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Fanfic: To Find a Heart and Soul

thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
NearSpace patrol, Day 37

"Jolan Tru, First. What is our current status?"
Tovan Khev put down the ever present mug of the horrid earther drink he had developed such an affinity for.
"Fair morning to you as well, Riov. We are on our designated course. This leg of the patrol is nearly complete. In just ten more days and fifteen hours we shall return to Mol'Rihan for some well deserved rest. Vessel and crew are both performing with specified parameters. Late last watch, Varama reported some irregularities within the singularity but her team managed to find the faults and correct them. The problem was in the software package monitoring singularity power output. She and her engineers applied some patches and the software immediately began reporting correctly again. Sensors and comms are still passive and the cloaking device is on five minute standby, per your standing orders. Turn of the watch occurs in ten minu-."

"Warning! Warning! Ship decelerating from warp! Bearing zero seven five mark twenty five! Contact classified as unknown!"
"First, I have command! Helm, twenty degrees starboard and fifteen degrees spinward! Engineering, cloak to full standby! Engines to one hundred percent! Weapons, all systems to one minute standby and charge the torpedo launchers. Track contact using passive sensors only until my order! All stations, Execute!"
The chorus of replies overlapped each other in T'Cael's ears. Faicol Ryak'na turned lazily to the right and began moving above the plane of the ecliptic to better place the contact within the arcs of her best weapons.

"Command, Flight. Ready Five Scorpions upgraded to Ready One. Rest of the wing at five minutes afterwards. Standing by to launch on your command. Flight, out." T'Cael could not help but grin. Subcommander Slanas and the rest of the fighter wing were always eager to launch. Moreso when their 'ride home' seemed to be in peril. Like now. And they were also always a bit twitchy if it appeared he was about to leave them out of a fight. The area along the border between the Federation and the fledgling Republic was called NearSpace by the personnel of the Republic Navy. It had an 'official' name of course. But no one used that one. There were a great many unexplained and unexplored things in and around NearSpace. The commander who wandered about blindly trusting to good fortune granted by the Elements and without his weapons near to hand placed his crew in an unnecessary risk. 'Risk is our business.', might be a stirring statement to the Earthers and the rest of Starfleet. But T'Cael felt no compulsion to pay in blood and damaged equipment to live the same way. Weapons and shields could always be powered down. The lives of well trained Rihannsu warriors were far more expensive than energy.

"Sensors. Do you have any further information?" T'Cael always tried to keep a calmness about himself in these moments. More than one warbird commander had made serious errors by thinking with his heart rather than his head. T'Cael felt no compulsion to shoot first and then inquire either.
"Yes, Riov. The contact appears to be Rihannsu. Weapons and shields are unpowered except for navigational deflectors. Power and propulsion profiles indicate a T'Varo class warbird at full impulse which is broadcasting on all comm channels - Riov, they are attempting to contact us."
"Alright. All stations, this is T'Cael. Return to Readiness Two and await further command. Place weapons, shields and cloak in a Hold status. Flight, return the hangar to Ready Five and Ready Ten. Confirm new status by intercom with First Officer Khev. Comms, open a channel and allow them to speak with us."

"Ah. There you are. Are you the warbird Faicol Ryak'na, commanded by Riov T'Cael?"
"Yes. Dropping out of warp so closely is a very good way to get your hull cut open out here in NearSpace, warbird. Whom am I addressing and what is your business with us?"
"Leih R'uhalla, of the Fveirrolh, Riov. I have special communications for you direct from Fleet. Eyes only. Physical transfer of hard copy media via shuttlecraft only approved transmission method. No idea what is in them and my communications crew could not break the cipher to find out. Apparently, these comm solids are keyed only to your bio signature, Riov. I'd appreciate it greatly if you would come get them quickly. My crew was off duty less than a day when Fleet called us back into service. They've not seen their families and friends in nearly two months. We are supposed to rendezvous with you and then we get to return to Mol'Rihan for some richly deserved time off."
"Flight, T'Cael. Ready my gig for departure and docking with Fveirrolh. We leave in ten minutes. Slanas, you are pilot. Let us find out what Fleet thinks is so very important they pulled a warbird out of leave rotation to track us down."

***
NearSpace patrol, Day 38

"And this is all approved by Fleet? Since when do we work with Consular Operations? Which is really just a different spelling for Tal'shiar."
"Softly, Varama. Softly. I understand well engineers are supposed to be bad tempered all the time. I was raised by one after the Escape, after all.
But in this case, discretion and forbearance may be the better path."
"As ordered, Riov. I will comply with your guidance. But do not expect me to be cheerful or content about it."

T'Cael visibly sighed. Varama was a talented engineer. Faicol Ryak'na was fortunate to have her. Her instincts with machinery and computers were nearly sorcerous. But some days the price for these magical abilities was a bit high. Today was one of those days. T'Cael turned to his Science officer, Suhkem.
"Science, your assessment of this information?"
"Riov, I question the Khallinae's choice of us for this task. We are a warbird, not a research vessel. None of us has any proper training in the exploratory and investigative techniques this search will require. Learning them on the run means we will make mistakes and further, we will miss things trained researchers would not. I think we were not the best choice for this mission but merely the most convenient."

"Agreed. Slanas, please provide me with a Reman viewpoint on all of this."
"Riov, I am a simple fighter pilot. All of this mysticism and tales of ancient artifacts is something I prefer very much not be cluttering my thoughts when I engage enemies of the Republic. Nevertheless, it is fact this crew successfully located a blade which may be the Sword of the Raptor Star. It is also fact this weapon has the right age and indicators to show it was made by S'harien. S'harien could no more avoid making swords than you or I can avoid breathing. This too is fact. The possibility other swords may lie undiscovered within the Greater Dark which have an equally valid claim to being the Sword of the Raptor Star is...troubling. What if the Tal'shiar find one of these other blades and brand the one we have a fraud? The Tal'shiar are only one of many threats the Republic endures. There are obviously people within Lloannen'galae, and the Klling'hann Nneikha who would be delighted to continue having some control over us all by possessing the 'real' sword."
"For a 'simple fighter pilot', you perform decently at analysis, Slanas. And what of your opinions, First?"

"T'Cael, we decided long ago to serve the Republic together as best we can. Some tasks were easy. Some were neccessary. Others put our souls at risk. But none of them were trivial or unimportant. This is something which needs doing. It is for the good of the Republic. It is also good for our people. Right now the Declared are crippled by their need for both the Empire and the Federation to help us survive. I firmly believe the sword we found is the true Raptor Star. But many of our people were not there when we found it. They did not get to touch the blade as we did. So in their minds it is possible to sow questions. Which would cause discord where none is needed or wanted. Which in turn would weaken us further. The list of those who benefit from our squabbling or doubting our own worth is long and grows longer. We should defeat these whispers and speculations as quickly as we can. In doing so, we serve the Declared and the Republic."

Varama interjected, "Riov, we all desire to see this mission to a successful conclusion. My objections are not to the mission but to working with the Seekers. I find them to be masters of expediency and half truths. As are the Tal'shiar. Since it is obvious you have already made up your mind, I would caution against following the path laid out by the Khallinae without putting thought into why they wanted us to do this. In short, let us provide them with the results they want without using the suggestions and theories they desire us to."

"Alright then. We begin at once. Signals, compose a message over my signature to inform the government and Fleet we have begun the search. Text only and append it to normal message traffic. No need to draw attention from unfriendly eyes. Suhkem, begin analysis of the information Fleet sent us. I want at least two paths to follow about where to begin this search. Tovan, we will continue on our patrol path through NearSpace. When we arrive near the points Suhkem has designated as where we start our search, inform me and I will decide then and there about whether the data points are worth investigating. And may the Stars and the Elements smile upon our journey."
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Comments

  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    A nice beginning! It seems to be setting up a competing Sword of the Raptor Star, but I'm guessing it's also setting up a competitor to the Republic for the control of the Romulan Refugees. Of course, I may be off base here, but you've done a good job setting up the characters and giving them a place to begin. I look forward to more!
  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    Thank you. This is something I've been dinking around with for a couple of years now. At one point, I was all gung ho to make it a Foundry mission or series of missions. But the Foundry can be a little...daunting the first few times one looks at it. This was the back story so I did not lose my place while making the mission(s)

    I do have more of this.
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  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    NearSpace patrol, Day 43

    Faicol Ryak'na collapsed her warp space field fifteen light seconds out from system Julax 437. Upon reverting to normal space, her crew went about shutting down any systems which emanated energy outward. This included turning off lights which were visible from outside the hull. She could have just as easily cloaked and proceeded inward. But the cost in power and the degradation of the passive sensors were things T'Cael was unwilling as yet to put up with. He smiled a very small smile as he thought of all the Starfleet and Klingon captains who envied the ability to move unseen. Doing so meant no shields, no weapons and no absolute guarantee Faicol Ryak'na would remain unseen. He thought back to the words of the old Centurion who had brought him up and turned him toward the place he was now.

    "Cloak? Bah! By the time the system is operational, there is barely enough energy left for life support. It is a greedy thing which consumes power endlessly. And it is as tempramental as a newborn with a fever. The slightest problem or mistake renders it useless. We Rihannsu are known as sneaky buggers by the other empires beause of it. But the cloak is really only useful for setting up a surprise attack or a quick escape. Once the surprise is gone, it is gone. Many warbird commanders choose poorly by waiting too long to use it to disengage from a bad situation. While the enemy cannot see us once the cloak is on, they are certainly capable of guessing correctly our vector and speed. Which is where they will always aim their weapons at."

    "Our status, First?" spoke T'Cael as he turned his thoughts outwards to his ship and crew once more. Tovan Khev put down his mug and replied.
    "We are completely dark, Riov. Our current inbound vector aligns a local quasar directly behind us from the viewpoint of the planets in the system. The quasar should cover any inadvertent emissions on our part. Using this vector also means our course is not aligned with the ecliptic plane of the system. A casual search should not see us. The only way anyone may notice us is if we run right by them. And we would have to be within twenty five thousand klicks for them to do so."
    "Signals, intercom. I will address the crew."
    "Intercom on, Riov. Your pick up is live."

    "All crew, attention. This is T'Cael. We are approaching the areas where Suhkem and the Science Section suggested we begin our search. We are on the Federation side of NearSpace. But we are right at the very edge of recognized Federation territory. We know little about this system but the little we do know suggests it is a port for lawbreakers and others who would prefer their business remains unnoticed. We will attempt to contact a local information broker who is somewhat...infamous for his talents at finding out things no one else can. Your continued excellent performance of your duties will no doubt ensure the successful completion of this task. So do your job as well as you always do. Your mates rely upon you. The Republic does as well. Do not fail them. T'Cael, ending transmission."

    T'Cael felt pride and excitement run through the bridge crew like an electric current. The junior officers and enlisted sat a little straighter in their chairs. They watched their monitors and controls a little more closely. The pride and excitement touched him as well. The old Centurion had told him, "The Riov is Head of House for her crew. Elevation to command of a warbird means someone is ready to serve those she leads without reservation. A Riov's first duty will always be to serve her crew. This new generation of warbird commanders puts too much emphasis on themselves. They all think they achieved command by their own effort and no one else helped. Nonsense! Whenever a warbird completes a mission, it is because of what the crew accomplished. Whenever a warbird fails, it is because the Riov failed, not the crew."

    Faicol Ryak'na continued her slow advance towards Julax 437. It would be some hours yet before she reached the designated point for the shuttle launch. Down in the hangar, Varama's people were busy 'aging' the shuttle into appearing as a decrepit wreck which was barely space worthy. Security was busy as well. Replicating civilian clothing and modifying the gear the landing party needed so it would not give away its Republic Navy origin. Everything was moving according to plan and T'Cael merely had to wait for his crew to finish preparations.

    Waiting was one of the unenjoyable parts of being in command, he thought.
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  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    NearSpace patrol, Day 45.

    "Hey! You there! I would have speech with you, Vulcans." Suhkem and T'Cael turned towards the speaker. He was U'reon. An especially large U'reon, easily over two metres in height. Nearly as broad across his shoulders and torso as well. He gestured towards them with a large tankard which held bloodwine by the looks of the liquid which sloshed out onto the tabletop.

    T'Cael held up his hand with the fingers spread correctly.
    "Greetings. Live long and prosper. I am Savak. My companion is Surku. We are indeed Vulcan as you noticed. We are traders. And you are?" T'Cael found impersonating a Vulcan simple. Most other races simply could not tell the difference between a Vulcan and a Rihannsu. As long as the Rihannsu in question held himself in check and did not make any mistakes. Like smiling.

    "Name's Arra. I too am a trader. But I think what I have to trade is not something you would use or pay well for. Slave girls. As green as the grass is on Terra. As irresistable as your fondest wish. But you're not interested. Vulcans never buy slave girls. However, you look out of place and unsure of yourself. So perhaps I can make a small profit out of helping you not get killed here today."

    "I do not understand. This is the first time either my associate or myself has ever been here. We are traders, not trouble makers. We have offered affront to no one and we know no one here. It is illogical someone here would desire to end our existence."
    Arra exploded into laughter. It was obvious from his breath he had occupied the table he sat at in this bar for a considerable length of time. His boisterous guffaws attracted the attention of several other patrons who glanced over, saw the source of the noise and looked away just as quickly. T'Cael noticed this. He got the impression few people would attempt to fight someone Arra's size. And those few would have to be forced into it.

    "How can people who are so very intelligent be so very stupid at the same time? You are Vulcan traders. Which is an odd sight around here in and of itself. You are dressed poorly but do not carry yourself like someone who is familiar with being poor. This is obvious to anyone who has eyes and a brain to think with. Which means you are trying to hide something. Something which is probably valuable. Since Vulcans do not generally fight except in defense of their lives, it would be easy to relieve you of whatever that valuable is. And to ensure you could not identify the thief to the authorities, the thief would then have to kill you."

    T'Cael's mind went into tactical mode. If a drunken U'reon could see through them so easily, then others could as well. He considered for a second and then spoke again.
    "Very well, then. You have discerned we are not what we appear to be. You mentioned a profit for yourself. For your assistance in helping us to keep our katras and bodies joined, you have our gratitude. As well as a small payment. What other things have you discovered about us?"
    "Don't care what you're hiding, Vulcan. Don't care why, either. For all I know you could be an undercover Tal'shiar assassination team. Wouldn't make a difference to me. As to the profit part, one bar of latinum will allow me to point out those who might wish you ill. An additional two bars will enable me to cover you if they decide to try something."

    Suhkem started to speak. T'Cael placed a warning hand on his forearm and raised an eyebrow at him. T'Cael then turned back to Arra.
    "I think you have misread us after all, Arra. We are Vulcan, yes. We are, as you say, 'hiding something', yes. I will pay for your assistance here and you will have our gratitude, yes. However, we are not fools. Nor is this the first day we are traders. One half bar of latinum is all I offer. For the completion of both tasks. And I think this is serious over payment for tasks which are so trivial in nature." Arra laughed loudly again. But T'Cael noticed this time the humor did not reach all the way to his eyes. This U'reon also played the misdirection game.

    "Bargained well, Trader! I agree to your terms. Let us drink in celebration of our new partnership. Barmaid! Three bloodwines! And put it on this pointy ear's tab!" Just then, T'Cael's subcutaneous transponder vibrated quickly, stopped, and vibrated again. From the look Suhkem gave him, T'Cael knew Suhkem's transponder had done the same thing. It would be impossible to contact the ship here in front of so many eyes. While he was still unsure of the U'reon, T'Cael decided to take a small chance.

    "Arra, I must contact our ship at the port. I would prefer the arrangement we have concluded with you remain discreet. Please follow us to the nearest comm booth which is more private than the one in the corner. I will also transport one half bar of latinum to our location so you may be remunerated for your tasks."
    "Paid before the job is done? How novel! How trusting! I am beginning to like you, Vulcan. Not every day I get to trade with an honest, trusting sort."

    As the trio stood up, a noise at the bar's entrance made them look toward it. Tal'shiar. Two of them. Scanning the crowded bar in a very alert, very diligent manner. Their communicators were out. As were their weapons. So, this would be what Faicol Ryak'na's message would be about. One of the agents took a step forward and the crowd swiftly parted in front of her. Nearly all the way to the bar.
    "Arra, is there an alternate way to exit this bar? While I have no reason to be concerned about the Tal'shiar, it is not logical for us to begin an conversation with them or attract their attention, either."

    "Aye, Trader. There is a back way out of here. The owner and I are old friends. Secret door onto the street from her office. Down the hall behind you towards the refresher stations. You head that way as soon as I stand up and block their view of you. You have a fifteen count to get into the office before I walk to it. And Trader? I think you'll be paying me that other two and a half bars of latinum after all when this is done."
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  • where2r1where2r1 Member Posts: 5,866 Arc User
    :) I like quest stories. :)
    "Spend your life doing strange things with weird people." -- UNK

    “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -- Benjamin Franklin
  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    NearSpace patrol, Day 45. Around five minutes later.

    Too late, T'Cael noticed the spies had left the bar and were standing in the shadows of an alley where they could watch the building the br was in. Secrets had no value at all here. Because it seemed nothing was truly secret. The female excitedly banged her inferior on the shoulder, smiled and shouted.
    "You there! Halt, Rebel trash! I order you to surrender whatever you know about the true Sword of the Raptor Star. Do so quickly and I will be merciful when I kill you."
    Suhkem rolled his eyes and sighed openly in an entirely non Vulcan fashion. He turned towards the Tal'shiar operatives. Arra could not hide the shock on his face as his mind rapidly put clues together. Suhkem spoke.

    "I cannot speak for you, Riov, but I am getting just a little bit...tired...of people such as these always telling me how powerful they are. If the Tal'shiar did possess the power they claim to, the Star Empire would rule all of the galaxy. You desaise'enh ughnen can come get your hveid handed to you right now!"
    Why was it Rihannsu women who were Tal'shiar were so often the deadlier of the species, T'Cael wondered. The female operative spat back.
    "Fools! First, you shall fail! Then, you will die!"
    "Not today, p'taQ!"

    "Excuse me, please, Excellency. I would like to politely suggest you lower your voice and your weapons. Quickly. Otherwise something bad might happen."
    Diverted from looking at Suhkem, the spy appeared to notice Arra for the first time.
    "And exactly why should I not ignore you completely, you great fat drunken slug?"
    "Two reasons, if I may, Ma'am. First, your cover team is dead."

    Arra made a small sweeping gesture with his hand. Over the roof of the building on the left of the alleyway three bodies were hurled to the street below. The Tal'shiar agents had to step back to avoid being hit by them. The bodies were dressed in Tal'shiar tactical gear and there was a great deal of olive colored blood all over them.
    Arra tapped a plate bolted to the top of his shoulder. Four people appeared on the roof of the building to the right of the alley. All of them were holding very large rifles. T'Cael was certain one of the weapons was a pulse cannon from an U'reon Interceptor. The U'reon holding it comfortably dwarfed Arra.

    "And second, my cover team is not dead. Breathe wrong, and they will kill you in the very next second. No matter what happens to me."
    The Tal'shiar agents were very good. T'Cael saw them conspicuously raise their weapon hand with their fingers away from the firing stud. What he did not see was the other hand smoothly coming up to fire their wrist mounted plasma bolters towards Arra and himself. Someone on the rooftop did, however. Both agents collapsed to the ground stunned into submission. They were conscious but unable to move or speak. Arra glanced up at his team and then shrugged.

    "Ah well. Just as good this way, then. So tell me, Riov. Just how far were you willing to go with your little deception plan? Right up to the moment these idiots killed us? Or did you intend for them to capture us before you let me in all the way?"
    As he spoke, Arra quickly and efficiently searched the two stunned Tal'shiar agents. He collected their comm devices, weapons, and anything else in their pockets. Next he pulled out a dermal protoplaser and rolled the two agents over. Almost tenderly, he ran a finger down their spine.
    "Hmm, they might be getting wise to us. These are further down and deeper in than usual."
    Leaving his finger in place, he dialled the protoplaser down to a low setting and then placed it alongside. A few seconds later he had the subcutaneous transponders of both agents.
    "Snee! Mabel! Get yerselves down here! Quickly!"

    "Arra, why did you remove those? And how did you know I was a Riov? What is going on here?"
    "I took them out so Snee can transmit all of the data on them over the public comm channels. Where everyone can see it. An outed Tal'shiar agent is a defanged Tal'shiar agent. Most likely their superiors will kill both of them, but this is not my concern. I know who you are, Riov, because Corporate Security Services got paid by the Khallinae to know who you are. The trade cartels and shipping companies are making large amounts of hard currency moving freight to and from as well as within the Rihannsu Aetheaa. It is a reliable source of income which looks to continue for a very long time. The board of directors and the major stockholders are not going to give up that much credits and latinum without a serious fight. The controversy surrounding just exactly who holds the Sword of the Raptor Star would be very bad for business. It would have a direct impact on the bottom line by increasing overhead to unacceptable levels. Short version, we're making money off of you Rihannsu as things are. If we have to provide escorts or avoid combat zones in the shipping lanes, it eats into our profits. We don't like this and we're willing to do things to prevent it."
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  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    NearSpace patrol, Day 51.

    "Arra, tell me again why leaving Faicol Ryak'na hidden by a moon of the outermost planet is a good idea?"
    Bound By Faith rocked again as the disruptor fire from two tlh'Ingan fighters burst close to port.

    "Because, Riov, the...'businessman' who uses this asteroid belt as a warehouse and transhipping point has access to a lot more than just two surplus fighters with children for pilots for defense of his turf. He also has an abundance of caution. Right after your pretty Rihannsu warbird decloaked and began swanning about, the warehouse and the computer network would go up in flames. Followed shortly by an untraceable exit by the person we need to talk to. You've never had to deal with the Federation Constabulary, have you?"

    T'Cael had to admit he had not. Although the stories he had heard about the law enforcement branch of Starfleet indicated they took their job very seriously. With an added chip on their shoulder because most people did not consider them "real" Starfleet.

    "Unknown shuttle! You will cease evasive flying! You will align your course to One Two Two Mark Twenty Two! You will slow to half impulse!"
    "I'll be delighted to do so whenever your boss, Doubles, speaks to me in person acoss this channel. Until then, I think I'll continue your pilots' impromptu training session. Please note I am not charging you any latinum for improving their skills."

    Another voice came into the comm channel. "Arra? By the stars! I thought you were dead! or at least rotting the rest of your worthless life away in a Federation prison cell somewhere."

    "No, Doubles, I am not dead. And there are no Federation prison cells in my past or my future. We should talk about old times over some kheh'irho I've picked up recently. The vintage is pre Hobus. So the people who distilled and aged it did so properly. Hopefully, it will loosen your tongue enough I can find out what it is I really want to know."

    Behind Bound By Faith the two fighters stopped firing. They sped ahead until one was along either side of the shuttle. One of them opened a datalink with Bound By Faith. T'Cael pressed the acknowledge button and the main screen came alive with red dots warning the pilot about mines, AI turrets, grav well projectors and the like.

    "Your...friend doesn't seem to like uninvited visitors, Arra."
    "Him? He doesn't trust his own mother. I've met her so he is probably right to do so. And he has never been my friend. Occasional business associate, yes. Sometime antgonist, yes. Regular complication in my professsional activities, yes. But. Not. Friend. And his crew hates me. They'd as soon show me out the nearest airlock as hack into the Federation Stock Exchange. Still, Doubles has his uses and he doesn't charge as much as some others do. And whatever he sells you is completely accurate and completely reliable."

    "Arra, the funds for this mission are being provided by the Khallinae instead of the Navy. I have no concern over spending too much of their latinum. Even a little bit more. It is not my money so it is not important."
    "T'Cael, I may need to change my opinion of you a little. That last bit almost sounded U'reon."

    ***

    Arra was right, T'Cael thought. The kheh'irho was made by people who knew what they were doing. As they finished the second round, Arra reached into the bag which was lying on the table alongside the Surev crystal decanter holding the ale. He pulled five bars of latinum from the bag one at a time and placed them in a row on the table.
    Doubles, Arra's sometime associate and sometime problem, widened his eyes in surprise. The Bolian also nearly coughed into his drink.

    "I understand you being serious enough about this to attempt to visit me. I did not know you were quite this serious. What or who could I possibly know you would throw this much money out before even asking the first question?"
    "Doubles, there is this much again if, in addition to answering our questions, you exercise a little discretion about our meeting and what we will discuss."

    The Bolian hastily put down his glass before in his excitement he spilled the exquisite vintage ale they were sharing.
    "Are you ill, Arra? Because if you are, I want to get a medical scan of you. So I know what to look for the next time."
    "What do you know about S'Harien?"

    "Rihannsu historical figure. Supposedly made this mythical weapon which all of the goblins are slightly crazy about. Vulcans as well as Rihannsu. Like the Terrans and that 'Caliburn' knife they go on about from time to time. Or the tlh'Ingans and the Sword of QeylIss. All races have a tale or five about some sort of 'magical' weapon with mysterious powers."
    "It is called the Sword of the Raptor Star. It actually exists. My associate here is the leader of the team who found it on Dewa Three."

    "Arra, you're giving me five bars of latinum to help you find something which has already been found? You are definitely ill."
    "I am giving you five bars of latinum because S'Harien may have made more than one. And people are looking for the other ones. I want to know who is looking, where they are looking, how long they've been looking, and, what they have found out so far."

    "Then five bars of latinum is not enough. I'll spend that much just working the people I know. I am not a charity you can appeal to from time to time. I'll need five more bars just to make sure I make a decent profit off this. Since you made me move here, Arra, my overhead has become very much more expensive. Not to mention that pay raise I offered my crew which you made sure I could not make good on."

    Arra looked over at T'Cael. Who sighed and shrugged his shoulders. A human gesture he had picked up during a piracy conference at the Solonae Dyson Sphere.
    "Bargained well and done, Doubles. The second payment will contain the additional five bars of latinum."
    "Hold on just one minute! I need those bars up front! To cover expenses!"
    "Well then, you should have specified so when we were negotiating. You are still getting the five bars, however."
    "Fine! Return here in two weeks. I should have something by then."

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  • thunderfoot006thunderfoot006 Member Posts: 4,063 Arc User
    edited December 2018
    NearSpace patrol, Day 65.

    "Combat Stations! Engage cloak! All stations to passive sensors only! Shields and Weapons to Ready One! Passive tracking only on targets! Helm, prepare Evasive Three and execute on my command! Ready Five fighters to Ready One! Remaining fighters to Ready Five! All decks report status to First! Arra to the Command Deck, immediately!"
    "Countermeasures Riov?"
    "Belay standard countermeasures, Science. No need to give the targets any datum points to plot our course."

    The lift opened to show Arra moving before the doors were fully apart. "T'Cael, what is wrong?"
    "Your...'business 'associate' has had visitors since we left. Long range sensors show debris clouds and uncontrolled radiation bursts consistent with the aftermath of a fight. They also show warp core signatures which resemble those used by Earthers. Or Starfleet. There are four of them. All of them are at least destroyer class. Unless their signature is being altered somehow to resemble destroyer class warp cores."

    "Not Tal'shiar, then?"
    "No way to be entirely certain at this distance. The serpents may be using a ruse to misdirect others. It is something I would do if there was need. Varama is the best engineer in the Navy. Flying a false flag would be child's play for her. Excuse me, please."
    "One last thing and I'll be silent, Riov. What can my team do to help?"

    T'Cael noticed Arra used his rank and not his name. He was immediately grateful there would be no chain of command issues.
    "You know your people far better than I do, Arra. Send them to whatever department you think could benefit from having an extra set of hands. Do they all have emergency communicators and are their lifesigns registered with the main network?"
    "Thank you, Riov and yes they are. We took care of that just after Bound By Faith was safely stored in your hangar. I will use our internal team comms to assign them. With your permission, I will remain here."
    "Agreed. First, status?"

    "Faicol Ryak'na is closed up and all crew and stations report ready. Slanas is reporting some intermittent significant latency and data drops between his fighters and Weapons."
    T'Cael grimaced. That system was still considered in development by Fleet R and D. When it worked correctly, it gave real time firing solutions to all members of the data net based on whichever member had the optimum firing solution. Fire control computers on Faicol Ryak'na or any of the fighters applied last second adjustments based on the firer's position, course, and speed. It was supposed to allow Faicol Ryak'na and her assigned fighter wing to mass fire upon targets neither could successfully destroy by themselves. It was intended mostly for plasma torpedoes but Varama and Slanas had added extra capability and software to allow it to use the cannons both ship and fighters carried as their primary combat system.
    "Flight, Riov. Slanas, turn the damnable thing off and we'll go as we used to."
    "Acknowledged, Riov. Turning off the system. Flight confirms mass fires will be on your command only."
    "Riov. Comms is picking up a broadcast on all channels. Source is probably co-located with one of the warp core signatures on the left. No way to designate which one at this distance without using active sensors."
    "On screen."

    T'Cael was promptly looking at an Earther. Who was most definitely not a member of Starfleet. Or the Constabulary. He was somewhat short for an Earther. Well dressed and suavely arrogant.
    "Attention, Rihannsu vessel. Our sensors cannot detect you but there is a ninety five percent probability you are within range of this transmission. My name is...well, unimportant at this time. I wish to discuss in person with you this search you are currently conducting. I represent an organization which has a great deal of interest in historical artifacts. And no, it is not Section Thirty One of Starfleet. Such an organization does not exist and, believe me when I tell you, I have spent a great deal of time and money looking very hard for it. The organization I am an agent for wants to assist you in finding out whether or not the Rihannsu Aetheaa has the Sword of the Raptor Star. Perhaps you will consider uncloaking yourself and meeting to share data and ideas. I await your reply."
    "T'Cael, he's probably the reason the base which was here is now just debris and radiation. It is reasonable to assume if we drop our cloak he will do the same to us."
    "I know, First. This is not my first day in command of a warbird. We need more information about this whole situation. While denying him the same about us. He already knows a lot more than I like. And we know little at all."

    "So we alter the rules in our favor, then. Remain cloaked. Close the range so our passive sensors can get more information."
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