In for a Penny
Captain Molni was mistress of all she saw. She owned her ship, under Orion, Federation, and Klingon law, and could fly where she saw fit, when she saw fit to fly there. There was no one in the galaxy who could stop her… Fang could out-fly what she couldn’t out-fight, unless she got a Starfleet task group on her case, and she could out-talk any captain the Federation assigned to any duty she might run across them on.
Unless, of course, she was on her way to retrieve the most dangerous war criminal in two quadrants from the secret prison where he’d spent the last five years. That was something that might draw the attention of Starfleet, or, worse still, the Lagashi Star Navy. Starfleet was bigger and stronger, but Star Navy ships carried Arbiters, and Arbiters tended to put pirates out airlocks and not to care what distant government authorized their actions.
Thankfully, the Briar Patch was well outside Lagashi-protected space, and Starfleet rarely ventured inside. It was a good place to hide a secret prison from the Federation, inside Federation space. Once Fang slipped into the volatile gas clouds, the crew around Molni breathed a sigh of collective relief.
Most of them wouldn’t be dealing the the Son’a. Creepy bastards… worse than the Breen, in some ways. The Breen just didn’t have any interest in you as a person; the Son’a ogled. She’d be taking a small team aboard the prison station, have the rest ready outside with the stolen energy dissipator (all but useless against military starships, still absolutely deadly against criminals and soft targets) and tricobalt torpedoes. When a deal went bad, it was best to have backup.
“Inevitability Prison signals ready for your transport,” Sss’ra’pass hissed. The big Gorn leaned forward on her console, gazing hungrily at the prison. It wasn’t a large place, by prison or starbase standards – barely bigger than one of the old Federation Regula stations. It only housed a few hundred prisoners, but the Son’a had been paid a tidy sum for each of them.
“Sss’ra’pass. Tibalt. Dgeezat. With me. Pass, get the crate.” The Gorn grabbed the handle of the hovercrate that had been resting in the back corner of the bridge, and the human woman and Nausicaan man joined them on the way to the transporter room.
“Sure we can’t just bring their shields down and beam the old bastard out?” Tibalt asked as the lift door closed.
“Prel says we have to go through with the trade,” Molni said. “Apparently they have taken precautions against that exact thing.”
“Find by me,” Tibalt said. “I’ll be glad to have the collateral off the ship. I just don’t want to deal with the Son’a… those eyes.”
“I know.” The lift opened, and they walked to the transporter pad. Fang’s transporters would be their only way off the station – the prison had no transporters of its own, no shuttles, no way out from the inside. “To the receiving area. Energize.”
Quantum lock took her, and the world briefly ceased to exist. When she was real again, she stood with her away team in the wide receiving area of the prison station. Three Son’a were there to greet them.
Two started leering at her and Tibalt immediately. The third saved his eyes for Dgeezat.
She thanked the Romulan Elements that she’d opted for practical armor rather than her ceremonial gear. As bad as this was, it would be worse if there was more skin for them to see.
“We’re here on behalf of Prel,” Molni said to the lead Son’a. “Take us to him.”
“Not so quickly,” the Son’a said, eyes lingering far too long on Tibalt for her comfort or his safety. The human woman had always had an itchy trigger finger; now it was twitching toward the Cardassian phaser pistol at her side. “You could stay a while. Or, if not…” His gaze turned a very different sort of predatory as he looked to Molni. “I need to see our payment.”
Molni nodded, gestured to Pass, and the Gorn opened the crate. Three heavy bricks of gold pressed latinum came out first – the sweetener for the pot. But then came the thing of true value, the thing Tibalt was so urgent to have off the ship.
A cylinder. The ends were capped in heavy duranium, the rounded surface a thick layer of transparent aluminum. Pass handled it with a mix of terror, wonder, and disgust, but held it up for the Son’a to see. It was half-full of a viscuous, near-gelatinous silver-orange fluid that sloshed as Pass handled it. Then, when it was still, the fluid fell still.
Five tendrils reached upward from its surface.
Each of the tendrils spawned a single eye.
Everyone in the room – pirate and Son’a alike – stared at the infant changeling for a long moment. Then the lead Son’a spoke. “He is being made ready. If you will wait just a few moments, my crew…”
“I will see him now,” Molni said. “Tibalt, with me.”
The Son’a shrugged, led them down the corridor and off a branch, into a circular room with cells along its wall. There a Caitian, there a Krazzle, in the next a Klingon. Then the next…
Fog. White fog, thick enough it seemed to fill the entire cell. Then the fog started to part and she saw the suit. The suit that had been the nightmares of an entire species since the Dominion War.
Thot Thanget, the Butcher of T’ien. While Gor and Pran – both dead, now – had traveled to Cardassia to work directly with the Founder and fight the Federation and Klingons, Thanget had assumed command over Dominion forces along the Breen-Federation border. In the brief Breen involvement, he earned enough of the Founder’s trust to be granted independent command, without the need to check in with Dominion authorities on major decisions, and he’d used that authority to the fullest. The few Lagashi and Starfleet survivors of the monthslong Battle of Sanctuary made it the most infamous ground engagement of the Breen Front, and their tales of the cruelty and cleverness of Thanget’s Breen would have made a terror of him if not for Fortune’s Promise.
At the Battle of T’ien, the only Dominion strike into the core of Lagashi space, Thanget’s flagship had broken past Alliance lines. Rather than send in ground forces, he had fired two quantum torpedoes, one targeting the relatively small Lagashi city at Hope’s Landing, the other targetting the largest arcology on the planet, Fortune’s Promise. Both were destroyed without survivors, and a quarter of a billion Lagashi citizens lost their lives in minutes.
The enormity of what Thanget was set Molni briefly back on her heels, but then… he did not move. The suit was empty. The fog parted further, and she saw Thanget’s true face, his true form.
She barely kept her feet, and Tibalt fell back against a wall, her stomach making sounds suspiciously close to those it would make were it about to void its contents. The creature – the Breen – was horrible and wonderous, an impossible terror that could almost be beautiful if cruelty were not written in its every motion. Those eyes… the shape of its neck… those things would be every one of Molni’s nightmares until the day she died.
Then the creature was gone, and the suit activated. Thanget stood straight, and the Son’a shunted the frozen air into the prison’s environmental control system before cutting the force field. “Well, Thanget… you’re free to go. This nice lady is going to take you back to Breen.”
Thanget regarded the Son’a for one brief moment, then turned away dismissively. His visor’s gaze fell on Molni, and her heart skipped a beat in terror. The eye behind that visor…
Thanget released a series of clicks and hums, and it took a long moment for her universal translator to parse the infinite complexity of the Breen language.
“Sar has failed,” Thanget said. “And now Prel and Ren call on me to save them.”
“I’m being paid to bring you home,” Molni said, doing her best to keep the trembling out of her voice. “It’s going to be a long trip. But he also told me to give you this, when we got you out.”
She pulled the pistol from her side, passed it to Thanget, shuddered at the touch of his gauntlet against her hand. The weapon was silver, with red highlights and a bright red power cell. The antiproton pistol could tear apart ship hull plating and kill even a large Rish, and had been banned in all of civilized space and the Klingon Empire for centuries.
She was almost glad enough to be rid of it to be relieved, but now it was in Thanget’s hand.
“I would be gone from here,” Thanget said, and Molni nodded.
“This way, Thot Thanget.”
There are a few things to report from the Lore Office! First, it is my profound pleasure and honor to announce that Noel, AKA Browsden, has been appointed Command Adjutant of the Bravo Fleet Lore Office. Noel is an experienced writer, worldbuilder, and administrator, and will be an excellent resource for both the office and the fleet as a whole. He’s also a great guy, so tell him hello!
We are still, as far as the major Task Force stories go, in information-gathering mode. This has been slow work, but it is showing results, and the effects of that will be seen in the coming weeks and months. I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to this process!
There are some major canon announcements in the works, so please stay tuned to Bravo Fleet’s website and Discord to stay informed.
After significant work, I would like to introduce to everyone a new element available for deployment aboard starships and starbases – the Hazard Team! Hazard Teams are highly trained teams of junior officers and NCOs assigned to the command of a member of the senior staff, who takes the role of their training and briefing officer. In addition to normal shipboard duties, members of the Hazard Team engage in intense training to prepare for exceptionally dangerous missions, and are issued specialized equipment and given substantial personal judgement in what gear to use. A Hazard Team ready for deployment can be recognized by the harnesses that allow them to efficiently carry large amounts of equipment into the field. You can learn more about these elite units at https://wiki.bravofleet.com/index.php?title=Hazard_Team, where you will find a complete writeup.
Until next month, I am always available on Discord for questions, and the work continues.
- Fiction Vignette: In for a Penny. Thot Prel has hired an Orion pirate named Molni, Captain of the OSS Fang, to make a trade with the Son’a warden of a secret prison in the Briar Patch. Molni gives the Son’a an infant changeling, and in return takes custody of the fallen Thot Thanget, who masterminded the Valoris crisis before being ousted by Domo Sar.
- Browsden is now our new Lore Office Command Adjutant.
- Big announcements are coming!
- Hazard Teams are a new addition to Bravo Fleet, and you can read about them on the Wiki. They are elite teams of Starfleet officers trained to go into hazardous situations so that ships don’t have to keep sending their senior staffs.