“Deep Space 3, this is Plaplak Jag’r, we are ready for departure clearance,” Stev spoke into the comm.
“Plaplak Jag’r, you are cleared for departure.”
Stev shut down the comm channel and piloted the tiny ship from its berth. When he had cleared the station he set a course for Romulan space. Once that was accomplished, he turned his attention towards the security systems panel.
“Computer, commence security scan.”
“Working,” Phread replied on screen as the computer voiced the same acknowledgement.
Stev waited until Phread had given him the all clear indicator before he turned to Professor Jenkins as he had known her so many years before.
“Atropos, the computer has given me the all clear. There are no detected bugs or indicators that we are being monitored, tracked, or followed,” Stev spoke in Rihannsu as he reactivated the audio masking protocol just to be safe.
Picking up on his verbal cues, Professor Jenkins replied also in Rihannsu, “That is good Teven, we don’t want some Federation border patrol to board us and seize this shipment.”
“I believe it is safe to talk, Professor,” Stev replied in standard.
“If it is safe to talk, why did we begin our conversation in Rihannsu?” she asked.
“I have an audio masking program installed on the comm system. If anyone does attempt to hijack my comm system, the computer puts up a brief struggle before mimicking a security breach. It then broadcasts a completely innocuous conversation in the language that was being spoken at the time of its activation,” he replied.
“So if anyone starts tapping into your comm system now they will hear a completely different conversation between the two of us in Rihannsu?”
“Those October scientists sure do come up with some elaborate security measures.”
“Actually, this protocol is my own design,” the Vulcan replied matter-of-factly.
“You always did have a gift for languages and computer programming,” she answered with a teacher’s pride in her voice.
“Thank you Professor,” he answered.
“Teven,” she began with an emphasis on his alias, “if you persist in calling me that, you will certainly blow our cover on Romulus. “Please call me Phyllis. It is my given name and the name that Romulan border patrol knows me by.”
“Very well, Phyllis,” Stev answered with a smile.
Twelve hours later, the two October agents had caught up on the non-classified portions of their lives. They had gone over the particulars of the mission and were conversing in Romulan as their ship sped toward Romulan space. Sticking to the unclassified portions of the past twenty-eight years, they talked as friends being reacquainted.
“So in all this time you’ve never sought companionship?” Phyllis asked.
“It has not been necessary,” Stev answered with a trace of melancholy in his voice.
“You mean physically, don’t you?”
Knowing that his old professor was referring to Ponn Far, Stev looked directly in her eyes, “Yes, it will not be necessary for some months.”
“But do you have anyone to talk to Stev?” she prodded.
Not wanting to compromise Phread or reveal the existence of his protégé, he simply answered, “I have people to talk to when the need arises.”
Phyllis smiled, “Well then, now that you know where I am you can add me to that list and stop by DS3 the next time you’re in the neighborhood.”
“Thank you professor, I shall.”
Before Phyllis could respond the comm system crackled to life, “Unidentified vessel, you have entered Romulan Space from the Neutral Zone,” a cold voice declared in Rihannsu. “You have 30 seconds to identify yourself or be reduced to a smoldering hulk.”
“Certainly,” Stev replied back in the same language, “this is Captain Teven of the Plaplak Jag’r. We are twelve hours out of Deep Space 3 with a shipment bound for Romulus. To whom am I speaking?”
“This is the R.S.E. Warbird, Stellar Sword. Plaplak Jag’r, you are not listed as an authorized Neutral Zone merchant ship.”
“I realize that, Stellar Sword. I have been commissioned by an authorized zone merchant to haul this shipment for her.”
The voice at the other end of the comm frequency turned icy, “And we are just supposed to believe you? Unidentified ships and Federation spies often disappear without a trace.”
“No, Stellar Sword, I do not expect you to take his word for it. I expect you to take mine,” Phyllis entered the conversation with a tone of malice in her voice.
“And you are?”
“Phyllis Jenkins, merchant number 89-919699, jol’khe to Ambassador Knileb.”
The prolonged silence indicated that her name dropping had the desired effect.
Minutes later the comm crackled back to life, but without the arrogance, “Plaplak Jag’r, you are cleared for a merchant run to Romulus. The Ambassador requests your presence along with your passenger for dinner at his residence.”
“Thank you Stellar Sword. Tell the Ambassador that I will be there,” Phyllis said as she closed the channel. Turning to Stev she continued in standard, “And that is how we get through Romulan security.”
Stev laughed as he piloted the disguised Ghost Rider on a course for the Empire’s seat of power.
“Jij y’trewq O’k?” she asked in Andorian.
“Reowr mahwahr Stev,” he replied in Caitian.
“Noto ta, Stev?” she asked in Vulcan.
“Yes it is really me, the man who according to you did more for the universal translator than the legendary Hoshi Sato,” he replied also in Vulcan. “May I ask why are you now going by the name Atropos?”
“Stev? It’s hard to believe,” Professor Jenkins said after a moment’s silence. She settled back into the seat and continued, “Atropos is a fiction created by October as a security layer. If the Romulans get intelligence about Atropos they won’t be so quick to connect ‘him’ with Phyllis Jenkins. Now how long has it been and what happened to your forehead?” she continued the conversation in Vulcan.
“It has been twenty-eight standard years since I was in your class and the forehead is a long story.”
“And it is probably the work of those butchers Frankenstein has at his beck and call. I see he has managed to get his hooks in another fine officer,” she said with both pride and disgust in her voice at the same time.
Deciding to let the subtle jab at his superior officer slide, Stev instead tried to focus on why his old professor was now an agent for October.
“And what brought you out of the classroom and out here to the fringes of Federation territory?”
“I met a Romulan ambassador at a diplomatic function some years ago,” her eyes took on a far away look as she continued. “I suppose he was interested in me because I could speak his native Rom’lesta as well as the official dialect of Rihannsu.”
Raising an eyebrow in a most un-Romulanlike manner Stev maintained his silence and let her continue.
“After the dinner I was contacted by someone who I thought was with Starfleet Intelligence. I was ordered to get closer to the diplomat and report anything that I learned,” she smiled. “After some years we became more than friends, I became his human jol’khe, resigned my commission and came out here.” There was an almost imperceptible sigh as a trace of melancholy wound its way around her words, “Since it is impossible for me to stay with him, he called in some favors and got me a merchant’s license.”
“So getting into and out of Romulan space should not be difficult?” Stev asked.
“No, October decided to make sparing use of my license. Frankenstein would rather keep me legit and use me for the big missions rather than compromise my position. I guess your mission qualifies as big?”
Stev filled her in on the details he was allowed to disclose to her.
“Yes that does qualify for big,” she replied. After a brief pause, her eyes now twinkling, she continued in standard, “Well Teven, I believe your ship will suit my purpose. I will be accompanying the first shipment and introduce you to my contact.”
“Very well, Atropos. As soon as your cargo is loaded then we can leave,” Stev replied matching the twinkle with a slight eyebrow raise.
“Just so you don’t use the Atropos name once we’re in Romulan space,” Phyllis then laughed out loud at Stev’s dead-panned bemused expression.
“Yes, and you are Captain Teven?” she said barely able to contain the small smile forming at the corner of her mouth.
“She recognizes me even through the Romulan disguise,” Stev thought to himself. “Yes, I understand you are in need of a ship?” he replied in the aloof manner of a Romulan merchant-prince.
“Yes I have a very special delivery that needs to be made.” She returned, able to now mask her near slip with the relief of someone who just got some good news.
“Wonderful, perhaps we could discuss the terms of this delivery aboard my ship and you can determine if it will suit your needs,” Stev waved his arm indicating she could enter the vessel if she wished.
Atropos affected an appraising eye and then looked the Ghost Rider, now masquerading as the Plaplak Jag’r and then spoke, “Yes your ship looks adequate enough from the exterior. I need to determine if it has the cargo capacity needed.”
Stev placed his palm on the hidden scanner located on the exterior bulkhead. The hatch opened and he stepped through.
“Follow me,” he called over his shoulder. “Audio-masking now,” he called to his tribble using the protocol indicating non-approved personnel were coming aboard.
Phread initiated the computer procedure that recorded the voice patterns of those speaking inside the shuttle. The computer then rebroadcast an innocuous conversation using those same vocal patterns to any external scanning or listening devices.
Stev waited at the entrance for the human female to enter. Once she was inside he sealed the hatch and proceeded to the cargo area of his tiny craft. Describing the elaborate measures he could use to ensure the safety of the cargo he kept an eye on the computer screens. When the computer had recorded enough of Professor Jenkins vocal patterns to initiate the audio-masking protocol Stev wound down the tour of the cargo bay. He then indicated the living quarters as the direction to go. When the pair had seated themselves in the eating area and he had verified that audio-masking was running, Stev finally let the recognition he had suppressed earlier show on his face.
“Professor Jenkins, it has been a long time since Fourth-Year Alien Languages.”
“Jij y’trewq O’k?” she asked in Andorian.
“Reowr mahwahr Stev,” he replied in Caitian.
“Noto ta, Stev?” she asked in Vulcan.
“Yes it is really me, the man who according to you did more for the universal translator than the legendary Hoshi Sato,” he replied also in Vulcan.
“Stev? How long has it been and what happened to your forehead?” she continued the conversation in Vulcan.
“It has been twenty-eight standard years since I was in your class and the forehead is a long story.”
USS Ghost Rider, Stardate: 2316.07.09
4 years before Stev was rescued by the USS Thunderchild
Decrypt protocol Scarecrow Gamma:
Retinal scan confirmed:
Scarecrow, your mission is to contact a possible source of information within the underground unification movement on Romulus. The Hobgoblin is requesting our assistance in this matter in case it is a smoke screen from the Tal Shi’ar.
Neither the Hobgoblin nor his contacts on Romulus are convinced this new recruit can be sufficiently trusted. The Hobgoblin does not want to prematurely reveal his presence on Romulus. Neither do his contacts want to reveal their presence within the unification movement.
Again, contact this new recruit; confirm through any means necessary his or her veracity. If authentic, contact the Hobgoblin and pass along the recruit. If it is a Tal Shi’ar trap, you are authorized to liquidate with extreme prejudice. Mission data has been downloaded to your crow. As usual, these orders will decompile after playback.
End of File
Stev sat in the pilot’s chair of the Ghost Rider. His fingertips were pressed together with the index fingers resting on his lower lip. He looked over at his pet tribble, codenamed crow, and blew a breath out between his teeth.
“Phread, do we have any Romulan ships in the camouflage database?” he asked the little ball of fur.
“Yes an independent trader vessel, as well a military scout,” the tribble’s reply scrolled by on Stev’s monitor.
“Well I don’t think we need to ask for trouble by impersonating the Romulan military do we?”
“Agreed. So we’ll need a Romulan trader cover that’ll pass muster with the Tal Shi’ar?”
“Maybe, check the mission data packet; we might be able to bluff our way in with the Teven ID.”
The legless mammal meandered across the console as it broadcast it’s reply, “As usual you and Frankenstein are thinking along the same lines. There’s a shipment of Terran Bourbon waiting for us at Deep Space 3. The regular courier is an October agent; she’ll be coming along to get us through the Romulan border patrols.”
Stev let his little friend wander up his arm to the crook of his elbow and began scratching one spot on its back, “Great, set course for Deep Space 3.”
Stev exhaled deeply, stood and walked back to the living quarters compartment of his tiny craft. It was not a long walk from the command center past the data hub and then through the transporter bay/engine room. Stev hated this next part but if he was going to get through Romulan security his genome was going to have to register as Romulan and not Vulcan.
One of the augmentation surgeries that the October doctors had performed on him was a “cloaking field” for his genome. Working from the theory that the Vulcan genome and the Romulan genome were similar, the doctors had devised a way for any Vulcan, but Stev in particular to mask his genome for a period of no more than seven standard days, the time it took the body to completely “cleanse” the system. Injecting himself with the “Jekyll compound” (Stev didn’t like the name but it was what it was called), caused his genome base pairs to transpose from Romulan to Vulcan. The pain was incredible, especially when the Romulan brow ridge began to form.
The Vulcan put the tribble down on the counter. Picking up a hypospray containing the “Jekyll compound” he placed it against his neck. Mentally calling on his kolinarh training, Stev pressed the activator button. He could feel the formula burn its way into his system. Every cell in his body seemed to implode and then just as suddenly explode. His arms shook as he grabbed the sides of the water basin but he made no sound. He paced his breathing as the cartilage began collecting at his forehead.
Finally, the procedure was done. Stev looked up from the water unit and into the mirror. His Romulan counterpart looked back at him. He scowled back at the reflection and grunted in a Romulan manner.
Satisfied with the results, he looked down at the tribble, “Phread?”
“Yes, Stev?” its reply scrolled across the monitor on the wall.
“Are we still on course for Deep Space 3?”
“Even if I had turned off the auto-pilot, I’m not that bad of a pilot that your screams of pain would throw us off course,” it teased.
“Okay little buddy. I’m going to lie down. Wake me when Deep Space 3 is in scanner range.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier if October made it a less painful procedure?”
“Yes. I really hate this stuff but if it keeps me alive, it’s worth it.”
One of the things that took a big hit with the death of my wife was my writing. Now that I’ve finished up the estate, got the taxes done, and have the kids back in school, I’m dusting off some of the work that has been relegated to the back burner.
What really entertains me is the notion that my stories about a Vulcan who tries to experience his emotions is written in a similar style that is as much comedy as it is science fiction. I feel somewhat honored.
Anyway, I’m getting back into the saddle. I’ve got a really nice story in the works. However I thought it’d be nice to provide a little bit of a Stev primer. As well as a chronological listing of the stories I’ve finished.
Stev is a Vulcan who served in Starfleet aboard the USS Intrepid before becoming an agent of October (a loosely veiled reference to Section 31). He has a pet tribble named Phread (rhymes with bread)
Stev has logically deduced that the complete suppression of emotions is contrary to the teachings of Surak. He believes that Surak taught that emotions should be mastered. Looking at the success of Spock (a Vulcan with insight into the human emotional spectrum) as Kirk’s second-in-command, Stev decided that he should experience his emotions.
Stev was then exiled by the Vulcan High Command for this “radical” belief.
Stev served onboard the USS Intrepid for a number of years before a mission that brought him to the attention of October (Section 31). While on board the USS Intrepid he met and fell in love with T’Aiya Llire, a Vulcan/Romulan/Antosian. The two were bonded and served aboard the Intrepid until Stev left to become an Agent of Section 31.
T’Aiya underwent mental conditioning to believe that Stev had died. She suffered some severe emotional problems due to the unexpected depth of their bond.
Stev and his tribble underwent some genetic modifications. Phread was given some technological improvements and during the procedure it was discovered that tribbles are sentient creatures. Phread is now able to communicate using a computer interface.
After 10 years, one of Stev’s missions ended badly. His superior officer broke protocol and ordered the USS Thunderchild into the area to rescue his officer. Unknown to the Section Chief of Station, T’Aiya was now serving aboard the Thunderchild.
Unwilling to put his wife through the pain and suffering of leaving her again, Stev worked out a compromise with his superiors. Stev now serves both the Thunderchild as one of her intelligence officers and uses the ship as a base for his continued activities as an agent of Section 31.
Completed Steve stories: (in chronological order)
Return to Glory: Stev meets for the first time the officer who will later recruit him as a Section 31 agent
Shore Leave: Stev proposes to T’Aiya
The Stitch: Stev undertakes a mission into the past to clean up someone else’s mess. This story introduces Stev’s protege
Found!: Stev is rescued by the USS Thunderchild
Blindsided: Just as Stev begins to settle into his new life, the Breen attack
Down Time: While the Thunderchild is docked at Starbase Earhart, Stev remembers his ‘shuttle accident’
I’m enjoying this little website. It’s like Twitter but less demanding. It doesn’t require you to sign up for anything to ask me a question. Just click here and go Ask Me Anything
Q. Imagine, if you will, you’re in a dimension not of sight, or of sound, but of mind…what do you look like?
A. Brilliant neon green. A pulsating orb of energy.
Q. How are y’all today?
A. Still numb.
Q. Do you have an accent (as reckoned by your friends and co-workers)? What kind?
A. Nope. Midwesterners are pretty accent free (until we travel to other parts of the country).
Q. Would you rather be right, or be happy? No weaseling by claiming they are always compatible, please.
A. I’d rather be right. But I’m not going to fight someone over it. I’ll let them wallow in their ignorance.
Q. What do you sleep in?
A. in bed with my wife.
Q. Would you rather be really hot or really cold?
A. Cold. You can always add another blanket or layer of clothes. There’s a limit to how much you can strip off.
Q. What is the RPG or RPG product you where most disappointed by?
A.The Car Warriors comic book series produced by Marvel Comics about the Car Wars line.
Q. All-time favorite screen villain?
A. Colonel Stuart from Die Hard 2.
Q. If you roleplay, do you speak in character? Do you use funny voices?
A. Absolutely. Among my other talents, I’m a puppeteer. Funny voices come second nature to me.
Q. Are you a gamer? I mean an old school one, none of these newfangled computer things.
A. My interest in computer games ended when the old Atari 2600 joystick became obsolete. Yes I am an old-school gamer.
Q. Revenge is a dish best served _____?
A. Cold. It is very cold in space. (ancient Klingon proverb)
Q. What did you eat for breakfast today?
A. Waffles made by the best cook in the world (as attested to by my growing waistline).
A. Do you dwell on things or let them go?
Q. Unfortunately I dwell on things. It took me nearly 17 years to pick up a pencil again after an off-hand comment by an Art Teacher in high school.
Q. What’s your favorite type of character to play (or read about if you don’t play RPGs)?
A. I like Gnomes and I like Elves.
Q. Have you ever written fiction not as a school assignment? Longer than a short story? Published it yourself? Been published by somebody else? Made a living at it?
A. Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and No. I’ve written the adventures of Stev the Vulcan for the better part of 20 years. Older stories were published by the club I joined at the beginning. I’ve re-published some of these over at Fan Fiction.net
Q. If you could change the ending of one movie, which one and how?
A. Just one? Right now I’ve plenty of bad movies running through my head and not one of the stands out as being repairable by changing the ending. You have given me an idea for Database post.
Q. Do you have any fantasy jobs? (Like a dream job, except you know you’d hate the non-idealized real-life version of it.)
A. Actually being able to support the family with my puppeteering.
Q. Suppose you lived in an ideal world, with no war, crime, poverty, disease, etc. Would your current job still exist?
A. I’m an ad man for a local paper. No poverty? My job would probably be more in demand.
Q. “What is best in life?” If I’m following you, you probably know Conan’s answer. What is yours?
A. My wife’s cooking, as evidenced by my larger waistline after I married her.
Q. If you could have lunch with any one in the world who would it be and why?
A. Weird Al Yankovich, I’ve always had an affinity for his music, fashion sense, and rather bizarre outlook. The way his character ran Channel 62 (UHF) would be awfully similar to the type of shows I’d come with.
Q. What was your favorite Robert Culp role?
A. Demon with a Glass Hand from the Outer Limits
Q. If you could have a sexual and/or romantic encounter with a fictional character who would it be?
A. Dream dates? Discretion, not to mention my wife (whom I love desperately) require me to abstain on this answer.
Q. What one book do you think everybody reading this should read?
A. Whether you believe it or not, The Bible, at least once. It was a very important book to our founding fathers. It is revered as Holy by the three top religions of this planet.
Q. Who should I follow on Formspring?
A. Besides me? VulcanStev – cleireac, Canageek, trollgodfather, UncleDark, BerinKinsman, CydoniaRaven, geweller, WyattSalazar, NewbieDM, cartoonlad, Voyage2k, Viriatha, StargazersWorld, drcheckmate, nevermetpress
Q. What one thing would you tell your younger self if you could?
A. Wait until I was sure what I wanted to do with my life before going to college.
Q. Have you broken any bones? If so, how?
A. I broke the bones in one of my toes. I kicked an exposed water pipe full force.
Q. If you suddenly inherited an Ice Cream parlor, which flavor would you be constantly out of, because you’re dipping into the stock?
A. Cookies -n- Cream
Short version: Modem troubles continue. (I know it’s not technically a modem but it’s still giving me fits) Long version: It’s hard to keep updates coming when the router goes down after two hours. It’s also hard to write updates when one is addicted to Farmville on Facebook
According to the INA (Iowa Newspaper Association) I am the 2nd best Ad Designer out of 22 in the entire state of Iowa for my class of my paper. Considering that I wasn’t expecting an award in that category at all, I’ll take it. One of my ads placed first and if I had access to it at home (maybe I can upload during lunch tomorrow…), I’d show you.
I’m still planning on uploading my Stev stories to this blog. I am not done with the character at all, in fact my writing partner has approved the move. We both felt very constrained by the writing club we were working with. It all came down to “This is MY club and MY rules. If you don’t like it leave.” So I left.
I have found a Trek club I belonged to a while back. They have welcomed me back with open arms. The Klingon Strike Force is a good club and their website is topnotch. Look for Chris DeHart if you stop by.
One Way Express is booked for this summer’s Central Iowa Fair. After our fill-in job last year, the talent committee sought us out. Goober is looking forward to bringing his unique sense of humor back to Marshalltown.
We’re still playing D&D at the Core (4th ed.) on alternating Saturdays. As much as I enjoy 4e I cannot call it RP, it is definitely hack and slash. I won’t reopen the dead debate on the game. It is what it is.
However, our gaming group has taken up TSR’s Top Secret. I’m enjoying the game. My character is an uber-hacker. I’d tell you his name but he gives it out to no one. The other players refer to him as “Techie”
There haven’t been many movie reviews posted here a the family has seriously cut back on the number of DVDs we buy and the number of movies we see in the theater (yes even though we have a dollar theater in town). Though we did go see Sherlock Holmes and that review is in first draft.
Pvt Black Spartan graduates April 1. I told her that is not a good omen. She asked why. I told her that going into Army Intel on April Fool’s Day didn’t seem like a good idea to me.
We’ve still got more snow on the ground than I care to admit. According to Mr. Groundhog we’ve still got four weeks of winter… I want to know where Mr. Groundhog studied meteorology.