The Landing Party

"Perhaps we can help?" said Tunney pleasantly while privately wondering what they'd fallen afoul of this time.

The ViceConsul looked rather taken aback and an opaque grey dialogue box popped up in the corner of the Plasma screen announcing that a further 10% of ServicePack 3 had been downloaded and needed a system reboot to continue.  Lieutenant Bell started hurriedly tapping commands into his console, swearing mildly under his breath.

"How?" said the ViceConsul.  "Are you offering weapons support from your ship?  That could prove decisive, although obviously we would need a representative on board your ship--"

"No!" said Tunney, cutting him off.  "I was offering diplomatic services.  Perhaps the two factions would like to meet on board the ship, on neutral ground?  We could host a summit meeting, a... an international discussion..."

"We could start the war for them," said Lieutenant Commander Varis in a low voice in his ear.  Tunney started sweating almost immediately, and his fingers tightened on the arm of his chair.  Her voice seemed to have a way directly to his reptilian hindbrain; he was sure he'd never heard an offer to start a war sound quite so much like one to go to bed.

"We don't negotiate with criminals!" said the ViceConsul, his face creasing up angrily.  He stood up, and the plasma screen beeped twice and went dark.

"It's rebooting, Sir," said Lieutenant Bell shuffling his feet.  He was, Tunney noticed, not wearing his regulation MediPro LeatherSkin Army Boot (with emergency colostomy facility), but instead was wearing the latest Nike 'Just Stomp on it' sports shoe.

"We should form up a landing party and go down on them," said Varis, resting a hand on Tunney's shoulder.  His entire arm tingled and he felt short of breath.

"Wh.. What?" he managed, and made himself get up out of the chair and away from her soft, warm, enticing hand.

"We should go down to the surface," she said.  "We must of course respect the Prime Directive, third revision, subsections a), b), d) and paragraphs i) and iii) of g), but we have a job to do here, Captain, and I don't think we can do it from orbit."

"Well...," said Tunney, uncomfortable with the idea of leaving the ship.  "I could name a landing party I suppose.  It would be helpful if we could contact HQ and tell them the situation though."  He looked meaningfully at Bell.

"Err, the reboot will be done in less than thirty minutes, Captain." said Bell, saluting.  "And I believe that we've avoided the bug that caused the life-support system to shut down last time, too."

Suddenly the idea of a landing party seemed much more appealing to Commander Tunney.

"Right," he barked.  "I shall head up the landing party, Lieutenant Varis, you shall come with me too, Ensign Loomis, you make the cut; and I think we should take one of our doctors in case my hayfever kicks in on the planet surface.  Who's on call at the moment?"

"Doctor Bacon is on call," said an Ensign sat next to Loomis.

"Have him meet us in the transporter bay, then," said Tunney.  "Bell, while I'm on the surface you're in charge of relaying all necessary information to me.  I'm still Captain, and I expect to be kept fully up to date."

He swept off the bridge with his landing party traipsing dutifully along behind him, heading for the transporter bay, and the surface of the planet.

The End

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