USS Pacifica NCC-72545

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Tangled Yarn

Posted on Fri Jul 19th, 2013 @ 11:56am by Lieutenant Commander James Markson

Mission: Nothing Stays the Same
Location: Tigraan Mining Colony
Timeline: 5 days after leaving Pacifica

James Markson wiped away the bead of glistening sweat that had fallen from his brow onto the screen of the tricorder in his hand. The six Nausicaans he was trailing were still shown in the next chamber, huddled around a small object, a forcefield generator or powered container of some sort. Beyond them signals echoed from all sides, mostly noise from the power conduits that coursed geothermal power along to the mining facility a few thousand meters away. The constant reverberations, rumbles and screeches drowned out the argument they seemed to be having.

James' next course of action was not obvious. He needed information, and to get that he needed to make an escape with at least one of the Nausicaans. Thuggish as they were, they knew what they were doing, and had set a perimeter alarm just in front of him. He could work on trying to get past it without triggering it, so as to get into the chamber. From there, with the element of surprise there was a chance he would be able to stun the group with a wide beam phaser shot, if they were close enough together. There was also a chance he wouldn't.

Possibly he should make them come to him. If he triggered the perimeter field, would they come to investigate? If they did would be able to subdue them? One thing he had working in his favour was that they wouldn't be able to beam out. The same power conduits that were hampering his scans had forced him to find his way down from the surface of this barely habitable rock. They too would have to make their way to the surface to escape. There were four possible routes out. He was covering one. What would stop them from taking one of the other three?

Or maybe he should wait? They were surely here for a reason, and if James were to guess, he would have wagered a hand over of some sort. Maybe he could learn more by waiting for events to pan out. Several days, he was not sure exactly how many, had passed since his sister's disappearance and his patience was wearing. The air stunk with sulphur and was starting to burn the back of his throat. His finger itched. He rubbed it against the trigger of the phaser rifle that hung from his right hand. James thought of his sister, bundled in a bag by these louts. Anger rose within him. Surely he had to act?

The alarm sounded, cutting through the distant cacophony of the mines. A split second later the sizzle of phaser fire, the deep boom and sharp whine of rifle fire, shouts of anger and confusion, two ear-splitting explosions. James looked up in bewilderment from his tricorder towards the passage to the chamber. After a moment's hesitation the tricorder was away, the compression rifle gripped firmly in both hands. His feet clanged on the steel walkway as he charged forward. He dived to the cover of a newly fallen pile of rubble that lay near the entrance of the 10m wide circular chamber, just as a rifle blast removed one of the supporting beams from the passage he had emerged from. Peeking half a head over the top he let off a few short bursts of covering fire as he looked across the room. Two Nausicaans dead on the floor in the centre, a third shot in the back to his left. James fell back flat against the floor as two rifle barrels emerged from the darkness of the opposite passage. His scant cover was peppered with blasts, rubble struck the Starfleet officer's shoulders and back. James blinked to try to clear his eyes. He whipped out his hand phaser, fingers shaking as he hastily set the auto-fire function, and set it down to his left. Grabbing a sharp deep breath, he loosed a smattering of shots at the roof on the opposite side of the chamber. Dust filled the room as he rolled to his right, throwing himself towards the cover of the passage that led off that way. Characteristic deep orange Starfleet phaser beams lanced haphazardly across the far wall. A hail of fire descended on the source, demolishing both the weapon and the walkway it had been set upon.

Silence followed. Shadows crept from the dark. James steadied his aim, waiting for a clear shot. One shadow found voice.

"Halt there! Cease fire! Show yourself Starfleet, we will not shoot."

The deep, utterly confident voice was unmistakable.

Markson: Mitchell?

The shadows took form. First lieutenant Taylor Mitchell strode from the heart of the darkness as Thrax bounded to examine the bodies at the centre of the room and Drazon scurried to cover the remaining exit down which the Nausicaans had plainly fled.

Mitchell: What in Hell's name are you doing here getting in our way.

Markson: I could say the same.

They had gone their separate ways following leads on a planet several light years from here. Since then, Markson had tracked three ships to three different colonies and three dead ends before coming here.

Drazon: Zok's men are getting away!

Mitchell: They're gone by now; they will have left mines behind for you to chase if you fancy.

Markson: Zok?

Thrax: You really know nothing about this region do you?

Mitchell: I assume since you're here that ship of yours is too. We might need it, so lead us back there and we can exchange some information.

A singular purpose had started this endeavour. Pushing off from a ship where commands came in chains, and duties shifted several times a day, a broad straight river lay ahead. Viewed through the lens of his determination to recover a precious child he had so long thought lost, the eddies that hinted at the joining currents and shifting sands were ignored. James had ploughed upstream, blind to the currents he fought against, so pungent was the scent the water carried. The banks twisted and turned like a treacherous sea serpent breaking the waves, fracturing the water and forcing ever more difficult choices down ever narrowing paths. The way had seemed straighter and more righteous than Lady Justice's own sword. Now Theseus, the Minotaur yet before him, held a tangled ball of yarn.


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