Previous Next

Justice, Part One

Posted on Sep 04, 2017 @ 6:12pm by Raxl Dreyton
Edited on on Sep 04, 2017 @ 6:15pm

Mission: Blue Planet

= Justice =
(cont'd from "Shell Game")

SCENE: Rosie’s Cantina
STARDATE: [2.17] 0904.1326

In the months since the erstwhile residents of LIMBO had come to this world, a funny thing had started to happen. In their lives aboard the far-flung space station inside the Triangle, trust and generosity had not been in great supply. Crime, violence, prostitution, drugs... even those among them who had not waded at least some little way into the darkness still were forced to build their lives in its shallows, and it had left their mark on each of them. LIMBO ground down the weak very quickly, and those who remained standing had no choice but to come to some kind of accord with the wretchedness around them. And in some ways, they had been the strongest - or worst - of the lot. They were the ones who had clawed their way to the front of the evacuation lines, shoving past how many more deserving souls, to stuff the cargo holds of the USS PHOENIX. And when their situation aboard the PHOENIX began to deteriorate, they were the ones who had followed Arthur Embry into hopeless battle. In short, they were survivors, with all the strength and horror such a title must entail.

But then they had landed here. They stepped out of darkness and into warm sunlight. They waded not through corruption, but through the spraying Elandipole surf. And while Starfleet fought for its soul in the skies above them - a Civil War that threatened to end the Federation forever - the erstwhile residents of LIMBO found themselves contemplating a new beginning.

The USS PHOENIX had given them their start, and once the Federation had cut out the cancer in its heart, more starships had begun to arrive. There were resources, community planners, census takers. Those who had sailed from LIMBO to these beaches and wanted to be relocated were assigned passage aboard various transports. Some took advantage, hoping to pick up the pieces of their lives amongst estranged friends or family. Most of them stayed. They had been through a lot, and who else in the galaxy could understand just how much except each other?

In the months that followed, they found their strength would serve them well. Even with the support of the Federation, it is no small thing to settle a new world. Construction of the main settlement went well enough, but there had still been setbacks. A powerful tropical storm blew in from over the ocean in the fourth month, and the ensuing floods had destroyed several stores of supplies and carried off at least three colonists. In their sixth month, an unidentified fever swept through the colony, claiming 16 lives before it could be properly contained. In their seventh month, they had their first murder.

But the former residents of LIMBO - now the colonists of Elandipole - knitted together, and their community endured through it all.

Now, a little over a year and a half since they’d first come to this world, the colony was small, but thriving, and growing fast. Construction had begun on a new block of settlements, and for now this expanded area of the Elandipole colony represented nothing so much as the ramshackle Shanty Town that these colonists had briefly called home, inside the cargo bays aboard the USS PHOENIX. What buildings there were were only temporary, designed to go up and come down in less than a day and with a minimum of fuss. Several tents dotted the stretch of beach just below the construction site, as well as small wooden building with a thatch roof, built onto a raised platform just at the edge of where the surf would come in at high tide. A small sign was affixed above the entrance - “Rosie’s Cantina” read the legend, carved with a knife into a plank of wood. The residents of Elandipole seemed to love their quaint beachfront aesthetic.

Inside the small building was a bar with four stools in front of it. A handful of tables were scattered around, giving the room a cramped feel that would only get worse when the bar was at capacity. Now though, with the sun just starting to creep up over the horizon, the cantina was nearly empty.

The proprietor, Rosie, had just come in from outside. She was in her mid-50’s, and looked good for her age; “thanks to all this healthy sun,” Rosie would say, though in truth she had always taken good care of herself. Her black hair was put up in a bun, and as she moved behind the bar she took off a pair of leather work gloves and laid them on the countertop. She’d just finished hauling in the fish traps she’d put out the evening before. It was true that they had replicator resources to go around, but there was always demand for fresh seafood, and the oceans of Elandipole were rich with all manner of life.

As Rosie lay the gloves down, she noticed the figure sleeping at the far end of the bar, his head resting on his curled up arms. In front of him was an empty bottle of vodka, a hideous Terran concoction that Rosie felt was best suited for sterilizing medical equipment. Soft snores sawed in and out of him at a steady pace as Rosie plucked the bottle off the bartop and deposited it into a refuse container. Then she turned back to the sleeping man and folded her arms across her ample chest.

“This isn’t a hotel, you know,” Rosie said, loud enough to interrupt the man’s snoring. She heard a few soft mumbles, what might have been the beginning of a coherent word. But then the slurred speech trailed off, and suddenly the man was snoring once again. Rosie rolled her eyes, then reached out to shake the man’s shoulder.

“Wake up, Rax. You can’t sleep here all day.”

The man groaned and started to stir. Rosie felt a stab of pity and disappeared into the small room behind the bar as the man opened his bloodshot eyes and slowly lifted his head from the bartop. His neck and shoulder were stiff from sleeping in that awkward position, and as he slid off the bar stool, his legs were wobbly beneath him. By the time his vision cleared, Rosie had returned, and had placed a glass of some popping, fizzing solution onto the bar in front of him.

“Drink,” Rosie commanded. “And if you’re going to throw up, do it outside.”

Raxl Dreyton’s eyelids felt sticky, and he had a full night’s worth of drool currently drying on his cheek, but he had long prided himself on his ability to put his best foot forward. He picked up the glass and raised it, as if he were offering a toast.

“To the sweetest gal in the colony,” he said, managing a weak grin. Then he downed the fizzing liquid in a series of gulps. It didn’t taste good, but it went some way towards settling the menacing churn of his stomach.

“In the quadrant,” Rosie corrected. She took the glass, rinsed it out in the small basin behind the bar, then turned back to look at Raxl. He was steadying himself against the bar, waiting for the flashing pain of his headache to recede back down to a dull throb. “You said you were going to lock up last night.”

“Yeah, well,” Rax said, his eyes clenched tightly shut against the sunlight that had started to creep in through the wooden slats of the cantina’s walls. “Then I realized this place was made of wood, so I thought maybe I’d better just keep an eye on it.”

“I can’t believe you finished that whole bottle,” Rosie said. “You’d already had a dozen drinks before you ordered it.”

“Those drinks were just practice.”

“And you stink,” Rosie said, wrinkling her nose. “It’s that vodka. Vile stuff. I’m not even sure why I stock it.”

“Count your blessings there wasn’t any tequila on the last supply shipment,” said Rax. He placed his hands at the small of his back and bent backwards, until there came a satisfying “crack!” from one of his vertebrae. Then he shook his head and opened his eyes.

“Feeling better?” Rosie asked, one of her eyebrows quirked.

“Indubitably,” Rax started to say. Then, his stomach gave a sudden lurch, and he was stumbling out the front door and down the wooden steps, until he found himself collapsing on his hands and knees in the spray of the morning’s low tide, whereupon he promptly threw up.


The BAD WOLF was parked about a quarter mile outside the main settlement, on what so far remained a lonely stretch of beach. The sand here was rocky and full of hard shells, making it a less attractive prospect for leisure, but the beach was large enough for small ships like Raxl’s to land. He passed another Federation shuttle that had arrived sometime the day before on his way towards the BAD WOLF, his boots crunching across the shells in the sand.

Rax stumbled up the ramp and immediately into the ship’s tiny bathroom to splash some water on his face. He contemplated taking a sonic shower and decided it wouldn’t do the job; right now, Rax needed hot water and steam. There were places in the colony where freshwater showers were available - the water distilled from the ocean and cycled through a filtration system - and Rax promised himself he’d get one later. For now, he contented himself with mouthwash, a comb, and a change of clothes.

When he came out of the bathroom, he was surprised to find a young woman standing at the top of the BAD WOLF’s exit ramp, as if she were uncertain about stepping over the threshold and into the ship proper. Rax, still feeling the effects of his hangover, squinted at her as he approached.

“Are you lost?”

“No,” the woman said, though she still didn’t approach any further than the top of the ramp.

“Okay. Can I help you?”

“I don’t…” she started, then stopped. She was looking at him as if she’d seen him before. Rax was still too groggy to place her, but he decided she did look familiar.

“That your shuttle parked out there?” Rax asked, easing himself into a seat by his entertainment console. He leaned over, punched in an order for coffee, then reached over to remove the fresh glass from the replicator mounted on the nearby wall.

The woman nodded. “I just arrived yesterday. I… heard you were here.”

Rax sat up a little. He wasn’t getting a dangerous vibe, not from this girl who looked to scared to come any closer, but he’d had bad luck lately with the people who’d come looking for him, whatever their intentions wound up being.

“You did, huh?”

“You don’t recognize me, do you?” the woman asked.

“You look familiar, but no, can’t say I can place you.”

“I’m Cindy Rochemonte.”

Rax sat forward. It was possible; the facial structure looked the same. But the woman standing before him didn’t look like the Cindy Rochemonte he’d briefly known back on Earth. She’d lost the glasses, dyed her hair a chestnut brown and changed the style, cutting shorter, so she looked almost tomboyish. She was dressed like a spacer, and Rax thought he could see the outline of a mostly healed bruise high up on one cheek.

“You changed your look, kid,” Rax said.

“Yeah.” Cindy took a tentative step forward, but would come no closer. “I’m not sure why I wanted to see you. Except that… I guess it’s because you were there.”

“At Point Bonita, you mean,” Rax said.

Cindy nodded. “I remember, you were with Selyara. She’d found Edgerton and… she *did* something to him…”

“Fried his brain.”


Rax remembered that day, almost a year ago now. The Neo-Essentialist’s underwater base was breached and flooding. He’d pulled Edgerton out of the water while looking for Selyara, but then Selyara had found him instead. A single touch was all she’d needed to render Rax unconscious, leaving Edgerton totally at her mercy. When Rax had come to, he’d been surprised to find comatose, but still alive.

“So,” Raxl said. “You come by to reminisce? We didn’t really know each other, other than flying out on the same ship.”

“You were there when I… killed him,” Cindy said.

“I was barely conscious.”

“Still. You saw what happened. What I did.”

Rax shrugged. “I guess. There’s a lot I don’t remember.”

“Did I do the right thing?”

Rax stared. He barely knew this girl, and yet she’d come here asking for… what? Forgiveness? Absolution? From the guy who, only half an hour before, had been puking his guts out in the ocean just outside the bar he’d passed out in? Rax couldn’t help it; he started to laugh. Cindy didn’t take it well, and Rax saw a flash of anger pass over her features.

“Sorry,” he said, holding up a hand. “It’s just… I barely know you, lady.”

“I know that.”

“So why me? Lots of people were there that day. Why aren’t you tracking them down?”

“I didn’t come here for you,” Cindy said. “But when I heard you were here, I decided to come.”

“FIne,” Rax said. “Still, this is the kind of question you ask a priest, not a total stranger.”

“So far as I know, there are no priests on Elandipole.”

Rax sighed. “Look, the guy you killed was a son of a bitch who had it coming.”

“So it was the right thing?”

“Hell, I don’t know,” Rax said. “Lady, I’ve killed people in my time, and every single one of them had it coming. But every single one of them was awake and armed at the time, too. And none of them were responsible for the deaths of 28 million people.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Me neither,” Rax said. “That’s the point. Would I have done what you did? Probably not, but then it wasn’t my home that animal burned. Do I think the galaxy’s a better place without him around? You bet your ass I do.”

Cindy didn’t look satisfied. “That isn’t an answer.”

“No, I guess it isn’t.” Rax stood up with his coffee, went over to a storage compartment built into the wall, and removed a small silver flask from it. He unscrewed the lid, poured some its contents into the mug of coffee, then capped the flask and replaced it.

“The sun just came up thirty-five minutes ago,” Rochemonte said, looking at him with disapproval. Rax took a sip from the coffee, then smiled at her.

“That’s the thing about getting drunk every day,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter when you get started.”

He took another sip, then he noticed the way Rochemonte was looking at the mug. “Did you want some?”

Rochemonte looked relieved. “I do, actually.”

Rax grinned. “My kinda’ gal.”


They toasted spiked cups of coffee until late morning. They didn’t talk about much. Rochemonte made some superficial observations about the BAD WOLF and then spent most of the rest of the time rattling off technical specifications of the modified Federation Runabout that Rax called home. Tech talk usually bored Raxl, but Rochemonte seemed so genuinely enthused by the subject - and as a result, had become much more animated, more *alive*, in a way that Rax found quite lovely - that he’d actually brought up the technical manuals on the ship’s computer just to verify some of theories that Rochemonte was pitching.

Finally, a solid buzz once more roaring through him, Rax stood up.

“Much as I’d love to sit here and drink all day, I’m afraid I have some very important drinking to do back in town.”

Cindy laughed and stood as well.

“I guess I can’t spend all day here either.”

“You have business on Elandipole, or are you looking to stay?”

Cindy looked at him. “What about you?”

“Me?” Rax blinked. “I guess you could say I’m on vacation.”

Cindy seemed to accept that, and nodded. “It’s a lovely planet. But no, I don’t think I’ll stay.”

“Well, if we’re heading in the same direction, we might as well walk together,” Rax said. He hit the button on the ramp control, and the exit ramp lowered with a hydraulic hiss. Cindy clattered down the ramp with Rax behind her. Once they’d disembarked, Rax hit a control on his comm-unit, and the ramp sealed back up behind him. They started off up the beach, in the direction of the colony.

Cindy looked out at the ocean as they watched. It was a grey morning, and Rax suspected they’d see some rain before nightfall. Brightwings called in the distance. Ahead of them, they could distantly hear the sounds of the colony as it went about its morning routine.

“It really is a beautiful place,” Cindy murmured. “I remember it before the colony went up.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Rax said. “You were on the PHOENIX when they dropped everyone off here.”

Cindy looked at him. “You’ve heard the story?”

“Buy a townie a drink and it practically falls outta them,” Rax shrugged. “I was there on LIMBO when Tella Yavin ordered the station cleared out. I thought that was a nightmare, but I guess getting here was an ordeal of its own. Something about a failed mutiny?”

“One of the refugees, a man named Arthur Embry, tried to use their numbers to overpower the PHOENIX crew,” Cindy said. “We were understaffed, everyone had been run ragged fleeing from the Federation, so they might have pulled it off. Luckily, Embry didn’t have the loyalty of all his lieutenants. Things fell apart pretty fast for him.”

“Sound like quite a guy.”

“They’re probably going to put a statue of him up somewhere,” Cindy said bitterly. “As I walk around this colony, see some of those same people who wanted to *kill* me… it’s hard to reconcile what they’ve built with who they are.”

“People can change,” Rax said. “It helps if you don’t judge ‘em when they’re at their most desperate.”

“That’s when they show you who they really are,” Cindy said. “That’s exactly the time to judge them.”

Rax glanced at her. “Like Edgerton?”

“He… he’d lost and he knew it, and he…. did what he did to Paris anyway,” Cindy said. “He wasn’t just some dictator, he was a monster.”

“A dead one, now.”


They walked in silence until they reached the town.


They parted ways when they reached the town. Cindy thanked him for the drinks and turned to leave. Rax wanted to ask her if he’d see her again, but he had a feeling she wouldn’t give him a straight answer anyway. She was holding something back, and he guessed it probably had to do with why she’d come to Elandipole in the first place. In any case, she was still mostly a stranger to him, and so he let Cindy Rochemonte to her business and set about on business of his own: namely, the business of making sure nobody walked off with his favorite barstool at Rosie’s Cantina.

Rax passed the day drinking, telling stories, and doing his best to talk Rosie into bed with him. He was more or less successful at the first two, and he found himself quite pleasantly drunk when Rosie slid a comm-unit across the bartop to him.

“You have a call, Rax.”

“Not possible, babe,” Rax grinned. “Nobody knows I’m here.”

Rosie didn’t look deterred. “Nevertheless.”

Confused, Rax took the comm-unit and activated it. A holoprojection appeared over the device’s emitter, depicting the familiar features of Ferengi that Rax knew well, and was none too happy to see.

“Brak,” Rax growled.

{{Nice to see you too,}} the Ferengi information broker replied. {{You look positively pickled, Dreyton.}}

“None of your business.”

{{True enough. Where are you?}}

“*You* called *me*, Brak.”

{{I know, I was just being polite,}} Brak said. {{So! Looking for a job?}}

“No,” Rax said, trying to keep his voice down. “I’m packing and getting the hell off this planet.”

{{Why would you want to do something like that? I hear they have some very lovely beaches.}}

“Because, if *you* know where I am, then that means *she* knows where I am,” Rax said.

{{She’s the head of Section 31, Dreyton,}} Brak said, rolling his eye. {{If she wants you found, you’ll be found.}}

“Well, it means Riss can find me too,” Rax said. “Which means I’m gone.”

{{I thought Selyara was supposed to help you with your little Riss problem.}}

“Yeah, well… things got pretty hectic towards the end. Then she went and became the biggest goddamn spook in the galaxy. At this point, her help comes with too many strings.”

{{It’s so hard to find reliable people these days,}} Brak said. {{That’s why I prefer my relationships to be simple. Transactional. Take you and me. I bring a local bounty contract to your attention-}}

“No, Brak.”

{{-you complete said contract, pocket the bounty, and I collect a lovely little finder’s fee for facilitating the whole thing.}}

“I said no.”

{{And the best is, you’ll hardly need to interrupt your binge drinking to do it,}} Brak said. {{This one’s right there on Elandipole.}}

“Among a bunch of Limbo refugees?” Rax asked. “Forget it. Whatever gambling debt or drug deal gone bad the client is looking to avenge, they’ll have to find someone else to do it. I’m on vacation.”

{{Try a Neo-Essentialist operative,}} Brak said, flashing a toothy smile.

Rax sat up. “Really?”

{{Deep cover,}} Brak said. {{Like that Rawyvin Seth character. Someone Edgerton deployed when he wanted to take a more direct hand in shaping galactic events.}}

“Who is it?”

{{You want the job or not?}} Brak asked. {{I’ve got other contacts to pass this on to, and the information isn’t worth as much if I’ve already given it to you for free.}}

Rax drummed his fingers on the bartop. He really wasn’t looking to take on any contracts right now; in fact, not since the Siege of Earth had ended. But he also needed to start thinking about rebuilding his bankroll, and a former Neo-Essentialist spy would probably be worth a lot to the right people. And if this spy didn’t know Rax was coming, he could have this job in the bag before dinner.

“Fine, Brak,” Rax said. “Show me what you have.”

{{I’ll send the dossier to your ship,}} Brak said. {{Be careful, Dreyton. You might want to sober up a little before you go after this one.}}

“Yeah yeah,” Rax grumbled. The holo-image of Brak dissolved in shimmer, and Rax set the comm unit back down on the bar. Rosie came over to collect it.

“Something wrong, hun?” she asked.

“Duty calls,” Rax said. “Can I get a coffee to go?”

“You want rum in it like last time?”

Rax did very much want rum in it, but he decided that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.


Back aboard the BAD WOLF, Rax plopped down in the cockpit’s pilot’s seat and called the dossier Brak had sent him up on his console. Information filled the screen at once; the bounty’s name was Sheng Zhu, and when Rax looked at the man’s record, his mouth went dry.

Born on a frontier colony in the Gamma Quadrant, beyond the Bajoran wormhole. Started his career in the colony militia before joining the Starfleet Marine Corps. Served for five years and was promoted to Major before being stripped of his command and drummed out service; the rumor was he’d been determined “psychologically unfit” for command after he ordered his troops to massacre a group of Klingon terrorists trying to surrender themselves into custody. Dropped out of sight after that, though the rumor was he’d been recruited by Section 31, where he likely met Richard Edgerton. At some point, he was taken into the Neo-Essentialist fold. From there, it was mostly rumors, nothing substantiated but with enough commonalities to paint the picture. Assassinations, mysterious accidents, kidnappings, all found to benefit the Neo-Essentialist agenda in some way or other. No reports on where he was during the Siege of Earth, but ever since the regime change some of Edgerton’s files had started to leak to the public, and now agents like Sheng were finding themselves unexpectedly in the public eye. That meant they had to go to ground, and they’d be very dangerous until they disappeared.

Rax deactivated the console and sat back in his chair. Brak was right; this wasn’t a contract he could afford to half-ass. Even if Sheng didn’t know Rax was coming, he was trained to observant, and more than capable of killing Rax if it came down to it. This would need to be handled delicately.

First things first, though, Rax thought.

“Computer, plug into the traffic buoy in orbit and get me the manifests of all ships that have passed through Elandipole in the last month,” Rax said. “Cross-reference with the name Sheng Zhu, and any known aliases as listed in his dossier.”

[[Error,]] the computer reported. [[Access to traffic data is restricted to authorized Federation personnel.]]

“Initiate knock-knock protocol,” Rax said. He waited, and a second later, the BAD WOLF’s computer had succeeded in getting around the relatively light security of Elandipole’s traffic buoy. A moment later, names were scrolling across his console screen faster than he could follow. There was nothing to do now but let the computer run its search, so Rax stood up and went back into his living quarters. He wanted another drink, but since he was trying to sober up he opted for a glass of water instead. He drank it, feeling unsatisfied, and stood staring out on of the ship’s windows. From this angle, he could see the beach, as well as the rear section of the shuttlecraft that Cindy Rochemonte had used to get to Elandipole.

Cindy was outside the shuttle, standing just at the water’s edge, and staring out over the water, towards the setting sun. Rax set his glass of water down, lowered the BAD WOLF’s ramp, and walked over to join her. She didn’t turn to look at him as he approached.

“Hey neighbor,” Rax said.

“Mr. Dreyton,” said Cindy.

“You can call me Rax.”


“So, did you have a productive day?” Rax asked.

“I shouldn’t have had so much to drink with you this morning,” Cindy said. “It made me sloppy.”

“What, you mess up on a job or something?”

“Something,” said Cindy. “I’m wondering if you did it on purpose.”

“Did what?”

“Get me drunk.”

Rax looked at her, confused. “I was already drunk when you showed up. Or, hungover, at least. Why would I want get some lady I barely remembered drunk?”

Cindy turned to look at him, and seemed to search his face. Then, she looked back out at the ocean.

“Why are you here?” she asked. “Really, I mean.”

“I don’t know,” Rax shrugged. “I’m taking it easy. Saving the world will wear you out.”

“It has nothing to do you with your job?” Cindy asked.

“What about my job?”

Cindy shook her head. “Nevermind. I don’t want to talk about it. And I’m not sure I want to talk to you, Mr. Dreyton.”

Despite himself, Rax felt hurt. True, he’d barely known this woman only a few hours ago, but after sharing a few drinks with her, he found he’d come to like her, and he thought she’d started to like him too. Now, to have her dismiss him like this… it didn’t feel good.

“Cindy, what’s wrong?” Rax asked. “Maybe I can help.”

“I don’t need your help,” Cindy said. She turned and walked up the beach, towards her ship. Rax didn’t follow her. When she’d disappeared into her shuttle, Rax turned and trudged back up the sand towards the BAD WOLF. When he got back inside, the first thing he did was check the cockpit terminal for the results of the computer’s search. Sure enough, the result was waiting, blinking on the screen in dull orange letters.



The next day, Rax went to the colony and started asking around. No one had seen Sheng Zhu or anyone fitting his description, and by lunchtime Rax was starting to get discouraged. The Elandipole colony had grown quite a lot in its short life, but it still just wasn’t all that big. If Sheng was here, sooner or later Rax would have to bump into him. Rax wondered if Brak’s information might have been wrong; maybe Sheng hadn’t come to Elandipole. Maybe he was already in the wind, living under a new identity, somewhere light years away from here.

Just as he was about to quit for the day, Rax spotted Cindy Rochemonte. They were in a small market section of the colony, set up near the beach. Mostly it was locals selling their daily catch, everything from frilled shark to fresh kampos. Rochemonte was at the far end of an aisle of stalls, her back to Raxl. As he watched, she picked her way slowly, carefully, through the crowd, occasionally stopping to take cover at the corner of a building or wooden stall. Rax knew what she was doing immediately, since he often found himself doing the same thing; Cindy Rochemonte was following someone.

Seeing as how he’d had no luck with his own investigation, Rax decided he could at least find out what Rochemonte was up to, and maybe shed a little more light on what had brought her to Elandipole in the first place. He quickened his pace, stepping around clusters of browsing shoppers, taking care not to get too close and tip Cindy off. They were headed towards a residential sector of the colony, fairly quiet during the middle part of the day when most people were out at work or shopping. That would mean whoever it was Rochemonte was tailing would be more likely to notice her. The same went for Rax himself; he allowed Cindy to gain a little more distance on him as they left the market behind them.

As they went, Rax noted that Rochemonte seemed to know what she was doing, even if it did seem like she needed more practice. Like Rax, she’d slowed done, apparently letting her target gain some distance to reduce the chances of being detected. She moved casually, but deliberately… not creeping about in a way that would attract attention, but also being careful never to lose sight of her target. Some of her choices for cover could use work, Rax thought, but all in all Rochemonte was no amatuer.

They went deep into the small neighborhood until Rochemonte stopped outside a small house. It was a prefabricated structure, meaning it looked identical to every other house on the small block save for the numbers painted on the door. Rochemonte waited there for perhaps five minutes before creeping up to the door. She tried it, but it was locked. As Rax watched, Rochemonte produced a small device and affixed it to the door controls. A second later, the door slid aside - a “knock knock” protocol of her own, Rax thought.

Cindy disappeared into the house. Rax started to approach, looking up and down the street to make sure no one was watching. Then he stepped up to the door, hoping that whatever Cindy had done to it was still in effect. It wasn’t; the door was locked once more. Fortunately, Rax knew a thing or two about these pre-fab colony homes; namely, they weren’t built as sturdy as they looked. He pulled a small knife from his belt, worked it under the cover panel for the door controls and popped it free. Then he reached in, rearranged a few control chips, and the door slid cooperatively aside. Rax stepped into the house.

The house was small, only a few rooms. Rax went into the living room first, and stopped when he spotted a man on the floor, his arms and legs bound together behind him in a hog-tie. He was gagged, but he looked up at Raxl with wide, desperate eyes.

“What the hell?” Rax said, as he started forward towards the bound man.


Rax stopped and turned around. Rochemonte was there, a phaser in her hand and pointed at Raxl’s heart.

“So,” Cindy said. “You lied to me.”

“Uh…” Rax said, still not sure what to make of the situation. “When?”

“You’re here for him, aren’t you?” Cindy asked. “So what? So you can arrest him? That’s not good enough!”

“Whoa whoa whoa,” Rax said, putting his hands up in the air. “Calm down. I spotted you out on the street back there creeping around like a damn burglar, so I followed you here. That’s it!”

“Bullshit,” Rochemonte said. “You’re here for the bounty on his head.”

Rax glanced down at the bound man, who was still staring up at him, goggle-eyed.

“You got a bounty on your head, mister?”

“He’s a Neo-Essentialist,” said Rochemonte. “A researcher. He helped develop that abomination Edgerton used to destroy Paris.”

Rax glanced back down at the bound man. “That true?”

The bound man shook his head frantically, making muffled cries against the gag.

“I found the proof in your files,” Cindy said, glaring down at the man. “Research notes. Trials. You exposed living people to that radiation just to see how bad the effects were. All so that you could give the worst man in the galaxy a doomsday weapon.”

The man continued to shake his head, tears starting to stream down his face. The phaser hadn’t wavered, even though Cindy’s attention was focused on him and not on Raxl. Rax slowly shifted his weight, readying himself to tackle Cindy if it came down to it.

“What is it, you son of a bitch?” Cindy asked, scowling at the bound man. “Did you think you slink off to some corner of the galaxy and no one would ever come looking for you? Did you actually think you’d get to retire on a fucking beach?!”

“Hang on, Cindy,” Rax said evenly. “Don’t-”

“And you,” Cindy said, turning back to him. “After all he’s done, you think he should, what, go to trial? Have some Federation advocate appointed to actually plead his case? And what next, prison? Like he’s supposed to be rehabilitated?”

“Cindy, I’m telling ya, I had no idea who this guy was before I walked in this house,” Rax said. “I ain’t here for him, but whatever it is you’re thinking of doing-”

“It’s like you said,” Cindy said, swinging the phaser to aim at the bound man. “The galaxy’s a better place without him in it.”

Rax moved to grab her, but Cindy had already fired. The beam sizzled out, striking the man between his goggled, teary eyes. As Rax and Cindy tumbled to the ground, Rax saw the smoking hole left there in the center of the man’s forehead, staring at him like an unblinking black eye.

When they hit the ground, Rax and Cindy began to wrestle for control of the phaser. Cindy surprised Rax with her strength and flexibility, but he still outweighed her by at least 80 pounds. Before long, he had her pinned to the floor, her arm twisted painfully behind her back. Rax wrenched it, causing Cindy to cry out, but at least she finally let go of the phaser. Rax plucked it off the ground at once, then stood up, letting Cindy get back to her feet. He took a few discrete steps away from her and leveled the phaser in her direction.

“What the hell were you thinking?!” Rax demanded. “That was murder!”

“No,” Cindy growled. “It was justice. Justice for Paris.”

“Goddamn,” Rax said, shaking his head. He hadn’t expected to see anything like this today, especially not from someone like Cindy Rochemonte. Yesterday she’d showed up at his ship asking if her killing of Richard Edgerton was justified… and now, here she was, committing cold blood murder.

“I can prove what he did,” said Cindy. “I have all of it, all his files. I can give them to you.”

“Whether he was what you said or not, that was murder,” Rax said, shaking his head.

“You told me everyone you’ve killed had it coming. So did he.”

“Goddamn,” Rax repeated. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

“You have three choices,” said Cindy. “You can kill me, you can turn me in, or you can let me go.”

“So you can go murder somebody else?” Rax asked. “How many times have you done this, anyway?”

“He’s the first,” Cindy said. “People tied to Edgerton’s regime who got lost in the shuffle. The Federation only cared about the big names, but what about people like him? What about what they did to help Edgerton destroy my home? So, I decided what I would do.”

“What the hell happened to you?”

“I grew up,” Cindy said. “So what are you going to do?”

Rax thought about it for a moment, then he lowered the phaser. “Shit.”

“I can go?”

“Get off Elandipole,” Raxl said. “And whatever the hell it is you think you’re doing… stop. This is going to get you killed, or sent to prison for the rest of your life.”

“I don’t care what happens to me.”

“Well I’m sure there’s somebody out there who does,” Raxl snapped. He tucked Cindy’s phaser into his pocket and turned, leaving her with the body of her victim. Cindy watched him go without saying anything. When Rax made it back out on the street, he headed towards the beach, and Rosie’s Cantina.


Rosie set Rax’s third rum and cola down on the bar in front of him. Rax picked the glass up and immediately downed half of it. Rosie watched him do this indifferently, and when Rax set the glass back down, she leaned forward on the bartop to rest her chin on her hand.

“Something bothering you, hun?”

Rax looked up at her, and for a moment he considered telling Rosie about what he’d seen Cindy Rochemonte do. As he’d been drinking, the full ramifications of what had happened had started to occur to Rax; it might be a day or so before anyone found the body, but once they did, there were going to be questions, and Rax didn’t think he should be around to answer them. He believed Cindy when she said the guy had been a Neo-Essentialist scumbag - though now that he thought it, he had no real reason to take her at her word - but the other colonists wouldn’t understand.

Still, he hadn’t been one of the original refugees from LIMBO, either. Elandipole had started to expand, attracting colonists, merchants, and researchers, and for the core of the community that had survived LIMBO, these new arrivals were looked at as outsiders. They weren’t unwelcome, exactly, but they hadn’t earned their place as part of the Elandipole community. Rax thought there was a chance they’d let the investigation, provided they didn’t turn up any promising leads.

Either way, Rax didn’t want to be here to find out, which mean that his long layover on Elandipole had finally come to an end. Brak would be angry at him for failing to collect the Sheng Zhu bounty, but he’d just have to get over it. The last thing Rax needed right now was to get caught up in a criminal investigation; he may not have committed the crime, but he had let the murderer walk free, and he didn’t think investigators would accept “I thought she was cute” as an excuse for that.

“No,” Rax said finally, and gave Rosie a weak smile. “Just realizing I gotta leave town.”

“Already?” Rosie asked sarcastically. “You’ve only been here a month. Spent almost the whole time in here, as I recall.”

“Best view in the colony,” Rax said, winking at her. He finished his drink. Rosie glanced down at the empty glass.


“Sure. One last round.”

Rosie mixed the drink, then turned and set the refilled glass back down on the table. Rax picked it up, toasted it in her direction, and drank. Rosie smiled; she thought Raxl Dreyton wasn’t even half as charming as he thought he was, and for most of the last four weeks she’d thought he was a good-for-nothing drunk. But in spite of his flaws, he had a kind of magnetism that was hard to deny. It wasn’t an attraction - Rosie had smelled Raxl’s breath in the morning one too many times for that to ever be a possibility - but somehow the old warhorse had managed to grow on her. She was sad to see him go, even as she realized that staying here would probably mean slowly drinking himself to death.

“Take care of yourself, hun,” Rosie said, allowing a trace of genuine warmth to seep into her voice. “I mean it.”

“Thanks, Rosie.”

Rax finished his drink, set the glass on the counter, and stood up. Rosie, her uncharacteristic empathy having evaporated as quickly as it appeared, immediately turned her attention to her side work, and didn’t look back up as Raxl Dreyton walked out of her cantina for the last time.


Part One of Two. A Federation Roleplaying Game Novella written by...

Shawn Putnam
Raxl Dreyton
Functioning Alcoholic


Cindy Rochemonte
Former Starfleet


Previous Next