Author: Alan Decker, Anthony Butler
By Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
“Renovations” concept by Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
“I miss my stars,” Commander Lisa Beck sighed as she watched the scene outside of ops rotate lazily by. Lately, the viewports were crammed with the dull gray of hull plates and the effervescent glow of warp nacelles passing by. Beck just had to admit it. Waystation’s mission was successful; unfortunately, that success was causing a major traffic jam.
“Look at that,” Lieutenant Craig Porter said, stepping up behind Beck and looking over her shoulder. “The Captain of the Nottaway is changing her pants again.”
Beck scowled and turned away from the viewport. “Go back to your station, Porter.”
“Don’t worry, Commander. I’m sure the men’s lockerroom on the Arkan will be rotating by shortly.”
“I’m not in the mood tonight, Lieutenant,” Beck said, pushing by Porter and heading over to the docking console, where Lieutenant Commander Walter Morales, Waystation’s first officer, was busily trying to direct the maelstrom of traffic outside.
“Maysfield, two degrees to port…no, no, starboard! Watch it, T’san!” Morales frantically tapped at the docking console as tiny icons spun haphazardly around his screen.
Beck placed a hand on Morales’s shoulder. “How are you holding up, Commander?”
“Just great. Two Benzite transports just tried to dock at the same arm and almost crashed. Meanwhile, there’s a Pakled freighter that’s asking for emergency permission to dock. The Captain is saying they have two hundred kilos of raspberry jello to deliver and it’s going bad as we speak, and they’re demanding to know when Lieutenant Russell’s going to pay for his case of whipped cream.”
“Whipped–? Wait, I don’t even want to know.” Beck held up her hand. “Listen, just tell them the lot’s full.”
“But what about the jello?” Morales asked. “I said we’re full!”
“But there’s always room for jello,” Porter said with a smirk.
Beck glared at Porter and stormed into the turbolift. “I’m breaking for dinner. I’ll be back when this mess is over.”
“Nice knowing you!” Porter said, waving.
Beck’s grimace deepened as the turbolift doors closed.
Commander Beck was put in mind of Christmas as she pushed through the throng of shoppers in Starfleet Square Mall. She was bombarded by voices, exotic smells, and recieved several suspicious nudges as she made her way to the Andorian restaurant for what she hoped might be a nice, quiet meal. As she passed Bradley Dillon’s supply depot, three phaser blasts seared the air over her head. Beck’s Starfleet training took over as she whipped her head around, trying to ascertain what had happened.
Two especially grungy-looking Yridians fell to the deck at Beck’s feet.
“Sorry, Commander,” Bradley said, holstering his gleaming Klingon disruptor.
Beck looked up at Bradley. “I take it these guys didn’t like your easy credit terms?”
Bradley shook his head. “Shoplifters. Since security has been spread so thin lately I’ve taken to defending my own store. Puts me in mind of the ancient frontier days. You know, man fighting to survive against–”
“Lieutenant Russell,” Beck said tiredly. “Clean-up in the Mall. Section twelve.”
“On my way,” came a hurried reply from Russell “…eventually.”
Sighing, Beck continued on to the restaurant, not caring to stay and chat with Bradley Dillon.
As she made her way across the mall, Beck suddenly became aware of a voice rising above all the others.
“This way. Keep it moving. This isn’t a tourist spot. Buy or leave… no browsing!” Lieutenant Colonel Dan O’Neal barked, waving an orange flag officiously at the customers as they squirmed by.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Beck asked, irritated.
O’Neal straightened to attention. “Supervising crowd control on the main throughfare, SIR!”
“On whose authority?” Beck said. “Wait a minute, let me guess. Lazlo.”
“The Colonel believes that a Marine precence is necessary to ensure the safety of Waystation’s occupants, SIR!”
Beck took a deep breath. “First of all, that’s getting really irritating. Second, Lazlo doesn’t have the authority to post you boobs all over my station like some kind of damned occupation force!”
“Just following orders, SIR!”
“Do that again and I slap you,” Beck said, looking around the crowded mall. “Now where’s Lazlo?”
O’Neal let the faintest of grins cross his face. “That’s classified, SIR!”
The faint grin disappeared as soon as O’Neal saw the expression on Beck’s face. “Well, you’d better declassify it quick or I’ll have to classify you out the nearest airlock!”
The marine lost his practiced rigidity for a moment. “Uh…he’s outside directing traffic from aboard the Mongoose, s–ma’am.”
“Who does he think he is, a f**king crossing guard!” Beck said angrily.
She decided to hold off on dealing with Lazlo until after dinner. Besides, Morales could probably use all the help he could get.
On her way to the Andorian restaurant, Beck decided to poke her head into Lieutenant Russell’s office. When she arrived there, she realized that would be easier said than done. A long line of complaintants grumbled expectantly outside Russell’s office. Every couple of minutes, a bell would ring, and the number on the digital readout outside the office would increase by one.
“Now serving number one ninety-four,” the computer said in a nasal voice.
Two battered Klingons banged their heads together and proceeded into the office.
“What is this?” Beck asked, peering through the window and into Russell’s office.
“The ninth circle of hell,” a rather depressed looking Benzite said, lowering his head as he trudged forward in the line.
A couple of phaser blasts later, the bell sounded again.
“Now serving number one ninety-five.”
Beck decided it was best not to bother Russell at the moment.
Not surprisingly, the Andorian restaurant was packed.
With great trepidation, Commander Beck stood on her toes in an attempt to seek out her usual waiter. “Baughb!”
The ungainly Andorian precariously balanced a dish of flaming muflat in one hand and a freshly baked hughar pot pie in the other. “We are kind of busy right now, Commander.”
“Looks like it. Table for one.”
Baughb set the trays down at their respective tables and wiped a hand across his forehead, needling his way over to the podium where he greeted customers. “Let’s see…okay, something should come along in about two days.”
“TWO DAYS?” Beck asked incredulously. “You’ve got to be joking.”
Baughb indicated the seats in the food court behind Beck. “See all the people out there?
“What about them?”
“They’re all ahead of you in line for a table.”
“I don’t believe it. Some of them are eating.”
“If you’d been waiting here two days you might get hungry too.”
“Then why are they still here if they’ve already eaten?”
“Because they’re waiting for tomorrow’s dinner. Truth be told I don’t think they’re going to make it. However, Soup-on-a-Stick is supposed to be quite good.”
“Maybe I’ll just eat in my quarters,” Beck mumbled, turning on a heel.
“Commander, Commander, wait!” Ih’mad, the owner of the Andorian restaurant said, pushing through the crowd insistantly. He glared at Baughb.
“You imbecile! She’s the station commander!” Ih’mad turned to Beck. “Of course we have room for you! Come this way!”
Beck shrugged at Baughb as she folloed Ih’mad through the restaurant to her normal corner table. There, two Vulcans were enjoying a nice dish of grildarn spine salad-well, enjoying it as much as two vegetarians can enjoy something with a spine sticking out of it anyway.
“Well, thanks for coming, I’ll just put this on your tab!” Ih’mad said hurriedly, grabbing the Vulcans by the shoulders and forcefully shoving them toward the door.
“But we barely started eating,” one of the Vulcans said.
“It is not logical to eject us from the restaurant before we have finished our meal,” the other added, as Ih’mad heaved both of them out the door and onto the hard deck in front of the restaurant.
Baughb scuttled up to Ih’mad and handed him the unfinished bowl of salad. “Sir?”
“Here!” Ih’mad said, grabbing the bowl and hurling it at the Vulcans. “You can have it to go!”
Ih’mad returned to Beck’s table, bowing apologetically. “Sorry for the wait, ma’am. Care to see the wine list?”
Beck peered out the window at the Vulcans as they dusted off their rear ends and headed toward the soup place. “Are you sure they didn’t mind leaving early?”
The Andorian waved a hand dismissively. “Of course not. They said they were happy to let you have their table. Something about the needs of the one outweighing the needs of the many.”
“How nice,” Beck said, perusing the menu. After a quick glance, she looked back up at Ih’mad. “Could you tell me what the organ of the day is?”
“Yaxix lung in a delicious Marsala wine sauce, served over a bed of fluffy zzztrsis pilaf.”
“Sounds delicious,” Beck said. “I’ll have that and a cup of v’haspant with extra cream. And lay off the cinnamon this time!”
“Yes ma’am!” Ih’mad said, grabbing the menu and hurrying off to the kitchen.
Beck sat back and took a deep breath.
The Commander had almost let every nerve that had tightened in her body relax when she heard someone clear her throat.
“Can I talk to you for a minute, Commander?” Dr. Amedon Nelson asked, taking a seat before Commander Beck could even reply.
“Well, I guess so,” Beck said reluctantly. “What’s on your mind?”
“A caseload higher than a Klingon’s hair and twice as knotty,” Nelson sighed. “Where are all these people coming from?”
“Where aren’t they coming from is a better question,” Beck said, taking her v’haspant as the waiter gave it to her. She took a sip. “All over, I guess. Ever since the Multek problem was put on the back burner, more and more travelers are coming through here to head out to the frontier. The core of the Federation is getting crowded and people need room.”
“The galaxy is huge!” Nelson griped. “Why does everyone need to crowd in here?”
“Beats me. I could certainly think of better places to loiter.”
“Now serving number two hundred eight.”
Lieutenant Sean Russell put his head down on his desk hoping against hope that he’d fall into a mysterious coma that would take him away from all of this.
“Now serving number two hundred eight,” the computer repeated. Russell looked up. His office was empty. No angry people were waving their fists and screaming at him. Maybe he’d finally gotten through the entire line. A glance out the window blasted his tiny bit of hope into a million pieces. The line of complaints still stretched off down the mall concourse as far as he could see. At the head of the line, Krilik, the owner of the Klingon formal wear shop, was struggling with two female Tellarites. Russell wearily pulled himself out of his chair and went to see his next customers.
“What seems to be the problem?” he asked as Krilik and the two women tugged at a white dress made totally out of sparkling beads.
“They are ruining my creation,” Krilik said.
“I saw it first.”
“Not a chance, you bloated housak!”
“Just pick one of them, Krilik. It’s your shop,” Russell said. “I don’t have time for this.”
“You will make the time. I am an artist. These petty squabbles fall under your domain, human.”
“You always manage to make that sound so derrogatory.”
“Stop changing the subject. Do something!”
“Fine. Fine.” Russell turned to the battling Tellarites. “Ladies, if I could have your attention.”
They ignored him.
“You are too fat for this dress anyway!”
“Not for long! I’m on a diet!”
“Ladies, can we settle this peacefully?” Russell pleaded. “I’d hate to have to throw you in the brig over some crime of fashion.”
“NEVER! I will die with this dress clutched in my hands.”
“Have it your way.” The two Tellarites charged each other, falling to the deck in a flurry of hands and hooves.
“Ladies! Please!” Russell reached into the melee and tried to push the combatants apart. A brief pummeling later, Russell decided stronger measures were going to be necessary.
“Forget them!” Krilik shouted. “Save the dress!”
Russell spotted a section of the beaded garment just within reach. He grabbed it and gave it a swift tug. The dress immediately exploded in a hail of beads all over the floor.
“Oops,” Russell said softly.
“You patak!” Krilik bellowed, raising his arms to throttle Russell. He took two steps forward, then slipped on the beads. With a hideous shriek, the Klingon dressmaker toppled to the deck.
“Must be my lucky day,” Russell thought. He turned away from Krilik and realized how horribly wrong he was. Beings of every size and description were falling into one another as the beads rolled haphazardly along the deck. Collisions were leading to arguments to fights to brawls to battles to…total anarchy.
After being roughly ejected from the Adorian restaurant, the two Vulcans, Vonk and Sputnik, purchased two plomeek soups on a stick and entered Dillon’s Supply Depot. The store was crowded with potential customers, making it difficult for the Vulcans to peruse the shop’s wares in order to ascertain what supplies would be most beneficial to their journey into the unexplored reaches of the Beta Quadrant.
“I believe that horta repellent will be unnecessary,” Vonk said as Sputnik examined a bottle.
“I was merely attempting to understand the logic of repelling a species known to be benevolent.”
“Move it, pointy,” a burly Nausicaan grumbled as he pushed past Vonk and Sputnik, ramming them into the rack of shelves.
“Hey! You over there! The Vulcans!” a voice shouted above the din. The Vulcans noticed a man behind the sales counter pointing at them. A brief consideration of the situation allowed them to deduce that this was Bradley Dillon, the store’s proprietor.
“No food or drink allowed!” Bradley said, brandishing a phaser. “Get out until you’re done eating…and don’t drip anywhere!”
“I am thus far not finding our visit to Waystation to be amenable,” Vonk said.
“A most astute observation,” Sputnik replied.
Vonk turned to leave, accidently smashing his soup-on-a-stick against the arm of another Nausicaan.
“I believe that you have made a serious error,” Sputnik said.
“Indeed,” Vonk replied calmly. The Nausicaan roared, grabbed Vonk by his ears, and tossed him across the store. The still unfazed Vulcan collided with two surprised Betazoids, sending the entire group smashing into another set of shelves.
“I told you I sensed hostility,” one of the Betazoids gasped.
“You should not have attacked my companion,” Sputnik said, facing the Nausicaan.
“Why? Did you want to be first?” The Nausicaan grabbed for Sputnik, but the Vulcan quickly reached up and applied the nerve pinch to the angry being’s shoulder. The Nausicaan hit the floor unconscious a second later. Unfortunately, his two companions noticed the confrontation.
“Neat trick,” one of the Nausicaans said. “Too bad you won’t be able to do it anymore.”
“And why is that?” Sputnik asked, confused.
“Because I’m about to rip off both your arms.”
“Everyone freeze!” Bradley Dillon shouted. No one was paying attention. In fact, most of the customers were far too busy avoiding flying bodies and hurtling pieces of valuable merchandise to notice. His entire store was engulfed in violence. Not one to be left out, Bradley started shooting.
“I said MOVE ALONG!” Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal shouted, making sure to send ample amounts of spittle into the face of his poor victim.
“I want my mommy!” the child in front of him wailed.
“You lost your money in that vending machine fair and square, young man.
Accept your casualties and move on, soldier!”
“You act this way toward children below the age of ascension,” a deep voice said from behind O’Neal. “You have no honor.”
O’Neal slowly turned and faced the newcomer.
“You have a problem with my style, mister,” O’Neal said, going toe to toe with the Klingon warrior who had intervened.
“Your…style…is nothing but cowardice,” the Klingon replied, baring his set of jagged teeth.
“And you’re blocking my traffic flow,” O’Neal said. “Move along before I have to take you down.”
“I will enjoying individually snapping every bone in your bloody carcass.”
“You want a piece of me?”
“When I am finished, pieces are all that will remain.”
Tired of the witty repartee, O’Neal threw the first punch.
“Would you care to order, ma’am?” Baughb asked Dr. Nelson.
“Water,” Nelson said. “And keep the chunks out of it.”
Baughb bowed stiffly and headed off toward the kitchen.
“I don’t understand how you can eat this stuff,” Nelson said, wrinkling her nose in disgust as Beck sliced off a hunk of yaxix lung.
“I spent a week on Andor with my Academy roommate visiting her family for the Festival of Garnish. Earth cuisine wasn’t exactly available.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to keep eating the crap.”
“I happen to like it, Doctor,” Beck said, raising her fork. She stopped and turned her head a bit toward the mall.
“Do you hear something?” she asked.
“It sounds like thunder.”
“With all those bodies milling around out there, I can’t see a thing,” Nelson replied.
Suddenly, one of the milling bodies flew up above the crowd and smashed through the restaurant window, landing with a thud in the unused Mishtak pit.
“We have Mishtak!” Baughb exclaimed happily.
“No, we don’t,” Ih’mad replied. “Only paying customers are eligible for the free meal according to Andorian tradition.” Two more bodies flew through the windows, landing on tables and diners.
“Then what is this?” Baughb asked.
“A riot,” Ih’mad replied. “Get the flamethrower.”
“I think we may have just overextended our seating capacity,” Nelson said.
“Oh hell,” Beck said softly, pushing her plate away. “Better grab a knife, Amedon. This could get ugly.”
“Uglier than your dinner? I doubt it.”
“Shut up and fight.”
Several minutes earlier, Lt. Commander Morales tapped madly at the docking console in a vain attempt to keep the tangle of ships outside Waystation from bumping into one another. “I don’t care what you plan on doing to my nervous system, Hvark, you can’t dock.”
“You realize we are here to bring resupply to the Andorian restaurant on your station,” the Hvark’s Andorian captain said threateningly.
“Listen, I think this station’s inhabitants can get by on canned spleen pie for a day or so.”
“By the Hive! Spleen pie is only good fresh!”
“Tell it to our complaint department,” Morales said, closing the channel and hailing the next in a long line of ships trying to dock.
Zzzk’varrnix, captain of the Hvark, cracked his knuckles. “This is ridiculous. They think we’ll just sit by while they show favor to some weenie Vulcans and idiot Pakleds?”
“Evidently,” Zzzk’varrnix’s first officer replied from behind him.
“Well, I’m not about to sit by and watch them defame our good name.”
“By putting us on a waiting list?”
Zzzk’varrnix slammed a fist into his command chair. “This spleen waits for no one! Helm, plot new course! Take us as close as you can to the port side of the upper saucer!”
“May I ask what you are planning?” the first officer asked.
“We’re dropping off this cargo if this it is the last thing I do!” Zzzk’varrnix cried.
The first officer briefly wondered if this would be the last thing any of them did.
“Well,” Morales said, sighing, “it looks like things may clear up after all.” Waystation’s executive officer took a moment to stretch his aching back before returning to the docking console. “Yeoman Boyle, how about getting me a nice cup of–”
“Sir!” Porter called out from the science console. “The Hvark is heading towards us!”
“Get the shields up,” Morales commanded.
“Too late…they’re already within our shield perimeter!”
Morales covered his eyes. “I can’t believe I’m saying this. Open a channel to the Mongoose.”
Aboard the Federation Marine Starship Mongoose, Colonel Martin Lazlo acknowledged Lt. Commander Morales’s plea for help. “I see you’ve lost control of your operation, Mr. Morales. Never fear. That’s exactly why I’m here. To clean up after you.”
“How about helping us with about a third the snippyness and twice the efficiency?” Morales asked angrily.
“Stand by. I’ll dispense with these Andorians presently,” Lazlo said, cutting the channel. “Lieutenant Hodges, bring us around to intercept the Andorian vessel.”
“Aye sir,” Lt. Stephanie Hodges, the Mongoose’s pilot, replied. She steered the boxy vessel around the perimeter of the upper saucer and dipped it down towards the Andorian vessel as it dove through a mass of ships towards Waystation’s upper saucer. “Colonel, it looks like they’re making a run for the Mall’s secondary cargo offloading port.”
Lazlo briefly studied his sensors. “A Pakled vessel is already docked there. What are they trying to do?”
“Knowing Andorians,” Hodges said gravely, “they’ll probably try to bully the Pakleds out of their parking spot.
“We’ll see about that,” Lazlo replied. “Open a channel. A stern warning from the authority of the Federation Marines should suffice.”
“Don’t count on it,” Hodges muttered under her breath.
“Raise the Pakleds!” Zzzk’varrnix ordered, leaning forward in his command chair, his antennae twitching madly in the heat of conflict–something he had sorely missed since his days with the Andorian guard.
The captain of the Pakled vessel appeared, twiddling his fingers nervously. “Hi. We like to unload stuff.”
“You’re finished unloading,” Zzzk’varrnix hissed. “Disembark and be on your way!”
“But we still have stuff!”
“Explain it to them, Faarx!”
The weapons officer grinned toothily and stabbed the firing button. Zzzk’varrnix watched as the phasers ripped into the Pakled vessel.
“You are strong. We must leave!”
“Shelat right you’re leaving!” Zzzk’varrnix cried.
Suddenly the speakers on the cramped bridge of the Hvark crackled to life. “Andorian vessel, this is Colonel Martin Lazlo of the Federation Marines Corps. Power your weapons down now and move your ship to a safe distance. You have violated–”
“Cease that drivel,” Zzzk’varrnix barked. “And prepare to dock.”
“It appears they’re ignoring you, sir,” Hodges said helpfully from the pilot’s chair.
“I can see that,” Lazlo snapped. “Lock a tractor onto them.”
“Sir, that ship is significantly larger than–”
“I said LOCK A TRACTOR ONTO THEM!”
“Yes, sir,” Hodges said, quickly tapping in the necessary controls.
Zzzk’varrnix leaned forward eagerly as he watched the docking port grow closer on the viewscreen. “Very soon, my precious spleen, you will be home.” Suddenly the Andorian Captain thrusted forward out of his chair, nearly slamming into the viewscreen. Zzzk’varrnix reeled around. “What of all hives was that?”
“The Federation Marine ship locked a tractor beam on us,” Farrx explained.
“That ship is no match for us. Increase engines to full and continue towards the docking port!”
“They’re pulling us along with them,” Hodges reported as the hull of the Mongoose whined with stress. “Sir, we have to power down the tractor beam. With that kind of shearing force, it’ll give out any minute!”
“I know the risks, Hodges. Keep on that beam and back us off…full thrusters!”
“Are you questioning me?” Lazlo asked angrily.
Hodges shrugged. “Okay, it’s your funeral.” With an ear-splitting creak, the Mongoose pulled back on the Hvark with every bit of power it had. For a few moments the two vessels just sat there in space, engines thrumming as hard as they could to pull in two opposite directions without making much progress, until…
…the tractor beam short-circuited, causing the panel in front of Lazlo and Hodges to explode in a hail of sparks.
The Mongoose flew backwards, out of control.
“Uh, Commander…” Porter said slowly as he looked up from his scans.
“What now?” Morales asked wearily.
“Look!” Porter keyed up the image on the viewscreen. Morales watched the Mongoose fly backwards towards a mass of ships. More disturbingly, however, was the fact that the Andorian freighter it had been tractoring was flying right towards the docking port.
“Impact on the upper saucer!” Porter cried, as Waystation rattled from the collision. “The Hvark slammed into the docking port and compromised the hull in two places! Raising forcefields to compensate.”
“Never send a jerk to do a man’s job,” Morales sighed. “Send to all ships, Mr. Porter…collision alert…clear off!’
Everyone in the Starfleet Square Mall stopped rioting around the time the Hvark crashed into the station.
Dr. Nelson pushed herself off the Nausicaan she’d been beating and looked up at the darkened, smoke-filled scene. “What the hell was that?”
“Something’s crashed into us,” Beck wheezed, pushing her hair out of her face with one hand and slapping her comm badge with the other. “Beck to Ops.
“We had a problem with an Andorian freighter, Commander,” Morales’s voice replied. “They crashed into the docking port and are currently lodged there pretty tight. Forcefields are compensating for the hull breach right now but they did a hell of a lot of damage.”
“Russell, start trying to clean up the mess here while Nelson and I check out the docking port,” Beck said, pointing for Nelson to follow her down the corridor to the docking port.
Ih’mad threw down his flamethrower. “Did you hear that, Baughb? The spleen!”
“Not the spleen!” Baughb said worriedly.
The Andorian restauranteur grabbed Baughb by an antenna and dragged him behind in the direction that Beck and Nelson had taken. “Let’s go. Maybe it’s still edible!”
“Someone stop this thing!” Lazlo screamed, as the Mongoose spun haphazardly through space.
“The whole power grid is shorted,” Hodges explained, trying to find the manual thruster override among the burning mess that was the Mongoose’s control board. “We don’t even have maneuvering thrusters!”
Lazlo was about to snap back with something, but the view outside the transparent aluminum viewport stopped him cold. They were flying right towards a Bolian transport.
With a clang, the Mongoose slammed against the transport’s shields and bounced back in the opposite direction.
Morales and Porter watched the Mongoose’s icon bounce into ship after ship on the viewscreen, each time taking a new direction.
“You know, if this was pinball, we’d be scoring like crazy,” Porter quipped from the science console.
“This isn’t funny!” Morales said. “Get our shields up before one of those ships out there crashes into–”
Suddenly one of the icons that was bouncing around on the viewscreen spun towards Waystation.
“The good news is that I managed to reroute power to the secondary grid,” Lt. Hodges said, pushing out from under the dashboard in the cockpit of the Mongoose. “The bad news is that our hull is badly fractured from all the bumps we took. Good thing we had our flight straps on, huh?”
Lazlo wiped sweat from his brow. “Yeah. Yeah. That was good.”
“Are you okay, sir?”
The Colonel’s face hardened as he turned to Hodges. “I am FINE. What are you insinutating?”
“Uh, nothing. So, what do we do?”
“First we should attempt to apprehend that–”
Suddenly the dark view of space before Lazlo and Hodges lit like a sky full of fireworks on the Fourth of July. A large, triangular vessel soared right through Waystation’s lower saucer like a dart into a dartboard, peeking out through the top and mercifully coming to a stop before ripping the rest of the way through. Lazlo calculated that, had Waystation been a dartboard, the freighter only would have scored about thirty.
“My God,” Hodges said quietly, watching as clouds of atmosphere wheezed out from the great tears in Waystation’s hull.
“Stow that, Lieutenant, and get a target lock on that Andorian ship! No one damages the Goose and gets away with it!”
Commander Beck tapped at the door control that lead into the cargo bay that was attatched to Waystation’s damaged docking port. “Forcefields are up around the damaged hull sections. I’m repressurizing the bay now.” Nelson patted the emergency medical kit she’d retrieved from its place in a nearby wall cabinet. “Good. No telling what condition those Andorians are in after a collision like that.”
Beck walked over to a weapons locker, tapped in a code, and took out two phasers and a palm beacon, raising the power level on both phasers and handing one to Nelson. “You’ve obviously not dealt with many Andorians. It’s not them I’d worry about.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just watch your back,” Beck said, pumping the door’s manual override lever. The door cranked open with a grunt of metal-on-metal.
Beck activated her palm beacon and surveyed the damaged bay. The hull of the Andorian ship had completely smashed through Waystation’s hull, destroying the existing docking port completely. It was definitely a hair more primitive than normal Starfleet docking procedure.
After making sure that there was no one hiding in the damaged bay, Beck approached the Hvark’s nearest airlock.
“Commander! What about our spleen!” Ih’mad asked, running into the cargo bay, Baughb close behind.
Beck glared back at Ih’mad and Baughb. “Mr. Ih’mad, this area is off- limits. It’s very dangerous to be here, what with all the hull damage.”
“What do you mean?” Nelson asked.
“I mean this section of hull is very unstable. It could very well tear right off the station…”
“Wonderful,” Nelson muttered.
“We know the risks,” Ih’mad said firmly. “We want our spleen.”
Beck sighed. “Okay, fine. But stay behind the doctor and I.”
“Very well. Come on, Baughb.”
The Commander ripped off the control panel next to the airlock, grabbing the lever underneath and cranking it until the door slid open. “All right, we’re going in.”
Lt. Hodges swung the Mongoose around the outer edge of Waystation’s lower saucer, on a direct heading for the Andorian freighter.
“Fifty-five hundred meters and closing,” Hodges called out.
“Ready phasers,” Lazlo said eagerly. “This will teach those Andorians never to mess with the Federation marines.”
On the opposite side of the Hvark, Zzzk’varrnix tapped his foot impatiently as his First Officer loaded the cases of spleen onto the antigrav lift. “Come on, Vinzz, what’s taking so long?”
“Everything on this ship was damaged when we crashed into Waystation, Captain!” Vinnz said irratably. “That includes our cargo, our antigrav lifs, our cargo bay door…everything. It’s amazing the ship is still in one piece.”
“Stop griping and keep loading. We’re behind schedule!”
“I think that’s the least of our worries, sir,” Vinnz said. “If you recall, more than half our crew is dead.”
“They died in service to their homeworld, which is better than they deserve.”
“They died in a docking maneuver!” Farrx protested, helping Vinnz load the cargo lift.
“You are alive and that’s all you need be concerned with,” Zzzk’varrnix muttered angrily. “Now help Franz get that cargo door open.”
Beck, Nelson, Ih’mad, and Baughb moved cautiously through the corridor of the Andorian freighter, heading for the bridge.
“I wonder where everyone is,” Nelson asked, looking around the darkened corridor. “This place seems deserted save those two dead crewmembers we found.”
“Maybe they’re in hiding,” Beck offered.
“Andorians do not hide,” Ih’mad said defensively.
“They do when they know they’ve pissed off the station commander,” Beck snapped. “Once I find them I’m going to rip off their antenna for what they’ve done to my station.”
“I am sure they did it with the best of intentions,” Baughb said weakly.
Zzzk’varrnix, Franz, Farrx, and Vinzz made their way down the connecting tunnel that lead out to the Starfleet Square Mall, pushing a huge crate of spleen pie on an antigrav in front of them.
“This place certainly has gone to shrax in a handbasket since we were last here,” Zzzk’varrnix muttered.
“Perhaps it is because you smashed a ship into their station,” Vinzz offered.
“That’s enough out of you, Vinzz. Would you like me to kill you where you stand?”
“I’d much rather die in a docking maneuver,” Vinzz returned.
Zzzk’varrnix withdrew his ceremonial blade and poked Vinnz in the small of his back. “Keep moving and shut up.”
“Yes, Captain,” Vinzz grumbled.
Engineering crewmembers frantically sprayed coolant over sputtering panels all over Ops as Morales and Porter attempted to sort out the mess of damage from their stations.
“Well, we should count ourselves lucky,” Porter said. “That Nausicaan transport smashed through the viewing room during a showing of ‘Speed 2.’ No one was there at the time.”
“Thank goodness for 20th century box office blunders,” Morales muttered.
“Do we have casualty reports from the rest of the station?”
“Not yet. Communications are still sporadic all over the upper and lower saucer.”
Morales shook his head. “We should have seen this coming, Porter. All these ships circling us–beings of all species crammed into this tiny station.
It was only a matter of time before everyone started trying to kill one another.”
“Yes, but on the bright side we’ve finally got an excuse to repaint the reading lounge on B deck.”
Commander Beck and the others arrived on what was left of the bridge to find a dead helmsman, a dead navigator, and not much else.
“Where is everybody?” Nelson asked.
“It seems like we’ve got a hit and run,” Beck mused. “They must have slipped out the back way while we weren’t looking.”
“Andorians do not slip out the back way!” Ih’mad said, offended.
“Then where the hell is everyone else?” Beck asked, turning to the Andorian restauranteur.
“The could have…uh…purposefully stormed out the back way,” Baughb offered.
“Come on, let’s head back out into the cargo bay and see if we can–” Beck said, when suddenly the ship rocked around her.
The barely functioning bridge speakers sputtered to life. “Andorian vessel. This is Colonel Lazlo again. You’ve now damaged Federation property and violated Federation law. And above all that, you’ve made me mad.”
“For Pete’s sake,” Beck muttered, trying to find the comm button. “That idiot is going to get us all killed.”
Nelson looked around as the damaged vessel’s hull creaked under the barrage of phaser fire. “It figures. What an ass.”
Beck stamped the comm button. “Lazlo. This is Commander Beck. There aren’t any Andorians left alive on this ship. Cease firing immediately.
If you’re not careful, you’ll destabilize this whole–”
“Communications functions are inoperative,” the hard female voice of the computer hissed.
“Beck to Lazlo,” Beck said, slapping her comm badge. There was no response.
“Nelson to Lazlo!” Nelson said urgently.
“Commander Lisa Beck to anyone who can pick up this signal!”
“Why won’t anyone answer?” Baughb said.
“There must be too much interference from all the ships shouting at each other out there. Our comm badges just can’t punch through all that.”
“Shelat!” Ih’mad cried. “We have to get out of here!”
“My sentiments exactly,” Beck said, following the two Andorians out of the bridge.
Nelson glanced out a viewport as she ran down the corridor, noticing that the view of the stars outside suddenly began to spin around.
“Commander,” Nelson called out. “I don’t think we’re attatched to the station anymore!”
“Great. Absolutely great.”
Ops shook violently as Waystation was rocked by yet another impact on its weakening structure.
“Report!” Morales ordered.
“The Mongoose just fired at us!” Porter exclaimed.
“Us!” Morales said. “What the hell?”
“Actually, I think they were gunning for the Hvark. They managed to dislodge it from the station. Of course, they left a gaping hole in it’s place, but who am I to quibble.”
Morales glanced up from his console for a moment to glare at Porter. An odd sight out the viewport behind Porter’s station grabbed his attention.
“Are we spinning faster?” Morales asked.
“Look,” Morales said, pointing behind Porter. Porter saw the Arkan whizz by.
“It kind of looks like it.” He checked his console. “Confirmed. That last jolt damaged the ops rotation control system.” Porter suddenly realized that he was being pulled away from his station.
“Can you stop it?” Morales asked, noticing the same thing.
“I’m trying!” Porter shouted, struggling against the centripetal forces tugging on his body.
“Can’t…hold…on,” Morales gasped.
Both men, along with the four other crewpeople helping man ops, were yanked off their feet and thrown against the rapidly rotating ops wall.
“That will teach them to mess around with Federation Marines,” Lazlo said smartly, leaning forward and watching with glee as the Hvark listed past the front viewport.
“Sir,” Hodges said. “I’m picking up some strange readings…most of the Andorians over there are dead. I’m only getting two live Andorians and…two humans!”
“Trickery, my dear,” Lazlo said. “Contact Waystation and see if they can pull the offenders into one of their docking ports so they can be arrested.”
“You know, sir, they were already in a docking port before you started shooting at them.”
“Shut up and do as I say!”
“Ih’mad–you and Baughb try to get the transporter systems operational. Dr. Nelson, come over here and help me salvage these engines and shields,” Beck ordered, as the group rushed onto the bridge.
“Sure we can’t just fix the comm system?” Nelson asked, as Beck tore through a mesh of circuitry underneath the helm panel.
“I’m positive,” Beck replied. “They smashed their entire communications array when they crashed into the station. Our only chance is get our shields up, maneuver out of the way of that asshole and transport back onto Waystation before this whole ship crumbles apart.”
“Easier said than done,” Nelson muttered.
Zzzk’varrnix and the others arrived at the Andorian restaurant and surveyed the situation.
“Hello, is anyone here?” the Andorian Captain asked, peeking around the back rooms of the restaurant. “We have fresh spleen pie! Come on out and get it!”
Vinzz surveyed the rest of the mall as the crew searched the restaurant.
People were milling around, talking amont themselves–some whispering, some grumbling, some shoving each other. And since Farrx had found a recently-used Andorian flame thrower lying near the restaurant entrance, Vinnz reasoned that a huge riot had taken place here.
“Hey, you,” a human Starfleet officer said, walking over. “You wouldn’t happen to be from that Andorian freighter, would you?”
“What’s it to you?” Vinzz asked.
“We’d like to apprehend the Captain and hold the rest of the crew for questioning. Whoever ordered that ship to smash into the station is in deep trouble.”
Vinnz grinned. “I believe I may be of some assistance. Right this way.”
“No response from Waystation,” Hodges said, looking up from the communication’s screen. “But according to our scanners, they don’t have tractor beams or transporters at the moment.”
Lazlo sighed, rolling his eyes. “Fine. Contact the Nottaway and have them capture the vessel. We certainly can’t apprehend them without a tractor beam.”
“Aye sir,” Hodges said. After a few moments, she looked back up at Lazlo. “The Nottaway will be here shortly. They have to sort through a skirmish between a Benzite cargo ship and a Ferengi Marauder first.”
“It figures. What’s the status of that Andorian ship?”
Hodges checked her scans. “They’re holding position at…wait a minute …their engines just went active!”
“Damn, and I thought I already damaged them enough for one day,” Lazlo muttered. “Lock phasers and prepare to–”
“Sir, they just raised shields. And it appears they’re moving to a defensive position on the other side of Waystation.”
“And I thought Andorians were courageous,” Lazlo said. “Set the phasers for continuous fire on their highest level and take out their aft shields. Once those are down, destroy their engines completely.”
“But, Colonel, they’re not fleeing the area; they’re just trying to get away from us!” Hodges protested.
“Enough!” Lazlo said, pushing Hodges out of her seat. “You’re relieved of your station, Lieutenant. I’ll take care of those imbeciles once and for all!”
“But, sir, the targeting scanners were damaged…you’ll have to aim manually!”
“You obviously aren’t aware of my prowess with a phaser. I won First Place in targeting when I was at Boot Camp.”
Hodges just slumped into the chair next to Lazlo and quietly watched him go to work on the Hvark.
“STOP THIS THING!”
If anything, ops was just spinning faster and faster. Porter could feel his skin pulling back and trying to embed itself in the wall.
“I can’t move my arms!” Lieutenant Stanton whined.
“Can anybody get free?” Morales asked. He wasn’t even able to turn his head enough to see the five others stuck like bugs on flypaper with him.
“No chance, sir.”
“Porter to engineering.”
“We’re sorry,” the computer voice replied. “Due to the great amount of damage currently being inflicted on Waystation, all of our engineers are currently busy with other emergency repairs. Please stay on the commline, and the next available representative will assist you. Currently, the wait is estimated at three hours fifteen minutes.”
“So much for that,” Porter said.
The turbolift doors suddenly opened allowing Lieutenant Russell to step out.
“I took care of those Andorians,” Russell said. “Hello? Guys?”
“Sean, grab something!” Porter shouted. Russell’s reaction time was far better than Porter would have guessed. The security chief latched onto the closing doors of the turbolift just as he was yanked off his feet by the forces in ops. The doors continued closing, crushing his hands, but Russell still held on.
“What the hell is happening?” Russell screamed.
“We’re out of control,” Morales replied.
“Seems to be a common problem today,” Porter muttered.
“I’m goona puke,” Russell said.
“I’ve got the override command punched in on my console, but I was pulled away before I could execute it,” Porter said.
“And just how am I supposed to get there?” Russell said.
“Just aim yourself and let go,” Morales said. “You should be tossed right into it.”
“That’s going to hurt,” Russell said.
“Do it! That’s an order!” Morales shouted.
Russell sighed and tried to position himself so he’d hit Porter’s station. He was going to have to push himself sideways as he let go. Oh yeah. This was going to hurt. After one last deep breath, Russell readied himself as much as possible and let go of the doors. His fingers slid out slowly, the doors scraping off a good bit of his skin. At the last moment, Russell pushed sideways as much as he could and flew across ops.
Russell slammed against the front of Porter’s station, denting the console housing as he hit. He decided that remaining very still would be a good idea.
“Are you all right, Russell?” Porter asked.
“No,” Russell said weakly.
“Hit the damn override!” Morales shouted. Reluctantly, Russell raised his arm up over the console, only to have it practically ripped out of its socket as the centripetal forces tried to throw it against the far wall of ops. Fighting the pain, Russell pulled the rest his his body into a standing position. Porter’s console was the only thing preventing him from barreling across the room into the wall.
“Skin…ripping,” Stanton wailed.
Russell hunched over Porter’s console, trying to read the controls upside down.
“I can’t find the button,” Russell shouted.
“Hit the big, f**king red one!” Porter screamed. Russell pounded the console. Ops suddenly screeched to a halt, tossing everyone sideways until gravity kicked in, and they slammed painfully into the deck.
“God, I hope we aren’t the only ones having a bad day,” Porter muttered.
“Get us on the other side of Waystation!” Beck ordered as the Mongoose pounded on the Andorian ship’s shields. “We have to have a protected position before we can drop shields!”
“Transporters operative,” Ih’mad reported. “You know, these things are much more complicated than a replicator.”
Nelson looked up from the helm control. “We’re moving behind the connecting tube.”
“Good,” Beck said, slamming a control that dropped the shields, then quickly tapping in the transporter coordinates. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about ready to get out of here.”
“Lazlo is still firing!”
“That idiot! If he keeps up he’ll hit the connecting tube!”
“And us,” Nelson said. “That being the case, I think now may be an excellent time to fire up that transporter.”
“I am going to kill him!” Beck cried, quickly activating the transporter beam.
“I’ve got them, I’ve got them!” Lazlo called out, trying to maneuver the Mongoose at the same time as firing the phasers.
“Colonel, you’re about to hit the–”
“I know what I’m doing!” Lazlo snapped.
Lazlo glared back at Hodges. “I am no idiot. I’ve got years of military experience. This is a routine blah blah blah…”
Hodges stopped listening to Lazlo and stared out of the forward viewport, watching in horror as the Mongoose’s phasers ripped through the tube that connected Waystation’s upper and lower saucers, continuing on to the Hvark and tearing its hull open like a freshly caught trout.
“Sir, look!” Hodges said, pointing out the forward viewport. Lazlo stopped talking and turned reluctantly back to the forward viewport, surveying the damage.
“Waystation to Lazlo!” Commander Beck’s angry voice thundered. “You just sliced my station in two you son of a bitch! Wait until I get my hands on you!”
Hodges looked over to Lazlo, who was trembling with a mixture of fear and anger. “Should I set course to dock with Waystation or should I just take us as far away as possible?”
Beck stared out through one of the ops viewports, clenching her fists in anger over the chaos that had enveloped her station. She turned away just as the lower half of her station began to drift by.
“Well, this is just terrific,” Beck muttered.
“At least Russell was able to apprehend the Andorian crew,” Morales said.
“And we were able to salvage some of the spleen pie, from what I hear,” Porter added helpfully.
“We have to face facts,” Beck said sternly, turning to her senior staff.
“All of these events are just symptomatic of a bigger problem. We’re understaffed and underequipped for the volume of traffic that’s passing through here.”
“And if that isn’t bad enough,” Nelson continued, “now our station is trashed as well. In this condition, were about as useful as a snow parka on Vulcan.”
“Just reading through the damage reports is going to take hours,” Morales said. “Waystation is effective destroyed.”
“I’ll just call up Starfleet and order us a new station,” Porter quipped. “I’m sure they’ll send another one out right away.”
“Actually, Porter, that’s pretty much what I had in mind,” Beck said.
TO BE CONTINUED…