Author's Note: Well, this one took awhile. When youíre inserting a scene into a comedy like Acquisition, but at least theoretically itís one with potentially deadly consequences, you have to walk a pretty fine line between laughs and plausibility. Not sure this really manages either of those two, but it will have to do. Many thanks as always, reviewers.
They made their way to Engineering. Trip had headed there instinctively, but when T’Pol asked him why there, he was able to articulate that it was a place where they could easily hide if necessary while they hatched a plan. “The cap’n said he had an idea,” Trip said. “He didn’t get to say what it was. But it has to be something to do with his haggling for a percentage of the gold in our vault.”
T’Pol looked nonplussed. “Enterprise has a vault?”
An eyebrow went up. “He wishes to fool the aliens.”
Her lip curled. “Surely there are more direct options for overtaking the ship?”
“There would be, if I could find any of our weapons, but I can’t. I’d suggest we try gassing them the same way they gassed us, but they’ve also stolen just about every med supply we’ve got.”
“Could we employ their own device against them?”
“Sure, we could try. We’d need EV suits ourselves, assuming they haven’t already stolen all those too. They’re not the easiest things to maneuver in during a tactical situation.”
“It does appear that you prefer to be as unencumbered as possible,” T’Pol observed, with a cool glance at his attire, or lack thereof.
Trip felt himself redden. “I’ve been kinda busy. And trying to get to my quarters just for a change of clothing didn't exactly seem worth the risk.”
“Your unusual costume entails risks of its own, Commander. You would not blend in with other crewmen if you needed to feign unconsciousness. Or the aliens might conclude that you are in the sex trade and decide to sell you into slavery, too.”
He stared at her. Had that been an attempt at a joke?
Before he could decide, she asked, “Have you had a chance to observe them? Do they have any obvious weaknesses?”
“Well ... they seem to be extremely profit-oriented. Competitive, even with each other. I noticed the cap’n trying to sow seeds of discord with the little guy who’s in charge of him. But honestly, I think the fastest way to get these particular aliens where we want them is to give them that vault they’re so desperate to find.”
Luckily, Trip managed to find a mag-lock that hadn’t been stolen or destroyed. They quickly ironed out the details. He would set the bait. She would attempt to confuse and delay them. Once the lock was in place, Trip would have to let himself be caught, or perhaps just walk right in and try to bargain with them – but not too early. Timing would be everything.
“I’d better get going,” he said. “Good luck.”
“Commander.” She coughed. “Ensign Rao’s quarters are along your way, I believe. One of his uniforms should fit you.”
God, she really just couldn’t stand him in his underwear, could she? Maybe his pale, hairy caveman legs were freaking her out? But was it logical to obsess about something so trivial at a time like this?
Well, they hardly had time to argue about it now. He just managed not to roll his eyes at her, and left. Just maybe, a little later, when all this was over and the ship was safe and nobody was about to get sold into slavery anymore, he could suggest that it sure looked to him like she’d let the Chief Engineer’s state of undress distract her from more important priorities.
Yeah, that might be good for a little fun.
Next installment: Oasis.
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