Chapter 52: Explanations and Preperations
“Why did you stop me, Jumba?”
Experiment 419 folded her arms and looked up at Jumba as the group continued walking.
“Because I knew what you were going to say – I had noticed it myself – and I was thinking that we shouldn’t annoy any potential friends until we have Little Girl and 426 safe.”
419 glared at Jumba. “How could you know-”
Jumba raised his hand, and 419 promptly fell silent. “You were going to ask how they are knowing Little Girl’s or my name, despite not having mentioned it,” replied Jumba, as 419’s mouth fell open. “Could tell from context, and the way you looked at Captain Girl.”
“Well, ya, but-”
Jumba turned his head slightly, and the light from one of the power distribution nodes reflected off his eyes, making them glimmer in the dimness. “Is what I would ask if were in a better position, but now is not the time to be questioning loyalty of those who are offering us aid.”
“But they seem-”
Jumba gave 419 a stern look. “I would not be provoking them. They are having energy weapons and military training. At best, we have a few blasters and 626. And while he is kick-butt fighter” – here, Stitch gave a giant grin – “a match for all of them together? I am not thinking so much.”
419 frowned. Stitch took on lots of those Borg thingies, why not them?
“Ahem,” coughed Stitch, tapping 419 on the shoulder. “419? Meega ika baka-dooka ika, kara itsuka naga maka’moki. Nara’kara, itsuka maka’ba, kara tamoki ogat’ika.” 
As he talked, he fiddled with his thumbs, gesturing to illustrate his points. Jumba slowly nodded in agreement when he had finished.
“Okay, I think I’ve got it,” 419 said, giving him a thumbs up. “Thanks, Stitch.”
“Naga chuuta,” replied Stitch.
“Anyway,” continued Jumba, a sly grin forming on his face, “would be spoilers, no?”
“Spoilers?” 419 unfolded her arms in surprise. “Doctor Song, is that you?”
The three burst out into laughter. Doctor Song had been a female researcher who visited the Galaxy Defence Agency from time to time When anyone had asked why she was there, all she’d do was say ‘Spoilers!’ and be on her way – in fact, so reliable was her answering with that word that it had become an in-joke among the top scientists there.
“Well, there’s quite enough of that for the time being,” said Jumba, a chortle still evident in his voice. “419, how close are we being?”
419 pulled her PADD out from a strap hidden under her hair and tapped on its screen for a few seconds.
“Not long now. Right turn here.”
She pointed down an offshooting corridor, her stylus still held tightly in her hand.
As they proceeded down the alley, 419 began to feel uneasy. There was something strange about the last few areas they had been in. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it was bugging her to no end.
Suddenly, Stitch stopped and pricked his ears.
“Um… Jumba? I… hear… naga.”
Jumba paused as well, tuning on his heel. “I am not hearing anything either, but it nothing to worr-”
He stopped himself in mid-sentence, the familiar grim look of realisation spreading over his face.
“I am not hearing anything. There should be sound.”
419 listened. Sure, there was the occasional beep, and a constant, but very low, vibrating noise, but apart from that, there was nothing.
All of a sudden, it hit 419 exactly what had been bugging her.
“We haven’t seen any of those cyborg creatures for a while.”
Before they had been buzzing around the ship, meaning that 419 and 426 had had to continuously dodge their footsteps. Now, the hallways and alcoves were empty.
Had the shockwave caused so much damage that they were all now repairing the damage? From what 419 had seen of them, they seemed to distribute work evenly throughout the ship… but even so, there should be some kind of skeleton crew of sorts in this section. Seeing nothing felt… well, unnerving.
“This may be a trap,” muttered Jumba, voicing what was on each of their minds. “We should be very careful.”
But they nervously continued onwards anyway, unaware, even if they did suspect it, that they were being watched.
Pleakley scampered quickly across the bridge of the Dakana, pressing all kinds of nobs and buttons. At this moment, he was optimising the scan parameters, based on his astrometrics studies, to give them a good balance between detail and time. Once that was finished, he slumped in Jumba’s chair, so as to rest for a moment while he thought of a way to bring everyone back, once they had finished.
One of the shuttles had been destroyed, at least according to 419, so that was a no go; the other, he had just used to trigger the large explosion that had rocked the Borg cube. He knew Jumba had been working on some kind of teleport for quite a while based on his work with food dispenses, but the plans were back in his lab, three-hundred years ago and several light-years away.
And besides, he’d had too much experience with Jumba’s experimental procedures to know he couldn’t trust that it wouldn’t transport only half of him or him into a solid wall or something.
There was nothing else to it. He tapped a few buttons, and up on the window was projected a communications link, buzzing with static.
A moment later, and the static was replaced by an unfamiliar face – pale, slightly angled, and a little mischievious looking, topped by a messy mop of short brown hair.
“Hello, this is Acting-Captain Grey of the USS Serenity. How may I…”
He paused for a moment, his eyes flickering around the scene.
“Er, are you the only one aboard?”
“Yes, the others are on the Borg cube. They’ve gone to rescue a friend,” replied Pleakley.
Grey grasped his chin, stroking it somewhat, as if he were thinking about something. “Just like our captain, I see. So, how may I help you?”
“I was wondering… hoping… that you had some kind of means of transporting between ships. You see, all our shuttles are kaput, and-”
“Say no more,” replied Grey, holding up a hand. “We have this technology called a transporter. It essentially transports your body from one place to another.”
While Pleakley didn’t feel as if he was being talked down to, he did feel that that last explanation had been unnecessary. “I’m familiar with the concept, although to us it’s merely theory.”
“Ah, then.” He glanced to the side slightly. “Would you like a demonstration?”
“Would I?” Pleakley exclaimed – he’d long heard the theories proposed, but to see one in operation…
He needed to be calm. “I mean, if it’s no bother.” There.
The captain tapped his comm. badge, smirking as he did so. “Miles, the guy on the other ship would like a demonstration, so… one to beam up.”
“Rodger,” a voice on the other ship’s speakers echoed.
Suddenly, Pleakley felt a tingling sensation in the pit of his stomach. He glanced down to find his body encircled by particles of blue light, brightly spinning around and around.
“No, wait, I didn’t mean me! Ahhhh!”
By now, his body had begun to shimmer in the same blue-coloured light. Pleakley closed his eye – he didn’t want to see his body dematerialise, since he feared he’d be sick if he had, and that would probably serve a bad impression for the crew of the Serenity.
The tingling feeling lasted only seconds. When it had ceased, Pleakley noticed that the ground beneath him felt far more flexible than the steel floor of Jumba’s ship.
He slowly opened his eye. He was standing on some sort of glass-like material, lit by several small lights surrounding large, dim circular pads. There were seven of these pads – likely they were teleport pads, and thus there was one for each person.
He looked up. A man in a yellow uniform, with a rather tough-looking face and scruffy blond hair, waved at him. Pleakley nervously waved back.
“We’ve got him, Captain.” He tapped his comm. badge and looked up st Pleakley, quickly surveying him from head to toe.
“Follow me,” he finally asked, walking in front of the steel door. With a whoosh, it quickly opened in front of him, and closed just as quickly when he had gone through.
With a deep breath, Pleakley stepped off the teleport platform and waited in front of the door. It opened as it had done for the man named Miles, and Pleakley walked through.
The starship Serenity was very different from Jumba’s ship in a number of ways. For one thing, it was absolutely massive. The floors were mainly lined with wide, but empty, corridors lined with more doors than one could shake a splonk at, and those corridors went on for at least a kilometre, if not more,
Another thing that was different was that everything seemed… well, sleek and professional, right down to the flat-panel screens in the wall. Jumba’s ship felt more homely, messy and raw, both in the materials used, in the finish, and in how everything was organised.
The size of the ship was further emphasised when the two had arrived at the elevator (to which Miles refered to as a ‘turbolift’.)
“Hold the handle, er…”
“Agent Pleakley, former head of Earth Studies at the Galactic Federation,” said Pleakley, with a hint of pride in his voice, as he held out his hand in the way accorded by custom.
“Miles Delarky, transporter chief of the Serenity,” replied Miles Delarky, shaking Pleakley hand rather vigorously. “Say, I haven’t heard of this ‘Galactic Federation’ before – is it new?”
“Er… no.” Pleakley mentally scoulded himself – he should have made something up. “It’s, um, relatively old… it’s just, they keep to, well, themselves.”
Miles gave him an odd look, but otherwise didn’t question it. “So, Agent, hold the handle please.”
Pleakley did as he was told, his finger fumbling with the button.
Miles took a hold of a handle next to him. “Computer, first floor.”
The lift vroomed into action, bright lights speeding past them outside.
“You know,” said Miles suddenly, “we were going to have these lifts retrofitted for LCARS, like most of the ship – those handles are the old interface, and they’re still hooked up to the old library computer. And Leo and K.T. – Leonard Bilsky and Kathie Turell – they were just enthusiastic as clams about getting to do it. Well, that’s before…”
He trailed off, suddenly saddened by some unknown thought. And although the man had said nothing, Pleakley knew what he meant.
“Never whole again,” he murmered. It had been something Jumba had said to him once, although he’d long forgotten the circumstances.
“Anyway, life goes on, right?” replied Miles, the sound of faux cheer in his voice. “Well, here’s the bridge.”
And indeed, the elevator had stopped.
Pleakley stepped in front of the doors, waited for them to openm and then walked through them.
The bridge was the same as much of the rest of the ship, Flat screen panels adorned the walls, with people standing on the ready to use them. In front were two control panels at either side of the viewscreen – one manned by a person in a red shirt, the other by one in a yellow.
At the center of the room, a long black control panel severed the room in two, and below it was the captain and, presumably, first officer’s chair. The captain’s chair, despite being rather bulky, was fixed attached to kind of swivel device, while the first officer’s was fixed to the floor. All the chairs in the room looked rather comfortable, with a cushiony section where the seat and back was.
As his eye returned to the center of the room, the captain swivelled around to greet him.
“Ah, yes. So, Mr… Plackly, was it?”
“Right. Well, Mr Pleckly, we can transport you and your friends off the Borg ship when you need to, but the trouble is we’ll need to know their co-ordinates. Miles can give you a comm. badge – they have tracking devices in them – but it’d best if you meet at a known location. We’ll store the co-ordinates into a tricorder and-”
“Hang on, tricorder?” Pleakley inquired.
“Oh, a handheld scanner that can also store information. Anyway, if you and your team could meet at those co-ordinates, we can get you off the ship with a lot more certainty. Okay?”
“I’ll try,” agreed Pleakley, although with a bit of apprehension in his voice. What did ‘a lot more certainty’ entail?
“Okay, all set then. Milers’ll give you anything you need. And one more thing,” he said, looking directly into Pleakley’s eye. “Good luck.”
And with that, Pleakley walked back towards the elevator, summoning up all his courage for what lay ahead. After all, his friends needed him, and he didn’t want to let them down, now when it counted most. Not again.
 ^ A note: Stitch explains to 419 that the reason why he can take on the drones is because they move quite slowly, while the crew of the Serenity are sure to be agile and quick.