Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

2 – Strangers in a Strange Land

USS Mackenzie
11.1.2400 @ 1000
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Prentice announced they were arriving at the outpost, and the Mackenzie dropped from warp.  Harris glanced up as the chief helm officer guided them toward the station.  Murmurs on the bridge as they caught sight of various ships that were arriving and in transit.  One stood out, and it made Ambrose smile, “The USS Discovery. Helluva ship.”

Okada spoke up from the engineering console, “She’s a work of art, Captain.  She’s what you call a limited edition.  Not many of those classes running around.  I’d like to take her for a runaround.”  She shrugged when Harris slowly turned in his chair to face her, “I mean…no harm in askin’, right?  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  You can’t tell me you wouldn’t love to take a walk around that girl.”

Ambrose chuckled quietly at his chief engineer.  She was still an engineer and had a deep love for all things starship.  He knew she loved the Mackenzie, but when you got a chance to put your eyes on something like the USS Discovery – you took a moment to appreciate the work that went into something like that.  He was an engineer, but he was a Captain first.  The trials of drifting away from the engine room.  “Someday…just not in the middle of the Delta Quadrant.  Something tells me the Task Force 17’s CO and XO would take great exception to us filing that request in the middle of all…this.”

She scrunched up her nose, annoyed but understanding.  “Well, if they want to come over here, we gotta make a deal or something.”

The CO chuckled at his XO, “Chief Okada, you are singularly focused.”

Another shrug, “I just like ships, is all, captain.  Even the ugly ones.”  He went to respond but was stopped by his communications chief, Ensign Atega.

“Captain, the outpost has accepted our request to dock and has directed us to the location next to the USS Discovery.”

Harris could see Okada sit up in her chair, and he rolled his eyes, mostly to himself.  She was incorrigible, but she was his incorrigible.  “Mr. Prentice, let’s dock with the outpost.  Atega, you’re with me.”  A look of shock filled her face as she turned towards her CO.  He attempted to reassure her, “You’re my linguistics officer.  I’m going to need someone along in case I make a…language error.”  He stood, “XO, you’ve got the CONN.  See what sensors are picking up.  Ask the outpost if they are able to share specific records for specific ships that we have tracking information for – we need to know as much as they can give us on our two transport ships.”  With that, he headed to the turbolift, followed hastily by Ensign Atega.

The doors closed, and the lift moved.  She turned to him, “No security with us, sir?”

Her CO actually laughed, “You must have missed Chief Kondo leaving the bridge before us.  He’s not about to let his commanding officer step onto an outpost without some protection.  Given the rules and requirements of the station’s operation, I suspect we’ll be just fine.  It’s once we get out there in space…that’s when the concerns begin.”  They arrived shortly in the transporter room as indeed Security Chief Kondo stood, two security officers at his side.

“We’re being allowed hand phasers, so I’ve outfitted myself and my team with them.”

Harris put up his hand, “No need to arm us, Chief.  Rather find a way to get our information the simple and straightforward way.”  They all stepped aboard the pad, and the bright lights and melodious whine of the transporters took them on their way.

Markonian Outpost – 1015

Harris coughed as they stepped off the pad and muttered, “They weren’t kidding about the smell.”  They signed the documents with the dockmaster and made their way into the main section of the outpost.  They were the minority in a glorious mix of Delta Quadrant alien species that walked the halls, manned the stores, and filled the dock.  Harris glanced around, “Kondo, you take Palmiotto with you and see what you can find out.  I’ll take Atega and Webb with me.”  They split up, and Harris strolled down the promenade and soon found a shop.  He stepped up to the creature at the counter, “Good morning.”

The reptilian looked him and the two with him up and down a few times before grumbling, “Starfleet.  Always the harbingers of something.  What do you bring to the Delta Quadrant, human?”

Ambrose pulled out his PADD and set it on the pictures of his cousins and sister, “We’re trying to track down these three people.  They’re not Starfleet, but we’ve been asked to locate them out here.”

A chuckle, which came from the lizard’s head, sounded more sinister than it was probably intended.  “Them and everybody’s cousin, brother, and fool came.  And they’re still coming – the civilian ships behind you are supposed to be making their way here within the hour, I hear.”  He sighed, “You’d think I’d be thrilled to have customers.”  He gave a bow, “Cardamon is my name.”

Ambrose introduced his team and himself, “We’re just looking for information.  We can buy if we have to.”

Cardamon chuckled darkly, “Was I a younger beast, maybe?  But I’m old and tired.  No sons or daughters to run this place.  Your group did come through a month ago.”  He ambled over to his console and tapped cautiously, “They were very curious about maps and locations of things…interestingly enough, they did not ask about the Blood Dilithium.  They were looking for places that hadn’t been explored or touched recently.  Those boys were really interested in finding the unexplored.”

Harris frowned.  What were those two up to?  “And the young woman?”

What Ambrose thought was a frown passed on the face of the reptilian creature as he continued to access his console, “She was…what is the human expression?  Pissed?  Angry?  Furious?  So many of your words are confusing.  She was unhappy with the situation, and she wasn’t afraid to say it.  Repeatedly.  She thought they were going to find…what was the word she used…gold?  Yes, gold.  Apparently, the men deceived her.”  He handed Harris an isolinear chip, “Here’s what they purchased as well as the photos and videos.” The CO cocked his head to the side, and Cardamon answered, “Your last name is Harris, and so was theirs.  There are not many friendly faces in this quadrant, and most would have tried to trick or trap you.  Like I said…I am old.  I have learned that there are things beyond us here in the Delta Quadrant.  A bigger universe, perhaps.  With better neighbors.”

Harris gave him a bow, “I’ll remember this kindness, Cardamon.”  They exchanged final greetings and headed farther down.

Atega spoke up, “That was an odd experience, sir.”  He slowed and turned, a question on his face.  She pursed her lips for a moment, “He was unusually nice. Like…more than kind.  He was downright friendly.”  Harris gave her another questioning look, and she sighed, “We were warned over and over in the academy…the Delta Quadrant isn’t safe.  It’s full of folks who want to kill us.  Best case scenario, you’re going to have to pay more for what you need.  Worst case, you end up in a cold sonic shower with a kidney or two gone.”

Ambrose leaned in, “It’s entirely possible, Ensign Atega, that just as there are good humans and aliens back home…there good ones here too.”  He qualified that, “That sounded far too optimistic for the Delta Quadrant.  Maybe we just got lucky.”

They went from stall to shop to group with the photos.  The story was much the same.  A very unhappy young lady in tow with two strapping young men who were looking for everything but Blood Dilithium.  They returned to meet up with Kondo to see what he’d found.

“I spoke with Outpost operations.  Since we had the specific ship information, they were able to isolate the records regarding their arrival and departure last month.”  He tapped his PADD, and the information appeared on the others as they read.  He continued his report, “They were interested in finding isolated or unmapped systems.  Operations thinks they were trying to stay out of the main mining operations and stake their own claim.  They stayed on the station for a few days and then departed.  They tracked them as far as they were required to, and that was the last they saw of them.  No communications, no sightings, nothing.”

Harris glared at the PADD, “They took off in a direction that could have led anywhere.  Finding them is going to be an effort.  On top of that, we still have to keep an eye and ear out for anybody needing our help…and study the stuff too,”

Atega chewed on her lip, and Kondo narrowed his eyes at her.  She glared back until she couldn’t handle the intensity, “They are our secondary mission, sir.”

Ambrose turned to her, frowning and then smiling slightly, “You are correct, Ensign.  Let’s get back to the ship and at least start off in a direction.  Maybe we’ll just run right over them.”  He groused as they headed to the transporter, “…and then we’ll back up and run them over again….and again.”  Atega fought a chuckle, and Harris smiled broadly, “You have my permission to laugh at my cousins, Ensign.  I’m going to be laughing at them a lot when I find them and throw them in my brig for the rest of the month.”

Kondo looked to his CO as they stepped on the pad, “The best part of that, Captain…is that I know you are not kidding.”

Harris nodded, “I never joke about the brig.  Energize.”

Comments

  • Reading this post, I enjoyed the sense of fun and curiosity you were able to convey through Harris and crew. They're stepping into the Delta Quadrant as if it were wonderland. "No need to arm us" gave me a giggle. As they ventured deeper and deeper into the outpost, I enjoyed the hints of danger, as they step outside their comfort zone. Oh, and as TF17's XO, I can say Captain Kohl approves Okada's request to take the Discovery on a SINGLE spin around the star system. Her expertise in any engine room could only be a benefit to all!

    November 2, 2022
  • Okada gets an OK from Mek (and Rider) too! Go for it! Ha, in all seriousness it was awesome to see the Discovery woven into your story. I think you've captured the vibe of the Markonian Outpost perfectly. The potential to "wake up in a cold sonic shower with a kidney or two gone" gave me a very dark smile, probably saying a thing or two about my sense of humour. Cardamon is an interesting character who piqued my interest with musings about things beyond this universe. I think this was a great choice to lead us into the mystery of the Harris trio, who seem not to be interested in the Blood Dilithium at all. Overall a fantastic contrast between our Starfleet types and the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the Delta Quadrant.

    November 2, 2022
  • I loved the interaction that Harris has with his crew, even with Cardamon. I found the comment that Atega made about her time at the academy to be wholesome and how Harris showed her how the Delta was just like the Alpha in regards to the good and the bad. I also couldn't help but read the last part about how they would probably run over his cousins over and over again. That had me in stitches. Again keep up the great work.

    November 2, 2022
  • First things first, the capturing feeling of that engineering love for ships is soooo well done in this post! Just some officers on the bridge staring at the Discovery admiring its beauty. I loved it! Markonian Outpost vibe was well felt, what they saw, how it felt and what they were getting themselves into was well-placed into words. Awesome work!

    November 2, 2022