The Solaris Chronicles: “More Ways to Skin a Cat, Part II”
Written by Swordtail
Published July 31, 2007
“Divert auxiliary power to the shields!” Captain Ketrell screamed over the sound of exploding ship. Around him, Solaris was being torn apart under the fire of a Breen battleship.
“Main power is falling,” Lieutenant Tevarin said, “They’ve gotten us with that energy dampening weapon... again!”
“Try remodulating the deflector field,” Commander Ren told him. Behind her, a console exploded, killing a yellow-shirt crewman.
“We can’t take much more of this, captain!” Lieutenant Commander Adair said while frantically trying to fire Solaris’ inoperative weapons.
Ketrell thought about it for a moment and made a decision. “Set a course for DS9, maximum warp.”
“What about Lieutenant Sa’lol?” Lieutenant Frell asked as she input the course in the navigational computer.
“We’ll have to come back for her,” Ren said.
“Engage,” Ketrell ordered, and Solaris, still under siege from the Breen ship, turned away from Farius Prime and went to warp, barely.
In an apartment on Farius Prime, Sa’lol was tapping the back of her neck while scanning herself with a tricorder.
“Sa’lol to Solaris,” she said for the tenth time, “Someone please answer me!”
No sound came out of the sub-dermal transponder implanted in the back of her neck.
“Well, I suppose it’s safe to assume the plan went to shit.”
She took out a medical device from her tool kit and removed the communications device from under her skin. She placed it in a small bottle and put all her Starfleet technology back in the tool kit. Hiding the box under the bed, she pulled on her trenchcoat and left the building.
Walking down the dark street, the Vulcan passed a small alcove in the building next to her and someone who was hidden the shadows called out.
“You’re not thinking of leaving the planet, are you?”
Sa’lol jumped about three metres to the right before regaining her composure.
“Don’t do that!” she yelled at the stranger.
“Calm down, Lieutenant,” the person said, “All I meant was that leaving the planet would certainly piss off Admiral Spot. You’ve got a mission to complete, don’t you?”
Sa’lol quickly reached in and pulled the man out by the front of his coat, revealing him to be about 4 foot 2 and very old looking.
“How do you know all that!?” she yelled in the old man’s face. The man simply grabbed her by the forearm and tossed her over his back. Sa’lol landed with a thud.
“No need to yell,” he said as he reached over and picked up a cane, “I may have a slight bowel control problem, but I’m not deaf.”
“Apparently not,” Sa’lol said, checking herself for internal injuries, “Now, answer my question, because I can assure you I won’t be as easy to flip next time.”
The man motioned for her to follow him. He opened a door on the side of the building and stepped inside. Sa’lol picked herself off the pavement, shrugged her shoulders, and followed him in.
“To answer your first question, I know many things. To answer your second question, you may call me whatever you please.”
“How ‘bout I call you Carl,” Sa’lol said, not liking to be predicted.
“Works for me,” said Carl. He closed the door behind his guest and turned on the lights. They were inside a dark and dingy looking room with a single light and an easychair.
“Alright, so you know who I am,” Sa’lol said, looking around the room, “and I’m assuming you know my situation. Why shouldn’t I leave the planet?”
“Your ship was found,” Carl told her, “but they managed to get away. They’ve gone to Deep Space Nine.”
“Oh perfect,” Sa’lol said, throwing her arms in the air in defeat.
“But they’ll be back,” Carl continued, “Just improvise for the time being.”
“Any words of wisdom,” Sa’lol asked, “you seem to know practically everything else.”
“Only this,” the man said, “There’s an old human proverb. ‘Give a man a match, and he’ll be warm for a few minutes. But light a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.’”
The Vulcan simply raised an eyebrow.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” Carl continued, “it’s time for my afternoon nap.”
With that, the old man promptly fell asleep in the easychair. Sa’lol backed out of the building and turned back toward her own apartment once on the street.
“I think this mission is getting to me,” she said to herself, “The Captain had better come through in spades for this!”
“What do you fuckers want now?” Admiral Nelix was not pleased to see Ketrell and Ren in Deep Space Nine’s lower docking pylon airlock, “I was just about to leave for Earth.”
“Our plan went to shit, sir,” Ren told the angry cat.
“Oh, really, I wouldn’t have known, what with the Breen weapons signatures all over your ship’s hull!”
“Sir, we need to get our science officer back,” Ketrell said.
“Meh, science officers are a dime a dozen anyway,” Nelix told him with a wave of his paw.
“That’s true,” Ren said, “but just think of all the top secret Starfleet knowledge she could be forced to tell the Syndicate. Sounds like a lot of paperwork for you, sir.”
“Fine,” Nelix said, rolling his eyes, “I’ll get you a civilian ship to use to go back and pick up your emotionally confused Vulcan friend.”
With that, Nelix trotted away, muttering about the incompetence of his underlings.
“...Can’t do one simple task!”
“Captain’s log, stardate 59658.9,” Ketrell said as he walked down a corridor onboard Solaris, “after two days, that ship Admiral Nelix promised us has arrived. Unfortunately, we have to buy it from a Ferengi businessman. I hate Ferengi so I ordered Commander Ren to take care of the transaction.”
Ketrell smiled to himself and continued on his way. Meanwhile, in the shuttlebay, Comander Ren and Lieutenant-Commander Dalarsh stood with their mouths hanging open as the most decrepit generic shuttlecraft they had ever seen sat before them.
“I sure hope there’s been some mistake,” Ren said.
The shuttle’s hatch literally fell off as the occupant opened it. A poorly dressed Ferengi stepped out and, all smiles, greeted the two officers.
“Ah, you must be the buyers,” he said, putting on the charm, “This beauty here will fit the bill nicely.”
As they watched, a large hull plate broke loose and fell to the deck with a loud clang.
“Is that thing safe?” Dalarsh asked.
“Of course it’s safe,” the Ferengi assured her, “It’s just a little used, that’s all.”
“Do you think you can fix it up, chief?” Ren asked the Andorian.
“Maybe, but I wouldn’t recommend we travel far in it,” Dalarsh replied.
“I can assure you this baby will get you where you need to go with deuterium to spare,” the Ferengi continued, “And if can be yours for only fourteen bars of gold pressed latinum!”
“I might consider fourteen slips,” Ren said, sarcastically.
“Sold!” the Ferengi said eagerly, holding out a standard Ferengi PADD. Ren, rolling her eyes, put her thumb print on the device and the Ferengi’s smile got even wider.
“It’s been a pleasure doing business with you,” he said as he walked quickly from the room. Dalarsh started examining the shuttle with her tricorder.
“I think we would have better luck fixing the entire Ninth Fleet and going to Farius Prime in force, ma’am,” Dalarsh said with a sigh, “Looks like having the weekend off is a no-go.”
“Just get an engineering team on it right away,” the commander told her, “Valen wants this ready by the time we get within three lightyears of the Farius system.”
“Tell the captain we’d better take the long way,” Dalarsh said as she picked up the broken hull plate.
Ren shrugged her shoulders and left the shuttlebay. Dalarsh tried to put the missing hull piece back in place but it kept falling out. In frustration, she kicked the shuttle and more hull plates fell off.
On Farius Prime, in a massive hangar under the capital city, Chester, standing on a milk crate, gazed up at his prize possession. Above him, resting on massive girders, was the Orion Syndicate Ship OSS Hairball, a heavily modified Sovereign-class starship given to him by Section 31 to help him distract everyone from their actions prior to the rogue Dominion invasion. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry about it. Crews of henchmen were working on repairing the battle damage the ship had suffered and it appeared they were almost done.
The secretary from Orion Vacuums Syndicated came in leading Sa’lol. They both walked up to Chester.
“Here’s the woman I was telling you about,” the secretary told her boss, “the scientist who invented that new liquid compressor that’s going to make millions.”
The secretary left them and exited the room. Sa’lol looked around, sizing up the situation, and not really paying attention to the ship.
“So,” Chester said, still gazing at the ship, “What do you think of her?”
“Well she’s attractive, but I doubt I’m her type,” Sa’lol said, apparently talking about his secretary. Chester turned to look at her.
“I meant the ship!” he hissed.
“Oh,” Sa’lol said, “Yeah, it looks fine. What’s it doing here?”
“It suffered battle damage, and needs to be repaired.”
“Why don’t you use a shipyard,” Sa’lol asked, acting dumb.
“Our organization isn’t exactly... sanctioned by the Federation,” Chester said, testing her.
“The Federation isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be,” Sa’lol said, without missing a beat.
“Our thoughts exactly,” Chester said, smiling (about as well as a cat can), “Now, we still need a science officer, so I thought of you.”
“Thanks, I’m honoured,” Sa’lol said, then, “Why, are we going on a trip?”
“Uh huh,” Chester said, now staring at the ship again, “The Federation is at its weakest right now, we could easily liberate half a dozen worlds before Starfleet could mobilize their forces.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Sa’lol said, hiding her shock at the suddenness of the planned attack, “When do we leave?”
“In five hours. Go pack.”
Sa’lol walked quickly toward the elevator that would take her out of the hangar, a concerned look on her face.
“Son of a bitch!”
In Shuttle Bay 2, on Solaris, Ketrell stepped into the old shuttle, where Lieutenant-Commander Dalarsh and a crew of engineers were welding things back into place.
“What’s the verdict?” he asked his chief engineer.
“Beats me,” Dalarsh said, “I’ve been just working on the aft power coupling for the past three hours. Ask one of these guys if it will fly or not.”
One of the nameless yellow shirts spoke up.
“It’ll fly, but not smoothly,” he said, “Take plenty of barf bags.”
Lieutenant-Commander Adair stepped aboard and looked around.
“Holy...” he said, letting his jaw drop, “The Commander wasn’t kidding around about this thing.”
“Are you ready?” Ketrell asked him.
“Let’s see,” Adair said, counting on his fingers, “Compression rifles, photon grenades, transporter scramblers, micro-photon torpedo launcher, and a year’s supply of phaser power packs. Yep, I’m ready.”
“Did you pack barf bags?” Ketrell asked him.
“I’ll tell you later,” the captain continued, “Dalarsh, are you done yet?”
“I guess so,” she said, “Try it. Everyone else get away from this thing, in case it explodes.”
“In case it explodes?” Ketrell asked her.
“Just kidding, sir!”
“Oh and get the weapons fixed!” Adair yelled.
“Alright! I will!” she said.
Dalarsh and her engineering team packed up and left the shuttle. Three of them picked up the shuttle hatch and pushed it into place where it locked, barely. Adair and Ketrell took seats at the front of the shuttle and turned on the engines. The shuttle rocked back and forth as the antigravity thrusters engaged.
“Here goes nothing,” Ketrell said.
“Speak for yourself,” Adair countered.
The port shuttlebay doors opened and the shuttle flew out through the forcefield, barely. As soon as it cleared the ship, the two officers laid in a course for Farius Prime and went to warp.
A few hours later, the shuttle dropped out of warp after losing a nacelle. Luckily, they had made it into the Farius system by then.
“Start scanning for that transponder signal,” Ketrell ordered.
“Already found it,” Adair told him, “but it’s not transmitting medical stats like its supposed to.”
“Damn,” Ketrell said, “She must have been discovered. They either removed it or killed her. Either way, she’s dead.”
”C’est la vie,” Adair said, “Now what?”
“Now we have to fill out a lot of paperwork,” Ketrell complained, “but we have to get back to Solaris first, which could be a problem with one nacelle.”
“Uh, speaking of problems...” Adair said, looking out the front window. Ketrell glanced up and saw a Sovereign-class starship, painted nearly all black, with obvious weapons platforms all across its hull. All the windows had been tinted and it had no license markings along the nacelles, clearly indicating it was evil. The only thing that was written across the hull were the words “OSS Hairball,” and below that “KAT-02” as a registration number.
“Oh, crap,” Ketrell said. However, the six hundred eighty-five metre long vessel simply passed slowly over them.
“Well,” Adair said, reading a console, “Fifty-six disruptor cannons, twenty three phaser arrays, ten torpedo launchers covering all sides of the ship, and I’m picking up photon, quantum, and tricobalt torpedo signatures... lots of them.”
“We have to follow them,” Ketrell said, “Are there any blind spots on their sensors?”
“Actually, yes,” Adair replied, “All the nadion emissions from all their weapons have interacted with their plasma exhaust, making a convenient mixture that interferes with their aft sensors. If we stay right behind them, they’ll never see us.”
“Setting a course,” Ketrell turned the shuttle around and put it between the Hairball’s warp nacelles.
“Please no one look out a window right now,” Ketrell said, then, “Well, they’ve set a course for Earth... fancy that.”
Adair slammed his forehead against his console and let out a sigh.
“Why does everyone in the entire universe hate us?” he said to no one in particular.
“Is that a rhetorical question or would you like an answer?” Ketrell asked.
“That’s it,” the human said, getting angry, “That’s the last fucking straw. I don’t care how much energy it takes, or how many ships, but we’re moving the fucking homeworld somewhere where no one can find us!”
To Be Continued