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Buying Information

Posted on 12 Nov 2016 @ 9:30am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Elizabeth Marion & Lieutenant JG Catherine Cooper

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: Razmena
Timeline: MD 10 || 1900 hours

Lieutenant Elizabeth Marion and her team walked through the darkened corridors of the Razmena station, pale green lighting casting ominous shadows over scattered barrels, cargo containers, and other bits of debris that stood in the walkways. To say the place looked run down and slum-like was something of an understatement. Even the various people that they passed as they ventured into the interior of the massive installation seemed like they would fit better in a refugee camp than on a station in space. Their stares were by far the most unnerving thing. One couldn't tell if they were simply staring because they were newcomers, or if they were plotting to cut their throats the moment they had the chance to.

"I think our best bet," Liz said as they reached a small bit of corridor that wasn't occupied, "is to find a bar or something similar and get some information that way. I get the feeling if you ask people who are sober... or can't afford to be anything but sober... we're not going to get much out of them."

"Probably a good idea," said Jayla with a nod as she looked around at everything, an expression of mild interest pasted firmly on her features. She was still terrified, but she was channeling it into the mask she'd created. It was something she'd learned to do during all those plays in which she'd participated in the academy; she'd had terrible stage fright and the director had taught her how to use it to force out a strong performance. That's all this was- a performance. Except that her life may depend on it. "Anyone fancy asking directions to the nearest bar?" she asked with a barest hint of a grin.

"If I may," Thatcher said, "My parents run a pub in England now tis often a civilized place but innkeepers talk yes? I'd like to recommend we go to a working class pub high enough on the chain to know what their about but low enough to complain freely. Less obvious criminal elements oftentimes as well but we'll have to keep our eyes open, big bouncers? Blast doors? Bars in places? Maybe we want to move on. That or we find where the merchants hang out, You've got the Ferengi types who will do anything for perceived profit sure but most just want to get to the next port. We can either go up a few decks see if we can find a public map or..." She nodded at Jayla, "Find someone we feel we can safely approach, personally if can avoid that I feel it would be best. Places like this, tourists are the first to get jumped. In my opinion, Elizabeth..." She said directing the last at her team leader respectfully.

Liz folded her arms across her chest and drummed a finger against her bottom lip in thought. The general consensus seemed to be that the bar would be their best option, and given their primary goal had been information gathering in the first place, it seemed that a more 'upscale' place was probably better than nothing. Finding it, however, was their current dilemma.

Marion looked around their immediate area and found someone casually leaning against a wall, eyeballing people that passed by with a look that said 'I know people'. If her father had taught her anything about shotgun diplomacy, it was that sometimes you just had to act worse than the people you were around to get them to give things up without asking too many questions.

"Give me a minute," Liz said, breaking from the group for a moment. She approached the man who had been holding the wall up and issued him a swift and accurate shot to his groin before pulling her pistol and ramming it against his throat. They exchanged a few words quietly before the man handed over some manner of pouch and ran off. When Marion returned, she gave her group a bit of a grin.

"Seems like the best place to get a good drink is pretty much where you surmised it was," Liz turned to Thatcher, "Three levels up from here. Even managed to get him to pay for the first round."

Jayla gave her a congratulating grin, which came out looking slightly evil on the tough mask she wore. "You're brilliant," she said, offering her a fist bump.

Liz gave the woman a fist bump, "Thanks. Dad taught me that one. He said if you just walk up to a guy, knee him like he left you naked somewhere after a one night stand, and demand to be compensated, they don't ask questions, they just pay up and leave. Doesn't even matter that you never actually did have a one night stand with them. Most men are too stupid to remember all their 'conquests' anyway. Shall we?"

Tanika, opting to be the silent one, simply nodded. She wasn't exactly silent by choice, but because she was using her mental acuity to scan the minds around her. She could sense a myriad of emotions, and the one she most sensed was curiosity, and all of it directed at them. This was going to be interesting.

When Marion had made her move Sarah had shifted to support but kept her distance. When Marion kicked the guy Thatcher blinked in surprise, after a moment saying only, "Well that's one way..." she said lightly, keeping her eyes on their surroundings without seeming too, "Yes let's before you have to Kung-fu Knee anyone else," She said with a dry humor, not entirely without merit.

Liz grinned at the comment and led the team toward the lift she'd been made aware of thanks to her brief but fruitful exchange with her unfortunate victim. There were a few points along the path that required Marion to kick some manner of trash or another out of her way, this just accentuated the point that they were probably in a bad part of 'town'.

The lift ride was a silent one, they had managed to catch one as it was loading several other passengers aboard, all of whom looked as if they were not at all interested in the group of women or anything they had to say. When it stopped on the level they needed, the group disembarked without any pause or delay. The level they were now occupying had a different hue to it. Everything was cast in a pale violet light, which was either intentional to alert people as to where they were, or simply the chosen aesthetic for that particular area.

"He said there's a trader's bar down the corridor a ways," Liz informed her group, "And there's a few shops on this level too, so we can try and do a bit of bartering to make us seem legitimate. Which should we try first? A little trade or a little pressing of flesh?"

Janell reached out again with her mind, feeling those around her. "Trade," she voted. "Everyone's too curious. We shouldn't try to show off."

Marion gave the woman a nod and headed for the nearest shop. The violet track lighting gave way to a softer and more natural white light as the group walked in. There were wares piled up in corners and on tables, a veritable treasure trove of junk. Liz looked around the small space until she noticed some movement and made her way over while her team spread out just enough to make things look right but not enough to leave any of them isolated.

"Excuse me," Marion said in her most friendly voice, "I was wondering if we could do a little business."

The shop the four aliens entered was owned by an Ennis. He'd been observing them as they entered, entirely fascinated by them. However, he was not interested in them. His thoughts immediately went to what type of ship they arrived in. "Welcome," he greeted the... he looked again at the four. Were they men? Women?

Liz continued to smile, "Thanks. I was wondering if you might be willing to do a little trading. We're in need of a few things, and have a few things we have more of than we need. What are you in the market for, and what have you got on offer?"

"Nothing involving the Karemma or Dosi, mind you," the Ennis quickly replied. "Their stuff is no good around here. I like exotic and functional."

"I don't know how exotic you'll find it, but everything I've got is functional," Marion said as she pulled the pack off her back and produced a toolkit, one that had been scrubbed of any markings that would have given it away immediately as Federation. Liz opened the kit up and displayed the many and varied tools inside.

"I can personally guarantee the quality of every single one of them... I use them all the time. I have everything from spanners to splicers, and a few little gems in there that can do half the work for you if you know how to use them right," Marion explained in the fast talking and vague manner that most traders she'd ever met seemed to favor.

The Ennis began to examine the kit, taking out a couple of the tools and turning them on. After a few moments, he looked back up at the pink-skinned person. "If you use them all the time, why are you willing to part with them?"

"Because," Liz said as she leaned in closer, "I got a guy that knows some people. He sends me crates of these kits every few months and what I don't use to replace my stock, I sell. He isn't losing anything in the deal since he gets them dirt cheap, and I make a bit off what I don't use. Everybody wins."

"How do I know these weren't something you replaced?" he asked, noting some of the scuff marks on the tools. Already he was considering an offer in his mind.

"If they were, they'd be beat to death. I'm good at fixing stuff, but I'm bad on tools. There's plenty of days when blunt trauma from whatever tools I have handy fix more than the tool does on its own," Marion pointed out, "And not a single one of these are bent at weird angles, are they?"

The Ennis looked back up at the pink-skin and smiled. "How would I know? Okay, so you want to sell these. I'll give you twenty credits, store credit."

"Fine," Liz said with a shrug, "How many of these kits are you willing to buy?"

Thatcher had been following quietly behind, keeping an eye on their surroundings without being overly obvious. She watched aliens pass by and made note of the security precautions she could see. She watched interactions, trying to get a handle on station life. She noted people were curious about them but didn't seem overly so. She had been half listening to Liz interact with the Ennis, keeping an eye on him as well. She noted the species he didn't want to do business with and found it interesting. She did glance briefly puzzled at Liz. Toward the end as she had expected some haggling but she quickly moved on knowing there were other trading tactics, out there.

"What?" asked the Ennis. "Do you have a stockpile of these on your person or something?"

"Not on me, no, but I can get them delivered up here easily enough. I've got about two crates worth of them. Like I said, I get them in bulk," Liz smirked, "So how many you willing to take off my hands?"

"You seem eager to get rid of them," the Ennis replied. "All right. I'll take them all. But, I won't pay until I see them all."

Liz pulled out a small PaDD that looked like the kind of thing any merchant might have around. She tapped a few commands on it and stepped back just enough to give the cargo room to materialize. The blue-white haze of their shuttle's transporter filled the space she'd just made before two large nondescript crates appeared. Marion walked around to stand by the Ennis again before pulling open one of the crate lids to reveal roughly two dozen tool kits.

"Now... about my payment... Since you're offering store credit, I'm wondering if you have raw material stores, scrap, things of that nature. I'm also in the market for a little bit of information as well, if you happen to have heard anything that might benefit a girl who wants to avoid trouble," Liz winked.

So it was a woman that stood before him. The Ennis smiled, relishing in the revelation. "You should pay the Argathi a visit while you're here. They can plant a week of knowledge into your mind in a microsecond." He also didn't indicate that they could just as easily withdraw memories, especially ones that could gain everyone more knowledge of this strange people.

The Ennis waved his hand around the shop. "What you see is what I have. Take a look and we'll see if you have enough."

"Alright," Liz nodded, "I'll take a look around and get back to you."

Marion moved away from the Ennis and approached Tanika, stopping beside her as if to look at something that seemed roughly interesting. When Liz was sure the Ennis' attention was diverted sufficiently on his newest purchase, she leaned over to the Betazoid.

"He mentioned something called an Argathi... but I get this... feeling... that they aren't just good at dumping knowledge into someone's head. You ever heard of them?" Liz whispered to the woman while trying to look far more interested in the junk in front of her.

Janell probed with her mind as she tried to recall the name. "I think they were in the species list we reviewed on the way." She sighed, her mind hurting. There had been too many species on that list to remember them all. "I think they're known in our universe for manipulating memories."

Thatcher was near enough to hear but kept her eyes on their surroundings. "Not sure that'd be my first choice..." She said quietly in a conversational tone.

"Indeed," Janell agreed. "Do you see anything here that would be useful to us, Liz, or should we just all grab something that could be bartered?"

"Yeah," Marion nodded, "I'll go see about getting a price for it, then we can go."

Liz moved away from the two and returned to the merchant, "There's a stack of parts over in the corner that looks about right for my needs, and a box full of spare parts over there by my companion. Do I have enough credit to get all that?"


Meanwhile, Jayla was busy looking around for any trouble- partly because she was still terrified, but also because she had decided to look like a grunt. She was concentrating on channeling all that fear into a menacing look, which, had any of her crewmates been paying attention, as actually quite frightening. The fear in her eyes didn't really look like fear at all, but combined with the scowl she had forced her face into to make her look a bit wild and dangerous, like a wild cat who could snap and scratch your eyes out in half a second.

She saw one man just outside the shop who was giving their group a significant amount of attention, so she glared at him, unblinking, from under her deeply furrowed brow. The man finally met her eyes and stared at her for a long moment. Don't blink, don't blink, she told herself. Finally, the man turned and walked down the corridor. She blinked slowly and deliberately mostly to properly wet her eyes, but with her scowl, came off looking even more frightening. She turned back to pay attention to the exchange between Marion and the shopkeeper.

Thatcher, who had been watching their surroundings, saw the whole thing. Blinked once then sidled over to Jayla, "Nicely done but remember to breathe, it will be ok and we've got your back." She said in a low tone meant for the two of them alone, a little concerned over how tense she seemed to be.

Jayla took a deep breath that, combined with her stoney expression, ended up looking like a heavy sigh. "Thanks," she said quietly. "I'll try to keep that in mind."

The shopkeeper nodded. "Looks like a fair trade," she told Marion. She held out a datapad for a biometric scan to confirm the deal.

Liz placed her thumb on the pad and gave the merchant a nod, "Thank you, it was a pleasure dealing with you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tag my gear and get out of your hands."

Marion moved over to the equipment she'd told the Ennui she wanted and placed transponder tags on them. When all of the gear was properly labeled, she used the PaDD she had to activate the shuttle's transporters and whisk them away. The woman motioned her companions and headed out of the shop, waiting for each of them to come out before looking around the corridor that had brought them to the establishment.

"I suppose we need to get rid of the medicine we brought with us too," Liz muttered partly to herself as she gazed around purposefully.

Again, Jayla took a deep breath that sounded like a heavy sigh. "Do you know what they are or will you need my help?" she asked, seriously hoping she wouldn't have to do much.

Janell sensed unusual emotions coming from the Doctor. She could feel her hesitant nature, yet even Janell knew they were all out of their comfort zones. It would be the price to regain their colleagues. "I think the Ca... I mean... Harvey... put you on the team because of your knowledge of the medicines."

"And a wise choice it was too. A suggestion for the medicines is to find the merchants bar, they'd be looking to stock up on supplies. Or a second choice would be to find someone who supplies the cargo crews..." Thatcher offered politely. Trying to help the doctor focus on something useful instead of what was making her tense, that and she really want to get back on track with the mission. Sometimes when working she tended to get a bit tunnel vision like.

"Over there," Janell said with a gentle nod towards a nearby shop, "appears to be something that might work." Unlike most of the storefronts they'd seen so far, this one appeared to be cleaner and brighter. Perhaps it was some sort of wellness of medical center.

Liz gave the storefront an appraising look before nodding, "If it isn't a clinic, it might be some sort of pharmacy. Either way, it's probably our best bet. Let's try it."

Marion led the small group over to the shop in question and turned to the Doctor, "When we get in there, do you want to do the talking since you know more about medicine than I ever will, or do you want me to talk and you just fill in the blanks? I'm fine with either."

Tanika followed close behind, trying to probe ahead with her mind. "Doctor, I don't sense anything out of the ordinary." Of course, the entire station itself was out of the ordinary, so the statement really didn't matter that much.

"I think I can handle it," Jayla replied so nonchalantly, it would have almost fooled a Betezoid. Almost. "Ready? Let's go," she said, and without waiting for a response, walked right into the place in question, which was definitely something to do with medicine. Jayla suspected a pharmacy of sorts as there didn't appear to be any back rooms for treating patients. But, then again, perhaps they were hidden. Who knew for sure? Jayla stopped a few steps inside the door and looked around slowly, lazily. She gave a single sniff and blinked once, slowly. Anyone who didn't know her would think she was just quietly and stoically looking things over, but if her sister were here, she would have recognized the signs of Jayla walking the line between sane and totally flipping insane.

The Teplan at the counter watched as four female (she assumed they were female) aliens entered her establishment. "Sale today on all antibiotics," she greeted them, her voice quite monotonous, almost as if she were bored.

"We don't need any of those," said Jayla dismissively. "In fact, we've got more than we need. I was hoping you would be willing to trade."

"Trade?" the Teplan scoffed. "The last time I traded, my boss nearly fired me. Either you buy or sell."

Janell probed the woman's mind, checking to see how truthful she was being. Indeed, there was a bit of fear between the Teplan and her boss. The Betazoid gave the doctor a confirming nod before starting to browse, taking up a position behind the woman.

Jayla nodded. "And what if my price is information?" she asked slyly. Perhaps she wouldn't trade goods for goods, but goods for information might work.

"Again, I'd be in trouble," she said with a heavy sigh. Of course, that didn't mean she couldn't talk while examining whatever they had.

"All right," said Jayla. "Well, will you look at what we have? Then maybe we can agree on a... price."

The Teplan picked up a scanning plate, and an analyzer. "There's no harm in looking," she told the spotted woman. In fact, now that she noticed them, she wondered if they were a tattoo, or some sort of biological component. And, if that was the case, how far down did they go?

The Medicines were easier to carry with them, as they were in small phials. Jayla had them in her messenger bag, all contained in separate cases according to what they were. She pulled out some analgesics; she would save the cardiovascular drugs for later. "Bicaridine," she said, opening the first case, which contained eight phials. "Useful for those who war allergic to Metorapan." She opened another case. "Asinolyathin, a muscle relaxant and pain reliever in one," she said. "And Triptacederine- the strongest pain killer in existence," she added, opening the last case.

The pharmacist picked up the first phial, the Bicaridine and withdrew a small sample of it. Placing it on the scanning plate, she began to analyze the chemical makeup to see if there was anything similar in her system. "Analgesics are in high demand around these parts," she told the spotted woman. "Mainly thanks to junkies."

"They keep us in business, don't they?" replied Jayla, storing that information. She had more analgesics in her pack that they could try to exchange for information if should run across any junkies.

"That's one way to look at it," the woman said. "Looks pretty close to Mek'lan Trikazine. Popular one too. How much of it are you carrying?" While she awaited an answer, the Teplan began to analyze the Asinolyathin.

"Eight phials that size," answered Jayla. Truthfully, she had twice that, but if she was going to reserve some to trade to more questionable people, she could risk selling it all here.

Thatcher frowned but said nothing. She did not approved of such drug use but stifled her reaction as she continued to watch their surroundings. So far they had drawn some attention but no one that seemed to be stalking them.

"This one doesn't seem to be of value," the pharmacist said, sliding the Asinolyathin back to the spotted woman. She then picked up the Triptacederine and prepared a sample of it for testing. "So where are you all from?"

Ah ha! It was just the sort of opening Jayla had been looking for. "Far, far away," she said, taking the Asinolyathin and placing it back in her bag. "What can you tell us about this area of space? Who's in charge? Should we expect any trouble? That sort of thing."

"Here on Razmena, there are twelve or fourteen different houses, I forget which." Her eyes remained on the screen as it analyzed the sample. "And, if you're not aligned to one, you keep to yourself and just do your business. Outside of Razmena, the Confederation is the ruling authority."

"The Confederation?" Jayla asked, trying to make her tone mildly interested. She glanced at Marion, wishing they were telepathic so she could find out what questions to ask. "What can you tell me about them?"

"Just that you don't want to cross them," she said with a frown.

Janell's eyes narrowed, sensing a wave of despair from the Teplan. She couldn't quite make out the emotion, but there was definitely some trauma there. Catching Jayla's attention, she mouthed the words "Ask her" to the Trill.

Jayla saw Tanika's message and gave a single nod. She'd been planning on asking anyway. "They bad news?" she asked.

The Teplan nodded. "My... my mate tried to cheat them once. When they found out, I didn't see him for a month. By the time the Selamat brought him home, he was a shell of a man. They'd pulled everything out of his mind, left him a vegetable. He... I couldn't bear to see him like that."

A beep sounded from her analyzer, snapping her back to attention. Wiping her teary eyes, she took a look at the sample. "This Tripta... whatever you call it is pretty strong. Probably some of the strongest I've ever seen. How much are you willing to part with?"

"I've got eight phials," Jayla answered. "Don't need any of it, really. How much you want?"

"I'll take it all," the Teplan replied. "So, for your Bicaridine, I can offer you twenty credits a phial. For that Trip-do-stuff, I can do two hundred. If you want more than that, find a junkie that's not willing to kill you for it."

Had Jayla gotten enough information? She had no idea. But, something told her that she wasn't going to get anymore. Still, it was something. Now they knew that they had to either avoid crossing the Confederation or else win so spectacularly that there was nobody else to come after them. "All right," she agreed after a moment's hesitation. She pulled out the phials in question- all clearly labeled- and set them carefully on the counter.

The Teplan accessed the register and pulled out the physical credits, a collection of coins and short brass-colored cylinders. She also picked up a datapad with a contract for the spotted woman to sign. "I just need your bioprint and one thousand seven hundred and sixty credits are yours."

Jayla hesitated for a split second, then pressed her thumb to the PaDD. It couldn't do any harm, right?

"Pleasure doing business with you," the Teplan said, withdrawing the datapad and handing over the credits.

Thatcher having enough experience with security software in computers flinched slightly but it was unavoidable if they hoped even attempt to stay under the radar. She mentally crossed her fingers, "Perhaps we should head to the bar next?" She said mildly, not only was it on their list of stops but it may allow them to talk without as much risk over being over head.

"I could use a drink," Jayla half joked as she gathered the credits and placed them carefully into a pocket of the bag she carried.

"It should be time to meet up with the others," Janell said as soon as they left the establishment. "Perhaps we should head straight for the rendezvous point."

~To Be Continued~

 

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