The halls are quiet at this late hour. Undoubtedly the club and casino areas of the ship are still hopping, but not many people are strolling about. Tcho and Kerr-Lonn-Ny cross a third or so of the ship at a quick walk on their way to the captain’s quarters and see nothing untoward along the way. When they reach their destination, the public display area is darkened and shuttered for the night. However, the accordion fence poses little challenge to these fit individuals, and they easily climb over it. The atrium is a testament to the captain’s ego, with plaques commemorating all the ships he has served on and various awards he has received. There is even a life-sized plasboard cutout of the man for gawkers to snap pictures alongside and a stack of flimsiplast coloring books about the Dame.
The “Staff Only” sign does not do its job of dissuading them from continuing beyond the common area. “Knocking on the door won’t be sufficient; we need him to not turn us down. I can spring the door open,” Tcho offers Kerr-Lonn-Ny as they approach it, “but do you know what you want to say to him? You heard part of a conversation, but do you have a clear mental picture of the people involved? You were drugged so shortly after you heard them that it could have interfered with the permanent formation of memories…”
Do I have a clear mental picture?! The Force showed her. Maybe she could not have picked the mutineer out of a lineup of Frozians earlier, but she will not need to. Yeah, I was totally drugged up, but I’ve got a really clear idea right now. The woman will be caught red-handed. That vision showed the ship in hyperspace, so either it is happening right now, or it is about to. Kerr-Lonn-Ny answers Tcho’s question, but he does not need to know that the source of her conviction is not the scene in the garden earlier in the trip. “I’ve got a good description. I think it’s pretty clear that this Frozian intends to threaten the captain’s life and do something with the ship. Or hold the captain hostage, possibly. She seemed pretty disgruntled.”
“Given the steps they took to cover up what you heard, I’m not surprised.” He turns to the door and crouches down to take a look at the lock. “All right, we’ll see what we can do.” It is a more sophisticated lock than the one on JT’s third class berth, but this time, Tcho is uninjured and feels under less pressure. Considering it good practice for breaking into the moff’s quarters, he pokes at it with his tools, circumventing the built-in electronic alarms. These Tusk models have particularly nasty shockers incorporated into them, but Tcho reroutes them to overload the lock itself.
There seem to be no guards around, but Kerr-Lonn-Ny keeps an alert watch in case the Frozian has not yet arrived. She hears the quiet click of the door unlocking and turns to see Tcho easing it ever so slightly open. This is taking too long! Kerr-Lonn-Ny thinks. She had a vision, and she needs to act on it. She moves to cut through, and Tcho catches her. “I think it’s clear,” he whispers, “but let me go in first.”
Kerr-Lonn-Ny shakes his hand off her arm. “The Frozian’s in there right now!” she insists. “I know she’s in there. She’s got a gun!”
So do I, Tcho thinks, but without knowing the full situation beyond the door, he does not want to draw his holdout blaster. Better for no one to know he has it until he absolutely has to use it. “Well, you said you were ready for action,” he replies, assuming the Cerean heard something in the room. “The captain may no longer need a warning, but he probably needs help.” JT wanted the captain on her side; this is certainly a way to earn some goodwill.
“Yeah, he definitely needs help,” Kerr-Lonn-Ny hisses back. Then she is done talking. She kicks open the door, shouting, “Stop!” and charges across the room at the startled occupants. Force, give me strength; Force, guide my feet.
* * *
Captain Rowan’s brain struggles to process what is happening before him. Ensign Adalat is… holding a blaster? “What is the meaning of this?! You can’t, can’t just…” he sputters out. “Is… is that toy?” Where did she get a blaster? This is a cruise ship! We’re not soldiers! “What are you doing?!”
And then, as if the ensign’s actions were not enough insanity, two strangers burst into his quarters. More mutineers? Hijackers? he wonders at first, but they both throw themselves at Adalat. The Cerean moves more swiftly, and even though Adalat is nearly three meters tall, she manages to duck aside from the tackle. That leaves her open to the Pantoran, however, who latches onto her arm. Rowan hears the blaster go off and takes a quick look at his own chest, relieved to see that he is fine. “Get the gun away from her!” he hears the Pantoran grind out through clenched teeth.
* * *
Everything was going according to plan. Sure, some of those jokers working with her made a shipwide announcement about the Maelstrom, but at least they waited until the captain’s quarters had been cut off from the communications network. Would he even have recognized the course change? Adalat wonders. Rowan is just a functionary. That is one of the reasons she hates him so much. It is so frustrating working for someone who does not even understand any of the technical work going on around him, let alone reward it. Even now, faced with her blaster, all he can do is stammer dazedly up at her.
She opens her mouth to begin her speech, but a woman shouts, “Stop!” from the door. Adalat turns to see a Cerean barreling toward her. The interloper tries to tackle her, but Adalat shrugs her off. She turns to follow through, keeping an eye on this surprise opponent, but then her right wrist is grabbed. Another new arrival, a Pantoran, attempts to wrench the blaster from her hand. Adalat holds tight to the weapon and tries to shake off his grip, but he shifts his hold up her arm so she cannot break free. Whatever! He’s unarmed; I’m not. The blaster is now inside his guard, and she fires.
* * *
If Tcho cannot get the blaster from the Frozian’s hand, then the next best thing for him to do is to keep the gun arm so entangled that she cannot get off a straight shot at the captain or easily back out of the room. He realizes the flaw in his plan when he hears the too-close discharge. A searing heat across his right pectoral muscle accompanies the dazzling whitish-yellow flash. The Frozian narrows her eyes, glaring down at him. “You just made a big mistake, pal. Next one’s to the heart,” she warns. “You don’t know what you’re messing with.”
For being on a ship where guns are not allowed, I’m getting shot rather often, Tcho reflects through the uncomfortably-familiar haze of pain. Under the Frozian’s arm, he sees Kerr-Lonn-Ny behind her staring at him, wide-eyed. The athlete may have done a lot of boxing and wrestling, but he doubts she has ever been in a life-and-death struggle before. It’s a good thing we didn’t barge onto a bridge full of these mutineers. “Get the gun away from her!” he urges his companion, teeth gritted against the pain. He stiffens his right hand and reaches up to jab it into the Frozian’s side, which is at eye-level for him. She is about one and half times his height, so he cannot reach some of the pressure points he would usually go for, but most humanoid species have important organs accessible from just under the rib cage. Although he has not studied Frozian physiology specifically, his strike manages to connect with something that causes her discomfort.
The sound of the blaster sends a shiver of fear through Kerr-Lonn-Ny. This is no boxing ring, she realizes. That gun could go off again at any time. Do they have different settings? Worse ones? She is not sure, but one thing she does know is that she is not here on her own. The Force is her companion, and Tcho is still standing, still clinging to the mutineer. He looks much better off than the first time I met him, so there’s that, she reassures herself in the fleeting moments before she chooses her next move. And he’s some kind of doctor. He’ll be able to stitch himself up. She does not want to go for the gun itself, worried that it could go off again. Instead, she takes advantage of her current position behind the Frozian. She folds her fingers together to form a double fist. Then, with the strength of the Force coursing through her, she leaps up and smashes her hands down on her opponent’s back. Although the Frozian looks lanky, Kerr-Lonn-Ny now discovers that she has dense muscles under her deceptively silky tan fur. She doubts her blow has hurt the other woman, but it does jar her sufficiently that the gun clatters to the floor, skittering away from them all.