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Scum And Villainy (Chapter One)

Posted on Jun 24, 2018 @ 3:15am by Raxl Dreyton
Edited on on Jun 24, 2018 @ 3:18am

Mission: Section 31

= Scum And Villainy: A Federation Roleplaying Game Novella =  
=[/\]= Chapter
 SCENE: Mining Facility
 The shuttle parted the puffy grey clouds, slowly decelerating and angling its nose slightly upward to bring it parallel with the landing platform below. The skies were a dull red color, and the sunlight - what reflected from the sunward-facing side of Mira V, anyway - lit the landscape just enough to pick out the rocky surface, dotted here and there with the cast-off buildings of the Dytallix Mining Corporation. Dytallix had abandoned the planet after its reserves of duranium had run dry more than a century before, and though it had taken much of its infrastructure with it - power generators, replicator facilities, and those elements of the mining operation that could not be easily pulled from the planet's surface - the skeletons of most of the larger buildings had been left behind, waiting to be filled back up by anyone desperate or crazy enough to attempt to settle there.
 The shuttle had dipped too low to see the planet's twin horizons - darkness on the left side, and perpetual sunset on the right. Mira V had no rotation, one of its faces locked forever in a death stare with the sun that left the surface a barren wasteland with temperatures well above 180 degrees Celsius. The other side, forever in shadow, saw the temperature drop to -150 degrees Celsius or colder. There was no indigenous life on Mira V, and the only section of the planet that was remotely habitable was a small temperate zone nestled between its two extremes, and it was along this narrow band that the shuttle now began its final approach.
 It came in somewhat too fast, and the pilot pulled the nose up and fired his downward thrusters just before it overshot the pad. The shuttle settled down hard, scoring a deep groove along the surface of the landing pad before the mag-locks could engage.
 LOCATION: Shuttle
 SCENE: Cockpit
 Raxl Dreyton lurched forward as the shuttle touched roughly down, the seat restraints digging into his chest and solar-plexus, knocking the wind out of him. He leaned back in his chair and grimaced, missing the familiar feel of the BAD WOLF for the thousandth time since this trip had begun. His old ship was now somewhere at the bottom of the sea on ELANDIPOLE IV, one of several casualties that stemmed, at least in part, from Raxl's latest ill-fated "vacation". This new shuttle - a loaner from Raxl's sometime-ally, sometime-employer, and long-time pain-in-the-ass, Brak - was a similar design to the BAD WOLF, but Raxl had made so many modifications to his old ship over the years that slipping into the cockpit of this ship had reminded Raxl of trying to break in a new, ill-fitting pair of boots... and Rax had the bruises to prove it.
 He reached out and flipped off the ship's nav-computer, which was still sending the modified transponder signal that Brak had outfitted it with before sending Rax off on this little adventure. The transponder was a necessary part of approaching the surface of Mira V; a Starfleet probe lurked in high orbit, with standing orders to flag any non-Starfleet vessels approaching the planet and send their ID signature back to Starfleet Command. Fortunately for Brak (though not so much for Raxl), the Ferengi - who had first come seeking potential profit from the abandoned mining facility and who had later decided that Mira's unique surface conditions and isolation made it the ideal site for an illicit trade bazaar - had quickly reprogrammed the probe, giving it new orders to ignore any vessel that transmitted the appropriate code, ensuring they could come and go as they pleased while still giving the appearance that the planet's surface was deserted.
 Rax unbuckled the seat restraints, then pushed the chair back from the pilot's console. He stood and walked out of the cockpit, back towards the shuttle's passenger area. He ignored the empty seats and turned his attention instead towards the small compartments mounted on the wall behind them. He opened the closest compartment and withdrew a small, unassuming brown case. As he lifted it out of the cargo compartment, he felt its weight - it was heavier than it looked, deceptively so, and Rax tucked it beneath his arm as gently as possible so that he could support it from the bottom. He didn't want this package slipping out of his hands.
 By the time Rax had closed the cargo compartment and made his way towards the ship's hatch, he could already hear footsteps on the landing pad outside. Before opening the hatch, Rax rested his hand on the butt of his disruptor pistol, tucked reassuringly into the holster at his side. He didn't think he would need it - the kinds of low-lifes who found themselves scavenging passing traders in a place like Mira V didn't generally didn't have the hardware to back up their talk, and that made them pretty easy to overawe - but he felt better with the familiar weight of the weapon hanging at his side. Based on the way the last two years of his life had gone, Raxl Dreyton had decidedly adopted a "make your own luck" approach to this kind of situation.
 He opened the hatch, and stepped gingerly out of the ship and onto the landing pad, always aware of the weight of the case tucked under one arm. He let his other hand drop to his side, in easy distance of the handle of his pistol, and did his best to muster a nonchalant grin. His visitors were waiting about three meters away - two Ferengi, so different they were almost comical negatives of each other. The first was short, scrawny, but with a predator's regard almost burning out from behind a pair of beady eyes. The second Ferengi was a rarity for his species, a through-and-through bruiser; he was taller than Rax, taller even than some Klingons Rax had known in his time. He had wide shoulders, and arms that looked like they could choke the life out of Gorn. Both the Ferengi wore shabby clothes, and Rax noticed a gaunt look about each of them, which Rax took to mean they weren't exactly getting three square meals a day. Not surprising, if the best they could do was lay in wait to ambush people as down on their luck as Raxl Dreyton.
 Most interesting of all, though, were the phasers clenched tightly in each Ferengi's hand.
 "Gentlemen," Rax said, eyeing each of the Ferengi carefully. "I was expecting a lei, maybe some ukulele music."
 The big Ferengi shot an uncertain glance at his partner, but the smaller Ferengi didn't look impressed.
 "Nice ship, hu-mahn," the smaller Ferengi said.
 Rax chuckled. "You pick up that tough-guy talk from a holodeck program or something? My ship's a piece of shit."

"Then you won't mind if we take it," said the smaller Ferengi.
 "If it were up to me, I'd say go ahead and good luck to you," Rax shrugged. "But as it is, I'm afraid I can't do that. She's not paid off yet, if you know what I mean."
 "I don't," the smaller Ferengi said. "The activation codes, please. Or we'll stun you, drag you aboard, and then my friend gets it out of you the hard way."
 "Lot of trouble to go through for an old school bus like this," Rax said, casting a casual glance over his shoulder at the shuttle behind him. "If all you folks need is a ride, my business here shouldn't take me more than a few hours. I'd be happy to give you one."
 "Hu-mahn charity," the smaller Ferengi said, giving Rax a wide smile full of jagged teeth. "We can fly the ship ourselves, after we kill you."
 Rax adjusted the case under his arm; the weight was starting to get to him. "Be reasonable, fellas. I didn't come to this piss-ant backwater to see the sights. I was sent, by someone with more weight to throw around than the three of us put together, much as it pains me to say so. My ship is a piece of shit, but it's *his* piece of shit. You boys run off it with it, he'll find you. And he'll be none too happy about the trouble you've caused him."
 The two Ferengi traded uneasy glances.
 "Sure you don't want to just show me to the nearest bar and let me buy you a drink?" Rax pressed.
 "The case," the smaller Ferengi said, returning his predator's eyes to Rax. "Give it to me."
 Rax's expression hardened. "Now that's definitely not happening."
 "Hand it over, or you die."
 "Alright, kids," Rax frowned. "Those toys you're holding - Starfleet issue. From here, they look like type II. Protonic charge, sarium krellide power cells... probably better than 60 years old, yeah?"
 "They work, hu-mahn," the smaller Ferengi warned.
 Rax laughed. "That what the guy who sold 'em to you say? You ever actually test them out?"
 "Maybe we will today.
 "That's what I thought," said Rax. "Because if you had, you'd have realized sarium krellide cells degrade over time. It's all that charging and recharging, see? Oh, don't get me wrong, she'd still spit like a dragon back in her 40's, but these days? Unless your guy threw in a couple of fresh power cells, you'd be better off throwing rocks."
 The two Ferengi traded glances again. Rax pulled his own weapon, with an easy smoothness developed through hours of practicing in front of a full-length mirror. By the time the Ferengi looked back, they found themselves staring down the barrel.
 "Now this here," Rax said, "ain't no antique. Thoron-based energy core. New energy cell. Freshly charged. Built this century, too. Puts a hole in a person you could pitch a baseball through. You know what baseball is?"
 Rax doubted if they did, but it was a moot point. The Ferengi traded another glance, then the smaller one looked back.
 "Two of us, one of you," he said. "You don't look that fast."
 "Breakfast's the most important meal of the day," Rax shrugged. "I'm guessing neither of you have had much to eat in, what, two days? Three? I'm fast enough for a couple of half-starved vultures. And that's assuming your guns do anything but give me a nice tan."
 Once more, the Ferengi looked away from Rax to glance uneasily at one another. Rax pressed his advantage.
 "So what's it going to be, fellas?" he asked. "I didn't come here to ruin anyone's day, but I hope you understand I'm ready to. If it comes to that."
 The big Ferengi lowered his phaser first. Without his muscle, the smaller Ferengi gave in too.
 "Good choice," Rax smiled. "Now be a couple of sports and toss those pea-shooters over here, yeah?"
 "You said they wouldn't work," the smaller Ferengi said.
 "I did," Rax nodded. "And you bought it, 'cause you're stupid. And you better believe I'm fast enough to plug two idiots who don't even have their guns pointed in my direction, so lose the phasers."
 The smaller Ferengi scowled, but obeyed, tossing his phaser off to the side. The bigger Ferengi, who up this point seemed to have only followed about 60% of the conversation, followed his partner's lead.
 "Good," Rax nodded. "Hope you understand if I retract my earlier offer of a ride. You seem like a couple of backseat drivers. No offense."
 The smaller Ferengi emitted a low growl, but gave no other reply.
 Rax gestured with his disruptor. "Now run along."
 Reluctantly, the two Ferengi turned and started to retreat from the pad. Rax watched them go, not lowering his own weapon on the off chance either of them were possessed by a sudden fit of foolish pique. They had almost cleared the landing pad when a thought suddenly crossed Raxl's mind.
 The two Ferengi turned.
 "What now, hu-mahn?" the smaller one hissed.
 "You're locals," Rax said. "Keep track of what ships come and go, right?"
 The scrawny Ferengi narrowed his eyes. "Maybe we do."
 Rax nodded. "Good. I'm looking for someone."
 The two Ferengi exchanged another glance. Then the smaller one smiled again. "Information costs, hu-mahn."
 "And before you made me pull a gun on you, I might have paid," Rax growled. "As it stands, you getting to walk away from me constitutes payment."
 The smaller Ferengi's smile faded. "What do you want to know."
 "Looking for a ship, would have landed in the last few days," Rax said. "Either of you ever heard of the Annabelle's Lament?"
 NRPG: Mira V, also known as Dytallix B, is the planet where Picard goes to have the secret meeting at the start of the TNG episode with those weird mouth-parasite creatures that try to take over Starfleet. Special thanks to the "Star Trek: The Next Generation - Planets of the UFP" sourcebook for details on that world. Also, have to credit the "Star Trek: The Next Generation - Technical Manual" for information on the power cells of Type II phasers. If you're wondering; yes, I packed both of those books (and another Star Trek sourcebook besides) with me when I moved to Korea.
 Shawn Putnam
 Raxl Dreyton
 Disgruntled Employee


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