USS Kestrel, Main Bridge
With his hands now bound, Cutler looked up at the ringleader of the boarding party. His eyes filled with anger and disappointment with himself, Cutler inadvertently caught the eyes of T'Hos.
T'Hos grinned with feverish delight as both he and Cutler heard Terrol report, "The docking gate has been successfully taken. Vardros reports that he has finished planting the device within the environmental systems."
"Good, good." T'Hos laughed then, as he saw Cutler stewing with anger and self-loathing. "Don't be too harsh on yourself ... ensign. I've plotted my revenge on McGregor for some months now. You sadly, are an acceptable casualty of my revenge. McGregor will pay for killing blood of mine!"
"We are about ready to implement the plan, T'Hos."
"Good, then we need only do one last thing. Get a lock on McGregor. Beam him to the bridge so I can see his face. And he in turn can see mine - the face that brings his death."
Terrol blanched. "You deviate from the plan."
T'Hos snarled. "The plan was for me to exact my revenge on McGregor! I will have that vengeance but I will have McGregor see me wield my vengeance. He will see his crew suffer and die in front of his eyes, before he then will die. He will know the cost of killing my son! I do not deviate. It is the very essence of the plan! Do it. Do it NOW!"
Terrol hesitated for a fraction of a second before he walked past T'Hos ,stood centre in the bridge, and past the unconscious form of the sultry yeoman and frustrated ensign towards the transporter controls near to the viewscreen. He bent over the controls fingering his disruptor as he prepared to beam McGregor to the bridge. "I have a lock on the Captain. He is in the area designated ‘VIP lounge'. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Cutler saw the smile on T'Hos. He knew this madman was only too delighted to interrupt the Captain's socialising. "Perfectly sure Terrol. Proceed."
Over his shoulder Terrol announced to the other henchman at the back of the bridge, "Be sure to reinstate the shields after I complete the transport." Terrol stepped back from the controls as the cascade of blue lights, accompanied by the transporter whine, began to coalesce into the image of Captain Gregory McGregor. Terrol had his weapon trained on the Starfleet captain's emerging form.
Noah Cutler winced as the captain fully formed on the transporter pad. He knew the Captain was going to look less than favourably on Cutler. He knew now that even if they could find a way out of this predicament, he could never redeem himself in the captain's eyes. And McGregor didn't hold him in any great esteem to begin with.
McGregor felt the transporter effect fade as the VIP lounge and the faces of Molly, Judith and Stanley disappeared in front of his eyes to be replaced by his command chair and bridge sullied by the evil T'Hos.
Taking in the sight of T'Hos on his bridge McGregor cocked an eyebrow and then polished off the remainder of his drink. Cutler seeing the cool demeanour of his captain and calm expression marvelled at McGregor's languorous reaction to his newfound situation. The drink's heat scorching his throat caused McGregor to grimace and vocalise a satisfying ‘aaa'.
Referring to the cocked eyebrow, T'Hos by way of welcome said "A very Vulcan-like reaction Captain."
McGregor then rifted.
Through his teeth T'Hos added, "If not so refined."
"Then T'Hos you're gonna love my next Vulcan impersonation." McGregor gave him a two-fingered salute with a smug smile. "Die soon and get fucked. Oops. Never could get that Vulcan salute-wave thing down pat."
"Very droll Captain, very droll." He then lifted his disruptor pistol and pointed it at McGregor's temple. Terrol took this opportunity to head to the aft of the bridge.
McGregor threw a withering look at Cutler. "I told Molly it was a mistake to put you in charge. But I have to say, even I didn't expect you to mess it up so quickly."
"Save the witty retorts McGregor."
Cutler found himself partly wishing the Captain would do so to save him from further embarrassment. He worried he might even well up thinking of the damage he had done to the ship's security. Noah also partly wished McGregor continued because it meant the Captain might have faith they had some way out of this.
Oblivious to the demands made by T'Hos, McGregor continued unabated. "Obviously T'Hos you intend serious harm if you're on my bridge. So I thought it only fair to give the ensign his evaluation now rather than later. P.S. you right royally cocked up." Cutler buried his face by looking at the deck ashamed. This only caused McGregor to roll his eyes.
The ship then went to red alert. Cutler's eyes looked up to the strobing red lights with hope.
Grinning, McGregor announced over the klaxon, "Transporting me was not exactly the smartest move. It tipped my crew off."
"Perhaps but it will make no difference. In a short few moments, you're all going to be dead. I just wanted to see your face and I thought it worth the risk."
"I get that I have a certain rugged sexiness T'Hos, but you really do take your hard-on for me a bit too far. Look seeing as how the kid is fairly incompetent why don't you take him as your sex slave. Heck I'll throw in a holo-image of me that you can pin to the wall as you take him."
T'Hos returned the sarcasm with a matching smile. "I dare say you would Captain. I've heard you're not averse to selling even your own crew."
With alarm, Noah looked up fearful the Captain really was bargaining with him as the booty.
McGregor derisively added, "Trust me you can have the kid for free. I might even pay you!"
Cutler shamefaced just looked at the deck.
"I might just take him as you advise McGregor - after I've seen you and the rest of your cohort writhe in agony."
To Cutler, McGregor intoned in a grave voice, "I must warn you kid he seems to like the whole bondage thing. Oh look you're tied up already. How convenient."
"Always a quip and a smart remark my dear Captain but it's all deflection. Smoke and mirrors to detract from the fact you are an outcast relic of a by-gone age who just doesn't have the smarts for this era. True?"
McGregor stepped forwards and set his glass down on the navigational console. He then walked freely around T'Hos, who wheeled about in turn, keeping his pistol trained at McGregor's head as he countered the charge. "If that's the case how comes you're here looking your revenge? Huh? I guess I struck lucky and got tangled up with a fairly incompetent thug [and not in the way you like it T'Hos you dirty dog!] with pretensions to be an Orion crime-lord. But even your wicked family threw you out and wanted nothing to do with you. And Orions have fairly low dastardly standards."
Aft of the bridge, Terrol kept a careful eye on the MSD display and McGregor's movements. His comrade was communicating with one of the other boarding parties. He didn't look too pleased at the report being relayed.
"I managed to sneak into a secure Federation base, circumvent their security, then board your vessel, your precious Kestrel, and install a deadly neuron-toxin to your environmental systems. I think Captain that I have shown my worth! When words gets out about this, my organisation will fill with eager partners who see I do not fear to take on the Federation! That I am not scared by Starfleet Captains!"
"Hold your tongue there! When word gets out be sure to say ‘Border Service'! I don't want those shirt tuckers to get any credit for my work! Might I add that breaking into Starbase 49 is akin to breaking into ... a paper bag. Your plan might have had merit if you hadn't gone all egotistical and decided to share it with me. Look how much extra time you've given me and my crew to stop your plan."
Smug, T'Hos gloated. "Stop my plan! Captain my plan is near to bear fruition. Terrol tell the captain here the status of the neuron-toxin."
Turning back to the MSD display before reluctantly replying, Terrol informed, "Erm, actually ... we might have a problem."
"Now, now, Terrol. Bad guys 101. Don't admit the plan isn't going to plan or make the bad guy boss look bad in front of the good guy or the twerp of an ensign. Mind you his green skin clashes something awful with that jumpsuit so it is not too hard to make him look stupid!"
"Shut it McGregor!" T'Hos snarled, spittle flying. McGregor stepped back his hands raised as T'Hos went up to Terrol. "What do you mean?"
"We can't raise Vardros. He appears to have encountered a security team or someone." McGregor stepped back to his command chair smiling innocence as T'Hos stalked the bridge towards Terrol.
"Did he manage to install the neuron-toxin?"
"Yes but it hasn't activated."
T'Hos' face broke in a macabre grin. He pulled out a device and addressed McGregor. "Then it doesn't matter. I can remote activate it." He depressed a button on the small palm held device. "In five minutes the neuron-toxin will flood the ship and all will die. Shields are raised and transporters deactivated. No-one can get on or off the Kestrel."
McGregor scoffed. "You think you have this all worked out?" He then plumped himself down on his command chair and drummed the armrests.
Agitated at the ease with which McGregor conducted himself, T'Hos tried not to let it raise his heckles. Instead, he revelled in his plan's success. "I do. Because I have."
McGregor calmly raised his index finger to illustrate a point he was to make. "You forget one important point."
"Oh yes? And what dear captain is that?"
"This is my ship," he placed his hand over his heart and with the other hand gave his chair a hearty slap, "and I'll be damned if I'll allow anyone to kill my crew - save me!"
Cutler frowned too as perplexed by McGregor's apparent bravado as T'Hos was. He also felt himself growing more fearful for some reason. Something in his gut was telling him McGregor might have an ace up his sleeve but one Noah was sure not to like.
"Computer: initiate self-destruct two minutes."
Noah's cheeks paled as the colour washed out of them as he blanched at how sangfroid and languid McGregor called out for the computer to destroy them all.
"Heh, heh. You thought I didn't anticipate you or one of your officers talking to your vaunted ship's computer? It's locked out."
"Except this ship is mine and has been for nigh on twenty years." He then looked skywards.
"Self-destruct sequence initiation. Does the First Officer comply?"
* * *
From a deck below Molly Cartwright understanding the captain's defiance at being boarded hollered at the ceiling over the incoming phaser fire, "No she bloody well does not!"
* * *
Her ethereal voice resounded in the bridge causing T'Hos to smirk. "She doesn't appreciate you're trying to save her skin - literally. A ballsy move but ineffectual."
"Ah but again you forget - she's my Kestrel - and I call the shots. Computer: I said self-destruct."
"Self-destruct confirmed and engaged. Self-destruct in two minutes." The klaxons blared throughout the ship as the countdown began. "Self destruct in ... one minute, fifty seconds."
* * *