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Betting It All (Alpha Trios IV, Team Two, Part Two)

Posted on 05 Jul 2018 @ 1:57pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Senior Chief Petty Officer Charles Stephens Jr. & Lieutenant JG Catherine Cooper & Ensign Kelly Khan

Mission: The Search Begins
Location: Alpha Trios
Timeline: MD2 || 0950 hours

Once the computer had analyzed and replicated the local currency, Kelly gave five hundred units each to T'Lana, Lieutenant Cooper and Chief Stephens. "Hopefully, there won't be some unknown factor that allows these aliens to know what's counterfeit and what isn't," she said. "We should go check out the games and place some wagers so this currency gets mixed in with the real stuff, but don't spend big at first. We still need to find a Triosian and learn more about what happened in this system. Questions or thoughts?"

"Should we keep up the foursome or split into pairs?" Charles was curious which would be the best course of action going forward.

T'lan, "Splitting up would make us less noticeable but also would make support difficult." She observed logically, her tone mild.

Cooper was looking at the replicated money she'd been handed, she rather hoped the Ensign was right that there wasn't some factor they were missing. She listened as conversation flowed, "Is there a need to split up? Within the same room I can see it maybe to better information gathering but I don't think we should be far from each other, for mutual support."

Kelly shook her head. "No, we're not splitting up she said as she put the Daaliks into a replicated pouch. "We're going to the games."

A short time later, the young Ensign arrived at the area where the games were held and headed for the area where everyone seemed to be congregating. The language matrices she had gotten seemed a bit spotty on the alien languages, but she heard wagers and odds and knew that must be where the bets were taking place on the prisoners. With luck, she'd find the Triosian that had gotten taken away and see how he did, or maybe find another that would be willing to talk to her.

As their group approached Charles first took notice of the group of people gathered to place best, from what he could tell. He saw that they where using a very ancient looking contraption to place the bets and it lacked automation and innovation, he thought. As he scanned the crowd he did a double take and then nudged the Ensign. "Ma'am at my two o'clock just past the group I see what looks like another Triosian."

The Senior Chief was correct. In fact, what his eyes had spotted was enough long, fuzzy hair to belong to half a dozen Triosians, each one placing their bets before entering the arena. The betting machines were akin to something from Earth's late twentieth century, using a pressure-operated feed for paper currency, and a slot mechanism to insert coins. The deposits were sucked away from the betting pool and into a guarded area to be held for after the contest. Once the money was proffered, the user would select from a variety of options on a lever and knob based system. Finally, when the bet was made, a small printer spat out a paper slip that contained a rather cryptic message, something that could only be read at the gate following the games. These Triosians that Chief Stephens had spotted quickly made their bets and disappeared inside the arena.

Kelly pulled her tricorder out and scanned the writing on the machine and read the display on it. She placed a small bet on a random name, time and points, inserted the original Daaliks that she had pilfered and took the paper when it came out. She wasn't interested in the game, but she headed towards where the group of Triosians were after another quick scan of her tricorder to locate them. "Come on before they get too far ahead," she called to Cooper and Stephens.

Cooper followed Khan and T'lan would follow Stephens as they entered the arena. Cooper disliked the whole process of using prisoners to fight for entertainment but she kept that to herself as she kept quietly alert.

Charles thought about placing a bet with the counterfit currency but chose it was best suited for hand to hand transactions then through any type of machine that might be able to detect its authenticity. He followed a few steps behind Cooper and Kelly as to keep the group together but not look like a pack.

"If anyone has any ideas on the approach, speak up now," Kelly said.

T'len spoke up this time, "A more subtle approach perhaps? I believe the term is "Stakeout?" She offered in her mild tone.

Kelly nodded and approached to where the Triosians were sitting and took a seat behind them, surreptitiously opening her tricorder to record everything while she listened in on what they were saying so she could determine where a good spot for her to ask one of them a question would be.

Charles followed suit coming in a acting like he was excited for the games, when in reality he hated the idea of them. He sat next to Kelly as he awaited an opening to make a greeting.

That opening would have to wait. A loud horn began to wail in the arena down below, echoing off the rough edges of the obstacle course. Throughout the course, several gladiator-like figures readied themselves, whether they were guarding doorways or various objects, or standing at what appeared to be rotary canons.

When the horn finished, five teams of two emerged from an open doorway at the far end of the arena. Cheers came from all of the levels, as did an announcement revealing that none of these were seasoned competitors. Among them was Driaan, having just been picked up from the bar a short time ago. The horn sounded again, and the competitors were chased by rotary fire into the obstacle course.

Cooper frowned, she still felt the sting of failure over not getting him earlier. To be honest she wasn't happy with the whole thing, this was a barbaric system and though she tried hard not to judge she couldn't help but feeling putting prisoners at harm for entertainment was still wrong. Unfortunately she wasn't sure what she could do about it, she felt obligated to get Driaan out but didn't know how. She put that thought on a mental side burner as she continued.

"The challenge will be getting their attention from their sport..." Cooper said to their little group, as she noted how interested in the event their targets were. "Still if we don't want to wait..." She glanced at the ring looking displeased, "I can approach to offer money and goods for information. If they react badly it's on me, if they don't you'll be near enough to pick up." She looked at Khan and Stephens who had been their primary negotiators.

"Be careful, Lieutenant," Kelly said. "I'll have your back."

Cooper nodded, "I have no doubt, I'll try to ease into it a bit see if that helps..." She said deciding on her approach, trusting the other others to support her as she would them. She took a deep breath and walk over to the small group, "Interesting sport eh?" She said when she got close enough to be heard. She even managed to sound sincere, her body language relaxed though internally ready to react. Her field of vision taking them in plus the arena as she focused on her conversation.

The Triosian cheered as he watched a competitor slide under a gladiator while he was distracted by another team. He didn't turn at the sound of her voice, but he could tell it was artificially modulated in his language. "Interesting!? I've been waiting for this one all week!"

Cooper watched the arena, until things calmed slightly, "I can see why, this is a hell of a thing." She replied. She watched for a few more moments before continuing, "You seem like a guy who knows value." She gestured to the arena, "If you're interested in bettering your situation, my employer's got a proposition..." She watched the arena, "At your convenience of course..." She said lightly. It wouldn't do to seem desperate she thought. She caught sight of Driaan moving about and tried not to feel the twist of guilt in her chest.

"What sort of proposition?" asked the Triosian, his gaze fixated on a blue-skinned alien trying to lure a gladiator away from a shining orb. "That kid's got spunk, but he's going to get speared." Nudging his Triosian companion to his left, he said, "Ten Daaliks says he gets stabbed in the hand." The companion nodded, taking the bet.

Cooper glanced at the fight, still pretending interest, then replied, "Pretty simple, we could do with some information. We've got some of our own we could pass along or if you've a need perhaps we can work out a deal. Or if we're being exciting, maybe you tell me about the Cataclysm if that blue guy doesn't get a spear in the hand." She said on impulse.

The contender continued to dodge the spear, but the gladiator had him cornered. With a glance, the Triosian learned that the woman asking questions was certainly one he'd never seen before, and he was quite interested in her appearance. "Fine. But, if he takes it in the hand, you tell me where you're from."

"Deal" she said, glancing at him, hoping for the blue guy's own sake he avoided the guard but now had an extra reason as her mind worked through what to tell him if the poor man got injured.

A dodge to the left and a weave to the right was all the contender had before the spear came down straight into the blue alien's left calf. Roars and cheers rippled throughout the stadium, as those who'd won and lost their best quickly settled with one another. The Triosian Cooper was questioning surrendered a couple of worn coins to his debtor. To the human, he said without taking his eyes off of the arena, "Centuries ago there was a war. We lost. Oh, come on!" he shouted to another contender who'd just been knocked off his feet by another gladiator.

"Oh come on," Kelly muttered since she wasn't likely to be heard over the roar of the crowd and the antics of the combatants in the arena. "Someone's gotta know something!"

Cooper was relieved for the aliens own sake as he managed to wiggle out of it with a cut on the leg. Then she processed what he'd said and unknowingly echoed a bit of Khan's frustration as she said, after watching a moment until it settled a bit more, "Come on, just a bit more than that. Who was the other guy? Why the throwdown?" She asked, she kept her voice light but inside she just wanted what an intel friend would call 'actionable intelligence'.

"You want more?" asked the Triosian, watching now the one named Driaan, who was cowering away from the gladiators. "Then bet more."

Kelly heard the last and got up to go to where the Triosian was sitting. "I'll give you my bet slip and five hundred Daaliks regardless of who wins if you can tell me what that big blue thing in space is and why no one can get through it," she said.

"Done!" cried out the Triosian, glancing only briefly at the new arrival. Everyone knew of the barrier and why it couldn't be crossed, which allowed him to make an easy buck by giving a simple answer, just like he'd done with Cooper. "Money first," he insisted.

Kelly handed over the betting slip. "You get this as the down payment," she said. "I want full details, how it happened, when it happened, star charts of the area before and after, and why no one can go through it. Then you get the rest."

Now the Triosian wasn't just hesitant, he was a bit offended. "You are insane," he told the woman in red. "No one knows full details, just that it happened. But why no one can go through it? I hear it literally chews you up and spits you out. Tell you what though. I'll show you something that came through, if that guy there," he indicated Driaan, "survives the round. If he doesn't, then you tell me more about you and where you came from."

Kelly glanced at Driaan and then back at the Triosian and knew that Driann didn't have a chance and as bad as she felt, she couldn't do anything about him. "You said done and now you want to go back on your bet?!" she questioned him loudly. "Do you always welch on your bets?"

Cooper at his comment to up the bet put her hand in a pocket to draw out the money, but before she could do more than that Kelly had come over asking all the questions Cooper wanted to know. "A Deal is a deal you know, keep going on like that and who will bet with you?". She drew her hand, empty out of her own pocket to keep her hands free as she backed up Kelly.

"Who said anything on going back on a deal?" the Triosian snapped, his gaze still on the combatants. "You did not specify full details as a condition of the agreement. Learn to negotiate, kid. You want more? Be upfront before you accept the deal."

"What did you think I was paying for, a simple answer? That wasn't open to renegotiation or counter offers," Kelly said.

Cooper glanced at Driaan, she really hoped he did survive. She watched for a moment before turning to the guy and the others. She mentally reviwed what Kelly said, what she had said then what the guy had replied. And damned if he didn't have a technical point, the deal didn't expressly include showing them an item that survived. Which is what he expressly offered. "Like dealing with a damned Ferengi" she thought. Before jumping in, trying to smooth things,

"I know your a betting man, and normally I'd oblige but this we'd prefer not to leave to chance." Finally said. She really wanted to get her hands on it this item. She puased, "How about this, if circumstances permit and we can get to it safely and away again plus take it with us, another 500. 300 if we can only scan it" Another moment, "The 500 my colleague offered for the basic information about anything related to the anomaly is a decent offer. And, as you can see, there is more to be had but we need something solid to go on. I'm sure you can understand that?"

Her tone was calm, reasonable even as T'lan kept watch on their surroundings. She didn't know what could survive only that they needed what hard data they could about it for the Black Hawk so they needed this item or at least info on it which is why she wasn't already walking away.

Still focused on the match in front of them, the Triosian simply held the claim receipt in the air. "I don't have the time to argue over semantics," he droned, frustrated by the nature of the conversation. "There isn't any amount of money you possess that'll make this worthwhile for either of us. The answers you want... only those in high power have them, and they'll won't want to spend a minute with you."

Cooper privately thought the fact a person in high position would not want to see them would be true thus far and the 'no amount of money' line did not bode well. If he meant it that was trouble in the offing. She mentally sighed at his confirming what she feared, that any real details would have to come from a difficult to get to source, perhaps in their government. That no one else would really know. It happened so long ago it seemed that many had just accepted it as a part of their lives.

"No semantics, simple deal. You said you could show us something that survived the passing, we offered recompense. No risk to you, what survived?" She tried refocusing the conversation on the one thing he seemed to be able to help with in the hopes of learning more. They had the probe but it couldn't hurt to know more though she knew it was risky pushing him. He could just walk away but this was Cooper's own version of rolling the dice. She too kept an eye on the match watching Driaan and the others.

Instead of trying to negotiate or anything else, Kelly just shook her head. "Forget it," she said as she got up. "Let's go. No one in this place knows anything. If you want to stay, go ahead. I'll meet you back at the runabout." With that, she turned and headed off.

Cooper glanced at Khan as she spoke. She didn't disagree but had been trying to be sure, maybe get something concrete. She sighed mentally, without being more sure she could get solid intel she didn't want to risk spliting the away team. It had been quiet so far but until they were back on the ship Cooper was responsible and she took that seriously. T'lan had immediately peeled off to follow and Cooper turned her attention to the guy they had been talking to, "Apologies it appears we are done here, thanks for the information." She said without irony and gestured to the chief, "Best go Chief".

The Triosian turned his full attention back to the games, watching the competitors struggle against the gladiators. Awkward encounters and poor luck with his daily bets made this yet another unpleasant day for him.

Charles had been quiet letting Cooper and Kelly run point here. This guy was nothing but difficult. He couldn't help but see his displeasure at the outcome of the games so far. "Seems like you are having a rough day with the games. What if I were to offer you some information that could prove profitable to you. Would you be more willing to show us the thing that survived?"

"Information isn't valuable to me," replied the Triosian, his tone clearly agitated due to his many losses. The crowd roared with excitement and disappointment as Driaan, the final contender who hadn't been stopped by a gladiator, had his legs knocked out from under him. Two gladiators arrived, pointing their spears at the fallen competitor, keeping him locked to the floor.

A loud siren wailed, indicating that the contest was over. Like most of these early morning games, victory was nearly impossible to attain with the new blood. "Good luck with your quest," the Triosian mumbled, standing up with the rest of the crowd to file out of the stadium to collect their meager winnings.

"Nice try Chief but I think the well's run dry, let's catch up with the others, compare notes. Maybe we'll get somewhere yet." She said, disappointed they couldn't get more but at least they know more than they did, she supposed that was something.

As she reached the runabout, Kelly tapped her combadge. =^=Khan to Team Two. We're back at the runabout.=^= she reported as she accessed the runabout's panel and let herself in.


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