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[2376] The Runaway

[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| Courtroom | Starfleet HQ | San Francisco | Earth ]

It was unbearable. Logan was on the witness stand and had just been cleared of all blame by the Board of Inquiry. Starfleet Security's investigation had determined that all decisions made by everyone involved at the time of the accident were reasonable and justified. The tragic death of pilot Yomaura Tomi, callsign Grace, would not result in any personnel consequences.
Logan was stunned. Hadn't the chairmen listened to him? He took all the blame, admitted to not paying enough attention to his surroundings during the maneuver in question, and yet they absolved him of guilt. He did not understand. This fact would not enter the mind of the pilot who served bravely in the Dominion War. Were they trying to mock him? What the hell were they thinking?
Logan did not want to accept this. He was aware of having made a mistake that someone else had to pay for with his life. He had to be found guilty for that. He had to be punished for that. He wanted to retort, to denounce this farce, but his defense attorney grabbed his arm and made it clear that no one wanted to hear any retort. Logan reluctantly let it happen. He snorted angrily. His face flushed red and blood rushed in his ears.
The chairman had finished his remarks on sentencing and declared the hearing closed. The case was not given the opportunity to appeal. Accordingly, the verdict was no longer subject to appeal and Logan was thus a free man under applicable Starfleet law. The presiding officers left the courtroom. Then the rows of spectators emptied, and the lawyers followed them. Logan stood rooted to his seat. He swallowed hard.

"Fighter two zero one, this is Typhon. Enemy contact at the following coordinates. Set course and intercept."
"Okay, Shots. Sounds like there's going to be some action now. You heard the lady. Typhon, this is Raider two two zero one. Coordinates received. Course set. Hotshots and Wraith intercepting enemy."
Logan pushed the thrust control forward and pulled the control stick to the left rear. The nose of the AC-205 MK I Valkyrie fighter lifted and spiraled into black space in a wide left turn. Logan felt the acceleration and had to use the breathing techniques he had learned to keep from passing out. The inertial dampers had their work cut out for them to compensate for the sudden G-forces.
The two fighters with the identifications two two zero one and two two zero two were on a routine patrol flight when they got the message to intercept enemy forces that were lying in wait for the USS Typhon, the namesake of their class. As a rule, this posed no problems. Logan had flown such missions dozens of times and this one was to be no different. Or so he thought.
"They're fucking marquis raiders," Hotshots cursed over the radio. "Fuck! They almost got me! Damn, how many are there!"
"Stop whining, Shots, and open fire. The sooner we can take them out, the sooner I won't have to listen to your nagging."
But after the initial exchange of blows, Logan quickly discovered that things were going to be different this time. He narrowly escaped another volley. Whoever was piloting the enemy ships knew how to deal with it. Again, he had to dodge fire. Hotshots was in trouble as well and the two pilots didn't have many alternatives left. Logan called for reinforcements, which were soon to come to their aid. But they still had to survive the time until then.
Logan again laid into a steep left turn and put some distance between himself and the Marquis Raiders. They were clearly outnumbered, but this advantage would only serve them for a short time. For now, it was a matter of escaping their fire. He and his wingman had come to the aid of two other fighters from the USS Typhon that had also been sent to those coordinates. Together, they tried to render the enemy harmless. They tried to take away their propulsion and weapons and to make sure that they could not disappear.
After the Dominion War, scattered Marquis groups were still active in and around the Badlands. They still rebelled against any kind of occupation and did not shy away from attacking civilian transporters. But with this transporter they had gotten bogged down. The splinter group tried to ambush them, but they didn't seem to have reckoned with Starfleet.
Logan fired his pulse phasers. They caused his opponent's shields to flash blue. To avoid colliding with him, he pulled back the control stick at the last moment and described a wide arc with his Valkyrie before quickly steering in the opposite direction and continuing his path in many, quick hooks.
Behind each raider, another appeared. There were a hell of a lot of them, and they were primed for battle. Too often he was hit by phaser lances from the ships. The shields of his fighter were close to the breaking point. For a long time, they would not withstand this continuous bombardment.
"Fighter two two zero one. This is one seven nine three, callsign Grace. Cavalry is here. Wraith, disengage and regroup."
Logan smiled. As of now, the odds were even.
"Roger that. Good to hear from you, Grace. Shots to me. We're regrouping."
"Roger that, Wraith."
He weaved through the enemy's phaser fire and dodged away from the fray with his wingman as quickly as he could, only to climb right back into the sweep and join up with his newly joined comrades for a joint approach.
The attack group split up and spread out among the attackers. They provided fire cover for each other and flew overlapping attacks. Logan had his target firmly in sight and pressed the fire button. He didn't hear the proximity alarm. Only when he saw the transporter room materialize in front of him did he realize that something bad had happened.

The pilot had not noticed how his lawyer had tried to get him to leave the room as well. Only when it was almost dead silent in the huge room, he managed to free himself from his trance. A decision had matured in him. This was no longer the Starfleet he wanted to serve.
Logan was the last to leave the hearing room and met the parents of the deceased pilot in the hallway. With a firm step, he made his way over to them, reflecting on their Japanese heritage and culture. Logan bowed politely at a proper distance.
"Mr. and Mrs. Tomi. I don't want to ask for your forgiveness, because I don't deserve it. I just want you to know that I am incredibly sorry for your loss."

OOC: I'll try to give Logan some more depth and will dive into the two years he was practicaly an outlaw before he joined the Valravn-Programm on Luna in 2378

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #1
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| House Logan | Outskirts of Salem, Oregon | Earth ]
"Do you have any idea what you want to tackle next, son?" his father asked him as they both set the table together for lunch. Logan took the plates from the cupboard above the sink and briefly looked through the window at the small garden his parents had created for themselves to retire to. His mother, Melissa, was cutting some fresh herbs to add the final zing to the soup. She wasn't a master chef, but she had learned a few things during her time on the freighter and very rarely gave up the wooden spoon. She loved to cook for her husband, and it showed on the aging Robert Hale's face. Over the years, he had put on a few considerable pounds, as evidenced by his belly.
Robert Hale, who just placed the cutlery next to the plates, had meanwhile made it his hobby to do woodwork in his garage. He had already supplied the entire street with homemade crates or garden sheds. He had also built cribs for the Reyes and the Martins. The man put a lot of emphasis on his craft and during the last year, when he and his wife were kind enough to take Logan back, you could tell he missed space travel.
Logan could often see his parents sitting on the porch late into the evening hours watching the stars twinkle. They would sit, hugging each other tightly with a knit blanket draped around their shoulders, on the bench his father had built himself. Next to them were half-empty wine glasses. It was not expensive wine. They had never attached importance to that. It was only ever meant to provide the necessary bedtime buoyancy. They often told each other stories of their travels back then.
"I want to get back to the Conn, Dad," Logan declared, taking the pot off the stove, and placing the steaming soup in the center of the table.
"My time here with you guys has shown me that I'm missing something. That's why I've decided to reenlist."
"Back at Starfleet?"
"No, Mom. A freighter. The SS Morning Star."
"The Morning Star? That's Marcus' ship, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I think so. Does he still fly?"
"The old man's retired. His son, Diego is in command now. They'll be here on Earth in a few days to pick up cargo. That's when I'll join them and take the helm."
"That's great news, Logan. Good, I'm glad to hear it. Come on, let's eat before it gets cold."

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #2
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| Outside Space Port | Rio de Janeiro | Brazil | Earth ]
The sun was already threatening to rise and usher in a new day in the spaceport of Rio de Janeiro. Although dawn was just breaking, it was already terribly warm in the city, and Logan stuffed his brown leather jacket into the duffel bag hanging over his shoulder. He made his way to the security checkpoints. The place was always busy in the early morning hours. Commuters and day laborers tried to get into the compound, sometimes forming awfully long lines. It took a while until it was finally his turn. Until then, he chatted with a few others who were also trying to find a job for the day.
Even though it didn't really surprise him, he was still very moved by what people were telling him. Some wished for the war back, because there they had regular working hours and if the Federation helped them, there was no telling. The people up there would certainly look everywhere else in the galaxy than to sweep in front of their own front door. Many of them depended on the Federation for help. But they forgot about it. Many people had lost their jobs because of the end of the war with the Dominion. The supplies they needed so badly at that time had now become obsolete. So, they tried now as day laborers to earn something in addition and hoped to find a place to work in the space port.
Finally, it was Logan's turn. He felt a little sorry for the people, but he knew there was little he could do about their situation. The peons were aware of the same thing. They were just glad to have someone else to complain to. They laughed boisterously and made a few jokes here and there. Logan also got involved and was having a great time, which made the wait no longer seem like an eternity.
He entered the checkpoint. The guard started the scan and asked him why he was there. The pilot explained in short words what he wanted and showed his papers on the PADD. After the guard verified them, he was granted access to the compound. He gave another brief set of directions to the Morning Star's berth and also asked shortly after for the next day laborer candidate.
Logan shouldered his duffel bag and greeted the men outside the fence goodbye. They wished him good luck and success in his new job and Logan couldn't help but smile a little ruefully. Things had changed drastically since he had left the Crimson Sunrise.

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #3
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| Dock 714 | Space Port | Rio de Janeiro | Brazil | Earth ]
The Morning Star was docked in Dock Seven Fourteen and was a typical Fiji-class freighter. She was currently besieged by a myriad of cargo drones loading and unloading the docked containers. Some containers were immediately swapped out completely and replaced with new ones. On and around the hull were several technicians inspecting the ship and performing maintenance where necessary. Logan was amazed at how much care was taken of the ship. After all, he already knew life as a freighter pilot and to his knowledge there was never such a hullabaloo on the Crimson Sunrise. The important thing was that the ship was air- and spaceworthy. Appearance was seldom important. Of course, there were exceptions. But these were mostly limited to repairing the worst damage after an asteroid storm. The freighter under the command of Diego Pérez was in remarkably good condition. It almost had the appearance of being a Starfleet vessel.
"Did you win the lottery, Diego?" asked Logan gleefully as he greeted his future captain, who was coordinating some plans with some other people who appeared to be part of the crew.
"Starfleet! Come on over here."
The two men embraced. Logan was happy to meet his old friend again.
"Good to see you again, Logan."
"Likewise, Diego."
Logan and Diego had known each other since childhood. Every now and then, when their two ships met, they would get together and spend a little time together which soon developed into friendship.
"Logan Hale, let me introduce you," Diego let go of Logan and pointed around the room. "This is my crew. My wife Lania, from the beautiful Risa. She is my first officer and doctor."
"Hello Logan, Diego has already told me a lot about you."
"True. I hope you're half the pilot Diego says you are. Hi, I'm Gidam. Cargo chief."
"He is, Marco. Trust me. This is Dimitry Ivanovic, our chief engineer. Lea Vos, communications, and navigation. Kim Anvas, security chief, and Victor Vogel, one of the best cooks in the quadrant."
Logan shook many hands and received many warm words. It was nice to meet the people who made sure the Morning Star stayed on routes and delivered cargo. Marco Gidam briskly left the group and explained that he would be checking and securing cargo with the deck crews. He quickly disappeared into the belly of the ship. The rest of the crew would soon follow him. But first, Diego explained what the next steps were.
"Okay. We've picked up some cargo for the Borderlands. But our next destination is Andor. There we'll pick up a few more passengers to take to Kelix Nine. On the way, we'll fly to Canaan and Makor Three. We will try to grab some more cargo there. It won't be a walk in the park, but we've done more strenuous flights. Come on, let's get going. Lania, will you please show our new pilot to his bunk?"

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #4
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| SS Morning Star | Dock 714 | Space Port | Rio de Janeiro | Brazil | Earth ]
First Officer Lania Pérez had shown him around the ship. Their tour began at the most important part of the Morning Star: the cargo holds. The ship had several dozens of them, and all of them were filled with goods of all kinds. Some actually housed live animals that they carried for the colonists of Makor Three. Among them were some pigs, cows and a few Denobulan butterflies.
"They produce a milky silk that is good for making clothes," explained the pretty woman who was from the planet Risa.

They ran into Marco Gidam again. He was busy checking the environmental controls for the various cargo compartments and making sure that any cold chains were not broken. Not only did he have a complete overview of what was being loaded on board, he mostly knew off the top of his head where things were and what safety precautions had to be taken for the flight. Together with his people, he made sure that the cargo remained intact.

In the engine room, it was Dimitry who made sure the ship remained spaceworthy. With his job as chief engineer, he was more than challenged. It was probably always a challenge to fix the various aches and pains of this old clipper, but on the other hand it was probably the easiest job Dimitry Ivanovich ever had. The ship was in top condition and had never suffered any major damage so far. Dimitry hoped that Logan could keep it that way. He laughed, but the pilot was now not so sure if it was a happy laugh or a manic one. He didn't want to call his bluff and was happy that Lania continued to show him around.

They arrived in the mess hall, where Victor Vogel had just started preparing lunch. It was interesting to see the quantities the cook was handling. Even more amazing was that he did not rely on replicators, as was common on Starfleet ships. He was told that the availability of replicators outside of Starfleet was quite limited and that the Morning Star was generally fairly old and had never had a replicator installed until a new one recently found its way aboard the ship, but Victor did not trust it.

Lania showed him his cabin. It wasn't particularly large, or particularly luxuriously furnished, but Logan immediately felt at home. The room had a reasonably large information terminal, the screen of which was currently showing a live feed from outside the ship, so it functioned like a window.
"It's not a room on Risa, but I think you can get comfortable here, Logan. There's a security code that only Anvas knows that overrides the door. So, you should change your access code soon."
He placed his duffel bag on the bed. Logan was sure he could take it on the Morning Star, and now he got to get behind the wheel.
"Will do, Lania. Thank you. Will you show me the bridge?"
"Sure, come on."
She put her hand on his shoulder and led him through a few corridors. Other corridors led off to the left and right. Some led back to the cargo bays, others to engineering. Lania led Logan up a few ladders to the upper part of the ship and then escorted him onto the bridge of the Morning Star.

Dominating the center of the bridge was the captain's prominent seat. A remnant of the Fiji class origin originally designed and built as a Starfleet cargo ship. Lania pointed to the various consoles located across the bridge. She showed him where she worked, ending the tour at what looked like a barren console compared to the other workstations. She pointed to the conn where he would be on duty in the future.
"And this is your workstation, Logan."

It was like on any other ship, yet quite different. The atmosphere on these freighters had always been special. Unlike on Starfleet ships, it was often much more familiar and relaxed here. Everything was much more casual here. The many different souvenirs from their travels testified to that. Logan put his hand on the back of the leather upholstered seat.
"Very nice," he said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Lania gave him a warm smile and pulled the chair out for him. "Then you can go ahead and fire up the engines. Diego just sent me a message that we'll be leaving shortly. Good luck, Logan."
He smiled. "Thanks, Lania."
Yes, Logan was sure he could stand it on the Morning Star.

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #5
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| SS Morning Star | above Rio de Janeiro | Brazil | Earth ]
Logan clearly felt the vibration of the deck plates when he started the engines. He had previously gotten the okay from the chief engineer of the SS Morning Star, Dimitry Ivanovich, and received a confirming nod from Lania. Apparently, he had made a good impression on her.
Logan quickly found his way around. The controls had been similarly placed on all the ships he had served on so far. This made it much easier for him to learn the ropes and made many operations simpler. He checked the condition of the landing struts, the level of the Dilithium tanks, and the gauges for atmospheric flight. The pilot, who felt more and more at home with every move, smiled gently. He waited for the message that everyone was on board and everything was secured. Under no circumstances did he want to take off on his first day and forget someone on the ground. Only when Lania gave him confirmation and permission to take off did he engage the thrust locks and give the launch jets the power they needed to lift the SS Morning Star off the ground.
For a second, the freighter began to lurch. Logan had underestimated the sensitivity of the instruments and yanked on the control stick to counteract the ship's unexpected movements.
"¡Dios mío! Starfleet! What's the matter with you? Are you drunk this early?" asked Diego Pérez, amused. He stumbled straight onto the bridge, holding onto the handholds of various stations because of the unplanned dance.
"Maybe one or two dozen shots of tequila with the peons at the gate, but that's about it."
Logan quickly regained his balance and brought the ship under control and into a stable position.
"I swear."
He turned down the sensitivity of the controls and looked for the sweet spot that worked for him. Not a good impression, the pilot thought. He looked at the controls. The ship was in ascent. Stability had been regained. The artificial horizon had leveled off.
"Okay, I think I've got the hang of this, Captain."
Pérez, meanwhile, had made his way to his chair and taken a seat. He looked over Logan's shoulder at the main screen, which reflected many of the readouts from Logan's console. In the background, the pilot heard the first officer burst into boisterous laughter. Diego turned slowly to his wife with a skeptical look in his eyes.
"You should have seen your faces. Everyone had full-on panic in their eyes."
Logan exhaled in relief. It was just a prank. Still, he felt caught. As the helmsman he should have checked the sensitivity setting before launching. Diego Pérez reverted to his native tongue to curse, giving his expletives an unfamiliar coloration. At least Logan could place the words "chica" and "loco" quite well. His Lania, however, was not intimidated by this rant and continued to laugh unperturbed. By now, however, she seemed to be amused that she had succeeded in putting her husband on the spot like that. Finally, the captain waved it off and threatened his wife that they would "talk" about it again later that evening. She threw him an air kiss and a wink before finally regaining her composure and returning to her duties.
"Two minutes to orbit, Captain," Logan then finally reported dutifully.
Diego nodded. "All right, once we're clear of the Earth zone, warp five, course Andoria."
He looked at his wife. "I want to waste as little time as possible."
"All right." confirmed the pilot, who was receiving course calculations from the navigator next to him. "Course Andoria, warp five."

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #6
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| SS Morning Star | en route to Kelix Nine]
They had already left Andor behind. During their short stay in orbit of the icy moon, they had picked up four passengers who had bought passage to Kelix Nine. Kelix Nine was a fairly new Federation colony and was located only a few systems away from the border with Klingon space. There were often tensions between the colonists and the Klingons, because the latter did not approve of the colony and saw their sovereignty restricted.
As Logan learned, the passengers were a complete Andorian family, which they would host on board for the next weeks. One of them was probably even pregnant. The plan was to deliver the child shortly after they arrived at the colony. Logan did everything he could to make sure they would reach their destination in time. Otherwise, Lania would certainly be happy about a birth on board. But that was not part of the deal, and Logan was very keen to keep the deal, as it meant a fancy bonus.
They had been underway for some time now and Logan had received many briefings on the ship's various systems and procedures. He quickly found his way around and was able to give people a helping hand when he wasn't sitting at the CONN. Logan felt more and more reminded of his childhood with each passing day. He loved the Crimson Sunrise very much and toyed with the idea of getting a ship of his own soon. Not having to answer to anyone had its advantages. He would get up in the morning, go over the day's schedule with the rest of the crew, check that the ship was still on course, and work hand in hand with the other crew members. But he didn't have the money to own his own ship at the moment.
The work aboard the freighter was certainly not easy, but definitely more relaxed than on a Starfleet ship and it came with immensely more responsibility. There were no departments that you only met once during shore leave. Everyone knew everyone else and they all had to be able to rely blindly on each other.
Logan was checking the course once again when Diego asked him to accompany him. He briefly checked the status of the autopilot and asked the navigator, the joined Trill Lea Vos to keep an eye on his console while he was away. She gave him an affirmative nod with a gentle smile. The pilot climbed out of his seat. With a few quick moves, he pulled his clothes into place and made his way to his friend, who was already waiting for him in the doorway.
"What's up, Diego?" asked Logan curiously.
"Come with me, Starfleet. I've received word from one of my customers. There's something I need to show you."
Diego took the lead and showed him the way through the various cargo compartments, corridors, walkways, and rooms. Turning in one compartment that sat pretty much in the middle of the ship, he followed a small corridor, a claustrophobically narrow path purposefully toward a couple of crates. Diego removed a lid and asked Logan to take a look. He did as he was told.
Logan was astonished. Romulan ale, some not small amount of Regalian liquid crystal and handguns of various origins. Boxes of contraband. Dozens of them. If one got caught with that, one would spend the next few decades in a penal colony. Logan laughed uncertainly.
"Can I count on you to get us out of here safely if things get out of hand?"
Logan swallowed and stared for a moment at the many boxes of contraband. Then he remembered that he was no longer accountable to anyone and didn't have to report the find to someone. The fact that he was also liable to prosecution faded into the background. Logan nodded.
"Yeah, you can count on me, Diego."
"Good, because we're meeting with the client soon."
"And who is it?"
Diego smiled, exposing a flawless white set of teeth.
"This is a surprise, Starfleet.”

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #7
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| SS Morning Star | Federation/Klingon Border]
"You've got to be kidding me! This is your surprise, Diego?"
Logan pointed at the screen. By now, they had reached the Borderlands. A region where the borders of the Federation, abutted those of the Klingons and where humans still wanted to try their luck with colonizing planets. In the grand scheme of things, that was no problem for Logan, but here they were now. The screen was emblazoned with the image of an aging Klingon Bird of Prey.
"Settle down, Starfleet. These are the clients I told you about. Lea, hail them. Send the agreed-upon password."
"All right, Captain." She performed a few hand movements on her console. "Message sent. Now we wait and see."

But they didn't need to wade that long. The Bird of Prey swung around and set a course for the Morning Star. Logan was already plotting an evasive course when he was told by Diego to stay calm and not move the ship. Shortly after, Lea also reported that the request to dock had come and Diego granted it. Logan felt a certain uneasiness. He was uncomfortable that they would be doing business with Klingons. Even though he had assured Diego beforehand that he could count on him, Logan suddenly wasn't so sure he could keep his promise. Diego gestured for the pilot to follow him with a smile on his lips. Hesitantly he did as he was told. Logan shook his head in disbelief.
"Orions, Nausicaans, Ferengies. Diego, I was expecting a lot of shady guys, but not Klingons, man."
The two men's boots echoed on the grid floors. Kim Anvas waited for them on the way at the airlock and handed them both phaser rifles. Logan took it in stride and aimed it at the bulkhead.
"Calm down, Starfleet. They're cool."
"I'll believe that when I see it, Diego. Klingons are not to be trifled with."
"You believe that, huh?"
"Yes, Diego. I'll believe it, damn it!"

The airlock light jumped to green, and it opened with its loud hiss. Logan gripped the phaser rifle tighter. A fine mist poured out of the hatch and swirled around his boots. He heard heavy footsteps on the deck plates. Over the barrel of his weapon, he saw a menacing figure step through the hatch.
"Ha! Is that your way of greeting an old man, Diego?" The soaring bass of his voice filled the corridor. "Phaser rifles? Really? What are you guys up to? Are you going to rob your own father?"

Logan looked incredulously at his friend, who shouldered the rifle and fell laughing into the arms of the man who had just stepped through the airlock. He was taken aback. After all, the figure looked like a model Klingon. Pelts that made his shoulders appear broader than they actually were. The heavy boots with attached claws and silver badges. The bracers and gloves studded with thorns, and the long hair. The only thing missing was his forehead ridges.
"What's wrong Logan, don't you want to say hello to an old friend too? Come here!"
Hesitantly, he lowered the gun, and it took him a few moments to recognize the shaggy old man. It was indeed his friend's father, Marcus Peréz. Logan took him in his arms and laughed with relief. Marcus patted him on the shoulders.
"You look good, Logan."
"Can't say the same for you, Marcus."
Kim laughed, as did Diego. The men headed for the bridge while Kim put away the weapons and other crew members transferred from the Bird of Prey to the Morning Star. En route, they parted ways and Kim led the others to the cargo bays. Meanwhile, on the bridge, there was true reunion joy.
"Lania! Kid, come here, let me hug you. Vos, you look good. Won't you come over to the K'tang? Hello my friends. How are you all?"

Marcus was greeted effusively by everyone. They exchanged stories and were happy to see each other again. Logan couldn't believe that Diego's father commanded a Klingon Bird of Prey and it was explained to him that it was an old acquisition of his. An old Klingon had lost the ship in a poker game against the wily human and didn't really want to give it up, so the human had to take it by force to restore the Klingon's honor and not lose his. No one liked to lose at a rigged game. He explained to Logan that he had officially retired. But in reality, he was using the K'tang to also supply the Klingon side with smuggled goods to drive up his profits. This way they could get a lot of goods across the borders in both directions without attracting much attention. In addition, the Bird of Prey provided him with a measure of privacy. Logan had to admit to the Peréz that he hadn't counted on it, and they had gotten him good and proper with it.

"What's with your getup anyway, Marcus?" asked Logan curiously.
"This?" Marcus spun around so they could examine him from all sides. "This is just for show. Normally, I wear simple clothes and fly to the usual ports. But all of this, helps me travel under the radar as much as possible."
Logan was handed a bottle of beer. They talked for some time, sharing stories. The pilot talked about his parents, who were now living on Earth, and Marcus mentioned that it wasn't for him. He was an old hand, and that he was ceding command of the Morning Star to Diego was long overdue, but he still felt responsible for them all.
"You know, Logan? At some point in life, you come to the point where you must decide if what you have is enough or if you want more. I chose the latter."
"And it makes a lot of money," his son interjected.
"And that," Marcus agreed. "How's the cargo coming?"
"It should all be loaded in half an hour."
"Very good. That will give us a little more time to sing about our exploits. Who wants to start?"

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #8
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| SS Morning Star | Federation/Klingon Border]
Logan woke up on the bridge with a bad headache. He wiped saliva from his face with the back of his hand. Astonished, he looked around and immediately regretted waking up at all. Everything seemed to be spinning somehow. Nothing was in its place anymore. Up was down and left was right. Logan had to orient himself a bit when he realized that he was sitting at his console on the bridge. That explained the pain in his limbs.
"Ah, Sleeping Beauty, awake again?" the united Trill Lea Vos asked, and Logan wondered how she knew about earthly fairy tales. Still, he nodded with narrowed eyes. "Hmmm...."
His eyes tried to adjust to the light. Slowly, he blinked himself back into the here and now. Logan slowly straightened up and looked around. The bridge looked like a battlefield. Stuff was scattered everywhere.
"They're gone, damn it!" echoed through the corridor that connected to the bridge. "Marcus, the K'tang, Diego, Lania, Marco, Kim and Victor. So is all the unlisted cargo."
Dimitry stomped angrily into the room and threw his hyperspanner into the corner. "These fuckers bottled us up and then robbed us."
"What?" the pilot asked, still not quite in his right mind. Lea, meanwhile, handed him a glass of water.
The engineer complained. "What what? We got screwed and ripped off."
"I still don't understand," the pilot confessed after draining the water.
"The K'tang cut loose. They left and took our stuff."
"Okay, where are Diego and Lania?
"Are you that stupid, or did you really not get it, Hale?" the Russian engineer snapped at him.
"Hey. Take it easy, Dimitry," the Trill tried to calm the other human. "He just woke up again. He has no idea what's been going on."
A little calmer and with less aggression, they finally explained to him what exactly had happened. Apparently, the blood wine had been spiked. The night before, they had been sitting comfortably together, talking about old times, and celebrating the reunion with old friends. But then, when the drugs in the blood wine took effect and one by one, they fell asleep, the big raid began. But that did not explain the absence of the rest of the crew. The captain and his first officer, as well as the security officer, the cargo chief and the cook were all gone. The rest of the crew was stunned with gas.
Lea noticed a blinking light on her console at some point. They must have been sent a message. She made her way over to it. Her eyes widened when she saw the sender.
"It's from the K'tang.", she looked uncertainly at the two men and Dimitry was to angry to react.
"On screen.", Logan finally broke the silence. Lea did as instructed and put the message on the screen. On it appeared the exhilarated grin of their former captain, Diego Pérez. Beside and around him, his wife Lania and the other missing officers of the Morning Star stood laughing into the camera. Among them, Diego's father sat in the K'tang captain's chair.
"I hope you are well?" began Diego. "If you're watching and listening to this, I'm sure you've noticed that you're not quite all there anymore. Don't worry about it. We had been planning this for quite a while, but unfortunately you didn't fit into that plan. Lea, we couldn't take you with us because we can't offer you any help if something should happen to Vos, but please believe me that we will miss you very much. Dimitry, we didn't like each other from the beginning. I think that should be clear to you, don't you?"
"And how it is clear to me! FUCK YOU!" the mechanic roared at the screen. "When I get my hands on you, I swear to you..." He lapsed into Russian, and Logan had trouble following the tirade. Eventually, though, he apparently had enough and left. Logan couldn't blame him. He thought about it himself. But something held him back.
"Starfleet." the recording continued. "To quote my dad, at some point in life, you come to the point where you must decide if what you have is enough or if you want more. I too chose the latter. Actually, I had planned to take you with me, but then I would have had to fear for my Lania."
Diego laughed. "Jokes aside, but your nature and your past with the fleet would have gotten us into trouble sooner or later. I like you, all of you, and that's why we let you have the ship and the rest of the cargo. Make something of it. We won't see each other again. All the best."
Diego nodded to his father and he ordered the K'tang to depart. The screen changed to black. Logan slouched into the back of his chair.
"They left us alone," he heard his fellow sufferer whisper. "What are we going to do?"
The pilot thought, and he realized what was holding him back. He had been betrayed by someone he considered a friend, and he wasn't about to let that go. His first impulse was to give chase, but then he thought of Lea, close to tears, standing at her station and the cursing Russian in the belly of the freighter. He didn't want to put them in danger. Not if they weren't willing to.
"Logan, what do we do now?"
He looked at her, thinking. "First, we should see what condition the ship is in, and then... Then I'll take you to the nearest trading post."
"What, are you trying to get rid of us too?"
"No, Lea." Logan powered up his console from standby and started the ship's diagnostics. "I'm going to go after the K'tang and its crew. I don't want to put you guys in danger, though."
"That's the same crap Diego had just said about me! This is my decision, Logan. Mine! I am coming with you. We'll get that guy."
"That makes three of us," Dimitry declared, standing in the doorway listening to the two. "But we need bigger ship. We can't take on a 'Bird of Prey' in that freighter."
Logan sighed, but he didn't want to deny the others their decision. He could understand them because he wanted the same thing. So, the pilot nodded and smiled.
"All right. We'll do it together then."

Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #9
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| Canaan Space Dock | Canaan | Federation/Klingon Border]

Six days later.

The passengers were not necessarily thrilled that they now had to book another passage, but the two Earthlings and the united Trill cared little. They got them safely to Canaan and cancelled the rest of their contract, although it had already become void when Diego Pérez gave up his patent as captain of the SS Morning Star and joined his father Marcus aboard the K'tang as a pirate. The K'tang was a Klingon Bird of Prey of an older generation. Nevertheless, it was no less dangerous. The ship had the usual cloaking device and was armed to the teeth. It would not be easy to get hold of the K'tang and if it was a Klingon crew, that would be true. But it was a mixed crew of humans and other Federation species who had previously served as crew of a freighter. Logan was the only one of them who had served aboard Federation ships for a long time and had fought in ship-to-ship battles during the war. That his former best friend, of all people, now also took the liberty of blowing the war horn annoyed the former fighter pilot. He had thought he could find peace and regular work with the crew of a freighter, but now he was stuck on these rocks here.

Canaan was a sparsely populated rocky planet. There was little fertile soil on the surface, but rich mineral deposits. Companies specializing in mining maintained profitable mines on Canaan and extracted a wide variety of ores that were needed to manufacture the most modern technologies and ship hulls. However, since there was no dilithium on Canaan, the planet had always been of secondary interest to the two major powers in the area. This gave the planetary government the opportunity to trade with them both, and since they were in Federation territory, they lulled themselves into relative safety, though they fleeced both sides where they could. However, the semi-secure location of Canaan was no guarantee that they would not have to reckon with Klingon raiding parties from time to time. To be prepared for such an eventuality, Canaan had hired a powerful mercenary force.

Logan and Lea Vos sat at the table of one of the many restaurants on the merchant level of the Canaan Space Dock and waited for Dimitry Ivanovic. The engineer of Russian descent was handling the sale of the goods and ores remaining on the Morning Star, while Lea and Logan were already meeting with a few illustrious figures to negotiate a good price for the freighter itself. "I hope Dimitry finally sold everything," Lea expressed her concern. "I don't feel like holding out on this rock any longer than necessary while Diego gains more and more of a lead."
Logan nodded grimly. "I hope so, too. My fingers are also itching."

It was noisy, and there was a real hustle and bustle around them. Vendors from a wide variety of backgrounds touted their wares while drowning each other out. You couldn't walk two meters without being stopped by one of the many market barkers. This was also the case for Dimitry. He had to fight hard to find his way through the crowd. But after seemingly endless minutes, he finally arrived at the agreed meeting place. Logan lifted his head and looked the Russian in the eye, "You got it?"
In response, Dimitry showed them both the suitcase. "It's all there."
"Good, then let's start implementing our plan. Step one, we need an adequate ship for our hunt."

The trio worked their way through the crowds that populated the merchant level. Their target was someone who knew how to trade used ships. Genor Tamrek, a Tellarite with a temper characteristic of his people, yelled and insulted the passing crowds of potential customers.
"Oho, what have we here? Look at those spots...and those curves. A bit narrow if you ask me, but I can give you a good price for them, my lord. Maybe fifteen bars of latinum pressed into gold?" the dark bass boomed in Logan's ear. The pilot rolled his eyes briefly. He guessed the Trill wouldn't like it, and he was right: Lea Vos was not amused. She reared up in front of the Tellarite and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "What are you babbling about, you little pig nose?"
"Ha! And fire she has, too. Good, twenty bars."
Lea Vos snorted in anger. But, before she could talk herself into a rage, Logan grabbed her arm. "Calm down, Lea. I was only kidding. You know Tellarites like to argue." Lea looked angrily at the pilot. After a few moments, however, with an angry snort, she let go of the Tellarite.
"Is she always so quick to snap, Logan?" the smaller man with the pig nose turned to the pilot.
"Honestly, Genor? I'm afraid I don't know. We haven't known each other long enough for that."
"You know the pig nose!?" asked Lea Vos now visibly upset.
"Relax, Lea. Genor Tamrek is an old acquaintance of mine and my parents. We've known each other for ages."
"Couldn't you have said that a little earlier?"
Dimitry laughed in amusement at the situation, and Logan was pleased that there was something to give the engineer some diversion. Logan turned to the Tellarite.
"I would have, but you jumped right in on his game. How are you, old friend?"
"Oh, I'm all right so far," he wiped his hands with an oil-stained rag. "Although I must say that these Klingon pirates who have been hanging around for the last few days are giving me a hard time about business."
"Klingon pirates?" inquired Logan, though he could guess who they were.
"Yeah, some rookies that came along and attacked every ship that left the planet. They want to collect their 'toll'." Genor led his three guests into his store and offered them something to drink. Logan and Dimitry accepted, but Lea declined. She gave the Tellarite the cold shoulder.
"They must be hoping for something like honor through wealth. Those deluded children."
"Does the ship have a name?"
Genor Tamrek looked at the human and considered. "Yes. 'Gimak' or something like that."
"Hmm. I see."

"But that's not why you're here, is it? What can the good Genor Tamrek offer you? Are you looking for a ship? Or are you looking to..." his gaze slid back to the Trill. A smile on his lips "...sell?"
While Lea Vos took apart the front part of the store, Logan brought his friend up to date and explained that he now wanted to get into the business that his best friend Diego Pérez had introduced him to. The pilot explained to Genor Tamrek that he was looking for new sources of income and that transporting goods of questionable background represented a lucrative opportunity. He did not want to let the Tellarite in on their plans and since he was a pilot of known reputation, the lie was close to the truth and therefore believable. Genor set his drink down on the table and threw up his hands.
"The boy is finally taking wing and following in his parents' footsteps! Haha, that I may still experience this. Come here, old rascal. Let me give you a hug."
The Tellarite stomped toward the stunned pilot and fell around his body. His powerful arms squeezed the air from his lungs. Logan gave a short laugh, patted the burly alien on the shoulders, and demanded to be lowered. Dimitry, understandably just as surprised and carrying the money, was the first to display his confusion.
"What are you trying to say? Logan, what is he trying to say? What do you mean?"
"I have no idea, Dimitry. Genor, what do you mean I'm following in their footsteps? What kind of footsteps. My parents weren't smugglers."
Suddenly Genor became embarrassed. "Oops. I guess I let out a secret that would have been better kept secret. Listen, kid. Your mom and dad were never busted, but that's what their superpower was. They were inconspicuous, and they were damn good at moving things from one place to another without anyone asking questions. That they didn't tell you that until now, though, amazes me."
"I can guess," Logan said after a moment of reflection. "I joined the fleet before they could tell me."
"Ah, yes that will be it. Never mind." Genor waved it off. "Be that as it may. You're here now, and I'm sure we'll strike a grand bargain or two with each other. Starting with you wanting to buy a ship from your good friend Genor Tamrek, right?"

Logan swallowed his frustration at just hearing from a side of his parents he never knew about and nodded. They had their own mission, and the fact that his Mom and Dad were smugglers could open a door or two that would otherwise remain closed to him.
"Right." he finally said. "So, Genor. Let's trade. What can you offer us?"
"Very good.", he clapped his hands. A hologram with his inventory activated. "Whatever you're looking for."
"Small, fast, inconspicuous, and powerful," Lea Vos rejoined, having calmed down in the meantime. Genor looked at her knowingly.
"I think I have the perfect offer for you there." With a few hand movements, he brought forth a hologram of a small transporter. It was quite a bit larger than a Starfleet transport shuttle, but at least as maneuverable. "It's an older model. Decommissioned by the humans years ago. There are only a handful of ships of this class left in the Beta Quadrant. Originally intended as a short-range freighter to be used within one solar system, this sweetie here was upgraded with a warp-8 drive. E-Mansov type shields. Plus, three dorsal phaser banks, one at the stern, the other two at the bow, a Type-V ventral torpedo tube, and a ventrally mounted Type-III free-swinging disruptor cannon."

Logan, Dimitry and Lea marveled when they heard the specifications from the ship. This was exactly the kind of ship they were looking for.
"And how much is this fun going to cost?"
"Not much. Let's see." Genor was calculating a lot of meaningless values and trying to rattle the group.
"Don't fuck with me, Genor."
"It's okay, it's okay. Because I like you Logan and I still owe your mom a favor: Thirty bars of gold-pressed latinum."
Dimitry leaned over to him with a shy smile. "Ehm, we don't have thirty bars, Logan."
"Seriously!?" it flew out of the pilot in surprise, and the Russian just nodded, covertly holding up two fingers once and five fingers once. Logan nodded barely noticeably. It was bugging him. He had assumed that they could easily make fifty, if not more, when they had flogged the old freighter. He had to come up with something.
"Okay, Genor. Fifteen bars."
The Tellarite's look changed. The nice friend became a businessman. Much worse: a Tellarite businessman.
"Twenty-eight bars. After all, I have to repair the damage your friend did to the front of my store."
"Yes, and for that I am willing to give the total of seventeen bars."
"No, Logan. That's not how it works. Those were really valuable single items."
"Those dust collectors!" asked Lea. "They've been sitting there for several years, and apparently no one ever cared about them."
"They're collectibles! I just had to wait for the right buyer. All right. Twenty-five bars. My final offer."
"Only if you throw in a full kit for us."
"Deal. Wait a minute. What?"
The two men chimed in, and Logan savored his victory, which the Tellarite acknowledged without envy. "You act like your mother. Only, unfortunately, you don't look as good as she did."
"Yuck!", the pilot recoiled. But the feeling of happiness outstripped the impending head rush and kept him halfway sane. Logan motioned Dimitry to put the suitcase on the table. He opened it visibly for the Tellarite and took out two bars, which he put in his pocket.
"Count them. It's all there."
A laugh rang out, making the short man quiver with amusement. "A pleasure doing business with you.", he closed the case and stowed it in his safe, from which he took a PADD. "Here's the deed. I'm signing the ship over to you, Logan Hale. What name do you want to christen it?"
Logan thought for a moment and asked if his two companions knew a name for it. When they answered in the negative, it had been his decision.
"Crimson Sunset." he finally said.
"How poetic.", Genor observed. "It's come full circle. Here. Clean papers. The ship is now yours, Logan. The SS Crimson Sunset. A Vector-Ffreighter-Class ship. Congratulations. You'll find the ship in dock 3, slot 7A."
"Thank you." Logan accepted the PADD and acknowledged receipt.

The trio turned to leave and Genor Tamrek was pleased to have made a good deal. But he was not about to let them leave without one last favor.
"All that's missing now is the last man."
"Excuse me?" asked Dimitry.
"Well, I see a pilot, a... what? Engineer, I'd guess, and your impulsive girlfriend must be a weapons officer. You'll need someone else for navigation."
"Wrong guess, I'm the navigator."
"All the better," Genor laughed. "Then I know the perfect addition to your team."
Genor Tamrek explained to the three mismatched friends how and where they could find a weapons officer. He wasn't about to let them take off without a full crew. That would only lead to unwelcome complaints, and so he could settle his debt with said weapons officer at the same time. He was happy, because he had not only made a good deal today, but also got rid of another problem at the same time. He was about to close the door behind him when he was abruptly interrupted by the Trill.
"Fifty." she said.
"What?" asked Genor Tamrek, puzzled.
"I'm worth at least fifty bars."


Re: [2376] The Runaway

Reply #10
[ Lt. JG Logan Hale, callsign "Wraith"| Canaan Space Dock | Canaan | Federation/Klingon Border]
Logan shifted his weight to his left foot and tried to avoid his opponent's swing. The punch was expected, and he managed to duck under it, deflecting the arm away from him with a block. He countered the blow and drove his left high into his opponent's chin from diagonally below. The force of the blow lifted the human man off his feet and sent him staggering to the ground a short time later. Logan straightened up and shook the pain out of his fist. But there was no time to take a breath. Not even a second later he had to dodge a flying bar stool and face his next opponent. The latter, however, took advantage of the pilot's confusion and gave him a quick punch on the nose. Logan was now reeling himself and involuntarily grabbed his face. Blood ran down his hand. His nose was definitely broken.

"Argh... FUCK!" he screamed in pain and recoiled in kind. The other man staggered back in the same manner, holding his broken nose. He cursed as filthily as Logan and his punch also came reflexively. The two men exchanged several more blows in this manner before they managed to pull themselves together and break the diabolical circle. Then the kicks started, and Logan felt like he was up against his evil twin. Finally, Logan got help from Dimitry, who used a bar stool to take down his opponent and send him into the realm of dreams.

"Thanks, man.", Logan gasped in relief and patted the Russian on the shoulder, where he left bloody handprints. The fight came to an end. Dimitry picked up his barstool, which had been used as a weapon, put it back down neatly and took a seat at the bar. He fished a bottle of beer away from behind the bar and grabbed a second one. With a quick flick of his wrist, he uncorked both bottles and slammed them down on the counter. He brought one directly to his lips and drained it in just a few swigs.
"Bloody hell..." muttered Dimitry after he carelessly tossed the empty bottle into a corner. "What the hell happened there, Logan?"
"Honestly?" Logan grabbed the second beer and slid to the floor at the bar. He held the cool bottle to his throbbing nose. "I don't know."
"Is Lea okay?"
"Don't know either, Dim. She’s still unconscious."
"And the Klingon woman?"
"Lying next to her. Also snoring. Never expected Lea to be able to do that."
"Yeah, that was great. What came after, not so."
"Yeah...right. Fuck... that hurts."
Logan searched for serviettes and tore up a couple. He stuffed the remains up his nose to stop the bleeding, which he was only moderately successful at. The paper serviettes immediately filled with blood and snot. Logan braced himself.
"Come on, there's got to be a first aid kit around here somewhere. Let's find it, and then we'll see if the women are all right."
"You're right. Let's do that."
Dimitry quickly found himself behind the bar. They staggered more poorly than they could manage over to their old table, whose tabletop was by now in another part of the room. The engineer grabbed the medical tricorder and began scanning the two unconscious women.
"Both are largely uninjured. Lea suffered a concussion, which explains the unconsciousness."
"Sounds good to me. What about the symbiote?"
"The symbiote in Lea, Vos? She's a joined Trill? Oh, come on, give it to me."
Logan snatched the scanner out of Dimitry's hand and held it to Lea's stomach just below her chest. He had to search for a moment, but then quickly found the readings on the symbiont, but to his relief they were not alarming. The Klingon woman stirred. She seemed to wake up and held her head in a wailing voice, right where Lea had hit her with her own.

"Hu'tegh! qaSpu' nuq? qatlh nuqDaq soH?" [1]
"Loj! SoHvo' qeylIS qa.'" [2]
"wejpuH. qaDanDaq ghoSbej tlhIngan yejquv wIQaw'chu'." [3]
She exhaled in resignation and slumped against the bench.
"DaneHbogh yIta'?" [4]
Logan placed the hypospray on Lea's neck and watched the readings on the tricorder change positively. She would remain unconscious for some time, but the concussion would heal quickly.
"ngoQmeyvetlh ropvetlh ngo' wISuqtaHvIS." [5]
"qatlh? qatlh jIH?" [6]
Logan looked into the dark-skinned woman's hazel eyes. He smiled at her, then continued in Federation standard, "You were recommended to us, and besides, you owe it to her." He pointed to Lea Vos, who had been challenged by the Klingon woman before her brief power nap, accepted the challenge and won it.
"Do you remember? You said you would only join us if she defeated you in combat..." He looked around, "...and it sure looks like she won."
The woman reached for a dropped bottle of blood wine. After a few sips, she snorted snidely. "What are you guys up to?"
"We're hunting the K'tang."
Her vision cleared in an instant and she focused on the pilot. The name of the ship was definitely familiar to her.
"You already know Lea Vos. This is Dimitry Ivanovic and I'm Logan Hale."
He held out his bruised and bloody hand to her. The woman eyed him appraisingly. Then she grabbed his hand and let Logan help her to her feet.
"Betting debts are debts of honor. I am Rala Nok'va, daughter of Lough, of the House of Lough. I look forward to hunting with you, Logan Hale."
Damn! What happend? Where are my men?
Gone! Like cowardly little kids!
Great. They were worth really their money...
What do you want?
Like this girl here already said: We need a weapons officer for our crew.
Why? Why me?

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