United or Untied: A serialized Stev story. Part 2
Part 2 – Part 1 can be viewed here.
Deep Space 3, a Federation outpost, hung in space like a neglected Christmas tree ornament. Starfleet had just enough presence in the sector to protect the space station from attacks by the Klingons, Romulans, and the occasional Breen incursion. At least that was the official position of Starfleet, the sector held no strategic importance and there were no known resources within the sector. The Federation maintained control by default.
The reality of the situation was that the space station was used by most of the quadrant’s adversarial governments as a place to conduct clandestine deals. As such the station had only ever been attacked once, by the Breen. Coming to the defense of the station was a Klingon Bird of Prey, a Romulan Warbird, a Miranda class starship and 20 free traders with ties to the Orion syndicate. The Breen didn’t bother the sector anymore and the respective governments denied the incident.
Stev had already programmed the holographic projectors dotting the Ghost Rider’s exterior. Any external visual scan would be presented with the pockmarked surface of a well-used independent Romulan trading vessel. The computer was also broadcasting a forged identification algorithm that would fool most scanners into reporting the exact same thing. Just because everyone turned a blind eye towards the goings on at Deep Space 3 didn’t mean he needed to advertise his presence by flying the Ghost Rider into the docking bay.
Stev watched the scanners. Soon he had the station pinpointed on his monitor. Minutes later a light began blinking on his console indicating his vessel was being scanned. Stev kept to his cover and played the part of a smuggler by waiting until he was hailed. Sure enough five standard minutes after the scan indicator went off; the Ghost Rider’s comm system indicated an incoming transmission. Stev put it on main speakers.
“Unidentified vessel, this is Deep Space 3. Please state the nature of your visit,” a clearly human voice requested.
“Deep Space 3, this Captain Teven of the Plaplak Jag’r, requesting permission to dock,” Stev replied affecting a Romulan accent.
“Plaplak Jag’r, what is the nature of your mission?”
Stev silenced the comm. Glancing over at his pet, he asked the enhanced tribble, “Phread what is the name of our contact on DS3?”
“According to the mission data we need to ask for Atropos,” the little ball of fur helpfully replied using his computer link.
Thanking his friend by scratching it along its back in an affectionate manner, Stev toggled the comm system, “I have business with Atropos.”
There was brief silence on the other end of the comm system. Stev mentally counted off the seconds it would take the deck officer to query the computer and verify the information. When the Vulcan had reached zero he pointed at the audio panel.
As if on cue, the audio panel snapped to life, “Plaplak Jag’r, proceed to docking bay fourteen, berth five.”
“Bay fourteen, berth five. Roger.”
“Deep Space Three out.”
Stev followed the indicated flight path. Soon the Ghost Rider was nestled in the assigned berth. The Vulcan nonchalantly activated the shuttle’s security systems. He looked squarely at the tribble, “External scanners indicate someone is waiting at the dock for us.”
Phread refrained from sending his response across the monitor and instead chirruped his reply.
Stev stood, “I may not understand tribble, little buddy,” he said looking down at his companion, “but after all the years we’ve been together, I do know sarcasm when I hear it.” Ignoring the tribble’s approximation of a human raspberry, he laughed and walked from the control center of his ship towards the entry hatch.
Stev listened to his ship as the passive security measures cycled into active mode. To the uninitiated ear the sounds would be mistaken for the normal noises associated with a ship preparing for opening its sealed atmosphere to the environment. He stepped out of his ship as soon as the hatch opened and looked carefully at his supposed contact. He was momentarily startled by a familiar face. His Kolinarh training kept him from betraying his surprise. This was not the first time the Vulcan was thankful that he did not allow himself to be ruled by the emotions he chose to experience. If this person was his contact, the passersby did not need to know he knew her. If she was not his contact she didn’t need to know why he was here claiming to be someone other than the person she might remember. One could never be too careful and he did not need to have his cover broken.
“The price of Romulan Ale has gone up recently,” he delivered the first half of the code phrase in a casual tone as stepped out of the ship and onto the deckplate of the starbase.
“Yes, but Klingon Blood Wine is always reasonably priced,” she replied completing the code looking deep into his eyes as if searching for something she thought to be there.
“Atropos?” he stated more than asked.
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