Slugs and Thugs (Part I)
985 words; about a 5 minute read
Ninety-Nine Bottles of Swill
Having arrived on the Ferengi industrial world of Clarus, setting their runabout down after finally receiving clearance without having to pay for it, the crew of Bellwether Station were escorted from the landing pad by shifty looking Ferengi. Fordyce had been left to keep their runabout secured and guarded, on a Ferengi world, a Federation auxiliary craft could get a greedy thief a pretty pound of gold pressed bars of latinum.
The trio of Lieutenants Tilo Riehl, Skye MacLeod, and Warrant Officer Kostova made their way down a twisting path that bisected through a large rock formation that gleaned and glistened, yellow crystalline shards protruding from the cliffsides. Valeo Kostova pointed ahead to a sign that was entirely in the Ferengi language, but he could clearly make out one word: danger
"That sign up there says something about a danger" he noted and he looked around at the yellow rockface, crystalline, opaque in places, and he could not help but notice how fragmented it seemed to be. Some of it was on the pathway and his boot with even the slightest of pressure caused it to crumble like shale, only worse, it powdered it.
"It looks like they've been mining here." She pulled out her tricorder to scan the area ahead to be sure it was safe enough for them, and to translate the sign. She frowned. "Keep your eyes open and make sure they don't get separated." It didn't look like it was the best--or even right--way to go. But she wasn't going to confront them about it. Not yet, anyway. She decided the best course of action was to keep scanning the area.
Valko Kostova was definitely going to keep his eyes open and be as alert as he could be. "Could this be a quarry of some sort?" he asked the science officer. "Our Ferengi 'friend' that met us sent us down this way saying we'd eventually find water and the bottling factories."
"Yes. These are signs that they've mined the area." Skye glanced at her tricorder again. "There's a man-made lake about six kilometers ahead of us. And..." She paused to turn a full circle while looking at her tricorder. "Life signs. Not many, but they're above us. Looks like they don't trust us much."
Making a low noise of unease in his throat, Riehl pulled out his own tricorder and began making sweeps of his own. The ground beneath him made that task difficult, giving way as it did beneath his feet. Forced to adjust his balance and look where he was going, he was getting only sporadic results from his tricorder. Keeping silent, he tried to work out whether there were actual lifesigns ahead before blurting anything out.
"They're not following proper safety measures, either,"Skye said, continuing to scan the area. They'd definitely have to watch their step, figuratively and literally.
"When do Ferengi do anything safely" Valko scoffed "or legally" he added. The low humming of a device powering up was soo followed with a high pitched buzzing.
Valko was reaching for a phaser out of caution when a flash of light illuminated from above them along the ridge. A crackling of thunder was what it sounded like, but a storm it was not. This lightning was blue in hue and traveled horizontally at a slope downward towards the trio. "Energy whip" the warrant officer said alerting them.
"Cover!" Skye yelled, heading for the nearest outcropping. It was the closest place to avoid whatever that weapon was--and she had no doubt it was a weapon. If only she had some sort of giant mirror to reflect it. But it wasn't the sort of thing she carried around in her pocket. That one was far too small.
Swearing in Trill, Riehl dived behind a boulder before popping a glance in the direction of the blue, crackling energy. His lip curled. The Trill hadn't seen an energy whip up close before, but he supposed this was what it was. Collapsing back behind his boulder, he readied his phaser.
From her relatively safe location, Skye scaned to find out who was attacking them and from where. She also checked the mineral content of the rocks around them to see if there was anything they could use as a counter attack. Chemistry was always a viable option.
Valko had taken cover as well and was safe from the energy whip, but he had seen who was attacking. "It's a gaggle of Ferengi up on the ridge ahead" he reported. "Should we return fire?" he asked. Both were superior to him, and by default Skye was in charge though Tilo had the tactical knowledge.
"We're here with permission," Skye said. "I don't want to cause an incident with their government. We need to stop them from firing without causing serious injury." She knew that was a tall order, but she also knew what could happen if any of the Ferengi died. "Too bad we can't just transport them somewhere else."
"We may be here with permission, but I don't think those Ferengi care about permission" Valko said. "You get with the outpost of one of those whips, you'll be knocked out cold for a good while. I don't think they will hesitate to sell you."
"And if I kill one of them, I'll still be sold." She shook her head. She began to calculate distance and angle. "Can we get them with a wide-range stun? Or create some kind of gas cloud?" She groaned. "I'm overthinking this." Without sticking her head out too far, she made sure her phaser was set on stun and fired in the direction of their attackers.
Valko slow clapped and chuckled. "Congratulations," he said to her as he left the safety of the cover. "You struck at least one of them. They scurried off. Now, let's get to that water source and the manufacturing plant."