Book One - Chapter Ten
Old friends and a false start.
When Be’nen and I arrived at the depot launch area, I knew I was in trouble.
Og had the shuttle in hand, and a shuttle load of supplies sitting next to it waiting to be loaded.
I knew then that all of it would not fit into the shuttle, along with the twenty five crew personnel that showed up.
I greeted Ron, Pete and Don, and told them how glad I was to see them as I made my way up to the shuttles’ cargo ramp.
I said good morning to Mr. Og, and the two Dabo girls, and introduced Be’nen to everyone there.
“You did a good job Mr. Og, but I’m afraid we are going to need another shuttle,” I decried.
“It looks like most of my advisor group showed up for duty”.
“I need to see if you can get another Type 9 cargo shuttle for us”.
“Better make it a 9B troop transport if you can. We can always fold up the seats to get this cargo inside it, and still have seating room for some of our salvage team”.
“Yes sir,” Og replied. “Will we have to move our stuff now too? Who is going to help us load all this stuff? Who will pilot this one if I have to pilot the other one”?
“My new administrative assistant, Ms. Tash, and our new medical tech, Dr. Tehk, can pilot for me in this shuttle.”
“We can have the Recovery and Salvage teams travel with you. We will all help you load. You get started on the supply comm. looking for one, and I’ll get this party started here.”
“I started welcoming, and introducing my teams, when Staunn arrived in a base taxi, with what looked like two storage lockers full of medical equipment.
I went over to help her lug them to the shuttle. I then asked her to set up shop in one of the berths at the rear of the shuttle, and get prepared for crew screening.
Back at the ramp I formally welcomed all members to the Star Fleet Advisor and Assistance Group (SFAAG) – CIV to the Bajor Provisional Government, Bajoran Ministry of Commerce, Salvage and Recovery Operations.
“I know that you have probably met each other, but I want to introduce my team leaders and the crew roster as I see it now”.
“I also would like the team leaders to assemble their crew together as I read off the list. If there needs to be any changes, get to me when we get to Moon base”.
“This crew list will be our working roster for now”.
I read out my list, it is as follows:
Command and Operations
Michael Thomas CWO (Ret) Chief Advisor
Civ SF 14 Chief Engineer
Ben’en Tash Civ SF 14 Admin Asst
Stunn Tehk, MD Civ SF 5 Med Tech
Mr. Og Civ SF 6 Supply Tech
Sunbeam Dabo Civ SF 3 Supply Clerk
Teacup Dabo Civ SF 3 Supply Clerk
John Hirst Civ SF 5 Steward
James Mathys Civ SF5 Steward
Peter Murray CPO (Ret) Flight Engr
Civ SF 9 Maintenance
Donald Murdoch CPO (Ret) Flight Engr
Civ SF 9 Maintenance
Dwane Barkley Civ SF 5 Engr tech
Mona Freeman Civ SF 5 Engr tech
Larry Comet LtJG (Ret) Conn Tech
Civ SF 6
Nichelle Bushong Civ SF 6 Computer Spec
Alesia Campbell Civ SF 5 Computer Tech
Mrs. Diane Murray Civ SF 5 Computer Tech
Ronald Thornton CPO (Ret) Salvage Tech
Civ SF 9
Dwane Barkley Civ SF 5 Engr tech
Mrs. Jenny Thornton Civ SF 5 Engr Bee Opr
Mrs. Carol Murdoch Civ SF 5 Engr Bee Opr
James West Civ SF 5 Recovery Spec
Joshua Bopp Civ SF 5 Recovery Spec
David. Thomas Civ SF 5 Demo/UXB Sp
Reed Dunn Civ SF 5 Demo/UXB Sp
David Jeffers Civ SF5 Armorer
Robert Good Civ SF5 Decon Spec
I then re-introduced Ms. Be’nen Tash as my admin assistant, and Dr. Staunn Tehk, as our med tech, which got me a big hug from Staunn, and cat calls from the crowd.
I also announced that she was Be’nen’s daughter, and yes she was a real doctor and that she can only hug me, and her mother, and no other members of the crew.
That got a skeptical chuckle form the crowd.
I pointed out that Mr. Og, our supply specialist, with his two assistants, the Dabo girls, would try and find us another Type-9 shuttle to load all this extra equipment in.
I explained the reason for all the rush was that we had a Monarch class merchantman, owned by Klingons; that I really wanted to get my hands on to use in our mission, before they changed their minds.
I warned my team that they were probably ex-pirates and to be on their guard, even if they are supposed to be our allies and co-workers.
If anyone had a real problem with it, now is the time to let me know now, because we are going to Luna port to assist them getting refitted enough to meet Federation safety standards, and you will be partnering with Klingons to get the job done.
There were a few grumblings from the team; Klingons weren’t popular
I also said that the recovery section would fly in the other shuttle that Mr. Og procures for us.
“Right now I want all of you to in-process with Ms. Tash and Dr. Tehk”.
“It’s to make sure you are entered properly in our team roster, and recorded in our mission computer log”.
“I do want to see my old friend Larry Comet and Com-Spec Nichelle Bushong as soon as they finish in-processing.”
I asked Be’nen to start the in-processing on her portable comp link through the shuttles computer, at one of the dining tables.
I would setup on the other table, in case anyone asks a question, like, where is my bunk?
We were all going to be packed in like sardines until we got aboard the Monarch.
I then went, and helped Staunn reshuffle her medical equipment around in one of the sleeping berths.
The berths were set up with a sliding door for privacy and contained a berth similar to the seating booth with table setup, in the main passenger area.
To make a bed, the table was lowered to fit between the two seats. Then the seat cushions were reshuffled to be made up as a bunk, just like and road bound RV.
I asked her if everything is going to be ‘okay’.
“No problem Michael,” she replied. “I’ve got all the prelaunch medical requirements from the Post Dispensary; , they were most helpful.”
“I will give all personnel, a baseline medical scan, including you. I have the latest medical tricorder, scanner, and portable medical terminal, so I am all set”.
“Please don’t go anywhere, because you are my first patient. Would you please help me plug in all this stuff where it needs to go?”
She said: “Thank you,” after I crawled around the berth searching for electrical outlets.
After we got her set up, she wanted me to take all my clothes off so she could give me a “complete physical”.
I said: “No Staunn, we don’t want to scare the crew. Just scan me with the tricorder and enter my data from my Public Health data chit, like everyone else.”
“Anyways after last night, if I had any physical defects, you would have already pointed them out to me.”
She laughed and quipped that I, “never let her have any fun”.
After my scan I exited fast and went to see how Be’nen was doing and to see if I could help.
Be’nen was doing okay, then asked me where my pers-comp was.
I said it was in my luggage somewhere.
She recommended that dig it out because until we get on the Monarch, the shuttles’ on board computer may have trouble handling all the demands of the crew; especially when we may be have to work with a Klingon computer, that may not be fully compatible with Star Fleet issue.
An issue we would all be working on when we got to the moon.
Shortly after that, Staunn came forward to where we were sitting and announced that all the exams were done, except for her mother, and Mr. Og and his crew.
I said, “Thank you Doctor, would you please sit in the pilots’ seat and start our pre flight checklist and file a flight plan with Base Operations. Include a second shuttle in the flight plan for Mr. Og and the Recovery Section.”
She then reached over and put her arm around my shoulder and said; “Yes sir, I’ll do it right away, sir.”
Then she smiled, patted the top of my head and sashayed forward to the pilots’ seat.
That bought out more hoots from the people lounging in the shuttle, like: “boy, are you a special patient or what!”
I looked at Be’nen and she wasn’t smiling. I guessed she didn’t get a chance to talk to Staunn yet.
“Alright you people don’t you have things to do? Get some of your gear stowed and dig out your pers-comps.”
“You need to start down loading info on that Monarch Class Merchantman.”
“She is a lot larger than the J-Class, that you all are probably familiar with; this baby is almost twice as big, and really old.”
“It’s like a super freighter that is almost as large as the Grayson tender, and you aren’t going to be on it that long before you have to start training Bajorans. So try to get up to speed on it as soon as possible.”
“The same goes for the Grayson tender.”
“Remember they have to relieve us after our temporary duty on that thing. You can just down load the material that you need to do your own job.”
About that time Og called in and Staunn put it on the speaker.
“Captain, I found you a shuttle. It has been sitting for awhile and I need a power assist module to get her running.
If you have one there I’ll have to return to the landing field to get it. Also my Dabo girls say it smells funny.”
“Og", I answered, "there is a power assist module in this shuttle that I do have here available."
"Bring your car back here and pick it up.”
“When you return to the new shuttle, take the Recovery Section, or at least Mr. Thornton, with some helpers, to help you get it over here to the launch area."
"We'll continue to work on it here.”
“Okay Captain, I’ll be right over."
I called Ron over and told him about the shuttle situation, and that Og was coming over to pick up this shuttle’s power assist module.”
He could go back with Og and take as many of his crew that he felt he needed to help him to get the shuttle running, and bring it back here for servicing.
Ron confirmed my request with an “okay”, and relayed the info to his team, then selected three people to assist him.
I summoned my two newly joined stewards that had showed up, Hirst and Mathys.
I wanted them to check the shuttle’s food packs, and to verify any additional dietary requirements for Ms. Tash, Dr. Tehk, Mr. Og and the Dabo girls.
I also wanted them to secure field rations for the second shuttle, when it was ready, and to check out what they could secure for liquid refreshments that were probably needed for the second shuttle.
It would be lucky if the new found shuttle had a liquid coffee dispenser.
They said they would get right on it, and both went directly to Be’nen to submit purchases from base supply, well it was a start. I then returned to my post in the shuttle.
When I sat down at my table Larry Comet came over and sat down. With him was The Computer Specialist, Nichelle Bushong.
Nichelle was a bean pole of a woman. She looked to be flat chested, blond haired, with a severe banged, helmet style hair cut.
She had an expression on her face that looked like she had just sucked on a sour pickle. She also seemed to me to be wrapped up real tight, and was wearing a uniform that I didn’t recognize right off. It looked like a flight attendants uniform.
I shook hands with both of them, and welcomed them aboard.
“Long time no see Larry. The last time I saw you, was when you took a commission assignment, on a bridge crew somewhere.”
“Yea I did Mike. One of the bigger mistakes in my life, it almost got me killed.”
“How was that Larry? I didn’t know you were in any action.”
“I wasn’t,” Larry replied. “When I took the commission they took me off the engineer and tactical ships, and put me into transportation and supply vessels”.
“Talk about boring, I had more underlings than I knew what to do with. All it seemed I had to do was check my rosters daily to see if everyone was still alive”.
“All the work was done for me, I became a supervisor; how’s that?”
“It would seem like that would get you far enough away from any action, and not get you killed.”
“That’s all well and good under normal circumstances, Mikey, but being raided by pirates kind of changes your perspective.”
“Pirates! They weren’t Klingon were they?”
“Hell I don’t know for sure Mike. I was asleep at the time the alarm went off”.
“They blew out a bulkhead before I could get to my station and I was buried under debris, out cold as a mackerel”.
“When I came to all the women were gone, except for Nichelle here”.
“Six men were dead, about the same badly injured, and except for my bump on the head (a mild concussion), I was okay, but the ship had a couple of holes in it big enough to drive a work bee through them, and was venting atmosphere”.
“If it wasn’t for the emergency bulk heads activating, we would have all been killed.”
“I didn’t find Nichelle for about six hours. I still don’t know how she crawled underneath her com station”.
“There is maybe just enough room for a child in there. She was really jammed in there,” Larry chucked.
“It wasn’t funny, Larry,” Nichelle spoke up, “and at least I’m still here.”
“I can only tell you Mike, that it was a Klingon ship, a Bird of Prey type. A big one too, it had to be, to haul away the cargo that we were hauling”.
“If they were Klingons inside of those suits, no one left alive was going to open the cargo bay extension doors, to take a closer look. It just sawed off the tug lead, and flew it away with a tractor beam.”
The only record we had left was an outside visual.
“Nichelle had to work like a dog to get us a rescue signal together.”
“After that I quit Star Fleet, and just took commercial short hauls. I’m all alone now, and have just been coasting from one job to another, like I heard what you were doing before this project came up.”
“I saw your name, and called Nichelle to let her know where I was going, because we kept in touch, and low and behold, here she is too.”
“This isn’t just an ash and trash job, Larry,” I explained. “We’re going to salvage what we can out there and let the Bajorans put humpty dumpty back together again”.
“Nichelle, you didn’t quit your job for this one did you?”
“No Sir, I was sort of semi retired. I too quit Star Fleet after the incident; only I took a position with the colony fleet service."
"I thought Star Fleet was a little screwed up, try shepherding about a thousand colonists.”
“No sir I was ready to move on. Larry just planted a little seed in my head. I’ll probably regret it though, I took an awfully big pay cut to take this job;” and she was chuckling over that remark (?).
“Well welcome aboard anyways, to the both of you.”
“Larry you used to be the go to guy to get things done ‘special’, are you still the same?
“I don’t know Mike, try me.”
“Well Larry we got us a Klingon Monarch Merchantman for hire at Luna port. That ship normally has a crew of sixty one personnel and they almost flat landed it on the moon, with about twenty five people to run it. I think it’s a prize ship.”
“What do you want us to do?”
“When we get on board I want you to find out its history Larry, without them knowing about it. Can you do it?”
“Gee Mike why don’t you just let me call a few people I know, and we can steal the whole thing for you.”
I thought it was funny, but Nichelle just glared at him.
Maybe she knew something that I didn’t know.
“No Larry, remember were back in Star Fleet now, you have to play by the rules.”
“I can get any information you need Mr. Thomas,” spoke Nichelle. “Getting it is the easy part but getting it off the ship is the hard part. A unsecured transmission would be detected.”
“Not if we had the ships command codes Nichelle,” said Larry, “or better yet if we implanted federation command codes, we could then link in, and it would be as if we were just another terminal on the Monarch. Think you can do that without anyone guessing, Nichelle?”
“Let me think on it Larry.”
She then asked me; “Do you plan to park the shuttles in the Monarchs shuttle bay?
I told her yes, and that I plan to use the converted shuttle as my command post, and onboard residence, until we reach the Grayson.
“Very good, sir,” was her reply.
“Larry, we will have to modify the auxiliary power cable; that would be the easiest way. It would be impossible to trace a transmission signal through a power coupling. Of course you would have to establish the com link Larry.”
“Don’t you worry Mikey, by the time we are thru, you will have a secondary bridge set up in this shuttle enough to fly that Monarch yourself, if you had to”.
“I learned a few tricks in my time. I think it would take a Vulcan security officer to find out what we are doing, and as I don’t think they would have one aboard, they probably will never find out what we are doing.”
I felt a couple sets of eyes staring at the back of my head, but I didn’t say anything. Instead I told Larry, and Nichelle, that we were on the same sheet of music, and thanks.
I then asked Be’nen how things were going,
She said, “Very well sir. I do have to go to base personnel to pickup our new ID badges as there are no facilities to produce them on board. I would also like to pick up a supply of civilian com badges; badges enough even for the Klingons”.
She would use Og’s car when he returned, I suggested.
“Maybe Mr. Comet would care to assist me when the time comes,” she asked?
I could take a hint, and asked Larry if he would help Be’nen; he agreed.
Staunn notified me from her pilot’s seat, that Og finally got the shuttle up and running and they were on their way back to the launch area now.
I said thanks and went out on deck to wait for them.
When the shuttle landed the first thing you noticed was all the grime on it. It must have sat out there for years.
When Og, and Ron, came out they both looked a little grim.
“She needs a good cleaning and airing out Mike,” said Ron.
“Come over here and take a closer look.”
The girls were right it did smell funny.
Inside the shuttle’ cargo bay; , where the fold down passenger seats were positioned; Ron pointed to two big areas where new repair patches were at one time sealed in, one on each side. It had been hit clear through it, and hit hard.
“It looks like one of those salvaged shuttles from Wolf 359, after the battle with the Borg.” Ron explained.
“It must have been used as an escape vehicle when it was hit in the cross fire. I think that’s why she smells so gamey.
It was probably filled with people and when it got hit like that, it probably spread everyone all over the inside of this thing like a coat of paint.”
“They rebuilt her of course, and cleaned her up, but it takes awhile to get the smell of all that disinfectant out. That’s probably why she sat out there so long, and then they forgot about it.”
“Og found it stored out behind the old Type-7 shuttles. You still want her?”
“Yeah Ron I do. Please take it over to the wash rack and clean her up, then get it serviced”.
“She’s going to be your work platform when we get to the Grayson, so take a few women along to make sure it’s fumigated enough to meet their standards.”
“You don’t need to tell them what we think happened to her. She’ll do, after all, this is salvage and recovery operation isn’t it.”
“Sure boss,” replied Ron. “I’ll get right on it. If you don’t mind I’ll take the whole crew.”
“You do that Ron”
The Dabo girls drove Og’s car up to the shuttle, and came out still holding their noses.
“Mr. Thomas we need a shower. That shuttle really stinks and we feel really icky.”
“Okay girls wait a second.”
I called out for Be’nen, and Larry, that their ride was here and asked if they would also take the girls some place to take a shower.
“Yes sir,” Be’nen answered, “I can do that, and by the way I have contacted transit housing and made overnight accommodations for everyone. It is now almost four PM and none of the crew has had any lunch, and that galley, on board this shuttle, is little more than a snack bar.”
“The people here are falling all over their selves, sir. If I may I also suggest we inform the launch terminal that we will have a twenty four hour delay, so we can get all this equipment loaded and get a fresh start tomorrow.”
“You know that second shuttle is not really ready to travel, and I think you need some place to have a group meeting in a little more favorable setting.”
“You‘re right Be’nen,” I replied, “and I apologize too. I’m in too much of a hurry. Make it so Be’nen.”
“I’ll inform Staunn, and the rest of the crew. See you when you get back.”
I returned to the shuttle and made the announcement and it seemed like they were all cheering.
I felt like a dope.
I told Staunn to inform the terminal of the delay and told everyone that I wanted all that equipment on the deck to be loaded on shuttle number two before we quit for the day, and where were my two stewards Hirst, and Mathys?
They had disappeared looking for rations.
When I sat down at my table Staunn came over and sat next to me and asked me if I was going to have dinner with them tonight.
I said we would have to wait and ask her mother when she got back.
Staunn started put on a glum face, so I said that if there was no problem with her mother I would be glad to have dinner with all of us, in the mess hall.
Staunn just kind of looked at me and then started to laugh in her huff, huff way.