The Darkness and Light

THE LONG GOODBYE: “The Darkness and Light”

The engagement has begun, though not in the way we had intended.

—- from the play Dear Brutus, by J.M. Barrie

  • * * * * *

"The beginnings of all things are small."
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Offices Startfleet Judge Advocate General
San Francisco, Earth
June 21, 2379

“Welcome back.”

Lieutenant Harry Finn walked in to see Seth Anderson already seated in front of the desk, tapping a PADD on his lap.

“Thanks,” though he’d not gone far… just a quick trip to New Hope and then spent the rest of the time in San Francisco… “How’s Jen?”

“Great, mostly. Seems she’s been getting in trouble at school for some interesting language…” he fixed his CO with a look.

“Really?” Harry would have to remind the fourteen year old about the usefulness of discretion. “What’s that?” indicating the PADD while tactfully changing the subject.

Seth raised the new orders, “We have an assignment,” he announced, “and it’s a doozy.”

“A doozy?”

“DIA got a tip…”

Ten minutes later Finn was staring at the PADD… “and how did we get this?”

Seth shrugged, “We were on leave…”

He need say no more… undesirable assignments were often foisted on those unavailable to refuse. Still, “Ashton is toast,” Harry promised, trying to digest the headache being displayed before him. “So if DIA got the tip, why isn’t DIA pursuing it?”

“Because Spec Ops thinks the mole is in DIA…”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope, and DIA thinks the mole is in Spec Ops and R&D doesn’t care who it is, as long as someone digs him up and plays wack-a-mole on his ass…”

Harry, pacing and reading, grunted a reply before, “Wait… what’s this?” he held up the PADD, to the last page of the file.

Seth rose and looked over Harry’s shoulder, “Ah yes, that’s the best part… looks like you have yourself a task force.”

“I don’t need a task force, I have you.” At Seth’s short bark of a laugh, “Besides, I’m not good with people.”

Anderson smirked, “Everyone knows that but, thing is, since every department suspects every other department, there was no way JAG was going to be handed the reigns on the case without some input from…”

Finn looked back at the PADD, “Carson in DIA, Willet from Spec Ops and…” he frowned over the last name, Laslow, Sara, Ensign “Intelligence?”

“Know any of them?”

“Nope.”

“Well, they’re waiting in Conference A…”

“You could have said that ten minutes ago.” Harry started for the corridor.

Seth grinned, “Could have…”

The two made their quietly companionable way to the conference room, where, upon their entrance, three nervous faces looked up from their own collections of PADD’s and coffee. Finn tossed his file onto the table, “So,” he said to his unexpected and, more to the point, unwanted crew, “looks like we’re going on a wabbit hunt.”

Surprisingly, one of them laughed… the ensign… Laslow.

Well, at least someone got his sense of humor.

Originally Posted 3-18-2008 by Harry Finn


Outpost Jericho-Samaria
Gambit One
January 29, 2384
17:21:05 Hours

Stepping out of the tube at his primary destination, Finn glanced around for where he should go, next. He had to clear yet more security, it seemed, before he could progress any further. Gambit One or, as he’d been informed by one of the techs in the shuttlebay, ‘Doormat One,’ was the clearing house for travel to Jericho-Beta and Jericho-Beta was where Harry needed to go to set up his… operation. He’d already collected the name of a key player from Mollin, his contact on Megiddo. If the Bolian operative were correct, this Szeeraal Lev would make his job a hell of a lot easier.

For a price.

Which brought up the memory of a recent conversation.

“Harry,” Will had put on the ‘older brother’ voice.

“Will,” Harry ‘younger brothered’ right back, “I was never more than a silent partner. I’d never have been more than a silent partner… this way… this way the stock stays in the family and I…” he broke off.

“What? You what?” Will Finn’s face leaned closer to the screen, “What do you need this kind of funding for, Harry?”

Finn gave a slight shrug, “I figured it’s time to leave the ‘Fleet and see the galaxy…”

“Like I said, what do you need this kind of funding for…”

“Isn’t it enough to know I do?” he had to pull back from the desperation, “I’ve already transmitted my instructions to Shepherd and once you’ve agreed to the buyout, he’ll transfer the funds to the account I gave him and then…”

“Then what? You disappear?”

Harry didn’t answer.

“Dammit, Harry…” Will’s voice went rough with the kind of helplessness Harry had lately become all too familiar with, “What…” the elder Finn shook his head, “what am I supposed to tell Mom? Anna? You can’t just…”

“I’ve taken care of that,” Harry looked down at the box he’d been packing up, and the handwritten letter he’d just completed. “You don’t have to… just wait for word from me, okay?” When he got no answer, “Will… even if you refuse to buy me out, I’ll still sell and I still won’t be coming back so it’s best for everyone if you do buy me out….”

It had worked. Will had caved and Harry was no longer a major stockholder in Finn Lumber, Inc.

Nor was he a member of Starfleet.

Now it was just plain Harry Finn joining the orderly line of intra-city travelers. Just plain Harry Finn who’s thoughts turned to the reason for his being just plain Harry Finn and who, at the recognition of those thoughts, had to force his hands to remain unclenched as he imagined wrapping them around a certain murderous throat.

Last resort he reminded himself, adjusting the duffel slung over his shoulder.

First he’d try it the mostly legal way. If that didn’t work…

“Identification?” the politely bored officer requested as he came even with the checkpoint.

“Ens… Harry Finn,” he stated, waiting for the vocal ident and retinal scan to come back positive. He wondered how long it would take for his presence to filter through the systems. How long before the ghost in the machine picked up on Harry's whereabouts. Hell, if he were to believe Wolfe, the moment he’d made landfall, the Outpost's AI would have gleaned every byte of data available on Harry Finn and what the AI saw…

But that was okay. He wanted Acker to know… he wanted him to know who was here.

He wanted the son of a bitch to know who was coming for him.

“Welcome to Jericho-Beta, Mr. Finn.”

Originally Posted 3-18-2008 by Harry Finn


Jericho-Beta
Red Sector - Red 13 Alpha
“Celestial Latitudes”
19:10:30 Hours

The chime on the shop’s door was of the oldest possible fashion… a handful of sticks rattling over the eave as the portal whisked open. Harry scoped the room quickly enough… a sort of intergalactic Next Age emporium, it boasted what could best be summed up as ‘woo woo’ chachkis from all four quadrants of the known galaxy, complete with irritatingly breathy music and sneeze-inducing incense.

The place was almost empty.

“How may I serrrve you?” the dulcet-toned purr came from the lone inhabitant, seated at a small table in the left-front corner, near the window. “Some healing crystals?” Golden slit-irised eyes gleamed across the room “Clarifying oils? Or,” a furred hand flipped over what he recognized as the … Harry’s jaw tightened… Hanged Man from an Earth-style Tarot deck, “a forrrtune told?”

“No thanks,” he declined, though he walked over to where the soothsayer waited. “I’m looking for Mr. Lev,” he began.

“Then you should perrrhaps return for tomorrow’s seance,” the Caitian’s amused rumble vibrated the table, “Mr. Lev died these thrree years past… an unfortunate incident involving a Mizarian Faith Chaise and a faulty anti-grrav lift… I miss him to this day…” the woeful statement was accompanied by a speculative look from beneath her long (very long) lashes.

“I can see how you’re pining away,” Finn commented, mentally kicking Molan for his sketchy intel, “Szeeraal Lev?”

A toothy smile, “And you would be Harry Finn…”

“You were expecting me.”

“Mmmm,” the feline female rose in a rustle of fur and silk, “this way,” she gestured languidly with her tail towards a subtly screened door. “Computer,” she instructed as she led him out of the main store, “activate Hllga.” As Harry passed into the darkness beyond the screen, another, holographic, Caitian shimmered to life behind the cluttered counter.

______

“I’ve alrready prepped the first two identities from the list Molan forwarded,” every trace of the beguiling fortune teller vanished, Szeeraal’s movements and tone were all business. “You’ll find everrything requested here…” a claw-tipped hand fell flat over Harry’s as he made to open the indicated case, “I’d like to see the payment, firrst, of course.” Her other hand held out a palm-top computer, already transmitting a ‘wait’ code for her chosen bank.

“Of course,” Finn accepted the device and keyed up the institution he’d be using for these transactions. Holding his fingers over the ‘transfer’ order he jerked his chin at the case, “let’s see what I’m paying for,” he suggested, not impolitely.

A small rumble accompanied the move but Szeeraal lifted the lid and there, as advertised, were all the bits and pieces Finn would need to build two more lives. “Nice,” he said, as he made the transfer and returned the computer to her.

“How soon do you need the others?” Lev glanced down at the screen briefly, then brought her gilded eyes back to the human. “And, if I may say, most of my clients are satisfied with one.”

“Seems as if most of your clients are underachievers,” Harry said, locking down the case and taking possession, “I’ll need Crowley soonest, two days from now if you can… the rest can hold until I get a better lay of the land.”

Szeeraal hummed, moving through the necessary arrangements in her head, “And where do you want deliverrry?”

“Here.” He had no intention of advertising his whereabouts… not even the temporary flop he’d taken in Red 3. “I’ll always pick up.” With that, he turned towards the main shop but, before he’d taken more than two steps into the smokey room, his eye was caught by a small, crystalline decanter which sat unregarded on a dusty shelf. It looked to be grown from some far-flung planet’s core and watching, he was taken by how it caught the minimal light from the dusky shop, gathered it unto itself and then released it in a shimmer of multi-hued luminescence.

Coming up even with the human, Szeeraal inhaled Finn’s scent, which had altered significantly upon spying the Rakhari courtship flask, “Do you fancy it?” She reached over and lifted the bauble, watching him watch it flicker with an inner fire.

Ripping his eyes from the bottle, Harry shook off the spell, “No,” he said, moving quickly towards the door, the Caitian close behind, “No. It just… reminded me of someone.” He crossed the store in three long strides, “I’ll be back in two days,” he threw the words over his shoulder, not looking at the woman.

“Crrowley will be ready,” she assured as Finn left the building.

Holding up the flask which ‘reminded him of someone,’ she allowed the speculative thrum.

“Lucky someone,” the holographic Hllga commented as Szeeraal placed the bottle on a convenient shelf before returning to her cards.

Her eyes narrowed as, thoughts still wrapped around the intriguing Finn, her hand turned over the skeletal image of Death.

Introducing NPC Szeeraal Lev
Originally Posted 3-19-2008 by Harry Finn


Red 3 Alpha
Mon juH
January 29, 2384
23:13:02 Hours

Locked in the room of the Klingon-owned hotel, Harry wore a hole in the carpet as the accommodation's temporarily modified desktop terminal scoured the local records for any mention of Charles Champe Stearns, Sims Al-Kar or Gavin Booth, as well as pulling up any intelligence on the Mist trade, including names and locations associated with the dealing of the strangely pervasive drug. Something that big, he somehow felt, had to be connected to the phoenix-like rise of Acker’s new identity.

While the terminal hummed away, he circled the room, going over one of a series of news PADDs, taking in the local politics. He considered it highly unlikely that the Kendrassi would care about him or anything he might end up having to do in the environs which Stearns and company inhabited. Still, never hurt to be up on current events.

He stopped by the computer and noted that some of those events were of an intriguing nature. Not that there was anything like a connection to Stearns… he still managed to fly under the sensors, even with his new look and new connections… but the flavor of the death of a Kendrassi, the laying of blame on someone in authority. No… not Acker’s pattern. But that didn’t mean he hadn’t had his fingers in it, or that he wasn’t learning new tricks.

Not that Shaun’s old tricks weren’t devastating enough. Thoughts of Vanona’s last moment, the life flying from her as T’Shaini knelt close by… and there was another bottomless well of guilt. Had Finn never been assigned Hawking, Vanona Hawthorn would have been left unscarred by Acker and the perversion of his engramatic cloning device. If she’d been left untainted, then it was quite likely T’Shaini could have gone her entire Starfleet career without having to drive a dagger into the heart of a friend. That her act had saved the Hawking would only salve a small portion of Wendy’s soul, he knew.

That her act had saved Harry’s life…

He dropped the PADD on the desk and checked the time. Local planetary rotation was 31 hours, much of it in darkness.

More time for him to not sleep.

Not that he was in any way as badly off as… as that day on the Hawking. He’d learned to balance the nightmares… he could get in about four hours before the images started to choke the air from him… before he saw himself driving the blade into Hawthorn or setting off the thermolyte on Wendy’s uniform or having a drink with Jenny and watching her realize her heart was exploding or slitting Dana’s throat and watching as it became Kerrin’s lifeblood spilling over his hands… and he’d wake, his own heart pounding and his own breath rasping in his ears and unable to seek any further rest.

And every third or fourth night, when he started to feel himself losing the edge, he made use of the prescription Jillian had given him.

He still had the dreams, but when he took the pill, he wouldn’t wake up until a full eight hours had passed. It wasn’t fun, but it kept his body going and that was what mattered.

He sat on the side of the bed, figuring there was no time like the present. Tomorrow he’d break out one half of the equipment he’d purchased from Szeeraal Lev and start looking for a permanent residence. Meanwhile, the computer would be working all the livelong night so he may as well get what rest he could before he began to lay his groundwork.

“Lights to zero,” he ordered as he reached over to the small labelled bottle on the bedside table. Popping the top, he shook out a single capsule and, not allowing himself to think about what the rest of the night would bring, tossed it back, dry swallowing before setting aside the container and stretching out, fully clothed, on top of the bedding.

What dreams may come…

Originally Posted 3-20-2008 by Harry Finn


The ritual jumping up and down on the transporter pad to make sure all of her molecules were in place, yeah, it is stupid…I don't care, Kerrin hopped off and wandered vaguely to the doorway. He said there would be someone to meet me, but I don't see….

*whumph*

"AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

Kerrin's scream muffled by the chest she was pressed into she could feel her feet dangle off the floor as he swung her around. After kissing her soundly on the mouth he dropped her and she bobbled, knees week from shock and…well, shock would do.

"DAMMIT JASON!" She put her hands on aforementioned chest and shoved. "Why..why…WHY DO YOU NEED TO SCARE ME?"

Smiling down at her with that look in his eyes (her mother, had she had know him would have called him a divil as if the fake irish accent busted down the connotation of evil to mere mischievousness) and just shook his head with amusement. Kerrin was sure that that glint in his eye had just as much to do with how successful he was as did his brains and talent…more probably. I wonder how many digs have been financed by women.

Giving her one last squeeze he bent down and grabbed her bags. "Good god woman, what do you have in these?"

"Rocks, bricks, stones, sticks…you know I need my own equipment." Kerrin rolled her eyes. "If it is too heavy for you big man, I can take care of it."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah…big macho Kerrin…" He leaned to almost press his lips against her ear. "you forget, I know better." Before the windup he saw coming could land he took a quick step back. "Come on, lets drop this stuff at the complex and I will take you out and show you around."

Kerrin watched him stride out of the room without a backward look, oh so sure that she would follow him..well of course you have to follow him idiot, he has your bags, she set her shoulders as if girding for battle then jogged after him.

Featuring NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer and Jason Hallows.
**Originally Posted 3-21-2008 by T'Shaini


Red 18-Delta
“Bust Out”
January 29, 2384
23:13:02 Hours

Neishi Fabria waited quietly at the alley’s entrance. Physically sated she now allowed her senses to continue to feast as Gavin… finished. Blending with the shadows of the darkened slum, her eyes roved the perimeter with calm efficiency and, if anyone could have picked out her subtle silhouette they would never have deduced what shuddering ecstasies were strumming throughout the woman’s quiescent form.

But, one would have to be Cygnian and an empath and of Fabria’s unique bent to even begin to fathom the dark wells of pain-tinged pleasure which plucked at her soul’s strings.

As Gavin’s lean, dark form joined her, she accepted his touch, still vibrating with a latent violence which brought forth a gratified hiss as she turned to face him… Gavin Booth… the ink to her shadow, the edge to her blade, the rare cruelty who’s ministrations wrought such agonies…

“All cleaned up?” she asked, because, as the Earther’s liked to say, the devil was in the details. If she’d read her histories properly, the non-Terran Booth was a perfect fit for that demonic role.

“Another OD,” he said, digging his nails into her spine, “Terrible, how Mist keeps ruining all these young, fresh, lives…”

“A tragedy,” she agreed on an exhale but, before either could say (or do) more…

=/\=Al-Kar to Booth=/\=

Neishi tapped Gavin’s coded comlink, allowing his hands to continue their mutually satisfying explorations, =/\=Booth here… what’s…=/\= he had to take a quick breath as her own hands found a particularly sensitive area =/\=What gives?=/\=

=/\=We need you back at home base… Neishi too. Something’s come up.=/\=

Featuring NPC’s Neishi Fabria and Gavin Booth
Originally Posted 3-22-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 26 Beta
“Latinum Suites”
January 30, 2384
15:22:30 Hours

“I assure you, Mr. Dent, I’m as surprised as yourself. As you know, once your down-payment was accepted, the room was by rights yours. My soon-to-be-former brother-in-law will simply have to inform Mr. Finn that he…” but the Ferengi property owner got no further as…

“My client,” the agent, amusingly named John Smythe, interrupted, “Has, through myself, also placed a down-payment on the property and it is time stamped at 09:30:03 hours.”

“Well bully for your client,” the elderly Dent’s clipped British tone indicated his displeasure as he turned back to the nervous Ferengi landlord, “Mine was stamped at 09:02:46 hours so it appears I win the space race.”

“I can bring a lawsuit…”

“Over a shabby two-room flat in the lower end of the Yellow Sector? No offense meant…” Dent threw over his sloped shoulder to Gost.

“None taken,” the landlord barely inserted even as Dent’s argument continued.

“… but who would want to waste the court fees on this slum… hovel… pardon, cozy locale?”

“If you’d been in Jericho-Samaria for any length of time,” Smythe pressed, “You’d realize that space is limited. Mr. Finn understands the dearth of residential property so he chose to employ a professional… sometimes it’s best to use a middleman and save oneself these trying encounters.”

“And sometimes sharks dress up in suits and walk about looking just like people,” the dapper Dent commented. “How steep are your fees, Mr. Smythe? How much will this Finn chappy be into you for your… services?”

Smythe turned an interesting shade of purple before apparently deciding that this doddering prig wasn’t worth the energy, “Mr. Finn will demand restitution, beyond the return of the down-payment, should this property not be awarded to him…”

“Bollucks!” Arthur Dent turned to the diminutive Gost and blew out a huff of well-bred disgust. “I, as it happens, have seen the disputed flat… has the mysterious Mr. Finn?”

“I… don’t… I…”

“He hasn’t,” Smythe interceded for the stumbling Ferengi.

“Jolly good… one thing I did note about this location is that it is, in fact, two complete rooms, en suite, as it were… identical in most every way, connected by only one door, which no doubt, can be locked,” he gave the landlord a meaningful look with his surprisingly sharp green eyes, “is that not the case?”

No idiot, Gost, he straightened as a light began to shine at the end of a litigation-filled tunnel, “It certainly is,” he affirmed cheerily, “In fact, the space used to be a dormitory for the Corps of Engineers, during the initial installation of the Outpost… Why, it could be the perfect solution,” Gost was practically shvitzing, if a Ferengi could schvits. “Installing a permanent locking code would be the work of a moment…” he shot a hopeful look to the glowering Smythe, “A moment…” he repeated.

“Of course, for half the space, I would only be paying half the monthly rate,” Arthur commented, “and I should expect the down-payment to serve as the first month’s rent.”

“O-o-o-f course…”

“And Finn gets the same deal,” Smythe practically snarled, though he didn’t have to lower his own fee reciprocally, so everyone present knew the attitude was just for show.

Arthur Dent could appreciate a good showman.

“Brilliant! That’s done, then,” the grey-bearded gentleman showed a toothy grin, flashing a brilliantly silver cuspid in the action. “I shall return forthwith to take possession of… bother… what was the room number?”

“Ahh,” Gost checked his records quickly, “It’s room 221a, Mr. Dent. Mr. Finn will take 221b… if that suits?”

“Odd,” Mr. Dent shook his head briefly, “I could have sworn it was number 42… ah well, we do forget things as we grow older, do we not?”

Watching the old man with a bemused expression, Smythe gave Gost a half-assed wave, “I’ll give Finn the good news…” and made his purposeful way from the office, mind already on the payment he’d be collecting from the unknowing Finn.

“That is a shark in gentleman’s clothing and no mistake. Sir,” Dent he favored his new landlord with a nod and a jaunty salute, “And do give my regards to Mr. Finn, should he arrive first.” Taking hold of his silver-topped cane, Dent swung out the office door towards the faded glory of the Latinum Suites lobby, “I do hope he shall prove a good neighbor.”

And so saying, Arthur Dent, leaning heavily on his cane, tottered to the street and out of the sight of the beleaguered Gost, his head nodding absently to some internal tune which only he could hear.

Introducing Mr. Arthur Dent
Originally Posted 3-25-2008 by Harry Finn


Refer to situations from: Jericho-Beta - In The Empire of the Blind the One-Eyed Jack is King and JERICHO-BETA / RED SECTOR: “The Secret To Volcano Diving”

~ Year 3 ~
~ January, 2384 ~

Red Sector
Red 22 Alpha
Office of Slater & Associates, Unlimited
(Inside the “The Red Alert”)
January 30, 2384
16:00:45 Hours

Ray Don Slater was beginning to wonder if being either independently wealthy or a self-employed businessman was all either, or both were cracked up to be. Lately both were causes for bouts of heartburn and headaches that made the worst beatings and injuries he’d sustained in the past feel like the chest-load of hickies he’d gotten from Cremolia Rattcliffe in the bell tower of the orphanage church back on Mars.

Concerning the latter, an all but unending column of scrolling text on the screen of his desktop LCARS terminal—-partnered with a literal wall of e-receipts, signed by those who came under the & Associates heading in the firm of Slater & Associates, Unlimited attested to the fact that the number and credit amount of the company’s expenses far outweighed incoming profits. Incentive payments to informants, quarterly total 100,000 credits; bribes for information 75,000 credits; hotel accommodations, food, travel, 87,000 credits (and it was no wonder, with charge chits coming in from the Caligula’s Palace Casino/Resort in New Vegas; the Eros Dome in New Hollywood; the Six Planetary Pleasure Excursion, Galaxy Starliner, Inc and a 1 month stay on Risa….on all the island resorts ). And lest he fail to mention the not-so-small fortune paid out to his lawyers, for court costs, for reparations and damages caused by his three star investigators alone…everything from illegal entry to both private and Federal facilities, wreckless endangerment and damage to business property (8 employees and 9 customers injured after Investigator Caulder Holbrook drove a ground vehicle through the front of a restaurant in Miami), violent assault (the New York ‘gentleman’s club’ owner who claimed Investigator Lowen Roan attacked 5 of his on-site security personnel—-for no fathomable reason—-with a… .fresh water fish? ), to suspicion of grand theft (…some deputy colonial city councilwoman’s pedigree wolf hound).

Oh well. The business of private investigation, trace & retrieval, and security meant employing a staff who knew how to handle themselves, in any capacity, in the field. It was the main reason Slater decided to hire from te ranks of ex-police officers, former Starfleet Marines, and those who weren’t particular about which side of the legal boundary line their salaries sprang from. The business was, after all, just a cover for his true activities on Kendrassa Prime. Slater & Associates may have been a financial rollercoaster ride, but the investments made with the initial Genolina inheritance not only remained unaffected but rode the ever-changing air currents of the markets like an eagle. Meaning, of course, that money (as things stood now, and the foreseeable future) wasn’t something he need worry over…business notwithstanding.

Actually worry wasn’t exactly an issue. It was really an unequal blend of frustration and boredom. And both sprang from the situatioin surrounding his ‘other job’.

Lots had happened since he’d come to Jericho-Samaria/Jericho-Beta 9 months ago. Unforunately it was lots he could do very little with. He knew, first of all, that the ‘Habitat’…AKA Jericho-Beta…and primarily the Red, Yellow, and Blue sectors, were carved up into territories for the squeems…rackets run by the Orions, the Rigelians, and 4 of the largest gangs in the Galaxy—-gambling, restricted merchandise, barely legal sex, narcotics (the Venus drug and Mist), and what-have-you. He knew (and only recently) that there were a number of Federation contracted companies whose ships were responsible for the incoming shipments of Mist—-Keppler-French Pharmaceuticals, Westerna Laboratories, Cortex Systems, Inc., and most recently a company called Denegron Technologies, who, as it turned out, smuggled Mist more as either a sideline or a favor to one of the smuggling factions. Their main stock in trade was weapons and computer systems—-chiefly for Starfleet and Earth/Colonial law enforcement. Why they had suddenly jumped the fence to involve themselves with organized crime and THE deadliest drug-of-the-moment was another in a string of things that made little or no sense whatsoever. And…why Nyla Batal (AKA Wilamena Frenchette) had been snatched from her on-site undercover assignment as a pleasure surrogate in the employ of Mr. Rantoul Urbana to go undercover at the Operations Research Development Unit of Denegron’s New Bajor facility.

O-kay. Far be it from him…a lowly, expendable spec ops grunt in the field…to question why the Gods-on-High at FDJ, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to take one of the two sole agents on the job in their most critical area, leaving him without backup. But then…not that he actually needed backup at the moment. It wasn’t as if he was doing a hell of a lot…Playing the chief Sam Spade to a bunch of ex-grunts and retired cop burn-outs as a front for an assignment that lately was as active as Thursday Night Dance Class in an old soldier’s sanitarium and as revealing the holodeck version of ‘Where’s Waldo’.

Oh sure. ..he’d been keeping relatively busy, with those few members of his employee roster periodically between assignments, working as in-house security at Cataleen’s clubs…Breaking up the frequently drunken brawl or busing up a drug deal in one of the crappers or holo-suites…And every-once-in-a-blue-holographic-moon he was allowed the personal satisfaction of givng the doctors on-duty at the med clinic at Gambit One a little business when one of the Skulls or Blue Brigaders or Disciples or Caitian Blood Pryders decided the Ray Don Slater reputation needed testing to see if what they’d heard was Live or Memorex. If nothing else it usually got him a trip to Security Central in the main Outpost for a threat and warning session from J/S’s cute little cigar-chomping Chief of Security. Not bad as far as diversions go. But after 7 months or so it had gotten stale.

He needed to get back in the action.

Doyle was dragging his feet. Hell, Doyle had him dragging his ass. Him and his “Don’t make any decisive moves without first verifying a clear and uncompromising direction”.

Just what the Hell did that mean, anyway?

To be continued….

Featuring NPC Ray Don Slater Undercover Agent, Federation Deptartment of Justice
Originally Posted 3-26-2008 by Toryn Kaz


Portions of this post were taken from a previously posted story

Red Sector
Red 10 Epsilon
The Curious Yellow Social Club
January 30, 2384
16:20:00 Hours

Haq Kiy Haq was a cliché. His extraterrestrial origins…the place and time-period notwithstanding…crack any Old Earth classic in the “cops and robbers, seedy gumshoe” genre by Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, or Dashiell Hammett, and a character like Haq was sure to be included. He was the physical embodiment of the ball of lint in the navel of the underbelly of the underworld. With a name that sounded like the phlegmatic dying breath of a bull moose and the look of a 4-foot-3 inch wet fruit bat in a ratty throat-to-ankles leather coat and a hat as high as he was tall, with a brim that dwarfed a wagon wheel pizza. It was because of that look that made him all but invisible… .Actually, it was the look and a stench like the aftermath of a garbage freighter crash on a planet with a constant temperature of 120° Fahrenheit that made most people wish he was invisible. In any case, it allowed him to see without being (…consciously…) seen and facilitated his forte…Information. If you needed to know who was who, and what was what, and who did what to who and where were when they did it, Haq was your… . .Man.

° ° °

Montana Wildhack had been a cocktail waitress for…a very long time. For much longer than she’d worn her current nom de guerre and in venues only slightly less ritzy than their names implied or their licenses (or the lack of same) allowed.

In her 4¼ decades of life (though her most recently doctored birth INDENTA-card claimed aged 35, and she could easily past for 29) she had borne witness to considerable. As a runaway at age 12—-from an alcoholic mother and abusive step-father in their drab fishing village at the Pacifica Colony—-her first job was as a drinks wrangler and parttime dancer in a hole-in-the-wall ‘cabaret’ in the “Mudhole”, the worst section of Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet…A place frequented by gypsy nomads, 5th rate thugs, and deep space cargo runners with bad teeth, worse body odor, and minds as greasy as the guts of their barely space-worthy freighters. She’d seen countless of her fellow ‘sauce slingers’ beaten to a bloody pulp and/or slashed from ear-to-ear because the bastards they happened to serve were having a bad night. In one particularly ‘greasy spoon’ near Alpha Centauri a slumming aristocrat from one of the neighboring Earth colonies once offered her a very handsome sum in gold-pressed latinum to verbally insult him while wearing a full-head death mask of his dead mother. Just 5 years back, at a hotel on Synthera Prime, she’d suffered nightly bouts of nausea at having to watch the pre-meal ritual of a local reptilian species who shed their dead skin at the table. (If it had not been for the fact that they tipped well… . .) And of course there were sights and experiences to turn the stomach and strike the sighted blind from species far outside the catalogue of the Federation and most non-aligned worlds. One of which now occupied the large curtained booth in the club’s deep right-hand corner.

This one… .Lord Bless it so I don’t have to, as one of her long retired co-workers used to say… .Montana couldn’t have guessed at even as far as its gender. Luckily she’d overheard part of a conversation between the head bouncer and the club manager in which it was referred to as ‘he’. But it looked like a cross between a beady-eyed Pekingese and a big-earred bat in an old fashioned mortician’s coat and a hat with enough brim to double as a table for two. His most outstanding attribute, however (if it honestly qualified as such)…feature?…was the stench that surrounded his person the way heat radiated off an exploding star. Describing it was next to impossible. Words just didn’t do it justice. But its affects prompted a number of reactions most people could scarcely tolerate once. Now, for example…all the tables up to a meter outward from the source of the stink, in a triangular Fan shape, were devoid living presence. Luckily the Curious Yellow was large enough to accommodate those who had fled to less funky locales so that it had little, if any affect on the night’s profit potential.

“ *Bkhell'gyum…” First came the muffled curse in (…Romulan…) Rihannsu from behind as Montana waite at the bar’s pick up station for her order. Then came the thump at the bar to her right.

“ **eneh hwau' kllhwnia na,” Edye LLunih…conceived at Mojav Station from a union by Eddy Blankstone, Luna-born Human freighter pilot, and blind drunk (and more or less unconscious) Romulan Centurion Nn'khiy…cursed again and release the head harness of her breather unit so that it sagged against her copious bosom, fanning the air. “I’m tellin’ ya, Connie…I can’t take much more,” she switched to New York…Bronx-accented Federation Standard, jerking a thumb in the direction from which she’d come while pushing her tray and its small pile of latinum strips toward the club’s barman-owner, Cornelius “Connie” Dempsey.

Connie grunted acknowledgement. Knowing the young Romulan hybrid had already pocketed what he also knew to be a generous tip, he scooped up the strip and moved to the bar’s opposite end.

“I’ll give it to you, girl,” Montana gave the girl’s shoulder a sympathetic pat, “I don’t know if I could hang with it this long. I’d swear the paint’s starting to bubble up on the ceiling over his table.”

Connie was back within seconds, placing a tall goblet of ichorous green liquid at the center of Edye’s tray. “Haq’s one of my best customers,” said the barman. “Smelly or not, he never tries to stiff me, doesn’t get fresh with any’a you girls…I mean, ‘cept for waitresses, he never talks to anybody…keeps to himself.”

“Well…” Edye threw a surreptitious glance at the booth in topic and leaned closer to her employer and fellow slinger, lowering her voice. “Looks like his M.O.’s changin’ a bit”…she slid closer still… “one of the girls from early shift—-Mada, the big farm girl from Benecia—-told me…he’s been asking questions. .tossin’ fat latinum for information.”

Montana glanced at the booth. “Information on what?”

“On all the stiffs…the girls the Outpost cops been findin’ in alleys lately. One of them was in here a few hours before they found her. I heard…she was burned and cut up and tortured pretty bad…Like some really sick… .somebody twisted had themselves a real good one with her.”

“None’a our bizz, kid,” Connie cut in with a dismissive wave of one beefy hand. “We deal in hootch and social entertainment…Not gossip and tongue-slappin’. Now. ..go take the man his drink. You’re off the chronometer for slingin’ and due upstairs in he playpen in ten minutes. The Mistress sez you been checkin’ in behind schedule the last few nights and… . .”

“Connie…don’t strain your tongue,” Montana interrupted, holding a hand, palm-up, to Edye. “Give me the breather and clock out…I’ll take care of that.”

To be continued…

Rihannsu translations:
*eneh hwau' kllhwnia na - an obscenity
**Bkhell'gyum - Lowland country liable to flooding and smelling bad

Post featured NPCs Haq Kiy Haq and Montana Wildhack
Originally Posted 3027-2008 by Toryn Kaz


Red 18 Delta
Bust Out
The Needle
January 30, 2384
17:00:46 Hours

In the lexicon of bars, The Needle just made the bottom of the list by dint of having thrown a strip of liberated tritanium siding over a series of foundling supports across which drinks of equally dubious origin could be slung. It was small, it smelled like a Pak’led midden and the high from the purported alcohol was likely to last about as long as two-credit upright, but to the denizens of Bust Out, it was theirs and they were proud of it.

It was also the only bar left in the dump of Red 18 after Shrak’tal’s place had burned down during a throw-down over a Mist deal gone sour.

Today the place was full. Closer to the entrance, the talk was of the latest body found, not two streets away. No ID released but had anyone seen Lacy Sooks in the past thirty-one?

No, the answer came back in a flurry of tongues, but she’d been talking, they said, about a sweet sweet deal with some real high rollers and how she’d be busting out of Bust Out once her next night’s work was done.

That was the talk near the entrance. Deeper in the bar, the chatter began to falter and, as it reached the innermost quadrant of the well-packed room, sputtered to an occasional whispered comment.

The reason for that quiet rested in the rearmost corner of the smokey, shadowed depths of The Needle. There, one man lounged at a small, spattered table. His chair tilted back against the wall and one booted foot rested on the scarred curve of the two-top, where a half-empty glass rested. A cigarette dwindled to ashes on his lip as he sat and listened and watched… and was watched in turn.

He was the new guy in town… a fresh face in the seamed mosaic of Bust Out and people were always interested in a fresh face.

The cigarette died and was flicked negligently to the floor, to join the detritus of hundreds of other smokes and thousands of watered-down drinks. The right hand reached for the glass and, though no one watching could say how or when the stranger took a drink, when it was returned to the table, its contents had dwindled by half again.

Those close enough to get a decent view saw a tall man, probably Human. He looked to be on the ropy side, but his dark coat concealed much of his frame. Anyway, it was the face that held the observer’s attention. Under a drape of lank, black hair was a long-featured, olive toned visage… hard-edged and deeply etched with lines of experience. Some of those lines were quite telling. Like the scar which ran in a curve from the outer corner of the right eye to just below the lip, or the eye itself, an ocular implant who’s bright blue iris contrasted sharply with the near-black of his natural left eye.

When an enterprising fictionalist of 21st century Earth coined the description, ‘Flapping Coat King of Pain’, this was the guy he had in mind.

“What’s your story?”

The King of Pain looked up at the inquirer, a normal enough denizen for the sector. “Who’s asking?” The voice was like gravel, with a hint of shale on the side.

The Enolian sneered, then glanced around slowly to make sure the audience was paying attention. In the Needle, he was the top sehlat and it was incumbent upon him to make all newcomers aware of that fact from the outset. “Enris Stoh-ehn,” he turned back to the dark man, “but you can call me ‘sir’.”

“Funny,” another cigarette appeared and was lit with the table’s dirty candle. After a slow draw, KoP exhaled the pungent smoke and considered the tough guy standing before him. “Was there something else, or are you posing for a holoportait?”

Enris leaned over the table, punch dagger in hand and ready to slice this bleeders attitude to ribbons. “I guess you think that scar makes you scary…” .

His sentence was rudely interrupted by the edge of the table bisecting him at gut-level. Bent double, sucking uselessly for air, he didn’t have the chance to respond when the stranger slid up next to him, grabbed him by the hair and casually slammed his head down onto the sticky plane of the offending two-top, where the glass had spilled and the candle had tipped, it’s wax now spreading in a hot pool across the surface, towards Stoh-ehn’s face.

“Nah,” the landslide of that voice fell onto the struggling tough’s ear, “I don’t think this scar makes me scary,” the ridged hand released its hold just before the scalding liquid hit his victim. Retrieving the dagger from where it had fallen, he made the weapon disappear with the alacrity of a stage magician. “Do you?”

Enris, having lost figurative, if not literal, face, said nothing, his expression wavering between panic and malice, unable to settle on either before the disturbingly mismatched eyes which challenged him.

The stranger turned towards the nearest coterie of drinkers, who’d been waiting for a bloodbath, “How about you?”

“NOPE.”
“No, sir.”
“Not me… ahhh, but, so… do you have a name?” the last of the trio was bolder than the rest. He also had to figure if there were about to be a change in the hierarchy, best to know the players (for the betting).

That brought a flash of white against the shadow of his face, “de Carrabas.”

Whispers rose in a ripple of response to that name. It had been well-known in certain circles, once upon a time.

“Heard you were dead…” the bartender, from his comfortably neutral position.

“Heard wrong.” Then de Carrabas, who, it appeared, hadn’t died on the wrong side of a smuggling op gone q’lava-shaped, cast his off-kilter glance once more around the room before heading towards the exit. “I’ll be around,” he added, as the door hissed open to the despair of the street, “if anyone’s looking,” and, the standard statement of services for hire spoken, the man who’d once been known as ‘The Marquis’ of the shadow trade exited The Needle.

It was a full thirty seconds before hands all over the bar were tapping open com-lines with the news.

Introducing, de Carrabas
Originally Posted 3-27-2008 by Harry Finn


Transcription lab for the Erasmus/Kendrassi dig

"Kerrin…" Jason waited a moment. "Kerrin…" No response. Of course not, he could be standing here butt naked and if there was an artifact on the other side of the room that she was interested in she could walk by him and not even notice. Not that it bothered him, as a matter of fact it was good to know that no matter what happened the work came first…it was just…odd. "KERRIN"

"JESUSMARYANDJOSEPH!" She damned near jumped out of her skin. "There is no need to YELL." She glanced quickly over the table to make sure nothing had been disturbed in her freak. "I was just looking over what has been gathered already," Her voice rose in excitement. "it looks as if the stylus used was longer and flatter than a standard terran one, which would makes sense if you consider the differences in the anatomical…"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa…." Jason looked down and flashed that smile. "Not that I am not thrilled that you are already formulating theories, but we were just supposed to show you the lab before we went out to dinner…" He pressed her hand against his stomach. "Can you feel it rumbling?"

She snatched her hand back from his distressingly hard stomach. When does he find the time to work out? "You are wilting, I can see it…lets go." As they walked toward the door, Kerrin cast one last longing glance toward the artifacts. "I think…"

Grabbing her by the shoulders Jason halted the spin before it could happen. "It is time to get dinner…and see some of the outpost."

"Mmph."

A short ride later…

"Wait…"

Jason groaned at yet another something 'interesting' that had caught her attention on the trip to dinner. "Starving…starving man here…but do you care? Noooooooo."

Kerrin just rolled her eyes. "Pull it together big man. You can hold out a few more minutes, this place is like the inside of Aladdin's lamp." She squeaked and clapped her hands like a seal as she took in the sparkly sign over the door. "Celestial Latitudes! Could it get better?" Waving impatiently to Jason she practically leaped into the store.

Taking a moment to wipe the smile off his face Jason followed her in and leaned on the entrance arch with a air of vague disinterest in direct opposition to Kerrin whose eyes had lit up like a kid in a candy store…hands searching almost as if she were blind as they tried to help her decide which way to go first. Lightly toying with the sticks that served as a doorchime he completely missed the entrance of the proprietor…not that he would have seen it if the Caitlan had decided she wanted to go unnoticed. The automatic response to any female within his immediate vicinity rose and he pushed himself away from the doorway to greet her. "I assume this treasure trove belongs to you?"

Purring gently she extended her hand toward the oh so handsome visitor. "Indeed it is, what brings you to my doorstep?"

The exchange barely registered on Kerrin's radar as she prowled, fascinated, through the jumbled array. Some junk, intermixed with pieces of real value. Pretty things for casual shoppers and some things for people in the know. I bet there is some secret back room too…with stuff not quite legal. There were shops like this on every world in every culture, relics from digs she had been that had 'disappeared' had surfaced in places like these…it was just the way of the universe. Some fought it, Kerrin either bought and returned that which she found or dropped a word in the owners ear about cultural responsibility, she always held out hope that she could change their views. She snorted to herself at the presumption…and the naivety.

Kerrin was about to turn back to see what Jason was up to when it felt almost as if something were beckoning…tapping her on the shoulder…shiny. Drawn toward the preternaturally luminescent object the rest of the shop faded away as she got closer and closer. Her hand reached out to brush against the smooth surface, oddly cool in contrast to the inner fire that the material radiated.

"It is very beautiful."

Jolted out of her reverie, Kerrin turned to the Caitlan. "Beautiful is almost too simple a word for it."

A soft purr acknowledged the truth of her words. Their shared moment of appreciation was broken by Jason stepping in (of course he did, two females…neither paying attention to him.) "Let me buy it for you, a 'welcome to the dig' present."

"NO." The word came out far sharper than Kerrin intended…"sorry, sorry…" She turned to the owner. "if I am not mistaken this is a Rakhari courtship flask," At her nod Kerrin continued. "not that either of us are Rakhari, but it would be a signal of a binding contract in their culture," She laughed out loud at the look on Jason's face. "which I would assume you would rather not deal with." Plus, it was hers, it resonated in a way that she was unwilling to share with him. The picture of Harry walking away from her that popped unexpectedly into her head brought a sharp pain in her chest. Brushing it off, just someone who wouldn't 'share' with me, she smiled at…."I am sorry, I didn't ask your name."

"Szreeraal Lev." Interesting… "Did you wish to acquire that piece?

"Yes PLEASE!" Joy returning, Kerrin followed her to the back of the shop to exchange a rather ungodly amount for the pride of ownership. At the pang of loss she felt as its glory was covered so it would be safe to transport, she reassured herself that she could stare at it for hours once she returned to her temporary quarters. After thanking Szreeraal profusely and assuring her that she would return…often, she ran back over to the door where Jason was waiting.

"Are you finished dillydallying so we can eat? I am STARVING?"

She was rewarded by Jason's burst of laughter as he slid his arm around her waist and guided her down the street.

JP by NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer and Jason Hallows
Originally Posted 3-27-2008 by T'Shaini


Jericho-Beta
Red Sector - Red 13 Alpha
“Celestial Latitudes”
January 30, 2384
18:42:56 Hours

Szeeraal watched the quite lovely couple turn down the street through the store’s gilt-edged window. She had to suppress a hiss as the tall Human slid up next to her, also watching. His scent at that moment raised her fur and though she knew the man’s aggression was not directed towards herself, it was… pervasive. It was because of this, because he was so easy to read, that when he tried to step forward to follow the giddy pair, she had already turned to place a forbidding hand on his chest, her claws unsheathed just enough to give him pause.

“Leave them,” she told the man, waiting until his hard blue gaze met her own. He didn’t ask what she knew about the two who had just departed, which was well, as she was quite certain he had no wish to discuss his private affairs. “We have unfinished business,” she reminded him gently as her tail jerked towards the shop’s storeroom, where the two had been consulting when her customers had first arrived. “The matter of the girrrl, this Lacy Sooks,” she twitched her whiskers, “it is not in my purrrview but I know of one who may have some answerrs. Come,” she dropped her hand from where it had rested over his quickly-beating heart, “I will contact him… discover if he is amenable to sharrring his intelligence. ”

“You do that,” Finn replied, looking back to the street, “and I’ll get his answer tomorrow, when I pick up Crowley.” Neatly sidestepping the Caitian’s snapping tail, Harry then left the store quickly, turning right to follow Kerrin Schaeffer and … friend… into the rising dark of Jericho-Beta’s false night.

Post featuring NPC Szeeraal Lev
Originally Posted 3-28-2008 by Harry Finn


"…and the lady needs a shot of tequila."

Kerrin slapped his hand back onto the table and smiled at the waiter. "No, the lady doesn't." Making sure he believed her before turning back to Jason she just shook her head. "First night here,I want to focus in the morning…no alcohol." She watched the corners of his eyes crinkle with mischief. "And do NOT order it for me if I walk away from the table."

Jason's attempt to smother a grin utterly failed. "You know me too well." He slid his other hand over to sandwich her hand in between his and squeezed. "It's good to see you again." Then as if even the hint of exposure was too much he leaned back and stretched his long legs out beneath the table. "So what about you…is it good to see me again?"

Kerrin fanned herself and swooned. "I am beside myself, presented with such an abundance of manly pulchritude…whatevah shall I do?" Turning her head away as if she could not bear to look she caught something…someone, out of the corner of her eye. No, not possible. Mentally shaking herself she looked back toward Jason. Always wanting something you can't have…you are here, pay attention to Jason. Sad that she was sitting here with a ridiculously gorgeous, intelligent, talented…etc., etc.. You name it, Jason had it, she just didn't care.

Jason watched as her eyes clouded over and she drifted away. Wherever it was it did not look particularly pleasant, leaning back forward he took her hand again. "Hey, you want to come back?"

"Back?" Oh god. "Sorry, sorry…yeah, I was miles away. Back now." Her smile flashed once again. "So who did you charm to get such a cozy set up here on Jericho-Beta?"

Jason leaned in conspiritorally. "Well, I was at a gallery opening in the…"

"Dr. Schaeffer?" the voice which dropped like a blast door between the two was rife with polite disbelief, "Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer? What in all the hells are you doing here, on Kendrassi, of all the planets in all the galaxy…?"

"HOLY SHIT." Thank god she was sitting down. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"Oh, you know me," an insouciant smile and a shrug, "just hanging out, seeing the sightes, making new friends… but you," he placed a gentle-looking hand on her shoulder, "I could have sworn I'd left you tucked away on the Hawking, all cozy and buried in research." He turned back to the vid-star on the other side of the table, "I had no idea the doc had such a close friend at the Outpost."

Kerrin tried to shrug the hand off her shoulder, but it was anchored there. Fine…fine… Through clenched teeth she hissed. "Jason, this is Harry Finn, late of the USS Hawking, Finn this is Jason Hallows, head of the Erasmus/Kendrassi dig. He heard I was in the area and has something of interest for me to work on." She smiled at Jason before turning a glare up at Harry. "I needed a change of scenery and this was the perfect opportunity."

"A dig? Really? Wow, that's just… wow," Harry, his left hand still securely attached to the woman's shoulder, stretched his right out to Jason Hallows he couldn't have been named Waldo, oh no, life couldn't be that kind…. "I'm just, so… damned pleased to meet a friend of Schaeffer's."

Jason was torn between amusement at Kerrin's obvious discomforture, and the automatic Alpha male response, grabbing the newcomers hand perhaps a little more firmly than necessary he rose to greet him. "Pleased to meet you as well," He glanced warmly down at her before continuing. "Kerrin and I go way back, there is no one I would rather have with me right now…" His smile broadened to infer even more intimacy. "deciphering the pictographs we have found, I mean."

If I bang my head on the table hard enough maybe I can knock myself out cold. Kerrin thought. What the hell was Harry playing at…and what did Jason think he was doing?

"Well, we only served on Hawking together for, what, close to nine months but, from what I've seen, you're lucky to have her on the job." He withdrew his hand from her shoulder, apparently having reached some conclusion, "Good luck on your project," he told them both, generally, "but I should leave you two to your dinner," he began to turn away then, "Damn I almost forgot," he shook his head tragically at Hallows, "two days off the job and I swear I'd forget my own head if it weren't screwed on," he turned to Kerrin, "Sadie wanted me to ask, if I saw you, if you'd found out about that… thing," he dropped his voice conspiratorially on the last word.

Sadie? Thing? Jesus Christ why can't anything be SIMPLE with this man. Kerrin bit down on her lip, swallowing the hurt that rose up now that the panic at his arrival had subsided. Well, it didn't take a genius to realize that he wanted to tell her something away from Jason. Standing, she gestured for Jason to sit back down. "I will be just a moment," She darted a frown at Harry. "Right?"

"As if I could keep you away…" but the words were low-pitched and probably didn't carry. Finn merely turned and made for the least objectionable locale, the nook between the kitchen and the main dining area. It was just busy enough to look benign and afforded Harry a good view of the restaurant. Leaning against the wall he waited for her to join him.

Kerrin scrubbed her face with her hands, oblivious to Jason watching her and started to follow Harry, pulling up short she looked over her shoulder and called back. "And do not buy me a shot while I am gone." His answering grin pulled a response from her lips until she turned to Harry. Ow. "What do you want?" Her tone was flat and harsh.

If he hadn't already folded his arms over his chest, he'd have done it then, just to keep from shaking some sense into her. "Aside from telling you that you obviously have the survival instincts of a depressed lemming? Nothing." But then, before she could respond or walk away or spit in his face, "Of course, looking at the new-old boss," he jerked his chin at the effervescent Hallows, "I can see how you'd be tempted away from the security of the Hawking, I mean, hell, I've only known the guy for five minutes and I'm about ready to propose…"

"Great, that is just great…" The hurt ballooned up constricting her throat. "you knew me for months and could walk away without a backwards glance." She tossed off as casually as possible.

"You sure bounced back quick enough," he made himself scan the crowd, make sure no one was paying untoward attention… well, no one besides Hallows, "It hasn't even been thirty-six hours and you're already cozying up to Indiana Jones, over there…."

"Oh please…he called me because I am good at what I do and this is an important find, I came because…" She ran her hands through her hair in frustration. "because…something like this could change my career, this is what I love…something brand new to unravel…" Suddenly her mouth twisted as a surge of loss overtook her, and the last words came out as a whisper. "and I needed something else to think about."

The silence following her admission stretched, broken only by a harried server pushing past and shoving Kerrin closer to Harry who, suddenly in contact with her, dropped his defensive posture, allowing his left hand, hidden from the dining room, to stroke down her sleeve, "You're wearing the red sweater for him," he finally said, looking down into her eyes.

Unreasonable hope mixed with want welled up with his touch, tipping her head back to look at up at him she shook her head. "I wore it for me."

Harry's lips twitched as he glanced back at Indy, "He thinks you wore it for him," he said before his eyes skimmed the crowd, once more and caught one patron looking quickly away, as if caught staring. Shit. The shields rose and when he looked back to Kerrin, he was already moving away, "You shouldn't have come down here," he told her, "but as long as you did, don't… do not let anyone else know you know me. And make sure lover boy over there thinks we're no big thing… no one can know, look," he took her by the shoulder and turned her gently, "See, he's watching…"

Kerrin nodded as she caught Jason's eye, and when she turned back…he was gone. "Dammit Harry…" She kicked the wall in frustration before returning to the table. "Remember what I said about that drink? I was lying…"

Jason's smile flashed, but did not quite reach his eyes as he slid a shot glass across the table towards her. "I had a feeling you would say that."

JP Harry Finn and NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer and Jason Hallows
Originally Posted 3-28-2008 by T'Shaini


Red Sector
2300 Alpha, Block D
The Wizard of Ahs – Erotic Attire & Accessories
January 30, 2384
16:20:00 Hours

It was always amazing, frequently amusing the places Chief Peter Doyle revealed as fronts (and occasionally safe houses ) for impromptu and/or emergency contacts. This one, for example…The Wizard of Ahs, a sex accessories and erotic fashions boutique from Hell. Some of the items in the display cases alone (beneath digital readouts in several galactic languages) seemed more suited to a weapons arsenal or torture/interrogation chamber than sex-play.

Not that he was complaining. It could’ve been worse.

Like, for example, one of his first meetings in the Water Reclamation Plant in the Black Sector. Which just happened to be less than ½ a kilometer from the Waste Recycling pools. He’d had to soak in a hot tub for 2 hours afterward to get the smell off his skin… .And then there was Dirty Bertha’s Famous Irish Tavern & Hostel. More accurately, the 10 credits-an-hour vermin’s breeding ground Bertha called the Bridal Suite…And lest he forgot The Bakery, the bathhouse and steam rooms on the outskirts of the Blue Sector. He’d seen more of the area’s distinguished businessmen and diplomat, literally, than his eyes (and memory) could take in one lifetime. At least in this one the scenery was easier to take.

And the ‘scenery’ looked up from behind the main counter as he entered, sporting an appreciative expression which needed no verbal explanation whatsoever.

“Good evening, sir. Welcome to the Wizard of Ahs. I’m Hostess Daka.. .How may I serve you?”

Daka. A brunette. Brownette, with reddish highlights, actually. Almost a redhead.

“I’m looking for something that doesn’t take a lot of time to remove,” he said, allowing his eyes to focus on what her pink lace top revealed all too clearly. Remove was he code word and, hopefully, she was the person for whom it was intended.

“Ah…clothing,” Daka’s pupil-less fudge eyes twinkled. “For a male or female?”

Slater’s smile nearly faded. “Gender is important, sir,” she said. “Unless of course the person you are purchasing for is a Hermat… .”

“Hermat…?”

“Yessir. They are dual-gendered—-both male and female. There is one posted at the main Outpost. Actually on Station Taylor-Kane. Commander Chernone 101…I don’t imagine you know hir, sir.”

“Ahhhh not really,” Slater rubbed the nape of his neck nevously. “I’m sure the Commander is a very nice… . .Commander. But I was thinking more along the lines of single sex…One-on-one. As in a man…me…and a woman…” A certain redheaded club owner of Orion descent, actually.

“Do you have a photo. ..an image of the lady in question, sir?”

“Photo?” Slater blinked in deepened confusion. Either the woman calling herself Hostess Daka was, as his undercover facilitator, being extremely cautious i.e. cagey, or she was actually just a boutique employee.

“For our holo-showroom…I’m certain we can find exactly what you are looking for,” Daka waved a hand toward the boutique’s left…her right. “And if it is not in stock we do have the ability to replicate it… .If you will follow me, sir.”

Slater allowed her to stroll the rather lengthy walkway behind the counter to its open end and emerge before moving to join her. Only then did he notice the reason for her cautious demeanor…A pair of Andorian males, previously hidden behind a carousel clothing rack, both sporting the colors of the Blue Brigade. Though neither made eye contact with them as they past, there was little doubt the azure-skinned thugs were not there out of interest in the merchandise.

° ° °

Once inside the darkened enclosure Daka’s fingers could be heard tapping in the appropriate code on a instrument panel beside the entrance. A second later the room assumed a ghostly amber glow, revealing the standard civilian configuration of deep black walls and ceiling dissected by a grid of luminescent blue squares.

“Computer…Program Theta-Six-Oh-Six-Three. Interface with and transfer codes to outer connection, Theta-Six to Sigourney Two-Five, Authentication Daka Zeta Five-Five,” Daka recite and moved into the holo-suite’s interior even as it began to take form. The room itself was that of a simple, small briefing lounge… .a single, round obsidian-topped table about 1.3 meters (4½) in circumference with attached vid-comm and LCARS unit at its center and a replicator unit nearby.

“I can’t be slipping that much,” Slater murmured, tossing a quick look at the holo-suite door, then back, self-consciously, at Daka.

“If you mean them,” she said in reference to the two thugs, “They came in just prior to your arrival. In fact, they have been in and out, in pairs, the last week. But I do not believe there is cause for worry. We have only been here a few days…The establishment before us belonged to an art dealer. He and his wife succumbed to the harassment of the Brigade, closed up and returned to Mars. Now, they are just feeling us out.”

“Alright then…Whatcha got for me?”

“It will take a few minutes for the Outpost’s A.I. to establish security protocols on the communications link,” said Daka. “They had a security breach a little while ago. Some kind of sophisticated hacking program…and the entire system’s been compromised.”

“This, while you’re waiting…” She picked up a PADD from the table and tossed it to him. “I went through it already…Looks like my cell will be working closely with Control and yourself on this one.”

Slater read in silence for a minute or so, finally loosing a grunt of interest. “Harry Finn…Where have I heard that name before?”

Featured NPC: Ray Don Slater, FDoJ
Originally Posted 3-30-2008 by Toryn Kaz


Jericho Beta
Red 15 Alpha
The alley entrance to “Pan’s Table”
19:22:03 Hours

Finn managed to slip out through the kitchen easily enough, once he’d tossed a handful of cash at the Talaxian sous chef; it wasn’t the first time he’d had to make a quick exit through the working end of a restaurant.

He’d then made a survey of the alley and found it devoid of life. Stepping out to the pavement, he’d gone maybe three steps when he was brought short by a disbelieving…

“Harry Finn?”

“What is this, old home week?” he muttered, hand brushing his over his jacket's lapel as he spun on his heel to see… “Xer? What are you doing here?” Harry stepped back towards the strange little man he’d last seen over ten months past, during a training mission gone horribly wrong. “Wait,” he paused, looking about warily, “Lykal’s not here, is he?” referring to the massive Andorian who had, in their earlier meetings, shown a distressing predisposition for thumping Finn on the noggin.

“No, no,” Xer scurried closer to the strange man he’d first met on an unnamed planet so many months ago. The two had started off rocky but bonded over a young quadrupedal creature Xer had named Martha (though Finn insisted on calling him Spot). “He and Conrad took ship the second our parole was up.”

Huh. That sounded about right. Conrad, piratical charmer that he was, probably couldn’t wait to brush the dust of Kendrassi off his heels… he struck Finn as being someone who always had someplace better to be and Lykal… well… Lykal liked to hang with someone who was comfortable with the heavy thinking. “I’m surprised you didn’t go with them.”

Xer shrugged, scuffed a foot on the paving, “I guess I just got tired of the life,” he admitted. “Thought I’d stay here, try being a citizen…”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Not so great,” the little man admitted with a sigh. “I mean, I like the place fine but jobs… you know, legit jobs… are scarce… I was trying for a position in there,” he jerked a thumb at the restaurant Harry had just vacated, “but they’re all staffed up.” He didn’t repeat the manager's comment about Xer having a face that could put a Chalnoth off his feed. Instead he looked back at Harry, who he remembered as being a decent sort, even if he had broken Xer’s nose that one time. “Was that Sara?” he heard himself asking.

“What?” the word came out like the last breath of a dying man.

“In the restaurant? That woman… I thought… well, the way you were talking to her, I thought she was your girl… the one you, umm, kept calling after Lykal,” he tapped his own head suggestively, “back on the planet?”

“No,” Harry’s voice sounded kind of hollow so he waited another beat, “No, that was just… someone I knew from my last post… not, not Sara.” He looked away for a moment, then, “Sara died, almost three years ago.”

“Oh. I’m… oh.”

“Yeah.”

A few moments passed in textbook awkward before Harry checked his chrono, “Look, Xer, it’s been a slice but I have to be someplace in twenty…”

“A job?” the little man’s heavily creased face wrinkled further in hope, “Anything you might need an extra hand for… or two?” he held up his two callused mitts.

Harry smiled at the offer but shook his head, “Trust me, you don’t want to be part of what I’ve got going,” steeling himself against the former pirate’s look of disappointment. “I wish I had something, but I don’t…” his words drifted into a thoughtful silence.

“Finn?” Xer, at the speculative gleam in Harry’s eyes, shoved back at the looming desperation. “Finn?”

“I don’t have anything,” he looked back at the restaurant then back down at the hopeful being, “but… tell me,” he grinned conspiratorially, “do you know anything about archeology?”

“Well, this one time, with Conrad, we found a kind of an ark…”

Introducing NPC Xer (Just Xer)
Originally Posted 3-31-2008 by Harry Finn


YELLOW Sector
Yellow 28 Beta
“Condo Row”
January 30, 2384
18:50:10 Hours

It was a night for the unexpected, it seemd. Doubly so for Montana.

First off, her thing with the strange, smelly little…man? at the Curious Yellow. She had always adhered to two iron-clad rules of operation: One…Never to stick her nose where it didn’t belong; and Two…Never trust anyone willing to offer money for sticking your nose where it didn’t belong. And tonight she’d broken them both.

But then, she had her reasons.

Even before she’d volunteered to take Edye LLunih’s last customer she’d heard through the grapevine that a ‘someone’ was dropping latinum duckets for news on the girls who were turning up in alleys, empty lift cars, and cheap flops. Like most permanent residents of ‘the Red’ Montana had blown it off, taking for granted the ‘somene’ in question was Outpost security. And everybody knew what happened when you got involved with Starfleet. But this guy…whatever he might be he definitely wasn’t a Fleet cop. Appearances aside, he just didn’t have that cop feel about him.

She’d volunteered to serve him the drink…in the beginning at least…out of curiosity. Just to check him out up close. But after placing his drink on the table she’d gazed into his eyes. And what she’d seen in them…without a more descriptive way to say it…touched something. Something she’d learned to keep as closely guarded…closer even than her tip purse.

Risking ill-affects of his noxious odor head-on, she’d pulled off the breather mask and the words literally leapt for her lips. “Word is you’re lookin’ for something special.”

“Depends…” he’d replied without looking at her directly. “Some things are more special than others.”

“The girl they found in Bust Out….” she started and paused, casting a quick and cautious look around them. “…the last one, Lacy Sooks. She didn’t OD by accident…None of them did.”

Not here,” his hand shot up quickly, then slid into his front breast pocket. “Can you afford to take off early? I can compensate you.”

“I can arrange it.”

He’d produced a laser stylus and scribbled on his coaster, folded it length-wise and placed it between a pair of latinum strips. “Meet me there.”

° ° °

Number Two on the list of ‘unexpecteds’…An address in the Yellow Sector. An area few denizens of ‘the Red’ ever got the opportunity to venture into. At least, not the little people. And Condo Row, yet. The address, in fact, was to one of the larger highrises…the 25th floor.

The suite she was buzzed into (via a private turbo-lift no less) had a main parlor/reception room three times the size of the entire 60 credit-a-month flea trap she called home. A gigantic balcony…force shield enclosed…with a panoramic view of the sector’s park and gardens. Damn impressive.

It was on said balcony that her host stood, back facing its open transparent door. He turned as she approached and entered the room, waving toward its refreshment area. “I would imagine there is food…and a well stocked liquor store, if you care for something.”

“This place is not mine,” he added after quickly assessing her facial reaction to his statement. “A professional wagerer…high roller, from New London. He spends most of his time traveling and allows me to use it from time to time.”

Montana shrugged. “Whiskey if you have it… .I never met anyone like you before. Where you from, if you don’t mind me askin’.”

Haq continued onward, disappearing for a moment behind the crescent-shaped bar. When he emerged he carried a slender long-neck bottle half-filled with dark amber liquid and two tall glasses, all of which he carried to a large table at the center of a ring of low couches. He then poured both glasses and placed one of the table top.

“You wil not find any others like myself,” he finally answered. “Not anymore. I…am the last, thanks to the former royal family of the once mighty Thallonian Empire. “

Montana was momentarily hesitant. She moved forward slowly, taking small, cautious steps at first. Noting this, Haq took a pair of backward steps. Montana then swooped in to claim her drink and quickly receded.

“There is no need for trepidation. I mean you no harm.”

Glass poised at her lips, Montana stopped and sniffed. “Your stin… .Your smell. I don’t smell it here.”

“It is an ability of my people. We use… .used it for several things…Recognition. Courtship …Protection and defense…It proves very useful in keeping people away.”

“I’ll bet,” Montana murmured into her glass, sipping quickly.

“You said…that the girl, Lacy Sooks, did not overdose of Mist. How can you be so certain?” he queried then. “Did you know her?”

Montana sipped again, still hesitant. “Answer one for me first. Make that two. Number one being…who are you? You ain’t no cop…that much I can sniff out… .No offense.”

“None taken…I am called Haq. And yes, I am not a member of, nor affiliated with any law enforcement service, galactic or local.…”

“And your second query?” he added,

“Why do you care? About Lacy and the others, I mean…You’re not the Law. And the girls were all Human…mostly…so you ain’t a relative of any of them. So…what’s your interest?”

“I could ask you the same question,” Haq countered. “You did not approach me just because I offer payment for information. That much I have sensed about you.”

“Fair enough,” Montana nodded heavily, gulping the whiskey this time. “Because… .Because…if I hadn’t seen the things I seen, and lived the life I lived, and learned a thing ortwo about certain people…I coulda wound up dead, along with Lacy and all the others.”

Post featured NPCs –

Haq Kiy Haq and Montana Wildhack
Originally Posted 4-1-2008 by Toryn Kaz


Red Sector
Red - 22 Beta
Ankh (From the Vulcan - War and/or the Terran - Life)
20:34:54 Hours

Jessyn Breeshandra knew what she was. She’d been born into a House which served other Houses… it was in their nature, and therefore her own, to offer up herself in whatever way the current superior wished. For now, for once, her superior’s wishes and her own coincided.

Such was not always the case but, as she’d learned early and well, it wasn’t what Jessyn felt that mattered.

What mattered was what everyone else felt, and how those feelings could be used.

Tonight, in Ankh, a favorite gathering spot of many of the upper echelon of the shadow trade, the overall feeling was one of tentative satisfaction. Her presence at the club had been requested by those whom she served: they wanted to know how current events were perceived and Jessyn’s empathic abilities could easily glean that knowledge. She had rather hoped (though hope, like her wishes, was a far, fleet thing to which she had no access) that Sims would have joined her by now. It had been a full day since they’d last been in company and, shame to say, she missed him.

Wandering through the sleek, chromed pillars of the room, token drink in hand, Jessyn offered a nod or a friendly greeting to those she knew, along with a gentle brush of the psyche in passing. So far, there had been only mild trepidation from some of the smaller players. The true powers she’d seen in the club betrayed nothing more alarming than ambition, which was why they were the true powers of their respective markets. Altogether a satisfying…

… her steps faltered briefly at the sudden emotional barrage. Turning towards the source of the psionic disruption, Jessyn saw that, at last, Sims had arrived but that his attentions were not for her. Thankfully not, as the waves of hatred roiling through her lover were strong enough to drown. Moving quickly, lest his rampant fury become visible, she joined him, standing beside a small table where another man sat, himself a column of cold, cold emptiness and suddenly she understood.

“Sims,” she rested a soft hand on his bicep, hard as iron with suppressed violence, “who is your friend?” Though she knew, of course she knew.

Post featuring NPC Jessyn Breeshandra
Originally Posted 4-1-2008 by Harry Finn


"…because their arms were too short!" Kerrin yelled out in tandem with Jason, she might not have meant to yell…but the 4 or 5 or 6 tequila's he had bought for her had completely knocked out her volume control. Leaning against the building, weak with laughter at the joke she had heard a million times and yet still made her laugh uproariously she hugged her arms around herself. It is so good to just laugh, no angst, no baggage…no bodies… She tried to push the vision of her bloodstained lab to the back of her mind and hugged herself tighter.

"What do you say? We Kendrassi waltz back to the compound?" Jason's eyes lit with mischief.

"Kendrarssi waltz?"

He leaned on arm against the wall to loom over her. "It is like a Tennessee waltz only you have to try a homebrew at every bar we stop at."

"No, no, NO!" She shook her head at the idea…ohhhh, tactical error. "NO…just home…well, apartment…Hawking is home now and I can't go there right now….too far, and no pictographs." She looked up at the disconcertingly handsome…disconcertingly close Jason. "Shoo." Kerrin waved a hand vaguely in his direction. "Shoooo…" A laugh bubbled up at her patrician dismissal.

It was the laugh, it had to be the laugh that did him in, that wild edge that made you think of…other things. Testing the waters Jason leaned in a little closer, shifting so that his mouth hovered above hers and waited.

Blue…his eyes are so blue. What was it with her and blue eyes…god. All the drunken giddiness melted away and left a bittersweet half-smile on her face. "Don't mess with me Jason, I have had a rough time and I can't take it right now."

His eyes closed for a moment then nodded. Pulling away from her he wordlessly offered his arm.

Pushing herself away from the wall Kerrin hooked her arm through his. "Jeeves…take me home."

Transcription lab for the Erasmus/Kendrassi dig

Kerrin squinted against the bright lights, luckily most of the crew was out at the dig site, she assumed she would have most of the day to familiarize herself with the details before the big meet and greet this afternoon…then he walked in. Sweet baby jesus…I have not had enough sleep for this. "Me? You were sent to talk to me? I just got here."

Xer twisted his his hat in his hands. "Erm, yes ma'am…miss…Doctor." From god knows where he pulled out a PADD and stretched it out towards her, wondering if it would be too tacky to put on gloves before she took it from him (not that he didn't look clean, he did…he was just…well, you know) deciding that yes, it would be, she retrieved the message.

To: Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer
From: Mr. Arthur Dent

//Dr. Schaeffer,

A mutual acquaintance has passed your name to me in the hopes that you could persuade your associate, Dr. Hallows, to grant the bearer of this PADD, one Mr. Xer, a laborer position on your dig. I can assure you that he has had a great deal of experience in the handling and transportation of delicate artifacts and, moreover, is very anxious to be seen in a good light by the archaeological community here on Kendrassi Prime.

While it is true his past is somewhat tarnished, he looks forward to the opportunity to polish his reputation to a mirror finish and, by so doing, earn a place of favor here at Jericho-Samaria, which is, to him at least, Paradise Found. While I do understand that, under normal circumstances, a new hand on such a project might be required to face the Spanish Inquisition, rest assured that Mr. Xer has been thoroughly vetted by our mutual associate who vociferously recommends Xer’s services to you, while on planet.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to leave word via the attached communication’s code. I shall certainly endeavor to return any calls though, regrettably, I can make no promises.

Many thanks in advance for your kind consideration on behalf of Mr. Xer and, of course, our friend, who also asks after Minnie.

Best Regards,
Arthur Dent//

Hangover forgotten, Kerrin flashed a blinding smile at Mr. Xer. "I am certain we can find something for a man so highly recommended." Of course she knew Harry had sent him to protect her, but there were plenty of things on an expedition this size that he could be taught to do, and the simple sweetness of the smile that crossed his rather unsavory features was an unexpected reward. Catelogue…he can catelogue. Kerrin knew she would likely regret letting this gesture go to her head, what goes up… but why not ride the highs when they came, the lows would be there regardless.

"So, tell me how you know Mr. Dent…"

Featuring NPCs Jason Hallows, Kerrin Schaeffer and Xer
Originally Posted 4-1-2008 by T'Shaini


Jericho-Beta
Red - 22 Beta
Ankh
20:39:18 Hours

“… who is your friend?”

“Harry Finn,” the man in question introduced himself, rising to tower over Jessyn and offering her a slight nod. There was a subtle warming to her presence, she noted, not lust, no but… something… protective? Odd, and therefore worth remembering.

“The pleasure is mine,” she said, truthfully enough. What Sims shared of his brief but meaningful acquaintance with Finn had only piqued her curiosity and now, here was the man, himself.

Sims had yet to speak.

“Likewise,” Finn replied, also quite honestly, his ice blue eyes sliding to Sims, “though it seems that Mr. Al-Kar isn’t quite so happy to see me.” He looked back to Jessyn, “But you knew that, already…”

“Jessyn Breeshandra,” she filled the expectant blank easily, “But you knew that, already…”

A small shadow of a smile played across the man’s lips.

“Jessyn, I’d like a moment with… Mr. Finn,” Sims placed his hand over hers, where it still rested on his arm, a feeble tether should he have chosen to act. In his touch she read everything she needed to know to leave the two men alone together. She nodded pleasantly to each, aware that curious eyes were upon them and returned to her previous route through the milling throng which included no few of the under-world’s overlords.

“Now that,” Finn said, watching her exit appreciatively, “is a lady.” He turned his attention back to Al-Kar, folding himself into the previously vacated chair, “Better than you deserve,” he added.

Sims grimaced as he joined Finn at the table. Too many eyes in the room, not all of them friendly to the cause, “I know.” He tapped out an order from the table’s replicator, “And you’ll leave her out of any dealings you think you have with me.” A Scotch whiskey appeared center table and Sims lifted it to his lips.

“Like you left Sara out?” Harry didn’t lean forward, didn’t in any way indicate his animosity but his voice was cold as space and twice as unforgiving.

Sims took a long, slow sip and sighed appreciatively. It wasn’t his favorite drink, but had been Finn’s. He jerked his chin at the seltzer in front of Harry, “You sure you don’t want something stronger? Oh, that’s right, you can’t take it, can you? What is it they say on Earth, ‘one is never enough’?” His grin was wicked, feral and in less than a moment, gone.

“Actually, it’s ‘one is too many, and a thousand isn’t enough,’” was the casual reply. “I suppose we could go on fencing like this all night but, frankly, I just stopped by on the off-chance I’d get to say hello to you… or Booth.” There was a moment of stillness as a third name went unsaid.

Al-Kar moved on, first. “You’ve said hello, now what do you want?”

“Galactic peace; a slice of Ray’s Famous pizza; controlling shares in the raktajino consortium… oh, you mean what do I want right now?” Finn paused, making sure Sims was paying close attention, “I want to know how your brother’s doing.”

Featuring NPC’s Jessyn Breeshandra and Sims Al-Kar
Originally Posted 4-2-2008 by Harry Finn


Red - 22 Beta
Ankh
20:45:48 Hours

”I want to know how your brother’s doing.”

Sims smiled again at that, “I don’t think you’re his type.” Though it was true Gavin’s tastes were…

“Why, because I’m breathing?”

“What in the seven hells is that supposed to…”

“You know damn well what it means,” Finn kept his voice low, his tone friendly but his eyes… “and if you don’t then he’s not the only one who’s slipping.” The newly ex-Starfleet officer skimmed the room as he continued, “There’s been an upsurge in bodies found in the local circle of Hell…”

“There’s been a drug problem on the Outpost…”

“Yeah, I’ve been reading up on that and, last I heard, Mist isn’t noted for leaving ligature marks… or making people cut themselves…” Harry’s eyes narrowed at the flat denial in Al-Kar’s face. “And some of those cuts… once you’ve seen the like, it’s kind of hard to forget.”

Gavin Booth’s blood brother felt his jaw clenching, “I don’t know where you get your intel from, Finn…”

“The same place you do, I’m betting, and you and I both know you’re not pissed because I picked up the latest homicide pops, you’re pissed because you know I know he’s in it. You know and without you running the clean up like you did, back in the day…”

“You’ve got no proof…”

“You’re right, there. I’ve got nothing. I just know. I know that way back on Xendi it was already getting tough to keep a leash on him… keep him in the ‘acceptable range’ of appetites. Now it’s ten years later and acceptable isn’t doing it for him, anymore. So, fine, he goes over the line but only with the invisible people… low-rent pros and runaways… no one who’ll be missed.” Harry closed in, leaning on the table, “And while I doubt that the loss of a few of the unwashed is going to ruin your sleep at night, what happens when that doesn’t do it for him, anymore, either?” He reached over, lifted the half-empty glass of Scotch, raised it close enough to smell the liquid temptation before allowing himself to search out a particular figure, now roaming the mezzanine above and to their left, “where do you think he’s going to look, next?”

Sims followed Harry’s eyes to Jessyn, laughing her sparkling laugh and laying a gentle hand on the arm of a Tellarite soldier who was enjoying an evening out with the bigwigs. “That would never happen,” he said, though, dammit, his voice betrayed a hint of doubt but, no; Neishi would never let Gav harm a Sister… his brows furrowed… Neishi…

Harry, still holding the glass, returned his gaze to the seemingly ageless Al-Kar, “Maybe you’re right,” he admitted, taking one last nostalgic whiff of the liquor before placing the glass gently in front of a man he’d happily have killed, right then and there, “or maybe, like me, Gavin has found out that one was too many… and a thousand isn’t enough.” He rose from the table, “It can never be enough.” Finn waited only a moment more, allowing the words to sink to Al-Kar’s level before he turned, more than ready to part with this particular company.

But Al-Kar wasn’t having it. In a heartbeat he was up, right hand grabbing hold of Finn’s jacket, pivoting him back, “I sure hope you don’t think that coming here, warning me about the alleged sins of my brother is gonna raise your cred with me,” he hissed.

Finn just stared a moment, then, “I have to say, I don’t get your damage. Last we met, you were nothing more than a backwater arms dealer and somehow, somehow after that bust, you end up on the road to this,” he jerked his chin at the surrounding opulance, “living large, nice digs, good threads,” he brushed his own hand over the other man’s coat, “you got everything your larcenous heart could desire…”

“Not until I’d spent over half the war in a lab with a couple of Founders who wanted to find out what made us Alpha quad solids tick…”

“Fortunes of war,” Finn stated flatly, “You survived and came out on top and, so far, I notice that no one’s raped and tortured your woman.” Sara Laslow’s unspoken name fell between them and Al-Kar dropped his hand from where it was fisted in Finn’s blazer. Harry held Sims’ eyes for another small eternity before he turned and strode out of the club.

Sims remained where he was until she rejoined him, soothing his ragged hatred with her touch, both physical and emotional. “Did you…?”

“Yeah,” he clutched at her hand, laying a kiss into her waiting palm, “I tagged him…” Not that he hadn’t wanted to take Finn out then and there, but for the moment, tracing him would just have to do.

He didn’t notice until the next day that the Orion Embassy insignia he’d been wearing on his lapel was missing.

Outside the club, a janitor on his way home after another crappy night scrubbing toilets found himself the lucky owner of a very nice, nearly new blazer, with a twenty-credit tip to boot. He supposed the twenty was to make up for the two toughs who showed up at his apartment at 05:40 the next morning, looking for some guy name of Finn.

Featuring NPC’s Jessyn Breeshandra and Sims Al-Kar
Originally Posted 4-2-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 26 Beta
“Latinum Suites”
January 30, 2384
23:03:12 Hours

Harry, coatless, strode into the lobby of his recently-occupied apartment building, his eyes quietly casing the area to make sure the location hadn’t yet been made. Not that he expected to remain untagged forever but he was kind of hoping to keep the place on the hush for at least a few days.

Walking past the still-lit entrance to the main office, he heard a sound reminiscent of a cat being strangled.

Since he didn’t believe the owner had any pets, he kept going.

“Mr. Finn!” Gost, the Ferengi owner/manager of the Latinum Suites came scurrying out of his sanctum, “Oh, Mr. Finn… a word, if you don’t mind…”

Finn’s hand pulled back from the lift control… he’d been so close… “Yes, Gost?” he turned to look down at his landlord, “Something you need? I’m sure rent’s not due for another month…”

Gost waved the comment aside, “Nothing like that,” he assured, “In fact, it’s nothing much at all, really it’s just that, your neighbor… Mr. Dent?”

Here we go, “What about my neighbor?” he asked, allowing the genuine weariness of the day to color the question.

“It seems, he says… we received a complaint, a very, very polite complaint but, he claims that there was an ‘unholy thumping’ against your shared wall…”

“The punching bag,” Finn sighed, turning to whack the ‘lift call pad, “he’s bitching about the punching bag…” he’d had it delivered early that morning, before he’d even arrived himself.

“Be that as it may…”

Harry glanced down at the nervous Ferengi… yup, there was actual hand-wringing going on, “Tell Dent not to get his panties in a bunch… I’ll move the damn bag.” The turbolift arrived and he stepped into it, “And while you’re at it, you can ‘politely’ tell him he can stick that Klingon opera he seems to like to blast at ten decibels up his scrawny, British… ”

Fortunately for Gost, the doors whisked shut before the sentence could be completed.

::45 Minutes Later::

Arthur Dent, noticing a light on in the office, tapped the door sill gently with his cane, “I say, Mr. Gost… are you… oh, yes, there you are…”

“Mr. Dent,” Gost, who had popped up from behind his desk, surreptitiously wiped at lips… he’d only been taking a small sip of the Saurian brandy he kept in the lower drawer… “How can I be of service?”

“Nothing terribly pressing, I just wondered if, perchance, you’d had a moment to speak to Mr. Finn?”

“I… yes, yes I did and he was quite amenable to moving the source of the, ah, thumping.” Gost felt, in the interests of preserving peace in his building, he’d best leave out the comment about Dent’s ‘panties’. “He did, however, have a similar request, as regards to your… ah… choice of music?”

“What? What!?” the elderly Human practically sputtered with shock, “I assure you I played Gav’ot toh’va at the mildest possible volume at which it could still be enjoyed…”

“Perhaps Mr. Finn is not a fan of opera…?” Less than thirty-one hours with these two and already Gost was regretting taking either of them as tenants. Even with the damn Mist problems, he surely could have found someone to take the place…

“Apparently not.” Dent was obviously offended but, “however it is not your fault that the man is a cultural plebeian. I shall attempt to modify my listening to suit his… lack… of taste.”

“That would be very neighborly of you, Mr. Dent,” Gost assured.

“Hmph… well. Now the, off to perambulate… I am writing my memoirs, you know,” he said, offering up the news conspiratorially, “and nothing stirs up the old synapses like a good stroll.”

“Ah, well.” Save me, “you enjoy yourself but, do be careful out there, Mr. Dent. It’s rather late and…”

“Have no fear, have no fear,” Dent raised his walking stick and gave it a vigorous shake, “If anyone comes at me, rest assured I will give them what for!”

“I’m sure you will. Well then, good evening, Mr. Dent.”

“And to you, as well, Mr. Gost, to you, as well.”

Gost watched in complete bemusement as Dent puttered his way out to the streets. “Memoirs,” he chuckled over the madness of Hewmons, “memoirs and Klingon opera… what a character!”

Originally Posted 4-3-2008 by Harry Finn


Yellow 28 Beta
“Condo Row” - Southeast Tower
January 31, 2384
01:20:03 Hours

Azriel Morgenstern had a routine… she got to work at 22:45:00 on the dot, dropped most of her personal’s in her locker, replicated a cup of coffee, light double sweet (her third since waking at 22:00:00) and at 22:59:30-50, set out the coffee, the daily tri-level crossword and the PADD containing whichever steamy romance she was reading at the moment.

Thryln, the Paradan clerk who held the desk during the prior shift knew her pattern and he was already standing, coded out of the desk’s computer terminal and ready to bolt. It was a cush job, particularly for Morgenstern, who, after forty years in the banking biz was no longer much of a people person and enjoyed the quiet of the ghost shift. Very few of the tower’s tony denizens were out and about during the wee hours. Some did manage to come stumbling in from time to time but, for the most part, they were functional enough to call for the ‘lift on their own so all Azzie had to do was keep a weather eye on the security scans and forward transmissions, which were few and far between until after she went off duty at 07:30.

Tonight was proving to be an exception. Half-hour into the shift a tenant she recognized as Mr. Booth (he was one of the ones who came in late, though never stumbling) entered the building looking like the razorcat who'd eaten the red bird. Twenty minutes later, he was back, storming from the turbolift and into the street with an expression so dark Azzie ducked behind her copy of ‘Deltan Raptures’ just in case his gaze crossed hers and she turned to stone or burst into flames… or worse.

It had taken almost an hour for her heartbeat to return to a normal speed… Mr. Booth had a way about him even in a good mood… and she was just settling into the sultry prose of her book again only to jump once more at the insistent beep of an incoming transmission… at this hour? She reached over and accepted the call…

//Wurmples and sxyllian’s getting into the replicator? Bolites in the bathroom? Dstrynal roaches encroaching? If you’ve had any of these local or imported plagues, you should call Crowley’s Pest Control! We’re new in town but we’ve got a decade in the pest removal trade and just to prove our worth, the first treatment of your facility will be FREE OF CHARGE!

That’s right, citizens… first treatment FREE, second *HALF-PRICE* after which full rates apply.*

So why wait for the legendary Influx of Incrastial Larvae? Remember… if you’ve got crawlies, call Crowley! Com-code THX 2010, that’s THX 2010.

*Second, half-price treatment only available after signing contract for one Kendrassi year. Treatments may take up to three local months to have full effect. This is a limited-time offer, first come, first serve.//

Azzie huffed out in disgust… no one in management would want to see this. Her hand was just reaching for the delete key when she realized she wasn’t alone… on the top of the viewscreen was one of the biggest chraz’ne (a twelve-legged, twenty-eyed creature that roamed the Kendrassi deserts and possessed of a nasty bite) she’d ever laid eyes on. With a shriek she scooted her chair back from the desk and watched as the creature scuttled off the screen, across the desk and thence down and towards the bank of lifts, probably taking refuge in the leaves of the fake ficus that management insisted added no-maintenance color.

She stared at the view screen and it’s blaring message for maybe ten seconds before forwarding it to the building’s manager, and his assistant and her assistant and, just to make sure she was covered, the head custodian, along with a strongly-worded record of the chraz’ne sighting.

Originally Posted 4-6-2008 by Harry Finn


Hours, she had wandered for hours internal turmoil making all outside stimuli almost nonexistent. Even humans did not kill indiscriminately…at least for the most part. But that was not the point, she was supposed to be…better, more in control, nurturing, supportive. Everything she had worked for, everything she believed in, everything she knew herself to be, had all been washed away. How could she face the crew of the Hawking purporting to be their counselor if she could not even master her own emotions…a mirthless laugh broke the stillness. That was the least of her worries, if she could not be sure a murderous rage would not overtake her in strenuous situations by all rights she was going to need to contact Nathan and resign. Leaving all that she loved behind her. The pain that shot through her at that thought caused her to double over, wrapping her arms tightly around herself she rocked as she fought the desire to keen. The gods only know how long she was there, uncaring of who saw her or what may become of her in this helpless state.

The rough texture beneath her cheek was the first thing that drifted into her awareness. Lifting her head she looked around listlessly. Nothing even remotely familiar graced her sight, it seemed she had strayed into an area that did not bode well for her immediate future and yet she could not bring herself to care. The thought of Javier worrying over where she was made the distracted Vulcan pull herself to her feet…he already had gone through so much to get Lia, he did not need her to complicate his situation. Which led her thoughts back to leaving. Feeling her way along the wall as if she were blind, T'Shaini, wrapped in misery, did not see the trio that blocked her path until it was far too late.

"What do you suppose she is lookin for down here?" The Nausicaan toyed with the hilt of a blade that was protruding from his belt. His Klingon friends shook their heads in mock dismay. The one closest to her rumbled deep in his chest. The sound was threatening enough to make T'Shaini stumble backwards. As they closed in on her she knew that her spiritual survival was going to take precedence over her physical survival, for what good was her life going to be if because of her actions she could not spend it with those she loved?

"Please…"

T'Shaini struggled to summon words, any words that would aid her. The continued rumbling underscored the threat as the Klingon blocked her view, she pressed back against the wall as if the few inches it afforded her would do any good.

A small thudding sound filtered past Dukath's bloodwine-scented breathing, almost drawing his attention from the wide-eyed female but this was Bust Out, if something weren't making a thudding sound every few minutes, then you paid attention. So he took another step closer as she tried to crawl into the alley-side wall of the Needle and one hand reached out, ready to take her by the so-convenient handle of her hair… fine hair… like Tholian silk…

The next thing Dukath of no House, knew, he was on his back, arm broken and a dark lean shadow looming above him.

"Mine" a voice, rusty with disuse or abuse or just plain hatred spat out at the three.

Out of the frying pan… T'Shaini should have been relieved at the quick work that the newcomer had made of her attackers, but then the word 'mine' rang out in the dark. Tall and lean, swathed in black, his long hair only barely concealed the glow from his right eye…was it cybernetic? The scar that pulled his lip gave his face the appearance of being frozen in a permanent sneer. Seconds ticked by as she stared blankly unsure of whether to determine him friend or foe. "Th..thank you?"

"Carrabas…" Gikuur, the Nausicaan rose from where he'd been tossed aside, "it's first come first serve in this part of town…"

The dark man flashed what might have been considered a grin before flipping the truncheon in his right hand to his left, which made room for a compact phaser to be pointed at Gikuur, clearly the most antagonistic of the three, "Well, since I drew the first weapon, I guess I get the first serving," he didn't look back or acknowledge the woman in any way, other than to step between her and the other interested parties.

"You're not making any friends, here."

The one they called Carrabas spat on the ground, "Not looking for friends. Just looking for work… and maybe a good time," he leered at the assembled as Dukath hauled himself up and away, "Maybe, if you're lucky, there'll be some of this left for the rest of you lost boys… but I wouldn't count on it."

"Lost boys…" T'Shaini whispered to herself as she watched the trio sullenly retreat, once they had disappeared from view she squinted at 'Carrabas' trying to see any resemblance to her former patient…her friend. She felt tears flood her eyes as hope began to blossom, hope where she had only moments ago thought that hope, in so many ways, was beyond her reach. "Lost boys…is it you?"

"Not here, it's not," the roughness of the voice was matched by an equally rough shove towards the dimness farther back in the alley. The phaser disappeared but the truncheon remained in evidence, obvious actions for anyone still watching. "This way," he grabbed at the Vulcan's elbow and dragged her back behind a recycler that had seen better days. Hidden in the shadows of the broken machinery was a narrow access hatch which Carrabas opened and, after a quick sweep to make sure the small utility room was empty, hauled her in. "Lights," the order brought up a pathetic excuse for illumination but it was more than enough to see that the woman he'd pulled from the brink of physical disaster was still very much on the edge of something just as bad. "What the hell are you doing here?" Harry asked.

"Oh gods..Harry." T'Shaini nearly fell to the floor as yet another emotion swept her body. Leaning against the wall for support she tried to explain. "I am not sure, I have been walking for some time…I am afraid I may be a danger to those around me." Her head dropped in shame. "I nearly took another life today."

Arms crossed over his chest, the man leaned against the opposite wall and watched her with his mismatched eyes. "Tell me how it happened."

She related the story as quickly as she could. "…and if Javier had not called me I do not know what would have transpired."

"So someone was about to murder Costala and you prevented it? And protected a child as well?"

"Well, yes…but not quite the point I was making, it could have been handled a myriad of ways…"

"No, it couldn't." Harry held up a finger before there could be another interruption, "In the situation you described the attacker had already proven that words wouldn't work and unless he were disabled, he'd have followed through on his threat. You knew that, instinctively you knew it and your body did what we spent a lot of fairly painful hours teaching it to do. That's what I trained you to do, to get out of the way of your instincts and get the job done."

"But I…I…I did not accomplish the goal with an objective viewpoint, it was done from rage not a tactical desicion." T'Shaini knew what he was trying to tell her, though she was afraid he was more concerned with her current welfare than the impact her unleashed emotions could have on those around her. "What happens when I cannot control it in less clear circumstances?"

"I don't know," he told her. "The same way I don't know if I'm ever going to lose control in… less clear circumstances. The same way anyone on the line doesn't know. We all have to make these decisions, face the… the beast… that lives inside. Some people get away lucky. Some people never have to make the decision to take a life, or not to take it. They'll never know about themselves what we know… how far we'll go to protect what matters." He took a long, slow breath, but his eyes remained locked on hers, "I do know you didn't kill that asshole today which, if you ask me, speaks to a signficant amount of self-control."

I may have wanted to, but I did not do it, 'it is in ourselves that we are thus, or thus..' "Do you frequently deal with the urge to kill…is this what I have to become accustomed to?" If it is what must be done to live her life and protect those she cared for then she would find a way to harness the unwanted emotions..she had to.

"Only recently," he admitted, "but that's a pretty specific case." Harry ran a hand over the 'scar' which tended to get itchy after a while, "Listen, do you find yourself walking down the corridors of the Hawking and suddenly suffering an overwhelming urge to eviscerate Saunders?"

A raised eyebrow was the only response that comment merited.

He raised a brow in return, which was possibly the most familiar action he'd displayed thus far, "Then I think you're jumping at internal shadows… the dark bits that only show up when its fight or flight but you need those bits. They're part of what saved Costala today… and the entire crew of the Hawking, before. They're a part of you… of me… of everyone who's ever had to make that choice. The more you try and push them back, pretend they're not there, the more they're going to act out, just like kids who need attention. Accept the choice, accept the shadows and see where that takes you."

It made sense, he had appealed to her logic, which no matter what her emotional state, was still the basis of her being. T'Shaini found herself lifted by possibilities, she could harbor these black thoughts and still retain what was good in her life…"Javier." She blurted out his name. "I have been gone for so long…"

Seeing her lose that hard-edged desperation, Harry felt a loosening of his own chest. Not completely because… well… but enough. "Then let's get you where you belong," he said, offering a hand, "but for the first part of the trip, it'd be helpful if you were a bit… ummm…."

"Worse for wear?" T'Shaini felt a genuine smile cross her face as she twisted her fingers into hair to create more tangles.

Safely returned to Alpha towers (after a detour for Harry to discard his Carrabas disguise) T'Shaini stood for a moment in the doorway wanting to thank him but struggling with the words, looking down to gather her thoughts when her eyes lifted he had already walked off into the shifting shadows of predawn.

"Thank you…"

A slight shrug of his shoulders was the only indication he had heard her.

JP T'Shaini and *cue scary music* the Shadow…
Originally Posted 4-6-2008 by T'Shaini (as part of a Long Goodbye/Angel's Share crossover


Yellow 28 Beta
“Condo Row” - Southeast Tower
13th Floor
January 31, 2384
09:23:19 Hours

Anthony Crowley was on the job. Laying down miniscule sonic ‘boomers’ at regular spaces in the public areas and, accompanied by a member of the building’s staff, one additional transmitter per unit. “All you’ll need,” he said in his Lancashire, Earth dialect. “These woppers have got the stuff… anathema to any beasties hiding in the woodwork.”

“There was no wood used in the building of this tower.”

Anthony, pronounced Antony, favored the other human with a sidelong glance, “It’s a manner of speaking,” he explained, crouching down and pulling another minute piece of tech from one of his coverall’s pockets. “Now, we set it for a rotation, so there’s a little something for everyone and, voila…”

He adjusted the soft cap he wore and scratched at the full beard which covered the lower half of his face, “How many more units on this level?” he asked his escort, brown eyes squinting down the hall.

Darren Nichols looked over his shoulder, bored beyond belief and looking forward to getting away from this odd man who had a strange chemical smell about him, “Just one, but we’re not cleared for entrance to that residence.” Mr. Booth had very strong stipulations in his lease on that front.

“What?” Crowley straightened, stared at the blinking Nichols before ripping that hat off to reveal a quite bald crown, fringed with a soft halo of blonde hair and slapped his thigh with the cap, “Now look, here,” he said, “I can put down all the SB’s in the quadrant but, let me tell you, if I leave a locked area un-baited, well, for one thing, that’s eventually going to turn into the safe zone for any little blighters that aren’t out here or in any of the other units. I get rid of everything else, take up the boomers and what happens? A week later there’s a new infestation because whatever was living hale and healthy in number,” he squinted at the designation on the last door of the floor, “13-9-SE, is going to come out and have a bleeding party in the rest of the building.” He shoved the hat back on his head and turned back to the work he’d already done, “If that’s the way it’s to be, I’ll just pack up shop now. If I can’t bait every single area then it’s a waste of tech and time and that’s all there is to it…”

“Hold on, just, hold on one second,” Darren had no flipping idea what the crazy bug man was talking about but he figured it was at least one pay grade above him, “let me check with the manager, he’ll be back on site in less than an hour.”

“You do that, you just do that and I’ll be over here, rescuing my reputation.” Crowley wasted no more time in retrieving his ‘boomers’.

“Stop, please, just… okay, just this once but I’m telling you, the tenant can’t know you were ever in there, you understand? And you’re going to have to write that boomer off because no way will I let you in, twice.”

Crowley turned around, curious, “Who the hell lives there, the Marquis de blooming Sade?”

“No one’s sure,” Darren muttered, fishing out the master code, “and no one wants to find out. I saw him leave the building this morning, so just… do whatever and get your ass out of there.”

“I’ll be in and out in a wink,” Anthony pulled a small trap from his left breast pocket and made sure to set it prior to the door’s being opened.

Nichols waited, foot tapping, palms sweating for what felt like an eternity. When Crowley popped back out Darren had the door closed and re-locked in less then ten seconds and not a moment to spare because just as the two men turned from the doorway, the man himself came striding down the hall, headed straight for his condo.

“Mr. Booth,” Nichols stepped aside.

Booth, closing in on the two paused in his approach. Well, Darren thought, Crowley was certainly pause-worthy, with his multi-pocketed coveralls, ratty beard and shapeless hat he looked like something out of an old vid… one of those post-apocolyptic numbers with cannibals and flying bicycles.

“And what is this?” Gavin Booth asked, nose wrinkling at the pungent character.

“Anthony Crowley, at your service,” a hand tipped the cap at Booth, “of Crowley’s Pest Control.”

“We were just finishing up on this floor,” Nichols intervened before things further regressed.

“Hey, far be it from me to get in the way,” Booth continued on to his door, “Keep up the good work Alex.”

“That’s… Anthony.. actually.”

“Right,” Gavin turned away from the help, “whatever.”

Nichols herded Crowley down the hall and away from Booth, who entered his residence without any further word.

“I don’t know what you were so worried about,” Anthony commented as they got onto the ‘lift to the fourteenth floor, “That, Mr. Booth? Seems like a perfectly decent sort.”

And here's Anthony Crowley
Originally Posted 4-8-2008 by Harry Finn


Kerrin's outstretched hand was automatically filled with a soft bristle brush to clear away the last layer of dirt. How did I ever live without Xer? Despite his untoward appearance, he had made himself indispensable to the dig in general and Kerrin in particular. Conscientious, quick to learn, and eager enough to prove himself that no task was beneath him. Xer had been the one this morning who had run into the lab…

"Dr. Schaeffer, they found something…something big.

There was something in his voice, an undertone of excitement that she had not heard yet, that made her grab her tools and sprint for the door…and boy was he right. Even uncovered the stele looked to be roughly hexagonal in shape and a good 3 meters across. It had been hours of work, peeling back the layers one by one in the effort to not disturb one iota of the find. Carefully, she dusted off years of concealment, first with the brush, then as it reduced to a thin veneer she lifted the last away with a gentle breath.

"Ohhhh…" The next exhalation of breath had nothing to do with practicality. "So beautiful.

Moving further down to uncover another line of pictographs Kerrin's heart began to race. "ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod"

Jason knew better than to disturb a professional, he had been standing here since just after Kerrin arrived watching the painstaking labor with fascination akin to awe, her singleminded devotion to a task…he shook his head as that thought triggered others. He started as the picture in his head matched the words coming out of her mouth. Pushing that aside he covered the ground to where she was in two long strides. "What is it?"

"Don't….stand…in…my…light."

Quickly shifting his body to not block her damn light Jason looked over her shoulder from the other side of her body. "You do realize that I am your boss…."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah….and as my boss you want me to be as effective as possible which I can't be if I can't see. In a lightning change of mood she turned her face up to him and all but squealed. "A stele! And if I am not mistaken it looks like it matches the fragments I have been piecing together in the lab…" Her eyes sparkled with the joy of discovery, this was why she did what she did, no matter how few and far between moments like this made everything worthwhile. "and it looks as if this may have been some sort of proclamation."

Jason knelt down next to where she was working. "Which may give you a better chance at finding a key to decipher the symbols?" At her excited nod he grabbed her face and kissed her full on the mouth. "Hot damn Kerrin, I knew you belonged here." He stood up and brushed his pants off. "Let the workers finish up and get that to your lab," He grinned at how fast her face shut down at that suggestion. "they are more than qualified and you deserve a celebration. I will pick you up at your quarters in an hour." Spinning on his heel before she could protest his suave exit was decidedly marred when he tripped over a random box of tools and went sprawling.

"Sorry, sorry sir…I didn't know you were coming this way…" Xer scrambled over to help Jason up, dusting him off and falling all over himself apologizing for Jason's fall.

Shrugging off the clumsiness with a laugh, Jason clapped Xer on the shoulder and headed off skirting the offending tools in an over exaggerated fashion. "Don't forget, 0800."

Shaking her head to herself Kerrin gave the crew careful instructions before climbing out and joining Xer for the walk back to the transport. Looking sidelong at him she raised one eyebrow. "Funny thing….my tools being so far from where I put them…"

Xer's face fairly shone with innocence, well as much as his face could. "Yes, funny thing that."

JP featurning NPCs Kerrin Schaeffer, Jason Hallows and Xer
Originally Posted 4-9-2008 by T'Shaini


Red Sector

After finishing up with the baiting of three towers of Condo Row, Anthony Crowley decided to take some personal time. He took it all the way up to the Red Sector, stopping in a variety of stores before losing himself in an old vid/book emporium in Red 13, just down the way from a shop called Celestial Latitudes. About thirty minutes after Crowley entered the multi-floored edifice, Arthur Dent strolled out, whistling quietly, and made his slightly puttering way to Szeeraal Lev’s place of business, though the elderly Human didn’t seem to find anything of interest, departing after only a few minutes, quite empty-handed but for his ever-present cane.

Over an hour and, for him, a vigorous perambulation later, Mr. Dent entered what could best be described as a bazaar which sprawled, like an ancient Greek agora, through the heart of Red 3 Alpha. In that dark realm of open cubes and tents, all vying for the paying customer, the old man got quite lost.

Quite lost, it seemed, as the minutes ticked by and Mr. Dent failed to reappear.

Sometime later, one Jim Rockford checked into a hotel by name of Mon juH, carrying only a handful of news PADD’s and the clothes on his back. K’trell thought this Human looked rather like another she’d seen some days prior but, then, didn’t they all look alike?

Locked in the small room, twin to the one he’d used upon arriving at Jericho-Samaria, Jim, AKA Harry Finn, tossed the PADD’s on a table and sat down on the thin mattress. He’d been running straight, in one guise or another, for over a full local day. He had a meet scheduled with Szeeraal’s contact… the one who, she averred, might have some intel on the murdered girls but that wasn’t for a few hours.

“Light’s to zero,” he instructed as he placed his small phaser beneath the pillow. Laying down, he flung one arm over his eyes and allowed sleep to take him on its own dark wandering.

Originally Posted 4-11-2008 by Harry Finn


Red Sector
Velvet Duck Lounge

The old-fashioned video panels in the middle of each table was what drew her in. That, and the décor straight out of the 2000s…with the quaint doors with handles, vinyl flooring…curtains even!. Retroville.

She strode to the long, wooden bar, ordered a Red Nebula. The bartender, an Andorian with a bad scowl and a shaggy hairdo, slid the drink her way with a smirk. She wasn’t used to drinking…at least not lately…and something harder might well make her drunk. And she needed a clear head in these surroundings.

She couldn’t just come out and ask what she wanted; she had to be smooth, understated. You can do this. She turned to the bartender, who stood next to the drink panel, arms crossed, scowling at her. The place was relatively empty, with only her at the bar and a few tables full of giggling women and posturing men.

“So, come here often?”

She cringed as soon as the words escaped her lips. The bartender’s scowl deepened, until she thought his face would cave in on itself.

“Uh, forget I said that.” She took a sip of her Nebula, decided to level with the…humanoid. Subtlety was obviously not her strong point. “Look, I’m trying to find my uncle. Uncle Connor. He and my father used to be close, until Connor moved away. Now he only hears bits and pieces about him here and there. And last he heard, he had married a Caitian and settled down here. So, you wouldn’t have heard of a human named Connor Lev who married a cat woman and pitched tent here, would you?” She plied her best innocent help me look as she coyly looked over the top of her drink.

“Celestial Latitudes, three blocks east, on the left,” the Andorian replied.

Tanis froze. This, she hadn’t expected. She wondered if he was toying with her, just for the hell of it, on a slow night. People got their jollies in strange ways. But there was something about his demeanor, world-weary and matter-of-fact, that convinced her he was telling the truth. She slapped down a 20-credit chip.

“Thanks,” she said.

Celestial Latitudes

Tanis could smell the schlock factor of the ‘establishment’ from 20 paces, and inwardly groaned. So this is how rebels end up, she thought. Perhaps her store would at least have an air of feigned respectability. This Celestial Latitudes store made absolutely no pretense.

The pungent fragrance of incense—Denebian roni root—accosted her as soon as the chimes above the door began to tinkle, and she sneezed promptly upon entering. Shelves of knickknacks lined the store…crowded as a Dabo table on payday. The shelves, that was. She was the only patron.

“Yeeeessss? May I help you?”

The voice came from nowhere, and Tanis almost jumped at it. She turned to find a…feline…woman?…standing in front of her, garbed in a long red dress that accented her figure. Long eyelashes hid the true color of her eyes…and their intent.

“Aunt Lev?” Tanis said, half disbelieving the phrase.

“I beg your pardon?” She seemed genuinely offended.

“Were you married to a Connor Lev?”

“Was, yes. But I’m afraid that Mr. Lev left this earthly plane nearly seven years ago. He was trampled to death by a herd of wild targs while on safari.”

“Safari? Oh, no. After all this way…all this time…” Tanis felt weak, and knocked down a shelf full of crystal balls when she reached out for support. The balls tumbled onto the floor and rolled toward the center of the store.

Great. “I’m so sorry,” Tanis said.

“It’s quite all right, my child,” the woman purred. “Nothing that can’t be reshelved,” obviously hinting as to who should do the reshelving.

Tanis hurriedly put the balls back, noting the uncrystal-like feel of the things…rather like Kaltosian plastic. She placed the last one carefully.

“Why did you call me aunt?” the woman said.

“Connor Lev was my uncle,” Tanis replied, without turning. “I am Greg Lev’s daughter, Tanis.”

“Indeed…”

Her voice took on a strange quality…of detachment, but interest, accompanied by a “we’ll talk later” tone.

“Look, I didn’t mean to come and impose myself on you or anything like that. It’s just that…my father asked about him. And I’m stationed here now, so I said I’d see what I could find. I apologize if I brought back bad memories for you. I just…maybe I’d better go,” Tanis said. She turned to leave. It certainly hadn’t turned out as she’d planned.

“Tanis.”

She turned, as if on command. The woman approached her, gripped her arm, and slipped a small vial in her hand.

“My name is Szeeraal. You may call me Aunt. Your uncle was a wonderful man, and he always spoke of his brother and family. Even though he had never met you, he always wanted to. Now…a woman as young and beautiful as you must have a special man in her life, so I’m giving you a love potion. Put this in the drink of your intended, and he will not be able to resist you.” She released her vice-like grip. “Now go, my child. I am about to close.”

“Thank you,” Tanis said. Something sparkled behind the eyes of her Aunt Szeeraal…something she couldn’t quite fix. A matter for later, though. Next week, she’d be back. “Good night,” Tanis said. The door jangled as it slid shut. Disappointed, she headed back to the Outpost.

The fresh breeze off the ocean was a welcome relief to the stifling incense. Tanis decided to try another bar, then head home. It wasn’t often she got out, and it could be something to bring up in conversation with Toryn. She found a bar aptly named Unlucky’s and ventured forth.

The door slid open to a dark, smoky room that was considerably more crowded than the Velvet Duck. Two men were arguing loudly at the table to the right, and she promptly turned to the left. Sat down at a table hugging the wall. A forlorn, wilted yellow flower hung in a white ceramic vase that attempted to pass as decoration. Tanis guessed the bar was more known for the alcohol content in its drinks than its aesthetic appeal.

She raised her hand to catch the attention of the waitress, but lowered it when she saw a familiar figure sitting at a table across the room. Zelar. The Ferengi dispatcher. What is she doing here? She appeared to be having an argument with a man impatient to leave. Human, brown hair, dark eyes, stubble…long face hardened by life. Whatever they were arguing about, it didn’t seem to be going Zelar’s way. After a few more words, the man got up and left. Zelar slammed a credit on the table and followed behind him, out the door.

Tanis leaned back and wondered what would make Zelar come to this dive. Then she wondered the same thing about herself. She decided to hit the sack…too much excitement for one night, but it definitely made for good conversation. She looked forward to seeing Toryn tomorrow. Sigh…

After she shook off a drunk who breathed whiskey on her face as he asked for her number, she stepped out into the street, half expecting to find the retreating image of Zelar.

Instead, she saw him. The guy from the USS Hawking. She struggled to remember his name, as they’d barely spoken on the voyage to the Outpost. Henry? Harold? Harry! That was it. What is this? Reunion night in the Red Sector? The Hawking had already left the Taylor-Kane orbital station…so why was he still here?

She ducked into the shadow of the nearby buildings, watched as he made his way down the street. Perhaps she could solve the mystery…at least pass away the time before she had to report in. What the hey. She crossed the street, two blocks behind him, and followed.

This should be a piece of cake.

Posting as Tanis “Slice” Lev
Originally Posted 4-12-2008 by Rhian Gaius


Red Sector
In transit

Walking through the darkness, on his way to meet Szeeraal’s contact, Harry’s mind was running in circles.

Mostly it was running over the word ‘circle’ and why it was so prevalent in the local gossip columns… the ones primarily dealing with several key ambassadors currently residing on-planet… most notably the Cygnian representative, Mylla Szados. The columnist was always going on about ‘the circle of inter-galactic friendship’ inspired by Ambassador Szados and how certain high and mighties would be meeting in a ‘circle of open debate’ or the ‘circle would convene’. The word was used so often Harry had begun to italicize it in his brain.

And it wasn’t just the florid prose of Mr. Gary Cowling, syndicated columnist to the Outpost… Harry had seen references to circles sprouting up in inter-departmental memos and press releases he’d managed to hack into from Genolina Terraforming, LTD, though never, he’d noticed, from the brass on the top floor. Primarily the term popped in communiques to and from the offices of Mr. Charles Champe Stearns.

So what, he thought, was so special about a the word ‘circle’? Aside from the ‘what goes around comes around’ aspect which, while Finn appreciated the irony of the thought, probably was not the meaning intended in these particular cases.

Pausing to check the inventory in the window of a high-tech toy store, all the latest in PPC’s, vid and com units, Harry’s mind circled once more, back and down until…

“Your Pah-wraiths have found you,” Torrik was saying, leaning over the tritanium slab of a bar, running a cloth over the fifteen layers of filth as if it would make a difference. On Harry’s left T’Shaini was playing mumblety peg with a Bajoran dagger while Nate collected bets from other members of the crew.

“Don’t underestimate them,” Nils pulled Finn’s attention back, “don’t turn your back on them and don’t look at her,” he jerked a nod towards the rear corner table where Kerrin Schaeffer sat with her ‘boss’ Jason Hallows. The guy had her chortling over some old, shared joke as he held her hands before him on the table. She was laughing so hard, was so taken with her old squeeze, she didn’t see Gavin Booth coming at her, a thin loop of wire in one hand and a wickedly curved blade in the other.

Harry was off the stool in a heartbeat but then there was Costala, blocking the way with a smile and one of the weird-ass swords he’d carried on Halcyon. “Sorry, Harry,” the engineer said, “but I promised that I wouldn’t let you die…”

And then there was an arm locked across his throat, dragging him back until he was bent over the bar, “I told you not to look,” Torrik hissed in his ear while Harry, suffocating, tried to wrench himself free and then Costala’s blade was hovering over his left eye while Kerrin’s quiet sobs of pain cut across his hearing and T'Shaini's dagger was thudding in a faster and faster rhythm and Torrik was holding down his windpipe and whispering, “Don’t blink…”

Harry’s eyes had opened to the stifling dimness of the hotel room he’d taken as the images which had wakened him crumbled like ash on an old man’s sleeve.

Here on the street, Harry’s eyes skimmed over the shape of the slight woman he’d caught sight of three blocks back, now hovering in the shadows near a closed diner.

”Don’t turn your back on them…”

Originally Posted 4-12-2008 by Harry Finn


YELLOW Sector
Yellow 28 Beta
“Condo Row” – Southeast Tower
25th Floor
January 31, 2384
01:50:10 Hours

It was funny (both the ‘Ha Ha’ and the ‘Mmmm – thought provoking’ types) how, eventually, she always wound up in some man’s house, apartment, cheap flop, with her clothes off. Though Montana initially thought this one would be different…And, to a large degree, it was.

She’d come to see the (once-) smelly little bat-like creature in the longcoat and big hat to talk. And they had. In point of fact, they talked for more than 6 hours…
About each other. About their lives…their pasts
about her childhood, growing up in Moseley’s Cove, Pacifica Colony; and the time in which she actually looked forward to school and learning at the little seaside school on the outskirts of ‘the Cove’; and the boring tedium of junior high in her chaotic, hellish adolescence; and Zed Milner, her step-father, who frequently beat her black and blue as a child and, even more frequently, crawled into her bed reeking of Romulan ale when she was a teen; and her mother, Abby, who drank like the proverbial fish and only sobered up long enough to make the trip down to Ya-Ya’s Tavern for another jug
about his home…though not in much detail; about the war against the Thallonians that completely decimated his home planet and all but wiped his people; and the jobs he’d worked—-across, and chiefly within the Beta Quadrant; and about (some of…) the people he had known, learned from, trusted and called friend
…Everything except what she had originally come for.

They talked and shared a bottle (actually 2½ bottles) of the condo owner’s private stock of 18 year old Scotch…the real stuff, from Aberdeen, Scotland…and, predictably, became more and more at ease with one-another. Montana had even laughed at a few of Haq’s stories. Laughter…always the first sign that she was beginning to loosen up just a tad too much. In most cases (and if she was clear-headed enough to notice) she would call ‘time-out’ on the booze and switch to black coffee (where available). But this time the drinking assumed a comfortable…almost natural flow, and her mood also flowed, toward a place Montana had not visited in many years…Happiness. Well, at any rate, comfort-with-a-warm-fuzzy kicker. Also, there was Haq’s actions and demeanor. As the talk and evening progressed, he began to shed his own clothing. First the voluminous hat, revealing that…the long and fur-tufted ears and dark, snubbed nose aside…his appearance was not as bestial or grotesque as his semi-concealing garb implied. And then, finally, came the longcoat. Underneath was a snug fitting one-piece coverall molded to a lean, slightly built body not far removed from ‘human’ form—-ignoring its grayish-blue coloring, of course.

Montana cleared her throat softly, giggling sluggishly. “Is this the point where you give me the spiel about how you understand how hard a hostess’ life is and offer to make thing a little easier…depending on how nice I choose to be,” she’d said.

“You have been very…nice so far, Miss Wildhack,” said Haq. “Moreso than I expected.”

“And you know my name. I don’t remember giving it to you… .”

The now not-so-strange little creature took momentary pause, then refilled their glasses. “Forgive me…I have not been completely honest with you, and you deserve the truth…

“In the meantime, if you would like to make yourself a bit more comfortable,” he waved a small, four-fingered gray hand over one shoulder, “there are items of clothing in the room just there. . with no assumptions or expectations on my part. You are quite safe here…I promise.”

She couldn’t explain why, but Montana believed him…Not entirely. And not with the affects of two bottles of Scotch swirling through her senses. But…there was that thing her Aunt Cilla used to say: “Windows to the soul and all that other philosophizing who-hey is just so much crap-a-hoolie. One thing I do know for sure….a man’s eyes are the world’s greatest lie detectors”.

Of Haq’s dark, slightly brow-ridged orbs…There was something within them an old friend from her earlier waitressing days used to call “dirt smarts”…street savvy. The look of someone who’d seen more than his share of life’s fast, nasty, wild and dangerous side…Maybe too much for his own good. There was kindness, too. And a sadness you could almost reach out and touch. Nothing, on the other hand, that gave the impression that his promise was anything other than genuine.

And so, there she stood, all but totally undressed in the sitting room of a…male she’d known little more than 7 hours. At least she wasn’t on her back staring up at the ceiling… .Yet.

° ° °

“I thought you said the person who owns this place was a he… .a man.” Haq twisted on the couch at the sound of Montana’s voice, staring at her over its low, curved backrest.

He had known very few Human females…Less than a dozen from the planet they called Earth. And only two of those he considered deserving of the descriptive term beautiful. Now there was a third.

“There’s two whole wardrobes, a couple of chest-o’-drawers, and a gigantic walk-in closet in there full of women’s clothes, shoes, jewelry,” she went on. “Not being nosy… . .Yeah, guess I am being nosy. You didn’t mention he had a wife. And looking at the labels on some of the stuff in there… .”

“Nieces,” Haq threw out by way of explanation. “Several different ones, in fact…Or so he told me.”

“Nieces,” Montana smoothed both hands along the side of the garment she wore. “I’m no expert or anything…but I do know that the animal they make this fabric out of is rare. They live on only one planet in Tholian space. The Tholians execute people on the spot if they catch’em hunting the creatures. If the Starfleet border patrol finds the skins on your ship it’s a 250,000 credit fine, suspension of masters license, and most likely a long stay in jail. Dresses, shoes, and lingerie made out of it start off at 3,000 credits or two bars of gold-press Latinum. This…high roller must really love his…nieces.”

“You flatter it, Montana. I am not well versed in the appropriate Earth lexicon, but…you are a very eye-appealing female,” Haq said, tracking her with his obsidian gaze like a child watching the first slice (his slice) cut from the cake at his birthday party as Montana strolled to rejoin him on the couch.

“Close enough… .” she murmured, blushing as she stretched to pour herself another Scotch.

° ° ° 04:45:00 Hours ° ° °

A classic outcome (for Montana, that is) and a classic scenario. Haq and herself…nude, sweat-drenched, and spent…amid the disheveled silk sheets of the bedroom’s huge, kitschy heart-shaped bed; with Montana on her side, propped up on one elbow, making invisible squigglies on his slick-furred chest.

“This was not my original intention, Montana Wildhack,” he told her, his tone genuinely apologetic. “Though I freely admit…I hoped it would. And I am glad… .”

“I…like you very much,” he added, unable to stop the smile that sprang to his semi-rodent features.

“No shit,” Montana giggled.

“I…I did not think you would consent to sexual congress with a… . .”

“…alien?” she finished the sentence, giggling again.

Haq shrugged. “We are starkly opposite in species. I am given to believe that Earthers….Humans in general, have an aversion to intimacy with… .”

Montana silenced him with the press of two fingers against his full, dark lips. “You are probably less alien, and more human than 90% of the men I have slept with since I left home…Definitely more of a gentleman. In fact, I think you’re very sweet. All this time you been checking me out and never approached me, till now, cuz you thought I’d what? Laugh at you? Be turned off or grossed out?”

“Most females have voiced the opinion that they found me…” Haq thought a moment before resuming. “…repulsive. Ugly…with a capital ‘U’, one put it.”

“There’s an old saying where I come from, hon…Beauty is only skin deep.” She placed a gentle kiss on one of his bristly furred ears, grinning as it twitched in reflex. “It’s the only damn thing my mother ever said that I put any store in. Hell….my step-dad had a face like something that washed up on shore and dried in the sun for a month, so I guess she practiced what she preached.”

They lapsed into sightly awkward silence then, aware of little else but the mingled sounds of their breathing and their own private musings. It was Haq who finally broke it.

“The reason I invited you here…That is genuine, Montana.”

“The murdered women…” she responded. “I was wondering if we would ever get around to that. To tell the truth…I been holding off. Wasn’t 100% sure I could trust you.”

“And now?”

She took a long, deep breath, began, rolled onto her back, and began. “You been around. Ever heard the word ‘spike’ used to describe a person?”

Haq nodded. “A few years ago, the first time. It was on Mojov Station. A group of Ekosian and Human smugglers used the word in regards to the life-mate of one of their competitors, a Nelkarite female. I believe the phrase, verbatim, was “Mokur’s a piece of work, she is. One game spike who loves her blood and bruises”. He let down the top of his flight uniform to show his friends that his chest and shoulders were covered with scratches—-deep gouges—-and teeth marks.”

“That’s tame compared to some I know of,” said Montana. “There’s other names for them, but that’s basically it…Someone who gets their kicks from pain and giving pain to others. Nine out of ten times they’re fairly harmless…searching out their own kind, or at least someone who’s up to the experience. But then there’s that Number Ten…the really twisted bastards. Monsters. Just dealing pain…or rough sex doesn’t do it for them anymore. They need the whole nine yards: brandings with white hot blades; slicing off body parts; beatings that break bones; and, eventually, death…..”

Montana paused a moment, turning again to snuggle against Haq’s soft-furred side. “I came here two years ago, just after Jericho-Samaria officially opened for business…Hitched a ride here from Calados VII with Rantoul Urbana’s group and worked it off as a fantasy flooz in the holosuite brothel he passed off as a travel bureau on the first orbital station. I was paid in full just before Jericho-Beta was built, and when it opened I found jobs wherever I could…hostess, waiting tables, slinging drinks…you know the circuit.

“September is when they found the first body…the first victim, Eido Granok the Argellian Dabo girl from the Treasury casino…”

“The Ferengi’s club….Grop’s,” Haq cut in. “I have been told that Eido and the Ferengi were more than owner and employee. That they were very close. Strange… .it was another casino employee, a Bajoran waitress…who identified the body and not Grop. And the Federation embassy who arranged to have her remains shipped to Argellius II. Not very sympathetic of him.”

“Grop knows which side of the bed is warmest,” said Montana. “And it took me awhile to catch on to why.

“After the fifth victim, Jamie Freytag, I started to hear things….I started to see a pattern. One of the other hostesses from the Curious Yellow…who came to Jericho-Beta with Lacy Sooks, and who packed her bags and dashed right after they found Lacy’s body…she said that Lacy had been spinning stories about finally hitting the big time. That some Mob big wig and his diplomat girlfriend had taken a liking to her and were gonna introduce her to some heavy hitters in the fashion modeling business. Lacy wouldn’t name names, she said, but she had nicknames for them… .The Dark Lady and Armani Man.

“The way it works in ‘the Red’ is that….most of the girls who work the clubs and casinos live in the same district. There’s a few exceptions…Cataleen Kellan, who owns the Red Alert, has two clubs—-one here and one over in the main Outpost. She pays damn decent wages and makes sure her people are taken care of…They can afford better living conditions… .”

She was almost babbling. No doubt affected by memories she now had to deal with. Haq smoothed a hand over her satiny, still damp shoulder and nuzzled the crown of her head. “You spoke with the other women…” He put her back on track.

Montana nodded against his chest. “There’s another body out there.. .somewhere. They haven’t found her yet… K'rique Drerrassi. I had a talk with her roommate and a few of the girls who live in her building while we had coffee at Smoky Joe’s over in Red Thirteen. K'rique and Laredith, the roommate, are dancers at the Electric Lady. She told us that one night this woman came in…very good-looking, and even though she was dressed down everyone could see she was use to much better. She sat through five shows…back in one of the corner booths…until when K’rique finished for the night she had one of the drink slingers bring her over to her table…”

“The Dark Lady?” Haq injected a predictable query.

“Probably. The other girls gave the same description and actions. Short version…K’rique left the club with her. It was the last time Laredith saw her. Krique’s been missing since October.

“A month later, a woman who fit the desription showed up in the Curious Yellow…but not alone. There was a man with her. A Human…with this thing about him. His eyes…they were like holes. Empty holes… .They talked to the owner, Connie…Asked for me and offered him a fat stack of latinum to give me the rest of the night off. Thank God Connie didn’t like the looks of them either…But he left it up to me to take it or pass…I passed.…Two, three night later Starfleet security found Lacy’s body.”

After another lengthy silence, Montana said, “I have seen her…the dark lady, before…Back when I worked on the engineering station for Rantoul Urbana. She came here with a bunch from the Orion Brotherhoods. I think she’s with the Cygnet embassy…Probably Syndicate. That’s why Grop or any of the other club owners don’t gripe about the dead girls.”

“I…do not think you should return to the Curious Yellow,” Haq said, rolling to face her. “You are correct. They are affiliated with the Syndicate. Please, do not ask me to explain, Montana…I will in time, but for now I ask you to trust me further. These people do not like loose ends. Eventually…it will dawn on them that, with your refusal to go with them, you might harbor suspicions about their actions. They will return to tie up the loose end.”

“All well and good, but what do I do in the meantime? I have to have somewhere to go…to live. I have to support myself.”

“Leave that to me.”

Post featured NPCs –

Haq Kiy Haq and Montana Wildhack
Originally Posted 4-16-200

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