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Scum And Villainy (Chapter Four)

Posted on Jan 27, 2019 @ 2:29am by Raxl Dreyton
Edited on on Jan 27, 2019 @ 2:29am

Mission: Section 31

= Scum And Villainy, Chapter Four =


LOCATION: Dreyton's Shuttle, docked on MIRA V
SCENE: Interior - Passenger Area
STARDATE: [2.19] 01262022

Rax pulled the hatch open and stepped through, still feeling the steady, deceptive weight of the case under his arm. He stepped into the shuttle, once again feeling a pang of regret at the loss of the BAD WOLF, and made his way over to the small cargo locker. He keyed in the code, and when the locker had slid open he gingerly set the case inside. As he was setting it back in place, he froze . Something - not a noise, no sense of motion, perhaps nothing more than a disruption in the flow of air inside the shuttle's interior - wasn't right. He had the sudden sense that he was not alone inside the shuttle.

The moment of hesitation didn't last long - a second, maybe less. He finished placing the case in the locker, keyed the command to lock it once more, and let his hand drop to his side, next to the phaser hanging at his side. A split-second later, with a smoothness that would have impressed many of the galaxy's mentalists, magicians, and acrobats, Rax had pulled the weapon from its holster even as he had spun on his heel, ready to confront whoever it was that was waiting for him.

He never stood a chance.

It was the eyes - even in the darkened interior of the shuttle, those green eyes seemed to shine, like the eyes of jaguar stalking through a midnight jungle. Rax had just finished his spin, raising his weapon to fire, and yet the proximity of those eyes caused another moment of hesitation, and that was all she needed. In a flash of motion - one that probably would have completely perplexed the galaxy's mentalists, magicians, and acrobats - the figure standing behind Raxl Dreyton had smoothly twisted the phaser out of his hand, swept his arm up into a joint lock, and heaved him up and over so that he landed hard on his back on the deck. Rax clenched his eyes against the pain of the impact, and then kept them closed against what he assumed would be the kill shot.

When that didn't come, he opened them, and managed the most world-weary sigh of what had already turned out to be a rather disappointing day.

"Oh god, not *you*."

Selyara Chen stood over him, her face a mask of polite disinterest. His phaser was pointed at him - not the killing end, but the handle, as if she were offering to help Raxl back to his feet.

"That was quite good," Selyara said. "I take pride in masking my presence, even in close quarters, but you caught on almost right away."

Rax reached for the butt of the phaser, but instead of releasing it into his grip, Selyara used the grip to haul him back up to his feet. Once he was standing, she released the other end of the phaser, and Rax felt a momentary urge to draw it and fire. Only a few steps away, Selyara was watching him, her eyes still flashing in the darkness of the shuttlecraft's interior, and if she held any terror for Raxl's newly armed status, it didn't show. Rax decided that, in spite of his complicated feelings towards the woman, he didn't really want to shoot her - and if he was being honest with himself, he harbored some doubt he could have pulled it off before she'd used one of her "think-strike" things to zap him into a coma - and he lowered the phaser into his holster instead.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Rax said, frowning at her.

"It's nice to see you too," Selyara said. "Can you turn primary systems on? I thought we might have a drink."

"Why didn't you just hack the power system?" Rax asked.

Selyara gave him a smile that almost looked sweet. "That's not the sort of thing friends do to each other, Mr. Dreyton."

Rax frowned. " We ain't friends, lady. Not by a long shot."

Selyara's expression changed. The smile faded, and her eyes actually dropped. If Rax didn't know better, he would have thought what he was seeing bordered somewhere against the actual emotion of guilt, rather than the nearest useful facsimile of it.

"I know I haven't done right by you," Selyara said, still not looking at him. "That's part of why I'm here. Turn on the power, Mr. Dreyton. Please."

Rax wanted to pull his phaser, wanted to run her off the shuttle with the business end of it. But ever since they had met, Selyara had known which of his buttons to push. And while he was aware of this, Rax had also seen what enough of what he felt was the "real" Selyara over the course of their brief association to convince himself that there was something underneath all the calculated dissembling, some remnant of the woman who had once enlisted and served in Starfleet, that might be worth saving. These two aspects of their relationship competed for space in Raxl's mind, and while he still couldn't come up with a definitive answer about how he felt about Selyara Chen, the ambiguity was enough for him to turn to the control panel mounted on the wall and key in the code to reactive the shuttle's power.

"Alright," Rax sighed. "Let's have that drink."


Rax had first met Selyara Chen when he'd been pursuing the bounty on her head. At the time, she had operated under the name Aella Navarron. He had first known her as an employee of the Ferengi crimeboss DaiMon Snek. On their first meeting, she'd been posing as a bath-house girl, and she'd washed Raxl's hair and worked some of tension out of his muscles. It had established something of a precedent for their association, even if he hadn't been aware of it at the time; Selyara would work him over, drip honey in his ears, tell him everything he needed to hear, before leaving him high and dry and with a splitting headache. On Limbo, by the time he had finally gotten wise to the act and realized she was the person he'd been sent to capture all along (and not before she'd manipulated him into sabotaging some of her competition as an information broker), she'd repaid him by beating him unconscious... but leaving him alive.

He thought he'd paid her back when he'd saved her from another hunter, the Neo-Essentialist psychopath Rawyvin Seth, and perhaps that good turn had been what caused her to track him down a few months later. This time, she'd offered him help with a bounty on his own head, put there by a different Ferengi crimelord named Riss. Riss had more pull than Snek, enough that Rax had been harried from one safehouse to the next dodging rival hunters and mercenaries looking to collect. Selyara's offer to help take care of Riss had been a godsend... but it had come with a cost.

It had meant following Selyara to Earth. It had meant helping to overthrow the Neo-Essentialist regime. It had meant ducking assassination attempts by Neo-Essentialist goons, including one particularly nasty scrape with an agent named Mr. Johnson, who nearly killed both Raxl and Starfleet security officer named Jim Barton. It had ended with Selyara telepathically lobotomizing Edgerton before disappearing to begin her takeover of Starfleet's espionage agency, Section 31. That had been the last time Rax had seen her... until now.

"What do you want to drink?" Rax asked her, not looking at her as she settled herself in a seat next to the small table in the shuttle's living area.

"Aldebaran whiskey," Selyara said.

Rax ordered two glasses of the murky green liquor, set one on the table in front of Selyara, and settled in the chair opposite hers, still holding his own glass. He raised it to his lips, savoring the sharp smell, before taking a small sip.

"So," Rax said, clearing his throat and setting the glass down. "What the hell are you doing here?"

"I'll be honest with you," Selyara said.

"That'd be a nice change of pace," Rax snorted.

Selyara ignored this. She flicked her eyes to the still-closed cargo locker mounted in the wall a few meters behind where Rax was sitting. "I'm here for that."

Rax looked at the cargo locker, then back to Selyara. "The case?"

"Do you know what's in it?" Selyara asked, raising her own glass and taking a drink.

"Not exactly," Rax said. "Brak - he's the guy I'm working for on this--"

"I'm the head of Section 31, Mr. Dreyton," Selyara deadpanned. "I know every boss you've *ever* had."

"Right," Rax said. "Anyway, Brak didn't give me any specifics, just instructions on storage and handling. Based on what he told me, I'm guessing it's some kind of bomb."

Selyara's face betrayed no reaction. "A bomb."

"Yeah," Rax said. "Why? What do you know that I don't?"

"I'm not sure we have time to have *that* discussion," Selyara said, her lips quirking in the faintest hint of a smile. "Let's say you're right, that it is a bomb. The Annabelle's Lament is a notorious pirate vessel. You're comfortable passing that kind of a weapon to creature like this Brass character?"

Rax took another sip of green whiskey and did his best to sound nonchalant. "If you know of any church ladies in the market for a bomb, maybe I'll rethink this deal."

"You're dodging the question."

Rax felt a flash of anger, but he did his best to keep it from creeping into his voice. "I ain't exactly got a choice," he said. "I'm dead-broke, lady. I lost my ship, lost my bankroll, and I'm still stuck with a price n my head... one that *you* said you'd take care of, since we're talking about it. I also don't exactly have a big rolodex of friends willing to give me a place to stay when they know that at any moment, some of Riss's hired goons might turn the place into a shooting gallery. So no, I ain't comfortable with it, but you know how this works. If Brass wants a bomb, he'll find someone to sell him a damn bomb. Somebody somewhere's gonna make money off this deal, so it may as well be me."

"No matter who might get hurt when Brass uses it," Selyara said.

"Brass didn't strike me as a brain-trust sort of guy," Rax said. "Anyway, isn't stopping punks like him from carrying out their nefarious schemes your whole job these days?"

"One of them," Selyara said. "Which is why I'm here."

Rax had started to raise his whiskey to his lips again, but his arm froze in mid-air. He looked at her for a moment, and she returned his gaze without blinking. Rax slammed the glass back down to the table.

"No. No way. You're not taking that case."

"You can't stop me from taking it," Selyara said matter-of-factly.

"No?" Rax asked. "Maybe we ought to just see about that."

"If you knew what was inside that case, Dreyton, you'd beg me to take it," Selyara said. "I apologize for any headaches this may cause between you and your employer, but there's no scenario where I can allow Brass to get his hands on it. Or anyone else, for that matter."

Rax sighed. "Why me? Why do you gotta keep popping in a screwing my life up, huh? I'd have been more than happy to steer clear of you after Limbo, but then you come along and drag me into that mess on Earth, and now this."

Selyara considered this. "Which answer would you like to hear?"

"How about the truth?"

Selyara took another drink. "The truth exists somewhere between all of them. The truth is, you've been very useful to me in the past, and I believe you may continue to be useful to me in the future. The truth is that if you hadn't wound up with that case in your possession, I wouldn't be here. But the truth is also that I like you, Mr. Dreyton. I even respect you."

"Oh yeah," Rax said, rolling his eyes. "Here's me, feeling all kinds of respected."

"After the fall of Edgerton's regime, the galaxy needed to be stitched back together," Selyara said. "There were things I had to do, things more important than my debt to you. But I haven't forgotten what I promised you. I will help you deal with Riss."

"But first, you gotta take that case," Rax said. "And probably leave me with a brand new price on my head from Brak *and* Brass."

"I appreciate your situation," Selyara said. "Which is why I'm here."

"My 'situation' *is* that you're here," Rax grumbled.

"If all I wanted was that case, I wouldn't have come myself," said Selyara. "I have plenty of skilled agents in my employ who could have relieved you of it before you passed it along to Brass. I'm here for you as much as I am for it."

"Fine," Rax said. "So what do you want with me?"

Selyara lips spread slowly into a smile. "I'd like to offer you a job."

A moment of silence hung in the air between them. Then Rax started to laugh, loud belly laughter, so hard that he felt his eyes starting to water. Selyara watched him, her expression unchanged, until he'd calmed down enough to force out a question in between chortles.

"You... want me... to be a secret agent?"

"Asset, more so than agent," Selyara shrugged. "But... yes. More or less."

"Forget it," Rax said, his laughter starting to die down. "I'm not the espionage type, Chen."

"I admit, you don't blend in with a crowd," Selyara said. "I wouldn't expect you to operate under an assumed identity. That isn't where you'd be most useful. No, I want you exactly as you are, Mr. Dreyton, rough edges and all."


"Section 31 belonged to Edgerton," Selyara said. "He used it to come to power. Almost all of its operations, all of its agents, were corrupt. When his regime fell, I had to burn down Section 31 with it, so that I could it back up into the kind of organization that the Federation needs. That meant destroying much of its existing infrastructure and... liquidating... a lot of its contacts. I've managed to build it into a formidable intelligence agency in the years since Edgerton's death, but there are many areas of the galaxy over which I cannot exert enough oversight. Circles that I cannot travel in, and which are hostile to attempts to insert newcomers."

"You're talking about the criminal organizations," Rax said.

"Exactly, among others," Selyara said. "On a long enough timeline, I could infiltrate these areas as well, but it would require a great of patience, not to mention some trial and error. And it would take much longer than I am prepared accept. Take this situation, with Brass. If Section 31 hadn't been monitoring the transit of stolen prototypes from Edgerton's era, we might never have caught wind of it, and Brass could have wound up with a remarkably dangerous weapon in his possession. As it stands now, I'm still not even certain what he intends to use it for."

"What's any of that got to do with me?" Rax asked. "I'm not exactly a favorite son among the galaxy's scum and villainy set."

"No, but you do know them," Selyara said. "Or most of them, anyway. And even the ones you don't know will be aware of your reputation, or able to verify it through their other contacts. Put simply, you're a known quantity. They may not like you, but they can be incentivized to work with you, if they believe it would benefit them to do so."

"And then what?" Rax asked. "I help you throw all of them in jail, is that is?"

Now Selyara laughed. "Of course not. Don't be dense. The various criminal empires are far too useful for me to simply discard them. And anyway, even if we did eliminate one, another would simply appear to take its place. It's unfortunate, but I think we both know it's true. No, much better to use them... and, where needed, step in to thwart their more inconvenient machinations."

"Yeah, assuming they don't 'thwart' me in the process." Rax drummed his fingers absentmindedly on the tabletop. "Say I agree to stick my neck out for you. What's in this for me?"

"Besides making the galaxy a safer, more stable place?" Selyara asked. "A steady paycheck, for one thing. Access to support, equipment. You wouldn't even have to give up your work as a bounty hunter... in fact, it would be preferable if you didn't. But you wouldn't have to feel all alone anymore."

"And Riss?"

Selyara finished her glass. "We'd deal with him."

"You've said that before," Rax said. "I'm still waiting."

"Priorities," Selyara said, standing. "Think about it, Mr. Dreyton. I'll be in touch. But for now, I need to see about that case. It would be much simpler if you'd open the locker for me."

Rax considered telling her to go to hell, but decided against it. She probably could have taken it from him whether he wanted her to or not - their one brief tussle on LIMBO had proved her to be a skilled fighter in close-quarters - and he couldn't deny that he was more than half tempted by her offer. Running jobs with Brak for pennies on the dollar wasn't going to dig him out of the hole he was in anytime soon, and he had to admit that helping folks like Brass lay their hands on dangerous weaponry left a pretty sour taste in his mouth. Working for Selyara Chen would be dangerous, of course, but the life he was living *now* was dangerous, and came without any of the fringe benefits.

So Rax stood and made his way over to the locker. He keyed in the code, and the locker slid aside.

"Thank you," Selyara said. She reached in and withdrew the case. "Think about my offer, Mr. Dreyton. I think you could do a lot of good."

"Yeah, well..." Rax said. "Maybe we'll--"

He stopped. He thought he'd heard something, outside the shuttle's entry hatch. Selyara had heard it too; her head whipped towards the hatch even more quickly than Raxl's had.

"Did you bring any backup?" Rax started to say.

He never got the chance to finish.

The shuttle hatch exploded inward, with enough force to propel both Rax and Selyara through the air to slam hard into the bulkhead behind them. The case dropped from Selyara's hand and clattered loudly to the floor. Smoke filled the interior of the ship, making it hard for Rax to see and breathe, but as he shook the cobwebs out of his head, he thought he could make out three forms stepping through the newly-blasted hole in the side of the shuttle. They were all holding phasers, trained on both Rax and Selyara.

Rax looked at Selyara, saw that she was measuring the situation, trying to decide if she could surprise them with a bum-rush and get one of their phasers away from them. He watched as she ran the calculation inside her head, and decided that it wasn't a fight she was likely to win. Then, almost like magic, her whole demeanor changed. Her expression twisted into confusion and fear, and she huddled up against the bulkhead, as if trying to put as much distance between her and the invaders as possible.

The smoke was starting to clear now, enough so that Rax could recognize one of their attackers. His face twisted into a scowl.


"Sorry about your ship, hu-mahn," the Ferengi grinned at him. "I'd offer to buy you another with the money I'll make from collecting the price on your head, but I'm afraid you wouldn't be around to enjoy it."

"I don't know what the hell you're talking about," Rax spat.

"No good lying to me," Brass said. "I know all about you and Riss. About how you stole his fiancé away from him. He killed her for it, did you know that?"

"Yeah," Rax said. "I heard."

"A shame," Brass said. "She was very lovely. It broke his heart to do it. I think he'll make you pay for that before he finally kills you."

"Rax," Selyara said, turning her wide eyes on him, then looking back at Brass. "Wh-what's going on?"

"Picked up a little sport to pass the time, I see," Brass said, looking over at Selyara. "She's very lovely too. Where did he find a woman like you on a rock like this?"

"Please," Selyara said, her voice trembling. "Let me go! I wasn't... I don't... he and I just met a few hours ago!"

"You picked the wrong the man to go home with, lovely," Brass sneered. "I'm afraid you'll have to come with us. Don't worry; if you're entertaining enough, we might decide to keep you around for awhile."

"No!" Selyara wailed.

Rax thought she was hamming it up a little, but he knew that if she could get Brass to step close enough to touch him, she could use one of her thinkstrikes to knock the Ferengi out. That might buy them enough of an opening to deal with the rest of his goons.

"Let her go," Rax said, deciding to play along. "She ain't got nothing to do with this!"

"I didn't bring her here," Brass said. "Whatever happens to her is on you, Dreyton."

"You son of a bitch," Rax growled.

Brass looked like he was about to reply, but a voice from outside the ship stopped him. Strangely enough, it was a voice that Rax thought he recognized.

"Brass. Stop fucking around and get the case."

Brass turned and watched as another figure stepped into the shuttle. He was six feet tall, and was dressed in the practical, comfortable clothes of a spacer. He had a phaser too, but it was hanging at his side rather than in his hand. He had a few day's worth of beard stubble, and an eye-patch covering his left eye... but even with these things, Rax recognized him at once. His eyes widened.

"Jake?" he asked.

The newcomer, Jake Crichton, turned to look at him, but there was no hint of recognition in his face.

"Not the one you're thinking of," he said. Then he turned back to Brass. "Where's the case, Brass?"

"Over there," Brass said, nodding his head in the direction where the case had fallen.

"Good," said Crichton. Then shoot them both and let's get out of here."

Brass frowned. "*You're* not in charge here, Crichton."

The one-eyed Crichton sighed. "Sure. Fine. What should we do, boss? Stand here with our thumbs up our asses, or collect the case and the bounty and go get ourselves paid?"

Brass growled, but he turned to one of the other thugs. "You. Grab the case."

The thug moved towards it... not too far from where Selyara lay, pretending to cower on the deck. Raxl tried not to watch too intently, waited for him to get close enough for Selyara to reach out.

But then the sound of a phaser cut through tension. The beam struck Selyara in the chest, knocking her back against the bulkhead again. She slid senselessly to the floor, unconscious. Rax started to cry out, but before he could say anything, Brass had turned, pointed the weapon at him, and fired again.

The world went black.


NRPG: Now we know why these have been posted under the Section 31 setting! ;-)

Shawn Putnam
Raxl Dreyton
Possible Section 31 Asset?


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