"The Children of Vaal" (Revised)

Chapter One

Ensign Shalana of Vaal had the distinction of being the first Vaalian to join Starfleet. She smiled as she remembered the ceremony of applying what the humans would call war paint to her face as she knelt before Vaal and vowed to avenge him. Her first posting was on board the Pegasus, and she found it very annoying that everyone on board referred to her as a Gamma Triangulan. As a result, it was not easy for her to make many friends. Also, it angered her when the humans spoke highly of James T Kirk. To most of her people, he was considered a cross between Kodos the Executioner and Adolf Hitler. In some parts of her world, it was considered bad luck to speak his name in public. She was chosen by her people not only because she was highly intelligent, but because she vowed to destroy the Federation one starship at a time. She wasn't there to make friends, although there was one peculiar alien named Norz who sympathized with the plight of her people. They got along pretty well. All she knew about him was that he was a shape shifter of some kind and the only telepath on board and that he had a peculiar habit of drinking sea water while off duty, which didn't seem to hurt him. She was relieved to find out that there were no empaths on board. That helped in her covert mission to destroy the Federation. When Captain Pressman announced the experiment with a phasing cloak, it fell right in line with her plans. She saw a golden opportunity to punish Starfleet for its crime against her people. When he announced the experiment, she considered Pressman to be just another Kirk. With covert help from the Romulans, who had aided her people in developing more advanced technology, she was able to build a cloaking device of her own on a shuttle craft named Rainy, after an obscure river on the enemy's home world.

She watched with satisfaction in the cloaked shuttle Rainy as the Pegasus slowly dissolved with the sabotaged phasing cloak and entered the huge fissure in the giant asteroid. She observed seven escape pods and hoped Norz was in one of them. She pressed a button on a remote control device when she was sure the Pegasus was well within the asteroid to deactivate the cloak, knowing that at least part of it would materialize inside solid rock. When her secret mission was at last complete, she set course for home, knowing also that the surviving crew would now assume she was dead. Her only regret was that her twin sister Shavara and her dear father would also think the same thing. She could remember her sister's warnings about Earthlings, and knew that she feared them more than hated them for what they had done. She understood Shavara and pitied her. After all, only a god could kill a god. Of course, Shalana knew they weren't gods, but she had a hard time convincing her of that. Now, she also knew that her sister would probably blame Starfleet for her supposed demise. Shalana assumed as well that someone on her world would eventually destroy the shuttle once the cloak failed. However, she was looking forward to returning home, for she knew that her terrorist mate Akunna would make sure that she would receive great honors for striking the first blow against the Federation for their crime of killing Vaal.

It was twelve years later. Montgomery Scott had changed his mind soon after leaving the Enterprise-D about not going to Norpin Five to enjoy his retirement and his remaining years.* In addition to the hairline fracture in his left arm that their Dr. Crusher had mended, he was starting to have trouble with his eyesight. He didn't want to tell her that, for if he had, they wouldn't have given him a shuttle craft. The Enterprise-D was a fine ship, but he felt out of place there and had no love for their Klingon security officer. He also did not want to be thought of as a doddering old coot. He studied the flight plan the best he could and set course for Norpin Five.

Sooner than expected, a planet came into view on his main view screen and Scotty slowed to impulse. It looked like Norpin Five, so he put the craft in standard orbit with a shrug. Soon, out of curiosity and because there was no answer to his hails, he began to feel ill-at-ease. He spoke to the on board computer.

"Computer, is that planet Norpin Five?"

"Negative. The planet is Gamma Trianguli Six. Planet is classified as off limits to humans. Enter orbit at your own risk."

"Oh, great, now you tell me!" Scotty said, his unease increasing. Where had he heard the name of that planet before? As he tried to remember, an old fashioned heat seeking missile emerged from the cloudy and murky atmosphere of the planet, and raced towards him like a bullet. There wasn't time to get out of its way. The missile obliterated the shuttle and him along with it, at the same time exposing another shuttle nearby that had been in orbit under cloak.

When the Vaalians saw the other shuttle and realized that there was no one on board, they ceased fire, satisfied that they had successfully blown up a Federation intruder. They did not have the technology necessary to retrieve the other shuttle, so they had their ambassador, a man named Makora, contact Starfleet headquarters to complain about their seemingly wanton violation of their territory by Federation forces. Although they didn't yet have the means to enter space, they had recently developed reliable sensors and subspace radio.

Makora did not fear the Federation. He hated them because he lost his wife from a mysterious illness that she had no immunity to when Vaal was deactivated. However, he was quite disturbed to learn what his people had done to the unidentified shuttle. He was not fond of needlessly killing people. Also, nearly everyone on the planet including he was wondering about the second craft that had been equipped with a Romulan cloaking device and why it appeared in orbit around their planet. He waited by a two way visual com link as the face of Captain Jean Luc Picard appeared.

"You are the captain of the Enterprise?"

"I am, sir. Please identify yourself."

"I am ambassador Makora of Vaal, the planet you Earth people call Gamma Trianguli Six."

Picard stared at the Vaalian in astonishment.

"Greetings, Ambassador. What can I do for you?"

"I want to know why your people sent someone on a spy mission and violated our space."

"I assure you, Ambassador, we sent no one on a spy mission."

"Do not lie to me, human! We have blown up your spy in the shuttle craft and have exposed even more Federation trickery. Come and get your uncloaked Federation craft or we will destroy that one as well!"

Captain Picard was aghast. Did he hear the ambassador correctly?

"Ambassador... we don't use cloaking technology."

"We have it on our sensors right now, Picard."

It suddenly dawned on Jean Luc that this second shuttle might have been another attempt to violate the treaty of Algeron.

"Can you read the registry number on the craft, Ambassador?"

"Yes. It is NCC 53847."

Picard was shocked, recognizing the registry. "You said you blew up the other shuttle. Why didn't your people wait for an explanation from the occupant?"

"His explanation could have been a lie. Our agreement with your Starfleet was specific, Picard. None of your people had any business establishing a standard orbit around our planet. We were within our rights to defend ourselves."

"I understand your position, Ambassador Makora. Do you know who was piloting the first craft? Was it armed? Did he power up weapons?"

"One moment, Captain. I will ask those in charge of planetary defense."

"Sir...we will need to conduct an investigation in this matter. Expect the Enterprise-D to arrive in twelve hours. I truly was not aware of any blatant spy mission."

"Of course you weren't, Captain." The Vaalian said doubtfully, then paused for a moment as an aid whispered something in his ear. "I have just received information that the shuttle we destroyed had markings from your ship. However... it was unarmed." Makora paused again, suddenly looking remorseful. "Who was it, Picard?"

"We are not certain, Ambassador, but I believe you fired on and killed Captain Montgomery Scott."

It was Makora's turn to be astonished.

"Kirk's chief engineer...the very man who caused our situation on our planet. I did not know your people lived that long."

"We don't, sir. Due to a freak accident, he was in suspended animation for seventy five years. What situation is that, Ambassador?"

"It is a long story, Picard and I will explain when you get here."

"Ambassador, please don't let anyone destroy the remaining craft. We need to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter."

"Very well, Captain. I promise you that we will not destroy it. We are now just as curious as to what this shuttle is doing here and why it was equipped with a cloaking device."

"Until then, Ambassador Makora. Picard out." As the captain of the Enterprise closed the link, he realized that he would have to get some more answers from Riker. Picard recognized the registry numbers on the second shuttle as belonging to the ill-fated starship Pegasus.

* "Relics"