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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 6

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.

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 6

The hot, humid air of the dilithium mine sucked my energy. I slung the bucket of waste rock into the crusher, pausing only long enough to wipe my face on my dirty sleeve.

Fredericks tripped over his own feet, spilling his bucket across the tunnel. The guard kicked him. Herring picked him up while I scooped the rocks back into the bucket and dumped it for him. The guard grumbled and shoved us towards the mining face.

Fredericks stumbled badly, barely walking with the captain’s support.

“We have to move tonight,” I whispered once we were past the guard.

“The three of us don’t stand a chance yet,” Herring whispered over Fredericks’ head.

“Another week here and Fredericks won’t need rescued. Maybe not even that long.”

“I’ll be fine, sir.” Fredericks tried to walk by himself. Herring caught his arm before he fell on his face.

I grabbed Fredericks’ other arm. “I’ve got enough wire and small crystals hidden to rig a bomb. It should distract them long enough for us to get up the chute to the surface.”

“I don’t like it,” Herring whispered.

“I know you don’t but what other choice do we have? They have to have communications. We break in and send a message. If Delphi works the way you say it will, Bradley should have control of the Voyager. He should be somewhere close.”

“I know all that. I just don’t like the plan. I need more intel.”

“You aren’t going to get it.” I shifted Frederick’s bucket to my own shoulder. It clanked against mine. “I’d like a full squad of marines and the weapons to back them up. We’ve got some stolen wires and dilithium crystals too small to be marketable.”

“You’re sure you can make them explode?”

“I just need a power source and five minutes.”

“And I thought you only knew how to cook.”

We reached the rock face. Piles of crushed and broken rock littered the tunnel. We let Fredericks sit while we scooped all three buckets full. I picked out three more tiny crystals, tucking them into my pocket as I worked.

Herring squatted on his heels, watching Fredericks. “Tonight, then, after the guard shift change.”

I nodded, slinging the full bucket over my shoulder.

The day crept by, marked only by the shouts of the guards and repeated trips from the crusher to the rock face. Fredericks staggered beside Herring. Those who collapsed disappeared with the guards. Herring kept him on his feet, I hauled his bucket of rocks along with my own.

The guards finally herded us into the inactive tunnels, locking the gates after delivering supper.

The three of us crawled into our corner. I picked at the stale crust of bread I’d managed to grab before the other slaves took the rest. They were mean and tough, they had to be to survive the dilithium mines.

Herring gave his crust to Fredericks.

I shifted rocks away from a small crevice. The pile of stolen wire inside was pitifully small.

“You’ve got about an hour,” Herring said.

“I need a distraction so I can get into the power box near the gate.”

“I’ll pick a fight with the Klingons.”

I glanced at their group while I twisted wires around crystals. The five Klingons had been in the mines only a month, two weeks longer than we’d been there. They stayed to themselves, mostly. No one dared approach them. They radiated anger and menace. Even the guards kept their distance.

The Klingon leader caught my eye. From the glitter on his torn tunic, he had to be high-ranking. He strode across the tunnel to our nook.

“Starfleet?” His voice was deep, almost a growl.

“Captain Herring of the USS Voyager.” Herring stood. The Klingon towered over him.

I surreptitiously shifted the wires and crystals under my leg.

“You are planning escape. We wish to escape, also. I am Hruk’Tal of the House Tu’Garath. My ship was captured by subterfuge by these honorless Fellucian pirates.” The Klingon spat into the dust. “I shall return and avenge my honor.”

“I’ll settle for getting out alive,” I said.

Hruk’Tal turned his glare on me. “It is better to die with honor than to merely live.”

“You die, then, and I’ll survive.” I twisted wire around another crystal.

“She’s useful, and she does have honor, of a sort,” Herring spoke quickly.

“I have heard tales of you, Captain Herring.” Hruk’Tal turned his attention to Herring. “Our warriors speak highly of your honor. Though our people are enemies, we both seem to be caught in this trap.”

“This is the time to put aside enmity. Perhaps extend an offer of alliance?” Herring smiled his polished smile as he held out his hand.

Hruk’Tal deliberately ignored the outstretched hand. “Until we are free of this place, we shall work together.”

“Then let us plan.”

“There isn’t much to plan,” I said. “We blow up the gate, then we run for the lift and beat up anyone who gets in our way. We get to the surface and find a communicator. Steal it if we have to, then signal Starfleet. After that, it’s a matter of waiting.”

“There is a Starfleet vessel waiting?” Hruk’Tal lifted his eyebrow skeptically, a very impressive expression with his ridged forehead.

“There should be,” Herring answered. “If Vasha and Delphi work.”

“Not Bradley?” I twisted another wire into place.

“On my honor, Hruk’Tal. You shall be given an escort to Klingon space if you help us win free.”

“On your honor, I accept your terms.”

“On three, you need to start a fight so I can set these up.” I waved the handful of cracked crystals. “I just hope it works.”

Herring smiled at the Klingon and his warriors. “Three?”

“Three.”

“You miserable, rotten excuse of a Klingon!” Herring shoved Hruk’Tal.

The tunnel went silent, the other slaves watching in horror as the slender captain attacked the Klingon twice his size.

Hruk’Tal spat a Klingon insult. It sounded like a very large cat hacking up an extremely large and juicy hairball. He allowed Herring to push him to the center of the tunnel.

“Come on, Fredericks.” I grabbed his sleeve in one hand and my crystals in the other.

We slipped around the edge of the crowd gathering to watch the Klingons smear Captain Herring across the rocky floor. They shouted worse insults, pushing and shoving each other. Several of the spectators got stepped on and joined in the fight. Within moments, they’d started a riot.

“Hold these.” I pushed crystals into Fredericks’ hands.

He nodded, eyes wide. He kept up against the side of the tunnel.

I grabbed the bars of the gate. “Hey! They’re slaughtering each other in here! You have to come!”

The guard I shouted at took one look at the fight inside and swore. He shouted for his friends to come help. They shoved their way through the gate, leaving just one outside.

I twisted wires to the metal of the gate. The wires for the lights ran right outside. I tugged one loose. Half the lights died, plunging the tunnels into gloomy twilight. I jabbed the loose end of the power cable under the bare wires wrapped loosely around the bars of the gate and the crystal.

“Duck!” I grabbed Fredericks, pushing him back to the wall.

The crystals spat sparks before exploding. The entire gate collapsed. Dust filled the air.

Hruk’Tal and his Klingons charged the opening, guttural war cries adding to the noise and confusion. They fired weapons at the guard still standing outside. He collapsed.

I hauled Fredericks after them, Captain Herring taking rear guard.

We ran for the lift. The lone guard didn’t stand a chance against the Klingons. He fell at his post. Hruk’Tal grabbed his weapon, tossing it to me.

“Inside, now!” Herring shoved the lift door open.

We crowded on and started it moving, up towards the surface.

“Get down and hide,” Herring ordered.

“We do not hide!” Hruk’Tal shouted. “We are Klingons!”

The five of them shouted a war chant.

The lift jerked to a halt. We hung fifty feet below the surface tunnels.

The Klingon war chant died. They traded looks.

“Climb, for your honor!” Hruk’Tal leapt to the cables holding the lift. He swarmed up, the others on his tail.

“Come on, Fredericks,” Herring lifted the other man to his feet. “We’re almost out.”

“I hate climbing,” I muttered as I followed them up the cables.

We paused at the sound of weapons firing.

“That’s a Federation phaser!” Herring said. He climbed faster, leaving me to keep Fredericks moving.

The sound of fighting faded as the two of us reached the top, crawling over the edge.

“Quartermaster Stevens and Ensign Fredericks? I’m Commander Carroll of Section 37. We have the Galileo standing by.” Commander Carroll pulled me to my feet.

Another officer in Starfleet uniform helped Fredericks up, escorting him out of the mine.

“Sorry it took us so long to track you down,” Carroll continued. “The Fellucians have an entire navy on the border.”

“So, you’re here to rescue us?”

“Not exactly,” Carroll said. “The Galileo can’t take passengers. We’re here to help you steal a ship from the Fellucians. Admiral Williamson is expecting you to bring it to Starbase 14.”

We caught up to Herring and the Klingons at the entrance. The planet outside was a howling mass of swirling snow and freezing cold.

“The supply ship is due tomorrow. With the help of your new friends, we’re taking it.” Carroll smiled, like a manic chipmunk.

“And who will fly it?”

“We will. The Galileo has a new unit that will allow us to operate the ship remotely. We just need you on board to keep things running. We’ll be in touch the entire time. Special ops Warner and Taylor will see you have the proper equipment.” She marched past me, out into the frigid wind.

Hruk’Tal threw his head back and howled defiance at the storm.

“Rabid Klingons and gung-ho Starfleet ops.” I shook my head. What happened to my nice quiet retirement? I shouldered the rifle stolen from the Fellucians. I was a cook, not a marine.

I was also freezing, but at least we were out of the mines.

Red light streaked over our heads to explode against the mountainside behind us.

“Take cover!” Carroll shouted as rocks rained down.

We ran into the blizzard.
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