limmar.

Canbolla

“That is good news,” said Yari.  “I didn’t want anything to happen to him.”

The room fell silent and Yari studied Berathor.  She was adept at reading body language, but she was never able to read his.

“Do you need anything before I report back to the king?” said Berathor.

“Just a way out of this,” said Yari.

Berathor’s face tweaked ever so slightly.  He didn’t answer right away, as he seemed to be pondering something.

“There is a way….”

USS Eagle

Kirby stepped into the cargo bay and found Lieutenant Saunders.  “What did you find, Nick?”  The chief engineer led him to the wreckage of Prince Jahk’s glider.

“To start, I’m impressed at how similar this hang glider is to gliders built on Earth,” said Saunders.  “Sound engineering principles work everywhere.”  He chuckled.

“Anything else?” Kirby could understand why an engineer would feel that way.

“The glider doesn’t just rely on air currents to fly, it also has a small motor and a propeller.”

“And?”

“It gives the rider more control and the ability to fly faster and higher.”

“So why did it crash?  Pilot error?” said Kirby.

“Sabotage.”

Kirby’s blood ran cold.  He knew something would go wrong.

“The motor seized and the wing braces collapsed because they were weakened.  It took me almost no time to find all this, which makes me think whoever did it either didn’t expect someone would analyze the wreckage or they didn’t  care.”

“Why didn’t the prince notice any of this?”

“He wouldn’t unless he was looking for it,” said Saunders.

“Thank you, Nick.”

“Yes, sir.”

All Kirby could think was how much worse could things get.

 

Will It Be Okay?

July 2401

USS Eagle

“Captain Kirby, are you certain your engineer’s findings are correct?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”  Kirby was a bit annoyed at the question, but he understood why it was asked.

“Sabotage.”  Limmar slumped slightly in his chair, but quickly recovered.

“If you need any assistance in your investigation, you have the full resources of my ship and crew.”

“Thank you, Captain.  I’ll let you know.”  Limmar pressed a button on his desk and the image on the Eagle screen returned to their orbital view of Lenal III.

“He’s not a happy camper,” said Commander Allen.

“No he’s not, and neither am I,” said Kirby.

Equamar

“You know, Jahk, if you spend some time thinking about it, this isn’t really so bad.”

Jahk studied the face of his Uncle Teras, his father’s brother.

“Princess Yari is intelligent, she has a sweet personality, she’s charitable and giving, and she’s hotly gorgeous,” said Teras.  “Have you looked at her tail?  It makes me wish I was your age again.”  He smacked his lips.

Jahk sighed.  “Yes, that’s all true, but….”

“But you don’t want to be forced,” said Teras.  “I get it, but do you understand, truly understand what’s before you?”

Jahk shrugged.  “Yes, all the countries on Lenal will benefit from joining the Federation.”

“There’s more.  Once we officially join, you and Yari will travel to Earth.  There will be much to discuss.  We’ll need to set up an embassy and assign diplomats.  Only a few Lenali have ever been to space.  You’ll be the first to go to another world.  Your names will be remembered for centuries.”  Teras paused and studied his nephew’s face.  “Jahk, when we’re young, we have our fun time, but that eventually changes when we focus on important things like family, children, career.  I know you’re only twenty-two years and you still want to party, but what you’re going to do is one of the greatest feats in our history.  I would gladly trade places with you.”

Silence filled the room.

“Maybe you’re right,” said Jahk.  “I just wish my father would have included me when this was being discussed.”

“My brother has always been owalla-headed, but he’s a good king that cares about the people.  If there would have been another way, he really would have done it.”  Teras patted Jahk on the arm.  “Everything will work out.  You’ll see.”

USS Eagle, Ready Room

“When we attend the formal introduction dinner tomorrow, who do you want to go?” said Allen.

“The senior staff,” said Kirby.  “Us, Weaver, Saunders, Ohtani, and Iziraa.”

“Dress uniforms?” said Allen with a chuckle.  He knew how much his captain disliked them.

“Dress uniforms,” said Kirby, a sour expression on his face.

“Of course, there’s a lot more to worry about than what we wear,” said Allen.

“Yes.  I’m confident the Equamarans can conduct a proper investigation, but I’m concerned this could be out of their league,” said Kirby.

“Oh?”

“I’m sure their history is filled with political intrigue, but trying to kill the prince could be an inside job, from someone in Canbolla, or even one of the other fifty-seven countries on their world.  Anyone could have their reasons for not wanting the marriage, the alliance between the two countries, or even joining the Federation.”  Kirby paused.  “This could be too deep, even for us.”

 

More is Revealed

July 2401

USS Eagle, Mess Hall

“From what everyone is saying, it’s going to be an exciting event.  I’m disappointed I don’t get to go to the dinner tomorrow,” said Ensign Renee Parker, the new nurse.

“That’s because you’re a junior officer with no seniority,” said Iziraa.  “The captain probably doesn’t know who you are yet.”

Lori sighed and rolled her eyes at the blunt comment by the Andorian.

“What?” said Iziraa, her antennae moving in slow circles.

“Nothing,” said Lori.  She turned her attention to Renee.  “The wedding is the big event you want to attend.  I’m sure Captain Kirby will let more people go.”

“I hope so.  A small-town girl going to a royal wedding that helps an entire world join the Federation?  My parents will be thrilled to hear all about it.”  Renee beamed a smile.  “I can hardly wait!”

Equamar

There was a knock on the door and Brel Tonis, King Limmar’s top aide, stepped inside the office.  “We found something, Your Majesty.”  Moving to the desk, he handed the king a data pad.

“What am I looking at,” said Limmar.

“The nineteen people on that list all had access to the warehouse that holds Prince Jahk’s glider.  We were able to clear eighteen of them.”

“And the nineteenth?” said Limmar.

“Xirax Tel, a hover car mechanic,” said Tonis.  “He reported for his shift this morning, but left early claiming to be ill.  He wasn’t home and his family hasn’t seen him since he went to work.  Local police in Vilton found his car on a back road, but it was burned.  We couldn’t get prints or DNA.”

“Were there remains of a body?”

“No.  As of now, he’s missing and our prime suspect.”

“Do you know why he may have sabotaged the glider?”

“Not yet.  Tel doesn’t have a criminal record and other than a bank lone for his house, he’s not in debt.  He’s not known to associate with gangs or anything like that.  By all appearances, he’s a normal and average citizen.  We’re still investigating.”

“Keep me updated,” said Limmar.

USS Eagle, Mess Hall

“So what do you think about all this, Iz?” said Lori.

“It’s just a wedding,” said Iziraa.  Her antennae stopped moving.

Lori studied her friend.

“Now what?” said Iziraa.  “Do you think I’m feeling something because I backed out of my wedding?”

“I just want to make sure you’re all right,” said Lori.

“I’m fine.  Not everyone has a meltdown when life doesn’t go the way they planned.”  Iziraa’s antennae started moving again.

Sensing the growing tension, Renee changed the subject.  “I’ve been studying Lenali physiology.  They seem like they’re a hearty race.  Their tails fascinate me.”

“You, too?” said Iziraa, her mood instantly changing.  “I’d love to see them in combat!”

“Thinking about it, I suppose it would be something to see,” said Renee.

Lori never would have expected her new nurse to be interested in that.  “I need to get back to sickbay.  I’ll see you later.”  As she walked away, Iziraa and Renee were chattering away, enjoying talking about their future new allies.

 

Going Deeper

July 2401

Equamar

Standing nervously near the woods at the usual meeting place, the lone figure watched as a black hovercar pulled up and another person stepped out with a clearly unhappy facial expression.  The tail of the person by the woods shuffled nervously.

Hovercar stopped before Woods.  “Well?”

“The plan was foolproof,” said Woods.  “There was no way we could have known the King would ask the Starfleet Captain for help or that they would have found the Prince in time.  The crash site was a known owalla hunting ground.  Jahk should be dead.”

“Yes, he should be,” said Hovercar.  “Tell me why you shouldn’t be as well.”

Woods gulped.  “I’ve worked for you a long time.  I always get the job done.  There’s still time.”

Hovercar scoffed.  “The Prince is under lock and key.  There’s no way to get to him now.”

“Then we need another plan,” said Woods.

“The Princess?”  Hovercar paused in thought.  “What do you have in mind?”

USS Eagle, Ready Room

Kirby was deep in thought.  Someone tried to kill Prince Jahk by sabotaging his glider.  Equamar Royal Security identified the saboteur, but were unable to find him.  He offered King Limmar the full resources of the Eagle to help, but so far, he hadn’t heard back.  He supposed it might be a matter of pride.  However things on the surface worked out, Kirby was concerned his people could be in the firing line if there was another attempt on the Prince’s life.  This was an important mission that Big Shots in Command were carefully watching, so he and his crew had to get it right.

I don’t want to be a food delivery service, thought Kirby.

Canbolla

Princess Yari was in her chambers thinking about what Berathor had told her.  She wanted a way out of the arranged marriage and he had given her one.  It was bold and brash and would most certainly cause an uproar beyond description, but did she have the courage to do it?

There was a knock on the door and her lady-in-waiting entered.

“Princess, it’s time.”

“Thank you.  I’ll be right there.”

“Yes, Princess.”  The lady nodded and left the room.

A meeting had been scheduled to discuss the itinerary of the dinner tomorrow where both families would formally greet the representatives from the Federation, followed by a dress fitting.  More duties, more obligations.  Berathor’s idea was looking better.

USS Eagle, Science Lab

“Why would I want to go to a dinner with a bunch of stuffy people that think they’re special and privileged?”

Nurse Renee Parker blinked in disbelief at Haia Ohtani’s comment.  “Why wouldn’t you want to go?  They are special and privileged, and because of your position, rank, and accomplishments, you’re special, too.”  Parker shook her head.  “Just imagine, a royal wedding!”

“I’ve been to weddings,” said Ohtani.

“Not anything like this,” said Parker.

Ohtani shrugged.

“Well, I want to go,” said Parker.  “We don’t have events like that back home in Alaska.”

“I imagine you spent your time avoiding moose and polar bears,” said Ohtani.

Was that a joke?  Had the stoic Science Officer said something humorous?  “Good one, Haia.”  Parker smiled.

“Good one what?” said Ohtani.

“Never mind,” said Parker.

“People say that to me a lot.  Curious,” said Ohtani.

Iziraa’s Quarters

Izi was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, the lights dimmed.  She didn’t understand why, but she couldn’t get her bond mates out of her mind.  Because of duty and circumstances, she had backed away from marrying.  Was it possible the upcoming Lenali wedding was affecting her emotions?  Was her heart regretting her decision?  It was certainly possible to marry and serve in Starfleet; many were doing it, but that wasn’t Izi’s way.  When she committed to something, she was all in.  She felt it wouldn’t be right to start a family, leave for Starfleet duty and barely see them.

She sighed.  Finishing this assignment and moving on was what she needed to clear her mind.

Sickbay

Doctor Weaver turned off the osteogenic stimulator and set it on a nearby table.  She grabbed a hypospray and pressed it against her patient’s arm.  “That should do it, Nick.  Your wrist will be stiff for a couple of days, but you’ll be fine.”

“So I can dance with a pretty Lenali girl at the wedding?” said Nick Saunders.

“You can dance with a pretty Lenali girl at the wedding.”  Weaver chuckled.  “Please just be careful the next time you going crawling through a Jefferies tube.”

“I will.  Thanks, Doc.”  Saunders hopped off the biobed.

“Before you go….”

“Yes?”

“About your leave with Izi to Delvis IV….”

Saunders rolled his eyes and chuckled.  “It’s my business, Doc, and Iziraa is sworn to secrecy.”

“I know.”  Weaver frowned.  “I tried everything, but Izi won’t talk.”

“Is there anything else, Doc?  I need to get back to engineering.”

“Nick, you’ve been different since you came back.  Your friends are just happy for you.”

“And the pool is up to…?”

“Five hundred credits.”  Weaver slapped her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide.

Nick raised his left wrist.  “Thanks for the treatment.”  Chuckling, he headed out.

Weaver sighed.

USS Eagle, Ready Room

Satisfied with the list of who he would take with him to the Lenali dinner and wedding, Kirby turned off his computer and stretched.  Taking a deep breath, he had to stop worrying.  Whatever happened the rest of the way, they would handle it.  They survived the Borg.  What was political intrigue compared to that?

He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was about to explode.

 

 

Going to Dinner

July 2401

USS Eagle, Transporter Room

Kirby adjusted the collar of his dress uniform while the rest of his officers that would be attending the dinner to meet the two royal families filed into the transporter room: Lieutenant Commander Allen, Lieutenant Saunders, Doctor Weaver, Lieutenant Iziraa, and Nurse Parker.  He originally picked Lieutenant Ohtani, but she asked to be excused from attending.  Not wanting to press the matter, and hearing from Lori that her new nurse was eager to go, he added her to the group.  He could see it was a good choice, as she was beaming a large smile.

“Now that we’re here and ready to go, we’ll do a quick review of the briefing,” said Kirby.  “The dinner tonight is in the Great Hall in the Equamar capital city, with the wedding tomorrow in Canbolla.  We’re beaming onto the grounds outside the hall, which will certainly be covered by the media.  I’m sure we’ll be bombarded with questions, but security should keep them back.  Be polite, smile, wave, but don’t say anything controversial.”  He glanced at Iziraa, who wrinkled her nose at the comment.

“Inside there will be a receiving line, conversations, and photographs.”  Kirby paused.  “Unfortunately, I’ll be giving a speech, then the dinner.  After that will be music and socializing.”  He paused again.  “I can’t emphasize enough that we need to be careful.  Someone tried to assassinate the Prince, so keep your eyes open.”

When that sank in and they were ready, Kirby motioned for the team to step onto the transporter pads.

“Energize.”

Equamar, Great Hall, Doctor Weaver and Nurse Parker

“So, Renee, what do you think?”

“This is amazing, Doctor!” said Parker.  It’s more exciting than I thought it would be.  I fluttered when I met the Prince.”  She giggled.

“He is a handsome man,” said Weaver.

“I watched some archive footage of royal weddings on Earth,” said Parker.  “If tomorrow is anything like them, it ill be the highlight of my year.”

“Going where no one has gone before is worth all the hard work and sacrifice,” said Weaver.  “Treasure every moment.”

Lieutenant Iziraa

Izi had done her best to enjoy the festivities, while being vigilant as a security officer.  Now that the Royal Orchestra was performing, with people dancing, she was watching.  Seeing someone approaching, she did a double take when she recognized it was Princess Yari.  Izi stood a little straighter.

“Lieutenant Iziraa, may I speak with you?”

“Yes, of course, Princess.  I’m honored.”

“How are you doing?  Are you enjoying yourself?” said Yari.

“Yes, Princess.  More than I thought I would,”

Yari cocked her head to one side, her tail swishing in a circular pattern.

“What I meant, Princess, is I’m generally more focused on duty rather than fun.”

“I certainly understand that.”

Izi saw a sad expression flash across Yari’s face, but just for an instant.  It was so subtle, most would have missed it.

“You don’t need to call me Princess all the time.  I’m really just like everyone else.”

Izi doubted that.  Observing her, Princess Yari had a bearing and a presence that showed she really wasn’t like everyone else.

“I’ll try,” said Izi with a chuckle.

“I’ve done a lot of studying of Starfleet and the Federation,” said Yari.  “You have such a wonderful organization, with so many different people working together for the same goals.”

“It’s not quite like that,” said Izi.  “We do work together, but goals aren’t always the same.  Politics never truly go away.”

“I suppose it doesn’t,” said Yari, ”but you’ve done so much good for so many.  Your technology is absolutely fascinating.  You’re more than three hundred years beyond what we have.  Warp travel, transporters, holograms, language translators.  Your food replicators alone would end world hunger.  I understand why my people want to join.”

“But you wish there was a different way.”  As soon as Izi said that, she was horrified.  “I’m so sorry, Princess.  It’s not my place to say that.”  Her face was purple with embarrassment.

After a tense few seconds of silence, Yari spoke.  “You’re very observant.”

While more seconds passed, Izi wondered how much trouble she would be in once the Captain heard about this.

“May I ask a favor?” said Yari.

A favor?  Izi was both surprised and relieved the Princess seemed to be moving past her comment.  What could she want?

“Of course, Princess.”

“May I tour your ship?”

“A tour?  I would need to ask Captain Kirby, but I don’t see why not.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.  I look forward to your Captain’s answer.”

USS Eagle, Transporter Room

Izi had taken Princess Yari’s request to Captain Kirby, who took it to the two families.  Permission was given and Yari had changed from her gown to more casual clothing.  Her head of security, Berathor, wanted to go as well, but Yari assured him she was in good hands with Lieutenant Iziraa.

After materializing on the Eagle, Yari stared in awe.  “That was incredible!”  She was slightly out of breath.

“I suppose it is,” said Izi, “but I’m accustomed to it.”

Stepping off the pad, Yari approached the transporter operator.  “”What’s your name?”

The operator looked at Izi, who nodded.

“I’m Petty Officer Ronald Taylor, ma’am.”

“I’m Yari.  It’s nice to meet you, Petty Officer Ronald Taylor.”  She turned back to face Izi.  “Where should we go first?”

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

Yari was looking out the window, staring at her home world.  “I’ve seen satellite pictures, but seeing Lenal like this, it’s breathtaking.”

“Being in Starfleet is a great life,” said Izi.  “The opportunities are almost limitless.”

“Opportunities,” whispered Yari.  Her tail stiffened, she took a deep breath, and she looked back at Izi.  “Lieutenant Iziraa, I formally request sanctuary on the Eagle.”

“Wh-what?”  Izi’s antennae rose like a letter V.

“I want political asylum.”

Izi froze, her stomach churning.  She slowly moved her hand to her comm badge.  “Lieutenant Iziraa to Captain Kirby, we have a problem.”

 

Now, Matters Are Worse

July 2401

Equamar, Great Hall

“Captain Kirby, this is outrageous!” said King Randus su’Benna.  “Bring my daughter back!”

“I agree,” said King Limmar Korlus d’Cempus.  “It’s taken years for our nations to finally agree on a way to have lasting peace and now this happens.  Send her back, Captain.”

“It’s not that easy,” said Kirby.  “The concept of sanctuary is deeply seeded in our culture.  I need to respect Princess Yari’s request and hear her reasoning.”

“Nonsense.  Your ship is orbiting our world, so you’re subject to our laws,” said Randus.

Kirby was stuck in the middle of a very difficult situation.  He knew he had to speak with the Princess, but he also needed to inform Starfleet Command.  The Kings also had a point.  He had to do this one step at a time.

“My officers and I will return to the Eagle.  I will hear the Princess’ request and I will contact you when I have news.”

“This is unacceptable!” said Randus.

“It’s the best I can do right now.”  Kirby tapped his comm badge.  “Eagle, five to beam up.”

USS Eagle, Ready Room

“Where is the Princess right now?” said Kirby.

“She’s in the observation lounge,” said Weaver.  “Nurse Parker is sitting with her.”

“I’d like both of you to come with me when I talk to her,” said Kirby.  “Lieutenant, are you certain you have a rapport with her or did she just use you to get on board?”

Iziraa took several seconds to respond.  “I have a rapport with her, sir.  We made a connection about placing duty above our own desires.”

“I see.”  Kirby hoped whatever Iziraa said didn’t contribute to Yari’s decision to request sanctuary.  “All right, let’s get to it.”

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

Kirby, Weaver, and Iziraa stepped into the lounge.

“Thank you, Parker, that will be all.”  When the nurse had left the room, Kirby studied the Princess.  He was surprised at how calm she was.  In fact, he got the sense that she was relieved.

“All right, Princess, tell me why I should let you have political asylum,” said Kirby once everyone was seated.

“Direct and to the point,” said Yari.  “I respect that.”

“Princess?” said Kirby.

“I don’t want to marry Prince Jahk.”

“You’ve put me in a difficult position.  If I’m going to allow you to stay here, I need more than that.”

“Captain, you’re a man of duty.  You do what is required of you even if it’s against what you personally want to do,” said Yari.  “I’m also a person of duty.  The difference between us is, you chose the Starfleet life.  I have no choice.  I’ve been the good little Princess, doing what I was expected to do.  Well, now I’m doing what I want.  It’s my life, after all.  I should have that right.”

Kirby was impressed at how mature and focused Yari was at such a young age.

“Princess, what you’re saying has merit, but there are larger issues here.”

“There always are, Captain,” said Yari.  “Do you know what impresses me most about your Federation?  So many races work together for the greater good, while still maintaining the rights of the individual.  I’m tired of not being allowed to be an individual.”

“Captain, if I may?” said Iziraa.

“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“Yari, my people have a strong sense of duty to the clan; we had to in order to survive and thrive on an ice world, but even in living that way, we still have individual freedom to choose our path.  If you marry Prince Jahk, an entire world will open to you.  You’ll travel in space and go to Earth, the first of your people to do that.  You’ll represent all Lenali to the Federation.  You’ll play a part in what happens in the entire Federation.  Isn’t that something special?”

The room grew silent.

“Don’t you think I’ve considered that already?” said Yari.  “Besides, do I really need to marry for Lenal to join the Federation?”

“I’m sure you already know that it’s required for membership that a world must be unified.” said Kirby.  “What do you think will happen once the news of this gets out?”

“You obviously don’t understand,” said Yari.  “I don’t care about any of that anymore.  I love someone else.  I want a family with him.  I want my life.”  Tears began to form in her eyes.

For the first time, Kirby truly began to understand the Princess and why she wanted something different.  In his heart, he felt compassion for her.  Before he could respond, a call came to his comm badge.

“Bridge to Captain.”

“Kirby here.”

“Sir, we’re receiving a call from Starfleet Command.”

“I’ll take it in my ready room.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Doctor, come with me.  Iziraa, stay here with the Princess.”  said Kirby.

USS Eagle, Ready Room

“Matt, I understand how difficult this is and I can sympathize with the Princess, but Lenal joining the Federation is important.  You’ve got to find a way to resolve this,,” said the Admiral.

“Sir, if I may?”

“Go ahead, Doctor,” said the Admiral.

“It’s clear to me Yari has been thinking about this for a long time.  I don’t see her changing her mind,” said Weaver.

“Then you might have to send her back without her consent.”

“Sir, she made a formal request and her reasoning is sound.  I feel we should grant asylum,” said Kirby.

“And I said I sympathize, but there are bigger issues here,” said the Admiral.

“There always are,” said Kirby.

“Excuse me, Captain?”

“The Princess said that very thing.”

The Admiral frowned.  “You have your orders.  Get it done.  Starfleet out.”

The screen went blank.

Kirby saw Weaver staring at him, the frown on her face saying what he felt as well.

“Now what, Matt?”

“I don’t know.  Things just got worse.”

 

Stuck in the Middle

July 2401

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

Captain Kirby and Doctor Weaver left the lounge, leaving an awkward silence.

“Iziraa, you can ask me anything,” said Yari.  “I know you have questions.”

Izi was thankful for the opening.  “I understand why you came here.  I’ve been through something similar,” said Izi.

“Tell me,” said Yari.

“I was betrothed for marriage and my bond mates and I set a time for when we would be married.  When that time came, Captain Kirby was taking me back to Andoria, but unfortunately, that was when the Borg attacked Earth.  When we reached my home world, the Imperial Guard was blocking all ships from entering the system.”

“A wise precaution.  They couldn’t risk Changelings or Borg getting to your world,” said Yari.

“My bond mates asked me to come back once the Borg threat ended, but so far, I haven’t.”

“Did that anger them?”

Izi humphed.  “Like a nova.”

“What happened?” said Yari.

“The plan was for us to live on Andoria and be a family, but I’m not ready to leave Starfleet.”

“Couldn’t you do both?”

“A lot of Fleet personnel do that, but a long-distance romance isn’t for me.  When I do something, I’m all in.”

“So what you’re saying, is you made a choice to do what you wanted instead of doing what was expected of you according to the customs of your people,” said Yari.

“Yes.”

“Do you regret it?”

“Sometimes, but I had to accept that it’s my life and I need to do what’s best for my life.”  Izi’s antennae fluttered as she thought about Keval.

“Thank you for sharing that, but it’s the same as Captain Kirby.  You have a choice.  I don’t,” said Yari.  “To live my life, I had to do something that could disrupt the entire Lenali people.  Does that make me selfish?”

Izi had to think about that before answering.  “Maybe, Princess, but if your people can’t accept and understand why you asked for our help and if they can’t find another way to meet the Federation admission requirements, maybe they’re not ready to join.”

There was another moment of silence.

“What do you think your leaders will say about me?” said Yari.  “Will they grant my request?”

“It’s hard to say.  It depends on how much they want Lenal to join,” said Izi.

Yari frowned.  “Then I expect bad news.  My world is in a strategic location with the various Romulan factions in this sector.  We also have an abundance of minerals used in making advanced computer chips.  I fear some admiral will order Captain Kirby to send me back.  Since he’s a man of duty, it seems I won’t be here long.”

“Wish I could do more to help,” said Izi.

The door swished open and Captain Kirby and Doctor Weaver came back.  Izi could tell by the expression on Weaver’s face the news was bad.

“Princess, getting to the point, are you willing to change your mind and return to Lenal?” said Kirby.

Izi studied Yari’s reaction, also seeing bad news.

“No, Captain, I am not,” said Yari as she crossed her arms.

“That’s unfortunate,” said Kirby.  He sat down.  “I’ve been ordered to send you back.”

“But, Captain, that’s not right!” exclaimed Izi.  “She came….”

Kirby held up his hand for Izi to stop.

“There’s no changing the minds of your superiors?” said Yari.

“No,” said Kirby.  “The Admiral was quite adamant.”

“Then you’ll be required to physically remove me,” said Yari.

“Matt, can’t we please do something?” said Weaver.

Kirby glared at the Doctor.

“I mean, Captain,” said Weaver.

“What do you want me to do, Doctor?  You were there.  You heard the orders.  Give me a way out of this.”

Izi had never seen her Captain act like that.  He was clearly trying to help, but was trapped in a difficult position.

“Bridge to Captain.”

“Now what.”  Kirby tapped his comm badge.  “Go ahead.”

“We’ve been contacted by the Lenali.  The Kings are demanding an update.”

“Tell them I don’t have one yet.  Kirby out.”  He closed the channel.

The tension in the room was thick, almost like it was something one could reach out and touch.

“I’ll be in my ready room.”  Kirby got up and strode out of the lounge, leaving the three women staring at each other.

“Princess, please just go home,” said Weaver.  “You’re causing more trouble than you know.”

Hearing that, for the first time in a very long while, Izi didn’t know what to say.

 

A Heart to Heart

July 2401

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

Iziraa stepped into the observation lounge, another person following her in.

“There’s someone here that wants to talk with you, Princess.”

Yari gasped, rising to her feet.

“Hello, Princess.”

“I’ll give you some privacy.  I’ll be right outside if you need anything,” said Iziraa.  She stepped out.

“What are you doing here, Jahk?”

“I’m here to ask you to come home.”

Yari stared at the Prince, her mind and heart in turmoil, like a sudden storm over the Fengard Sea.

“Why?” said Yari.  “You don’t want to do the marriage either.  This is your chance to get out of it.”

Jahk sat down, motioning for Yari to do the same.  Once she was seated, he continued.

“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since someone tried to kill me.”

“Wait, what?” said Yari, her stomach fluttering.

“Someone tried to kill me.  They sabotaged my glider.  Didn’t anyone tell you?”

“No, they didn’t.  I thought it was an accident.”

“Security knows who it was, but he’s missing,” said Jahk.  “No one knows why he did it.”

“Jahk, I’m sorry.  Are you all right?”

“I am now.  If it wasn’t for the Starfleet ship and their technology, I’d have been caught by an owalla.  Something like that changes you.”

Yari was truly relieved Jahk was saved, and she sensed he was sincere, but she was still overwhelmed by it all.

“Yari, I understand why you’re here, and I commend you for your courage, but if you hear me out, maybe this really isn’t a bad thing.”

USS Eagle, Ready Room

“I must say, Roger, having Prince Jahk come here to talk with the Princess, was a good idea,” said Kirby.

“Thank you, sir,” said Allen.  “It was getting old just sitting and waiting for something to happen.”

“Lori, what are you thinking?  Will Jahk be able to change Yari’s mind?” said Kirby.

“It’s hard to say.  She’s intelligent and strong-willed, but I don’t think she thought it through,” said Weaver.  “She asked for help in an act of desperation, but if we would have granted her request, where would she have gone and what would she do?”

“She did say she loves someone else and wants a family with him,” said Kirby.  “It sounds like she really doesn’t want to leave her people.”

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

“The Starfleet people told me the same thing your uncle told you,” said Yari.  “I suppose going to Earth would be a thrilling experience.  Just look out that window.  Seeing Lenal from space almost brought me to tears.”

“Yari, I know we don’t love each other and I have quite a record with my partying and carousing….”

“You mean, Playboy Prince.”

Jahk chuckled.  “Yes,. but I really want to do this.  I want to help our people and our world.  I want to be remembered for something important, not for partying.”

Yari looked downwards at the table, a lump in her throat.  She truly wanted to stay with her people, but could she take Jahk seriously?  Could she believe him?  Did he actually change?  If she did marry him, could she move on with her life and forget Jorsio, the man she loved?

“I need time to think, to clear my head,” whispered Yari.

“Time isn’t something we have.  The wedding is tomorrow.”  Jahk got up, walked around the table and sat next to Yari.  He held her hand.

Surprised, Yari looked at Jahk, seeing genuine concern for her in his eyes.  She didn’t pull back her hand.

“I want you to come home.  I want to marry you.”

A tear rolled down Yari’s cheek.

USS Eagle, Outside the Observation Lounge

Izi was pacing, her antennae moving in irregular waves.  Whatever happened, she found herself wanting what was best for Yari, whether that was staying on the Eagle or going back to Lenal.  It wasn’t fair that she had almost no say in how to live her life.  So deep in her thoughts, she was startled when the door to the observation loung opened and Prince Jahk stepped out.

“Tell your Captain we have an answer.”

USS Eagle, Ready Room

“Iziraa to Captain.”

Before answering the call, the three officers looked nervously at each other.

“Fingers crossed that it’s good news,” said Allen.

“Kirby here.  Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“Would you please come to the observation lounge?” said Iziraa.  “We have a decision.”

“I’m on my way.”  Kirby held up his hands.  His fingers were crossed.

 

Another Option

July 2401

USS Eagle, Bridge

While Captain Kirby was speaking with the Prince and Princess, Haia Ohtani was studying the laws, traditions, and customs of Equamar and Canbolla.  If there was a way to bring about a wedding, she purposed to find it.

Something caught her eye.

“Commander, I believe I found something,” said Ohtani, turning in her chair to face the XO.

“What is it?” said Allen.

“The two countries have a law called the Line of Succession,” said Ohtani.

“Yes, Earth monarchies had something similar,” said Allen.

“Yes, sir, but here, it’s so strict, there can never be another option.  No politics.  No deals.  No negotiations.  No exceptions.  A strict following of the law.”

“Okay,” said Allen.  “Maybe you should give me more details.”

“Prince Jahk is the oldest child, with a younger sister, so he’s in line to be king,” said Ohtani.  “Princess Yari is an only child because her mother died when Yari was very young.  However, King Randus remarried, a duchess from one of the other Royal Houses.  This is also her second marriage, as her first husband died.  She has a son from that other marriage.”

“That’s interesting, Haia, but what’s the point you’re trying to make?” said Allen.

“If Prince Jahk were to die, his sister and Yari’s step-brother would be next in line.”

There was a heavy silence on the bridge.

“Haia, I hope you’re not implying what I think you are,” said Allen.

“I am, sir,” said Ohtani.

“I need to tell the Captain,” said Allen.

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

“Is Haia certain?” said Kirby.

“Of course she is. It’s Haia,” said Allen.

Kirby frowned.  “This makes things worse.”

“What are you going to do?” said Allen.

“Have my XO inform the Kings?”

“I need to get back to the bridge.”  Allen scurried away.

Chuckling, Kirby stepped into the observation lounge where Doctor Weaver and Iziraa were with Jahk and Yari.  “I have troubling news.”

“More troubling than Yari refusing to return home?” said Jahk with a scowl.

“Yes, and it might change everyone’s minds,” said Kirby.

“I doubt it,” said Yari.

Kirby ignored the Princess’ comment.  “Jahk, who has the most to gain if you were to die?”

“What do you mean, Captain?”

“If you wouldn’t have survived your glider crash, who would benefit the most?”

That seemed to strike a nerve in the Prince, as he went silent, his face wrinkled in thought.

“My step-mother and her son,” said Yari.  “If Jahk were gone, my step-brother and Jahk’s sister would be next in line to marry and unify our nations.  They would be the ones remembered in history.”

“My sister and I were never close, but she wouldn’t try to kill me,” said Jahk.  “Captain Kirby, you’re being ridiculous.”

“How do we know which one it was?” said Weaver.

“None of them,” said Jahk.  “It was probably some other country that doesn’t want us to join the Federation.”

“It’s all of them,” said Iziraa.

“What?” said Jahk and Yari at the same time.

“They’re all in on it together,” said Iziraa.  “It’s a brilliant plan.”

Jahk pounded his fist on the table.  “This is outrageous!  Captain, you and your people are being insulting.”

“No, Jahk, it makes sense,” said Yari, her voice barely above a whisper.

“Send me back to Lenal,” said Jahk.  “My father needs to hear about your insolence.”

“Iziraa, escort His Highness to the transporter room.”

“Yes, sir.”  Iziraa looked at the Prince and motioned towards the door.  “This way, please.”

Jahk stood up and glared at Yari.  “You’ll regret this.”

Everyone else remained silent until they were gone.

“Captain, if what you’re saying is true, what are you going to do?  How will you prove it?” said Yari.

“I think all we need to do is present our suspicions to your families and let them do the rest,” said Kirby.

“Jahk will have already told them,” said Yari.

“Bridge to Captain.”

“Go ahead, Roger.”

“You’re being summoned by Kings Limmar and Randus.”

Weaver chuckled.

“Tell them I’ll beam down,” said Kirby.

“Aye, sir.  Allen out.”

“Captain, I’m sincerely sorry you’re caught in the middle of this, but I’m not sorry about my decision,” said Yari.

Kirby looked at her and nodded.  “Lori, stay here with the Princess.”

Weaver started to say something, then paused.  “I will, sir.”

As Kirby was walking out of the lounge, he tapped his comm badge.  “Lieutenant Iziraa, meet me in the transporter room.”

 

Problem Solved

July 2401

Equamar

“Captain Kirby, how dare you accuse my daughter of trying to kill my son!” shouted King Limmar.

King Randus had read the riot act, so it was Limmar’s turn.  Kirby had about all he could take of this mess and was about to say so, when he felt a quick tap on his hip from Lieutenant Iziraa.

Was that her telling him to be diplomatic?  Iziraa?  Inwardly counting to five, he knew she was right.

“I haven’t made any accusations,” said Kirby.  “I’m simply presenting a theory from my science officer.  It’s up to you if you want to conduct an investigation or not.”

There was a very heavy and uncomfortable silence as the two kings looked at each other.

“So what are you going to do about my daughter?” demanded Randus, changing the subject.

“She refuses to come back,” said Kirby.

“So what are you going to do?”

Kirby knew whichever decision he made, send her back or allow her to stay, he would feel he was wrong, though with one of them, he would be disobeying a direct order.  What choice did he really have?

“May I speak?” said Iziraa.

Surprised, Kirby wondered how much worse things could become if Iziraa’s fiery personality fueled the flames.

“Go ahead, Lieutenant,” said Kirby.

“Are you sure you can’t find another way?” said Iziraa.  “Can’t King Limmar’s daughter marry King Randus’ step-son?  I know you have a strict line of succession law, but can’t you bend it just this once for the good of all Lenali?  It would go a long way to showing the Federation Council that you can be flexible and are able to adapt.  Whatever you do affects your entire world, not just your two countries.  No disrespect, but you’ve been thinking only about yourselves.”

That was it.  The flames were now an inferno.  Kirby waited for the angry response.

“Captain, will you please give us the room?” said Limmar.

Kirby didn’t expect that.

“Of course.  Lieutenant.”  Kirby and Iziraa stepped into the hallway.

USS Eagle, Observation Lounge

“Bridge to Doctor Weaver.  We’re receiving a call from Captain Kirby.  He wants to update you, so we’re transferring him to you.”

“Thank you,” said Weaver.  “Go ahead, Captain.”

“Doctor, the kings have decided to let Prince Harus and Princess Mila marry to unify their countries.”

Princess Yari was standing at the window looking at her world, and when she heard the report, she gasped and spun to face Weaver.

“There’s still details to work out, so Iziraa and I will be here for awhile,” said Kirby.  “I wanted you and Princess Yari to know.”

Weaver was stunned.  When she thanked the Captain, the waver in her voice was obvious.

“Well how about that?” said Yari after the channel closed.  “Everything worked out as planned.”

“Everything what?” said Weaver.

“Can you keep a secret, Doctor?”  Yari’s face was glowing.  Her tail was swishing and bouncing.

Weaver didn’t know what to think.  “I… I suppose, unless it’s a danger to the ship.”

“There’s no danger to the ship or crew.  Swear an oath,” said Yari.

“What?”

“Swear an oath or you’ll never know the truth.”

Weaver now knew how Matt felt being in the middle of two tough choices.  She wanted to know what Yari was so eager to share, but could she keep a secret so obviously huge?

“On my honor as a doctor and Starfleet officer, I won’t share what you have to say.”  There it was.  Something so important, she would take to the grave, and she would do that.

“Berathor, my head of security and I planned all of this.”

Weaver’s jaw almost fell onto the table.  In stunned silence, she didn’t know how much time passed before she could speak.  “All of what?”  She was horrified over the thought of Yari wanting to kill Prince Jahk.

“It was Berathor’s idea for me to request asylum.  I didn’t know until later that he was also behind sabotaging Jahk’s glider,” said Yari.

Weaver felt sick.

“Berathor knows people.  He connected with certain elements in Equamar that would do anything for money.  It was completely unexpected that King Limmar would ask your Captain to help find Jahk.”

Weaver wanted to vomit.  “But why?”  Her voice was a whisper.

“Berathor has been my protector my whole life.  I love him like family.  He would do anything for my happiness.  He saw how much the arranged marriage was tearing me apart.  He did what he’s done since I was a child.  He took care of me.”

“But committing murder?  How could you go along with that?” said Weaver, her voice still subdued.

“Doctor, I think you would be surprised what you are capable of if the situation was bad enough,” said Yari.

Deep down, Weaver knew the Princess was right, but she also had to believe there were lines she wouldn’t cross no matter how dire the circumstances were.

“How did you know your families would agree to let the others marry instead of you and Jahk?  They had to have already considered that.”

“They did,” said Yari, “but faced with me leaving Lenal and the possibility of a murder plot in the Royal Houses, and as much as they want to join the Federation, I knew it was a choice they had to make.  Had they held their ground, the other countries would have taken extreme measures to pressure them to change their minds.  It could even have started a world war.”

Though it was a brilliant plan, Weaver was disgusted.  The sweet, charitable, kind Princess turned out to be just as conniving as the Red Heaven people she dealt with in her undercover mission with Hok.

“So what happens now?” said Weaver.

“I remain here until after the wedding.  Then in tearful repentance, I beg forgiveness and return home to marry the man I truly love.”  Yari smiled in satisfaction.

Without saying anything, Weaver got up and walked out to the sound of Yari’s contented laugh.

 

 

Heading Home

USS Eagle
July 2401

Ready Room

“It was good work getting it done under such difficult circumstances, Matt.  I look forward to reading your full report.”

“It was a team effort, sir,” said Kirby.

“Nonetheless, good job.  A lot of eyes were on this one.”  The Admiral nodded and the channel closed.

Kirby leaned back in his chair and sighed.  He was glad this mission was over.  He hoped in the future he wouldn’t be dealing with any more Royals.

Mess Hall

“The wedding was amazing!” said Parker.  “The ceremony, the music, the procession, awesome!  The princess’ dress was incredible.  This was the most romantic thing I’ve seen.  I wish my mother could have been there.”  Parker smiled.

“Take a deep breath, Renee,” said Iziraa.  “We don’t need a medical emergency at dinner.”  She chuckled.

“I understand why a different prince and princess were chosen,” said Parker ignoring Iziraa.  “But what a PR mess it was.”  She looked at Haia.  “What do you think?’

Ohtani shrugged.  “I’m not impressed with people that think they’re above everyone else.”

Iziraa scoffed and Parker chuckled.

“What?” said Ohtani.

“Before our next mission, we need to have a girls night,” said Parker.  “We need to take Haia someplace exotic in the holodeck.”

Ohtani wrinkled her nose.  “I need to get back to my lab.”

“Maybe we’ll go to Risa!” said Parker as Haia walked away.

“No thanks,” said Ohtani with a wave.

“Speaking of getting back, I need to go, too,” said Parker.  “See you later.”

When Iziraa and Weaver were alone at the table, Iziraa studied Weaver for a moment.  “All right, what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” said Weaver.

“You haven’t said three words and you have a look on your face like something is bothering you,” said Iziraa.

“Oh.”

“Well?”  Iziraa’s antennae leaned slightly forward.

Weaver thought for a moment.  “I’m just upset at Princess Yari.”

“Why?”

“Yari did something that could have kept her world out of the Federation.  It was a selfish act.”

“So not wanting to get married to someone you’re ordered to marry is selfish?”  Iziraa’s antennae flattened against her head.

Weaver realized Iziraa was in a similar situation.  “I make no apologies, Iz.”

Iziraa studied the Doctor again.  “I think there’s more you’re not telling me.”

Weaver shrugged.

“I’m your friend.  Tell me what’s bothering you?” said Iziraa.

Weaver stared at her plate.  “There was a wedding, Lenal gets to join the Federation, and we go back to our regular duties.”  She looked at Iziraa.  “Can we just leave it at that?”

“Fine, but I’m here if you need to talk,” said Iziraa.

“I know, but you’re making more of this than there is.”

“Okay.”  Iziraa nodded, not believing her.  “I need to get back to the bridge.  ”See you later.”

Sitting alone at the table, Weaver sighed.  She wondered if she should have let Yari tell her what happened.  Shrugging her shoulders, she got up.  Time to get back to work.