SIM:A Rogue Amongst the Stars

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A Rogue Amongst the Stars

Chapter 1

((Engineering Lab, USS Veritas))

Geoffrey Teller was head down in another simulation run, analyzing the results of trial number 2144 of their soon to be installed Warp XV core. Ever since Kelrod had expressed misgivings about being hurtled off to the far side of the universe or ending up stuck with another consciousness in his already overcrowded head, Teller had been trying to dream up a scenario the Starfleet Corp of Engineers hadn’t. So far, he was satisfied, after a fashion.

Thousands of hours of computer time had gone into modeling the results of test flights with different field configurations, different spatial gradients, abnormal subspace anomalies and even one test to model the drives performance in fluidic space, and so far all the results were well within the norms. By all appearances, the drive was everything they promised in the specs - durable, powerful and fast as hell.

In a way, he vaguely wished he had found something the design team had overlooked, as he always felt experimental technology didn’t get its real tests until it was deployed in the field, but for once it looked like the designers had done a through and surprisingly comprehensive job. Teller attributed their success to the involvement of Captain Rahman herself, during her stint in the Corp of Engineers, for bringing a hugely needed dose of practical reality to the designs.

Just as he was thinking about the Skipper, he was surprised to see her walk though the lab doors with a vaguely menacing smile. The kind that typically meant a few weeks of interesting, but difficult work.

Teller: Nice to see you down here, ma’am. Do you need the lab? I can come back to this later, my eyes were starting to cross anyway.

Rahman: It sounds like you need some fresh air. Maybe even a change of scenery.

Teller had the uncomfortable feeling he was being toyed with.

Teller: Ma’am?

She walked up closer to him, taking a glance at the PADDs and other data displayed on the monitors in front of him. She looked back up at him.

Rahman: Double checking my work?

Teller: After a fashion, Captain. Kelrod spooked me a bit so I decided to see if the computer and I could break the new engines. So far, so good.

She crossed her arms.

Rahman: Mmm-hmm. I’ve been thinking about your naughtiness lately. Couple with you being my chief engineer, I think we’re owed some quality time together.

Teller: Uh...I’m always at your disposal, ma’am. And I get the impression this isn’t voluntary. What’d you have in mind?

She took a PADD out of her pocket and handed it to him. On it was a trip itinerary and information about a science conference.

Rahman: Pack your bags. There’s a conference being hosted on Esperance, and I was invited to speak about the drive project. Since you’re going to be working on it directly during field trials, it’d be good for you to learn more anyway.

Teller looked at the itinerary. It did look tempting, and the idea of a few days away, even in the context of a conference, was appealing, but he gestured to the ship around them.

Teller: You sure about this Skipper? Doesn’t seem right, me being away from the ship when she needs all these repairs. I leave those yard workers alone for a minute, they’ll probably put the nacelles on upside down.

The captain narrowed her eyes at him.

Teller: Right, you weren’t asking. I’ll let my team know.

Chapter 2

((Shuttle, on route to Star Station Esperance))

In the rear of the shuttle, Geoffrey Teller was sweating profusely. His uniform jacket was folded over a workstation chair as he moved through a series of isometric exercises recommended by Counselor Orrey to help him deal with his suffocating feelings of panic aboard a shuttle. Ever since his near death experience escaping the Artemis, stepping aboard anything smaller than a cruiser had rankled Tellers nerves and made his chest ache as if his ribs had somehow broken again.

Teller suspected part of the reason for this enforced vacation included the Captain checking up on his state of mind, and he was determined to get through it even if it killed him. As he was approaching his fifteenth repetition of the exercises, that was becoming an all too real possibility. He stopped and closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax as the Counselor had suggested. He had almost made a dent in it when an unexpected chime from the computer made him jump nearly into the ceiling and through the hull.

Up at the front of the shuttle, Roshanara sat with her feet propped up on the console (she’d of course disabled the controls) as she continued reading the romance novel Demon of the Seas on her PADD. She was just getting to the good part where the heroine was about to unmask the mysterious pirate captain’s identity when the shuttle’s com systems rang an alert. Leaning over, she pressed the accept hail button.

Rahman: =/\= Captain Rahman’s shuttle. How can I help you? =/\=

There was a moment of silence, the red-haired Trill silently processing the (strange?) intriguing greeting.

Kinan:::sarcastically:: =/\= Yes, I’m looking for Captain Rahman. She’s late for check-in. Is she home? I’d like to speak with her please. =/\=

Roshanara smiled back at her former first officer, even though she wasn’t even present.

Rahman: =/\= Well, you’ll have to beam aboard. Are you ready? =/\=

Kinan: =/\= I don’t know--are you tall enough to operate the transporter controls? =/\=

The irony being that, for once, Kinan was probably the only person in the galaxy actually *shorter* than Roshanara. Go figure.

Rahman: =/\= Considering I was able to beam my boyfriend back thousands of years from the stone age, I think I can manage one Trill officer. =/\=

Kinan: =/\= I’ll take that under advisement. =/\=

A few taps later, and Teller and Rahman were joined by Lt. Commander Kinan Venroe, a Trill administrative officer with red hair and distinctive orange spots--and who only stood at about 5 feet, one inch, almost a head shorter than the also-red-headed engineer.

The captain sat up and then got up to greet her in a hug.

Rahman: Kinan!

Following their embrace, Roshanara pointed at the engineer at the back of the shuttle, gesturing for him to come join the two.

Rahman: This is my chief engineer aboard Veritas, Lieutenant Geoffrey Teller. Commander Kinan Venroe served as my first officer aboard the Invicta briefly.

Teller: ::Teller offered a handshake:: Ma’am, any friend of the Captain’s is a friend of mine. Pleasure to meet you.

Kinan: Mister Teller. ::She nodded her head.:: I’ve read your file--it’s nice to finally put a proper face to the name.

Kinan Venroe had a history with the Veritas, though it wasn’t quite as explicit as some other officers. Kinan was a personnel administration officer--when she finalized her days as Captain Rahman’s executive officer, she’d been reassigned to Cait Spacedock... and was promptly put in charge of all personnel needs and requirements for a multitude of areas. At first, she was only supposed to look after the assignments of people to the Menthar Corridor. And then, out of nowhere, the Shoals also came under her purview (which was ridiculous, but of course Kinan would never say a word about that because she was comparatively more diplomatic than Venroe’s previous hosts).

When the Veritas needed a new captain, Kinan had assigned the crew. This had earned her some iire from older crew members, but reassignment was part of the job.

Alas, Kinan herself never made it out to the Shoals, despite it being next door to Cait. She preferred it that way. She hadn’t exactly *enjoyed* her stint as executive officer of Invicta, though she appreciated it for what it was.

Teller: ::smiling:: Suppose you’ve got some stories from your time with the Skipper here. Any I really shouldn’t know about?

(Yes).

Kinan: oO No. Oo ::to Teller:: For the most part? The Menthar Corridor never used to be quite as problematic an area of space that it is today. So . . . not really.

Teller: ::to Rahman:: Sure seems like a loyal officer to me, Skipper, but I don’t believe a word of it. I may not have been on the Veritas long, but I have noticed that trouble seems to find us pretty frequently.

The captain rolled her eyes at the young man.

Rahman: There will be plenty of time for stories… let’s make way to Esperance. ::glances over at Kinan:: I hope you brought some reading material or games to keep yourself occupied.

Kinan: In this case, I’ve brought work home with me. These personnel files won’t get reviewed, otherwise.

Teller: If not, Skipper’s got some technical manuals she seems really interested in. I’m sure she’d be happy to share….

Kinan’s eyebrows crinked upward, giving a diplomatic (pained? I’d say pained) smile at the suggestion, liquid brown eyes flickering between captain and officer.

After a moment of awkward silence, she spoke again.

Kinan: So where should I put my bag?

Chapter 3

((Private Yacht, somewhere in the Shoals))

With the lectures and presentations at the conference wrapped for the day, Geoffrey Teller stifled a yawn as he sat aboard the Golden Wattle. The three Starfleet officers had decided to get away from the starport, and a private yacht tour to see a pod of gormaganders sounded like just the distraction they needed. They’d all changed into civilian wear, with Roshanara wearing a simple red dress--the same one in fact that she’d picked up from the Kreswick River Market with Tristam to wear for Mei’konda and Evan’s wedding last year.

Kinan next to her almost looked like she was still wearing her Starfleet tunic. She wasn’t--surprisingly, given her history of “all work, let’s not play”--but the tight brown skivvy wrap-around’s design looked suspiciously familiar, especially since her combadge had also remained on her chest. Anyone could have looked at her and assumed that dark brown might be a new Starfleet duty post colour. It didn’t help that she still had her head buried in a PADD, still checking up on cadet files and making sure they had been properly categorized by the spacedock’s staff.

Teller felt strangely uncomfortable out of uniform. It had become something of a second skin to him in his time at the academy and with the frequency that he damaged the garment, he never hung on to one set of them very long. His ‘off-duty’ attire consisted of two pairs of pants that didn’t entirely fit correctly and a painfully bright tropical themed shirt, apparently purchased when Teller and Wil Ukinix spent a memorable evening drinking the starport dry the last time he was here. He was mildly concerned the shirt would scare off the rare space beasties.

It still irked Teller that he was off ship as the Veritas once again spent a layover in the shipyards, being hammered back into shape for the second time in as many months. He trusted his team to get the work done in his absence but he still felt his place was aboard ship when she was hurting.

A pleasant, older voice filled the cabin.

Captain Thrustil: Off our port side you can just see the edge of the Sapphire Rifts. The plasma streamers are in full eruption right now so it’s quite a light show. We’ll be approaching the last reported position of the pod in just a few minutes so please find a comfortable spot near a viewport and get your holocameras ready folks!

Roshanara put down the PADD with her romance novel. At this rate, she’d never finish the damn book. Still, it wasn’t every day you got to see a space whale. She stood up and walked over towards the large port windows where Kinan and Teller already stood.

Rahman: You see anything?

Teller: Honestly, I think this shirt may’ve damaged my retinas. Don’t see a thing yet.

Kinan, however, was evidently responding on impulse and not actually paying attention.

Kinan: Mmhmm looks great.

Their patience was rewarded though as a dark form slowly took shape out of the haze. And then another and another, until there was nearly a dozen of the gigantic animals moving alongside them, dwarfing the tiny yacht. The gentle undulations of their large fins were enchanting to watch.

Rahman: It’s hard to imagine something so gorgeous was nearly driven to extinction.

The Trill finally glanced up, a dutiful swell of pride rising in her chest.

Kinan: Thanks to Starfleet’s efforts over the last two centuries, we’ve managed to stop that from happening.

The creatures were genuinely majestic and Teller’s breath caught. The effortless motion of such massive creatures briefly transfixed him and he drew closer to the viewport.

Teller: Never thought I’d see something swimming in the void. What absolutely beautiful creatures. I wish my sister was here, she’d love the colors. Probably make a holoportrait out of it.

Roshanara took out her holoimager.

Rahman: Well, let’s not have her miss out.

Teller: That’s great, Skipper, thanks. Think we can get the all?

The captain held the holoimager with one hand extended out for their “selfie.”

Rahman: Do we have something for Kinan to stand on?

Venroe shot the other spotted officer a dark frown.

Kinan: Yes, I’m *sure* you’re just loving this, aren’t you.

Teller: ::smiling broadly:: As I hope to have a career at the end of this trip, I have no comment and a shockingly bad memory.

Roshanara snapped a few shots before suddenly the yacht rocked hard, causing everyone to stumble on the deck. One of the gormaganders had gotten closer to the yacht and brushed the hull.

Thrustil: Damn space whales… ::He looked over at his guests from his helm controls and shrugged.:: What can I say, they aren’t exactly the brightest organisms in the galaxy.

Teller: Guy manages to fly us into the one thing in half a lightsecond and blames the whales? Captain, request permission to stage a mutiny.

Kinan:::amused:: Did you really just ask to stage a *mutiny* in front of your assignment officer?

Teller: ::smiling:: I did request permission, ma’am.

(Because that makes it better.)

But a clumsy whale looked to be just the start of some new trouble for the tour. It seemed the animal had bumped into the yacht because the pod had changed direction. They were fleeing something.

Roshanara was checking on the holoimager when she looked back up to see another starship coming in from the distance. It wasn’t very large, maybe the size of a Maquis raider.

Rahman: ...are there other tour groups operating today?

Their tour guide didn’t answer immediately, though, suddenly showing a look of terror on his face.

Thrustil: ...pirates.

He quickly began entering new coordinates and cursing under his breath.

Teller: Don’t need sensors to tell me that ship’s on an intercept course.

Kinan:::seriously:: I take it back, captain. Mister Teller should stage a mutiny.

The tiny yacht’s engines were no match for the raider, which quickly came into weapons range. Without an opening hail, the unidentified ship began firing its disrupters, sending sparks flying from the helm controls as Captain Thrustil was thrown back with severe burns. Roshanara ran over to check on the man but not before calling out to her chief engineer.

Rahman: Mr. Teller, take the controls!

Teller ran to the unfamiliar controls and was immediately confronted by several startling realities; their engines were already failing, the ship had no tactical systems to speak of, and the hull was already showing signs of critical damage.

Teller: Captain, we’re not flying this thing clear. Hulls already compromised aft of the engine compartment, I think they burned straight through.

Kinan: Communications are shot. I’m not certain I can call for help.

Without shields, it was hardly a “battle” as the raider fired another volley, leaving the yacht drifting dead in space.

The distinct sound of a transporter beam could be heard in the darkened interior, and Roshanara looked back at her former XO, who was now removing the combadge from her chest and sliding it into Thrustil’s jacket pocket.

Rahman: I don’t think we’re going to need those coms to find out who these people are…

Teller backed away from the controls as another shower of sparks erupted from what was formerly the comm system. Within moments, the yacht had been reduced to nothing more than a floating metal tube that could barely hold in the atmosphere. Teller’s misgivings about being on small ships were flaring, and he could feel adrenaline coursing through his veins. As the shimmer of the transporter beam from the pirate raider filled the cabin with light, Teller prepared himself for a fight.

Chapter 4

((Private Yacht, somewhere in the Shoals))

After the pirate raider had disabled the private yacht, two men beamed over onto the deck, one with his weapon drawn, the other gleefully surveying the surroundings.

Douglas: Alrighty! ::rubbing his hands together:: What have we got here?

Li Wei took a look around the trashed interior of the yacht, cradling a worn disruptor in his right hand. When he saw the three passengers and the injured yacht captain, he looked back at his companion and cursed.

Li: You said there’d be more!


Douglas: I said there’d be a *handful*!


Li: ...ugh, she’s going to be pissed.

They’d both been on Captain Yolanda Madrid’s bad side lately after a few too many failed runs. This was supposed to be an easy redemption to win back the favor of the fierce pirate captain, but that was assuming Douglas had been right that there was going to be a whole boatload of rich tourists.

One of the passengers who’d been tending to the fallen stood up, a dark-skinned Trill woman in a red dress.

Rahman: Who are you and why have you attacked us?

Li stepped towards her menacingly, pointing the disruptor.

Li: We’re asking the questions today, sweetheart.

Kinan’s eyebrows rose at the term, and then fell into a deep frown, her chin tilting down as she glowered at the armed pair.

Teller’s adrenaline flared as the pirate swung his weapon towards the Captain and he spoke without thinking.

Teller: ::voice booming:: Don’t you dare point that at her!

The pirate turned, ready to blast this oaf when his face froze as he saw the man step into the light.

Li: Holy %#$&.

Douglas: Oi! Language!

Li looked over, his weapon still aimed at the other male passenger.

Li: ::whispers:: That’s the *guy*! That’s him!

Douglas leaned forward and squinted at the short people.

Douglas: Nah, mate. You’re dreaming.

Li looked back at the redheaded man, cocking his head slightly.

Li: ...Captain Finley?

Roshanara furrowed her brow as she looked over at Teller. Who was Captain Finley?

Teller’s already amped mind began whirling. Captain Silas Finley was a hastily concocted pirate persona he’d used once aboard the ill fated Bolian Rose. It was a desperate bluff that barely got G’var, Wil, Mistress IA and Teller off that ship alive. How could these pirates possibly know anything about that?!

Teller: oO No time to figure that out now. I’ve gotta sell it or we’re all dead. Oo

Teller’s voice grew dangerously cold as he tried to summon the cruel bravado of Captain Silas Finley of the entirely imaginary pirate ship Dead Star. He was going to have to bluff big.

Teller: You worthless fools. How dare you operate in this area without my permission.

It was fortunate the pirates had kept their focus on Teller because right now, Roshanara was giving him an utterly astonished look. The woman would have made a terrible poker player.

Underneath a frown that might have rivaled a Rodulan's, Kinan’s eyes widened at the exchange, totally confused about (WHAT THE HELL) was going on.

Douglas: Uahm . . . ::he took a casual step back.:: *About* that . . . *We* aren’t technically operating in your space . . . I mean . . . we’re just *crew*?

Teller saw an opportunity and took it, brazenly stepping forward and placing himself between Rahman and her would be assailants without breaking his gaze with the wavering pirate.

Teller: Are you trying to make excuses when you should be begging for your lives,you imbeciles?

Li lowered his weapon and cursed again. The last thing they needed was the wrath of *two* pirate captains. He looked back angrily at Douglas.

Li: I thought you said there weren’t any signs of someone else operating out here!

Alas, the Trill couldn’t take this confusion anymore. They might as well have been speaking in code.

Kinan: Hold up two seconds--let me get this straight. ::She rubbed at her temples, directing her question to the two pirates and gesturing at Teller.:: You two *know him*?

Douglas: You *don’t*?

Kinan tried to respond to that, but only managed to open her mouth and promptly close it, taking the advice from Ettan, her first host (who had been killed by *pirates* thank you very much Kinan). She only blinked--not really willing to risk the cover Teller had already afforded them, but also not really sure how to respond or play into whatever this . . . scene was.

Li looked back at the two Trill women that were with Finley.

Li: oO Oh. Oo

It suddenly all made sense now. No wonder he was pissed.

Li: Captain, I’m so sorry for the mix-up.

Still, Li was impressed. The man certainly lived up to his reputation.

The pirate waved around the interior of the yacht with his disruptor.

Li: And our *sincerest apologies* for the, uh… mess to your fine vessel.

Teller hoped the two officers with him stayed stunned enough for this little act to play out. He could feel the pirate wavering under his iron hard stare, backed by Finley’s apparently fierce reputation. He just needed to apply a little more pressure...

Teller: You think I care about this worthless garbage scow? Not only have you exposed my presence here to valuable assets, you’ve committed the grave sin of wasting my time. I should call my ship right now and have them start heating my knives.

Kinan: oO Wait, who’s the ‘valuable assets’? Did he just call *us* ‘valuable assets’? Oo

Before Douglas and Li could try to continue defusing the situation with the irate pirate captain, a call came over the line to the two crewmen.

Crawford: =/\= Douglas? Li? What the hell is taking so long over there? =/\=

Douglas: =/\= Uh . . . a slight mix-up? =/\=

Crawford: =/\= Mix-up? =/\=

Li: =/\= It seems, uh, that we’ve stumbled upon Captain Finley while he was on a… =/\=

He glanced back at the two short Trill women again.

Li: =/\= ...private little excursion. =/\=

There was a growl on the other end of the line. And before anyone had time to think, all the passengers and crew of the Golden Wattle were whisked away in a transporter beam.

Chapter 5

((Pirate Raider, somewhere in the Shoals))

Once back aboard Douglas and Li’s raider, the captured Starfleet officers soon found themselves meeting yet another pirate. And unlike the previous two, this one was far less impressed by the name Silas Finley.

Crawford: So you’re the new kid everyone’s talking about, eh? I figured you’d be taller.

Teller: Impudence. I wonder how much you’ll have after your tongue is nailed to the wall of my cabin.

Crawford was the first mate for Captain Yolanda Madrid. And also her lover. There was only one pirate captain he feared in his life, and it certainly wasn’t some short ginger.

The tall, stocky man took a step closer to stand right in Finley’s face.

Crawford: You certainly have a lot of talk for a man who’s unarmed and… from where I stand, all alone out here.

Kinan:::sarcastically:: Yes, because he was totally alone on that yacht. Not another soul on board.

Evidently, the ex-diplomatic officer had taken the negotiation book and thrown it out an airlock, so far out of her league and lacking much-needed context behind this particular discussion that she’d determined that adding in her own lead-laced sarcasm was the only way she’d be provided with said context.

Crawford: You always let your women speak out of line like that?

Kinan: I beg your pardon-

Roshanara gently but insistently took hold of Kinan’s arm, keeping her from walking forward towards the man.

Teller stepped forward and put himself within an inch of the pirate without breaking his gaze. He had to make this work and he was bluffing with all their lives.

Teller: She has my indulgence to speak. You do not. Consider, carefully, what you do next, or I promise… you’ll die screaming.

It took Kinan every ounce of her being not to sigh and rub her eyes at the statement, instead opting for a mild “how did I end up here?” expression.

Li looked from Crawford to Captain Finley and back again. This was the last thing they needed. Madrid was a fine pirate captain, but they couldn’t afford to get into a turf war with another crew. Not after everything that’d been going on in the wake of that madman Lenik’s campaign of terror in the region, which had stepped up the Marshals and Starfleet’s anti-piracy efforts.

Li: Boss, maybe there’s something we could work out?

Crawford sneered at the groveling pirate next to him before whacking him on the side of the head with his disrupter.

Crawford: I should just shoot you right here, Li, and save the Cap’n the trouble.

He turned back to Finley.

Crawford: ‘Cause you see, she’s going to be mighty pissed that instead of robbing a bunch of rich asshole tourists, we found you instead. So unless you’ve got something you can offer *my* captain, it’s not my tongue being cut out that you should worry about… *captain.*

Crawford turned to the other pirate.

Crawford: Douglas, why don’t you escort our esteemed “guests” to Li’s quarters for our trip back. Li, you can sleep on the deck out here tonight.

He looked back at Finley and smiled.

Crawford: It’s probably not as opulent as you’re used to, so forgive me. ::He glanced over at the two Trill women behind him.:: Unless of course you ladies would like to spend the night on a proper bed.


Rahman: ::mumbles:: Yeah, we’re good, thanks...

As the three passengers began moving to the back of the raider, Teller addressed Crawford one last time.

Teller: You’re not as stupid as you look. You might live through this.

Chapter 6

((Pirate Raider, somewhere in the Shoals))

Once the three passengers were safely behind closed doors, Roshanara finally turned to Teller.

Rahman: Captain… ::tilts head slightly:: Finley? Would you mind cluing your “valuable assets” as to what’s going on?

Teller put a finger to his lip, then gestured to the quarters around them. He had little doubt they were still being watched and listened to. He kept himself drawn up as he ‘inspected’ the meager quarters there were temporarily sharing, and found the usual detritus of long term spacers - food packaging, empty liquor bottles and strong pornography. Teller kicked these aside with disdain until he worked his way towards the comm panel, which he glanced at long enough to confirm it had long ago fallen into disrepair. A small sensor module above the door was still blinking, though, so the only option was to keep up the act and somehow explain the situation to the Captain and Kinan.

Teller: Alright..since my operation has been exposed anyway, I see no harm in explaining the particulars. Rosie ::glancing at Rahman:: Do you recall how I got my scars? ::Teller tapped his left bicep and prayed the Captain would remember the tattoo incident::

Kinan: Scars?

Rahman: How could I ever forget?

Teller let out a small sigh of relief, at least the Captain was following along.

Teller: Well, quite a lot happened during that particular encounter which you didn’t need to know about. It revolves around someone we both know quite well. A certain green-skinned troublemaker who had recently lost her ship.

”Rosie” held up her hand.

Rahman: All right, enough. I get the picture. And you can explain the details later when we get back. ...if I even want to know.

Teller deflated slightly, this was all making his head throb.

Teller: Long story short, then. I was forced to expose my true identity as Captain Silas Finley of the Dead Star to a number of ill-tempered pirates. How this lot came to hear the story, I have no idea.

Rahman: Apparently, you did a very “good job,” indeed.

Teller snorted in derision at his ‘catchphrase,’ but was glad the Captain seemed to be following along...

At this point, Kinan crossed her arms. Frowning seemed to be her current state of being.

Rahman: The point is then, we need to figure a way out of here. Either escape or taking control.

Kinan: I counted six people on our way in. While I’m sure you two can pull off some booby traps, I don’t see us strong-arming each and every crew-member off the ship for a successful takeover.

Rahman: I don’t like our odds if we end up facing this Captain Madrid of theirs and the rest of her crew… no, our best chance then is to make our escape here, while it’s just the few pirates on this raider.

Teller:: Listen, Rosie...uh...Kara. These idiots already told us what they need. A score. We dangle a carrot, keep them distracted, make an opportunity and get ourselves back to the Veri...The Dead Star.

Teller desperately hoped his message was being received. Captain Rahman seemed to be getting the picture he was painting, but Kinan was clearly having a hard time digesting it all.

Kinan: Did you just call me “Kara”? And what’s with “Rosie”--what am I missing here?

Rahman: ::turns to Kinan:: Well, Kara… ::Kinan glowered at her:: It doesn’t seem like we’re dealing with nice people here. So it’s probably best to keep a low profile. ::raises her eyebrow:: Do you trust me?

The fact that all five of her names were about to be thrown out the window (way too many names, Kinan, you don’t even use them for God sake) she sighed.

Kinan: You’re my- hmm. ::She stopped herself.::

Teller shrugged in desperation.

Teller: Half-Sister.

Rahman: Kinan:
Rahman3.jpg KinanVenroe.jpg
Rahman: :-I Kinan: :-I

Teller flinched slightly under the withering eyerolls from both women.

Kinan: Yeah, that doesn’t help. ::She sighed.:: But sure.

Rahman: If you can trust me, you can trust “Finley.”

The Etamoan Trill rolled her eyes, preparing herself for a butchering of her face name (a gut punch to her culture to be sure, but a necessary one).

Teller: So, Rosie...Kara...do we happen to know of any enticing morsels we could throw to the hounds out there?

Roshanara looked back at her “half-sister.” The mere thought of them being related making her give a goofy grin in an otherwise tense situation. If anyone would know of tempting morsels, it would be the administrative officer.

Kinan realized they were both looking at her, and she sighed again.

Kinan: Well, at last check-in, there were a few . . . “promising targets”.

Teller: That’s the play, then. Finley was developing you as information resources and due to….tight timing and the disruption to his schedule, he graciously brings these folks in on it. Can we make that work?

Roshanara took a deep breath. It was an utterly insane situation. And it was also their best hope.

Kinan: As soon as those outposts see us, they’re going to open fire. We’re putting ourselves in the line of our own fire--and we’d have no way to explain that to them.

(Also problematic if the Veritas or Montreal showed up conveniently at that point. Communication was key in these situations, but under watchful guard and with her combadge out of reach, there was no way to explain what was happening.) Both major vessels were both out of reach anyway--Montreal was up near Karakka, and Veritas still unavailable. This would be an installation that wasn’t totally familiar with the three of them.

Teller: ::quietly:: I’m never going on shoreleave again.

The Kriosian nodded and then looked at her chief engineer-turned-fearsome pirate captain. It seemed he was just an ever flowing fountain of surprises.

Rahman: Come on, “Captain.” We’ve got your reputation to maintain.

Chapter 7

((The Broken Fang, Pirate Raider, somewhere in the Shoals))

On the bridge of the raider, Teller tried not to pace as the sensors continued to show absolutely nothing beyond the asteroid field they were hiding in. The pirates had greedily snapped at the prize offered by ‘Kara,’ a Starfleet resupply vessel that would make a stop for navigational realignment in the area before proceeding deeper into the Shoals. The location of the stopover was a closely guarded secret and provided a narrow window during which the pirates could mount an attack against the lightly armed and unprepared supply vessel. Beside him, the leader of the small band continued grousing as he had for the last several hours.

Captain Madrid’s first mate grumbled as he stared out at the view of floating rocks in front of them.

Crawford: This is pointless.

The Trill quirked an eyebrow, crossing her arms in her place next to the man.

Kinan: This is organised piracy.

Crawford: How do we even know the information you have is genuine? Starfleet changes their schedules on a randomized timetable--precisely to avoid what we’re trying to do now.

Kinan: That’s . . . ::(definitely not true):: Well, good news is one of my hosts was in Starfleet.

The symbiont in her pouch tensed. All three hosts are or were part of Starfleet--and not one of them were really pleased with being in this particular situation.

Roshanara coughed at the explicit mention of Kinan sharing any sort of past with Starfleet. She didn’t want to give Crawford or the other pirates any reason to suspect that this was some sort of undercover operation.

Teller caught the look between Rahman and Kinan and tried to redirect the pirates attention back on himself.

Teller: Have you considered why I’d debase myself with these two C grade tarts? They work as….physical therapists...near the loading docks on Esperance. As women of their sort do, they happen to hear quite a lot of gossip from their...relaxed….clientele. For example, when a ship might be heading out and where it might stop along the way.

Crawford returned a grumble as he crossed his arms, but one of the pirates, Li, looked back at “Finley” and nodded. It all made sense to him. They’d certainly gone off on other jobs with even flimsier evidence before.

Crawford: Whatever.

Li stepped up near Finley, staring out at the asteroid field before turning towards the fearsome pirate captain.

Li: So once the ship does arrive, what’s the plan again?

Teller rolled his eyes in annoyance in an attempt to play up the ‘obvious’ nature of the plan Teller, Rahman, and Kinan had hastily thrown together with very little knowledge of actual piracy.

Teller: Simplicity and surprise are our weapons. A vessel like this has a skeleton crew because Starfleet is as foolish as it is egotistical. They’d never consider someone would dare attack one of their precious little ships.

Teller could feel Rahman’s eyes burning a hole in the back of his head and continued.

Teller: When the ship stops ::Teller shot a pointed gaze towards Crawford:: they will spend several minutes taking navigational readings and recalibrating their sensors before moving off. We have saturated the area with enough ionizing radiation to make that process very difficult for them, so they’ll be too busy trying to make sense of their readings to notice us until we’re within transporter range. Are you keeping up, Mr. Crawford?

Crawford: I’m not the one you should be worried about, Finley. It’s these two idiots going with you.

Kinan:::muttering:: You can say that again…

Teller: So far, these two have at least had the sense to do as they’re told. I am less concerned about their performance than I am in your ability to follow simple instructions. Shall I continue? ::Teller sneared, showing his teeth:: Perhaps I should draw a picture for you?

The sensors chirped an alarm and Douglas spoke in shocked tones.

Douglas: Son of a…. sensors show a ship just came out of warp. It’s a class 3 Starfleet supply vessel….right where Finley said it would be.

Li went over to the tactical station and grinned, licking his lips.

Li: And their shields are still down. They don’t suspect a thing. We’ll be in transporter range within two minutes.

Teller’s heart skipped a beat. The longer they had lingered here, the more sure he was the plan wouldn’t work. He silently offered thanks to whatever deities or demons happened to be listening this week.

Teller: Did you expect anything less? Bring us in on the course I plotted earlier and do not deviate from it in the slightest.

As the blind supply ship sat by the asteroid field, recalibrating their sensors, the pirate raider crept up from below, ready to transport the party of boarders.

Teller: Mr. Li, Mr. Douglas, you will accompany me and the ladies as we go to retrieve what is ours. Mr. Crawford, you will stay here and do nothing and be thankful I am in a good mood.

Li: I’m on it, Boss. ::The man suddenly caught himself, looking back at Crawford.:: I mean, uh, Finley. Sorry, Boss.

As the pirates, led by Finley, began walking off towards the transporter room, Crawford reached out and grabbed the dark-skinned and scarred Trill woman by the arm, keeping her from joining.

Crawford: Wait. This one stays here.

The woman looked back at the pirate, uncertain.

Rahman: Excuse me?

Kinan: You wouldn’t dare.

Teller felt a very real anger flare in his chest. The line between acting like Finley and simply reacting was becoming dangerously blurred.

Teller: Do you have a deathwish, Mr. Crawford, or is stupidity a proud family heirloom of yours?

Crawford looked back at Teller and put his other hand on his disruptor, still holstered.

Crawford: Consider it collateral. You do your job and beam that cargo over, and you’ve got nothing to worry about. We’ll all be home to enjoy the spoils.

Teller’s expression turned to a snarl.

Teller: It’s clear being left alone to do nothing was beyond your capabilities anyway. Rosie, keep him from doing anything especially stupid, would you?

Roshanara nodded to Teller.

Rahman: ...I’ll be alright.

At this, Crawford looked over at the woman and smiled.

Crawford: Of course, why wouldn’t she? As I hope I’ve made clear with my hospitality, I’m a man of my word. The question now is if you are, too, Finley.

Teller turned on Crawford and Rahman, gnashing his teeth at this latest speed bump. They had been so close to getting back to safety. Now the deception would have to enter its most complex and dangerous phase.

Teller: Kara, Mr. Li, Mr. Douglas, you’re about to see how a real pirate operates.

Chapter 8

((Starfleet Supply Ship USS Stevenson))

The boarding party beamed over in one of the supply ship’s aft compartments. As soon as they materialized, the clock was ticking. They needed to quickly disable the ship’s engines, communications, and internal sensors to begin the looting of the cargo. Their presence would soon be detected as soon as one of the Starfleet crew took a glance at the monitors of the hold.

Teller: Remember, three minutes, no more. Kara, watch the door. Mr. Li, scramble the internal sensors. Mr. Douglas, begin tagging the high-value cargo crates for transport. I’ll handle the ship's systems myself.

Kinan: ::sarcastically:: ‘Aye-aye sir’.

Douglas: ::to himself:: This is a bad idea . . .

Li looked over at his shipmate and shrugged as he went to work hacking into the Starfleet vessel’s computer systems.

Li: Come on, mate, you always say you want more of a challenge.

Teller: oO This is a terrible idea. Oo

Teller invoked the ships primary status display from the console and quickly went to work ‘disabling’ the ship, as planned. As he began working his way past the basic security of the cargo ship, a smile crept on to Teller’s face.

Teller: oO I should not be enjoying myself this much. Oo


((Bridge, USS Stevenson))

On the bridge, Lt. Commander Shon, an Andorian in command of the cargo ship, watched as his helmsman began plotting the new course following the recalibration.

Helmsman: Continuing course onward to Antor, sir.

Shon: Excellent. Engineering, perform a final systems check, and we’ll get underway.

As his small bridge crew completed the last checks before the ship would re-enter warp, one of the junior officers piped up from a rear console.

Ensign Z’brah: Sir, I’m getting some unusual readings from the life support systems. Shows we’re suddenly producing enough atmosphere to support 4 or 5 additional people.

The Andorian captain glanced over at his ops officer, who shrugged when the internal sensors reported nothing.

Shon: ::sighs:: Go check it out, ensign. It’s probably a damn faulty seal again.

Z’brah nodded before heading down to the cargo compartment but the captain called out before he left.

Shon: Take Biros with you, just in case.

The young crewman nodded before joining the ensign.


((Cargo Compartment, USS Stevenson))

Li looked back at Douglas impatiently.

Li: What’s taking so long?

The other pirate shook his head as he looked over his handheld device.

Douglas: I can’t crack the door code.

Li: Really? You can scramble a Klingon bird-of-prey’s sensors, but you can’t get past a simple door?

Douglas: This is a *Starfleet vessel*! You think a simple cracking tool is going to break an up to date *military door*-

Kinan: For Etamoa’s sake- *get out of the way*.

The small Trill shoved the legitimate pirate out of the way, fed up with waiting on incompetence. She pulled the door panel off (even though she could just punch in her override code but hey, why make this easy right?) and performed a surprisingly effective door override.

Teller: Well done. A minute forty on the clock. Let's get the cargo moving. I’ve rigged their engines to fail in 5.4.3.2………..

Li exchanged a grin with Finley. Maybe this could be the start of a new collaborative venture. He quickly moved in and began helping Douglas start tagging nearly every container in sight.

Li: ::gesturing to Kara:: She’s brilliant.

Douglas sucked his bottom lip between his teeth, whacking Li across the chest as they made their way into the cargo hold.


((Bridge, USS Stevenson))

As the ship turned onto its new course, the engines briefly flared before flickering out of existence. The warp drive had gone offline and every alarm on the bridge began blaring at once.

Lt. Commander Shon: What the hell is going on? =/\= Shon to Z’brah, we just lost engine power. What did you do? =/\=

Ens. Z’brah: =/\= Wasn’t me sir, I’m just outside the main cargo compartment now. =/\=

As the heavy doors parted, the ensign thought he saw something moving deeper in the cargo bay and patted Biros on the shoulder. The other crewman drew his phaser and began jogging forward as Z’brah tapped his combadge which had stopped responding.

Z’brah: =/\= Z’brah to Bridge….Z’brah to Bridge, we’ve got intruders on board! Does anybody hear me? =/\=


((Bridge, Pirate Raider))

Crawford sat in his command chair, the Starfleet ship still in front of them, blind to their presence. His crew was waiting for the signal from Finley, which would be when the cargo ship’s engines flamed out. Only then could they begin transport.

He glanced over at the Trill woman he’d taken as collateral, who likewise was still observing the Starfleet ship. He could see the gears turning as she watched. It was a look of someone more than just a… what had Finley said?

Crawford: So you’re a physical therapist?

The woman didn’t look back at him.

Crawford: Hmmph...

He rolled his shoulders back, turning slightly in his chair.

Crawford: You know, I’ve had this pinch in my back for the last couple of months...

Rahman: ::still looking at the ship ahead:: Maybe you need to steal a better chair.

There was a pause before he let out a laugh, but his attention quickly returned to the Starfleet ship as its engines lit up with a brilliant flash before darkening. Green trails of plasma began leaking from its nacelles as it started drifting.


((Cargo Compartment, USS Stevenson))

As the pirate crew continued tagging the loot further into the hold, cargo containers around them began disappearing as the raider’s transporters took hold.

Li: ::laughing as he continues setting transport tags:: We’re going to be able to buy a whole new ship with this haul!


Douglas: Forget the ship--think *bigger*!

Kinan rubbed at her eyes, a headache forming.

Kinan: And what, dare I ask, is bigger than a ship?

Douglas: Entire *outposts*-

But the man’s answer was cut off as a phaser blast hit him square in the chest. From across the compartment, two Starfleet officers had stumbled upon the heist.

Biros: =/\= Bridge, this is compartment 3. We’ve got intruders aboard- =/\=

Li had quickly grabbed his rifle after he saw Douglas fall down and sprinted through the maze of containers to shoot the asshole who’d taken down his shipmate. Meanwhile, though Ensign Z’brah found one of the other pirates and was holding him at the end of his phaser.

Z’brah: Don’t move!

Teller: You’re making a mistake, Ensign. An entirely justifiable mistake.

Z’brah: Shut up! I said don’t move!

The ensign tapped his combadge again.

Z’brah: =/\= Bridge, come in! =/\=

But there was only static on the other end. As Z’brah looked down briefly, he thought he saw the pirate try to advance at him, and he fired a shot past the man’s head, hitting the wall behind him. The phaser was shaking as the ensign held it in his hands.

Chapter 9

((Cargo Hold, Starfleet Supply Ship USS Stevenson))

Teller: Listen Ensign...We’ll be on our way in just a few minutes, no reason for anybody to get hurt. Especially you. Now why don’t you leave...quickly.

Ensign Z’brah returned a look of disgust at the pirate as he kept his aim.

Z’brah: I don’t know who you usually deal with, but Starfleet doesn’t walk away. Now get on your knees and put your hands behind your--

The Starfleet officer was struck with an audible thunk across the back of his head. Z’brah fell face-first to the deck plating, unconscious. Behind him, the much shorter woman with orange spots could be seen standing with a stolen phaser rifle, a guilty look of uncertainty across her eyes.

Kinan: You and I are going to have a serious talk about piracy laws when we get back to Cait.

Teller: ::Teller looked down regretfully at the unconscious Ensign:: I’d rather not know how many I’ve broken at this point.

Li soon found them, still holding his rifle, before taking a glance down at the unconscious ensign.

Li: ::glancing back up at Kinan:: Geez, lady. I was just gonna shoot ‘em. Remind me never to get on your bad side.

She only responded with a glare in his direction.

Teller: We can congratulate one another back on the Fang. Our job here is done.

The small celebration was interrupted though by the sound of the ship’s red alert alarms going off. The compartment was quickly bathed in red light, and Finley’s combadge went off.

Crawford: =/\= Finley, what’s going on? Their shields just came online. =/\=

Teller squeezed his eyes closed in frustration. Even a ship this small had shields that could easily hold off the raiders minimal armaments and enough phaser power to give them a serious lashing. Without knowing it, they could easily kill Captain Rahman in the course of defending their ship. Teller realized there was only one way to prevent more carnage and his voice reflected his manic confidence.

Teller: =/\= Yes, I’m aware. In fact, I believe this will be quite an excellent opportunity. =/\=

Crawford: =/\= You’ve got five minutes to get those shields down so we can beam you and whatever else left back to the Fang. After that, we’re heading out before the marshals and Starfleet can pick up on our trail. =/\=

Teller: =/\= We’ll call you in four. From the bridge. =/\=

Li ran back to check on Douglas. Thankfully, Starfleet could always be counted on to fire on stun at first. Still, the man was out cold and wouldn’t be of any help now. Li slapped a transporter tag on the man’s chest before returning back to Finley.

Li: What are we going to do? Can you get these shields down?

Teller: oO This is crazy. Oo

Teller: ::outwardly, Teller radiated a manic calm:: Yes, it’ll be quite simple, once I seize the bridge.

Kinan: I’m sorry, what?

Li: By ourselves?! Are you crazy?

Teller: A ship this size has a very small command crew. We’ve already neutralized one of them and I have access to the ships computer. They’ll all be dug in up on the bridge right now, trying to call in reinforcements from Starfleet. And that’s how we’ll kill them.

Kinan glanced back at Teller.

(DID HE JUST SAY HE WAS GOING TO KILL THEM!?)

The anxiety felt by her symbiont was shoved away. Yes he *did* say he was going to kill Starfleet officers on their bridge. The Trill woman responded only with an incredulous look at the man, chin tilted down as she considered whether or not Teller was insane.

Teller: oO This is crazy. Oo

Kinan: That’s a great plan and all, *captain*, but that’s still a whole command crew against the three of us. *And* we’d be outnumbered.

Teller: I’ll reconfigure their life support systems from here and flood the space with carbon dioxide. Within a few minutes they’ll be unconscious. A few minutes after that, they’ll be dead and the ship will be ours.

Li nodded. Ruthless but efficient. It was a big gamble, but if anyone could pull it off, surely it would be Silas Finley.

Teller nodded to Kinan, desperate to make sure she understood what he was proposing. She seemed to mull it all over for a moment before responding.

Kinan: ...I don’t have any alternative suggestions.

Li: What do you need me to do, Boss?

Teller: I need you to take Mr. Douglas back to the Fang. I should be able to create a small disruption in their shields long enough to get you back aboard. Once you’re there, just….wait for my signal. ::Teller had no clue what that’d be:: You’ll know it when you see it.

Li: Got it.

The pirate gave a salute to the infamous captain.

Li: It’s been a good time, mate! If you’re ever looking for some good… well, decent men, don’t forget about us.

Teller: Silas Finley never forgets a friend, Mr Li. Now, on your way.

Teller walked over to the hijacked computer controls and began furiously tapping at keys. Within a few moments, the transporter shimmered around the forms of Li and Douglas.

Once the two pirates were beamed off the ship, the two Starfleet officers had a brief second to relax, the charade now over. From outside the cargo hold, the sound of a security team taking positions to breach the door could be heard. Orders were barked to get their phasers ready.

Kinan: You realize we’re now down two men.

Teller: We still need to get the Captain back. Any idea how we keep these guys from shooting us on sight?

Kinan frowned, thinking back on what she knew about the Stevenson. As the region’s personnel officer, she’d been responsible for assigning crew members to the ships and outposts of this region--though the fact was, she didn’t remember everyone, and she certainly didn’t have access to the ship’s command codes.

(Doesn’t help that you’re not in uniform and those officers believe you to be pirates. And you knocked one of them out with brute force!)

Ettan, one of her previous hosts and also a security officer who had been killed aboard a ship attacked by pirates many moons ago, would have been less than pleased with the situation Kinan Venroe found herself in today. But he provided some good, valuable insights.

Kinan: Drop everything you’ve got. Surrender. I’ll do the talking.

Teller: Be convincing. Be very convincing.

There was a loud crash as the heavy cargo door was blasted open and a team of security officers swarmed in, their phaser rifles drawn only to find the two “pirates” standing wide-eyed with their hands out in a very clear surrender.

In a motion that Ettan would have sighed at, the usually prim and proper member of Starfleet administration gave a unique and hesitant shrug to their new captors.

Kinan: ...parley?

Chapter 10

((The Broken Fang, Pirate Raider, somewhere in the Shoals))

After they were beamed back Li and a groggy Douglas, Crawford and “Rosie” remained on the bridge waiting as the minutes continued to tick down. Finally, Crawford’s patience had run out as he called out to Li.

Crawford: Get us out of here! Maximum impulse!

Li: What about Finley?

Crawford snickered at the mention of the name.

Crawford: If Finley’s as resourceful as he claims to be, I’m sure he’ll be just fine.

He then looked over at one of the other pirates standing guard nearby and ordered him to escort their remaining Trill “guest” back to the holding cell they’d made out of Li’s quarters.

But as the two left, leaving just Crawford and the other two pirates on the bridge, Li crossed his arms over his chest and stood away from the controls.

Li: He said he’d send a signal. He’s still got two minutes.

Douglas was still shaking off the effects of the phaser blast, but had regained enough of his faculties to sense the dangerous tension on the bridge. His hand automatically went to the hilt of the knife in his belt.

Douglas: That guy got us paid. We wait.

Madrid’s first mate stood up from his chair, stunned at the sudden courage the two lackeys had seemed to conjure out of thin air.

Crawford: You two would dare attempt a mutiny? The captain will have your heads!

Douglas: The Captain will be glad we’re finally bringing something valuable back, and you fought against it the whole time. We explain to her how you almost blew this whole score and getting kicked out of her bedroom will be the least of your problems.

Crawford grumbled as Douglas kept his hand on his knife. Finally, the other man walked away but turned to bark a final order.

Crawford: Two minutes and not a second more! In case you didn’t notice, there’s a Coalition Marshal cutter on its way.

Li turned back to gaze at the crippled Starfleet supply ship that hung out in space, plasma continuing to leak out of its nacelles.

Li: He’ll make it.

Crawford went out into the corridor from the bridge to check on the prisoner. In addition to the loot they’d stolen from Starfleet, they might be able to get a nice ransom out of her. And *that* at least Crawford would be able to take full credit for, having outwitted the notorious Silas Finley.

Smiling again at how pleased Madrid would be with him, he nodded to the guard standing outside the quarters to open the door. As it slid open, Crawford stepped in.

Crawford: All right, little lady, looks like it’s just you and-

But he stopped abruptly as he saw the now empty room. He looked back at the guard whose bewildered face was soon met with his closed fist.


((Transporter Room, USS Stevenson))

Once the beam completed the transfer, Roshanara found herself standing on the pad in the small transporter room of the supply ship. Ahead, she could see Teller at the controls, Kinan next to him--along with a couple of Starfleet security officers and a serious looking Andorian.

Teller: As promised, Commander. Computer ID confirms Captain Rosharana Rahman, and she’s got a perfectly cogent explanation for all of this.

Kinan shot him an incredulous look.

Shon: ::to Teller:: I’m looking forward to hearing it, lieutenant.

The Andorian CO nodded to the security officers to relax their posture before turning to the Kriosian.

Shon: Welcome aboard the Stevenson, Captain. Now would you mind telling me what the hell is going on?

The captain nodded as she stepped down from the transporter pad.

Rahman: Certainly.

But before the two COs got too far into the details, Teller spoke up, the clock still running.

Teller: Skipper, those pirates are still waiting for Finley’s ‘signal.’ Think it’s worth maintaining the ruse?

She glanced back over at Kinan, curious to see what the admin officer thought.

Kinan: We kept character until Li and Douglas left--whether or not they continue to buy the ruse is another story, though. You were transported away fairly dramatically. ::She paused.:: That said, it’d be nice to be on the same page as these pirates.

Roshanara looked back at Shon.

Rahman: It may prove useful for the future.

The Andorian’s antennae flexed before he turned back to the engineer, annoyed.

Shon: Very well. But just don’t break my ship anymore than you already have.

Teller: Consider it a Good Job Guarantee, sir.

Teller brought up the status display and checked the ship's systems. His clumsy sabotage had already been resolved by the crew, but there was still a loose cloud of drive plasma near the ship, vented when Teller compromised their diagnostic systems.

With a smile that would’ve done Silas Finley proud, Teller aligned the impulse engines and brought the ship to a sudden full impulse. The impulse flare ignited the drive plasma, and a vortex of shimmering green flame seemed to envelop the ship before it shot off and was gone from sight within moments.

Once he was done, Roshanara turned back to her Andorian counterpart.

Rahman: I’ll debrief you fully, commander, but I think first Commander Kinan, Lieutenant Teller, and I would appreciate getting checked out in your sickbay. And perhaps a warm meal as well.

Teller: And a shower. Possibly two or three. Please.

Kinan: Oh no. No showers until you fill out an incident report. I’m not doing all the paperwork for this--not this time.

With arrangements made, the three guests walked out into the corridor, making their way to the medical facility.

Rahman: Well, Mr. Teller… you never cease to amaze.

Teller: Thanks for...backing my play up out there, Skipper. I know it was crazy but you trusted me. I’m amazed it worked.

Rahman: Of course, lieutenant. And don’t worry about Commander Shon. Between me and Commander Kinan here, we’ll make sure the record’s set straight.

Kinan: No doubt it’ll be an amusing read for Admiral Washington.

Rahman: I also managed to sabotage the raider’s engines so that the Marshals will be able to track its emissions. Should make the cargo you helped them steal easier to recover.

Teller: Appreciate that Captain, it was a little wrinkle in my wildly complicated spur of the moment save our skins plan. I just figured that’d be part of the prison sentence.

She looked over and gave him a wink.

Rahman: Well, I can’t have my chief engineer locked up in the brig when we’ve got field trials for the new engine starting soon.

Teller: Next shoreleave, I’m locking myself in my quarters with a book. :shaking his head ruefully:: Vacation is going to kill me.

Rahman: Hmmph, you can have my copy of Demon of the Seas. I think I’m done with it for now.

She shook her head before tilting her head to one side, stretching a bit.::

Rahman: I’ve had enough adventures and pirates for now. A nice long bath with some bubbles sounds absolutely divine.

As they entered the turbolift and turned around, Teller spoke up in the confined space.

Teller: Yeah. Captain, after I sleep for about a week, I imagine you’ll be wanting an explanation for..uh…::Teller shrugged expansively:: all that.

The captain glanced back over at her chief engineer with a smirk just as the doors slid shut.

Rahman: Yarrr.

Epilogue

((The Ruptured Core Tavern, Shadow’s Edge))

Li: So there we are, all hanging around the viewport on the Fangs bridge, looking at this big monster Federation ship sitting there. Douglas kept saying Finley was dead for sure, that he was crazy, and I was starting to believe him when all hell broke loose.

As Li told his story, a small crowd of fellow pirates and mercenaries had gathered around his table to hear the latest daring feat of the fearsome Pirate Captain Silas Finley. Li took a refreshing drink of strong ale as the other patrons spoke up in excitement.

Patron #1: ::gasps:: What happened next? Did he make it?

Another man next to him shook his head.

Patron #2: Damn fool had to have perished!

Patron #3: Is he as handsome as they say?

But Li waved his arm for all of them to quiet down as he continued.

Li: Damn thing screams right past us at full impulse, trailing flames and drive plasma across half the belt. It had to be Finley’s signal. He took the ship, and when we checked the hold, he even took back his woman before he left. Never seen a pirate like him.

Li leaned back in his chair and took a deep pull on his ale. It had been their most successful haul in more than a year, and Finley shrugged it off for an even bigger one which he kept all to himself.

Li absently realized the effect four flagons of ale had on him, and began staggering towards the head. He hadn’t made it three steps before a figure fell on him from the crowd and slammed him against a wall.

Li sized up the person who had menacingly placed a hand on his throat. The Vulcan male was wearing a black jumpsuit, and the man’s thin, well manicured mustache was quivering with barely contained rage. One of the man’s eyes had been replaced with an ocular device, which was surrounded by scars in his skin. Embedded In his shoulder was another small, unusual device, box shaped and firmly attached…

Snorlan, as a Vulcan, had learned as a child how to contain his emotions. In his adult years as a rogue however, it had served him to learn how to let his emotions out - and now was a good time. The mere utterance of the word “Finley” made his hairs stand on end. When he saw the human who’d been boasting of him earlier now walking, almost stumbling on his own, the Vulcan saw the perfect opportunity.

Revenge on Finley was something he had fantasized about, yet tracking him down had become impossible - even through his network of contacts. This drunk human represented the catalyst he had been waiting for.

Snorlan: ::Quietly, quickly:: Filthy human, you speak of Finley as if he is some sort :::rolling his free hand, pondering:: pirate élite. You have admiration for him?

Li grabbed at the vice like grip on his throat with both hands but couldn’t break it. A few of the other patrons glanced over to see what was the commotion but most in the tavern continued to their drinks, hearty laughter and music masking the details of Snorlan’s conversation with the human in his grasp.

Li: ::gagging:: What….who?

Snorlan: You see, I overheard your conversation.

Snorlan exhaled angrily through his nose.

Snorlan: And I find your admiration for him pitiful.

Li felt the feral Vulcan’s grip loosening slightly.

Li: Finley? What do you care?

Snorlan gritted his teeth, and tightened his grip around Li’s neck.

Snoran: ::Angrily:: I care ::slapping Li’s face with free hand:: because that filthy human, his dirty Klingon and a… ::frustrated:: oh, what species was that chap again?

Snorlan tapped the device on his shoulder. A holographic AI parrot flicked into life above Snorlan’s shoulder.

Arty: ::Squawk!:: Betazoid, Filthy human hybrid. ::Squawk!::

Snorlan: Yes, him. They are in debt to me. And I intend to collect.

With his other hand he pulled his disruptor from his holster, and pressed it against the side of Li’s head.

Snorlan: Now you’re going to tell me where I can find them… ::leaning face in closer:: or I am going to have to compensate the owner of this tavern for the mess I am about to make.


END


Lieutenant JG Geoffrey Teller
Chief Engineer
USS Veritas - NCC 95035
Capt. R. Rahman, Commanding
V239509GT0

&

Lt. Commander Kinan Venroe
Personnel Officer
Cait Spacedock
C238803SB0

&

Captain Roshanara Rahman
CO, USS Veritas
I238705TZ0


With Special Guest

Snorlan
Suave Pirate
SS Pon’Fire

written by LtJG Wil Ukinix
V239511WU0