Book One - Chapter twelve
The Monarch; a pig in a Polk?
During our flight to Moon Base Alpha I had another little meeting with the crew to be prepared for our meeting with the Klingons.
I asked Dwayne Barkley and Mona Freeman to take the pilot seats so Be’nen, and Staunn could participate. Don, Pete, Larry and the people with Mr.Og, in shuttle number two, were all included through our ships’ transceivers.
The first thing I asked was; “Does anyone speak and understand Klingon?”
Be’nen said that she could read some Klingon, and understood limited phrasing, like hello, goodbye, and certain other expressions regarding rank, and personal greetings; but she had only limited contact with Klingons, through their Federation Assembly staff.
Staunn said she also understood some of those phrases too.
Her present medical information she garnered from the Nellis dispensary, of Klingon physiology, was mostly done in Earth Standard English, with Klingon translation notes on their biology.
With her duties as Be’nen’s personal assistant, she had even less personal contact with Klingons than her mother.
Larry added that he had been monitoring Klingon transmissions, off and on, since his run in with the pirates that raided his supply ship.
He especially monitored transmissions while he was in the commercial service.
It was not his job, but he did it anyway. He thought Nichelle did too.
Through paranoia, or self awareness, call it what you may, he understood enough Klingon to give a fair translation; but he has never really seen, or spoken to, a Klingon.
Og said he had dealings with the Klingons, but had only used translators, sometimes with grave consequences. “The Klingons do not properly interpret the true meaning of Ferengi words.”
“I’ll bet,” I said.
Nobody else in the two shuttles had any clue about Klingons other than what they saw on the videos.
I asked Og to secure some hand translators, at least twelve for the principle crew, when we reach the moon.
I wanted Larry to see what he could do with our onboard computers so our com badges would work within the Klingon security protocols.
When we were granted permission, by the Klingons, to upgrade the Monarchs’ communications, he was to make sure a Federation translator was installed.
I didn’t want to have any misunderstandings, like our Mr.Og, and his Ferengi trading partners had.
Larry put a big smile on his face and said; “Don’t you worry about a thing, Mikey. Nichelle and I are way ahead of you on this. By the time we get to Bajor that computer will be spouting Klingon, Earth Standard, Bajoran and Cardasian, like a Harvard graduate.”
Staunn piped up, “Hey, I graduated from Harvard, will it sound like me?”
That got us all a small laugh.
Larry countered with; “Well I could make the food replicators sound like you if you want, and yes, we will include Ferengi too.”
We were still laughing at Staunn’s expense because of her recent expressions of exasperation at not getting satisfactory meals, or snacks, from the shuttles’ small on board food replicator.
She had a hard time getting replicated food that would meet her Ferengi taste.
When things calmed down a bit I asked Og to see if he could procure some Ferengi food replication programs from the trading stations on Luna port, or Tycho City.
That pretty much ended our intra shuttle meeting.
· * * * * * * * * * * *
About eighteen hours into our lunar flight, we were on lunar approach.
I asked Be’nen to request permission for us to orbit close to the Monarch so we could get a fly by inspection of the ship.
Permission was granted and we were given the coordinates of the ship’s present position.
An hour later we got our first look at the Klingons’ Monarch freighter, it wasn’t pretty.
The outer shell was showing at least a dozen patched over weapons hits.
Most of them were shaped to cover what looked like blast grooves in the outer hull. It indicated that an attack came from low on the port side.
The impulse cooler fin was half gone and just a little forward of the fin at amidships, you could see another big patch job.
That hit must have disabled the engine room, and probably wiped out the whole engineer crew.
How these Klingons got this ship to Earth space I couldn’t guess. I have to give credit to Kluge and his crew, I don’t think I would have tried to travel from here to Klingon space in a ship as bad as this looked.
The looks on Don and Pete's face told the same story to them too.
This ship wasn’t stolen from any active Klingon depot, or even from a decommissioning depot on it’s way to a reserve fleet station, she was procured when it was headed to the scrap terminal.
I directed both shuttles to make as many passes as they thought necessary to get a superficial scanning of the work that needed to be done.
There wasn’t a light showing on her. Luna port must have been the one who installed exterior marker signal lights and derelict beacons on her.
She was in bad shape and I felt like I had been sold a lemon.
When all the scanning was done we called Luna port and requested permission to land.
Permission was granted.
I then asked Be’nen to request temporary quarters for the whole crew, and a work site that we could use to park our shuttles in.
I also requested a meeting with Commander Hayes.
Be’nen then called me to her station and asked me to look at one of her scans of the Monarch.
There was a series of barely discernible numbers that she had found, and the tops of what looked like two S’s, on the one side of the liquid cargo shields.
On the opposite side were numbers that looked like 'i\iv'.
She showed me a close up of what she was looking at, pointed it out to me and the others.
I asked Be’nen what she thought it meant.
“I think Michael,” she explained, “those markings are what are left of a Federation Registry number.”
I surmise what we are seeing now on the side of the ship is SS _______ RIV XXXX.”
“I believe that is what is left of a contract Federation merchantman number; a ship manufactured at the Rigal IV, Merimar manufacturing facility, not a Klingon manufactured vessel”
“I also speculate from the other scans; the ship is a passenger ship or troop transport, maybe even a colony support vessel."
"You can see here on the interior scans that the top cargo hold was reconfigured for passenger quarters; at least most of the bulkheads are there.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” I said.
I looked around and Don and Pete were nodding their heads yes.
Nichelle turned white as a sheet when she heard that; and Larry was livid.
“Staunn, look to Nichelle quick,” I said. “Larry, are you alright?”
Nichelle had almost fainted, she went limp. Staunn had her sit down and gave her a stimulant.
“You got something to drink Mike,” Larry asked? “I could sure use one right now.”
“Okay everyone I need a crew confab right now,” I ordered.
“Dwayne, take the pilots’ seat and get Og on the transceiver. Be’nen, Don, Pete, Larry take a seat at the tables.”
Everyone shifted seats. I asked the table two questions; “Can we save the ship, and if so is it worth fixing, or should I just abandon the project?”
“She’s in rough shape, but the Klingons got her here”, Don suggested.
“She probably has only impulse drive, now. I bet she has no dilithium crystal left for her warp drive, and that we would have to procure one back on earth.”
“We do have to go back to Earth to pick up the extra crew, and shuttles, for the Grayson”, Don continued.
“It would be a lot easier for her to carry us all and our equipment, in one trip instead of shuttling stuff between Earth and Mars.”
“If we get a waiver for the flight to Earth, I think we could fix her up. Remember we're on a salvage and recovery mission; guess what our first project is going to be, boss.”
Pete agreed, but added the caveat; “We’re still going to need the Klingons to help. I don’t think we could do it by ourselves, and I don’t think Luna port is going to be big on support either.”
“In my opinion if we don’t move her, they will condemn her, and then send her on a one way trip to the sun, they won’t even try to scrap her.”
Larry looked at me intensely and said; “Nichelle, and I, can fix anything in our department, on that tub, Mike.”
“As far as I’m concerned that ship is ours, for the taking. I bet the Klingons have no papers at all.”
“When I get through digging around their computer, I’ll have her complete history right down to the draftsmen who designed her."
"I’ll get the electrical parts to repair her if I have to get Og to steal the lights from Tycho city.”
“Just you get me back to Nellis again, boss, and we’ll fix her well enough, that you would think like she was re-fitted in a space dock.”
Larry concluded with, “I say try it out, and make it work for us.”
Be’nen was sitting stoically with her hands folded on the table in front of her. I could almost hear the gears working in her head.
Be’nen started off; “Mr. Murdoch is right, and I’ve seen worse ships in my time, when I was with the Ferengi.”
“The problem with this ship is it is almost twice as large as a J-Type merchantman, it will involve a lot of work; that means labor”.
“I think it could be waivered to travel to Earth, once we have made a thorough on-board survey.”
“I think Mr. Murray is also correct. Michael, you will have to persuade the Klingons to assist us.”
“I also agree with Mr. Comet and believe they have no papers. Without papers they are thieves and pirates; confiscation of their ship is a real possibility. I think you will have the leverage you need if it comes to that.”
“I am surprised that the Luna port officials haven’t taken any action yet. I think they just want the Klingons off their base, along with their ship."
"I think they are happy that you are getting rid of their problem. After all you did offer to lease the ship sight unseen.”
That brought on a few whoops from the crew.
I got the impression that Be’nen was a little ticked off at me for a poor choice in judgment in this matter. Well se la vive.
“Okay, okay, every one let’s see what Mr. Og and the rest of his crew have to say.” I said
There wasn’t much discussion with them; I was just reminded that the recovery section had no work bees until we got to earth.
Getting repairs done on the exterior of the ship could be a problem.
They all agreed they wanted to try and get the Monarch up and running again. Professional pride I guess; that made me feel a little better.
Mr. Og said; “The Dabo girls were upset that I might have to go out and steal things to fix such an old ship, but I told them a Ferengi doesn’t have to steal anything, if he gets his bargaining chips in order.”
I replied.” Amen to that.”
I then ordered the shuttles to start their landing procedures for Luna port.
We were given permission to land at module number three.
That wasn’t too far from the headquarters section; it was connected to it in fact.
Evidently they didn’t have much repair service, or customs work, to do, for that matter.
I now had to get my ducks in a row, first to meet Commander Hayes, to discuss the status of the Monarch and then to meet the Klingons, to see if they wanted to cooperate.
One tough nut at a time.
When our shuttles were secured in the Luna port hanger module, we all took our personal overnight gear to the monorail, for transit into the headquarters module and the transit lodging area.
As to our quarters, luxury still wasn’t an option on the moon. All the rooms were ten by ten.
I called in to HQ and asked Commander Hayes’ office for an appointment and was told to come right over.
We were expected.
I asked Be’nen, Larry, Ron, Pete, Don, and Og to join me.
It was just a short trip on the tread way, with an elevator ride to the fourth floor.
Commander Hayes met us at the door and directed us to a meeting room.
He introduced his Adjutant Lt Darnell, his Chief Maintenance Officer, Lt. Commander Olaf, and his Chief of Security, Marine Captain Smith.
When we were seated , he asked is what did think of the Monarch?
‘It looks like a piece of crap,’ I thought, but I started with: “She’s in ruff shape, Commander. Just with our own scans, she looks like she’s ready for the scrap heap."
"What was your assessment when your own personnel boarded her?”
He replied; “Almost the same as yours. The hull has been crudely repaired, but it’s safe enough.”
“Lt. Cdr. Olaf will confirm that the electronic and internal communication systems are at best only at twenty five percent efficient.”
“There is no dilithium crystal left in the warp drive. The impulse cooler fin needs to be repaired or replaced. You probably noted that it was half shot away.”
“Yes sir, we noticed,” I answered.
“Can we get her to Earth? Will we need a waver?”
“Honestly Chief, I don’t think you need it. The Klingons got it here; so you should be able to take her to Earth. She does look like crap, but she’s solid.”
“I had Cmdr. Olaf do a thorough survey before I called you. She won’t qualify for Federation service, because of her age; but like I said she could meet your mission requirements, and I don’t blame you if you don’t want to take her. She’s a piece of scrap.”
I looked at my people and asked if they had any input or questions.
I asked Ron Thornton to start off.
Ron stated that we had a Type-9 Cargo shuttle to work with, but no work bees. “Is one available?”
“Also most of the material we brought was for bulkhead radiation protection upgrades, will we need it?”
“Ms. Tash thinks that the Monarch is of Federation manufacture. Can we trade for parts here on the base?”
Hayes replied; “I have available as many work bees that you need. If the parts needed are of Federation issue; then a supply turn in, and issue in kind, should be no problem. If they are non issue items, you will probably have to trade with suppliers in Tycho city.”
“I don’t think you will need the bulkhead upgrade for radiation, we didn’t find any abnormal readings.”
Be’nen brought up the question about the ships papers and the fact that the Monarch may be a former Federation company’s property.
“Are not the present owners’ pirates then? Why haven’t the Luna Port authorities confiscated the ship, and put the Klingons in custody?”
Commander Hayes kind of squirmed before he answered.
“Look Chief I can’t prove a thing about piracy, and yes she doesn’t have papers.”
“If I impounded her you would have to deal with Star fleet, and the judiciary. You would never see that ship in your possession, at all.”
“Besides that it’s a family that brought it here, what do I do arrest them all, including the kids.”
“Cripes they have an infant on board. I would have to turn them eventually over to the Klingon authorities, if they figured they stole that ship from their decommission yard, is my guess.”
“You know what the Klingons do with their prisoners don’t you, death or Rorer Pinte, which is the same thing in my book.”
I nodded in agreement.
“I understand your point Commander. What exactly do you want me to do?”
“I want you to get these Klingons off my base, Chief. I’m asking for a favor in return for a ship that I know you can use.”
“I don’t want a bunch of stranded Klingons here either.”
“Who’s going to hire them? Their reputation is shot here on the moon. They need to get into space away from here, and away from the Klingon authorities.”
“If you fix their ship, they will be indebted to you, and the family will honor it.”
Be’nen interceded, “But they were raiders; how could we trust them not to try and retake the ship?”
“Ms. Tash,” Cmdr Hayes replied, “I’m sure the men of that crew were raiders. For some desperate reason they escaped from Klingon space.”
“What little I know of Klingon values they will do everything to secure the safety of their family clan. If it’s a family decision to make, they will honor it.”
“The Klingon are allies now. If this family breaks the truce, they break Klingon law, and if the Klingons prove the case for piracy; that would mean death to all.”
“I do not trust them Michael”, Be’nen remarked. “I recommend that the Klingons be taken into custody, and the ship confiscated. I am sure you could then secure the ship from Star Fleet.”
“Yes Be’nen”, I commented, “and be tied up here on the moon with an even more shorthanded crew, and in a legal proceeding that could take forever. I’m running out of time, and the Bajorans will be running out of patience”.
“I’m going to try and work with the Klingons.”
“Captain Smith what is your assessment of the Klingons, in regards to temperament and cooperation. Will I have to keep them under guard to have them work for us?”
“Well for one Chief, they have a marked contempt for authority, if not superior in rank.”
“The most common reply I get from them is: “I take orders only from my Captain”. Then the Captain will say, “I will take orders only from Commander Hayes”. Then I have to disturb the Commander to make a judgment call that will make them cooperate, or start up another Donny brook.”
“What about the agreement with the Bajorans, to buy or lease the Monarch, that I sent you,” I asked Commander Hayes?
“They haven’t signed off on it yet Chief,” Commander Hayes replied.
“What! Why is that Commander, I thought this was supposed to be all completed days ago? Did you know about this Be’nen?”
“No Sir. That was supposed to be negotiated with the Bajoran embassy. I was not informed of any difficulties.”
“I think the Klingon Captain was waiting for you, Chief,” Commander Hayes remarked.
“I think he wants to meet you personally and discuss a few things that I think you said to him, when I had him call you.”
“He didn’t leave my office a happy man. I think his words were to the effect that he was going to make you eat the contract, before or after he tore off your head."
"I don’t think my hand translator was close enough to get a clear message.”
‘Man oh man things were turning to shit real fast. How did I get myself into this mess’?
‘If I don’t convince the Klingons not to kill me, sign the Bajoran contract to control their ship; work off their debts; then go with me to Cardassian space to pick up salvage; everyone in the Corps will think me a fool’.
‘Jesus, I think I needed a good stiff drink now; and then look at Be’nen; she’s staring at the ceiling and wishing she was someplace else’.
She was not smiling now!
“Okay Commander, thanks to you, and your staff, for the briefing. If you don’t mind I have to do a little thinking before I meet Captain Kluge, and his crew.”
“We’ll do all we can to assist you Chief, just let us know how you make out after your meeting. Good Luck.”
I said, “Thanks.”
We all shook hands and then we all took a long silent walk back to our quarters.