From the Shadowdancer... "Paygrade" by Nate Farris & Shane Taggart Nate was on number fifteen of a billion repairs that needed attention. This particular repair had him on his knees for almost two hours fixing and rerouting power so that it didn't blow up in his face, not to mention having Damien hollering that the ship didn't need another expolsion. It wasn't difficult, and without the commotion of the crew this early night, Nate found the time to relax. If only his knees could say the same. The tiny machine in his hand began to whine as he spliced an optic wire and began examining it with a tricoder immediately after. "Shit," Nate grumbled, realizing the splice was too soon. He dropped the tricoder and began rewiring - again. There was a bounce in his step, but there always was after a good wholesome night of one-on-one lovin'. It was just the way his body worked. He was smiling, and he was optimistic, and he even thought he caught himself humming a few times. Brushing it all off, Shane rounded the corner and saw Nate exactly where he expected him to be. "You know, we always seem to talk when you're half in a conduit, or bent over in a Jefferie's Tube, or somewhere other than on the bridge or your office. Why is that, exactly?" "Things to do," Nate said quickly. Shane didn't need to know why, especially after events of his personal affairs. He was buring himself in work, he was running from everyone. Not that anyone noticed or cared, and that was just fine with Nate. "What's up, Shane?" "The real question should be what isn't up." "As much as cryptic talk amuses me, Shane, right now just ain't the time. I've got three wires wrapped around my hand that I sincerely don't want my fingertips being charred by," Nate said with a half smile. He was being polite, it was a surprise, but not by much since he knew deep inside it was all an act. Nothing was (is) wrong, that was the mantra, "Really, Shane, what's up? Something else that needs fixing?" It was true that the topic of conversation should've been repairs and supplies and inventories, but it was more pressing on him that he wanted more cash. When they could come by it, mind you, but after all he'd done for the crew and the ship, he deserved a little restitution for his troubles. "I want more money, Nate. When we get a job, I want a bigger cut than usual." "Okay," Nate nodded to himself, focusing on the wires as they were reconnected back to the optic network that was 'Dancer's nervous system. He looked up, "You and the others took care of the ship as best you all could, so alright, it's the least that could be done." "We slaved away while - " Shane stopped, blinked, folded his arms, and stared, "What?" "You have it, in fact, Trey also," Nate reaffirmed. He got off his knees, and winced at the sharp pain when he straightened his legs. It didn't matter how young a person was, steel and knees were never going to be the best for each other. He dusted his hands off before reaching for the tricoder on the repair tray and began scanning his patch-up job. Nate continued, "As I said, you took care of 'Dancer. Anything else you need me to know?" Had someone come and abducted Nate, replaced him with an alien counterpart, and left the ship in the hands of a foreign saboteur? Shane tilted his head inquisitively at the man he called his captain, almost suspiciously. Was he on drugs? "Uh, I think it's a bad idea that we're going to No Hope. We shouldn't go there. Bad idea." "You've made that clear, the whole crew has. But I need one job to pay you folks, and this one will be a breeze. Point of fact, you fit in perfectly to the plans." Nate closed the tricoder and placed it back to the repair kit. Gripping the cold steel handles, he started pushing it to his next repair destination, "It's an elimination job. Quick easy cash and we're out, two day stay, maximum." Okay, not an alien, but he wasn't going to push matters. "Okay, sounds about right. Sounds good to me. Thanks for the raise and, well, that's all I really needed." What the fuck was that? Shane was expecting a brawl of words, and maybe some fists, followed by promises and more duties and this that and the other things. That was too easy. Perhaps he should ask for raises more often. "Good luck with your repairs. And, uh, have a good day." "Be on the bridge, early morning when we get to No Hope," Nate's voice had changed to being serious, no hint of emotion other than cold hard business, "I'll fill in the details, you'll have everything you need. If you've got weapon preferences, let me know, we'll hash it all out then." Shane blinked, nodding. "Of course." Okay, officially, the man had to be bi-polar. --------------------------------- Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta.