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Bolarus Sector: Federation Approaches to Romulan Neutral Zone

Stardate: 53326.1

Annabeth walked quickly through the corridors with Lieutenant Cevastei trying to keep up.

"We picked him up ten minutes ago, adrift in a Klingon escape pod. He wasn't exactly cooperative and we had to beam straight into the brig."

"Hopefully you didn't have to stun him into unconsciousness," Annabeth said with a little concern.

"No, Ma'am. He's wide awake, but I can't guarantee he'll answer any of your questions."

As the pair approached the outside doors of the Venture's brig, Annabeth turned back towards her Chief of Security.

"Don't worry, Emma," Annabeth said with a grin. "He'll answer my questions or I'll make sure his stay onboard is even less pleasant than that escape pod."

The doors parted and the women stepped inside. Two security officers were staring at the forcefield as a very agitated Ferengi paced back and forth inside the holding cell, cursing and throwing obscene gestures in a medic's direction.

"This is out outrageous!" the Ferengi said. "I demand to be seen by a real medical professional and given better treatment than this! I thought the Federation embraced the concept of Universal Rights, Justice, and those detained were innocent until proven guilty. So let me out of this cage…"

"Please, hold still so I can get a better reading," the medic said adjusting his tricorder. "We treated your injuries, but I have to see if you have any other lingering issues…"

"I told you, hew-man, I demand…"

"YOU ARE IN A POSITION TO DEMAND NOTHING!" Annabeth screamed.

This immediately silenced her new guest. The two security officers stepped aside and let their captain approach the forcefield.

"What is his condition?" she asked.

"Two bruised clavicles and a bit of dehydration. I was going to conduct further scans, but as you can see, he's not exactly helpful, Ma'am."

Annabeth nodded before turning back towards the cell.

"I am Captain Annabeth Geist of the Federation starship, Venture. You are Berat Childar, known hacker, wanted in six separate jurisdictions for computer espionage, theft, and cyber-crime. If you don't want me to put you back in that escape pod and shoot it towards the Romulan Empire, you will answer every question I have…."

"Captain Geist," Childar began, "I happen to know that once a foreign national such as myself requests asylum, you are required by Federation law to consider their request…."

"I haven't heard any request for asylum."

"Well, I request asylum now."

"I've just considered it. Denied. The Federation has active warrants for your arrest, but we also have extradition agreements with both the Klingons and the Romulans. Your final disposition will be up to a Federation magistrate to decide. However, if you cooperate fully, I might be persuaded to put in a good word for you."

Childar paused.

"What do you want to know?"

"I want to know everything you know about the activities of a certain, young Bajoran woman named Tigranian Laria."

The color drained out of Childar's face and he collapsed back onto the padded bunk behind him.

"I just can't catch a break with females lately."

"I know she captured you on Nimbus III over thirty light-years from here. Do you mind telling me why she brought you towards Romulan space?"

"Rule of Acquisition Number 135: Listen to secrets, but never repeat them, Captain."

"I happen to know a few of the Rules of Acquisition myself, Mr. Childar. Rule Number 125: You can't make a deal if you're dead. That is exactly what will happen if anyone but the Federation takes you into custody. Don't push me, Ferengi. Where is Tigranian Laria?"

"I don't know, Captain," Childar said shaking his head. "All I know is that she kidnapped me, forced me to hack into the Tal Shiar's database. When she apparently found what she was looking for, she ordered her Klingon goons to shoot me into space."

Annabeth took a step back.

"Is it possible? Did she find him?" Annabeth muttered to herself.

"Have you ever been in a Klingon escape pod, Captain Geist? It is smaller than a coffin, hotter than the Trishnathi Desert at high noon…"

"Shut up," Annabeth said trying to gather her thoughts.

"The only things to eat are dehydrated packs of worms packed in powdered blood…"

"I said shut up!" Annabeth shouted, finally silencing her annoying companion. "Where were you when you hacked into the Tal Shiar database?"

"On board her ship in the Neutral Zone. We found a Romulan communications buoy around Alpha Onias that I used to gain access to their network."

"That means she might already have crossed into Romulan Space," Annabeth said tensing her jaw and staring down at the floor.

"I hope she's not that foolish for your sake. One Klingon bird of prey versus the entire Romulan Navy isn't exactly a winning proposition, but she did appear to be that crazy."

"Lieutenant Cevastei," Annabeth said turning towards her officer.

"Yes, Ma'am?"

"Keep him in the brig. We'll hold him until we can turn him over to Federation Security."

"Yes, Ma'am," Cevastei replied. Annabeth turned to leave the brig when Childar called out after her one more time.

"Captain Geist?"

"What?" Annabeth asked exasperated.

"I don't know what or who your little friend was looking for, but it was apparently more precious to her than the Grand Negus' life savings. I saw her kill ten people with my own eyes on Nimbus III and I think she's willing to kill a hell of a lot more if someone gets in her way. It might be better to let the Romulans handle the situation for you."

Annabeth turned back towards Childar and glared at him.

"Understand one thing, Ferengi. I know Tigranian Laria and I know who she's looking for. Yes, he is that precious to her…and he means a lot to me as well. If you so much as breathe in a way that disrespects her again, I'll personally beam you into vacuum."

Childar quieted down as Annabeth headed back towards the bridge.


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