Chapter 4 - Secrets on a Shuttlecraft (side story)

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The hum of the shuttlecraft’s thrusters sounded perfectly normal to human ears. Three different ensigns had said as much to Tomaasz after he assigned them to check it out. But to his ears, the shrill undertone might as well have been a red-alert klaxon. Since no one else would take it seriously, he would see to it himself. “At least this time no one will get shot,” he muttered under his breath.

Standard diagnostics turned up nothing, as usual. Nothing really interesting showed up on the standards, but they were good for ruling out the obvious. Next step, get in and get his hands dirty. A half-smile bared one sharp fang. The hunt was on. The form was different, since he was after a technical problem instead of a person, but the hunt was the same.

He had half of the cowling strewn across the deck plates when he saw it. Halfway under the secondary plasma coil was a miniscule gap where it shouldn’t be. It was well concealed. Very well, in fact. But the day he couldn’t find a smuggler’s compartment would be the day he handed in his… well. The day he quit for real.

After a brisk but thorough search for traps and alarms, he opened the compartment. Inside, filling the tiny space, were three compact cylinders. Hand phaser energizer coils, much more powerful than standard Federation issue. Right off the contraband technology lists. His hand moved reflexively toward his combadge to call security, then froze. The winding of those coils followed a specific and familiar pattern. Intimately familiar. His hand lowered, his ears drooping. The steady, ominous thump of his tail lashing the deck grew louder as he stared at the coils. It seemed his past was well and truly coming back to bite him.

Three coils, made by his own hand years ago, vanished into a hidden pocket in his tunic. He reassembled the drive with automatic movements. As expected, without the resonant harmonics of the coils, the thrusters purred smoothly. He logged the repair as re-tuning the frequency modulation, and began the walk back to his quarters. It was time to start another hunt. The old kind. “So much for nobody getting shot.”