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To run the blockade

Posted on Sat Feb 16th, 2013 @ 3:28am by Lieutenant Lissan zh'Zarath & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Part of the Team
Location: Neutral Zone, Federation side

That was a damn close run thing.

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

Bridge MS Honeysweet

Jefferson Tambleton looked up from the array of readouts in front of him. Lights blinked on and off; screens displayed a bewildering array of data.

He snorted in disgust. So much for a ship that pilots itself, he thought. I swear, the more they try to automate these things, the more complex they become.

He turned to survey the crew. He liked to think of them as his crew but he knew that to be an illusion. He'd hand-picked them but he had little doubt where their loyalty lay: it was not with him. Their loyalty lay with whoever paid them the most. He could not make that happen until he delivered the shipment. Then there were other loyalties. He had specified that he wanted no-one indentured to the Syndicate. Indentured, he thought. A polite word for slavery! He had little doubt there were those on board in exactly that position.

He also had little doubt there were spies on board, those who had sold their souls to one of the major powers or other. The reason for this opinion was that he had long since sold his own soul. He was given a certain amount of latitude to do as he pleased; to trade as he saw fit. He knew that was only so that he appeared, to all intents and purposes, as a legitimate trader. Well...legitimately illegitimate, he amended.

Beyond his field of vision, a grumpy Andorian referred to as Kell grunted and thumped his console with a meaty fist. "Can't make anything out," he muttered. "Sensors are on the fritz," he called to Tambleton. "You got anything?"

“Then get them working again,” Tambleton replied. “You were supposed to have had them fixed yesterday. If you didn't spend so much time chasing that woman down in Engineering you might find some time to attend to your duties.”

Muttering under his breath Kell glared murderously at Tambleton before striking the console one more time in a last ditch attempt his favourite style of working would have some result. "Fine," he snarled, moving to leave. "I'll do it."

Warig sat at tactical, her feet up on the console, swinging back and forth in her swivel chair. She tossed and caught a small spikey ball in her hands to pass the time. The pain from the light pricks it was giving her helped to pass the time and keep her senses sharp in conditions that would be dull to monotony.

Dr Elvira Maskew walked around her sickbay with a coffee (or so everyone thought) in her hand. The beds were empty for once after the recent outbreak of a fever that laid some of the crew up for days. She'd got it under control eventually with the help of her herbal medicines and crystals.

Now she had just enough free time to practice her I'lorian transcendental meditation and a form of Hermetic Yoga she had picked up while she was there. Elvira was hoping to raise her vibrations enough to enter the eighth level of purity and intensity. It had been a struggle to get this far and the eighth level was proving a little too elusive.

Elvira took a deep breath and finished the rest of her coffee before she stood on her head, closed her eyes and freed her mind. After a few minutes she felt the astral spirits with her once more; waiting as they always had, a salvation from grief.

Trazk Kalus was in the engineering section on this freighter. Kalus had no desire to work on larger ships or for any of the major powers. Kalus liked the freedom that came from working as an independent. He looked over at the other engineer, a human female named Jana Primarc. "Jana, see if you can get the forward sensor array back online."

Jana huffed. "Fine. What are you gonna do?"

Kalus exhaled, "I'm still working on increasing our engine output. I expect we'll need the running at maximum to get through this blockade."

"If we get through," Keel arrived, muttering under his breath and bringing his dark mood with him. Even the sight of Jana couldn't lift his spirits, nor stop his twitchy antennae. "I have a nasty feeling about this," he continued. "We need those sensors before we end up in hot water."

Jana allowed her annoyance to dissipate. She flashed a smile at Keel. "All right, let's get to it."

Romulan space

The centurion turned to his captain. “Commander, there is an unidentified ship at bearing 019, Mark 5, range ten thousand five hundred kilometres. It is heading towards the Neutral Zone.”

“Time to reach the Neutral Zone?”

“Ten minutes at its current velocity.”

“Put us on an intercept course. Let’s see who’s infiltrated Romulan space this time.”

“As for you,” Tambleton said testily to Warig, “if you haven’t anything better to do with your time, help get those sensors back on line. I don’t care if we can only see where we’ve been; at least we’ll be able to see something."

Of all the crew, Warig was the one causing him the most concern. Bluff and bluster kept most of the others in line but that didn’t work on the Nausican woman. He’d hired her for her brute strength and her ability to handle herself in a fight. Both had been on ample display in the pits back on Smugglers Cove. She’d disposed of three opponents while barely raising a sweat and they’d been brutes of opponents. He was not going to change his leadership style just to suit her though. If she didn’t like it, she could always leave. There were plenty of airlocks she could step into any time she wished.

Warig caught the spiked ball in her hand. Very slowly she pulled her feet off the panel and stood to face the new Captain. Her odour alone would have been enough to end most fights; Tambleton doubted she had showered. Ever. She drew herself up to respond but before she could did her Tactics panel chimed.

She glanced down and back at Tambleton, her voice full of insolence, "We are being hailed. Shall I get it?"

“If it’s not too much trouble.”

The screen flickered into life. The narrow, ridge face of a stern Romulan Commander came into sharp focus. "Identify yourselves and reasons for your trespassing or be fired upon," Riov Ustarl demanded.

Tambleton glared at Warig. Sensors! Now! he mouthed. Then he turned his most winsome face to the Romulan.

“The ship is the MS Honeysweet and I am her captain, Jefferson Tambleton. Who might I have the honour of addressing?”

"I am Commander Riov Ustarl of the Romulan warbird Tarkaten, you have not answered my question."

“Commander Urstal, we picked up a load of non-perishable food stuffs from a Ferengi trader. We are taking it to the Federation facility, Deep Space 12, to be shipped on to Qualor to feed the Romulan refugees there.”

Her narrow face reflected little emotion save to annoyance. "That's not of my concern. Why are you trespassing into Romulan space, Captain?"

“Time is of the essence, Commander,” Tambleton explained in a tone that suggested it should be obvious. “The most direct route from where we purchased the goods to DS12 is through Romulan space and the Neutral Zone. As we are on a humanitarian mission, we did not think that would trouble the Romulan authorities. However, we did get clearance before crossing into Romulan space. Were you not notified?”

With a crinkling of her face Urstal cut the transmission to the Honeysweet. She turned and bore her cold eyes into her first officer who began searching hurriedly for this notification...should it actually exist.

Warig looked over the top of the flux router she was tuning. She pressed the mute button on the comm. "We don't have any clearance. Nor do we have much shielding in the Bay. If she decides to do an invasive scan..."

"She doesn’t know that,” Tambleton replied testily. “The state the Romulans are in, the right hand doesn’t even know the left exists, let alone what it’s doing. Anyway, I have papers. They’re forgeries, of course, but they’ll stand inspection. As to the second problem, I have a little device rigged up in the bay. I can set it to whatever I like; currently I am setting it to foodstuffs. If she scans, she'll see pallets of dehydrated foodstuffs. I doubt she’ll bother though. Either she will let us go or she’ll blow us out of space.”

"Very reassuring," Warig replied. "I was safer on the Starfleet shoebox."

“My guess is she won’t risk the loss of vital supplies but just to make sure.... Put a message through to DS12 to say we’ll be delayed. Give our apologies for not delivering the foodstuffs on time. Blame it on being detained by Romulan authorities. Make sure you send it over Romulan communications bands too.”

Warig un-muted the comms, "I'll try and get a second channel through to DS12, sir, but it would be easier if the Romulans freed up this one. And I can only apologise so many times, to them..."


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