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Old February 16 2014, 07:56 AM   #1
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Winter Writing Challenge: Means To An End

Winter Writing Challenge: I Aim To Misbehave
"Means To An End"
Brydon J. Sinclair
Words: 9313


The plaarq leather moaned softly with her purposeful gait and full swing of her hips. She wore the one-piece outfit like a second skin, which little left to the imagination, so she was used to feeling dozens of eyes following the contours of her body—lingering on her ample bosom or the large disruptor strapped to her right thigh—as her heeled boots clanged on the bare metal of the deck.

Aleska knew there were just as many weapons trained on her as there were pairs of eyes, after all one didn’t make into the inner sanctum of Innok Gaz without the host taking appropriate precautions. Gaz’s throne room (there was no other way to describe it) was long and narrow, with only a thin aisle from the entrance to the ornately decorated chair illuminated, casting the many alcoves along either side into dark shadows in which movement could just be made out and little more.

A lock of her dark violet hair fell across her shoulder and she swept it back, revealing the dataport on the left side of her neck. The eyes took in the cybernetic device, all of them knowing the significance of the piece of tech (several of them probably likewise implanted with one) and the illegal and immoral activities it was used for. Aleska’s had been a part of her for many years so she paid it little attention, even the sharp jolts she sometimes suffered when using it had dulled with the passage of time.

As her footfalls rang around the high-bay, she kept her eyes focused forward, allowing her other senses to assess the room. Not only could she feel the eyes and blaster sights on her, but hear the shifting of bodies and muted whispers of Gaz’s thugs, she could smell the burning of oza tobacco, and taste sweat and body odour on the poorly-recycled air. She didn’t know just how many there were around her, but she knew that the odds were most definitely against her. The sneer of Gaz’s face told her as much. The Red Orion was, by anyone’s standards, a handsome man; his cardinal red skin was taught and smooth over his muscular physique, his amber eyes were sharp and cold, boring into her Eternal Spirit, and his long raven-black hair was almost iridescent in the light of the throne room. Had she not known that he was a smuggler, thief, slave trader, extortionist and murderer, she would have jumped his bones right there.

The thought of giving all the shadowy voyeurs a proper show made a sly smile curl her full lips. Gaz noticed the slightest of expressions and returned it with one of his own, as though he knew just what she was thinking. Unlike all the others in the room, his eyes remained fixed on hers. Not once did he leer at her figure, but she hadn’t expected him to—as dangerous as he was, Gaz was highly intelligent and wouldn’t be distracted by the sight of her flesh alone.

She came to a stop ten meters from the dais on top of which he sat and rested her hands on her hips, making sure to keep her fingers away from the weapon on her thigh. There was silence in the chamber for a long moment, she and Gaz staring at one another. Aleska took note of the two bladed weapons that were visible on the Orion—one in a harness across his bare chest, whilst the handle of the second was visible at the small of his back—but knew he would have others. She also knew that he didn’t have any energy weapons on his person; he preferred the more intimate brutality of a blade, but then again with around two dozen phasers and disruptors in the hands of his men around him, he didn’t need to carry one. As her eyes made a cursory sweep of the Orion kingpin, she noted the small personal shield generator on his belt (yet another sign that Gaz wasn’t a fool, he’d never have let her get this close still armed without protecting himself).

“You wanted my attention,” he began, his commanding tone boomed around the hall, making it sound as though he was all around her, “now that you have it, what is it that you want from me?”

It had been easier than she’d suspected to get his attention. Alone, in her appropriated Son’a assault ship, Aleska had disabled two of his privateer vessels just before they ambushed a private star yacht, forced one of his freighters to miss a lucrative slave auction of Ferrus II, and intercepted a courier bringing him the spoils of a raid on an archaeological expedition. She had expected that the simple hit-and-run attacks would have annoyed him, but thought it would take more than just three incidents before he sought her out. And for a man with Innok Gaz’s connections, it hadn’t taken him long to find her and extend a ‘warm’ invitation to his cruiser.

“Isn’t it obvious?” she purred.

A vicious smile spread across his face, though never quite reached his eyes. “It looks as though you are tired of this life and want me to release you from it.”

She threw her head back and laughed. It was a deep, throaty sound that filled the room. She could sense the shift in mood from his men all around them, the uneasiness and confusion was easy to detect from the nervous shifting and increase in sweating. When she stopped and looked back at Gaz, there was a deep scowl etched on his forehead, which remained even as the echo of her laughter died in the shadows.

“If you truly believed that, I’d be lying on the deck of the hangar in a pool of my own blood.” She kept her viridian coloured eyes locked onto his, not backing down physically or mentally. Gaz was a scary man, but she had known far worse and still had the scars to prove it. “I want to join you.”

Her demand was met with sneers and snickers from the shadows, as well as a few pre-fire chambers humming as they were charged. She ignored all of it, focusing solely on the Red Orion on the throne, whose intense scrutiny of her deepened—it was as if his own eyes could burrow right down to the atoms that she was made of. The movement on the fringes of her awareness became more pronounced as the assortment or Orions and other races grew impatient with her impetuousness, but none of them stepped into the light, held at bay by their master.

Gaz rose from his cushioned, intricately carved and decorated seat. With slow purpose, he stepped down from his dais until he was on the same level as her, but even then he towered head and shoulders above her. His expression was unreadable, as she suspected that he’d be smiling even as he gutted someone, so the blankness of his features was even harder to discern. The next few moments could only go one of two ways, either she would be dead or working for him, and Aleska wasn’t sure just which was preferable at that moment.

In a low voice, so only she could hear, he told her, “Anger me again, as your previous attacks did, and I will enjoy making an example of you.”

* * * * *
__________________
Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)

Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; February 16 2014 at 09:40 AM.
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Old February 16 2014, 07:57 AM   #2
Bry_Sinclair
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Re: Winter Writing Challenge: Means To An End

“We’ve got a contact on sensors, closing fast!” Rhaes called.

Aleska shot the Chandir pilot an annoyed look. “Who is it?”

It took the Tail-Head longer than she would’ve liked to give her an answer. For a member of a major criminal gang, Rhaes was surprisingly jittery and, given the cramped quarters of her assault ship, it was a character flaw she could do without—that being said, he was a damn good pilot. Two months ago, after she’d started working for Gaz, he’d allowed her to remain in command of her own ship, but insisted that she take on several of his people. Rhaes was one of four and by far the most pleasant of her new little crew, but her ship was now owned by Gaz and if she wanted to stay in command of it then she had to do as he instructed.

“Border Service!” he yelped, his voice several octaves above its normal level.

Zsrix,” she cursed in her mother tongue.

They had just hit an old Merchantman-type freighter, overloading its shields and knocking out their engines in a matter of seconds. She had been getting ready to take Zy-Korr and Hrall over to pacify the crew and place transporter tags on their load of tircenite ore, but she turned from the entry hatch and slipped back into the vacant chair at ops. Looking at the sensors she assessed the power output and profile of the approaching cutter, determining that the ship was an Aerie-Class—almost double their size, the border scouts had excellent sensors and packed a surprising punch for a ship its size.

She hit the intercom. “Stations, we’re getting out of here.”

“What?” she heard the muted roar from the transport bay on the deck below, knowing Zy-Korr wouldn’t be happy with her decision, however it’d take a few seconds for him to climb the ladder and get back to the cockpit—no doubt with his weapon drawn.

“Plot a course through the Ferak Nebula,” she told Rhaes, as she worked on sending out a dampening field that would help obstruct their warp trail.

The Chandir’s eyes went wide as he stared at her. “The Ferak Nebula? Are you crazy? The radiation—”

He didn’t get to finish, as Zy-Korr and Hrall stomped into the small control room. The Green Orion did indeed have his Klingon disruptor in hand, glowering at her, whilst his Markalian sidekick mimicked his posturing.

“What are you doing, Boslic?” he challenged.

“We’ve got a Border Service ship closing in,” she told him simply.

Hrall had moved over to weapons and looked at the readings. “It’s an Aerie,” he spat out.

“We can take them,” Zy-Korr snarled, pointing his weapon at her.

Under the console, her fingers rested on the handle of her own heavy disruptor, as she locked her eyes onto his. “That freighter got a distress call out; the scout picked it up and will have forwarded it on to every other cutter in the sector, those that aren’t en route here will be heading to block off our most likely escape routes. We may be able to take out the Aerie, but we’re no match for an Albacore, so we have to leave now. Rhaes get us on course,” she finished, turning back to the controls.

Her ears perked as she heard Zy-Korr thumb the disruptor to a higher setting. “Rhaes, you Chandir vrilik, set us on an attack run. Hrall, raise shields and power weapons.”

She turned her head back towards the Orion thug, her sharp eyes peering from under the bony ridge across her forehead. His disruptor was pointed at her head, the sneer on her face challenging her to make a move so he could pull the trigger and leave nothing more than a smoking stump at the top of her neck.

“This is my ship, Zy-Korr,” she said softly, her voice restraining the fury directed towards the jade-skinned hoodlum. “What you’re doing is testament to mutiny; I’d be well within my rights to shoot.”

He scoffed. “Gaz was a fool for letting you keep this ship! We’re taking out that Border Service ship, then we’re claiming that cargo—maybe even a couple of the crew to have fun with—but it’ll be my success, not yours.”

They kept their eyes locked for a long moment; neither of the other men in the cockpit said a word or moved a muscle, looking between Aleska and Zy-Korr. Slowly, a sly smile spread across her full ruby-red lips, and she saw his brow crease slightly—unsettled by her confidence. Without looking at the console, her finger tapped the companel.

“Gaz was a fool for letting you keep this ship!”

Zy-Korr’s eyes went wide as he listened to the recording of himself. Her smile grew wider.

“It doesn’t sound very good, does it? I’m pretty sure Gaz wouldn’t like it if he heard you calling him a ‘fool’. If you put down your weapon now, he’ll never hear this, but continue to threaten me or pull the trigger, and this will be sent to him. So if you don’t want your disruptor to become neighbours with your colon, put it the frak away.” Not once did she raise her voice, keeping it long and steady, with a threatening hint to her tone.

Zy-Korr glanced at Hrall, whose spiked face had gone ashen, his eyes wide. He then looked back at Aleska, seeing the resolve set on her face and lethal smile on her lips. Wisely he powered down his energy weapon and shoved it in the holster on his hip.

She looked back towards the viewport ahead of her and noticed they weren’t moving. She shot a glance at Rhaes beside her, who jolted out of his stupor.

“Setting a course for the Ferak Nebula.”

Next she snapped at Hrall. “Target their environmental systems and fire.”

“Their environmental?” the stocking Markalian queried.

“If they have no life-support, the Aerie will stop to assist them rather than chase us,” she explained slowly, letting the irritation into her voice.

He didn’t reply and a few seconds later the Son’a assault ship fired on the freighter again, the blasts of energy tearing into their unshielded hull and destroying the crucial technology contained inside. Atmosphere crystallised as it vented into the vacuum, before they veered off to port and the stars flashed before them as the little ship leapt to warp.

The cockpit was subdued, the hiss of the air recyclers, hum of the warp drive and chirp of the consoles filling the small space. Aleska could feel Zy-Korr’s eyes targeting the back of her skull, but she didn’t acknowledge him. He would be more of a hindrance than anything else, a problem she would have to deal with sooner rather than later—but as one of Gaz’s henchmen she couldn’t just blow him out an airlock without being accountable for his execution.

* * * * *
Gaz kept mobile. He ran his entire criminal empire from his cruiser, which never spent more than a day in any one place, so it had taken them a week to catch up with him following the failed raid on the freighter. The ship had come out of the turbulent nebula without any lasting affects; the unpredictable course had kept the Border Service off their tail, so they had survived to raid another day. Zy-Korr hadn’t said two words to her since their confrontation in the cockpit, whilst Hrall and Rhaes were both equally subdued. Oosa, who’d been in the engineering compartment and missed all the drama, had even followed their example and stayed surprisingly quiet.

Approaching Gaz’s ship, the Tahiir K’tal (an Orion phrase that boasted of his prowess and power over all others), she took in the lines of the dark grey hull. It reminded her of a hammerhead shark, with a wide section at the front and a thinner body, ending with four nacelles at the back on the horizontal plain, with a pair of warp engines (one on top of the other) on either side of the fuselage of the ship. The ship was three hundred meters in length and ten decks tall, but only carried a crew of 120 (with another thirty or so slaves). It was only the forward section that contained accommodation, the main body was filled with hangars and cargo holds (all filled with his ill-gotten gains).

They were cleared for the largest hangar deck, located nearest the nacelles (seeing as how the assault ship itself was fifty meters in length) but even there it was a tight squeeze. Rhaes manoeuvred them into the bay, set them on the deck and then began securing the engines and powering down his systems. She looked out the viewport and noticed one of Gaz’s lieutenants, a Kobliad called Vey Rahkata, waiting for them with a Nausicaan brute beside him. Rhaes saw them and visibly paled.

She quickly logged off and stood up. Rahkata was one tough bastard, who shared his boss’ lack of patience, so if he was here then Gaz would be waiting for her fuming. Before she left the cockpit, she grabbed an isolinear rod and slipped it into her cleavage, then quickly headed into the short corridor, down the ladder and over to the ramp controls. None of her so-called crew stopped her or even asked the need for her haste, though she did see Zy-Korr snigger at her. As the ramp lowered she was already descending it and stepped onto the deck of the Tahiir K’tal before metal touched metal. She didn’t attempt her feminine wiles on Rahkata as his preference was for those of his own gender, so she approached him focused on business.

“I take it Gaz wants to see me,” she stated the obvious.

Rahkata just nodded. Before she took another step, the Nausicaan behemoth’s hand shot out and wrapped around her throat. The strength of his hand squeezed her windpipe shut, he then lifted her clean off the deck and pinned her against the hull of her own ship. A throttled scream escaped her lungs with her last breath, before gasping and trying to suck more air into her body. She thrashed out with her arms, but could only reach his bulging bicep, which felt like tritanium and didn’t flinch as drove her fists and nails into his tough hide. Rahkata didn’t make a move to stop his goon.

Her throat burned and lungs screamed for air, whilst her vision started to blur and her surroundings went dim. Panic filled her mind as she tried to cut through the mixture of alarm and fuzziness, as her brain reacted to the sudden loss of oxygen. Gaz may have ordered her roughed up or even killed, but she suspected he’d rather do it himself—something long and torturous. She had to see him, to argue her side and prolong her life for a little longer. Lashing out with her foot, she caught the Nausicaan in the chest, but her kick was as useful as her fists, even the stilettos on her boots couldn’t pierce his skin.

But maybe something softer, a voice in the back of her oxygen-starved mind cried out.

With only seconds to go before she passed out, she swung her leg up and wrapped it around his arm, long enough to reach his face. Even as his hideous face blurred and distorted, she could see him smile. She pulled her foot back and drove it down. Finding its mark the pointed, ten-centimetre heel gouged into his right eye.

The Nausicaan, a species used to pain and discomfort, let out a gravelly shriek and released his grip from her neck. She plummeted to the deck, coughing and wheezing as he clutched at his bloody socket. Looking up at him from where she lay, she seized the advantage that’d presented itself and kicked out again, this time aiming for the back of his knees. He hadn’t been expecting the attack, his legs buckled and he slammed onto the deck. Aleska rolled out of the way, drawing her weapon and pointing it straight at Rahkata, drawing in deep lungfuls of air as she looked up at the immaculately dressed Kobliad, who’d slack-jawed stare was almost humorous.

“Take me to him. Now,” she growled.

Rahkata flexed the muscles in his jaw and gestured to the exit with his pointed chin. Keeping her disruptor trained on him she got to her feet and looked down at the Nausicaan, who howled and whimpered, blood streaming through his fingers and down his face. She stepped over to him and scraped the remains of his eyeball onto his filthy, tattered tunic. Slipping her weapon back into its holster, she headed for the exit, ignoring the Nausicaan’s muted screams or the stares of the hangar crew who watched her and Rahkata leave.

He led her into a turbolift and ordered it forward to Gaz’s chambers, the uncomfortable silence weighing down on both of them, but neither of them feeling the urge to break it. She resisted the urge to rub her raw throat, not wanting to show even the hint of weakness to Rahkata, whilst he in turn hadn’t turned his back to her. It took them only a few seconds to reach the head section and rise up to the appropriate deck, then the doors parted and he motioned for her to go first.

Wrapping her hand around the handle of her disruptor, she strolled out onto the deck and headed for Gaz’s enormous apartment, hearing her escort fall into step behind her. When they reached the doors she stopped and stood motionless, forcing Rahkata to lean forward and press the enunciator. There was a pause, then the doors swished open and they were greeted by a Green Orion female wearing just a collar around her throat. She bowed her head at Gaz’s lieutenant and gestured for them to follow her.

It was Aleska’s first time in Gaz’s private domain, but it was just as she pictured it. The decorations were ornate and opulent, the furnishings all antique and very expensive, the lighting low with plenty of candles, whilst there was a seductively sweet scent on the air. There were several other Green Orions present, carrying out various duties and tasks, all them equally as naked as their guide.

She led them to another set of double doors and entered a sequence into the panel at the side. They whispered open and revealed a room with a low table in the middle with piles of plush cushions on three sides; the empty side was opposite the door so that no one lounging would have their back to the entrance. Gaz was draped over the cushions directly opposite the door, on either side of him was an attendant (one male and one female) holding trays of extravagant food and drink. When he saw the red finger marks around her throat he smiled, answering the question of whether or not he had ordered the attack on her.

Rahkata ushered her inside and stood beside her as the doors closed behind them. Gaz’s eyes flicked from her to his lieutenant and his expression darkened when he saw the look on the Kobliad’s face.

“She blinded Ogrokt in one eye,” he stated matter-of-factly.

Gaz shifted his sights back onto her and rose to his feet. “Why?” he simply asked.

“He attacked me, I defended myself,” she replied, her voice still raspy.

“You lost my tircenite, I should’ve ordered him to kill you.”

“You wouldn’t want to do that yourself?”

“Maybe I was right in my initial assessment of you, Aleska; you want to die at my hands.”

She smiled softly. “I’d just hate the idea of having my life ended by a Nausicaan.”

“After I was done with you, my dear, you would wish for the savagery of a Nausicaan.”

There was a pause. She didn’t doubt that what Gaz would do to her would give even a Klingon nightmares, so she didn’t want to know any specifics. The self-styled Orion prince of thieves smiled at her, obviously enjoying the horrific mental images that were filling her mind. He waved his hand. The slaves set their trays down on the table and left the room, leaving the Red Orion, Kobliad and Boslic alone to their business.

Lying back down, Gaz nodded at Rahkata who sat down on his right, whilst Aleska remained standing. After a moment longer, he asked, “So, why did you abandon my ore?”

“We had a border scout about to pounce and every other cutter in the immediate vicinity alerted to our presence, I saw no other option but to withdraw.”

“You’re ship could’ve handled a scout with plenty of time to spare to recover the tircenite, but you didn’t do anything.”

“I did it for you.”

He gave a humourless laugh. “Me? You obviously don’t know me well enough.”

“Every Orion crew and most of the other pirates, mercenaries and hoodlums in this region are all under your control. Without the Border Service or Starfleet being aware of it, you have amassed a sizeable empire, which brings you great wealth and prosperity that operates in secret and affords you anonymity.

“Had we engaged the Aerie,” she continued, “another ship could’ve reached us before we’d finished with the freighter and we may not have gotten away from them. They could’ve learnt of your existence and would now be putting together a plan to bring you down. What would you rather have: a few kennets of tircenite or your operation remaining clandestine?”

Gaz stroked his square jaw, thinking over her reasoning. He then shared a significant look with Rahkata, who seemed convinced and gave the slightest of nods. After a moment longer, he nodded as well.

“I owe you my thanks then—though I’ll take the cost of that lost shipment out of your cut until it is paid off.”

She bowed slightly. “Of course.”

“Leave us,” he commanded.

Bowing once more, she turned and headed for the exit. Before she reached the doors she stopped and looked back at them. Both men studied her as she paused and pulled the datarod from where she’d secreted it. “You might want to look into Zy-Korr’s loyalty,” she announced, tossing the rod at Gaz. He grabbed it firmly, scowling.

She continued out of the private room and retraced her steps, knowing that the moment the isolinear rod touched his bright red skin she was signing Zy-Korr’s death warrant. Shaking it from her mind, she stepped back into the corridor and headed towards the hangar deck and the sanctity of her ship.

* * * * *
__________________
Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)
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Old February 16 2014, 07:58 AM   #3
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Re: Winter Writing Challenge: Means To An End

Innok Gaz’s personal shuttle was a little larger than a standard Federation runabout but exceedingly more comfortable—for Gaz at least. He had a large room at the back, with a comfortable bed and space to entertain, whilst the eight others onboard had to share bunks. Aleska had been ordered to accompany him as he went to meet a Ferengi Daimon who was looking to make inroads into a sector Gaz already had the monopoly of. The meeting had been set for a trading outpost carved into the centre of an asteroid, a neutral base that neither side had claim to. They had agreed to travel there by shuttle and, when they met, limit their party to five members.

Gaz was taking Rahkata with him, as well as two guards and Aleska, who would be posing as a slave—seeing as how none of his actual slaves were tactically minded, combat trained and battle hardened (plus her physical attributes would most likely distract one or two of the Ferengi delegation). They were just about to touch down at the outposts landing pad, so she was waiting to take her position—seeing as how getting ready had taken only a few minutes. Her attire consisted of little more than three bands of leather; the thinnest around her neck like a leash, the largest loop was around her groin and buttocks, whilst the middle-sized piece was around her chest, whilst her feet were bare. She shivered in the chill of the shuttle.

With so little on she couldn’t hide a weapon on her person, so she would have to rely on her skills at hand-to-hand and the abilities of the others. It had been two months since she had claimed Ogrokt’s right eye, after which there was no one in Gaz’s employ that doubted her ferocity in a fight. Her maiming of the Nausicaan brute had also earned her a new level of respect—and also some fear—among many of the thugs and ruffians onboard the Tahiir K’tal.

The shuttle landed with a thunk and a whine as the engines powered down. She got off the bunk and headed for the staging area, her bare feet padded on the cool metal deck. Kravok, the rugged young Klingon who’d replaced Zy-Korr on her crew, and Vrat, another Red Orion with a neatly trimmed goatee, were already present, clutching their rifles. As she entered, both of their attentions were fixed on her.

She planted her fists on her hips and rolled her eyes. “Don’t get any ideas, I have no qualms about castrating the both of you with just my nails.”

Kravok looked away quickly, once again showing his youth and inexperience when it came to females. Vrat’s eyes lingered until Gaz and Rahkata entered the staging area. Whilst the Kobliad checked in with the cockpit, Gaz took the opportunity to circle around her, his sharp eyes taking in every curve, nook and pore of her naturally-tanned skin. In the four months since she’d started working for him, this was the most exposed she had been in his presence and it was the longest he had also spent looking at her body.

When he’d done three full circuits, he came to a stop in front of her, nodding. “Yes, you’ll do nicely.”

She obediently bowed her head. “Thank you, Master.”

He laughed at her soft voice and subservient manner, both flying in the face of what he’d undoubtedly come to expect from her. Gaz then glanced at D’ana (the identity Aleska herself would be assuming for the task at hand), the actual slave he’d taken with him, and shooed her away. She would be remaining onboard with the two cockpit crew and final guard, who would ensure the safety of Gaz’s shuttle until he returned.

“Nass reports that he tracked a Ferengi shuttle land at the pad three levels below. That puts the designated meeting point equal distance from both ships. We’ve set up our transporter scramblers and so have they; with both active fields communications and scanners may also be affected.”

“Very well,” was all he replied, and then gestured for Kravok to lead the way.

After disembarking, the sounds and smells of the outpost hit her. Such places were where the exotic and illegal could be bought and sold openly in the streets, since the outpost administrators and security were all on the take. They made their way through the throng of people, past venders and merchants, window shoppers, customers and buyers, all talking and shouting over one another to be heard.

She snuck glances when she could, but for the most part she kept her head down and followed in Gaz’s wake as any good slave would, ready to attend to his wishes. Passing a few traders, she did notice one or two taking an interest in her, before lashing one of their own slaves who stepped out of line or whimpered.

At the sight of the brawny Klingon and ruby red Orion carrying heavy disruptor rifles the crowd parted for them, though others were more intimidated by Gaz himself, knowing him by reputation is nothing else. Among the dregs of the sector, Gaz really did look like royalty, dressed in the finest Tholian silk and impeccably groomed. But beneath his polished exterior was a man of such cruelty and violence the contrast was truly startling.

It didn’t take them long to secure a turbolift and get down to the level they needed. The meeting had been set to take place in a burnt out bar, offering them privacy from all others on the outpost. They reached the location first, finding it in worse condition than they’d initially been told, however a makeshift table had been set up and there were some boxes on either side for the delegates to sit. Kravok and Vrat stood next to their entrance, opposite which was the only other door into the bar that the Ferengi would use. Gaz sat, with Rahkata on his immediate right and Aleska a step back on his left. She stood ready to hand him refreshments or a PADD or whatever else he might need, keeping her eyes lowered she didn’t look up when the second door opened and the five Ferengi entered.

The Ferengi scampered inside, their movements skittish and disorganised. Without moving her head she afforded them the slightest of glimpses. Of the three that entered first, two were carrying rifles and the third a hand phaser, all of them swept the room, picking out the Orion kingpin’s delegation and checking the remains of the blackened bar in a haphazard and chaotic manner. The two with rifles were not trained soldiers. They reminded her of children playing at being mercenaries. Though the one in the middle definitely seemed more switched on to what he was doing, his eyes went straight to Gaz and Rahkata, then to her, then to the guards, before returning to the only seated member of their delegation. The show went on only for a few moments, before the one in charge glanced back at the door.

“Ready Daimon.”

The man in charge entered a few seconds later, with the last of their group, a towering and powerfully built Xindi-Reptilian. Daimon Likk swaggered inside, an energy whip swinging from his belt, brimming with confidence and smugness, whilst his bodyguard remained close. Unlike the two amateur Ferengi, the Xindi was a pro. Without moving his scaly head his eyes flicked around the room, assessing it in seconds, taking note of their groups’ position and weaponry. His movements were precise and measured, though the muscle mass of the man told her that he was capable of very quick and strong movement. She had to wonder if he had been with Likk for long, or if he had just been hired for this particular job.

Her eyes flicked back to the deck, so as to not draw any unwanted attention to herself, at the same time she felt the two rifle-carrying little trolls leering at her. The one they had entered with was ignoring her, focusing on Gaz and Rahkata, as was the Xindi. Likk on the other hand took a moment to eye her up, licking his lips in an unsavoury manner, before sitting—his name was definitely appropriate.

“Ahmet.”

“Daimon.”

The introductions didn’t go any further. Both men sat staring at one another for several minutes. Everyone else in the charred room remained quiet, watching for what would happen next. It was the Ferengi that cracked first, under Gaz’s intense amber stare, glancing down before clearing his throat.

“We had better get down to the matter of business.”

“Of course,” Gaz replied with a charmingly savage smile.

The discussions began. It was clear from the first five minutes that neither side was willing to give on his demands. Gaz’s interests and holdings were vast in the region, his influence and powerbase strong and robust, the mere mention of his name and threat of retribution from his forces enough to bring others in line, however he also lacked the capacity to push out much further, less he loosen his control over the systems he did business in, which could threaten his dominance over them and invite others to challenge him. Likk, who was escaping the reforms being introduced in the Ferengi Alliance, had little in the way of acquisitions but did have added manpower, however he wasn’t looking to someone else’s servant but a master of his own domain.

It went back and forth for over two hours without any progress, even as both tried to tempt the other with hollow promises and assets. To all present it was quickly becoming clear that the situation would not be resolved anytime soon, if even at all. She was surprised that Gaz had lasted as long as he had without slicing the Ferengi’s throat from lobe to lobe, but then again he was after what the Daimon possessed, which he would not get if Likk was murdered.

As tempers flared and voices became heated, Rahkata stepped in. “Perhaps we should pause for refreshment, Ahmet.”

Gaz took a deep breath and nodded. “D’ana.”

She gave a nod then turned to the case they had brought with them. Inside was a selection of beverages and foodstuffs, all of Gaz’s favourites, for him to enjoy and offer his rival—not that she suspected he would accept. It took her moments to prepare two glasses of Zillian twilight brandy and a small platter of finger foods, but once done she took it to Gaz first, bowed and offered him the tray. He accepted one of the glasses and took one of the Andorian lobster legs, before waving his hand at her to take it away.

Slowly, she rounded the table, making no movements that could be considered hostile or threatening. Once at Likk’s side she offered him the tray. The smell of the podgy little man was nauseating, like festering milk, made worse by the looks he was giving her. He reached out his hand, not for the tray but instead gripped and squeezed her left buttock, salivating as his sweaty little hand caressed her smooth flesh. She didn’t react, remaining still and continuing to offer the tray—many slaves, Gaz’s included, were often groped and manhandled on a regular basis, so the touch of strangers on their owned skin was part of their existence. From the corner of her eye, she saw Gaz watch her intently. She had to maintain the ruse up until things fell apart and she would be needed to help defend him.

“I must say, Ahmet Gaz, you do have some exquisite taste,” Likk stated, whilst almost burying his face between her breasts. “What was your name again?”

She looked over at Gaz, who gave her the slightest of nods, permitting her to speak. “D’ana sir,” she whispered meekly.

He squeezed her cheek again, before moving his hand down her thigh. Had she not been ready for it, he would’ve felt her skin crawl as he pawed at her. She had to fight all of her natural impulses, which included, but was not limited to, shattering every bony in his fat little hands. But for now she was not Aleska but D’ana, an identity she needed to use just in case Likk or his people had heard her real name in passing—a long shot to be sure, but one best avoided.

After several long moments of fondling her nearly-naked body, he seemed to suddenly remember that she what she was offering wasn’t to be found on her skin. He looked at the tray then at Gaz, who had finished the lobster leg and was sipping on the brandy. Likk took the glass but turned his bulbous nose up at the food. Gaz snapped his fingers and she returned to his side, offering him the tray once again. He took a couple other items to snack upon and waved her away. She set the tray back down and resumed her stance, wanting nothing more than to have a high-pitched sonic shower to make herself feel clean once again.

Likk sniffed the glass, before sipping it tentatively. He waited for a moment, sloshing the expensive alcohol around his mouth before swallowing. Satisfied that it wasn’t poisoned, he sipped again. It was only after they had both finished their drinks that the meeting continued.

From the outset they were arguing again, going over the same ground they had already covered, still neither willing to give a micrometre. As things dragged out, it became obvious that the two Ferengi guards were bored and were becoming distracted, but Likk, his aid and bodyguard remained focused, even as the negotiations entered their fifth hour.

Emotions boiled over again, causing Likk to push himself to his feet and lean forward, snarling, “I can have this outpost surrounded by marauders in minutes! They would obliterate you as you even attempted to flee, then I would just take what I wanted from you!”

Gaz’s savage smile returned. “And I have enough bilitrium and thalmerite on my ship to destroy everything within ten million kilometres, including a fleet of Ferengi marauders. However, that won’t be necessary.” He looked at Rahkata. “I’d say that would be long enough, wouldn’t you?”

“More than sufficient.”

Likk looked from Gaz to Rahkata, his anger turning to confusion. The Xindi-Reptilian tensed, sensing impending violence.

“Wh-what are you talking about?” Likk demanded. His eyes then flicked to the glass. “You poisoned the brandy? Huh, it won’t work—my physician gave me an antigen to break down toxins!”

Gaz gave a single, humourless laugh. “Do you know how expensive Zillian twilight brandy is? Why would I waste it just to poison the likes of you?

“Tell me Daimon,” he continued, leaning forward slightly, “have you heard of nanites?”

A look of horror crossed his face; clearly he knew what Gaz was talking about. Taking that as his cue, Gaz continued. “Right now they are circulating through your entire system, inert for the time being, however if I enter a single command onto this,” he patted the control gauntlet on his left arm, “they will activate and begin attacking every cell in your miserable little body.

“So you have two choices,” he declared after a dramatic pause. “Either you can withdraw from this sector entirely—and I mean entirely, if I learn of even a cargo shuttle encroaching on my space I will have an operative get close enough to you to activate the nanites—or you can agree to work for me, which would give you a fifteen percent cut of every job you did for me.”

“What?” Likk exclaimed. “That is an outrage!”

“Those are your only options, Daimon. Choose.”

Likk glanced at his aide, who looked dumbfounded. He looked back at Gaz. “I don’t believe you! If you wouldn’t taint your brandy, how could you have gotten the nanites into my system?” he challenged.

“Tell me, Daimon, did you like D’ana? Her skin is so soft and luxurious wouldn’t you say?”

Realisation dawned on the Ferengi’s face, as she raised her head and looked him in the eye, a faint smile tugging at her lips. Gaz had known that Likk wouldn’t be able to resist copping a feel of her, so before they had left the Tahiir K’tal she had been exposed to the nanites—which had been programmed to lay dormant on her skin until they came into contact with Ferengi DNA. Once activated, they would swarm to the point of contact, transfer from her body to his, then bury into their target and enter the bloodstream, where they would deactivate once again—awaiting the signal that would begin the slow and excruciating death of their host.

“Well?” Gaz pressed, obviously relishing the power over the Ferengi that he now held.

* * * * *
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Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)
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Old February 16 2014, 07:59 AM   #4
Bry_Sinclair
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Location: Along the border of Talarian space
Re: Winter Writing Challenge: Means To An End

The klaxons started screaming just seconds before the ship pitched hard to port. Aleska knew what a weapons blast felt like, but in the six months she had been working for Gaz she had never experienced one on his flagship. The impact threw her against the corridor bulkhead, winding her momentarily but she scrambled back to her feet and darted for the nearest turbolift. If they were under attack she needed to do something, she wasn’t the type of woman to stand back and let herself be tossed around like a ragdoll.

Whoever it was obviously had sufficient forces and gall to target the Tahiir K’tal and the convoy she currently travelled with. Gaz had called together several of his most prominent lieutenants, so as to see how his empire was doing and to strategize on how to increase profits over the next few months, so there were three frigates and five corvettes flying escort to Gaz’s flagship. With the Ferengi dealt with it wouldn’t be them and there were no others making substantial threats against Gaz’s holdings, which left just one possibility, but she needed to be sure it was who she thought.

She emerged from the lift and bolted down the short corridor onto the bridge. As soon as she entered the command centre her eyes locked onto the forward monitor. It showed a Miranda-Class ship, emblazoned on her hull were the pennants of the Border Service, opening fire with her forward phaser banks. Aleska’s suspicions had been confirmed.

The cruiser lurched again and she wobbled for a moment on her heeled boots. She quickly moved to an empty station on the side of the bridge and accessed the sensors, bringing up a tactical display of what was going on beyond the bulkhead in front of her. The Orion convoy of nine ships were surrounded by ten Border Service cutters; one Soyuz, two Albacore’s, three Miranda’s, and four Griffin’s, and none of them were using disabling tactics, they were all shooting to kill.

Behind her the doors opened and Gaz stormed onto the bridge, “What the tak’a is going on?” he bellowed.

As most of the others on the deck glanced up at the enraged Ahmet, Aleska slipped the uplink off of the dataport on her neck and connected it to the console.

“The Border Service has found us, Ahmet,” Rahkata informed him. “They haven’t attempted communications; it looks like their aims are to eliminate us without taking prisoners.”

“Open fire with all batteries! I will not let the Border Service win here.”

As Gaz was focusing on the battle and most of the bridge crew were likewise (a few more afraid of his wrath than the Federation ships attacking them), she was free to connect to the ship’s main computer through the backdoor she had established five months earlier. It was a dance she had had many times, trying to get what she needed whilst circumventing the computer’s defences, but she had to succeed, there was no other option.

“We’re throwing everything we have at them, but they caught us off-guard. They are jamming all short-range communications, so we cannot organise the other ships.”

Nass, the Yridian at the primary sensor console, looked back at Gaz. “Ahmet, Lesskin’s ship is attempting to withdraw from the battlefield!”

Gaz let out an enraged roar, saliva expelling from his mouth as he stared at the corvette trying to break away from the battle. With attentions elsewhere, she was able to slip into the mainframe, whilst also monitoring the tactical displays—noting that the Soyuz was closing in on Lesskin—and sent out a modified tracer code.

“Lesskin is coming under heavy fire from the Soyuz-Class cutter, sir. His shields will collapse any second.”

Just as Nass finished speaking the corvettes shields were no more, but the cutter didn’t hold back. Multiple phaser beams and photon torpedoes scorched and tore into the hull, throwing debris into space with plumes of fire that were quickly extinguished, whilst inside the ship the oxygen rich corridors and compartments burned. Within a matter of seconds the ship exploded and took all sixty-eight lives onboard with it. Aleska had to pause and appreciate the swift, efficient devastation the Border Service ships had wrought on the Orion convoy. But as quickly as her study of their tactics started, it stopped as the tracer had completed its task. She quickly withdrew from the system and slipped the uplink disc back onto the dataport on her neck.

Just as she finished, two of the Griffin’s took out the frigate to starboard, whilst an Albacore struck the Tahiir K’tal’s engineering compartment with a full barrage of torpedoes, bucking the ship hard. She managed to clutch onto her console and looked back to see Rahkata help Gaz to his feet.

“We are outmatched, Ahmet. They have been lying in wait with superior numbers and firepower. They have cut off all avenues of escape and are not seeking to negotiate with us,” the Kobliad pointed out, his tone grave. “You have to get out of here, regroup the rest of your forces and launch a counter strike. It is the only way.”

Gaz paused to think on the suggestion a moment, but a quick succession of violent blasts helped him decide. “I will make them pay,” he hissed, his red face flushing brighter with seething hot anger.

Rahkata gave his employer a sharp nod, but then his eyes locked onto hers. “Aleska, get the Ahmet to his shuttle and safely off the ship.”

She was on her feet in a heartbeat. “Consider it done.”

The Orion scowled at the ships that had got the drop on him and his most trusted lieutenants, before turning and heading for the exit, when she met him. They took off at a run down the corridor, heading back through the hammerhead section of his cruiser, shoving past anyone who got in their way as they hurried to the nearest hangar—a private bay allocated just for the storing of Gaz’s personal shuttle. No words were exchanged as they navigated the passageways, or even as they reached the entrance to the hangar.

As they stepped inside the exterior doors were already opening, the shimmer of a green forcefield was all that kept them safe. His shuttle sat idle, facing the expanding opening. He didn’t break his stride as he dashed across the polished metal deck, with Aleska keeping stride beside him. Reaching the shuttle, he punched in the access code and the hatch opened.

“Get in,” he commanded.

She didn’t need to be told twice. Onboard, she headed for the cockpit and slipped into the co-pilot seat and started powering up their systems. He took the forward chair and as soon as the thrusters were available he lifted them off the deck and nudged them forwards. Passing through the forcefield, he pitched them down under the Tahiir K’tal, using the larger ship to mask the presence. On the sensor screens she saw that two other corvettes had been destroyed and a second frigate was on its last legs, leaving just four Orion ships in the battle.

“Warp status?”

“Warp drive coming online now.”

He already had a course plotted, so as soon as he was able he tapped the activation key and the little ship slipped between the distracted cutters and leapt to warp. She continued to monitor the battle on their sensors as long as she could, but after a few minutes they were beyond their range. The last thing she saw was the last frigate being destroyed and the ten cutters opening fire of the Tahiir K’tal.

“We’re clear,” she announced, her voice echoing in the silence of the small cockpit. “No sign of anyone following us.”

Gaz sat back in his chair, but didn’t relax. His muscles were like coiled springs, his anger and hatred filled every loud breath he exhaled, his eyes didn’t see the controls or viewport in front of him as he, most likely, plotted his revenge against the Border Service—she doubted that little more than all-out war would satisfy him. He had lost much this day, the financial implications alone would be enormous, on top of which his holdings were in a very vulnerable way, open to others seizing one of his lucrative business ventures or an impetuous thug trying to rise up and carve out their own operation. He had spent years laying the foundation for his empire, acquiring assets and connections that strengthened him, eliminating competition and rogue elements from within that were potential threats. But a single ambush now made his future hazy.

Not that he would have a future, she thought as she slipped the disruptor on her thigh out of its holster.

“Ahmet,” she purred softly, breaking the taut silence.

His body flinched slightly, as though he forgot he wasn’t alone. Quickly regaining his composure, he turned around to face her. With cat-like reflexes, Aleska raised her weapon, aimed and squeezed the trigger. The pulse of cobalt energy pinned him back against the chair as it burned into his chest, disintegrating skin, muscle, bone and organs, before charring the upholstery. Wide-eyed, his corpse slumped down in the seat. The energy blast had seared the flesh as it travelled the short distance through his well-defined chest, so there was little in the way of blood.

Taking a deep breath, she replaced the weapon to her thigh and stood up. Working quickly, she collected a tissue sample for verification, searched the body and found an isolinear rod which she slipped into the top of her boot, and removed the ornate pair of daggers from his belt, setting them on top of the console. With nothing more of interest, she carried the limp Red Orion from the cockpit into the staging area and dumped him on the transporter pad. She overrode the controls, setting the system to scatter his atoms into space, then returned to the forward compartment.

Assuming the post Innok Gaz had just vacated, she dropped the runabout-sized ship out of warp and then activated the transporter. After the six second cycle, she input a new course into the navcomp and took the ship to warp five, heading away from Gaz’s former criminal empire and towards Federation territory via neutral space. It would take her the better part of a week to cross the border, but after the last six months she could do with some time to herself.

Before that could happen though, she had one more task to see to. Opening the communications system, she entered the complex sequence of commands that would set up a signal with the most advanced scrambler pattern she had ever seen. It took several minutes, but one of the monitors came to life displaying the seal of the Border Service Commander, which was quickly replaced by the pinched face of Admiral Deidre Bouvier.

She was a woman Aleska could never get a read off of, she always looked annoyed—even on the rare occasions when she smiled. However, it wasn’t her place to try and psychoanalyse the human but just to make her report.

“Status?”

“The ambush was successful, Admiral. Gaz did indeed attempt to flee—I was fortunate enough to be ordered to accompany him.”

“Gaz has been dealt with?”

Aleska supressed her scoff; what a polite way to ask is she’d murdered him. “Yes Admiral.”

“Did he have it on him?”

She removed the rod from her boot and showed it to the woman on the other side of the screen. Bouvier’s eyes locked onto it, a sly smile spread across her face sending a shiver down Aleska’s spine.

“I want that and the tissue sample with me ASAP.”

“I’m already on route; however it will take me a few weeks to get to Earth.”

“I’m authorising you to exceed Starfleet warp speed restrictions.” Aleska gave a single nod of understanding. “What about the tracer?”

“Done. It eliminated all records of my presence onboard the Tahiir K’tal, even if the mainframe survived the battle no amount of computer savvy will be able to recover them.”

Bouvier’s creepy smile widened. “Excellent. Well done, Commander—I mean, Captain. Report to me as soon as you reach Earth. Bouvier out.”

With that, Bouvier’s face disappeared. Commander Aleska of the Starfleet Border Service slouched back into the high-backed chair. Her mission was almost complete, a mission she still didn’t know the full details of. Holding the datarod up to the viewport, she studied the storage device as starlight shone through it, wondering what it contained that was worth not only the lives of so many (admittedly most were criminals, but there had been dozens of innocent slaves on those Orion ships as well), but the Eternal Spirit of one Boslic woman?

* * * * *

END
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Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)

Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; February 16 2014 at 09:48 AM.
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