The Star Sailors' Story
History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.
CICERO, Pro Publio Sestio â€“ Earth (Human)
The Dosadi had taken much from the experience of their Federation patrons, particularly the humans. Avid historians with a rich verbal history of their own, they were fascinated by the barbarities of Earth's past wars and the savage expertise the primates had in combat. The Federation professed to be a pacifist organization, but fought like demons out of hell at the drop of a hat. Many Dosadi gained advanced degrees at prestigious Earth universities studying the works and deeds of Leonidas, Sun Tzu, Giap, Mao, Patton, Washington, Nelson, Kirk and other famed warriors.
Dosad is a heavily forested planet orbiting an F-class yellow-white star in the constellation Cygnus (as seen from Earth). As their species evolved they focused more on predation than agriculture, staying nomadic long after other species had settled in city-states. Never as populous as humans, their cities were generally small, scattered clusters of structures embedded in forest. Even heavy industry was green-belted.
The Dosadi culture developed to revere valor in battle and with a drive to constantly test themselves. Their religion and philosophy focused more on how one lived life rather than what wealth or power one amassed. Death was something that came to all, and so rather than being feared or avoided, it was celebrated as the end to a great tale. Dosadi felt that how you died was at least as important as how you lived. This lack of interest in 'things' meant that they were somewhat slow to advance technologically. Although their species was perhaps a hundred thousand years older than Humanity, they developed their first primitive warp drive centuries after the humans.
As it happened, a Federation cruiser, the USS Defiant was passing through the sector about the time of that initial warp flight and made first contact. Naturally, her captain was immediately challenged to single combat. Fortunately for future Federation-Dosadi relations, Captain Heather Sterling was a student of military history and an expert in several different martial arts including grappling styles such as Hakko Ryu JuJutsu and striking styles such as Muay Thai . Lacking real teeth and claws, standing a good six inches shorter than her opponent and massing some twenty kilos less, the Dosadi were expecting a quick victory. Still, it was important to see HOW these hairless apes fought â€“ Were they honorable? Or cowards? Could they fight at all? Would they use their superior weapons to take vengeance after their Captain was slain? Much can be learned in the challenge ring.
Recognizing a warrior culture immediately, she knew the significance of this fight. â€śNo,â€ť she thought, â€śthis ceremony.â€ť Her security chief, Lt. Desoto-Cortez, nearly half a meter taller, twice her weight and muscled like a mountain gorilla, had begged to be allowed to represent the Defiant, but she refused. First Contact missions were the most challenging and delicate of any in Star Fleet and had effects that echoed through centuries. This fight was hers, and hers alone. Her opponent, five and a half feet of sleek fur-covered muscle, teeth and claws snarled at her as he stripped his clothes off. â€śWhen in Rome...â€ť she decided and followed suit, answering his snarl with a smile.
â€śLewtenant, if yon critter shuld happen ta kill me, take it wi' good graces. Tis' vital important tha' we show nothin' but honor an' style.â€ť she explained as she pulled her red hair back into a pony tail.
â€śI understand, Captain, but I don't have to like it.â€ť the massive Spaniard grumbled.
A howl rose over the crowd as several of the bagpipe-like instruments the Dosadi called 'trusk' began to play a driving beat with flute and drums providing the counterpoint. 'Och,' she said to her Security Chief, â€śDinna fret naow. I feel raht at home, lad.â€ť And with a laugh, she stepped naked into the ring. Several of the big cats surrounding the arena began to take up a song, a song which grew louder as more joined in and the fight went on.
Hith'an circled slowly towards Sterling's left, suspicious that the Federation Captain wasn't reacting at all. A quick feint likewise brought no more than that smile and a wink. Were they capable of fighting at all? He lunged in fast and low, going for a crippling slash at her legs only to be met with a stunning elbow across the side of his skull. Rolling away from her rising knee, he slid face first across the ring, scrambling away from her with new-found caution.
Again, she stood motionless. He regained his feet and faced her again. He laughed, a mix of a purr and a meow and dipped his head in respect, his ears erect. Clearly this was no fool. He closed in carefully, in a light-footed combat stance, his tail providing exceptional balance.
â€śAh, â€ś Captain Sterling thought, â€śThis one won't be suckered again. Time to play for keeps.â€ť And so began an epic battle between two expert combatants. Hith'an was one of the most feared fighters on Dosad and had never lost a challenge in his thirty years. Captain Sterling, though nearly a decade older had won many full contact tournaments against fighters from across the galaxy. At this level, fights are either over very quickly or they drag on endlessly until one person either makes a mistake, or injuries or bad luck simply overwhelm them.
Sterling's fight was one of the latter. After almost half an hour of combat, the two elected to take a rest break for water and to treat some of the more obvious injuries. The Dosadi mid-day sun and high humidity were brutal â€“ Hith'an was panting for all he was worth and Captain Sterling was dripping sweat and blood. Desoto-Cortez fussed as he tried to staunch some of the deeper gouges with a med-kit. Two of her fingers were broken and she was showing a stunning selection of bruises across her chest, belly and legs. Sterling chuckled, â€śHa, the lad's in nae better shape! But bugger, he knas wa' he's abou'.â€ť
Indeed, on his side of the ring, Hith'an's tail was hanging limply from a broken vertebra, one ear had been torn off almost entirely and one side of his skull was fractured, the swelling beginning to distort his vision on that side. Several teeth were missing and he was spitting blood.
Another 30 minutes and another break. And another. And another. The gathered Dosadi were nearly ecstatic â€“ no challenge had EVER gone on so long or at such a level of expertise! Both fighters had passed on strikes at their opponent after a slip and fall â€“ both had conducted themselves with the utmost courage and honor. The warrior cats were astounded that someone so small, so weak, and so lacking in natural weapons as Captain Sterling, could face their greatest champion at all, much less for such an epic battle! Stories of this match would be told for centuries.
Finally, an exhausted, overheated Hith'an made a mistake. His attempt at a grapple that would have held on a fur-covered Dosadi instead slipped neatly off the blood and sweat-slick Sterling, and she quickly took advantage, grabbing two fistfuls of forearm-fur and locking his arm into a painful bar while wrapping her legs around his throat and neck. As his other hand came up and began raking deep, bloody gouges in her legs, she leaned backwards with everything she had left, hearing the bones in his arm splinter and seconds later, he passed out from the choke.
Releasing him, she stood weakly and said, â€śBaws, I shouldna don' tha'.â€ť and collapsed across him.
A short while later, she regained consciousness in a Dosadi medical bay, next to Hith'an and a crowd of onlookers. Unlike the match, it was nearly silent â€“ she thought she heard purring. Lt. Desoto-Cortez was getting more nervous by the minute; The landing party was badly outnumbered and in close-quarters and he had no way of judging the aliens' mood. The Emperor had flatly refused his request to beam back to the Defiant to provide medical care for the Captain.
Trying to focus her swollen eyes she asked, â€śOch, Lewtenant, wa' happened?â€ť before he could answer, Emperor H'Rath asked, â€śCaptain Sterling. Why didn't you kill Hith'an? The victory was yours. The battle hard-won.â€ť
Even groggy, exhausted, and in pain, Heather Sterling was aware of the stakes. â€śNae. The lad fought better than any I've met on a dozen different worlds. With courage, honor an' skill ta spare. Were I ta kill 'im, I'd lose the chance to face 'im again.â€ť The howls were deafening and it took a moment for Desoto-Cortez to realize that the Dosadi weren't about to attack.
From that moment on, the Dosadi would be steadfast allies of the Federation. The names 'Heather' and 'Sterling' suddenly became popular names for Dosadi kittens. Over the years since that first contact, Dosadi units served with Star Fleet ground forces, aboard their ships, and often as mercenaries or proxies when the Federation needed force applied, but with political deniability. The Federation went to great lengths to maintain their image as the shining knights of the galaxy, but sometimes dirty work needed to be done.
Most of their technology was Federation supplied or derived from Federation designs, but with a unique Dosadi flavor. For instance, their starships didn't use Federation terms such as 'aft' and 'port' instead preferring directional referents such as 'north' and 'east'. While they did use colored uniforms to indicate a crewman's position and role, there were subtle differences. Wings of fighters were given colors and their maintenance crews wore coveralls with colors to match. Rank was indicated by symbols on the shoulders â€“ again taken from Federation patterns. Each step in rank went from no stripes to a single bronze colored broken stripe, to a solid stripe to one solid and one broken all the way up to the 5 solid gold stripes of an Admiral or Marshal. Crew stripes were in bronze, officers in silver, and overall commanders in gold.
The respect with which the Dosadi held the Federation â€“ especially the Earth-Humans (they never did quite trust the Vulcans) led to many Dosadi weapons systems being named after ancient human weapons or warriors. Some of that was calculated flattery of course â€“ but even that was based in respect and a genuine fondness for the tall, nearly bald primates.