The Blood Dimmed Tide

Continued from: THE LONG GOODBYE: “An Awfully Big Adventure”

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

  • * *

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
— WB Yeats: The Second Coming

  • * *

In each human heart terror survives
The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man's estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare.
— WB Yeats

  • * *

"If rape and poison, dagger and burning,
Have still not embroidered their pleasant designs
On the banal canvas of our pitiable destinies,
It's because our souls, alas, are not bold enough!"
— Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil

  • * *

SKY-TRAM Ground Transfer Station 0001
Leaving Sector YELLOW
Entering RED Sector
02:50:01 Hours

Slater had always been a night owl. A preference he’d picked up…actually it picked him…since the days of his earliest memories back on Mars at the Holy Spirit Orphanage.

Most people feared the night. Shunned it. Barricaded themselves against those things they dreaded within it. Cowered (though they saw it differently) and believed themselves protected from it behind locked duranium walls, coded and armed security systems, islands of bright light and noise and the presence of others of their kind. But Slater never had. To him it was a cherished friend…an ally on numerous occasions…and a refuge from the boredom, the chaos, and the hypocrisy that were part and parcel of the daylight realm.

In point of fact, this was his favorite time of night. Especially there, on the fringes of the Red Sector, the juncture of Red and Yellow. The few shops, kiosks, and cafés which lined the spacious quadrangle that was the transfer station (all of them, in fact) and Starfleet Security sub-station were either completely closed for the evening or all but empty. Except for himself (the sole passenger on his tram from the Yellow Sector), a waitress with multi-colored hair he could see through the window at the Gothic Eye Café, and a swarm of scuttling sanitation-bots, the area was devoid of any other presence—-still and quiet. For now at least, it gave him time to digest, and to organize the events (and information) of the past few hours.

Things slowed down during this time-period, and the next Sky-Tram wasn’t due for another 5 minutes, so he decided to walk for a bit. Maybe drop into the Gothic Eye for a quick coffee.

As promised, Veda had laid it all out…A fairly hefty portion, at any rate. Slater had no illusions whatsoever that there pieces, chunks, and long gaps omitted from thethings she’d told him. Veda was many things (one being a world-class survivor), but stupid wasn’t one of them. Every-, any-, and/or all things which had even the remotest possibility of seriously incriminating her, or coming back to bite her volcanic green derrière never passed through those lusty painted lips.

“There is a new kid on the block,” Veda ha started, smiling to herself at her usage of the Old Earth slangology. And by that she validated the rumors and whispers that had been buzzing the streets of the Habitat for several months.

A new Mob was conceived…Was very recently born and was only now taking its first steps into the (under-) world. The idea first began to take shape five years ago when news of the Megiddo Project began to surface in the news. Since the official discovery of the Wormhole, many of the cartels (the Orion Syndicate in particular) had been drooling at the prospect of pioneering new territories in the Gamma Quadrant. One thing stood in their path: the Dominion—-i.e. he Changelings and their Jem’Hadar army. A few courageous (and foolhardy) factions within the Brotherhoods had tried. Few returned…in one piece. And the stories brought back by the survivors made a number of things inescapably clear: any organization who set up shop in the Gamma Quadrant, in order to succeed in their endeavor, would need (a) a stable base of operations (b) a strong and virtually limitless store of resources and lines of supply (c) and one hell of a formidable defense force to back them up. With hard emphasis on “c”, not one of the existing Mobs had the juice to pull it off.

“Not on their own.” Slater finally caught on.

“Smart boy. I don’t know why everyone claims that a race that evolved from monkeys are permanently mentally challenged,” Veda smirked before continuing.

A combination of resources could, indeed, pull it off. But, again, the thought came up lacking in one important area: trust. The Orions cartels didn’t trust each other, let alone the Yrdians, the Rigelians, the Ferengi, or the Coridanians. Just as Earth’s global and colonial cartels didn’t trust one another.

“And that’s where the Cygnians come in,” Slater put in.

“The White Rose Sisterhood,” Veda confirmed. “For years they had been quiet…patiently bidding their time and building their power base…waiting for the right time to act. And that time came when the Federation established the Megiddo space station and colony…Two of the most imperative prerequisites—-a foot in the door and the means…the military might…to keep it there.”

[i]“The second Dominion uprising played right into their hands…Afterwards, when the Changelings pulled out of this sector of space, the Sisterhood’s supporters in Earth politics found out about the Kendrassi treaty petition and manipulated the construction of the Outpost…They could have moved in as soon as it was finished, but they hit another snag…Secretary of Offworld Affairs Erratus Vallincourt and his intention to eventually downsize and/or close Megiddo and Jericho-Samaria… .”

“Yeah, I remember that. So it was the Sisterhood that assassinated him…and the Orions got set up to take the blame.”

Veda shrugged, tapping her temple with one painted talon. “Everyone who knows know my people were framed. ..but no one’s dead-on certain who actually ordered the contract on Vallincourt. I do know this much…The Sisterhood has spies and supporters throughout the Federation political arena…most of them female and Human. They even have them in the Klingon and Romulan Empires. They are more powerful than you would believe. If anyone could have pulled off the assassination it’s them”.

With the elimination of the anti-expansionist Vallincourt, the Sisterhood installed one of their own in the Office of Offworld Affairs…Perim Jasaal…who used the clout of her new position to manipulate the building of the Jericho-Beta Habitat… .And the Sisterhood had their Gamma Quadrant base of operations.

“What you have been hearing about…” Veda continued. “…and what’s going on out there, in the club, is something even the high queens in the Sisterhood matriarchy weren’t aware of. A maverick…Mylla Szado, engineered a coups d'etat…a cartel separated from the mother organization and made up of the best, brightest, and boldest from all the galactic groups. They have it all: money and finance; technology; transportation, logistics; militia…muscle, as you would call them…”

“The Circle… .”

“That is one names for them,” said Veda. “Also, the Organization…the Outfit…the Family. With Mylla Szado as the Queen…the olla pomona -lta olla pomona, ‘boss of bosses’…and this Human Charles Stearns as her Concubine-King.”

The tone in her voice…not to mention her facial expression…took on a tone and cast during her last words that was not lost on Slater. “I get the distinct feeling everyone’s not bubbling with excitement about that.”

“I think you have had enough for one sitting, *minun muodostua palloksi kipeys kotona aasi,” (* my ballsy pain in the ass) Veda drew her hand dwn the front of his body in flirtatious challenge. “Remember our bargain. I will be in contact with you when the time comes.”

“…get’cha sumthin’, mista?” The pop-pop of snapped fingers before his eyes and a nasally female voice (New York accent?) brought him back to the Present. The Gothic Eye’s rainbow-centric waitress stood hipshot in front of him, her expression one of boredom beneath tarantula eye lashes, dark lavender eye shadow, and lip gloss like a Black Hole.

“If the coffee’s anything like your attitude,” Slater grinned, “I’ll have a large one, sweets.”

Featuring NPC – Ray Don Slater FDoJ Undercover
Originally Posted 5-19-2008 by Toryn Kaz


Red 3 Alpha
The Agora - Slot 66-C
03:23:58

In the empty stall of the barren marketplace, Harry began the arduous task of making himself into another man’s image… not the first time tonight but this was the most difficult and more importantly, it had to last for… well… for quite a while. He hadn’t put himself back into this guise since the night T’Shaini had crossed his path… her need had pulled him out of the character and it was work… serious work… getting back in.

"You can’t go out,” Daka was saying through the door of the bath, “There’s an army out there quartering the Habitat for Harry… oh… ah…”

“And zay may look all zay like, Daka, dalink,” the now deeply brunette, deathly pale and, thanks to a reversible jacket and a pinky ring that could take your eye out, very flamboyant, creature told her. “Otto Chriek has nozeenk to fear from zose nasty, nasty boys, yes?”

Otto had been right. He’d sashayed his way past at least four separate search parties, none of whom had ever met Harry Finn, before making a stop at a small rent-by-the-week in Yellow 10, where Otto had been put to rest and Arthur Dent had come back into play. But not until Harry had taken the time to scan himself for any little party favors. Sure enough, he found them, planted no doubt while Finn had been taking his enforced nap. Three, no less: one in the sole of his shoe; one in the lining of the jacket and one… had to hand it to that Daka, or maybe Slater… one was a sub-q. He had to dig it out of from below his shoulder blade. Got messy but he ditched the tracers down the head and, watching them go, kind of hoped Slater and company had fun following the trail.

The skin was first. Olive but with the sallow tone of a long time in space. The lines from living lean etched in with a stain that required a specially made tonic to remove. As he deepened his skin tone, everywhere… this cover had to go all the way… he began also to cover his thoughts… shading his personality to suit the history of the character… a man who also, conveniently, had been a keeper of many secrets.

"I notice you didn’t say much,” Slater had commented as Daka choked back a giggle over Otto’s extravagance.

“Wasn’t my meeting,” Finn responded with a hint of a shrug, “I was just… happy to be her for you…”

“Cut the crap, Finn,” the FDJ op practically spat, “you don’t like being part of a team, yeah, we all get that but no one benefits from this non-disclosure act you got going. We’ve seen how Stearn’s lack of composure has played out,” referring to the masses of low-lifes at the Sisterhood’s command out looking for Harry, “What we don’t know is how you, what’d you call it? Sowed dissension in the ranks…” it was left hanging but it wasn’t an invitation so much as a demand.

Kill or cure… “I paid a visit to Sims Al-Kar, three nights ago,” Harry admitted. He didn’t like it but, hells, not like there was much anyone could do to stop him… what was done was done. “While we were catching up on old times, I told him that I knew how his blood brother, Gavin Booth, had taken his obsession with pain… with inflicting pain, to the final level. I explained how, over time, it wouldn’t be good enough… taking the whores and runaways… that soon he’d start looking for something more exciting… something more forbidden… something pure…”

“Jessyn Breeshandra,” Daka whispered.

So, the svelte agent had done her homework, too. Harry offered a short nod. “During this most productive discussion, I came into possession of Al-Kar’s Orion Embassy insignia and, the next day, when Anthony Crowley, of Crowley’s Pest Control, serviced Booth’s flat, that badge was dropped beneath a butt-ugly painting where a small transmitter happened also to be placed.” He turned away from the staring operatives to look out, into the night, “I’d be willing to bet Gav’s found the evidence of his brother’s seeming betrayal by now.”

He wasn’t sure if Daka was impressed or moderately horrified but, fact was, if Sims and Gavin went for each other’s throats, the new mob in town, and more to the point, Mylla Szado and her boy toy Stearns, would find themselves living in a rapidly disintegrating house of cards.

Applying the scar was a pain… literally… the material used to create the effect dried into the flesh of his cheek, puckering it into the perfect imitation of a wicked cut de Carrabas had reportedly picked up in the Beta sector, during a turf war on some colony or other. The scar, and the pain of the scar, were just two more layers - paint covering Harry’s soul.

If what he’d been learning of the Circle, and their fabled C-point were true… he’d probably need a few buckets before he was finished.

”There’s something else you’re not sharing,” Slater had commented as Otto was walking out the door.

“True but, if I told you everything, now, what would I give you for your birthday?” And with a last adjustment of the coat and a simpering flash of his pinky, Harry/Otto traipsed out of the apartment, weighted down by more contact information than he ever hoped to need.

The man looking back in the mirror bore as much resemblance to Harry Finn as a jackal mastiff to a greyhound but he wasn’t complete. Not yet. Inserting the black dye to his left eye was… uncomfortable… but the gel-based lens which covered the right was guaranteed to spur a case of nausea that would last until it came out again.

Taking a few deep breaths, Harry bent over the flimsy tech and, with a very delicate touch, laid it over his eye, tucking in the edges beneath the lids. Blinking it into place, he waited for his body temperature to activate the lens. Once operational, it gave him the option of night sight and, if he activated a corresponding circuit in his chronometer, generated a code to any retinal scanner that, yes, this was Victor de Carrabas, scourge of three quadrants, back from the dead to hire out to… with any luck… the suddenly in-ascension Sisterhood of the White Rose.

Once the eye was in place and operational, what was left of Harry Finn shuttered himself away and the carefully constructed killer took precedence.

Featured players Daka and Ray Don Slater, FDoJ Undercover
Originally Posted 5-20-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 26 Beta
“Latinum Suites” Room 221b
February 2, 2384
09:22:15 Hours

Dukath, his right arm newly-healed (again) had bypassed the lobby desk and its cheap holographic Ferengi. “I’m expected,” he growled as one shimmering hand began to wave in protest and a very slow turbolift had brought him to the second floor, second room from the end, where Gikuur waited for relief.

“‘Bout time,” the Nausicaan grunted, rising from his place of concealment, just behind the screen which sheltered the mini-kitchen from the rest of the room. “This is a joke of an assignment,” he continued, shaking his tingling limbs to wake them, “whoever this guy is, he knows his place is under the eye.”

Dukath merely grunted before moving to take over the pre-warmed spot on the floor. Gikuur sneered, “How’s the arm?” he asked, solicitously, “I hear this time it got snapped by a girl…”

“Not the girl,” the taciturn Klingon corrected, “girl got smashed,” there was a slight gleam of teeth at the memory of the slip of a thing being crushed against the wall by his rage. “She had… protection.”

Unable to resist, “Really? What kind? Another Klingon? Nausicaan? Jem’Hadar?” When Dukath failed to answer, “Or maybe it was another Human? A citizen, this time?”

With a growl, Dukath rose once more, “If you know so much, why ask?”

Gikuur shrugged, yawned, turned to leave, “More fun to watch you squirm,” he admitted, heading towards the door. He’d not even taken a single step before he felt the edge of the kut’luch at this throat.

“Maybe I watch you squirm,” the massive soldier said quietly. “Maybe I watch you bleed.”

“Or maybe,” Gikuur said easily, “you do the job you hired on for, wait for this Finn character and, if he shows, put him to sleep and make delivery… you’ll be so loaded you won’t have to troll the streets for broken pieces anymore.” It was a feeble argument, given the Nausicaan’s own recent claim that Finn wouldn’t be coming home but he knew his audience. The blade dropped away and Dukath started to hum a little Klingon ditty, probably influenced by the seemingly endless opera filtering in from the apartment next door.

As Gikuur left his sometimes-partner in crime to play the waiting game, he thought that it was sometimes a blessing to not be overburdened with intellect. Certainly it helped when you needed a guy to sit and stare at the air for hours on end.

“You’ll be relieved in six… eight at the most,” he said as he walked out of the room.

Dukath didn’t answer. In his mind he possessed two sound arms and was hip deep in females of various species and not a truncheon or 2 x 4 or spiked heel in sight.

Featuring NPC's Gikuur and Dukath (the lonely Klingon)
Originally Posted 5-21-2008 by Harry Finn


Red 18 Delta
Bust Out
The Needle
February 2, 2384
13:32:02

It had been days since he’d made an appearance at the it joint in Bust Out but Carrabas noted that the welcome wagon was much in evidence… in the shape of Gikuur and Kaen, two lackey’s in training that the tall Human had endeared himself to, two night’s past when he’d taken their Vulcan beauty for himself, without even saying please.

His face set in a permanent sneer by the scar curving down the right side of his face, de Carrabas flashed his teeth at the two who waited. “You can thank me by buying me a drink,” he told the soured muscle, “and, where’s Dukath?” referring to the third member of the busted up party. “His arm still giving him trouble?”

“Thank you for what?” Gikuur asked, a hand on Kaen who was inclined to pulverize first and ask questions… well, Kaen never asked questions.

“For saving you and your drunken pals from bringing the wrath of Kaz down on all of us,” de Carrabas spoke quietly but, as everyone in the pub was listening, he didn’t need to raise his voice. “That Vulcan flitterbird you were hunting was a ‘Fleeter… if Dukath or Kaen had laid a hand on her the entire population of Bust Out would have been in the cells, courtesy of Tau and her grunts.”

“You were going after a ‘Fleeter?” Callahan, the bartender, turned suddenly-hard eyes on Gikuur, as did most of the room’s inhabitants.

“Not… no,” the merc was beginning to feel as if he were standing on a rapidly thinning patch of ice, “I was just… Dukath spotted her first… it was dark… we figured she was just some up-towner slumming or, lost or…”

“Easy pickings,” Carrabas interrupted, “but if you’d picked that particular fruit, all of Starfleet would have come down here and who knows what all they’d find?”

“So,” Gikuur jerked his chin at the man, “What’d you do with her?”

“Not a damn thing… beyond getting her finely-toned regulation ass back uptown.”

“Was she grateful?” the amused call from the back of the room.

The white flash of a grin lit the dark face, “What do you think?”

The expected round of guffaws at that comment grated at Gikuur as the black-draped man strode up bar, proper, “What’s your game, Human,” he growled, under cover of the general mirth.

The mismatched stare turned towards him, “No game,” he was told, “I’m just looking for work, same as most the soldiers in here. You or your buds scrag a member of the ‘Fleet and there’ll be no work to find.” He shifted to face the bar, now and lowering his voice further still, “Especially if they got really dedicated and pushed through to C-Point.”

The pause that comment generated barely covered the time it would take a grain of sand to fall through the neck of an hourglass, “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gikuur responded, as that grain fell between them.

“Of course you don’t,” Carrabas shrugged, “but if you did, you’d know I saved your ass… along with Tweedle-dee and Tweeldle-dum’s… because whoever brought the law close enough to sniff the Circle would be spending their last moment wishing their last moment had come a whole lot sooner.”

“Mr. Carrabas?” a new voice broke into the conversation and both men turned to see the new player in the mini-drama.

Carrabas looked down into dark eyes filled with sin, “No Mister, here,” he corrected the woman, who had just settled at one of the few tables on offer. She was, in her own way, as out of place as the Vulcan from the other night. Interestingly, he noted that Enris Stoh-Ehn, another one of the many friends Carrabas had made this week, was lurking behind her chair. It was amusing to see how the Enolian’s face puckered when the Human threw him a wink.

“Of course,” the woman appraised the tall male. “You say you are interested in finding work?”

“On the ground,” de Carrabas stipulated, “last shipboard gig went bad,” he saw, even in the darkness of her eyes, how her pupils dilated when he allowed thoughts of that last space venture to chill his soul. He shifted slightly, his hand ready to release the phaser from it’s spring-loaded cradle beneath his sleeve. If this was the deal-breaker, he’d be fighting his way out of the room.

The woman merely smiled, offered up a small nod of understanding, “fortunately, most of the work currently available is planetside. In fact,” she rose, crossed over to the bar, “there is something… soon. A delivery must be protected.”

“Babysitting?”

“To begin. Even de Carrabas must prove himself, here,” she produced a slender cigarette and offered him an ebony-chased lighter. Taking his cue, he activated the flame and she leaned in, inhaling with a sort of lusty delicacy which confounded the largely male population in the room. Holding her hand over his, rather than retrieving the torch, she began to push the newly-lit cigarette into his palm but he pulled away, dropping both the lighter and her smoke to the littered floor.

“Not my game,” he growled, low enough to keep it private.

“You fear pain?” she questioned, digging her nail into the soft flesh between his thumb and forefinger. “No,” she answered her own question, eyes locked on his, “not that…”

“Not my game,” he repeated, engulfing her small hand and twisting until it was torqued backwards over her wrist.

All around him he heard the scraping of chairs and the telltale slide of weapons being released but the woman only smiled and shook her head, “Indeed it is not,” she agreed as he released her, “your game tends more towards command and… domination.” She leaned close once more, “and your fear is not pain but powerlessness…”

“If you have a job, I’m willing to talk,” he interrupted, “you want to play Freudian chippy with me, I have better things to do.”

Again the too-knowing smile. “How can you be reached, come the time?”

One hand dug into the inner lining of the coat, pulled out a small comlink. “Use this… two way com; I don’t answer, leave the intel, I’ll show where and when you want.”

She accepted the device, “Are you so mysterious, then?”

“Just cautious,” he rubbed a hand over the scar.

“Very well,” the woman turned away, dismissing him, “someone will communicate your orders before end of day.” With that she began to leave, a tense Stoh-Ehn following as soon as he retrieved her fallen lighter.

“Wait,” Carrabas straightened, waiting for her to look back. When she did, “Will you share your name?” he asked, the organic eye gleaming almost as intensely as the cybernetic lens, “So I’ll know it’s you, when you call,” he added, by way of explanation.

That garnered another laugh, this time from the woman, rich and velvety and filled with shadowy, wet promises, “If I call,” she told him, “then you will know it’s me.” And with that, Neishi Fabria slid from the room, followed by silence, except for one long, low whistle… of course from de Carrabas.

Featuring NPC Neishi Fabria
Originally Posted 5-21-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 26 Beta
“Latinum Suites” Room 221a
February 2, 2384

"This is a 'hideout'?" Kerrin asked, wincing at one particularly vile high note from the Klingon opera pouring through every available crevice. "Not very secret is it…" She leaned over to peek at what Xer 'decoding' the lock. "How do you know how to do that?" Then she waved her hands frantically. "No wait, I really don't want to know."

Xer was finding it difficult to focus… he'd never worked with a female partner and Lykal had mostly just lurked when any… special situations… were being dealt with. "Almost there…" the door whisked open and the little man noticed a sliver of paper fall to the floor as it did (so Finn would know if someone had entered). Palming the the evidence, unsure what to do about it… leave a note? Xer entered the small utilitarian flat. And froze.

"What's that in your hannn…who the hell are you?" Kerrin stomped past Xer to confront the man seated at the desk in Harry's room, reaching out to grab him by the arm when he didn't bother to even look at her she was (to say the least) startled when her hand passed right through him. "JESUS H CHRIST!" Stumbling backwards she fell on to the bed, struggling back upright she looked at Xer with wide eyes. "What the hell is that…I mean I know what it is, but what is it?"

"I believe this represents Arthur Dent," the sad-faced man replied, crossing to the center of the room and casting a weather eye over the contents. In easy view there was one white-haired, aged holographic version of the man he knew as Harry Finn, three visible desk-sized computers, two more palm-sized units, both connected to one of the larger comps and several suspiciously familiar-looking metallic cases. Crossing to the nearest stack he flipped open the top container and found, yes, the hollowed-out foam cushioning which indicated the previous residence of several pieces of weaponry.

The room, he thought, felt stale, though. As if no one, he glanced back at the now-crooning hologram, no one living had been in residence in at least two days.

"Dent?" One hand crept in front of her mouth. "Dent? Like…Harry alias….that Dent?"

The former pirate had to smile, "It isn't unlikely that he'd have created a complete identity to go with the name," he explained, continuing to skim through the room's very interesting tech, "and it makes sense, if he's in something as deep as we think, to have more than one ID to hide behind, if things get, uh, hairy." He thought back to Ghemmy's reports of the previous night's search and bit down any further commentary. If the Dent hologram were still active in a deserted room, then where was Finn?

Kerrin, who had scooted up onto her knees to squint at the holo, trying to identify any Harryness about it. Suddenly in her blurred vision (from squinting) the details fell away and something about the core made sense. Stuffing her hand inside her mouth to muffle the horrific sounds she knew were imminent, Kerrin fell back on the bed and roared with laughter. After a bit, emitting odd little snorts and snerks she wiped the tears from her eyes and sat up. "Well, where is he?"

Sigh "I don't know," Xer told the violently amused Dr. Schaeffer. He turned his eyes towards the one computer not engaged in any activity and decided it couldn't possibly get him in any more trouble to see if it held any information. "But maybe he left a trail…"

"Yessssssss…" She waited patiently, which meant about a count of three to Kerrin. "Are you going to look for it?"

"Aren't archaeologists supposed to be, I don't know," less overbearing? "more patient?" He tapped into what looked like a normal enough file, "Oh," he said as several images of some very high-up locals flashed onto the screen, along with their vital statistics… "oh… dear." He went to the next file, which contained a series of security reports on missing persons and, more disturbingly, similar data on a distressing number of bodies found round and about the Habitat. He began to shut the system down, "I believe we should go, now," he said, turning to see that Dr. Schaeffer had come up next to the table. "This was a mistake," he told her, moving away from the computer and the horrifying images it contained.

"What was a mistake…" Oh god Kerrin grabbed at the back of the chair as pools of blood on the screen shifted to pools of blood in her memory…Dana. As the wheels on the chair began to slide away from her, Kerrin's other hand reached out blindly for something else to hold onto. The unexpected *snickt* of a door unlocking followed the drop of her hand on the table. Did I hit a control? "Where did that come from?"

Spinning first to offer Dr. Schaeffer a hand and then further as the unremarked door slid open, Xer's hand dipped under his jacket and came back holding something that resembled a Federation type I… if the type I had been cobbled together from a garbage disposal. "Back," he suggested, in his quiet way.

Kerrin followed his gaze, saw the open door, then saw him draw a weapon…oh oh. As incongruous as it was to see it in his hand it looked as though Xer knew how to use it so she just followed his lead. "Backing up."

Let's go look for Harry… oh yes, what a very good idea! The little man crept towards the door and peered through to see… almost the identical apartment to the one they currently occupied. Less cluttered… the only extraneous items being a large punching bag and a trifold screen cutting off the kitchen nook… but the mirror image. "I think he may have used this room for Harry… I mean, as himself, I mean…"

"Oh…" Curiousity always winning over caution, Kerrin peered over Xer to see in the room. "Hmm, nothing personal, just a punching bag…yup looks like Harry."

Xer squinted up towards her, about to comment when a low growl rose from behind the screen, rapidly followed by a massive hand punching through the center section he couldn't have just moved it? followed by… "Oh, once again, dear," Xer said, raising his weapon towards the looming Klingon.

"Where… is… Finn?" the behemoth roared, before eying Kerrin, at which point the grimace took on a slightly leering quality.

"That is just what I would like to know…and who are you?" Came out of Kerrin's mouth before the editor in her brain had time to tell her it was probably a bad bad idea.

"Bad idea," Xer muttered under his breath as he depressed the trigger on his phaser. The ensuing flash of sparks and colorful curses which followed did nothing to cool the fire in the Klingon's eyes. It didn't stun him, either.

Grinning hugely, Dukath uttered a phrase he recalled hearing sometime in his bleary past. "I'm your worst nightmare," he declared, closing in on the intrepid pair.

"Yup…bad bad idea." Looking up and up at the eerily joyful Klingon she muttered to Xer. "Who's idea was this anyways?"

JP Featuring NPCs Xer and Dr Kerrin Schaeffer as written by HF and Tee
Originally Posted 5-23-2008 by T'Shaini


Wizard of Ahs - Online Shopping Manifest

Attn: Daka (Proprietress)

Line:
Play Misty for Me
Item:
Slaughterhouse Five (TM)
Quantity:
A dozen should do.

Delivery Address:
Blue 17 Beta
Arrakis Spice Mining, LTD
1920 Herbert Lane
(Same day delivery expected between 2130 and 2400 Hours, discretion is appreciated)

Billing Address:
Blue 6 Alpha
Crowley’s Pest Control
Rudyard Building, Ste. 2222
Attn: Anthony Crowley

Com code:
MI6 007-84 (leave message)/SIZE]

Once the transmission had gone through, the man known locally as de Carrabas cast a casual glance over the street before leaving the communications kiosk behind.

If anyone had noticed his transaction, they probably wouldn't have been too surprised… he looked like the type to shop strange.

Originally Posted 5-24-2008 by Harry Finn


Jericho-Beta
YELLOW Sector
Yellow 10 Alpha
Ambassador Mylla Szado’s Suite

Sims Al-Kar joined his brother in the foyer, ears burning and bile rising and ready to spit nails at the first available target.

“He still pissed?”

Al-Kar just shrugged as he brushed past Booth and out the door. Gavin, placidly chewing a toothpick, cast a cool glance towards Mylla, who was standing, silent, at the door of her private room. Now there was a lady filled with secrets… the thought passed through Booth’s mind without leaving a mark… very little actually stuck with Gavin. He lived in the moment, in the sensation, in the heartbeat between that first, silky touch of the blade and the tremulously sweet expulsion of pain which followed.

Everything else was just… noise.

In the ‘lift Sims finally spoke. “There were soldiers from every gang represented out looking last night… we’ve got people on his flop and eyes on the Outpost and he’s still in the wind and somehow it’s all my fault.” Blue eyes stared into depthless black, “Which, by the way, makes it your fault too, seeing as how you weren’t there.”

The ‘lift reached ground level and the two stepped out into the lobby and thence to the street where Booth spat out the toothpick. “You have a problem with me, lay it out, don’t hide behind Shaun,” he exhaled in annoyance at the look Sims gave him, “Charles, jeezus,” the slender man shrugged further into his jacket, enjoying the reassuring weight of the Leonardo special. “You’re not hot because Finn rabbited.”

Al-Kar bared his teeth at that.

“Okay, you are hot because Finn rabbited but that’s not all… brother,” and now, for this moment, there was more than empty in his eyes, “You’re not with me…”

“You sure it’s not the other way ‘round?” Eyes crisscrossing the wide street, Al-Kar leaned back against the marbled wall of the residence, waiting for Booth to settle next to him before continuing. “Lately you’ve been… out… a lot. Mostly with Neish and, hey, no foul there,” he felt his attention tugged leftwards but there was nothing immediately visible. “Until it gets in the way of the job.”

“The job?” Gav cracked his knuckles, one at a time. Pop…pop… pop…

“We were both supposed to be on Shalamara,” Sims felt his jaw tightening with each loosened cartilage. “You bailed ‘cause Neishi wanted you to off her cabana boy…”

“Grunt was kinda hefty for a caba…”

“You know what I mean!” The fairer of the two hissed, turning on his brother. “She wanted you to clean up after her hobby while we were on duty.”

“On duty? We’re not in the ‘Fleet, anymore, brother…”

“No, Gav, we’re in way deeper than Starfleet can ever dig and these people won’t take failure.”

Gavin turned away, “Neishi sure didn’t.”

“See?” Sims grabbed Booth’s shoulder, “This is the thing, she’s not supposed to run your life… brother… she’s the reward, not the reins. You start thinking she comes first… that what you do together comes first… we’re all gonna end up losing.”

“How would you know anything about what we do?” Gavin’s tone was neutral, calm, empty as his eyes, once again. “You can’t know what it’s like… you’re not built for it, you or Jessyn or even Sh… Charles.” He jerked away, his body belying his casual tone, “You’ve never been able to understand.”

“I tried, didn’t I?” Sims felt that strange nudging again but this was too important… if they lost Gavin to this dark, there’d be no coming back… for any of them. “I always made sure to find the right ones… and if… if they weren’t quite right I made sure they stayed mute about it… always I took care of you.”

“Not always,” but that memory was too much for even one as distant as Booth so he shied from it. That was, for him, the darkest time: during the war, when Al-Kar’s freighter had been taken by Jem’Hadar… thought to be lost with all hands. That was when, bereft of his name-brother, left without a control, Gavin had first let the blackness he carried within rise and when it rose it took him places… places he’d never dreamed of… swept him through the endless night of sorrow on soft, wet sounds of pain.

In the plaintive moans of loss which touched his loss, in the sibilant sighs of those last breaths taken, as Sims had been taken, Gavin had finally, truly, found himself.

And then peace happened. Cease fires and treaties and POW’s sent home and there was the brother, back from the dead to fill the void.

No fault to Sims that the space had already been filled.

And now there was Neishi… like calling to like. No one could understand how it was with them, so why bother trying to explain? Gavin turned away, shaking off Sims’ hold and then stopped. “It’s him,” he said, only a hint of surprise in his voice.

“What?” Al-Kar started reaching for his piece before he remembered where they were, heart of Yellow Sector, Ritz’R Us and effing crowded with late afternoon traffic. But sure as shit, there was Finn, sitting in a small sidewalk cafe attached to the tower to the left. The bastard waited until both brothers were watching then quietly rose and hit the street at the same second a local transport stopped. He looked back long enough to wave to the two before he climbed into the cab and was gone.

Again.

“Should we tell him?’ Gavin’s voice was almost admiring. Solid brass ones, this guy had.

“His woman’s a telepath, you think we have a choice?” Sims turned back to the apartment, to make this latest report. If he was lucky, Charles would suffer an attack of apoplexy before he decided to take his rage out on Al-Kar.

——————-

Two blocks distant Harry Finn got out of the car, intending to make his way back to the hotel where he’d left Carrabas, who he needed tonight (he sure hoped Slater got the damn message). He’d never have gone au natural but it was clear that the fervor over Finn’s previous appearance had been dying down, which could indicate Stearns achieving a certain sense of peace and the last thing Finn wanted was Stearns feeling peaceful.

Far, far from it.

Post featuring NPC's Gavin Booth and Sims Al-Kar
Originally Posted 5-27-2008 by Harry Finn


"That's the last time I buy a weapon that just 'fell off a shuttle'" Xer muttered as he fell back into Dent's apartment, one hand clutched around the doctor's arm just to make sure she came along.

Not needing encouragement Kerrin stomped on Xer's feet, "Sorry, sorry." as she backpedaled away from…their 'worst nightmare.' Where do they get that shit?

"Ow," the little man almost fell on his ass as the Klingon, no longer needing the concealment, shoved what was left of the screen away. Fortunately, he shoved it directly at the good doctor who fielded the broken bits and, to everyone's surprise (her own as well, it seemed,) shoved the ragged (and spikey) remains of the frame at their attacker's face before making a strategic withdrawal into Dent's crowded den.

The two of them dodging behind the dubious protection of the desk chair, Kerrin watched the behemoth tear through the frame like the b-vid villain he had clearly modeled himself after. "Crap."

Trying to tug the nearest desk in front of the rabid-eyed assault, Xer remembered the cases of weapons stacked near the small kitchen. "Weapons case!" he shouted, just as a hand… well, more like a grappling hook disguised as a hand, snagged Xer's collar and hauled him up to slathering level. "Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot…" he managed before finding himself airborne.

Weapons case…weapons case…WEAPONS CASE. Kerrin grabbed the big heavy case and holding it aloft cried to Xer as he landed with a thunk. "GOT IT!" Then swung, spiraling the case around her and flung it like a shotput before dancing back to regain her balance. "Ohhh, or did you want me to get something out of it…"

"That was the plan…" Xer managed, trying to suck some wind back into his lungs as he crawled up from behind the bed… couldn't have landed ON the bed, oh no…

What was with these puny humans? Dukath roared as he knocked aside the metal box, wincing when it glanced off his twice-mended forearm. Most weaker creatures were bright enough to submit but these… he shoved against the desk which the wee little man had used to block the doorway and paused as the female… mmm.. the female began to perform some sort of dance… her hands reaching with desperate seduction into the enticing secrets of her sweater…

"AH HAH!" Kerrin pulled out 'Minnie' the mini blaster Harry had gotten for her. Oddly, the Klingon did not seem to notice. "I said 'AH HAH'."

"MMMhmmmmm…." Dukath's eyes were locked a bit leftwards of the miniscule weapon. He grinned.

"What the hell are you looking….ugh…GROSS!" Finally registering the gleam in his eye, Kerrin pulled the trigger…

… just as Xer, eager to protect his charge, jumped onto the back of the lecherous thug. While the man's weight wasn't a burden to the Klingon, his momentum threw off Dukath's balance enough that the beam from Kerrin's phaser shot past its intended target to…

Xer looked over his shoulder. Great… we've killed a computer.

"Crap…get down!" Kerrin tried to aim and shoot once again, but the off kilter lumbering of the giant trying to rid itself of Jack clinging like the proverbial vine made a clear shot impossible. Running back to position herself outside the door frame for cover, oh yeah…I be bad, she shot at the Klingon's feet. "Dance bastard, dance!" Was that my outside voice?

Can't get down, if I get down, he'll kill me… Xer held on for dear life as Kerrin's shots suddenly caused an upheaval…. hopping Klingon very hard to hold onto… "Run, already!" he yelled at the woman as he felt his makeshift rodeo bull go still. Then everything was a blur as he felt the soldier spin and realized that there was a wall rapidly approaching and if he held on there would likely be little left himself beyond a smear titled, "Xer, in 2-D."

He let go.

Dukath, in the midst of throwing himself backwards, tripped over the small, frightened human who, despite the agonizing thud of boots to his ribs, kept rolling until he landed at Dr. Schaeffer's far less vicious-looking feet.

Reaching down, Kerrin grabbed Xer's hand and half dragged him behind her, once he was out the door she turned back to shoot a couple more random shots (too panicky to target) before pushing Xer in front of her to run down the hallway. Stumbling a bit at the top of the stairs Kerrin tripped right out of one of her shoes before catching herself, several steps down, on the bannister. She spared her favorite comfy shoe a quick look…then as a head loomed at the top of the stairs thought, f**k it, and kept running.

Blinded by rage Dukath exploded out of the second apartment and after the two pests. They'd opted to race down the emergency stairs and he heedlessly raced through the sliding door hot on their… Shoe!

From half a flight down Xer put on an extra burst of speed as he heard the prodigious thumps and hair-raising curses which accompanied them. There was, as the ground floor door whisked open, a horrific snapping sound followed by, for a Klingon, the most pathetic groan imaginable which was followed by, "Not again!" which was followed by Kerrin, bursting into the lobby and she, thankfully, was followed by nothing.

::Yellow Sector::
Starbucks (one of 32 of them)

Several minutes later, shaking hands wrapped around a cup of coffee, oh yeah, that is bright, caffeine is just what I need right now, Kerrin smiled pseudo-brightly at Xer. "Well, we got away…"

Xer pulled his eyes from their constant survey of the crowded cafe to look at the edgy archaeologist. "We did, yes."

"What?" There was something else there.

The man let out what was becoming a trademark sigh, "We got out but now whoever that monster works for will know about Dent's apartment," he picked up his coffee, stared at it, put it back down before looking back at Dr. Kerrin, "We've burned his alias and… all that intelligence, all those computers and his communications… they're going to know everything Finn knows." Assuming Harry was even still alive to know anything but he couldn't say that, not to her.

"OH SHIT!" Tears sprang to her eyes. "Oh god…oh godohgodohgod." Her hands pressed against her stomach to ward off the surge of nausea that sentence produced. "Wait…he was being watched, did they already know? Not that it matters now." Pushing the coffee out of the way she cradled her head in her hands. Pull it together. Kerrin's head snapped back up. "Now we really have to find him."

"No, we don't," Xer placed a careful hand over hers, "We can't just walk all over the Habitat calling his name and any communications may be filtered through Dent's apartment… where there are probably a half dozen soldiers rooting through those systems, getting to know what Finn's plans were," searching for any friends Harry might have. "We've been seen, too," he said quietly. "Chances are good there will be… people… looking for us. Let's not make it easy on them."

Kerrin looked at the ceiling in a futile bid to keep the tears from spilling over her lashes. "But…" Forget it. Tipping her face back down she wiped her face. "So I really blew it this time." Grasping the hand on top of hers she squeezed. "You tried to tell me, I just didn't get it. Even after all that happened on the Hawking I just didn't get it." A hollow-eyed Kerrin stared past him as her voice faded away.

It didn't seem possible but Xer's expression actually became more sad, "Let's just get you home, yes?" he patted her hand awkwardly, "If you'd like, we can call Dr. Hallows to keep you company…" it sounded, in a strange way, like a betrayal but he didn't think Dr. Kerrin should be left alone and Xer had it in mind to reach out, anonymously, to the local information sources. Ghemmy wasn't the only bartender with an ear to the ground.

"No…yes…whatever." An approximation of a shrug lifted Kerrin's shoulders slightly. "I don't care, I just want to be home.

"Well," he said, rising from his chair which, sadly, didn't raise his actual height by all that much, "I can get you to the residence, for a start." As his charge rose to join him he smiled, this time with something akin to hope, "Remember, this is Harry… all may yet be very well." He'd read that, somewhere… he hoped it applied, now, if only for her sake.

She tried to smile at him, it was so clear he was trying to make her feel better. It just wasn't going to work, somehow she knew…she had touched it and now it was all going to go downhill. "All may yet be very well…" Right.

JP Featuring NPCs Dr Kerrin Schaeffer and the adorable Xer (as written by Harry Finn)
Originally Posted 5-28-2008 by T'Shaini


Alpha Sector
Rhian's and Josh's Quarters

Thunderbolt. It should have come down from the clear, blue sky and fried her crispy black—A scorch stain on the sidewalk that passersby wondered over…but not too long, for they had places to go and bills to pay. Instead, she felt a sense of calm as she pulled on the nun’s head scarf. Decked in white, covered head to toe, sans makeup, she hardly recognized herself. Which was a good thing. Although she didn’t think most nuns held concealed weapons about their body—which set her apart.

“Where are you going?” Stephen had asked when she told him he was in charge of Flight Ops. For the time being, anyway.

“I’m going out,” she replied, like an angry husband. And then she left, keeping in character. She hadn’t told Josh, not yet. And she didn’t know when she would. If things went as planned, she’d return every evening, as if everything was normal. But when you dealt with the likes of Maec, things seldom were.

All she had wanted was to be left alone, to build a life with Josh. And now this. She suppressed the rage, knowing it could distract her, and focused on finding her prey.

When last in the Red Sector, Sister Agatha Agnes of the local orphanage had told Rhian of her past as an intelligence agent. And who still kept tabs on the local players. She wondered if she heard anything about a new group—part sadist, part insane, all evil. If she was worth her salt, she had. So…Agatha was Stop #1.

Red Sector
Sister Mary Magdalene Orphanage

“We were not expecting a sister from the Santamaria Convent…Sister…” said the old nun, who peered over her reading glasses. Apparently, the Order didn’t allow optical correction, or perhaps it was a personal choice. They were big into sacrifice.

“Phorella Conchita Hirolla y Miso Vamerrrrrrra,” Rhian replied, making sure to roll her Rs. “Mother Superior Fabirella, she did not have time to fill out a communiqué when I left. They just had an outbreak of…leprosy…and the shipment for the antibiotic had been stolen by Orion pirates, so they…had to rely on traditional medicines. But…the Mother Superior wanted to make sure I reported to Sister Agatha Agnes.” Rhian placed a PADD on the nun’s desk, complete with the seal of the real Santamaria Convent. She never thought she’d have to call in a marker from the nun she’d once transported across the Neutral Zone—for missionary purposes—-but one never knew. The old nun inspected it like a counterfeit latinum strip, but finally seemed satisfied as to its authenticity.

“Very well. Wait here in the foyer,” the old nun said. She got up and shuffled off. Rhian looked around at the classic art on the walls: Cezanne, Degas, even a Renoir, ensconced between gilded wall insets that curlicued up to the ceiling. Someone has deep pockets.

Sister Agatha scurried down the hall, a look of bewilderment on her face, which transformed into one of weary recognition when she spied Rhian. But she played her part.

“Sister Phorella, how nice to see you. Please, come to my office,” Sister Agatha said. “Thank you, Sister Alicia.” She nodded to the old nun.

Rhian followed the Sister down the hall, taking care to mimic the lesser sisters’ walk—head down; quick, small steps; hands clasped in front. At least that’s how the sisters here walked when she last visited. She was led into Agatha’s office, and the nun shut the door behind them.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Agatha said.

“Sister! Language,” Rhian replied.

“I’m not playing games, Rhian. What is the meaning of this?” She crossed her arms and looked every bit the frustrated police chief.

“Look, my child, well, embryo, is missing, and I know that one Maec Khev is responsible. Have you heard anything about Maec, a new gang in town, or anything big going down? I’m desperate, Sister.”

Sister Agatha stood immobile for a good while, and Rhian wondered if she’d looked into the eyes of the Medusa mural on the wall behind her. “If I tell you something, what do you intend to do with it?”

“I’m not here to upset the apple cart, if that’s what you’re getting at. I only want my child…and Maec’s haunches to finally be put on the scales of justice. It’s way past time. A reckoning, if you will.”

“Don’t tell me you’re not tempted to take justice into your own hands,” Agatha said. “Deliver personal justice?”

“Oh, I won’t lie. I’d love to. Beyond measure. But you see, I told a special agent that I’d changed…so, I intend to live up to that statement. I want my child, Sister. That’s the most important thing,” Rhian said. “The only thing. Will you help me?”

A brief pause. “All right,” Agatha said. “Go see the Kessari. Tell them I sent you. They’ll know what you mean.”

Rhian shook her head in abject disbelief. “The Kessari? That’s it? That’s all?”

“It is enough,” she said, and pursed her lips and raised her chin as if to brook no more defiance.

The Sister’s records had checked out, at least from what Rhian could access. Most of them had been top-level classified. But that had just made it more interesting. “Fine. But if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll be back,” Rhian said. She swept out of the room and scurried down the hall to the foyer.

“Leaving so soon?” the old nun said, a smug tone lacing her voice. Rhian wondered what genius had put her in charge of receiving guests.

Rhian reached into her sleeve and slid on a pair of sunglasses. “Just hope I don't have to come back.”

Gateway Diner
Yellow Sector

The Kessari embassy sounded a good place to start. But a rumbling stomach reminded Rhian that she hadn’t had breakfast. A small sidewalk diner called her name with the smell of bacon and beef. A bacon double cheeseburger sounded good to her. She scurried in with the nun’s walk and was immediately seated at a booth. The diner was relatively empty, the lunch crowd having left for the last portion of the workday. Too early for the start of the nightshift crowd. The seats were a gaudy pink plastic, but the rest of the diner was a pristine white, like the Jericho medical center. As if no customer had ever smeared ketchup on the table, or spilled grape juice in the cracks of the floor.

“What’ll you have, Sistah?” The waitress looked as if she doubled as a Dabo girl at one of the local casinos. Her earrings were longer than her skirt.

“Bacon double cheeseburger,” Rhian said. “And make it kincha.”

“Hungry today, eh? Anything else?

“Large raktajino. Black, lots of sugar.”

“Coming up.” She took the menu, twirled on her multicolored treadmills, and took off toward the kitchen.

Rhian spied the cool customer at the counter that looked out onto the street. Tall, lanky, perpetual five o’clock shadow, brown hair, blue eyes that shone across the room. And she realized she knew that face, even from the side. Harry Finn. What records she could dig up had been scarce, but the picture had done him justice. He was nursing an iced tea and poking over a tuna fish sandwich. A man of simple tastes, it seemed. Perhaps he knew something. Rhian had to find out.

The waitress wheeled back with her order, holding up one knee. Must have been a waitress trick. Rhian wasn’t impressed.

“Here ya go. Dig in.”

Ravenous, Rhian attacked the thing and finished it without putting it down. Josh had always teased her about her appetite for food…and other things. Then she chugged the Klingon coffee as best she could, for Finn was just paying his bill and was about to leave.

She squelched the murmur of pain as the hot liquid coursed down her throat…which brought back memories of the time she’d been forced to drink boiling olive oil on Sesta IV. Not one of her fondest reminisces.

Harry left out the door, and Rhian got up to follow. The waitress protested her leaving, but Rhian said, “Put it on the orphanage tab!” and scurried out the door. Harry got into a local transport car, and Rhian feared she’d lost him. And strangely, he waved to two men across the street. But he disembarked two blocks down, and Rhian was already halfway there, peering over her sunglasses, nunwalking her way down the street.

The two men Harry had waved to, one with a mop of dark hair, the other close-shaven, were following close behind. They overtook her, one on either side, and a feeling of anxiety formed in the pit of her stomach. She always credited her distant Vulcan psychic genes, but she knew when someone meant no good. And these boys were radiating it like a sun gone supernova.

She unclasped her hands and stretched her arms, extending the weapons strapped to her forearms. Aimed at their ears, and released sound bullets that released a high-pitched, piercing wail upon impact, which incapacitated the victim. The two men both dropped in front of her, as if they had run out of battery power. She knew passersby would think her heartless as she stepped over them, but what the hey. You couldn’t please everyone.

She walked faster as Harry rounded a corner onto an abandoned street. It was amazing how the scene changed just a few blocks away from the town center. But it was perfect for her purposes. She reached into her nun’s hood and shot out a flash-bang, range 3 meters, making sure to shield her eyes for the brief moment. Behind the dark, a bright red shone, then faded. When she opened her eyes, Harry had his hands over his. She scooped him up by the arm and pulled him into an abandoned building.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you,” she said. He was heavier than he seemed, but she redoubled her effort and managed to half-drag him to a room toward the back of the hallway they’d ended up in. She kicked in the boarded-up door and hauled him inside, then shut the door.

“The effects of the flash-bang will last for five minutes. After that, your eyesight will return. My name is Rhian Gaius, Tanis’ boss. I wanted to thank you for saving my pilot. And I also have some questions for you.”

Originally Posted 5-31-2008 by Rhian Gaius


Yellow Sector
Abandoned house

Never trust a nun, the adage flashed across his synapses as the glare sent his retinas into sudden, agonizing overload. In the black that followed he lost his grip on the phaser he’d palmed when he turned into the side street.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Too late, he thought as decidedly feminine and firm hands steered/dragged him from the littered road into an echoing, musty space.

“The effects of the flash-bang will last for five minutes. After that, your eyesight will return. My name is Rhian Gaius, Tanis’ boss. I wanted to thank you for saving my pilot. And I also have some questions for you.”

“What is with the women in this freaking town?” he asked, one hand instinctively held out in front of himself. “Can’t anyone just come up and say ‘hello’? Oh, noo, we have to follow the guy or drug the guy or blind the guy… you people are all freaks…” striding towards where he’d last heard Gaius’ voice, Harry immediately tripped over the littered floor and just managed to catch himself before full faceplant occurred. “Great,” he hissed, sitting back and waving his abraded palm. “Just… great.”

"Come on. You palmed a phaser as I rounded the corner. Surely you didn't expect me to just come up and say hello, then risk getting shot by a man with a twitchy trigger finger and little sleep. I doubt I'd be here talking to you if that's how I operated," Rhian said. Tanis had talked about him as if he was Superman in disguise, but he almost landed forehead-first onto a rusty nail. Now that would have been an ugly sight.

"I also got rid of the two men who were tailing you, temporarily at least. After a half hour, they'll be conscious, nursing a migraine the size of the Kendrassi ocean, and no doubt all the more angrier at you. Even though you had nothing to do with it. Directly at least. But hey, that's how life goes sometimes.

"And I believe the real freaks you keep referring to are associated with the man I'm searching for. Maec Khev. Know anything about him? He has something of mine…something most important."

You don’t know her, you can’t see her, she could be working for anyone… an anyone not immediately willing to waste Finn but still… and she’d taken out Booth and Al-Kar, dammit! He’d been amazed they’d bothered to come after him… profiled behavior and their own movements put them reporting back to mama but they had come back out, deciding to try for Finn out on the street. It had been so easy, drawing them towards the dead zone of the residential area where he could have finished everything. By now, he could have ended Booth…

Tasting the bitter loss, he sat in the blackness, carefully not letting his hand drop to his clutch piece. Deal with what’s in front of you, forget what’s lost. “Don’t know, don’t care to know.” Don’t intend to tell you squat. “You have a grief with Khev that’s between you, him and FDJ. I’m not part of his trade and he’s not involved in my…”

Rhian grabbed Finn by the collar and hauled him up, his face inches from hers, as his unfocused blue blue eyes shone like a cat's in the moonlight.

"You listen up and listen good. I don't know why you're here prowling around the Red Sector like an alleycat when you should be on the Hawking taking pot-shots from disgruntled aliens, but I assume it's some personal vendetta you've got. Maybe someone close to you was murdered…I don't know.

"What I do know is that whoever's wig you intend to split, they've got nothing on Maec. He's interested in entire worlds, quadrants, even. I've seen him get an entire village of children and adolescents whose parents died from a plague addicted to drugs just so he could have a captive customer base. And that was 10 years ago. Believe me, he's moved on in his ambitions. And if there's someone bigger and badder out there, he won't stop until he screws them over, from the inside, like a festering cancer, until he can take over.

"He's already got a third of the Outpost hooked on Mist through his network of street scum, and I don't intend for it to spread any further. And now, he's taken my child."

She released Finn, and he sank to the floor, eyes seemingly becoming focused again as he looked up at her.

"If you want a deal, I'll make it. Give me any information on Maec, and I'll help you bring down whoever it is you're after." She paused, and decided to at least let him know the little that had been told her. "An informant of mine told me to get in touch with the Kessari. That they could somehow help me. Do you know anything about them?"

Because what he really needed right now was to get into a game of ‘my bad guy is meaner than your bad guy’. Still…

“I’m sorry,” he said the the grayish blob in front of him, “but what I was saying is true: Khev isn’t involved in… in what I’m looking into. He was, once,” how much could he say? Most of the intel he’d gotten on Maec Khev came from Slater’s source. But… a child was involved and that changed a lot. “He was once,” he repeated. “Early on, your bad buy worked for the same organization that’s taken in my bad guy but but recently he began quietly severing his ties from his employers. Either it’s an ego thing or there are depths of insanity too far down for even Maec to plumb… either way, he’s out of that particular picture.” Which worked for him because it was one less body to wade through to get to Acker and Booth and Al-Kar, oh my.

Harry reached to his left, caught some wall and followed it until he was vertical. Shadows and plays of light were forming around him… the blindness was wearing away. “What Khev may or may not have going with the Kessari, I have no idea.” Even half blind he could feel the expression of disbelief, “Hey, I’ve only been in town for five… wait, six days… how many criminal masterminds do you expect a guy to take on in less than a Terran week?”

Joint post with Harry Finn
Originally Posted 6-2-2008 by Rhian Gaius


Yellow Sector
Abandoned House

"I dunno. You seem to be on a roll," Rhian replied. The tone sounded genuine; she doubted if he'd heard about Maec. He must have gone underground, under the radar, but with his tentacles in every pot. To mix metaphors. Yes, he was keeping tabs on people, situations…things, somehow. She just had to figure it out, then she could disrupt his little master plan. Even if no one else saw it but her.

"All right, Finn. I believe you. But if you hear anything, I'd owe you one if you let me know."

He let out the breath he’d been holding. A mother out to protect her child could be… intense. “I can’t make any promises, hell, I might not even be breathing tomorrow but anything I hear that’s relevant, it’s yours… but…” he frowned, looked down at the shifting pattern of floor: was that a vibration? “… ah, is there anywhere to drop the intel, if I get it? It’s best for both of us if I stay off the grid.”

"Can't argue with that. Since I don't know what tech you've got, we'll go old school. If you have anything, leave a white chalk mark on the stop sign on the corner of 4th and Nutley. Then put the intel in…uh, under the bridge in Grandley Park. Right corner nearest the entrance. Coded, of course. Use Act II, Scene I of Richard III as a one-time pad."

Internal head slap. “Wow, I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying these adventures in sarcasm but seriously, you cannot afford to be associated with me, even by com. If you don’t believe that, go talk to your bosses or a guy named Wolfe in FDJ and ask about the last trip the Hawking made: in particular, ask about the extent of collateral damage… and when I say damage I mean deaths… people murdered because they had the bad luck to be on the same ship as me. You want to find your child, I’m down with that but I think it’d be preferable if, once you did, the kid wasn’t left an orphan.”

“Too late,” a deep and, for Finn, unfortunately recognizable voice burst from the fading darkness. Gikuur. The Nausicaan’s frame was a hulking shadow, bordered by another, slighter shape. Gaius let out a short hiss as Harry stepped between the woman and the approaching muscle. “So, you’re the Harry Finn everyone’s in a bunch about? Can’t say I’m all that impressed…”

The Nausicaan peered over Harry's shoulder at Rhian. She averted her gaze and acted the frightened damsel in distress…hanging back to see how Harry would handle their new friends. She had his back, no question, but it seemed what he'd just told her was true. He was hotter than a radioactive dirty bomb in downtown Megiddo. Everyone associated with him was a target. If she had the time, she'd hang around to find out what the brouhaha was all about. But she didn't. So she just wished him luck.

"Who's the nun?" he continued. "Tsk tsk. Bad habits?"

Rhian wanted to kill the guy just for the joke.

Eyesight and insight hit Harry like the punchline of that lame-ass joke. These guys weren’t going to kill him… Acker wouldn’t want anyone else to have the pleasure. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t try for Rhian, though. He eyed the sidekick Gikuur had brought who wasn’t immediately familiar but his hunch-backed shuffling gait struck a chord.

Whatever. “It’s not quite fair,” Harry commented, moving forward, eyes fixed on Gikuur’s, as if the blaster pointed so firmly at his own chest didn’t exist, “you all know my name but we’ve never been introduced.”

The grin widened, “Just call me the guy who’s about to be rolling in a shuttle-load of latinum for bringing in your sorry ass.” The sidekick, who Harry christened ‘Igor’ started shuffling around to his left, towards the seemingly helpless nun.

“Wow, a whole shuttle load?” Finn paused as his foot knocked into something loose on the floor, “I don’t know, though” he didn’t look, he just followed his instincts and got his boot under the object, “I’m not sure that’s enough.” and kicked. The hunk of plywood, with nail, flew straight at the shocked muscle while Harry snagged his clutch piece from the small of his back and ducked behind a sagging partition.

“Time for the Hail Mary, Sister Bertrille!” he called as he laid down some cover fire at Igor, who'd been quick enough to find himself some rubble to hide behind. He grinned at his own horrible humor, “sorry, couldn’t resist.”

JP with Rhian Gaius
Originally Posted 6-5-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow Sector
Abandoned House

Rhian had no idea who Sister Bertrille was, but had to admit she was impressed with Harry. He had skills, in addition to a calm demeanor in the face of imminent death. A practiced habit. Which meant he did this sort of thing on the regular. Curioser and curioser he was becoming.

The board he'd kicked up flipped once and embedded itself in the Nausicaan's chest. His target took a step back but, enraged, left the board stuck to this chest and charged for Harry. As Harry laid down supressing cover, the Nausicaan's leg caught some disruptor fire meant for the sidekick, but it only caused him to pause for a spell.

Rhian could have killed them quietly with poison-tipped shuriken, but she wanted to boost Harry's image…make the bad guys think twice before coming after him, so she pulled out the big gun. Which meant she'd have to find somewhere to reload…and a doctor…but you only lived once.

She ran around, to the right of Harry, and grabbed him up by the collar…dragged him to the window in the next room and, straining, propelled him through the window. It broke into a million harmless chunks that caught the glitter of sunlight streaming in, kaleidoscoping on the bare walls. The colors swirled and morphed, a spontaneous acid-trip…a surreal moment as he slow-motioned in mid-air. Beauty among the violence and impending gore.

The floorboards rumbled with the sound of the oncoming muscle as the slow motion gave way to real time. Rhian didn't have to turn to tell the Nausicaan was two steps away. She ran two steps, jumped and twisted…trying to stay as horizontal as possible…extended an arm and fired a small i-mod torpedo at the oncoming meat hunk. The discharge burned her arm and conflagrated her habit, but it was worth it to see the look on the Nausicaan's face as his chest sparked just before it exploded.

The force blasted her out of the house, soaring past Harry, over a tricycle, and into the next yard. She landed face down on a patch of dirt, habit in flames. Stop, drop, and roll. Well, she'd already stopped and dropped, so she rolled back and forth until the fire was out. The burn on her arm hurt like hell, though. She hoped Harry was all right.

The explosion had knocked out the walls, and the roof fell on the flattened first floor with a loud, wrenching crunch.

She hoped the neighbors weren't home.

Okay, when he’d said Hail Mary, he hadn’t really thought she’d go for the Apocalypse. Shelving any feelings he might have about the wholesale slaughter, he raced to the fallen Rhian the moment the blast rolled over him, ignoring the multitude of twinges as he knelt down to assess the damage. The habit was toast, a thing of shreds and tatters and the wimple had been blown away to reveal the non-Human portion of her background.

“Hey,” Harry pulled his jacket off, then shook the debris from it before wrapping it around the woman as she carefully sat up, trying to avoid touching her wounded arm, “you have to get moving… get away from the scene…” he offered a hand up from the filth, thoughts of Tanis pounding through his skull. Except Tanis hadn’t killed two of Acker’s soldiers. He reached for his com unit but, “Shit, I lost my com,” he looked into Gaius’ pain-filled eyes, “can you get yourself beamed out?”

She shook her head. "I'm in the field…I use what's here. But don't worry about me. There's a Romulan embassy down the road. I know someone there." She strained to get up, wondering if there was any internal damage, and spied a plastic tablecloth hanging on a line. It wasn't Dior, but it would have to do. Although crazy, homeless people wearing tablecloths were more common in the Red Sector, she supposed there was one or two wandering around that she could blend in with…at least until she could make it to the Embassy. If they let her in.

"Go on, get out of here," she said. "And don't forget our agreement."

“Eyes on the prize,” he assured before stashing the disruptor. “You might try shopping at Celestial Latitudes, once in a while,” and with that he was on the move, fading into the dingy shadows… not too far, though. He stayed with Gaius, making sure no one else was following, until she reached the Embassy. Once the woman was inside, he made his own way back to the Red Sector and his own strange habit. De Carrabas was due on a job in less than an hour and, thanks to Gikuur’s untimely demise, it looked like Finn’s alias might be getting a promotion.

Joint Post Harry Finn
Originally Posted 6-5-2008 by Rhian Gaius


Red 18 Delta
Bust Out
The Needle
18:31:02

Enris Stoh-Ehn looked up from the table; a shadow had fallen over the PADD he’d been reviewing. “You’re late,” he told the Human accompanying the shadow.

“There was a woman,” the explanation blew out on a cloud of rancid smoke. de Carrabas had a cigarette of dubious origin resting on his lip, “had to see her home.”

“You always put pleasure before business?”

Ignoring the question, the man hooked a chair out with his foot, dropped into it. “What’s with Igor?” Carrabas nodded to the next table, where a small, sort of hunched figure was being treated to The Needle’s special brand of first aid; no anesthetics necessary.

“Who?” the Enolian glanced back, “Oh, Maarti… he had some trouble… a building fell on him."

“What’d he ever do to the building?” Carrabas tracked the players in the room, “And where’s the Nausicaan? Thought he was running this show?”

“Gikuur found breathing a hardship… might have had something to do with the rocket getting lodged in his chest…”

“Damn… active little town you got yourselves, here.” The cigarette was spat to the floor, ground out with a heel. “So, what’s the plan?”

Enris grit his teeth and focused on the PADD. “Simple… we go along to Arrakis, meet the drop, make sure everyone walks away with what’s theirs… and nothing more… see the money home.”

“Sounds simple.” The ex-smuggler’s tone made it clear he didn’t think it’d be that simple.

“We’ve been running Mist through Arrakis Mining for months, no hassles,” Enris pointed out, “They’re a good cover… middle of the road speculative mining interests, not too seedy, not too prominent. Head office loves them…”

“Fine… so it’s you and me?”

“And Kaen and Maarti,” Stoh-ehn winced as the little man at the next table let out a pathetic moan, “if he’s functional. If not, we’re short a guy.”

“Shit, where the hell’s Dukath? Where’s your mistress?” de Carrabas indicated the sparsely populated bar, “this place looks like the Reaper’s been through it… I mean, how many buildings fell down, anyway?”

Callahan looked up from where he was sealing up the unfortunate Maarti’s lacerations, “You ever hear of a guy named Finn?”

“Can’t say it rings a bell.”

“Well, it is because of him that all that’s left of Gikuur is a smear under the rubble,” Maarti said, pulling his sleeve down over the last of the repairs.

“And Dukath was staking out Finn’s flop when he ran across a green-eyed bird and a troll and…” okay, even Enris had to bite down the chuckle, “while he was chasing them, he broke his arm…”

The cybernetic eye flashed in surprise as it appeared Carrabas was holding back his own laughter, “Again?” he finally managed, mismatched gaze sharp on Stoh-ehn.

“Third time in three days,” Callahan said.

“So, anyways, Finn’s kind of a hot property. Truth to tell, if we didn’t have this exchange to babysit, we’d be out looking for the Feddy scum, too.”

“But we do have to babysit so…”

“So,” Enris rose from the table, followed by the Human’s eyes, “let’s get to it… you up for the ride, Maarti?”

“I am,” the hunched figure joined Enris and then Kaen, who’d been imitating a tree over by the bar, made it a trio.

“Now?” de Carrabas scratched at his scar, “kinda early, ain’t it?”

“Change of plans,” Stoh-ehn replied, cracking a knuckle. “Why? Is this a problem… did you need to put on your face before we left?”

“Nope, just wanted to hit the head,” the merc seemed to remember where he was, “alley, before we go.”

“See?” Maarti incongruously elbowed the massively silent Kaen, “he knows enough to go before we leave!” then let out a positively hair-raising giggle.

“Ha, yeah… what he said.” de Carrabas made his way to the rear exit, hoping there was a chance for Slater to mobilize the troops an hour earlier than expected and, all the while his traitorous brain replayed, over and over, the words, 'a green-eyed bird and a troll'.

Kerrin…

Featuring NPC Enris Stoh-Ehn and a host of lowlifes
Originally Posted 6-7-2008 by Harry Finn


SKY-TRAM Ground Transfer Station 0001
En Route to Blue Sector
18:52:12 Hours

“Who’s the new guy?” Max Scherling addressed the question to Stoh-Ehn as the odd quartet joined him in the mid-way coffee shop. He’d worked with Enris many times, and Kaen was always dependable muscle… Maarti was, well, Maarti was Maarti… but the tall guy in the leather coat was a new face.

The Enolian soldier glanced over and slightly up, “That’s de Carrabas.”

Max let out a low whistle, “No shit?”

“No shit,” the man in question, who was three meters away from the whispered conversation replied before easing up to the table, “and who are you?”

“I’m the guy with the goods,” Scherling commented, patting the briefcase sitting next to him on the booth, “and that means my life is worth more than all of yours put together.”

“Really?” Carrabas grinned, “seems to me that the goods are the real value. The Man can always find another mule.”

Max narrowed his eyes at the gravel-voiced Human, “Much more than a mule and, for the record, in this case the Man is a Woman…”

“None of which is worth discussing, right now,” Stoh-Ehn pointed out, glancing meaningfully at the still-crowded restaurant. “Right now all that matters is getting the job done, so,” he indicated the door, “let’s see if we can avoid being fashionably late.”

Rising from the table, Max eyed the motley crew, “Not much danger of that,” he commented, allowing himself to be loosely corralled by the gang of four.

“Everyone’s a comedian,” de Carrabas commented, taking rear guard and checking the wall chrono on the way out. If Slater and Daka didn’t manage to mobilize, he’d be participating in his very first felony, real soon, now.

And wouldn’t that be one for the funny padds?

Featuring NPC Enris Stoh-Ehn and Max Scherling
Originally Posted 6-12-2008 by Harry Finn


Red 22 Alpha
The Red Alert
19:31:48 Hours

“Harry wouldn’t have done that,” Xer insisted as Ghemmy filled one of the waitresses’ orders. “He has a thing about killing…” in fact, he’d made a big stink about the deaths on the planet where the two had first met.

“All I know is a soldier is dead… a Nausicaan heavy and believe me, no loss to the general population.” The Bolian bartender waved the young woman off with her tray before leaning on the bar in front of his friend. “Even if Finn didn’t pull the trigger, he was there. There’s also word of a nun… the survivor placed a Sister with your man on the premises… maybe he was just trying to, you know…” Xer still didn't look convinced so Ghemmy gave up the argument. "Look, whether he did the deed or not, he's the one who's going to take the heat for it and I'd bet he knows it. Not too likely you'll be seeing your friend on the streets anytime soon.” Not in one piece, anyway.

In answer, Xer just lifted the glass in front of him and downed its contents in one nervous gulp. He’d left Kerrin locked away in her apartment, alone despite his urgings to call Dr. Hallows to keep her company, and then made his way back to the Red Sector to dig up word on Harry’s activities. He wondered what Outpost Security thought of the mess… the survivor of the alleged assault obviously hadn't filled out any official reports but a building falling down on top of a known gang banger had to have raised a few Starfleet eyebrows.

And Xer still didn’t buy into Finn doing for the Nausicaan. It just wasn’t… it wasn’t Harry. Then his mind’s eye focused on the images brought up on Harry’s… Dent’s… Harry’s, feh, computer. Finn might not be a stone cold killer but, according to those files, someone was. “What,” he asked the bartender, “do you know about the other deaths… the women gone missing?”

Ghemmy gave the bar an obligatory swipe, “As little as possible,” he told the little Human then made a face and stepped away from the conversation as a new player joined in.

“I might have some information in that area,” the words, redolent with meaning and something less palatable wafted towards Xer who felt the liquor he’d just downed threaten to reappear, “for the right price.”

Criminy! The once-upon-a-pirate turned to the hulking mass of clothing which had presumably spoken, “And who are you?”

“And interested party,” Haq Kly Haq offered. “You want to know about the deaths, I want to know about Finn,” and what he’s doing to stop them. “Perhaps we two can help one another.”

Xer looked at Ghemmy who gave a short nod. The stink bomb was someone to be trusted, according to the barman so, okay. “Maybe,” Xer said, sliding down from the booth, “we should talk.”

“Follow me,” Haq turned and led the way out of the club, leaving Xer to follow, which he did, all the while wondering just how deep a pile of poo he was jumping into.

Post featuring NPC’s Xer, Ghemmy and Haq Kly Haq.
Originally Posted 6-16-2008 by Harry Finn


Ow.

Kerrin was only aware of one thing at the moment, how much her head hurt. One lid prying open as her hand fumbled…for what she wasn't quite sure, maybe she thought some pain killers were going to magically appear. Did I open my eye? Opening the other one she squinted in the darkness. "Where the hell am I?" Ugh, how cliche.

"Lucky girl," an unpleasantly amused voice drifted out of the general murk, "you've been brought to Center Point… the Circle. Very, very few outsiders ever get this far but then," soft footsteps brought the voice closer, "very few have the poor taste in men that you have… Kerrin."

Her sore head thunked back onto the floor. Wincing against the pain that shot through her at the contact how she ended up in this place flooded back. Sorry Xer. She knew it was her fault, she was the one who made him track down Harry's hideaway, now she had ended up exactly where his dour little expression had predicted. Research being the only thing that could distract her, Kerrin's head was bent over her viewscreen hoping the activity would take her mind off the gnawing worry. A noise behind her catching her attention, Kerrin started to turn expecting that once again Jason had let himself in (reminder, change the codes) and had just enough time to register how not Jason it was before the lights went out.

Gavin watched the memory play out on the woman's face, eyes eagerly devouring her remembered pain. "Did he ever tell you about his other woman," he asked, tracing a line down her jaw. "I got to know her pretty well, too. Sara…" the black, black eyes seemed to swallow the surrounding shadows, drawing the woman into them, "It's not easy to break someone in a way no one can see," he said quietly.

Like a firefly in amber she was immobilized by his stare. Only when he began to bind her hands did the spell break. "Why bother? It's not like I can go anywhere."

The answering gleam in his eyes as he almost lovingly tightened the rope around her wrists was answer enough but then, quite suddenly, the lights in the room rose and, through the glare a new voice entered the mix, "He's bothering because presentation is everything." Sims Al-Kar, who'd had a very bad thirty-one hours thanks to Harry Finn, looked down at the archeologist with no pity. "And it's important for all of us that Finn gets a very, very good presentation." At his short nod, Gavin, who'd finished his work with the knots, hauled off with a backhand of significant proportions, barking out a sick laugh as he did so and sending Kerrin several feet back while Sims raised a micro-recorder to survey the damage. He tried not to feel the ripple of unease at Booth's response to the violence. It wasn't any worse than before… it wasn't.

Fireworks exploded behind her eyes, she bit back a sob as the realization that she was just here as bait finally sank in….too bad it won't work. "I hate to break it to you boys," she rasped out in pain, "but I doubt right now Harry would cross the street for me."

"We have an inside scoop that says different," Gavin commented, crossing the floor and kneeling in front of her, smiling his wrong smile. Myla Szado had made that very clear, when the two brothers had reported their latest failure to apprehend Finn to the Ambassador… she'd gotten to know Finn damned well, it seemed, during his brief visit to the club the previous night. Booth couldn't wait for ol' Harry to find out he'd been read like a cheap book by the telepath.

"He'll come," Sims affirmed, pocketing the vid and turning towards the door. "And when he does, you'll be free."

"Of course," Gavin confided, leaning in close, "I kinda hope you're right about him… cause if Finn don't make it, well," he raised her bound hands and rubbed them along his own cheek, "I'll be able to show you what I showed Sara," and smiling he joined his brother at the door to the windowless chamber. "Lights to zero," Booth ordered as the two left the room.

Left alone in the pitch black Kerrin let go, crying softly, she curled in on herself to control the shaking. I don't even know what would be worse, if I am right, or if they are…

JP featuring NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer, Gavin Booth and Sims Al-Kar as written by Tee and HF, respectively
Originally Posted 6-23-2008 by T'Shaini


Blue 17 Beta
Outside Arrakis Spice Mining, LTD
1920 Herbert Lane
19:23:33 Hours

“This smells off,” Carrabas commented.

“That’s just Maarti,” Max told him, nodding towards where the iconic henchman was eyeballing the small alley between Arrakis and the communications hub next door. Relaxing against the wall, Scherling waited calmly for Kaen and Stoh-Ehn to give them the all-clear. He’d been making this drop for months and there’d never been a whisper of a problem.

“I said off, not lethal,” the looming merc replied, crushing another of his foul cigarettes into the concrete. “They’ve been in there too long…”

“Jeez, dude, chill out!” Scherling rolled his eyes, “What, are you a complete newbie or do you always get the nervous nellies on a job?”

“Only when I smell something off…”

The surly reply was cut short by the sudden report of phaser fire.

“Holy crap!” was Scherling's brilliant observation as he saw that Maarti was already on the run. The courier himself was frozen in place.

Carrabas rolled his eyes: as a criminal, Max apparently made a really good accountant. “Told you something was off,” he growled, hefting the other man by the collar and shoving him towards the alley where, as it happened, someone was waiting. The 'cybernetic' eye registering a familiar shape, the henchman wasted no time… pulling the bookkeeper sideways with him, he tossed a small bladed object directly at the other guy’s throat and the hard-eyed Fed collapsed, blood fountaining over the pavement. He felt another eye roll coming on as Scherling began to retch into the corner. "Come on," he started to drag the pansy away.

“But, the case,” Max started to turn back, “I dropped the goods…”

He was met by a wall of black-clad ire, “Call them gone and get your ass out of here… they can’t make Mist talk but I bet you’d sing like a flitterbird if the feds got their mitts on you…”

Ten minutes after the pair had disappeared into the dark, Ray Slater rose, miraculously recovered from his violent death. He palmed the prop dagger Finn had thrown his way as the latest version of Daka came out to join him.

“What happened out here?” the blond for an evening asked, wrinkling her nose at the excess of ‘blood’.

Slaughter grinned, “I’m not sure but I think I just made Finn look really good to the inner Circle.” He tossed the stage prop in the air once and caught it, “He’s damn lucky I know how to improvise.”

“He’s damn lucky you were able to get the team in place early,” she added, turning back to the building. “I’m going to report to Doyle… anything you want to include?”

Slater considered, then shook his head, “Nah, just leave it at an anonymous tip. Let’s not risk blowing Harry’s cover now,” he wiped at the goo covering his neck, “after tonight’s performance, he might actually be in a position to get us something we can use.”

Featuring NPC's Daka and Ray Don Slater, FDoJ Undercover
Originally Posted 6-27-2008 by Harry Finn


Red 18 Delta
Bust Out
The Needle

“Why are you dragging me to this… place?” Max Scherling adjusted his jacket in a huff, “We’re clear, no one followed us… we should have split up…”

“Not until we know who got out,” Carrabas said, “and maybe who set us up.”

“Excuse me?” Scherling’s tone reeked of offended pride but one scathing glance from the mismatched eyes had him swallowing any further commentary. “Right, well, I can guarantee I didn’t screw the pooch… best gig I ever had…”

“Didn’t say it was you… could be Maarti, or Stoh-Ehn or the Money… could be me…” he grinned at the horrified expression on the other man’s face. “Other’s are gonna say it, no reason to be shy. Thing is, if it was me, what’d I get from the deal? A dead cop on my rap and I’m not feeling any richer…” Carrabas sneered as he led the way into The Needle, “I came to this burg ‘cause it was supposed to be the land of f**king opportunity. Gotta say, so far, it’s been mostly the place everyone in the trade gets offed.”

“But not you.”

He turned towards the husky voice of his original interviewer, where she leaned against the bar.

“No,” he agreed, “not me.”

“Ms. Fabria,” Scherling practically wet himself with excitement over the woman’s presence.

“Max,” Neishi sashayed up to the two and Carrabas noted a hollow place where she usually kept a shadow. Of course, Enris had been her second the last time and though he knew there was another, he doubted they worked their deals in tandem. “Victor,” she ran a hand up his sleeve, then down again. Counting the hardware, he figured. “You two, join me.”

It wasn’t an invitation.

She led the way to her preferred table. Max pulled out a chair for the lady while Carrabas dragged out another with his ankle and slung himself down, back to the wall.

“Things did not go well,” Neishi commented, seating herself with a downright lascivious grace. “And you on your very first night…”

“From what I hear,” Carrabas commented, “things haven’t been going well for any of your crew all day.”

“They have not,” three drinks were slapped down on the table and just from the look of the glasses, (they were clean) Carrabas knew they weren’t the usual swill that was knocked back by the clientele.

“We celebrating?”

“Mourning,” she corrected, “for all we’ve lost today,” and as she lifted her glass, six imposing figures emerged from the shadows to the rear of the bar, ranging themselves around the table. “And all we yet may lose,” she added as Max Scherling’s eyes went wide with alarm but at Fabria’s pointed glance, lifted his glass, barely controlling the shaking.

The one-eyed merc didn’t move a muscle. Neishi held his gaze.

“I’m not drinking to my own end,” he told her calmly.

“Are you so sure it’s your end we’re talking about?”

The slightest twitch of a muscle might have been a shrug. “I know how it looks…”

“But, but, you didn’t see him,” Max waved his glass, “he took out a Fed, straight out, no hesitation… it was… well it was disgusting but, but… we got away.”

Neishi’s hand moved perhaps a centimeter and the looming muscle drifted away. “I see,” she said, looking back at the other man, who’s gaze, so off-kilter, had never left her face, “well then, let us drink to the Federation’s loss.” She raised her hand in a toast, which Max quickly met and then held her glass still, waiting.

Slowly, making no secret of his distrust, Carrabas took up the glass, slowly touched it to Neishi’s and slowly, slowly, lifted it to his lips but, once there, he tossed the liquor back so fast it was unlikely he tasted any of it. “So,” he slammed the glass down, “now what happens? The deal went sour, that mean no pay? No prospects?”

“Not at all,” the woman replied after drinking her own share, somewhat less violently. Neishi licked her lips, slowly capturing the last drops of whiskey, a move which almost melted Max but left the other man cold. “As it happens, the sudden dearth in the ranks, coupled with your own obvious initiative means there may be more for you sooner than expected.”

“Be nice if it wasn’t drawing from a poisoned well,” he countered, referring to the failed exchange just an hour past.

“There will be no chance of that,” she told him. “As this time you have only to make a delivery… three deliveries, actually.” Reaching into her bag, she withdrew a trio of sealed isolinear chips and kindly ignored the fact that Carrabas had dropped his own hand below the table. “These must be taken to the Yellow and Blue sectors, respectively, addresses are here,” she included a mini-padd,” report to the fourth address when you have made the drops and make note if there is anyone present to receive the messages. At that time you will receive payment for both jobs."

Max, who had only taken a small sip of his own drink watched his erstwhile rescuer take the intel, glance at the addresses and back up.

“That’s it?”

Neishi rose, “For now… well, and you could escort poor Mr. Scherling home… I fear he may become lost, having come so far from his normal environs.”

Scherling started to rise, “Ah, really, that’s… I’m good…”

Neishi turned back towards the table, “I insist. ”

Max settled back into his chair, “Oh, well, in that case…” he looked at Carrabas and was surprised to find the other man tossing back Scherling's own, unfinished, drink, “uh, whenever you’re ready?”

“Now’s fine.” Rising from the table, de Carrabas pocketed the chips and the padd, which bore the home address of one Arthur Dent and another, for a business belonging to Anthony Crowley, of Crowley's Pest Control, both aliases of Harry Finn’s… both, presumably burned now; the last was to Dr. Jason Hallows of the Erasmis/Kendrassi dig.

Someone was really trying to get in touch with Harry, and they'd included Kerrin's employer as a possible contact.

He could think of only one reason for that.

"Say," Scherling was saying as he trotted to catch up with Carrabas, "I wonder what happened to Maarti?" The courier almost tripped at the growled response, "Well, I don't believe that's physically possible."

Post featuring NPC's Max Scherling and Neishi Fabria
Originally Posted 6-28-2008 by Harry Finn


It wasn't done, generally, for one of the Breeshandra's to involve herself in the darker aspects of the Circle's business but once she'd learned of the capture of a woman believed to have some meaning to Finn, she'd felt a strange compulsion… Jessyn wanted to see who would risk the kind of doom the Starfleet man carried with him. Her status was enough to get her through the door, even if the guard on duty eyed the supplies she carried, he dared not stop a member of Ambassador Szado's staff.

She should have been prepared… being so close to Sims she should have been… for the cold, bare, cruel room… and for the woman who huddled within it.

"Oh thank god…" The words came out muffled with the stiffness in Kerrin's jaw and the smile of relief was crooked because of the swelling but they were genuine. "a woman. I am Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer, and they have made a terrible mistake."

Kneeling and placing the blankets and small box containing a meal next to her, Jessyn began to loosen the crude rope around the other woman's wrists. As encouraging as her actions may be, however, "I am afraid they never make a mistake," Jessyn bit her lip as the tremor of fear slid between the two. "Except perhaps in their treatment of you." Looking up into the green eyes, "I am sorry, though I imagine that has little worth to you…"

"I will take what I can get. Sorry goes a long way." An involuntary hiss slid from Kerrin as the unknown woman had to pull the rope from where it had become imbedded into the skin on her wrists. "No really, they think Harry will come after me," She blinked back some tears that snuck up on her. "but he won't. I…well, he thinks I…" Her head dropped and the next phrase came out in a whisper. "let's just say we are not the best of friends right now."

"I have met Harry Finn," Jessyn said, quietly, withdrawing a thermos of a Terran style tea from the box and pouring it out for the doctor, "I can say with certainty that, no matter how you believe matters to stand between you, he will not allow you to come to harm." Passing over the cup and waiting until the trembling hands were sure on it, "More than that, one among us has… felt what he feels." I shouldn't say this… what joy can it bring? But, if it had been herself in this situation, she would want to know. "It is why you are here… it is the surest way to stop him and, believe me, in a short amount of time he has done enough damage that they will do what ever must be done…"

Felt what he feels. As ridiculous as it was, Kerrin felt a little bubble of joy at the phrase. Dumbass, look around you. Concentrating on her tea, she nodded in agreement. "Doing damage is kind of an art form to Harry."

"So it has been seen." Sitting back on her heels, the Cygnian began to unfold the blankets, "I wish they had thought to put a bed in here," she complained before laying one around Kerrin's shoulders. Of course, no one expected Dr. Schaeffer to remain in this cell for long. Either she would be traded or left to Gavin… the thought had Jessyn hunching her shoulders… "It won't… you will not be here long. Once your Harry presents himself, you will be made to forget all this and you may return to your work and to your life. It will be as if nothing had happened."

"Really." Kerrin said dryiy. "Come on now, even I am not that gullible."

"You don't know enough of this Circle to understand how simple a task it is, to adjust a memory," was the cool response. "And think a moment, how difficult the sudden disappearance of one of the members of such a highly touted archeological enterprise would be. You are not someone to be… taken… lightly." Jessyn brushed some imaginary lint off of the last blanket, "At least you will be left with the memory of him, to take through your days."

"No." Fury began to spread. "You are offering me memories?" Kerrin's voice rose in anger, the adrenoline steamrolling right over her pain. "Bullshit. That is Bullshit. You want to comfort me? I am kidnapped, beaten and used for bait to kill someone I love and you want to give me bullshit platitudes? Let me tell you where you can shove your comfort…"

"It is an imperfect galaxy, and you have fallen into one of its darker places, " the other woman replied, rising, "be thankful that, for you, at least, the stay will be short." So saying, Jessyn, who had been born to service in that very dark place, turned towards the door.

"Fallen is not exactly the right word is it?" Kerrin shot at the woman's back. "More like pushed."

Not turning, Jessyn paused in the entrance, "Did anyone push you into loving him?"

"No, love is not about being pushed." A nasty smile spread across Kerrin's face. "Why did you come here? Is love pushing you?"

A slight shake of the head, "I only wanted to offer what ease I could; perhaps hoping that, when I lose my heart's companion, someone will take such pains for me."

JP between Jessyn Breeshandra and Kerrin Schaeffer (as written by HF and T'Shaini)
Originally Posted 6-30-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 16 Beta
Outside the residence of Jason Hallows

Victor de Carrabas stared at the last building on his drop list.

He’d ditched Scherling at his surprisingly low-key hotel in the Blue sector before making a cursory appearance at the office of one Anthony Crowley. Empty, but that was no suprise. Not only because it was well past the middle of the night but because Anthony Crowley was just another cover for Harry Finn who was, of course, Victor de Carrabas.

He’d lingered only long enough to view the data on the chip he’d been tasked to deliver. After seeing what (or more to the point, who) had been recorded onto that chip, and what had been done to her, displayed in full and living color on the office screen, he’d shut everything down and continued to Arthur Dent’s apartment.

Which wasn’t only empty, it was trashed. All the weaponry confiscated and two of the three computers destroyed. The trashers had left one unit up and running, the better to watch a woman being beaten, my dear. Harry ran a hand over the cane which was all that was left of Arthur Dent, octogenarian opera fan. Leaving the ruined apartment, he tripped over what, when he picked it up, turned out to be a shoe… a woman’s shoe and one he had a passing familiarity with…

Back in the here and now, he wasn’t aware of having entered the building, or even of bypassing the security codes for the apartment in question. Next he knew, he was inside, staring at the fully-stocked bar and turning to the replicator, instead. He’d just gotten himself a cup of brew almost as bitter as his state of mind when the lights went to full and he was confronted by a sleep-rumpled Dr. Jason Hallows, armed with, of all things, a sword.

Hallows eyed the cup in the intruder's right hand, “Ahhh, the elusive coffee burgler, at last we meet.”

Carrabas, with one glowing blue eye and one black as pitch, just jerked a nod at the sofa, “Sit down,” Harry told him, his left hand holding out the last chip… the last recording of Kerrin, suffering, “We need to talk.”

Cameo by NPC Jason Hallows (that's Tee, y'all)
Originally Posted 7-1-2008 by Harry Finn


YELLOW Sector
Yellow 10 Alpha
Jessyn Breeshandra’s Private Suite

Entering her living area, weary and sad and wanting nothing so much as Sims to hold onto, that she might at least pretend that hers was a normal life, Jessyn had to stifle a cry as the black hole of Gavin Booth sidled out of her bedroom.

“I heard you went to visit my toy,” he commented, before she could ask why he was in her rooms. No point in asking how he’d entered. Gavin had ways.

“She’s not yours,” Jessyn replied, blocking as much of his emotional presence as possible. He was, to an empath, a walking minor chord, wreaking havoc on the inner ear and his presence had a tendency to make her dizzy. “She is Mylla’s, and only until Finn arrives…”

Following the woman into her kitchen, “And you’re so sure he’s gonna show?”

Turning and leaning back against the counter, Breeshandra, aide to the ambassador and lieutenant in her own right to the cause, replied, “I am. And when he does, she will be released, with no further damage done…”

“Who are you to say?” Booth sneered, propping himself in the kitchen’s open doorway, and the only exit from the room. “Maybe I don’t want to let her go…”

“You will release her,” she held his empty-seeming gaze, “and you will remember that you service the Sisterhood, not the other way around.”

He came closer, took inhaled deeply the scent of her hair, wondered how the lightly floral scent would mix with the taint of blood, “Oh, I have serviced the sisterhood,” he breathed, “as many of them as I can.”

“Step away,” she ordered, coolly. “Neishi will return soon, if you need…” Jessyn’s words were cut short as he shoved her back against the counter, surrounding her with his arms and grinning… feasting on her sudden pain. “If you need the…”

“Maybe I need more,” he pressed against her, one hand reaching up to stroke her throat. It was forbidden, to touch one of the Sisters… anyone but Neish but this was Gavin in the wolf time… for him, in the now, there was only the woman and the need and the vacancy begging to be filled with her suffering. He let his fingers tighten, laughed when Jessyn sent her own shocked breathlessness at him, “I knew you’d be the best,” he told the empath tightening his grip and thrilling when her own hand came up in a vicious swipe across his face. “The best,” he affirmed, grabbing the slender woman and throwing her violently to the floor.

Only to freeze when faced with the disruptor she’d drawn from beneath her flowing dress. “Are you quite certain you’re ready to die?” she asked.

He actually had to consider the question. “Maybe not today,” his lip curled, “not before I get to pretty pretty Kerrin, anyway.”

Jessyn kept the weapon raised, waiting and Gavin admitted his defeat. Turning to leave the kitchen, and her flat, he shrugged further into his jacket, the Leonardo was still there… maybe, maybe after he was done with her, he could use it on Finn’s woman… watching her bleed out would be…

With an anticipatory shudder Booth made his way to Neishi’s dwelling, just one floor down. Jessyn was already nothing but a shadow… Kerrin a promise but Neishi was now.

When Sims Al-Kar finally arrived at her apartment, worn and bitter and in no small way sick of himself, it was to find Jessyn still huddled in the corner of her kitchen, disruptor out and pointed at the entrance, waiting.

Featuring NPC's Jessyn Breeshandra and Gavin Booth
Originally Posted 7-3-2008 by Harry Finn


YELLOW Sector
Yellow 10 Alpha
Neishi Fabria’s Private Suite

She had left Gavin on the bed, recovering, and come out to enjoy the afterglow as the sun began to break over the replicated horizon. The living area was a disaster… clothes and weapons strewn helter-skelter from their initial battle. Gavin, in a mood, had taken the pain on himself and she had taken her pleasure from it, both the giving and the empathic sharing of his agonies. It wasn’t quite the same as when they hunted but it was good.

He’d indicated that, when the time came, he would share the Schaeffer woman with her and, though she doubted Mylla would allow such an extravagance, Neishi hadn’t wanted to spoil the moment for her lover, especially having received the confirmation from Carrabas… the woman’s employer had sworn that Finn would respond favorably to their demands.

They could always find the archeologist again, after.

A hissing of anger speared through her contemplations and Neishi Fabria rose to meet Sims Al-Kar, looming at the entrance of her rooms and livid with rage. He’d just come from the bruised and frightened Jessyn… the only thing he valued in this world, beyond Gavin. “You’ve made him a monster,” the brother of her shadow growled, “he was never this bad before you…”

Neishi glanced away as she closed the silken robe which barely covered her nakedness, “So you would like to believe,” she began, “but we both know that’s not…” but the Cygnian never completed the sentence. Surprised, she stared at the stain blooming over her pale garment. The pain was… exquisite… beyond anything she’d ever experienced but it was also mortal. She brought her eyes back to Sims, who.. ahh, yes… held Gavin’s favorite weapon (it had been the first to fall during the earlier, violent throes). She smiled at the man’s desperate confusion of self-loathing and hate and, as she fell, gave him the gift of her last mortal sensation.

Sims rocked back, slammed by the echo of the wound he’d inflicted and the subsequent slide into nothingness. It seemed forever before he could take a breath and he’d only just begun to see straight when he turned directly into the moving fist of his brother. “Wait, Gav… I did it for you… wait…”

“No,” Booth replied calmly, shoving another fist into his brother’s gut, then bringing a knee to Al-Kar's face as it came into range. While Sims retched on the floor, Gavin retrieved the Leonardo… made sure the anti-coagulation feature was set and carefully shot his brother in the thigh before finally moving to see to Neishi. Not that there was much left to see. Al-Kar’s aim had been good… the Cygnian was already going cold.

Without a word, Gavin, shirtless, bleeding in his own right from earlier exertions, moved to a chair and turned it so that he could watch the life seeping out of his brother.

“Gav…” Sims said, propping himself up against the wall, “it was her… she made you do it… she made you… go after Jessyn… to… hurt… Jessyn… just like he said you would.”

“Who? Who said?”

“Finn, he… warned me… one is too many…”

Empty, empty eyes stared, “So you bugged my place… you stopped trusting me because Harry Finn said…"

“What? NO!” Even dying he kept on fighting, “I didn’t… I’d never…”

“Then why did I find your badge?” Gavin leaned forward, the first sign of emotion he’d shown since entering to find his dead lover, and the gun in his brother’s hand, “Your embassy insignia… it was right there, underneath the transmitter…”

“Not me,” Al-Kar denied, while he watched the world go to grey, “not me… Finn, I told you, I… he snatched it, that night at Ankh… he… planted…” but the grey had gone to black and the words faded to silence as Sims Al-Kar slid back down the wall, never again to rise.

It didn’t seem possible but, at his blood brother’s fall, Booth’s eyes became that much more hollow.

“What…” the soft question washed over Gavin, “what happened? What have you done?”

Of course, the final player had arrived just in time for the curtain.

Jessyn dropped to her knees beside Sims and tried to lift him into her arms. But he had been too heavy for her, alive. Now…

“There was a misunderstanding,” Gavin explained quietly. “But it’s all straightened out, now." He rose from his chair, turning towards the office. He had to report to the boss man the deaths of two more soldiers. "I know who’s responsible.”

Featuring Neishi Fabria; Sims Al-Kar; Gavin Booth and Jessyn Breeshandra
Originally Posted 7-4-2008 by Harry Finn


Red 18 Delta
C-Point
03:12:46 Hours

(Several hours prior to the events of the previous post)

It was, de Carrabas had to admit, something of a wonder. He’d been granted a full-access pass to the local underworld’s center of business, thanks to his now-widely publicized murder of the Federal agent, last night. That, plus his apparently satisfactory report to Fabria had brought him here, in the company of yet another of the seemingly endless series of lackeys working for the shadow organization. Hoshi Takaaki, a Human originally associated with the Shigeta-Clan Yakuza but now part of the much larger Family, had led him through the filth-encrusted alley in the depths of Bust Out. It had seemed to Victor to be a sick joke until, between one footstep and the next, they’d crossed over into… this.

This being C-point, the Center, the Circle… the base of operations for the newly-born syndicate… a hybrid child of darkness and greed meant to take the throne of the Gamma Quadrant and its nature was as far from the fetid slums of Bust Out as Kendrassi was from Sector 001.

Which was all very interesting but Carrabas was a simple man, with simple needs… as the telempath on the border line soon discovered. “You want a woman so badly,” she said with a husky burr, “I will be off duty at 08:30.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he replied and passed the retinal scan with only a mild hitch which the tech said was probably caused by the cybernetic eye.

The tech was quite right about that, since the ‘eye’ was busy convincing the scanner that, yes, this man is the one and only Victor de Carrabas and that tended to slow up the works by a few seconds.

Once in, he’d been led to sort of clearing house for muscle, where he’d been granted a pass which would allow him into most of the buildings in the sector, as well as to bypass the border security next time he entered. And it looked like he’d be entering again, quite soon.

“You’re to take guard duty over from Dukath…” Hoshi was saying as the two settled in one of the cubicles.

“He finally recovered?” The flash of teeth might have been a smile.

“His arm has been repaired,” Hoshi replied, “his IQ, I fear, was never much to begin with.”

“Truer words,” was the ex-smuggler’s comment. “Fine, I get to hold up a wall, when and where?”

“Do not take this assignment lightly,” he was warned, “The woman being watched over is greatly prized. If anything were to happen to her, or if she were to be lost… well… that would be a very bad thing, indeed.”

The brow over the glowing blue eye arched. “Indeed?”

“Indeed.” No humor in the response as Hoshi handed over a PADD with the directions to the assignment. “You are expcted at 16:00 and it is unlikely you will have to, ‘hold up the walls’ for very long. If a certain person does not present himself at Ankh by 16:30 hours, you will be escorting the woman to a far less hospitable location, wakarimasu ka?”

“Hai, wakarimasu,” the merc squashed the sudden urge for a drink and dragged out a cigarette, instead, “and that pretty much exhausts my ancient Nippon.” Lighting up and rising from the functionary’s desk, he slouched further into his long jacket. “I’ll be there.”

“I expect you will,” the smaller man replied by way of farewell.

And so it was that Victor de Carrabas would, when he returned to C-point at 16:00 hours, be placed outside the cell of Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer until such time as Harry Finn arrived to take her place.

Originally Posted 7-5-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 21 Beta
Xer's Apartment
10:43 Hours

Jason's long legs made pacing in Xer's tiny room more than a little problematic, but it didn't stop him from trying. "Shit Xer, where is he? We are running out of time, and what the f**k are we supposed to do if he doesn't show? He holds all the cards."

"He'll show," Xer said, calmly enough though in truth his guts were churning and his heart racing in a way that it hadn't since his last tumultuous days with Conrad… and Harry had been there, for that. "Unless he's dead. And he left us the com codes for the FDoJ team, if that's the case."

"Fat lot of good that will do us. If it is a body for body trade we need his body, and if he is dead…shouldn't she be free?" Jason very carefully did not kick the end table the 2 meters across the room. "Where is he?"

Amateurs, Xer thought, even as the door chime sounded. Rising from the only chair in the room, the little man went to the intercom, "Who is it?"

"Land Shark," the disgruntled reply came through, "let me in, already."

Xer opened the door and before it had even finished whisking open, the lanky specimen outside had begun throwing duffels and boxes into the center of the room. Last he brought in a portable computer and, kicking the end table to the front of the couch, began to set up shop.

"Wait a minute, where is…." Jason, not usually slow on the uptake stopped before completely making a fool of himself, if nothing else, Xer's visible relaxation when this thing entered was enough to make it clear that it was Harry Finn…no matter what he looked like. "What's with the get up?" He said casually, leaning on the back of a chair.

Harry didn't even bother to look up… he needed to bypass the Outpost's communications net and reach Hawking. "The get up is our way in to Kerrin," he snapped. "It got me a job… then it got me another job and now it got me the job… guarding her cell starting at 16:00 hours today." His fingers danced across the keypad of the computer, seeking the quickest route to the outside. "And I wouldn't be so pissy about the outfit," he added, "since you're going to be sporting this look before the day's out."

Xer looked up at that, "Did Ms. Lev have what you needed?" he asked, though, judging from the amount of kit Harry had brought in with him, if the Caitian hadn't been Finn's supplier, the Human must have raided the Outpost's Security arsenal.

"She did… okay," was the response. Almost there… crap, I hope Gorsky's not on leave!

Jason could feel his teeth starting to grind. "Anyone feel like clueing me in? Or am I just here to look pretty?"

A finger held up in the air was all the response he got from Finn. Xer merely shrugged… he knew he wasn't here to look pretty.

"Just let me set this up and we'll talk," Harry said as the achingly familiar chirp of a Starfleet com sounded from the computer. =/\=Finn to Gorsky, please respond=/\=

There was a breathless pause as the three men waited, though only one knew what he was waiting for, then…

=/\=Finn! Shit! What's…=/\=

=/\=Not now, are you alone?=/\=

=/\=Yes.. in the lab… what do you need?=/\=

Harry felt a weight slide off his shoulders at the calm acceptance in the science officer's voice, =/\=I need a solid, Alex. What are the chances you can be by a transporter between 16:30 to, say, 17:45?=/\=

Another pause… =/\=I would be inclined to say that chances are favorable. Who's coming to visit?=/\=

With a wolf-like grin at his confused cohorts, Harry told Alex who he'd be pulling out.

Twenty minutes later, Xer was holding up a net-like garment and shaking his head… "I don't think…"

"That's good," Harry encouraged him, "in this kind of op it's best not to think. Thinking will just get in the way."

"That's not what I…"

"Look, I had Szeeraal do the imaging… once the net is activated you will look exactly like me… the real me, anyway. And it doesn't have to last long. Just make sure you're seen going into the temple…"

"So you look like a guard, poor Xer looks like you…and I am, wait if I am supposed to 'sporting that look', and you are guarding, who do you look like?" Jason grimaced. "I think I just confused myself. Now I now why I like archeology, find it, dig it up, identify it…done. Simple."

Harry swore. If pretty boy here interrupted his flow just one… more… time… "Make sure you are seen going into the temple," he repeated, ignoring the archeologist. Despite his attachment to Kerrin, Hallows was far from the first choice Harry would have made for this operation but he knew that Slater and company didn't have the freedom to cross the kind of lines Finn was about to cross and he also knew how little the Feds were worried about collateral damage. As far as he was concerned, the FDoJ was Spec Ops, Light.

"Once you're inside, squirrel yourself into the fifth prayer chamber, drop the net, put on the robe I left under the bench and make your exit as one of the Kai."

"DAMMIT!" Jason slammed his fist down on the edge of the end table making Harry grab for the computer. "Is this some kind of sick game? Invite the guy that actually gives a shit about Kerrin then just f'in toy with him?" He strode away from Finn knowing that taking a swing at him (which is what he really wanted to do) would only make it tougher to get Kerrin out. Shoving his hands in his pockets to keep them in check, Jason glared at Harry from the doorway. "Look, you don't like me…fine, I don't like you. But I assume I here for a reason and if you keep me in the dark because of some bullshit you got going on it is only Kerrin that loses."

Civiliancivilianciviliancivil… "I'm not keeping you in the dark," Harry said quietly, "I am saving you for last because, of the three of us, you have the least amount of useful experience and will therefore need wayyy more coaching. If you want the truth, I'd rather have Xer at my back but the holonet won't function long enough and he's not tall enough to pass for Carrabas so I got stuck with you. Now if you can keep your mouth shut for five minutes straight maybe I can get the rest of this operation set up so I can spend enough time with you that both you and Kerrin make it out in one piece."

Turning back to Xer, he continued, "Once you're clear of the building, activate the transmitter and wait for your extraction." He waited until the little man nodded. "Okay, say it back to me, from the top."

And this asshole is who Kerrin was all broken up over? If they got out of this, Jason thought, there would need to be a long conversation with her.

"At 14:30, I make the drop at Wizard of Ahs," Xer began. "Immediately following, I move to the White Sector…."

Featuring NPC's Xer and Jason Hallows (by HF and Tee)
Originally Posted 7-5-2008


Yellow 21 Beta
Xer's Apartment

T-minus 90 minutes…

Harry checked the mirror… again… then made another adjustment to the scar on Hallow's face. "How's that?" he asked.

"I don't… it's still not… quite right," Xer replied. "Here… let me…"

"I can imagine it is tough to make me look like him…but time is a wastin boys." Truth be told it was getting hard for Jason to sit still, worry was beginning to gnaw a hole in his stomach.

"I could save us a lot of time and just give you a real scar," Finn muttered, leaning in again. Aging the kid had taken up a lot more minutes than they had to spare. For the plan to work, Harry, as Carrabas (using the second holonet.. they had only one cybernetic lens and that had to go to Jason), had to cross into C-point no later than 13:30… if he missed that window, then the same sentries would be on the border and no way could Hallows version cross over and not raise the alarm. "You're going to be coming in later, lower light, and you'll have the duplicate pass… more of Szeeraal's magic," he talked while he worked. "If the look's not perfect no one's going to notice." I hope no one's going to notice.

"Ahhh, Harry?" Xer, who had backed away from the temperamental artist and his touchy subject, caught sight of the news, which had been playing on the wall screen. "I think you might want to look at this…" He turned up the volume.

"In further news, the bodies of two embassy staff members were discovered early this morning, in the Cygnian ambassadorial residence. While details are scant, there has been confirmation of foul play in the deaths of Cygnian attache Neishi Fabria and Orion staff member Sims Al-Kar. Security has offered no statement but a confidential source revealed that Al-Kar, who was still alive when found, uttered the words, 'Not me… Finn… I told you…' before expiring."

"Shut it off," Harry said, turning back to the job at hand. He didn't know what had happened in that suite but he knew, better than he knew anything, that no way was Gavin Booth going to allow Kerrin to just walk out of his grasp… even if Harry presented himself on a silver platter with the sacrificial knife in hand.

Shoving Finn's hand away Jason shot to his feet. "What the hell is going on here?"

"What's going on is that it just became that much more important that this plan go down without a hitch. Can you please let that be enough because I swear, Hallows, we don't have the time… she does not have the time."

Xer waited, breathless, as the two men faced off.

"Right, right." Sitting back down Jason tried to cool off. Asshole he might be, but there was no way Jason could get Kerrin out by himself. "How much longer on this?"

Finn looked at Xer, who shrugged, "I think he's ready for the eyes," he said. It wasn't a perfect match but it was the best they'd get.

Harry nodded, offering up the two lenses, one black, one robotic. "If it comes down to it and they don't take the pass," he said, as Jason frowned at the optical disguise, "the cybernetic eye will fool a retinal scan… it's the telepath on the gate you have to worry about. They'll be expecting a vicious smuggler with the ethics of an Edosian slug. You'll need to think murderous thoughts…"

"Somehow I don't think that will be a problem." Jason answered dryly.

Harry flashed a grin as Hallows began to apply the lenses. "Now," he said, back to business, "you've heard the drill. Say it back for me…"

And so it went, each of the three men rehearsing the locations they had to hit and the times they had to hit them. Once he was as satisfied as he could be, Finn doled out the armaments. "You okay with this?" Harry, now denuded of his Victor disguise, passed the disruptor, type 1 phaser and stiletto to the archeologist. The weapons were known to belong to Carrabas.

"As long as you don't expect me to know how to use them…" A fleeting wish that some of his youth had not been spent either at a dig or with a woman was discarded as pointless. "I will point and shoot if I have to, but no guarantees that I will hit what I am pointing at."

Finn sighed, "Come the time, give the type 1 to Kerrin," was all he said. Harry checked his own weapons for about the sixtieth time… aside from the normal shootemups, he had a hypo and over a dozen microbombs. He'd about cleaned Szeeraal out of stock but he figured he'd need it all if Kerrin were to have a chance. Picking up his own holonet, he looked at the other two, "I suck at speeches," he told them, "so, mostly, let's just go get the girl and not get killed."

"That works for me," Xer commented, patting himself down to make sure he had all the bits and pieces he was supposed to have.

Jason couldn't seem to help himself. "Oh I don't think I would mind too much if we got the girl and one of us got killed…"

Thing was, Harry was pretty sure that was how things were going to play out.

Featuring NPC's Xer and Jason Hallows (HF and T'Shaini)
Originally Posted 7-6-2008 by Harry Finn


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