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Old January 30 2013, 05:43 PM   #26
Rear Admiral
Re: Dark Territory: Shadow Puppets (Revised)

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Astral Eddy
Cargo Bay

Captain Ronzek covered his disquiet with an annoyed expression. Six verdant shafts of light appeared before him, resolving into the pallid, misshapen forms of Reman soldiers. Their skintight, iridescent uniforms played tricks with the ceiling lighting.

He placed his hand over the pistol hanging from his hip and his other men did likewise. They were all hard men, picked especially for the task, yet Ronzek could literally drink their fear. Ronzek had felt a twisting in his stomach as soon as the Romulan ship had decloaked. He hadn’t expected the Romulans. Granted he hadn’t known who or what to expect since his contact had been in shadow. He had been mildly relieved that a female had showed up in the command chair once communications had been established.

Ronzek had found his counterpart to be awfully young, even if she was commanding a decrepit ship, relatively speaking. However she had proved the right identification and Ronzek had lowered shields, ready for the Romulans to take their cargo away and give him his credits.

He hadn’t expected them to want to inspect the merchandise. But what choice did he have but to let them do so. He wanted, needed, the money, and despite the age of the D7 cruiser it could still slag his ship.

Interrupting Ronzek’s reverie, one especially tall Reman stepped forward, looking down on him with hooded, obsidian eyes. Ronzek held his ground.

“This is highly unusual,” he snapped, reminding himself of the gray-skinned creatures’ servile status. He thought it might be best to act like who he was, the master of this ship. “Why did your ship commander send you to carry the cargo back to his ship? The transporters could’ve done that easily.”

The Reman merely glanced at him. Ronzek gulped, glancing around at his men for reassurance. They were restive, their eyes shifting, their hands flexing over their weapons. The six Remans were a quiet, morose lot. From what the Corvallen could tell, none of them were carrying any weapons, and that made him more frightened.

“The stasis tubes,” the Reman’s voice sounded like rock being grounded into dust.

“There,” Ronzek pointed to three tubes that had been laid out like caskets in the center of the cargo bay. Perhaps it was the captain’s imagination but it felt like even the engines had stopped thrumming as the sextet made a slow walk over the tubes. He heard every footfall.

The creatures bent over the tubes while the lead one pulled a boxy device that been clipped to his belt. Ronzek stayed his men as the tree-like Reman turned away from them and waved the device over the tubes.

After a few seconds, he slowly tapped a command into the device. A static-filled voice issued forth. “Are they the ones we are looking for?” Ronzek frowned. Despite the interference he noted that the voice was male. What happened to the female?

“Yes,” came the monosyllabic reply. The room briefly filled with the whine of a trio of transporter beams and the tubes were whisked away. Ronzek’s stomach started unclenching, expecting more beams to take the Remans off his ship.

“Have fun,” the man aboard the Romulan vessel said. Ronzek looked at his men and they had similar confused expressions. Have fun? What was he talking about? The captain wondered, not liking it one bit.

“What is going on here?” Ronzek forced himself to step forward. “I want my payment.” The Reman loomed over him and simply smiled, with teeth as sharp as star points.
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Imperial Romulan Cruiser Aidoann
Command Deck

Centurion Gakket had resumed his chair. Lt. Didia had resumed her post as soon as the Astral Eddy had lowered its shields. Gakket had been waiting to spring his little surprise on the Corvallen, to give him a true taste of Romulan craftiness.

The bridge filled with the sounds of the Remans tearing through Ronzek and his crew. There was clanging, shouting, a lot of shrieking and crying. He could tell that the pirates were trying to defend themselves, but it was to no avail. The centurion chuckled to himself. The rest of the Astral Eddy’s crew was completely unaware of the carnage happening in their cargo hold.

The Remans were good, efficient killers, about the only compliment that Gakket could give them wholeheartedly. Not one member of Ronzek’s greeting party had been able to alert their compatriots. Astral Eddy floated before them, a fat hlai primed for slaughter.

Yet the centurion had to rein in his desire to blow another ship to atoms. He had ordered N’Clado to find the Starfleet officers’ personal effects.

He smiled as Ronzek screamed, the information he sought spraying from his lips like a geyser. Afterwards, there was an abrupt, wet thunk, and then silence.

It would only be a matter of time now before Commander Volok had both the Starfleeters and whatever technological device they had brought with them. He had promised Gakket a promotion aboard a real warship, maybe even one of the new Norexans.

There was nothing the centurion wouldn’t do to restore his honor, and now the possibility to do that was just moments away.
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