Star Trek: 31 Pickup

Episode 5

Finale Part One: Burgundy Sands

[MISSION FIVE]

The foul-mouthed Chief Engineer of the Rebel Priscilla had just about enough of the ship’s interfering AI. She was ready to wrest control back from their impromptu computer captor. With a quick nod to her cohort at the helm, fugitive Trill, Fierri Nyx popped the casing of one of the consol’s on the bridge and began her techno fiddling magic.

On route to Regulon, the crew had been given only a cryptic message from their former Colonel as explanation. “Neutralize the planet”

As an order from the presumably great beyond, the directive hadn’t sat well with the current command, one Major Annella Winters. The half Betazoid was in her own quarters at the time of the insurrection. Though she felt it’s effects clearly. Launched out of bed, the Major scrambled to the site of the commotion. Sure as her empathetic abilities would say, her crew was causing trouble out of frustration.

“Your supplies are waiting in the shuttle bay”

Rebel Priscilla’s newfound AI helpfully chimed out while Fierri cussed at the announcement. Not the first time it had been delivered in it’s light but flat voice. The derailment of autopilot had only succeeded in dropping them a stone’s throw away from orbit over planet Regulon. Far enough to take in the sight of it’s dark continents and Saturn like rings of debris.

“Your supplies are waiting in the shuttle bay.”

The planet wasn’t the only thing up on the view screen. Another ship, a Ferengi Merchant’s vessel floated among one of the planet’s rings of debris. Scans indicated that the ship was devoid of personnel and it’s name was the Accounts Payable. Not registered, but known to belong to Tash the Thrifty. The team’s recently spurned paetron. This just got better and better for the three woman fugitive crew.

“Your supplies are waiting in the shuttle bay.”

Young and rambunctious, pilot Penelope Rush was the next one to curse out the AI. Shoving away from her helm and stomping towards the shuttle bay, if only to shut up the computer’s prompts. Fierri was soon to follow, but the Major’s priorities required a brief detour. Underwear and t-shirts didn’t make for the best of mission wear. Usually.

Laid out by an unseen hand, there were three backpacks of survival gear and a large, arm length rifle. The weapon was unusual even to Nyx, who had seen more than her fair share of prototypes in design and out on the field. She picked up the gun curiously and made note of it’s controls, more akin to a transporter’s consol than anything else. Getting the idea of what this new toy might be used for, the engineer turned the gun’s barrel on her friend. “What do you think, Rush?”

“Don’t you dare.”

A challenge issued.

A shot rang out. But instead of blasting a pulse of energy, the beam that came from the gun was a spiral light, widening with length, and slow to move. The pilot dodged the beam, and then pitched herself closer, to clock Fierri with a righteous fist for the attempted experiment. The two teammates continued to circle and fight until Major Annella showed up and summarily snatched the transporter gun away from Fierri.

Teaching them both a lesson, or just joining in on the fun, Annella shot both of her crewmates with the beam, activating the transporting function of the device and shifting them across the shuttle bay to where the cargo transporter pad was located. “That might come in handy.”

But of course, there were more important things to worry about.

Like that empty Ferengi ship, and what potential security measures it might have. Another experiment, this time transporting a simple crate over to the Accounts Payable, and seeing if any alarms were triggered.

The team awaited Priscilla’s scans of the Ferengi vessel with impatience. When they were informed that signs of a new life form were now present, all three stopped to realize that their hard won prize, the time-stopping Ba’ku Ryal, called Isik; was nowhere to be found. As luck would certainly have it, they’d accidentally transported the Isik over to the Ferengi’s ship and now a retrieval operation was necessary.

Being outvoted, and asked to stay behind in case of problems, Lt. Rush would remain on board the Priscilla and monitor the Major and Lt Nyx from afar. The other women were swift to transport over, landing spot on the crate that they’d previously ported. The Ferengi Captain’s quarters was packed with bits and baubles and other things, it might take a little while to locate the tiny rodent.

“It’s like something out of Space Hoarders.”

While Fierri searched, the Major did a little digital snooping of her own. Securing a copy of Tash’s personal logs and sending them to Penelope for review. A quick trip around the ship would not be remiss. Once Nyx found the alien pet, they made way to the Engineering room. A little unnerved by the silence of the empty ship. A vessel capable of only low warp speeds, the Accounts Payable would still make a handy detonation device if it came to that. Or so, that was Fierri’s thinking. Her attempts to rig the ship fell slightly short however, and when the security alarms went off, both the Major and the Engineer hid themselves from the solitary Ferengi grunt sent to investigate. His report was cursory and quick, announcing a false alarm and transporting back down to the surface after a brief look around the ship.

That left Annella and Fierri free to explore at their leisure.

In the meantime, as Lt Rush investigated the Ferengi’s personal logs she came across some entries that implied a partnership between Amry the Orion, Nylor Morris, and Tash himself. With few details, Penelope still reported this new find. What had the Colonel gotten them into?

The Major and Nyx were finding a few interesting things too. Namely, bricks of gold covered Latinum. Enough to ransom a planet, and it was all just sitting here in this unguarded ship. Needless to say, they transported a good supply of those gold bricks back with them. For investigative purposes. Right.

With many more questions than answers, it was time to go down to the surface of Regulon and piece together this mystery. This time, they made sure that Isik was left behind in a secured container.

A desert planet, with deep reddish purple sand, and high, sheer faced mountains. There was only one building standing tall to mar the otherwise natural skyline. A large, white tower. Nearly aglow against the contrast of Regulon’s sand.

The team made their way towards the grand obelisk. Searching for signs of activity and finding only one old, recently abandoned campsite. A shallow cave, with phaser burns and strewn supplies. Some kind of struggle happened here, but the tracks weren’t clear enough to give the full story. Only that one of the party involved had a tail long enough to drag in the sand. This put them in mind of Penelope’s red reptile friend, Ghatt. Could he be here?

All tracks continued towards the tower.

Fifty stories high, the structure was made up of some kind of porous stone-like material. Holes decorated it’s outer walls, enough to see into building. It’s oddly angled floors and spiral stairway up left no clues to who had build this place. At least, no culture that the team knew. While common sense told them that the Ferengi were mining for this Lantinum, and it was likely to be found below the tower, there was a strange pull upward. At least, for Penelope Rush. When she mentioned this curiosity to the Major, the leading Betazoid used her empathetic abilities to scan for more life, and sure enough, Nylor Morris was somewhere up high.

The very top of the tower, as it turned out, and this floor was shrouded in some kind of inky gray light. Giving more an impression of independent shadows. In the center of the floor, Colonel Morris held a black crystal, looking pained and not surprised to find his former team busting in. His wounds were from phaser blasts and his grip on the crystal faltered.

There was not much time for explanations however, as Annella picked up the black gem, a scream tour from her lips.

TO BE CONTINUED

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