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Oo-mox and the Station

Posted on Mon Oct 12th, 2020 @ 3:11pm by Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker

Mission: Mission 0: Everybody Has A Story
Location: Starbase 375 - Lower Levels
Timeline: 2388

It had been some time since Ryland had walked these dimly lit halls. Years, come and gone. Some Security Chief or another must have cleared out the gambling dens since those times. Back in Ryland's glory days, a malcontent officer could come down here for a drink and a toke, a kiss and cuddle, and some cards and dice with other misbehaving officers and their civilian cohorts. And, back then, when he wore commander pips, Ryland had been the one to pull a non-com or junior officer out of the muck in order to spare them a formal reprimand. He had run a tight Wing, and part of that was knowing when to flex and when to yield.

My, how times change...

All of that felt like a lifetime ago. Especially so, since he was now the one on the prowl for interdicted goods and services. His desertion as he fled a wrongful JAG investigation, his years with the Nyberrite Alliance, his slow crawl back from the bottom of Starfleet enlistment aboard the USS Vindex and its buttfuck of a command team -- it was nothing if not one hell of a ride. Flashbacks from his former life as a commissioned officer were a cold splash of water to the face. Ol' Commodore Sinclair was right. Ryland knew he really was an asshole.

As he strolled along, his boots clacking against the dank floor that hadn't seen a cleaning detail for weeks, Ryland noted the lack of bustling activity. In fact, aside from the nervous enlisted servicemen running away, there didn't seem to be much activity down here. The lights felt dimmer, though. And...

The whirring of a charged phaser filled his ears. Cold metal bumped the back of his neck.

"Shit." Ryland sighed and mentally kicked himself. Hands went up without protest.

"Don't move," said a nasally voice behind him.

"Do I look like I'm moving?" Ryland let his hands drop a few degrees so he could look back at his assailant.

"Look forward," the nasally voice said. "Don't look at me, hew-mon."

Ryland's lips coiled back into a half-smirk. A Ferengi. That meant he was possibly moments from death, but it also meant he could resist without facing more Starfleet discipline.

"Now move."

A clammy hand shoved him in the back below the shoulder. Ryland planted his weight, letting the shove roll across his shoulder without moving him. "I thought you said not to."

"Yeah. And now I said, 'move'!"

Ryland felt the phaser leave his neck, presumably in order to cold-cock the back of his head, but it was all he needed. He ducked into a crouch, then threw himself backward. The smaller Ferengi sprawled across the floor, his phaser skittering away into the shadows, with Ryland plopped on top of him.

The two men scuffled for a moment, each trying to gain leverage over the other. Hands, knees, and elbows were everywhere in a mad scramble for dominance. Grunting and cursing echoed off the corridor walls until Ryland finally got to one side of the Ferengi with an arm in tow. Twisting the captured limb around at a sharp angle, he rose up and then drove his weight against it. A sticky snap rewarded him for his effort, along with a shrieking gasp of pain from his adversary.

"You'll pay for that!"

Ryland scoffed at the writhing Ferengi. "Yeah? Who's going to make me?"

Multiple clicks and energy pulses sounded from behind him. Ryland slowly turned about, counting four other Ferengi. And these were uncharacteristically large--nearly his own height. Two of them had plasma weapons, while others held charged energy whips.

"I surrender." Ryland offered his best shit-eating grin.

In response, he had an energy whip coil around his neck, while another lashed his grasping hands together at the wrists. Only then did the DaiMon present herself. Fully nude, of course, as per Ferengi tradition.

"I am DaiMon Yanz."

Ryland made an indecipherable grunt. The DaiMon waggled a finger at the thug whose whip was around Ryland's neck. It slackened, allowing him to speak.

"I said 'nice tits'," Ryland said between gasps for air.

Once more Yanz looked to her men for explanation. They all seemed confused. One of them muttered something about "Oo-mox," but only with a shake of his head. Yanz ignored the comment for lack of understanding and pressed straight to the point.

"Last month I sent a shipment of Rigelian flamegems through the Bajoran wormhole, and the transport was attacked by pirates." She bared her fangs. "Pirates led by your brother, Maximilian Dedeker."

Ryland began laughing at that. Slowly at first, though he soon worked his way into a throaty belly laugh. The whip around his neck tightened again, cutting off his air supply.

"Wait," he gurgled.

Yanz nodded, which once again freed Ryland to speak.

"I'm not exactly on speaking terms with Max," Ryland said candidly, "ever since he gave my name when arrested by Federation port authorities, years ago. The Nyberrites..."

Yanz was unmoved. "He owes me 200 flamegems, though I will graciously accept payment in the form of 40 bars of gold-pressed latinum."

He shrugged as best he could. "Sorry. Can't help you."

"Then you will deliver a message," Yanz said, her eyes turning dark with fury.

"Lady, I said I haven't seen him, and I got no idea where to find him." Ryland began struggling against the crackling whips. This was not going in any direction that was good for him.

"Don't worry, hew-mon," Yanz said. "He'll still get the message."

She nodded to the whip-wielders, who then intensified the pulse of their weapons. Ryland tried to scream through the pain, but his throat was closed for business. He wiggled, wrangled, and fought, but there was nothing he could do. These were professional slavers who knew how to restrain an unwilling quarry.

With the lights fading on his consciousness, Ryland reached down to his boot and pulled out the suicide photon grenade he kept there... for just such an emergency. He pulled the pin, and tossed it over to the DaiMon and her two gunmen. It rolled to a stop right between her bare feet.

"You fools!" Yanz shouted. "Why didn't you--"

Ryland was thrown back by the concussion blast. His insides felt like jello, unwilling to move except to tremble with the lingering shockwave. With great effort, he at last managed to sit himself up.

As bad as Ryland felt, the Ferengi were undoubtedly worse off. The detonation had blown Yanz apart, along with her two bodyguards. The whip-wielding Ferengi were farther away, prone on the ground with third-degree burns. One of them made a soft moan as he awakened. The shape of his partner's skull did not speak well for his survival, nor did the stain on the wall overhead.

Ryland managed to untangle himself from the deactivated energy whips. He marched over to the moaning Ferengi. The one who made the oo-mox comment, if memory served.

"Hiya," Ryland said with a savage grin. He kicked the Ferengi in the face, then grabbed him by the ear to yard him up to his feet for a good, closed-fisted beating. The crispy tissue rent due to the deep burns. Ryland heard the lobe tear free from the Ferengi's skull before his eyes actually registered it.

The Ferengi fell back to the floor with a thud, shrieking and screaming like a banshee in heat. Ryland felt a slight curb to his anger at the sight... he'd really not intended to do that. The other surviving Ferengi--the little nasally one with the broken arm--looked on in horror at the accidental atrocity.

"Well..." Ryland shrugged. While he wasn't proud of his unintentional brutality, he wasn't exactly sorry either. "Don't make none, won't be none."

If Security response was anything in the ballpark that he remembered, Ryland only had seconds--not minutes--to make himself scarce before a team responded to the detonation. And, from the looks of it, he didn't want to be anywhere near this clusterfornication. With any luck, Security still wouldn't know about the secret wall panel that fed into the Jefferies tube network. Ryland didn't look forward to crawling his burned, battered body back up to the docking bay level. But... it was that or sit in debriefings for the next month to explain what had just happened to everyone from the sector commander down to the janitor.

Ryland grabbed the crippled Ferengi by his collar. "I was never here. Got it?" He shook the man and leaned in close. "You were here for someone else. Not me!"

"I... I... w-w-won't tell... I swear!"

Throwing him back to the ground with a hard shove, Ryland sneered to himself. The odds of the Ferengi not giving him up weren't good, but... well, every time you killed a man in cold blood, it got a little easier. And Ryland decided that pathetic little space-rat wasn't worth it. Still, he stuff the other one's burned ear lobe in his boot where the grenade had been.

"Now, where's that secret panel..."

But as Ryland soon learned, Security had indeed learned about the secret wall panel. Rather than having it patched, they had installed hidden sensors that recorded everything that passed through to the Jefferies tube network. All Ryland earned through his labored crawling was a Security team that greeted him on egress.

"Hey, fellas," Ryland glibly quipped as he toppled to the flight deck. Even if he had a mind to run, there was nowhere to go except Sickbay, and he was tired. In so many ways, he was so very tired. Nobody got more than one Get Out of Jail Free card. This would be the end of the line for Ryland, and that would be just fine for him.

Fate never struck twice, after all.


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