Shore Leave: Welcome to Drozana
Location: Drozana Station - Bazaar
Robert landed the shuttle where he'd been told to and then looked over to Alan - giving him the nod to power down the craft. The Starfleet Captain had been assigned to patrol the area looking for illegal trading and synthetic humans. The Excelsior-class starship he commanded would be too obvious when it came to infiltrating trading outposts - but the Cardassian shuttle they captured provided the perfect disguise.
To avoid arousing suspicion the two officers had changed into civilian attire before departing the Victoria - the last thing they needed was their cover being blown if the shuttle was searched by a Ferengi patrol or the outpost's staff. Robert's niece Lennon had also joined them for the ride - volunteering to act as an additional pair of eyes and ears. Once the trio had exited the shuttle Robert pointed towards the exit.
"Right...let's go and look around this bazaar" Robert said.
After reaching the bazaar the trio made their way around - keeping their eyes and ears open whilst discreetly scanning for any synths. Alan went around one way with Robert and Lennon taking another route - agreeing to meet Alan again at the entrance.
Raven was strolling around the bazaar, browsing the items on display. If they were going to go and try to acquire the Ourainavassa from the pirates, they were going to need all the best equipment they could get. And while she was sure that Rehana and Ashley would make sure the ship and her crew were as ready as could be, she did not trust anyone with her personal weaponry. So, she had come to one of the many stalls here to browse for some upgrades.
She was looking through the wares on offer, just having spotted an antique firearm from Earth - back from the days before energy weapons had become the standard - when, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted two humans wandering around the market, an older male and a younger female. She frowned. The male's face looked familiar. With a sigh, she shook her head, and pulled some strips of latinum out of the pocket of her leather coat. A moment later, she had agreed a price with the Orion merchant, and pocketed the antique revolver, as well as a box of ammunition.
Robert and Lennon strolled past the stall and stopped at the next one along from the Orion merchant. He and Alan always made sure to stop at stalls to make what they were doing not look very obvious. He then looked at his niece after she picked something up and showed him.
"Ellie would like that" Lennon said.
Robert nodded. "I think she would"
Robert agreed a price for the item and placed it into his bag - almost bumping into Raven as she walked past.
"Oops - nearly! Sorry about that" Robert said.
Raven glared up at the human. "Watch your step. You don't want to randomly bump into the wrong person here." Shaking her head, she kept walking. Yes, she definitely recognised him now. When she had last seen the man, he had been a Starfleet Captain, giving a workshop at the academy, all those years ago. But what was he doing here at Drozana? Raven decided it was better not to get involved.
"Ah. I thought it was you...Sehan t'Varis" Robert replied.
She froze. "Now what would a Starfleet Captain be doing on Drozana, out of uniform?" Slowly, Raven turned back to face Robert, her hand now casually resting on the dagger on her belt. "We may be in Federation space, but this is a private station. So I hope you are not here to cause any trouble. For your sake, and that of your friend there."
"After all I taught you this is the response I get" Robert said.
Just as Lennon was about to jump to her uncle's defence Alan appeared behind Raven out of nowhere. His normal kind, jovial self had been left behind on the Victoria - out here he adopted a much more sinister attitude.
"If you lay a finger on either of them I'll snap you in half" Alan said.
Raven glanced at the newcomer, before simply smirking at the Captain. "You won't have to worry about me, I've got enough trouble to deal with without Starfleet on my back. Just a friendly warning. You should be careful round here. That disguise of yours is not particularly good. I'm pretty sure most people on here will have clocked that you are Starfleet by now. You may have taught me a lot about commanding a Starfleet vessel, Captain. But we are not at the Academy any more." She patted the double holster on her right hip, holding both her plasma pistol and her dagger. "You should not be wandering this place unprepared."
Robert smirked. "I left that place a long time ago. This gentleman here is my trading partner - and this is my niece. She's our cook"
t'Varis shook her head. She found it hard to believe that Stephenson would have quit Starfleet, unless he was one of those blind idealists that had followed Picard. Still, she decided to play along. "Trading partner, eh? Trading what, exactly?"
"Warp drive components. He buys them - I fix them - and then he sells them. Maybe one day we'll be able to afford something better than the warp powered shitbox we've got at the moment" Alan said.
"What a coincidence," Raven replied, and pulled a PADD out of her inside pocket, a movement that caused her Romulan rank insignia on her collar to almost flash in the artificial light of the bazaar. If they hadn't noticed it now, they were blind. "My chief engineer sent me on a hunt for some parts." She gave Alan the PADD. "Got any of those?"
Alan took the PADD and looked at it for a few moments. Starfleet had provided them with a range of alien warp engine components to trade as part of their mission - and sure enough these were on the list. The bald Australian man gave the PADD back to Raven.
"As a matter of fact...we do. Perhaps we can agree a deal" Alan said.
Robert nodded. "Indeed. Our shuttle is this way"
Raven shook her head as she took back the PADD. "You really must be new to this, Captain. Who goes to a shuttle to discuss business, when there is a perfectly good bar just one deck above us." She chuckled, as she pointed to the turbolift. "Shall we?"
"We don't have time to piss around. Do you want them or not?" Alan replied.
Robert raised his hand. "Less of the Captain. After you"
Robert and Lennon sat around one of the tables whilst Alan went to the bar to order their drinks. Alan didn't particularly like playing the bad guy - but if it meant keeping their cover then he was willing to go along with it. When the Ferengi bar attendant approached Alan he gave the man his order.
"Two Aldeberan whiskeys and a tulaberry wine please" Alan said.
The bartender prepared the drinks and placed them on a tray for Alan, when he saw Raven approaching the bar, and immediately reached under the counter. "Yes yes, a bottle of the good stuff, yes?" The mercenary chuckled. "Just a quadruple spiced rum, today."
Finally, when all the drinks had been served and taken to the table, they could get down to business. "Right then. You can drop the bullshit, and you can drop it fast," Raven said, looking Robert directly in the eye. "You never left Starfleet, and your disguises are so amateurish I am surprised you made it this far with all your limbs still attached. So, what's the real reason you are here, Captain Robert Stephenson of the USS Victoria?"
Robert's personnel record had been altered by Starfleet Intelligence to make it appear that he had resigned at the same time as Admiral Picard - with command of the Victoria passing over to Tolan who was the Suliban first officer. Alan's service record was not accessible to anyone but those involved in the mission.
"Check my service record. I haven't been in Starfleet for over a year" Robert replied.
Raven chuckled again, and tapped a button on her communicator. "Gedak, check the Starfleet Record of one Captain Robert Stephenson." After a moment, the Ferengi's voice replied. "Resigned, boss. Looks like he's one of Picard's people." "Interesting. Thanks."
She looked at Stephenson again and smirked. "So you followed Picard's example and quit, and now you are peddling ship parts?" She shook her head, and once again tapped her insignia. "Let me guess. Intelligence sent you here. Or was it even the Section? Should be easy to find out, I just need to make a few calls." She took a sip from her glass. There was no way Stephenson had actually left Starfleet, she mused. She would have heard about it. She made a mental note to investigate this more in-depth. "But let's for a moment say that your cover story is indeed legit. You got a price for those parts?"
After calculating the total - which was the going rate for the desired components - Alan gave Raven the PADD. He did not trust the woman and hoped that Robert decided to arrest her when they got back to the shuttle and then turn her over to Starfleet Intelligence for questioning.
To try and convince Raven that he the information was correct Robert decided to mention something that was quite close to home - something Robert never did as it wasn't in his nature.
"I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. The FNS did put something out although it must have been a footnote rather than the full front page treatment I was expecting. We can miss things from time to time when we're wrapped up in our own guilt" Robert responded.
Raven studied the PADD, and transmitted the file to Gedak. "I'll send it through to our acquisitions expert. See what he says about your prices." She turned to Robert and raised her eyebrows. "Now I have no idea what you are talking about, either."
Her communicator pinged, indicating that Gedak had sent a reply, so Raven glanced at the little display on her wrist. The Ferengi had approved of the price for the transaction. "Right, looks like my Ferengi thinks your price is good. Have the parts delivered to my ship. We will check that everything is as specified, and then you will receive your payment."
"Ellie Greaves" Robert muttered.
Alan did not agree with the proposal - he much preferred to receive a deposit to secure the sale and then the rest when the parts were collected. The Australian knew their regular buyer would gladly take the parts off their hands if Raven didn't agree to Alan's terms.
Alan countered. "Half now and half upon collection. Otherwise you can go and pay inflated prices somewhere else and we'll sell them to our regular client instead"
Raven decided to up the ante - and to test if the trio were really as good as they hoped to be in keeping up their disguises. "Full payment upon delivery, or word gets out that a bunch of Starfleet Intelligence operatives are trying to lure people into a trap by pretending to be selling spare parts for warp drives." Although she had heard Robert's remark, she had decided not to show any response whatsoever. She could not stand cheap shots like that.
"Alan...go and get the parts" Robert ordered.
Alan nodded and disappeared from the bar to go and get the parts. Ten minutes later he returned pushing a trolley which carried the crates containing the parts - flinging them open one by one. Inside them were genuine warp core components as described on Alan's list.
"I'm not a Starfleet captain - I'm a warp core component trader because it earns a living for my family. Half now and half on delivery - or I'll tell my former colleague Captain Tolan where you're hiding. I'm sure he'd be very interested in tracking down a wanted fugitive" Robert said.
Raven chuckled. "You think I would be carrying that much latinum on my person, on this station? You must think I'm stupid. As for calling me a wanted fugitive, you really think I am scared of Starfleet? Are you blind or simply ignoring the rank insignia I am wearing?"
She sighed. "Anyway, let's get these parts to the docking bay, before your guy gets robbed. I'll have Gedak meet us halfway with the payment."
"I'm neither blind nor ignorant. Starfleet might be run by a bunch of political do-gooders that don't know that's good for them - but they're certainly not scared of the Romulans" Robert commented.
Lennon scoffed. "Before we get robbed? You should see what happens to people who've tried"
Alan grinned and closed the crates - wheeling the trolley outside and waiting for Robert and Lennon to join him. They then began the walk towards the agreed point where the transaction would take place.
The group had nearly reached the docking bay, by the time Gedak came up to them, carrying a big case. By his side was one of the technicians the crew had hired here at Drozana, a burly, not very talkative Tellarite. "There we are boss, full payment."
The Ferengi stepped over to the trolley, and placed his case on top of it. With a click, it opened, revealing the latinum inside it. "Please feel free to count and check for authenticity, but I would suggest doing that somewhere less public."
Raven nodded her thanks to her quartermaster, and turned to Stephenson. "There you go. We can take it from here." The tellarite turned around, revealing that he had a carrying frame on his back. "If you would be so kind in helping us transfer the merchandise, you can be on your merry way."
Robert eyed the latinum in the case briefly before turning the case towards him and closing it. He was sure it was all there - not that it really mattered because the parts he'd sold cost them nothing. The latinum would be handed over to Starfleet Intelligence at their next planned rendezvous.
Robert replied. "A pleasure doing business with you. Perhaps we can leave an inventory of some other miscellaneous items we have in stock for you to look over? I'm sure a few of them may be of interest and use to a freighter captain"
Raven chuckled. "Well, if they are only of use to a freighter captain, they will be of little use to me. If they are, however, useful for a freelancer, then they may well be interesting. Feel free to send over a catalogue. You know where to find us now."
Robert nodded. "My you have gone up in the world. I'll have Alan send it over with a time and place to meet tomorrow. If we don't hear from you before then...try not to get yourself killed"
He then turned to Alan and Lennon and gestured for them to follow him back to the shuttle. Prior to returning to their craft Robert and Alan thoroughly inspected the latinum and case for any tracking devices - and were satisfied there were none present. After returning to the craft Robert retired to one of the cabins to have some time to think whilst Lennon began to prepare their evening meal. Alan briefly departed to send Raven the promised catalogue from a different location - returning before starting to tinker with an antique scanner which he'd purchased during his sweep of the bazaar. Alan had contemplated checking on Robert but knew it was best to leave him alone when he wanted quiet time. He would emerge when he was ready.