Undisputed February challenge winner on the theme 'dirty politics' Red Shirts: B’raken VII Honey Trap 2268 B’raken VII Colony Councillor Bjorn Halvorsen entered his office on the most important day of his political career yet. He was smiling to himself as he walked in, the sun was shining, his mistress had visited him the night before, and now he was going to seal the deal at last. His smiled broadened at the sight of his secretary’s tight backside where she was bent over the desk. She straightened up and turned around. Bjorn’s smile vanished. “Who are you?” he demanded. “Where’s Louisa?” The woman looked flustered for a moment, “Oh, Councillor Halvorsen. I’m Vanessa, Louisa called me and asked me to cover for her today, she didn’t feel well.” Bjorn frowned. “She seemed fine last night.” Bjorn realised what he was implying. “When she left, I mean. We were working late.” “I wouldn’t know, Councillor,” Vanessa replied. “She called me about an hour ago. I work in Councillor T’pas’s office. The Councillor didn’t mind me working here, so I came over to catch up on your schedule.” Bjorn took a moment to study Vanessa, she was a petite woman, but curvaceous. Her long red hair cascaded in curls to her shoulders. For a second he imagined her in his bed, it brought a smile to his face. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. I appreciate you covering for Louisa, especially at short notice.” Vanessa watched as Bjorn stepped past her and into his office. She sat back down at the desk. “Asshole,” she muttered. In her ear she heard laughter as the comment was relayed via the hidden microphone she wore to the rest of the team on this case. “You’re doing fine,” Lieutenant Adam Griffiths assured her. “You ought to be an actress. You had the right mixture of surprise and nervousness.” She smiled at the voice coming through the small earpiece she wore. “That’s because I was surprised and I’m nervous as hell. I’ve never done this before,” she muttered. The intercom buzzed. “Vanessa, could you come in here please?” the councillor asked. Vanessa collected the data slate she would use to take notes and went into the luxurious office. A large picture window dominated the wall behind the councillor’s desk and showed the magnificent view of the B’raken VII colony city. She tried to ignore the view, but couldn’t quite manage it. Bjorn glanced around. “It is impressive isn’t it?” he commented. “Of course, T’pas doesn’t have an office on the exterior walls, does she?” Vanessa tore her eyes from the sprawling city. “No, she makes do with a large painting of The Forge on Vulcan for a view,” Vanessa said, remembering her briefing. “You know, I’ve visited the Councillor’s office and I don’t think I’ve met you, which is odd, because I’m sure I’d remember a beautiful woman like you,” Bjorn continued. “Oh, I only started working there last week, I’m an intern really,” Vanessa said, trying not to blush. Bjorn smiled and glanced down at the computer screen on his desk. “I’ve got a very important meeting later today, I hope you’ll be able to help me out with it.” “I’ll do my best, sir,” Vanessa said, watching Bjorn as he worked the computer’s controls. Bjorn looked at her and smiled again. He was actually quite good looking, Vanessa reflected, for a guy nearing sixty-five. She knew all about the councillor’s extra-marital affair with his secretary Louisa, as well as the shady dealings he had with the freighter captain Erek Ki Iss and the Rigelian contractors. She just hoped he wasn’t going to ask her to bed with him. “Before my visitors arrive, I like to be relaxed. Would you help me with that?” Bjorn asked. I think I’m going to throw up, Vanessa thought. She smiled. “If I can, sure.” “Good, there’s a café down the street that sells these amazing doughnuts. Can you run down there and get some?” Bjorn said. Vanessa nodded, relieved. “Sure,” she said cheerfully. “Thanks. I’ve got some paperwork to catch up on. The visitors are supposed to arrive around 10:30, so if you could pop down there about ten, that’d be peachy,” Bjorn said smiling. Vanessa nodded. “Okay, I’ll get back to that report Louisa left.” She quickly hurried out of the office, leaving Bjorn to regret not having asked her to help relax him in a different way, but he didn’t quite trust her. Not yet, anyway. Ten o’clock soon rolled around and Vanessa left the building housing the offices of the colony’s ruling council members and walked down the street to the café Bjorn had mentioned. As she entered, she saw Adam standing at the counter. Pretending to study the various cakes, buns and pastries on offer, Vanessa stood near him as he added cream to his coffee. “I’m really nervous,” she said quietly. Not looking at her, Adam smiled, his white teeth standing out from his dark skin and dark goatee. “You’re doing fine,” he replied. Pretending to concentrate solely on stirring his coffee, he added, “I thought he was going to ask for something other than doughnuts.” Vanessa nodded as a young man came over and asked for her order. After asking for the councillor’s doughnuts and a slice of apple pie for herself, she finally spoke. “I thought he was as well. I felt sick. He creeps me out. He seems so charming but reading the briefing on him, it makes me feel ill, just being around him.” “You’re doing fine,” Adam repeated. “I know this is your first UC assignment, but we’re all in the building as well, backing you up. Smooth, that’s how we do it.” Vanessa smiled at his mantra. “See you later then,” she said, taking the bag with her order in. Adam watched her leave. He felt strangely confident in the young ensign, despite the fact that she was on her first undercover assignment. Somehow, he knew she was going to be a good officer. Vanessa was back at her desk, finishing her apple pie when Captain Erek Ki Iss, the Triexian freighter commander arrived. The three-legged alien entered the office using his species' odd locomotion. He smiled. “You’re new. What happened, Bjorn get bored of his last secretary?” Erek asked. Vanessa frowned. “Louisa’s ill. I’m covering for her.” Erek merely smiled. “I’m Captain Erek. Here to see the Councillor.” Vanessa buzzed the Councillor before showing Erek in. “Thank you, Vanessa,” Bjorn said. “I don’t think I need you for this meeting.” She nodded and walked towards the door. As she left, she carefully dropped the stylus she’d been carrying and kicked it under a display cabinet. In another part of the building, Adam Griffiths was dozing in a chair when his partner Lt. Ka-Lahetri, an Efrosian, snapped his fingers. “We’re on,” he snapped. “Stylus mic is active.” Adam immediately leapt to his feet and snatched up the spare headset to listen in. “Did you have any trouble landing, this time?” Bjorn’s voice asked. “No, no trouble at all,” Erek replied as he stood by the window. Humanoid chairs didn’t go well with his tripedal anatomy. Bjorn handed him an Altairian water. “Good, I told you that bribe we paid the port controller was worth it.” Erek nodded, “Well I’ve got the goods the Rigelians wanted. Orion whisky, Romulan Ale and Klingon Raktajino. Damned if I know why they got to be so picky about what they drink.” Bjorn shrugged as he drank some of his own water. “Who cares? They pay us well enough and you don’t get any trouble crossing the border, being from a neutral world and all.” The Triexian nodded. “Fair point, but I seem to be taking all the risks here,” he complained. Bjorn sighed. “Alright, I’m meeting them in another hour, I’ll try to get them to pay you another two thousand. Okay? Besides, they fronted you the money for the repairs to your ship didn’t they? And they got you that Orion girl.” Again Erek nodded. “True.” He smiled. “That secretary of yours out there is something. Had a taste of her yet?” Bjorn smiled. “I’d love to, but she’s only been here this morning, I don’t quite trust her yet.” “I can understand that,” Erek said. “It’s so hard to get help you can trust.” In the other room, Adam and Ka-Lahetri were intently listening to everything the pair said. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to give them much information they didn’t already have. Erek was already being investigated for smuggling contraband into the colony as it was. “This is the big day though, isn’t it?” Erek asked Bjorn. “The day we finally close the deal and those Lanak-Gar fighters become ours to sell to that mercenary group.” Back in his office, Bjorn frowned at Erek. “Become mine, you mean. I get to sell them to whoever I want.” Erek flicked his middle hand in dismissal. “Yours, mine, ours. Whatever. As long as I get my commission for introducing you to the mercs, I don’t care.” The intercom buzzed. “Councillor Halvorsen, your Rigelian visitors are here,” Vanessa said over the intercom. “Thank you, show them in,” Bjorn replied. The door opened and four Rigelians entered behind Vanessa. “That’s all, thank you, Vanessa,” Bjorn said. She nodded and left. The four green-skinned, pointy-eared aliens were all male. Two were very obviously hired muscle. One was carrying a small portable computer. The fourth strode forward to shake Bjorn’s hand. “Councillor, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” he commented. “Thank you, Mister Van,” Bjorn replied. “I hope you don’t mind,” Van continued, “But I’ve already had my men start unloading our goods from your freighter, Captain Erek.” A dark look flickered across the Triexian’s face. “No, that’s fine,” he lied. “Good,” Van said, smiling. “If you’ll excuse me,” Erek said. “I’d better be getting back to my ship.” Van nodded in dismissal. Bjorn shook his middle hand. “A pleasure as always, Erek.” The Triexian left. Bjorn returned to his desk. “Well, Mister Van, if you’d just provide me with the account number, I can transfer the credits for my merchandise,” Bjorn smiled. Van smiled again. “Certainly. We’ve left them in secure storage on an asteroid in the system’s Oort cloud. My assistant will provide the co-ordinates, there’s an abandoned mining complex there.” Bjorn nodded. “Thank you. I look forward to inspecting them.” Van’s assistant set to work with his mini-computer. In the room where Adam and Ka-Lahetri were working, they watched the computer that was linked to Bjorn’s thanks to a tap Vanessa had set up when she’d arrived in Bjorn’s offices. “There’s the money transfer,” Adam said. “And there’s the co-ordinates, including a notation that the goods are six brand-new Lanak-Gar class Starfleet fighters,” Ka-Lahetri added. Both officers tore off their headsets and snatched up phasers. Minutes later, the two red shirts arrived at Bjorn’s offices. Vanessa was waiting for them, a phaser in her hand. Adam nodded to her and she activated the door. The three officers dashed in. “Councillor Bjorn Halvorsen, you are under arrest. You Rigelian gentlemen too,” Adam snapped. One of the musclemen leapt to his feet, pulling out a small pistol. He’d barely got it clear of the holster when Vanessa stunned him. Adam pulled out his communicator as he covered Halvorsen, and the others covered the Rigelians. “Griffiths to Alpha. Go, go, go!” Seconds later, a group of ten more security officers charged in and began handcuffing the Rigelians. “I don’t understand, what’s going on?” Bjorn demanded as a Saurian security officer came over and handcuffed him. “Don’t bother denying it,” Adam said. “We’ve got the information from your computer and we’ve heard everything you’ve said.” “Vanessa?” Bjorn asked, as she pulled open her jacket to reveal a Starfleet uniform beneath it. “Ensign Vanessa North, actually,” she said. “Louisa won’t be seeing you again, sunshine.” The men were all bundled out, leaving Ka-Lahetri, Adam and Vanessa. Both men shook hands with her. “Good work, Ensign. I think you’ve got a promising career in front of you,” Adam informed her.