Color Of Justice
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Table Of Contents


Mission 34:
COLOR OF JUSTICE

 

The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.

Prologue

Captain T.E. Lawrence stood staring out at the small Class M planet the PHOENIX was currently orbiting. They had arrived in the Zarta Sector nearly twenty minutes ago and were still awaiting a response to their original hail.

"You'd think they'd be a little more courteous to the Federation's designated negotiating team," T.E. muttered.

"Perhaps they're still laying out the good china and polishing the silver," LCDR Kora Natevera said with a smile. She walked across the smallish Ready Room and joined T.E. at the window.

"If they're trying to make a good first impression the opportunity has passed."

"It is a bit puzzling that the Avogajians have ignored our arrival," Kora said with a frown.

"More than a bit," T.E. agreed. "Lonpos Sau seemed quite eager to cater to our every whim when we spoke yesterday. In fact, I found his willingness to please us rather embarrassing."

"You mean his offer of sexual companions for you and Kassidy during your stay on Avogaj?" Kora’s twitched as she struggled to keep her laughter in.

"The offer was bad enough," T.E. said, "but when he began lining up prospective candidates for us to choose from I nearly died."

°You must admit, the third creature from the left was quite attractive."

"Kora, if I want to be seen with feathers on my arm, I'd just as soon replicate a boa."

Whatever remark Kora was about to make was cut off at the sound of LT Walker’s voice coming from the Communications station on the Bridge.

"Captain, I have an incoming message from Lonpos Sau."

"Put it through, Lieutenant."

"Captain Lawrence, I hope you will forgive my tardiness in acknowledging your arrival."

The Lonpos's somewhat formidable visage stared up at T.E. from the screen on her desk.

"We were wondering if you were having some difficulties," she replied.

"Difficulties? Why would you think that," Sau said just a tad too quickly.

T.E. quickly looked over to LCDR Spahn and saw that the Romulan Security Chief had also picked up on Sau's odd behavior.

"I was only suggesting that perhaps our early arrival had interfered with your scheduling of events," T.E. answered in her most soothing voice. She did not want things to start off on the wrong foot.

"Nothing of the kind," Sau practically blustered. "We are pleased to find that you are so eager to join us. We were experiencing some communication problems but everything has been taken care of now. I would like to invite you and your crew to join us at your earliest convenience."

T.E. couldn't quite get rid of the nagging suspicion that Sau was hiding something. However, since they were here to meet with the Avogajians and to ascertain their readiness to become part of the Federation, she arranged for their landing party to beam down within the hour.

T.E. had spent numerous hours pouring over computer records with CDR Kassidy Malone on Avogaj and her people. She had spoken to Lonpos Sau on several occasions via the PHOENIX’s main view screen. However, nothing could have prepared T.E. for their fierce beauty when she finally met them in person.


"Captain Lawrence, welcome to Avogaj."

Lonpos Sau, his crimson head feathers shimmering in the brilliant sunshine, bowed neatly from the waist. T.E. found herself looking upward when he resumed his stiff-backed posture. The avian creature appeared to be at least 195cm in height. The four Avogajians who stood with him were of a similar height. Obviously, the Lonpos had taken T.E. at her word. The creature Kora had deemed attractive was nowhere in sight

"We look forward to meeting your people, Lonpos Sau, and touring your lovely cities."

Sau quickly introduced his companions and T.E. did likewise.

"CDR Kassidy Malone is the Diplomatic Relations Officer onboard the Phoenix," T.E. began. "She will be assisting the Ambassador during our meetings. LCDR Spahn is my Security Chief and has already been in contact with your people regarding protective measures during all negotiation meetings. And last, but certainly not least, LCDR Seabrook, our Intelligence Officer."

After an exchange of greetings between the two groups, Sau led the way to the Grand Hall. Again, T.E. was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of her surroundings. The courtyard they had beamed down into was overflowing with flowers and plants of every shade in a rainbow. Sweet and tangy odors mingled to form a pleasant scent on the warm breeze that buffeted her skin. Once inside, the prevailing thought was one of spacious elegance. Wood beamed ceiling soared above her head and brightly colored tiles covered the walls on either side of the wide corridor Sau led them down. And still, amongst all this beauty, the Avogajians commanded one's attention.

"Quite breathtaking, aren't they," Kassidy whispered to T.E. as if reading her thoughts.

"And then some," T.E. agreed in a similarly low voice.

It was true. Where their bold colors of scarlet, green, black and blue should have appeared garish, they were striking.

"We have prepared a small meal for you and your crew," Sau said drawing T.E.'s attention back to the Avogajian official. "Then I would hope that you would avail yourselves of our hospitality and let Lonpos Tam show you a bit of our city before we begin the first meeting."

Moments later, Sau pushed open a wide door and ushered them into a large dining room. The mouth-watering scents that greeted them had everyone proceeding to the food-laden tables.

"You're not staying," T.E. asked with surprise as Sau and his companions moved toward the door.

"We realize that you and your people would like to discuss the upcoming meeting, Captain. Tam will return after an appropriate passing of time to conduct your tour. Enjoy your meal."

"Well, they are nothing if not polite," Kassidy observed after Sau and the others departed.

"Or eager to get back to whatever it was that delayed their contacting us," Spahn said.

"My thoughts exactly," T.E. said in agreement. "I still feel like we are somehow being kept in the dark about something."

"Sau did seem rather too eager to get us settled, didn't he," Seabrook added. The Intelligence Officer had kept his own council up until this point, but T.E. had seen him watching Sau and the others quite carefully.

"I, for one, am eager to meet with the Ambassador and get his slant on things," T.E. said. "After all, Spock has been here for over a week now and has had ample time to observe any problems."

"This delay is unacceptable!"


Lonpos Sau paced the area in front of his desk. His body language conveyed barely restrained fury.

"These things take time, honorable one."

The voice coming over the Lonpos's communication panel sounded quite frightened.

"We don't have time, Paumo. Lawrence and her people are here now. They are expecting to meet with the Ambassador."

"I will take care of everything, honorable one."

"See that you do!"

Sau ended the conversation by slamming his fisted hand down on the panel. Why was he surrounded by such incompetent sycophants?


Days were short on Avogaj and the sun was beginning to drift toward the horizon when T.E. and the others completed their tour of Woati, Avogaj's largest city.

"Lonpos Tam, I must thank you for personally taking the time to show us around your lovely city," T.E. said with a smile.

°Captain, it was my pleasure," the dignitary said. "As you can see, we have a lot to offer the Federation. Our shipbuilding facilities alone would be a stellar addition to the ones at Utopia Planatia."

"Most certainly," T.E. replied. "However, you must be aware of the fact that we are quite anxious to get things underway. I would like to return to the Grand Hall now and meet with Lonpos Sau and Ambassador Spock."

There it was again, T.E. thought. At the mention of Spock, Tam's whole demeanor had changed. The kindly official who had spent the last hour proudly displaying his lovely city suddenly grew tense. Just what the hell was going on here?

"Of course, Captain," he said, recovering quickly. "We will be heading there as soon as we make our last stop. The children have prepared a little welcoming ceremony for you and I'd hate to disappoint them."

Good move, T.E. thought but she smiled and beckoned for Spahn, Kassidy and Seabrook to come along as she followed Tam into a brightly-lit building.

As they were shown to their seats, T.E. observed Spahn and Kassidy talking quietly among themselves. When Tam went to check on the proceedings, she quickly asked them if there was a problem.

"Nothing too serious, T.E," Spahn assured her. "Kassidy and I were just commenting on the workers at the ship building facilities today."

"Wasn't it strange how much they differed from Sau and the others," T.E. asked. "Not that the workers weren't quite handsome looking in their own right."

After the brilliant plumage Sau and his counterparts displayed, the muted gold, tan, brown and yellow feathers of the workers, while beautiful, were somehow diminished by comparison.

"Yes," Kassidy replied. "But I was talking more about their personalities. They didn't seem nearly as forthright as Sau and the others. In fact, when I asked one of them a simple question regarding the work he was doing his response was quite antagonistic."

"I had a similar experience, Captain," Seabrook was quick to add. "It was almost as if these creatures despised us."

"Perhaps we should ask Tam about it when he returns," T.E. suggested. "We may be making much out of a situation that has little or nothing to do with our presence here. It could be something as simple as a labor dispute."

`Hopefully that's all it is," Spahn said. "We wouldn't want to find out that there's some kind of internal conflict raging on Avogaj. It would put a real spanner in the works at this point."

T.E. nodded in agreement. Lonpos Sau had presented Avogaj as an almost Utopian colony. If he was hiding domestic problems, what else might he be keeping from them? Suddenly, she was quite anxious for Lonpos Tam to return.


Far away from the bright lights of Woati, a small band of men covered head to toe in dark cloaks, moved silently through the deepening night. The path they followed would lead them deep into the thick forest that bordered Woati on its northern side. In their midst, a solitary figure bound and blindfolded, struggled to keep up with his captors. The shimmering light from Avogaj's twin moons reflected on his pale skin, illuminating the nasty gash above the man’s left eye. Thick green blood flowed unchecked down his cheek before he disappeared into the thick blackness of the forest.


"Gajians?"

T.E. quickly turned toward Seabrook and the others only to see that they were as startled as she was by Tam's revelation.

"Yes, Captain. These creatures have declared their intent to be known simply as Gajians."

"But how is it that we have no information on this split in your population, Tam?"

"Because this situation has just surfaced in the past month or so, Captain," Tam replied. "There has always been a division in our cultures. The Avogajians, like myself and those people you've met today have always been the ruling class of Avogaj. The so-called Gajians have traditionally been the workforce. This system has worked since my father's father was a child."

"But yet there is no mention of the duel cultures in any of our records concerning your planet," T.E. pointed out.

"Because we never saw the need," Tam told her. "This is the way it has always been until Majj saw fit to try and improve his station in life."

"Majj," Kassidy asked.

"An unreasonable man who believes him and fellow 'Gajians' should have a say in the governing of Avogaj."

T.E. didn't like the sound of this one bit. Internal disputes were never a good thing and the fact that Sau and his fellow officials had seen fit to hide it did not bode well for the finalization of their petition of admittance to the Federation. She needed to see Spock immediately.


Deep inside the cliffs of Lohar, Majj held court. Nearly a dozen Gajians huddled around the fire in the middle of the cavern he called his meeting room.

"The Federation's representatives arrived in Woati today," he announced. "If we are to be taken seriously by them we must make our presence known. Gajians must have a voice in any future plans for Avogaj."

"The Lonpos will never allow it," Nafi said. "They will never allow us to rise above the conditions of slavery they have held our people in for centuries."

"We will be heard," Majj said. His voice, deep and majestic, filled the cavern. "The Federation will know the will of the Gajians."

Cheers rose up and reverberated off the walls.

"Plans have already been set into motion," he continued once they quieted down. "Before the end of the day, the Gajians will begin to claim their rightful claim of equality on Avogaj."

Once again they erupted in cheers that floated though the interlinking series of caverns that were carved into the cliffs by their ancestors. The heady euphoria of freedom nearly in their grasp was coursing through their tired souls.


"We have to talk, Lonpos Sau, and talk now."

T.E. had not wasted any time in making her displeasure known as soon as she and the other arrived back at the Grand Hall.

'Captain, I must ask your forgiveness in not fully explaining the current situation on Avogaj."

"Your explanations can wait until Ambassador Spock arrives. I assume you have asked him to join us?"

The silence that greeted her statement was deafening.

"Sau, is Spock on his way here," T.E. asked again.

"Captain, I had hoped to have the situation resolved before you returned. But, unfortunately, that has been impossible."

T.E. anger rose up quickly and full-blown.

"I demand to see Ambassador this instant, Lonpos Sau. Any delay and I personally will contact Starfleet Headquarters and tell them to pull back your paperwork."

"Sir, I think we can . . ." Kassidy began.

"I think I have made our position perfectly clear, Commander Malone," T.E. said cutting her Diplomatic Relations Officer off. "Sau, where is Ambassador Spock?"

"The Ambassador is no longer in Woati, Captain Lawrence," Sau said in a barely discernible voice. "Ambassador Spock is missing."

Lawrence grabbed the communicator from the belt of her uniform. "Phoenix, this is Firebird Actual, Walker I want teams assembled in all divisions including the Marines. Beam down in twenty minutes.

She turned to Lonpos Sau, "You better pray that Spock is alright."