“Are you sure?!”
Mike was up and moving out of the cafeteria in a flash, with Cindie hot on his heels.
“I think so…” Mike shook his head vigorously as he walked, almost losing his balance and bracing against a wall for a moment.
“I think so… it isn’t good, whatever it is… and they’ve got days on us.”
“I’ll get on a comm channel, let Starfleet know.”
“No good there,” Mike grunted, righting himself and continuing on down the hall. The taste of copper in his mouth wasn’t going away.
“I’ve checked most of the channels. Not even the guys planetside know where the meeting is and, if we started talking about it, they’d have reason to throw us in the brig for sure.”
“So secret that the people who should know don’t?” Cynthia slapped a palm to her forehead as the made their way to the console room, “sounds like government work all right.”
“We’ve got to get there before they can… and stop them,” Mike leaned against the wall again as they reached the console room and Cynthia opened the door.
“I don’t think you’re going anywhere,” she replied, looking him over skeptically.
“Have to,” Mike grunted a reply, “Code’s not completed. I’ll have to fix it on the way.”
“But… you can’t! With your condition–”
“I know about my condition,” he snapped back, “we need to get a ship. Good one. Fast one.”
“And who’s going to fly it, Turtle? You?”
“If I have to.”
“I was going to say ‘I’d like to see that,’ but I think you’re a big enough fool to try.”
They both headed into the console room to find Humak still at his post, dutifully checking communication channels.
“Humak, what on Earth are you still doing here?” Cynthia groaned, exasperated.
“I am not allowed to leave the console unattended without all of the equipment being shut down properly and the door locked.”
“And you couldn’t possibly have shut things down up here?”
“I’m not authorized to do so.”
“Fine,” Cynthia grumbled, plopping into her chair, “then can you tell me what ships we have in dock right now? Good ships… fast ships?”
She glanced over to Mike who was still leaning against the door frame, studying a piece of paper through bleary eyes.
“Of course, Commander,” Humak immediately spun back round and ran a report, “May I ask why you are requesting this report?”
“Do you have to?”
“I can request clarification of any order given me by superior command as part of Protocol–”
“Okay, fine,” Cynthia shook her head in disbelief, “It turns out there is a massive conspiracy to assassinate the Federation President who is currently at a secret meeting in an undisclosed location but, due to the aforementioned conspiracy, the assassins have gained access knowledge of the location through use of a highly sophisticated code. Our Mr. Pyke, also known as Mr. Smith, has cracked the code and now we need a fast ship to intercept the assassins before it’s too late.”
She rattled it all off pitch-perfect, like a rank-and-file Starfleet briefing, even going so far as to straighten her spine and assume a properly professional posture. Once done, she allowed her shoulders to sag a little and looked down at Humak, grinning wolfishly. Humak sat there, as close to dumbfounded as he would allow himself to display, only allowing his eyes to widen and his eyebrows to jump as he sat rooted to his chair.
The screen behind him made a noise, and they both took a look at the report.
“Well, aren’t you in luck, Turtle,” Cynthia chuckled, turning back to the doorway, “looks like we’ve got one in dock that… Turtle?”
Mike was slumped against the doorway, gently snoring. Cynthia, still laughing a little, made her way over to the young man and gently tapped on his nose.
“Come on, Turtle. You can’t save the Federation if you’re asleep.”
He came to with a start, snorting and nearly falling over.
“Wha-? Oh… shit! How long was I out for? What happened? Did we find a ship? We’ve got to go! We–”
“Everything’s fine, Turtle. Everything’s fine.”
“Tell me that when Khitomer’s safe.”
“All in good time,” Cynthia replied, “the Catalina’s in for a refuel and Captain Ruesch owes us one for that Klingon incident. I’ve sent him a message on the hailing frequency, and he should be getting back to–”
“Ahoy, Churchill! I hear you need a lift?”
Within minutes, the console room had been shut down (according to Starfleet specifications, as Humak insisted) and the three of them were heading down to the dock. Cynthia gave them a briefing
“With the Catalina crew being on shore leave, looks like it’s going to be up to us to get that tub out there. I’ll take the maintenance crew for engineering, and Humak, I’ll need you to navigate.”
“I ought to hold enough sway with the Federation to get them to pay attention… I hope. We’re technically hijacking this tub; Captain Ruesch might get court-martialed for this, and they might just choose to blow us out of the sky over Khitomer.”
“Cha…charming,” Mike replied, clearly huffing and puffing to keep up with Humak’s easy stride and Cynthia’s shorter, but stronger steps.
“I figure it’s all in the job description,” Cynthia replied with a dangerous looking smile.
“Funny,” Mike gasped, “I don’t remember getting a job description.”
They had finally reached the docking area, where a group of men and women, young and old, all grizzled and smeared with grease, were standing ready. Cynthia nodded to them, and they began to board the Catalina. Cynthia let out a mammoth sigh.
“Can’t believe I’m doing this…” she confided to Mike as Humak began delegating orders, “But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t. Where did you say they were, last you checked?”
“Last transmission says they’re still good distance out,” Mike said, poring over his notes, they approached the airlock of the Catalina as he continued, “you should be able to catch up without engaging warp, maybe Warp 1. I’ll let you know if I get anything new: I figured I’d set up my studies in the mess hall onboard: big tables, lots of room for–”
His words were cut off as Cynthia boarded the ship and held up a hand. He could go no further.
“Turtle,” her voice was heavy, “someone needs to stay behind and monitor the situation. With your condition, I can’t put you on this ship.”
“I’d be fine! I’d-”
“I can’t!” Cynthia shouted back, worried, forcing tears back into the corners of her eyes, “you’ve got to stay here. We need you here, Mike. Get back to the console and release the mag-locks so we can get on our way. Please…”
Mike himself was trying to hold back tears from the black circles around his eyes, and doing a significantly worse job at it. He nodded curtly, harshly.
“Are you sure?!”