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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 8

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, desk slave for the space center Supreme High Commander of the Universe, and guest blogger

Personal Log: Adrian Stevens, Quartermaster - Entry 8

Del’Brugado spat curses as he retreated. “Take them!” He shoved his men our way.

They hesitated. Anyone with a touch of sense facing five angry Klingons would turn and run. Del’Brugado’s men had no sense. They muttered threats as they slowly advanced.

I raised the rifle and squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. The marauder grinned, showing a prominent gold tooth. I charged forward, slamming the rifle butt against his teeth. He staggered, holding his now bleeding mouth. One of the Klingons picked him up, tossing him into the bulkhead. He crumpled to the floor.

I switched my hold on the rifle, grabbing the barrel. Another marauder ducked Rakrr, picking me as the easier target. I swung the rifle, crunching the butt into his skull. He dropped.

Another one grabbed me from behind. I kicked, scraping my boot along his shin. He howled and jumped but he didn’t let go. I tossed my head back, cracking it into his chin. He swore. I kicked again. He grabbed my elbows, pinning them back. He lifted me off my feet. I wriggled like an angry cat, kicking and screaming insults, too angry to feel the pain.

Another pirate attacked me, thinking me helpless. I landed my boot in his belly. He reeled into a Klingon fist and went down.

The man holding me shifted his grip just enough I could slip free. I turned on him, clawing his face and kicking his shins. He retreated with his hands held protectively in front. Hruk’Tal clobbered him from behind. I kicked him as he fell.

“Small, but fierce.” Hruk’Tal nodded his approval.

“Duck!” I launched myself to the side as a marauder opened fire.

Hruk’Tal roared as the beam bit into his arm. The thick sleeve of his coat smoldered. He spun, fists and feet flying. The marauder disappeared under a heap of angry Klingons.

“Clear for the moment.” Herring’s crisp voice cut through the sudden silence.

Hruk’Tal lifted the limp marauder. “What shall we do with these?”

“Lock them in a storage closet.” I slapped the closest door control panel.

“Kill them,” Rakrr growled. He spat Klingon insults and kicked the nearest unconscious body.

“They may have information we can use.” Herring stroked his chin. “We lock them up for now.”

Hruk’Tal motioned the Klingons to gather the marauders. “We kill only in the heat of battle.”

They shoved the pile of limp bodies into the storage closet after stripping off any useful weapons.

“How do we keep them from escaping?” Rakrr asked. “I see no lock.”

“Like this.” I wedged a knife stolen from a marauder under the door controls, popping it clear. I twisted the wires inside until they tore free. “No one’s going through that door until they put those back.”

“I trust you know how?” Herring raised his eyebrow.

I shrugged. “We leave that to Carroll and her crack troops. Where are they?”

The ship rocked.

“The ship is under attack. Now is the time to strike!” Hruk’Tal slammed his fist against his chest. “Today is a good day to die.”

“Not if I can help it,” I muttered.

The lights turned red. Sirens wailed through the hall. We staggered as the ship lurched. Smoke billowed from vents overhead.

“Shields are down,” Herring observed.

“We shall take the bridge.” Hruk’Tal raised his head and howled his battle cry.

“What about Taylor and the control unit?” I asked Herring.

“The shuttle bay is just down the hall. With this,” he shouldered a very large phase rifle, “I should be fine. Keep them distracted, Stevens.”

“Come, small warrior.” Rakrr clapped his hand on my back almost knocking me over. “We shall avenge our fallen comrades.”

All five Klingons howled, a hair-raising chorus. They raised their weapons over their heads. I lifted the belt knife into the air and howled along with them. I wanted my own share of payback.

Someone shot a pulse of phaser fire into the hall. The six of us charged towards it, howling all the way.

Del’Brugado had at least fifty troops on the ship. It took the Klingons less than an hour to beat them all senseless. We left them locked in rooms all over the ship. Del’Brugado barricaded himself on the bridge. That stopped the Klingons.

“We cannot breach the doors,” Rakrr complained after a fourth failed attempt to beat his way through.

Hruk’Tal raised his hand for silence, cocking his head to one side. “They are starting the engines.” His forehead ridges deepened as he frowned. “Small warrior, can you open a door or just lock one?”

“I can try.” I edged forward, peering around the corner. Del’Brugado wasn’t above taking potshots at us if we showed our faces.

The twenty feet of hall stretched empty to the closed door to the bridge. I wiped a nervous hand on my leg and clutched the knife tighter in my other hand. The Klingons crowded behind me, pushing me into the open. I ran for the door, the Klingons on my heels.

I popped the cover from the controls, twisting the knife under one edge. The tangle of wires inside mocked me. I yanked a handful free. Sparks spat from the panel.

“That did not open the door,” Hruk’Tal said.

“I’m guessing,” I snapped. “I’m not an engineer.” I tapped the bare ends of two wires together. Nothing happened. I tried another pair.

“This is taking much too long.” Rakrr tried to wedge his massive hands in the door to force it. The surface was too smooth, too tightly closed.

I shoved a handful of wires into another tangle. Lightning danced across the panel. I jerked my hands back, not fast enough to avoid a shock. Smoke billowed from the wall. The door slid open just far enough for Rakrr to jam his fingers inside. His muscles bulged as he shoved it open.

Phaser beams caught him, tossing him backwards. His hair smoked as he crashed to the floor of the ship. The other Klingons charged inside.

I dropped to my knees next to his limp body. I wasn’t sure where to check a Klingon for a pulse. He twitched, muttering guttural curses. I patted his shoulder. If he was still growling, he should recover. Klingons were tough.

I dove through the door into the chaotic bridge. The Klingons were beating the bridge crew. Del’Brugado edged away from the battle. I slipped behind him.

“I really don’t like you.” I slammed the pommel of the knife into his head. Del’Brugado, leader of the Fellucian Marauders, dropped like a rag doll.

I yanked his boots off, throwing them through the door into the hall. I used his tunic and trousers to tie him securely to the railing. He glared as I finished, waking up enough to yank at the bonds. I waggled the knife under his nose.

“Nice underwear. I hope you don’t mind everyone seeing it.” I grinned at his angry scowl.

“You’ll never...”

I shoved his socks into his mouth and tied them in place with his sash. “I think we won and you lost.”

“We have control of the ship,” Hruk’Tal announced. “Victory is ours!”

I joined in the chorus of Klingon howls.

***

Admiral Williamson steepled his fingers under his chin. I shuffled my feet, unnerved by his measuring stare.

“A most interesting report,” he said after a very lengthy silence. “Am I to understand that you have been granted the singular honor of receiving a Klingon warrior name?”

I blushed. The victory party on the bridge of the captured cargo ship had gotten slightly out of hand. Del’Brugado would never forgive us for the picture we’d sent long range to every contact listed in the ship records. The Klingons appreciated the joke.

“Klingons have a strange sense of humor, sir.”

“They claim it was your idea. They wanted you to have the credit.”

“That was generous of them.”

“They also requested you be sent as the Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire.” Admiral Williamson leaned back in his chair, rocking slightly. “I am almost tempted to send you.”

“I don’t know the first thing about diplomacy. I know supplies and a ship galley.” Me? Ambassador to the Klingons? I’d start a war within five minutes of arriving.

“We found a polite way to refuse. Tensions are high enough without adding you to the negotiation table.” He tilted his head, watching me like a bird eying a juicy worm. “Captain Herring requested you as his quartermaster. You are assigned to the Voyager. The refitting is almost complete.”

The Voyager, flown by Vasha and the handful of crew left aboard, had shown up just after Commander Carroll finished installing the remote driver for the cargo ship. We’d transferred prisoners to the Voyager and set course for Starbase 14 with the Galileo and the cargo ship.

“I’m afraid the Delphi project will have to be scrapped, though,” Williamson continued.

“What was Delphi?” I asked. He seemed in a mellow mood, maybe he’d answer.

“An experiment in AI controlled ships. We haven’t got the bugs worked out yet. So, your job is safe. We still need humans to fly our ships and humans require food. You have six hours before the Voyager leaves drydock. And, Stevens, prepare for a long flight. Captain Herring is investigating the marauders. They are too well organized for pirates.”

His chair thumped back into place as he bent over his paperwork.

I saluted the top of his balding head. Quartermaster on the Voyager under Captain Herring. What would he ask of me on the next mission? I shook my head, unable to even guess.

***

The story will continue in a new private mission, War Games, for the Odyssey and Galileo. It should be ready to fly by summer 2010.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out some of my other stories on www.jaletac.com
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