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Party Favours

Posted on Jul 14, 2019 @ 7:33pm by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jul 14, 2019 @ 7:35pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire

= Party Favors =

(cont’d from “Meanwhile, Back On The Farm…”)


SCENE: Marketplace
STARDATE: [2.19] 0724.2126

The blonde woman’s green eye goggled when she recognized the man standing in front of her.


“No no,” Heck said, wagging a finger at her. “*I’m* surprised to see *you*, Jo. Not the other way around.”

The blonde woman narrowed her eyes. “I think it can work both ways, Heck.”

“I asked you a question,” Heck said, folding his arms. “What are you doing here?”

“I *work* here,” she said. “What are *you* doing here?”

“I’m working too,” Heck said, his tone laced with the kind of pettiness that only a long association soured by contempt could produce.

Before either of them could continue the conversation, Eve Dalziel appeared suddenly at Heck’s elbow. Her expression was polite, but when she spoke, her voice was strained.

“Lieutenant,” she said, speaking through a clenched smile. “Is everything okay?”

“Sorry, ma’am,” Heck said, not turning to look at her. “Just ran into a familiar face. You know, I never in a million years thought--”

“Because you’re speaking very loudly and it’s drawing attention,” Eve interrupted, her expression still polite.

The blonde woman looked at Eve, then back at Heck. “What’s going on, Hector?”

Heck ignored the question and looked at Eve. “Any sign of our friend?”

Eve risked a brief glance around the marketplace, managing to make it look almost casual. The eyes of proprietors and customers alike had, a moment before, all been fixed on Lt. Solorzano and his green-eyed acquaintance, but now that the escalation of their confrontation appeared to have halted, they all had apparently gone back to their usual business. She looked back at Heck.

“Not yet,” she said. “I’m hoping you’re little row didn’t scare him off. You want to introduce me to your friend?”

“I wouldn’t say I’m his friend,” the woman frowned.

“Lt. Dalziel, meet Joanna Masters,” Heck said, turning back to the blonde woman with an accusatory stare. “Con artist, fraudster, and thief.”

“I prefer ‘antiquities dealer’,” Joanna Masters scowled.

Eve quickly appraised Masters. She was roughly Eve’s height, with side-swept blonde hair that fell to just above her shoulders. Her prominent cheekbones and tiny, upturned nose lent an almost cherubic quality to her features, but something in the way her eyes narrowed as she noticed Eve’s regard made her look suspicious. And then there was body language between her and Lt. Solorzano; Eve didn’t have to be trained in psychology to tell there was a connection here that went beyond passing acquaintance.

Eve hazarded a guess. “Ex-wife?”

Solorzano and Masters stopped simultaneously. They looked at Eve, at each other, then back at Eve.

“Wow,” said Heck.

“That was really close,” Masters said.

“She’s my ex-fiance,” Heck said.

“Well mazel tov, because I think you’d be terrible together,” Eve said. “You still haven’t answered Lt. Solorzano’s question, Ms. Masters. What’s an antiquities dealer doing working a kiosk on the Bazaar?”

“I don’t have to answer that,” Masters said. “This isn’t Federation territory. And anyway, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Save it, Jo,” Heck said. “You really expect me to believe it’s just a coincidence running into you here?”

“I don’t care what you think, Hector,” Master said. “Obviously you weren’t here looking for me, and of course you aren’t because I haven’t *done* anything wrong, and even if I *had*, Starfleet can’t just send goons to come and arrest people outside of their jurisdiction. So I don’t know what it is that brought you here, but it’s got nothing to do with me, so I think you and your Starfleet friends should just clear out of here right now, got it?”

Before anyone could reply, a large green hand clamped down hard on Heck’s shoulder. Eve started to turn, but stopped when she felt what seemed very much to be the business end of a phaser pressing roughly into her ribs. She inclined her head slightly, enough to see the familiar face, as well as the twisting pink scar running down one cheek, of their pursuer.

“Stannisauk, I presume,” Eve said, being very careful to keep her hands where the Orion could see them.

Stann’s attention didn’t seem to be on Eve or Heck. Instead, his gaze was fixed on Masters.

“You promised our employers there would be no more Starfleet interference,” the burly Orion growled. “Yet here you are again, speaking with them.”

“Oh,” Masters said, her eyes flicking rapidly between Stann and Heck. “I, uh… that is…. Hi. Stann, hello. I just…”

“All of you are coming with me,” Stann said. “Now.”

“You know, Stann, we were just looking for you,” said Eve.

“Quiet,” Stann said. For emphasis, he pushed the tip of the phaser deeper into Eve’s ribs. Eve winced. “Move.”

“Let’s all go with the nice man, shall we?” Eve said.

Stann signalled for Masters to step out from behind the kiosk. Then, still holding Heck’s shoulder and still pressing the phaser into Eve’s side, he began to march them through the twisting aisles of the marketplace. As they walked, even under duress, Eve noticed how naturally Masters fell into step beside Heck.

Heck turned his head slightly to look at the blonde woman. “Nothing to do with you, huh?”

“Oh shut up,” Masters grumbled.


SCENE: “Yrglom’s Emporium”, elsewhere in the marketplace

The shop was built inside a large canvas tent. As they parted the flap and stepped inside, they immediately noticed that the interior was festooned with thick rows of shelves and free-standing displays, featuring exotic looking items from what appeared to be at least a hundred different cultures. Jake was no expert on alien artifacts - or artifacts in general, as a matter of fact - but it looked like the shop catered mainly to those with an interest in such things. Much of the merchandise seemed to be figurines carved from exotic stones, old and yellowing scrolls bound with rings of tarnished metal, and what appeared to be either ancient weaponry or ancient marital aids, depending on the divergent physiologies of each object’s target species. The entire shop was lit with a series of lanterns that burned with an infernal red light, and even through the intranasal oxygen tube clipped to his face, Jake could smell a thick cloud of incense.

As they stepped through the flap and into the tent, Jake turned to look at Lieutenant Yu behind him.

“I’m getting a really strong ‘Mogwai’ vibe from this place.”

Yu quirked an eyebrow at him. “Sir?”


Their path forward was suddenly blocked by a hulking humanoid form, with two pinpricks of glowing yellowed set at the center of what appeared to be the creature’s head. The red light of the emporium cast the figure in shadow, making positive identification of the creature’s species difficult, but the telltale sibilant hissing the dark shape emitted was enough for Jake and Jasmine to conclude that what was standing in their way was an enormous Gorn.

“Don’t mind S’kahr,” came a thickly accented voice from somewhere far at the back of the canvas tent. “We have a strict ‘no weapons’ policy here. He only wants you to hand over your sidearms, if you please.”

Jake and Jasmine exchanged a glance. Only a few paces in front of them, S’kahr, the massive Gorn, hissed again as his yellow predator’s eyes shone in the red light of the tent.

“I must insist,” the voice from the back of the tent said. “Otherwise, you can take your business elsewhere.”

“It’s okay, lieutenant,” Jake said, removing his phaser and offering it to the Gorn, handle first. Jasmine didn’t look too pleased at the idea, but after a moment’s hesitation, she followed suit. The Gorn snatched the phasers away in a pair of huge, scaly claws before clipping them to its belt. Then, with a final rumbling hiss, S’kahr stepped to one side, making room for Jake and Jasmine to move past him. The closely packed shelves and the Gorn’s barrel chest combined to make the squeeze a tight one, but after a moment of careful navigation, Jake and Jasmine found themselves standing in front of a small desk set at the rear of the emporium.

The desk was festooned with objects of various shapes and sizes, none of which Jake recognized. Seated behind it was a small humanoid figure, with brownish-gray skin, no hair, and long, rounded ears set at the sides of an incredibly wrinkled face.

“Good evening,” the old Yridian said. He smiled and revealed a row of uneven yellow teeth. “What brings you to my emporium?”

“We’re looking for someone named Yrglom,” Jasmine said. “The sign outside says this is his shop.”

“You’ve found him,” Yrglom said. “I’m afraid I’m not for sale, but everything else here is. For the right price.”

“Actually,” Jake said, “we were hoping to ask you for a favor.”

“Ah.” Yrglom’s eyes shifted subtly, from looking at Jake and Jasmine to looking past them, up and above their shoulders. The two Starfleet officers turned, and saw that S’kahr had followed them up the aisle and was standing only a few paces behind them. The Gorn’s massive shape was effectively barring their only obvious exit from the tent.

“I’m not in the habit of doing favors,” Yrglom continued. “I operate on a strict ‘cash for goods’ basis. This business of favors, it can get very messy, keeping track of who owes what, how they can pay it back… I have enough trouble managing my own inventory to worry about intangibles like favors.”

“Strange,” Jasmine said. “We were told you could help us. We need an invite to one of the private clubs in the eastern part of the colony.”

“We’ve heard it’s very exclusive,” Jake said.

“I know it,” Yrglom said. “There are cheaper places on the Bazaar to drink. Cheaper places to find a little privacy too, if that’s what you’re after.”

Jake and Jasmine exchanged another glance, then looked back at Yrglom.

“We have our hearts set on this particular place,” Jake said.

“Ah,” Yrglom nodded. “Hoping to meet someone, eh? A Klingon, perhaps?”

Jasmine quirked her eyebrow again. “You know her?”

“J’hora, yes,” Yrglom said. “I don’t like her. She has no taste. But we maintain a level of professional courtesy.”

“Well, it’s very important that we speak with her,” Jake said. “We’d like you to get us access to that club.”

“Ah,” Yrglom said again. “And why would I do that?”

“Make us an offer,” Jasmine said. “We have access to Starfleet-grade replicators. Nothing weapons-grade, of course, but surely there must be something--”

“It’s a tempting offer,” Yrglom said, holding up a four-fingered hand to stop her. “But there are other considerations. You’ve been noticed, by people very keen to keep you and J’hora apart. These people, they take certain steps to ensure the smooth operation of my business, so I am in no position to deny them.”

“That’s a shame,” Jake said. “I guess we’ll have to look elsewhere.”

“You misunderstand me,” Yrglom said. “They don’t want you to leave my tent alive. I would have preferred to do it elsewhere, but they’ve promised they will compensate me for any of my stock that is damaged.”

“You can’t be serious,” Jasmine said. “There’s a Federation starship in orbit above this moon. Even if you got rid of us, they’d only send more.”

“True,” Yrglom said. “But I have signal scramblers set up around the perimeter of my emporium. They won’t be able to trace you here, and I have assurances there will be no traces left for any of your colleagues to find. It’s an inconvenience, but sometimes that’s the cost of doing business.”

“You sure we can’t talk you out of this?” Jake asked. “It would be much simpler if you just helped us out.”

“You seem nice,” Yrglom said. “But I’m afraid there’s no going back.”

Jake sighed. He glanced at Jasmine. “Whenever you’re ready, lieutenant.”

Jasmine reached up and slapped her comm-badge once. There was the familiar “chirrup!” of the badge activating, but in spite of this, Yrglom didn’t look impressed.

“Trying to call your ship for help?” the Yridian merchant asked nonchalantly. “Don’t bother. The signal scramblers prevent any signal from leaving this tent. As I’ve said, they’ll have no way to track you here.”

“Signals can’t *leave* the tent?” Jake asked.

“Yes,” Yrglom said. “That’s what I… said...”

He trailed off when he heard the high-pitched whine that had started to emanate from each of the Stafleet phasers still clipped to S’kahr’s belt. The Gorn looked down at the phasers, then back up at Yrglom.

“Well,” Jake continued. “I guess it’s a good thing we don’t need the signal to leave the tent, isn’t it?”

“What is that?” Yrglom asked. “What’s going on?”

“That,” Jasmine said, “is the sound of a phaser preparing to overload. Two phasers, actually.”

Yrglom’s beady eyes widened. “What?”

“Blame her,” Jake said, hooking a thumb in Jasmine’s direction. “She’s the suspicious type. She wouldn’t let us set one foot in here with some kind of contingency. And well done, too, because just imagine how this conversation might have gone if she hadn’t.”

“I’m very good at my job, sir,” Jasmine said. She kept her hand hovering just above her comm-badge, as if waiting for the order to strike it again.

“Enough!” Yrglom said. ‘S’kahr, take care of them, and get those blasted things outside of here at once!”

“Ah ah ah,” Jake said, even as the Gorn started to move. “I wouldn’t recommend that. See, one more touch on my colleague’s comm-badge, and this moon’s going to have a brand new crater where your shop used to be. Try to move the phasers out of range of the comm signal, and well, let’s just say I hope you aren’t keeping any fireworks behind the counter, dig?”

“You…” Yrglom stammered. “You wouldn’t! You’re Starfleet officers! There are innocent people outside!”

Jake made an exaggerated gesture of putting his finger to his lips. “So I guess we better keep this all between us, huh? Now, all we want is a pass into that club. You help us, we’ll take our little party favors and be on our way. You try anything untoward, and you’re closing up early, understood?”

Yrglom’s eyes narrowed. “You are bluffing.”

“Only one way to find out,” Jake said. “By the way, this offer has a time limit, and judging from the sound of those phasers, we’re getting awfully close to it. Tick, tock, tick, tock…”

“Wait,” Yrglom said. “Wait! I can’t just--”

“Tick tock tick tock,” Jake sped up, as the whine from the phasers got louder and louder.

“Alright!” Yrglom said. He dug around in his desk quickly, then tossed a small medallion to Jake. Jake caught in and looked at it; it was metal, and inscribed all along its outer surface with what appeared to be Klingon lettering.

“Present that the door,” Yrglom said. “They’ll let you in! Just, please, get those weapons out of here!”

“Thanks for your cooperation,” Jake said. He turned, gingerly plucked the two phasers from S’kahr’s belt, and passed one of them to Jasmine. When they were both armed once more, Jake nodded to her. “I think that’s enough, lieutenant.”

Jasmine hit her comm-badge again, and all at once the whine from the phasers died down. S’kahr and Yrglom looked around, confused.

“Bit of comm-badge ventriloquism,” Jake shrugged. “We bounced the comm-signal off your scramblers, routed it through my badge, then back to hers. It’s murder on the ears, but the feedback sure sounds like a phaser overloading, doesn’t it?”

“You… you *were* bluffing,” Yrglom scowled.

“I’m surprised at you, Yrglom,” Jasmine said, as she and Jake started to back out of the tent, keeping their phasers trained on S’kahr. “We’d never do anything to endanger innocent lives. We’re Starfleet officers, after all.”

Then they stepped through the tent flap and were gone.


NRPG: I was going to make this a little longer and have us meet up with J’hora, but Susan left me such an intriguing breadcrumb in her last post that I couldn’t help but take up some time developing it, and I want to make sure everyone has a chance to contribute a little more before we leave the moon for our next destination.


Jake and Jasmine are off to visit J’hora at her exclusive club. Meanwhile, Eve, Heck, and Heck’s ex-fiance Joanna Masters, have been taken prisoner by the Orion beefcake Stannisauk. Where are they being taken, and will they manage a daring escape before they get there? Who is Joanna Masters, and what's her involvement in all of this? What will J’hora reveal to the crew? Who are the people pulling Stannisauk’s strings, and why are they so intent on keeping the Starfleet officers away from J’hora?

Let’s find out!

Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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