Captain’s Log. We have laid a course in for DS12, the Federation station in orbit above Baku. I have been asked by a contact within the fleet to seek out a Lt. Commander by the name of Aster. As predicted my crew gave protests and it’s no wonder. The Interdictor is not very welcome in Federation space and her associates are rather suspicious of our line of work. However with no proof and a favor extending to blood ties, we can dock without incident. To reduce risk, I have ordered the registry and name change per Ragnos policy. All that needs to be done is find Helena.
“Sir, we are approaching DS12.”
“Very good Jayda. Hold your course.”
A beeping sounded from the console. Jayda checked it. She said, “Captain, we’re getting an audio.”
“Patch it through.”
Jayda did as she was told. A voice came through, “You are approaching Federation Station Deep Space 12. Identify yourself.”
The captain replied, “This is Captain Ro Taryn of the freighter Anthropos requesting permission to dock. We need to refuel.”
There was silence at the other end. Taryn felt the old feeling of the spine stiffening. There was always the chance that the ID would fail and they would have to make a hasty exit. The Briar Patch was out of the question since it didn’t exist anymore but he did have a few tricks up the Interdictor’s sleeves. He looked out his view screen at DS12 and the Federation ships that were docked or hovered around the station while waiting. He breathed a sigh of relief when the reply came, “You are cleared to dock Anthropos. Transmitting coordinates for docking. Welcome to DS12.”
“Thank you,” Taryn replied. He then said, “Jayda, take us in.”
“Aye sir. Looks like we might have smooth sailing in sir.” Jayda slowed the ship to dock as directed.
The first officer, a half human, half Klingon, named Naj’taku watched the situation. He commented, “Captain, they may suspect us and will wish to inspect us after we’ve docked.”
“I thought of that possibility Naj’taku,” Taryn replied, “We really don’t have a choice with it. We are on Federation territory and we will go along for awhile.” Taryn had not removed his eyes from the view screen until the Interdictor docked. He then looked at Naj’taku and said, “We will go in and request fuel and trade some of the cargo for it. Be circumspect. Jayda make sure the ship is ready to go the second we get back. Thalos can see to the fuel and Naj’taku you’re with me.”
“Aye sir,” Naj'taku replied and followed Taryn off the bridge towards the turbo lift. Once there he asked Taryn, “Captain, why are we bothering with the Federation? Ragnos has been under suspicion for awhile and Ragnos says there is a traitor among us.”
Taryn, aware of the situation, checked a sigh. He explained, “I owe a Federation officer a favor.”
“Seems a lot for a favor and too many secrets. There’s no honor in secrets.”
“As I recall you scoffed at honor when you joined my crew Naj’taku,” Taryn replied, “Besides the Federation is notorious about keeping secrets from themselves and this officer is bent on finding out.”
“As you say sir but if we are found out, Ragnos could disavow us.”
“I am aware of that possibility but if we didn’t have a friend or two within the Federation then we’d be out of a job. I don’t want to hear another word while we’re on the station.” Taryn valued Naj’taku’s opinions and listened when they were uttered. He knew that Naj’taku was looking out for the ship and her crew. He knew the risks coming and he knew that the others under Ragnos would be displeased if they were ratted out. Well can’t back now can I, brother?
Admiral Knapp felt that he was doing a tightrope dance that was on fire wile carrying a canister of bio gel. He had just granted Omega clearance to Commanders Lefler and Zen and gave fleeting permission for Captain Faisal and the Helena to retrieve a working Thaleran device. Knowing that the Romulans much less Starfleet would go ape if they found out, he granted it.
There was a chance that Odyssey could be found and brought back. Lt. Commander Aster had never steered them wrong concerning his visions and if Odyssey could be brought back, it was a chance he was willing to take. Knowing that a friend would want to know what was going on, he began a message. He was interrupted when the chime signaled a visitor. He called, “Enter.” He didn’t look up until his visitor was standing in front of his desk.
The man was young but his face spoke of hard living. Dressed like a civilian, he hardly merited attention. What stuck out was the Bajoran earring hanging off his right ear since he was Human. Admiral Knapp would have stared for a bit but he shrugged it off and asked, “Can I help you?”
Taryn was aware that he was an oddity but he had long since pushed the reactions out of his mind. He answered, “Captain Ro Taryn of the freighter Anthropos. Came in for refuel.”
“Well it’s no trouble at all but it is unusual that you should come here to thank me,” Knapp replied.
“Unusual but necessary,” Taryn replied slipping into an at ease stance. He may not be Starfleet but he knew the niceties. He demonstrated this by saying, “Let me be blunt Admiral. I came to find the Helena.”
Knapp knew he should have signaled for security but he decided to play along for the ride. He responded, “And what interest would a freight captain have in a Federation starship?”
“A mutual friend of ours,” Taryn replied and produced a datapad for the Admiral. “I believe you know him as Neveros Davidson. Admiral Davidson.”
Knapp wasn’t going to jump to conclusions that quickly. He took the datapad and read the message. It was coded yes but with an old Starfleet code and one he recognized when he used to talk to Neveros. He glanced at the freight captain who appeared to look as if he were lounging even though he was standing. He read the message twice over and verified that it was from his friend. He then looked at the captain and asked, “How do you know the Admiral.”
“Familial ties.” Taryn had volunteered the information with perfect nonchalance perfected over the years. The response was a satisfier while revealing little.
Knapp recognized it and decided not to pursue it. He replied, “I am not going to pretend that I trust you. We have a mutual friend within Starfleet. Give me a good reason why I should tell you what you need to know.”
Taryn was silent for a moment. He then said, “You are good Admiral Knapp. If I were in your position I wouldn’t trust me either. Our mutual friend helped me in a sticky situation awhile back so I owe him a favor. Perhaps you recall a former cadet that came here three years ago by the name Ro. A Lt. Ro Sekura?”
Knapp looked at the captain to see if he was leading him on. “I’m listening.”
Jayda checked the systems again. Being in a Starfleet port made her nervous and she had sufficient reason to. She wouldn’t allow it to show while at the helm for Captain Taryn. She owed him that much since he rescued her and gave her the helm of the Interdictor.
She fidgeted with the controls for the hundredth time when a voice said, “If you keep that up, we’ll end up leaving the station like fugitives. That is if we don’t incinerate it first.”
Jayda jumped and turned to see that it was the master engineer Travis T’Slar, a Trill. She breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Travis you sneaking up on people isn’t exactly going to help either. Unless it is a technique you’ve learned in a previous lifetime.”
Travis looked at Jayda with a grin on his face. Besides the captain, Jayda was the only other crewmember that knew he was joined with the symbiont T’Slar. In private it was a joke between them. In front of the crew T’Slar was a woman. Perfect cover since T’Slar was sent into exile. He replied, “Let see that would make it lifetime number three and back then a Betazoid found me out.”
“You tease,” Jayda grinned. It lightened the tension she felt at being on DS12. She looked out the view port and wondered what it would have been like if things were different.
Travis noticed her watching the station and the crews working. He said, “Looks nice doesn’t it?”
Jayda looked back at Travis. “Shouldn’t you be doing something in engineering?”
“Finished. Just like the captain wanted and I found time to fix sick bay.” Travis gave her a look that said she wasn’t going to get rid of him that easily.
Jayda returned the look with a look of her own. Being here did bring back some memories both good and bad. She continued to look out the view port and think. She was happier on the Interdiction than she was then. She said, “We find that we regret things but more often we are happy with the choices we make.”
“We all make choices. I made mine regarding T’Slar. Some things you do regret but you have to remember the outcomes,” Travis replied. “I’ve had 18 lifetimes and I still make mistakes. We aren’t perfect.”
Jayda looked at Travis, “No we’re not.” She looked again at the scene and sighed. “Wonder what’s taking the captain so long?”
“Well he was put into a difficult situation when he accepted the situation. I can’t blame the Federation for putting their guard up.”
“Yeah. Trying to explain that Admiral Knapp and he have a “mutual friend” in Starfleet makes it sound like a shady deal.” Jayda paused and then shrugged her shoulders. “Wouldn’t have it any other way and we’ve dealt with plenty of those before.”
“Tell me about it.”
They were interrupted by Thalos coming in looking agitated. He muttered, “Starfleet and their protocol.”
Jayda looked at the Anatolian and asked, “What is it this time Thalos?”
“Damn protocol.” Thalos was still muttered and tending to his console.
Jayda and Travis exchanged a look. They knew that when Thalos was agitated, he would say things that didn’t make sense. Fortunately Jayda knew how to get his attention. She said, “You don’t tell me what has you burning up Risa then I will be forced to use my abilities.” She said it in a singsong voice best suited for irritation.
Thalos growled at the threat, knowing Jayda would do it if she said she would. He said, “I can’t believe at all the documentation and formalities I had to go through to get the fuel.”
“That’s Starfleet for you. Always has a boot in regulations.” Travis didn’t look at Thalos but suppressed a grin. Thalos was not a good people person and he grudgingly did interactions only because of the captain’s orders.
“I was escorted by some lieutenant from their best ship. He insisted that he watch my every move, as if I were a criminal. It’s a shame to my warrior state.” Thalos nearly beat the console he was working at causing Jayda and Travis to hide the laughter that threatened.
Jayda was the first to speak, “Think about it Thalos. We are not a Federation ship and we are near the former Briar patch with a whole new world to explore. Of course they’ll be suspicious.”
“That’s no reason to peek over my shoulder. It’s distracting!”
“You do just fine when the captain or Naj’taku inspect,” Jayda pointed it out.
“That’s different,” Thalos blurted out before he realized that Travis and Jayda were laughing at him. He thought about it and decided it was pretty funny and laughed along with them. “Well it wasn’t that bad,” he admitted, “That Lt. Barrett was a nice fellow.”
“Barrett?” Jayda asked.
“Yes. Never met a Federation officer with more idealism than that but a sound fellow.”
“Well a bit of idealism hurt nobody,” Jayda countered, “Barrett is still young and he has learned a lot from the Tholian/Grey conflict.”
“Hey you’re not still sweet on him?” Travis asked teasing.
“I was never sweet on him,” Jayda retorted, “We were merely friends.”
“Sure,” Travis replied casting a look at Thalos who grinned back.
Jayda faced the station view with her arms crossed. Travis stifled his laughter as best as he could and said, “Well since Thalos got our refuel, I better check the warp core and the plasma conduits before we leave dock.” He headed for the turbo lift and asked to go to engineering. Jayda was still bristling while Thalos was checking the systems. She muttered angrily, “Barrett was a friend.”
“I know that Jayda,” Thalos replied, “We just like teasing you since you never say much about your time with Starfleet.”
“It wasn’t for me and I was glad I left,” Jayda replied a bit quickly. She began checking the systems when the comm beeped. She tapped in and said, “Anthropos to DS12.”
“Jayda,” the captain’s voice came over the comm, “Be ready to depart in ten minutes. We got what we came for?”
“Thalos refueled us and Travis is in engineering and Dana is helping him,” Jayda replied. “Captain why the rush?”
“We have some catching up to do. Taryn out.”