"Old Friend"

Author: Chief "AJ" Talsmin
Date: May 17, 2384
Location: USS Pascal / Talon

*New ship, same situation...* A.J. looked at himself in the mirror of his small quarters. He ran his fingers through his brown hair and took off his uniform jacket, tossing it on his bunk. It had been another long night on the bridge, and the crack of the preverbal dawn was upon him. He had to make a note to himself to stop taking the night shift.

He ran his hands under the faucet and then washed off his face. The situation with the Gemini device nearly brought A.J. to the realization that he should take that nice and cushy desk position at Starfleet Headquarters. At least he'd be close to home. He could simply make a commute to work each day. He took another look at himself in the mirror, and then left the small bathroom to the main living area. The room was still somewhat bare. He still hadn't really unpacked since coming onboard the *Ronin* - A. He reached into his dufflebag and started to unpack. As he did so, he came across a PADD. He was about to dismiss it as one of his novels when he checked a message on the header. It was from an old friend. As he opened the message, he quickly scanned the lines of text. A look of concern and then disbelief came across his face. *What in the hell does he want with me?* He took the PADD and left his quarters heading for the bridge.

The turbolift doors opened, and most of the bridge crew was coming on shift. Steam from a few random coffee cups began to add a certain humidity to the room. Captain Evans was in the big chair, looking over a report from the night shift. "Sir, might I be able to bother you for a few minutes?"

Ryan turned in his chair, and looked over his shoulder. "Chief. Surprised you're still awake. I hate pulling nighters."

A.J. grinned slightly. "Yeah, me too. I actually have a request you might be able to help me with."

"Shoot," Ryan replied.

"Well, I have some vacation time, and I was hoping you'd be able to grant me it."

Ryan rose from his seat, and accepted the PADD that A.J. handed over. "Needless to say, this is short notice."

"I know sir, and I apologize. Something important's come up though, and I would really appreciate this leave."

Ryan whistled slightly as he read the PADD. "Well, it'll be tough trying to get Ensign Jorenson to fill in for you, but I think you're entitled to it." Ryan handed him the PADD that had the request on it back. "Request granted."

"Thank you Captain. Oh yes, I have one other request. I don't suppose I'd be able to borrow one of the shuttles?"

"I should've figured you'd ask that." A small grin ran across Ryan's face. "Yeah, go ahead."

"Thank you again Captain." A.J. smiled, and made his way off of the bridge.

"Come out come out wherever you are..." A.J. looked through the viewports of the shuttlecraft Pascal. After pulling strings to get a shuttle and leave time he had saved up, he had better be here. Suddenly, a large shape filled the upper port viewport and he was hailed.
"This is the Pascal," A.J. responded to the hail.

[A.J. It is good to see you again.] The unforgetable face of Jacen Klevin occupied the viewscreen. [I apologize for the urgency of my message to you. I understand you are busy with your duties on the *Ronin.*]

"Busy is an understatement," A.J. commented. "You've got me out here Klevin. What do you need?"

[This my friend is fairly serious. Might I suggest you dock your shuttle in the *Talon*'s bay, and we can discuss this subject matter.]

"I suppose. I want you to know this is coming out of my stored vacation time."

[Believe me, you'll get it all back from Captain Evans when I tell you what is going to happen to the ship.]

Jacen stepped out of the shuttle and onto the deck of the *Talon*'s shuttlebay. There were some assorted shuttlecraft along with an aquired Starfleet Peregrine class fighter. The shuttlebay door opened, and Jacen walked in being shadowed by a younger, very beautiful woman. He had a large smile across on his face. "It is good to see you again A.J. We've missed your talents."

"I can imagine," A.J. replied. He shook the outstretched hand of the ageing information broker. "I see you've found another bodyguard. What happened to Samantha?"

Jacen smiled. "Samantha has found greener pastures. This is Martha Daje. Martha, A.J. Talsmin."

"It's a pleasure," the woman added, shaking the Chief's hand.

"That it is." A.J. smiled politely, and then looked back over at Jacen. "Alright, so what is this urgency that has drawn me away from the *Ronin*?"

Jacen put his arm over A.J.'s shoulder and led him out of the shuttlebay. "It is a very troubling situation. You remember Keldon the Andorian don't you?"

A.J. laughed. "Of course. Hated him with a passion."

"Excellent. In any case, it appears Keldon has been selling his services to the highest bidder. In this case, it appears he has sold his talents to a renegade Klingon faction known as the Kron'tog. The Kron'tog has mainly been quiet, but it appears now they are running out of supplies for their little war against the Klingon Empire. They have, in turn, changed their focus to attacking vessels to gain materials so they can start another campaign later. I have received some notification from my friends that their next target intends to be the *Ronin*."

"The *Ronin*? Are you serious?" A.J. chuckled. "Klingons using old Birds of Prey and D-7 cruisers are going to attack a state of the art Intrepid II class?"

Jacen held a steady gaze at A.J. "They would if they have the shielding frequencies." Jacen held up a PADD with all of the information on the *Ronin*.

"You didn't...." A.J. started.

"Of course not," Jacen interrupted. "You know Keldon though. He has the same abilities and resources that I do."

"True," A.J. conceeded.

"At any rate, I am going to need your help. I did a little bit of dealing with these Klingons, and they still owe me payments on weapons."

"So..." Jacen started, "you're just using the *Ronin* incident as an opportunity to attack these Klingons and reposes some of their equipment."

"You put it so eloquently." Jacen gave him a lopsided smile. "I've already instructed Hobbes to head to the last location of the *Ronin* at maximum speed. We should arrive their in time to assist the *Ronin*."

"What do you mean assist?" A.J. gave him a confused look.

"You see my friend," Jacen replied, "the battle has already started."