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Posted on 01 Jan 2024 @ 1:38pm by Story Teller & Lieutenant Commander Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Commander Kennedy Monroe M.D. & Lieutenant T’Mari Rael

4,119 words; about a 21 minute read

Mission: Return to Razmena
Location: Razmena
Timeline: June 16, 2390

As they approached their destination, Joey began to prepare for landing, checking her personal gear for what felt like the millionth time. Of course, she had all the hope in the universe that she wouldn't need to use any of it, but there was always the possibility. Especially when it was very likely they wouldn't be welcomed with open arms. And, still, she needed to fill in the others on what their objective was.

"We aren't necessarily going to be given a positive reception once we've arrived," the Intelligence Chief began. "However, we need information. We're looking to find out all we can about the pirates and their dealings in the area with as little attention drawn to ourselves as possible." In fact, short of her combadge, she was dressed in clothing that would have her fitting in with the riff raff far better than her uniform would allow, and had requested that those present dress similarly. Of course, the Starfleet runabout they were arriving on would have them sticking out like a sore thumb until they were away from it. "Any questions or concerns before we land?"

T’Mari was dressed in similar clothing, something that wouldn’t make her stick out in a crowd. “None that come immediately to mind. I’ll keep my senses alert and let you know if I pick up on anyone, or anything interesting.”

Ensign T'ral , a young Vulcan Security officer, looked uncomfortable in her loose sleeved top, but it concealed the two Type I phasers in modified holsters strapped to her forearms. She wore a pair of black loose pants as well, to give her legs freedom of movement if she needed to run. "Understood, Commander," she said.

"Safety is my biggest priority," Joey stated. "If at any moment I feel that we're in serious danger, we're out of there."

"Does that mean we will be staying together as a team and not splitting up?" Kennedy asked. She too was wearing comfortable civilian clothing. In her case, it was a loose fitting dark navy pant suit. Monroe wasn't bothered by having to wear civilian clothing or the possibility of meeting downright hostile people. Doctors weren't exactly popular anywhere in the galaxy unless people had no choice but to seek medical attention. She was more unsure about how they would work together as a team. This being her first away mission with them, she couldn't help but be curious about the dynamic amongst them and how it would unfold under these circumstances.

"I would prefer that we stay together," Joey replied. "Just until we see what exactly we're working with. If need be, we might split in teams of two. Either you or Lieutenant Rael with me, and the other with Ensign T'ral. I don't necessarily wish for that to happen given I don't trust anyone here." Truth be told, she was a bit nervous given her team, but definitely planned to keep those thoughts to herself. It wasn't even that she felt they weren't capable, because they wouldn't have made a career in Starfleet if they weren't. No, it was more the fact she was certain that they'd never been to a place as shady and dangerous as Razmena. Still, as nervous as she was, it was those nerves that would keep her on her toes.

"I understand," Kennedy replied. "We are safer if we stick together." If the doctor had been telepathic, she might've picked up on Joeys specific reservations and Monroe might've pointed out the place she had grown up didn't seema lot different than where they were going. That said, as team commander, she could understand why it was better to underestimate the team's experience than to count on it when it might not be accurate.

T’Mari was listening to all that was being said, and picking up on the underlying emotions beneath it. “I think it’s a good idea to stay together, at least to start with. At least that way none of us will run into anything we can’t handle, hopefully anyway.”


It wasn't long before the Flotsam had arrived at Razmena and was cooling down its engines in one of the port-side landing bays.

Joey took a deep, calming breath. This was it, and she had hope the fact they were women would work in their favor. "Looks like it's show time," she said, getting to her feet. "Whatever you do, do not mention anything about Starfleet. While we're here, we're just average." With that, she disembarked the Conchos, now Flotsam, and took a quick look around while she waited for the others to join her.

T'ral exited behind the Intelligence Chief and looked around, her Type II phaser hidden in a fold of her outfit. "You got it, Joey," she said, slipping her Vulcan exterior into a mode that she had trained for under Commander Di Pasquale.

T’Mari stepped out and joined the others, taking in her surroundings as she waited for the remainder of the away party to join them.

Kennedy exited the shuttle and focused her attention on centering herself. It wasn't that long ago she was a rebellious angry young woman trying to make her way on worlds like this, by any means necessary. It was true Starfleet was on her tongue more readily these days, but that hadn't always been the case. "Understood," she offered by way of acknowledgement.

It was as she remembered it, even if when she'd seen it was an alternate universe. Joey took in their surroundings as she guided them away from the sanctuary that was the Conchos... now Flotsam. She wasn't sure where Camila and the others would end up, but their best bet would likely be where less law abiding citizens hung out, and that took her to lead the team to, according to locals, 'back alleys'.

For the uninitiated, Razmena felt a lot like M'talas Prime or Stardust City. Uncultured, dirty though peppered with areas that felt like luxury. Orions, Ferengi, Karemma, Dosi, Skarnacs and a host of dozens of other species were scattered about the station. Storefronts and bars were lively, and many clung to the bulkheads, as if their seated bodies were somehow molded into the structure. Several eyed the fresh group of new arrivals, wondering where they'd been to look so clean.

A Paradan was the first to dare approach the group. "Looking for a job, ladies? I can never get enough net girls!"

Kennedy considered all sorts of responses, but was reminded of Joey's words. They needed to get information, but they shouldn't call attention to themselves or do anything that would cause them to be separated from one another. Monroe considered her options and decided on a compromise. She would say nothing, cast her eyes in Joey's direction to indicate deference, but she would also direct intermittent attention to the man in question, expressing almost a shy interest. They needed information, but none of them could afford to make that too obvious. For now, Kennedy would be content to take it all in.

The Paradan clued into the red-headed woman's reaction. All he needed was the slightest response from someone and that was his ticket in. "I pay every night in latinum," he pressed, moving closer to the doctor. "All the tullaberry wine you can drink, just as long as the patrons stay happy. Come on, try a test run."

Joey mentally twitched. She'd done the net girl thing before, and it wasn't something she wanted to go through again. Nor did she want any of those with her to go through it, either. Her attention turned to the Paradan. "Sorry, but we're not interested. Been there. Done that."

“We’re not interested in entertaining your customers” T’Mari gave the Paradan an unemotional Vulcan look, being half Vulcan she could play the non-emotional part very well.

Ensign T'ral merely gazed at the Paradan as if daring it to challenge her, then a very un-Vulcan like laugh erupted from her throat. "Sorry, you couldn't afford me."

Alas, the Paradan didn't need to afford anyone. All he needed was right in front of him, so he stepped forward and reached his left hand out towards the doctor's hair.

Joey's hand shot out before she even realized what was going on and grabbed the wrist of the Paradan. She tsk'd and shook her head as she turned her attention toward him. "You're quite bold to think that it's okay for you to touch her... or any of us for that matter. Keep your hands to yourself," she said, letting the rest of it remain unsaid.

Kennedy saw the hand moving in her direction and she rapidly considered her options. The part of her that fought her way out of a city not unlike this one wanted to kick the sleaze in his nether regions. As a doctor, she knew how to cause maximum pain to a variety of people if she needed to defend herself. Taking such an action, however, would cause unnecessary attention to the group, which was the very last thing they wanted. Deciding she would allow him to touch her as long as it wasn't in indecent places if it was an opportunity to get him talking, Monroe was startled to see Joey's hand intervene.

Grateful and impressed all at once, Kennedy considered what to do or say next, taking the opportunity to blink slowly before offering, "It's so disappointing to realize how many people have lost the art of conversation and information exchange."

The Paradan gave Joey a shocked look for a moment. It wasn't the action that had got him, rather simply that he hadn't expected that to come from her. "Of... of course. Right." He yanked his hand back and sauntered off.

Joey blinked. That was easy, which surprised her a little bit. She mentally shrugged that off and looked toward the group. "We definitely won't be splitting up now. Let's head toward the promenade," she said before leading the group in that direction.

To say that the humans stood out was an understatement. Sure there was the occasional Vulcan, Orion, and even a Bajoran or two. The species represented were predominantly Gamma Quadrant. The group from the Black Hawk, however, did not draw much attention.

Ensign T'ral kept one eye on the Paradan while she headed out with the others. "Begging your pardon, but weren't we here to find things out?" she asked Joey quietly.

Joey glanced toward Vulcan as they moved forward. "Yes," she answered before offering further explanation. "But no one needs to become a net girl or be touched in order to get said answers. But, he did give us a great lead. Net girls see and hear a lot when they jack in. That's where we start."

"I see," Ensign T'ral said. "So where do we go to see?"

"We're going where the net girls take their breaks when they aren't jacked in," the Intelligence Chief stated. "We'll likely get propositioned again. Try not to let anyone touch you. That goes for everyone." And, with that, she escorted the ladies of her group where she remembered their destination to be.

Joey's memory served her well. The break room was filled with women of various species. Human, Romulan, Trill, Teplan, Rakhari, and several others. Just outside the room were a few deadbeat males, practically begging for just a few more minutes with their last proposition. A couple Paradans stood watch, and allowed the team to enter because they just didn't seem dangerous.

A few glances from the occupants were thrown at the new arrivals, but those did not last long. A middle-aged Chabanlon, outfitted with a nasal apparatus that injected pollen into her nostrils, greeted the team. "Hello, ladies. Are we ready to begin?"

Kennedy remained quiet, deciding this time it was better to follow Joey's lead. The doctor wasn't sorry she had taken a chance to get information before, but considering it was Joey who felt compelled to come to her rescue (and Monroe didn't blame her for doing so), Monroe didn't want to put her in that position again.

T’Mari looked around, she couldn’t say she was looking for the kind of time that was on offer around here. She looked towards Joey waiting for her next move.

"In just a moment," Joey answered, looking toward the Chabanlon. "Would it be okay with you if me and my companions spoke to some of your ladies about their experiences? I would be willing to pay for their time."

"What is this?" the Chabanlon sneered. "Hell no. Tell your Triosian boss that he can't poach any of my girls for his virtual gladiator arena."

The Intelligence Chief blinked. "I'm afraid that I don't know who you're talking about, but perhaps you can enlighten us?"

"It's just as it sounds," said the Chabanlon, snorting through her nasal apparatus. "That Triosian plugs my netgirls into his virtual interface where they engage in acrobatics and combat. Spectators take bets, with the winning girl getting a piece of the action. But either you're playing dumb with me, or you're really not with him."

The Chabanlon snorted again, considering the woman's offer for payment. "Fine. Talk to whomever you want. Three slips of latinum a minute. Pay me on the way out."

Joey nodded her head. "We will. Thank you," she said before turning toward her team. "I feel a bit more comfortable splitting up here. Anyone that wishes can come with me. We'll meet back here in half an hour to regroup." With that, she nods her head toward a small group of women talking and heads that way.

The small group of women that functioned as Joey's destination was a trio, one Teplan, one Dosi, and one Rakhari. All three pensively looked up as the human woman approached.

"Ladies," Joey greeted them with a polite nod. "I don't want to take up anymore of your time than absolutely necessary. That being said, would you be willing to answer some questions?"

The three looked at each other briefly. The Dosi and the Rakhari sneered, but the Teplan, who showed signs of a pre-quickened blight nodded. “Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you whatever you want.”

Ensign T'ral hung back and rested an elbow on the bar and kept an eye on the Chabanlon as he made his way out. "Friendly guy."

"Done. Lead the way," Joey said as she stepped back so the Teplan could move by her. Her gaze moved to the Dosi and Rakhari. "I suppose you two plan to stay behind?"

How could the other two women refuse a free beverage? They rose to follow the rest of the group to the small bar where a male Dosi poured glasses of tulaberry wine. The Teplan, drink now in hand, said, "What do you want to know?"

Joey accepted her drink and turned her attention back to the others. "You interact with all kinds, don't you? I was curious to know if any of you, or maybe someone you know, has ever come across a specific individual by the name Kelinor?"

"He's shown his face a time or two," the Teplan replied, then took a swig of her wine. "We see more of his crew than him though. Our boss usually comps their time seeing how much business they bring to the station. Do you have any idea how hard it is on us pleasuring this group? If people want something for free, they sure know how to milk it to get the most out of it."

"I have an idea," The Intelligence Chief said with a slight frown. "Do you know where I might find him or his crew? I was a net girl once, and things between us got a bit... intimate. I've been following leads of his whereabouts for so long. I want him to know our son. He's three now."

The Teplan blinked. "You broke the code?" she said, almost gasping. Interactions between net girls and clients were supposed to stay purely digital, never at all physical. "He must have paid handsomely for that. Does he know about your son?"

Joey shook her head. "No. It's why I'm trying so hard to find him. He deserves to know. Do you know where I can find him? Or maybe know someone who might?"

While Joey did the talking,., Ensign T'ral kept her eyes scanning the crowd around them but tried not to act too curious in her surroundings at the same time.

The Teplan thought for a moment, sizing up the woman before her. Now that she thought about it, the human seemed awfully familiar. "I have a few ideas," she said at last. "Come with me. Just you though. Anyone else, and he might bolt."

Joey looked to T'ral and nodded her head toward the rest of the group, then followed behind the Teplan.

Kennedy was tempted to accompany Joey, especially since she was approaching several people at once, but Monroe figured Joey had that particular group handles and it would be best to divide and conquer elsewhere. Spotting a lone woman standing apart from the others, the doctor considered how to make her approach. She hoped because the woman was by herself, she would have better luck getting her to talk. Kennedy new from painful personal experience that people in these positions had to be concerned about what their fellow 'Colleagues ' overheard. Everyone was just trying to survive, but that made everything a competition.

The doctor wasn't quite sure of the woman's species as she approached, but she offered, "Mind if I chat with you for a bit, miss?"

The woman, a dark-skinned Rakhari, looked up at the woman who approached her. "We don't usually see women with hair as red as yours out here. You're awfully brave to stand out so much. It's surprising you haven't been acquired yet."

Kennedy found the choice to use the word "acquired" an interesting one. Naturally, she wanted to jump right into finding out more information, but she knew she had to tread carefully. "Thank you for calling it brave instead of crazy or stupid," she replied with a smile. "I got this hair from my mother. I suppose keeping it as my way of honoring her, and I can't bring myself to change it. I have learned it's best to keep my head on a swivel, but I'd be grateful if you could give me any tips on who to look out for?"

"Paradans, for one," said the Rakhari. "Their cloning tech has been in high demand lately. The final product, however, leaves a lot to be desired. You want to double yourself though, go to their homeworld. These clones only last a couple of days. Still, a lot of damage can be done in that timeframe."

T’Mari decided to mingle, seeing who she could best pick out to talk to. With her senses she could better pick out who might be better, someone who might be willing to provide more information.

Not too far away, a Boreriri, a species known for their one eye and telepathy, quietly probed the newly arrived women, softly touching their mind with a passive emotional tap to see if any of them might respond.

T’Mari felt the tap, her eyes looking around for a moment before she went back to picking out who she thought might be worth talking to.

The telepathic cyclops noted that the woman with pointy ears had paused for a moment. Could it be? Someone that could actually talk to her like a real person? The Boreriri reached out and mentally tapped again.

T’Mari turned, looking in the direction of the Boreriri. She walked across taking it slow so as not to draw any particular attention, before sending out a telepathic message. Did you...tap me?

Though her mouth was only used for consuming food and drink, the Boreriri couldn't help but smile. It seemed she'd been around lesser lifeforms too much. I did, she replied. It's not often I get to speak to someone like this without being plugged into the Net.

T’Mari smiled. In that case let’s make the most of it. I would like to ask you some questions if that’s alright?

The alien hesitated for a moment. She could not sense anything that hinted that the Vulcan's intentions were anything less than favorable. In the end, her desire to communicate telepathically won out. Yes, ask away.

We were wondering if you knew anything about the pirates that are working in this area? T’Mari hoped she wasn’t stirring up trouble for herself being so direct. My colleagues and I are...interested in making contact.

Pirates? asked the Boreriri, almost shocked at the language the pointy-eared woman used. We're all pirates, hon. Mercenaries. Freelancers. Poison. Or whatever terms the Federation or Dominion decide to use each day. What sort of contact are you wanting to make?

Sorry bad choice of words T’Mari had to think quickly to cover her slip. We tend to think of ourselves as Freelance entrepreneurs. We’re looking to make contact with those who give us some information on the dealings in this area. See if we can get a thrown our way.

What sort of business are you seeking? asked the cyclops. From what I hear, there's plenty of business to go around regardless of industry. Entertainment, trafficking, goods... Be careful though. I hear there's loads of competition everywhere. Not everyone likes to play fair.

We’re into...a bit of everything, and we’d like a piece of the action in this area. T’Mari was running out of ways to word what she needed to know, short of asking direct and to the point. Anything else she could say would compromise the entire team.

The cyclops glanced around, taking note of the unfamiliar females. Well, if it's entertainment you're after, I don't recommend it. The clientele is unfathomable, unpleasant, and all around disgusting. Not to mention they're looking for the most they can get with the least amount of money. You want to make a splash? Sourcing and hauling cargo's the way to go.

T’Mari smiled and nodded. Okay, is there any particular cargo of specific interest right now? Anything we can source and haul that would bring in a good profit?

Food would be a great start, replied the woman. I can't remember the last person I met who actually ate a full meal. Clothes. Medicine. Anything you'd consider a basic necessity has been in short supply in the last couple of years.

T’Mari nodded. Excellent, thank you for that, I appreciate your help. It’s also nice to get to use my telepathy the way nature intended.

It's a shame, really, concurred the cyclops. Mouth speaking is so barbaric these days. Though I suppose it is a lesser evil. It allows those like us to engage in that higher plane.

Mouth speaking is the way a lot of species communicate, but our abilities do allow us that extra luxury of using our minds instead. It can be so much more efficient.

Indeed, the telepathic alien agreed. She glanced around a bit and added, You and your group seem like you're just passing through. It's a shame our moment will be short-lived.

T'Mari nodded. It is, I have enjoyed getting to use my abilities as nature intended. Should we pass this way again I will stop by and talk to you again.

The cyclops smiled and nodded, even though her tone would reveal her disappointment. Do pass by again. I would very much enjoy that.

As would I, very much so. T'Mari smiled and returned to the others.

Joey made her way back out and moved toward the group. "Let's head out and regroup... figure out what we know and what we can use." With that, she made her way out with everyone.

The group continued to tour the station for a couple of hours, but did not make the connections like they did with the net girls. Still, the information they learned was valuable. Their true value, however, was yet to be known as not a single person really understood how difficult their next few days would be...


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