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Games, Gangs, and Greed

Posted on Thu Feb 8th, 2024 @ 12:39am by Lieutenant Xex Wang & Captain Björn Kodak & Lieutenant Victoria Cross & Lieutenant JG Gwenwyn Marwol & Ensign Mei Ratthi & Lieutenant Timmoz

Mission: Stardust and Sin
Location: The Hole, Hukatuse Tagumik
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 2000

[The Hole]
[Hukatuse Tagumik]
[MD 2: 2000 Hours]

Gwenwyn Marwol had been trying to help an elderly alien up a flight of stairs in The Gravity Well. Unfortunately, said alien thought he was being robbed, tried to get away, and ended up falling down said stairs. Bar security believed the man's story that he'd been pushed and summoned the station's Enforcers, who'd quickly rounded up Marwol and his companions and carted them off to Hukatuse's version of a brig. Turns out the brig -- aptly named The Hole for its circular entry portal -- was actually quite large, with at least thirty stacked holding cells with glass-windowed views overlooking the exercise yard below. And that yard was the same place that, after a brief introduction to their cell, the Starfleeters were now being escorted to while awaiting word of their arraignment hearing scheduling.

A promise of "60 kelliks" of exercise time had been given by the guards, who now stood around the area with stun batons drawn in case of trouble. And filling the yard -- which was really just a large open area of the station's floor littered with exercise equipment in unfamiliar shapes to Timmoz and Company -- was a variety of other aliens being held within the prison. Some were actually exercising, using the various pieces of equipment to strengthen their bodies...or at least cut the boredom of confinement with some kind of physical activity. Others simply stood around in clumps, looking around with disdain as they chatted in their confinement cliques.

When the Starfleet officers -- relieved and quite bereft of their gadgets and weapons -- were led onto the yard, all eyes seemed to turn their way. Most looked them over and dismissed the foreign group as unworthy of attention but a few gave sharp, prolonged side-eyes. It was easy to formulate an impression that, despite the guards watching over the yard, this place and its occupants might actually present an element of danger to Timmoz and his people. Time -- and the Starfleeters' own behavior here -- would most certainly tell, but how much trouble could they possibly get up to in "60 kelliks," whatever those were?

Victoria turned to the others, crossing her arms, her expression somewhat bristled by the new circumstance. Taking a breath, she spoke. "I'm from Australia, on Earth. My dad was a Captain, he's on the memorial on Bajor. I think he would be puzzled in how we got into this situation, honestly, but come to think of it, we may be able to find kindred spirits here in similarly ambiguously guilty parties. But what about you lot, mates? Where are you from?"

"Botchok," Timmoz murmured to Cross' question. He gave her a glance during his survey glance of their surroundings. He folded his arms, bemused, as he locked eyes on a pair of tucked, almost Orkish aliens spotting an immense being lifting weights.

"Oh, we might have wanted to wait to engage them," Mei said under her breath. "At least until we'd had a chance to observe whatever hierarchy they've developed here. Figure out the social structures. That kind of thing." She did her best to keep her expression blank, and her body language neutral, though that was a big ask, given that everyone else in the yard seemed to be a lot bigger- or at least more aggressive-looking- than she was.

"Authoritarian," Timmoz murmured to Mei. "A corrupt one. Based on wealth." He shrugged, "We smell our own. I'm afraid." He said of his own people. "My guess would be very little in the way of a safety net. Libertarian. Sink or swim." Timmoz scratched his chin, "I've heard a few people out here muttering about something called The Governor. I think we need to uncover what that is. Is it what they call a warden, or is it a higher form of," Timmoz's eyebrows popped and he ended sardonically with, "Justice."

"We have our orders." Gwewyn reiterated, still suggesting their target might have landed herself here too. If had gotten a promotion instead of a medal when he was knocked off the playing field then the team wouldn't be debating what to do next. "Gather intelligence, at least we have some experience now." He said referring to the event that landed them in The Hole. "Pair up in twos and look like hungry cannibals." Trying to use comedy that could have been mistaken for a serious remark to lighten the team's morale.

Victoria nodded and slunk away into the crowd with her partner Timmoz. She took care to mentally note prominent figures in the crowd, ducking around throngs of aliens as she and her partner searched for the elusive Kazon. What would her father do in this situation, she asked herself, coming to a stop after a while to lean against a pillar.

Though difficult to hear amongst the noise of the yard, a scratching, scittering noise presaged movement up the pillar in question. If one were to glance at the pillar, one might even see movement, a hand-sized dark figure with too many legs. And then, all at once, the scratching stopped and the too many legs stepped across onto Victoria's shoulder. "Psst," a paper-dry voice rasped into her ear from its spot on her shoulder, "You look like you could use some help." It was hard to make out the alien's features, they were so close to Victoria's face, but the impression was of an insectoid body, with so many legs in constant motion it was difficult to count them, the entire body covered in what looked to be fine hairs. Its head-- or in any case, the part of its body from which the voice originated-- was vaguely triangular, with its apex pointing down and two huge, faceted eyes staring out from the top two corners. Smaller faceted orbs filled the rest of the triangular space of its head, and there was movement as it spoke, but the mouthparts were hard to see amongst the hair and eyeballs.

Victoria glanced at the alien with her periphery, crossing her arms. Though she was unsure of the alien's race, she knew it was communicating, and spoke softly in return. "Maybe I do. Who's asking, mate? Don't believe we're acquainted." She slipped a hand through her hair and raised a brow, trying to avoid too much attention - despite the fact she was talking to a rat-sized insectoid.

The alien shifted on her shoulder in an unsettling wiggle of legs, two such appendages reaching out to touch the pillar, as though to assure itself of its escape route. "I wouldn't try it if I were you," it said, "You're obviously new around here, so you get one pass. I won't even tell Uazhak you mentioned mating." The dry voice was infused with magnanimous goodwill, a thin veneer over the spike of anxiety Victoria's words had given the little beast.

"Looking for a Kazon woman," the Orion said casually rumbling from the corner of his mouth. He only then looked at the alien. Timmoz had to swallow down a visceral disgust toward the alien. Orions, despite their debauched reputation, tended toward xenophobia. And this alien was too alien for his tastes. Botchok was replete with megafauna insectoids. But he had not the time to consider the origin of his stomach flip and the itch behind his knuckles.

He did have time to at least check his reaction out of the Orion version of an amygdala. "Have you seen one in here the last few days, friend?" Timmoz asked.

The little insectoid crouched at Timmoz's voice, then sprung upright again, as though his words had somehow had physical weight to them. In a flurry of legs, it skittered behind Victoria's neck to her other shoulder, observed Timmoz closer-to, and then immediately scurried back, closer to the pillar. There, it did something complicated with its legs, like it were beating out some sort of complex tattoo on her shoulder. When it spoke again, its dry voice held actual mirth. "Oh no, no no. You've got it wrong. Uazhak doesn't find people. Uazhak helps you forget people. Like I say, you're new, but trust me. You're gonna wanna forget most things about bein' in here. Taking Serenity is the only way-- and it is most affordable. Especially for--" it did a similar dance to the one earlier, its body waving in a circular motion that seemed somehow to encompass both Victoria and Timmoz, "beings such as yourselves." Although it still sounded amused, there was something faintly sinister about this proclamation.

Finally, it skittered off Victoria's shoulder and onto the pillar, where it paused, waving three legs in the air as though to get a sense for the air currents around it. "Coming?"

"Not interested," Timmoz muttered, making a smooth motion of dismissal with his hands. He pushed off of where he'd leaned, saying the name with a pointed tone. "We're interested in a Kazon. Not Serenity. If you know where she is, we'll talk. To you, or Uazhak. Or both."

Victoria scoffed, shoving off of the column to turn towards the shady insectoid. "I'm with my compatriot here, mate. The last thing I want is taking 'Serenity' to forget anything." She matched Timmoz's tone, and crossed her arms over her breasts. She shook her head disapprovingly. "The Kazon, mate. Humanoid, wild hair, crested forehead."

Timmoz added, "Chip on her shoulder. Thinks she could win a Tsunkatse match with a Hirogen, with one hand tied behind her back. Seen her, or are we going?"

The insectoid stiffened, the thousands of hairs on its leggy body standing on end, which made them look particularly spiky. Hopefully they weren't an offensive weapon. With a hiss, it gestured incomprehensibly at the pair and skittered around the other side of the pillar, and down. The last glimpse they caught of its scuttling form it was disappearing along the curve of a cell wall, its many-legged body lost to the gloom at the edge of the exercise yard.

Almost as soon as the scuttler had disappeared, a smoky voice seemed to wreathe Victoria and Timmoz in invisible sound, the tones of the voice much richer and fuller than your average humanoid's. "That, dear ones, may not have been your wisest decision," said the voice, accompanied a moment later by a figure clothed head to toe in a deep midnight-blue robe that left only the eyes exposed, a pair of golden, slit-pupiled orbs that shone not like a feline's, but like actual polished metal. "Uazhak has a thin skin, and fancies himself something of a... " the figure paused, eyes flitting back and forth as though searching the air for the appropriate descriptor, "people person. You should perhaps have at least spoken to him."

"Uazhak can come say hello anytime he wishes," Timmoz pointed out with a gesture of raking through his frizzy mop. His smile widened, "The ones who play hard to get are more interesting." His eyes narrowed, bemused. He folded his arms, "Every good crime boss knows that." Timmoz edged his smile up and then down again. "But while we are on the subject. Just what is an Uazhak?"

"My associate is right. Putting someone like Uazhak on the back foot compelled him to act. We are.. not from this area of space, but we are seasoned travelers," Victoria attempted to explain, turning her head to the Orion, before back to the woman. "So if you have any information that can help us you're willing to part with, we would appreciate it. Apart from our would be greeting service having thin skin."

"Ah, but Uazhak did already come say hello," the robed figure said cryptically, a movement at the side of the robes that seemed to give the impression of a limb raising beneath the fabric. Still, nothing but the eyes showed past the garment, however. The head jerked, a thrust out of the chin that directed their attention back over their shoulders in the direction the scuttler had gone. "I do not think it will be long before you find out what an Uazhak is. Anyway, for ones such as you," the golden eyes flicked from one Sojourner to the other, "the Serenity would not be so expensive." This seemed to be a common refrain.

Sure enough, there was a stir happening some dozens of meters away, where a group of people were surrounding a single figure. That figure made an exclamation that reverberated throughout the entire exercise yard, causing a brief moment of silence to descend, like a ripple radiating out from a stone dropped in a pond. The surrounding beings began to move, a nervous shuffling that seemed to presage the lone figure's movement.

The golden-eyed being, their smoky voice threaded with some kind of private amusement, finally returned their attention to Victoria and Timmoz. To the latter, they inclined their head, "But perhaps your strategy had merit." With a shrug of their shoulders beneath the robe, they breathed, "Information? What sort of information could you be seeking..." they gestured with a berobed limb, the garment rustling as they encompassed the grim entirety of the Hole, ""

Timmoz seemed unfazed by the unusual being's veiled threats and cryptic words. The station's imperfect at best language translators were little assistance to his fellow V'draysh translators. And his own, being somewhat less available to simply pluck off a chest, had been no better at the strange nuances of this being. Timmoz just continued on. A single corner of his mouth was notched up in seeming bemusement. "We're looking for a Kazon woman. She would've arrived a few days ago in a Kazon-built shuttle. Have you seen her?"

"Kazon are humanoid like us, with wild hair, and ridged, large foreheads. It's important that we find her, my colleague and I. We.. we are scientists, on a voyage from another sector of space, and she has information that's important to our mission. We need to find her and get out of here. I understand you may have your own motivations and things you may want from us, but I'm sure we can reach a compromise."

Victoria's words were frank. Her stoic, tough exterior relented, and she relaxed her shoulders with a breath.

The commotion that had started with the exclamation seemed to have calmed somewhat, but there was a ripple of movement making its way across the open space toward Victoria, Timmoz, and their robed acquaintance. Beings between the movement and the Starfleeters melted out of the way, easing aside like water before a swimmer.

"Oh, the saboteur?" the golden-eyed person said, the pervasive smoke in their voice giving way to a near-chuckle of amusement. "What possible need could scientists," and here, the being's entire posture radiated skepticism as their golden eyes slid over first Victoria, and then Timmoz, neither of which apparently fit the person's image of scientist, "want with a saboteur-- and a bad one at that? Then again," the amusement was back, "it seems you aren't very good scientists yourselves, if you managed to find yourselves here." Again, a berobed hand gestured around the prison yard. "The question is, are you better traders than you are scientists?"

"Saboteur, hmm?" Timmoz's own voice curled with its own version of a smoky amusement. "Interesting. Say more. What did she sabotage?" The Orion riposted. Now they were getting somewhere, perhaps. "Who accused her?"

"Obviously not," the golden-eyed figure said dryly, their question about the Starfleeters trading abilities answered. "What is there to sabotage around here but the station?" they asked rhetorically. "Exercise in suicide, of course. But some sentients are...." there was another whisper of motion beneath the robe, a limb twisting as though to search for a word. "Well. You know." Amusement wreathed the smoky tone at this declaration.

Victoria bristled, and her eyes flashed with irritation. "Good scientists? I'll have you know I wrote a doctorate-level thesis on ship operations in my schooling, the quality I perform at my career has nothing to do with why we're locked up! Crikey, one nebulous accusation and four people are locked up in this pit with no representation or due process. Anyone with eyes can see this place is a slave yard. We wouldn't be here unless we had to be, and the 'saboteur' is probably in the same bind we all are. So please."

"Please what?" the robed figure snapped, "Pity your unfortunate circumstances when mine are the same? Respect you for a thesis in a subject that has no bearing on my life? Pretend outrage at the lack of a 'due process' whatever that is?" Snorting, the golden eyes rolled and a sigh of exaggerated boredom escaped the figure who continued, "Blondie, I don't know where you people are from," the golden eyes looked Victoria up and down once again, "but you'd best forget whatever it was they taught you there. And quickly."

With that cryptic comment, the figure spun in a whirl of their garment and disappeared into a loose knot of chatting Imhotep.

Their meaning became unpleasantly obvious as the ripple of movement that had been making its way across the exercise yard finally shoved aside all of the beings anywhere near Timmoz and Victoria, creating a little bubble of space into which stepped a large, powerfully-built figure. The head was smallish, and flat, with seven orbs blinking in a decidedly eye-like manner. Spike-haired mandibles made up the entire bottom part of the head, giving the impression that the whole thing could open up and shove prey down its throat. The rest of the being was vaguely humanoid shaped, if the humanoid was half again as large as most humans, with bulking muscles or fat to match. Its clothing was haphazard, but what really drew the eye was the creature's chest, on which was a peculiarly spider-like three-dimensional mandala. In fact, the mandala looked disturbingly like the arachnid scuttler who had recently taken up residence on Victoria's shoulder.

When the being spoke, it was like a larger, deeper, but no less raspy version of the scuttler's tone from earlier. The sound didn't seem to come from his mouth, but from lower, like it was echoing out from his chest. "You are new," he stated. Behind him, the array of sentients who had followed him across the yard now began to spread out, slowly encircling the pair of Starfleeters. "So I can choose to ignore your rudeness. If," he held up a hand which consisted most prominently of a set of rather wicked looking claws-- it was difficult to tell whether or not they were adornment or a part of his body, "you make amends. And quickly."

"And what do amends look like," Timmoz asked. He began to tie back his hair with the elastic loop he had around his wrist. "To you." And Timmoz began to walk toward the being- boldly, brazenly, his arms seemingly open. "Fealty? Is that what you want?" He asked. "I have a Captain."

"Already have a Captain, already have a wife. Not really in the market for another boss in my life, unfortunately." Victoria rolled her neck and took a step forward to stand beside Timmoz, straightening her back. She tried to quickly analyze the alien. He had eyes, he had a shoulder. Seemed to be humanoid, and most humanoids had similar weaknesses. Hopefully Timmoz was having similar thoughts.

The large creature waved a limb, seeming to indicate the vast array of people now closing a circle around Timmoz and Victoria. "I have minions," he rasped, as a pair of beings that seemed like an awful amalgamation of a centaur and a spider, if the spider was the animal portion and the human portion was covered in spiky body hair, stepped forward to intercept the pair of Starfleeters before they could get within arms reach of Uazhak, "I do not need more. And I have no wish to start an argument with your..." he paused, as though tasting the word in his mouth before saying, "Captain. Although, it does not seem they are here, no?" A raspy burble emanated from his chest, and judging by the sycophantic sounds of laughter around them, it was a chuckle.

"But no, I do not, nor have ever, needed your fealty. But do you know what I also do not need?" His many eyes did not have visible irises, but they nevertheless seemed to scan up and down first Victoria, and then Timmoz. "Competition. You see, I thought at first you were ignorant, or perhaps afraid, and this is why you did not want Serenity. I sense now though," and he paused, his spike-haired mandibles opening and closing, quivering in the air as though testing it, "that you have no need for Serenity. You have your own." His mouthparts snapped shut, creating an impenetrable spiky grill across the lower part of his face. Uazhak took a step forward and every one of his aforementioned minions did as well, closing the circle tighter around Victoria and Timmoz. "Give me your supply, and perhaps I will consider your apology."

"We're not going to be here long enough for competition." Timmoz shrugged, "I know all about eliminating the competition before it can get too big. That's rule one of being a good," Timmoz pondered for a moment, "Leader." He meant despot. "Again." Timmoz made a curosry glance to size up the number of minions that were working around he and Cross. He stayed casual, and casually scratched his eyebrow, "We don't have serenity. We don't even know what serenity is. You've got a translation problem here. Is that what we're fighting over?"

"We don't have serenity. I go to therapy every week, mate. If you mean some narcotic, we haven't got any. We've got the shirts on our backs." She placed her hands on her hips, and turned to Timmoz. "Never a dull moment, though, isn't it?" She took a breath and sighed it out, before turning to the polyocular brute of an alien. "We're not interested in your territory or anything like that. We just want to find the 'saboteur."

Uazhak again made the unpleasant rasping noise that served him for a laugh. "Saboteur? You mean that Kazon scavenging stealth tech? The Governor has too high an opinion of the worth of this station," he huffed, "charging her with sabotage. She's just a scared one running for her life-- which is probably wise, if Subrek really is coming for her." He rolled his head which somehow gave the impression that he was shrugging. "Nevertheless, you won't find her here," he finished, and it sounded very, very sinister. He took a menacing step forward, the spider mandala on his chest shifting in a vaguely nauseating way. One of his limbs gestured and the circle closed further, a scaled, fishy-smelling being reaching for Timmoz, obviously hoping to pin his arms. "That you think you will soon leave would be endearing, if you weren't also disrupting my place of business," he rasped, and another fishy alien moved closer to Victoria, placing themselves between the woman and Timmoz.

Victoria swung for a punch on the fishlike alien, whiffing his head as he ducked. The alien punched her himself with a hard blow to the eye, causing her to reel back. Her arm was twisted around her back, and soon she found herself scrambling in a vicious fight with the fish, before a grab to a cluster of nerves in his neck sent him into a catatonic state. Victoria stepped back to catch her breath, and looked around for an improvised weapon.

The fish-smelling being found Timmoz was faster than his lankiness would suspect. With Victoria's move, Timmoz seized them by the wrist, twisted until he heard a pop and then pivoted in. He threw the being down in front of Uazhak and stomped on the being's throat. "Back off, or I start pulling this one's limbs off," Timmoz growled. He eyed Victoria who was searching for a weapon, a silent request for her to watch his back to make sure he wasn't shivved by somebody wanting his pheromones. Or whatever else they were on about.

He stared at Uazhak and twisted the arm and wrist in his grasp for emphasis. "Believe me, nothing would make me happier. I'm starving." He smiled menacingly, popping his eyebrows.

The swift, obviously unexpected violence from the pair sent a ripple through the circle of toughs who pulled back from the two of their number now incapacitated on the ground: one completely unresponsive and the other with a bad case of Orion-Boot-to-the-Neck. Then, like an elastic substance, they surged forward but were stopped from overwhelming the pair of Starfleeters by Uazhak's upraised limb. The entire rabble fell silent, the only noise a wet slapping sound that served the being under Timmoz's foot as a whimper.

Uazhak's mouthparts rippled as he let the silence hold for several tense seconds. The spider mandala on his chest shifted in time with his mouthparts; it was hard to tell if he was making a facial expression or tasting the air. Finally, he said, "You assume much about my attachment to that one." The fishy being in question twitched, but the pressure of Timmoz's boot ensured it stayed silent. "Actually," he continued, and if anything the air of malicious intent around him got thicker, "You assume much about your situation." With that, he waved a hairy digit in the air and the entire score of thugs and toughs closed in on Timmoz and Victoria, their arrested surge forward allowed release, and their intent anything but peaceable.

Victoria ran to Timmoz to back him up, empty handed from her search for a weapon. With the two viciously outnumbered, Victoria fought dirty. A thumb in the eye. A bite to the face. Elbows thrown to shatter noses. Still, there were too many incoming blows, and Victoria got separated from her crewmate in the fracas. A clubbing blow to the back of the head dazed her, and another punch to the face sent her sprawling.

The world was a stinging, foggy blur. Everything hurt. She couldn't see out of her swollen eye. C'mon, Sojourner, part of her hoped, last minute rescue any time now..

The melee engaged, Timmoz's green lean body disappeared under a mass of thugs even as he'd leapt for Uazhak and had had hands around the creatures strangely chitinous yet furry throat. While he brought the head down he felt at least two sharp piercing pains shock through his system- one in his back and one in his side.

Uazhak roared, rearing back against Timmoz's grip, spiky fur coming free in Timmoz's hands as the big alien surged backward. Not fast enough though; Timmoz's fingers hooked on the raised surface of the spider mandala and it peeled away from Uazhak's chest, coming loose and alive in the Orion's grip as the mass of minions closed onto them.

[To be continued below...]


"Hungry cannibals?" Mei raised an eyebrow, tugged her scarf back down over her hair, and tucked it in so the ends wouldn't flop around. "I don't think I'll be very good at that. Hungry, maybe, but cannibalism isn't exactly in my purview," she added under her breath. "But I am good at meeting people, so shall we?" She resisted making an 'after you' sort of gesture lest it be misunderstood by their fellow prisoners.

The Doctor shrugged as he walked with the badest attempt of "I'm tough don't mess with me" walk you had ever seen. "I was trying to be helpful." He said with his best smile, trying to ease her, make her feel better. "Now let us find a cheerful person."

"Oh yes please, we shall," a deeply feminine voice all but purred, its owner stepping into Mei's path and reaching out a many-fingered, scarlet-red hand to touch Marwol's hair, just at the nape of his neck. The being was just slightly taller than average humanoid height, her skin a brilliant crimson softened by a pelt of very fine hair, or perhaps feathers. Her torso was clothed to her knees in a garment of a deeper red, that bled into a rich indigo and seemed to be composed entirely of overlapping fronds that seemed like a prehistoric version of feathers: too large to be analogous with the earthen bird covering, but reminiscent of the shape. These almost chimed as she moved, as though made of soft reed instruments. Turning startlingly red eyes on Mei, she asked, "Is he for sale? I promise I don't intend to eat him." Her lips parted in what might have been a grin, but was rather spoiled by a mouth filled with several rows of needle-sharp teeth.

Gwenwyn's eyes quickly bulged but he kept his mouth shut until their new fond friend? Finished talking. They were on a fact-finding mission, she was willing to trade and the Doctor hadn't had a romantic partner for a while. He quickly shot Mei a look and hoped that the alien took it for fear or something other than a message. "A trade for information... For the time being anyways." That was the look. Question was, did Mei receive correctly?

Mei took Marwol's arm and patted his shoulder with her free hand, glancing up at him with a fond smile. Judging by the crinkling around her eyes, she was holding back laughter. It seemed an incongruous reaction in a place like this; one might have thought she'd be afraid of the odd-looking people imprisoned in a backwater station like this. But she merely gave the red-eyed being a confident look and said brightly, "I think I'll keep him for now. I kind of like him. But we might be able to come to some other arrangement that could benefit all three of us. Everyone could use a new friend now and then, right?"

Something about Mei's statement clearly tickled the red woman for she laughed, showing more of her needle-teeth, the sound a pleasant burble of merriment. "Oh indeed," she said, shifting her eyes to Gwenwyn once again, gaze moving slowly up and down his form. "Friends are not always easy to come by," she continued. With clear reluctance, she returned her attention to Mei, the fronds of her garment shifting to lay on the other diagonal, almost as though it had a life of its own. But that couldn't be. Could it? "An arrangement, you say?" Her scarlet optics glanced down to where Mei's hand rested proprietarily on Gwenwyn's arm, then back to Mei herself. "I am certainly interested in certain benefits. What are your terms?" Question asked, her attention skewed back to Gwenwyn like an iron to lodestone. One hand lifted and she held it just outside the curve of his shoulder, shifting it down his arm, never quite touching him with her too-many fingers, but tracing his outline nonetheless.

Though never good at acting despite his career path needing it from time to time, The man in all denim stood like a gentleman, posture straight with his arms folded behind his back as if he was a well-trained servant? Slave? Servant-slave? The alien's outfit started to pique his interest, how it transported itself when the only movement was a gross motor skill. A hand movement.

"I'm a curious sort. I like knowing things," Mei said, slowly straightening her back and lifting her chin, careful to look the red woman in the eye-- but not for too long. "Information's a valuable currency where I'm from, and even in a place like this," she tilted her head to indicate the sweep of the enclosure, "It's all about what you know. Or who you know."

Mei's words caused the red woman to pause her touchless inspection of Gwenwyn, canting her head to the side with curiosity. Her garment rustled, the fronds resettling themselves more comfortably about her. "Indeed," she agreed, "such a currency also holds value here, you are correct." Straightening, she stepped around behind Gwenwyn to inspect his entire posterior chain, peering behind his ears and measuring the width of his stance. Over his shoulder, she said to Mei, "I certainly know many." She did not elaborate what many she knew-- beings? Things? Events? "This seems a good trade. I think perhaps one cycle will be long enough with this one," she mused as she continued her slow revolution, stepping with a dancer's precision around him.

"Oh?" Mei raised an eyebrow and kept an amused expression on her face as, catching up to the red woman's steps, she all but twirled Marwol about so he was between Mei and the other woman. "Refer back to when I said I'd keep him for now, hmm? Information is the currency we're discussing right now. Aren't you curious about what's going on in the wider world?" Slowly, she straightened to make herself as tall as her bones allowed for and shifted her weight to the balls of her feet, though whether she was preparing for bargaining, fighting, or flighting, even Mei didn't know for sure.

Mei's change of posture did not go unnoticed. The woman stepped back slightly from Gwenwyn, her garment shifting with another arpeggio of chimes. This time, when it settled, it seemed somehow... spikier, as though the fronds were not lying flat. She said, voice harder than it had been, "Oh little white one, there is no 'wider world.' The world is where one is, and we are here. This is what I tried to tell the Kazon-- she did not listen, but perhaps you are not so stubborn? Now," her voice softened back to its pleasant, haggling tones again, "it is clear you need information. I am desirous of a companion. Shall we move on with the specifics?"

"Why are you so intent on this one?" Mei asked. She'd noted the change in the red woman's chiming but didn't let her expression change outwardly. Instead, she changed the timbre of her voice, raising it a step or so and lightening her tone, letting her syllables dance a bit like she was a carnival barker. She tilted her head to one side- a puppyish look that had gotten her the answers she'd wanted from professors and parents who hadn't really wanted to give them away. "What does he have that the Kazon didn't? Why did you give up on them so easily?"

"Why are you?" the red woman snapped back. With a flick of her too-many-fingered hand, she affected disinterest. "The Kazon is not him and he is not the Kazon. She wanted only to escape. There is no escape," she said, and while it could have sounded sinister, it instead came off as merely a boring fact of life. "You, I think," she continued, "will not be here long, so I must take my chance while I can. I prefer my playthings with external parts," she said and then, as though realizing something, she narrowed her eyes at Gwenwyn. "He does have external parts, correct?"

"His parts aren't going anywhere, thank you," Mei said firmly. "And if there's no getting out of here, then where did the Kazon go? We all came from somewhere, and apparently some of us go somewhere else. Where is that? You're not talking like she's dead, so she must have gone somewhere else. You might find the idea of elsewhere boring, but I don't. So answer me that, and then we can talk about him." She nodded up toward Gwenwyn, silently hoping he'd play along the way he'd been doing all along.

The red woman waved an airy hand of dismissal. "Who knows where they go after they leave? No one helped her escape-- if we could do that, would we still be in here? Anyway, she didn't have time to cause trouble for long. The Enforcers took her in the morning." She shrugged her shoulders, her garment chiming as it resettled more smoothly against her. "It is a shame-- she had fire. Perhaps if she had known to go to the Welds like Zdzisław said... But it is too late now." She flicked her thin fingers, as though dismissing the woman from her mind.

She looked about to reopen negotiations about Gwenwyn when a ripple of motion as though a large number of people were moving caused a shift in conversations and stances, the rest of the beings in the exercise yard also shifting to accommodate the movement. The red woman was no exception. She glanced up and something complicated happened to her face, a strange amalgamation of wariness and annoyance that accompanied a sidestep and a chiming re-shuffle of her garment as she made room for an increase of bodies near them. If anything, the garment seemed even spikier now. Something was definitely happening nearby, but apparently that something was not concerning enough to completely derail her transaction. After her glance at at the commotion she returned her attention to Mei. "Enough of the Kazon," a flicker of her eyes back at Gwenwyn, a featherlight touch to the nape of his neck. "She is not here. You," she said, finally to Gwenwyn, "are. And our time," she didn't so much glance at the influx of beings that now shielded their view of Timmoz and Victoria, as she vaguely turned her body that direction so as to indicate them, "seems to be short. I need only a few minutes with him." The full force of her red-eyed stare fell upon Mei.

"The Welds," Mei breathed, committing the name to memory. She did the same with 'Zdzisław', on the off chance that name, too, would be important. She glanced toward the commotion, but wasn't tall enough to see over the crowd. "What do you want him for, that's not going to take very long, anyway? You don't plan to eat him, do you? Because I'm not meant to let someone chew his bits off, you know."

The Human stood still like an obedient and well-trained slave, observing and taking all important pieces of information. Something had upset the locals, they had to hurry. He leaned into Mei's ear and whispered. "I'll go with her mistress," unsure how good the red woman's hearing was "A deal is a deal." So many thoughts were rushing like a river of water through his head.

A ripple of laughter sounded from the commotion, and then quieted with a suddenness that left an ominous silence behind. The red woman's spiked garment shifted again, the chimes loud in the sudden hush. She glanced over her shoulder at the group, but apparently decided they were not an immediate threat, for she turned back to Mei and Gwenwyn, her expression both pleased and vaguely predatory. "What I want him for is my business," she said, not taking her eyes off Gwenwyn for a long moment before finally smiling disarmingly and shifting her attention back to Mei. "I can assure you, he will be perfectly intact and functional when I am done with him. If anything, he shall be safer with me" she added with another glance over her shoulder, and then as Gwenwyn spoke, her expression brightened with delight. "You see? Even he," and here, her tone spiked with derision, as though speaking of a particularly dim child, "understands. A deal is a deal," she repeated and stepped to the side, slipping her arm into Gwenwyn's as though to escort him to a ball. Her garment smoothed where it touched him, a susurrus of musical tones.

"A deal is a deal," Mei said under her breath as she watched them go. "Have fun, then." She tried not to let her doubts show through in that little comment, but wasn't sure she quite succeeded. So. Now what? No one around her seemed keen on chatting; all their attention was focused on whatever commotion had risen and died just then. She tugged her hood down over her forehead, spared a glance in the direction Gwenwyn and the Red Woman had disappeared to, and went to see what was going on, all the while sending silent prayers up to deities she'd only ever heard of that her crewmates weren't in the middle of it all.

Before Mei could get far, her path was blocked by a stout limb... literally. It seemed to have bark, and ended in dexterous-looking digits of a fluorescent blue foliage. It was attached to a tall, spindly being made also of bark, its face a kindly whorl. "I wouldn't," it said, its voice a deep resonant rumble that managed to make the warning helpful rather than sinister. "I know you cannot see," it added, "But nothing good is happening over there." It indicated the knot of people that had constricted around Timmoz and Victoria. After a pause, it offered two of its many limbs. "Perhaps though, I could help you observe from here?" Nothing was threatening about the being's manner; of all the strange people in the Hole, this one seemed genuinely concerned for Mei's wellbeing.

She rolled to her tiptoes anyway, as though the extra couple of centimeters would help her see over the crowd. They didn't help. "Perhaps you could describe it? I have friends over there. They might be in trouble. One of them's green all over. Another's very tall with whitish hair. Are they alright? Can you see them?" Mei tried not to let the thrum of worry sound in her voice, but she could hear it shake anyway. She took a deep breath to calm herself and nervously tucked her disobedient hair back under its scarf. "What's going on?"

"Ah," the tree-like being said, a long breath that held both concern and awkward knowledge, like it wasn't quite sure Mei really did want this information. "The green one and the tall one have..." it paused, the whorls of its face scrunching together in a frown, "... angered Uazhak somehow. Usually, this can be remedied with simple humiliation but things have... deteriorated, it seems. Your friends are not weaklings and their show of strength is not serving them well. Uazhak has many. This will not end well." This last was said not unkindly. The being bent slightly, its limbs waving closer, hesitant. "Would you like to see for yourself?"

Mei bit her lip, glancing back and forth between the tree-like being and the heads of the crowd in front of her, wishing- not for the first time- that her Betazoid heritage had blessed her with more than the tiniest smidgen of empathic powers, if only to have a better idea if the tree-person truly was kindly or not. She felt like she should see what was going on, if only to report back what had happened whenever they got out of here; but if the worst happened, she didn't want to see another crewmate die. "I should," she said, giving the tree-person a nervous smile. "But be careful. I'm a bit breakable."

The tree being's fluorescent foliage shook, as though in a sudden breeze, its face scrunching with merriment this time. "Yes, little one," it said kindly, "Your kind all are." And with that oddly ominous statement, its limbs wrapped around Mei, supporting her beneath her upper thighs and her back, like a living bench, and lifted her high. The bark was rough in the way of all bark, but smoother than many, the kind of bark you could lay your cheek on. It was also warm, like it had been sitting in a sunbeam for some time. The limbs were gentle, taking due care with the woman's fragile frame, and raised her up until she could see over the heads of the mass of people who had constricted in a ring around two figures. One stood out in his green skin, his posture defiant as he stood with his foot on a prone creature's throat, facing off against a large being with a many-eyed face and spider-like mandibles, his huge chest notable for the spike-furred spidery mandala that covered it, and rippled in a rather sickening way. The other familiar figure of Victoria looked no less fierce than Timmoz stood just to one side of him, another creature at her feet.

As they watched, the huge spidery being lifted a digit and whatever reprieve Timmoz and Victoria had won for themselves disintegrated. The entire crowd gave an enormous roar and surged forward, and both Starfleeters were lost to view beneath the press of bodies. The tree made a humming noise deep within itself, that vibrated outward into its bark, an uncomfortable sound. While the gang's attention was on doing whatever it was they intended to do with Timmoz and Victoria, bystanders began to flee outward, buffeting the tree who also began to retreat, Mei still in its grasp, at a more sedate pace.

"Wait, what's happening to them?" Mei called out to the tree-being, though her voice was lost beneath that of the crowd and the humming noise that was beginning to rattle her teeth. Straining as much as she could without risking falling or being dropped, she did her best to find out what was befalling her crewmates, but could see nothing from her perch which was steadily moving away.


The red woman steered Gwenwyn away from Mei, subtly putting herself between her new prize and his 'guardian.' Though she moved without apparent haste, she was nonetheless quick to take them further and further from the commotion which had constricted, getting tense and electric, like a place just before lightning strikes. Once a few bodies separated her and Gwenwyn from Mei, and they were out of immediate shoving range of whatever that electric disturbance was, she seemed to relax, a chime sliding off her dress as it once again readjusted itself. A few more moments and they reached the edge of the exercise yard, and a little corner that sported a surface that could have been a low table or a high bed, its surface strewn with various colored squares that could have been paper or foodstuffs, it was hard to tell. "Here," she said, reclaiming her hand from Gwenwyn's arm and delicately beginning to slide his denim jacket from his shoulders, "Allow me. Let's get you comfortable, shall we?"

The Doctor just smiled and accepted her movements, per Starfleet protocols giving aliens a show was allowed or was just pushing the boat out. He did owe her a favour and he was about to find out what this favour was. But being away from Mei broke his own rules of safety he imposed on the group and he was worried and fearful simply because he didn't know what was going to happen.

Perhaps sensing his discomfort, or perhaps simply following her nature, the red woman moved slowly, removing the jacket and placing it on the edge of the table/bed while keeping tactile contact with him, careful to make sure Gwenwyn saw all of her movements, as though to assure him that she wasn't just stealing his clothing. Her own clothing continued to make pleasant noises as she moved, a soothing accompaniment so at odds with the general din of the exercise yard. Jacket removed, she led him to one side of the surface and knelt smoothly, the movement both practiced and graceful. Her many-fingered hand shifted from Gwenwyn's shoulder down his arm to clasp his hand, tugging gently in an invitation to join her on the floor beside the table/bed. "Please," she said, "make yourself comfortable."

"S-sure," He said stumbling over his words like an old drunk, he took a big breath similar to the one he took before his exams to qualify as a doctor. He grasped her hand, didn't squeeze it and it wasn't too tight either until he was down, though instead of kneeling he crossed his legs as he sat on the floor.

The red woman's smile when he did as bid was radiant, transforming her already-pleasing features into something almost otherworldly. Once he was settled, the smile shifted subtly into something enigmatic, while her garment slid into a hypnotic wave of movement. She stood as smoothly as she had knelt and moved to the other side of the table/bed before kneeling again, her expression eager. "Now," she said, indicating the colorful squares on the table's surface. Now that they were closer, it was clear the squares were arranged in some sort of pattern depending upon their color. Likewise, some kind of pattern made of triangles had been etched laboriously into the table/bed's top. "Your pieces are blue and yellow. Mine, red and green. You may move like this, and thus," she said, beginning to explain the rules of what was turning out to be a... board game? The rules were simple enough, and swiftly outlined and when she was finished, the red woman took a red square and slid it a few spaces across the board. "To you then," she purred over the background chime of her dress.

Gwenwyn's body shifted towards the bed/table though he was paying attention he was hoping that beginner luck was with him, it seemed to resemble chess? though the pieces could only move to their respective colours. Gwenwyn picked up a yellow piece and moved it slightly to the left. So many thoughts were rushing to his mind right now!

"Another one?" The Doctor from Newport asked out of curiosity and stratigery "How many has he killed since you've been here?" While he asked he took his time to make a move, picking up a blue piece and quickly moved it towards his yellow piece hoping she was more focused on the chess talk rather than the chess

Red digits flicked in dismissal as she answered, "Who knows? These 'crime lords' have extraordinarily thin skin. I can only assume someone pricked it and now must be made an example of." Rolling her eyes at the vagaries of these creatures, she stood, disappointment weighing on her scarlet limbs. "I thought perhaps we had more time," she said morosely, holding out her hand for Gwewyn's to help him to his feet. "Come, it will not be safe here. And I have not forgotten; you must be returned intact." Indeed, the surge of motion had shoved the entire large group that had gathered closer to their little alcove of peaceful gameplay, and bystanders were starting to scatter. One of these bystanders which looked like nothing so much as a tree with vivid, bright blue-green leaves, was not so much scattering as slowly backing away. Cradled carefully in its limbs was a figure that looked suspiciously like Mei Ratthi.

Gwenwyn was just amazed at this person, he didn't know anything about her but all it seemed she wanted was a friend but he had a medical theory in his mind. He took her arm and just smiled at her in understanding like he understood why she wanted a friend to be with, to talk with. When he was reunited with Mei, it was clear he was different than he went in. "I'm okay," He said to ease Mei's worries

"Oh, good," she said, her shoulders relaxing. She looked up at the tree-being and smiled. "Thank you, friend, for letting me see what was going on over there, as least as much as you could. I'm sure they'll be fine." It sounded like she was trying to convince herself as much as the tree, who gave her a kindly smile as he started to gently lower her to the ground. "You probably haven't seen the commotion over there, but our compatriots have gotten themselves into trouble. I couldn't really tell what was going on, but there's a fight."

Gwenwyn came out glowing as if a miracle had happened or he accepted a marriage proposal. "Well it was only a matter of time," Gwenwyn said implying all Orions are brawlers, spoiling for a good fight, "Come on, as much as I would love to witness whatever qualifies for a Doctor around healing a Human and an Orion I doubt our crewmembers would have the same expression I have for foreign medicine."

Mei opened her mouth like she was about to say something- perhaps something unwise, given the expression that flitted across her face- and then closed it again. She shook her head slightly, one wily curl slipping out from under her scarf, and with a glance and a slight smile up at the tree-being, she followed Gwenwyn into the crowd.


[Continued from above...]

Even as the melee closed upon Victoria and Timmoz, a strident voice broke through the chaos, a voice used to both being heard, and being obeyed. "Alright, alright, break it up, BREAK IT UP," came the bellow, its owner difficult to see through the press of bodies-- until an entire squad of Enforcers began to wade into the scrum, laying about themselves with their pulse-electrified truncheons, apparently uncaring with whom they connected. "Uazhak!" the leader of the squad barked, "Back off, if you know what's good for you. And the rest of your," her lip curled with distaste, "compatriots too."

Victoria struggled to her knees, coughing and wheezing for air. "Tim- Timmoz, are you alive? I think I'm pretty messed up." She rolled to sit on the floor and took stock of her injuries. Her lip was busted, her eye was swollen shut, and she was reasonably sure she had broken ribs.

She slowly made her way to her feet, and was backed up against a wall by an Enforcer. Victoria looked for Timmoz, hoping he was alright.

The Orion was laying motionless and bleeding on the deckplates, two stab wounds issuing with dark green blood, inky in its consistency. He was unconscious.

A furtive scurry of motion could be seen fleeing from the small space that had opened up around the pair of injured Starfleeters, a spider-like form disappearing amongst the confusion of bodies as the Enforcers separated and beat at Uazhak's minions.

Uazhak's expression shifted from undeniable rage to disarming ingenuity, a feat of metamorphosis on his arachnid face. His hairy limbs raised in the universal sign for 'I mean you no harm' and he took a deliberate step back, breathing heavily from his brief scrap with Timmoz, the center of his chest a strange, naked gray color without the spider mandala on it. Spiky hair was missing from places around his neck from where it'd been lost to Timmoz's fingers, and one mandible didn't seem to be sitting right.
Still, he managed to speak clearly enough. "You know I do, Mo," he said with exaggerated innocence. "You should know that they started this one."

The lead Enforcer rolled her eyes. "They always do," she said. "You gonna do this this easy way today, Uazhak?"

Uazhak hesitated, then executed an exaggerated bow. A series of clicking whistles emitted from him, audible even over the din of the fight between the Enforcers, his minions and the pair of Starfleeters.

It was unclear whether it was the whistles or the Enforcers' batons that had the greatest effect in separating the combatants, but it did not take long before the small space around Timmoz and Victoria had opened enough for a half dozen Enforcers to move in. Victoria was roughly cuffed again, the Enforcer taking her into custody simultaneously ignoring any protestations of injury, and avoiding adding new. The Enforcer tasked with Timmoz however... he toed the Orion lightly in the side, then dropped to his haunches to examine the leaking ooze of dark blood. "Uh, boss?" he said, glancing up at Mo.

"What?" Mo snapped, her expression distracted until she glanced down at the Enforcer and his unconscious charge. A series of unfamiliar words-- expletives, by their cadence-- issued forth and she made a few sharp commands. "He'd better not be dead," she finished, glaring at Uazhak, "or it's coming out of your hide." A widening area of space opened around them, created by Enforcers scattering minions and bystanders alike. Into this free space came a pair of Enforcers with a gravgurney, which they directed to Timmoz's side. With cool efficiency, the Orion was loaded onto the gurney and it was lifted, preparatory to leaving.

Mo watched dispassionately, then frowned. "There are supposed to be four of them," she said, narrowing her eyes at Uazhak, "What did you do with the other two?"

"We are here!" Gwenwyn shouted from within the crowd, and when he did it parted like Moses and the sea. "I am a Doctor, healer, boilerfixer." Rattling on different words for doctor as all cultures had different words for them. "I know their races, it'd be best if I attended to them." The Doctor stated staring up, his encounter with the Red Woman really did something to him.

As Uazhak did not look inclined to answer-- in fact, he was looking particularly smug, if a mussed aracnoid being could be said to look smug-- it was as well Gwenwyn spoke up. Mo was not looking particularly patient. Shooting one last gared at Uazhak, she glanced down at the small display in the forearm piece of her armor. Apparently whatever she saw there matched with Gwenwyn's announcement, for she nodded to another pair of Enforcers who stepped forward, taking both Gwenwyn and Mei by the arm. Once again, they were cuffed. "Maybe it would," Mo agreed with the doctor, "but it isn't happening in here. Your time is up. C'mon."

With a jerk of her head, the lead Enforcer directed the entire squad to move out of the prison yard, Starfleeters-- including Timmoz on his gurney, to which he had been thoroughly secured-- in tow.

Behind them, the yard's activity returned to normal with surprising speed, as though they had never come.

A Post By:

Lieutenant Victoria Cross
Assistant Chief of Operations

Lieutenant Timmoz
Chief Helmsman

Lieutenant Gwenwyn Marwol
Assistant Chief Medical Officer

Ensign Mei Ratthi
Alien Anthropologist


Captain Björn Kodak (as various baddies and ne'er-do-wells)
Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Xex Wang (as various baddies and ne'er-do-wells)
Chief Medical Officer


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