Chapter 17 - Stress Relieft

Featuring ...

Njessa finished her stretching and warm-up and selected a curved blade from the rack, taking a few practice swings to get a feel for the weight.  She considered taking a secondary weapon but decided against it.  For today, just a sword.

“Computer, run program from seed, pirate boarding, pre-industrial,” said Njessa.

“Affirmative,” said the Computer as the holodeck reshaped itself, the light became green-tinged as trees came into being and she found herself about a Tellarite swampboat winding its way through weed-choaked waterways.

“Best be alert, young’un,” said the ship’s pilot, an ancient Tellarite woman with a pipe between her teeth.  “The Swamp Boys have been getting mighty aggressive of late.  They might even be bold enough to try for our little ship.”

“I will be ready, Aunt,” said Njessa pacing the deck.  It seemed ridiculous that the Computer would have randomly chosen Tellar for the scenario but here she was, it was hard to keep from laughing.  It was such an improbable situation.  She was pondering the vagaries of pseudo-random probability generation that she almost missed the small canon-like boat darting out from under the cover of a fern-analog to come alongside the swampboat.

Njessa moved quickly and quietly across to the side it was approaching from.  The soft thump of a padded grapple hooking to the side of the boat.  Njessa waited for a burly and rough-looking Tellarite to start climbing aboard, she stepped forward, placed a boot on his chest and pushed him back.  His eyes went wide and he shouted as he toppled backward.  There was a crash as he hit the boat followed by splash as he then hit the water.

She almost missed the soft clack of another grapple from the other side and then another.  Of course, it would not be easy.  She should have set a difficulty level but this is more true to life.  Njessa dashed back over and slashed through the rope of the first grapple she came to, leading to cursing below.but another pirate was already scrambling aboard.  Njessa stepped forward to meet them executing a stop thrust.  She aimed low, the Tellarite ribcage was notoriously dense and hard to pierce and then angled up   All of those historical dramas she watched as a child were suddenly helpful.  The Tellarite collapsed, their purple-hued blood slowly flowing over the deck.  Hearing a thump behind her she spun and deflected a blow at her head.  This Tellarite, a woman, was armed with a vicious war pick, the perfect weapon for punching through the Tellarite ribcage.

“Let us go and no one,” Njessa glanced back to the bleeding body, “no one else, needs to get hurt.”

“Die monster!’ replied the Tellarite and swung the war pick in an overhead blow.  A viable tactic against another Tellarite, not so effective against a more flexible Andorian, Njessa dropped to her knee and thrust up, her sword piecing through the exposed abdomen and, unfortunately, embedding itself in the back of the ribcage.  As the Tellarite toppled backward off the boat, the sword was torn from Njessa’s hand and lost to the green waters.

“Bugger!” she said, casting around for another weapon.  The ship’s pilot, who had seemingly not moved through all of this, offered a long iron smoking pipe which Njessa gratefully took.  She sighed as two more Tellarites boarded from the far side.

Njessa flipped a plate with her foot from beside to her free hand and flung it at the nearest pirate.  While he was distracted, she rushed the other   Who raised twinned chopping blades.  A high feint with the pipe opened the pirate up for a legsweep.  Leaving that one down for the moment, she rushed back to the one the plate had distracted.  This one had an axe.  This was not getting easier.  She grinned and thrust with the pipe, catching the pirate in the right should and knocking him back slightly.  She was preparing for a follow-up blow when a gunshot rang out and the program froze.  

“Program ends with kill shot on Ajzure from Tellarite Pirate Leader.”

Njessa grimaced and clicked her fingers, pre-industrial did not always equate to no firearms, she had entirely overlooked that possibility.  She turned to see the Tellarite Pirate Leader who had just clambered aboard the far side of the boat and the flintlock musket he had just fired was massive, the frozen smoke ringing a barrel she could easily fit her thumb into.

“Computer save the program as Swamp Pirates Scenario.”


“End program,” said Njessa as the swamp of Tellar faded into the familiar grid of the holodeck.  She picked up the sword and returned it to the rack.  But it had been good to do something purely physical, though she could tell she was not as fast or flexible as she had once been.  She was going to be sore the next morning but it was worth it.

But next time she ran this scenario, she was going to rope in Tomaasz to back her up.  Besides, it would be interesting to see what a Caitian could do in combat.  Next time, she was going to take a backup weapon as well, maybe two.

She paused on her way to the door, suddenly reminded of her lost Caitan friend, Lylja Tigerlilly, always a bright spark.  “Computer, set up a glass of chocolate milk, chilled, in my room when I return.”  She would toast her friend with her favorite drink and then have a nice shower.  Hopefully, that would wash a little of the melancholy she was feeling away.