Brave. Daring. Courageous. Indefatigable. These are all words that you wouldn't use to describe Nathan Schummar. Which was all well and good because Nathan would agree with you. To say Nathan was a coward would be a lie though. Nathan was simply the type of man who would be happy to mind his own business and work at a relatively safe job. Which was why he had signed on to the Bolian cargo freighter Mo'Kert as it's helmsman. The cargo the Mo'Kert shipped usually items like agricultural equipment or building supplies. Important and sometimes expensive. But far too troublesome for pirates or hijackers to forcefully seize and sell. Which suited Nathan just fine. If he had wanted adventure, he would've signed onto Starfleet to be shot at by Klingons, Borg, or Jem'Hadar.
Of course, there was a difference between not being adventurous and sitting around doing nothing. The Mo'Kert had been doing that for the past several hours now. The drive core had started emitting fluctuations in it's warp field and they had powered down to find out where the discrepancy was coming from. Their captain, a Bolian named Tik Narl was most unhappy with the situation; calling his chief engineer up every few minutes for a status update. Fortunately, the engineer was a vulcan with the patience of a saint. S'Cualan seemed to treat the interruptions like the buzzing of an insect. He waved Tik off with assurances that the problem would be solved eventually. Tik wasn't pleased with the "It will be done when it is done" theme in S'Cualan's replies. But since he wasn't going to start crawling around the ship's guts like S'Cualan there wasn't much else he could do but fret.
The doldrums atmosphere of the bridge was punctured when their "security chief", Kelly Rothguard, looked up from her tactical/sensors station. "Boss, long range scanners just picked up an object headed our way. Looks like they're cruising at full impulse." She said to Tik. The bolian whirled to face her.
"What? What do you mean 'a ship'? Who's ship?" He demanded. Nervousness mixing into his already anxious look. Kelly scowled at the display.
"Not sure...the computer has never seen anything like it. The readings are all out of whack." Nathan looked back from his helm console. Kelly was former Starfleet security and pretty unflappable. But looking at her now, he couldn't recall when she had looked this concerned.
"Is it pirates?" Tik asked breathlessly. Kelly stared at her console in helpless confusion.
"I couldn't say, boss. Readings are like nothing I've ever seen." She scrunched her face up. "It sure as hell isn't any of the normal players around here. Pretty ramshackle from what the sensors are picking up." Kelly muttered. Her console bleeped. "They're putting out a hail. All frequencies. Audio only." She announced.
"Let's hear it." Tik said nervously. Kelly nodded and pressed a button. The voices of the new comers filled the bridge.
"-Gruntin' at each ovvah!
Frew big, sharp teef
Sayin' dis un will givvus some fun!"
The three bridge crew looked at each other nervously. Nathan felt the hair on his neck stand up. The voices continued.
"Fourteen Orks onna Humie ship,
killin anythin dat izn't gree-een!
Gruntin' at each ovvah!
Frew big, sharp teef
Sayin' 'times are get'en leee-ean!' "
Nathan felt his gut turned to ice. Tik blanched to a pale blue. Kelly's hand gripped the disruptor on her hip.
"Thirteen Orks wiv da captain's chest,
Hopin' ta quench der greedy thirst,
Gruntin' at each ovvah!
Frew big, sharp teef
Sayin 'I wuz da one dat SAW IT FIRST!' "
Tik slammed his finger onto the "end comm" button. He looked at Nathan. "Get us out of here!" The bolian shouted. Nathan looked at the man with helplessness.
"I can't! The engines are in pieces remember?!"
The bolian's eyes bulged in panic and anger. "Damn that sluggish, green blooded, son of a bitch!" Tik cursed. He turned to Kelly. "Can we fight them?" He said desperately. Kelly shrugged.
"I can reroute auxiliary power to the weapons and shields but I don't know how long it will hold. That ship is pretty huge." She said grimly. Tik made a choking noise. The Mo'Kert had exactly one phaser bank. Which might have been able to destroy a shuttle. But unless the monstrosity heading towards them was completely made out of live explosives and tin foil, they weren't going to be able to do much damage. The bolian stood for a moment to consider his next course of action.
"Try to find and target their bridge." He told Kelly. Tik strode back to his captain's chair and thumbed the comm panel on it to ship-wide. "Attention all hands, we are being attacked by pirates. Prepare to be boarded." He announced, and closed the channel. The bolian reached into a side compartment and pulled out two Starfleet phasers. He then tossed one to Nathan. "Set it to kill." The captain said grimly. Tik looked back at his security officer. "Send out a distress call. Make sure it has our coordinates." For all the good it would do. Tik preferred the less traveled space lanes to avoid piracy. They were light years from anyone who could help. It would hours or days before somebody got their distress call and responded. They were on their own. Nathan gripped his phaser in reassurance. It didn't really help.
"Vessel is within visual range." Kelly announced.
"On screen." Tik ordered. The viewer lit up and the most bizarre, ugly looking thing Nathan had ever seen appeared in front of him. "What the hell is that?" The captain muttered. The vessel, if it could be called that, was a crude amalgamation of unrecognizable ships and asteroids. Metal sheets were sloppily welded on at random. Nathan could only guess their purpose was armor. Archaic looking gunports dotted the contraption. Their stubby barrels all pointed at the Mo'Kert. What appeared to be the prow of the ship jutted out like a knife. Two large cannons sat ponderously on top of it. The thing looked like a stiff breeze would knock it apart.
"Ship in weapons range!" Kelly announced.
"Shoot it!" Tik practically yelped. Nathan watched on the viewscreen as ruby lances of phaser fire drilled into the Frankenstein behemoth. Some shots were blocked by the vessel's shields. But others made it through. Fire blossomed on the thing's hull. It wasn't enough.
"Minimal damange. I don't think I'm doing much more then scratching the paint!" Rothguard said, sounding more annoyed then panicked.
"Target those gunport things!" Tik exclaimed. Kelly nodded and more beams stabbed at the advancing hulk. Like the first volley, some shots were stopped. Others hit their mark. The ramshackle turrels peppering the craft's hull became enveloped in fiery explosions. For a brief moment, Nathan felt a surge of hope. But then cold reality washed over him. The destruction of each weapons port was certainly bright and violent, but the hulk was festooned with them. And it didn't seem bothered by the explosions on its hull in the least. Ever closer it loomed.
The ship suddenly jerked. Violently. Nathan was thrown out of his chair and Kelly stumbled into a bulkhead. Only Tik stayed seated in his captain's chair. "Report!" He demanded, as Rothguard staggered back to her console.
"They've locked onto our hull...with damn harpoons!" She responded, sounding stunned They all were. Who used actual, physical harpoons in this age of tractor beams? The ship jerked again. "They're reeling us in! It looks like they're launching assault craft."
"Won't the shields stop those?" Nathan asked in hopeful desperation. The Mo'Kert shuddered worse then the past two times. Warning klaxons screamed through the air and the lights switched to red. The hulk fired its guns again. The freighter groaned like a wounded beast. A bank of consoles exploded and the air was filled with smoke and the stench of burning plastic and metal.
"Engineering, report!" Tik demanded. Nobody responded. Tik jabbed the comm again. " S'Cualan, you there?" He asked. No response. He looked at Kelly.
"A lot of systems are down. Looks like inter-ship comms went too." She explained. A warning flashed on her panel. "Brace for impact!" She shouted. Then dull thumps began to echo through the hull. "They're breaching!" Both Nathan and Tik looked at her in panic.
"Where?!" The Bolian yelped.
"Everywhere!" Rothguard responded. An explosion echoed from outside down the corridor. A chorus of gutteral screams filled the air. Nathan's phaser shook in his white knuckled grip. The ship rattled again. "Phasers are out. Internal sensors are out." Kelly said quietly. Thuds and shouts grew closer. Nathan scuttled behind his terminal and crouched down. Kelly hunkered down behind her console and took aim at the bridge door with her disruptor. Tik chose to stand in the open as if to make a defiant last stand. His own weapon was pointed shakily at the hatchway.
The noises of battle got closer and closer. Animal-like hoots and hollers grew ever nearer. Nathan's undershirt was slick with cold sweat. The bridge seemed to press in on him. Finally the invaders reached the bridge door. Immediately they began to bang away at the door. The meaty thumps of fist on the hatch and jarring clangs of metal on bulkhead seemed to drown out any other sound. Nathan could feel the vibrations. Finally they seemed to stop. An angry shouting broke out from the other side. Then another voice, louder then the others, cut through the din. Nathan couldn't quite make out what its owner was saying, but they seemed to be chastising the rest. There was a thump like someone kicking the hatch. A moment later the mob outside seemed to murmur in agreement and Nathan could hear their boots as they trundled down the corridor. Silence. The three occupants of the bridge crew nervously looked at each other. Maybe they had gone? Then Nathan heard a distant bellow of laughter. Then the bridge became a maelstrom.
Light blinded Nathan's eyes. Thunder deafened him. Concussion smashed the breath from his lungs. The world around him spun. Nathan felt his head slam against something. The world went dark for a moment. When Nathan woke his ears were roaring. He could distantly hear the warbling shriek of Kelly's disruptor. Vision returned to him, and Nathan found the bridge was on it's side. Or rather, he was. Despite the distortion, he had a clear few of the bridge. Rothguard was at the far side. She was busy taking cover behind her ruined tactical console as she shot at something on the other side of the gaping hole that used to be the bridge hatch.
He looked to the center of the bridge. Tik had gotten lucky. So to speak. The blast had turned the hatch and surrounding bulkhead into shrapnel. And Tik had been standing right in front of it. The bolian hadn't felt a thing. Scraps of him were smeared across the floor and wall. His beloved captain's chair a shattered mess. Nathan looked around dumbly. He could see figures looming in the hole. They were held back by Kelly's fire. But Nathan suspected that would soon change.
He struggled up to a sitting position and winced. His ribs were hurt. Cracked or broken. Nathan was mostly numb from the blast but he still felt it. But the dull throb did help clear his mind. They were being attacked. He needed to defend himself. He looked at his hands. His phaser was missing. He looked around and saw it a few feet away. He crawled over to it and picked it up. Now he could fight. Nathan turned around and pointed it at the hole.
Then a massive, metal capped boot caught him square in the chest and sent him tumbling again. Nathan couldn't breath. The phaser spun out of his grasp. He landed on his back and got a good look at his attacker. It was like someone had crossed a Nausicaan and an Orion and added an extra two feet. The thing's lower jaw thrust out like a cliff ledge. And two massive tusks jutted up from them like spears. Beady eyes hung underneath a huge brow. With a small nose sticking out between them. It's clothing seemed to be rags and pointy scrap metal thrown together at random. The thing held a gigantic meat cleaver in one hand. And in his other was Nathan's phaser. The weapon looked absolutely tiny in the thing's meaty hand. Nathan wasn't sure if it could even press the firing stud.
He heard a yell. Another of the beings held Kelly in the air by her throat. She struggled, kicking and punching against the beast. The beast just gave a guttural chuckle and slammed her into the wall. Then it did it twice more for good measure. Kelly went limp. Nathan tried to say something but he was still robbed of breath. The thing threw her against the wall next to him. Looking around, he realized the room was filled with the monsters. They leered at him like he was a living trash pile. One of them raised a cleaver in his direction. Malicious amusement on his face. Then another, even larger, fist cuffed the thing in its head.
It stumbled away as an even larger of its fellows shoved its way through the crowd. Large, scratched pauldrons adorned its shoulders. Adorning his head was a metal helmet. Both were painted a green and white checker pattern. It looked around at the rest of the gang. "Lissen up ya Grots!" It bellowed. Nathan winced as his voice washed over his sensitive ears. "Da Nob sayz dat we's need us a priznor! So hands off da humie til da Nob sayz odda wise!" The thing turned around and crouched next to Nathan. "Looks like itz ya lucky day, humie." It said, it's jaw practically touching his forehead. Nathan grimaced as the stench of the thing's breath assaulted his nostrils. "Us Orks don't take priznors. We take skulls." He gestured a collection along his belt. Nathan nodded dumbly.
The next few minutes felt like hours. To pass the time, the "Orks" busied themselves with hacking apart the bridge. Nathan could see no method to their madness as they randomly chopped up consoles and tore out circuits. Occasionally one would grab live wires and receive a nasty shock. He would yelp and the others would laugh at his misfortune. Nathan wondered what type of metal their cleavers were made out of that they could cut into the bulkheads.
The Orks, he observed, were much like their ship. Large, mismatched, and very aggressive looking. They didn't seem too bright, but they were quite strong. Occasionally an ork would find a shiny bit of scrap it liked, and another would also see it and try to take it. There would be a brief squabble. With the rest of the orks watching for entertainment. Phrases like "Krump 'im good!" and "smash da grot!" would be thrown around. Whoever won usually knocked out their fallen opponent's teeth for trophies. In addition to taking whatever bit had started the fight. The bridge soon stank of blood, sweat, and rancid breath. Then a voice from down the corridor cut through the din.
"One lone Ork left tah steal da loot" All the orks stopped what they were doing and turned towards the voice like dogs.
"Wishin' it hadn't turned out so" Some of the orks began to sign along with the voice. One or two began stamping their boots or cleavers against the hull to form a crude beat.
"Gruntin' to itself" A looming figure filled the gaping hole to the bridge. There stood the largest ork Nathan had seen yet. It barely fit through the opening. This one appeared to be cybernetically enhanced. One arm turned into a massive metal pincer claw. Various shades of blood coated the blades. Some type of weapon seemed grafted onto the other.
"Froo big, sharp teef
Sayin' "I shoulda let da piii-lot gooooooooooo!" It bellowed out the last bit. The other orks on the bridge joined in and held the note. It puffed out its chest and tilted its head back. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHH!" Again, the other orks joined in and Nathan was deafened. After giving a good shout, the massive ork lumbered over to the injured navigator and looked down. Nathan glanced up and noticed this ork sported a crude metal chest piece for armor. It was painted red and festooned with random bits that Nathan couldn't hope to identify. But the most catching part of the ork was the severed head mounted on a shoulder spike. Green blood still oozed from S'Cualan's mouth and neck. Nathan fought back the urge to vomit. "A'rite humie, you da flyboy of dis here scrapbucket?" He prodded Nathan with his claw. The helmsman nodded. "Well dats good. Da boss wuz hopin' ta get one a yaz alive so's 'e can show us how ta fly dez here funny ships." He gestured around him at the destroyed bridge.
"Ah...I...I won't help you!" Nathan finally responded; hoping to sound defiant. The ork cracked a grin.
"Datz funny, it iz." He looked at the rest of the orks. "Da humie tinks 'e gotz a say." The other orks chuckled. In a flash, the ork's pincer claw gripped Nathan's hand. "Look 'ere ya git!" The beast thundered. "I knows dat humies can last a whilez wivvout der 'ands an da like." The claw squeezed tighter and Nathan squirmed in pain. "So 'erez whats gonna happin'. Youz gonna teach da boyz howz dez ships work else I'z gonna snip ya up bit by bit. An iffa ya do a good job, mebbe wez let ya go." He said with a dark chuckle. Nathan nodded rapidly; his earlier defiance gone. "Datz good. I knew ya would seez it our way." The claw released his wrist and the ork tapped Nathan's face with it. Some blood from the claw smeared onto his face. Again, Nathan fought back the urge to vomit.
"Ey boss, whats we do bout da odda humie?" Another ork gestured at Kelly. Nathan was shocked that she wasn't dead. And that she was coming to. The "boss" turned to face the security officer as she groaned and tried to push herself up. Kelly suddenly found herself gripped in the ork's pincer claw. She struggled weakly, but Nathan could tell she was hurting. Holding her in place, the ork leaned forward until he and Kelly were face to face.
"Lissin' good humie. Herez wutz gonna happen. I'z gonna stick yaz inna 'scape pod. Den we gonna shoot ya inta space. An den when dey pick ya up, you tell em dis: Everytin' in dis parta space-" He trailed off and looked around at his fellows. Then back at her and grinned evilly "-belongs to DA ORKS!"