Nearing the Republic/Federation border
“Another three days and we’ll meet up with a Romulan freighter, the Setlik. We sell half the cargo to them, making up all expenses accrued so far, then we carry the rest on to Torkin IV, where Roelin will be awaiting his shipment of the syrup,” Na’roq said, reading off a padd in her hand. “I spoke with him a few hours ago and he’s informed me he has more up to date information – not just a name, but a location now.”
“Well, guess that’s worth the wait then,” Sidda said, signing off on the padd in her own hand and handing it back to Na’roq, only to have to accept another. Running a ship, a business and trying to get an aid relief organisation off the ground was a paperwork nightmare. The troubles of setting up fronts and blinds.
Fronts and blinds that she actually wants doing good work. After all, locals are far more willing to accept a criminal element if that criminal element is a key and vital contributor to their community.
“I still don’t understand why, if your goal is to ultimately visit Revin’s father, you just don’t go straight there. Surely you could claim the bounty yourself, yes?”
Sidda blinked, starred straight at Na’roq and blinked slower again. “Uh…that’s not what we’re wanting to do actually.”
“Yes. Revin wants a modicum of revenge on her father for her…poor childhood. We’re doing it in a proper Romulan fashion. Nipping at loyal lieutenants, weakening his position, showing that we can stop his and his underling’s plots. Once we’re confident, then we’ll strike.”
“Ah…a hostile takeover. Diminish the target’s assets before a final buyout action.” Na’roq nodded with understanding. “Not quiet the same, being Romulan politics and not civilised commercial matters.”
“To be fair, I don’t think either is very civilised.”
They both had a small chuckle at that, interrupted by beeping from Tactical and Orin tapping on his console to get Sidda’s attention. Incoming distress call, he signed before putting it through.
“This is the freighter Costaguana, mayday mayday mayday, we are under attack by four orion raiders. We need immediate assistance. Repeat, this is the freighter…”
“Enough,” Sidda said, a handwave emphasising the point. “Distance?”
Orin’s response was to just bring up the local region on the main viewscreen, highlighting the main shipping lane that Starfleet had established recently with its exclusion and safe transit zones. The Costaguana was almost directly in their path, a mere twenty minutes at their current pace, five if they increased speed but considerably increasing the odds of being spotted even under cloak.
“Dammit,” she muttered under her breath. “Louis, adjust course and lay on the speed. Orin, music please.”
The lights on the bridge immediately dimmed further and the klaxon of action stations started to ring throughout the bridge as the Vondom Rose rode to war.
“We’ve got boarders in bay 4 and two more trying to get into Engineering. Mitchell’s people are keeping them out for now.”
The freighter rocked as another strafing run of the unoccupied pods took place from one of the raiders.
“God dammit! Where the hell is Starfleet?”
“We’ve just lost the impulse drives.”
“I’ve got the shields back up!”
Another series of hits and lights on the bridge dimmed, a console blew out and sparks showed the room.
“Nevermind. They’re transporting cargo off the ship Captain. Starting in bay 4. They’re grabbing all the artifacts.”
Captain Rodney Anderson wasn’t exactly expecting any of this today, or even this entire trip. Was supposed to be a simply little cargo run. Two months there and back. But then Starfleet had to impose new rules and funnel all the shipping into a shooting gallery, then not bother to police it properly.
“Hail the lead raider,” he finally said, dejected.
Without much fanfare this XO opened the channel to the orion raider, a large man appearing on screen surrounded by his bridge crew, all wearing some sort of uniform, likely self-designed if Rodney’s read of the style was anything to go by. “Surrendering human?”
“Yah I was just about to…” He stopped as the orion’s bridge suddenly was engulfed in flame and then suddenly the channel went dead, the viewscreen reverting to the starscape before the Costaguana.
One of the other raiders nipped in front of the Costaguana, only for its shields to flare in green, a combination of its own shield bubble and the barrage of disruptor fire that slammed into the ship, ripping away it’s meagre shields in the face of capital grade weaponry, then chewing through the hull and cracking the ship in half, soon disappearing in an explosion as antimatter containment failed and vessel immolated.
“The other raiders are breaking off. We’re being hailed.” Rodney’s nod and the viewscreen came to life, this time with a bridge of a klingon ship and again more orions. And some humans, a ferengi and an andorian. He just traded one lot of raiders for another hadn’t he?
“I do apologise Captain Anderson for not getting here sooner, but the Rose isn’t as nippy as some Federation starships are,” Sidda said as she sat herself down in the mess hall opposite Captain Anderson and one of his crew members he’d brought along, arguably for some measure of protection.
“Yah, well, I won’t complain to much,” the older man said. “No one was badly hurt and you’ve been true to your word about getting us back on our feet. Lost our primary cargo though, so that’s a bit of a reputational hit.”
Anderson snorted, then smiled. “Yah, just a bunch of stuffy old artifacts. They’d been sitting on a Republic world, Tren IV, for two months to be transported to a museum on Japori. We got them and were on our way home when all this craziness started. Then comes some order from Starfleet to deliver them to the nearest starbase ASAP. But for some reason those raiders went straight for the museum pieces so they must have some worth outside of museums and collectors if Starfleet and raiders want them.”
“Raiders want them because Starfleet wants them,” Sidda offered, pausing for Kevak to set down some drinks and as close to a small platter as he was want to make. Thank the Goddesses there was no gagh on the platter. “But if they’re this important, probably best someone recovers them.”
“Well, the Costaguana is certainly not a gunboat and we’re still making good our repairs,” Anderson said as he went for his cup. Only after he had sipped did the other man lift his cup, but didn’t sip from it.
So, to set them both at ease she lifted her own cup and sipped at it, then a larger mouthful before setting it back down and then picking a few things from the platter. “I’ll make you a deal Captain. I’ll send my escort ship with you to keep you safe to the New Providence yards and I’ll take the Rose in case of those artifacts. Once I have them, I’ll return them to you, but you share the reputation earnings with my crew, sixty/forty to you.”
“Where’s the catch?” Anderson asked at the overly generous offer just presented to him.
“A favour in the future and to remember who your friends are. I’m sure the Rose can offer services to you and yours again in the future, as you can to us.”
She could just about hear the cogs in Anderson’s mind turning, a bit more when he looked to his companion who shrugged at the unspoken query, then fortified himself with a healthy mouthful of the drink Kevak had brought out. “What the hell, why not. But I want those raiders gone too. That way we get reputation for clearing the shipping lanes as well, plus it’s just good for business. And we share that too.”
“Naturally,” Sidda said with a smile. “Naturally.”
“Costaguana is underway and Thorn will intercept with them in an hour,” Lewis said from Helm.
Nodding, Sidda thought to herself about having a conversation with her cousin Orin about his speech. On the Vondem Thorn it wasn’t such a problem, but the Rose was so much bigger, so much needy of a fully capable crew.
Besides, he already got his revenge years ago. And surely his fiancée would also convince him? Unless that’s what she likes, the strong silent types?
“Right Lewis, set course on their last known trajectory and engage at warp six. Let’s go pick up the trail and follow them back to base. Don’t bother with the cloak for now. Maybe we’ll lure some dumb fools for a bit or even better, catch a few.”
“Oooh…big dumb freighter, coming right up,” the man said with some mirth and soon enough the Rose was at warp. “I’ve got a good read of their warp trail, should be able to follow them. Helps we shot one of them up as they ran for it.”
“Yes,” Sidda said, turning her chair to face Tactical and Orin standing there, “that was some good shooting.”
Thank you, he signed. If you’ll excuse me Cousin, I have an appointment with the Lady Revin.
“You, an appointment with my fiancée? Should I be worried? Should Rebecca be worried?”
Her Ladyship wishes to learn to shoot, so I shall instruct her since your aim, Cousin, could do with some work.
“Mock me like that once more Orin and I’ll show you my aim,” she said, smirking at him, then shooing him away with a wave of her hand. “Go, have fun! The gunnery range is there for a reason after all.”
Turning back around, Lewis was there looking at her with a smirk his own. “What?” she demanded.
“Oh, just, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you fire more then once or twice in a firefight anyway ma’am. You tend to fire off full charge shots and empty the powerpacks.”
“Yah, and I hit each time.”
“And burn out the disruptors too. You’re taking the pirate thing a bit far I think,” he said turning back this controls. “You don’t need to charge in with flintlocks and settle things with a single shot you know.”
“Pah!” she exclaimed as a few others on the bridge nodded in agreement with Lewis’ statement. “Well stuff the lot of yah, I know what I’m doing.”
“No doubt ma’am, no doubt.”
Orion raider Sharptooth
“Well what did we steal you idiot,” one of the brutish male orions said, looming over a much smaller man in the cargo bay. “It had better be worth two ships and their crews.”
“I…think? Maybe boss,” the small man said as he popped open one of the crates, this the first chance he’d had to inspect the haul after being tasked with multiple repairs as they returned to base. A padd sat in a recess in the padding, it’s screen coming to life and displaying a list.
“Oh…inventory list,” he said, pulling the padd out to look, only to have it snatched away.
“Tkon artifacts? Goddess and gods this is a disaster,” the brute said before kicking the smaller man and throwing the padd at him. “You had better hope we find a buyer for these useless dirt covered trinkets or I’m going finally space you Krent. Then at least I’d actually get some enjoyment.”
With that the larger man left, leaving Krent to survey all they’d stolen. Eight crates of recovered artifacts, all in romulan containers, labelled in Federation standard for their new caretakers, if not for this little diversion. Now all he had to do was find some buyers before he took a walk outside.