By: Bart "Burner" Read , Fighter Pilot , [NPC]
Dr. Alyssa Caitlin Northrop, Chief Intel Officer, [PST]
Keighlee Alexi, Engineer , [NPC]
M'Ressha Mikaht, Fighter Pilot, [RNPC]
Matthew Mason, Prisoner, [RNPC]
Maxine Lucinda Tapert, Computer Specialist, [PC]
Samantha Carter, Security Officer, [RNPC]
Stardate: 58209.01 1300
The young female engineer entered the staging room. It was the first time she had ever been involved in a mission like this. She didn't know why Silvio had picked her.
She looked around and saw some faces she recognized: the intel officer, Alyssa Northrop whom she understood to be leading the mission and Sam Carter from security. She also recognized the computer specialist, Maxine Tapert. Her sidekick Krystal was visibly not present.
There were also 9 marines and another man, as well as an assortment of equipment.
She approached Northrop and saluted, "Ensign Keighlee Alexi reporting for duty Ma'am."
While Alyssa herself was no secret agent, she'd survived in similar worlds long enough to know that there were certain things one did not do when you were trying not to attract attention. Saluting was one of those things. "Ok Ensign...I'm going to tell you this one time only. If you want to make it through this mission in one piece, you will not salute me or anyone else on this mission again. Understood? You see...that draws attention to us and that might just give people the idea that we're not who we say we are."
The brunette looked at the others. "That goes for all of you...and triple for you Marines. If we keep our heads in the game....we'll all make it home." She'd kicked back into Professor mode now, "You lose focus in this, even for a second, and someone will get hurt. No ranks...we're just people."
Taylor's dark sunglasses hid a rather impressive eye roll. The thought of saluting her had not even crossed his mind. He and his men knew the rules of covert ops all too well, probably better than the intel officer who commanded them. He glanced at Beck and the rest of his unit, but made no reply.
Keighlee wasn't expecting a reprimand. She immediately had doubts about her presence on this mission. She was an engineer, not some covert operative.
"I understand." she said somewhat meekly.
Maxine looked over at Northrop as she made her little speech but didn't seem to be paying all that much attention to it. She caught the basics and that's all she needed. She adjusted the backpack that held her personal computer and rechecked to make sure that she had everything she needed. She'd been on one other mission with Northrop, but had seen next to nothing of the woman while it was in progress, so she really didn't know her at all. Matter of fact, she really didn't know any of the people on this mission. At the very least it should be interesting.
Beck winked at Taylor's glance and like the other Marines, checked his gear. Even though they weren't in uniform, each one of them carried a full compliment of covert op gear disguised within their seemingly normal garb.
Northrop straightened her jacket and gave her own backpack one last check just to make sure everything was there. It was. Both of her Phaser pistols were in place...though she was still getting used to the replacement. Despite being an exact copy of the original, it felt off somehow. Out of balance. Alyssa had attributed that to being in her head....that she felt guilty for having lost the weapon in the first place...being that her father had given her the pair: a matched set and perfect in every way.
Just like the rest Sam was checking her equipment and zipping up her jacket waiting for the others to finish so that they could depart.
"Max....you have everything you need? If there's anything else you need...now's the time to say. We're all be relying on you to get our credentials to pass muster. If we can't get into the system....there's no mission."
"Yeup," Maxine patted her backpack and lightly touched one of the belt packs around her waist. "Don't worry, eh? I'll get into the system roight enough." Max answered.
Taking survey of the crew....there seemed to be one person absent. If she had to take him along...the least he could do was be on time. "And where the heck is Mason?"
"I'm on your six Ma'am" came the reply from behind Northup. Mason stood just inside the door behind her. "That was a most inspiring speech." Judging from the start of this mission it was going to be a long one, he thought.
Alyssa didn't bother to turn around. She didn't need a smart ass Turncoat. The archaeologist still thought the group was much too large.....but she had to play the hand she'd been dealt.
One Smart Ass, a squad of Marines, a green Engineer, a computer nerd and the Zion's Assistant Chief of Security. 'Quite the full house, eh Alyssa?' she thought to herself.
Satisfied that she had everything she would need, Northrop headed for the door speaking as she exited. "Shuttlebay One in 5. There is an unmarked shuttle waiting, which will bring us to the planet, there we will rendezvous with the Terellian Freighter."
Maxine stepped over to Keighlee and smiled at her. "I don't think we've met. I'm Max," she told the engineer as they started to make their way to the shuttle bay. She felt a little sorry for the girl after Northrop lit into her the way she did. Totally unnecessary too as far as Max was concerned. "This your first away mission?"
"I've been on a couple of salvage operations, but never anything like this." She tried to smile, "I feel a bit out of my league."
Sam couldn't help but smile, Alyssa could be so subtle in reassuring a young crewmember who obviously did not have the degree of experience everyone else did. Walking up behind Max and Keighlee Sam spoke softly but reassuringly, "You are in good hands, just stick with us."
Max glanced over at Sam and smiled. "Rioght," she agreed and looked back to Keighlee. "And don't worry about any blustering," she told the girl softly. "People do rioght funny things in stressful situations."
Keighlee nodded as she followed behind.
The team entered the shuttle bay there was indeed an oddly shaped shuttle waiting for them. It appeared to be in excellent condition. Markings on the outside indicated that it belonged the Triple Over Casino's shuttle fleet.
Two Marines stood outside the door.
"Ferengi," said Taylor as he actually lifted his sunglasses to the top of his head and studied the vehicle. "We are going on a Ferengi space craft?" He let his shades fall back into place.
"Been in worse, I suppose," Beck offered. "Well... Maybe not. Hopefully the thing will fly..."
Taylor approached the two marines standing outside the door. He recognized them as the two hot shot pilots called Burner and Blitzer. They stopped in front of the Caitian.
"Your ride is ready," said the large felinoid.
"This thing won't suck all our credits dry when we walk inside, will it?" Beck asked with a joking grin.
Burner chuckled and nodded, "Its already cost me big."
Blitzer nodded in agreement.
With all occupants onboard, the Ferengi craft hovered and left the shuttlebay.
Everyone was quiet as starlight shimmered and gleemed on polished surfaces. One of the marines came and sat next to Sam.
"How long is this going to take?" he asked softly.
"Not that long, but long enough to get tired of looking at each other." Sam replied leaning back.
Keighlee leaned forward and looked at Carter. There seemed to be a lot of tension in the air she thought to herself as she settled back.
Blitzer looked over at Burner. "You going to fly the first shift?"
Burner looked back at Max and then again at Blitzer. "You go ahead. I have it all under control. He adjusted his seat the best he could. It was configured for a Ferengi and to say it was uncomfortable was an understatement. "I'll call ya if I need ya."
"Thanks," said Blitzer patting him on the shoulder as he stood up.
He walked toward the back of the shuttle and sat down by Max.
"'eh Kitty," Max spoke softly and grinned at him. "'aven't seen you in long while. I'm glad you're 'ere," she told him.
"It's good to see you too," he said with a smile. "I'd offer to get you something but I don't have enough latinum."
"Eh? Y'need latinum to get us something?" Max asked.
"Yeah, Ferengi replicators... you have to pay to use them."
"Greedy little buggers," Max snorted softly. "'ow about I 'ack in and disable that function?"
He looked around, "I don't think anyone would mind."
Maxine grinned and gave him a wink. "A'roight then. Always up for doing my share. You comin, Kitty?" she asked Blitzer as she got up and made her way to the replicator where she proceeded to take off the access panel.
"No surprises there," whistled Blitzer as he rapped the metallic alloy that protected the system.
Several of the marines chuckled.
Blitzer turned toward the other passengers, "Any ideas?"
Sam, who had been checking if everybody had been strapped in correctly chuckled.
"Mind if I give it a go Sir?" she said and walked towards the replicator.
"Hmmmm... I think we need some serious surgery here. To bad doc Dane aint here. Better step back." Sam said with a grin on her face.
"Uhhh...." Maxine blinked when she saw the drawn weapon and hurriedly scrambled back out of the way.
Then Sam took her phaser and fired.
BWAMMMP. a lot of smoke filled the compartment and Sam grinned as she noticed the startled look on Max's face.
"Sorry bout that Ma'am, but ferengi equipment sometimes need a hard hand."
"Roight." Max commented.
"Hey!" Burner shouted form the pilot's seat. "I'm gonna have to pay for that."
Blitzer knelt down and scooped up some of the latinum slips that spilled out of the device's vault. "This should cover it," said Blitzer holding up the some of the booty.
Suddenly an alert sounded, a recording of an angry alien spoke. Blitzer looked up at where the sound was coming from. "Anyone know Ferengi?"
"I'm not very fluent in it." Sam responded, " but it says something like that the damage will be deducted from the next profit. "
Alyssa coughed at the acrid smoke that now filled the shuttle from the phaser hit. She waved her hand in front of her face....placing the PADD she was reading down in her lap. "Was that really necessary? I mean...we've got an Engineer aboard."
She could only hope that the group wasn't going to be that heavy handed with everything on this mission. If they did....it was going to make things very difficult.
"Well then... Guess my expertise wasn't needed after all, eh?" Maxine commented as she looked from Sam to the handful of latinum bars Blitzer was holding. "I'll take a pizza if you're buying, kitty," she smiled a little and went back to her seat.
"Sure," said Blitzer pawing away the smoke. "Aw, its all burned out," he said pointing to the darkened display.
"Perhaps I can help," said Keighlee, getting up to take a peak.
Blitzer opened a near by compartment which contained emergency supplies and components.
Keighlee inspected the damage. "Its just an overloaded EPS relay."
"One of these?" asked Blitzer holding up a device.
Keighlee laughed, "no, that's an electrostat discharge tap. Over there," she said redirecting him with a pointed finger, "Yeah..."
After a few minutes she stood up, "I think that will work. But it is my first time with a Ferengi replicator."
The unit powered up and immediately began soliciting items for sale.
"Its all yours," gestured the engineer to Max.
"Don't need me," Max told Keighlee with a smile. "I think the Ferengi's are buying," she motioned to the latinum slips that had spilled out of the machine's vault when Sam blasted it with her phaser.
Sam looked a bit guilty and grinned at Keighlee. "I guess I made a bit of a mess."
Keighlee just smiled at Sam and nodded, "phasers can do that..."
Sam turned to Max. "I haven't seen your sidekick lately. Is she alright?"
"Yeup," Maxine nodded as she returned to her seat and stretched out her legs, crossing them at the ankle. "She's not very... low key y'know?" she asked with a grin.
Sam grinned back. "No thats true, but then again thats what makes her unique. Besides you can adjust her programming right?"
"It's not quite that easy," Max told her. "She's a complicated AI program with an even more complicated Avatar program. It's the Avatar program that's not so low key. It's very complex with miles and miles of code."
"Is it difficult to learn that?"
"Well... Not for me," Maxine smiled. "Coding is just... very precise and can be.. tricky. It's a matter of getting lines and lines of code to work together into a finished product. It takes a LOT of time and a lot of attention to detail. Minute detail."
Sam laughed again and wrapped her jacket a little closer around her. Not only was the Ferengi shuttle old and battered but apparently they didn't give a hoot about the heating either. "I don't think I would have the patience for that Ma'am." Sam answered. "Took me some time to get used to Witmore's sculpting class and that has got me patience enough.
Soon the conversation faded and the shuttle became quiet as everyone settled in for the journey. Burner looked over is shoulder at his crew mates. Many of the marines pretended to be asleep, but Burner was certain that they were away and running the mission details over in their minds. He noticed Sam Carter passing the time with a deck of cards. Blitzer and Max talked quietly amongst themselves.
Burner glanced at the damage they had done to the replicator. He now understood why Mok had wanted to prep the shuttle for them before they left. Burner had told him to forget it and took off. The poor Ferengi had not had the chance to collect his profits.
For the remainder of the trip Burner turned his thoughts to how he would make good on his deal to fix Mok's problems with Quark. He had just about worked out the solution when his sensors indicated that they were approaching their destination. "We are 5 minutes from the space port," he announced. "Get ready," he said. "Our orders are to stop, drop, and leave, so make sure you have all your things."
Tucking away her cards, Sam grabbed her backpack from the storage locker and handed both Max and Keighlee theirs. The shuttle, ever so quiet just a few seconds ago, now it was bustling with soft noises.
"Thanks," Maxine nodded and got ready to be 'dropped' at their destination. Whatever the heck that meant. She had visions of Blitzer tossing her out the airlock and her landing on her ass. "I'm ready," she announced.
Burner guided the shuttle through the atmosphere of the planet and touched down at a small dingy space port. He shut down the shuttle engines and opened the door.
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