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Posted on 22 Dec 2023 @ 2:52pm by Story Teller & Commander John Reynolds & Lieutenant Commander Camila Di Pasquale & Ensign Shay Mitchell

4,726 words; about a 24 minute read

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

Camila sat in the pilot's seat of the runabout Kwando, her eyes on the station they were approaching. She glanced over the controls and then over to Commander Reynolds and back at the others. She had briefed Ensign Mitchell and Commander Reynolds had been at the meeting with the Captain. "Last chance for any questions," she said.

Shay took a deep breath. She hadn't been to Razmena, but had heard stories from those that had. It was bound to be an extremely interesting mission. "I don't have any, Chief," the young woman said. "We get in, get information, then get out. Hopefully, without incident."

"Hopefully," said John. "The reports I've read said this was not a place to screw around with. They'll probably know we're there within the first two or three hours. Wouldn't you say, Commander?" He looked over to Di Pasquale.

"If Kelinor hasn't already told them we're here," Camila said without looking back at him. She wore a civilian outfit as well, a muted dark brown and green shirt and matching pants with boots. She had a phaser at her hip, but she wasn't willing to go without it.

"Well there is that. But hopefully not." He himself was outfitted in a pair of heavy boots, black pants, and dark blue shirt. "Where will we start looking for this intel? Bar? Game room?"

"A bar," Camila said. "What do you think, Ensign?" She asked Shay.

Shay looked thoughtful as she smoothed a hand over her worn civilian clothing. She felt so out of place not being in uniform, especially while on duty. "A bar would be a good place to start. That being said, even if we were to find someone willing to give us anything useful, they would be unlikely to do so in such a public setting," she said. "My suggestion would be for the three of us to split up once inside... take a few minutes to sit, observe and listen... one or more of us might get enough information to find out where we really need to be."

"Commander?" Camila looked at Reynolds as the senior officer.

"We've already split up into two teams," John said. "If we split up any further...individuals running around...I'm not sure it's a good idea. Any one of us could get taken while we're seated and there'd be no support nearby. Or worse. I do agree that they're unlikely to share anything in public. Unless they're drunk out of their gourd."

The Security Chief had already thought of such things, but felt compelled to respond favorably in Ensign Mitchell's suggestion. "We would be within eyesight of each other in one bar, Sir, and as you pointed out, they aren't likely to try anything in public. We can throw a little latinum around for drinks and see who's the most interested. These drinks won't be synthehol, so we better get our hypos now."

"The Chief is correct, sir. I would never suggest we all go to different locations," Shay said as she prepared to get her hypo. "It would just look a bit better if we all sat away from one another. That being said, I'm ready for my hypo."

John offered a friendly smile to the Security officers. "My misunderstanding. Line of sight of each other is definitely a good idea. Maybe we stagger our entrances a little, then? Oh, and ready for my anti-drunk hypo."

Camila gave a nod and opened the portable medkit from the runaboiut and loaded a hypospray. She pressed it to her and the hiss of air indicated the medicine had been delivered. "Commander," she siad, offering him the hypo.

"Thank you," he said. John accepted the hypo and applied it to his neck before passing it off to the Ensign. "Take one down, pass it around..."

Shay gave herself the hypo and began to prepare for their mission.


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

Camila finished distributing the latinum slips and strips they had been given and double checked her hidden Type I phaser in a pants pocket and secured the Type II in the runabouts weapon locker. "As a note, we shouldn't use ranks while here, either."

John stowed the slips and strips in various pockets and even slid one down the inside of his boot. "Good point," he said. "It'd be a dead giveaway."

"We should distance ourselves from Starfleet entirely while we're here," Shay stated as she began to pocket the currency. "If we don't, our chances of finding anything out is all but over."

John laughed. "You mean those filthy do-gooders going around the galaxy like they're the cosmic law enforcers? Yeah, complete separation while we're here."

"Let's go," Camila said and opened the hatch of the Kwando and exited. "Ah, the stench of unscrubbed morals," she muttered as she moved aside for the others to exit, her trained eyes scanning the crowd around them.

John walked out of their inconspicuous shuttle and stretched like he'd been sitting for a while. "Looks about normal for a frontier landing bay," he mumbled. "Individuals milling around, going about their daily business. Shouldn't be too hard to find the bar...follow the stumblers and dried vomit on the floor."

"We should make ourselves a bit more, or rather Com... John..." Shay paused, unable to believe what she was about to say, and if anyone ever brought this up once they were away from this godforsaken place, she would deny it. "more pleasing to the eye. Not that he isn't already." What the hell was that? Focus, Mitchell! She felt her cheeks heat a bit, not meaning to add that last bit in. "I just mean... if they think he's got a way with the ladies, other women might offer up information to him."

John laughed a little. "Hey, I'll leave that up to you two," he said.

"I've never had a way with ladies in my life," Camila deadpanned as she headed towards the flow of foot traffic.

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.

Shay surveyed their surroundings. There was a lot going on, but in a place like this, it was to be expected. Of course, anything could happen, and she planned to be as ready for that as humanly possible. Still... what would be the best way to get people to talk? Making John even more interesting than he already was was definitely within the realm of possibility.

The Security Chief looked at the mass of alien bodies and sighed inwardly as she tracked the directions they were going. There was no pattern, she determined after a few moments and the signs in a hundred alien languages that weren't the ones she knew didn't help. "This way," she decided at random and headed in the direction that a good many of the station occupants were going.

As the group continued to explore, certain sounds grew louder and louder. Clearly, this was from a location where the clientele seemed to enjoy themselves a little too much. One individual, a Dosi, was suddenly thrown out of the doorway by a larger Glurone, a bulky ape-like species. "Come back when you can pay your tab!" the Glurone gruffed before disappearing back into the bar.

"We can definitely pay our tabs, right?" Shay asked, despite having latinum in her pockets. She looked toward the Glurone, confident enough that she could hold her own against him... for a second or two, but wanted to avoid that all costs.

John watched as the individual hit the ground and listened. "Yup," he said. "I think so. Sure don't want to end up like that there." And pointed to the body on the floor. "Though if you don't have enough in those pretty little pockets, Shay, I'm sure somebody would buy you one." Oh yeah, this was absolutely out of character for him. He made a mental note to apologize to the Ensign when they were back on the Black Hawk.

"This looks like as good a place as any to forget the day's woes. What do you think, Camila?" That part was weird coming out of his mouth. He was brand new and hadn't earned any right to call the crew by their first names. But the mission dictated it. So he did it. This day kept getting odd by the second.

"Good enough for me, Johnny," Camila wouldn't help but give a nickname to the Commander, sure she'd hear about it later, but informal was the call of the day. "First round's on me." She said as she headed into the bar.

Pretty pockets? The young Security Officer wondered. Despite it being an act, she was definitely going to have a hard time looking at him once this was all over. For now, she planned to follow Camila into the bad, hoping that one of them got some kind of information. "I'll pick up the second."

Without waiting to see who would offer for the next round, Camila headed into the bar and towards what looked like the main area to order. She made her way through the crowd slowly, her eyes roving over the throng of beings and hoped not of them would be watching her or the group too closely. When she arrived at the bar, she gave a short nod. "Whiskey."

Shay took up position at the bar not too far away from Camila, content to wait her turn since the Chief ordered before she did. While she waited, though, the young woman began to look around and take note of anyone that might stand out more than the others.

John leaned against the bar and took a quick look around the room. He smiled. Lots and lots of what he expected and a little of what he didn't expect. Liking to sip on a good whiskey, he was rather expecting to enjoy this trip thanks to the hypo. "I'll have a Sazerac rye whiskey when you get to it," he said. It was a staple in most core world bars, but this wasn't a core world bar. "If it's not around, I'll take whatever cognac you have instead."

The Selamat behind the bar snarled. "You humans. No originality. And no, we don't carry whiskey. We don't carry cognac. You want weak drinks, you go see the Wadi on the lower level." The barkeep planted a triangular bottle on the countertop, filled with a thin and red-tinted liquid. "Here, we drink Qlo'ka sk'lar."

"Well okay then," said John. He looked at the triangular bottle full of something that looked like watered down Blood Wine. Then back to the coarse, grey skinned figure in front of him. "Pour me a glass of the strong stuff. I'll wait."

The bartender pulled out a lowball glass and served a bottle of the liquid, which was soon revealed to be slimy. "Don't drink it too fast," he snarled. "This will knock lightweights out before the first glass is empty."

John nodded and took a sip, playing up the caution from the barkeep. The hypo would've kept things from getting too bad. Just to keep up appearances.

Camila gave a nod at the bottle of reddish liquid. "Give me two fingers of that, then," she said, taking note that they were familiar with humans.

The bartender did as requested, producing another lowball and poured the drink. He eyed the woman for a moment as he slid over the beverage. "You're no stranger to the hard stuff."

While Camila and John got their drinks, Shay continued to observe, looking for anyone that stood out or might know something.

Camila took the drink and tossed it back, hoping the alcohol neutralizer in her system would counter the effects of the alien liquor. "I'm more interested in harder stuff," she said she set the glass back on the bar.

The bartender's golden eyes examined the newcomers suspiciously. "What are you running from, human?" he asked, pouring another sk'lar for the blonde.

Camila shoved the drink aside. "It's what I'm running toward," she said. "Freedom from the Federation and the do gooders who only want to restrict what others can do and how we can trade."

His golden eyes narrowed, focusing now on the blonde woman. He opened his mind to see just what he could sense from the three new arrivals. "And just what are you looking to trade? Weapons, chemicals, narcotics, computerized intelligence, even flesh, it all comes through here. I can broker a connection for you..."

"Privacy and the ability to get what I need without many people being able to identify me or my ship," the Security Chief responded. "Namely, a cloaking device."

The Selamat's gaze on the woman remained unbroken. "I see you have expensive taste. Not to mention, a desire for obscurity. I'm surprised you're not in league with your species. Not the Federation, but Kelinor and his merry band."

"He's as elusive as I wish to be," Camila said and tossed the second drink back. "I heard he was out here and doing good business."

"Depends on who you ask." The Selamat sighed. "Twenty strips of latinum, and I'll point you their way."

"Ten strips," she countered. "Ponting in a direction is about as helpful as telling me you knw how to break Warp Ten."

"Everyone knows how to break Warp Ten," reasoned the bartender. "No one knows how to beat turning into a lizard. Eighteen."

The ombre hared human woman laughed and slammed her fist on the counter. "Damned if you aren't right," she said. "Fifteen and I'll forget I met you."

The bartender eyed the woman for a moment. Then, with a sneer, he turned away. A moment later, a Qlo'ka stepped between the Selamat and the bar. "The 'keep bids me to escort you. Follow me, please." Without waiting for a reply, the Qlo'ka slid out the bar's gate and began walking to the rear of the establishment.

Camila didn't like it, but she motioned to the others and headed back behind the Qlo'ka, her senses telling her this was bad, but she had a role to play. "Then lead the way."

It did not take long for the Qlo'ka to lead the team to their next destination, after all, the bar was not a big place. But it was not Kelinor who sat at the table, enjoying a drink. A purple-haired woman sat in the back of a booth, flanked by two large men, one Nausicaan, the other a Wadi. The Qlo'ka spoke to the Wadi in a different language, who then glared at the humans.

"Let them come," declared the woman with the purple hair. "I'll decide their intentions."

Camila brushed past the Qlo'ka and looked at the Wadi female. "Is that what you do?" She asked boldly as if the woman had no right to determine anything.

John took his glass in hand and kept a safe distance for now. But he still stayed within eye-shot of the others. He randomly milled around the tables and through the crowds.

The woman at the table eyed the newcomers, her green eyes remaining on each face for a moment. "Don't just stand there," she said at last. "Sit down, hands on the table, and tell me why you seek Kelinor."

Camila sat and hoped that the woman wasn't a touch telepath as she set her hands on the table. "I'm looking for freedom to do what I want without anyone telling me that I can't," she said. "Especially the high and mighty Federation," she said with some vehemence that she worked into her voice while thinking about a former crewmember.

Green eyes studied the blonde woman carefully. "Someone certainly has an axe to grind," she remarked after a moment. She then held up a hand as if to stop any comments from getting out. "The Federation's not my problem. If anything, they're a nuisance that interferes with our work. They like to call it black market. We call it humanitarian."

"I prefer to call it free enterprise," Camila said. "But we recognize that there's channels even for that and that this Kelinor is at the top of that particular chain."

A smile formed under the green eyes. "Very well. You might seek Kelinor, but you have to prove an audience is worth it. I see three of you. You must offer something. Sell it to me."

"What I can offer you is the best services you've ever managed to get your hands on," the ombre haired woman said. "I can get in and out of anywhere and back again, in tact and with the goods. Me and my crew have a small, fast ship, too."

Green eyes glanced at the male and female humans that flanked the blonde. A moment later, the table's matron chuckled and leaned forward. "Ships are, as you humans say, a dime a dozen in this quadrant. But I'll bite. Kelinor's looking for a crew to help with a... new... humanitarian job."

She reached inside her revealing shirt and withdrew a Cardassian data rod. "Deliver this to the Chabonlan in the lower levels, unopened. Do this in ten minutes, I'll give you the details. Open the rod yourselves, and I'll introduce you to the pollen myself." The woman eyed Camila for a moment longer and then slid the rod across the table.

There it was. The offer that Camila couldn't refuse if she wanted to get to Kelinor. She reached for the rod and palmed it, then nodded. "It doesn't matter what it is. My job is to deliver it."

The purple haired woman gave a wave with her left hand, dismissing the small group.

Shay didn't stick too close to Camila or John for appearances sake, but she wasn't too far away. Her gaze remained on her Chief, waiting for her signal as far as their next move went.

Camila took the rod in hand and turned, heading out to deliver it and assumed the others would follow her. She felt nervous and wondered what was in the rod she was carrying, but hoped for the best.. All she had to do was get it to the Chabonlan in ten minutes without getting killed or everyone else.

The task seemed relatively easy. But what the purple haired woman didn't tell them was that the entrance to the lower levels was blocked just off the turbolift... by the equivalent of a Mexican standoff between a Blight-activated Teplan, a Ferengi, and a Dosi, all three holding disruptors at each other.

Now the Security Chief was searching for an alternate way down but could come up with nothing and she was armed only with a Type I phaser hidden in a pocket. She looked around at the throng of people and the three aliens, then back at the bar they had came from. She turned and saw a small device moving along the wall and unsure what it was, she gave it a swift kick towards the nearest window front and shouted at the top of her lungs. "Fire!" before she dove for the floor.

Shay blinked as her Chief was suddenly tossing herself to the floor. When in Rome... she ducked down and looked toward the three hostile individuals, wondering if there were a way she could fix the situation. With weapons involved, though, she highly doubted it, but would try if needed.

All three of the disruptors fired instantly, all of their shots seemingly going wide. One bounced off a magnetically sealed door and killed the Ferengi. The Dosi dove for cover while the Teplan found himself wounded. "Get back here!" he shouted. "I've got nothing to lose, and you are going to give me what I want!"

John dropped to a knee and crouched his head down. He was trying to keep an eye on what was happening as best as he could, but it was too chaotic. Unfortunately for him, the cover that the Dosi dove for was about six meters away from him. Damn, he muttered. It was too close for his liking while in the middle of a firefight.

Camila grabbed her modified Type I, disguised to look like a generic energy weapon and fired at the Teplan. "Oh, shut up. I just want the turbolift!"

And shut up the Teplan did, succumbing to the floor with an uncontrollable twitch. Unfortunately for him, with the Blight already quickened, the energy boost accelerated his condition. It was very unlikely the human team would be around to find out if he would survive long enough to wake up from the stun blast.

The Dosi, however cheered. "It's mine!" he shouted, scrambling out from his cover to grab a cloth bag that had laid on the floor in-between those in the standoff. "It's all mine!"

The Security Chief didn't have time to check on the Teplan as she turned her modified phaser at the other one. "You, shut up, too!" she said as she fired.

The Dosi fell to the ground, right on top of his prized winnings. As he did, the path to the turbolift was now clear.

Shay found herself blinking again as she pushed herself to her feet, then began to make her way to the turbolift. That had certainly escalated, but there was now a clear path she was sure the others would soon be taking.

Camila got up and ran for the turbolift as well, hoping to fate that they would make it to lower levels in time to deliver the package. She looked around for Reynolds, the modified phaser in her hand to lay down cover fire if needed.

John watched the events transpire and was glad that Camila was on their side. She was good. He didn't make a run for the lift, though, until he saw that she was ready to cover if needed. Then he sprinted like his life depended on it. Because it did.

There was no further resistance, much less obstacles, between the away team and the turbolift. The elevator car itself stunk worse than Andorian piss, and creaked as it descended to the lower depths of the station. When it finally arrived, the doors parted to reveal yet another decrepit corridor. This one was not lined with homeless or those in poverty, but what appeared to be henchmen of various ethnicities, some recognizable and some not.

"It's now or never," Camila said as the doors opened and she saw the wall of goons.

"Damn," he said. "Guess if you've gotta go through Gre'thor, walk through it like you own it." He straightened his stance in an attempt to show confidence.

Camila headed forward, hoping she looked bolder than she felt as she walked for the end of the hall, her hazel eyes scanning the various beings around them and cataloging weapons she saw.

The security chief wasn't the only one performing the visual scan. Eyes from different species and colors examined the three humans as they trekked down the corridor. They weren't the first humans they'd ever seen, and certainly not the first in recent days. An uncomfortable silence enveloped the three and then stretched from one end of the corridor to the other.

At the end of the corridor was a closed door. Standing to both sides were female Paradans. They were fairly stacked and armed, clearly assigned as bouncers to this area. "Halt!" demanded the one on the left. "What is your purpose down here, human?"

"Green Eyes sent us with a delivery," Camila said flatly.

The Paradans exchanged a look with each other. "Green Eyes?" asked the same Paradan. "Congratulations. You just described a quarter of the people on this station. Get lost."

"The Wadi at the bar," the Security Chief growled before she pulled the Cardassian data rod out. "Sent us here with a delivery. Kindly tell the Chabonlan that you're holding up business."

The guard eyed the fiery blonde for a moment before nodding to his associate. A moment later, the door opened, revealing a Chabonlan behind a desk and surrounded by holographic displays. "What is it?" he droned, not looking up from his work.

"We're looking to crew up with Kelinor." Camila said as she set the data rod on the desk.

A scowl was all that was given back to Camila from the Chabonlan, at least initially. The marsupial-like lifeform reached out one of his long-fingered hands and cautiously picked up the datarod. "I don't care." He inserted the datarod into his console and looked at a terminal screen that was not holographic.

The Chabonlan's frown held steady. "You haven't looked at this, have you?"

Camila stared at him as if he were stupid. "My job was to deliver it, not be curious about it."

The alien behind the desk waited for a moment before saying, "Chula."

"I don't have times for games, either," the ombre haired woman stated. "Move along home."

A grunt came from the marsupial. "Shame. I was looking for some new pollen customers." He nudged his head toward the door to the left. "Go wait in that room."

Camila gave an inward sigh of relief that she had either passed the test, then tried not to tense up at the thought of having failed the test as she headed through the door the alien had indicated and that she wasn't walking into a trap.

It certainly wasn't a trap, especially since the room was already occupied by the purple haired woman by earlier. "Oh good," she remarked with a smile. "I'm glad to see that you didn't catch that sneezing fit. It's been running rather rampant throughout the station."

"My allergies are just fine," Camila said as she saw the same woman again. "Now that I've passed your little test, how about introducing me to him."

The woman didn't know whether to make another remark about the hint she just dropped or not. She supposed it was best to leave it alone. After all, this band of humans were the first to not look at a datarod in several months. "I'm afraid I can't introduce you to someone who's not on the station. Kelinor and his Saber drop by often, but he never stays. I can, however, point you in a direction he could be headed."

Her left hand reached inside her right cuff, where she withdrew an isolinear chip. "This came through just an hour ago. Coordinates for a fresh batch of supplies. Most of our haulers are otherwise engaged, but some are heading for this new cache. Odds are, you'll find Kelinor there." She extended the chip to Camila.

This was going more smoothly than she expected, and that made Shay nervous. Still, she kept close to her Chief and paid attention to their surroundings.

John had been on his fair share of missions before. But none of them were like this. He was glad that there was someone who, apparently, was accustomed to the 'curses' of this particular ship. But at least they were closer to this Kelinor whom the crew was intent on finding.

Camila took the chip and slipped it into a pocket. "Thank you," she said. She wasn't happy that it wasn't a direct meeting or a guarantee of one, but it was a lead. "Next time, try to make things a bit more difficult."

The woman chuckled. "Well, if it's difficulty you're after. Just wait until you see what's on that chip. You might regret your wish." And with that, the woman exited the room, leaving the three humans alone.

Camila looked at the others and gave a silent sigh of relief. "Let's get out of here and message the others," she said as she headed out.

Little did the group know that their mission was far from over...


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