NCC - 81102
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The Bowl of Grog Shall Renew

Posted on Thu Nov 19th, 2020 @ 1:46am by Maximilian Dedeker & Lieutenant Commander Kazyah Linn
Edited on on Wed Jun 16th, 2021 @ 8:06pm

Mission: What Came Before
Location: Fiddler's Green
Timeline: April 2389

Gravel crunched under boots as Kazyah Linn took his first steps out onto Fiddler's Green. It had been a few years since he was here last, and most of the people might not remember him. But there was one person who would. The man in charge certainly did have quite the memory. Despite Kaz's mastery at blending into the shadows and disappearing, Max was one of the only people who could spot him a mile away.

But sadly, this was not a personal visit, and catching up with an old friend would have to wait until his business was completed. Making his way through the colony, Kaz found a small bar just off the domed boulevard. He wasn't much of a drinker, but he knew the person he wanted was inside. He stepped into the dimly lit building and easily saw the woman, sitting alone at a table nursing a glass of clear liquid. Silently, he moved towards the table and slipped into the seat.

"Drinking alone?" he asked.

Sayuri flinched. She hadn't come alone, but it had come to that in the hours she'd sat there. If she hoped to survive in the new life she'd found for herself, she couldn't let strange men sneak up on her. "I am now." Looking up at the newcomer, she saw that he was blind. The way his pupils dilated, irises failed to focus, general lack of visual acuity. But nonetheless, he had walked up to her and looked her in the face. "Who are you and what do you want?"

"Who I am doesn't matter just yet," he said, flagging down a waitress. "Gin, on the rocks," he told the woman before he turned back to his table-mate. "What matters, Sayuri, is that you have something of value to me."

The Lagashi woman sighed. "You and a dozen others. State your business and make it fast. I don't have all night."

"I'm sure the other dozens aren't helping keep Starfleet off your trail," Kaz said as he leaned back. "Have you considered what you'll do whenever they come knocking on the door of Fiddler's Green?"

Sayuri assessed the man. Large eyes. Strong jaw, cheekbones, and brow. Vulcan-Betazoid ancestry, maybe? All in all, he cut an impressive profile. "Something tells me they're already here."

Kaz shrugged, "Not in any way that would be a threat to you. Starfleet officers aren't allowed in the Green, actually. Max has his rules, you know. Seems quite the coincidence that you were allowed to enter."

"We're all here at his pleasure," Sayuri said with a roll of her eyes. "I wonder what it is you did for him. Nothing savory, I'm sure."

"Max and I are...old friends," Kaz said. A waiter walked up to the table, setting down a glass of dark green liquid before walking away. Kaz nodded to the man as he reached for the drink he didn't order. "So tell me, what does he have you doing?"

Sayuri's ire grew to match her discomfort. "Why not read my mind and find out, Beta?"

"Who's to say I haven't already?" he asked with a shrug. "I much prefer to hear first-hand, though. Which object of his obsession did he con you into retrieving for him?"

"You know," Sayuri bit bat a wry chuckle, "I have a sneaking suspicion Max-san wouldn't like me discussing 'objects of his obsessions' with strange men. How's about you cut to the chase, or I have you dragged out of here on a gurney?"

Kaz just shook his head, "Something you need to learn, Sayuri, is that you don't always need to fight. Not everything and everyone is a threat to you. And sometimes, the best way to handle a threat is not to fight. You may have been a good tactical officer, but you still have much to learn."

"And you're the one to teach me," Sayuri mused aloud. "Unfortunately one of us would probably die of old age before you ever got around to anything useful."

"The desire to teach requires an investment into you as a person and your betterment." Kaz took a sip of the drink. "To be quite honest, I don't care enough about you or your betterment to invest. I'm only here because it serves my interest."

Sayuri polished off her drink and set the empty glass on the table. "That's fantastic, because you've exhausted mine. Ganbarou, Mysterious Stranger." She rose to her feet and made to leave.

Kaz lifted his leg onto the bench, holding the woman behind the table, as he set a combadge and phaser on the table. "I'd sit back down if I were you, Commander. Unless you want me to impound the Chimaera and imprison you and your crew for mutiny."

"Threaten me again." Sayuri's eyes flashed a deeper indigo. "See what happens."

"Sit down and hear what I have to say." Once the woman had taken her seat, Kaz pulled a PADD out and set it on the table, sliding it towards her. "Who I am doesn't matter, but who I represent does. As a high-ranking officer in Starfleet Intelligence, I have the ability to provide you and your crew help in a way that you desperately need. That being said, I can't be on record assisting you. But trust me when I say my network is large and wide and I have quite the resources at my disposal. Haven't you been curious about how Richard Wayne just happened to be in the right place at the right time for you to find him?"

"My maneki-neko? It always brings me luck." Sayuri pulled on her necklace to reveal a small talisman--a ceramic cat with a raised paw. Her mouth twisted with a mocking smirk. "Look, if you have a job for me, just spill it, and save the cloak-and-dagger bullshit for someone who doesn't know better."

"It's not a specific job, per se. What I'm trying to tell you is that Starfleet Intelligence is ready and willing to help you and your crew." Kaz raised an eyebrow, "Or are you doing so well as to not need a friend?"

Sayuri slanted her head in skeptical disbelief. "Oh, so you want to be my friend now? And what can a little ketsuman from Starfleet Intelligence have to offer me other than ham-fisted espionage theater?"

"You and your misfit crew have run off with one of the most advanced ships we've built in a century. You think Starfleet is just going to give up on your and stop hunting you? You think our enemies aren't going to take this opportunity to try and gather you for themselves?" Kaz shook his head. "I know you're headstrong but you're not stupid, Sayuri. You've survived this long thanks to me and I would like to continue helping you."

"We both know that Starfleet would have a hell of a time getting a task group to the interior of the Stygian Traverse. Lone operatives can slip inside the grid, but if you know Dedeker-san as well as you say you do, then you further know what awaits those who invade his airspace." She folded her hands impatiently. "Let's get to the part where you tell me what you want in exchange for your ages-old protection racket, and I'll decide whether I take my chances."

"Well, think of it less like an assignment and more like...a mutually beneficial relationship for both of us." Kaz picked up the PADD he had set down and held it out to the woman. "This is a sort of...Letter of Marque, so to speak. Back in ancient Earth days, a similar letter could be presented to give private individuals certain rights and privileges under a nation's flag without fully conscripting them. This allowed those private individuals certain abilities that a normal officer under the crown didn't have."

Kaz motioned to the room around him. "Your crew and I are the only Starfleet Officers who can freely come and go as we please in Fiddler's Green. That's a situation that I don't want to give away so easily. So I'm offering you protection, specifically from Starfleet. I will keep them off your trail and out of your way so that you and your crew can continue whatever it is you're doing out here. In return, I may or may not ask you to do me a favor or two."

Though Sayuri was a little sketchy on that period old Earth's history, she was more than familiar with the historical Wokou archetype of Asia -- traders and soldiers fallen on hard times who turned to piracy, often finding a protective patron in a corrupt government official. Piracy was a capital offense in Lagashi territory, but if this blind man could be true to his word, then maybe, just maybe, she could take a little heat off herself from one of the four major powers seeking her capture. "I don't suppose that would hold up in court?" She already knew the answer, but she wanted to hear him admit the limits of his power and influence.

"Probably not," Kaz said, matter-of-factly. "But the truth is, with this letter or not, you'd be convicted in a court either way. So why not give yourself, and your crew, the best opportunity you can to stay alive and stay out of the Brig?"

Not exactly a Get Out of Jail Free Card, but better than nothing. This stranger would prove to be a problem, of that she had no doubt, but she decided to let him be a problem for another day. "Fine. We have an accord." She swiped his PADD and stowed it beneath her long coat. "So... What do I call you? Other than Ketsuman, that is."

"My name isn't important, but around these parts, I'm known as Daschiel." Kaz took the combadge that was lying on the table and slipped it back into his jacket. "Now that we have a deal, how about we try a bit more honesty?" A smile spread over the man's face. "Tell me, what did Max ask for?"

Sayuri smiled and shook her head. "You know better than to ask that." She finally stood to her feet and slapped Kaz on the butt in passing. "See you around, 'Daschiel.'"

 

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