Book One - Chapter Eleven
Off to the Moon.
Ron and his crew took their time cleaning shuttle number two, and getting it serviced.
It was around six PM when Ron and his crew finally showed up, somber, but satisfied with the results.
Compared to what it looked like when I first saw it, the old girl almost shined. I praised the salvage crew for their efforts; they all did a great job.
The rest of the crew came over to take a look at it, so I put them all to work stowing Mr. Ogs’ supplies and equipment, plus some of their own personal gear.
It took about another hour to load up the shuttle with all the supplies and personal gear of the Salvage Team, plus moving Mr. Og, and his crew.
It was a little tight, but they all had a place to sit.
My two stewards loaded on a portable food locker, and a water cooler for the lunar trip.
There was a small portable head installed with a modesty screen only, but it would have to do until we got to the Moon.
Any further upgrades would have to wait. Most would come from our salvage materials at the Bajoran recovery site.
I had the shuttles secured and dismissed the crew until 10 AM the next morning.
I wanted them all to get a good nights’ rest in the rooms Be’nen had already secured for them.
I also scheduled a meeting at the hanger facilities, in prep for a noon launch. I wanted all personnel to note that it might take us up to twenty four hours, traveling at sub-light before we landed on Luna ports’ Alpha Base, and to pack accordingly.
“Section leaders, including Mr. Comet can prepare points of discussion on the way there; they can be discussed in flight through regular communications channels.”
“I want both shuttles to travel together, land together and meet Commander Hayes, and our Klingon friends, together.
"Have a good night.”
Be’nen, Staunn and I, along with Og and his crew, waited for the return of the base shuttle bus to take the crew over to their quarters.
We then rode over with Og in his car.
It was getting late; I was glad the mess hall was open twenty four hours a day.
When I went to my quarters I was not surprised to find that Be’nen and Staunn were right next door to me.
Be’nen had vacated her VIP quarters.
I dropped off my travel kit and then invited them both to dine with me in the mess hall. We all went down together.
I had a big veggie burgher with fries and cucumber salad with two beers.
Be’nen had her plate of vegetables and rice.
Staunn had shrimp, tuna fish salad with spinach, and mashed sweet potatoes, along with some kind of Ferengi drink that Og found.
When Ron and his crew came in they were all wearing burnt red work shirts that they had found somewhere, they looked nice.
I haled him and told him that those shirts didn’t look so bad and asked where he got them.
“I got them at the Base Exchange,” he said with a big grin.
“I guess there wasn’t a big demand for them on the base, even though they were required to stock them."
"They had lots of them so I got a good price; and I thought that the crew deserved it after they worked so hard on number two shuttle.”
“Well they look great on you all and I think that should be your semi official work uniform from now on Ron."
"It will be distinctive for the recovery section to all our friends and allies, and if they have any questions about salvage and recovery, they can ask a “red shirt”.”
“Thanks Mike, I’ll tell the crew. I’m sure they will agree with you.”
He then went over to his crew tables and had his dinner. A few waved to me and pointed to their new shirts smiling at me. They were now a proud crew, I liked that.
I told Be’nen I thought it was a great idea to have the rest of the crew dressed the same way.
“I should put out a policy memo to that effect and have Og order shirts for all, including me."
"That way I can allow an alternative to their present uniform status and it will save them from having to wear those maintenance coveralls all the time.”
“Yes captain it will be done,” Be’nen replied.
Staunn asked; “I have some red under wear packed somewhere, what crew does that put me in?”
I told her it would probably be in the hot house crew, on the Grayson, if they have a botanical garden.
“O goody,” she said, “then I’ll be able to wear a fig leaf for you in your room later.”
I shut up after that. Be’nen just rolled her eyes and Staunn started her huff huffing again.
After dinner I was ready for bed. We all went straight to our quarters and we all said good night to each other; and that was it. No kissing, no nothing; just off to sleep in my own room.
I was really tired; I think I went right to sleep.
While I was in dream land something woke me up, it was Staunn, naked as a jay bird.
“What are you doing here,” I asked? (Silly question)
“It’s my turn,” she said. “Mother said we’re not supposed to gang up on you, so it’s just me this time. Besides that lover, remember we ordered the rooms, and the extra key.”
How could I resist, after all she was only wearing her cute, mischievous smile; so I pulled back the sheets and let her into bed.
She really liked making love to me. I could almost smother her, but boy, sex with Staunn was great. She was so passionate loving and sweet, as I held her in my arms. I really wanted to give her all the love she deserved.
I went to sleep hoping I wasn’t cheating on anyone.
When I woke up the next morning I was being cradled in someone else’s arms.
Arms that were connected to two beautiful breasts, and a long leg, that was draped over me.
Be’nen was that easy to recognize. I didn’t know where Staunn disappeared to, but if it was duty calling with Be’nen, I was ready.
“Quit playing Michael,” she said, “It’s time to get up. Come on and let’s take our shower.”
She kind of dragged me out of bed and into the shower. I tried again to make extra sure I didn’t miss any spots on her.
When she saw that I was getting frisky, she look at me and said; “You know Michael, since we are now connected, you really radiate desire”.
“Your satisfaction in having sex with me is also having a satisfactory effect on me. I wonder if our sexual linkage will continue after my pon farr subsides”?
“It is a course that I wish to pursue with you after we are wed, but not now”
It was a good bath and an equally good brush off.
After breakfast in the mess hall with Be’nen, and a smirking Dr. Tehk, with her restorative cocktail for me, I was ready for action.
So was everyone else it seemed.
The word must have gone out about the Recovery section wearing their new red shirts and the rest were asking where was theirs.
Most of my flight crew was still garbed in standard Star Fleet engineer red tunics, with their ranks removed.
Aside from the Dabo girls, who seemed to dress in different color body suits, and Staunn’s whites, we looked like the crew of a civilian cruise liner.
This being, I figured, my last hitch in Star Fleet, as an instructor, the civilianized suit I was wearing, fit the part of a tour guide.
Be’nen passed out the ID badges and our comm. pins.
They were the civilian button type Badges, with the engineering logo with Star Fleet, Corps of Engineers around the circlet.
It kind of reminded me of a bulls’ eye. I hoped it wasn’t an omen.
We all waited for the shuttle bus and then followed Og over to the ground shuttle car pool, for him to turn in his car.
The next stopping point was the launch area, at the shuttles.
Larry, and Nichelle, came up to me and told me that they had comm. badges for the Klingons too.
Larry was smiling too; I kind of wondered what he was up to, but I kept my mouth shut.
For my ten o’clock meeting there wasn’t much of a discussion.
Don Murdoch, and Pete Murray, had a few questions about having to work with Klingons, and how to deal with them; because most of us had little or no contact with them, and most of those dealing were negative.
I told them that it was new ground for all of us, but they were now our allies and we had to keep that in mind.
“What I’d seen of their leader, they were still big, ugly, and combative, so be careful.”
“I know nothing about their women, and for that I will work through Ms. Tash, if needed.”
“As far as I know they are a family, or clan. I assume there will also be children on board."
"I’m also assuming that they are in flight to avoid prosecution from Klingon authorities. I could see no other reason why they are in Earth space”
“I expect we’ll find out if they were commerce raiders, or pirates, who for some reason had their raiding vessel confiscated.”
“That Monarch they are living in was probably stolen; I doubt they will have any papers at all.”
“I plan to use that information as leverage to get them to cooperate with us.”
“They want to operate as a leased vessel, but without legitimacy, their ship can be impounded and the crew confined until Klingon authorities decide what to do with them.”
“With that information, I think they will cooperate with us, so hang in there."
"If you have any problems let us know. Just remember Ms. Tash has been around, and so has Larry. I think we can stay ahead in this game.”
“The end results are; to get that Monarch and the Grayson to Bajor, and start to clean up their mess.”
When we exited the hangar there was about twenty or thirty people waiting for us with cameras and microphones.
They all made a bee line for Be’nen. They all seemed to be asking questions all at once.
I shouted out, “Hold it everyone what is this all about?”
One of the reporters said, “We want to know what’s going on with Be’nen Tash”.
“She seemed to have dropped out of sight about a month ago. Nobody would give us any information. We didn’t know if she was fired from the Vulcan Embassy, returned to Vulcan, or what.”.
“All of her appearances were canceled, and we want to know why.”
“What is she doing here anyway? She’s a celebrity for gods’ sake. By the way who are you and who are these people with Ms. Tash?”
I looked over at Be’nen and asked her if she was alright with all this.
She said she would answer questions if it was alright with me.
She said it might be better if I gave them an outline of what the mission was first.
I turned around to the crew and asked them to hold off going to the shuttle for a second so I could introduce the crew and give these reporters a mission outline.
They sort of bunched together around me, and Be’nen and I introduced myself.
I then started telling the reporters that we were a Star Fleet Engineer Assistance and Advisory Group for Bajor and that our mission is to assist the Bajorans in clearing out their shipping lanes of debris left over from the last war with the Dominion.”
“We would be salvaging what materials we could for the benefit of the Bajoran government.”
“The principle members of my team are Ms. Tash, as my administrative assistant, Dr. Tehk, as my medical tech, Peter Murray and Donald Murdoch, my principle flight personnel, Ron Thornton, my salvage crew chief and Larry Comet, our senior Communications advisor.”
“We are on a three year mission, and today we are on our way to the moon to pick up one of our principle operating vessels.”
“Now if Ms. Tash is ready she will answer as many questions as she feels fit to answer, and believe me she was not shanghaied for this mission.”
That got only a few laughs from the crowd before the questions started flying.
“One at a time, please,” Be’nen asked. “How about you Gloria, what is your question.”
“Ms. Tash, where have you been? You are a popular celebrity and this salvage operation is so far out of character, we are all mystified as to your reasons why”
“Did the Vulcan Embassy send you on this mission for some special reason, or are you being punished?”
“No Gloria, it's no special mission. This was my decision along with my daughter.”
“Ms. Tash you have a daughter?” Gloria interrupted.
“Yes, Dr. Staunn Tehk, is my daughter.”
“Many of you knew her as my personnel assistant, but for professional and personal reasons we kept it quiet. We both felt it was a time for a change.”
“I am a Vulcan Science Academy graduate and a qualified flight officer in the Vulcan Militia, I have never served on a deep space mission. This is my opportunity to do so with my daughter.”
“Staunn has supported me faithfully here on Earth and we have really enjoyed our stay, but I have been here for twenty years, and am due for recall as an ambassador”.
“It might not have to happen, but we felt it was time for her do the job she was trained to do, being a doctor, a space medicine doctor. I am very proud of her.”
“How about you, Howard?”
“Ms. Tash,” Howard asked, “an administrative assistant? That’s got to be quite a comedown for you isn’t it? I mean after all you had to be up there pretty high at the Vulcan Embassy, your presence in their regard seemed to be everywhere.”
“Well Howard this is only a three year mission, I hope you all don’t forget me if and when we return.”
“I’m sure Mr. Thomas will allow me to fill you in with highlights of our operations when we get to Bajor. Besides that, Bajor is supposed to be a beautiful place. I might invest in some real estate there.”
That got a few laughs, while Be’nen turned and cocked an eyebrow to me.
“Time to go to the shuttle”, I announced to everyone.
To the reporters I suggested that they could keep in contact with Ms. Tash, and follow our mission, through the Star Fleet Engineer Information Net.
“I am sure she would be glad to answer any and all pertinent questions, and keep in touch with you all.”
“Thank you for all your interest.”
I took Be’nen by the arm and escorted her to the shuttles.
Staunn came up to her and said, “ M’aith” and then followed a conversation in Vulcan I guess, because I didn’t understand a word that was said.
“It’s alright Staunn,” she had said to Staunn, “everything is out in the open now. Let them think what they want, we’re on our way to the moon.”
Og and the Dabo girls, along with the recovery section got into shuttle number two, while I hustled Be’nen and Staunn on to shuttle number one first, while the rest of my flight crew followed making sure we had no further questions to be answered.
Be’nen took the pilots’ seat, Staunn the co-pilots’ and I sat in the Cargo Mates’ seat.
I then switched with Pete Murray; after all he was a Flight Engineer. I then took a seat in one of the passenger recliners.
Og, along with Ron and Jenny Thornton, were piloting the other shuttle.
It took about a half an hour to finish getting all our personal gear stowed, and do a musical chairs with the seating arrangements, prior to clearing all preflight operations, and before we got permission to take off.
The flight from Nellis, to Earth Space Dock, was smooth.
We only had to make two orbits around the space dock before we were cleared for moon trajectory.
Be’nen, and Og, as pilots, were as smooth as silk.
I sat back and tried to relax, but I kept thinking of what I was going to say to the Klingons.
That and trying to figure out what they had for crew on board, and how to match up their skills with ours.
The Monarch class freighter was a big ship almost as big as the Grayson. It was more like a passenger/freight liner.
I didn’t really know how the Bajorans and Klingons would get along either.
The only information I had was what I had gathered from news broadcast about Deep Space Nine, and that seemed to be mostly about turmoil.
‘Well smart guy’, I said to myself, ‘you volunteered for this, now you have to pay the piper’, or something to that effect.
‘Lets’ see you sweet talk the Klingons into cooperating. It will be more like horse trading and arm twisting with an arm that’s about twice your size’.
Harrumph. Next stop Moon Base Alpha.