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And To The Right

Posted on Jul 07, 2019 @ 6:27pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Jul 07, 2019 @ 6:28pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire

“And To The Right”

(Continued from “To the Left”)


Location: TX01-V A
SD: [2.19]0702.2038
Scene: Marketplace

The packed stalls somehow conveyed an orderly chaos. Every inch of counter space contained a little bit of everything, and yet everything had its own place. It hadn’t taken long for Eve to become convinced that any traveler’s whim could be met at the bazaar. However, the good lead they were looking for might be a little harder to come by.

A petite Ferengi woman was proudly standing behind a table overflowing with textiles. Many of the products were embellished, but even the offerings without embroidery had a texture and sheen that identified them as high quality. “These are beautiful,” Eve said, and she meant it.

“Many thanks, Hew-man, certainly I can interest you in a garment for your off-duty time? A lovely robe perhaps?” The merchant wasn’t wearing any jewelry to speak of, but she had on a flowing shift dress in a soft blue and a coordinating vest that was ecru adorned with tiny blue leaves and bugle beads sewn in. She was basically a walking advertisement. There was another Ferengi female, dressed just as lavishly, assisting what appeared to be a somewhat portly Zakdorn.

“Please. Do you have anything in purple or lavender...Miss Gladyce?” she added after examining the signage overhead, dangling from an awning, which contained the proprietor’s name.

Gladyce beamed. “Let me check the back room, it will just take a moment.” There was a small, dented shipping container behind the table, maybe 8 feet long, that had been converted into a workspace with a window and a door.

“I thought we were looking for information, not a new wardrobe,” Heck quipped.

“I’m not done yet,” Eve murmured.

Before they had a chance to discuss it further, Glaydce returned, carrying a few options. “Here we go. Take a look at these.” There was a dark purple robe with fuschia lace, a pale orchid one with black embroidered flowers, and a dusty plum one with sage green trim and matching embroidery. Eve touched the silky fabric of the third robe. “This is the one. How much?”

“Twenty-five strips of latinum.”

Eve placed the currency on the table. “I won’t even haggle. It’s a deal.” Gladyce wasted no time in taking the money, then beginning to wrap up the purchase into a neat parcel.

The Starfleet officer leaned in. “But... I’d be willing to double it. Are you interested?”

The merchant stopped in her tracks. “You had me at the word ‘double’. What else are you looking for?” the Ferengi asked slyly.

“I’m looking for the whereabouts of a Klingon named J’hora. We’d like very much to meet her. Do you know where she is?”

The Ferengi blanched. “I can’t…” Gladyce’s voice trailed off.

“You can’t, or you won’t?” Lieutenant Solorzano asked pointedly. “We’re only interested in finding who took our transport ship, and hope she and her House might know something.”

“J’hora only makes herself available when it suits her interests,” The shopkeeper said under her breath. “Unless it would benefit her to help you, she would more likely stay out of Federation affairs.”

Heck was getting antsy. “How would she know unless she agreed to see us? We are not against negotiation.”

Eve shushed him. She didn’t want to start a conflict. She placed the money in the palm of the Ferengi’s hand and gently closed it. “This is for your trouble. If you change your mind, we’ll be around.”

“Don’t you think we’re a little conspicuous out here?” Heck asked quietly as they moved to the next stall. Eve wasn’t sure if he was just making small talk, if he was nervous, or if he was concerned. There was the distinct probability it was all three. She’d read his file, and knew he’d gone through a rough patch as far as his career was concerned. But reports were impersonal; interaction was a far better gauge of character. It was a bit of good luck that she was getting that chance so soon after his arrival. For every solid citizen like Lieutenant Yu, who wasn’t a stranger to her office, there were at least a dozen officers who avoided the Counseling department like the plague.

She picked up a badly tarnished brass bell, wondering what its origins were. Her first instinct had been to look for anything that might have come from the modified Luna-class vessel, but it would be far more likely the ship would be in one piece, still operational and under the control of unfriendly forces. Either that, or it was blown so far to kingdom come, there wasn’t any wreckage. “Did you expect us to have a cover story? Alternate identities?”

The aOps grinned affably. “Yeah. Secret Agent stuff.”

She inspected a fried circuit board that looked like it was older than her. “We’re missing an important part of that equation.”

“No Intel agents?”

The Cardassian-born Counselor raised an eyebrow. “Well, no active ones, anyway. But you might want to spend a little time brushing up on the finer details of your new crew when you have a moment. However, that’s not what I was thinking.”

If he had been bothered by Eve’s suggestion, he showed no signs of it. The newly-demoted Lieutenant sidled up to Dalziel, his eyes meeting hers. “What were you thinking?” Obviously he wasn’t the introverted type.

“Besides the fact that you’re very persistent?”

“I didn’t think you noticed.”

Eve smiled. “I was thinking that it’s impossible to play ‘Secret Agent’ when it’s not a secret that we’re here. The PHOENIX isn’t small potatoes and our arrival shortly after the ship’s would have drawn a logical conclusion, regardless of what personas we came up with first. Our best defense is a good offense, and by being here without pretense, we get to own the narrative.”

“When the flagship does something, people notice,” Solorzano said, remembering his talk with Jake when he came aboard.

“Yes. Can’t change it, so we might as well capitalize on it.”

He cast Eve a sidelong glance. “I’m going to take a wild guess and say you might have done this Intel thing before.”

“Give the man a cigar.”

“I’d prefer a good beer. None of that manufactured synthale crap.”

“I’m pretty sure Iphie can manage that.”

“What’s an Iphie?”

“She’s not a what, she’s a who. Head Chef and mixologist at The Vulgar Tribble. Deck 10. Remind me to introduce you later.” Eve scanned ahead as far as she could see, and back the way they came. Of the conglomeration of ethnicities that were present, she hadn’t spotted any Klingons. “Have you seen any Klingons since we arrived?”

“I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”

“According to our sources, J’hora is a big player here. I assumed that might mean a large Klingon presence, entourage, or something. At the very least making her presence known. But it’s like she’s not even here.”

“Maybe we’re being watched from the seclusion of her hidden lair?”

“Well, she has to have a base of operations somewhere on this moon.” Eve looked back the way they came once more, looking for anything or anyone that seemed out of place. Basically, anyone didn’t look like a salesperson or a shopper. She scanned from right to left, and out of the corner of her eye she saw a bulky green-skinned man about fifteen yards behind them. By the time her line of sight could find him, he appeared to duck around one of the kiosks. “Follow me for a sec. I want to test a theory.” She moved to the left side, the outer edge of the ring of merchants, and walked about twenty feet to a perfume and cologne stall, unsurprisingly manned by an elderly Voth couple. Eve took a small decanter and smelled the heady floral scent. “Don’t get nervous.”

“Easy for you to say. About what?”

She placed the packet holding her robe under her arm, grabbed a larger bottle, turned her posture outward, and held the crystalline container it up to the light, all a ruse to look for their unwelcome friend. She saw another flash of him, still on the left, having moved the same amount of distance they had. “I think we’re being followed.”

“By whom?”

“Big Orion guy… looks sort of menacing. He’s not doing a great job at hiding himself as he trails us. Every time we stop, he stops. Look… but don’t be obvious about it.” She pretended to show interest in the bath salts, providing light subterfuge while Heck stood behind her and tried to catch a fleeting glimpse of their pursuer. He finally saw the hulking man trying to look interested about kitchen supplies.

“I don’t like this.”

“Try to relax. He’s not chasing us, he’s following us. There’s a difference.”

“Why don’t we just shoot him?”

“Woah. Slow down, Indiana.”

“I didn’t mean we should kill him… just stun him.”

“We’re the interlopers here. Even pulling a phaser to stun what *might* be a threat to our safety would create an incident that we’re not in a position to overcome. We need the people here more than they need us. Besides, if he had wanted to physically attack, he could have done it twenty minutes ago.”

“What’s his purpose, then?”

“I’m guessing he’s either trying to steer us away from something or toward something. Is he one of J’hora’s henchmen? Is he a member of the Syndicate? Both? Neither?”

Heck shrugged. “Your guesses are as good as mine. What next? Do you want to lure him somewhere and try to interrogate him?”

“There are two of us and one of him,” Eve reasoned. “Unless he has cronies. But I wouldn’t exactly consider us threatening enough, even as a team, to intimidate him.”

“Then we’re back at square one?”

“Not exactly. He’s observing us. But two can play at that game.”


Time Index: 10 minutes later

It was like a ghetto strip mall, of sorts. There were several stalls in a row, all specializing in a different type of accessory, all of them presenting their wares under a large, worn muslin canopy. Even though the market itself was crowded, this part of the space was somewhat sparse by comparison.

Hector Solorzano looked around. “Do you think one of these vendors has any information about J’hora?”

“They might. But I’m not going to ask them about J’hora.” The third stall over was selling some sort of jewelry, including chains and pendants. But it wasn’t the trinkets that she was interested in. The counter man was humanoid, but he had hair that was a unique shade of purplish blue. “I believe that’s a Kotakian,” she thought out loud. Not that she’s ever seen one in the flesh. Their race was known for occupying service industries due to their open and talkative nature.

“What do you mean?”

“We have a finite amount of time for this first sweep of the area. If J’hora is untouchable, I’m going to go farther down the chain of command.”

Eve strode up to the display of bijouterie and Heck followed reluctantly, still not sure what the sable-haired woman was driving at. “Good afternoon. Do you have anything on sale today?”

The presumed Kotakian laughed. “It’s the same line almost every day. Are you looking for a souvenir of your visit? We have some reasonable items in the first case on the right.”

Eve questioned what would be considered reasonable on the arid planetoid, but remembered she wasn’t here for random baubles. She laid 10 slips of latinum on the short counter. “I was wondering if you could help me find someone.”


She put her elbows on the counter and leaned forward. “An Orion man. Tall, green and handsome. Really strong looking. Kinda sexy.”

The jewelry merchant looked curious, but not afraid like Gladyce had been. “Why are you looking for him?”

“We were a little out of our element when we arrived here. He kindly gave us directions, but I neglected to get his name before he slipped away into the crowd. I know us ‘fleet types aren’t the most popular around here, so I wanted to give him a little reward.”

The salesman shook his head ruefully. “That doesn’t sound like the Stannisauk that I know. You must have caught him on a good day, lady.”

“Stannisauk? Is that his first name, or his last name?”

The azure-haired man laughed again. “Nobody knows. A lot of times people call him Stann for short.”

“So, he’s not actually a tour guide? What does a such a strapping, well-built man like that do for a living?”

The Kotakian glanced around. “Let’s just say people don’t go out of their way to meet him. If you see him, it’s usually not good news.”

“Ooh, a bad boy. Now I’m even more intrigued.” She laid another 10 strips down. “If you see him, can you let him know I’m looking for him?”

Her new friend took the money and winked. “Sure thing, sweetheart.”

They walked away. “You laid that on a little thick, didn’t you?” Heck asked

Eve shrugged. “All’s fair in love and espionage. I got a name. It’s a start. I suggest we hit every stall here asking about Stann. She pointed to the right. “I’ll keep heading this way, and you go that way.”

Heck nodded in reluctant agreement. “What if he finds out we’re on to him?”

“That’s sort of what we’re going for. I’m hoping his interest in us becomes more than just being a target. See you in fifteen minutes?”

There were only six more stalls to visit, three for each of them. “Yeah,” he said as they went their separate ways.

Solorzano decided to start on the outside and work his way in. There was a luggage store on the end that had everything from purses to briefcases and backpacks. There was so much inventory that the counter was almost completely obscured. There was also a towering Lurian being helped in his selection of a messenger bag to suit his oversized frame.

When he paid and left, Heck finally saw her, next to the cash box. She had the same side swept blonde hair and green eyes he remembered. Same smile, too.

Before he could think more of it, he walked right up to her, not even remotely playing it cool. “What the hell are *you* doing here?”


NRPG: : A mini-cliffhanger? Yes please!

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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