Part of SS Viridian Expanse: The 34th Rule and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

#3 – The Limits of Curiousity

Deep Space, En Route to the Deneb Sector
March 18, 2401
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==Viridian Expanse – Bridge ==

Timek was not the sort that typically showed any level of anxiety. That was pretty normal for a Reman, particularly those that remembered what life was like before the supernova. Showing any sort of weakness was liable to be exploited either by the other Remans or their Romulan overlords. He has also been a Reman Commando and had fought in the Dominion War. Someone like that was expected to have no fear and to charge into any circumstances without a second thought. He’d been in some of the most brutal campaigns of the Dominion War and some of the bloodiest engagements of the post-supernova chaos. One would expect him to be hardened.

That didn’t stop him from being anxious about this job.

Outwardly, the Reman’s anxiety showed itself in barely perceptible ways. A subtle rapping of his fingers on the console, a twitch of an eye, and a tightly clenched jaw were the most observable signs. In his mind though, it would be crystal clear to any telepath that he was quite anxious. Timek was trying to think of every way the mission could go wrong and devise a contingency, and a contingency if that went wrong. His thoughts were racing all over the place and thus he barely heard Shiren call to him from the front of the Bridge.

“Timek,” the pilot shouted. “You with us back there.”

The Reman took a breath and then scowled back at Shiren.

“Of course, what’s going on?” Timek wasn’t exactly lying, but his focus had been elsewhere.

“We’re approaching the range of long-range sensors in the vicinity of our destination. We should probably cloak before, well, anyone figures out we’re out here.”

“Agreed.” Timek entered a series of commands and then keyed his console and replied, “Cloak engaged.”

The tell-tale shimmering sound and dimming of the ambient lights indicated the cloak had engaged properly. Nodding in satisfaction he keyed a couple more commands and then activated the internal comms.

“Oy boss.” Timek stated as he keyed the captain’s communicator.

“Go ahead.” Keren’s voice echoed through the bridge comm station.

“We’ve just gone dark,” Timek said.  “Long range sensors showed no ships in the area, but we’ve been observing multiple comm frequencies and there may be a Ferengi patrol near where we’re planning to cross their border.”

“I’d be sending out extra patrols if I were them, given the circumstances.” Keren responded.

“I concur.” Timek replied. “They shouldn’t pose much of an issue though.”

“Agreed,” Keren answered. “How long to the border?”

“Twelve hours, present speed. Another six to the rendezvous coordinates.” Timek knew Keren would probably ask.

“Good. Could you come to my quarters a moment?”  Keren’s voice seemed perplexed by something.

“Of course, be right there.” The Reman replied before keying off the comms.

Shiren looked back and nodded as Timek started the short walk back from the Bridge to the captain’s cabin. After announcing his presence, Timek was promptly admitted. He noticed Keren’s desk was even more of a mess than usual. PADDs were stacked haphazardly all over the desk and there was a small pool of spilled raktajino right next to the holoprojector. Timek couldn’t quite make out what exactly was being projected above the desk from the door but could once he stepped in and closed the door. Keren, for his part, had an odd look about him, seemingly equal parts exhausted and confused. After a few silent seconds, it was Timek who spoke first.

“Are you still trying to crack that manifest?”

Keren sighed and nodded. “I figured by now I could at least figure out who’s encryption protocols they are. That would at least tell me something about who we’re dealing with. But after looking at samples of every military, corporate, and even criminal protocol in our extensive database, I don’t even have an inkling as to what this is.”

Timek stared at the images and looked for a moment like he might recognize something Keren had missed, but the look vanished just as quickly.

“Not exactly my area of expertise.” As far as Keren knew that was a true statement, but Timek had seen more than a fair few encrypted messages. “Why are you so interested in cracking it anyway? The buyer would almost certainly know if you did.”

Keren breathed deeply before responding. “While this is far from the first time I’ve delivered unknown cargo to an unknown buyer, something about this seems different.”

“Been awhile since we’ve been in the middle of an active conflict.” Timek stopped himself as he answered. “Well, unless you count Psi Valorum.”

“That’s part of it for sure.” Keren responded as he manipulated the holograms some more. “But there’s something else at play here. Part of why I went to the holds.”

Timek glared straight at Keren and his voice turned sharp. “You didn’t open anything down there, did you?”

“Relax Timek.” Keren replied. “Even if I’d wanted to, the seals were too difficult to get around without evidence of tampering a Pakled would notice. It was the crates themselves that interested me. The fact that they were of a Cardassian military model wasn’t that odd, but they were older than I’d expect and had unusually little wear.”

Timek  arched an eyebrow. “That is a bit odd but doesn’t tell us much. Who knows what someone like Nasir could get his hands on.”

“True.” Keren’s voice sounded less than convinced. “Lissepeans were known to deal with the Cardassians, particularly in matters the Central Command would prefer to be off the books. Does seem odd though give his line of business though. Still, a curiosity at most.”

“Agreed,” Timek replied. “Not sure you’re going to learn anything you don’t already know from staring at this much further. You probably should get some sleep”

“Yeah yeah.” Keren let out an exasperated sigh. “You really are becoming my sitter.”

Timek’s face looked confused a moment, but then turned to a wry smile. “I’ll tell Grokka you said that.”

 

==Klaestron IV – Nasir’s Office==

It had been a long day for Nasir. For starters one of his largest smelters had malfunctioned and he’s been scrambling to get repair parts and calm clients who were awaiting their shipments. He’d just poured a large glass of Saurian brandy as he finished up his day’s paperwork and checked his messages. One of them had given him a slight bit of satisfaction, so maybe the day wasn’t all lost. Just as he was about to turn in for the night, he heard the familiar beeping of the intercom. With an audible sigh, he keyed it and spoke.

“What is it?”

“Sorry boss, but HE is calling.” His assistant’s word’s made Nasir sigh even more deeply. He immediately knew who his assistant was referring to and conversations with the individual were rarely pleasant. Shaking his head, Nasir keyed in some commands and a non-distinct hologram appeared over the ornate metal desk.

“It’s late here, you know that right?” Nasir asked with clear frustration.

The caller was clearly unimpressed. “I’m told you have a report.”

Nasir nodded. “I received word from the courier that your consignment is nearing the destination.”

“Good.” The voice replied sternly. “You used the ones we discussed, the Reman and the Romulan hybrid, right?”

“Yes.” Nasir answered. “I’ll remind you they came highly recommended.”

“We’ll see if they live up to their reputation.” The voice seemed somewhat less sharp, but still stern and serious. “Do you think they suspect what they’re carrying and to whom?”

Nasir shook his head. “I took all the usual precautions and then some. Besides, I’m not sure it would matter if they knew. Both are well known for getting the job done regardless of the circumstances.

“Perhaps.” The voice was growing less agitated. “But this is all too sensitive to take chances. Something going wrong could cause huge problems for everyone.”

Nasir did his best to look and sound unconcerned. “Keren will get the job done, even the Breen don’t scare him.”

“It’s not the Breen I’m worried about.”