((OOC: This was originally posted broken up as 3 parts. ))
((Lightside Station – Maintenance Dock C-83))
Marot was a hard working engineer, but an even harder working opportunist. Some might say that he had Ferengi blood running through his veins, but in fact he was Betazoid through-and through. He was pretty good with his hands, but he was even better with his mind. Telepathic skimming was the bread and butter of his gambling prowess. Cheating the gaming tables was his biggest money maker, but it also came in handy on the docks, until the day he touched the wrong mind. A Cardassian mind wearing a Bajoran face.
How could he forget ship service number PR-7849-CD-9001. It had been a routine patch and repair job, but once Marot had started working on the ship he found that the seemingly innocent exterior of the freighter was hiding the foundation of a Cardassian Scout Ship. Such a vessel was to be immediately reported to command, but opportunity knocked, and he answered. He struck a once in a lifetime deal with the faux Bajoran Captain, and now he was about to keep his end of the bargain.
The charming Betazoid engineer busied himself with the routine maintenance of a VIP transport shuttle that was designed for long distance runs. It was a luxury ship, a people-hopper, made to accommodate first-class patrons on their journey to the next space or land port. The small ship only held a handful of people, which made for ample personal space, and added comfort, among them a robust replicator.
Finishing up the engine check outside, Marot sealed the hatch and wiped his dirty hands on a clean rag. When he looked across the empty deck he saw a striking raven-haired woman headed straight for him. He smiled a greeting. His first thought was that she was beautiful. His second thought was, “what a shame.”
T’Lea: Mister Marot?
Dressed in black cargo pants, and a black clingy sleeveless shirt, the Vulcan-hybrid set her steely-blue sights on the only person working the dock. In the future she would look back on this very moment and kick herself for not questioning it.
Marot: Yes. Lieutenant Commander T’Lea?
The woman nodded and he offered a friendly hand.
Marot: A pleasure to meet you. I must say, I was expecting something more… uniformed.
It wasn’t just a comment about her attire, but her projected demeanor as well. It was contrary to the ears. And what lovely ears they were.
T’Lea: Off duty.
She took his hand and noticed that his touch had a strange sensation, almost erogenous. In that second she had to recall if she had taken her anti-Pon Farr pill that morning. Indeed she had, but the touch was still slightly disturbing. She quickly retracted her hand.
Marot: Sorry about that. ::he wiped at his hand:: Fluids from the engine I was tuning up.
He could tell that she didn’t suspect a thing.
Marot: You had a question for me? About a service repair? Come on inside, I just need to run a system check. We can talk about it.
(( Meanwhile, Lightside Station – Corridor 1876-109B, Commercial Section))
Karise had worn a pair of royal blue slacks and a durable, yet attractive, royal blue blouse. Completing the ensemble was a pair of black ankle boots with straps and silver buckles. The outfit was serviceable - after all, T’Lea hadn’t said what this mysterious holodeck adventure was - yet becoming. She told herself she wasn’t wearing the outfit to catch the RomuVulc woman’s eye. After all, it was part of her style and Karise had always been a bit vain. Her makeup had been carefully applied and her hair was pulled back and pinned in the back with a silver clasp shaped like little flowers.
She was on her way to meet T’Lea at the station’s holodecks when she spotted the woman heading into the maintenance sections. More than a bit curious, she altered her course to find out what the woman was up to. If only she had remembered that old Terran saying about cats and curiosity…
((Back to: Kinsale Luxury Shuttle Transport))
The shuttle was amazing. The lap of luxury for those looking for the very best space flight. T’Lea glanced around, hardly noticing, and more focused on getting information out of Marot, than the classy surroundings.
T’Lea: Yes. You provided maintenance for a ship I’m interested in locating. I sent you the service request number?
Marot nodded and made his way to the shuttle’s cockpit, where he parked himself in the pilot’s seat and began performing pre-flight operations.
Marot: Ah, right, right. I had to look it up and refresh my memory. We get a lot of ships passing through here, you know. Hard to keep track of them all.
T’Lea: I understand. ::beat:: Is there anything you can tell me about the ship? Where it was heading? Who was the Captain? Anything unusual you may recall?
Marot: Well, there was nothing special about the repairs, but the ship itself was not… um. Well, let’s just say looks can be deceiving.
T’Lea: ::frown:: How so?
Marot: Just a second. I need to get clearance.
Once he sensed the woman had moved directly behind his seat, he paused the conversation and placed the call to operations. Within moments he was granted departure for a test flight. The next little pause was construed by T’Lea as a tactic to elicit a reward for his information.
T’Lea: Two slips of latinum.
She reached around him and slapped the slivers of money on the console.
Marot wagged his head in a negative fashion, and then shifted to reach something under the console as if he needed to make a calibration to the hardware.
Marot: No. I’m gonna need more than that. See, I’m a bit of a gambling man. It’s a guilty pleasure, ::smiling back at her:: or a bad habit.
T’Lea rolled her eyes. She hated playing games. More latinum found its way to the console in front of Marot as she reached around him to make another deposit. At first, T’Lea thought that some part of the chair was poking her in the ribs, but when she looked down she saw a small civilian phaser jammed against her heart.
Marot: Gonna need you, to be exact.
T’Lea’s eyes darkened as she lifted them to meet his. Her answer was a simple threat to match his.
Marot: I’m not asking. Now sit down.
He skimmed her mind, but it was too late to reflex a response to her thought. Before he knew it she was on him with an elbow against his jugular, a wicked knee in his crotch, and the other hand repeatedly slamming his gripped phaser into the edge of the console. The action accidentally discharged a heavy stun blast into the command panel, causing a spray of sparks that quickly extinguished.
T’Lea: Who the frell are you?
The gorgeous woman was screaming at him, but all he could hear was the, “gush, gush, gush,” of blood that usually flowed to his head being starved. Was it strange that he found her even more attractive now that she was threatening to kill him?
The faux Bajoran Captain had said that T’Lea was highly volatile. At the time he thought nothing of it. He figured it was a standard statement for him to be careful. Little did he realize that the lovely creature was a hybrid from hell.
T’Lea: Answer me you piece of-
Gush, gush, gush went the stressed circulation in his ears. He had to do something fast before he passed out. So he screamed. But not with his voice, with his mind. A loud, intense, high pitched shriek that pierced the ear drums of his victim, and probably more.
((Lightside station – Corridor 538-46D, Maintenance Section))
Karise had lost sight of T’Lea. She knew the woman had come this way, but where she had gone, Karise couldn’t know. And then she was nearly knocked senseless by a telepathic shout.
T’Lea folded inwardly and away from the man she had captive in his seat. She reached for her head in searing pain, and then felt a boot plant itself in her chest and kick her away. Normally such an impact would have hurt, but it was nothing measured up to the agony lighting up her neural pathways.
When the torture finally subsided, the Romu-vulc glanced up through stinging eyes and saw Marot shaking out his wrist and rubbing his neck. His phaser was now in the other hand, and aimed at her.
Marot: ~~Sit the frak down. Now.~~
And make it easy for him?
He didn’t need to skim her mind this time. He already knew the end result of her statement, and so he shot her.
Down T’Lea crumbled to the deck landing unceremoniously on the floor.
Marot: Damn it. This would have been so much easier if you had just sat down.
He stuffed the phaser in the back of his belt, and reached down for T’Lea’s unconscious body. With great effort and a rather humorous struggle he managed to get her upright and start to move her toward a soft luxury recliner. He was almost there when an unexpected guest appeared in the shuttle door way.
Karise had been able to determine the direction the mental shout had come from, so once she recovered her bearings, she scrambled in that direction. Whatever or whoever had done that had been desperate and could be injured. She found herself outside the door of a rather impressive looking shuttle. She stepped to the door to see if she could see who had shouted and saw a rather strange sight. T’Lea was being held by a man who Karise couldn’t recognize and it appeared she was unconscious.
Indobri oO Was it T’Lea that had shouted? But it didn’t sound like her. Oo
Karise didn’t like what she was seeing and decided she needed to do something. Clearly T’Lea was injured and was going to need some medical attention anyway.
Indobri: Um...Excuse me…
Marot froze with T’Lea in a rather curious embrace. How was he going to explain this?
Marot: Oh. Oh, thank the gods. ::over his shoulder at the console:: There was a short. She said she wasn’t feeling well, and then passed out. Help me get her in the chair.
Indobri oO Well, maybe it was her then. I should look her over, at the very least. Oo
Indobri: Let me take a look at her.
Karise stepped all the way inside and reached for T’Lea’s limp form.
Marot: Who are you? What are you doing here?
Grateful for the assistance from the cute woman, Marot literally handed T’Lea’s body over to her, which put all the difficulty on Indobri and allowed him enough time to make a decision about what to do with her.
Indobri: I’m a doctor. Her doctor, in fact.
Marot: Huh. Well that’s lucky. But not for you.
He pulled the phaser on her.
Marot: Take both comm badges off and throw them out the door.
Karise froze at the sight of the phaser, doing her best not to panic. Clearly she had accidentally stumbled into something untoward. She had a quick flashback to the shared delusion and wondered just how much of T’Lea’s alter ego was really consistent with her true personality. Not that this was her fault. Karise was going to have to think fast if she was going to stay alive. She carefully laid T’Lea down, so as to not injure her any further than she already was.
Indobri: Okay, easy. I am sure we can work things out here.
Marot set the phaser to kill, and gave the weapon a firm point at Indobri.
Marot: I need her alive. Not you. Get rid of the communicators and you live. Simple choice.
She slowly reached down and took T’Lea’s comm badge, then removed her own. Standing slowly, she moved around him, careful to keep him and the phaser in view.
Indobri: :: as she spoke, she used her voice to cover the sound of her activating one of the comm badges :: What do you want with T’Lea?
He strengthened his aim.
Marot: Ask me again.
Indobri: Alright, I will get rid of them. But we’re both Starfleet officers. You don’t really think you’re going to get far after kidnapping two of their officers, do you?
Karise tossed the comm badges out, hopeful that whoever had been listening had heard enough to know they needed assistance.
Marot: Now why did you go and do that?
His mind brushed her motivations, which was surprisingly easy considering a Rodulan’s telepathic abilities. Did she want him to know, or was she truly that weak?
No matter, while yanking the woman away from the door, he struck her across the face with the phaser, allowing him time to seal the hatch.
Indobri: Ahhh. Take it easy.
Marot: Now sit down and strap yourselves in.
That phaser had really hurt and she wondered if he hadn’t knocked a few teeth loose. Karise moved back over to T’Lea and carefully lifted her and strapped her into a seat before moving to the one next to her and strapping herself in.
Indobri: There. No more need for your demonstrations of strength.
Marot: Thank you for your cooperation.
He pulled the trigger unleashing a heavy stun.
Karise barely had time to register the beam of red light before she lost all consciousness.
Marot: Should have done that in the first place.
With a shrug he checked the seat belts, and then headed to the cockpit. The two would be out long enough to meet the faux Bajoran Captain and complete the deal.
((Lightside station – Kensale Shuttle – Dock C-83))
Hurried urgency drove the Betazoid into his seat, and since launch had already been approved for the test flight, he completed the task without delay. In a matter of short seconds the Kinsale luxury transport was up and away from the station with haste.
For a short moment Marot sighed in relief and shook out his bruised wrist. The hybrid from hell had nearly broken it. He rubbed at his neck, and then shifted uncomfortably in his seat, recalling the unpleasant pressure applied to both areas during the struggle. Content that he had avoided any further obstacles, thanks to the Rodulan, Marot relaxed and set the flight plan to warp out.
All was well, until the alarms on his helm controls started wailing. A vicious swear word spat across his lips and he frantically tried to work around the problem that had been triggered when warp attempted to initiate. Major relay systems must have shorted out when the phaser discharged into the console. It looked like a good portion of the helm and propulsion system was fried. That b*tch of a hybrid was a pain in the ass even when stunned, he thought.
Computer: Warning unsafe atmospheric entry in twenty seconds.
He ripped his eyes from the damaged flight controls and saw a sight that made his facial features drop in horror. The planet near Lightside station was fast approaching on a deadly course.
Marot: Computer correct flight path to two-one-nine-three.
The computer chirped at the request, and Marot hoped.
Computer: Unable to comply.
He jumped out of his seat and took the co-pilot's chair thinking that maybe the singed components hadn’t traveled that far. Desperate to find a solution before they burned up in the planet’s atmosphere, Marot tried the other flight console. The response there was hardly any better.
Marot: C’mon you piece of dren…
Computer: Warning unsafe atmospheric entry in fifteen seconds.
Marot: I know! I know! Shut up!
In a last ditch effort he split the working parts of each station between the co-pilot and pilot’s consoles. A sputtering impulse engine responded to the course correction.
Computer: Warning unsafe atmospheric entry in nine seconds.
Marot: No, no, no…
With the shuttle beginning to quake, he stretched over to the co-pilot’s console and clamored to make the correction again. His wrist burned from the previous abuse, and his heart pounded in terror as the shuttle descended on a kamikaze dive toward the planet’s ozone layer.
Computer: Trajectory accepted. Warning unsafe atmospheric entry in three, two-
Marot: ::spoken super-fast:: Computer send out a distress signal on back channel Beta-three. Secure it.
He didn’t want Starfleet picking it up, and he knew his contact was close.
He thought he heard the computer’s chirpy little reply, but couldn’t be certain as he fell into the chair closest to him. The G-forces pulled him into the seat as the shuttle made fiery contact with the atmosphere. He had been able to coax the flight path a little, but the craft was going to take a beating. Lucky for him and his unconscious passengers on board, the planet’s ozone layer had been depleted enough to not be quite as deadly as it could have been in times past. Still, it was no joy ride and the shields were taking the brunt of the punishment.
Suddenly, the white hot flames parted and the abysmal landscape of the planet came into view.
Computer: Shields holding at thirty-seven percent. Impact in twenty-four seconds. Course correction advised.
Marot: No kidding!
He strained against the forces pushing him back and managed to get to his feet. Dividing his efforts between the two consoles, he was able to pull the nose of the vessel up at a more friendly angle to the rapidly approaching ground.
Marot: Reverse thrusters. Initiate. C’mon. Initiate!
Computer: Impact in twelve seconds.
The nightmare roller coaster ride just didn’t seem to end for Marot. He had escaped the frying pan, and now he was about to land right in the fryer. One more system reroute and he tried again as the view grew into a ruined planet, ravaged by the careless toxic neglect of its past occupants.
Computer: Reverse thrusters engaged.
It was a small triumph as the shuttle slowed shortly before impact. The vessel skipped like a stone across rough waters. The shields shimmered as the ground made contact. Huge plumes of ashen-dirt erupted as the craft rolled out of control and landed upside down in a camouflage of ancient city remains and a peculiar contaminant of overgrowth.
Quiet settled across the abandoned land once more. And an eerie stillness gripped the battered transport vessel.
Lieutenant Commander T’Lea
Author ID I238301T10
Lt Commander Karise Indobri, MD
Chief Medical Officer
USS Juneau NX-99801