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The Picaroon

Posted on Sun Aug 27th, 2023 @ 11:36pm by Commander N'Garzi Zora & Petty Officer 2nd Class Henry Washington & Lieutenant Commander Michael Ki & Lieutenant Kevan Dash & Lieutenant Sturgis O'Connell & Ensign Ziahli Lorel & Lieutenant JG Nayisa Wrea & Senior Chief Petty Officer Thral Skrit & Petty Officer 1st Class Emon Imon Plex Vexx & NVeid tr'Rehu

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Heeni Range Asteroid Belt
Timeline: MD08
2856 words - 5.7 OF Standard Post Measure

"I'm picking up a faint ion trail," Henry said from the front of the small ship.

Their acquired ship was moving through the asteroid field with the elegant manoeuvrability that the Athena would never have been able to achieve, one of the perks of being around the same size as a Runabout. Though the inertial dampeners and stabilizing gyros weren't nearly as good, Zora felt every movement the ship made in the pit of her stomach. "Only one?" She asked.

"Yes Sir," Henry replied. "I'm sure it's from the Gamma section, it looks like they entered the asteroid field after the other two." He was used to handling alien ships but even he had to admit that this one was one of a kind. Every detail on the vessel had been upgraded or redesigned using a different form of technology, and not all of the various components wanted to speak to each other. He was grateful for the extra maps of the region and greater sensor detail though, it explained how the Pirates were able to successfully use this region of space without constantly crashing into the rocks.

"Engines at full," Zora said as she swallowed a lump in her throat which she prayed wasn't more than nerves at finding the crew safe. "O'Connell keep looking for the other two modules. Dash, I want all available tactical information on the pirate vessel, it might come in handy if the Athena needs help."

Sat immediately to the Trill's left, Zia glanced upwards to catch his eye as the order was given and nodded once, transferring date from her terminal across to his.

"Bringing it up now," Kevan nodded.

"I am picking up a faint signal, but there's enough interface that I can't get a full reading," O'Connell responded. "It may be a distress beacon. If we adjust our heading to two one zero mark forty we may be able to get closer and discern where the beacon came from."

"Changing course," Henry said.

Michael Ki sat with his legs crossed and belted into his seat in the rear of the craft. This was the point in the mission where Doctors had little to nothing to do. However, if they were to find injured or sick people he would be called into action. At the moment he was content to allow his thoughts to wander and ponder the experiment he had been running weeks before.

Sitting next to Ki, NVeid closed his eyes for a moment, his hands loosely resting on his lap. It might appear as though he was taking a nap but he was still fully awake. He was listening to the voices around him, while trying to calm his own raging thoughts. As a telepath, he couldn't drown out the feelings of others even if he could prevent reading their thoughts. "What happens if we can't locate the modules?" He asked slowly, not quite sure he really wanted to know.

"Then my friend I believe I will have a lot of paperwork to do." Ki replied referring to the amount of missing in action reports he would have to file for the missing crew.

"I have the beacon," Henry reported. "It's from the shuttle, it looks as though they were taken prisoner by one of the pirate's support ships."

Zora poured over the data as it came through on her screen. Annoyingly, Leiko hadn't included any sort of useful information regarding the nature of their distress which meant he was being negligent or he didn't have time. Knowing Xavier, it was the latter. "Dash, any sign of the shuttle on sensors?"

"Not directly, Commander," Kevan replied, squinting at the screen. "There's a helluva lot of interference out there."

"I am picking up a different ion trail," Henry said. "I believe it's from the ship that attacked the shuttle, at least it has a similar energy output as this one and the one that attacked the station a few days ago."

Zora thought for a second, she could either follow the Gamma section or the possible location of the shuttle. The Gamma section was heavily armed and better equipped to deal with an attack, the shuttle was small and most likely in more danger. "Follow the alien ship," she ordered. She tried to push out of her mind that they had seen no trace of the Alpha or Beta sections. If they were destroyed, you would have seen something! She reminded herself. "O'Connell, we need to make the ship that has our people believe we're one of them, what are your thoughts?"

"'ang abaat" Thral interjected. "Wotchu doin Guv?" he asked, stepping up into the front of the ship, his antennae desperately twitching around in an effort to keep balance as the little ship ploughed through the asteroid field. Noticing the looks he had prompted, he quickly pressed on - "alls I'm finkin' right, is if we're gonna wanna look like a bleedin' jolly roger, we migh' as well do it 'owz we like it, and abush the fakkers on our own slime 'n germs?". A distress call, was ultimately what Thral was thinking, to lure the ship back where they could engage it on their own terms.

O'Connell stared at the Andorian who he had specifically asked to stay not that long ago and wondered if he would learn to regret his decision. What on earth were the words that had just come out of the man's mouth? "Slime n' germs?" He repeated as his mind racked through what he could have possibly meant. It didn't take long for the proverbial lightbulb to go off, though. "You said ambush, is that correct? He may be on to something," O'Connell looked to Zora. "We set up a trap. We can make the ship look disabled and send out a distress call that mimics the frequencies and characteristics of our pirate friends. If we plan it our correctly, they won't know we're not friendly until it's too late."

Thral quirked his antennae at the Chief with just an ebb of frustration. “Ain’t that word for bleedin’ word what I just said?”.

"Of course," O'Connell calmly half nodded. "Just providing some clarifications in case everyone wasn't familiar with the particular terminology which you used. I have to admit that 'slime n' germs' isn't something I've heard often." Or at all, he thought.

Zora smiled, "thank you for translating Lieutenant. I love the plan. Let's do it."

Up until now, Lorel had managed to concentrate through the thick haze of tension but there was something about the engineers' exchange that drove her to distraction. Eyes squeezed shut, she thought it best not to elaborate on what the Andorian's inner monologue resembled, or the fact that the resulting telepathic slurry was arguably less coherent than what he chose to verbalise. She rubbed the pad of an index finger against the pressure point just above her eyebrow and tried to refocus.

Nayisa liked to think she was good with accents. She knew several languages, and depending on the assignment, she could get by with a faked accent. But whatever the hell came out of the Andorian's mouth left her stumped until the other engineer translated. Sitting in the seats closest to the front of the shuttle, the intelligence officer watched Zia for a moment while she mulled over the information provided to the shuttle. As she racked her brain to try and find a way to be useful, Nayisa couldn't help the sense of deja vu from being in a shuttle and unable to contact the mothership. At least her last mission didn't include the slow and steady onset of motion sickness.

"Timing will be essential," Nayisa eventually offered. "We don't know the full capabilities of the enemy. Assuming..." there was a momentary pause as the intelligence officer hesitated to say what was undoubtedly the source of tension in the shuttle, "... the ship is comparable in power to the Athena, it may struggle with short-distance targeting."

"We're not going after the mothership just yet Ensign," Zora said. "Let's get our people back first and then we can worry about the Athena. O'Connell and Skrit, make the ship look damaged, they need to take the bait. Dash and Lorel, you're my tactical. Once we're in range I need everything you can give me. Ensign Wrea, rig up a false distress call. Make sure it's only received by the support ship, not the mothership."

"errr 'ere guv, gimme 'and will ya?" Thral nodded towards Mister Sturgis, as he crouched down and pulled up what seemed to be an auxillary cockpit service hatch. As he did so, he chuckled the words "hehe cockpit service 'atch"; looking to his bemused colleagues, he clarified "well that's what she said aint it?" he looked around... "no...?". Sighing he squinted at the labelling on the various conduits, "nevver mind. Anyway". He pointed at a thick blue pipe; "Foron?" Thral questioned of Sturgis, without it really being a question; "Emitta matrix must be somewhere between 'ere 'n the plasma coolant junction..." he pointed aft, vaguely, though he knew he meant about two thirds of the way down the cargo area. "'av a butchers 'ook will ya luv?" he asked the Ensign stood nearby. "Be an 'exagonal access 'atch daan on the floor over there". If they could essentially smash up the emitter matrix, the calibration of the thoron containment field would be in disarray, leaking thoron radiation which would further confuse the enemy sensors. Harmless - indeed beneficial in some cases - to most humanoids, thoron had been the bane of sensors for centuries.

Sturgis merely raised a confounded eyebrow at the Andorian and made a mental note to tweak the universal translator to account for whatever this weird broken English was. The only word he really caught was 'thoron'. "Thoron leak? Good idea." He said, hoping he'd caught enough of what was said to be on the right track. It was certainly a good strategy to fool sensors. "I'll reconfigure the primary power coupling to make it look like we're crippled."

Nayisa, despite acknowledging the Commander's orders, didn't really want to move with the threat of motion sickness looming over her head, and she tried reaching out to the nearest console with the hope that she could do it from her seat. The console was just out of reach, and she briefly pouted before unbuckling herself to take the step-and-a-half to the console. They had left Nic on the station for his safety, but not before they had gotten some useful information from him about the pirates. Information that Nayisa was able to use to create a rather convincing distress signal. "The false distress signal is ready," she reported, her hands on the console in an attempt to maintain some sense of direction. Deal with it, Wrea! she thought to herself. She was not about to give in to a little turbulence.

"Send it," Zora ordered. She turned to Washington. "Continue to follow the ion trail for a few thousand kilometres then cut the engines, let inertia do the rest." Zora turned to the rest of the crew, "everyone prepare yourself."

"I think I have the ship on sensors," Henry reported, a good twenty or so minutes after the ship had cut its engines. "Bearing two-two-eight, mark seven-six-one." He briefly fired one of the maneuvering thrusters so they didn't go splat on a rock and the ship banked sharply to starboard.

"O'Connell, your radiation mask is working I hope?" Zora asked the engineer.

"Oi 'ang abaat" Thral piped up, his antennae twitching with annoyance. 'His radiation mask... the Andorian internally grumbled. "My foron mask is workin' tootily fruitily fank you ma'am..." he replied, looking to Mister Sturgis who he was sure was due another bit of winding up. "The leftenant 'ere is doin' a fandabbydozy uncle bob bein' my assistant, aintcha guv?" he grinned.

Sturgis simply nodded at Zora, and chose to ignore the Andorian's remark since the wasn't entirely sure what he had said anyway. He had already reconfigured the primary power coupling and the best he could do now was just as Thral said, assist him with the purposeful Thoron leak.

"Maintain radio silence," Zora said. "We only have one chance at this." She turned to the intelligence officer who looked as bad as Zora felt. The sooner they were off this ship the better. "Scan for our people."

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Nayisa gave a curt nod to Zora as she tried to focus on anything but the turbulence.

"We're at two-thousand kilometres," Henry reported, his fingers poised over the master reset that would fire the engines back up and bring the ship fully under his control again.

"Dash, on my mark bring main power online and then fire directly on their weapon systems," Zora said, watching the readout on her screen closely. "We want to disable and not destroy."

"Foron output stable" Thral read off. "They aint gotta loopy loo who we really are. Fun aint it darlin'?" he shouted out to the somewhat queasy looking Ensign over towards the back.

"Heh, sure..." Normally, Nayisa would match his energy, despite the effort to understand the engineer's accent. But she felt like she was losing a battle with her last meal. She was the acting chief, she felt like she had an impression to make and she sure as hell wasn't going to hurl over something like this, but at this rate it felt inevitable.

NVeid unstrapped himself and moved to kneel in front of the intelligence officer. "Do you require anything against the nausea?" He asked softly, "is it the turbulence, or the small enclosure of this vessel?"

Glancing down, she saw one of the medical staff on board kneeling next to her, then briefly closed her eyes as her stomach turned. "Yes please..." she answered back as quietly. She had her own stubborn side, but she knew when to ask for help, and this seemed like the right time. She still wanted to remain useful, after all. "It's the turbulence."

"I can give you something to deal with the nausea," NVeid said as he pulled out a hypospray and switched the vials from his medical kit. He pressed it against her throat, then patted her arm. "give it a few seconds, the nausea should clear then."

"Thoron radiation will only mask us to a point. Their sensors might be able to see through it if we get too close," Sturgis warned as the distance meter lowered.

"By that time we'll have the proverbial gun to their heads," Kevan retorted with a little grin, his hand holding steady over the firing controls.

Zora ignored the chatter around her and focused on her own readout, the timing of this was crucial. She had never considered herself a good tactician, preferring to use her words rather than her fists, but the stakes were too high and sometimes you just had to bloody someone's nose so they knew you meant business. The two ships were just under two-thousand feet apart, it was close but they had to make that first shot count. "Now, fire!" She said. She watched on the screen as multicoloured bands of light came out of their tiny craft and hit the pirate ship. There seemed to be a surge of energy from the enemy ship's weapons before all of their lights went out for a second, indicating they had lost main power.

"The ship is dead in the water," Henry reported. "And I'm detecting a Federation shuttle in their hold, it's ours."

Zora nodded. "Zora to Leiko," she said. She waited for a moment and then received a shake of the head from Wrea who was manning the communication systems. "Zora to Washington," she tried instead.

Henry held his breath, he wanted nothing more than to hear his wife's voice over the channel and when nothing came he felt a lump in his stomach that stopped him from functioning.

"Zora to Fenn," she said, trying for the third time. There was a moment of nothing and Zora was about to try the fourth and last person on the shuttle crew when the comm burst into life.

"We're a little busy right now," Teyo replied, phaser fire punctuating his heavy breathing. "But it's good to hear your voice."

Zora breathed a sigh of relief, at least someone was alive. "Status?"

"Conrad and I are rescuing Xav- erm I mean Lieutenant Leiko and Ensign Washington now," Teyo replied.

"You have eyes on them?" Zora asked, not wanting to assume anything.

"Yes Ma'am," Teyo said, the jubilation in his voice echoing the same that Zora and Henry were currently feeling in the pits of their stomach.

"Good make your way to the shuttle if you can, we'll cover your escape," Zora said as she nodded at Dash. If they try anything, shoot them again!

"On it!" Teyo said before the line went dead.


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