*## ERIS DECK ##*
An intense effort was required to lift his arm. Even more concentration was
required to grasp a nearby cup, secure it, and move its contents to his
lips. Hot coffee was managing to bring back some of the flesh tone of an
otherwise sickly looking ambassador. His head pounded with the intensity and
power of a quantum singularity. Overindulgence on Romulan Ale had left
Lamont with a galactic prizewinner of a hangover and a nasty headache.
"Are you finished sir? Would you care for anything else", an attendant asked
stepping up to Lamont's table near one of the giant windows of the ship's
Ian nodded as the attendant collected what was left of his breakfast.
"Another cup of coffee. Black", Ian noted as the attendant moved off to tend
to other patrons.
He leaned back in his seat scarcely able to move his body lethargic and
uncooperative. Closing his eyes didn't help, looking at the light of the
stars was painful, Eris deck this early was practically empty and dull, his
neck throbbed having slept the night in his office chair, and his stomach
was in knots after processing far too much rotgut from the night before.
He simply sat for an unknown quantity of time like a mass of wobbly gelatin.
For a time he thought he understood what the engineers meant when they could
hear the heartbeat of the ship on each deck, but it was also possible it was
just his ears ringing - a side effect of his time with the bottle.
The last few hours were a blur and he was having trouble believing he had
actually drunken himself into such a sorry state. If it hadn't been for an
empty bottle of ale and two glasses in his quarters he might have checked
himself into sickbay out of fear of having caught some ailment.
His thoughts danced back to the second glass he had seen and he desperately
tried to remember who he had shared a drink with. He wouldn't have used a
second glass and he had almost no recollection of the night before.
His memories were highly fragmented. He remembered talking to someone yet
for some reason they didn't seem real. Perhaps it was some fragment of a
dream he was recalling. He couldn't tell and was too tired to continue the
difficult mental exercise of sorting through a patchwork of alcohol blurred
Glancing up at the chronometer its unforgiving display indicated he had
roughly an hour before he was supposed to report for duty. That entailed
reporting essentially to himself, reviewing what communications and news
that was available from Starfleet from the night before, and finishing
several detailed logs, reports, and other paperwork to document his latest
run in with the Romulans as well as his less than stellar performance. He
hadn't been given the opportunity to perform in the recent crisis given the
Romulan's refusal to communicate, yet he couldn't help but wonder if there
was something else he could have done that might have changed the outcome.
He was second guessing himself, something he had never done. That had led to
the previous night's festivities and was climaxing with the delightful
hangover he was now enjoying.
Even if he made his own hours being a typically autonomous member of the
crew, duty was duty, and he had only himself to thank for the way he felt.
Other officers couldn't get plastered and not show up for duty.
They'd be on report in a heartbeat or worse if Rehu got wind of such
activity. No, he'd have to fight through it just like anyone else who had
He finished off the last of his coffee and next tackled the monumental
effort of..standing. Once upright he carefully concentrated on returning to
his quarters. A few glasses of water would help reduce the severe
dehydration he was most likely suffering from as well as ease his headache.
Sickbay was out of the question as he had no intention of having something
like this appearing in his official records.
*## Deck 2 ##*
Exiting the lift, Lamont slowly returned to his quarters. Upon entering he
was thankful for the darkness as the lighting in the corridor felt as if his
eyes were being hit by dozens of carefully aimed phaser beams.
The cool glow of the outside stars cast a soft light throughout his quarters
giving his eyes a much needed respite from the tortuous outside conditions.
He stripped off his shirt and tossed it somewhere caring little for where it
landed. A long, hot shower awaited which might help him clear his head and
shake some of the ill effects plaguing him.
Pulling off his boots and socks on a couch he stood and made his way toward
his lavatory when something grabbed him from behind. An instant later his
exposed back hit the hard surface of his obsidian desk sending more pain
coursing up his spine and into his head. A dark figure stood overhead with a
solid grip on the ambassador's throat. Lamont attempted to resist his
attacker, but he was too tired and too hung over to mount anything
resembling a defense. His communicator was heaven knows where and the
person's grip on his throat prevented him from yelling for help from the
computer or otherwise.
"Who..who are you", Lamont managed to croak with his throat in the vice-like
grip of his attacker.
"I suppose you are entitled to know before your life ends", a somewhat
familiar male voice said in the darkness. Lamont swallowed at the statement
as the man reached out and activated the lights from a nearby panel on the
Lamont's vision was instantly assaulted by light which stung almost as much
as being slammed upon the coarse surface of his elegant desk. After several
seconds his vision cleared enough for him to identify his assailant.
"YOU", he blurted in a raspy voice. "WHAT THE HELL?"
"Surprised to see me again Ambassador?"
"HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?"
"Does it matter? I understand you yourself are quite the escape artist.
I am surprised you place so much trust in your security personnel and this
ship's rather limited facilities for confining individuals with certain
talents. Surely you didn't expect something as mundane as a forcefield and a
few security guards to keep me bottled up?"
"Once the Captain finds out about the dead guards she'll skin you alive and
that's if she's merciful. You have no chance of escaping alive."
Lamont looked into the eyes of the mercenary who had already attempted to
kill him once. He clearly remembered the Romulan's name: Aev Keirianh.
"Spoken like a typical Starfleet officer. You have no idea what I am capable
of. I escaped from my cell and made my way here without detection. Even now
the alarm has yet to be raised. I will be long gone before they discover
"Do you get off on the killing? Is that your motivation or do you just enjoy
killing humans who are typically less developed matched against Romulans or
your Vulcan cousins."
"I haven't killed anyone aboard this ship. Your security guards are merely
incapacitated. The Vulcan nerve pinch is an amazingly effective technique
when properly mastered. However, I take no pleasure in taking lives. This is
simply a business transaction. I was bred to be a soldier, an elite killer.
It is all I have ever known."
"Well that is fascinating, but killing me gains you nothing. What do you
hope to accomplish? The Charon is lightyears away from civilization in the
middle of heaven knows where surrounded by the Romulan Star Navy which is
inclined to incinerate us given our most recent encounter. A shuttle
wouldn't get you very far and we don't have any aboard capable of high warp
velocities. You'd be stuck our here for weeks if not months before you
reached civilization and that's assuming you somehow could steal a shuttle
without being noticed, not to mention that the Captain would hunt you down
like the dog you are."
"Am I supposed to accept tactical advice from a human ambassador who spends
most of his time locked in this ship's brig?"
Lamont struggled for air, but was being allowed just enough to continue
talking. "You can do what you like seeing how you currently have the upper
hand. However, killing me will only end in your own destruction.
As much as it would please Captain Rehu to see my body cold and lifeless she
would hopefully still pursue you wherever you ran. No shadow, corner, or
crawlway would be left unsearched. If you know anything about our Captain
know this - she's ruthless and persistent. She may wear a Starfleet uniform,
but she's still a Romulan beneath that fabric and god help you should you
incur her full fury and wrath."
"I know of your Rehu. Her reputation precedes her. She is as you say, but I
do enjoy a challenge. What better one than to escape from a former Romulan
legend even if she is a traitor to the Empire. Unlike you cowardly humans, I
do not fear death. In fact I have been waiting for its arrival for far too
Lamont listened as the mercenary's voice trailed off. The man seemed
conflicted, but that observation was irrelevant given his situation. He had
to act and perhaps some ambassadorial offensive tactics might give him an
edge he could use.
"Who sent you?"
"I don't kill and tell. It is bad for business."
"If you're so interested in reaching the afterlife why don't you fight me?
I'm just a foolish human ambassador. What possible danger do I possess to a
trained killer like yourself? You won't make it off this ship alive. We both
know that as fact. What do you have to lose?"
"An interesting proposition", Keirianh replied his voice always monotone,
Lamont waited as the mercenary seemed to consider the possibility. As he
hoped the mercenary was distracted for a split second - long enough for
Lamont to act. Summoning what little remaining strength he possessed, Lamont
quickly drove his knee into the mercenary's exposed groin eliciting a
painful groan and ending with the vice grip on his neck.
There was only enough time for a few words before the angry mercenary
responded. He could call for help, but by the time security arrived Lamont
would be dead or dying. His eye caught the two empty glasses next to his
head and the empty bottle of Romulan Ale he had consumed. He suddenly
remembered who it was he had spoken to the previous evening and who had
sampled some of his ale.
"SAVANT", Lamont yelled out at the computer in the few precious moments he
had remaining. "SECURITY EMERGENCY!"
A transporter column buzzed into existence next to the Ambassador, sheathing
the dark-haired hologram temporarily in light. She seemed entirely real, as
if it were no hologram but a living human that had appeared.. Despite the
chaos, her concern seemed entirely focused upon Ian. Savant leaned towards
him with honest worry on her face, asking "Are you alright, Ambassador?
Still working off the drink from the night before?"
His eyes grew wide as he scrambled backwards against the couch, shouting,
"Look out!" Behind Savant, and apparently completely outside of her
perception, Keirianh had grabbed one of Lamont's letter openers and wielded
it like a knife, advancing on Savants' turned back. She didn't seem to
notice or care, instead reaching down to help the poor Ambassador up.
Keirianh flipped jaw-first against the obsidian tabletop, fumble-footed.
He slammed down hard and tumbled to the floor, immediately writhing to
regain his feet.
Savant still didn't seem to notice - she helped the beleaguered and winded
Ambassador to his feet and dusted off his shoulders, "Now, what did I tell
you about over-drinking last night? I bet you don't even remember."
Behind her, the assassin launched himself at Savants' knees in a tackle,
intending to take them both down in one turn. How unfortunate for him that
Savant thoughtlessly turned aside at the last second. Keirianh slammed
head-first into the wall, staggering backwards on his feet again.
"SAVANT!" Ian shouted past his bruised windpipe, pushing away her concerned
hands, "The ASSASSIN!"
She turned to face the Romulan just as he started to bring the letter opener
up again. "Oh, yes. Of course, where are my manners."
Savant snapped him up about the neck in her palm like an angler catching a
fish, launching the both of them up against the ceiling. Lamont could hear
his roof shiver as the now floating hologram slammed Keirianh's head and
neck against the panels. The caught Romulan yelped a gasped sound and
flailed, his weapon gone flying.
"Tch," the floating hologram scolded, her once pleasant demeanour now cold
and level, "Arrogant. Elite killer, indeed. Talk less next time, you
Her hologram flared and flickered wildly as she decoupled from the pressor
beams holding the Ambassador's assailant to the ceiling - the hologram
descended to the floor while the force projectors kept the Romulan rightly
pinned. "Are you alright, Ambassador? You have a bruised larynx. Excellent
response characteristics, though, Sir. Your corticoid and adrenal signatures
are exactly where they should be. Do you work out?"
Ian blinked at the spectacle still reeling from nearly being choked to death
by the mercenary. Savant was asking him about his physical conditioning
paying almost no attention to the killer she had pinned to the wall.
"Fencing", Lamont replied rubbing his throat casting another glance at both
the mercenary and the seemingly nonchalant hologram. "I would offer you a
challenge, but seeing how you have handled the situation I expect I would be
quite outclassed. You have my sincere gratitude and thanks Savant."
The hologram only smiled and winked at his gratitude, looking not at all put
upon by the suspended assassin. It *was* a pressor beam holding him to the
ceiling, after all.
The mercenary struggled against the forces holding him in place. "I did not
expect you of all people ambassador to possess sophisticated artificial
intelligence and holographic personal security systems. You must be a
paranoid man in constant fear of his life. How many other people want you
"I can think of one or two that wouldn't shed any tears if I departed the
mortal coil however I cannot think of anyone who would pay to have me killed
- certainly no one who could afford your fees. Now that the tables are
reversed Mr. Keirianh you should disclose who sent you and why. At present
you are not in the best position to refuse."
"What do you intend to do with me", the Romulan asked still pinned to the
Lamont looked at Savant and then back at Keirianh. "Not my decision.
You'll be sent back to the brig for certain, but this time I'm positive
security will not be so accommodating. We'll probably hand you over to the
Romulan authorities or perhaps even discharge you at a starbase once we
return to Federation space. Either way your days of hunting are over."
Keirianh's eyes closed. "Then you condemn me to death", he answered with a
cold, lifeless voice.
"Death? We don't pass judgment here. That is for the justice system to
perform. It is doubtful we'll be stopping in any Romulan ports given recent
events. I would suspect you will be processed by Starfleet Security, perhaps
Starfleet Intelligence, before being sentenced for your crimes aboard this
ship and namely against myself and the Captain."
"You do not understand. Should you hand me over to anyone my life will be
forfeit. I have failed. Do you not see? There is an unwritten law in my
profession especially when dealing with individuals who expect perfection
each and every time they call. Those who hired me to eliminate you are
powerful with vast wealth and resources. My failure to complete the contract
means that there is likely already a bounty on my own head. My line of work
does not tolerate failure. Should you discharge me I will be killed by
another who seeks fame, money, or both.
The cycle of death will continue and another will lose a part of their soul
by slaying me in exchange for fleeting trifles such as wealth, infamy, or
I have waited for death. Prayed for it to claim me yet I wish to go on my
terms not chained in a cell like a caged animal awaiting the slaughterhouse.
Please. You ambassador, of all people, should understand my dilemma."
"YOU JUST TRIED TO KILL ME", Lamont shouted hearing the mercenary's words
which seemed incredulous if not bizarre.
"Yes, but I failed to do so. I have been defeated yet air fills my lungs
"That could easily be remedied", Lamont replied his fingers closing about
the letter opener which was an antique relic that had nearly caused his end.
Ian paced the floor for a moment and stopped. "What is it you want", he
asked firmly having thought about the man's unusual behavior. There had to
be something motivating the mercenary. It seemed unlikely that a skilled
assassin would speak so oddly. Stalling for time was pointless.
Savant had the man completely at her mercy. Escape was equally futile.
So then what was the man after?
"Asylum. Asylum aboard this ship. I cannot go home and I cannot set foot
upon Federation soil. I am a condemned man without a home or future. If you
reject me you will be signing my death warrant Ambassador."
"Why should I trust you? Why should I do anything to help the man who has
attempted to kill me twice?"
"I can be an asset to this ship. I know many people who can open doors.
I know this entire region, its secrets and its many hazards, spectacles, and
discreet methods of quietly traversing it. I speak fluent Romulan and can go
places you humans cannot without raising suspicion. My mission to eliminate
you is at an end. I have gone from hunter to hunted. Nothing will change
that now. Your death will not reverse what has occurred and there is no
longer any need for me to complete a failed assignment when the outcome will
be the same."
"I'll bet. Like escaping from justice at your first opportunity. If you were
in my position. If the tables were reversed would you believe me?
Listen to yourself."
While the hologram had its back to the trapped Romulan, the sensors in the
room were dissecting him scan by scan, keeping a steady and up-to-date
records of his physiology and chemical state. High levels of autonomic
arousal, blood vessel dilation, pupil dilation - he was panicking,
certainly. He also believed everything that he was saying.
"He really does believe what he's saying, so either he really doesn't think
much of himself or he's an idiot."
She looked over her shoulder at him, wearing a cheery smirk. "In the tens of
hundreds of inhabited, charted worlds within this quadrant alone, you think
you couldn't find a place to start over? Really? Plastic surgeons can do
wonders these days, you know. I could even direct you to some of them."
Savant turned her attention back to the Ambassador, "Provided that the
Ambassador does indeed decide to show leniency. Shall I return him to the
Lamont studied Keirianh for several long moments his eyes linking with that
of the mercenary's. "Please release him Savant", Ian instructed. The assassin
fell unceremoniously to the floor all at once as Savant released her bindings
to the local pressor emitters.
With Keirianh free of Savant's impressive abilities Lamont leaned against
the edge of his desk and folded his arms. "I am an ambassador Aev Keirianh.
One you have attempted to kill twice. My patience with you is at an end.
You have seen Savant in action and I must say she is quite formidable and
talented. I too have come to rely upon her unique talents as well as her
insight in recent days. She indicates you are telling the truth while my
instinct tells me you are a desperate man who will say anything.
I have learned that things are always more complex than they appear and thus
I will heed my colleague's assessment of your truthfulness for the moment.
Before I have you tossed back into the brig under 24 hour heavy guard to rot
until we reach a starbase I demand a full explanation. Talk or else we have
nothing more to say to one another and I will ensure our brig is the last
thing you see if indeed you believe so strongly that your life is finished."
"Harsh words coming from a toothless diplomat with a computerized bodyguard.
However, if you demand an explanation then so be it. I have nothing to
Keirianh shot a glance at Savant before continuing. "I grew up in an
orphanage abandoned by my parents which to this day remain unknown to me.
My childhood was a dark one. We were poorly fed, beaten at the pleasure of
our keepers, and forced to perform back breaking labor by day while laying
in silent fear of the day to come by night. The headmaster, a brutal,
harsh, individual took an interest in me and educated me perhaps in want of
a successor who would continue his will in that accursed place. I seized
Many years passed and while my intellect grew sharp my resentment of my
captivity grew stronger. One day the headmaster confronted another orphan
and a close friend. Her offense was minor, but she was made an example of.
She later died as a result of her injuries.
Infuriated, I carefully planned by escape and when the time was ripe I
exacted my revenge upon the headmaster before escaping my home - if that is
what you wish to call it. Alone and without any means to support myself I
joined the Star Empire.
I rose through the ranks quickly dedicating myself to service to the Empire.
They fed me, clothed me, and provided me with training, education, and for
once purpose. I became an elite soldier one of the best devoting all of my
energies into becoming stronger, faster, and smarter than anyone else. I
wanted to erase my past and for a time I pretended that life had never
occurred. I was a respected soldier, one of the elite. No one could again
subjugate me as they had in my youth for to attempt to would be fatal.
I had found my place in the world at last until that peace was shattered by
the very organization I had sworn to defend and protect with my life! I was
given orders to eliminate what we were told were threats to the Empire. The
mission was routine or so we thought. Politicians like yourself had
engineered the orders to seize power and cause a political incident that
they could use to their advantage. My squad were branded criminals;
traitors to the Empire! We had been used! We were sentenced to death for
our actions, but I managed to escape.
Since that day I have strived to find some way to clear my name and make
those responsible pay for their crimes and the lives they sacrificed for
their own twisted and selfish ends. I sold my elite skills to those in need
of such services to keep myself alive.
My reputation grew in certain circles and I was certain in time I could
finally afford to seek revenge on those who had ruined my life. However
with each life I took I lost a piece of myself in the process until there
was nothing left but regret along with the knowledge I was nothing more than
a traitor and a killer. I was again being used by people to do their dirty
work and while well compensated for my abilities I had become what I had
sought to destroy.
You, ambassador, were to be my final mission. My employer has deep contacts
in the Romulan High Command and I was assured that if I completed this final
assignment that my records would disappear and I could return to a life
where I no longer had to hide in the shadows or sleep with the knowledge
that the next day could be my last. The nightmare I had endured for the
last thirty years seemed to finally be at an end.
However I failed. I..I hesitated. I cannot say why. I have spilled more
blood than entire armies and yet I could not bring myself to kill you
ambassador. And because of my weakness those that hired me will not rest
until I am dead. I know too much. I am a liability and one that they
As your holographic female was quick to point out I can attempt to fade
away, but they will find even me in the end. Death at their hands will
unlikely be swift for betrayal and failure. These people are ruthless and
powerful. They always get what they want and have nearly limitless
resources to achieve their goals.
No disguise could hide me from them and I would spend every day on the run
and in constant fear. I would rather die. Perhaps I accepted this mission
with the intent to fail hoping that my some miracle I could finally find
peace in death where there has been none in life.
That is why I request asylum ambassador. I have nothing to return to and no
future except a long and painful death at their hands. They will find me in
time no matter the prison I am exiled to.
At least on this ship I might again be of some use. Perhaps I might even
begin to atone for the countless acts which have stained my soul black. I
no longer have any love for the people and Empire which turned its back on
me so long ago. I can only pray to the elements that justice will one day
be served. I am a skilled soldier and a trained killer. Such people are
always frowned upon, but we both know that men like me are necessary evils
even in a civilized galaxy.
There. There you have your explanation ambassador Lamont. Do what you
will. My fate is in your hands as perhaps it always was. If the elements
thirst for my blood then at last they shall have it."
Lamont leaned against his desk with a stoic expression. Savant only rolled her eyes.
"Savant, please return Mr. Keirianh to the brig."
Ian stood and looked the mercenary in the eyes. "I will consider what you
have said", he said quietly. "I will make no promises as to your fate.
That is all I can offer you at this time."
"That is all that I can ask for", Keirianh replied bowing his head slightly.
"You are different from other humans ambassador. You at least listened.
More than I expected."
"My job is to listen. However, we are not the evil race your Empire
sometimes makes us out to be, yet I don't deny there are those of us with
less noble qualities and intentions. We will speak again Aev Keirianh."
Ian nodded for Savant to take charge of the prisoner and escort him back to
the brig - a transporter beam hummed into being and whisked the prisoner and
the hologram away at once. As for himself, he had a new problem to tackle
one which he could regret no matter which decision he made. It truly felt
like the Kobayashi Maru all over again - the no-win scenario.
Still hungover from the night before he had neither the willpower nor the
facilities to contemplate a proper decision to what he had just heard.
Ambassador Ian Lamont