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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 4

This is just for fun. Any resemblance to people who work at the space center is intentional, although these characters aren't really them. Any resemblance to an actual mission is your imagination.

Aleta Clegg.

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 4

LeGrange swore as he knocked his head against another pipe fitting. “I hate these tunnels.”

“That’s because you’re a marine, not a skinny engineer,” Fells answered.

“Quiet,” I whispered. “Sound carries too well through these conduits.”

Thumps sounded from farther down the conduit. I froze. LeGrange and Fells tried to draw their phasers. The repair conduits were slightly too small to allow it.

The thumping stopped. My heart pounded while we waited.

Three deliberate thumps echoed down the conduit. I grinned and thumped twice fast, then twice slow.

“No fighting room in here,” Fells complained in a harsh whisper.

“I think I’ve got my phaser free,” LeGrange whispered. “Move over so I have a clear shot.”

My thumps were answered by five rapid ones.

“They’re coming! Quartermaster, you are in the line of fire. You are not trained for this. Move!” Fells shoved my boots.

“It’s Turner,” I answered him. “But just in case it isn’t...” I squeezed to one side.

LeGrange passed his phaser to Turner. I tried to melt into the side of the conduit when Turner poked it past my hip. I didn’t want caught in the beam.

Turner cautiously stuck his head around a bend. “Stevens?”

“It’s me.” I nudged LeGrange’s phaser away. “And two trigger happy marines.”

Turner crawled closer. A thin woman crawled after him, her black hair straggling loose from the bun on her head.

“This is Vasha, comm tech,” Turner introduced her.

“Comm tech? I’ve got an idea. Head back to that intersection,” I called over my shoulder.

LeGrange and Fells muttered curses under their breath as they inched backwards through the repair conduit.

The intersection wasn’t much bigger but it allowed enough room for the five of us to crouch together and whisper plans.

“Vasha, how well do you know the comm system?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I’m better with the main computer. I was computer specialist for a small ship for three years before they transferred me here.”

“Even better.” I rubbed my hands together.

“What are you planning? I hate it when you smile like that. You scare me.” Turner wiggled into a more comfortable position.

“Can you access the main computer?” I ignored Turner, for now.

“If you can get me into the captain’s quarters, yes. What do you want me to do?”

“Shut down the ship, lock them in the cabins, whatever you can dream up. LeGrange, can you get her there?”

He nodded. “It would be easier with at least five men. Those corridors have to be guarded or this Del’Brugado is a complete idiot. Which he wouldn’t be since he did manage to take over the ship from Captain Herring.”

“Not the hallways, LeGrange. Take the conduits. They’ll get you to deck four, near the forward shield generators. Be careful from there.”

“Don’t tell me my job, Quartermaster.” LeGrange’s tone was sharp. “Come on, Vasha. Stay close behind me.”

The two of them crawled down the conduit.

“They’ll be caught,” Fells whispered. His hand fondled his phaser as if it were a security blanket.

“Not if you give them something else to think about. Think you can stage a raid on the armory?”

”By myself?”

“You’re a marine. And you like big weapons, don’t you?”

A smile spread over Fells face, spelling doom for any marauders that weren’t paying attention.

“The two of us will get to the auxiliary controls and see what havoc we can wreak.” I pointed at Turner. “I know a few commands.”

“I don’t,” Turner said. “How about I see how close to the brig I can get? Maybe I can override the force fields.”

“And maybe you’ll get shot.”

“I didn’t know you cared, Stevens.”

Fells rolled his eyes. “You two lovebirds finish your fight, I’m leaving.” He crawled away.

“Go see what diversion you can create,” I said. “And try not to get caught.”

I didn’t wait to see him leave. I crawled through the conduit leading to engineering.

I climbed down the ladder to deck thirteen, listening for any movement below. The engineering control panel at the bottom of the ladder was for emergency use only. I figured this was definitely an emergency. I reached the bottom of the ladder and crouched, scanning the hallway outside the nook.

Two guards, wearing blue and yellow uniforms, talked at the end of the hall. They both carried weapons that looked far more deadly than phasers.

I pushed the button to release the controls. Air hissed as the panel slid open.

“Did you hear that?” One of the pirates turned, scanning the hall.

I ducked under the panel, scooting as far into its shadow as I could.

The intruder alarm screeched to life.

“Deck eight! They’re after the armory!” The two pirates sprinted for the nearest lift, leaving the hall clear.

I cautiously stood. The nook left me exposed to anyone walking in the hall. I quickly scanned the controls. Not as much help as I had hoped, these only controlled backup power systems. I yanked all the isolinear chips free, stuffing them into my pockets. I had to find a different node, take out the main reactor if I could.

I glanced up and down the hall. Still clear. I headed for main engineering at a run. If I moved fast enough, I could chuck something into the reactor core, pull the iso chips, something that would cripple the ship.

Faint thuds echoed through the ship. Eight, ten, more thuds followed quickly.

The alarms changed tone.

“Warning, life boats have been launched. Warp drive has been activated. All hands brace for warp speeds.” The main computer’s voice echoed through empty halls.

The floor vibrated as the engine power built.

I swore and ran faster. Wherever Del’Brugado was taking us, it couldn’t be good. If he’d launched lifepods, maybe he’d ditched most of the crew. And maybe they were dead. I couldn’t think about that now.

The door to main engineering slid open. I skidded to a stop. Five pirates leveled weapons at my head. I reversed course and ran madly down the hallway.

Boots pounded behind me. The guards shouted as they gave chase.

“At least you got your diversion,” I muttered as I slammed the controls for the lift.

Not fast enough, I thought. I darted into a cross hall, heading for the maze of the ship’s life support systems.

A shot ricocheted off the bulkhead. I dodged and slipped, skidding on my knees into a door.

One of the pirates grabbed the back of my uniform, dragging me to my feet.

“Not fast enough,” I said as he shook me.

“Who are you?”

“Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster. I don’t know my serial number.”

The pirate smashed me against the wall. “Search her for weapons then lock her in the brig with the others.”

The pirates shoved me through the ship to the brig. They lowered the force fields just long enough to push me inside. I staggered to a stop.

“If it isn’t the troublemaker,” Captain Herring spoke. “Enlisted personnel were supposed to be evacuated.”

“I think I missed the lifepod,” I answered.

Captain Herring sniffed. “You’ve spent more time in here than anyone else. Do you have any ideas how to escape?”

I fingered the isolinear chips still in the front of my uniform. “Maybe.” I noted who was in the brig. LeGrange lay on a bunk, nursing a bloody nose and black eye, but there was no sign of the others I’d sent. “Are they holding anyone else?”

“Major Yancy, main engineer, and three of his crew are in engineering.” The captain’s voice was crisp.

“Then they haven’t caught up with Turner or Vasha yet. We may still have a chance of escape.”

Herring nodded. “Then do what you can, Stevens.”

I pulled an iso chip from my suit. “Anyone here know how to open the force field generator panels?”
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