Traveler: Storyteller: Aliens, it takes one to know one…

            Seven identical rooms later and there were eight people sleeping things off.  They had also gathered a crowd of five more like Pickard.  The Princess had pronounced everything she saw junk, and she assured everyone that the only things they might get out of their work was things that would be discovered in the next three to six years anyway, including the laser.

            “But isn’t that exciting?  An actual working light accelerator.”  At least Pickard was excited.  The Princess smiled for him, but as she tried to hustle that whole crowd back to the quarantine room, she was not surprised to see several gunmen guarding the door.  She backed everyone up to the laser room before they were seen and took a second, longer look at that piece of equipment.  It was a simple laser reader, like for a disc or some such thing, but it could be adapted in the right pair of hands.

            “Quiet.”  Goldman, David and Nancy kept whispering to the others, but these were men of science, not special forces operatives.  They had questions, and the Princess simply could not answer them all, in part because she herself might risk endangering the future if she said too much.

            “Hold it!”  That was a bit loud, but the room quieted for a second.  “I promise I will show you all something, but first you have to promise that you will not make a sound no matter what.”

            “OK.  Fine.  Sure.”  They were not even quiet in saying that. 

            “Now I mean it.”  The Princess reduced her own voice to a sharp whisper.  “I am going to change and I don’t want to hear one peep out of any of you.”

            The men all nodded, two leered, but as the Princess looked at her special friends.  David, Nancy and Goldman knew what she was talking about.  The others had no idea.  When the Princess vanished and Martok, the Bospori came to be in her place, three men had their mouths covered by other hands, Pickard had his own hand over his own mouth, but of the two uncovered mouths, one man shrieked, and it was rather loud.  Everyone stood still.  There was a knock on the door.

            “Professor Braun, everything OK in there?”

            David grabbed the man and shoved him toward the door, whispering.  “Yes, yes.  My hand just slipped with the screwdriver.”  He wrapped Doctor Mishka’s handkerchief around Professor Braun’s hand.  The men in the room quickly ducked down behind the table and equipment while Braun cracked the door.  Braun looked back once, but David, who was standing behind the door, nodded to encourage him.

            “Yes, yes.”  Braun said.  “My hand just slipped with the screwdriver.”  He said the line like a hack actor, but then he grinned and held up his hand wrapped with the handkerchief.  There was a long pause before everyone heard the voice again. 

            “OK.  Just be careful.”

            “Oh, I will, I will.”  Braun said and he smiled and shut the door.

            They waited until they were sure the man had moved on.  Martok worked the whole time, piecing several alien and human bits of equipment together and attaching it to the laser array.  He had Pickard, Braun and several others looking over his shoulder by the time he was finished.  “Don’t go on the stage.”  Martok suggested to Braun at last.  “Your acting stinks.”  He turned with a smile, but there was no disguising the deep alien tone and tenor of Martok’s Bospori voice, even in a whisper, and then his eyes were also yellow and cat-like, or perhaps snake-like.  Braun almost let out another shriek, but this time he bit down on his own hand, hard – the one wrapped in the handkerchief and a few drops of blood appeared on the white linen.

            “What will it do?”  One man on the other side of the lab table, one who had not gotten a glimpse of those eyes asked.

            “Nothing yet.  I need a power source.  This equipment is all dead.”

            People started looking around the room.  One person picked up a Bunsen burner while another pointed to the wall outlets.  Braun said, “Mmmph” through his hand and handkerchief and went to a cabinet where he pulled out fifty feet of heavy-duty outdoor extension cord.

            “Good.”  Martok immediately cut the end and hot-wired the cord to his contraption.

            “One-ten or two-twenty?” A man asked.

            “One-ten will do,”  Martok said, and he nodded when he was ready.

            “But what will it do?”  The same man asked the same question.

            “Watch.”  Martok said and he lifted the contraption and pointed it at the wall, only to lower it again before switching it on.  “Any fire extinguishers in this room?”

            One of the men grabbed one off the wall, and Braun took a small one out of a drawer while everyone backed up a giant step.  They had been crowding the place where he was pointing the laser.  Martok lifted it again, but paused and lowered it a second time as he spoke.

            “You realize, I did not have time to check every circuit.  I hope this thing doesn’t blow up, funny as that might be.” 

            Everyone took another giant step back, or two and Martok whipped the laser up and immediately began cutting a hole in the wall.  “Better than a blow torch.”  He quipped as the wallboard proved no match for the laser.  Unfortunatly, there was an old plaster wall under the wallboard and that took a little longer to cut, but not much.  Martok was a bit afraid that the laser might be scorching the next wall over, but he knew they were three rooms from the quarantined room and he knew it would not go that far.  In all it did not take more than a minute  and Martok switched off his toy.  He handed it to Nancy who took it in her shaking hands like the ultimate hot potato.  She dared not move a muscle, while he stepped forward to examine his handiwork.  Martok was from the Bospori world, a planet with a heavier gravity than Earth.  He was short, only standing about five feet tall, but he was more dense that a human and on Earth, he was about as strong as a gorilla.  In this case, though, all he had to do was tap the wall section and it fell away.  It made a great racket in the process.

            “We need to move fast.”  Goldman stated the obvious while the man with the big fire extinguisher sprayed the edges of the opening to cool them off so people could go through.  Martok went first and noticed that the second wall was indeed scorched.  Others ran to the door to lock it in case those outside were inclined to check out the noise.  Martok found something in that room to enhance the power of the laser and it took a few seconds to work it into his contraption, but he reduced the range of the laser and went right back at it.  The second wall came down faster than the first. 

            David ran back to the first room and pulled the plug as they had reached the end of their tether.  “I hope you haven’t cut through the power lines.”  He said as he plugged it into their current room.  Meanwhile, Martok was studying the next wall and using his sensitive hearing to listen in.  When he was sure he turned to everyone in the room.

            “Gentlemen.  Nancy.  They have invaded the next room so we have to be prepared for a firefight.”

            “My room?”  Pickard asked, knowing full well whose room it was.

            “I hope we don’t damage anything vital, but we have to go through that room to reach the quarantined room.  I will be cutting a little higher than normal in case Rupert is still slumped against the wall.”  He paused and found one of the scientists who had served in the Navy and knew something about firearms.  That man got David’s gun, over David’s objection, and he and Goldman each took a side of the lab table to give them some cover.  He made everyone else go back into the last room and promise not to stick their heads into the opening in the wall.  “You would be no more than rabbits in a shooting gallery, so please keep your heads down.”  Then he turned the laser up to full power with the hope that he might cut through the wall to Pickard’s room and the wall to the quarantined room at the same time.

            Martok called to the Traveler’s helmet–a Greek looking helmet with a face plate that left two eye openings.  It appeared like magic and covered his whole head, and he pulled the hood of his cloak over the helmet as well, causing it to come together over his mouth and nose like he would if he was in the desert or caught by a sudden snowstorm.  He put goggles overall, but there was not much he could do about his eyes since he needed to see what he was doing but in that way he was as protected as possible from any bullets that might come in his direction.

            He touched the on switch and there was a brilliant flash of light which flared once and went out.  Martok let out a few words in his alien tongue and banged his makeshift laser on the lab table.  Immediately, it flared up again, and this time, with the enhancements, it made very short work of the wall.  It also started the wall on fire in several small places and that was going to be a problem if they could not get to it quickly.

          “Ready?”  Martok asked his gunmen, but he did not wait for an answer.  He picked up an engine casing which was too heavy for a human to lift and chucked it at the wall.  It exploded the wall and caused the three men in that room to jump back.  Goldman got off the first shot and miraculously caught one of the men in the shoulder despite all of the rubble flying through the air.  Then one of the men returned fire, and the navy man realized it was his turn.  He did not hit anything, but then the bullets flew.  Martok ignored it all.  He had picked up another smaller, but more solid piece of equipment, one about the size of an oversized softball and he threw it as hard as he could for the far wall while he prayed that the laser had cut that far.

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