The ISS Vindicator dropped out of warp a short distance from the third moon of Frakus Prime while remaining cloaked.
Jeter’s looked on at the moon as its image grew on the viewscreen. “Órlaith, Ian. What do we have here?”
“I am not reading any military ships in the sector. All ships appear to be civilian in design. Several ships are not transmitting transponder data.”
“Pirates?” Ian asked.
“Possible or they could be smugglers. Either way, they don’t want official entities knowing who they are.”
Nodding Jeter’s stood and looked around the bridge before looking at Órlaith, “Bring up the holo display and send a message to this worm, Galin. I don’t want him to know what he is dealing with until it is too late.”
“Then perhaps we could just show up,” Órlaith suggested. “Surprise has a way of working for those that cause it.”
Jeter pondered that for a moment and didn’t disagree but he also was aware that surprising someone like this could have some nasty side effects as they could be a bit jumpy. ‘Jumpy could work for me though…’ he thought.
“That works for me Órlaith. Shall we pop over and see what they have for us? You’re both with me,” he said. He looked over at Lovecroft, “The Bridge is yours, Lovecroft. Keep the cloak up and an eye on things…” he paused for a moment before looking at Chapman, “Keep the weapons ready to power up in case they are needed.”
Brother and Sister nodded. “This moon sits outside of any jurisdictional boundary and is basically a modern version of Port Royal where smugglers, pirates, and other folks who don’t want to be found can be found here. These are tough people, ” Órlaith informed Jeter. “I’m not sure our standard heavy-handed approach will be successful.”
“That is to be expected, but what will work here is gold-pressed-latinum. Greed speaks volumes and for the amount we have I am confident they will listen.” Jeter’s shrugged as he continued and stepped up to the lift, “Besides, if it doesn’t and the Ferengi isn’t open to a construction talk I am sure one of his lieutenants will be.”
Both Ian and Órlaith smirked. The Vindicator easily outclassed any ship here, so if they were betrayed they could make quick work of the offender.
People were crammed into the primary city of Nar Shala cheek by jowl. Most of this moon was an uninhabitable wasteland with no natural water. Órlaith was amazed that there were so many outcasts in one area, especially compared to the orderly neatness of the Federation.
The people walking the streets of this city were a veritable smorgasbord of who’s who of Alpha/Beta Quadrant species. Humans, Orions, Klingons, Andorians, Nauscicans, Bajorans, Romulans, Cardassians, and at least two dozen lesser races.
The streets were filthy and lined with trash. Electric signs advertised any number of services from bars, gambling houses, restaurants, brothels, ship parts and repairs, and fences for stolen goods. Not everyone on this mooring was a criminal, but they were all armed to the teeth and looked every bit as tough as living here would require.
Jeters looked around and smiled, this was the sort of place he felt most at home in, and he knew he would be able to get what he was after here. Looking over at the brother and sister, “Shall we go buy ourselves a fleet and then see what your mother has in mind for it?”
“Agreed,” Órlaith replied.
“You seem uncharacteristically jovial,” Ian observed Jeter with a suspicious eye.
Jeter snorted a laugh, “I like to think I am jovial all the time. Besides a place like this feels alive, much nicer than the polished state of the federation.” He continued to walk for a moment before casting an eye at Ian, “Why? Does that make you nervous? You have to admit the energy of this place is great, alive.”
“It’s a shithole,” Ian replied contemptuously, “The fact that you are enjoying this is a reflection on you.”
Órlaith gave her brother a curious expression. The girl often viewed the world with that odd little expression of hers. She was nothing like her family. She wasn’t given to the cruel violence of her father or the cold calculation of her mother. She had the same loyalty to her family as her brother, but she never seemed to do so unquestionably.
“I believe what Jeter is saying is that this is more natural… there’s a fakeness to the Federation.”
Jeter’s snorted at Ian’s comment but gave Órlaith an appreciative look. “Órlaith understands at least in part. Once you have actually experienced more of what the universe has to offer you may understand.” He would happily see Ian tossed out an airlock but Órlaith had to potential to actually make her own decisions.
“Shall we get on with things, so you can get out of this ‘Shithole’ Ian?” Jeter’s asked with a little laugh. “If I am not mistaken Galin owns the establishment up ahead. We should be able to complete our business in short order. Hell, Ian, if you want maybe you can go an explore a bit, live a little. The Ferengi are famous for being able to provide for everyone’s vices; likely even yours.”
Ian enjoyed killing. He enjoyed torture and little else, “I doubt it. Besides, we have work to do.”
Jeter’s rolled his eyes. “Let’s get to it then.” A few moments later they walked into a large casino with various games being played and numerous young women serving alcohol and mingling with the customers. “I see Dabo girls don’t change no matter what universe you are in,” he muttered with a little laugh. He paused for a moment a looked around before his eyes came to rest on a Ferengi behind the bar, one who seemed more interested in the general activities and workers than in serving people.
Walking over, not bothering to say anything to the others, he leaned onto the bar and gestured to the man to get his attention. “I need to speak to Galin, go get your boss and I will make it worth your time,” he paused, for a moment, before adding, “in latinum.”
Seong sat in the corner of one of the upper promenade’s private booths, her presence almost unnoticed by everyone except her employer, a Ferengi. As she sat there, her dark chocolate eyes scanned and surveyed everyone who walked into the bar. When she saw three people enter the establishment, she knew something wasn’t right. She knew almost everyone who walked into the bar.
As she sat there watching, she noticed one of them, a man, walk over to the bar and start talking with the bartender. She could see the slight tension on the bartender’s body shift, from her perch in the booth, and knew that something had been said about her employer.
A small Ferengi shuffled up to the private booth and was met by a large, tree trunk-like arm as one of the guards stopped him. The small Ferengi looked up at the serpent-like man, who looked back at a Ferengi who was enjoying the bar’s entertainment.
Galin looked through slit eye at the other Ferengi, even though his lobes were being played with, and waved the other in.
“Ah, Cuz, what can I do for you?” Galin inquired as the smaller Ferengi halted and knelt before his superior.
“A hooman asks for you.”
Galin sighed as he looked at the two women, “Duty calls my lovelies but don’t stray too far this won’t take too long,” he said with a sly impish smile.
He nodded to Cuz, “Well, bring the hooman here.”
Seong glanced over at Galin and knew exactly what she had to do. She stood up and quietly exited the booth, unnoticed.
Cuz approached the outsiders. There was a quick exchange and the Ferengi bartender lead the trio across the bar and up the stairs leading to the private booth overlooking the entire bar.
Órlaith and Ian flanked Jeter both carrying disruptors on their belts that would be unrecognizable to those in this reality. Ian stood with his arms crossed displaying the bulging arm muscles through his short sleeved t-shirt. He wore a dour expression as if to challenge the Ferengi or his bodyguards to try something foolish.
For Órlaith’s part she stood casually slowly looking around the bar taking in their surroundings. No threat was unobserved. She cared less about optics and more about surviving any ambushes. It was in this scan, sitting across the bar at an upper level she noticed a Delvonian sitting casually at a table with a phaser rifle. The weapon was hidden from casual observation, but she could just make out the blackened barrel poking out from the leafy green foliage of a fake house plant.
This would not be the time or the place to kill Galin as her mother instructed. That would invite instant death. They would have to get his trust and get him to let his guard down. Possibly invite them into someplace private. Her blood ran cold with the realization that it would likely have to be her coupled with a decent about of seduction. That was an unpleasant thought on several levels.
“The Hooman known as Jeter and his associates,” Cuz announced as he lead them to Galin. Cuz had barely asked Jeter his name and completely ignored brother and sister until now finally acknowledging their existence. Órlaith knew that would get under her brother’s skin. As her mother said, “He is often susceptible to bouts of testosterone poisoning like his father.”
Jeter’s nodded, “Thank you Cuz, the introduction is greatly appreciate.” He pulled out a bar of latinum and tossed it to the Ferengi, “As promised,” he said before casually adding, “and I have more where that came from if people are willing to work with me.”
With that he turned to Galin, “I have a business proposition for you. I have been told you are the one I, we,” he corrected waving vaguely towards the brother and sister, “need to speak to about obtaining certain items.”
Órlaith leaned into Jeter and spoke softly, “I would be careful with displaying any kind of wealth here. It could prompt unwanted attention.”
Jeter’s smirked at Órlaith, “Without the right incentive we won’t get want we want but there is no harm to get on guard.” He turned back to Galin and smiled, “So, are you interested?”
Galin reached over and retrieved a small container of beetlesnuff, which he offered to the group, before he spoke, “The depends on two things,” he stated, “One being if your Latium is worth its weight, and two what my associate finds.”
Jeter’s looked on at the beetlesnuff and shook his head, barely hiding his contempt for the stuff, “No, I will pass and I can assure you that the latinum is worth its weight. Though I am curious as to what you associate you are referring to. We have come here in good faith to do business and I will not tolerate anything less from you.”
“A background check may lead to some conflicting information,” Órlaith stated, “That is, if that’s what you are referring to. For myself and my brother… you’ll likely discover nothing. But, I assure you, our latinum spends just as well, and if you can help us you will be a very rich man… Grand Nagus rich. Probably wealthier.”
Seong entered the room quietly, unnoticed by anyone except Galin. He didn’t even flinch when he saw her walk in, keeping that information to himself, “Background checks, blah. I despise those things, and you’ll find out what my associate is looking for soon enough.”
Seong emerged from the shadows behind Galin, her face expressionless as she shifted her gaze from Jeter to his company. “It appears that someone is after you,” she said coldly, “and you’ve come here by desperate means,” her cold eyes bore into each of them. “And I know who’s on the lookout for you.”
Galin turned his head to look at Seong, his eyes wide with curiosity. She looked at him and told him without saying anything. “Are you aware of who is after you?” he asked Jeter.
Jeter’s shrugged indifferently, “Doesn’t matter. The real question Galin is how rich you want to be. As my colleague here has said, do you want to be Grand Nagus rich or shall we find someone else who has the appetite for that wealth?” He looked at Seong and winked, “The call is yours really.”
Seong leaned forward, looking Jeter in the eyes, and said a single name, ‘Vax,’ in a nearly whispered tone. She then pushed her hand off the table, leaving behind a single device, the Terran Empire’s comm’s badge, dressed with the rank of Captain and the name ‘Vausees “Ves” Vax’.
Jeter’s frowned slightly at the name and snorted. “Ah, cannot say I am impressed with that. She is always looking to cause trouble,” he said as nonchalantly as he could. He turned back the Ferengi and looked him right in the eyes. “Are you afraid of a name or more interested in money?”
Galin remained silent as Seong spoke because he valued her values above all others. She had proven to him that she was a more valuable asset than wealth could buy. And he knew her worth was greater than all the Latium in the universe.
As a result, when she spoke, he listened but said nothing to encourage her lethal skillset. Skills that he had seen used on numerous occasions when someone attempted to manipulate him.
He spoke up when she said nothing about wealth. “I am an exception to the Ferengi’s, my friends,” Galin said, leaning back on his soft, plush couch. “However, I am not stupid enough to allow Latium to slip through my fingers.”
“Good,” Jeter’s said. “Glad to see that Ferengi’s can always be counted on.”
Órlaith’s hand fell to the butt of her disruptor but didn’t say anything. Jeter may think this intruder to be inconsequential, but something about her sent alarm bells off in her head. The fact that she hadn’t noticed Seong until Seong presented herself was disconcerting.
Jeter watched the new arrival, inwardly impressed at her silent and sudden appearance though all too aware of the possible threat she posed. If what she said was true then she had information that a person from this universe should not have.
Seong had observed Órlaith’s reaction to her unexpected appearance and realized she had an advantage over the woman. She kept this information to herself, hiding it behind an expressionless face as she retreated into the shadows, aware that everyone knew she had done so. She knew, however, that once she was out of sight, she would be free to move without being noticed. She could have taken everyone in the booth out and fled without making a sound, but instead, she returned to her seat in the corner.
Órlaith kept a weary eye on Seong but decided the intruder to not be an immediate threat. But, Órlaith knew she would not turn her back on the woman.
“So Galin, shall we discuss business here or somewhere with less hears?” Jeter’s asked.
“Ships,” Órlaith spoke in a low tone so that only the Ferengi could hear. She was tired of the beating around the bush, and she figured that would get Galin’s attention. “As many as you can get us.”
Galin fixed his bloodshot gaze on the woman, “Why else would you be here, if not for ships,” he said, his tone cold to the touch.
He returned his focus to Jeter. “So, my friend, tell me what kind of ships and crew you’re looking for.”
Seong couldn’t help but grin behind her expressionless face, knowing what her employer was about to do and relishing it. Not many people had her wicked sense of humor, but when it came to Latium, no one was more cunning than Galin, and he knew it.
“Warships, and as many as you can provide. We are not picky as to their origins but they must be functional.” Jeter’s remarked, “Will that be an issue?”
“We don’t need crews. Mercenaries are problematic. We have our own solution to that particular need,” Órlaith added.
“Just how many were you thinking about taking control?” Galin asked as his Ferengi lobes started to tingle.
Jeter smirked knowing that the Ferengi saw latinum, “The question isn’t how many we want to control but how many you can provide. Let’s stop beating around the bush, what do you have access to, and what costs?”
Galin felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see that Seong had moved again without making a sound. “I can get you anything your greedy black heart desires, hooman,” he said, looking up into her eyes and nodding before returning his attention to Jeter. “Just name it.”
Frowning Jeter looked at the Ferengi, and tried to maintain his calm, he really hated them at times. “Negh’Var, Vor’cha, B-rel, and so on. Any Federation ships you may have. Romulan, we are not picky.”
Galin looked at Seong for a split second and she knew exactly what needed to be done. As she slipped unnoticed, Galin returned his attention back to Jeter.
“Hooman, your armada will be waiting for you at these coordinates as long as you have the Latinum for the cost,” Galin reached into his coat and pulled out a PADD, which he handed to Jeter after a brief moment.
Meanwhile, Seong stood in a corner, unnoticed, watching the base’s patrons go about their business, almost all of which Galin had a hand in. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder, “Took you long enough,” she stated as she turned her head slightly to look into the light blue eyes of Vausees.
“You know I don’t want to be here, Seong,” she replied, “and I’ll never understand why you chose to side with a Ferengi.”
Seong smiled slightly; a slight upturn of the corner of her mouth. “He pays more than the Terran Empire ever could,” she said as she slipped a PADD from her shoulder into Vausees’ hand. “You’ll find them there and I trust that you and I still have an understanding of my circumstances in this dimension.”
Seong didn’t wait for an answer because she knew Vausees well enough to know that if she was betrayed, the Trill would have nowhere to hide, and instead walked away.
Vausees watched as Seong vanished among the throngs of denizens who lived and worked on the base. She knew she wouldn’t be able to track Seong’s every move, and sure enough, Seong vanished from her sight. She sighed and stepped back into the shadows after looking down at the PADD.
“God, I hate this assignment,” she thought to herself as she walked back to the shuttle that had taken her to the base.