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Following Bread Crumbs

Posted on Mon Nov 15th, 2021 @ 10:27pm by Captain Dirk Taggart & Major Naomi Sylan Griffiths & Lieutenant Shri'Rao Sh'veqan & Lieutenant James Trallos MD & Lieutenant JG Elliot Light & Lieutenant JG Vespa Kale & Lieutenant JG Camille Lévesque PhD

Mission: Buyer's Beware
Location: Bridge/ Ketram


Dirk stood at the security panel of the bridge analyzing the scan data that Lieutenant Levesque had obtained. He had been unable to squeeze any more information out before the away team left the ship. Their mostly Ensigns sitting at the various stations around the bridge, except for science. The new CSO had dug right in, he didn't even think she'd had time to unpack, yet here she was working to help find missing crewmembers she hadn't even met.

"Lieutenant Levesque, I know it's barely been 24 hours since you reported but I appreciate your help."

Pas de problème, Capitaine,” Camille replied. “It’s good to be back at it right away.”

"I believe the new Chief Engineer should arrive soon, a shuttle was sent to the planet's surface earlier, in fact, both shuttles most likely crossed paths," Captain Taggart explained.

"And speak of the devil," Elliot laughed, arriving on the bridge just in time to hear that last sentence. His uniform was still a bit ruffled from the way he had slept in the shuttle here, but things seemed busy so he figured he might as well check in with the Captain as soon as possible, see if he were needed. "Elliot Light, at your service. I just got here, and have no idea what is going on." He said that last part with a grin.

"Welcome Aboard Lieutenant Light, I wish I could say they were under better circumstances. This is Lieutenant Levesque, our Chief of Science," the Captain said in the introduction. "We currently have an away team on the surface. Two of our crew are missing, we believe they were kidnapped. Due to the planetary security, we are not allowed to use our scanners and all transport is via shuttles."

"It's good to meet you, Levesque," Light nodded to the scientist, before returning his attention to the Captain. "It's unfortunate to hear about your crew. Though I appreciate the occasional shuttle ride. It's about the only time I get a nap in these days." Elliot smiled, but the seriousness in his eyes betrayed that he did, in fact, recognize the gravity of the situation. He simply faced stress like this with humour. "If there is anything you need from me - from Engineering - right now to help. Just give the word."

"We managed to get a map through a quick scan," Camille explained to the new chief engineer, "and have a rough sense of where the missing crewmembers' commbadges are, but that's all. We were ordered to cease scanning by local authorities. But maybe we can work together to improve the passive sensor array?" Then she smiled. "And good to meet you, too."

Light smiled back at her. "Certainly. Certainly, we can try to improve the passive sensor array... assuming that such doesn't offend these local authorities. You said we have a relay team on the surface? If we're still in communication with them, maybe we could even use their comm badges to extend our passive sensor range..." The engineer thought out loud.

"That's an excellent idea, why don't the two of you put your heads together and see what you can come up with," the captain replied.

"Excellent," the engineer turned back towards the scientist. From what he understood, she was new to the crew, though not as new as he was. If she had so much as looked at the sensors before, she was by default more experienced with this ship's specific than Elliot. "I'll follow your lead in that project, then."

"Here, come to Science II," Camille suggested, "and we'll get started."

"Alright," responded Elliot. The scientist would, indeed, have to quite literally lead the way. He did not know his way around the ship nearly as well as he knew his way around some sensors.

The Captain nodded approvingly to the pair as they put their heads together. He looked down at the PADD in his hand, he had a map displayed with the sensor data of the comms badges overlayed. Dirk hoped they hadn't separated Kale's forms, maybe the badges were just taken. They would find out the truth soon enough.

=/\= Away Team, this is Penn, please check consistently, we can't track you but we can help you problem solve as necessary. Keep in mind, three of our communicators are out there, so be careful about what you transmit, treat it as an unsecured open line. Good Luck, Team =/\= The Captain radioed to his team.

Unlike the rest of her team on the shuttle, Griffiths was in Marine combat gear, it was akin to the old MACO style, just updated, she first checked her hand Phaser and then her Phaser Rifle as the Captain called down from the pilot station on the shuttle =/\=affirmative Captain, will remember that =/\= Griffiths said and turned to the Security Chief and the rest of her team.

"Okay people, when we land we silently exit the shuttle Lieutenant Sh'veqan I want you to start scanning for the Commbadges" looks at Trallos "doc, I will need you to scan for Dacalari and Human/Betazoid signatures, anyone else around them is to be considered as hostile. Set weapons for heavy stun, Lieutenant Sh'veqan an added duty for you is when we find some kind of console I will need you to hack into it if something cannot be read, it means it is encrypted, simply download it so the techs can look at it when we return. The rest of us will keep watch when we get down there and remember any hostiles shoot first, I want this to be as quiet as possible any questions?" Griffiths asked.

"No Major, except to add that we should concentrate our efforts in a ten-block radius from where they disappeared, still that leaves a lot of ground to cover, also use of technology is prohibited here so if we do use it we should use it minimally. let's not give the locals time to lock onto our equipment." Shri'Rao said.

The doctor raised his hand. "Small problem Major. They would not budge very far on the technology ban. Ketram security would only allow medical tricorders. We have about 5 meters worth of scanning power in these. I was able to talk them into these because they have limited knowledge of human biology." He opened his hands. "Best we could get. They also reserved the right to confiscate them for inspection to prove they have not been altered to the ones I sent them."

"As I stated above we use our tech sparingly. That means we will have to investigate. Keep your eyes and ears alert, be present in your environment. Stay alert." Shri'Rao said.

Looking at the Security Chief "excellent idea Lieutenant, we will do that" she said then looked at Trallos to answer his question she cussed a blue streak "okay use the Trovorders only sparingly and in an area where there are a lot of sentients, then find a secluded area and do a quick scan, otherwise, it is a mark one eyeball, any more questions or concerns?" Griffiths asked.

"None here Major", Shri'Rao answered.

The doctor shook his head. " Let's find our people."

When the shuttle came in for a landing at the shuttle dock, the usual announcement came over the speaker in several of the local languages, "Thathas gad sganadh. Anata wa sukyan sa rete imasu. Du skannas. O loʻo suʻesuʻeina oe. You are being scanned." on something of a loop. Waiting for the shuttle to land was the usual greeting party: A member of station security that looked like someone wearing a very fancy and complicated EVA suit, and two bipedal forms of living stone known as the Slate. The EVA suit was unarmed, but the two Slate forms were armed with what were easily identifiable as plasma casters, an evolution of the ancient flamethrower, and more designed for clearing infestations than actual combat.

Their purpose here was to burn off any traces of Fera. Not to mention any trace of the carrier. This was the same scan Griffiths went through before when she arrived on the market world prior, and as it was explained then, there were no exceptions. It was for the good of all, they said, so only someone looking to hurt the people would skip the scan.

Which took five minutes. Five. Agonizing. Minutes.

After the scan, the EVA suited figure approached the shuttle and gave a knock on the panel. Inside the suit, a thick oily fluid started to bubble and burble. As it did, a device on the front of the 'face' of the EVA suit began to spin. "Attention sentients. Scans detect active and charged weaponry upon your persons. These will need to be left behind on your craft, or surrendered to Ketram security, prior to admission."

"No phasers take blades only". Shri'Rao said, also taking with her a small bag of limestone. Desert for a friend.

Shri'Rao disembarked the shuttle heading towards customs.

That burnt Fera (plant spore) is pretty bad stuff. Smelly too. The residue kinda smelled like Ozone mixed with soot.

As they walked past security she said "We left the weapons on the ship. May we pass?" Shri'rao asked.

The figure in the elaborate EVA suit looked over in Shri'rao's direction, the oily fluid within the helmet burbled again. The device on the front of the helmet began to spin once again. "Your ship is clean. You are clean. Respect the laws of Ketram, and proceed." and with that, the airlock doors were opened, allowing the team to enter.

"Thank you!" Shri'Rao said. "Say do you have a map of Ketram I'd hate to get lost in a strange city?" Shri'Rao asked the port authority.

"Yes. One will be fabricated in your language." the elaborate EVA suit officer responded, before giving a device on the forearm of its suit a few taps. A wall-mounted fabricator came to life and produced a soft fabric cloth that had the map of Ketram printed on it. The security officer turned slightly to procure the fabric map and hand it to Shri'Rao. "There are also map stations within the market, and sections are noted by lines and colour, provided you are capable of seeing colour."

As they made their way past customs and onto the streets of Ketram, Shri'Rao suggested they check the clubs and casinos for any sign of their missing sheep. "What do the rest of you think?" Shri'Rao asked.

The doctor secured his scanner in front so it would not disappear on him if things got crowded. "It's been a while since I was in a real club. Med school I believe. Worth checking out what a DQ club offers."

Grunting Griffiths made sure she had her Marine blade hidden away and secured her hand phaser and then exited the shuttle and was greeted by the worst smell that she had ever sensed, it was putrid and she gagged. "smells worse than a ten-week-old sewerage system that has been backed up for that length of time" she griped as she joined the others.

"Seems more pungent than the last time we're here doesn't it." Shri"Rao said. "The seasons must be changing", she added.

"Well Doc, have you ever been to a gambling chancery before"? Shri'Rao asked.

"We will have plenty of chances to check several out but first we should head to where our people disappeared and look for clues to their whereabouts," Shri'Rao added.

"Well, we will have to be careful either way" Griffiths commented as she passed the checkpoint and was glad that she had left her Phaser on the shuttle, the security here seemed to be tighter than a Ferengi's Latinum purse.

The doctor looked around. "On the plus side," he said looking at all the different species milling about the area as they moved forward, "asking if anyone has seen a human should be easy. Assuming people are even looking for new species. So many it could be commonplace here to ignore anything new because there is always new."

"You just got to get used to the low tech way they do things. I think this place is fairly well automated. I don't think the village leaders trust any organic life forms." Shri'Rao said.

"I think you're right Doc, finding humans shouldn't be too hard around here," Shri'Rao added. She carefully looked at the map she had gotten from the customs officials. "I think they disappeared down this street about 20 to 30 meters," Shri'Rao said.

"Lead the way Shri'Rao, you have the map," Griffiths said, her senses alert for any trouble coming their way, they were in foreign territory where they could not assume that any of the locals were of the friendly sort.

Shri'Rao led the way, she had transfixed the coordination of the scan the Penn had done picking up the comm badges. This led to a Vendor selling trinkets and on his shelf were two comm badges, however, they looked pretty worse for wear.

"Where and when did you get these?" Shri'Rao asked the merchant.

The merchant had an eye for quality. And an eye for flavour. And another eye for craftsmanship. In fact, whatever the spherical creature was, it had an eye for just about everything. It was a sphere of leathery skin with a mottled pattern of scales of a sort, about four feet wide. A massive, violet eye dominated its form, along with a comically wide mouth. Nine or ten smaller eyes of various colours poked out of its hide. But not on eye stalks... that would be absurd. It was assisted by three humanoid creatures that resembled rats, about three feet tall, that decided to walk like humans one day and never looked back.

"Ahhhhh." the spherical creature said, in a tone approaching pleasing when you lack a throat. "Welcome to Beu'tin. I am Xantic, the proprietor. I welcome you in the name of commerce." it floated over, perhaps on internal bladders of lighter-than-air gas, and moved by discreet releases of said gas. Huh, lavender. At least it was pleasant by comparison to the shuttlebay.

"Oooooo, you have quite the sense. Those are the arrows. Delicate electronics, advanced biometrics, aesthetically pleasing. Compositionally gold, microfilaments, some rare silicons, beryllium, and carbon. A bargain to be made, though unfortunate about the condition. As for where, is bad luck to reveal sources.... uncompensated." Three of its eyes moved to get a better look at Shri'Rao. Moreso, at the uniform.

"Looking to complete the set." it noticed. "Let's talk business. I will trade. Broken arrows and name of seller... for pristine arrows, unbroken. Kass, approach and indicate the arrow on this one's uniform garment." and one of the ratfolk obediently moved over and pointed at Shri'Rao's commbadge.

"Complete set?" A voice asked before rumbling over wearing Kale's pants backwards, with the tail hole facing forward. He also wore Abbie's Federation jumper unbuttoned, the apelike movements made the seams stretch as he approached the officers. He stepped up to the first female whose uniform was slightly different than the rest, then touched the fabric of the tunic. "Good quality, blended materials, hidden seam work, worth about 50,000 76 eh boss?" He said inquisitively throwing out an exceptionally low number in an attempt to increase their profits from the off worlders.

Stepping forward "how did you come by those, please? They belonged to colleagues of mine and we are looking for them" Griffith's said as her body language changed to carrying an air of menace.

"Purchased." Xantic, the proprietor, answered simply. "Might remember where, for a trade. Deega, approach and indicate the items on this table." and diligently, another of the assistant ratfolk came along, hopped up on a stool of sorts, and motioned to the table between them. Aside from the damaged comm badges, the table held several pieces of high-end electronics. Some damage, some not, but all high-end materials.

"I'll give you 45000 76,s for the complete set. 55,000 is you tell us from whom you brought them from." Shri'Rao asked.

Caesar shook his apelike head, "55 no good, 550,000. One of your shirts this one is small and I get you a guide." He turned to face the floating merchant, "You think is a good deal, X?" He asked.

Griffiths looked over to the Andorian and decided to let her deal with it as her impulse was to shake this Deega silly until his brain rattled, but that would be unwise so she grits her teeth and remained silent.

The orb of eyes grew thoughtful. "Hmmm... alright if we must deal in the common lowest currency, then a final offer. 55,000 units for the arrows, and the information on the seller. If you want a guide, though, you must deal with Caesar." and the totality of the creature's eyes moved over to the simian form.

"But, for the arrows and the information, 55,000 units will suffice. A deal indeed. Deega, bring a box for their purchase and take the units owed. A deal is a deal."

The merchant detailed the seller that he purchased from. A shady sort from the sounds of it, dealing in the lower districts by the less savoury sections of the settlement. Near the gambling halls, near the brothels and dens of ill repute, near the low-harmony disco teks and the polarity pushers that all the Slate went to for their fix.

The doctor followed looking around and into some of the various areas. These were not areas the doctor would normally frequent, so he was keeping his eyes open, not just for danger, but to take it all in. He could see why beings would frequent some of the areas. Many had bright colours and looked inviting. He kept with the group but took it in knowing he would probably never return here.

You could try the medical tricorder and scan them to see if there is any biological residue blood or some such. that might give us a clue as to their whereabouts." Shri'Rao suggested.

Looking around alert for any dangers Naomi leaned forward and spoke quietly into the Security Chief ear "speak to the one who offered us a guide, he seems to know more than he is letting on, plus his fidgeting so much it makes a cat on a hot tin roof look still" Griffiths said.

Shri'Rao walked over to the one who offered to be a guide. "What we are really looking for is our missing people can you guide us to them"? Shri'Rao asked.

The ape-like man ambled over to Shri'Rao, "Information is the currency here, Dear. I may or may not know a guide, and I may or may not know how to get you there. The knowledge is in the payment. I am known as Sayzar, and I am the merchant of knowledge," as he finished he jumped and hung from his feet while eating a banana-like fruit.

Having enough of his bluster Naomi steps forward "Listen to me Mr Sayzar, we are willing to pay a reasonable price for the information, but do not test my patience, I am a soldier and I want to get our people back safely, so you are going to give us a decent deal and then we will go find out people, or I could work some magic" she said lightly punching the palm of her hand and her look was not happy, this guy reminded her of a Ferengi.

"Who says I'm not a soldier or a magician," Sayzar replied and with a flick of his wrists several rounded throwing knives appeared in each hand before disappearing again. "I'm afraid you forget I have the upper hand in this transaction, I have what you want. I want your weapon and 150,000 76 and I will introduce you to the Informant. The Informant will get you to your people, what happens after that is out of my hands."

"I currently left my weapons which are standard weapons back in the shuttle, still I am impressed on how well you hide those weapons, I like you Mr Sayzar," she said smiling and her posture becoming benign, she tested the waters and found what she wanted, "145,000 76 and no weapons," she said as she began to barter with the guy.

Sayzar nodded, he was definitely getting the better end if this deal," Your guide will be a Cardassian named Yare. He works for Kingpin Dravick and frequents his bar as well as the other establishments that Dravick runs. I will send him word to meet you at Sunset Pleasure. He will be waiting for your arrival."

It's amazing how many from the alpha and beta quadrant ended uo here Shri'Rao thought, but she made a note of the name Dravick and Yare. Shri'Rao paid the man his 76's which didn't even put a small dent into her winnings.

"Okay then lets head over to the Sunset Pleasure." It was on the map she brought just two blocks over.

Shri'Rao led the way. getting to the Sunset Pleasure. She looked for the Cardassian Yare. then went inside the saloon.

[Continued on Rescue]


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