UES Enterprise. En route to the Rexus system. Warp 3.79
22nd April 2151.
Door bells of one description or another were pretty much standard on spacecraft. It had been so long since Travis Mayweather had heard someone physically knocking on a door that for several seconds he couldn't recognise the tapping noise.
He was lying, fully dressed, on his bunk, eyes closed, hands tucked behind his head. It had been a gruelling day. After his shift he'd spent several hours in the main computer room, going through past records of the Rexus system. If there were potential difficulties ahead, he wanted to be ready for them. Afterwards he'd gone down to the gym for a quick but intensive work out, before staggering his way back to his quarters.
He wasn't surprised to be alone. His room mate, Drake, worked a different shift to him anyway. He was also much more garrulous than Mayweather, and would spend most of his free time with friends in the obs. dome or in someone else's quarters. That suited Mayweather just fine.
Now who would be knocking on my door at this time of night?
he thought. More to the point, who would knock at all, when you can press a button?
Perhaps someone angry, or agitated, or even exuberant. Pounding on a door would be typical for someone in a heightened emotional state. Except this knocking was quiet, controlled, even subdued.
Maybe someone who didn't want their presence noted. The ships computer routinely noted all uses of electrical power: even something as minor as a door bell would be recorded. Of course, unlocking the door would also be noted, it was an electronic locking system, but he knew enough psychology to recognise that people rarely behaved sensibly.
So who would come visiting, late at night, hoping to leave no record of their presence? For a few moments he allowed himself the luxury of imagining one of the women on board, smitten with his charms, had been unable to keep away. Maybe that Lt. Moshiri. Or Professor Partridge. Or both.
It was an idle thought, a momentary amusement, and he pushed such ideas away. He could guess what this was about.
Still with his eyes closed, he reached out and triggered the intercom, another possible trace in the computer. "Who is it?".
A moments pause, then a woman's voice. "We're friends."
"If you want Drake he's not here at the moment."
Another pause. "We know. We want to speak to you."
This is it!
he thought, heart suddenly racing. He took a deep breath to steady himself. Briefly he considered the possibility that a group of UESPAs had decided to mete out their own form of justice for the Jacobs incident. But that wasn't their style.
Well, maybe that Japanese officer, Lt. Sato. More than once he'd caught her giving him the evil eye, as if daring him to start something. No chance of that. He'd heard about her sparring sessions, and had no desire to get into a fight with her.
And if it were a group, seeking safety in numbers, it was damn foolish of them to announce over the intercom that there was more than one. Better to claim to be alone, then rush en masse
, administer a sound beating, then scurry away into the shadows.
Of course, that was assuming they behaved sensibly. He snorted.
"The doors open." he said, hitting the unlock key.
There were three of them, all in military black. Two Lieutenants. One a tall, pale woman who could have stepped out of a recruiting poster, the other a nondescript man. The third visitor was a nervous looking crewman, glancing around himself constantly. They didn't give their names.
"Ensign Mayweather. No, don't get up. This is just an informal visit. May we sit?" said the woman.
He gestured to wall under the entertainment console, where the folding stools were located.
There was an awkward silence. Nervous man, wringing his hands together, was the first to break.
"So...I hear Captain Archer hit you..."
"You heard wrong. I tripped, banged my head. That's all."
The nervous man withered under Mayweather's tone.
The woman tried a different tack. "I wish I could say this was a social call, but I'm afraid that isn't the case. There is something very important we must discuss."
Mayweather drawled "I'm all ears."
She glanced at both her companions, before leaning forward. "You are not alone in your...dislike of the current situation. UESPA simply should not have control of this ship."
"What are you proposing?" he sneered. "Mutiny?"
He sat up, giving her his full attention. "Go on."
"Currently, we are on a mission that must succeed. This upcoming trade agreement with the Vulcans would be of great benefit to Earth. Nothing must be allowed to prevent it."
Mayweather thought about this, and nodded slowly.
"Afterwards, though, the Enterprise will continue on it's mission for UESPA. Tracking spacial anomalies. Examining bacteria on some god-forsaken moon. All right, I'll admit it's got to be done. But not with this ship. Not with a military
ship.". She jabbed a finger for emphasis.
He grunted his assent.
She leant back. "I'm sure you know, Enterprise will revert to military command in times of emergency. What they've not said though is that, if UESPA show themselves unable to operate this ship efficiently, they'll have to give it back to us anyway.". She shot him a significant look.
"Sabotage." he said simply. His Martian accent pronounced it 'sabotadge'.
The woman nodded slightly, giving him a tight lipped smile. "Nothing major. Nothing blatant. It must look as if the UESPA people simply can't cut it. If it's obvious that we are responsible, the politicians would look more favourably on them next budget review."
"Not to mention a court martial for everyone involved." said the nervous crewman.
Mayweather said nothing, waiting for them to continue.
After a few moments the woman went on. "There are...things we can do, little things, that can leave us in the clear, but reflect badly on the UESPAs. But we must be subtle. We had already started some of them, but now we are on this mission we've put everything on hold."
She gave the nervous man a glance. He leaned forward. "We've got friends all over the ship. Bailey in navigation, Konwiki and Smith from gunnery, Teal in..."
He cowered as Mayweather slapped his hand loudly against the bulkhead. "What the hell's wrong with you? You an idiot or something? You start blabbing the names of everyone in your conspiracy? Dimwit."
From the corner of his eye he saw the nondescript man give the woman a significant nod.
So. I'm being tested.
He regarded them for a moment. "And what exactly do you want me to do?"
"Nothing, Mister Mayweather."
He raised an eyebrow.
"In order for our little campaign to work, UEMA must appear completely blameless. And here we have a problem. You."
"Ah, I get it. I'm not exactly known for my helpful and friendly attitude."
"Precisely. Forgive my saying this, but you have already cast UEMA in a bad light. The UESPAs don't trust us. They're always wary when we are around. It makes it difficult for us to do what has to be done.
"Quite frankly," she continued, "it would be in our best interests if you weren't on-board at all. No offence."
"Well, you sure know how to make a fellow feel welcome."
She smiled. "Oh, don't be like that. I have a proposition for you. Do your job here on the Enterprise to the best of your ability. Stay out of trouble. Let's get through this mission in one piece. Afterwards you can put in a request for a different posting.
"Yes, I know you are here on General Kaplasky's orders. But she's not the only officer with an interest in this ship. You'll get a transfer. Given your record, it'll probably be a step down, or at best sideways. But it'll only be temporary.
"With you out of the way, we can go ahead without the UESPAs quivering every time they see this uniform. Sooner or later, Enterprise will be back with it's rightful owners. And you may well find yourself back on board."
The woman stood. So did the two men, taking their cues from her. "Just think about what I've said. It really is in everyone's best interest."
"Not the UESPA people's." said Mayweather, with a wry smile. "I'll think it over."
They headed for the hatch. The nondescript man, who hadn't said a word, touched the woman on the shoulder. She turned back to Mayweather.
"That reminds me. You knew Hernandez from the Sun Tzu didn't you? Do you think she would be ...sympathetic to our aims?"
He shrugged. "Really couldn't say. Never knew her that well. We didn't socialise much. She's very by the book."
The woman looked disappointed. "Probably no worth the risk of contacting her then. Pity. It would be useful to have her on our side.
"At any rate, think about what I've said. Needless to say, this should be kept between ourselves. Goodnight."
Mayweather got up, pushed the hatch shut, and locked it.
That went pretty well, considering.
He noticed his hand was shaking. He stared at it for a second, then dashed for the bathroom, getting to the sink just as the nausea got the better of him.