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Part of SS Vondem Rose: Killing Strangers

Killing Strangers – 2

TLSO Head Office, Banksy City, Kyban
February 2401
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“Seriously, a full office?” Sidda asked as Na’roq guided her and Revin into the conference room of the Totally Legitimate Salvage Operations offices in Banksy City. 

It wasn’t a massive office mind you, but larger than the hole in the wall she was expecting. It had grown from a mere face for her legitimate enterprises into a full-fledged enterprise, handling the operational aspects of salvage, freight and the new outreach program that she’d talked Na’roq into months ago. It wasn’t even that prestigious a space, sharing the third floor of a moderate high-rise with three other groups. But it did mean the conference room could have a balcony overlooking the nearby park.

“You told me to make this work and I have,” the Ferengi woman said as she followed Sidda and Revin in, the glass door closing behind them. “This a private conversation?” she asked, indicating the entirely glass wall between the conference room and the open-plan office.

“Nah,” Sidda answered, claiming a chair at the closest end of the table and giving it a quick twirl once seated. “Dammit, I’m going to have to cut you in on a larger share, aren’t I?”

And unlike every male Ferengi that Sidda knew, Na’roq didn’t jump at the chance to talk business and connive for a better deal. She was willing to wait for the right time to strike. The toothy grin she offered spelt trouble, trouble of the expensive kind, but ultimately good for business. If Na’roq was going to drive a hard bargain with her, Sidda knew the woman was doing the same for everyone else she negotiated with. A Ferengi with ethics was still a Ferengi and profit was above all else – just not at the detriment of that which earned you that profit.

“Well, I’m absolutely pleased with what you’ve done. I didn’t want to be as hands-off with this venture as I am, but hey, let talent do what it’s good at.” Sidda leaned back in the seat and popped her boots up on the table, earning a disapproving look from Revin, but not Na’roq. The boss after all was still always right.

“No boorish, floppy-lobed men telling me what to do or spreading rumours this far from the Alliance. People here are totally unprepared for superior business acumen. It’s like stealing profit from a Klingon.” Na’roq’s grin went from toothy to downright predatory. Then it shifted back to something approaching professional. “I have those industrial and medical replicators ready for shipping out as well. It’ll turn Meltek into a bit of a commercial hub in their area. Ripe for a cut of the business.”

“Trust you’ve got fair contracts written up?” Revin interjected.

“Ten per cent on profit only with a promise to reinvest at least half of it into local ventures.” Na’roq’s dismissing hand gesture conveyed her displeasure at the prospect.

“We’re not trying to make too much profit on this,” Sidda added. “Just enough to show we’re not bad people to work with. We’ll take them for what they’re worth with later ventures.” She could feel the glare from Revin, something the formerly blind woman was getting dangerously good at. “Within reason dear, I promise.”

“A topic for another day.” Na’roq’s key phrase for ‘I’m done talking about this for now’. Which suited both her and Revin. “Got a few other outreach program points I want to talk about before the courier arrives from the secure depot with your package.”

A few other points turned into an impromptu twenty-minute meeting before being interrupted. And soon enough it was just Sidda and Revin alone with a footlocker that was completely out of time and place. The privacy wall had been engaged, leaving them with no onlookers from the office staff.

“Lieutenant Commander T’Rev, USS T’plan-M’ruk,” Revin read out loud, reaching out for the latches, hesitating briefly with a glance back before popping them open and slowly lifting the lid. “He kept all of this?”

“This is new at least.” Sidda reached out to collect the datapad sitting on top of the pile of neatly folded clothing. It was from at least the last quarter century and snapped to life as soon as she picked it up. “The letter I was promised I presume.” Sitting back down she pulled up the only file on the padd and waited for it to open, taking a moment to decrypt after she provided her thumbprint to unlock it.

“Seriously, people wore these?” Revin dived into the container, pulling out items onto the table as she explored the artefacts of a man’s former life before turning to a life of piracy. Sidda looked up briefly, seeing her lover holding up the blue Starfleet tunic from around the 2270s, examining it before holding it up to herself with a questioning look. “Maybe?”

“If you ever wear that I will rip it off of you so fast.” Sidda’s tone wasn’t a friendly or flirty sort, but a serious one before her eyes went back down to the padd.

“Promises promises,” Revin replied before folding it carefully and setting it down, continuing her explorations.

“Captain Sidda Sadovu,” Sidda started, reading the letter out loud. She caught the smile on Revin’s face, a reminder of before she got cybernetic eyes and Sidda would spend hours just reading letters and paperwork to her back on the Vondem Thorn. “If you are reading this, then I am dead and you are still very much alive.”

“Stating the obvious there,” Revin quipped.

“I have bequeathed to you a reminder of my former life in order to remind you of yours as well.” She stopped for just a moment. “During the years I have known you, admittedly intermittently, I have learned a great many things about you that I know you don’t want the galaxy at large to know and hope the contents of this container serve to elaborate on the extent of the secrets I possess.”

“What is he talking about love?” Revin asked, still shuffling through the contents of the crate. The trinkets one collected and took from place to place now littered the table. A Vulcan incense burner, some candles, a collection of books – all that would have helped a Commander T’Rev claim a space as their own wherever they went.

“If you wish for these secrets to remain unsaid, then you will complete one last task for me. Once it is complete, then your secrets will be safe. If it is not done within two months of my passing, then I shall release all I have learned to quiet a few associates of mine. Enough to ruin you in your chosen field of expertise. Enough to earn you powerful enemies.” Sidda went quiet at that and set the padd down, looking to Revin, worry on her face. “And to make it interesting he’s hired Manfred to exact revenge and kill me for being the instrument of his downfall.”

“You did rob his vault, capture him, drag him around for a few months and then hand him over to Starfleet. What’s the job? And who’s Manfred?”

“Manfred is a psychotic killer who wants to die himself on the job but has become a bit too…proficient. Spent five minutes in a room with him once. Deadest eyes I’ve ever seen. As for the job, he didn’t say.” Sidda stood and stepped up beside Revin. “Must be a clue in here. He might be a cryptic old jerk, but he was always at least fair. Giving me a job and no hint wouldn’t be fair.”

“What secrets is he talking about?” Revin asked.

“No idea.”

“How about then love, you just start telling me your secrets?” The Romulan woman smiled, truly, heart-warmingly smiled. “I can be your secret keeper and you mine.”

“I…isn’t that…”

“A rather intimate thing for a Romulan? Certainly.” Revin’s rummaging stopped and she carefully pulled out a garment from the bottom of the foot locker, raising it to let it unfold itself. “But I have a feeling before we’re married, we’re about to become a bit more intimate, yes?”

What she pulled up was a Starfleet uniform, bright red with a splash of white piping and black shoulders, of a design retired nearly a decade ago with lieutenant junior grade pips on the collar and a commbadge still on the tunic. The cut was not the broad-shouldered cut of T’Rev’s own uniform, but a feminine one more in line with anything that Sidda herself wore.

Or might have done a decade or so ago.

“Oh fuck me,” Sidda uttered. “Fucking fuckity fuck!” She collapsed into the nearest chair, slouching straight away.

“Fuck.”

Comments

  • Blackmailed by an ex-Starfleet Vulcan Pirate King from BEYOND THE GRAVE! This is going to be a juicy one, I can tell already. I would have expected Sidda's box of secrets to be much, much larger, but that Starfleet uniform must have some stories upon stories to tell of its own. What a delightful kick-off!

    April 11, 2023