"Dangerous Proposal"
[Previous post: "Something Borrowed"]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Sickbay
Stardate: 63073.1930

Ensign Lopez looked with combined puzzlement and admiration at the wonderful dress that Doctor Summers had carefully pulled out from a nearby closet in her office.  The garment gave the impression that it belonged to some kind of high ranking political official or maybe even a member of a royal lineage.  As delightful as the dress had been though its appearance and shape had confused Adriana as she was rather certain that the outfit presented by the CMO would draw far more attention than the one that the aCMO had already put on.

"It's breathtaking," Adriana admitted, not daring to move closer to the dress for fear of damaging it in some way.  "But how is this better than what I am currently wearing?  Wouldn't this dress get the attention of the entire *sector*?"

"This is a Kerelian betrothal dress," the CMO said with a devilish twinkle in her eyes.

"You will have to forgive me Doctor," the aCMO said in an apologizing manner, "but I seem to be missing something important here.  What do the Kerelians have to do with this?"

"Kerelians are a Humanoid race very close to Terrans in appearance, but they possess some rather unique social quirks," Doctor Summers explained as she approached Adriana and placed the dress beneath her assistant's chin to see how the garment would look on the aCMO.  "One such quirk is the 'proof of love' that a male must perform after having declared to his beloved's family his intention to marry.  Over the centuries the tradition has changed somewhat to be less dangerous, but there are still many families that require this 'proof of love' to be shown has is had been during the height of their civilization and before the Federation's involvement in their world's affairs."

The aCMO appeared as puzzled and confused as ever but still agreed to put on the dress following the Doctor's insisting eyes and gestures. While Adriana changed into the new garment, the CMO continued with her explanation.

"You see, in the golden days of the Kerelian civilization it was customary for a male to demonstrate his affection and desire to marry by fighting to the death any wannabe suitors.  The dress was an indication to anyone that a challenge had been sent and that the woman wearing it would belong to the victor.  As no rules were truly established for such combat, the practice quickly became that the primary suitor could bring with him as many friends as he wanted to insure his victory.  In some isolated cases the suitor ended up being betrayed by one of his own men, but in general the battles proved to be quick and merciless.  Faced with such a development it became common for the challenge to be unanswered which irked many who had wanted to show just how serious they had been to marry their loved one.  Because of this the Kerelians began to venture to other worlds to make their challenge known," Doctor Summers explained and paused for a moment as she admired her assistant in the dress that had been provided.

"I still don't get how advertising a challenge by wearing this dress is going to be *less* dangerous than wearing what I had initially had on," Adriana said, now more nervous than ever although she did like the way she looked in the ravishing looking garment.

"Remember that the suitor wanted to show that he could win *any* fight to prove his love," Doctor Summer continued.  "When traveling to other another planet it was not uncommon for the suitor to bring with him a small personal army or even enlist the assistance of mercenaries.  It quickly became general knowledge on other worlds that accepting such a challenge would become a nearly certain death sentence because there had been no way to know for certain how many others would swoop down to defend the maiden's honor."

"That may be all nice and sweet," Adriana sighed, "But you seem to be forgetting something; I am not Kerelian and there will be no suitor or army waiting to swoop down to my rescue if things should get out of hand."

Doctor Summers grinned as she reached over to her desk for something. "Just stay close to Elan and wear these," the CMO said as she placed several small metallic bands around the aCMO's wrist.

"What are those?" Adriana asked, not at all convinced that this had been such a great idea.

"The custom evolved over the decade to include an additional warning to any potential challengers.  Each small wrist band indicates that the primary suitor has one follower by his side, so the more bands you display the less likely you will be to have things get out of hand," Doctor Summers ended with as she placed over a dozen bands around her assistant's wrist.

"This is still a potentially dangerous bluff," Adriana stated, concerned that she might not be able to successfully pull such a performance.

"That is what the world of Intel is all about my dear," the CMO grinned.  "As rough as this Trade Center may be, I doubt that anyone will dare to risk their lives in this way.  It is all about weighing risk against return, so they will likely be more afraid of you than you will be of them.."

"I really hope that you are right about this," the aCMO gulped having accepted as much as she could that this would be her disguise for their mission.

Marissa Montonera-Lombardi (mmlm24@gmail.com)

Ensign Adriana Lopez
Assistant Chief Medical Officer