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Part of SS Vondem Rose: Jailhouse Rock and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Jailhouse Rock – 8

SS Vondem Rose
November 2400
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“Anything?” R’tin asked.

“Still nothing?” came his sister’s reply from all around him. Admittedly that ‘all around’ was just the confines of his EV suit’s helmet. There was directionality, no drop off in volume to give an idea of distance, just a nice, clear sound as if she was speaking to him from right next to him in a small space.

They’d both been up and about when the Vondem Rose had detected something on sensors that didn’t belong in the Delta Quadrant – a derelict Klingon warship. At least not in these parts anyway. So when they’d finally closed with the ship they had both volunteered to go aboard the ship to figure out what happened. The broad strokes were pretty clear at least just from looking at the ship, well, through the ship that is. Three large holes bore right through the vessel, clean shots taken on a ship not defending itself.

There had been other damage to the ship, enough to hint at an attempt to evade, but the damage to the ship’s engines was enough to explain why someone was eventually able to put killing shots through the ship. They’d clearly fired on the ship in locations not intended to blow it to pieces, but to pierce as much of the pressure vessel as possible, to render anyone who could be hiding dead to the elements in short order.

It was a spiteful and mean thing to have done.

And foolish.

Since they’d dropped out of warp and seen the wreck on the bridge viewscreen, Sidda had apparently only said one thing – “Go.” While it had taken the team currently aboard the Martian Thorn time to gear up and then beam over, she’d apparently done nothing but glare at the viewscreen. At least according to Orelia when she had updated them in the transporter room before coming over.

Someone was going to get it, the question really was would it be the Devore Imperium, Gaeda Ruiz, or both?

“Hey R’tin,” came another voice, human, gruff and with some weird twang that he’d been informed meant that Gavin Leckie was ‘southern’. “Ann and I have just popped the external fuel hatches. We’re ready to start salvaging the antimatter pods.”

“Hold off,” he replied, then keyed his suit comms to another channel, back to the Rose. “R’tin to Rose. Gav’s got the antimatter pods ready. But we float them over and start transferring fuel, the Rose is going to be a sitting duck for an hour or so.”

“Can we do it under cloak?” Orelia came back.

“Uh…sure?” he replied. “But we’ll have to float them over first. And those of us over here won’t be able to transport back till you drop the cloak.”

“An hour you say?”

“Well, around an hour.” He continued his in own search of the ship while having the conversation and stopped to look through the hull breach, through two compartments and out of the ship right to the looming bulk of the Rose. “Depends on if there’s any difficulty in connecting the magnetic traps, flow rate, and fuel load in each of the pods. But, should be about an hour.”

There was silence for a moment. “Right, send them over.”

Another flick of the comms, another quick conversation and then Gavin and Ann were both pushing an antimatter containment pod each across a couple of kilometres of empty space to the Rose and a couple of engineers on her outer hull waiting to receive them. It was a straightforward operation, just time-consuming and dangerous in that the ship would be helpless if the Devore showed up. Hence the question about the cloak. It had its advantages besides just combat.

“R’tin, guess what they missed,” T’Ael said over the comms. He’d made sure he had an always open line to his sister; she would have heard his side of the recent conversations unless she’d opted to eavesdrop on all the channels during their salvage operation.

“Gaeda’s vault of highly valuable loot we’re not going to tell anyone about?”

“Wait, he has one?” she asked back, then ignored the obvious baiting. “Nevermind. The main computer, it’s still in one piece.”

“Wait, really?” He abandoned the room he was in, everything a mess from when a high-powered energy weapon had ripped through it, making his way through the ship as quickly as mag boots would let him run. A wall become a floor momentarily, he pushed off another to speed himself along.

Bigger ships might have had a computer core access room, or the computer spanned many decks such that the best way to maintain it was from the inside. But Klingon ships weren’t Romulan, or even Federation starships – they were warships. They didn’t need to carry the glory and magnificence of Romulan culture or all the scientific journals of the Federation. They needed to be able to operate and control a starship for glorious combat. As such a ship like the Martian Thorn had a much, much smaller main computer and its ‘computer room’ was more like a closet behind a hardened and secure hatch.

T’Ael stood there, waiting for her brother, her torch scanning over what could be seen from the now-opened hatch. “It looks intact.” She shone the light in his direction and he reflexively raised a hand to shield his eyes till she lowered it. “Just doesn’t have power.”

“And the Rose just raised its cloak, so no portable generator.” He snapped his fingers, a gesture that was fairly muted in a complete vacuum. He didn’t even hear the snap in his own suit, just the sound of armoured fingers sliding across each other. It was disappointing and nearly derailed his thinking. “The Martian should have one around here, right? Just like the old Vondem Thorn, right? Uh…starboard emergency supplies.”

“That’ll do it. Go grab it, I’ll find the power hookup and then cut the line to the rest of the ship. Don’t need to drain the generator straight away.”

A few minutes later, a short wrestle with physics and the mass of the portable power supply, and the Martian Thorn’s main computer was booting to life, ugly Klingon script tracing over the screen, blinking away, back again, more screens as systems started up, programs woke, did their thing, woke up others before going away. It took a few minutes for the computer to start from scratch, especially with the checks it was doing and which neither he nor his sister wanted to override.

“Fuck. Yes.” T’Ael turned and punched him in the arm, a stupid grin on her face, as the computer finally finished rebooting. Any audio warning had been completely missed, but the warnings on the small diagnostic screen before them were exactly what they’d expect to see in a situation like this.

Weapons not detected.

Sensors not detected.

Engines not detected.

Life support not detected.

Computer running in safe mode.

Enter command authorisation.

At least the computer wasn’t complaining about its own state of being. “T’Ael to Rose, we’ve got the Thorn’s computer core. Going to set up a data transfer, but across a communicator, it’s going to take a bit.”

“You’ve got time T’Ael,” Orelia came back. “Continue searching the ship, we’ll look the data over when you get back.”

“Will do,” she replied, then turned to him. “Now, you said something about Gaeda’s vault?”

“I was joking,” he said with a chuckle. “But we could go help salvage the torpedoes.”

“Well, I guess…”


“Captain’s log, uh, Wednesday, October eleventh, twenty-one seventeen hours,” Gaeda’s voice came out loud and clear over the briefing room speakers. “I swear this date display keeps getting smaller. Right, where was I?” There was a pause, even the sound of a drink being sipped at. “We’ve taken all the passengers off of the Lucky Fish and given Captain t’ch’lik what spares we could spare for him to get his ship fixed. Hopefully, if these Devore show up that everyone keeps telling me about, he’ll just get harassed for a bit and then be allowed to go on his way. If the Devore are so desperate to impound a wreck like his, then cripes, I’ve got to get the boss out here for the pickings. We’ve got the Martian packed to the rafters right now with thirty-seven refugees aboard. We’re proceeding under cloak to the destination that t’ch’lik was taking them.”

Orelia tapped a button when the log finished and the map on the large monitor updated with the destination that the Martian Thorn’s computers had logged and speed information. The icon for the ship moved along a prescribed line that started back at the DeDiDrOp and ended where the Rose sat right now. It was presently two-thirds of the way along moving towards its final spot. It progressed before stopping and the speakers came to life once more.

“Captain’s log, Saturday, fourteenth of October. We’ve had to drop out of warp and drop the cloak thanks to a class three ion storm. Nothing too troublesome for a ship with shields, but you wouldn’t want to see me flying even the Rose through one of these under cloak. Reports of nausea amongst the Brenari guests, but I can’t blame them actually. Trid’s doing her best to work with the storm for a smooth ride and Eshe is doing what they can for sea sickness. Sea-sickness in space. Honestly.”

The briefing room was silent once more. R’tin had his forehead on his folded arms but was listening. T’Ael was just staring at the rich wood table. Orin was drumming his fingers and staring at the monitor, along with Tavol, who was just stock still. Bones was at the far end, opposite Sidda and looking like she’d been chewing on a lemon the whole time. Lewis was the one to break the silence. “Class three storm? With shields, it would have been bumpy at most, but the Thorn would have ridden through like a champ.”

“Agreed,” T’Ael and R’tin both said in unison, the latter muffled as he spoke into the table. “Jinx,” he muttered to his sister straight away.

“Last long,” Orelia said as she looked at her cousin, who was just glaring down the length of the table. “Explains everything.” She then looked to Revin, at Sidda’s side with a hand on her shoulder, and gave a small nod.

The Romulan woman slid her hand from Sidda’s shoulder to the base of her neck gently, earning a small response from Sidda as she pressed back into the chair, pinning Revin’s hand in place.

“Captain’s log, supplemental.” Gaeda sounded rushed, there were other sounds in the background, of people going about something on the side of a door. “Engines are offline at the moment, but that’s not the biggest problem. We’ve got two Devore warships bearing in on us. Cloak isn’t a good idea with the storm still lingering. We’re fucked in about six different ways right now. I’m purging what we can of sensor records to protect t’ch’lik and their crew. Then encrypting everything for good measure anyway. R’tin, if you’re hearing this, it’s because my failsafe back home lured the boss out here and you, you nosey little Romulan git,” this got R’tin’s attention as he sat up, a smile on his face, “are too damn good with my passwords. Do me a favour will you and come rescue all of us will you?”

Silence once more, then Orelia brought up the last transmission that the Thorn had received.

The image was an older man, at least by the room’s average frame of reference, wearing a black uniform with what looked like a bandolier, from what could be seen at least. “Gaharey vessel, stand down and prepare for inspection. Any attempt to flee will be dealt with harshly. All crew are to stand away from their consoles and be unarmed. Resistant to inspectors will be dealt with harshly. You have been warned.”

Sidda breathed in deeply, nodded once, and then let out her held breath. “Casualties?”

“None from what we could see or according to the computer,” T’Ael spoke up. “It looks like they boarded the ship, found these Brenari and then summarily sentenced them and the crew to a prison camp. They beamed everyone off the ship and then used her for target practice.”

“They didn’t take the cloak?” Bones asked over the lip of a large cup of something no doubt dark and caffeinated.

“Someone burned it out shortly before the Devore came aboard,” R’tin said. “Well, overloaded the circuity, then put four rounds from a disruptor rifle through it. Guess Gaeda didn’t want to risk a cloaking device falling into their hands.”

“Take the boy out of Starfleet, can’t take the Starfleet out of the boy,” Bones quipped. “Eh, Sidda?”

“Guess so,” she replied coolly. “But why even take telepaths prisoners? You don’t like them, why stop them fleeing?”

“Hell, encourage them even,” T’Ael added. “Bundle them all up and ship them out.”

“Unfortunately, the Devore’s logic for their actions is not something I am privy to,” Tavol said. “At least not currently.” He shrugged a shoulder in the face of T’Ael’s continued gaze. “If I had to hazard an educated guess, based on the unfortunate histories of many member worlds in the Federation alone, such decisions maybe be motivated by a need to blame the Other, to them show them being punished in order to continue selling a political or spiritual narrative to the masses in order to sway them one way or another.”

“Political fucking theatre?” T’Ael asked.

“Stop,” Sidda said and sure enough things did. Attention turned on her as she sat forward. “I don’t care what the Devore think. I don’t care if they think they are saving the galaxy or just getting their jollies being bad holo-novel villains. Everything I’ve heard and read makes it sound like slavery and oppression, plain and simple.” A chorus of agreements went around the table. “They’re bullies, no two ways about it.”

“Plan boss?” R’tin asked.

“Nope.”

“Intention?” Orelia followed on with.

“Find a Devore warship. Ask them some polite questions about where my people are, then we go get them.” Sidda’s grin wasn’t a nice thing. It was downright predatory.

‘Polite,’ Orin signed. ‘So, no torpedoes.’

“Only if they’re hard of hearing and need the extra motivation to listen and answer.” That got a few chuckles around the room. “Get with Deidrick, make sure everyone is armed at all times. If we get boarded, we’re damn well repelling with prejudice.”

Orin nodded his understanding.

“Lewis, set course for the Devore border, maximum warp. Let’s go fishing.”

“Aye boss, running towards the fascist police state while screaming that we want to steal something.” Lewis’ eyes snapped straight to Orelia when she couldn’t help herself snort for some reason at his joke.

“Right, dismissed. Go make my ship ready to fight.”

As everyone piled out of the room, Bones approached, stopping at Sidda’s side opposite Revin. She took a moment to produce a small flask, take the top off, pour some into her cup, and then hand it to Sidda. The alcohol smell wasn’t as strong as she suspected, but she wasn’t going to say no to a sip of the doctor’s own stores when offered. She was just about to hand it back when Revin snatched it up, taking her own swig at it before handing it back with a slight cough.

“Geez princess,” Bones commented. “If I had known you’d have some, I’d have at least topped up on the good stuff.”

“I’m not a princess,” Revin answered.

“Yes, you are,” Bones countered. “You’re hers after all.” Then she looked at Sidda, giving a series of small nods. “Your mother as much of a bold bitch as you are?”

“She’s just a bitch.”

“HA!” Bones barked. “A hundred years ago, maybe more, you’d likely have made a damn good Starfleet captain. Nowadays, you’re just a damn good captain. I’ll have sickbay ready for anything.” And with that, she left.

And then there was a slight squeal, rather undignified, as Revin was pulled around and to sit in Sidda’s lap without warning. An arm snaked around the young woman’s waist, holding her tight. “I want you armed too, just like everyone else. Nothing to chance, okay?”

“Promise me you’ll use your second disruptor then,” Revin answered. “We don’t need you shooting out a bridge console when you miss your first shot.”

“I don’t miss!”

“Yes, you do.” Revin then turned as much as she could to face Sidda directly. “I was reading what there was about the Devore’s culture. Very Romulan-like in some cases.” She leaned forward, foreheads and noses touching. “Apparently, they appreciate galeri music or galeri-like at least. Human Classical, Orion mid-Imperial, most non-mathematical Vulcan. That sort of thing.”

“So…”

“So, that horrific collection of Orion post-modern punk you have would be…” Revin teased out, not finishing the sentence.

“A bloody brilliant way of getting some attention.”


It only took the Vondem Rose twelve hours to gain the attention of a Devore border vessel.

Twelve hours of barrelling towards the Devore Imperium’s new expansion territories at warp eight point five.

With her cloak down.

Flooding a decent number of subspace frequencies with the Orion post-modern punk band Kolar Blight’s entire catalogue blaring as loud as the transmitters of the ship could.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you had to kick a door in while blaring your own personal soundtrack.

And sometimes there was just no accounting for good taste.

Comments

  • I am not surprised they found the Martian Thorn in that state but a part of me had hoped it would still be intact, this did not disappoint at all. The description of the damage and the savage work was great, really captured the priorities for a salvage operation. I really enjoyed the music that Devore appreciate and then flooding post-modern punk across subspace. That made me laugh...I wonder if any BF ships will pick it up...

    November 14, 2022
  • I absolutely love the image of the Rose screaming toward the Devore blasting out music to get attention. This is great post, ramping up the tension as the ship and crew get ready to fight and get their people back. I’m hooked, very nice job!

    December 8, 2022