“Here you go, Commander. I saw someone from Dietary bringing it to you and told him I'd bring it since I was heading in this direction anyway.”, the First Officer said to the Commander.
“That's the fourth day in a row you've brought me dinner.”, the ship's Commander, Za'dokh, replied.
“Just a coincidence, that's all.”, he said.
“Hmm. Well I've been looking forward to dinner all day so thanks for bringing it.”, Za'dokh replied, smiling broadly.
“Enjoy your meal, Sir.”, said the First Officer. He then swiftly left the cabin.
After the door closed behind him, he broke into a sly, smug smile.
“Any time now.”, he said to himself, smirking.
Za'dokh, the Commander, picked up a forkful of meatloaf and, as he put it close to his mouth, noticed it smelled abit “off”. He smelled the mashed potatoes and gravy as well as the mixed vegetables and Apkha. They all smelled abit “off”.
Getting out his scanner, he ran an analysis of the food.
“Sharkht!“, he exclaimed, seeing what came up on the scanner. For the fourth day in a row, his dinner was teeming with poison!
”THAT'S why he's been bringing me my dinner the last four days! Coincidence my Skikahren ass! I thought it was an anomaly but now I wonder, who else wants me dead?“
He bagged the meal, threw it into the garbage, then went over to his replicator.
”Terran pot roast over Katchik mashed potatoes. Slice of Bimrettan plum Apkha.“, he said.
Moments later the meal appeared. He did a scan just to be careful. It was safe. He then sat down and ate it, enjoying his meal thoroughly.
Afterwards, he changed the lock code to his cabin, with his retina as the second level of security. He also created a secret stream link on his mini and small-screen.
He then forwarded the results from the scans from the last four days to his superiors at Skikahren Federation headquarters.
”I'm very worried. I need to get out of here, and the sooner the better. I'll talk to the Director of Starships in the morning. I need to be stealthy.“, he said to himself.
The next morning Za'dokh arrived on the ship's bridge at 0930.
“Good morning everyone.”, he said cheerfully.
“Good morning Commander.”, they replied.
D'opkhlor arrived two minutes later.
“Good morning, D'opkhlor.”, Za'dokh said.
“Good morning.”, he replied.
There was something ”off“ about his tone, Za'dokh noted. He immediately pressed a secret button on his Command Chair.
Looking out at the expanse of space, as he often did, he said,
”Have you ever stopped to look out into space and just really took it all in...the stars, the beauty of it all? Do you ever just look out there and think about how truly lucky and blessed we are to be living and working in space?
”We all earn a living being able to fly around the galaxy and see things most folks can't even begin to dream of seeing!
“The sheer unimaginable beauty of it all. I never get tired of looking at it! It's all I've ever wanted to do since I was a little boy!”
Za'dokh then got up and walked to the window. D'opkhlor walked up behind him and put his phaser to Za'dokh's head!
“I had a premonition that something like this was going to happen. I just had no idea you'd agree to it.”, Za'dokh said to D'opkhlor, turning towards him.
“AGREE TO IT? I INSTIGATED IT! I'M THE COMMANDING OFFICER NOW! YOU'VE BEEN RELIEVED OF DUTY! PUT YOUR HANDS UP!”, D'opkhlor demanded.
Za'dokh did as he was told.
Security guards arrived and trained their phasers on him.
He'd planned on leaving the next morning. He knew though, at this point he would be very lucky if he made it to morning alive. He had to think of a way to buy himself some time.
“Put your hands up!”, yelled D'opkhlor, keeping his phaser trained on Za'dokh.
“Gentlemen, in most cultures, for centuries warriors had a term. It was 'parley'.
”The term 'parley' was part of a Code that allowed anyone to be taken to negotiate with the Commander of a ship without being attacked until the parley was complete.
”We ourselves observe the same Code, although we call it something different.
”Parley.“, Za'dokh said.
”Alright. Speak.“, D'opkhlor replied.
”May I make a proposal?
”Is doing this worth losing your careers over? Are you truly willing to risk your careers over this? Are you willing to risk your careers as accessories to attempted murder in the attempted poisoning of your Commander over the last four days?
“Those will be but a few of the charges against you by our Federation for mutiny and the attempted murder of YOUR COMMANDING OFFICER!
“D'opkhlor, I know you've resented me being your Commander since you're 10 years older than me. I admit though, I thought you had far more honor than to disgrace your family, yourself, the uniform, and our beloved Federation like this! I was wrong, apparently.”
“You will leave immediately or I will start not only an oxygen system malfunction, but I'll personally steer this ship into that planet down there!”, exclaimed D'opkhlor.
“Are you crazy? You'll kill my crew if I don't leave immediately?”
“First of all, they're MY crew and second of all...What do you think?”, he asked as he went to the oxygen panel and adjusted the settings, went to the helmsman's seat, shoved him out of the way then plotted a collision course for the planet!
”ALRIGHT! I'LL LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!“, Za'dokh exclaimed.
D'opkhlor then changed the ship's course into an orbit, and readjusted the oxygen panel.
”I need to pack. I'd like to request 1 hour to leave the ship peacefully. I won't fight this takeover. I won't allow my crew to suffer because of me.”, said Za'dokh.
“Alright. Your proposal is acceptable...to an extent. Out of respect for you, I'm willing to give you 30 minutes to leave instead of one hour.
”If at the end of the 30 minutes you're still aboard my ship, you'll be killed. In a show of good faith to my crew, and respect for you and your years of service to our Federation, I won't post any guards at your door.
”Remember...They're MY crew now!
“YOU'RE NO LONGER IN CHARGE HERE! YOU DON'T MAKE THE RULES ON THIS SHIP ANYMORE!“, D'opkhlor said, slapping then punching him...HARD!
”Technically you've just broken the ancient Code of parley by doing that.“, said Za'dokh. D'opkhlor just glared at him.
”At 10:00, security guards will arrive at your cabin to escort you.
”I give you my word no arrest or harm, no further harm I should say, will befall you until then.
”You're dismissed, Za'dokh!“, D'opkhlor replied.
”May I sit in the Command Chair one last time, please? For old time's sake?“, asked Za'dokh.
D'opkhlor nodded, but kept his phaser trained on him.
Za'dokh sat in the chair, savoring the feel of sitting in it one last time.
”It's been an honor to serve with all of you as your commanding officer these last several years.
“Although to be honest, I never thought my tenure here would end in a coup led by my second-in-command, as well as the attempted murder of me via poisoning by my second-in-command, but it is what it is. I wish you all the best.“, he said.
Stealthily, he pressed the secret button in the chair, then pressed another secret button.
He went back to his cabin under heavy guard. The guards then left.
What no-one on the bridge knew was that he'd recorded the entire coup. The night before, he'd programmed the second button from his cabin with the links of two of his superiors as well as himself.
The second button he'd pressed had sent an audio-visual file of the recording to both the Director of Starships, the Federation's Director, and to himself as well.
By saying what he had to the crew while sitting in the Command Chair for the last time, he'd left no doubt what had happened and who had led the coup! Their proverbial goose was cooked!
His best friend's father worked for the Federation's Bureau of Intelligence, and had gotten a connection of his to install the buttons during the crew's last Leave.
He soon received a message from the Director. The Director told Za'dokh that he himself would be pressing charges against D'opkhlor for the coup. Others would be charged as well.
Za'dokh packed his clothes, some food items and drinks, and a few other possessions that were dear to him. He then deleted streams and messages from both his large-screens, deactivating his links.
In one of his Go Bags, he placed a few digital disc drives. They contained an official record of what happened not only that day, but also about the poisoning attempts over the last few days as well.
At 10:00, the door chime sounded. Za'dokh opened the door.
Four armed guards were there to escort him to the hangar bay. Two walked in front of him and two walked behind him. The ones behind him had their phasers trained on him.
He carried his Go Bags and four large cloth totes.
He was then told to board a certain shuttle. D'opkhlor was there as well. The bay was full of crewmembers.
”You'll be flying this shuttle down to the planet. If you run out of fuel, too bad. You'll be marooned and are going into exile.
“Oh...one more thing.”, he said.
He sucker punched Za'dokh, kicked him several times, punched him again, sneered,
“Get the hell off my ship!”, then threw him into the shuttle.
As much as Za'dokh wanted to fight back, he worried doing so would cause his crew to be harmed by D'opkhlor so, instead, he just let himself get kicked and punched.
After being thrown into the craft with his Go Bags and cloth totes, he locked the door, strapped himself into the pilot's seat, then took off. Twenty minutes later he was in the planet's atmosphere.
It was early evening on most of the planet. From what he could tell, there was very little civilization other than a few small towns, groupings of small huts, and the occasional cabin.
The weather suddenly looked like it would be pouring rain any minute.
Shortly afterwards, he started quickly losing altitude. He heard sputtering from the engine and saw sparks on the control panel. He was also now out of fuel.
He crashed hard due to being out of fuel plus engine failure.
He got his toolkit out and looked to see what the problem was. He hoped it could be fixed before the thunderstorm arrived so he could stay in there out of the weather since he had no fuel to fly anywhere.
He was injured, and not just from the earlier beating.
His injuries included cuts and bruises, a sprained wrist, and a large jagged chunk of glass in his thigh from the broken windshield.
Za'dokh noticed that the shuttle had no rations, and the replicator had been removed. All he had to eat were the few food and drink items he'd brought with him.
The shuttle's first aid kit had also been removed. There was no way for him to treat his injuries.
The weather looked like there was going to be a bad storm very soon.
That wasn't a good sign. The idea of being inside the shuttle during a thunderstorm, and injured, didn't appeal to him.
More and more sparks were coming from the panel. Five minutes later, he heard thunder and saw lightning. It was now pouring rain. The windshield was holding...for now anyway, but wouldn't hold much longer if the storm got much worse.
Temperatures were dropping quickly, but inside and outside of the shuttle. It was also getting very cold in there.
“I'm going to freeze if I stay in here until morning.”, he said to himself.
Upon closer inspection, he realized that his mechanical problems were caused by sabotage. At that moment, Za'dokh realized he wasn't supposed to have survived the flight.
The mechanical failure had been a direct attempt on his life.
Thank you for reading!
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