The First Drink
For a Romulan watering hole, Sidda had to admit, this place actually had its charm. It wasn’t like the parlours and establishments she’d been frequenting of late in the Republic while trying to track down information, make contacts or occasionally try to make her and Revin a target to draw people out. No, this was much more like some of the places on Ayer’s Rock or other such establishments on Federation border worlds where a frontier vibe had become the culture de jure.
To be fair to the inhabitants of Naos IV though, their colony was young, it still was frontier and, in some places, still evident to have been prefabricated structures or rapidly printed using archi-printers in preparation for refugees. Which is one of the reasons perhaps why The First Drink stood out.
It was one of a few two story structures in this part of the city of New Home, though that was a rather generous use of the word city. It had the tell-tale signs of archi-printer work in the walls of the bottom floor, but the second floor was entirely natural and local materials. Distinctly beautiful hardwoods had replaced the interior of the structure, giving it a nice homey feel to the spaces within which were also distinctly un-Romulan.
No small spaces to squirrel away a conspiracy, or an assassin, no twisting corridors of power and intrigue, just a large single space, with appropriate back rooms for the service side of such a place as this. The upstairs had been given way to a series of smaller rooms with a wraparound mezzanine that looked over the main room. A bar dominated the left wall as she entered the saloon, the entire place vacated save for a handful of old Romulan men and one somewhat younger man whom she’d spent the last few days conversing with, making deals to benefit herself and coincidentally the populous of Naos IV.
She’d found this place on their first day and had decided rather quickly that she rather liked the location. The staff were friendly, the drinks were good and the atmosphere was her kind of controlled lawlessness. And so, for this occasion, she’d spoken with the owner to have it vacated for the afternoon, at double an average day’s takings, so she could invite the colony’s leadership for a drink to celebrate a new era for her fledgling company and Naos IV, assuming everything went off without a hitch.
Guards had been outside keeping the ‘common folk’ away from the saloon, but they hadn’t even looked in the direction of Sidda, or her retinue, as they had walked across the unofficial square outside and into the establishment.
Revin was with her for this and looking absolutely like the royalty she could have been, which contrasted a little with Sidda’s own rough and ready look. Na’roq had a case of padds, all the contracts and paperwork ready to sign that she’d drawn up to make everything all official like. Telin and Orin both had come along to act as muscle and because frankly when it came to her safety, after her own skill, Sidda trusted her cousins most of all, even if Telin was an ass who was still working his way up from deserving to be shot for something, anything really.
Three Orions, a Ferengi and a Romulan walk into a Romulan bar. Okay, so what’s the punchline to this joke?
“Administrator Lirin,” Sidda started as she walked towards the single table that had been placed in the middle of the room, the rest stacked against the wall furthest from the bar. All four Council members sat on one side of the table, facing the door, with Lirin in the middle of them. “I was hoping to arrive and get some drinking in before you arrived, but I see you’ve decided to arrive, what, an hour early?”
“Forty-five minutes love,” Revin said from Sidda’s left, not clinging to her but just holding her hand and playing the part of the lost, blind Romulan.
“Yes, quite so,” he said, his tone dry and bland. Exactly the tone to set Sidda at unease actually. “I’ve been discussing matters with the Council,” the old men perking up at a mention of them and being relevant to the situation, “and we’ve decided to amend our little agreement actually.”
Her hand came up to rub the bridge of her nose as she stopped walking, halfway between door and table. “Seriously Administrator, our negotiations have been so fruitful. A good deal for you, for this world, for my crew and I. Don’t fuck this up at the finish line.”
He smiled at her, a confident, cocky smile before he stood. He wasn’t the young man he used to be, back in the days of the Empire. He was middle aged when everything had fallen apart and was barely younger than those he allowed to sit as his Executive Council now. “See, the way I see it, Captain,” his tone of voice not very respectful of her rank, “I have more guards than you do. I have more armed forces then you, more then enough to take your ship and commandeer it. Then Naos IV will be self-sufficient, with our own Armed Merchant Freighter, which I must thank you for getting a warship registered as such with the Federation.”
As he had spoken a number of guards had appeared from the back rooms, or from outside the main doors. But none appeared on the mezzanine above, and Sidda smirked at that. All were armed, guns pointed at Sidda, twenty in total. The Executive Council members looked rather pleased with themselves and Lirin was the worst of them, but watching his expression shift when she started smiling back at him was priceless.
“You could have just signed the deal, been the big damn hero of the colony, but no, you just had to overreach. What is with you Old Empire bastards and your never-ending ambition?” she replied.
“It’s not ambition if it succeeds, then it’s called cunning. You never stood a chance, but then again your people never did, after all you’re either slaves to the Federation or the Klingons.”
Sidda shrugged and then let go of Revin’s hand, checking momentarily that her fiancée retreated back to Orin before turning her attention back to Lirin. “Funny thing about places like this, there’s always someone who doesn’t like the local mayor, especially when he’s some trumped up ex-noble.” She clapped her hands twice and the rooms upstairs all opened up, members of her own crew, some of the locals and the owner of The First Drink herself all stepped up to the mezzanine railing all branding a variety of weapons, though predominantly Klingon disruptors from her own ship’s stories.
“You boys be putting down those guns of yours,” Mistress Rel said while waving her disruptor at the guards on the ground floor, all of them busy taking in the fact they were outnumbered. Slowly weapons started to be laid down.
“It’s called cunning,” Sidda said as she returned her attention to Lirin who’s face was going an interesting said of green, about the same as his collection of old fools around him. Then she stepped forward and unholstered her own disruptor pistol, taking an exaggerated moment to check the charge on it before aiming it straight at Lirin. “Were you planning to kill me or make me a slave I wonder?”
Before he could respond she pulled the trigger on the weapon.
The bar was littered with shot glasses as Sidda sat there with Mistress Rel on the other side, pouring drinks for the two of them. They’d been given space to finish discussions she’d started mere hours after her very first discussion with Former Administrator Lirin and could be summed up on the padd between them, it’s screen only slight splashed with a little alcohol.
“So, yah prom…promise to make some changes?” Sidda asked, her words only slightly slurred.
Rel was a hard looking older woman whose capacity for drink would rival of Klingon. A thought went through Sidda’s mind about how she now had not one, but three Klingons she could sacrifice to test that assertion. The honour and glory of their species would be at hand!
“Free and fair elections? Actual democracy and not the shame those bastards were running? Most certainly. I have enough trouble running this place and my own criminal enterprise, I don’t want to run an entire colony.” Rel poured another drink for herself and downed it. “Our deal still good kid? You help out Naos, Naos helps you out, right?”
Sidda glared at Rel for calling her that, then grabbed at the padd, flicked through to the screen to confirm and pressed her thumb down then spun it for Rel to do the same. That done, she leaned over the bar and stole the bottle Rel had been pouring from for herself, got to her feet and headed for the door. “I want a statue, five meters tall!” she shouted over her shoulder, lifting the bottle high in the air before bringing it to her lips.
“You’re drunk,” Revin stated as Sidda passed through the door into quarters many, many times more luxurious than she ever had on the Thorn. More space allowed for more sumptuous furnishings after all.
“I am not, I’m just tipsy,” Sidda responded, stumbling slightly while setting the bottle still in hand down on the wall mounted table that served as a small desk, the only piece of original furniture still present as it served a minor purpose as somewhere to store stuff.
Turning to face her fiancée, she found Revin suddenly right there and before she knew it, she was disarmed, the disruptor liberated of its power cell and both items thrown across the room. Then came the shove and she was pushed up against the desk, pinned there bodily by Revin. “You shot a man in cold blood,” Revin said, a finger jabbing Sidda just above the collar bone.
“He was going to shoot all of us,” she responded, not trying to fight Revin off at all, her hands finding the edge of the desk to brace herself a bit better. “I just bested him, then made sure he never threatened anyone every again.”
“He was about to be arrested like the others.”
“I was sending a message,” Sidda said, slowly looking down to avoid Revin’s eyes. “Don’t fuck with the Rose.”
“You liberated a people,” and with that the accusing finger faded and a hand came up to cup Sidda’s face and Revin pulled her into a kiss.
Confusion at first from the rapid shift from unhappy tone of voice and accusations to a kiss, then the heavenly scent of her woman hit her and Sidda’s hands moved from desk to hips. Then the kiss broke and Revin slapped her hard across the face.
“Never, ever do something like that in front of me again, am I understood?”
A hand came to her own cheek in quick order to rub at the alcohol numbed pain, though the shock of Revin slapping her was perhaps more painful really. “I…yes dear,” was all she could offer.
“Didn’t she say she wanted a statue?” one man said to another as they looked at the bronze plague mounted on the plinth in the middle of the square’s water fountain.
“Five meters tall even,” the other responded. “Might even happen one day, but right now, I think Old Lady Rel has done good enough.”
“But it’s just a plaque.”
“Yah, but’s dedicated to our first political assassination. Kinda need to commemorate that, don’t we? Plus, we finally got a name for the square, instead of just ‘that one south of South Square’.”
Both of the men shrugged and then raised the glass they both hand in salute to the plaque, then headed back to The First Drink as the sound of the grel flies started to buzz in the warm evening.
Twenty meters from this spot, Captain Sidda Sadovu of the SS Vondem Rose shot and killed the last Old Empire noble.
Her actions led to a new, more prosperous era for Naos IV.
-This plague brought to you by the New Home Historical Society
Romulan Republic-Federation Border
“The Plaster City reports she’s just taken up our patrol route Captain and Sector Command has come back agreeing with your intent to pursue to the Vondem Rose. They even sent along all information pertaining to the ship and crew.”
Josiah sighed in relief as he turned his chair to face this terminal on his ready room desk and brought the file up to look over. “Thank you, Lieutenant. Plot a course along their last known vector and engage at warp six.”
“Very well Sir,” the response came before the comm channel went dead.
His attention went immediately to the specifications of engineers who had managed to get aboard and study the ship, to bios written up by someone from Intelligence, though depth and notes made it obvious to him there was a spy aboard ship. Then his eyes settled on a legal document provided to the Vondem Rose upon the end of the recent troubles in the Archanis Sector, then plenty more that followed, including some for the formation of an actual salvage company to take advantage of the salvage writ given by a Captain Rourke – Totally Legitimate Salvage Operations.
His eyes couldn’t have rolled any harder if he had tried.
“Well, well, well, these smugglers might have fooled some people, but they haven’t fooled me.”
Captain Josiah Hu-Williams stood, pulled on his uniform tunic to straighten it up and got exactly five steps to the door when the Covelo shuddered slightly and then dropped out of warp. He only had to look at a single console to see that dreaded symbol again on display.
He sighed loudly; smuggler hunting would have to wait.
Three hundred kilometers from the USS Cavelo, under cloak
“You know, the boss is expecting us to be making inroads in this area, making deals, undermining Federation and Starfleet authority and moral standing,” Trid said from her spot at the helm of the bird of prey that had been renamed to Martian Thorn after Gaeda’s homeworld and Sidda’s insistent it was a thorn to her Rose.
“Yah, I know. I’ll deal with her displeasure later. I’m sure she’ll forgive me if we get any more information about why Starfleet is acting so…queer.”
“Oh, look who’s been eating his thesaurus,” Orelia, the only other Orion female in their entire operation and Gaeda’s current tactical officer, at least until they met up with the Rose again and people swapped around again.
“Hey, I’m the only one allowed to be insubordinate around here,” Gaeda responded with a smirk on his face. “Anything about that shockwave that was different?”
“No, just a subspace shockwave. Cavelo shouldn’t even have slowed down, let alone stopped,” Trid said. “But that particle anomaly alert just fired off again.”
Gaeda sighed and jammed in his command codes before some gruff sounding Klingon could yell at him again. “Right, we’ll follow them for another day or so, then we’ll give the Boss a call and see what she says.”