Mikali sh'Shar - Andorian Blues: The Corner, Part II

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David Adams

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Jun 20, 2021, 8:44:37 AMJun 20
to Gorkon
(( Drydock, Iana Station, 1145 hours ))

Covered in a mixture of sticky lubricant and sweat (which must have just smelled wonderful to the rest of the work crews), and surrounded by the half-disassembled remains of an allegedly noisy shuttle, Mikali's combadge chirped, reminding her of the time. The Valkyries were due any minute. 


Taking her break then too, Catscratch came over to join her. The two stopped their work for just a moment, sitting together in the open, disassembled door of the shuttle. Mikali sipped from a bottle of water and got ready to watch the flight come in.


A normal person wouldn't have seen them as early as she did, but Mikali's trained pilot's eyes snagged on two distant stars that were ever so slightly out of sync with their peers, a wobble that revealed their true nature. The stars drifted closer until finally their disguises were thrown away and their true forms revealed; a trio of Starfleet Valkyries, sleek and wonderful craft, clearly built for sailing through atmospheric conditions but perfectly suited to vacuum as well. Hunters. Warp engines with guns.


The two-seaters made barely a sound as they gracefully slipped through the multilayered forcefield of the dry dock, drifting like soaring birds toward their recently cleared docking port. They alighted with a whisper, all three hulls touching the ground simultaneously.


Nice.


In moments the grav-lifts would move the fighters from their position to their maintenance hangers, but Mikali had seen that process plenty of times. It wasn’t interesting to her.


Clearly, the whole thing wasn’t interesting to Catscratch either.


Catscratch: I don't get it. They're just overgrown shuttles.


Of course she didn't. Mikali sipped a bit more of her water, then hopped back up to her feet.


sh'Shar: Just enjoying the memories, I guess. But I appreciate you spending time with me.


Catscratch went to answer, a huge smile on her face, but the expression faded as her eye caught on something behind Mikali.


One of the Starfleet engineers, a tall Bolian man in a gold-necked uniform, crossed the maintenance floor, walking toward them purposefully. He had a pip and a half on his collar and didn't look happy. As he got close, Mikali called out to him.


sh'Shar: Can I help you? This is an active worksite.


The Bolian kept walking, veering toward her until he was within easy talking range.


Priard: Yes you can. I'm Lieutenant Priard, I need you to move that shuttle. We need that repair bay.


Mikali glanced over her shoulder at the machine. Its nacelles were in pieces. 


sh'Shar: I'm halfway through disassembly of the warp nacelles. But let us gather up the pieces, for safety, and then we’ll fire up the grav-lifts and move it to another section.


He didn’t seem pleased by this, his blue lips turning down. He looked like he was going to protest, so Mikali pre-empted it.


sh’Shar: This is all authorized. I have a work permit.


Priard shrugged helplessly, the scowl on his face intensifying.


Priard: I don't care about your permit. How long will it take for you to move them? 


Mikali made a rough guesstimate.


sh’Shar: Should be able to have everything lashed down in an hour. We can move it without tying it down, but like I said, that’s against regulations.


Priard balked.


Priard: An hour? I have three Valkyries that need an overhaul now. These craft were supposed to land on Palanon, but guess what, we got ‘em now. Messing with my schedule. They expect me to fix four without room to work on them, and you're taking up this whole section. What do you want me to do?


On one hand, he could understand the guy’s frustration. A facility like Iana Station was run like clockwork, with work scheduled well in advance, and four fighters with their significant maintenance needs would throw that process out of whack. Priard would need to make up the time somewhere. If she was in his shoes, she’d probably do the same thing.


Still. He could at least be nice about it. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the pilots and crew disembarking, laughing and clapping their hands over each other's shoulders, play-acting rowdily. She knew the feeling. Joy at being let out of the cramped cockpits after so long. Touching, talking to another living creature face to face, not through a viewscreen. The grav-lifts took the fighters away.


Very briefly, Mikali locked eyes with one of them who caught her staring, then — somewhat embarrassed and unable to maintain the look — turned back to Priard. Mikali bit down on her lower lip, swallowing and forcing her tone to be even.


sh'Shar: What do you want me to do? This thing's in a billion bits. Some of those bits are heavy enough to kill if they fell. Safety first.


Priard: Okay. So tie down what’s a fall risk and move the whole plate to section 66. And do it fast, you know?


It had taken her all the shift so far to disassemble it, and for her to take the time to gather all the pieces up, lash them down where appropriate, move everything, and unlash it at the end... the work was a significant disruption. As she was deciding what to do, Catscratch moved up beside her, her tail whipping around in the air.


Catscratch: ::Angrily,:: What gives you the right to just come over here and tell us what to do, anyway? We're civilians. We don't answer to you.


Priard scowled darkly. Mikali kept her voice even, holding out her hand to calm her friend.


sh'Shar: What she means is that I'm afraid I'm going to need my boss's authorization before I work outside the permit's purvey. This is a well-regulated worksite, we have paperwork, instructions of our own.


Priard: Who's your supervisor?


sh'Shar: Petty Officer Darweshi.


Priard slapped his combadge.


Priard: =/\= Priard to Darweshi. Please report to the Drydock, section twelve. =/\=


One-Joke: =/\= Of course, Lieutenant. Is there a problem? =/\=


Priard: =/\= I'll tell you when you get here. Out. =/\= ::He tapped his badge to close the connection, and then muttered under his breath, far too low for most Humans to hear,:: Ugh, charity cases.


But Mikali's antenna gave her better hearing than a Human, and the words came through crystal clear. From the way Catscratch's Caitian ears pricked up and her fur puffed out, she had heard it too.


It was less the word and more the way it was said—full of thinly veiled disgust and superiority—that was the worst part.


Catscratch: Excuse me?


The Bolian turned back to them, clearly surprised he had been heard. 


Priard: I-I didn't say anything.


Catscratch took a step forward, her paw-like hands balling into fists.


Catscratch: Liar. I heard you. You called us "charity cases".


Priard looked over both of them, quiet for a moment, and then he rolled his shoulders in a shrug.


Priard: It's a term of endearment. Like "grease monkey".


Catscratch: ::Hissing faintly,:: If it was a term of endearment you wouldn't have had to whisper it under your breath and then deny you said anything.


Priard put a single hand on his right hip and, somewhat defiantly, puffed out his chest.


Priard: Okay. What are you going to do about it, huh?


Catscratch leaned forward, ears flicking back against her skull, baring her teeth. Her tail jerked out, puffed out like a feather duster.


Desperate to avoid a fist-fight in the middle of the drydock — and that was rapidly where things seemed to be heading — Mikali reached out and gently touched Catscratch's shoulder.


sh'Shar: ::Softly,:: Leave it, Vexaǂprymmalʘyersevva.


Perhaps the accurate use of her real name (she'd been practising!) jerked her out of her anger, but Catscratch's spiked tail slowly relaxed.


Catscratch: Phhf. You're not worth it, baldie.


Priard scoffed.


Just in the nick of time, One-Joke appeared behind a shuttlecraft, walking toward the three of them. He gave a curious, cautious eye to Catscratch and Mikali, clearly sensing the lingering anger between all parties. He folded his hands behind his back, his tone conciliary as he addressed the Lieutenant. 


One-Joke: Good afternoon, sir. What can I do for you?


Priard: Order these civilian workers to move their shuttle to the other side of the drydock. We need the space to work on some Valkyries.


One-Joke blinked in surprise, assessing the space the shuttle (and its various pieces) were occupying.


One-Joke: Seems like there's enough space for everyone here, sir. A shuttle disassembly should take up less than twenty square metres around the ship itself, plenty of space to park a few birds in front of my crew. You could strip them down to their keels if you wanted in the room you have. Maybe we can shift the spare duranium plates, instead? They’re already lashed down so it won’t take a—


Priard: Petty Officer Darweshi, you are under the mistaken impression that I am consulting for your opinion. I am giving you a direct order: have your work crews lash down and then move this civilian shuttle to the other side of the drydock. They have until the end of the shift to do so.


One-Joke stared, shocked for a moment, and then he professionally straightened his back, clicking his heels together, giving a crisp salute. Only a slight twang in his voice gave away his frustration.


One-Joke: Yes sir, Lieutenant. ::He turned on his heel, coming to face Mikali.:: Miss sh'Shar, may I please see the work permit for this maintenance task?


Formally, and carefully, Mikali pulled out her PADD and handed it to him.


One-Joke tapped at the keys with equal formality.


One-Joke: Due to circumstances beyond our control, the work order is being amended. I need you to cease work, take the time to lash down the pieces, and then use the grav-lift plate to move it to section 66. Miss Catscratch, you are to assist her. I'm authorizing overtime if you need it.


There was no question of if they would need it. Mikali similarly brought her heels together, a legacy of her Starfleet training, hands stiff by her sides.


sh'Shar: Yes, boss. Right away.


Catscratch's voice rose to a high pitched, frustrated whine.


Catscratch: But I haven't even finished the worker bee yet!


One-Joke smiled his apology. In his eyes, Mikali could see the frustration that was mounting; Priard’s effort to bring his own schedule up would significantly affect their own.


One-Joke: It will have to wait until tomorrow. This is your priority for now.


Satisfied, Priard smiled out of the corner of his mouth to Mikali. A smile that was dripping with triumph.


Priard: Thank you. Dismissed, Petty Officer.


One-Joke turned back to the Bolian, once again saluted (laying it on real thick), and then turned and walked back to his office. Seemingly satisfied, Priard watched him go, lightly drumming his fingers on his arm.


Catscratch: ::Practically spitting,:: Prick.


Priard: ::He made a shooing motion.:: Shuttle pieces aren’t going to strap themselves down.


Mikali grabbed Catscratch's shoulder again, anticipating her anger. Mikali could feel the Caitian's strong shoulder muscles shaking under her hand, her blue-black tail puffed out behind her once more, posture aggressive. The tips of her claws were showing, ears pinned back against her head, her entire body language screaming anger.


For a moment there was tension in the air, thicker than treacle. sh'Shar could do nothing but gentle squeeze through the shoulder of the Caitain's uniform, a subtle, wordless signal. Catscratch made a soft, rumbling growl under her breath in response. One Mikali could understand.


sh'Shar: ::Whispering,:: Please.


Silence.


Priard turned his back on both of them and walked back the way he'd come.


Mikali kept her hand on Catscratch's shoulder, gently squeezing it, her voice soft and comforting.


sh'Shar: C'mon. Let's just get this over with.


tbc...



--

Lieutenant (j.g.) (ret) Mikali sh'Shar

Civilian

ReachOut Project


simmed by


Lt. (j.g.) Serren Tan

Security/Tactical

USS Gorkon

O238704AT0

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