Onias Sector: Romulan Neutral Zone
The Dri'goth was cloaked and holding its position in relation to a Romulan communications buoy. Laria paced back and forth in her quarters, nervously rambling to her silent companion.
"I know it was risky to reveal ourselves on Nimbus III, but I had no choice! Without Childar's help, we'd have no chance of finding Daniel. I know you want to see him again as much as I do."
A pair of black, glassy eyes stared back at her from the metal bunk.
"Don't tell me that, Rijo! Out of everyone I know, I need your support the most. If we can get inside the Tal Shiar network, we might be able to locate him in just a few days. The less time we spend inside Romulan space, the better."
The pugabeast kept staring at her. Laria walked over, picked him up, and then hugged him close to her armored chest.
"I know you're scared. I'm scared too. But we have to find him. We've come too far to give up now."
She looked down at Rijo's snout, smiled, and then kissed it.
"Thank you, I love you too, Buddy."
The comm system chirped to life.
"Laria HoD, this is Commander Torg."
"Go ahead," she said placing her old friend back onto her bunk.
"Our guest reports that he is ready."
"I'm on my way," Laria said seriously. When the channel disconnected she turned back to Rijo.
"Now we'll see if that bastard is worth a damn…"
Laria entered the communication control room on her bird of prey and grinned as she saw her fat, Ferengi prisoner chained to a console. Two Klingon guards loomed behind him, each with a disruptor rifle trained on Childar's head.
"I'm told you're ready to commence our little operation," Laria said confidently striding over to him.
"I would have been ready a lot sooner if I didn't have these Klingon mongrels watching over my shoulder. They stink, and they make me nervous…" the Ferengi said, obviously regaining some of his old confidence.
Laria clenched her jaw before violently grabbing Childar's left ear. He winced with pain and let out another high-pitched squeal.
"Let's get one thing straight, Ferengi," she said barring her teeth. "Those Klingon guards are not for my protection. They're for yours. They remind me that I have an obligation to this crew to accomplish the mission I have given them. Keep throwing insults, and I may kill you anyways. Do you understand?"
He nodded his head.
"Good! Now, are we inside the database?" she asked releasing him from her grasp.
"Not yet," he said looking back down at the console. "However, I've unlocked the back door. When I press this button, you will have full access to everything the Tal Shiar possesses. However, they'll know we're inside as soon as I establish the uplink. I can guarantee they won't be able to trace our signal for at least a minute, but after that, even one second could mean the difference between staying alive and having a fleet of warbirds hunting us across the galaxy. I don't have to remind you that the Romulans hold grudges for a very long time."
"Then you better make sure you keep them off my back until I find what I'm looking for," Laria said taking a seat at a second console across from him.
"It doesn't work like that, Bajoran," Childar said shaking his head. "I'm using Klingon equipment on YOUR ship. They'll trace the connection back to you. You won't be able to get within twenty lightyears of Romulan space without getting intercepted."
"In that case," Laria said cracking her knuckles, "I'll make sure you're onboard this ship when a plasma torpedo blows us out of the stars." She took one last deep breath and readied herself for the fastest computer search of her life. "Standby to initiate uplink on my mark…"
"Standing by…" Childar said shaking his head.
"Talk to me, Daniel...show me where you are…" Laria whispered to herself. "Mark!"
Childar keyed the final sequence. "Uplink established! Sixty seconds till we're compromised."
The seal of the Romulan intelligence agency appeared on Laria's screen. An unbelievable treasure trove of material appeared in front of Laria. Information that Starfleet Intelligence would kill for on every conceivable topic of galactic security was displayed with perfect Romulan organization. However, she scanned with only one purpose, to find her husband somewhere across the vast distances of space."
"Forty seconds left," Childar said nervously.
"C'mon! By the Prophets, c'mon!" Laria shouted in frustration as she scanned file after file to no avail. She found documents on bribery payments to Cardassian officials, assassination plots against Breen dignitaries, even operations within the Federation, but she scanned past them all searching for one name: Daniel Tigranian.
"Twenty seconds left!" Childar shouted. "They've detected our signal and our closing in our position. I can't block them much longer!"
"You better keep them off my back or losing your ears will be the least of your problems!" Laria shouted back at him.
Nothing, she found nothing. Just as she was about to smash the console screen in frustration, Laria remembered something: and exchange between Daniel and the Lady Selonia on Romulus last year:
"Let me get one thing straight, we are no one's slaves, Romulan."
"Obviously not, Human, because if I was your Domina, I would ensure you were properly disciplined."
"Qu'vath guy'cha v'aka!" Laria exclaimed with such violent eloquence that even the two Klingon guards in the room raised their eyebrows.
"Ten seconds!" Childar shrieked. "We're almost compromised."
"Don't you dare cut the transmission until I say so!" Laria said furiously changing the parameters of her search.
"Cut the uplink!" she shouted and Childar eagerly obeyed. He let out a sigh of relief as he realized that the Romulans had not been able to isolate their signal.
Laria stared at the screen and began laughing with utter joy. It was right there, staring right back at her: an invoice dated the day Daniel disappeared for services rendered. 10 million Rihannsu-Talons worth of gold pressed latinum transferred from the Praetor's personal accounts to a gladiator school on the fringes of the Empire via a Tal Shiar courier shuttle. The item description was just two words: The Terran.
She fought back tears as she whispered a final, victorious affirmation.
"I'm coming for you."
"I'm guessing by your reaction," Childar said cutting into her happy haze. "That you found what you were looking for…" Laria wiped her face and composed herself. She rose to her feet and adjusted her armor.
"Yes, I did. Not that's it's any of your business."
"If that is the case, Bajoran," Childar said grinning. "I believe our business is concluded. Feel free to take me back to Nimbus III, or any world that doesn't have extradition agreements with the Federation, Romulans, or Klingons. I'll make my own way back home."
"That was never part of our agreement," Laria replied as she copied the information on her console to a PADD.
"What!" Childar said jumping to his feet. One of the guards violently grabbed the Ferengi and shoved him back into his chair. "Oww…" Childar said rubbing his bruised shoulder.
"I told you," Laria said heading towards the doors. "Our deal was for your life. That doesn't include transportation." Before exiting, she looked over her shoulder and addressed her soldiers. "Put him in an escape pod. Ensure that the transponder beacon contains all of his personal information so everyone knows exactly who is onboard."
"NO!" Childar said trying to climb to his feet again. "This time, both guards grabbed the Ferengi and held him down so tightly, that his bones started to crack. "I'll be defenseless!" Childar said as he shivered with pain. "If the Romulans or Klingons capture me, I'll be dead!"
Laria sharply turned around.
"Then you better hope that the Federation finds you first!" Laria spat back at him. "Then you can spend the rest of your life in a comfortable prison cell instead of facing execution, which is far more than you deserve. I'm tired of looking at you, I'm tired of hearing your shrill, pathetic cries, and most of all…" she said walking forward and leaning in close to his bulbous nose, "I don't like you."
Laria looked to the nearest guard.
"Eject him into space."
"Yes, My Lady," he said with a quick salute. Laria turned and walked towards the corridor.
"I won't forget this!" Childar said as she departed.
"I don't care," she replied with a snide grin as she disappeared down the hallway.