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Part of SS Vondem Rose: Archanis Campaign – Vondem Thorn and Bravo Fleet: The Archanis Campaign

“Time stamp?”

Archanis Sector
2399
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Ardot’s Café
Banksy City
Kyban

“No no no, you’re not listening to me Sidda, you don’t want to go anywhere near Zev’li’duun right now. To many ‘visiting’ Romulan ships there. Someone will spot her in five minutes.”

Ardot Kresh was, for a bolian, distinctly overweight. He was overweight for the vast majority of sentients in the known galaxy, exceptions granted for silicon-based lifeforms and those that had evolved in high gravity environments. That weight came from his distinct love of food in all it’s varieties and his not so inconsiderable gifts at meal preparation.

Skills that nearly rivalled his ability to help those with questionable cargo find those with questionable needs and to make both parties content, if not happy with the deals he managed, minus his share of course. His share which he invested into his own dreams – the aforementioned cooking.

Sidda, Revin and Ardot were all sat around a single table just off the middle of his restaurant in the middle of day. The place was moderately busy but as always, when the man himself came out to talk business, the neighbouring tables were always left empty. This despite that all tables came with privacy scramblers, to ensure each dinner party could have conversations without casual overhearing. They weren’t meant to stop serious attempts, but those would hopefully be obvious enough that other precautions could then be undertaken.

“My father is still looking for me?” Revin asked, her voice a barely audible purr over the steaming cup that Ardot had brought out just for her and to which she had been nursing since it’s arrival. Sidda could see her lover’s fascination with the smell and the way she gently sipped, savouring the taste and likely texture of the thick, dark brown drink. Likely something akin to humanity’s disgusting coffee of the klingon’s barely better raktijino.

“Your father, the dear Senator who by the way threatened dear old me, is insisting rather loudly you’ve been kidnapped. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon enough some sort of galactic kidnap notice doesn’t go out for you.” Ardot took a moment to catch his breath and smiled, reaching out after a moment to gently touch Revin’s arm. “Your mother asked me to pass on her love when next I could by the way. Lovely woman, truly lovely. Only tried to poison me once you know.”

Sidda sighed, then wrapped her knuckles on the table to refocus the seemingly cosmopolitan and well connected bolian in front of her. “Ardot…”

“Just, trust me, Zev’li’duun is out of the question. Now, I’ve got some buyers on Kemron IV who could do with some atmospheric reprocessors. Wildcat mining colony back in the day trying to turn legitimate colony, but the atmosphere on Kemron isn’t exactly M class if you get my drift. Since they weren’t colonised under proper charter from the Federation Council, they’re not technically a Federation colony, but they are inside Federation space and they aren’t getting any Council support either.”

“Sounds like our kind of people.” Finally getting somewhere, specifically a name a place to go to sell the reprocessors they had collected, Sidda felt she could relax a little now. Payday wasn’t that far around the corner. “I’ll send you a crate of wine we procured as payment.”

“You’ll send me a crate and single bottle.”

“One crate,” Sidda reiterated to the man, stating her position.

“Oh, you can’t blame me for trying. Besides, lunch with Revin is worth a bottle of wine. I trust you’ve never had this dish. It’s a combination of human, vulcan and risian cuisine. Trust me, it’s divine and apparently even healthy,” Ardot said with mirth has he patted his own belly. “I’ve lost weight since I started eating it!”

****

Vondem Thorn
Bridge

“Kemron IV? Rather close to the Klingon border for my liking Captain,” Gaeda said as he looked over Trid’s shoulder at the starchart she’d brought up.

It was late afternoon in Banksy City and the crew had started to return to ship. Gaeda, when he’d heard from his boss had been the first of the ‘senior’ crew to return to ship, followed by Trid who looked like she’d either had a rather rough night, or a rather enjoyable night, take your pick and particular kinks.

“On screen,” Sidda said as she sat, no, lounged herself into the command chair, looking like she did when she wanted to play the part of orion pirate queen, coming naturally to that role.

It was, Gaeda also noted, one of the few times she let Revin onto the bridge, though she kept the other woman within easy reach at all times and as she sat, pulled Revin with a very slight unexpected squeal to sit on her lap then draped an arm around Revin’s waist to keep her from escaping easily.

Shaking his head free of never-to-be dreams, he nodded to Trid who punched commands into the klingon computers and produced the star charts in question, showing the location of the Federation/Empire border and were the Kemron system was. It was in fact a star system that was used as a reference point for the border, technically falling just inside Federation space.

“Small time operation, hard scrabble, could do with what we’re selling. They also mine kemocite and polyferranide so we should be able to happily trade with them, get what we want and get out of there.”

Gaeda turned to look at Sidda with shocked look on his face. “Sorry, did you say polyferranide?”

“Ardot says they found a vein three months ago. He and that bastard Jorvak are the only ones to know about it so far. Now we do as well. We get enough to reseal the warp coils, then we all figure out how we want to handle Jorvak.”

“Blow him out of the sky and drag his escape pod over the border and let the KDF sort him out. After his last stunt, prison detail is too good for him.”

“Sorry, did I miss something?” Trid spoke up, likely pulling Sidda and Gaeda out of a spiral of more and more elaborate punishments for the local concentration of utter bastard in sentient form.

“I,” Revin spoke before anyone else could, “may very well tell you later dear, suffice to say Captain Jorvak and these two,” she said indicating Sidda and Gaeda with a graceful and relaxed wave of her hand, “have a rich and complicated history.”

“Uh, okay then.”

Silence reigned supreme as Sidda glared at the viewscreen, considering things further. “Right, recall the crew, tell them they have three hours before we depart. We’ll head for Kemron IV and get rid of those reprocessors.”

****

Vondem Thorn
Bridge
Three days later

“Distress signal coming from the surface Cap, it’s feint but it’s there.”

“On screen,” Sidda said with icy dripping off her words.

The Thorn had dropped out of warp barely fifteen minutes ago and had been making their way in system mostly under cloak. No challenge or response to their hails when they first arrived had set Sidda off. Something wasn’t right at all.

“…immediate assistance! Starfleet! Orions! Anyone! We need…” The burly man shouting into the camera feed was stopped midsentence by the mekleth that swung on out of the pickup and took the man down with a shower of blood. Then the message started from the beginning all over again. “Mayday mayday mayday! This is Kemron colony to any and all ships that can hear us! We’re under attack by Klingon raiders! We need…”

“Stop!” Sidda shouted and Gaeda killed the replay on the viewscreen, returning to the image of the planet and the stars beyond. “Time stamp?” she finally asked after five very long seconds.

“Looks like…two days ago.”

There was utter silence before Trid broke it. “Prophets…” She only voiced, in her own way, what everyone else was thinking.

“Telin,” Sidda finally said, turning the command chair to face her most troublesome crewmember. “Get down there and find out what happened. I want to know why we didn’t pick that message up until we were in orbit. I want to find any and all survivors. I want you tell me who did this.”

The focus, the anger, the icy in her voice clearly rung true with Telin as he actually snapped to something akin to a parade stance. “I’ll need engineers.”

“Take T’Ael. If she’s hurt though, I’m taking it out on you. Keep her safe like you would me.”

“Yes mistress,” he responded and then marched off the bridge.

“I’m going with him,” Gaeda said. He didn’t move though, waiting for acceptance or denial of his statement.

“Go, and remind him, no pillaging until I say so.”

Gaeda nodded and then he took left the bridge.

Now there was just Sidda, Trid and R’tin, the third Romulan of this crew, who was manning the Engineering console.

“Trid,” Sidda turned to her bajoran helmswoman. “Broadcast a message towards the nearest Federation starship. Tell them we found a ransacked colony, likely hit by House D’Ghor. Tell them…tell them…it’s too late, but they might want to come and bury their dead.”