Author's Note: This was the first sim sent to the USS Veritas list, launching the simming group on 16 November 2016. The events of the sim occur in late 2393.
- “I've labored long and hard for bread,
- For honor, and for riches,
- But on my corns too long you've tread,
- You fine-haired sons of bitches.”
- — Black Bart, 1877
((Somewhere deep in the Shoals))
::As the Lady Emerald made its way across the sector at a snail’s pace, Li Wei wiped the sweat off his forehead with a dirty rag before shoving it into his pocket. They’d been making good time, but when he looked back at the remaining crates, he felt his heart sink.::
Douglas: You called?
::Having shown up with an irritating spring in his step, Douglas was sitting atop one of the crates that would inevitably be shifted to the cargo transporter, legs kicking it irresponsibly as he read the PADD, eyes shifted to glance past the top of it to Li.::
Li: Ha, very funny. ::He rolled his eyes.:: Are you going to give me a hand or not?
Douglas: I don’t think we need *that* many . . .
Li: Fine. Why don’t you go up there and tell the Captain that. Let me know how that works out for you.
::The man groaned, hopping off the crate before switching on the old anti-grav sled - aged well past its usefulness and still weighing a tonne no matter the setting, hauling it over to the transporter.::
Li: I swear though, it’d be nice if for once you saw her or Crawford bring their privileged asses down here to help out. Maybe then there’d be a little less bitching about missing our drop off times.
Douglas: Nah. Gotta keep someone on sensors, else they’ll cry foul when somebody shows up under their nose.
::They moved another few crates over to the transporter before Li turned his back to the pile, leaning against it as he took out the cloth again to wipe his face. He offered it to Douglas, who promptly scrunched his nose.::
Douglas: I have a sleeve, thanks.
Li: Suit yourself. ::He laughed.:: You look like an overgrown slime devil right now.
Douglas: Look in the mirror.
::Li continued to grin as he raised a middle finger in Douglas’s direction. He went over and grabbed a bottle of water he’d set down on another crate, taking a sip.::
Li: So did you end up getting to see your sister last month?
Douglas: Mother Road moved again. Delayed her by about a month. Last I spoke with her she was considering heading back home.
::The other man turned around, raising an eyebrow.::
Li: Home? You mean Ketar? Or like… “home home?”
Douglas: Ketar’s yonks away, now. Even “home home” is a quicker trip, which is probably why it appealed to her.
Li: I thought things were going well for her last time you saw her.
Douglas: They were. ‘Till rumor came round that someone in some Fed office somewhere wanted to move the construction business to another colony. Esperance, or worse Meridian. I guess she wanted to get out while it was good.
::Li looked back with an expression of disgust, not so much at the specific thought of Iris heading to Esperance or Meridian but at what life in the Shoals had become these past few years.::
::Unlike Douglas, Li’s family had roots in the Shoals dating back to the first colony’s founding in the 22nd century. Life had been tough back then, but the riches scattered across the planets, moons, and other dead rocks floating through the region made it all worth it.::
::But over the last few decades it seemed things had gone wrong. Unlike much of the Alpha Quadrant, the Shoals and the colonies within were spared much of the destruction wreaked from the Dominion War, thanks of course to the tetryon fields and other hazards that had kept even the Jem’Hadar at bay. Apparently the prospect of having to travel for months just to get across a few sectors wasn’t appealing to them or their gods.::
::In the aftermath of the war, however, nearly all of the focus from the Federation Council had gone to rebuilding the inner worlds. The colonists were left to fend for themselves against the dangers, both natural and manmade, that had always plagued them. The recent nearly year-long FTU strike had been bad enough for business, and things just seemed to be getting worse. Every day it was just another story of heartbreak across the Shoals.::
Li: Don’t we all.
::Before Douglas could reply, the ship’s XO Crawford walked out onto the catwalk overlooking the cargo hold.::
Crawford: Li? Douglas? Get your asses up here! Captain wants all hands on deck.
Douglas: Mate, does she realize we’re supposed to drop off in five minutes? I can do the whole heads down ass up gig as much as she wants, but if she wants to meet the schedule we got . . .
Crawford: Douglas, just shut up and get to your station.
::And with that, the XO headed back to the bridge. Douglas gave Li a look of annoyance, hands on his hips as his eyes trailed Crawford’s steps back through the doors of the cargobay.::
Douglas: Either he’s sleeping with her, or she’s gone full nutter letting him trample everybody.
Li: Hmmph, he’s always been a tosser.
::The two men walked over to the metal ladder, climbed their way out of the hold, and made their way to the bridge.::
::Space was at a premium on the Lady Emerald. Not even the captain had a chair, and so Yolanda Madrid stood behind her helmsman, watching the sensor readings on the viewscreen. A tall woman in her late forties, she’d spent her whole life in the Shoals and had family roots going back for generations like Li.::
::Hearing the two men enter, she didn’t even look over as she spoke.::
Madrid: Gentlemen, good of you to join us.
Douglas: We’re supposed to be at a drop point in five minutes.
::Douglas was still annoyed, but Li quickly interjected before the man got himself thrown out the airlock.::
Li: What do we got, cap’n?
Madrid: Looks like another cargo ship’s run into trouble.
::The XO studied his console.::
Crawford: Transponder reads Andor’s Pride. Dilithium ore shipment headed to Havley. They’re trying to send out a distress call, but there’s too much interference. No other ships in range besides us.
Madrid: Then it’s time to call the cavalry to the rescue.
::This time, she did turn to Douglas and Li.::
Madrid: Prepare the boarding parties. Looks like you’ll get a chance to try out some of your new toys, Douglas.
Douglas: And now I’m disappointed that we spent two hours setting up for another picking only to stumble across one.
::Li had already grabbed a rifle, locking in the power cells.::
Li: Chin up. ::grins:: This is the fun part.
::As the crew of the Andor’s Pride battled the plasma fires caused by the home-made mine they’d struck, the Lady Emerald entered weapons range and fired the first broadside.::
::It was just another day in the Shoals.::
Douglas & Li
Pirates, Lady Emerald