Part of SS Vondem Rose: Tequila Mockingchair

Why’d you wait?

The starship formerly known as USS Endeavour
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Floating in a pool. Or an oversized bath. Somewhere nice and safe and far less utterly hostile to orionoid life than the void of space. That was where Sidda had decided to cast herself after clenching her eyes shut and clamping her hand right on Revin’s. She’d lasted five minutes before her breathing and heart rate had garnered a polite warning from the suit’s monitors. Closing her eyes, repeating to herself she was somewhere else and holding on for dear life had at least got the annoying voice to shut up.

Eventually, she felt the tug of suit thrusters firing to decelerate and was forced to confront her reality or crash straight into the side of a ship she was here to rob in a rather undignified manner. That just wouldn’t do. Endeavour grew and grew until the beast was a wall, then a floor of duranium alloy hull plating that the entire team found themselves on, feet settling and sticking with the reassuring clink of magnetic contact pads.

“Alright,” T’Ael said after everyone was secure, “we’ve got two hours to grab everything we want, then we do all that again but in reverse and with a couple of tons of gear hopefully.”

Chalmers gave a slight chuckle for what it was worth, but Tavol gave nothing, the vulcan no doubt just accepting T’Ael’s statement as an obvious truth.

“Revin, Tavol, you’re with me. Chalmers, with the Boss.” There was no protest, which she expected from Revin at least. Instead, there was just a round of helmeted heads bobbing before all involved fell into line behind T’Ael as she marched towards the nearest airlock.

Dead systems and no power proved to be a minimal hindrance for T’Ael as she popped the airlock. But before all could make their way inside, a glistening light caught their attention.

Lazily heading in their direction, a searchlight on the nose of the shuttle was scanning wrecks with no apparent pattern as the craft headed towards the Endeavour and disappeared from view, their last sight of it was the craft banking, lining up on Endeavour’s shuttlebay.

“Well fuck,” T’Ael said.

*****

Lieutenants Jack Burke and Samuel Hare weren’t Starfleet’s finest and they knew it. But they were good at their job, so that had to account for something at least. They specialised in picking over the ships of the Providence Fleet yards for parts before their ultimate journey to the breakers. Knowing just where to find this or that and retrieving it on special order for ships nearby. They’d been given a shopping list of parts today and to make it snappy by their boss.

“Sammie old boy,” Jack had said looking over the list. “Today’s going to be an easy day. Commander Knox is going to be pleased with us, I tell you for free.”

“Why do you reckon that?” the other man asked back as he busied himself with the task of flying the shuttle out of the station’s shuttlebay. The shuttle was devoid of any interior furniture save for its seats, the basic nav console and plenty of hooks and clips for cargo nets, crates and the occasional pallet.

“Because the ship we’re looking for parts for is USS Manticore.” Jack offered the padd over, complete with the parts order and intended recipient. “And we just so happened to have taken in a Manticore-class ship recently remember?”

Just under an hour after that exchange and with some careful flying through the depot’s yards, Jack and Sam found themselves bringing their faithful little charge to rest inside the permanently opened shuttlebay of the former USS Endeavour, her name formally transferred to another ship. Both men had taken their time to suit up properly, checking each other’s suits and then running through a checklist to make sure they had everything.

“Right then Sammie, you want Engineering or the Bridge?”

“Engineering if you don’t mind. Less distance to travel.”

“Yes, but more to carry,” Jack said.

“Alas, that would be an issue if gravity was a concern. See you in a few hours buddy.”

And with that, both men left the shuttle bay, then went their separate ways, in search of their own bounty.

*****

Comm channels had been changed, powered down even further, so T’Ael had bid the boss and Chalmers on their way before leading her own towards Engineering. They’d lost contact with them within a minute as the bulk of the ship cut them off from each other. She didn’t know the layout of the ship, but an engineer’s sense accompanied by Starfleet’s dutiful labelling of doors and had led them to their destination in quick order.

She’d opted for more free-floating within the wreck, magboots off and pinballing through the ship in a few locations. If Starfleet, even sleepy depot Starfleet, was here, then they’d eventually get made. That meant the entire operation was on the clock and the good stuff they wanted might disappear at a moment’s notice.

Turns out recklessly throwing yourself through an unknown ship wasn’t a decent counter to someone who likely knew exactly where he was going, arrived closer to his destination and from the looks of it a small self-propelled cart with a battery for powering stubborn doors, something she and Tavol had more than their fair difficulty with.

Qezh,” she cursed, spotting the lone engineer, assuming Starfleet hadn’t gone and recoloured their uniforms. He was in the middle of Engineering, his cart’s light illuminating the space somewhat haphazardly, but the light reflecting around to fight off the darkness.

The space was a desanctified temple as far as she was concerned, the beating heart of the starship long gone, all power bled from this magnificent beast and left to picked over. And here, in the middle of the space was someone going about what she had planned to do, but first. And from the looks of it for a bit as well, the cart was covered in components, crates on its side opened and housing smaller parts.

“What is he doing?” Tavol asked, his voice an irritating calm in a situation where she was trying to think and come up with a plan before all the good loot disappeared.

“He’s whistling,” Revin chipped in. All three were hiding behind a door, peering in to watch their query. Revin, bless the Princess’ soul, had opted that if gravity was offline, the ceiling was as respectable a floor as the floor itself and so T’Ael had to look up at the woman, who was looking at her, tapping the side of her helmet as close to her eyes as she could.

Artificial eyes had to be useful for something she supposed.

“It would appear he’s also removing the secondary plasma waveguides we were after,” Tavol then added, his attention had never left the man in the middle of the room.

Qezh!” she again cursed. “Tavol, neck pinch him would you.”

“I regret to inform you chief that it’s somewhat ineffective through an EV suit. However, we may wish to do something sooner.” He pointed her attention slightly upward at a drifting Revin, who’s pushed off into the room.

She was slowly moving further above the eyeline, so hopefully out of notice of the engineer, when she found purchase on a piece of extrusion, either from damage or hasty salvage prior. Then pushed herself off of that to approach the cart while the engineer was looking inside an equipment cabinet.

“Shit shit shit…” T’Ael found herself muttering, but frozen in place, waiting to see what happened before either making a break or a rescue depending.

And that’s when she saw Revin lift something off the cart – a type 2 Federation phaser. A little, a lot, to be honest, newer than the ones in their inventory, but they had to be functionally the same, yes? She saw Revin adjust the settings on the phaser and then turn to point it at the engineer.

She held her fire.

Why did she hold her fire?

The engineer was under the gun, even if he didn’t know it. With the scene safe enough, she stepped forward with Tavol. They were halfway to Revin and the cart when the Engineer turned around, shock registered on his face, then he just hung limp as an orange beam smashed into him right in the centre of mass. He was anchored in place by his boots, but otherwise just hung there.

“Why’d you wait?” Tavol asked as they stepped up.

“Kevak said you should always shoot a man in the front if you can.”

Both she and Tavol stood there for a moment, shared a look of ‘okay’ between them and both shrugged. “Right. Okay. Shopping list. Grab what you can, load it on this cart, and we’ll take the lot.”

“Sounds logical,” Tavol offered. “Hopefully the Captain’s mission goes as smoothly as ours.”