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Part of USS Endeavour: All the Devils Are Here and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

All the Devils Are Here – 17

Abaddon's Repository of Lost Treasures
November 2400
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‘You’re welcome to examine our inventory,’ said Levellir, leading Rosewood and Beckett down the corridor away from the airlock where she’d met them, coming across to the station by shuttle. ‘But my currency hasn’t changed.’

‘Oh, we understand that,’ said Rosewood in a chirpy manner, falling into step beside the gaunt alien, his smile wide and easy. ‘I hope you understand, the captain isn’t opposed to trading in blood dilithium. But he needs authority from his superiors to let him do that, and it’ll be a hell of a lot easier if he can regale them with the fabulous opportunities in trade.’

Levellir brought the mouthpiece of a rebreather to her face, drawing a hissing inhale of some substance that made her stand straighter as she walked. ‘Then we go to my office, Commander. And see what interests you.’

Beckett knew that was his cue to hop in. ‘I was hoping,’ he said, rushing forward and trying to sound like the obsequious junior officer the situation called for him to be, ‘we could do this somewhere I can read the scans for myself? Like the operations centre? Rather than looking at an item on the inventory, calling Endeavour, asking them to scan…’ He waggled a hand like this would be an ongoing and repetitive process.

Rosewood scowled at him. ‘Pretty impertinent of you, Lieutenant.’ Then his gaze turned thoughtful, and he looked to Levellir in an apprehensive way. ‘But it would be easier. I saw you had those Hierarchy scout ship wrecks, and Starfleet Intelligence would love to get their hands on those designs…’

Levellir harrumphed into her rebreather. ‘Command centre. As you wish. There’ll be a markup on anything you buy, though.’

‘Don’t worry.’ Rosewood leaned in as they walked, as if to stop Beckett from hearing. ‘The lieutenant’s young, but his father’s an admiral. If he’s impressed, he really can overrule the captain.’

Levellir glanced back, brow ridges arching. ‘Is that so. In that case… fine. Let me show you.’

The team stood at Endeavour’s conference table with Airex at the head of it, hands planted on the surface, a holographic display shining before them with the whole sprawling expanse of Abaddon’s Repository.

‘If we’re going to pull this off,’ Airex said, ‘and we can’t do that much reconnaissance, then we want someone inside Abaddon’s itself. Diverting Levellir and keeping an eye on their systems so we know instantly if something’s wrong.’

‘That’ll be dangerous,’ said Valance. ‘If she realises we’re up to something – that we’re robbing her – then we’ve just given her prisoners. Hostages.’

‘If we do it right,’ said Airex, ‘then we’ve got someone in the operations centre with their combadge rigged to transmit visual and audio back to the ship. Position them right, and we know if we’re tripping off alarms, if there’s security systems we need to avoid, and if Levellir’s on to us.’

Rosewood scrubbed his face with his hands. ‘If we screw this up, the DEI’s gonna have our asses,’ he warned. ‘So I guess I better be there ready to throw a blanket over Levellir’s head. I can sweet-talk her and keep her occupied, but that won’t give me much freedom in the centre.’

Beckett sat up, grinning. ‘Oh! Does this mean I get to play spy at last?’ At Valance’s withering look, he wilted a little. ‘I’m kidding, Commander. But send me in, and I’ll be our eyes and ears. I can do it.’

It was Rourke who nodded. He was stood a step back from the table, arms folded across his chest as he listened. ‘Alright. We send in Rosewood and Nate, and they keep their thumbs on Levellir and the station’s systems while we’re pulling off whatever we’re pulling off.’ He looked at Airex. ‘What is that, exactly?

‘If we’ve miscalculated this,’ Thawn grumbled from the aft of the shuttle Lancelot, fingers drifting over the wall display that was the only source of light in the downpowered smallcraft, ‘then there’ll be security systems ready to blow us to hell and back.’

‘Commander Kharth ran the scans,’ said Arys, alert in the pilot’s seat as if he could see through the canopy if anything was wrong. ‘There was no indication of anything but sensors this far out. And we drifted past those fine. We’re too small to be a threat.’

Thawn looked from the display that showed them holding position at the periphery of the field of junk, drifting with limited power and easily disguised as yet another piece of salvage. The nearest of Abaddon’s prizes was half an old freighter of unknown provenance a few dozen metres to port, and with every passing moment they eased further and further in.

She swallowed hard. The paranoia was likely not her, she told herself. It was the blood dilithium, it was the ghosts of the slaughtered pressing on her, crying out at her. And they were far, far away. ‘You’re right,’ she said at last. ‘It was impressive flying that got us here.’

‘That’s only part of it,’ Arys mused without pride. ‘Are you ready to set off the light show?’

She drew a slow and careful breath. ‘One of them. This is the easy part, Lieutenant.’

‘It is, but this all falls apart without it.’

Thawn blew out her cheeks as she lifted a hand to the control systems. ‘No pressure,’ she murmured to herself. Then tapped a button, and the whole screen came to life.

‘There’s only so much we can expect Commander Rosewood to distract Levellir.’ It was Kharth explaining now, gesturing to the periphery of the junkyard on the hologram. ‘And this place has a load of monitoring and defence systems – they’re a prime target for thieves, after all. We don’t only not want to be spotted, we don’t want to pick a fight.’

‘It’s not enough to be quiet,’ said Airex. ‘Even with the best smooth-talking by the commander, the moment there’s any sign of anyone tampering with the Repository, we’ll be the first suspects. So we don’t only need secrecy, we need a reason for anything odd to not be blamed on us.’

Thawn sat forward, dark eyes bright in a pale, drawn face. ‘Which is the first part of where Arys and I come in.

The operations centre in the Repository’s main space station was indeed the beating heart of the whole junkyard. Through the wide windows the junk field could be seen, grey specks amid the white stars, but it was on the many control panels monitoring the field and controlling its defences that the true power lay. Rosewood had been very relieved to see that, wherever Abaddon himself was, he did not keep much by way of staff – Levellir was the only living soul they’d seen aboard.

So when a small alarm went off on a distant console while she was halfway through trying to sell him charts from a Hirogen hunter, she had to stop what she was doing and hurry over.

‘Something wrong?’ Rosewood asked mildly. Nearby, Beckett slipped closer to some of the defensive systems monitoring posts.

Levellir took a hissing inhale through her rebreather as she read. ‘Sensors are picking up high levels of ionisation at the periphery of the field.’

‘A ship?’

She shook her head. ‘Could be the build-up to a storm. Sorry, Commander; expect a few warning pings to go off on our defence systems.’

‘That’s no trouble. Perhaps we can help.’ Rosewood tapped his combadge. ‘Rosewood to Endeavour. There’s possibly an ion storm coming in; can you give us more information? Maybe position the ship to better shield the Repository?’

‘Don’t move the ship,’ said Levellir quickly. ‘More scans are useful.’

We hear you, Commander, Levellir,’ came Captain Rourke’s calm reply. ‘If Levellir is willing, we can deploy the Merlin to monitor as well for better triangulation. Don’t worry, the runabout will be a distance out.

Levellir waved a dismissive hand. ‘Fine.’

‘Do you need us to do this later?’ said Rosewood, keeping his polite smiles. ‘It only looks like a small problem, and I’m sure your systems are good enough to protect the wares. But we’d hate to be underfoot if this is going to be a handful.’

Even though he didn’t know her species, he knew pride warring with sense when he saw it. Levellir took a deep huff from her rebreather and padded back to him. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Have your ship help monitor for if this is a storm. And let’s get back to the inventory.’

‘It won’t become a storm, of course,’ Thawn said. ‘I can’t fake that. But I can flood the shuttle’s deflector systems with ionised particles and make it look like one might be forming, and if Endeavour can help feed false information to Levellir, then it’ll help explain oddities if they come up.’

‘If everything goes well,’ Airex said, ‘then this way, Levellir won’t even know that she’s been robbed at all.’

‘So that’s two distractions,’ said Valance. ‘One of systems, one of people. Is that going to be enough for us to slip a shuttle up to Goravin’s ship so we can steal it without anyone noticing?’

Airex looked at Kharth, and the two exchanged the faintest of smug smiles. ‘That’s not quite the plan,’ said Airex.

‘In fact,’ added Kharth with more relish, ‘that’s not the plan at all.’

‘This was a stupid plan,’ Kharth said as she double-checked the seals on her EV suit. ‘Remind me not to come up with stupid plans.’

In the airlock of the Merlin, Airex was still pulling on his EV suit’s boots. ‘This was your plan.’

She ground her teeth together. ‘I didn’t think I’d be a part of it. Turn around.’ He moved so she could check the equipment on his back.

‘You’re the most qualified and trained person aboard for EV combat.’

‘I’m not expecting EV combat.’

‘No, but this might be comparable,’ he pointed out.

His equipment lit up green at her check, and she sighed. ‘And why are you here, too?’

‘Because I’m also the best-qualified for this task.’

‘Isa could do it.’

‘I know what I’m looking for. Isa doesn’t.’ He turned back to her, brow furrowing. ‘Is it inappropriate for me to say I’ve enjoyed designing this operation?’

Once, that would have infuriated her. Now it just coiled apprehension and a very childish shame in her gut, and she looked away. ‘Who knew planning to rob the biggest junkyard in the Delta Quadrant would be a bonding experience,’ she muttered, but made herself sound perhaps more sarcastic than she meant to be. It wouldn’t do for him to think she was sincere.

But she heard him sigh as she fidgeted with her equipment. ‘I know you’ve been busy, and I also know I have no right to your time, and we’re in a crisis, but perhaps once this is over, Saeihr, you and I can talk…’

‘Commander.’ Her head snapped up. ‘We’re about to fly our asses through a junkyard right under the noses of some creepy-ass alien who’ll incinerate us if we’re caught. This isn’t a time to talk about you and me.’

She saw the flicker in his gaze, saw him bite down the not-unreasonable response of then when is? Under normal circumstances he’d be being unprofessional, but she knew she hadn’t given him much of an opportunity to talk any other time. As he hesitated, she grabbed her helmet and snapped it on. ‘We should go.’

Airex visibly bit his tongue, but finished strapping himself into his EV suit and the two moved to the airlock door. A wave on the camera confirmed to Harkon, in the Merlin’s distant cockpit, that they were good to go, and the door slid open. Mag-boots clicked hard as the air rushed out into the vacuum of space, and then on one side there was nothing but oblivion.

Oblivion, Abaddon’s Repository, and their destination.

‘There it is.’ Airex’s voice clicked over her headset, discussion limited to comm systems now.

‘Right,’ Kharth breathed. ‘Sensor feed is good. I see our target. Follow my lead,’ she said, then stepped off the Merlin’s deck and into space. Her helmet’s HUD lit up to show Airex metres behind her, and they were gone, free, drifting with nothing but their momentum behind them.

Then she fired up the thruster pack, adjusted her trajectory, and the two of them shot off into Abaddon’s junkyard, nothing but two specks in a chaotic field of debris.

‘With Lieutenant Thawn’s light-show, the Repository’s systems will be distracted. Endeavour can try to pipe false information to Levellir. Commander Rosewood can redirect her attention himself. And Lieutenant Beckett can feed information back to the bridge team so if there’s any sign they’re onto us, we can react quickly and appropriately.’ Airex finished the briefing with what could only be described as a smug smile.

‘If anything goes wrong,’ added Thawn, ‘I have various other countermeasures ready.’

‘You’d better,’ said Rosewood, anxious rather than terse. ‘We can’t afford to make an enemy of Abaddon’s. Starfleet’s relied on this place for years for resources and information, and he’s a well-known and respected broker. We cannot be caught robbing the guy.’

‘We won’t,’ said Kharth with quiet confidence.

Valance huffed gently. ‘This all makes perfect sense for getting the two of you to Goravin’s ship. But how are you going to get it out of there without being noticed?’

Airex and Kharth again exchanged looks, and the Romulan grinned. ‘Sorry, Commander,’ she said. ‘I don’t think at any point we said we were going to take the ship.’

‘Airex and Kharth have gone to short-range comms only,’ reported Lindgren at her station on Endeavour’s bridge.

‘And I can barely make them out on sensors,’ Danjuma confirmed at Science.

‘That’s fine,’ said Rourke, leaning back in the command chair. ‘Continue to pipe misleading information from us and the Merlin to Commander Rosewood. He can use it as he sees fit.’

‘I’m working on it, sir,’ said Athaka at Ops. ‘I’m double-checking everything we send with what Lieutenant Beckett’s feeding us, so we don’t send something too erroneous.’

‘Good.’ Rourke stood and looked to the mission control stations at the rear, where Valance stood monitoring Beckett’s feed and all of the other moving parts. ‘Are we still discreet, Commander?’

‘Discreet,’ she confirmed with a stern nod. ‘I can’t say I like this very much, Captain.’

‘The robbing?’

‘That, but primarily the waiting.’

His lips twisted. ‘You’ve got me there, Commander. We just keep a weather eye out in case we’ve been made, and let Airex and Kharth do their work. And besides…’ Rourke turned back to the main viewscreen, where the tiny dots of Abaddon’s Repository drifted together like leaves floating on a pond. ‘If all we’re doing is copying the data left on Goravin’s ship… it’s not quite as bad as robbing Abaddon’s.’


  • Sneaking into a scrap yard, space walking to steal something…where have I read something like this before? Loving the ‘doing’ mixed with the flashbacks, very in genre for capers that love to show the layers within layers. And also loving how keen the Endeavour crew all are to do their bit, especially Rosewood and Nate. I’m loving Rosewood’s practical diplomacy though out this entire mission and this just further cements it.

    November 27, 2022
  • This was a lot of fun to read - it has that Ocean Eleven’s vibe to it. Moving from one scene to the next over what is being planned and how it is being executed. Nate finally being able to play a sort of spy is entertaining too. I need to carry on reading to see where this fun goes!

    November 27, 2022