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Posted on Jul 24, 2019 @ 11:24pm by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Jul 24, 2019 @ 11:25pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire


(Continued from “Meeting With J’hora”)


Location: TX01-V A
Scene: Marketplace
Stardate: [2.19] 0721.1424

Eve took a careful breath as the four of them moved through the bazaar. She was trying her best to keep her heart rate steady and unassuming. The Counselor didn't want to alarm the new CMO into beaming down in the middle of an already difficult situation.

"Of all the planetoids in all the worlds of the Federation, why did you have to walk into mine?"

Jo glared at him. It was obvious she didn't appreciate his waxing poetic. "I was already here, Heck. How many left hooks to the skull have you taken since we split up?"

"Not enough to forget you," he shot back.

“I... am unforgettable,” she replied with mock arrogance.

“We’ll always have the Starbase.”

“I wish we were there now.”

“That almost sounded... civil.”

“I was thinking with delight about the many airlocks they have. Very convenient for pushing people out of.”

“And if you don’t shut it, I’ll be doing the pushing for ALL of you,” Stann growled, lest they forget who was running the show. “Keep moving.”

Despite Heck and Joanna's bickering, Eve wasn't entirely unhappy with their ‘meeting’ with Stann. It had been her goal to bring the hulking Orion man closer; and the obvious complications that her wish brought with it were understandable, even if they were also highly inconvenient. “Can I ask where we are going?” The only thing that Eve could tell was that they were headed west.

He grunted. “You can ask, but I’m not telling you.”

“Why do you not want us to speak with J’hora?”

At the mention of the Klingoness’ name, a flicker of recognition played across Stann’s face, but it was impossible to tell how he was acquainted with the woman. “That is not your concern.”

“You’re wrong. We’re only trying to recover stolen property, not disrupt whatever it is the citizens here are doing.”

“Your presence here is a disruption.” Eve took her focus off of Stannisauk for a moment to watch the merchants and customers they were walking past. Most of the spectators either turned away when they saw the mismatched group approach, or stared at Stann with a healthy respect. She guessed that nearly everyone in the marketplace knew him.

“Are you saying she is the thief? Are you trying to protect her?”

“J’hora does not *need* protection from the likes of Starfleet,” he huffed. “But, if you believe her to be a criminal, why are you so certain her words would be helpful to you?”

“Good point. By the same token, why should I trust you?”

“I don’t want your trust. I want your obedience.” He prodded the weapon into her side as a reminder.

“So, Stannisauk, are you a self-made man? Or do you have a boss?”

Stann actually cracked a smile. “You’ll see.”


Scene: Lair
Time Index: about 30 minutes later

The square building near the western edge of town was small and unassuming. It was made of some sort of clay-like material, and the small, grimy windows were barred with metal and spikes. It would be impossible for anyone to get in or out through them. The front facade didn’t have an opening, at least not a visible one.

“Welcome.” Stann’s voice was snide.

Heck looked at his ex-fiancée. “Have you been here before?”

Joanna shook her head no, her eyes wide.

Stannisauk laughed in a booming bass. “Very few have the misfortune of an audience with Mistress Z.” He directed them towards the right side of the building. About twenty feet back, there was a set of four dusty steps down to a sublevel entrance,a somewhat average looking door that included a peephole.

Stann banged on the door three times, and the peephole slid open. Eve couldn’t see who was watching them, as the other side was ensconced in shadow, but within a couple of seconds the door clicked and opened, allowing them inside. Stannisauk took the rear this time, making Eve go first, then Heck and Joanna.

The interior was dim, but within a few seconds their eyes adjusted to lower light. There was a tall, muscular Andorian on one side of them, and a Breen on the other, mysterious and towering in its protective armor. They both had their respective weapons trained on the group. A raised wooden platform stood a few feet away, with three chairs placed there that appeared to have been woven from wicker or rattan. There was a row of sconces behind the seating, each containing a lit candle.

“Mistress?” Stann called out. “I bring guests.”

The rustle of fabric preceded the woman’s arrival by a few seconds. An Orion woman came from the shadows, wearing a long skirt accented by gold coins and bells sewn into the brown material. She had a cropped ivory blouse and wore a bronze breastplate, her midriff bare and emerald skin glowing. She carried a staff, but it held a small half-moon shaped blade at the top. Her hair was brunette and pulled back in an elaborate braid. She was stunningly beautiful. She ascended to the center chair, while the Breen and Andorian took their places in the seats on either side of her. “I am Zhiva.”

Eve saw her henchman bow their heads, and she did the same. “Mistress Zhiva, I am Eve Dalziel of the USS PHOENIX, This is Hector Solorzano, also of the PHOENIX, and Joanna Masters, an antiquities expert.”

“What brings you here?” Mistress Z demanded.

“Your guy Stann brought us here,” Heck protested. “We were looking for-”

Eve elbowed him. “I think she means why are we here at the marketplace.”

“Correct,” Zhiva replied, moving her staff from one hand to the other. “I am not completely unfamiliar with your ways. I have heard the saying, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’.”

Eve folded her arms. “Well, despite what you may have heard, we aren’t the stick.”

“Oh, no, you misunderstand- that warship of yours is the stick. That’s a lot of power to bring to this part of space if you aren’t intending to use it.”

“You know something else they say, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.”

Zhiva tilted her head in agreement. “I am not a stranger to delicate matters of diplomacy.”

Heck stepped forward. “We are trying to track down the whereabouts of a stolen vessel. The perpetrator was a visitor to this place and we had hoped to gain knowledge of where he went.”

Mistress Z placed the bladed staff across her lap. “Surely the Federation can replace one ship?”

Heck looked a little flustered. They couldn’t tip their hand, especially since they weren’t sure how ‘special’ this ship was. “Well, well we don’t want these people to think we’ve gone soft. Sometimes it’s all about principle.”

While Mister Solorzano had been talking, Eve noticed there was a shape painted on the back wall of the room, in blue, purple, and black. If she wasn’t mistaken, it was the insignia of the Orion Syndicate. “What are your intentions?” she interrupted. “Do you want to harm us?”

“If my intention was to harm you, it would have been done. Just as I am sure you could have used your personal phasers while on the surface, or your ship’s weapons array before your arrival.”

“Mistress, please,” Joanna interjected. “I am not involved in any of this.”

“But those two are friends,” Stannisauk asserted to Zhiva.

“I wouldn’t use that term, exactly,” Heck added.

“Be quiet!” Jo hissed at her former fiancé, then continued her plea. “I admit that I know this man, but I did not invite either of them here or contact them in any way. It was an unfortunate coincidence that they crossed my path.”

Zhiva seemed to take this information in stride, even though she did not confirm if she believed the blonde woman or not. “Are either of you the Commanding Officer of the vessel above?”

“No, Mistress. He is with the ship,” Lieutenant Dalziel replied.

She looked at them disapprovingly, then stood, pacing back and forth in front of her makeshift throne. “I suppose I should have expected your Captain to send his underlings rather than risk coming here himself. Therefore, since you are of little use to me, I will set you free, but I require one thing.”

“What about me?” Joanna wailed.

Mistress Z raised her hand. “Silence, Miss Masters. All in good time.” The Orion woman leveled her gaze at the two officers. “Do you accept my offer?”

Eve shrugged. “It depends, what are your terms?”

“I want you to give him a message.”

Eve and Heck shared a look. “Okay,” Eve agreed. She wasn’t in much of a position not to.

“I understand that you wouldn’t have been brought here without orders of one kind or another. We all have our orders, and someone to answer to, even myself. But I suggest he strongly reconsider the hunt for this lost ship. He may find himself in the middle of a power struggle that he wasn’t bargaining for.”

“A power struggle with who? J’hora? The Syndicate?”

She bristled at the Klingon woman’s name, but held firm. “I am not at liberty to say.”

“What interest would either of them have in a relic of a ship?”

“And I ask again, what is *your* keen interest in a relic, Miss Dalziel? It seems a foolish risk for you to be here.”

Eve avoided the question. “I will advise him of this, but you should know enough about Starfleet Captains to know they don’t relinquish their orders, nor do they back down from a fight.”

“So be it. But don’t say you weren’t warned.”


NRPG: Strong female characters? Check. Intrigue? Check. I’m not sure if Zhiva’s hideout has the same transmission blocking technology as Jasmine and Jake have run into, but it might make for some interesting shipside conversation if it did.

I couldn’t decide what happens to Eve, Heck, and Joanna after this, so I did not include it here.

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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