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Wheeling And Dealing

Posted on Aug 24, 2019 @ 7:09pm by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Aug 24, 2019 @ 7:09pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire

"Wheeling and Dealing"

(Cont. "Finding answers")

* * *

Stardate: 2.18.0824.1203
Scene: Eve's office

"I should have known better than to trust a man in uniform," Masters said, looking pointedly at Hector. He half rose from his chair and began to squawk out a muffled protest which died on his lips as Kassandra walked over and let a heavy hand drop to his shoulder, pushing him back down. He jumped slightly and turned to look at her. She gave a sharp decisive shake of her head, and kept her hand firmly pressing him down into his seat. She could tell he was getting agitated. He was the sort that wore his emotions on his sleeve, and their 'guest' knew this. Masters didn't want to answer any more questions, and she was trying to cause a scene, get a rise out of him, to distract them from asking her questions. It would have worked as well. Domestic disputes and messy breakups made it difficult for people to keep a clear head and Kassandra was sure if she hadn't intervened, it would likely have turned into a verbal sparring match.

"Take a walk, Solórzano," Kass said gruffly. "She's chummin' the waters an' you're takin' the bait. Calm down, clear your head, and come back when you kin ignore her needlin'."

Kassandra lifted her hand and allowed him to vacate his chair, looking supremely unhappy as he did so. Kassandra waited until the door closed before sitting down in Hector's still warm seat. She 'locked eyes' with Masters but said nothing, waiting for the other woman to speak. Eve, aware of the game Kassandra was playing let the silence stretch on, with Masters becoming more uncomfortable by the minute, squirming under Kassandra's gaze.

"So, what, are you going to play bad cop now?" Masters finaly asked, trying to hide her discomfort under bravado in a display that might have been convincing, had Kassandra's sensor nets not been able to pick up the surging adrenaline and elevated heart rate.

"Don't be stupid. If I were here to play bad cop I woulda sent Lieutenant Dalziel out too, no witnesses, like. 'Sides, I promised the Lieutenant I wouldn't break her table. No, I'm here being the practical one. Ain't got the time to sit around waitin' as they try to sweet talk you an' woo you an' ask you nicely. Seems to me you're a sensible woman, an' a sensible woman knows a good deal when she hears it, an' I'm sure we can make a good deal which leaves both parties happy.

"I'm listening," Masters said, her tone skeptical, and eyes narrowed. Kassandra leaned forward and 'met' her gaze.

"You want out of here, right? Well you're currently sittin' on one giant-ass way out." Kassandra held one hand up to forstall Masters' objections. "You don't trust us? Fine. As you kin tell, I'm from Sherman's Planet. There's quite a bit a trade comin' in here from there. I kin pull some strings an' get you out on one of the tradin' vessels. An' you know Shermaners are an' honest lot, they ain't gonna cheat you, an' if they say they're gonna do somethin', they'll always honor it."

"That's because they aren't smart or creative enough to cheat," Masters snorted derisively.

"Watch it missy," Kassandra stood up and thumped her hands down on the desk. Eve winced in sympathy for the piece of furniture. "You get that one for free cos I ain't warned you 'bout that yet, but I'm warnin' you now: Ain' no one talkin' shit about Sherman's planet 'cept me. Got that?"

"Fine, I'll consider myself warned," Masters said sardonically. "So, in exchange for passage out of here, what exactly do I have to give you?"

Kassandra sat back down, bridling slightly at the tone of Masters' voice. She decided she didn't like the woman one bit, and couldn't see what Hector had seen in her. Maybe she'd been less cynical, less snide before, but two years in the wilds had clearly taken their toll. Kassandra glanced sideways at Eve, trying to indicate it was her turn to take over.

"We want you to set us up with the same contacts you set Book up with, request a meeting so we can begin to trace the path he took once he left the station," Eve said, lacing her fingers and resting her ching on the back of them. Kassandra shifted slightly.

"Not just that," she interjected. "We're going to need you to come with us. We need a guide, we don't know anything about the politics, places, and the who's who 'round here, an' even if you don't know much, it's still more'n we know. We're basically flyin' blind here, and that ain't a way I like flyin'."

Masters' eyebrows flew upwards and she spluttered incredulously.

"You have got to be kidding me. That's not a good deal. That's not even close to a fair trade. Leaving aside the implications of you even coming here in this overpowered piece of over-compensation, you're seriously asking me to come with you as you encroach on putative Syndicate territory in a warship, *then* be seen by all my contacts hanging around with the Federation's finest, when ninety percent of them are here to escape precisely that, and for all of that, all you're going to offer me is a ride out of here? Are you joking? That's not an offer, that's an insult."

"When you put it that way..." Kassandra muttered to eve under her breath. Eve looked slightly worried, wondering if Kassandra had overplayed their hand here. Kassandra's mind raced as she tried to think what could be used to salvage the situation, what they had, beyond a ride out of there that could be used to entice Masters. Suddenly a distant and half forgotten memory of a cargo berth full of gold pressed latinum resolved itself into crisp, clear focus. "We would of course be willing to compensate you. Your regular rates, plus of course whatever *reasonable* multipliers you think are appropriate for hazard pay, and a healthy bonus upon completion. And of course, we'll roll out the red carpet here, and put you in the VIP suite."

"Or if you prefer," Eve interjected sweetly, her lips set in a pleasant smile, "we could always run a background check on you. It's pretty standard for any visitors to the ship. Of course, if there are any outstanding warrants for you, as I'm sure there are, we would have to do our duty and remand you to the brig to be dropped off to the Federation Authorities as soon as we return."

Kassandra nearly choked in surprise, and it took all of her self control not to openly goggle at Eve, jaw agape like a fish. The Machiavellian and slightly cruel move was not something she had expected from her friend at all. Masters glanced warily between the two of them, before her face finally sank into a resigned tiredness.

"It doesn't exactly sound like I have a choice," Masters said bitterly. At that moment, the doors hissed open, and Hector returned. Her eyes fixed on him, bright and resentful, and Kassandra could tell that the poor man was about to fall victim to Masters' need to reassert some semblance of power and control. "Fine, but if I'm going to be given the VIP treatment, I expect an attendant to take care of anything I need, just like you would for a Diplomat or something, and I don't want some low level Yeoman. No, *HE*" she stabbed her finger in Hector's direction, "Is going to have to be at my beck and call. I want to go to my suite now. I'll get back to you on exact numbers after I've settled in."

Hector looked around the room with wrinkled brow, clearly wondering what on earth he had just missed, and less than happy about having to be his ex's dogsbody. He looked at Eve and Kassandra a plea evident on his face, but apparently didn't find enough sympathy there. He sighed, shoulders slumping in defeat.

"That sounds good. Heck, would you please take Ms. Masters to the VIP suite and make sure that everything is set up to her liking?" Even asked, getting to her feet. Kassandra followed suite.

"Nothing is ever to her liking," Hector muttered under his breath, but he stood politely by the door and waved it open for the woman, who flounced out, her pique evident.

Eve waited until the door closed, then she turned to Kassandra, a frown on her face.

"Kass, just where are you planning to get enough gold pressed latinum to pay the no doubt outrageous price she's going to quote us? It's not exactly like we can just whip it up in the replicator. I don't like her much either, but we can't just go around lying to people, and making promises we can't keep."

"If you want to talk about underhanded tactics, let's talk about that power move you just made back there. That was cold, a total 'offer you can't refuse' situation," Kass grinned at Eve.

"I had to give her a reason to take that deal. She wanted to take it, but her pride and general stubbornness was holding her back. She needed a push so she could tell herself she was forced into doing it, even though it's what she really wanted. But stop trying to distract me. How exactly do you propose to get ahold of this latinum?"

"Think back, several years ago to Limbo, and our fearless ExO's foray into the world of high stakes heists..." Kassandra grinned. "It's still sitting in our cargo."

Eve's eyes flickered with recognition, and she nodded.

"Even so, Kass, you just promised quite a lot. I'm glad we're getting what we need, but maybe you should have talked to the Captain first, before you made a deal that big?"

Kassandra wrinkled her nose and smacked her forehead slightly.

"You're right as usual. I just got so intent on gettin' the job done, an' it's not like anyone's ever touched the blasted stuff, heck I'd forgotten about it until just that moment, so it didn't even occur to me that I wouldn't be able t' offer it up. No worries, I'll go find the Captain an' bring him up to speed. He'll be the one to accept or reject her askin' price anyway."
* * *

Scene: Captain's ready room

"Cap'n" Kassandra knocked on the door frame as the door hissed open before she entered. Kane looked up, and motioned her in. He set down his PADD, a boring report on the fuel injection systems, and the recent cleaning that had occurred. Kassandra shuddered. She wouldn't want to be a Captain. Day after day reading boring reports on boring parts of the ship that literally no one except the technician in charge of servicing them gave a damn about as long as it kept functioning. Still, at least Kane seemed to read the reports. She'd had dozens of CO's in her time that probably never looked at the reports, making the time spent writing them seem like a boring waste of time that would have been best left up to the computer to write an automated report. "Got time for a word?"

"I might even have time for two of three," Kane said, his face deadpan. Kassandra narrowed her eyes at him. It was a horrible joke, a dad joke. He'd clearly been spending too much time around Jake.

"Right, remember that hoard of Latinum we got sittin' in the cargo hold somewhere?" Kassandra asked casually. His brow furrowed for a moment, before relaxing. Clearly Kassandra wasn't the only one who had completely forgotten about it.

"Yes, what about it?"

"I miiiiiiight have promised that Masters woman some of it in exchange for hookin' us up with the same people she sent the Satet to, an' for being our guide. Eve pointed out I mighta overstepped my bounds, seein' as she's liable to ask for a small fortune. Course, I figure she'll be dealin' directly with you anyhow, so you kin put the kibosh on the whole thing if you don't like the idea."

"I see," Kane's face creased into his best look of mild disapproval.

"She wasn't going to be forthcomin', an' it woulda taken forever t' get the information outta her. Woman like that only cares about the language of cold filthy lucre, if you don't mind me sayin'. Figured time is probably an issue." Kassandra squirmed under his gaze.

"This is true," Kane leaned back thoughtfully. "I suppose there's no harm in offering something everyone's forgotten about. But," he held a finger up and looked sternly at her, "you have overstepped a bit. If you're going to be making deals on our behalf, I need to at least be apprised of what's going on."

"Aye aye sir," Kassandra saluted him. He smiled slightly.

"Other than that, did you find out anything interesting?"

"Book was lookin' to make a deal, an wanted an out of the way place to do it. Masters said she knew it was gonna go bad, could feel it," Kassandra relaxed back into a more casual pose. "But, she did have a good point, we're probably going to have to go into Syndicate territory for this. Can we really bring the PHOENIX in there without causin' a diplomatic incident?"

"The Syndicate isn't formally recognized as a sovereign entity, so there can't technically *be* a diplomatic incident, however it is also true that we don't want to risk antagonizing them. They've been known to engage in piracy, and their current territory is a prime staging point for attacks on Federation colonies. We'll have to wait and see what the away team finds on that ghost ship, and make then make a decision from there. Is that all, Major?"

"Yessir," Kassandra turned on her heel, heading down to security. She might have given Masters the VIP suite, but she certainly wasn't going to treat her as a reputable guest. Security needed to be made aware of the situation and monitor Masters closely.

* * *

NRPG: Okay, that's the Phoenix stuff wrappedish up, other than poor Hector's fate and Masters demands. Wonder what's going on on the ship!

Shauna: Give me a poke if you need any help coming up with ideas or posting or anything in general :)

Alix Fowler
Writing as
Captain Kassandra Thytos,


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